At one of my last prenatal visits, one of my midwives said that labor was good preparation for parenting because it reminds you that you are not in control of everything. Of course, she was right. Baby dictates the progress of labor and baby certainly dictates almost everything else once she is out. Letting go and going with the flow (as best I could) certainly worked for me in labor, and it doesn’t hurt back here in the real world, either.
But that is not the only analogy between labor and life with the little one.
Many times these six months have I been at what I thought was certainly my breaking point. “I can’t do it,” I complain to myself or outloud, “I can’t deal with this mess, I can’t deal with this noise, I can’t function unless I get some more rest and quiet and order.” It’s really easy at those times to feel sorry for myself and long for the mother I don’t have or some other equally magical deliverance from my distress.
But then I am flashed back to labor (I really don’t think a day has gone by since that I haven’t thought about that single most magnificent & life-altering day of my life, however cliche that may be), and all of the times I wanted to complain and lament how hard it was, but didn’t. I wanted to stay positive, so I would say or think, “I can handle this. I’ve got this. But it better not get any harder, because this is about all I can take.” A few contractions (and maybe a position change) later and it would in fact be much harder, so much bigger, yet there I was, still doing it. Like a champ.
Maybe you can imagine the perspective that particular flashback brings to my exasperation over the dirty dishes, the laundry, the pile of work on my desk and the ever-growing to-do list. If not, I’ll tell you: It makes me feel like a spoiled, whining child.
There is no question, then, “Can I do this?” Of course I can, and will. And hopefully, with grace.
I’m suddenly mother to a six month old who spends Monday through Friday 9(ish) to 5(ish) rolling around the office floor at my feet. So while before I was a housewife of sorts and not superhuman at all, now I am not a housewife at all but, c’mon, I must be something other than human to accept my first 9-5 job now of all times in my life, when the housewifery has only gotten more challenging (and rewarding).
If you, like me, decline the twenty-some dollar a day Loss Damage Waiver or other extra insurance coverages when you rent a car because both your car insurance and your Visa card claim to have you covered, you might have wondered, like me, how difficult it would actually be to get them to pay if something should happen to that 2011 Malibu with 700 miles on it.
I wonder no more. I just got an e-mail from Visa notifying me that they paid for all of the $180 it cost to replace the broken driver’s window of the brand-spanking new Malibu I rented a few months back.
The key points:
1. Make your claim with the car rental company and with Visa immediately (Visa has lots of fine print).
2. Be the squeaky wheel. I had to go to the local Budget office to get the phone number of the lady who organizes the repairs and then call her a bunch to make she was actively making arrangements to fix the car (sometimes they sit on it and charge you for loss of use, which Visa won’t cover).
Insurance. Like Chris Rock said, if you have it, at least you know you’re gonna die on a mattress.
P.S. The picture at the beach was probably right about the time the window was broken while the Malibu was parked at Seal Rock.
Without letting this post turn into a rant against lab-synthesized “natural” progesterone cream, I want to explain why this ought to be the first of many lamb recipes you’ll see around here in the weeks to come. The other day (which other day?) I was complaining to my dad, who raised me in a let-your-food-be-your-medicine kind of way, about how the above-mentioned hormone was making me sick.1
My dad got really serious and said, “Please don’t take that s—. Listen to me. Here’s what you do. You have a gas grill?”
I told him it was broken. “So go get another one. And you get some lamb fillet– it’s expensive, but it’s worth it. You marinate it in lime, yogurt, salt, and pepper; you know how to do it. And you grill it and eat it. 75 grams a day, every day. Or at least 4 times a week. Did you hear me? Did you understand?”
It would be easy to laugh at my crazy dad’s suggestion; in fact, my husband, his mother, and I did just that when I related the story to them.
But still, I’m going to do it. Because I believe in the placebo effect. And I believe that treating myself to some prime cuts of lamb every day for a month will make a difference, for whatever reason. And I’m sure of what it won’t do, too. It won’t give me headaches, extreme thirst, restless sleep, acne, cloudy thoughts, crazy mood swings or any of the other side effects that came with “natural” progesterone use.
