Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spiced Basmati Rice (Page 256)

RECIPE #44
  • Date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 -- 7pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Book: Gourmet Today
  • Fellow Chef: Karen H
  • Dining Companions: Matty and Dave
  • Recipe Rating: B

We made this rice as part of our Indian feast when my in-laws came to visit last fall. To prepare this super-simple recipe we fried bay leaves and cinnamon sticks in oil before adding basmati rice and cooking it in the normal fashion. It's hard to grade a recipe like this. I like basmati rice just fine, and this basically tasted like typical basmati rice. So it was fine. The bay leaves and cinnamon sticks didn't actually give the rice much additional flavor -- it was very subtle. Indeed, although I liked the idea well enough, I wouldn't bother adding them again, as they didn't contribute much. That said, this was perfectly fine basmati rice, and the dish certainly seemed appropriate for our Indian feast.

This recipe isn't online.

44 recipes down, 1062 to go!

Well, I am past the 35 week mark and the babies are still in there. We have had some mixed news this week. On the one hand, the babies look good! At our appointment on Monday after all the tests had been done the doctor declared it might be a few more weeks before I go into labor. He even said the number 40, which I will admit terrified me a little. All along they have been saying that if somehow I managed to make it to 38 weeks, they would induce around that time. But now it is apparently a possibility that at 38 weeks my body might not be ready to be induced and they would wait another week or two. I think that's unlikely to happen, but even the mention that this could go to 40 weeks was pretty scary! I am extremely debilitated at 35 weeks.  I can't even imagine what 40 would feel like! Ultimately though it was good news that the babies are healthy and in no hurry to come out.

The less good news was that I may be developing preeclampsia, which is bad. My blood pressure is up from what it normally is and I have significant protein in my urine. So, that is being watched closely and if my blood pressure were to increase more the babies would need to come out.

So we are in a state of uncertainty around here. The babies could be born any day, or it could apparently be almost 5 more weeks! In the meantime, I am just plugging along. I am mostly stuck at home these days as it is hard to be in any position other than laying down for more than a short period of time. I typically work in the morning, which is when I feel the best. I try to get in some solid hours of work before eating a late lunch and taking a mid-afternoon nap. After my nap I work some more or watch a movie, depending on how bad I feel. My special gentleman makes us a delicious dinner and after dinner he usually takes me out on some kind of excursion, seeing as how I have been stuck at home all day. I can't really stand or walk so our excursion options are limited. Lately we have gone for a lot of long drives, to ice cream shops in surrounding towns. A relaxing evening drive in the beautiful Michigan spring, plus ice cream -- it's nice. That's a typical day around here, with various friends visiting, doctors appointments, and prenatal yoga or water aerobics classes mixed in. I have struggled a lot with adjusting my expectations for my own productivity. I just can't do as much as I usually do in any realm (work, activity, cooking, etc), and that's been hard for me to accept. But lately I am trying to just embrace it for what it is. My body is working hard at something new right now, and I shouldn't worry about my reduced productivity in other realms during this period. It's a big adjustment for me, but I am trying!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Indian-Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes (Page 588)

RECIPE #43
  • Date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 -- 7pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Dave, and Karen H
  • Recipe Rating: A-

My in-laws came to visit last fall, and while they were here we had a huge feast of Indian food from The Book. I love aloo gobi (Indian potatoes and cauliflower) so I was very excited to make this version. It did not disappoint! To prepare this dish I seasoned and roasted some cauliflower florets and cubes of Yukon Gold potato. In the meantime I cooked onion, garlic, jalapeno, and ginger, then added cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and salt. I added the roasted vegetables to the onion mixture and cooked it some more. The result was delicious! The potatoes and cauliflower were perfectly cooked and the spiced onion mixture added a great flavor to the dish. We had lots of dishes with this particular meal, and this is the one I found myself going back to for more and more servings. It was really tasty!

The recipe is here.

43 recipes down, 1063 to go!

Early in April my wonderful friends Emilee, Helen, and Rachel threw me and the twins a baby shower.  It took me and my special gentleman a long time to get pregnant, with a lot of setbacks along the way. During those years struggling with infertility, baby showers seemed like a symbol of something that we would never have. While I generally didn't find it difficult to hang out with our friends with kids, I did find going to baby showers to be a difficult thing. I can't really explain why.

