Sunday, February 28, 2010

Trimester 3: In like a lion, out like...well...

Okay, so technically my third trimester started Thursday (according to my iPhone), and technically it's not March until tomorrow. But all things considered, I think the whole "March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb" thing is perfectly a propos to my situation. If by "out like a lamb" you mean big and puffy and bleating a lot, which is how I envision myself in 30 days time.

The lion part? Let's just say the ol' Tagamet HB that the nurse recommended I give a shot before getting a prescription for the real stuff is not going to cut it. I need the hard drugs. Stat. I can't eat anything, at any time of day, without creating near fatal levels of acid reflux. I'm dying here. I woke up every night this past week choking on stomach acid. It was so bad Friday night that all day yesterday I had that lump-in-your-throat feeling, the one that hurts extra bad when you think too hard about why your throat hurts (festering acid burns) and makes all food and drink completely joyless, if not painful, to consume. Seeing as eating is all I've got, I take this very, very personally.

Oooh, and also, I had my very first hormonal nervous breakdown! Yeay! You know, I was so even-keeled up to this point that I was worried I would miss out on this great pregnancy side effect completely! I'm so happy that it looks like I am going to get to experience the pregnancy psychosis after all.

It was all because Mo left on a business trip. For a week. That I'd known was coming for at least a week. Now, keep in mind that in our time together I have sent him off TO WAR. Multiple times. Into Iraq and Afghanistan. Not knowing when exactly he would be home. Not knowing when exactly I would hear from him either via phone or email. I drove him to get on the plane for a FOUR MONTH deployment to the middle east and managed to keep a smile on my face the entire time. Kissed him goodbye and said "I'll see you when you get home!" and didn't even cry as I drove away. Um, fast forward to pregnant Tori, sobbing face down on the couch because he was GONE and I wouldn't hear from him until he GOT TO THE AIRPORT TWENTY MINUTES LATER.

Now, I feel comfortable blaming this episode on hormones because there was a part of me in my brain that could step back and say, "wow, you're really losing it. And really for no good reason. This must be the hormones talking." And eventually I was able to recover - and even be my chipper self when he called to check in on the unstable woman he'd left behind.

Good times.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

When I'm overwhelmed, I stay in my pajamas all day

I think I need to move my (very important) Blog Reading Time to the afternoon. Reading blogs with my morning coffee tends to turn into reading blogs at noon in my pajamas and still not having eaten.

I've noticed that when I put off my blog time until the afternoon, I'm much more discriminating. I'm skimming, I'm avoiding long link-following tangents. I read what I care about reading and I move on. Not sure why it's different, but it seems like it is.

And, if I read my blogs in the afternoon, I would avoid seeing things like this until after I had actually accomplished something with my day. As it stands, I read this particular post mid-morning and it stopped me dead in my tracks. At first I was inspired - the author of this post designed her nursery after a favorite tank top. I picked my color palette from a favorite pair of pajama pants. But inspiration was quickly overtaken by panic and stress. The woman bought balsa wood and painted it in a coordinating color and drilled holes in it all to MAKE BACKGROUNDS FOR THE LABELS SHE WAS PUTTING ON THE BASKETS TO HOLD DIAPERS. At this point, I am totally sweaty and on the verge of tears. How am I ever going to get any of this done? I've never even drilled holes in ANYTHING.

So basically I have total deer-in-the-headlights-itis. I had big plans to get the 1982 bathroom all repainted. When I needed a break from that, I was planning a trip to the baby furniture store to price out gliders. Maybe see if they have any mattresses or covers that will work with my bassinet. Instead I'm sitting here in my pajamas, eating M&Ms.

I know I'm overthinking this one. I have put together many a decent looking room totally by accident, and on a rational level I'm sure this nursery will be no different. But on an irrational level, however well I do or do not put together the nursery reflects how much I love the kid, or how good a mother I will be. I know that's asinine, but it's a feeling that's there somewhere. Maybe now that I've acknowledged it out in the open I can move on. Just buy some damn paint and get on with it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Important Retraction

I would like to recant my previous statement about Husband's work pants.

It is, in fact, untrue that they are acid washed. They are simply a very light wash denim. One that is supposedly very much back in fashion.

How I could be so insensitive as to call those jeans acid washed, I cannot explain. They are simply light wash, tapered leg cK jeans from the 90s, and for me to suggest otherwise was completely irresponsible. I did not realize how devastating this miscomunication of fact would be and I am glad to set the record straight.

