Monday, May 28, 2012

Lately, and a Kale Smoothie for Baby

Mother's Day.
(Mimosas and a sippy cup. This is parenting.)
Measuring cups are her favorite right now.
We spent the day in the yard, lounging and planting.
My mother gave me this hydrangea last year when I was pregnant. Here's E and me with it this year. It has since bloomed, still blue, and we'll take a picture here every Mother's Day. (Please ignore the giant weeds behind it.)
We hung out in the back yard while he tilled.
Radishes, baguette, butter, and fleur de sel.

The first sign that it's surely spring.
Especially when eaten with dirty hands.
I love this place.
I wait all year for this day.
When I can fill a blue mason jar with fragrant pink and white peonies.
The Iowa Valley Food Cooperative had a big open house with vendors, samples, and fun. About 10 minutes after I took this photo, the room was swarming and people could barely turn around.
Lots of granola was eaten.
We picked up our first CSA share of the year. Rhubarb! Walking onions!
More digging in the back.
I made my first batch of kefir, which I'll tell you all about soon. I used it to make some delicious smoothies.
 Baby girl wanted in on the smoothie action, so I made her one of her own using expressed breast milk, backyard raspberries, a little banana, steamed kale, and a couple ice cubes.
 I used 2 oz. of breast milk, 1 inch of banana, 2 raspberries, and just a leaf or so of kale. Be sure the kale is very well steamed so it blends up nicely.

 She was into it.
 Like, really into it. We're working on our cup skills! (How are babies so good at making their necks disappear in photos?)  She ate around half the glass and really enjoyed it.
 We had a great grilled dinner last night with Grass Run Farm's hot dogs and ground wagyu beef from Bailey American Wagyu via the Iowa Valley Food Cooperative.  Both were incredible.  We also had some asparagus from Echollective, which E loved.
Maytag blue on top with bacon from Rehberg's pork and our quick pickled shallots.
How have your days been lately? It sure feels like summer. I've been cooking lots and can't wait to share more with you, including everything I've learned about fermenting kefir and kombucha! More on that soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day and $2 to Save a Life

I have already been spoiled this Mother's Day, my first, and it hasn't even begun.

My father-in-law gave me a sweet card and this beautiful rose bush.
My BFF flew in from the District to meet the baby and has been having so much fun with her. His return to our city and first meeting with E was one of the most emotional moments of my entire life. I will never forget it.
He gave me this photo frame, which is my new favorite gift idea for new parents. We take so many photos of our little ones and never seem to find enough frames to hang all the great ones.  This cycles through a Facebook album or can be connected to an email account.  The email address for this one is being shared with him and the other BFF, and I can't wait to see what sweet photos pop up in my living room from across the country.  It's been here only for a few hours and I already have caught myself staring at it, mid-sentence, head cocked to the side and smiling.
On Friday, I was surprised to find a big package on my door step from a far away friend.  I saw her return address and burst into tears.  When we first met, she and I were young women, making the transition from girlfriends to wives, children to adults.  Since then, I have taken inspiration from her as a woman and as a mother.  She has treated my family with great love and care and has made sure that our families continue to be connected.  She sent a package with gifts for my husband and daughter, and these three for me, which really could not be more thoughtful.  I was just stunned at how well she knows me, even though I can't remember the last time we talked on the phone.  The book is a vegetarian cookbook by MamaPea, the earrings are perfect, and the chocolate bar has sea salt.  Thank you, Susi!
I'm not sure what tomorrow holds, but I have been informed that it begins with the baby being stolen from bed in the early morning and whisked away so I can sleep in for REAL.  If that's where my special treatment ends, I'll be more than happy.  
Just over seven months ago, I brought this little girl into the world in an environment of intense physical and emotional support.  The staff at that hospital took incredible care of me and my daughter.  Not only we were attended to by skilled physicians and midwives, but we were also treated with respect and dignity.   
It goes without saying that the scissors my husband used to cut the cord were sterile, that the floor beneath me was clean, that the nurses and doctors wore gloves.  
But in Papua New Guinea, these things cannot be taken for granted.  That's why blogger Adriel at the Mommyhood Memos started an initiative to send kits stocked with materials for clean births along with education how to use them to rural communities in Papua New Guinea.  She has called her initiative Bloggers for Birth Kits, and has so far donated or sent over 1000 birth kits.  The initiative runs year round, but would be a perfect last-minute Mother's Day gesture for someone special. The below photo details the contents of the kit (via Adriel's site) 

If you have a few moments or dollars to spare, here's how you can help assure healthy mothers and babies in Papua New Guinea today.   