So having my friends throw a baby shower for me made the pregnancy and the fact that we are really going to have children seem all the more real. It meant a lot to me in a way that is hard to put into words.

Emilee lives in California, so she flew all the way to Michigan with her two sons (Sam and Joe) for the shower weekend. It was completely wonderful to see them, as always. Sam really hit it off with Helen's daughter Clara, which made for a lot of cuteness throughout the weekend. Here they are running around outside Helen's house:


My mother, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law Deniz also came to town for the shower, which was wonderful. Here's a picture of my mom at the shower:


The shower was at Helen's house. She and Emilee did a ton of cooking: Ham, several amazing salads, cheese biscuits, cauliflower quiche, bacon quiche, chocolate cake, gingerbread cake, etc. They are both fantastic cooks and everything was delicious. Here's a picture of the spread (minus the desserts):


And a picture of me, eagerly digging in to the delicious food:


It was great to have so many women that I care about gathered in one place. We ate, played games, and talked. It was perfect. Here's a picture of some of the guests: (left to right) Karen (my mother-in-law), Deniz (my sister-in-law), Elise, Amy, and Becky:


And one of me, talking with Georgina and drinking some punch: [NOTE: when I looked at this picture just now I thought to myself, "Wow, I am standing up!" These days I can't stand for long, but apparently 6 weeks ago I could still stand!]


 A cute picture of Kendra with baby Jamie:


And one of Helen and Kendra with their babies Gretchen and Jamie, and Em's son Sam entertaining the babies: 


As I noted, Sam and Clara had a great time playing together throughout the weekend. Here's a picture of them at the shower, keeping each other entertained: 


And a picture of my mother and my mother-in-law, blindfolded for a shower game, along with Emilee and her son Joe:


It was a really beautiful party and it meant so much to me. At many points throughout this pregnancy I have found myself overwhelmed by the amazing support and generosity of our friends. I was very touched by the beautiful shower that Helen, Em, and Rachel put together, and all of the friends and family who came to it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spiced Chicken (Page 397)

RECIPE #42
  • Saturday, September 15, 2012 -- 6pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Book: Gourmet Today
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+

For this super simple chicken recipe I rubbed chicken breasts (with the skin on and bones in) with chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper, cinnamon, salt, and vegetable oil. I browned the chicken in a heavy skillet, then roasted it in the oven. Once the chicken was cooked I transfered it to a plate and deglazed the skillet with water to form a quick sauce. This chicken was tasty. The skin was crispy and very flavorful, and the simple sauce also had a good flavor to it. The sauce was quite thin -- it would have been nice if it had a bit more substance to it. But this was a very tasty, very simple chicken preparation which I would happily make again for an easy week-night dinner.

The recipe is here.

42  recipes down,  1064 to go!

Well, I'm 34 weeks today, and still pregnant! Here's a shot of the 34 week belly:


I think the picture might not capture how truly enormous the belly is. I have gained about 55 pounds now, with much of it concentrated in my mid-section. The belly is huge. Thank goodness I am tall! I think I would be even less comfortable if I were shorter. The side you are looking at in the picture is Baby A's side of the belly. She is all the way on my left, head down (thankfully!) and quite low. Baby B is taking up the whole middle and right side of my belly, sitting in a V-shaped breech position -- butt down, head and legs up. The doctors think they are unlikely to move at this point. There has consequently been a lot of discussion about the best way to deliver twins when the second twin is breech. The medical studies seem to indicate that in this case either a vaginally delivery or a C-section are about equally safe for the babies. I would prefer to avoid a C-section if possible, since it is a significant surgical procedure and recovering while caring for two tiny infants sounds tough. But who knows what will happen. It's additionally complicated by the fact that some doctors in my practice are comfortable delivering the second baby feet first, while others will only deliver the second baby vaginally if she flips to be head down after the first baby comes out. This opens up the possibility of course of delivering the first vaginally and then having to have a C-section for the second one if she doesn't flip head down and they can't externally turn her. It's complicated and a lot depends on which doctor is at the hospital when I go into labor. It was stressing me out for a while, but now I have decided to just not worry about it and hope that when the time comes and I have more information (about who is delivering the babies, how big they are, exactly what position Baby B is in, etc) I can make a reasonable decision. And of course there is always the possibility that something totally unforeseen will happen, making a C-section necessary regardless of the doctor or position of the babies. I am certainly prepared for that possibility. As long as everyone is safe and healthy, I don't really care too much how it happens.  

