Archive | February, 2011

Quinoa linguine with butternut squash, spinach, shallots and artichoke hearts

24 Feb

I have been thinking about a lot of things as usual. One of which is going veg again.

Also, Lent is coming up and traditionally Christians fast from animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, fish, etc.) during this time (this Sunday is meat fare Sunday, the last time traditional practicing Christians can have meat and I think next Sunday is cheese fare Sunday, the last Sunday for dairy products before Easter). We still aren’t sure if we are participating in this, this particular year, but we are thinking about it.

Doing more research on the food industry just really has me bummed out about meat especially. I have been watching YouTube video interviews with Jonathan Saffron Foer, author of Eating Animals, and I really like some of the stuff he says like, how it doesn’t have to be all or nothing and how vegetarians need not be on some extreme end of the spectrum. How reducing the amount of meat we eat, even if just one meal a week, can make a big impact on the industry.

Plus, eating meat, touching it, and all that has been really hard for me much of this pregnancy. Often the texture just really turns me off. In the case of red meat, I feel like I can often taste the blood (that is the only way I know to describe it, hope it makes sense). Meat just leaves me feeling so gross most of the time.

But consequently there is the whole importance of protein during pregnancy and how it is really, really hard to get up to Dr. Bradley’s recommended 80g or more per day even when you are eating meat. I know I feel better when I get close and really focus on it, but focusing on it can be a little maddening.

Then there is the frustration in week after week seeing a lot of our CSA produce going to waste or building to seemingly insurmountable levels in our fridge. I was thankful that our mini-vacation meant not getting more produce this week.

I still don’t know all the answers to these questions and thoughts, but here is a recipe that is vegetarian, gluten-free, yummy, uses produce currently in season and is filling.

Quinoa linguine with butternut squash, spinach, shallots and artichoke hearts

Ingredients:
-2 small butternut squash peeled and chopped
-a bunch of spinach, stems removed
-2 large shallots, chopped
-2 baby artichokes, trimmed and chopped (I also think marinated artichoke hearts might work well in this recipe, but you’d obviously skip the step of boiling them)
-1/2 box of Ancient Harvest Quinoa linguine
-handful of fresh parsley, chopped
-salt and black pepper to taste
-dash of red pepper flakes
-a dribble of apple cider vinegar
-olive oil
-cheddar or Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Chop and peel your butternut squash. Place in a bowl and toss to coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast in oven for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile start a small pot of water boiling. Trim and chop your artichokes then place in boiling water. Boil until tender.

While that is going remove the stems from the spinach and rinse it. Once the artichoke hearts are done pour the boiling water and artichokes over the spinach to wilt it. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Start a large pot of salted water to boil for your pasta. When it comes to a boil add pasta and cook according to package directions.

The squash should finish soon. Add that in with the spinach and artichoke hearts.

After draining pasta, return the empty pot to the burner, reduce it slightly. Add a couple gluts of olive oil to the pot along with the shallots, more salt and pepper, the red pepper and the apple cider vinegar. Stir occasionally and sauté the shallots until tender.

While the shallots are cooking, cut up the parsley. Toss it in right at the end along with the other vegetables and the pasta. Add more olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.

Serve and grate cheese over the top if desired.

This made enough for all four of us with leftovers for one tomorrow. An easy way to have it make more would be to use the whole box of pasta, add in more artichokes, etc.

The day my baby sister deployed for the first time with the Marines (and the Navy, but we don’t talk about them)

24 Feb

This past weekend we went down to Southern Orange County and the San Diego area to spend time with my family and see my sister off as she deployed on the USS Green Bay.

It was an interesting experience. I guess I haven’t really ever considered myself to be especially patriotic (shocking, right?). I mean, I think we live in a good country and I am lucky and all that, but I also see problems and don’t always agree with decisions that are made by our country. Plus, I have a certain romantic spot in my heart for the UK, always have. A few friends of mine in the “same boat” (haha, gotta love that little pun I stuck in there), said that seeing the deployment of a family member changes that a bit for you. And I guess that was partially true.

I think it was kind of talked up quite a bit so my expectations were pretty high. Plus, I guess I expected way more families to be there, actually. My sister said that there were three ships deploying that morning and that there would be thousands of families to say goodbye to the thousands of marines and sailors that were deploying that morning. So it was kind of weird to me that there were maybe 30-50 people total at the pier saying goodbye. It felt empty. And I felt bad that some people didn’t even have someone there to say goodbye to or see them off.

I did not get emotional, or choke up which I was told to expect. But my sister said that was probably a good thing because it makes it so much harder for her. She said it was good having emotionally stable people there.

So anyway, for those of you not on Facebook, here are the photos we got before she left.


