Thursday, April 26, 2012

Red Curried Chicken Noodles

My, oh my.  Is this delicious.  I was sitting with Mike eeeeeearly one morning, reading the paper, while he ate his breakfast and came across this article.  Something about it really caught my eye, and I'm so glad I tried it.  Warmer temperatures are here and with them come the urge to try something new.

For an extra pop of color, I added some frozen, shelled edamame to the coconut milk and let it thaw while the milk simmered away.  And while I was at Mr. Chen's Chinese Emporium, I picked up several different types of curry paste.  I can't wait to stretch my Thai/Asian cooking muscles this summer.

Red Curry Chicken Noodles
Not in the mood for noodles? The curried chicken mixture also makes a killer sandwich, both warm and cold.
Start to finish: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1½ to 2½ tablespoons red curry paste (more or less to taste)
Meat from a 1½-pound rotisserie chicken
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, quartered
1 12-ounce package fresh fettuccine pasta

  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper, then sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and red curry paste. Stir until the curry paste and coconut milk are smooth, then bring to a simmer.
  3. Chop or pull the chicken meat into bite-size chunks, then add to the coconut milk mixture. Toss well to coat evenly. If the meat is cold, return to a simmer. Stir in the cilantro.
  4. Serve the pasta topped with the chicken. Alternatively, add the drained pasta to the pan with the chicken and toss to mix. Just before serving, squeeze a bit of lime juice over each plate.

Image and recipe courtesy of The Clarion Ledger and The Food Network.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Breastfeeding Gift Basket

The Holy Family, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1634
183 x 123 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Thanks Leigh!
What to do in the South when somebody has a baby? BRING FOOD!
When Avery came along, we had so much food in the house that I didn't have to cook for months. It was very much appreciated - who knows how many meals I would have had to skip without them. But..... what about Avery's meals?
It is an unfortunate reality that breastfeeding takes a backseat to labor & delivery in our society. BUT nursing this baby girl was SO much more difficult, overwhelming, physically exhausting, and ultimately rewarding to me than giving birth to her. Breastfeeding is really more of an art than the science of so-many-ounces-per-so-many-hours. There are no straight lines on the human body, just as there are no straight, definitive rights or wrongs in the art of breastfeeding. It's sleep-depriving, doubt-riddled, mysterious (& too-often misunderstood by society at large) WORK.
So I thought it might be nice to help new moms out in a slightly different way with a few of my favorite breastfeeding things:
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - This book actually should be read before delivery - if you just THINK you MIGHT be interested in breastfeeding, READ THIS BOOK. Even in the hospital, we received about 1,000 different opinions on how, what, when, and in what position to feed Avery. It was so calming to have one resource for reference amongst the maelstrom of conflicting advice. The Nursing Mother's Companion is a good one too.
- Mother's Milk Tea - to increase supply
- Oatmeal - ditto.
- This chart for easy visualization of how teeny tiny baby's tummy is at certain stages and remember how often it needs to be filled!
- Lanolin - to hydrate sore, perhaps cracked nipples
- Therashells - for the first two weeks of breastfeeding, my nipples were so sore that I didn't want anything touching them. Even a T-shirt was enough to knock my head off. Until that went away (it started to abate after about 7 days), these hard shells were the perfect solution to keep fabric off and let nipples air dry while being able to put clothes on. We later found out that the hospital charged the insurance company $120.00 (!!!) for these. Don't confuse therashells with nipple shields, which are flexible and have little holes in them. Though often recommended by hospitals (I have no idea why!) nipple shields are terrible for breastfeeding babies. They want mom's nipple - not a piece of plastic - in their mouths.
- Soothies Gel Pads - When just letting nipples air-dry (breastmilk is the BEST salve for tender nipples) isn't enough, it's nice to have two packs of these: one to wear and one to keep in the fridge. Lanolin, however, is not good for them, so advise not to use in conjunction.
- Nursing pads - once my supply regulated, I didn't need these very much, but oh my, it was nice to have them in my bra for extra insurance that I wouldn't have a wet T-shirt contest in the middle of Target.
- Bananas and other favorite fruits - easy, one-handed access to good nutrition. I was never so hungry when pregnant with the monster as I was when breastfeeding her, and it never seemed like I had enough hands when she was nursing.
- Granola bars - ditto.
- Water bottles - oh my gosh, at the thirst! I loved the kind that you can close securely because I was always knocking them over in the middle of the night.
- Burp cloth and/or sling from Kate at Mississippi Hippie Baby
- Boon Flo Water Deflector - not only is it an awesomely fun bath toy after baby grows up a little, this deflector was wonderful for my boobs in the bathtub. I would sit in absolute bliss with warm water flowing over my engorged breasts when my milk first came in. Warm compresses also help for plugged ducts and to relieve discomfort.
- Epsom salts - for the mom with a tear or an episiotomy, there's nothing better than a warm, soaking bath. It's relaxing too, and Heaven knows she needs some relaxation.
Most of all, giving a breastfeeding mom your love and support, encouraging and cheering, sharing with her your awe at the fact that she is feeding that baby all by herself and reveling in the miracle of our bodies, would be appreciated from any new mama in the throes of Baby Boot Camp.
At the end of the day, think about Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon: if you and baby were on a desert island and had no idea what to do, you would figure it out. Beautifully. Skip the Hollywood-dramatized (and traumatized) birthing scene and skip over to 2:10.
Many thanks to my friend Kate for helping me with this list, including The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, The Nursing Mother's Companion, Mother's Milk tea, and the easy breastfeeding reference chart!
What am I forgetting, ladies? What was your saving grace in the early weeks?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Musings

Our Dear, Sweet, Baby Girl,

I cannot believe that this weekend we will be celebrating our second Easter with you. Three Easters ago I still didn't know that you had just burrowed into me, starting the biggest adventure of Mike's and my life. You.
Oh my goodness, you were so TINY last year!
In a chocolate daze from your Easter bunny from your CA. You now have one sweet little curl at the nape of your neck, eight teeth (4 top and 4 bottom), and more teefies on the way.