I went to the doctor yesterday for the non-stress test, ultrasound, doctor visit combo. The babies are looking good, although crowded! We are at the point now where if I went into labor they would make no attempt to stop it, so that's exciting. In general 34 week babies do very well, so I am feeling calmer than I have in a while. Now I am just hoping for a safe delivery. They will induce me around 38 weeks if I haven't gone into labor by then, but I am finding it hard to imagine making it another 4 weeks, given how I am feeing right now. We shall see! In the meantime I am just trying to tie up loose ends at work and around the house so that I am ready to go to the hospital whenever that moment arrives.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Three Pea Stir-Fry (Page 615)

RECIPE #41
  • Date: Saturday, September 15, 2012 -- 6pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Book: Gourmet Today
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

This simple stir-fry showcased sugar snap peas, snow peas, and frozen green peas, stir-fried in vegetable oil with garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, then seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil and served sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. This was a quick, health dishy with clean flavors. My special gentleman liked this dish quite a lot. I enjoyed it also but wasn't quite as enthusiastic about it as he was. I didn't find it very interesting. It didn't taste significantly different than just stir-frying some peas and throwing soy sauce on them. Not to say that doesn't taste good, but it doesn't get me excited to make the recipe again.  

The recipe is here.

41 recipes down, 1065 to go!

Up until a few days ago when people asked me when I thought the babies would arrive I often said, "Not in the next couple days!" While from the beginning I have lacked any global perspective on when the babies would make their appearance (24 weeks? 28? 32? 34? 36? 38?), I did feel like locally I understood what was going on. At any given moment I was fairly confident that they would not be coming in the next day or two. Well, I have officially lost that confidence. Since Thursday I have been feeling lousy. Throughout the pregnancy I have had various days where I could barely get out of bed, but never so many in a row. I have tried, more or less, to carry on as usual, but it hasn't gone well. At yoga yesterday I almost fainted and ended up sitting on my mat for a while, taking a little break. Then in the afternoon we went to a 4 year-old birthday party for our friends' daughter. I sat on the couch without getting up the entire time yet returned home so exhausted that I fell asleep for two and a half hours. Today I finally gave up trying to be a functioning member of society. I did rally for church (thank goodness our church has some super-comfy gliders in the back for people who can't sit comfortably in the pews!) but I have spent the rest of the day lying on the couch. These past few days even the most minimal walking (e.g. getting up and walking to the bathroom) results in contractions. It's not real labor, but it does make me feel like that may be coming soon.

So we'll see. I wouldn't be surprised if I have a few more weeks ahead of me and I am just not going to feel well for those few weeks. I also wouldn't be surprised if I went into labor tonight. At this point, who knows. I feel relatively calm about it. I will be 34 weeks on Tuesday, and at this stage in the pregnancy the babies are likely to do pretty well whenever they arrive. My most ambitious goals from the start have been to make it to 36 weeks and/or 6 pound babies. If that happens I will be completely delighted. But as it is I am happy with how far I've made it with these babies still in there, and I am feeling more or less ready for their arrival, whenever that may be.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Orzo Risotto (Page 237)

RECIPE #40
  • Date: Monday, September 3, 2012 -- 6pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Book: Gourmet Today
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

I love orzo and I love risotto, so I picked this recipe last Labor Day because it sounded great! The idea here was to cook orzo the way one would normally cook Arborio rice to make risotto (adding the liquid a little at a time, stirring constantly). The liquid in this case was water, chicken stock, and white wine, and the "risotto" was seasoned with onions, thyme, Parmigiano-Reggiano, butter, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. This dish was pretty good. Was it as good as risotto? No. Was it as good as orzo cooked normally and seasoned with the same things would have been? Also no. It didn't have the same creaminess as risotto, nor the nice al dente texture of well-cooked orzo. It was some combination of the two that I think didn't serve the orzo particularly well. That said, the dish tasted good. It's hard to go too wrong with orzo, onions, cheese, butter, and wine. But the dish felt a little gimmicky, and it would have been better with either Arborio rice to make a nice risotto, or keeping the orzo and cooking it in a more traditional fashion.