Poor sweet Husband. He's really quite stylish.

Monday, February 22, 2010

You know, I might just be pregnant

I stopped into my local neighborhood drugstore this afternoon for some Pepcid AC and two bags of Easter candy.

On my way home from pilates.

Yeah, and I busted into the Reese's Eggs on the 1/2 mile drive home.

This explicitly pregnant lady behavior led me to have my first public pregnancy conversation, when the cashier looked at me while ringing up the lady in front of me in line and said, "so when ya due?" The three of us ladies proceeded to talk weight gain and baby size for the duration of our transactions. Cashier lady also told me that having a lot of heartburn means the baby is going to be born with lots of hair.

I think it may also mean that mom should lay off the chocolate.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Split pea thoughts for next time

1. Try not to include little hambones easily mistaken for potato chunks.

2. Use a waxy variety potato next time; Russet turned a
skosh mealy.

3. Add a chopped carrot along with said waxy potato, post blender.

4. Take
Cook's Illustrated's advice and use ham steak instead of ham hock - I don't really enjoy the scent of bone in my soup. Plus some of the meat that comes off a hock is pretty nasty.

Here is the recipe for my concoction. I just had some for lunch with a 1/2 a grilled cheese, and you should, too.

Split Pea Soup a la Porkchop

adapted from several sources

1 C chopped onion

1/2 C chopped carrot

1/2 C chopped celery

2 T butter

1.5 LB smoked ham hock
1.5 C split peas, rinsed and checked for rocks
2 t dried marjoram (or 1 t thyme and 1 t oregano)
1 bay leaf
8 C water

1 chunked up potato

1 chunked up carrot

1/2 C leftover mashed potatoes (optional)
salt and pepper

In a large enough soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped veg and sweat until soft,maybe 10 minutes. Add the ham hock, peas and herbs and stir. After a minute or so, cover with the water. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the ham is falling off the bone and the peas are mushy. A little over an hour, in my case.

Remove the ham to a cutting board and find the stupid bay leaf - remove it, too. Take half of the soup and either blend in batches in the blender or use a hand blender to puree until bright green and smooth. Return to pot with the unblended half. Add your chunked up veg and the mashed potatoes (if using) and continue to simmer until the potatoes are cooked through. In the meantime salvage what ham you can off the hock and return it to the pot as well. Taste and season with S&P.

I would recommend making this the day before you actually want to eat it - it tastes best if you refrigerate it overnight and reheat it the next day. Makes about 10 cups of soup.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

26 Weeks

Today marks 26 weeks, aka 14 weeks to the due date, aka two weeks from bi-weekly doctor appointments, aka the last week of my 2nd trimester. Eeek!

Needless to say, we're transitioning from "casual baby prep" mode to "oh crap we gotta get ready for this baby" mode. Considering I just had a friend give birth at 36 weeks, I've realized I should probably try to get all the basics taken care of by more like mid-April than mid-May.

Physically speaking, I'm starting to get big. I know I keep saying that, but no - FOR REALS now. My belly measures 40 and 1/2 inches around, and I'm up twenty pounds from where I started - I've crossed the 150 pound threshold for the first time in my life.
I don't feel bad about the weight. I know I'm a girl and I'm supposed to worry about it, but I just don't. To me, I'm pregnant, and it's a golden opportunity to eat what I want and gain whatever I gain and just not give an eff. Harumpf.

This week in food:

I got my soup made. I realize that this photo is not appetizing even if you love split pea soup, and that if you hate split pea soup this might be the most revolting image you have ever seen. But I did not really have the time, patience or marbles required to style soup attractively, so it is what it is.

(I'm not making that up, by the way. Food stylists use marbles to style soup. To hold up the carrots and potatoes and what not so they don't sink to the bottom. Fun fact!)

Anyway, soup made and delivered to Grandpa. It's a good batch, if I do say so myself. My secret weapon for velvety smoothness was a 1/2 cup or so of leftover mashed potatoes.

Fajitas for dinner. Just in case you were wondering what I've been stuffing my face with lately. My preferred fajita ratio is one small onion to two bell peppers, one chicken breast and one can of black beans. That allows the two of us to stuff ourselves with a couple of lunches worth of leftovers. You wouldn't think it with only one chicken breast, wouldja?

