Friday, January 29, 2010

It all makes sense now

I just spent the past hour or so rifling through my cookbook collection, trying to find an alternate shoofly recipe, maybe see how the pie works, maybe figure out where I saw it in the first place.

The only place I could find it was in Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts. Under "Coffee Cakes."

I love it when an obsession comes full circle.

At least my glucose tolerance test isn't for another week

Behold, the sweet syrups section of my pantry.

I have been thinking about doing something with these syrups for a while now, and yesterday the perfect opportunity presented itself. One Ms. Jennifer Jo (the artist formerly known as Mama JJ) posted an entry to her blog about shoofly pie, and queried her readers as to whether or not they were fans.

I was without a formal position. I had never tried shoofly pie, or even heard of it, until I saw a recipe for it in one cookbook or another a couple of years back. I was intrigued, because it sounded to me a lot like pecan pie minus the pecans - and I've always thought pecan pie would be better without the nuts in the way. But Mama JJ - Jennifer - posted a recipe for what she calls shoofly cake, and said try it, see if you like it. So I did.

Holy sweet mother of all things that are holy and sweet. Did I like it? I became instantly obsessed with it. As a matter of fact, my first conscious thought upon waking this morning was SHOOFLY. I had two helpings last night and it's all I can do not to eat more right now. Any time I'm in the kitchen I end up standing over the stove, staring at it.

You make it by making a kinda sorta crumble topping, only that part is the crust. Then you pour a mixture of your sweet syrups, egg, boiling water and baking soda (science!) over that, and top it off with a little more of the crumble mixture. Then it begins to look and smell exactly like a 9x13 pan full of Guinness, which I considered a very positive omen at that stage of my little experiment.

In her recipe (click that link up there), Jennifer calls for 1 cup of light Karo and 1 cup of molasses, but says that you can play with that ratio according to your love/hate of molasses. I like molasses-y things, but I was also in possession of two rather old, rather empty bottles of Karo syrup, one light and one dark. To use up the bottles, I ended up with about 1 1/4 cups of Karo (more light than dark) and 3/4 cup of molasses.

The end result was perfect. It was less sweet than I expected, which is actually a good thing. It's the sort of thing where the flavor in every bite is so exquisitely nuanced - thanks to the molasses - that you cannot wait to eat the next bite (or the rest of the pan, for that matter) to get to more of those little sneaky flavors. And the textures. The slightly crunchy little crust layer, the ooey gooey, almost batter-y middle and the more cooked top...heavenly. It reminds me of brownies without the chocolate, if chocolate were something awful you were looking to get rid of in the first place.

So do I like shoofly cake? Um, yeah. I am smitten.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

23 Weeks

While yesterday I announced I was four months from my due date, today I am here to tell you that it's technically 17 weeks. Can we all just agree that we need to have some ruling board lock themselves in a room and not come out until we have one, unified, universal system of time-keeping in pregnancy? It's just ridiculous. I mean, yesterday was 4 calendar months until my due date, today marks 17 weeks until my due date, I'm considered 5 months pregnant, but I'm in my 6th lunar month, it's the beginning of week 24 but really let's call it week 22...too many answers to the same effing question, in my opinion.

*Deep breath* ... Anyway...I am 23 weeks pregnant today.

Supposedly the baby is now the size of a mango. All I can think of is Chris Kattan in his gold lame' skirt and beret. Picturing this inside of me is rather unsettling. Although I must say if my little Chopita ever gets into a slap fight with J-Lo, I'll be pretty proud.

Everything I'm reading now about my body is getting very ominous, from a vanity perspective. I have been warned that the baby is about to quadruple in size and that stretch marks are imminent. So far so good there - through some combination of water consumption, body oil and genetics I have avoided them so far. Of course, I have also avoided having some wiggly four pound alien in my belly so far, so who knows what will happen.

Speaking of wiggly four pound objects, my breasts are completely out of control. I have gone from a nice, manageable borderline B/C cup to an F. EFF. Yes, my bra size is now 34F. When I say this to mothers who have experienced the horrors of Milk Coming In, they shudder. They shake their heads and regard me with pity. I think I had better pay special attention to the section in the breastfeeding book about What To Do if Your Giant Oversized Breast Is Suffocating the Baby.

