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Fall Cooking

sweet_potatoI love me some fall and winter recipes. The CSA has started supplying us with a lot of winter squash, sweet potatoes, and now we’re getting into greens season. Here are a few of my latest favorite recipes:

Five Spice Sweet Potato Pie
I’ve had issues with lighter pies and quiches being runny, but this recipe is fool-proof. Great texture, and the Chinese spice powder gives it a deliciously robust flavor. Wonderful with fresh whipped cream with a little cinnamon and vanilla added.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta
Sounds utterly decadent, but this is in fact a reduced calorie recipe. Which does not mean low calorie, but it’s not too bad. It’s great comfort food and easy to put together. If you have issues making a white sauce without oil or butter (I do – lumps galore), heat the milk first and then use a sifter or wire strainer to gradually add the flour and whisk in. Watch it closely, it will thicken up fast. I use Gruyere cheese instead of provolone.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
This recipe is easy and tasty and also reduced fat. You’ll never miss it. I use my home-made pumpkin from the CSA (I cut them in half, seed them, cover in foil, bake until soft, scoop out, mash, and freeze) and add some chopped pecans.

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
This recipe has nothing to do with vegetables or healthy cooking, and everything to do with the return of my appetite and consequently, my sweet tooth. It is utterly scrumptious, especially if you have a thing for sweet-salty flavors like I do. No, they’re not healthy. Shut up, I’m pregnant.

Some days are better than others

2009-10-ricemellow

mmmmmm. suuuuuugaaaaaar.

Pregnancy continues to be an adventure. I had a bad cold a few weeks ago, and since then I’ve “relapsed” twice. But I think it’s actually Pregnancy Rhinitis, which is freaky allergy/cold symptoms linked to hormones (and probably the dryer weather). Whatever, it’s no fun and it feels like I get a short lived cold every week or so. I’m on the somewhat mend from the latest but it’s wicked  inconvenient. I think if I remember to hydrate better in between bouts they may be milder. I hope so. More tea for me!

Back pain reached an all time high a few days ago. Between round ligament pain, IT band pain, and SI joint pain it was pretty dang painful just to walk. Plus painting furniture for the baby’s room involves a lot of squatting which doesn’t help. But I got a massage and went to yoga and aaaaaahhhh. Sooo much better. Note to self. Go. To. Yoga. So I’m going back tonight and am planning to make sure I take at least 2 classes a week. My back thanks me.

My appetite, sweet tooth included, is back in action but I find if I don’t eat relatively small amounts about 10 minutes later I feel like I ate a bowling ball. So more snacks, less meals. Unfortunately it’s easy to snack on the sweet stuff but I’m trying to cut back. Except I made these and it’s a little hard to not eat them all. I continue to not gain weight, which is awesome, but I have to remember it’s also not an excuse to eat too much unhealthy food.

I’m 23 weeks pregnant as of today. The belly is large and round. Tiny Miss Quimby does a lot of kicking, punching, and rolling. Not all of it feels comfortable (please stop head butting my bladder!), but I’m glad to know she’s doing her thing. My emotions are definitely kicked up more. I can cry at the drop of a hat. Or a feather or pebble or whatever. But again, I think that any symptom that necessitates me taking better care of myself, physically or emotionally is not a bad thing.

Second Trimester: Head Cold Edition

chicken_soupDespite my best efforts to avoid all the viruses making the rounds in Austin right now, I finally succumbed to a nasty head cold. While certainly better than the flu for many reasons, it’s wicked uncomfortable and lame. I’m going to the doctor to get checked out just in case, mostly because any virus tends to kick up my asthma which is no fun. I seriously wish I had avoided this, but at least it’s not an ass-kicking flu, which I continue to hope to avoid. Luckily, I’ve been on a soup kick, so I have some good leftovers. I’m headed to the doc this afternoon just to be on the safe side. Any cold or flu tends to wreak havoc on my asthma.

On the good news front, I didn’t get sick until Saturday night, so David and I had a great Saturday walking around the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center taking pictures. Best. Light. Ever. Cloudy days rock for the photography. David got some particularly nice shots – he kept stealing the big camera from me.