This is my latest craving. Green salad with garbanzos, hard boiled egg and cheddar on top. All dressed with some Italian style dressing. I've had one for three days straight now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Soup

This is as far as my split pea soup project went this weekend. That is not to say, however, that I was not productive. I just changed projects midstream.

We decided to finally get the kitchen painted instead. Here is an action shot of Husband, vacuuming out the underbelly of the range. I would like to make a point of telling you that he does not regularly wear acid washed cK tapered leg jeans. These are his "work jeans," and any time he puts them on, I know that a project is going to get DONE.

I don't know if it's the nesting instinct kicking in, or just me getting older and more finicky, but I have never in my life been so excited about pulling a range out from the wall and scrubbing it down. I focused on that puppy like I'd taken a handful of Adderall. I also cleaned the top and back sides of the fridge, so long as we were pulling major appliances out from their spots and all.


(Good job picking up before taking the stupid photo, right?)

I love, love this color. I am a big fan of mossy greens. This one in particular is a Behr paint called Lucky Bamboo. I wanted to do something to perk up the wood, and I think that I did it. I can't say that this kitchen is really my taste, but I've been much happier since I decided to go with it's traditional vibe rather than fight it. It's cheaper that way, at the very least.

We (Husband) also painted the hall bathroom...but I'm not posting any pictures of that because I still HATE it. It looks like something straight out of 1982. I don't know what I can possibly do to fix it, short of ripping out the pink formica vanity with my bare hands.

Friday, February 12, 2010

25 Weeks, if you're counting

So I had it planned out that my post for the day would be all about stats. I was going to tell you my weight and circumference and even post a picture...but best laid plans - blah, blah, etc.

Instead of posing for my glamour shots yesterday, I sat in the ER with my grandfather. He's okay - at least for a guy who is 89 years and 10 months old. Who suffered a severe head trauma. Oh yeah, and then a broken back. Oh yeah, and sepsis. All within the last five months. He's in the hospital under observation and should be going home in the morning.

Combine that with the dreary, rainy weather we're having and I'm ready for a comfort food project. One that my grandfather likes, and that will occupy my mind for a while without making me stand over the stove constantly.

I'm thinking Split-Pea Soup.

I went on a split-pea soup rampage a couple of years back, and could never find a recipe that I liked as well as the Campbell's Chunky version. I feel like I can never get it as velvety as I would like it.

Since none of the food bloggers I follow seem to have any ideas, I'm hunkered down with my cookbooks, which is really a way I like to be anyways. I'll let you know what I figure out.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I am a fire breathing dragon

I may just be about rounding that corner. That corner between "hey, what's the big deal? Pregnant is easy. I think I'll have eight kids" and "oh my god this sucks I hate it more than anything get this thing OUT OF ME."


My complaint today is that my acid reflux is out of control. I should have seen this coming, and in fact I did. But it sucks nonetheless.

I can't really complain, either, because I am doing nothing to mitigate the damage. I could be wrong, but part of my problem could be the three brownies and two heart shaped box chocolates that I ate between 3pm and 7pm yesterday. Followed by a big bowl of spaghetti and meat sauce and salad with spicy Italian dressing. Followed by my daily quart of ice cream.

Let's see, I vaguely remember a conversation with my doctor a few years back, where he told me I had a choice: either take the daily Prilosec for the rest of my life, or cut out all alcohol, coffee, chocolate, tomato products, and dairy. Since I'm not an idiot OR a martyr, I picked the Prilosec.

But the trouble with pregnant is that you can't take Prilosec. So here I am, woefully eating three out of four forbidden foods at any given time and trying to control the pain with a couple of chalky Tums.

Let's just say that either I'm going to learn my lesson and start eating a little more intelligently, or I will become a REALLY cool case study for the future generation of medical students. The Lady Who Could Actually Breathe Fire.

Or else maybe they'll make an episode of House about me. That would be rad.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The sugar betes

Yesterday was the big day, the day of reckoning. I had my monthly doctor's visit and had to drink the glucola.

What's glucola, you say? Glucola is kind of like thick, flat orange soda. At least mine was orange flavor. It is sort of like hummingbird food for pregnant ladies, designed to spike your blood sugar so they can see whether or not your pancreas is still feeling cooperative.

The only listed side effects of glucola are nausea and vomiting. Terrific, I said, I wonder if the test works if you vomit bright orange vomit everywhere before the hour between drinking and testing is up. Husband said he was guessing not, which led to my next question - how the hell did they think they were going to convince me to drink it AGAIN if such an event were to occur?

