Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grilled Indian-Spiced Chicken (Page 526)

  • Date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 -- 7pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Book: Gourmet Today
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Dave and Karen H
  • Recipe Rating: B+

We made this chicken as part of our Indian feast when my in-laws came to visit last fall. I quartered a chicken, then marinated it overnight in a mixture of onion, garlic, ginger, serrano chile, salt, white vinegar, Greek yogurt, coriander, vegetable oil, turmeric, and cayenne. Then my special gentleman made some Indian clarified butter (ghee) by boiling butter and separating out the milk solids and discarding them. My special gentleman drizzled the chicken with ghee and then grilled it until it was cooked through. This chicken was pretty good. The marinade had a nice flavor to it but the flavor wasn't very strong, so the dish came out a little blander than you might hope for with in Indian-spiced chicken. The marinade certainly could have been significantly spicier, for instance, without being too spicy. If I made this again I would tweak the marinade a bit to give it a more intense flavor.

The recipe is here.

47 down, 1059 to go!

After 8 days in the NICU, we were able to bring Emmy home! Here she is the day she came home, looking pretty tiny in her car seat:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it was heart-breaking bringing Emmy home and leaving Eloise in the NICU. But by then Eloise was doing so well that I was confident she would be home in 2 or 3 more days. It turned out that it would be quite a bit longer than that, but I didn't know it at the time. 

So, we brought Emmy home and tried to settle into a routine. The babies ate on a three hour schedule in the NICU (6am, 9am, noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm, midnight, 3am, repeat), and the doctors recommended that we keep Emmy on her 3 hour schedule for a while until she was a bit bigger. It was sad to have to wake her up every 3 hours to eat, especially in the middle of the night, but we did it. The feedings themselves took about an hour. I would breastfeed her, followed by a bottle of breast milk (because she wasn't strong enough to breast feed for a full feeding), followed by pumping milk for both Emmy's bottles and to bring to Eloise in the NICU. By the time I finished feeding Emmy it was only about 2 hours (or less) until it started again. Needless to say, we weren't getting much sleep. In those days my special gentleman did the 3am feeding by himself though, so I could sleep from about 1:30am until 6am, which was quite a luxury. 

The feeding schedule made it hard to spend as much time at the NICU with Eloise as we would have liked. My special gentleman would do some of the daytime feedings using a bottle of pumped breast milk so that I could spend some time with Eloise. Then he would go visit Eloise later in the day while I stayed with Emmy. The situation was further complicated by the fact that I was still recovering from surgery, so physically getting myself to the NICU was no easy task. It was a long walk once inside the hospital, and I wasn't supposed to drive, so someone needed to go with me. Luckily my in-laws were in town to help and my mother-in-law transported me to the NICU every day. 

Eloise's health was steadily improving and we could hold her as much as we wanted by that point. Here's my special gentleman with her: 

Eloise was off all breathing support by then, and even moved out of an isolette into an open crib, where she had to regulate her own body temperature. She was doing great! Except... she wouldn't eat. I was pumping breast milk 8 times a day from the time the girls were born, and shortly after birth Emmy started taking breast milk from a bottle in the NICU. It took her a while before she could actually breast feed, but she was always pretty good with the bottle. Eloise was so sick when she was born that they didn't give her food at all. She was too sick to have the energy to drink from a bottle, but they also couldn't give her breast milk through a feeding tube. Apparently when a baby is really sick like that, their body doesn't have the energy to digest food. So if you put breast milk into their stomach using a feeding tube, the milk can go rancid before it is digested. Crazy. So she was on IV nutrition only for many days. 

Eventually she was well enough that she could digest food, but not strong enough to take a bottle. So they put a feeding tube in and pumped my breast milk directly into her stomach. That went well and she continued to get stronger. So they started giving her bottles. But, as it turned out, she didn't want them. She still had her feeding tube in, and when she didn't finish her bottle the nurses would put the rest of it down her feeding tube. I think my smart little girl figured out that it was way easier to have food put down your feeding tube than it was to go to all the energy to eat it yourself. Sometimes she would eat from the bottle and sometimes she refused. Eating is a required skill before being discharged from the NICU. She needed to be able to finish at least 40-50 ml at every feeding for at least 48 hours before she could go home. And she didn't want to do it. 

She often ate better for us than she would for the nurses, so my special gentleman and I tried to be there for as many feedings as possible while also caring for a newborn at home. Some days we would alternate. I would feed Eloise at noon, he'd feed her at 3pm, I would feed her at 6pm, he would feed her at 9pm. It was a lot of back and forth to the hospital. We didn't go in for the late night feedings. We were just too exhausted at that point. 

They moved Eloise into a little isolation room so that we could bring Emmy in with us (in general, other children aren't allowed in the NICU). We did that for a couple days, but it was hard to care for Emmy in the NICU, which isn't really set up for baby visitors. Plus, I didn't like carting my tiny premature baby through the hospital -- I didn't want her to catch something and end up back in the NICU herself. So mostly we divided up and one of us stayed home with Emmy while one of us was in the NICU. Here's a picture though of a day when we brought Emmy in to visit her sister:

Eventually Eloise figured out how to eat from the bottle well enough that they took out her feeding tube, and for the first time since the operating room, we got to see her face without anything attached to it:

And once she did her 48 hours of eating from the bottle, she was ready to come home! Eloise spent a total of 16 days in the NICU, which at the time felt like an eternity, but at this point I remember so little of it (sleep deprivation!) that it seems like it flew by. It was absolutely wonderful to bring her home and have the whole family under one roof. Here are the girls shortly after they came home, hanging out:

And me (still very swollen at that point), holding them both:

I would like to say that Eloise came home perfectly healthy and caught right up to her sister, but that hasn't really been the case. Her eating problems in the NICU were foreshadowing of continued challenges with eating. And although she was an ounce and a half bigger than Emmy at birth, Emmy is now about a pound and a half bigger than her sister. Eloise has had a rougher time from the start, and she has certainly been a challenge for us. But that's a topic for another post.

When I found out I was having twins I prepared myself for the likely event that they would end up spending some time in the NICU. In part because I had thought a lot about it in advance, when it actually happened I felt at peace with them being there. I was confident that they were in good hands, and getting the help that they needed. But it was a difficult few weeks. I remember one night in particular that I sat down at the dinner table and just started sobbing into my food. I was exhausted, and worried, and disappointed. It was hard. But I told myself then the same thing I tell myself now when I get overwhelmed by the challenge of infant twins: we are so, so blessed that the girls weren't born even earlier, or with more serious health challenges. Their entry into the world was a little rough, but they are doing great, and every day getting bigger and stronger. We are very lucky.

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