Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Meichel for the Beichel (A Gift for the Stomach)

So, I was wandering the grocery aisles wracking my brain for a dinner idea that would be different, but not so different, that my sons would immediately feign ill and claim they weren't hungry (until dessert appeared). I passed the ethnic section a few times before my eyes fell on a box of Matzo Ball mix. It has been drizzling outside and my husband has been coming home, craving warm comfort food. So, I thought I would give it a shot.

I may be just a goyim (non-Jewish person), but I was determined to bang out a soup that would make any of my Jewish friend's bubbe coo with delight. I know it's not completely from scratch, but I didn't have time to grind up the matzo crackers by hand. This was a dinner that needed to be fairly quick and relatively easy. Shall we begin?

Matzo Ball Soup

  • 1 box Matzo Ball mix
  • eggs
  • vegetable or olive oil (your preference)
Following the directions on the box, you will mix the meal with eggs and vegetable oil (I used olive). The trick, I was told, is refrigerating the dough for at least 15min before cooking. Either before or after you form the balls, but I found it was much easier to form the matzo balls after mixing and then refrigerating. Also, bigger is NOT better. Make the balls about the size of a golf ball... NO BIGGER! If you make them bigger, they will be gooey and barely cooked inside.

Next, is the broth...
  • 4 lbs chicken broth
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 2 C. celery diced
  • 1 sml onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

saute carrots and celery in olive oil until the celery is al dente. Add the onions and garlic and a little more olive oil, to keep things well lubricated. Add a teaspoon of salt and pepper and cover. Cook for approx. 10min. I was fast cooking things since I didn't have time for an all day simmer to soften the veggies. When the carrots are al dente, add the chicken broth and boil for another 10min.

Now, it's time to add the matzo balls. Add them in, carefully, so that they are slightly spaced apart. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 min.... NO PEEKING!

When the timer goes off, it's time to serve! I added a slice of roasted chicken to the bowl then ladled the broth and veggies over it and two matzo balls. Now down the gorgul (throat) and into the boich (belly)!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Play With Your Food!

I made an outstanding salmon dinner the other night, but forgot to take pictures. The salmon was so pretty, that I can't post the recipe until I have pretty pictures to go with it. So, I am going to share a fun recipe that goes against my parental advice of not playing with your food. I have made this for my kids on rainy days and have been holding onto it for just such an occasion. Until it dumps on us again, I am sharing with you. Trust me, when I say it also tastes quite good. With younger kids, there is A LOT more eating than playing, but that's okay. With older kids (especially my older boys) it's fun to see them make creatures, then play like they are monsters eating them. So, here is both a small recipe and larger recipe so that if you have a daycare setting or just lots of little ones, you can make a big batch. It also freezes really well. So you can make it in advance and have some on hand for rainy days. Have fun!

  • 3 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups honey
  • 4 cups dry milk powder
In large bowl, cream together peanut butter and confectioners' sugar, then beat in honey and fold in milk powder. Divide into 15 equal portions and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Children can mold and shape while eating it. It's a great after school snack.
Servings Per Recipe: 15

Calories: 843
Total Fat: 31g
Cholesterol: 6mg
Sodium: 456mg
Total Carbs: 126.7g
Dietary Fiber: 3.7g
Protein: 27g
Playdough for 8 servings


  • 1-3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
In large bowl, cream together peanut butter and confectioners' sugar, then beat in honey and fold in milk powder. Divide into 8 equal portions and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rainy Day = Warm Desserts

The weather has been blustery and raining cats and dogs.
The children have been cooped up,
 and are looking sad and drawn.
But here comes Mommy Dearest,
with a treat to clear the clouds.
And blush the cheeks of children,
 with warmth served night or dawn.

Okay, so maybe I'm no poet, but I feel confident that I can whip up a dish that is comforting and delicious. The need for a sweet creamy and warm dish is due to the fact that it has been raining for days (unusual for here), and there is a need for something extra special when the bed sheet tents and movies are growing old. So, while the boys colored and sipped warm cocoa, I whipped up a batch of flan. 

I make custard rarely, because it just isn’t something I crave. Once in a great while, I make it for just such a rainy occasion and/or out of a need to relive my childhood. My mother made custard of all kinds, often. It has a good memory, and I want my kiddos to have the same warm memory.

I came across this recipe in a magazine and decided to give it a try. It was wonderful! Like the wonderful flavor of cheesecake with a creamier texture. It also looked pretty and so I took a picture. The kids loved it, and I won my husband over, who was adamant that he wouldn’t like it.