Luckily, there was no vomit. I did feel high on the car ride to the doctor's - totally couldn't follow the simple conversation we were having (no idea what it was now). I felt slightly nauseous, but not nearly as bad as back in the days of morning sickness.

AND - I got my blood drawn sitting up, like a big kid! Usually I have to lie down.

So now we wait. I am living in fear that the phone will ring and the nurse will tell me I failed the glucola test and have to take the next one. That requires fasting. That requires multiple blood draws and more glucola. Yesterday I had to "fast" for an hour and a half before I drank the glucola, and I thought the wait between then and when I could get to Burgermaster after my appointment was going to kill me. A 12 hour fast followed by three hours of glucola and blood draws MIGHT actually do me in.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Quick and Dirty

Clockwise from top left: Cook's Illustrated, Mama's Minutia, Betty Crocker

All right. I apologize for the delay. Before I lose the attention completely of the three people on Earth who actually care about the results of this taste test, I will give you my quick and dirty low down. My well written, publication worthy piece will have to wait for the end of round two.

The Betty Crocker Box Mix: The easiest to make by far (duh) and the texture most favored by tasters. These babies were eight minutes from box to oven. They had the pretty shiny top that everyone seems to appreciate, but I noticed if you touched the shiny top the sensation was not of hardened sugar like on creme brulee, but grease. These brownies are super greasy, which seems like chewiness overkill - they want to be so sure that the texture is ooey-gooey-chewy that they load up on the fats to excess.

My takeaway impression: ooey-gooey-chewy for sure, but also greasy and more sweet than chocolate.

The Mama's Minutia recipe: This one was the next easiest to make - I liked the stove top part of the process. I felt like I was making candy, and it was sort of like candy making - when the dough got shiny and balled up on itself, it was ready to go. These took about 20 minutes from start to oven, not too shabby for a from-scratch treat. I made them with unsweetened cocoa powder, and they were VERY chocolatey. Almost too chocolately. But in a good way. They were also very dense, and so their chewiness rivaled the box brownies, but they lacked the top sheen - surprising because the dough itself was very shiny going into the oven.

My takeaway impression: I really want to make these with dutch process cocoa and see how they turn out. Also, if you put half the pan in the freezer so you don't end up eating too many, but then you go and take one out of the freezer and eat it because you're out of fresh brownies? Heaven. I can't believe I've been eating brownies for thirty years and never knew they were better frozen. Thanks a lot to Deb of Smitten Kitchen f
or pointing this out (and also for posting the brownie recipe in the first place and starting this whole snowball rolling).

Cook's Illustrated
recipe: As expected, this was the fussiest to prepare, but still really didn't take too long. About 25 minutes from start to oven. I must admit that because I am sort of immature and tend to rebel against overly authoritative instructions, I didn't follow this recipe to the letter. That makes me a bad scientist, and calls the validity of this whole exercise into question.

Here's what happened. I failed to find dutch process cocoa in any of three stores (since when is it so impossible to find?), but I did have some cocoa mix that was dutch processed cocoa plus sugar, which said you could use in the place of cocoa powder if you reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe proportionately. Fine, right? Well, I'm not so sure. These Cook's Illustrated brownies were SO CLOSE to perfect, I HAVE to make them over again with the correct ingredients and see what happens.

Except I am going to change one other little thing also...the recipe calls for two teaspoons of instant espresso. Two OPTIONAL teaspoons. That much espresso gave the brownies an almost bacon-y, smoky flavor that I can't say is really what I'm looking for in a brownie. I think when I make the next batch, I will reduce it to one teaspoon.

Oh, another fussy Cook's Illustrated thing I didn't do, but probably should have. They called for lining the pan with foil and removing the brownies after 10 minutes of cooling, so that the heat retained by the Pyrex pan wouldn't overcook them. I didn't go through the whole foil sling making process, because I didn't do it for any of the others and I was trying to make all things equal. The brownies did get a little overcooked, however, and the texture suffered. I can tell from the vast improvement in texture of the frozen version that the foil sling is an important measure.

My takeaway impression: Near perfect. I can't wait to remake the recipe with the right cocoa-to-sugar proportion and the reduced espresso powder. Frozen version almost impossible to resist.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Brownie Hangover

The Great Brownie Experiment of 2010 is underway, and Phase 1 is complete. I woke up today with what can only be described as a brownie hangover - a theory proven by the fact that the only cure for it was hair of the dog. A few little half brownies after my breakfast cereal and I was fine.

