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Time for Pie

June 21, 2013

Happy summer, pie eaters.

In honor of the first day of summer, I made a blueberry pie. In fact, I just made this pie for the first time myself, and I realized that I made a few errors in posting the recipe last year.

For one, I suggest that you sift the flour and salt together in a large bowel.

Now, where are you supposed to get one of those?

Also, I failed to specify how much butter to stir into the filling after the boiling step. It’s 2 tablespoons. I have updated both the recipe and the language at the link below.

It was pretty delicious.

Give it a whirl.

Jane Delea’s Cold Blueberry Pie

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The Milk Givers

June 18, 2013

Readers: This is an older post that I realized I never published, and so I finished it and am publishing it this morning. It is also the start of a new project called The Body Project where women (and who knows, possibly men) will be contributing work about their own bodies for publication on Church Avenue Chomp. Further information to follow, but contact me at churchchomp at gmail dot com if you are interested in submitting.

 

Henry nursed forever — until he was about 3 weeks shy of 3 years old.

I’d tried weaning. I’d failed. I’d worried about it and then decided that though things weren’t proceeding as planned, that no one would die from this situation.

That’s what I thought, and our pediatrician thought, but it is not what the obviously horrified hospital pediatrician, the guy we met when Ivy was born, thought when he asked us about our family. He grimaced. He announced that my son’s “time in the sun” was over. He acted like we would were doing a serious disservice to our new child unless we threw our old child into milk rehab, stat.

Uh, I have tried milk rehab, sir, and please cut it with the vitriol.

As it happened, the last time Henry even asked to nurse was the morning of the day his sister was born. I plucked him out of his crib, carried him into my room to snuggle, and then it was off to the hospital for me. My new baby nursed that afternoon. When Henry came to the hospital to meet us, he hugged me, and he snuggled me, but he did not ask, and he never asked again.

After he passed the torch of Family Nursling to his sister, he would “check in” with me, but in a different way. Specifically, he would grab my my post-partum belly and smoosh his face into it. He’d try to lift my shirt anywhere to do this. “Keep my shirt down,” I’d fake-cheerfully implore when we were, oh, anywhere we went. He tried to touch my belly everywhere.

Last summer, I realize that he didn’t do that so much anymore. Instead, when he wanted to “check in,” he would try to touch his sister.

I did not know how to keep a 3 year old from mauling a baby with love. He’s largely gentle but there was some leaning that was . . . less gentle. And it’s not great when he pulls on her legs. It’s enormously stressful, for me, and I can’t imagine how the baby feels, though when I finally get him away from her so she can get some air, she generally has a huge grin on her face. But I ask him not to. I tell him not to. I bodily remove him. I urge him not to a bit louder. Sometimes, I yell. “Will you listen to Mommy?” my husband asks.

“No,” Henry would respond cheerfully, or sullenly, but the answer would be no. He loves to snuggle that baby.

One day recently I asked what his favorite part of Ivy is. “I like the warm parts,” he explained. He pointed out her belly, and then her head. “And I sort of like these too,” he continued, indicating her arms and legs.

How about Daddy? I asked, curious. “With Daddy, I like the roof,” Henry said, indicating his own head.

Oh, what about me?

“With you?” He cupped his hands over my chest. “With you, I like the milk givers.”

A colleague once warned me that whatever you called your breasts in a goofy way when your child was nursing would someday be parroted back to you by that child in public. With this in mind, I was so careful not to use the word boob or breast or even any body part word at all. All I ever did was vaguely offer milk. Or milky, in the way that I also say eggy, leggy, cribby, etc. And at one point, he started to call them milkies. “I will keep this milky for myself when the baby comes,” he one day informed me, in reference to the milky on the left side of my body.

But he is quickly growing up. Now he calls them Milk Givers.

The Walk!

May 9, 2013

It was amazing. I was behind in fundraising for the walk for ALS we were going to do on Saturday. And then, I posted about it on the blog.

Immediately, we were up and over the hump. The matching grants from people’s employers aren’t even reflected yet in the totals and we are already WAY over the goals I had set.

You guys are the best readers (and friends!) in the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Walking to Defeat ALS on May 4th

May 3, 2013

Hi Readers,

Tomorrow, my husband and I will be walking up the west side of Manhattan with our kids, along with a few friends, in memory of my dearly departed sister, Beth, and raising both awareness about ALS and funds for the ALS Association as we do so.

The ALS Association was of great help to our family during Beth’s illness and even after, when they provided grief counseling. The money we are raising goes to patient services, advocacy, research, clinical trials, and counseling.

We’ve raised nearly $3000 for this walk, which surpasses the goal that we established for our team, the Phillips 66.