Cheese Flan

  • 1C. sugar
  • 1/4C. water

Heat sugar and water until a deep amber.

Pour into ramekins, swirling to coat the sides. Set aside.

  • 2 1/2C. milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring milk and cinnamon to a simmer, remove and cover. Allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  • 1 (14oz can) sweetened condensed milk
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Blend sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, and salt until completely smooth. Add hot milk, a small amount at a time to temper the egg mixture. If you try to add it all at once, you can get lumps of cooked egg. Yuck!

Blend really well and smooth. Poor mixture into ramekins and place into roasting pan. fill roasting pan with water, approximately halfway up the ramekins. Cover ramekins loosely with foil. Bake 45-55 min.

When checking for doneness, it should jiggle slightly, but be set in the center.

Allow to rest for 15 min. Run a butter knife along inside of the ramekin, place small dessert plate on top and quickly flip over. Very carefully slide ramekin off. There should be a lovely amber sauce covering the top and spilling over the sides into a pool.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Scent of a Woman

So, I have off and on worn different fragrances without really being loyal to any one. I received a bottle of CK One after house sitting for a nice couple, as payment. I think the bottle was pretty expensive at the time. That was when I first met my husband and we were dating. I never wore it consistently, and would alternate with other scents. I don’t really like flowery perfumes, they never seemed right on me. Musks are better, or fruity, spicy scents. So, I had a lot of cheap spritzers you can get at a drugstore.

A few years back, I decided to get a few samples of perfume after reading a blog about perfumes. It talked about finding a signature scent, and how, when you find the one for you, it can be a calling card of sorts. It can draw people to you and implant your impression on their mind with a special kind of memory. The kind that is recalled when they catch your scent, either from something similar on the breeze, or when your scent is left on a piece of clothing, like when you have hugged someone. If you have given a pleasant impression, it can bring a smile to their face as they remember you. Scent can be a powerful recall for a memory, use it wisely.

So, after years of casually trying out different perfumes, I finally found my signature scent. It is Cappuccino with Panna by Eau De Vie. It has a sugary vanilla scent with a hint of coffee and cream that seems very attractive to a lot of people. I haven’t had a negative reaction to it yet. A girlfriend hugged me after a joint victory while playing Rock Band and she exclaimed, "Wow! You smell great!". I noticed a few guy friends leaning closer and my husband nuzzling into my neck more often. My sons happily sniff me and tell me I smell yummy, which is my favorite compliment. So, that is currently, and possibly forever my signature scent. Of course, our body chemistry changes with time, so I may end up with something else, but until then, this is the one for me. I have only changed it, just for something different, to Pink Sugar by Aquolina, which is again, a sugary scent. Not sweet, but like cotton candy has a toasted sugar smell. My boys love this one as well. They tell me I smell like candy. Hey, how can you go wrong, by smelling "tasty"?

Originally I bought the perfume from Sephora, but when I went to reorder, "GASP!" it was no longer being made!! So, I bought the last five on eBay and use it sparingly. I love Sephora because you get free samples of your choosing with every order. This has given me the opportunity to try new products/perfumes and find favorites. I suppose this was a totally girly blog post, just don’t expect too many like this. I guess I have gotten a little soft over time, when it comes to wanting to look and smell pretty. I am sure my husband appreciates it though, and I know my kids do.

The Nearness of Baby

I wish that I had known about baby wearing with my first two. How much easier my life would have been and our bond, so much closer! "What is baby wearing?" you ask. Let me enlighten you to my enjoyment of this practice!

Now, with my first two, they were barely 11mos apart, making it a lot like tending to twins. My first was very colicky and I think if I had a wrap to wear him, he would have been less so. Then, when I had my second, I could have had more options for interacting with both at the same time. With my newest baby, I am so much more able to get things done and stay on top of housework and staying active with the older boys.

I knew I wanted some sort of carrier, but everything that I saw looked so uncomfortable or was terribly expensive. Then, I sort of stumbled onto the Moby Wrap. This is such a great product, and much more affordable than anything else. Still, when I looked at it, I thought, "This is so simple, why couldn't I make my own?" So I started searching online and found that it was all in the type of fabric and length. I am very limited in my sewing capability too. So, it needed to be a "no sew" project. This is how I did it!