I'm now pretty solidly in maternity clothes and t-shirts that used to be too big for me to wear in public, and I think I have about all that I need to get through the duration. I tried to buy a bunch of cheap t-shirts, cardigans and sweatshirts so that I could layer according to the weather. I had to buy cheap because the budget was blown on the miracles of engineering that are my two new bras. The one thing I still want to buy is a new pair of slip on shoes, seeing as getting to my feet is already slightly uncomfortable sometimes.

The best part? I feel Chopita move all the time now. The worst part? I feel Chopita move all the time, and she's getting deliberate. Lately it feels like she's been punching me in the cervix. It's uncomfortable. I have tried bargaining with her - hey kid, stop punching me in the lady bits and I will let you wear mascara in high school - but apparently that's meaningless to her now. I'm looking forward to telling her how she blew it later on.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

T minus 4 months

Four months to go until my due date. That seems both exceptionally far away and mind-bogglingly close.

What was happening four months ago? September 27th. My calendar shows that it was my mother-in-law's birthday and that the Seahawks played the Bears. I had known I was pregnant for almost two weeks. It was still scary (scarier, anyway) then, and I was prone to waves of nausea. I think I remember eating a cup o' noodles in the car on the way to that football game. It was the first one we drove to, rather than take the bus, because there would be no risk of drunkenness. My grandfather was in the hospital, and we stopped by on the way to say hello.

Well, with that perspective, the baby seems farther away. All of that stuff seems like an eternity ago. But maybe that's just because it was an entirely different head space. My pregnancy was still a secret at that point, not to be revealed for another few weeks. The fall that sent my grandfather to the hospital set off a busy chain of events, which included Husband and I flying to Phoenix to drive home with my dad. Yes. You heard me. Two day, marathon road trip with a secret, fresh pregnancy. It was as fun as it sounds.

So now that I'm firmly in baby mode, and couldn't hide it if I tried, maybe it will go faster. Things are going to start happening quickly. Our birth class starts four weeks from tomorrow, and will occupy our Thursday nights until the middle of April. I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday, another one four weeks later, and then I start going every two weeks already. Granted, four weeks is still four weeks, and thinking back four weeks to New Year's...THAT even seems like a long time ago. The ultrasound where we found out it was a Chopita was that week! It seems like we've known she was a girl for an eternity.

Whatever. As slowly or quickly as it goes by, there's still a lot to do. Like all that baby registery stuff I was going to get done after Christmas? Yeah, I think there are one or two items on there. I still need to register for (more) classes, and of course do the physical setting up of the nursery. It's nice to start the concrete action portion of this pregnancy, rather than living in abstract concept land like I have for the past five months.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Spite Pee

Rocco, dog of the house, has earned himself the right to sport a diaper every time he's left home alone. He earned this special privilege through his tendency to spite pee.

Spite pee you say? Never heard of it. In fact, you probably heard from the dog whisperer or some such expert that it doesn't exist. No bad dogs, just bad owners. Etc.

But I am here to tell you - and I am sure that there are other owners of little terriers out there who would back me up if they were among the seven readers of this blog - spite pee totally exists.

Today, for instance. I needed to run off to the strip mall and do strip mall things like mail stuff, get some coffee at Starbucks, eat teriyaki, get some shoes cobbled, take a karate class...well, not really. But I did have errands at the neighborhood commercial center. I figured I would be gone an hour at most, and seeing as Dog had just been O-U-T not an hour before, I thought it would be a better use of everyone's time (mine especially) if he just waited until I got back to go out and pee. So I strapped his little denim diaper on and went on my merry way. Came home not even 45 minutes later to a soaking wet diaper. WTF, dog? See, that was a spite pee. It wasn't that he needed to pee SO BAD, it was that I didn't let him out the door with me when I left. Spite pee.