I’m still trying to raise another $240 to make my personal goal.  If you want to read more about the race and walk with us tomorrow, or make a donation this is the link to our team page.

I decided to do this walk at the last minute. I haven’t walked for the ALS Association in several years. I guess that raising money seems less desperate now that we have already lost Beth. Our team also did such a great job of fundraising in 2009* that I am realized that I’ve been reluctant because I won’t be able to achieve that goal again. But that seems to be letting my ego rule my actions. Staying involved and helping families who need help should be more important than that. And finding a positive way to deal with my sister’s death is definitely sort of a salve.

*and also in 2010, but I was not able to be present at that walk, which was in CT — my parents spearheaded that effort

Turning Four: Articulation

April 24, 2013

 

Sunday we were slated for an afternoon family trip to the playground. As it happened, our trip was was flouted by Henry’s first bout with flux. Or, as it is known in less poetic circles, diarrhea.

“This is some really weird poop,” he marveled, just before he started screaming, as things flew forth from his body in a completely new way.

He is young enough that new things continue to happen to him all the time, but old enough to try hard to aptly categorize and describe them. It is this ongoing upping of the ante — the watching of the child become ever more lucid and articulate — that makes drearier parts of parenting —like the never ending crumbs and the mulishness — not just bearable but something that people decide to do again and again.

We quickly switched gears away from the playground and planned an on-the-fly movie night, since the TV is closer to the toilet than the swingset is. We turned on the television and decided to watch “The Borrowers.” Once we’d selected the movie, I rushed to the kitchen to assemble some personalized enchilada casseroles and put them into the oven. That is because, a big part of movie night is dragging the high chair into the living room and letting the baby watch movies and eat dinner in the living room with the rest of us. Talk about the never ending crumbs! (Talk about the scandal of movie night for a one year old! Talk about the second child vs. the first, who wasn’t even allowed to see a video until he was 2!)

You probably recall, as I do, that a large and boring part of childhood is waiting for the grownups. I remember it most clearly in terms of sitting in a chair in a department store, sulking while my mother shopped for clothes, which were undoubtedly for me. And I know that Henry is always waiting for me to make his food, change his sister, get everyone’s coats on. On Sunday night he was waiting to watch the movie. At first, the television had a picture of the Borrowers on the screen, but soon enough it gave up and the screen saver was triggered.

“THE TV IS COVERED WITH ANIMALS,” our son shouted through his little nose, in a way that reminds me of Owen Meany, to inform us what was happening, and to tacitly question whether we would still be having a movie night.

Apple TV starts showing these crystal clear, saturated photos of animals in nature. They are the perfect photos. The most beautiful photos on earth of the most beautiful things on earth. A baby hippo with raindrops on its nose. One of those white baby seals that we are always threatened will be clubbed. A daddy lion gazing thoughtfully into the distance, his snub-nosed baby by his side.

Henry’s dad explained that the TV had gone to sleep, but that we would start the movie as soon as Mom could finish getting dinner into the oven.

Henry ruminated for a moment at the notion that the “TV” could “go to sleep.”

“If the TV is asleep,” he asked, “are those pictures its dreams?”

For months on end when he was two, I’d ask Henry what he dreamt of every time he woke up, and every time he woke up he said “Dreamed a zebra, and a giraffe.” So maybe he thought it was close to his own dreams, as yet untainted by the urbane and adult anxieties of life, or maybe he was just trying to slot the behavior of the television in what he is learning to be the behavior of the things around him.

The point is that I really like to listen to him think things through, and I hope that never changes.

Welcome to four, buddy!

Delicious & Easy 10 Step “German Chicken”

March 4, 2013

This is not the first time I have endeavored to roast a chicken in this space.

While I am the usual cook in the family, there are certain things I prefer my husband to do. Make the pie crust. Scale a fish. Cook the pancakes. Roast a chicken.

I bought a good chicken — kosher (ie, brined) AND it had had a chance to run around before it was murdered — so I was pretty pleased with myself.

What would I do with it? Hmm. Stuff it with lemons and only lemons. Cover part with foil. Cast iron pan and salt. Everyone has a plan, don’t they? And I always end up with a chicken that I am relatively and yet not totally happy with.

I looked to the Internet and found a recipe that sounded sort of gross, but it had 5 stars after about two billion people had voted. The people had spoken, and the people were telling me to consider this chicken, and so I did.

The differences between this chicken recipe, touted as “German,” and other chicken recipes, were interesting.

The most notable was that it was cooked with margarine rather than butter. That was absolutely not going to fly in my house, but what if I made that modification, and just subbed in butter? (The idea of subbing in butter for margarine is, of course, hilarious, since margarine is a [horrible, lamentable, etc.] butter substitute.)