Spring is my favorite time of year, and you seem to really enjoy being outside. Dirt and dead bugs delight you, as does sunshine and playing out in the rain and splashing in puddles. Your daddy taught you how to run - RUN! - last week, and since then you take off and bolt every now and then. It reminds me of how the cilantro always seems to bolt and take seed way before I'm even remotely ready.
The post-partum depression is a faint, vague memory now. At the time I was desperately worried that it would cloud my happy memories with you, but I'm joyful to report that my happy, cuddly, cozy, sweet, fond memories vastly outweigh those of concern, frustration, and uncertainty.

You actually helped me with the uncertainty most of all: when you were brand-new, your daddy and I were bombarded with conflicting advice from every possible source. We had no idea what to do, and everyone was telling us something different. You, my dear.... You gave us no choice and taught me by hook or by crook how to be a mom. Thank you. I learned - slowly but surely - to ignore outside voices and to my gut instincts (after all, that's where you started) and listen to you and you alone.... And you know what? I think we've fared fairly well.

That's not to say you've been a perfect angel. Far from it. But you do listen to us when we tell you the "N" word in our house (No!), even if we sometimes have to repeat it with varying degrees of volume and persistence. Your booty is too small to spank, so like my grandmother, I have to resort to firmly pinching you on the sensitive part behind your arm. But so far your worst offense has been throwing food off the high chair to Dante. Once, after you'd been warned three times, I reached out and pinched your arm. You replied with a hurt expression, a "na-ah," and a tiny gentle pinch right back. Clearly I'd hurt your feelings. But we're figuring it out together.

(And a side note to any who are gearing up to type any sort of reply that includes any phrase similar to "just you wait....." SHOVE IT. It is NOT supportive, encouraging, or productive in the least. I heard it when Avery started pulling up, crawling, walking, running, and on, and I am SICK OF IT. Stop sullying happy wonderful milestones with feelings of dread. You were probably one of the voices I had to drown out earlier and a contributor to dangerous depression.)

But back to you, our little monster. You have discovered crayons, and you currently have a process that is very similar to stippling: you cram as many colors as your little hand can possibly hold, then you throw them against the paper, creating a somewhat crazed, dotted effect. This fascinates you, and you do it for literally minutes at a time.

Plastic Easter eggs are another favorite of yours, and you love to play Easter egg hunt in the living room, toddling around with my old white basket and picking up anything that will fit and putting it in the basket. Then you'll grow a wild hair and shake the heck out of the basket, throwing everything out. .... and repeat putting things in the basket.

The highlight of your day is when Daddy comes home. He scoops you up in his arms, and quick as a wink you steal his pen out of his pocket. Next to your dad, Dante and Kearney are still your favorite buddies, and sometimes you help me prepare to leave the house by closing Dante up in his kennel. You also like to help me put ice cubes into a bottle of water or a martini shaker (see the martini dance). You have an awesome fascination with shoes, and you want to put on everybody's; you even know which shoe goes on the correct foot, which really amazes me.

Even though you were given no fewer than twenty-seven lovies upon your birth (true story: I counted.), you have nothing to do with them. A true engineer's daughter like your great-great-grandmother, you are no-nonsense, and you love anything with buttons, electricity, or a power cord. You can usually be found toddling around with my phone charger in one hand and have been known to go to sleep with the pool key tightly clutched in your tiny grasp.

Few things on this planet delight you more than feeding us something from your plate; you giggle and crow with glee when Daddy or I eats something out of your hand. And we now must carefully watch the trash. Just last night Daddy found a wash cloth in the recycle bin.

We are so proud of you. Thankful for you. Happy to be with you. You have given your daddy and me a pure joy and have fulfilled our lives in so many ways, more than you will ever know.

An Ode to the Double-Yolked

A good friend of ours has a local connection for double-yolked eggs. Mike was intrigued: "How do they know they're double-yolked before they make it to the grocery shelves?" Shining a light behind the egg itself will allow you (or whatever machine in the factory) to see the status of what's going on in there. "Why would you care if your eggs have one yolk or more?" See below...

Though perhaps a little higher than cholesterol than the everyday Kroger egg, they. Are. Fabulous. Generally brown and larger than a large egg, these babies pack a HUGE wallop in your baking; chocolate chip cookies are especially tender and delicate, and you just haven't lived until you've had a double-yolked brownie. I'm honestly not sure why one cannot purchase them at the grocery store.

Actually, I do know: lots of folklore and superstition swirl around the ordinary double-yolked egg. Daisy believed that it meant good fortune or that a wedding was around the corner, C.J. associated them with the devil on your doorstep. I suppose it has to do with your family and where you were brought up. Having grown up on a farm, I have to steel myself just a little every time I crack one open, lest there be a beak or feathers or even a little blood (eek) in there. Now THAT definitely makes you feel like the devil's right behind you. Especially when they also sell chicken feet at the Pig for voodoo rituals.

But they are are fun to hunt.

Double-yolk photo courtesy of maryobrienart.

Martini Dance


Made by Lena