He then totally threw me off my game by proceeding to go outside and taking a dump, a feat which is always rewarded with a potty treat. So now here I am, with this belligerent little dog who just spite peed me, kicking up the grass like a bucking bronco - because he knows I owe him the cookie despite what he did in his diaper, because of what he JUST did in the yard. Well played, sir, well played.

I guess I will just consider it free parenting lessons and move on.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Things currently distracting me from blogging about my pregnancy, volume 1

I agreed to play model for a friend this week. She is an exceptionally talented color stylist and has been in charge of my hair for eons. She needed me to sit for her apprentice's "red" test, which is one of four tests the apprentice needed to pass to graduate from apprentice to stylist, I gather.

Now, I'm not saying that the apprentice did a bad job by any means. I think that she passed the test handily. The only trouble is that I have been left looking like the president of the Twilight Fan Club. I didn't realize quite how pale I have gotten until my hair went from a lovely copper blonde to teen angst red. It's not entirely unflattering, it just makes me jump every time I pass a mirror. And feel like I should be buying cigarettes for a quarter each off my fellow Denny's patrons and writing bad poetry while I drink coffee with three sugar packets per refill. Or brooding over some cute vampire or werewolf or whatever. I only read the first book, I don't really know what I'm supposed to be doing. All I know is I am some buffalo plaid, black skinny jeans and a pair of vans away from being Kristen Stewart.

At any rate, it should be all better tomorrow - I have an appointment to get it fixed. Unless you think I should just run with it...anyone?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The rest of the Pork Chop family

I figure maybe it's time you meet the rest of the gang.

The human male in the photo is Husband, otherwise known as Father of Chopita, otherwise known as Mo. I refer to him as Husband not to cloister him in anonymity; rather, it's what I call him. He in turn calls me Wife. I think it started as a joke sometime after our wedding - the novelty of being husband and wife made it funny. Now it's habit. I don't plan to start calling him "dad" or answering to "mom" once the kid is here, but I guess it could happen. I just don't see myself answering to "mother" when it's just the two of us in a Denny's 30 years from now. Anyway, that's Husband. He is handsome and funny and wonderful and manages to be perfect at least 85% of the time.

The cat on the table is Meester, given name Mack. He is going to get his own post eventually, because he is Alpha Pet and the recipient of 98% of my affe
ctions. I have already started to worry about how he will react to the baby and how our relationship will change. That may sound crazy, but it's true. He is 17 pounds of big male cat and he bosses the rest of us around accordingly.

Cat with his back to you is Womper, given name Jack. We started calling him Womper because his little canine teeth stick out of his mouth like a vampir
e...somehow it bastardized to Womper. He's more of a standard model cat than his brother, spooking easily and barfing on a regular basis.

The dog is Rocco, usually referred to as Dog. He only outweighs Meester by four pounds, and that combined with the fact that he was threatened within an inch of his life if he got near the cats when they were kittens means that he is totally their bitch. Womper tends to be nicer to him than Meester, who will usually
swat him for no particular reason whenever the opportunity arises. Rocco is nine years old and either very, very good or very, very bad depending on the day you catch him. He's usually good for some sort of entertaining shenanigans, anyway.

So that's it - the family to which little Chopita will be born. I'm really hoping that I don't feel the way I hear some people say they feel, that once the baby is bor
n the pets fade into the background as "just pets." It breaks my heart to think of the dynamic changing that way. We've been this little family for over three years - we got the kittens about a month after our wedding. I still remember getting up early to go see them in their little kitten nursery, locked away from dog jaws. I didn't mind at all scooping their little kitten poop or cleaning up their food mess, I was just glad to spend time and get to know them. I'm guessing that's going to be kind of what it's like to have a baby, right?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh and by the way

Here is my new favorite blog. Because I tend to obsess.

Three tacos a day keeps the doctor away

I mentioned my triple taco dinner from the other night...what I haven't mentioned until now is I've kept the triple threat going for three days now. Yup, tenia tres tacos para el almuerzo para las dos ultimas dias. Okay I admit - I leaned pretty heavily on the google translator for that one.

