Friday, April 10, 2015

gong bao chicken with peanuts

Gong Bao chicken - plated. Excellent and will become a regular staple here.

This gong bao chicken (also sometimes written as kung pao chicken) with peanuts is the second new thing I’ve cooked since Avi was born. The first was that amazing pot roast from Deb that I’ve been making entirely in the slow-cooker. There’s also been some light cooking happening, mostly of old favorites and quick weeknight meals that can be made in advance and reheated, or meals that come together in a flash. And I’ve gone so far as to make Marcella Hazan’s bolognese while Andrew’s mom helped to watch Avi. But what I’ve stayed away from was opening cookbooks and learning something new. It was as if my brain was incapable of processing new information. In a way it was — I wanted to write today about postpartum anxiety, which I was diagnosed with a few weeks ago — but I’ll save that for another day, for another post. I’m doing better, I think, than a few weeks ago, but it’s something I definitely want to talk about here in hopes that it might help another new mom or make us all more informed collectively. This parenthood thing is not for the faint of heart.

In a little over a week and a half, on April 21, I go back to work, and I can’t wait. It’s strange to realize that I love my work so much, I have been missing it over the last ten weeks. I also miss the routine and control over my schedule. I’m excited and nervous about striking a balance that works for me; but I’m also a little sad to leave Avi — right as he’s getting more interesting and fun – I have to leave him. I’ve been thinking a lot about the US maternity leave (and how much it is lacking compared to other developed countries), and there’s not much I can add that hasn’t been said before by people far more eloquent than me. It’s a funny conundrum: While I’m ready for more structure, I wish, at the same time, there was more time to see how Avi develops and changes. He’s currently into being sung and read to, likes having a conversation while getting his diaper changed, seems to love both Dvorak and Dr. Dre, and gets really mad when you take the bottle out of his mouth mid-feeding. And I mean, furious! Overall, he is smiley and wiggly, and is turning into such a fun little guy. Also, that hair!

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

leek and potato soup

There's a lot to be said for something as humble as leek potato soup. One of the best things about winter - filling and comforting.

Greetings from winter wonderland and the fortress of sleep deprivation; a hastily written dispatch here! Quickly, before Avi wakes up; before the snow melts!

I had initially thought I’d missed the soup season. It’s March after all, and I am hearing complaints from everywhere just how over winter they are. I’ll agree that the cold has been relentless and painful; but here in New York, we got the shaft as far as snow is concerned. If we’re in for a mild winter — fine; but if it’s going to make me pile on layers, please bring on the snow. I don’t want to suffer in vain.

I wanted to tell you about leek and potato (potato and leek?) soup before Avi was born. I had gotten into the Sunday cooking habit of making a large batch while cooking (and freezing) other things. But then I gave birth, and almost six weeks later, I’m still not better off managing my time. Because the concept of “my time” has, at least for awhile, been radically altered. I’m on Avi’s time, Avi’s schedule. I’m still wrapping my brain around that whole parenthood thing. Talk to me in a few years – I bet you I’ll still be trying to grasp it.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

he’s here to stay

My hand for scale. #avigram

Hi friends, hope you’re surviving February. That massive silence that followed my last post, the one where I told you about my favorite brownies and where I promised you a worthwhile recipe for leek and potato soup, that silence was us having a baby.

A blizzard baby to be precise. We did it. Avi is here. And he’s here to stay.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

alice medrich’s best cocoa brownies

And this batch of spicy brownies with flaky salt, minus a few that @afreedman3 is claiming, will go out to the coworkers tomorrow. Cc @amyhordes @tittigrr @phaidonsnaps

I’m a little past 38 weeks, which means this baby thing can happen any day. It’s a funny thing to try to compartmentalize that today you may be just you, and tomorrow – a parent. I’ve always been a what they call a “preparer” and doing things well in advance, but this time, I’m told, it’s coupled with a strong nesting instinct. To be honest, I haven’t felt a stronger instinct to nest; I’ve always liked nesting, always liked organizing my home, always liked to keep a well-stocked pantry. Right now it’s more involved but mostly because I feel that it needs to be.

And as much as I still want to squirrel every single meal I make, I’ve hit that point where the freezer can’t take on another thing without something else coming out. If freezers were elastic, which sadly they’re not, then maaaaybe, I could squeeze in another soup or stew, but where things stand now, the meals are prepped and portioned out. I’m told I’ll be absolutely famished in the days post delivery, and Andrew has been warned that if I try to take his bowl of bolognese away, he is to give it to me without so much as a protest.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

marcella hazan’s ragu bolognese

made about 3 meals' worth of bolognese

As I inch towards the finish line with this pregnancy, I’m also getting closer to completely filling up my freezer. Space is of the essence, so I’m playing this game of shifting things around to make room. All the butter (and I mean all the butter) has been moved to the fridge. The frozen bananas I originally intended to use in smoothies and then promptly forgot about, wound up in the garbage. There’s also a bag of polenta now in the fridge, and will, no doubt, make a fine meal one night this month. As part of cooking on weekends to have weekday meals, I inadvertently started the “nesting” process of stocking the freezer a few months ago. There is my favorite chili and pulled Santa Fe chicken made in a crockpot; soups for days: red lentil, chicken, Vermont cheddar, parsnip leek; Marcella Hazan’s tomato butter sauce; and a whole roasted chicken (Ina’s recipe) from Andrew’s mom which now resides in a giant ziploc bag; and because it’s winter, meatballs (two kinds) and Marcella Hazan’s ragu bolognese. I figured that if we supplement it all with take-out a few days a week, we should be good for a month. I’m also hoping to try to get into cooking as soon as I can, even if it’s just a fried egg.

You would think that seeing the full contents of my freezer would make me cease this madness, but clearly pregnancy makes you insane, because the other day, I peeked inside the freezer and decided that we didn’t have enough of the bolognese. When I told Andrew I was making another double-batch, he simply looked at me, Are you sure you want to spend a whole day on this?

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

simon pearce vermont cheddar soup

We miss you @russell_f and @porterama xo #thanksgiving cc @simonpearce

This dispatch, written hastily on the 1st of January, may not be the kind of post you look for first thing in 2015. There are no promises of eating better, no crisp salad teasing you below. Instead, I offer you a soup with three cups of grated cheddar in it, plus some half and half. Clearly, I’ve no resolutions for 2015 insofar as eating habits go, but then again, I never have.

I wanted to share this soup with you as far back as Thanksgiving, but work, book edits, and general winter fatigue got in the way. Weekends were busy with baby showers (mine), tree trimming parties, and various trips to find things for baby. And then about a week ago, just when our office was about to shut down until after New Year’s, I got hit with the kind of third trimester fatigue I didn’t know existed. I had heard of this phenomenon, which I’m told is followed by a burst of energy to prep for the baby, but I hadn’t given it much thought. Outside of general pregnancy discomfort, I have few complaints: no morning sickness to speak of and a fairly energetic (and hungry) first trimester. But this fatigue was something else. I’ve described to friends as that if dementors from Azkaban were sucking the life out of me. I’ve never felt this weak and exhausted – and I couldn’t nap either. The fatigue lasted about a week before lifting. I certainly hope it doesn’t come back again – if it does, I’m not sure I’ll be physically able to take on anything.

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