It’s not a very good picture, but the salad is Roasted Cauliflower2, Roasted Walla Walla Spring Onions3, Roasted Marinated Lamb4, Garbanzo Beans, Cucumber, Tomato, Bulgarian Feta, and a dried, rubbed Mint (grown at my dad’s house; harvested, dried, and rubbed by my grandmother’s beautiful hands) and Apple Cider Vinaigrette.
Molto bene, as my dad would say.
- I flatly refused my midwife’s suggestions to take this “natural” cream until after my second pregnancy loss (and a blood test showing my blood levels at about 1/5th what they should be at lowest). It’s not that I gave up on my body’s ability to heal itself and find its own balance, I just didn’t believe that I could go through it a third time without losing some essential part of my health or sanity. [↩]
- tossed in ghee and put onto the top rack of a 400˚ oven until it browned [↩]
- ditto [↩]
- no, I haven’t gotten another grill, yet [↩]
[Note: When I wrote this, I was listening to the 30 lovely tracks that Bradley created on the Yamaha VSS-30 sampling keyboard for my 30th birthday. You can listen while you read by pushing the play button up and over to the left of where your eyes now fall.]
A few weeks ago, I reminded each and every adult, human member of my household that no matter what brought them to the store in the first place or how quick a trip they were making, they ought to keep a close eye on the fish counter for the next month or so. Why? Because last year we missed the dot dang fresh sardines, and I plan on eating more than my fair share this year to make up for it.
“Sardines? Gross!” you might think. But you think wrong, for at least two reasons: (a) fresh sardines are not the same as tinned ones and (b) tinned sardines are not anchovies. I learned that most people make the latter mistake when I put a (tinned) sardine panino (grilled on sourdough with marinated fennel & red onions and red pepper & olive tapenade) on the menu at the Mississippi Avenue Social Club. It became an exercise in educating people as much or more than one in feeding them. “You’re thinking of anchovies,” I’d say, “Maybe you’ve never tried sardines! They’re very mild.” I didn’t convince them all, but I did make a few converts.
The first mistake can only be corrected by a taste of one of those fresh sardines, so delicate that they can’t really be frozen or kept longer than a few days, so full of those omega fats everybody talks about these days, so mild and yet so flavorful that nothing more than salt, pepper and lemon is necessary to make a believer out of a first-time taster.
Maybe you’ve guessed by now that I stopped by New Seasons on my way home from school today for raw lamb cat food (a story for another day, I suppose) and was considering buying a little hunk of some beautiful tuna to sear up for lunch when I realized that right below the beautiful tuna were nine shiny, silver sardines. A quick peak at the eyes told me that they had been there at least since yesterday, but, even so, they were so delicious that I didn’t even take the time to get a picture of my Fried Sardine, Avocado, Walla Walla Onion, and Cucumber on Three-Seed Baguette Sandwich. Sorry.
I also forgot to get a picture of Scoobie eating a sardine head (thus ending the short-lived Superhuman Housewifery tradition of a hungry-eyed cat in every food post).
Ah, well, if I get my wish, many more fresh sardine photo opportunities await me this summer. For now, have a picture of the guts and heads.
There you see my once-lopped-off thumb (it happened the same week as the Gulf oil spill, which means that in this photo the wound is almost three months healed) with the next batch of my Flower Balm (not the salve that saved the thumb, but close).
St John’s Wort from a neglected yard down the street, Mullein from my favorite alley (a word that doesn’t do my walking path to 30th and Killingsworth justice; it acts and looks more like an old world country lane), Plantain from my front lawn, and Lavender, Red Roses, Rose Geranium, Rosemary, and Thyme Flowers from my garden, all chopped, blended, loosely packed into mason jars, and covered in organic olive oil, grapeseed oil, or both (fill it all the way to the top! Let it spill over!).
