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This is the second in a four-part series. Sequels to follow.

I had an extremely easy pregnancy with the Bunny.  No morning sickness, no concerns about my health (except for that time I gained six pounds in a month – whoops).   No concerns about the Bunny besides a brief Cystic Fibrosis scare when we found out I was a carrier.   I never even got sick.  Everything was looking great.

I was also an insanely happy pregnant woman. The Mayor even bragged frequently that I was the best pregnant woman ever (Yes, he’s a smart man). I didn’t cry my entire pregnancy except one time when I told the Mayor that the Bunny’s room needed a second coat of paint and he announced You are the mother of my child and I love you, but I HATE YOU. (Not so smart that time.)

The Day Before the Mayor Gave Up Veganism

The Day Before the Mayor Gave Up Veganism

I also followed every pregnancy rule to the letter. I did not drink smoothies or fresh squeezed juice. No lunch meat, no alcohol, no soft cheeses. What else is there? Well, whatever it is, I followed it.

We had taken every pre-baby class imagineable – Redirecting Children’s Behavior, Infant CPR, Daddy Bootcamp (for the Mayor), Hypnobirthing (planning “natural” birth), Bringing Home Baby, etc. You name it, we took it.

We had hired a doula and written a birth plan. I heard somewhere that the longer the birth plan, the more likley the c-section, so I had even made sure to keep it to one page. (Yes, I followed ALL the rules.)

I was 32 weeks pregnant and everything was going along perfectly.  We were getting anxious to meet the Bunny, so I had a little talk with him.  I told him that he was invited to join us in the world on October 4th (two weeks before his due date and after I planned to start maternity leave).  I thought he was on board with that plan.

Around that time I told my Vegan co-worker (she is known in many circles as “the Vegan,” so she would not be offended by this over-simplification of her identity) that the Mayor was intrigued by her moral position on the matter. The following week, she arrived with a plethora of Vegan propaganda literature for the Mayor’s cosnideration. I brought it home and the Mayor went Vegan the next day.

The worst part was that the Mayor’s moral revelation was creeping into my head too. Suddenly, I was thinking, What gives us the right to store animals in inhumane conditions and pump them full of antibiotics only to kill them and EAT them. But even worse, I started thinking, What gives us the right to store animals in inhumane conditions and steal their eggs and milk them with a MACHINE against their will?   This was the scarriest part because, OMG, I wouldn’t be able to get pastries at Panera! Luckily, I was able to postpone this dilemna, because, for God’s sake, I was 33 weeks pregnant, and that just wouldn’t be good for the baby, right? Right.

Little did I know…the day before the Mayor gave up Veganism, chicken would be my demise.

Stay tuned…

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The Mayor is out of town this weekend at a family wedding, so that means I am on my own for (adult) dinner. Even when I am alone, I like to eat something satisfying that won’t leave me feeling awful. A bowl of cereal definitely will not cut it.

Individual Burger Bun Pizzas
On Friday night I made individual pepperoni pizzas. I had made pizzas for the Mayor and I the night before, so I had some leftover ingredients. I didn’t have any pizza dough or anything remotely similar, so I improvised and used hamburger buns. I preheated the oven to 400, spread some spaghetti sauce on the buns, covered with pepperoni, and sprinkled with low fat mozzarella. For seasoning, I sprinkled the top with kosher salt, pepper, and fresh oregano (the kosher salt on top really makes a difference). I baked until cheese melted.

Boca Chick’n Tortillas
Tonight I made one of my “cooking for one” staples – Boca Chick’n Tortillas. I have made these so many different ways, since I first invented these in law school. Now I almost always have boca chick’n patties in the freezer and tortillas in the refrigerator. The rest of the ingredients are completely flexible. (By the way, these are vegan.)

Tonight’s version of Boca Chick’n Tortillas was made with cherry tomatoes, onions, radishes, and lettuce. I started with some hot olive oil in a pan over medium heat. I sliced onions and radishes and added to hot oil. When softened, I added cherry tomatoes sliced in half and sprinkled with kosher salt, pepper, and cumin. I cooked one boca chick’n patty in microwave for one minute, then added to pan and broke up with spatula. I then transferred everything from the pan to a plate, and heated one tortilla in the hot pan just until warm (30 seconds should do it). Filled tortilla with prepared ingredients and chopped lettuce.

Other “Cooking For One” Tips
Remember, cooking for one is always a little better with a glass of wine. Check out this one from Spain!

This is the first post in a four-part series.  Prequels and sequels to follow.

Two days after he gave up veganism, the Mayor wheeled me down the white hallways decorated with butterflies and tributes.  My legs and hands shook, but luckily my stomach was still numb.  We washed our hands with scalding hot water.  I had never cared so much about clean hands.

The Mayor already knew the ropes.  He picked up the phone by the sink and called the nurse.  Its the Bunny’s parents.  Can we come back?  We showed our bracelets to the woman behind the window.  The bracelets displaying our son’s name.

The NICU at our labor and delivery hospital was small with mostly healthy little feeders and growers.  This NICU was huge.  I saw babies smaller than my hand, weeping parents,  lights and bells, mothers caressing their babies through the tiny holes of sterile incubators.

We got to the Bunny’s bed, and I cried.  He had his very own nurse who was caring for him, and only him.  As I cried, she rubbed my back, and said, I can’t even imagine.  This woman I had known for seconds, said the perfect thing, the only thing that could be said.  I asked her how the Bunny was doing.  

Well, he’s a very sick boy.  

I didn’t know what that meant.

I sat next to my baby, and I cried.  The drugs made him sleep as the machines around him made his chest rise and fall.  We watched every number on the screen above him, trying to find some meaning in them, nervously awaiting intervention when bells rang and whistles blew.  

