Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Today I Am Seven and I'm Clever As Clever, I Think I'll Stay Seven Forever and Ever

Dear Sommer,
The day you were born I was sitting in a Principal's Meeting, counting my contractions on a napkin in the Aqua Resort.  I thought you'd take your time, like your brother and sisters, so I wasn't too worried, but everyone around me clung to my notes.  Eight minutes became five and five minutes became three.  I don't know why I was so calm, but I figured I'd prayed for a calm daughter, one that would cling to me unlike her independent and strong willed siblings who I encouraged to speak their minds and explore their surroundings.  I remember asking God to please make this baby want to hang on to my skirt and cry for me when I leave for work.  I even prayed you would have trouble getting out of diapers and giving up your bottle.  
At two minutes I sent a note to the Commissioner.  I am in labor.  May I be excused? To which my colleagues promptly slid their chairs back so I could make my way out of the room.  I drove home, belly bumping the steering wheel, tensing then relaxing as I planned what the next few hours would be like.  You were not calm, and probably never meant to be that way.  You were in a hurry, scooting yourself into my life with the same vivacity you have now.  I walked into my room and packed my bags, ready to take a shower.  I phoned my secretary, standing in the middle of my bedroom and made out two sentences, "I'm in labor, I'm getting ready to . . ." when my water broke! 
Having done this three times before, I soon lost all composure and started to realize that in a matter of minutes I would be in excruciating pain.  Nix the shower, I grabbed the most absorbent thing I could find, Peyton's Pull Ups and put on the the loosest outfit within arm's reach.  I remember Peyton watching me, "Pull Ups are for babies, not mommies!" she scolded.  
The normal eight hour labor I anticipated took about 30 minutes with you, little girl.  I remember the mid-wife telling me, as the epidural needle hung from my spine, that I there was no time for the medicine to kick in, I needed to lay back and push.  You came into the world demanding a dramatic entrance, and that you got.  
Seven years have gone by and I've watched you with amazement.  You are none of the things I prayed for, and everything you were destined to be.  Last night when you said, "I wish I could be a Scientist, then I would make a machine to rewind my day back to my birthday party"  I wished it could happen too, so that when time flies like it does now, I could rewind my day back to the first day I met you.



Who needs paper and pencils when you live on one great big beautiful canvas!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lemon SupHerb Chicken and Other Lessons

Ever want to eat roast chicken, but not the same old roast chicken? Ever scour through pages and pages of recipes, but not find the right one? This was me last night until I decided I was going to make whatever I deemed delicious and be happy with it. After all, this was dinner, not Iron Chef, Battle Chicken.

That's how my Lemon SupHerb Chicken was born!

I couldn't really tell you what the ingredients are merely because they came to me like a flash of culinary genius inspired by hunger pangs. Here's what I can tell you. In a small bowl, mix about three minced garlic cloves and about a teaspoon of finely minced ginger with 1/2 a tspn of rosemary, half a lime, a dash of sesame oil and 4 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add a teaspoon of unroasted sesame seeds and rock salt and pepper to taste.

Paint your chicken massage oil all over half a chicken and stuff the bits and pieces of garlic and ginger under the skins. Bake for at 350 degrees for 15 minutes under a tin foil tent and then for 10 more minutes with the tent off.  You'll want to bake this on a roasting pan because it'll produce about a cup of juices which you could or couldn't make into a gravy.  I did, but the gravy went to waste because seriously, this chicken rocked.

Serve this with a baked potato coated with minced onion and olive oil and covered with foil.

I love that our children want to cook with us.  They learn a heck of a lot more than how to make food, although most of the lessons are simple ones like how to squeeze a lemon over your hand so seeds don't fall in. For me, it's a battle against instant gratification that I want them to win. It's easy to plop an instant meal on the table and call it dinner, but there's so much more satisfaction in taking time to create something healthy and delicious for the ones you love.  When the girls see their meals on the table, they beam with pride.

