Archive for February, 2011

The nicknames he has so far

February 25, 2011

I tried so hard to get him to give me his Hansolo half smile to go along with his Hansolo outfit yesterday but he was too busy looking at the pictures above his changing table.

The Buddy



Buddy Snacks










Learning to Cook

February 22, 2011

Did any of you see “Julie and Julia” and feel inspired by the yummy-looking food always on the screen and at the same time completely tired at even the thought of all that prep for one meal? If you are like me, you may have spent your young-adulthood and early married life convincing yourself and your husband that you were too tired to cook and that anyway there was nothing in the house and eating pizza (insert whatever go-to food you have). I will just go ahead and admit to all of my terrible food ways here. I’m not trying to convince anyone I’m a cook. I’m the one asking for advice on facebook, not giving it.

However…if you are like me or even if you just want to be entertained, keep reading. I’m going to write a bit about what I have so far.

1. I read (over a period of 2-3 years because I didn’t want to know the truth) the beginning to the cookbook called “Nourishing Traditions.” Be warned, this is a complete turn-around from what you will hear from culture at large w/r/t fats and cholesterol. And sugar!There is another book called “The Great Physician’s Prescription” by Jordan Rubin which I read (he’s the author of “The Maker’s Diet”).

*another side note. In order to read any of these books and glean things from them I have found it necessary to do some forceful pushing past of attitudes that feel, at times, rather pedantic and holier-than-thou. No one likes to be talked-to like this. A helpful antidote is Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” I’ve never found her to be anything but witty, wise and down to earth. But that’s probably because I largely agree with everything she says.

What you can glean from these books (Not to mention “Fast Food Nation” or from numerous documentaries which I’ll have to get back to you on) is a sense of the foodie zeitgeist coming back around. They’re all saying essentially the same thing: eat like traditional cultures and you will be healthy. In my very limited opinion (and from reading “The Joy of Cooking” a bit) this is something which fine cooking has never lost. I doubt the French have ever just decided to give up butter for rancid oil by-product and lo and behold! they are just as healthy as they have ever been. Except for the smoking – which I’m convinced is what keeps them skinny after all those baguettes in the morning – but that’s another post.

2. I have had to realize and be very honest with myself that a) I will have to spend some time cooking and will have to plan better and b) I will have to learn to cook and eat vegetables. Meat, I’ve never had a problem with. Ditto dairy, eggs, need I say bread?, grains, fruit, etc. Finally, at 29, I’ve had to just turn to myself and say, “I don’t CARE if you don’t like vegetables. You have to eat them.” It helped to have Henry go on an allergy-elimination diet which did away with most of our grains and dairy. And here’s the thing that has been my saving grace: I found a friend who eats and cooks the way I wish I did and I asked her for help. She, in one email, opened up for me a whole  new world of what you can do with veggies because she eats only veggies, fats, some dairy and meat. No sugar, no grains. I’m gonna give you a huge tip for winter that she gave me: you can do endless variations on stuffed squash: celery, onion, sausage, apples, cranberries, leftover chicken from the free-range chicken you roasted earlier in the week, cooked greens, leftover meatloaf…and that’s just one simple meal. Pick three things that go together well, saute the veggies in a pan with butter or coconut oil (fat that is solid at room temperature is okay to cook with…the rest of them will go rancid if heated – olive oil is okay at low tempsAnd btw, any other kind of “cooking oil” that you get at the store like safflower, canola, etc… those are ALREADY rancid when you buy them. Rancid=cancer-causing ), stuff the already-baked squash halves and stick in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

*here’s the key my friend gave me: she bakes a bunch of squash when she buys it and then freezes it for easy retrieval afterward. Brilliant!

3. Planning doesn’t have to be done meticulously, but it needs to be done. Don’t go to the store and buy a bunch of random vegetables thinking you’ll just use them all for *something* or-worse- thinking you’re just going to eat them all raw. Unless you are either in love with veggies or REALLY dedicated to a raw diet, you need to think how you’re going to make them all into something you’ll eat and enjoy. Here’s a tip: spinach and other greens cook down into almost nothing, so you can fit a TON of sauteed spinach into a quiche and quiche is really easy to make. As my friend Sarah recently read, you can even make a “crust” from red potatoes sliced really thin and layered at the bottom of the pan if you are trying to get away from processed flour (which I am, but I still bought ready-made crusts for my quiche this week. Baby steps, people!).

