Penelope (aka Pats), my 8 month old, has been busting through motor milestones since she first rolled over at 5 weeks. Sitting up, crawling, pulling to stand, cruising, climbing stairs...but about 3 weeks ago or so, she hit my favorite one: clapping. So, between her and Nora, I know have 2 people to applaud me. On command. Basically a dream come true. Yes, I’m into my kids doing parlor tricks. No, I’m not into baby beauty pageants. I mean, I’m into watching the train wreck on TV, just not into entering my children in them. Lie. I’m totally into them and would force them on my girls as often as possible, but my husband would surely leave me and take my babies from me. Humf. Doesn’t he realize how gorgeous AND brilliant AND hilarious AND entertaining our offspring are? Doesn’t he realize that for every $1,000 we spend on baby prostitute costumes and drive-thru McDonald’s we could potentially win up to $250 in cash and prizes. Man, that guy’s thick sometimes. I mean, I’m doing it for the children. Jeez. Anyhoo, where was I? Oh yeah: APPLAUSE. Well, more specifically, APPRECIATION. Why is it that the most difficult jobs seem to get the least appreciation? We put reality stars on pedestals, drowning them in money and accolades. (Side bar: this is in no way a dis on reality stars. It is my dream to be one of them. Soon.) But when’s the last time you drove by a guy working on a telephone wire, or hanging from a high rise washing windows and rolled down your window and shouted “Hey! Keep up the good work!”? I slap on some lashes and sing a few Patsy Cline songs: instant standing ovation. I spend 10 hours at home alone with 2 babies, up to my elbows in shit, keeping everyone fed, clean, napped and happy. All while, trying to prepare supper for my husband who will be starving when he arrives home and keeping the house clean to the standard that will make child services at bay and what do I get? A big fat nuthin’. OK, maybe a heartfelt thank you and a tongue kiss. But from the princesses I’ve been catering to all day? Technically nothing. Their shining faces smiling up at me? Yeah. More like a fist full of applesauce in my hair and a tantrum about some Elmo bowl that’s missing that I’m PRETTY sure we never owned in the first place. Oy vey.
Man, I’m such a pussy. SO many women do this day in and day out for the better part of 20 years! Stay at home with their kids, I mean. THESE WOMEN ARE MY HEROES. Or they’re bat shit crazy. I can’t decide which.I’ve been on the job for about 3 weeks on and off. Maybe I just suck at it. Maybe... I’m doing it wrong? I don’t get it. For real. Meaning, I don’t UNDERSTAND the requirements of my job. It’s truly insane. Maybe it’s the ages of my kids. Nora, 2, is pretty self-sufficient but still would strangle herself with a stray USB cable thinking it’s a princess necklace. And Pats-whew!-pulling herself up and starting to cruise...she literally needs an eye on her at all times. I recall one particular day a couple weeks ago where I didn’t pee for like 6 hours. I finally got a chance, looked to my right to find no toilet paper. Awesome. And, I can easily see how the stay at home mom could weigh 85 lbs or 385 lbs. I think all I ate over the course of the day one day was a spoonful of cold mac and cheese, and maybe the scraps off a stray lunch plate. That is until Nora FINALLY went down for her nap and I started shoving Halloween candy down my throat in the corner of the kitchen like an 8 yr old Jehovah’s Witness. And moms who say they only let there kids watch 30 minutes of TV a day?!?! Does that count DVDs and youtube? What do you do for the rest of the day? Seriously. I’m curious. Tell me. Play with blocks and do flashcards? ALL day? I’m not being a smart ass. I really need to know. Comment, please. Help! Oh my GOD. I just thought of women in the 50‘s...No PBS Kids or Nick Jr OnDemand? Fuuuck. Well...I guess they weren’t privy to the side effects at the time, and could smoke cigarettes all day and not feel bad about it. Ok. So they had that.
I said to my friend Jen, in passing, “If you stay at home and raise your children all alone, when they reach their 18th birthday the government should give you, like $50,000 per kid or something.” Then I started really thinking about that and I did a little math. I knew I’d use it one day. So, based on the minimum wage of NYC x 365 days x 18 years... we’re talking $476,325! That’s nothing! Seriously. If a mother, after 18 years, provides society with an upstanding citizen with no criminal record and a high school diploma, she needs something. A kickback. Some cash. A Target gift card for crying out loud. And if she can prove she has no income outside of the home, shouldn’t she at least be provided with healthcare? (But that’s a horse of a different color. Let’s not go there. Just yet.) No. She needs SOMETHING. Right? God love them but she needs something more than a macaroni necklace and hug. Doesn’t she? Don’t you? Don’t I? Does that make me/you/her a terrible mother for needing more? I don’t know... I guess I’m just in the thick of it right now. Eventually Nora and Pats will go off to activities and school all day and play dates and (gasp) real dates. Eventually they will both be able to comprehend that I need to leave the room for 2 minutes to take a poop. Alone. I’m sure then feelings of loneliness and “now what?” will set it and I’ll be bitching to you about how my kids don’t need me anymore...sigh...