I feel vaguely guilty about this mini binge, but not really. Husband and I resolved to kick our Taco Bell habit for New Years, so my taco intake is at substandard levels anyway. Plus I figure nine homemade tacos is probably better than ANY number of Taco Bell tacos - and by better I mean mine are made of real, human grade food and not chemicals and dog food byproducts.

Plus, I make my tacos with turkey breast - the theory being that if they're lighter, you can eat more. And I do not waste my time with iceberg lettuce, oh no - I use green cabbage for my crunchy topper. I will not discuss the proportions of sour cream and cheese involved, however.
I am a lady, after all.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

21 Weeks

Today marks 21 weeks down. 19 to go. It's always nice to be on the downhill side of things.

I'm starting to look and feel more pregnant. That may be due to the fact that I no longer wear anything but elastic pants, but had you seen the size of me by the end of the day yesterday, you would probably agree that my girth really has increased.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I am eating INCREDIBLE amounts of food. Husband and I had the following exchange during dinner the other night:

Me: Hey, have you noticed that I can put away an exceptional amount of food lately?
Him: Um, yeah, you can eat.

See? What did I tell you. Last night I had three tacos (while watching The Biggest Loser, no less) and would have totally had a fourth if only I'd had the foresight to fry an extra shell. The three tacos thing in itself is not really too crazy, except for the fact that Husband also had three and I was done and eyeing the kitchen before he had finished taco numero dos. Oh well, I tell myself it's a good thing to try and stretch my belly as full as possible at each and every meal, so as to avoid stretch marks later. So far, so good.

Speaking of belly stretching - with the weather being as dull and mopey as it's been, I have had the urge to bake. So far I've been too lazy to actually go through with it, but there is a recipe in this month's Cook's Country for imitation Hostess cupcakes that might just force me into the kitchen. Or I may wait to make those until after next week's Amazon Fresh delivery (so I don't have to actually leave the house for groceries) and make some brownies from a box instead.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I love it when a plan comes together

Yesterday was a productive day on the Prep for Pork Chop front: I found a childbirth class.

I have been dragging my feet about signing up for such nonsense ever since the December appointment where my doctor said we should get signed up for classes. The problem was that I read some sort of "things I wish I knew about having a baby before I had a baby" list where someone's wish was that they knew that the best childbirth classes are not the ones offered at the hospital. That really stuck in my head, and I was having trouble seeing any of the classes offered by the hospital as anything but a part of their overall money making scheme. Yes, I am very cynical - blame it on the fact that I have both seen documentary
The Business of Being Born and read the book Pushed. If you know of a book called "Proof that Doctors are Your Very Best Friends and Hospitals Only Exist to Make You Happy" or something to that effect, please point me in the right direction and I'd be happy to read that as well.

My outlook changed for the better yesterday when I was directed to
this website. It is a good resource for anyone in the Seattle area looking to find a roundup of pregnancy and childbirth related services. DEFINITELY easier than trying to self-navigate the hospital class listings that all seem to have the same monkey for a webmaster. There is a childbirth class summary page which links you to all the various classes offered by different organizations and yes, hospitals. After a couple of hours of internet research, I decided to sign up for classes here.

These classes are crunchy. They are offered by a woman who has given birth in her home bathtub. She is a big believer in learning to let your body do what it's meant to do. Yes kids, you are hearing me correctly - I'm signed up to learn how to do this thing naturally. Why? Why would I want to do that? That's far too long a story to add to this already long post. But the short answer is: because it can't hurt to learn it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Obsess Much?

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but I am rather obsessed with coffee cake lately. And by lately I mean pretty much the whole time I have been knocked up.

I want to make one at home, but then again, I don't. I want to because it will be here at home with me and then I won't be forced to put on outside pants and drive to get some. I don't want to because then it will be here at home with me and I will eat the whole pan by myself before anyone can stop me, I swear I will.

For now Starbucks provides me with my fix. I love the reduced fat cinnamon swirl version...that and my grande half caff nonfat caramel macchiato and I'm in heaven. Luckily, I have an obscenely high balanced Sbux gift card, so that I am not spending $6.50 a day of my own money on my little habit.

