Saturday, December 12, 2009

The cart before the horse

I've got a little problem with over planning. Or I'm overly ambitious. Or I am bipolar and have delusions of grandeur. All of this to say that when I get an idea I start with a small goal and by the end of the day I will have not only completed this goal, but I project that I will be the best to ever do it (in my mind, of course). I will outshine, outmaneuver and outsmart all the competition. I won't just bake a cake, I will bake the worlds most amazing cake, serve it to the president and other dignitaries, they will proclaim it the best cake ever. I then publish a cookbook chronicling my whole journey in cake making and end up number one on the New York Times Bestsellers List. Eventually I retire and spend my time with other famed literary and culinary greats. Yeah. I need to take a chill pill.

This blog is for friends and family and whoever would like to read it. I don't need to be like pioneer woman or bakarella or anyone other than myself. I don't need to learn the best way to make a career at blogging, or how to single handedly replace the magazine publishing business via my blog.

So, keeping it simple is my new philosophy. I will write about whatever is on my mind and I will not try to take over the world.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bury me with my crock pot please

Last night I made the most amazing dish, Stuffed Beef Chile Rellenos. I had just seen Julie and Julia the night before and in it Julia Childs ala Meryl Streep says in that godforsaken high pitched voice, "When presenting your food, never make excuses or apologies, just serve it with confidence."

So last night as I began to serve my food and launch into the usual litany of apologetic phrases, i.e. "It may need more salt" or "I've never done this before" or the most commonly used, "This will probably suck." Julia Child's voice popped in my head and I decided to serve the dish with confidence. I plated it up as though it were artwork that deserved the perfect spotlight. I had my best friend Bambi and my husband there to taste it and even though the evil voice in my head was apologizing profusely, protecting itself from the unforeseen harsh criticism of others, I ignored it and just let the tasting happen.

I was so happy that I did not make any apologies because immediately the table got very quiet and then I heard the sounds that every amateur chef wants to hear: "ooohhhh" "aahhhhh" "oh my..." "Yummmm." It made me so happy to see them happy from something I cooked. It is why I keep going back to try new things. I live for that moment. And I'm glad I didn't let the evil voice in my head ruin it with baseless judgments and meaningless apologies. I just gave into the vulnerability of the moment, when one has no clue how others with perceive her work, yet one risks all and lets people decide on their own. Too esoteric? I know.

Recipe soon to follow.

Thanks for reading.

Why I started this

I want family and friends to be updated about Gracie, who is now 7 months old. As for blogging in general, I've attempted to do it many, many times before. I'd start one, write a few entries and then abandon it and leave it to die. I just never had much to say beyond a few posts about godknowswhat.

Now that I have some stuff to say, blogging feels totally different. I have a unique perspective because my background is a little different than most people. I used to be a wild child (more about that later) and now I'm living the life of a modern Donna Reed. I used to go to punk rock concerts and pierce everything on my body and now I drive a minivan. Its been quite a transition, but I love my new life. I realized all the things I was searching for in my twenties like love, acceptance, and belonging were about to find me as I turned thirtysomething.

I want to talk about things that interest me like my daughter, learning to cook, being a stay-at-home-mom, and living in the big city. I write this for my friends, family and whoever wants to read it. I will try to update daily.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Baby food part 2

Here is part two of my baby food making adventure. By the way, the end cost analysis totally confirmed why I should be doing this more: The amount of baby food this yielded would have cost me $15.40 and I made all of this food for under $3.00! 

When the timer goes off (after 3 hours on high), get out your awesome blender or food processor and get ready to do some pulsing (pulsating?). Anyway... 

Once cooked the potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and spinach looked all yummy and stuff. If it looks like a lot of water is in the crock pot, don't worry. Once its all made up and stands overnight it will thicken on its own. Especially when making starchy vegetables like this. 

After pulsating on the highest level it would go to, I ended up with something resembling baby poop. 

Before I did anything else, I had to test it out on Gracie. After all, this is her grub. 

I got out her big spoon and just went for it. 

The immediate reaction was a little ambiguous.

Okay, very ambiguous.

But then she smiled and I knew she liked it. I tasted it too, and it was really good (for baby food). The sweet potato gave it just the right amount of sweetness.