I know I’ve touched on “moments” before, but of all the motherhood cliches, I think I can now most wrap my head around the fact that you truly NEVER GET THIS TIME BACK. Work will always be there. 50 is the new 30. Hello? Demi Moore much? CATHY RIGBY much? That bitch is still flying playing “Peter Pan” and she’s, like, 112 years old. It’s never too late to start Pilates and there’s no age limit on afternoon pedicures. But your babies simply won’t be babies for long. Pats is fat and standing and it feels like a week ago she was legally blind with baggy knees. UNreal. So instead of feeling bitter that I’m “forced to be home,” I’m gonna start feeling overwhelmingly blessed to have this time with my girls that a lot of people don’t have the luxury of getting. I’m going to read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” till my eyes blur. I’m going to let Nora change into 5 party dresses a day and dance in the living room with her as much as possible. I’m going to cuddle Pats on the couch till she falls asleep every night till she doesn’t want to anymore. Cause eventually...she won’t want to anymore. Sooner than later I’m sure my dancing will be “stupid,” and everything I do will be “so lame.” And someday I’m sure I’ll be on the other side of a slammed bedroom door, being emotionally crushed hearing, “I HATE YOU! I WISH I WAS NEVER BORN!” (shudder) Yikes. Way worse than watching the same episode of Fireman Sam 50 times. So, for now, I will breathe in every second of these little girls just being...little. I will wear my macaroni necklaces and greasy hair and chipped toenails with pride. And, yes, I will take that applause anyway I can get it.
|Pats the Clapper, my biggest fan|
So, this was our first Thanksgiving as a completed fam of 4. Also, the first where I hosted and cooked the entire meal. We just had a few of Jeremy’s work friends over. Very chill. Our guest were Canadian, and already celebrated Thanksgiving in October. That, added to the fact that I’m not super crazy about turkey, led me to a inspired-by but not necessarily a traditional menu. This works out good for you, cause you can take advantage of these recipes for the rest of the season! Here’s what I whipped up:
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP w/ chicken-apple sausage
HERB CRUSTED PORK LOIN
STEEL-CUT STUFFING w/ cranberries
MASHED PARSNIPS w/ candied rosemary bacon
SAUTEED BUTTON MUSHROOMS
HOMEMADE CINNAMON APPLESAUCE (I forgot this in the fridge, and it never actually made it to the table...but it was delish!)
I greeted our guests with a “Patsy.” An awesome cocktail with the flavors of pear and ginger. Yes, please! I put out some cheese and crackers and grapes to munch on. Our guest brought a pie, some cookies, and some bread for the table. It was PERFECT. I sent each of them home with small doggie bags, so we don’t have a disgusting amount of food leftover. Wasted food makes me CRAZY. It actually revolts me.
Most of these recipes you can find from previous entries. You can click on the highlighted ones and it’ll take you back. Here’s the rest. SO EASY.
While I was pregnant with Pats, my number one craving was chewy candy. Specifically Juicy Pear Jelly Belly jelly beans. I dropped a small fortune on them regularly at Dylan’s Candy Bar in NYC. The smell of pears just makes me so happy now. It was a crazy but amazing pregnancy chock full of great memories. This drink pays homage to that time in my life and the gorgeous creature that came out of it. Also, it celebrates a holiday season when I don’t have a newborn or a fetus and I can finally drink again! This cocktail is sure to loosen up any gathering! I suggest having one and switching to wine or beer...
1 1/2 oz Absolut Pears vodka
Drizzle of agave nectar maybe 1/2 tsp?
Fresh lemon juice
Splash of ginger beer In a pinch, regular ginger ale would work fine. But the spiciness of real old fashioned ginger beer makes all the diff.
Fill a small rocks glass with crushed ice. Drizzle in a little agave and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice. Pour in vodka and top with a splash of ginger beer. Give it a little stir and enjoy! Responsibly.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP W/ CHICKEN APPLE SAUSAGE
1 package, fully cooked chicken-apple sausage. You can usually find this near the hot dogs in the grocery store. There’s a few different brands. Just make sure it says fully cooked. You could also use turkey kielbasa, or regular kielbasa, or any other fully cooked smoked sausage.
3 boxes, frozen squash. In the frozen veg aisle. Sometimes it says butternut squash, sometimes just squash or winter squash. they come in boxes just like frozen chopped spinach does.
1 box (4 cups), chicken stock
red pepper flakes
All the spices to taste. I add just a tiny pinch of the pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. If you like it spicier, add more.
Slice up sausage into about 1/4 inch rounds. If you like bigger chunks, cut ‘em bigger. In the bottom of a nice sized pot drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and brown up the sausage for just a minute or two over med heat. Add in frozen squash, stock, spices. Cover. Bring to a boil, everything will melt together. Bring down for a simmer for as little as 10 minutes, just for the flavors to marry. Boom. Done. You can make this the day before, or early that morning. It just gets better and better as it sits and thickens up a bit. I had it for breakfast the next morning (actually so did Nora!) and it was AMAZING!
