Saturday, July 28, 2007

I have a brother

That's nothing new of course. For Andrew living just an hour away, we don't see each other very often. He and Heather came over tonight for supper. He is well. They took the blue La-Z-Boy off our hands.

Joe made a brisket using Guiness Stout. It was very good. Joe made the recipe last year around this time (July 22 to be exact) and cut his finger trimming the brisket. This year the butcher already trimmed it before we got the meat. No trips to Urgent Care were made during the preparation of the brisket this time.

I made Guiness Milk Chocolate Ice Cream. That was really good too. Much creamier than my previous attempts at ice cream making. It was of the custard type where you add egg yolks and carefully cook them. That was a first for me, but eggs are emulsifiers so they are probably the reason for the creaminess. The key is cooking the custard slowly. Otherwise you can blink and find a pot of scrambled eggs in front of you where creamy milk used to be. I will be sure to note in the cookbook that this was a good recipe and that I should make it again. The beer flavor is not overpowering, but would make this ice cream for adults only.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Baby Food

Before Samantha was born, I had never given much thought to the types of solid foods that I would feed her. I kinda figured that I’d buy “baby food”. But when Laura, my sister, said that she made all of Maddie’s baby food, my competitive spirit kicked in. If she could do it, then so can I.

I started making baby food before Samantha was ready for solids. I had picked more asparagus out of my garden than I could possibly eat, so I steamed, pureed and froze the extras. I thought she might find the flavor pretty strong, but she gobbled it down.

Gerber is part of a conspiracy to convince parents that it’s impossible to make food for your own child. Gerber's whole existence depends on it. Strained carrots, anyone? Do you even have a strainer fine enough to match the consistency of commercial stage 1 baby food? I don’t. If the child is too young for solids, then of course their food needs to be strained. But wait until around six months of age when the baby shows signs of readiness and you can skip right on to pureeing and mashing.

Here’s a list of the tools that I’ve used to make, store and serve Samantha’s food:
- a small pot
- a pot with steamer insert
- a potato masher
- a hand blender with chopper attachment
- a fork
- ice cube trays
- Ziploc freezer bags
- Tupperware Midgets (1/4 cup size)
- Tupperware Snack Cups (1/2 cup size)
- Plastic baby spoons
- Pyrex 4 oz custard cups
- Pyrex 10 oz custard cups

I received the spoons as a shower gift and I purchased the ice cube trays. All of the remaining items were already in my kitchen. There’s nothing exotic or hard to come by on the list. Some people use a baby food mill, but I think the hand blender pureed nicely. I have a regular food mill because I like to can stuff like tomato sauce and applesauce, but it has not come out of the box all year.

Being a CSA member, each week I have a seemingly endless supply of potential baby food options. It would be stupid to pay Gerber for squash when I have fresh zucchinis. With just a small amount of time invested each week spent cooking, I can quickly grab a frozen cube or two, warm and serve. No wasted, half-eaten jars of baby food around here. Plus, she gets a varied diet – Gerber could never afford a product line so diverse.

For the sake of full disclosure, I have bought baby rice cereal. On its own, it is too bland for Samantha’s breastfed palate. However, it’s that same blandness that makes it a good mix-in for strongly flavored foods such as escarole or blueberries.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

No more blockage

It took two days, but the plugged duct is gone. Samantha usually sleeps in her crib at night, but spent most of the last two nights in bed with me. She nursed every few hours, so I never had that overfull feeling. I'm still sore, but that should get better soon as long as she doesn't bite me. Her first tooth came in last week. She doesn't let me see it, but as soon as I do, I'll take a picture of it. The sharp points are sticking through her gums and I can feel them with my finger.

Anyway, I wonder how difficult it will be to get her back to sleeping in her crib all night without midnight snacks. Hopefully we didn't undo several months of good sleep habits in a matter of two nights. I don't think I can handle her in bed with me another night. I couldn't sleep with her there. I was worried about her rolling out of bed or me rolling onto her.

We got a good bit of rain overnight and this morning. The Weather Channel is saying it's 70 here. That's cold for noon. Maybe it'll get warmer this afternoon, but they're calling for more storms, so I doubt it. Just so you know, I'm wearing jeans, a long-sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt. It's July! Bring on the heat.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Samantha started crying around 2 am. It only lasted about 30 seconds. Must have been a bad dream. She fell back asleep, but I was awake, so I decided to go pump. The right side felt fuller, so I started there first. The lumpiness was a bad sign. After pumping until nothing came out anymore, the lump still remained. Argh. Clogged duct. Not today! Tuesdays are my day to travel to Norwalk to check on my waterline construction project. Any other day of the week and I would probably be able to keep her home with me for a day of nursing. I've had a clogged duct a couple times before and pumping does an unsatisfactory job of clearing the blockage. A baby is the best pump out there when nursing issues arise.

As Joe would put it, tonight is my "boob meeting". La Leche League is more than seeing women's naked breasts. It's about seeing real life examples of moms that are weirder than I am. While I am no lactivist, I do feel that every baby should be breastfed. LLL is a little more extreme. My meeting has a couple moms that are still nursing two-year olds and one of them is going to try tandem nursing after she has another baby later this year. To me, that's weird and not something I'm comfortable doing myself. To each her own. Oh, and if this clogged duct hasn't disappeared, then I can talk about it with the other women. Maybe one of them will have a solution I don't know about.