You still need raw veggies in your diet. I am TERRIBLE at this. My friend who doesn’t eat grains? She has a salad every day for lunch. I need to learn her salad ways. All I’m going to say on this point is that the other day I made huge salads for us for lunch and as usually happens when I do this, toward the middle of the afternoon I started feeling hungry and awful. I think it has to do with my addiction to sugar and starches and also that I didn’t add enough fat. I ate a handful of nuts and I felt a lot better. Become friends with nuts and seeds (raw, of course, if you can swing it).

Another trick I learned on the planning side is to make the most of a free-range chicken. They cost $14 and are pretty small, but it’s enough meat for 2-3 meals for us when I’ve roasted it. I wash it, drizzle with olive oil and then salt and pepper. I add chopped veggies on the sides and roast until my meat thermometer says it’s done. Get a meat thermometer! Afterward, save all your bones, skin and the drippings from the bottom of the pan (unless you made gravy with them) and toss it all in the crock-pot with some coarsely chopped carrots, celery, onions and garlic, cover with water and simmer for like 5 hours and you have a stock which you can freeze to make many kinds of soup or sauce that is, incidentally, WAY cheaper than any organic free-range stock you’ll find at the store. To make it easy on myself, I just always buy carrots, celery, onions, garlic and potatoes.

4. Budgeting. Here’s some research I’m going to do soon. We don’t have the budget to buy large quantities of organic veggies but apparently there are some veggies for whom pesticides make less of a difference in terms of how much of them we get at the end than others. In other words, “clean” vs. “dirty” commercially produced vegetables. But when in doubt, I’ve been concentrating all my organic efforts on the meat and eggs because truly, feedlot meat is just so awful in so many ways. And if you feel antagonistic toward this viewpoint I will simply point you toward the very mainstream and culturally accepted book “Fast Food Nation” or the documentary “Food, Inc.” So, I’ll let you know what I find out about veggies.  I welcome any insight ya’ll have on clean vs. dirty veggies.

*This might be a no-brainer for most of you but for so long we wasted money on veggies because I bought them but never ate them. We ate all our grains first and then got pizza. I know. I suck. 🙂 So, know that it DOES make a huge difference in terms of money if you actually prepare and eat the veggies you buy!

5. What number am I on? I don’ t know. The biggest thing I’ve been learning is that you can’t expect yourself to totally overhaul everything in a week. Go slowly. Do one thing until you feel like you have it under control (for me this means not having to consult a cookbook. And by the way, it helps to have a cookbook that will tell you how to make almost anything. I recommend “The Joy of Cooking”) and then move on. For me this was chicken and stock first and now bread. I don’t feel compelled to give up bread at this point, but I have been making my own. And no, it’s not sprouted. But if you eat sprouted bread, as I have in the past and I’m sure will again, I applaud you. I’m using stone-ground whole wheat flour and molasses. Things I hope to start in the near future: sprouts (apparently, you can sprout almost anything in your window and almost any kind of sprout is good for you EXCEPT the one you find in the store; alfalfa. Isn’t that just the way?) and raw milk and cheese (including making my own mozzarella!).

Week 7

February 21, 2011

It’s hard to know where to start. I’ve been doing and thinking about all kinds of things – not to mention getting into the rhythm of being a mama. Isn’t he just the most precious little man? We spend so much of our time all up in this little guy’s grill, you’d think he’d want some space, but he just started smiling at us. This morning he smiled at each of us for at least a minute and right now he’s in his bouncy seat smiling at the globe lights and bookshelf.

I had my 6 week check-up with the midwives (I say “wives” even though Karen is technically a nurse because she ended up being such a ray of sunshine and there for more of my labor than Christina only because it ended much sooner than any of us could have predicted) on Friday. I think all three of us were surprised at the change in my demeanor. I told them I intended to not go back on the Lexapro and was already taking Vitamin B to help stave off depression instead.

Quick aside: it’s something you might consider adding if you are currently on an anti-depressant and don’t like the way it makes you feel. I never did. I was lethargic and had (sorry, TMI) NO libido to speak of. Not that, at 7 weeks post-partum, there is still any to speak of. Anyhoo… B3, or Niacin, can be taken in large doses (water soluble) without hurting you and I have found it makes a huge difference in even a short amount of time if I am feeling depressed, which I do when I get tired. Obviously, don’t just go off your anti-depressant, please, without professional consultation. My psychiatrist kind of gave me the freedom to use or not use the Lexapro at my own discretion in the middle of my pregnancy. I’m just saying…vitamins are good!

I think, overall, I am much happier not pregnant even with the lack of sleep. I keep telling people and writing in my journal (snicker) that I feel like I have a new lease on life. It was not what I expected at all. I thought everything would seem that much harder and that I’d give up on anything but the bare minimum. On the contrary, I have created some goals for myself that have started to be more than just daydreams! I’m hoping to write about my progress with these goals here as the months progress.