The trouble is - and my fellow addicts out there can back me up on this - now that I allow myself to purchase something from the pastry case, my eye is beginning to wander. Coffee cake is a gateway drug that is going to lead me first to those little mini sparkle donuts and then probably on to cupcakes. Oh well.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cheesy Pie

Remember earlier this week, when I was worried about the size of my eggplant? Well, it turns out I didn't worry for nothing. My "Eggplant Lasagna" turned into more of a "Cheese Pie with Eggplant." Not that I'm complaining.

How do you make such wonders in your own kitchen? I thought you'd never ask.
First, you must Lorena Bobbit your eggplant. Sorry, couldn't resist, done now, I promise.

Preheat your oven to 450. Cut the eggplant (or aubergine, if you want to pretend you are British and fancy) into 1/4" slices and spray or brush lightly with some olive oil. Roast for 5-10 minutes or until they smell eggplant-y and are soft and slightly brown.

Assemble the same ingredients you would for regular lasagna sans the noodles. In my case it was 1/2 a tub of ricotta mixed with one beaten egg, a jar of sauce and a buttload of mozz. Oh yeah, and the eggplant.

Assemble in layers like normal lasagna (I'm really not going to hold your hand, if you don't know, go look it up on some cooking website), cover and bake at 375 for about 1/2 an hour. Then uncover it and bake for another 15.

Put it under the broiler if you have to to get the top cheese all crusty and wonderful.

You're going to want to let it sit for at least 15 minutes when it comes out of the oven, or else the cheese will just ooze like molten lava and it will be impossible to cut, let alone eat. If you want to end up with something that resembles lasagna and not just a big dish of saucy melted cheese, you are probably going to want to use two eggplants instead of just one.

Serve with a nice little green salad, so you don't feel so guilty about all the cheese.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Over the Hump

Today marks 20 weeks down, 20 to go. Halfway there! As you can see from the photo above, Chopita is starting to make herself known to the outside world. Maybe one of these days I'll get the Husband to take the belly picture instead of doing it self-portrait style.

Here's the take from my big foray into maternity clothes shopping today. Next time I'm a brat complaining about my mom driving me crazy, please feel free to slap me across the face with the Citizens of Humanity jeans she bought me.

I'm glad to have a couple of pairs of mom jeans and to be done with the whole rubber band/bella band nonsense. I never really cared much for the bella band, and my contempt only grew as I needed to pee more and more frequently. It seemed like I was spending half my life trying to re-establish all my jimmy-rigged undergarments. Now I can just wear my elastic waistband pants without accoutrement.

P.S. - the things on the right that look like prom gloves - those are leggings.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I don't expect any sympathy for feeling rather ho-hum after a whole day in my pajamas. But I must say that I'm ready to call it a day and move on to tomorrow. And it's like 8:15.

It took me until almost 10:30 this morning to bribe myself out of bed. I've been waking up with headaches lately which puts me in a really awesome mood first thing. I did manage to have one selfless, maternal moment though, in which I scarfed a bowl of cereal-even though it was nearly lunchtime already-for the baby's sake. Anyway, my whole day remained out of sorts. I shook the headache for a brief two hour window with the help of tylenol and seven or eight glasses of water, so basically I've spent most of the day peeing. When a Wife Swap rerun you've already seen is the most interesting part of your day, you know it's a good one.

I guess it's not really my fault I never got dressed - although I did shower and put my pajamas back on-I don't have any pants that fit me. I'm hoping to remedy that tomorrow with a big maternity pants shopping expedition...I'll let you know how that works out.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My plans to become a shut in continue to run smoothly

My inaugural Amazon Fresh delivery came today!! It was a lot like Christmas, except instead of Santa in the chimney with toys from the sleigh it was a couple of guys on the doorstep with food from a truck. Just like with Santa, I kept looking out the window in anticipation of their arrival - but they swept in and made their delivery while my back was turned. Tricky, Amazon Fresh!

I have to say that overall I am very pleased with this operation. The tote boxes are a little heavy due to the inclusion of ice packs - which I have to store in the garage along with said totes until next time. There was also a little redundancy of packaging. If you dutifully pack along your little cloth totes when you grocery shop, you might be offended by the fact that a lot of things come in a plastic bag in a reusable insulated bag in a big plastic tote.