Monday, July 23, 2007

And the Winner is...

Peaches! Samantha will be trying peaches for supper tonight. Good thing I picked up a couple at the store.

Here are the results:

What food should Samantha try next?
27% Apples
36% Peaches
9% Potato
0% Kohlrabi
27% Oh, Mom, stop with the healthy stuff. Bring on the pizza!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Space in the Fridge

There's finally shelf space in the fridge again. Thursday's CSA pickup left little room for anything other than veggies in there. I froze all the squash. I made eggplant babyfood icecubes. I canned pickle relish and pickled beets. There's still kohlrabi, broccoli, lettuce, scapes and green onions in the crisper drawers. Too bad lettuce doesn't freeze well. I have two huge heads of romaine left. The Sippels know of my dislike for lettuce, yet they insist on growing such nice heads of the stuff. I can only eat so many salads before I turn into a rabbit and I'm at my limit for a while.

I have to admit that I like using the Tupperware FridgeSmart containers for my produce. They have two small vents that you can open or close depending on the contents. I put paper towels (Kleenex Viva) in the bottom to absorb excess moisture. I think veggies last longer that way than when I store them in grocery bags or unwrapped in the crisper drawer.

The poll closes tomorrow morning on what Samantha's next food will be. Currently, peaches and pizza are neck and neck. What will win?

Got it Covered

Joe, Samantha and I went to a cookout last night at the home of one of his co-workers, Jim. Jim likes to shop at auctions and had picked up this cast iron lid that he didn't want. I have a number of cast iron skillets in various sizes, but no lids. The lid was labeled as being a #9 size. I knew I had a #8 skillet and a larger one. I brought the lid home and tested it out on my skillets. Sure enough, my biggest skillet is a #9. Now I can cover it. Thanks, Jim!
This leaves me with a dilema. Dad's recipe for Carolina BBQ specifies that the meat be simmered in a #10 skillet. All this time I've been using the wrong size. Oh, no.

Friday, July 20, 2007


One more day of work. Then maybe I can try to catch up on an hour of sleep. Oh well.

I saw my boss yesterday. He was over from Indy and had been in Columbus to look at the possible office locations. He gave me a map so I could also know where they have in mind. One of the spots is a block or two from where Joe and I had our anniversary dinner. I had suspected it was on the list. I don't really care where they select. I just want to know the address asap so I can start interviewing nearby daycare centers. The office locations are too spread out to select a daycare just yet.

Last night, I came home to a bunch of new CSA veggies. I saw that there was basil. I like fresh basil, but it always seems to go bad before I can use it all. So I decided to get the dehydrator out and dry some herbs. In addition to the basil, I'm drying last week's sage (more on that below), and some oregano and tarragon that I am growing. For my style of cooking, dry herbs are much more user friendly.

To me, sage is the seasoning that makes sausage taste like sausage. But sage is said to dry up one's milk supply, so until we're ready for weaning, I am trying to keep my sage intake at a minimum.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It's Veggie Day

Here's a picture of Samantha taken yesterday morning before I took her to the sitter. I don't like to see her sucking her thumb, but it is cute.

I am a member in a CSA which is short for Community Supported Agriculture. CSA's are a program where a person pays a farmer at the beginning of the crop season for a share in the harvest. Every week we get a bag of fresh veggies. Thursday is our pickup day. Joe will be going after work since I have a meeting and can't make it. Usually Joe gets the veggies on his way home from work since I'm currently working from home. I wonder what is in this week's share. I still have stuff from last week, so I think I'm gonna make a salad for lunch and supper.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Will I ever get 8 hours of sleep at a time?

Samantha is seven and a half months old. She's a great baby who has been sleeping through the night since she was about two months old! However, we are breastfeeding and ten hours is WAY too long for Mommy to go between nursing sessions. I try to pump at some point in the middle of the night to relieve myself. But here lately, I am too tired to get up around 2 a.m., so I stay in bed until I find myself leaking like this morning. So gross. By the time I finished pumping, it was time to get up. So, I've been up since 3:45. It was 10:45 when I went to sleep last night. That is just not enough sleep. This sleep deficit is getting to me.

When she was a newborn, people would ask me the stupidest question -- "How's the baby sleeping?" She slept fine right next to me in bed. We'd wake up every couple of hours. I'd latch her on for one of her marathon nursing sessions and I'd end up falling asleep. I didn't know the difference between day and night, but I was getting plenty of sleep. Now that I'm back to work, I don't have the luxury of napping with her.

Sleeping Beauty has awoken from her slumber. I can hear her talking over the monitor. I better go make breakfast. We're both having blueberry oatmeal, except she's having some milk to wash hers down with.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Joe and I got married three years ago today. Time sure flies.

It's raining today just like it did that day. We were married outside. Luckily, the rain held off until we could get inside the reception hall.

It has been so dry here lately. The crops really need a good, steady rainfall, but today does not appear to be the day for it. Joe is happy because the grass has been dormant for weeks and hasn't needed to be mowed. However, the weeds keep on growing and needed trimming.