Goal #1 is integral to everything I want to achieve as a person and we want to achieve as a family. I may have written about it before and it would take too long to go into all of the details, but it can be summed up pretty easily by saying  that we want to eat real food as a family and stop eating things that aren’t food in ways that aren’t communal. It sounds simple and it is simple, but it requires a major shift in attitude and practice. Simple but not easy. Having a baby has made this so much more immediate. To some of you who are reading this, it might be obvious what I’m fighting against because you yourself have had to change things to make this choice. I welcome your advice.  Many of my thoughts can be traced back to my reading of better thinkers than myself: C.S. Lewis, Neil Postman, and this lady – who says much of it a lot better than I can in her own blog. However, here are some of the things I’ve found it necessary to be honest about before moving on:

1. Action is action. Day-dreaming isn’t.The nitty-gritty of child-rearing has started to teach me that in order to get anything done, you just have to do it. I am guilty of having been a chronic postponer. I have often had the mistaken impression that I would be able to somehow “get it all done” in one day. For some few things this worked once in awhile and so I think I counted on it working for big-picture things as well. Recently, I started saying to myself, “Jenn. If you want to *someday* have a family that sits down to dinner together every night and you don’t want your children to watch television or to have it as part of your household, that will necessitate you a) cooking and b) getting rid of television. Why would you think that if you aren’t doing those things NOW you will someday magically do them when the *family* is in place? Does Gilead not already count as your family?” I have had a real wake-up call about media and how I’ve chosen to spend my time, including already having to repent of making my baby wait to eat so that I could turn on a show to watch. I know. Detestable. What started as a way to take my mind off of the pain of nursing ended up already separating me from loving my child. So…to put my money where my mouth is, I have actually begun to plan meals and really shop for groceries (not something I did before to any great degree) and we have (once again) gotten rid of Netflix (which we were “borrowing” anyway, and abusing. Sorry Megs.)

Argh! Not only is this SO HARD for me, having accustomed myself again to tuning out the world in my young-adulthood, but I find that obeying God in this way has brought me blessings which, don’t get me wrong are still blessings, are nevertheless MORE WORK. Case in point:

2. Natural childbirth, which is something I wanted and which God blessed me with, has opened up a whole new realm of health-related facts which I would just as soon ignore because to embrace them requires a lot more sacrifice and work. So, if sugar is not food and processed grains are not food and pre-packaged meals are not food and feedlot meat isn’t food and I have now seen countless documentaries about this whole food vs. not food thing and talked to several health-care professionals who have treated me with so much dignity and respect whose lives are revolved around teaching people this distinction and thereby HEALING them of chronic diseases, I can’t NOT respond to that by wanting to do what they do. It’s like salvation: once you know the truth, going back to sinful ways requires a whole lot of cognitive dissonance. Now that I know how eating things which aren’t food affects me, why would I ever do it again? Let us be clear: I DO do it, but it means something way different now. There’s a whole other discussion about how choosing to eat real food in this country limits one’s social activities, but suffice it to say that I can’t ignore this anymore at home and feel good about what I’m feeding myself and my family. Especially since we are STILL seeking an answer to Henry’s 6 year battle with chronic fatigue and in the words of Dr. Zumhagen (our new family Dr. whom I LOVE), “when you heal your gut, your body heals itself.”

Goal #2 is a bit more fun, although pursuing it has required me to actually get up and do some things about it which, as much as I love to make things, has not always been my strength. It is to use my creative talents. I have finally registered my business in the state of Illinois and am a taxpayer – or will be whenever I make some money. Also, I am going to apply for a booth at the Wheaton French Market this summer!!! I am!!! I’m not sure which thing I will sell. It probably won’t be jewelry because of the large amount of jewelry-makers already at the French Market. I think it might be Mei Tai baby slings and various upcycled baby and nursing clothes because by then I will STILL be in the thick of trying to figure out how to feel somewhat pretty while wearing clothing in which I can discreetly nurse.

These are a few sketches I made of ideas which literally keep me up after the 4a.m. feeding with excitement. Don’t ask me why.

This is my inspiration board for clothes I’d like to try out for myself before I unleash my shaky sewing skills on the public. My main goal is to make a gathered skirt for myself for Easter when Gilead is getting baptized.  For some reason I’m really into gathered skirts right now.

Lastly, here are some photos of weeks past. He’s so much bigger and chubbier now. I can’t stand how fast it goes.