The weird recipe also called for onion powder, which I am categorically opposed to, because instead of tasting like onions, it tastes like powder.

But perhaps the most eye-catching difference is that the butter (margarine?) was not just to go around the chicken, but actually *into* the cavity. Moist? I’ll say.

And when the chicken came out, it was to rest not for 10 or 15 minutes, but for 30.

The other parts were sort of normal. Stuff some celery in there; use salt and pepper. It looked easy enough that I figured I’d give it a try.

I did; it is now our delicious, delicious go-to chicken.

Ingredients

1 3 lb chicken

salt and pepper

1 or 2 stalks celery

1/2 cup butter (1 standard stick)

Procedure

1. Preheat over to 350.

2. Season the chicken in and out with salt and pepper. (I use garlic salt, which I also don’t approve of, but which I own because I bought it once for a recipe.)

3. Put 3T of the butter into the cavity of the bird.

4. Cut celery stalks into thirds. Put as many comfortably will fit into the cavity into the cavity.

5. Slice the rest of the butter and dollop it onto the chicken.

6. Bake uncovered in a roasting pan for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

7. Remove from heat, and baste with butter and drippings.

8. Loosely tent with foil and allow to rest about 30 minutes before serving.

9. Carve and serve.

10. Receive amazed and happy compliments from other chicken eaters in the family.

Baby’s Birthday

February 25, 2013

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This was written a month ago. I’m sort of on a month late schedule all around.

What does poignant mean — is it like getting pinched at the same time you are getting pet? Is it happy and sad; maybe happy but you think it will go away; sad but glad it happened anyhow; happy but pregnant with fear; an echo of another emotion?

Everything about having a baby is poignant. Today Ivy turns one. Poignant.

I look at her face. I try to see my own, since I hear so often that she looks like me. I might inadvertently see my mother looking up at me—something a little Britishy about the nose—or my dad sitting across the room, legs out in front of him, in a light blue fuzzy sleeper. The other day I saw my cousin, Susan.

This morning, I looked at the kids in the rear view mirror as the car was warming up. Henry in the back, eyes dark and warm and lovely, but in Ivy’s face, bundled to the 9s because it was 12 degrees out, with everything obstructed by a hat and a hood except a circle around her eyes mouth and cheeks, I saw my sister laughing.

When I am helping her fall asleep, and her face is in repose, I think about how much I have to learn about her. And yet, I am the person she knows the best. Every time I consider this fact I well up. It happens every time. The love I feel, responsibility I have, the care she needs. A baby is poignancy embodied. When a baby is born she has all of her eggs in one basket, and the basket is her mom. The responsibility is enormous.

As for her dad, he would have done anything for her the moment she was born, and yet it’s just within the last months that I am watching them truly fall in love, in the sense that they light up in one another’s company. Dah-ee, Dah-ee, bye bye, she sings when he leaves the room, or goes to work. When we come back into the apartment after being out, it’s a question. Dah-ee? Is he here?

And at night, when I am getting the children ready for bed, and Henry is wiggling and refusing to get dressed and she’s doing rabble rousing of her own, laughing and throwing herself to the floor to hug an animal or two, she’ll then crawl off and turn to yell over her shoulder HIYA!, her version of Henry. He will laugh and jump up and follow her down the hall, even further from the pajamas I am trying to apply to his fresh little body. They laugh together in a last burst of energy before bed.

She talks about her father and brother, and she can demand to be fed bananas, but she has no words for me, yet. She doesn’t seem to recognize me as separate.

The first year of having a baby is tiring. The first time around it’s exhausting, not just the pinched nerves down your arm from holding her day in and out. If you are an anxious person, you will have watched the subject of your fears shift from your own mortality to that of someone else. With a second child, it’s sweeter if only because it’s less scary and you know that the exhaustion will pass. You can relish the taste of the short time of babyhood. Plus, there is the mirroring of emotion: the ability to re-experience the love for the first child as reflected in the feelings for the second.

Mostly, the first year of having a baby is secretly feeling luckier than everyone else put together. People approach me in the store to tell me how luminous and lovely my little girl is, and all I can come up with is an earnest “I am really enjoying her.”

Today and all the days, it is gravely important that I do my best for her. I’ll be your defender little girl, though the truth is that I’ll also be your aggravator, if only accidentally. I’ll do my best to get you ready to leave here someday, though I will cry to see you go. I’ll try to tell you what I think is important, and watch you come up with your own ideas. I don’t know what will happen but my intention, at least, is to respect you, Ivy, and let you flower in your own unexpected way.

You look like us but the light in your face says that you are wholly, wholly your own.

I love you, baby girl. Happy birthday.