Tiny Miss Quimby is definitely kicking up a storm now. As we speak. At first it seemed like only when I was sitting up and had something elastic-y on my lower abdomen, now it’s pretty much whenever. And I can feel it in several points in the same general area, rather than just one spot like at first. I’m looking forward to looking in on her on Thursday at the anatomy ultrasound. I guess I could be paranoid about that too, but since we made it through all the genetic mishigas I’m feeling a bit more pragmatic. I’ll post more pictures after the appointment!

* Update: after two frustrating and painful  hours – a big swab stuck way up the nose and twisted around when you have swollen sinuses is NOT FUN – I do not have the flu. Just an annoying cold.

Strollers and Carseats and Gliders, oh my!

bobSo today I dragged David to USA Baby to see if we could get a stuff-for-your-kid 101 course. The amount of crap it is possible to buy is more than a little intimidating. Chuck, the owner, was really helpful. I now feel well-armed to make decisions about some of the more essential items. The stroller you see pictured is called the Bob. It’s way cool. We do a lot of walking with the dogs in the neighborhood, and that won’t change any time soon, so this puppy will get a lot of use. It’s pricey, but well worth it. We’re going to get a Graco infant car seat and regular stroller as well. We looked at a bunch of gliders, and are probably going to get one that’s kind of a modern take on the wood glider (I usually hate those). This one is fairly interesting looking and has some great fabrics to choose from. Unless I find something good on Craigslist that’s CHEAP.

Chilean SeabassIn news of the weird, Tiny Josephine seems to not like fish any more. I made some stew with the red fish David caught last weekend on Tuesday and all was well. But last night David grilled some more, and I couldn’t eat it. And then, and this is really strange, we went for dim sum at Chinatown today and ordered a plate of sea bass.  Chilean sea bass is one of the tastiest things on the planet – and I couldn’t eat it! David sure didn’t mind, but what gives? I had no problem with the shrimp, but the bass just tasted off to me. David assured me it was most certainly not. I know I’m only supposed to have seafood twice a week, and I over did it a bit this week, but most weeks I have little to none. Pregnant bodies are just strange is all.

Food, glorious food

woman-cookingI’m happy to report that the long cooking drought is over. We even made fish stew last night, and the lingering smell in the kitchen doesn’t make me ill! During the first oh, 13 weeks of pregnancy I cooked maybe once a week. And I had this bad habit of forgetting key ingredients like oil or leavening.

While I haven’t missed the cleanup work entailed in cooking, I’ve gotten mighty sick of eating restaurant and previously frozen foods. And nobody’s happier than David, he loves him some home cooking. Here are some recipes I’ve made recently:

Emeril Lagasse’s Fish Stew
I don’t cook Emeril’s recipes that often because 1) they’re usually wicked complicated and 2) they’re usually very, very high in fat. However, nobody does it like Emeril. I always turn to him for special occasion and comfort food recipes. This one is relatively easy (meaning it’s not four recipes in one) and while not low in fat (there’s a roux) it’s not too bad since none of the other ingredients have much in the way of fat. We used 2 lbs of the redfish David caught last weekend in it and it was DELISH!

Butternut Squash Soup
I’m mostly avoiding cooking meat at home, the after-cooking smell really bothers me. We also have sorely neglected our CSA (farm membership) so a lot of veggies have been given out to friends or languished. But winter squashes are pretty hardy, and I finally used one of my butternut squash to make this. It’s a great recipe, really easy. It has a lovely texture and the flavor is quite sweet. For that reason, I like to swirl some yogurt in it (tip via Emily) or some low fat sour cream. It’s really good served at lunch with some cheese toast. I added a little ginger paste to the recipe, because I almost always do.

Gingered Pumpkin Pie
In addition to the butternut, we get some other green and orange, pumpkin like squash from the CSA. I baked up two of them and scooped them out to freeze and use later. But first, I made this recipe. You would never know it’s lightened! Maybe because of all the sugar… Still, you use nonfat evaporated milk instead of sweetened-condensed and it comes out really nice.

Stove-Top Mac and Cheese
I am not the only currently pregnant lady with a wicked mac and cheese craving. And not the only one to suffer from the curse of the lumpy white sauce. Unless there’s butter involved, starting with the flour and gradually adding milk always leads to disaster for me. I usually heat the milk and then gradually sift in the flour. Takes more time, but not if you count how may times I’ve had to re-do lumpy white sauce. Anyway, this recipe avoids that problem all together. Be warned, it’s wicked rich. Normally I might say “bring it on!” but in my current state, overly rich food makes me very ill. So I reduced the fat a bit by using non-fat evaporated milk. Next time I’ll probably also combo some lower fat cheese in with whatever else I use. Maybe gorgonzola? Yum.