I went to Joanne's fabric store and found the color I wanted in a cotton/jersey fabric. This seems to be the best fabric because it is soft, and has enough give in it to make it comfortable to wear.
  • I took the whole bolt and unrolled it to 6 yards. Depending on how big around you are, you should get 5-7yards of fabric.
  • After cutting the length, unfold the fabric (it is usually folded in half before being rolled up) and cut down the length of the seam. You now have two wraps!
  • If you were to look at a Moby, it is tapered at the ends to make tying it easier. I did this later on and it did make the tie less bulky.
So, I had bought my fabric during a 50% off sale and ended up with two wraps for $24. Not bad! I go to the Moby site for the wrapping instructions. They even have videos, which can be easier to follow than pictures.

I love wearing Lachlan. I cook and bake with him. Go for walks, and even exercise with him. I think I walk more, because it is so much easier and cozier than toting a car seat or the distance of a stroller. He has had reflux issues and being held upright more, has contributed to less spitting up and fussiness. There are so many options too for positions of the wrap. I usually wear him in a basic hold, but loved the kangaroo hold when he was tiny. I am looking forward to wearing him on my back when he gets older.

I plan on writing a little more on this. So stay tuned. Gotta run though! He is stirring and rubbing his face into me, so it's time to feed him.

Hope Springs Eternal

So, I got a call from my doctor telling me that my low milk supply has largely been due to "dangerously low" thyroid which has affected my prolactin levels (click on highlighted areas for further explanation). She was surprised I was able to pump any milk at all. So, our plan of attack, is taking synthroid to normalize my thyroid and continue taking all the galactagogues I have been taking. I also have to pump at least once every four hours, going no longer than four between pumping. Specifically, pumping at 2am since that is apparently an optimal time for the nutrients and quantity. All that I pump is added to any formula I give which is about 50/50.

What an exhausting schedule. Especially since I have two older boys (5&6yrs old) as well as a household to try to keep up with. To top it all off, I have family coming for a visit. If it were just my parents, I think it would be fine, but some extended family are coming too, which has me just a little stressed for keeping everyone entertained, while sticking to my schedule. I think I am just worrying needlessly, but since having my thyroid diagnosed (postpartum hypothyroidism) I realized that my extreme exhaustion hasn't just been me and I don't know if I will be able to keep up. I try not to drive unless I am certain I am fully awake. I drove to the next town (15min away) to pick up a hospital grade pump and almost fell asleep driving twice. I was so upset and jittery from nerves once I got home. Now, I walk as much as possible and avoid driving unless I feel totally up to it. Thank goodness it's summertime!

It's so unfair that breastfeeding has to be so difficult. I thought that this time I would finally have it down and be able to really offer the full benefit to my baby. The first two were a struggle and this was to be a redeeming moment for me. Oh well. Letting go of the guilt and disappointment is the hardest. To persevere against all odds is truly difficult. However, I have friends and family near and far who have been so amazing with words of encouragement and cheering me on. I am truly blessed with the friendships I have made. I hold fast to the sense that, with everything I have been doing to maintain what I have, when my thyroid rights itself, suddenly everything will click. So, I am hoping that the little bit of documentation of the struggles I have gone through, will be found by other moms who are struggling with lactation/nursing issues and find answers, encouragement and tips to keep going.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fried Dandelions You Say? Dandy!

So, I have been playing around with my camera, taking mini-macro shots and loving the results. I started taking some shots of dandelions that I thought were unusual. Then, I just so happened to stumble onto a recipe for fried dandelions. I thought, "Odd, but gotta try it!" So, here is the recipe, with pictures of the lovely flowers I took today.
Fried Dandelions
The trick here is to remove as much green material from the dandelion flower head as possible, while keeping the flower head intact. The green parts lend bitterness, so you want to minimize that, while the yellow flowers are mild-tasting and faintly sweet.
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
options: (other favorite seasonings like garlic powder, onion salt, or seasoning salt-go light on the seasonings until you're sure you like the flavors with the blooms)

Beat the egg and add the milk. Whisk in the flour and seasonings. You can dip the flowers and fry immediately, but the batter stays on better if it's refrigerated for a half hour or so.

When the batter is lightly browned, lift the flowers out of the oil and drain them on paper towels. Fried Dandelion Flowers are good served as appetizers or as a side dish with ham.