This recipe isn't online.

40 recipes down, 1066 to go!

All of our friends with kids have been telling us lately that we should take advantage of this pre-baby time: Go out to dinner! Go to the movies! Go on vacation! Vacation isn't an option anymore since for a long time now the doctor has said that I should stay close to Lansing since it's hard to predict when you are going to go into labor with twins. We did manage to go on a mini-vacation back in January though, before I was at a point in the pregnancy when travel was unsafe. We both were going to a conference for work in San Diego, so we decided to add a few days to our trip and have a short vacation in Palm Springs.

We travel all the time for work, but vacation travel is something that we very rarely do. The only vacations we have been on since our honeymoon (almost 4 years ago) were either weekend trips, or trips with our family. We haven't taken a vacation, just the two of us, in a long time. So it was a great luxury to spend a few days in Palm Springs. We stayed at a resort where we enjoyed some quality time at the spa. I got a very nice prenatal massage, and lounged for hours in the salt water pools. I ate a big, delicious salad and a hamburger poolside in the spa. Strangely, the hamburger wasn't on the spa lunch menu, but since it was on the regular resort food menu, I asked if I could order one in the spa. From the look I got from the spa attendant when I ordered my hamburger, I am pretty sure it wasn't the typical order of the Palm Springs spa-goer! It was delicious though. Pregnancy prevented me from being able to go in the steam rooms or hot tubs, but my special gentleman took advantage of those enough for the both of us!

After a day at the spa, the next day we decided to spend some time in the dessert. The driving was beautiful out there. We took some breaks to enjoy the scenery on our way to Joshua Tree National Park. Here I am, back when my belly was much smaller!


We had a great day at Joshua Tree. My special gentleman and I both love to hike, and neither of us had ever been to Joshua Tree, so it was exciting. Unfortunately, even at that point in my pregnancy I had a lot of trouble breathing, so hiking was difficult. We managed to go on a couple of very short hikes (around 2 miles) throughout the day, but a long hike was not in the cards. Instead we went for a very scenic drive throughout the park, stopping often to walk around, go for short hikes, or just sit and enjoy the scenery. Here we are together:


And here's a picture of my special gentleman, with a lot of cacti! It was unusually cold the week we were in Palm Springs/San Diego, so he was nice and bundled up.


Since our trip in January I haven't ventured far from Lansing. Although I have had to miss some work trips I really wanted to go on, it has been nice to be home.

While vacation is no longer an option, this weekend we did try to heed our friends' advice, and last night we went out for dinner and a movie. I am uncomfortable enough these days that even going to a movie hasn't sounded terribly appealing, as there is nowhere to lie down in a movie theater! It was fun to go out though, and the movie theater chairs were pretty comfortable, even with the enormous belly!


Thursday, May 09, 2013

Mojito (Page 16)

RECIPE #39
  • Date: Monday, September 3, 2012 -- 6pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Book: Gourmet Today
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+


It feels like a long time ago when I could drink mojitos! I wasn't missing alcohol at all throughout this pregnancy until very recently. When the weather got warm though, a beer, or a glass of white wine, or a mojito, started to sound really good. Only a few more weeks of pregnancy to go and then I will indulge in a delicious summer mixed drink! I made this mojito recipe last year on Labor Day. I muddled together lime juice, fresh mint sprigs, and sugar, then added rum and ice. I shook it vigorously, then strained the drinks into glasses filled with ice, topped them off with club soda, and stirred. These mojitos were good. I wouldn't say it was the best mojito I have ever had, but I would certainly drink it again. My only complaint is that it was less bold than it could have been. It could have supported a little more lime juice, for instance, for a more flavorful punch. That said, we certainly enjoyed these drinks!

This recipe isn't online.

39 recipes down, 1067 to go!

Easter weekend my special gentleman's family came to visit us! My special gentleman's younger brother Wes lives in Cambodia, but he was in the US briefly for a meeting in San Francisco. He hadn't been to Michigan yet to see where we live so he decided to stop by for a weekend. Since Wes was coming, my special gentleman's older brother Brad, his wife Deniz, and their daughter Hannah came from Chicago for the weekend, and my in-laws drove up from Ohio. It was fun having his whole family together here in Michigan! I am a lousy hostess these days, but fortunately for me my mother-in-law (who is amazing!) did all of the cooking all weekend, and everyone basically took care of themselves so very little hostessing was required!