Enjoy! I know I am.

Food, glorious food

woman-cookingI’m happy to report that the long cooking drought is over. We even made fish stew last night, and the lingering smell in the kitchen doesn’t make me want to hurl! During the first oh, 13 weeks of pregnancy I cooked maybe once a week. And I had this bad habit of forgetting key ingredients like oil or leavening.

While I haven’t missed the cleanup work entailed in cooking, I’ve gotten mighty sick of eating restaurant and previously frozen foods. And nobody’s happier than David, he loves him some home cooking. Here are some recipes I’ve made recently:

Emeril Lagasse’s Fish Stew
I don’t cook Emeril’s recipes that often because 1) they’re usually wicked complicated and 2) they’re usually very, very high in fat. However, nobody does it like Emeril. I always turn to him for special occasion and comfort food recipes. This one is relatively easy (meaning it’s not four recipes in one) and while not low in fat (there’s a roux) it’s not too bad since none of the other ingredients have much in the way of fat. We used 2 lbs of the redfish David caught last weekend in it and it was DELISH!

Butternut Squash Soup
I’m mostly avoiding cooking meat at home, the after-cooking smell really bothers me. We also have sorely neglected our CSA (farm membership) so a lot of veggies have been given out to friends or languished. But winter squashes are pretty hardy, and I finally used one of my butternut squash to make this. It’s a great recipe, really easy. It has a lovely texture and the flavor is quite sweet. For that reason, I like to swirl some yogurt in it (tip via Emily) or some low fat sour cream. It’s really good served at lunch with some cheese toast. I added a little ginger paste to the recipe, because I almost always do.

Gingered Pumpkin Pie
In addition to the butternut, we get some other green and orange, pumpkin like squash from the CSA. I baked up two of them and scooped them out to freeze and use later. But first, I made this recipe. You would never know it’s lightened! Maybe because of all the sugar… Still, you use nonfat evaporated milk instead of sweetened-condensed and it comes out really nice.

Stove-Top Mac and Cheese
I am not the only currently pregnant lady with a wicked mac and cheese craving. And not the only one to suffer from the curse of the lumpy white sauce. Unless there’s butter involved, starting with the flour and gradually adding milk always leads to disaster for me. I usually heat the milk and then gradually sift in the flour. Takes more time, but not if you count how may times I’ve had to re-do lumpy white sauce. Anyway, this recipe avoids that problem all together. Be warned, it’s wicked rich. Normally I might say “bring it on!” but in my current state, overly rich food makes me very ill. So I reduced the fat a bit by using non-fat evaporated milk. Next time I’ll probably also combo some lower fat cheese in with whatever else I use. Maybe gorgonzola? Yum.

Enjoy! I know I am.

P.S. For readers of my other blog, please excuse the cross-post.

I’ve been rather occupied

missquimby Yes, my lack of blogging and photography and cooking has been due largely to the fact that I’ve been sick and exhausted and hiding from the world. But Tiny Miss Quimby (TMQ) is ready for sneak preview, and has been filling up (har) a lot of my time, energy, and internal real estate. She’ll be making her first full color appearance sometime around or after March 4th, 2010. She’ll be the second granddaughter on both sides of the family, and David and my first child.

And let me say that the only thing worse than living through my first trimester during the hottest summer on record in Texas, would be living through my third trimester during the hottest summer in Texas. Nausea and weeks of 100+ heat are not a good combination.

Things have eased up in the last few weeks on both the nausea and blinding heat fronts. So I should soon have more posts on food, photography, and whatever occurs to me. Cheers!

Looking for the Zen

659402I’ve been trying not to stress about my upcoming amnio, but I’ve been having creepy dreams about it. Hey subconscious: Not. Helping.

We are excited to learn what flavor of kid we’re going to have, however. Let the decorating begin! We’re going to re-carpet and paint the room for starters. I have two different themes in mind depending on the outcome, which I will reveal in the near future. The room will not, however, be themey. Meaning it will not resemble a Disneyland ride or a catalog. Things will not match, they will go. Important distinction.