Six weeks later, I’ll strain the infused oils, melt some beeswax into them, add shea butter, almond oil, and vitamin e to the Flower Balm (which my niece’s diapered bottom is fond of), and package them into pints and 4 oz jars for sharing and selling.
I have the kind of friends who call to let you know that a local farm has a good deal on whole, fresh chickens because I am the kind of person who says, “Buy 10, Get 1 Free? I guess I’ll take 11,” and then shows up at that friend’s house a few days later with a couple of cutting boards, some knives, three homemade marinades/sauces (the thought, which turned out to be a very good one, was that flesh frozen with sauce will marinade as it defrosts) and a mother-in-law willing and able to shuttle zip-locked bags of chicken pieces back to the freezer at home.
Which is where I got one of the quart-sized bags the other day when the snarly stomach complaint hit me unprepared (read: I was hungry but had no idea what I was going to make for dinner). This particular bag had 2″ square hunks of breast meat in a kefir-lemon-herb marinade .
I stuck the bag in a bowl of water in the sink while I rummaged for accompaniments. Somehow got the idea that I was going to fry these chunks, so I put the cast iron skillet on the front burner to preheat, added some of my own “garden potpourri” dried herb blend, a bit of curry powder, and some black pepper to a little bowl of cornmeal, and then smashed the now-almost-not-but-still-barely-just frozen breast chunks with a blunt wooden instrument.
Here comes the fun part. After adding some rendered chicken fat to the skillet, I dredged, yes, dredged, the smashed kefir-lemon-herb chicken pieces in cornmeal-herb-curry mixture and fried up a plate of what could not be more accurately named “chicken nuggets.”
I remember being fond of breaded and fried chicken bits as a child, but I never, ever liked a breaded and fried chicken bit the way I liked these ones. Neither did he:
The story doesn’t end there. Tonight was liver night (I’m trying to eat the stuff once a week at least). I could have made the lemony-curried liver, mushrooms, and onions we all enjoyed last week, but instead I got out the cast-iron skillet and made, yes, Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken-Fried Beef Liver.
I gleefully anticipate the day I have children so that I can watch them fighting over the last piece of Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken-Fried Liver. It’s going to happen because it’s that good.
I felt shame to admit to Aarin that I haven’t been eating the pounds and pounds of gorgeous grass-fed beef she sold me last fall (from her own cow share), so I got some ground beef and a pint of tomato sauce out of the freezer yesterday, intending to make a simple marinara with meat sauce. Here’s what happened:
2 medium spring onions (mine were walla wallas)
1/2 fennel bulb (with feathery tops reserved)
5 ribs celery
1/2 lb #4 Porcini mushrooms (Farmer’s Market– $2!)
1 1/2 pounds grass fed ground beef
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
4-5 whole cloves
7-8 whole allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 pint tomato sauce
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon lavender
1 teaspoon herb blend (italian, provence, etc. I used my “garden potpourri,” which includes almost every herb I grow)
Salt, pepper, chipotle powder to taste
Very finely dice the onions, fennel bulb, celery, and mushrooms and saute in a large bottomed 4 quart saucepan in a few tablespoons fat (I used rendered chicken fat).
Meanwhile, brown the beef on fairly low heat with a bit more fat (I did it in a cast iron dutch oven), stirring often. Toast whole spices, grind and add with cinnamon and ginger to beef as it browns.
When beef is brown and veggies translucent, add them together with tomato sauce.
Turn the heat up to medium high and stir contantly while you add enough chicken stock to make a consistency you like.
Add the rest of the spices, fennel tops, and salt, pepper, and chipotle to taste, turn down to a simmer, and let it go as long as you like.
We had ours over Eden’s Kamut Spirals, with our own fresh parsnips and green garlic and farmer’s market fresh broccolini and carrots in a lavender-lemon sauce, and three morels each fried in ghee on top.
With Bradley’s chopping, stirring, and spicing help, and Mom’s clean-up, the whole dinner had a very high quickness-to-deliciousness ratio.