Monthly Archives: June 2011

Maybe this kid will actually come early

So I’m not holding my breath or anything, but some end of the road symptoms have already started for me.

But this is me we’re talking about. You know, tons of false alarms only to end up nearly two weeks overdue.

My midwives say I am allowed to have the baby as early as July 12 which is when we think I will be 36 weeks.

So here is the evidence:

I have been consistently measuring 2-3 weeks ahead in both ultrasounds and the fundal height. With my other two I was always right on or a week behind. So maybe that’s a third baby is the biggest thing, maybe it’s not.

I’ve gotten several “you’ve dropped!” comments this week. This kid is like low. Feels uncomfortable to bend over because I might squish the head low. Bowling ball in my pelvis low. I think you get the picture.

End of pregnancy hives. Happened with the last two as well, right at the last week or two mark. Got a little patch today on my belly. Cortaid helped. Hope I can keep it under control.

The middle of the night dilemma of do I continue to lay on my current side which is starting to hurt or switch which the process of switching is uncomfortable and it takes so much effort. Maybe I can just lay here until my leg is numb. You know, when you are basically gigantic and uncomfortable no matter what.

Lots of Braxton Hicks. Some quite painful. But nothing consistent. Some days I have none. Other days, like today, it seems for no apparent reason any activity sets them off.

So anyway, there you go, a pregnancy update.

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Orzo Mac N’ Cheese with Ham and Zucchini

This is somewhat adapted from a Gourmet magazine recipe that I did years ago as part of a giant family Thanksgiving that I hosted and cooked for. I worked from memory and didn’t look up the recipe. I believe the recipe may have even been called “Grown-Up Mac ‘N Cheese,” or made reference to it being such.

It made enough to fill up two casserole dishes that will feed 4-5 depending on appetites. Which is perfect because I am trying to stock my freezer right now to be ready for baby #3.

Orzo Mac ‘N Cheese with Ham and Zucchini

Ingredients
• 1 package orzo pasta
• 1 large zucchini
• 1 boneless ham steak
• handful of shredded Mozzarella
• handful of shredded Monterey Jack
• handful of shredded cheddar
• dollop of sour cream based ranch dip (I make my own using sour cream and the herbs and spices I actually recognize from the back of a ranch packet/bottle/etc. It’s the only way I can be sure we aren’t eating some weird corn derivative or another random chemical I don’t recognize. Even the “natural” brands of ranch at Whole Foods have this. Grrr!)
• 1 tablespoon of butter
• 4-5 green onions

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook orzo according to package directions. You want al dente because it is going to cook more in the oven.

While pasta is cooking, dice your zucchini, ham, and green onions.

Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in all ingredients until well incorporated, reserving a little of the cheese.

Transfer to casserole dish(es) and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake 30 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges.

Remove and serve.

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Notes:

* If you want to go veggie, the ham is certainly optional. You may need to add a little salt in place of the salty ham.
* You could probably also add in other diced veg. I am thinking a red bell pepper would have been nice (and a good way to use up one of the three giant ones I got in our CSA box today) or peas or corn. The original recipe only had ham and green onions and three different fancy cheeses. So I wasn’t being terribly creative by just adding in the zucchini.
* You could also just use one kind of cheese, I happened to have those three in my fridge so that’s what I used.
*This is great with a salad.
*I am sure with the sour cream based ranch, butter and cheese this is full of tons of calories. I don’t worry about those things. If you do, you might want to consider substitutes. Or not eat food like this every night of the week.

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Food journey and values update

A little over a year ago, I did a three part series here on the blog about the role food played in my life growing up and the changes I had made over the years to the way we ate based on books and research I had read.

Part 1: Childhood

Part 2: Teens and Young-Adulthood

Part 3: Up to the then present

I think I felt kind of confident at the time that where we were at was a good place and I didn’t foresee any more major changes in the future. I felt pretty educated about the subject. I was also just kind of “done” on the subject of food research. It can be exhausting looking into all of the information and following rabbit trails. I knew what I knew and I was good with what I knew. I trusted some places and brands over others. I felt I was doing my best with the knowledge, budget, family support, etc. that I had.

Well, a year makes a difference. News stories are written. New books are recommended and written. Things get more complicated. Husbands read books of their own. And blissful ignorance isn’t good enough anymore at some point.

So I sort of feel like now this will be an ever changing and expanding storyline in my life. As I find out more things my values are going to change. There is a Maya Angelou quote, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

So, enough changes have taken place recently in our diet and lives that I have more to share.

The biggest impact on our lives was that Stephen read The Omnivore’s Dilema by Michael Pollan and I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Saffron Foer.

There have also been numerous articles in various publications over the last year about the FDA, USDA, our country’s food system, farming, pesticides, conglomerates like Monsanto, etc. that have caught our attention and made us think.

In some ways, writing about this seems especially hard because we still don’t have it all figured out. I also don’t want to offend people or make them think that what they are doing isn’t good enough because it is a subject I can get pretty fired up about. Nor do I want to offend those we eat with in our circle of friends and family that may not either share our same values or for whatever reason can’t make the changes that we have made due to their budget or dietary needs, etc. So forgive me if I ramble or don’t seem to have it all together quite yet.

So a year ago we got our dairy, meat and eggs from Trader Joe’s. We joined back up with the CSA Abundant Harvest for our produce. We still ate out at places that were above McDonald’s, but didn’t claim to source their ingredients from organic farms or even any place different than where ever it is that McDonald’s sources their ingredients from. We ate processed food from time to time (snacks mostly), but I did try/have to make a lot of things from scratch due to the kids’ food allergies. We avoided soy (except occasionally in the fermented form of soy sauce) due to things I’d read about phytoestrogens in soy products. We avoided non-traditional fats/oils and instead used mostly real butter and olive oil. We sometimes splurged for grass fed beef, but I had a hard time learning how to cook it and it was expensive so we mostly just got whatever was on sale and marked “organic” at Trader Joe’s. We trusted Trader Joe’s. We trusted labels like “organic” and “free range.” We made little effort beyond the more “superior” grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods to find out where our food came from.