I got out some storage supplies. I learned on the internet and from my mother-in-law that ice trays make excellent baby food storage. Each cube holds about an ounce of food.

Getting ready to freeze baby poop.

And just pop it into your freezer. Just like that.  I read later you should cover the ice trays with plastic wrap. I didn't do this and they ended up just fine, but you may want to do it to take sanitary precautions.  Once they freeze I will just pop them out of the tray and put them all into big zip lock freezer bag.  

I figured we would be using this much in the next few days, so I kept some of it fresh. 

The yield works like this:

16 oz bag of frozen spinach
2 sweet potatoes
3 regular potatoes                          =            10 cups of baby food 
1 bag of carrots

It would have yielded more had I put more water in it like I needed to.  After researching a little more I found that homemade baby food costs about 1/10th of store bought.  

This experiment went extremely well. The only down side is the mountain of dishes it creates, but thats a small price to pay to save that much money. I'm going to save about $50.00 a month and plus all those trips to Target I make at the last minute when I run out. 


Thanks for reading.  

Homemade baby food part 1

I am no hippie. I do live in California, but I don't recycle because I have bums who pick through my trash bin and do it for me. I use disposable diapers (on my daughter, not me), I drive a big minivan and I try not to walk anywhere if I can avoid it. Nobody walks in LA. Its true. 

So despite my anti-hippie lifestyle, I am today going to make my own baby food. I do this for a couple reasons, #1. I'm cheap and #2. I'm really cheap. I never miss a chance to use the ol' slow cooker so here goes my attempt at homemade baby food. 

I began with what I had in my fridge and pantry: potatoes, sweet potatoes and frozen spinach.

Chop up the potatoes and sweet potatoes into like size pieces, which normally is important but because a Crockpot is so forgiving, you could probably just throw the whole damn potato in and it would be fine. 

Get everything chopped and mixed, then remember you have carrots. 

Things got a little messy. 

By the way, the carrots were two degrees above freezing and my fingers just about froze from handling them. Remind me to turn up the temperature in my fridge.

Once everything is all chopped and mixed, pour in about a cup of water. *Edit: Once this was all cooked it and sat overnight it became very thick. Therefore, I'd recommend using three cups of water in a pot of starchy vegetables like this one. 

 Cook 3 hours on high and as Ron Popiel says, "Set it and forget it"

Baby spoons

My baby is big. She is in the 97th percentile for height and weight. She just turned 7 months old and weighs about 22-23 pounds. At birth she weighed 9 lbs 5oz and yes, I did deliver her the old fashioned way, through my VAGINA (love how that word makes everyone uncomfortable).

Anyway, I digress. I am giving Gracie 2 jars of expensive little baby food at every meal. Please don't get me started on the cost because I've already hatched a plan to circumvent the costs of that, but I don't want to talk about that here because its a much more boring post than this boring one I'm currently writing.

Ok, so the real reason for this post: Mothers guilt. The spoon I had been feeding her with were those cute little shallow baby spoons that aren't even baby spoons at all. They are little pieces of nearly flat soft plastic that hold the tiniest amount of baby food on them. It would take me 20 minutes to feed her with those tiny baby spoons. Here is the part I feel guilty over. I found these lovely honking huge spoons that someone gave me for my baby shower. They shovel in 10 times the amount of food as the little baby spoons and I AM LOVING THIS. Because now, I can feed her in 3 minutes instead of 20. And we all know that time is more precious than anything else when parenting. An extra 17 minutes to do, lets see, well how about nothing at all? Sounds good to me.

So of course, after I discover this, the evil voice in my head shows up and says: "Good moms don't try to figure out how to short change their kid so they can have more time to surf the internet." and "Good moms feed their dainty kids with dainty baby spoons and take the time to do it" AND "Your baby is going to grow up to be a large Marge, shoveling in chocolate ice cream with the biggest spoon on earth" Cut to a visual of 100ft tall Large Marge stomping around Los Angeles in search of chocolate ice cream.

Once again, I'm going to ignore that voice in my head because if she had her way with me, I would have a baby attached to my breast 24 hours a day, I would never go outside and everything in my life would be about how I can make my baby happy. Life just isn't like that. Babies aren't always happy and sometimes, in fact most of the time my baby is happy when I get an extra 17 minutes to surf the internet, because when mama is happy, everyone is happy.