My kids thought I was coocoo. Connor said, "At first they tasted good... then bad." I suspect it is the slight bitterness at the end. That comes from the greens which you cannot entirely get rid of. I don't mind the flavor, so maybe not a kid favorite unless they like that sort of thing. I had my husband try one and he said they tasted like a fried mushroom, which he doesn't care for, but said it was okay. So, I guess I am weird, but I'm glad I tried something different. Be adventurous today! Try fried dandelions!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Faith Can Falter... but the Father Never Does

As made aware in a previous posting, I have had a big struggle with my faith. A lot seemed to happen in quick succession and it's so hard to bounce back from so many hits. I'm surprised it took me so long to finally say "uncle". I'm ashamed that I did, but then, we are all human and can only take so much. I am still limping along, but I'm not as upset as I had been. I could blame some of it on post partum depression, but that would be a total cop out. When things get tough, you are suppose to shoulder into it, not crumble into a whimpering mass and give up. So, I am trying to dust myself off and put on a brave face. Cooking and baking are good stress relievers, and playing with the kiddos and enjoying my new baby are good for the soul. I still feel a little abandoned by God, but I'm working through it. I am thankful for friends who care and have given words of encouragement. I guess, these are growing pains, and I am maybe growing into a new phase. I just need more faith and trust, both are hard to come by with my history. Thankfully, there is an abundance of mercy, whether I deserve it or not, I have it, and am grateful.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
The following is a video with a song I feel like I can relate to (the video is beautifully heartbreaking as well). It is actually from the father's point of view, but the words are so familiar. This is how I felt with Connor's diagnosis and the beginning of my struggles with my faith that have never abated. Just hoping there can be understanding there.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Warm Memory: Pancit

When I was about six years old, my family lived in Kodiak. My parents had friends who were from the Philippines who were so generous! I remember being invited to their home for their family dinners (we were considered family) and seeing all the women in the kitchen cooking and laughing. Oh, the smells in that kitchen were divine! Adobo, lumpia and PANCIT! It was like magic in that kitchen! My mother was welcomed into the room and I saw her drawn into the group and taught the culinary sorcery of the Filipina cook. Then, I was off, to play with the many kids running about the place. Later, the meal was full of laughter and many helpings of everything.

My mom picked up the recipe and it never stayed the same. Sometimes the meat was shrimp or pork or even hot dogs when money was tight. The veggies were all over the place too. But the flavor was always amazing and takes me back. So, one day, while at the library, I spied a book that reminded me of that magic dish. "Cora Cooks Pancit" by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore. It even had a recipe in the back! We took it home and I read the story with the boys to get them excited about the meal. I had hoped they would cook with me, but alas, the evening summer sun and a sprinkler called them outside, so I cooked alone. It was still wonderful, and the quiet of Lachlan in his wrap snuggled into me, I could remember the smells and laughter easier. Next time, they will help. So, without further adieu, here is.... Pancit!

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts plus 1/2 C. chicken broth and 1 tsp soy sauce
Chicken can be prepared ahead of time. Cook boneless chicken breast, chicken broth, and soy sauce in a crock pot or slow cooker on high for 3 hrs or on low for 6 hrs. Cool chicken and shred.
  • 1(8oz) pkg rice stick pancit noodles
  • 1(8oz) pkg dried shiitake mushrooms
Soak noodles in warm water for approx. 30 min. Soak mushrooms in a separate bowl of warm water for 30 min. Meanwhile, cut up vegetables...
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp plus 1/4 C. soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Strain mushrooms and either leave whole, or do like I did, slice into thin strips (the better to trick little boys into eating them! Muhahahahaa!). Heat chicken, mushrooms, onion and soy sauce in a non-stick skillet. Stir in garlic and ginger. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 head cabbage shredded
  • 2 carrots thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks sliced
  • 1(8oz) can water chestnuts sliced
  • 1(8oz) can bamboo shoots sliced
  • 1(8oz) can baby corn diced
Heat oil in large shallow pot. Add cabbage, carrots, celery, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and baby corn. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook briefly, keeping the cabbage and carrots a little crisp. Add chicken/mushroom mixture.

Strain noodles. In a separate pot, bring 1 1/2 C. water, 1/4 C. oil, 1/4 C. soy sauce and a sprinkle of salt to a light boil. Add noodles and stir. Cook 5 min then pour noodles into the chicken and veggie mixture. Mix everything together and cook on low for 5 min.

Garnish, if you like, with sliced hard boiled eggs and green onions. Have fresh wedges of lime to splash on for a bit of brightness (must have this!). Serve!