It was a pretty mellow weekend. We mostly just hung out, chatted, watched basketball, ate, and played games. We went to the butterfly house and children's garden on campus. Hannah seemed a little suspicious of the butterflies.


We also had an Easter egg hunt, which is a tradition in our house. I love egg hunts! The last few years there have always been children in our lives to hunt eggs, but even before that I would hide eggs for my special gentleman! This year our good friends Helen and Charles joined us for an egg hunt with their daughters Clara and Gretchen, and Helen's mom who was in town visiting. Here's a picture of Clara and Hannah hunting eggs (and Deniz helping Hannah!). 


Infant Gretchen may have been a little too young for our egg hunt. She didn't seem super into it:


I like this picture of my father-in-law Dave reading a story to both Hannah and Clara. He loves being a grandfather to Hannah and apparently he has already mastered reading to two children at once. I have no doubt that he's going to be great with the twins! 


After church on Easter, my special gentleman's family had to head back to their respective homes. In the past few years I have made some big Easter meals (like this and this), but this year I was a little too incapacitated for that kind of cooking. Luckily for us, we were invited over to Helen and Charles' for Easter dinner, where we ate a big, wonderful meal prepared by them and Helen's parents. I wish I had a picture of the spread. It was extremely tasty.

It was a fun, chaotic, Easter weekend, which I loved. Easter is one of my favorite holidays and I was very happy I got to celebrate it with friends and family again this year!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Butter-Toasted Oatmeal with Sticky Apple Topping (Page 647)

RECIPE #38
  • Date: Monday, September 3, 2012 -- 9am
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Book: Gourmet Today
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+

We didn't have to teach on Labor Day, so we slept in and then cooked this oatmeal for breakfast. We toasted steel cut oats in butter before cooking them in boiling water. The topping was Gala apples slices cooked in butter and brown sugar, with a dash of salt and some half and half. This oatmeal was tasty. The oats themselves were a little less cooked than I like them, but the apple topping was DELICIOUS. Yum! I haven't made this exact dish again, but it has certainly served as inspiration for what has become my standard breakfast the last few months: oatmeal with apples cooked in, topped with brown sugar, milk, and fresh raspberries.

This recipe isn't online.

38 recipes down, 1068 to go!

I got so behind in my blogging that I never blogged about the many lovely events of the past few months. So I should back up. February was a little rough as my special gentleman was away for work the entire month. He came back for a couple weekend visits, but mostly he was gone. My mother came for part of the month, which was nice, but I was alone for much of it and anxious for my special gentleman to return! He had to travel for much of March as well, although thankfully not the entire month.

In March our friends Cheryl and Thomas got married! Cheryl asked me if I would make the wedding cake for their small wedding. I was very happy to do it, but when I agreed to it I don't think I realized exactly how incapacitated I would be by the time the wedding rolled around. Plus, my special gentleman had to be out of town the weekend of the wedding, so I did not have his assistance. Luckily, my friend Chris agreed to come visit for the weekend. It was great! He lives in England so I don't get to see him terribly often. It was wonderful to have a few days to hang out and catch up. Plus, he likes to cook and he helped me out with the cake. Logistically I have no idea what I would have done without him as the cake was too heavy for me to carry! Plus he did all the really un-fun jobs like measuring and cutting the wooden dowels that went into the cake for support. He was a tremendous help.

The cake was a two-tier, eight-layer chocolate cake, with raspberry filling and white chocolate cream cheese buttercream. We decorated it with wafer cookies which we dipped in white chocolate. I was happy with how it turned out. I thought it looked nice and it tasted good. Here's a picture:


Certainly the most nerve-wracking part was transporting it to the restaurant where the reception took place. We decided that Chris had to drive because if I drove there would be no way I could lift the cake off Chris' lap when we got there (too heavy for this pregnant lady!). But the cake plus my belly didn't fit too comfortably in my car. I was very thankful that we chose a not very delicate form of decoration rather than intricate piping on the outside of the cake, as there were several cake/belly collisions. On a couple occasions the babies even attempted to kick the cake, which was uncomfortable. I was not convinced that this would go smoothly. The look on my face says it all:


But, we made it to the restaurant! Here's a picture of Chris, with the safely delivered cake:


I made my own wedding cake some years ago, but I think it was more stressful making a wedding cake for someone else, as of course I didn't want to mess up my friend's wedding. Luckily Cheryl is mellow though, so I had confidence that even if there was a cake-related disaster she wouldn't freak out. As it turned out, it went as smoothly as it could have. I wouldn't necessarily recommend making a wedding cake 27 weeks into a twin pregnancy though! It's probably not something I would do again. 