They've learned that some things take time.  A wholesome  meal, a relationship, a thriving career, a strong body and mind, a well lived life.
Article first published as Lemon SupHerb Chicken and Other Lessons on Blogcritics.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

This Ain't No 30 Minute Meal

I am no longer surprised to hear myself say I love to cook.  I cook because there is nothing more satisfying than watching my family eat something I created with love.  Some of the greatest conversations I've had with my husband and children have been in the kitchen making a meal.  My new passion is finding healthy meals.  Okay, it's more of an obsession.  After cutting all the fried, saucy, fatty stuff and more than 500 calories out of our diets, eating right and well has become a major priority.  Here's one of my husband's favorite dishes, albondigas soup, made with taste and nutrition in mind.  Enjoy!

Albondigas Soup
Ingredients for meatballs:
1/2 lb. Lean ground beef/pork
1/2 lb. chorizo (peel casing off and break apart)
Minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 beaten egg
1 carrots minced 
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/2 tspn. salt
1/2 tspn. pepper
1 tspn. ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Ingredients for soup:
Low sodium chicken or vegetable broth 1 carton (6 cups)
1 small onion chopped
3 celery stalks chopped
1 cup diced tomato (I like fresh, but canned is ok)
1 tspn ground cumin
1 tspn oregano
1/2 cup cilantro
1 tspn mint (you can use mint from teabags)
1 large zucchini or 1 cup peas (we like peas)
salt and pepper to taste
1.  Combine all meatball ingredients and roll large meatballs between your palms tightly so they don't break apart in the soup.  A good size for a meatball is about a small orange or a tangerine. 
2.  Heat broth, onions, celery, tomatoes, cumin, oregano, mint and cilantro in a large pot.
3.  Bring the soup to a boil and slowly drop the meatballs in one at a time.  If you're afraid they'll fall apart, you can simmer some in a sauce pan so they're more solid, especially if your soup doesn't cover them completely.  I usually do this with half of them, while the other half are covered in the pot before dropping them in.
4.  Return to simmer and let cook for 10 minutes.
5.  Add zucchini and cook for 10 more minutes.  (I've never added this, but it's in traditional Albondigas, I've always wondered if kundot (squash) would work).
6.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7.  Put the peas in right before you serve them.  Don't worry about the raw rice, it will cook nicely inside the meatball. 

Good ol' Cheesecake 
I love dessert, but I am also intimidated by baking.  As of lately, I can make a mean lemon meringue, awesome pumpkin shortbread, fresh fruit ambrosia and a pretty good homemade gingerbread.  This cheesecake is my first merely because it isn't the no-bake, let's mix up some cream cheese and whipped cream kind.  I aced that and all I needed was a 2nd grade reading level.  I love cheesecake, but only the good kind and I wasn't too sure if I could do it.  Which of course meant I had to try.
8 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sugar (1 cup tastes just as good)
3/4 cup lowfat milk
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tspn vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour

1.  Preheat oven to 360 degrees
2.  Mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
3.  Add milk and eggs one at a time.  Add sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth.
4.  Pour in premade crust or crush 15 graham crackers and mix with 2 tablespoons of butter and press into a pan.
5.  Bake for one hour.  I don't know how to prevent my cheesecake from cracking, but some say covering it with a bowl or leaving it in the oven to cool before putting it in the fridge help.  Whatever, it tastes awesome so I'm not worried about looks too much.   
Next time: I'll add less eggs and cook it shorter.  We thought about topping, and put some strawberries on the girl's slices, but decided it was perfect just the way it is.  I rocked the cheesecake!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Get Registered

I sign up for notifications all the time.  I know when there's a two for one sale on hand sanitizers and when I can get free shipping plus a really huge discount on wear-to-work outfits.  Every night at about 6:00 pm, I get a ScreamFree Parenting tip and Aeoropostale never let's me forget when "the last day to save!" is.

Probably the most important thing I ever signed up for though is the Sex Offenders Registry. Why? Because we've gone too long relying on that creepy feeling.  Because parents deserve the information.  That's right, we deserve it.  When something out there has the potential to devastate those you love, you deserve to know in advance.  And because sometimes the people in charge wait for bad things to happen before doing anything about it.  It won't take the place of responsible parenting and it certainly is no guarantee my children will be completely safe, but this notification...the one that I just opened that says:

You have registered to receive e-mail notifications for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands when a registered sex offender moves into your area.
makes me feel better equipped to protect my children. It takes a few of the boogie men out of the shadows for me.  It isn't perfect and definitely uncomfortable to look at, but it's less painful than knowing too late.