Makes 10-12 (2 cup) servings

Friday, June 04, 2010

It Ends Here

So, despite everything I've done:
  • nursing every two hours
  • pumping after every nursing session
  • taking fenugreek, blessed thistle, lecithin, brewer's yeast, mother's milk tea
  • eating oatmeal in every form imaginable
  • implemented breast compression
  • tried every baby hold on to get him to latch
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. My milk diminishes every day despite everything I've done and I am so over it now. Formula is so (insert expletive here) expensive and inadequate, it's killing me to have to go to it. I have two other boys that I haven't been as there for because all I do is THIS in an attempt to find success in breast feeding, who need me. I have stress up to my eyeballs, financially thanks to the IRS and stupid mistakes I made with credit cards. I just can't deal with it anymore.

To top it all off, I started thinking about how much I prayed and had faith that God had His hand in our lives and was steering us in the right direction. Yet, with all the prayer and trying to do what He wanted, I see, we don't have anything. Our life wouldn't be any different, if I hadn't wasted all those tears and hours, every day praying for God to just show us the way and see to maybe throwing us a bone from time to time. Well, what has that gotten me? False hope. I feel like a fool in front of my husband, because for so long, I would tell him, "Well, God has something better. That's why that didn't work out. Let's just shake off the disappointment and keep praying and following Him." To what? Nothing. Nothing better has ever come. We've come within touching distance of a dream we had spent years praying for, it looks like God's hand has been in everything leading up to the final moment.... and it is snatched away. Feels like a great cosmic punk. So, I had a talk, with whatever entity we were swearing fealty to for so long (if there even IS one) and told him, her, or it that I was done. Out. I have officially had my fill of God. What has He done for me? Was there any response? No. Was I surprised? I guess I was hoping that finally, I would hear that audible voice telling me that it would all be okay and to not be troubled. But no. Silence. That was my answer. Either there is nothing up there to respond, or the great spirit in the sky could care less.

Let's recount... I was diagnosed with type I diabetes. I prayed, throwing myself on the alter night after night at church, begging for God to heal me. Nothing. Then, with my marriage came dealing with the ugly IRS who now, is perched, about to take everything from us. My first born was ill and created this ugly strife between me and some family who stomped the crap out of my self esteem and joy despite how hard I worked (with all my kids) to ensure his health. My second child is diagnosed with type I diabetes at three years old. We move, thinking we are following God's will for where he wanted us. It seems like a blessing, then when we are about to buy a house, the IRS jumps up and slaps our credit into oblivion (I don't think it is repairable now). No house. The money quickly dwindles away. We have been trying to sell our property for years, and get to the point where we are about to sign and have money in our hands, and the buyer drops the deal. My third son, gets reflux and refuses to nurse. Refuses me completely. I feel dejected and abandoned. I have prayed my last prayer. I pray and pray and spout faith and keep turning to Him, and I get nothing. Something, anything, no matter how small, HAS to happen for us. Something finally good. Right? Right.

So, my faith, along with my milk has officially dried up. I just do not have the emotional capacity for it anymore. It would have to be a big sign at this point, to make me believe, that all that time was worth it. That someone out there really does have the best of intentions for us. At the moment, I think everything we actually did receive, was only due to our sweat and tears. Not prayer. Hey, maybe some time will go by and I will see a sign and realize I was wrong. Then again, pigs may fly. If I am struck down by lightning now, I can only imagine it to be the most extreme coincidence ever.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Banana Applesauce Raisin Muffins

Thank goodness for great neighbors! Having an excess of quickly ripening bananas, our neighbors blessed us with two grocery sacks full of bananas. So, I made the following muffins, then froze the rest. Half whole, and the other half sliced up for smoothies. Next on the agenda is to make a Banana Bread for Nursing Moms recipe that I found online. Of course, I love to alter recipes, so we'll see what I can tweak to make it better. Then, I'll let you be the judge. Well, enjoy these great-tasting healthy muffins with banana, applesauce and raisins. Freeze well for a quick breakfast or snack!

Makes 30 muffins

40 min
15 min prep


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup rolled oat
1/2 cup oat bran
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup olive oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease or line muffin tins with paper liners.
3. Combine flours, bran, oats, baking powder, spices, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
4. Using whisk or spoon, stir until well mixed.
5. Combine remaining ingredients (except nuts) in a large mixing bowl; beat until smooth.
6. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
7. Beat just until combined.
8. Spoon into prepared pans or tins (fill cups until just about full).
9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean.
10. Remove muffins from pan and cool on wire rack as soon as they come out of the oven.

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