More updates about the rest of the spring soon...
















Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Devils Food Cake with Marshmallow Frosting (Page 743)

RECIPE #37
  • Date: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 -- 8pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: My House
  • Book: Gourmet Today
  • Dining Companions: Kendra, Georgina, Cori, and Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

I made this cake last summer, when the ladies came over for a girls night at my house. This was a standard cake preparation: beat together butter, dark brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla then alternate the wet ingredient (water) with the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) and mix until just combined. I baked the cake in a square baking pan. For the frosting I combined egg whites, sugar, salt, light corn syrup, water, and vanilla in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. I beat the frosting with a handheld mixture until it was thick and fluffy then removed it from the heat and beat it some more. I frosted the cake, dusted with cocoa powder, and served! This cake was pretty good. The cake itself had a nice texture and a good chocolate flavor. It wasn't too dry. I would certainly make the cake portion again. The frosting I wasn't quite as crazy about. As advertised, it was very marshmallow-y. It was sweet, fluffy, and shiny. It lacked the richness that I like in a frosting though. I enjoyed eating this cake, but I think in the future I will substitute a different frosting or glaze for this one.

This recipe isn't online.

37 recipes down, 1069 to go!

This pregnancy has gone quite smoothly so far, and now that I have made it to 33 weeks, people are often telling me what a great job I am doing growing two large babies inside me. I feel a little guilty about that particular piece of praise, largely because I know that mostly it is luck and other things I have no control over (like my height)  that have caused this pregnancy to go smoothly so far, and that the efforts I have made have probably had only a minimal effect. But beyond that, there are also people besides me that deserve credit for the success of this pregnancy so far. In particular: my special gentleman.

I have never been shy about the fact that I won the husband jackpot. He's an awesome person and a great partner, and I always feel very blessed by him. But he has been especially spectacular throughout the past 7 and a half months of pregnancy. As I have mentioned, simple things like standing and walking are now very difficult for me. So while normally I do contribute to the household by shopping, cooking, and doing some cleaning, at this point I do not. My contribution is gestating our two children and my special gentleman does absolutely everything else. He makes breakfast every morning and dinner every evening, plus quite a few evening snacks. He does all the cleaning, and all the shopping (sometimes I go along in a motorized cart, but it's still too hard for me to load things into the car, etc, without him there!). And in addition to the normal stuff, there is also a lot of pre-baby reorganizing, assembly, installing, carrying, etc, which he does all of at this point. I generate a huge number of dirty dishes every day (I eat a lot!) and I just throw them all into the sink (or, sometimes, leave them scattered around the house). I can't remember the last time I washed one, or even bent down to load one in the dishwasher. My special gentleman really does everything. In summary, he's been amazing. I genuinely do not know how I would do it without him.

A couple weeks ago I was feeling pretty good one day and I decided I was going to help out by making dinner. I thought of something super easy that involved minimal standing: toasted cheese sandwiches, steamed broccoli, and a big salad. I knew that this would take me longer than usual so I started while my special gentleman was still at work. I managed to assemble a good looking salad, and a selection of sandwiches with a variety of different cheeses (cheddar, gouda, manchego...). Steaming the broccoli was also no problem. The last step was to toast my sandwiches in a frying pan. It was warm that day and I am extra warm lately due to the 50+ extra pounds I am carrying around. So I was cooking in yoga pants and a sports bra, with no shirt on. Toasting the sandwiches was going fine until suddenly I felt a bad pain in my belly. Belly pain is scary at this point in pregnancy and I had a brief moment of wondering if I was about to go into labor or something. But I quickly realized that no, I was not in labor. Rather, my belly is so big that I had accidentally set the underside of my belly on the hot frying pan without realizing it. So it was burning. Ouch. The sandwiches were tasty and my special gentleman appreciated the effort, but that night he commented, "Perhaps it's best if you don't try to cook any more." I have to admit, I think he's right about that! Lucky for me he has been cooking up a variety of delicious things lately (grilled steaks, barbecued pork burgers, tacos, grilled asparagus, roasted brussels sprouts, big delicious salads, etc).