I’ve had some fatigue the last couple of days, I think Tiny Quimby is growing, and therefor I needs must sleep. My most annoying symptom these days is eye strain headaches, which I get a lot. I wear my glasses almost all the time now, but I still end up with ugly pain around my eye sockets. Anyone had this one? It’s driving me nuts, as my pastime of choice (other than sleeping) is reading.

I’ve had pretty much no weight gain since this whole thing started, despite the growing belly. Not complaining, but I wonder when and how it will happen. I’m eating as much as I’m capable of – small meals or snacks, 5-6 times a day. And I eat what I can tolerate, which is some fruit and veg, a lot of carbs and protein.  I can’t seem to eat much more or less than what I already am, and I have a low tolerance for super rich food (hello indigestion!) so I hope it’s enough for the kid. I feel like the whole thing is out of my hands, my body is dictating what, how much, and how often I eat without any input from me. Even though the pervasive nausea is gone, it shows up to tell me when I need to eat, and when I’ve eaten the wrong thing or too much. Food is definitely not as much fun as it was, but it some ways it’s nice not to obsess about how much and what I should eat. Someone else is calling the shots.

Life gets busier

I’m doing better with the nausea these days. Don’t seem to need the medication any more. I still have bouts of it, but they’re mercifully brief. My energy level is still pretty variable. Last week I was pretty energetic, this week not so much. But energy or no, I’m starting to get busy. I avoided most work during the weeks where I was feeling like death. The last few weeks have brought me several new potential clients, so I’m the proposal-negotiation phase which is always tricky. Still, it would be great to have some work. Even conservative estimates on what this whole baby thing is going to cost on the front end are fairly intimidating.

You can find almost anything on Craigslist, but most sources say the major stuff (crib, car seat, stroller) need to be new for safety. I got a subscription to Consumer Reports since they seem to have a good process for safety testing.

Mostly I feel like I’m holding my breath until the amnio is over and the results are back. Hopefully all will be well and we can relax a bit after that. There’s just such a seemingly infinite amount of stuff to worry about, plan, and anticipate, it’s hard to find the mental space to relax. I hope it will gradually all fall into place.

Food and I are still not great friends. I get so tired of having to eat every couple of hours. When I worked in food service somehow seeing and smelling food all the time made me feel as if I’d been eating all day, and I lost my appetite. I feel similarly now. Cooking is wholly unappealing. The idea of preparing, eating, and cleaning up food is pretty yuck, since I get to start all over an hour or two later. But I’m also really sick of prepared and restaurant food. I’ve been experimenting with low prep food like crepes. My major craving last week was re-fried beans. Do not ask me why, as I have no idea. I was having practically erotic feelings towards them, and that’s just weird. It seems to have passed.

That’s the latest news on the grumpy pregnant lady front.

Mostly Good News

SMARTFOOD_White_Cheddar_Cheese_Flavored_PopcornThe nausea continues to abate. Still a bit in the evenings and if I forget to eat EVERY FIVE MINUTES. Okay, maybe not quite that often, but pretty dang often. It’s all about Smartfood and Pop Tarts. I did make hatch mac and cheese this week. That’s right, I cooked! It was pretty good.

I went to the chiropractor today and got that injury worked on, so I’m hoping it will heal up faster now. It also seems marginally cooler now, I’m hoping to start walking in the mornings a bit. While I’m not exercising nearly as much as before I got pregnant, I’ve got to give myself props for keeping up regular (5-6 days a week) exercise of some kind. I pretty much start to go crazy if I don’t do anything.

So now that I don’t want to sleep all the time, I’m starting to think about all the stuff we’re supposed to accumulate before the big event. I’m trying to find lightweight, non-bulky gear. I hate carrying around tons of crap. When I go on vacation, I pack and repack for weeks in advance because I HATE bringing stuff I don’t use.

Also, finding stuff for babies that doesn’t look absurd is somewhat challenging. For example, bassinets. There’s this:

pTRU1-3860606reg

Does this make anyone else want to hurl?

or this:

pTRU1-2999382reg-1

Much better.

I am not a big fan of excessive frills. I’m also in favor of the second one because it doubles as a co-sleeper. And you know what that means? More sleep for me.

Theoretically.