The upside of this, of course, is you get to open said bags like presents on Christmas morning - and what is more delightful than opening up a big bag of cheese?

Please try and be a grown up and ignore the obvious phallicity of this eggplant. Difficult I know, but I have a point here - the eggplant and the avocado were the two things I worried about most (well, except for the ice cream. The ice cream arrived packed with dry ice, so it was rock hard. Like the eggplant? Stop it.). Ahem.

The avocado I ordered was "large, ripe," and the one delivered seems apt. The eggplant I worried about because there were no such qualifiers in its description, so I really wasn't sure what I would get. But it is a fairly average sized eggplant (out of the gutter, geez) which will work for my eggplant parmesan/lasagna hybrid later this week.

We'll see how long the honeymoon lasts, but for now I think I will stick with Amazon Fresh for my grocery needs. The quality of produce and brands available are comparable to what I can get at my neighborhood (chain) store, and the prices are competitive. Orders over $75 get free delivery, and seeing as I spend about $100 a week, delivery charges shouldn't be an issue. Plus if you spend $300 a month you get free delivery with no minimums for the entire next month, which means I could order up some emergency ice cream and oreos and they would HAVE TO BRING IT TO ME FOR FREE. EVERY DAY.

It's not a time saver yet - between the time I spent ordering and unpacking, I don't think I saved any time over going to the grocery store myself. But that should improve as I set up an auto-list and generally learn the site better. By the time Chopita arrives I should be in the groove and avoid all the grocery-store-with-infant horror story scenarios I've heard so much about.

Amazon Fresh did not pay me for this post. But they probably should.

Monday, January 4, 2010

When life gives you leftovers...make brunch

I love the occasional steakhouse meal - but I hate having leftover steak. I like my meat good and bloody, so bringing it home and reheating it is never an appetizing premise. This year, since drinking heavily was out of the question, we rang in the New Year with an extravagant meal, and I couldn't bear to waste the leftovers. Luckily I was struck with a brilliant idea: Steak and Eggs Benedict.

First things first - make the hollandaise sauce. Because nothing goes better with eggs than three raw egg yolks and a stick of butter. I realized a little late that I should not be eating homemade hollandaise sauce, precisely because of the raw egg factor. Too far committed to back down, I vowed to buy egg beaters for next time.

Then you have to slice the steak leftovers reeeeeaal thin-like. Swat away all husbands and cats trying to steal pieces.

Put the sliced steak in a Ziploc bag, and trying to ignore all fears about plastics and food safety, place in some simmering water to heat through. This only takes a minute and should probably be saved for the end.

Meanwhile, rinse leftover asparagus of all congealed sauce-goo from the restaurant (it wants a dip in the hollandaise pool, too).

If you don't have any english muffins around, but you do have some cheap white bread because it is your guilty pleasure, use a pint glass to cut little rounds and toast them.

Top the little toasties with warmed steak slices, poached eggs that you forgot to photograph poaching...

...And then with liberal amounts of the raw egg and melted butter delight. Inhale while holding the plate two inches from your face and don't speak or pause until finished.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

A new year, a new look for the blog. You didn't think I was going to keep that garish pink color scheme around forever, did you? Pork Chop - or Chopita, as I've been calling her - will not be an all pink, all the time kind of girl. At least until she voices an opinion otherwise.

Now that the holidays are behind us, I am going full speed ahead with Baby Stuff. Hopefully that means that my blog posts will be less about the junk food I am cramming in my mouth and more about the decisions I'm making regarding gear, diapers, childbirth ... you know, all the controversial stuff.

BUT, of course, I will still regale you with tales of my meals. I am food obsessed, after all. Look for a post soon on the fabulous brunch I just completed.

Another topic sure to be explored very soon is my adventures in maternity clothes. At 19 weeks and 3 days I am running out of non-pajama clothing I can wear without popping out all over the place. If I want to leave the house ever again, I'm going to have to do some shopping.

Come back and see us sometime ... I promise to try and embarrass myself for your personal enjoyment.