Going in I was not expecting a Phase 2 to be necessary - but upon tasting the completed brownies I knew immediately that more tests were in order. I think that it is possible-through hard work and dedication- to create from these two brownie recipes The Greatest Brownie Recipe of All Time.

I have lots of details to share from Phase 1 - notes, pictures, you name it. But I think it's too soon to take my research public.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

An old lover has returned

I know, I know. You're here for the brownie report. While I'm slaving away, baking in the name of science, please go ahead and read this post and let me know your position on the local/slow/hippie food movement. Brownies tomorrow, I super swear.

I received an email the other day with the subject line "time for a new beginning." Apparently, Full Circle Farm found out about my new and passionate affair with Amazon Fresh, and they want me back.

Full Circle Farm is a Seattle area CSA program that we participated in for well over a year. I decided to suspend my subscription early in my pregnancy, when the idea of trying to figure out what to do with a box full of produce every week was way too overwhelming for me to handle (this would be the chicken fingers era). Plus, it seemed like a good way to shave $30 off my weekly food bill. The variety was nice - but when I could get by on a basic produce selection from the store, without having to figure out what to do with dandelion greens for the third week in a row, it seemed like the right choice.

Since leaving FCF, I have regained some (but not all) of my kitchen enthusiasm. But I stick to the basic salad and side veggies that we usually eat without venturing out. I order them from Amazon Fresh, and they come with the rest of my groceries. They may or may not be grown 45 minutes from my house, but they ARE organic and reasonably priced.

Unfortunately, all the 'food morality' stuff out there has really gotten to me. Long gone are the carefree days of the past where I could buy whatever was cheap and tasty with a total lack of regard for where it came from. Now I have to think about it, and shop according to my conscience. And what my conscience tells me is that I should be spending my food dollar as locally and as small as possible - meaning I SHOULD be buying my food from the little farm co-op down the road, not the corporate goliath. It's strange that it's taken me as long as it has to come to this conclusion. My parents spent half their lives building up their own business; so how could it not occur to me to support other people in similar endeavors?

So according to my own values, I should be buying my produce from the CSA program, my dairy from the milkman, and my meat from a butcher. I should be willing to spend a little extra money to support small business and local food. I should quit telling myself that Amazon Fresh counts because it is a local company, technically.

But will I? Only time will tell. Full Circle Farm does not deliver ice cream OR oreos. That's a big dealbreaker in my book.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Watch this space

Friends, over the next few days, one of the most important experiments in the history of pregnancy will be conducted.

Whether you are pregnant, have been pregnant, hope to be pregnant, or know a pregnant, formerly pregnant or eventually pregnant woman, the results of this super scientific study are of the utmost importance to your health and well being.

And I am pleased to tell you that I am HBIC* of this experiment.

Over the next few days, I will be baking three different types of brownies - one box mix and two different recipes which purport to be Just Like Boxed Only Better.

I will bake, I will taste, I will compare and contrast, and I will report back. I feel a grave obligation to journalism, to science, and yes, to pregnant women everywhere.

Stay tuned. This should be awesome.

*That's Head Bitch In Charge. I hear Martha Stewart has it on her business cards.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Madness, I tell you

Take a look at all this food, would you? Can you believe it was ours for just $16.90?

Husband and I decided to hit up our favorite neighborhood teriyaki joint for lunch today. I love it so because you get eight pounds of food for eight dollars, and that includes my upgrade to brown rice and all-white meat. And don't forget the r
efreshing cucumber salad, the health benefits of which are extolled all over the walls of the restaurant (just don't ask me exactly what they are, I'm not quite sure).

This is my plate. You can observe that it is respectably full, lunch appropriate portion.

This is the take-out container after my serving was removed. You can see that the dent made was pitiful. These leftovers filled a 4 cup tupperware to the brim.

Here is Husband's "It's not THAT spicy" Spicy Teriyaki that I found to be plenty spicy, thank you. You see that you get even MORE meat if you are not a chicken hooter snob like myself. He decided to eat an inverse proportion to my own, and saved about a plate's worth.

Now I know, 17 bucks for lunch isn't *technically* anything to write home about. But considering I am going to get three meals out of my $8.45 investment, I'm pretty happy. Plus, it is a much healthier option than your typical fast food treat - we could have spent that $16.90 at Taco Bell instead, after all.