Monday, February 15, 2010

The Joy of Cooking

Channa Masala -- A Brooklyn Baby Family Favorite

As I've mentioned before, much earlier in this blog, one way The Brooklyn Baby Family has survived a rough economy is by cooking our own meals. A lot. (This is explains how we've managed to survive Dave's layoff, despite what some consider our extravagant habits of buying organic milk for Stella and continuing to get haircuts. Ahem. That's all I'll say.)

Sometimes we find ourselves in a rut, I'm ashamed to say, making ourselves sick of black beans and rice and chicken/veggie stir fry.

However, after a while, we find some renewed energy and discover new and exciting recipes to try. And since we don't eat out a fraction as much as we used to, many of our favorite recipes tend to have a certain international flare.

So dear, dedicated readers, I'm going to share some of our favorites with you. They are mostly quite healthy, some are vegetarian, and almost all are easy and quick. I hope you enjoy them!

Oh, and don't forget the fabulous food blogs linked to on the right. They are responsible for much of my motivation.

1. Channa Masala -- A spicy, vegetarian Indian dish starring chick peas. This one is great on a cold, miserable day. (So, odds are good you could be making this one soon.)
2. Moroccan Skillet Chicken with Pine Nut Couscous -- This is Stella's number one, all-time favorite recipe. We omit the olives because we just find it to be too heavy a flavor for this dish. And yes, my foodie friends, this is a Rachael Ray recipe. Maybe you just need to get over yourself and admit that many of her recipes are tasty and easy and that's not a bad thing.
3. Pork (or Chicken) Chili Verde -- Chowmama. My absolute favorite food blog. Every recipe is winning, easy, healthy, sophisticated. You can't go wrong with any of them, but this is our current favorite. Not too spicy, but oh so flavorful. And really versatile -- great on rice, in tortillas, as a burrito, whatever. Another Stella fave.
4. Perfect Roast Chicken -- Yes, more chicken. Look, Stella eats chicken. Consistently. Which means we, as a family, gravitate toward chicken recipes, because otherwise she eats a lot of PB&J's. This is Ina Garten's masterpiece of a recipe. It takes a bit of time, but is so worth it. A Friday night Shabbas feast favorite.
5. Salmon Cakes with Creamy Ginger-Sesame Sauce -- This is good for a night you're craving Chinese food without the fat. Not one of Dave's faves, unfortunately, so we don't eat them too often. But, man, I love them!
6. Slow Cooker Red Lentil Dahl -- This is another vegetarian Indian favorite around here. And boy, is it easy and healthy!
7. Roasted Broccolini over Spinach Parmesan Polenta -- Or, as my mamaws might say, "Healthy grits." We made these tonight and they're delightfully decadent while still healthy.

Well, that's all I can think of for now. Feel free to post links to your favorite family recipes, too, as we're always looking to expand our repertoire.

Stay home, cook your own food, and then blow your wads of saved cash on some organic dairy and snazzy haircuts. Look, baby, you've earned it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Careful what you wish for...

Last week was...insane? Nope, not strong enough. Strenuous? Nah, too limp. Ri-flipping-diculous? Now we're getting warmer.

I remember when Stella was an infant - a shrieking, nurse-a-holic, non-sleeping infant - how I envied Dave his 9-5, Monday-Friday work schedule. How luxurious it seemed to slip on the subway with the paper, chat with people your own age and engage your mind, eat lunch at your own pace, sip coffees and munch apples, and just be yourself - nobody constantly needing you - for chunk of time each day.

And so, I found myself wishing on a star that I could go back to work and contribute financially, that I could have time alone, that I could remember the unique attributes that made Randi Randi again, and not just a woman who accidentally ran over people's feet with her stroller and had baby poop on her sweater.

And so, as has happened many times in my life, I was granted my wish, and promptly realized how naive I was.

Last week I worked my ass off. Don't get me wrong - I'm still one of the lucky, rare saps who LOVES her job and I'm so grateful to have money during what could be a very scary time for us. But...

I didn't realize how much I'd miss Stella. And how tired I'd be. And how guilty I'd feel every day when she cried as I said goodbye. And how much I'd crave sitting on the couch in my snuggie, watching episodes of The Jersey Shore on TV.

And I didn't realize that my immune system, so used to regular sleep (now that Stella is the uber-perfect-sleeping child) and relatively relaxing days, would FREAK OUT with my schedule.

Here was last week, in a nutshell:
Weekend: Two parties, I baked for each one.

Monday: 8:30 - 4:00, teach
4:15 - 6:30, two separate tutoring jobs, with a brisk jog between.
7:00 - 7:30, spend time with Stella, feel guilty

Tuesday: 8:30 - 4:00, substitute teach for a really challenging class
4:15 - 5:15, tutor
5:15 - 5:45, buy groceries
6:15 - 7:30, spend time with Stella, feel guilty
8:30 - 10:00, bake cupcakes for a Bklyn Bakes order

Wednesday: 8:30 - 4:00, teach
4:15 - 5:00, do more shopping with Dave
5:00 - 7:30, spend time with Stella, feel guilty
8:30 - 10:00, decorate cupcakes for a Bklyn Bakes order

Thursday: 7:30 - 9:00, sleep in, due to a night of coughing my lungs off
9:30, leave for Manhattan for a day I planned with my BFF weeks ago
10:00, deliver Bklyn Bakes order
10:30 - 4:00, hang out with my friend, have a great lunch, drink a glass of wine, feel INCREDIBLY GUILTY for spending my first day off without Stella
5:00 - 7:30, spend time with Stella, feel guilty.
9:00, crash in a heap.

Friday: sleep most of the day, due to incredible sickness, feel like a piece of sh*t for not spending more time with Stella
6:30, leave during Stella's dinner to go into Manhattan to perform, feel guilty

You get the idea, although I should report that the following weekend included more baking, more sickness, and an effort to visit in-laws and friends amidst the fog.

And today I'm back at work. Coughing my lungs out. Feeling guilty.

I know I'll figure this working mom thing out, and I know that most weeks won't be nearly as hectic as last week, but this is tough. The strangest thing is when I find myself really loving my jobs, really getting into the teaching/tutoring/baking groove, and realizing that I've forgotten, for a brief moment, that I'm a mom. And then I hate myself.

But, then again, the best thing is that, when I come home, Stella's face lights up like a sunrise, and I find that I have a new found abundance of energy and enthusiasm. She sits in my lap and I read and read and read to her, smelling her hair and relishing the weight of her on my body. I appreciate her.

I appreciate my life. My crazy, hectic, brimming with good stuff life.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What are YOU doing this Friday night?

If you're in NYC, I know you're going to come see the Amazing Multi-Tasking Brooklyn Baby Momma perform in Mama D's Arts Bordello at Parkside Lounge in the LES (yes, MANHATTAN) at 8pm! It's a mere $5, is not parenthood-related (for all you hipster baby-haters), and will be sexy, sassy and hilarious.

Join me in pretending, for one night at least, that I'm in my bipolar, partying 20's once more!