I forgot to check all my settings before clicking away, so this photo was totally over exposed. I loved it though and couldn’t just send it to the trash. Picasa helped me edit it and I actually think it wound up looking the best of all the photos. Ha! The magic of digital photography. :)


Bean’s face in this one is just hilarious and priceless. She was being such a stinker that morning. I don’t think she completely understood what was going on, but I’m glad we brought both the kids anyway. Still, they were more concerned about breakfast and going to the children’s museum later than anything else.


“That’s the big ship!”


I am really glad we got a little time with my sister that morning before she set off. Because between all the last minute errands she had to run and us seeing my husband’s San Diego family I felt like we hardly saw eachother even though we were down for four days.


Yes, I look like a ragamuffin. It was cold. And early (I woke up at 4am). I feel like the last two days we were down I never felt warm the whole time. All the people bragging about their 85 and sunny weather down there in the weeks before completely failed me because I did not bring proper shoes or clothes for the weather we did encounter. Except my wool coat. It wasn’t enough though. Still, who am I to complain… my sister was in her very thin, short sleeve “Charlies”. Her hands were numb.


This is not the ship my sister is on. It is the USS New York which is being built in San Diego harbor, but will be stationed on the East Coast. It was built with scrap metal from the World Trade Center. You don’t see that kind of thing very often so I decided it was worthy of a picture. My sister said just a few weeks ago it hardly looked like a ship at all and she was surprised when she came down to drop off her stuff at how much they had gotten done on it in that time period.


There she is “manning the rails” and sneaking in one of her signature peace signs right before they set off.


A more appropriate picture.


Everyone else in place now too.


Raising the flag. So interesting thing happened while this was going on. I expected the Star Spangled Banner. Not unreasonable, right? Instead they played the short trumpeting fanfare that they play at the start of a race, like a horse race (Google tells me it is called “The Call to the Post”). A little while later there was another flag raising ceremony on a ship behind us and they played both that and then the Star Spangled Banner. I guess the title of the fanfare sort of makes it make sense though.


And there they go off into San Diego Bay.

Here is a little blurb from the San Diego Union Tribune that my husband’s grandparents clipped for us that morning.

So funny thing happened. We didn’t leave San Diego until around 2:30 that afternoon. We decided to go to a big breakfast and then take the kids to a children’s museum afterwards. As we were driving thru Camp Pendleton, on the horizon what do we see? Three ships, including a big one in the middle with towers and shaped just like the Green Bay. We were a bit puzzled because we know those ships go faster than that and they left pretty early in the morning. So why in the world would they still be here? I talked to my sister this afternoon and turns out they just floated on up to Pendleton to pick up some equipment. I am kicking myself for not having Stephen pull over at the viewpoint there and take a big expansive sunny picture of the three ships on the horizon. Oh well. This also explains why my sister had cell reception a few hours later and was sending me text messages and posting on Facebook. Ha!

Oh and as to the title of my post, there is a bit of a rivalry between Marines and Navy even though they are technically the same department. My sister found out shortly after getting on that she is the only female Marine on the entire ship. Which means 7 months of razzing for her from her female Navy counterparts. Not fun. :(

The ramblings of a very frustrated person

23 Feb

I am frustrated about a ton of stuff right now.

And it all feels completely overwhelming. Like there is nothing that can be done. No good choices. All compromises. Hard compromises. Imperfection.

Historically, personally speaking, this has been the worst time for me to write a post. But it is so maddening that I can think of nothing better than writing it all out.

Where to begin?

I guess I will start at the food industry. It pretty much sucks. Alternatives are not always affordable. I already feel like our grocery budget is completely outrageous compared to most people. And then we are supposed to afford all this other stuff, like preschool.

Which brings me to that topic. And how it is completely agreed upon that every child should go to preschool, that it has many benefits and children who go thru it are more successful. And how Kindergarten teachers I know that see on a child’s history that they didn’t go to preschool and automatically label them from the beginning as a problem child. But it is, in many cases, prohibitively expensive. So in our case we are settling for something mediocre, but barely affordable and even then my husband is making a big deal about the cost.

And the housing market and how we bought at the worst time ever and our house is now worth 45% less than when we bought it. And we don’t even get to live in it. Or how we’ll never be able to afford to live in a house in this city.

Or how PETA is complaining about how makeup brushes are made with animal fur and bad for animal welfare and skin so here use these other kinds made with taklon which is a polyester synthetic petroleum product and petroleum is bad for the environment too.

And how this city is too close to LA and everyone is so driven and aggressive and I find it highly annoying trying to compete with it.