HERB CRUSTED PORK LOIN
I think this may be the best “main” protein dish I’ve ever made! Just sayin! You can make this ahead of time and pop it in the oven for supper.
|In case you're not familiar with pork tenderloin, here she is. Naked.|
2 loins of pork A lot of stores sell them in a 2-pack. If not, just get 2. Unless it’s just for a date night. Then, split recipe in half. But for 4 or more people trust me, get 2. There may be leftovers, but it will NOT go to waste. WAY easier to slice up a pork loin for sandwiches, than dragging the whole turkey carcass out of the fridge.
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 grated parmesan cheese
1 cup panko (japanese-style) bread crumbs
Fresh rosemary, sage, thyme use whatever quantities of each you like, just so you end up with about a 1/2 c combined. I went heavy on the sage cause it was Thanksgiving. You can also use other herbs (parsley, tarragon, etc) if you like them better. but this was a SUPER delicious combination.
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Mix shallot, garlic, herbs, breadcrumbs and cheese into softened butter in a medium bowl. Place pork side by side in a foil lined baking dish and pat dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper both sides of meat. Split butter mixture down the middle and spread half on each loin. “Smooshing” it down with your hands works best. Done. It goes in a preheated 350 degree oven, uncovered for 1 hour. Then cover loosely with foil and continue to cook for 15-20 more minutes until your meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Let meat rest 20 minutes before slicing and serving. If you don’t, all the juices will run out and the meat will be dry. Please make this. Its so f-ing good.
For Thanksgivin’, to the original recipe I added 1 stalk of celery when I sauteed the apple and onion, swapped chicken stock for beef stock, and stirred in 1/2 cup of dried cranberries at the end. I omitted the greens, but feel free to keep ‘em in.
MASHED PARSNIPS W/ CANDIED ROSEMARY BACON
Ok. Parsnips. This year I became obsessed with making parsnips. Never made them before. Never even tasted them before. They talk about them on an episode of Curious George that Nora watches over and over, so they were on the brain. Anyhoo, they’re super yummy. Basically like a combo between a carrot and a potato. Really just like a big, fat, white carrot. An interesting switch up from the same old mashed potato.
2-3 lbs of parsnips
|Pre-peeled, pre-diced parsnips|
2 tbsp butter
Half and half, milk, cream, whatever
Make the bacon and set aside. In a previous post I call it WORLD FAMOUS BACON. Peel parsnips and chop into a large dice. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for about 7 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain. Pour back into hot pot. Add butter. Add a little milk and start mashing. Add more milk if you like them looser. Just watch as you go. I like mine with a little chunky texture. Salt and pepper to taste. Chop up bacon and scatter on top. I suppose you could mix it in if you like, but I like it just on the top. Totally different. Totally good. GREAT holiday side dish!
1 lb button mushrooms
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
Drizzle of olive oil
2 tbsp butter
Beyond easy. The mushrooms I bought even came pre-washed. If yours don’t, simply brush off any dirt with a damp towel. Don’t run them under water. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter. Add shallots and sautee for a few minutes till softened. Add mushrooms and cook for another 10 minutes or so till shrooms are brown and delicious looking. THEN add salt and pepper. If you add salt to the mushrooms right when you put them in the pan, they’ll come out tough. Another simple sidedish: done and delicious.
This is barely a recipe. Clean and break the little end nubbers of the beans. Drop in boiling water for about 7 minutes. Drain. Butter. Salt. Eat. Don’t wanna eat butter? Olive oil. Salt. Eat. Personally, I wanna taste the vegetable. Not the cream of mushroom soup. Whoa. Yeah, I said it.
HOMEMADE CINNAMON APPLESAUCE
I make all of Penelope’s baby food from scratch. Nora ate everything from a jar. I wanted to make a real effort to stick to it this time around and I have to tell you, it’s been SO EASY and SO worth it. I actually bought that Baby Bullet! As seen on TV! It’s been the BEST. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a new baby or is about to. We ordered our online for about $60. I’ve gotten my money’s worth over and over again. Anyhoo, Pat’s LOVES cinnamon. She wolfs down anything with cinnamon in it. This applesauce is truly the best I’ve ever tasted. No added sugar. No added anything. Just apples. And cinnamon.
3 large apples, on Thursday I chose Pink Ladys. They are so sweet and good, but use what you like.
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Peel and dice apples. Place into a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let cook for about 5 minutes, till apples are fork tender. Pour apples (reserve cooking water) into Baby Bullet, blender, or food processor. Pulse to desired consistency. Add a bit of the cooking liquid if need be to loosen it up a bit. So amazing with the pork. It would also be off the hook with homemade latkes for Chanukah. Oooh! I just thought of that and I’m totally doing it. Or, just as a healthy side dish or snack anytime.
|My partially devoured plate: (clockwise from left) parsnips, string beans, steel-cut stuff in', shrooms, roll, pork|
I hope you try some of these dishes over the holidays and let me know how they turn out!