And that last line is where all the change comes into our lives. After reading the books we did, neither of us could be comfortable ever again just walking into a grocery store and blindly trusting. We wanted to know.

Google searches led to reports and news articles and farm websites that told us (or went to great efforts to keep secret) where our food was coming from and we didn’t like everything that we found out.

Labels like organic now mean nothing to us if the cows/chickens/hogs are fed the same “organic” non-traditional diet (in other words “organic” corn and soy) as their non-organic counterparts. Or if they are kept in identical claustrophobic factory conditions with a small door where they are allowed to access outdoors, but don’t because they are too sick/obese/etc to be able to do so.

We started eating way less meat/eggs/dairy. We only get meat/eggs/dairy from places that we can find more about and trust that the animals are treated decently, given food they are traditionally supposed to eat and space/lifestyle/habitat/etc. that they are traditionally supposed to be in. Mostly that means we source these things either through our CSA via add-ons to our weekly box (I just discovered they have a whole series of videos about each of the farms), our local farmer’s markets and sometimes Whole Foods carries “local” stuff (an example is that I discovered the chicken our CSA sells from a family farm in Sanger, CA is available at Whole Foods and about $2-3 cheaper).

We have like three places we feel OK about eating out at. We are trying to figure how to eat when we are in social situations with people that don’t eat like us and for whom this is of no concern. It’s daunting sometimes. But I think it’s worth it. I think the changes we are making send a message and have an impact even if it is a fairly small one.

If you want to know more, feel free to comment and ask questions.

And one more thing… Chicken, people… Just Google “chicken fecal soup” and tell me you can be comfortable walking into any grocery store and buying a package of “organic” chicken again (hint, make sure your chicken package says 0% additional moisture, you are welcome).

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Asian inspired stone fruit chicken

It’s stone fruit season and our CSA is overflowing with it, as usual. We try to eat a lot of it raw, but I still have to freeze quite a bit, make cobblers, and try to find other uses.

I had 6 nectarines sitting in my fruit bowl and they were starting to get really fragrant so I knew they’d be getting near their end soon. Sure enough two down at the bottom were half moldy. I make this peach chicken recipe from a Betty Crocker cookbook that my husband loves. I don’t really love it, or at least I didn’t use to because it had canned peaches in it and I had a problem with the textures. At one point I came up with a more sophisticated version of the recipe, but I think it may be sitting in a Word document on my computer in the aftermath of one of my blog shut-down freak-outs.

So tonight for a little twist on that recipe, I decided to try an Asian-inspired, stone fruit version of orange chicken. As I put the plates down I said, “This could be really good or really bad. Complete experiment.” I have confidence issues. I think you could probably use peaches, nectarines or even plums. Anyway, it was good and blog worthy, so here goes…

Asian-inspired stone fruit chicken

Ingredients
-1 egg
-1/2 cup flour
-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
-Chinese Five Spice powder
-sesame oil
-high temp tolerant oil for stir frying
-salt
-4 medium nectarines, skin and stone removed, chopped
-soy sauce
-white wine (I used some two buck Chuck I bought today and I didn’t even get carded, sad face)
-thumb size piece of ginger root, grated
-2 cloves garlic, pressed

In a low bowl, season egg with salt and a dash of Chinese Five Spice powder and then whisk to scramble. In another low bowl mix flour and 1 tsp of Chinese Five Spice powder. Coat each piece of chicken in the egg mixture and then in the flour mixture and put on a plate while you finish doing the whole batch.

In a wok add a half-dollar circle of your high temp oil and a dime circle of the sesame oil. Add half the grated ginger and pressed garlic. Heat over medium high heat until fragrant and then add chicken stir frying here and there to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, in a smaller pan or wok repeat the oil process with the rest of the ginger and garlic, over medium heat. Add in your nectarines (or fruit of your choice) a dash of Chinese Five Spice, a few glugs of wine and couple glugs soy sauce (sorry no exact measurements, I just pour what seems right) and simmer while stir frying your chicken. Sprinkle a little flour over the nectarine mixture and stir it in to help it thicken. When chicken is no longer pink inside, add the nectarine mixture to the chicken and stir fry a few seconds more.

Serve over steamed rice with a lightly steamed vegetable like green beans or asparagus.

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Blueberry picking 2011

Yesterday a moms group from our church met up at Underwood Farms in Somis for blueberry picking.

I was a little unsure about this activity by myself with both kids, but decided I would try anyway. We were the only ones out there because it was so drizzly so all our kids palled around getting muddy, hunting gophers, and eating more blueberries than they put in their buckets.

Sprout was actually really good at finding the bluest ones and eating them. He didn’t eat any green. He’d just wander down the row, find a bush and stand there picking and eating. Bean was much more interested in being a social butterfly, making new friends and following them everywhere. She did some picking for her bucket, but then would eat them all.

The drizzly day made it pretty nice. In the past it has been too hot and there were a lot of bees. It was nice and cool, no sunburns, not too wet and no bees.


A big salad featuring the fruits of our (my) labor seemed like a good idea last night…


…until somebody picked out and ate all “da boo-bries” (yes he uses some words now) and then didn’t want to have anything to do the rest.


Of course whole grain blueberry pancakes for breakfast this morning.


Yes, stacked three high for the pregnant lady.

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