And how I basically want to drop out of life and live in the middle of nowhere and just have a farm and barely make out an existence, but who cares because then at least I would have complete control over all the inputs into my family’s diet.

Or how everyone goes on these nice vacations to foreign countries and Disneyland and we don’t even have passports or the ability to go anywhere pretty much ever and every time we do go on vacation it results in arguments about money stuff for the next several months afterwards which completely negates any relaxing or fun effects of a vacation.

Or how vacations are just exhausting and means you usually have to deal with a lot of annoying people at airports or on the road or at Disneyland or at a children’s museum. Which is just annoying because life is already full of enough of that.

Or how my cloth diapers that are supposed to be environmentally friendly by reducing the amount of trash in our landfills (1 ton per kid per year) are made out of petroleum products and probably caused more harm to the environment while they were being made than if I just used disposables all along. But then how disposables are super expensive and we’ve already invested in cloth. And how the diapers won’t let go of their funk and it has been frustrating me for about a year now.

Or how I have made converts out of people with regards to cloth or food or homebirth, but what does that say about my ability to evangelize “the things that have eternal importance” and how most people just see me as another angry environmentalist wacko with too much time for research on my hands who’s faith is secondary?

And speaking of faith, how just when you think you’ve found what you are looking for the Church fails you again and you realize that no matter what there are really hard compromises to be made and how you believe in Jesus and all that but pretty much have started to hate church in general. Because it is sucky people making sucky mistakes and being generally sucky and I just want to be a hermit on my farm in the middle of nowhere.

The end.

Hoo Hoo, or why I haven’t been able to get back to sleep the last hour

18 Feb

Actual conversation that took place at 3am

Owl: Hoo Hoo
Stephen: (sits up in bed) Is that an owl?!? (gets up, goes to window to listen)
Owl: Hoo Hoo
Stephen: (walks into nursery and turns down the sound machine, opens baby gate and walks halfway down the stairs to listen more)
Owl: Hoo Hoo … Hoo Hoo … Hoo Hoo
Me: (meanwhile I am still half asleep and likely to fall back asleep despite the commotion, just starting to drift back off though the owl is kind of annoying especially without the white noise machine drowning it out)
Stephen: (comes back upstairs and starts shaking me awake)
Me: uuuhhhhmmmmmuhhhhhhh
Stephen: Hey, I need you to listen and tell me if you think you hear an owl.
Me: uuuuhhhmmmmmuuuhhhhh… Why does if matter?
Stephen: Because it sounds like a person to me.
Owl: Hoo Hoo
Me: It sounds like an owl.
Stephen: So they really sound like someone saying, “Hoo Hoo?”
Me: It’s totally an owl.
Owl: Hoo Hoo … Hoo Hoo … Hoo Hoo
Stephen: You’re sure?
Me: I don’t know Stephen! It sounds like an owl to me. I can’t see the owl. Why would someone be out there saying that anyway?
Stephen: Up to funny business.
Owl: Hoo Hoo … Hoo Hoo … Hoo Hoo .. Hoo Hoo
Stephen: It’s just so loud. I thought it would be more like a pigeon.

So thank you, Mr. Owl, for cutting off my night of sleep much earlier than I was ready for it to end.

“This kid is proud and endowed…”

11 Feb

It all started at 2 am yesterday when I was awakened by the strong urge to run to the bathroom and eject my dinner. From then until about 5 am I had to pray to the porcelain gods every 15-30 min. Finally, I got a two hour break and slept. But the mass exodus of nutrient and liquid from my body continued periodically through the day. I was managing small sips of liquids (Pedialite is the most awful stuff ever, by the way) and actually thought I was managing the situation pretty well.

I am pretty sure this wasn’t typical morning sickness, although even Stephen had a hard time believing that at first given my history. Thing is I really haven’t been that sick this pregnancy compared to the other two. I have felt nauseous and there were a few dry heaving sessions early in the morning right at that 6-8 week intense period, but overall this pregnancy has been pretty easy. The last week and a half I have felt pretty good. I made dinner a couple nights and have been catching up on household chores like laundry and I even made it out of the house a few times to do some fun stuff with the kids. There is a stomach bug going around here (among other things like influenza, and the mucus/fever producing virus our kids and I got) I knew several people experiencing it.

Anyway, this just wasn’t like morning sickness. I know I am pregnant and that seems most probable, but I know my body and I knew this was some kind of stomach virus or food poisoning. A catalogue of what we’d eaten the past few days indicated that food poisoning would also be striking some other family member at this point that I’d shared a meal with. Since everyone else felt fine, knew that wasn’t it.