We could not hold our Bunny. We could not even touch him. So, we sang to him and read to him.  Again, I cried as I read The Little Engine That Could.  I tried not to cry for my little boy, but I could not stop.  So, I read Hop on Pop. As I read Seuss’ rhymes, I tried to control my voice, for fear that if my voice sounded too fast and rhythmical, bells would chime as his heart rate soared.  He seemed so fragile.

Every three hours I left his side to pump milk, hoping for the day that he would be able to drink it.  Every afternoon and every evening, the NICU closed for a few hours. We wandered the white halls, sat in the gardens, and ate donuts in the cafeteria, waiting for the doctors and nurses to save our baby.  At night, I slept next to my pump, while a stranger cared for my very sick boy.

Every Sunday I suggest an easy picnic recipe – something light and portable, perfect for some outdoor family time.

The Mayor had to work yesterday, so the Bunny and I met up with him for a lunchtime picnic. I brought along this New Three Bean Salad and a bag of Zucchini Muffins (we got zucchini and green beans in our CSA box last Sunday). I made some chicken to go along with the salad (because the Mayor is once again the anti-Vegan), but forgot it at home! I also realized after the fact that I was supposed to chop the green beans (I don’t follow directions very well – this will likely be a recurring theme here). Smaller pieces of green beans probably would’ve made all the ingredients come together more effectively, but it still turned out to be pretty tasty! As for the little Bunny, he had some Cheerios and also tasted some small pieces of green bean.

New Three Bean Salad with Zucchini Muffins

New Three Bean Salad
This recipe is slightly adapted from the August issue of Sunset Magazine.

Steam 10 oz frozen shelled edamame for four minutes. Add one can drained and rinsed chick peas and steam with edamame for four more minutes.

Mix zest of two lemons with 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. sugar. Add edamame and chick peas to lemon mixture.

Separately steam 10 oz. green beans (chopped to 1 in. pieces) for four minutes. When done, immediately immerse in ice or run cool water over beans.

Add green beans and 6 diced green onions to edamame chick pea and lemon mixture.

Serve within one hour.

Zucchini Walnut Muffins
This recipe is available on www.cooks.com.

In large bowl combine 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tbsp. baking powder, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk two large eggs, 3/4 cup milk, and 1/2 cup melted butter. Add 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 2-3), 1/2 cup dark raisins, and 1 cup walnuts.

Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Always.

My dad is a creature of habit. He goes to the same Cuban coffee shop twice a day, every day, and orders a shot of espresso. He has lived in the same house for over 40 years. He always eats cereal for breakfast and soup and saltines for lunch.  

Always.

Me and My Dad

When I tell him about something I am cooking, invariably, he says, always start with a sofrito. This is just one of the many pieces of advice that comprise the world according to my dad (others include, fix bayonets and charge and make your bed.) This advice could be the subject of an entire book.  But before we get to more recipes, I think we need to at least address the sofrito issue.

What is a sofrito? Essentially it is the beginning of all good cooking. You start with a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat. My dad then adds diced onion, garlic, and green pepper. I usually just do the onion and garlic. Cook until softened. And there you go! Sofrito. Sofrito is traditionally used in Latin cooking, but Sofrito makes almost anything better. Making burgers? Add sofrito into the burger mixture before forming your patties. Making Spaghetti with meat sauce? Start with a sofrito.  Making stir fry? You get the point, right?

Some people add more to their sofrito, but even the basic onion and garlic will completely change your dish.

Now, that I got that out of my system, we can move on to something a little more innovative than rice.

Recently, we signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture (“CSA”) share at one of the local farmer’s markets.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with CSA programs, “shareholders” (term used loosely) commit to a farm for a certain period of time (we paid for a quarter up front).  In exchange for their support, shareholders receive a box full of whatever is in season each week.  It is a great way to “eat seasonally” if you are into that kind of thing.  It also forces you to eat (and cook with) foods you may have never tried before.  We have already received turnips, radishes, beets, mizuna, and kale, all of which I had never cooked with before (not so much a fan of the beets, but love everything else).  

Almost every week we have been getting carrots (last week’s were HUGE) and I hadn’t used any in three weeks.  (No, my white balance does not need adjusting.  Those carrots are purple.  They are orange after you peel them.)

so many carrots

So, I decided to do a stir fry tonight to use up some of the carrots.  This recipe was inspired by this, which I came across when I was searching for a recipe for mizuna.  Obviously stir fry is a very flexible recipe.  Its a great way to make use of whatever produce you have in your kitchen.  The key to a good stir fry is to cook quickly over high(ish) heat while keeping the ingredients moving in the pan, so they don’t burn.
Note: This is a great vegan/vegetarian recipe if you leave out the chicken.

Add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to wok (or any pan or skillet) and heat over medium high heat.

Dice one onion, one anaheim pepper, three cloves garlic, and add to pan.  

Once onion, pepper, and garlic are softened, add two cups diced carrots and one cup mushrooms.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp white wine, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp pepper.  Dice 1 1/2 cooked chicken breasts (we used leftovers from last night, but obviously you could start with raw chicken as well).  Add chicken to soy sauce mixture and let sit.

Once all veggies are softened in wok, add chicken.  If chicken is already cooked, just stir until incorporated.

Add diced scallions.

Serve with rice and leftover curry sauce.

 

I got a lot of carrots in my CSA box stir fry

I got a lot of carrots in my CSA box stir fry

By the way, you can find a CSA near you at http://www.localharvest.org

About Me

Mom to a one-year-old Super Bunny. Amateur cook and photographer. Tiny living enthusiast. Lawyer who would rather write about muffins than motive.

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