1. Make a birth kit. Assemble one yourself or gather a group of girlfriends, a moms group, work associates, or a church group to make a box full of them! Mail your kits to: Adriel Booker, Bloggers for Birth Kits, PO Box 6221, Townsville, Queensland, 4810, Australia

2. Donate for a birth kit to be made on your behalf. ($10 will buy 5 kits!) All donations for B4BK go toward the assembly and distribution of kits, as well as maternal care education. Make your online donation here. Please be sure to write “Bloggers for Birth Kits” in the box that says “additional comments” so the funds will be allocated properly!
3. Help raise awareness by posting about the cause on your blog, facebook, pinterest, and twitter. (Please use the hash tag #B4BirthKits!)

If you'd like to know more about Adriel's project, check out her post here.
If you want to know more about birth kits in general and their efficacy, check out this site.
Becoming a mother has been the most incredible experience of my life to date. I hope that you are able to share the day with those you love and hold dear, and are able to give just a little to help mothers and babies who need it most. I'd especially like to thank all the amazing mothers in my life for teaching me how to do this most important work. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Baked Brie and One Minute With Eleanor

My plate has been so full. Some great things are coming up.  The baby has decided to sleep a little bit more (now that I have written that, I expect her to revert immediately.) The semester is wrapping up nicely, but still not quite done.  Farmer's Market is finally open again and there are vegetables.  I feel like I'm breathing again, you know?
I have so much fun stuff that I want to talk to you about. So many good recipes to share.
But this is my to-do list for tomorrow, and I'll be thankful if half of it gets done:

  • repair the dryer (and catch up on all the laundry that hasn't gotten done as a result of no dryer)
  • go for a run with E
  • garden work here and at a friend's house
  • grade exams 
  • grocery shop
  • fix a minor car issue
  • get gas for the mower 
  • plant grass seed
  • clean the house
So for now I'm just going to share a very quick and easy way to impress your friends at parties or dinner guests: baked brie.  I was recently invited to a dinner party that turned out to be full of some pretty incredible women, most of whom I'd never met before.  I wasn't sure if the party was going to be formal or laid-back, if the people would be foodies or just plain hungry.  While figuring out what to wear was far more involved, I knew right away what I wanted to make.  It takes next to no time to throw together but is still celebratory and delicious.  Use good jam!

Baked Brie

1 piece of puff pastry, thawed in the fridge overnight or on the counter until just cool enough to handle
2-3 tsp. spicy sweet jam (I used homemade raspberry jalapeƱo.)
1 small wheel of brie 
egg for egg wash 

 Flop the brie down on the puff pastry and lightly trace a line just outside of the border of the brie.  This will tell you where to put the jelly.
 Remove the brie and spoon a good helping of jam onto the pastry.
 Lightly place the brie on top of the jelly.  Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife and trim the corners off the pastry and reserve them.
 Fold it up.

 Try to keep the bottom flat enough that it will be stable.
 Put it on seamed side down onto a greased cookie sheet.
You can brush it with egg wash at this point and it'll taste great, or you can use the reserved pieces of puff pastry to make it a little pretty.
Brush with the egg wash (just lightly beat the egg and add a little water) and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry puffs up and is golden brown.
 Prepare to impress.
Finally, I'm going to leave you with a one minute video of the baby.  She just turned 7 months and has become such a big little person.  She is so close to crawling and babbling like crazy.  She's come a long way since these two minutes. Highlights include snorting, super fast excited breathing, and a solid nose-dive at the end.

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