There was a misadventure yesterday while I was home with the kids by myself in my less than tip top shape. I didn’t want to get out of bed really so we closed off the upstairs, put Bean in diapers and let the kids have free reign of our bedroom and theirs. They checked in periodically with me, but mostly played nicely and quietly by themselves. However, dress up clothes, LittlePeople blocks, books, a rocking horse and a farm toy only could take them so far.

Late in the morning they made their way into our room and began raiding the closet. Sprout has a thing for my patent red Chinese Laundry flats so they were first to come out of the closet for sister to try to wear. This was followed by pretty much every other shoe we owned plus a few scarves and belts they were able to pull down.

At some point during all this I was called to my second favorite place that morning (with my bed being the first). When I was able to emerge, to my horror Sprout was walking around gnawing on a hunk of shoe polish and Bean was grinding the rest into the floor with the metal shoe polish canister. I swooped Sprout up and grabbed the big black waxy chunk out of his hands in a complete panic. Both kids had shoe polish all over themselves. I called Stephen screaming, “What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?” frantically into the phone. He texted the poison control hotline number over while I held Sprout under the sink to wash his mouth out of most of the particles. It didn’t seem like he swallowed much, just chewed on it. I got on the phone with poison control and the woman said, “You know, it’s mostly just wax with a little bit of dye in it. I really don’t expect much to happen.” Phew! I put Sprout in his crib and made Bean sit on her bed while I tried to clean up most of the mess. Then I promptly threw up. Called Stephen back to let him know it was all OK.

He came home for lunch and put the kids down for a nap and the rest of the day was uneventful. Though, Bean did pull out all the cloth diaper baskets and had strewn the cloth diapers all over her room after her nap, for fun. At one point I even started to feel more hungry (starving) than sick and managed to keep a few crackers and some toast down for three hours. But it wasn’t meant to be and back out it all came.

Stephen got home from work not too long after the kids woke up from their naps, although it was much too long for Sprout who had a stinky I couldn’t really deal with. He was kind of angry about it. Stephen got the kids changed and loaded up with plans for In-N-Out for dinner (I was obviously abstaining).

Well, about 10 min after he left I started feeling crampy low in my pelvis. Not good. Then they started to get regular, 30 seconds long and 3 min apart. What. The. Heck. I hadn’t thrown up most of the afternoon. I had been doing good with my sips of juice and water. Not good enough apparently.

Called Stephen, “I need to go to the ER right now. I am having contractions.” Left a message for my midwife to update her on this latest development and Stephen was back home. After a quick change (I know this is low priority, but I am vain and my snowman PJ pants were not appropriate plus they really clashed with the bright orange tank top I had on) we were in the car and a few minutes later checking in to the ER.

I hate hospitals and pretty much wanted to turn around and leave. But I didn’t and got checked in quickly. Then more waiting. Sister-in-law and her husband came by. She sat with me while Stephen went back to the house for overnight supplies with the kids and his brother-in-law and to eat since my call interrupted that earlier.

I met with the on-call doctor. She said it sounded like a stomach bug too and that they’d seen a lot of it. I would be having an IV to get me hydrated, blood work to check my electrolyte levels, anti-nausea meds, an ultrasound and a pelvic exam during my stay. They would get me a room ASAP. Nice. Mostly this was old hat for me after everything I went through with Bean’s pregnancy. I knew what to expect, but why did I need a pelvic exam?

Anyway, sister-in-law got to go back with me for the ultrasound (Stephen still wasn’t back yet). The ultra-sound tech had a good sense of humor. He looked at baby. Baby was measuring 16 weeks, not the 14 from my due date. And even though we told him I didn’t want to know the gender before I knew it there he was with the legs splayed on the screen for all to see.

“Are you sure you don’t want to know?”
“Well I can pretty much see it.”
“Yeah, this kid’s proud and endowed. Hmmm oh wait, no that might be the umbilical cord. Let me take a look here…”

He then switched to the blood flow view and decided it was the umbilical cord.

“So, still unconfirmed. You get your surprise.”

When I came back Stephen was there. Got to talk to our midwife. She said they wanted to do a pelvic exam to see if I was dilated at all, but I could decline it. I decided this seemed like a good reason.

So a blood draw for blood tests (which came back normal), two bags (liters) of saline, lots of shivering, some Reglan (hate that stuff all it ever does is make me go to the bathroom), four near emergency trips to the bathroom, more shivering, some Imodium, some Zofran and a pelvic exam (which showed I was not dilated) later, it was 11 pm and they were discharging me with a dose of Zofran to take home and a prescription for more.

Overall the experience was much better than any at the ER in Bakersfield, but I still hate hospitals and getting IVs.

Got a great night of sleep. Woke up with a Zofran headache and actually don’t feel too nauseous. Hope today is better and I can keep down food.

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