I don't know how many more weeks of pregnancy I have ahead of me. But I do know that I am incredibly lucky to have a husband who is so tremendously supportive, and with his help I will get through it just fine.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Banana Nut Bread (Page 666)

RECIPE #36
  • Date: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 -- 6pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Book: Gourmet Today
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+


For many staple baking items (chocolate chip cookies, red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting, pancakes, pie crust, croissants, etc) I have a favorite recipe that I go back to every time. Some of the recipes I wrote myself. Some I found along the way and have never tasted one I liked better. But there are a few basic baking items for which I have yet to find my ideal recipe. Banana bread is one of those items. It's a shame because I love banana bread and we always have a stash of over-ripe bananas in our freezer for just this purpose. I have tried dozens of recipes, and mostly they are good, but just not perfect. I think the source of the problem is that years ago I did taste the perfect banana bread. It was at a bed and breakfast somewhere in the Northeast (Vermont? New Hampshire? I don't remember.). The banana bread they served for breakfast was perfect: buttery and moist with tremendous banana flavor. Slightly crispy around the edges but tender inside. It was great. And, like an idiot, I didn't ask for the recipe. Now, years later, I don't even know what state that bed and breakfast was in. But I do remember the banana bread, and how no other banana bread has ever lived up to it.

With high hopes, I was eager to give this recipe a try. This recipe was for a standard, no frills banana bread, which is the way I like it! I beat together butter and sugar, then added the eggs and bananas. I alternated adding the buttermilk and dry ingredients (cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg), then stirred in the nuts. I put it in a prepared loaf pan and baked it until it was done! This banana bread was tasty -- fairly moist with a good banana flavor. I liked it a lot. Indeed, my special gentleman and I demolished the entire loaf frighteningly fast. But it still didn't live up to my banana bread ideal. It could have been moister with a more buttery, banana-y flavor. It was very good, but not fantastic, so I suppose I will keep searching...

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36 recipes down, 1070 to go!

I have done a terrible job documenting this pregnancy, which I am sure I will someday regret. I am going to try to do better. I will be 33 weeks pregnant tomorrow. I am delighted to still be pregnant. I worried a lot about our twins potentially arriving premature and having significant health problems due to prematurity. But at this point they are still in there and looking great! Long-term health problems related to prematurity are very unlikely now, even if the twins were born this week.

One of my doctors says that making it to 32 weeks is the silver medal of twin pregnancy. So when I hit 32 weeks my special gentleman had a medal ceremony for me! Here's a picture of my 32 week belly:


At our 32 weeks growth ultrasound the girls were almost 4.5 pounds each! They are big. Baby A was in the 63rd percentile and Baby B in the 69th percentile for weight, for a singleton! And they look healthy. I am going to the doctor at least once a week now, for non-stress tests, ultrasounds, etc. It's a lot of time at the doctor, but I find it reassuring to see them often and know that they are doing well.

As for me, I am feeling better than I expected. I actually feel better now that I did 8 weeks ago. In reality, probably I am doing worse, but I have learned better how to live within my physical limitations, so I feel better. Walking and standing are extremely difficult and lead to feeling bad very quickly. So I do those things as little as possible, and I feel pretty good. My life is very sedentary these days. I am working from home as much as possible. I do prenatal yoga a couple times a week and prenatal water aerobics once a week, but other than that I don't make any attempts to exercise. Walking at the grocery store became an impossibility a few weeks back. By the time I got to the back of the store I would invariably be having contractions. Luckily our grocery store has motorized carts!



Walking is hard, so mostly I just don't do it. I stay home a lot and sit at my desk when I feel well enough, or lie on the couch or in bed when I don't. I think I have been very lucky so far. A lot of twin moms suffer from terrible back and joint pain, as well as miserable acid reflux. I have been blessed so far with very little pain and no reflux, which I am told is highly unusual. All in all, I feel pretty good.

My goal is to keep these babies cooking until 36 weeks (the gold medal of twin pregnancy!) but at this point I feel fairly ready for whatever happens.