Tuesday, April 02, 2013

J.C.'s Weekend

Praise be the higher power (if they exist), our daycare provider is back from vacation!  Regular life resumes!  This is negative for me because it means I'm back on duty getting the Big Yam ready in the morning, but good for the family as a whole because it means we don't have to keep patching together a network of care.  Plus, it's just nice to be back in the regular routine of life, with an orderly schedule and whatnot.  It's good for everyone, but me in particular, because schedules and order are my talismans against the capriciousness of living.  

We couldn't possibly have had a better weekend.  It was soooo nice.  Four day weekends are bliss piled upon bliss.  They are especially so when your family obligations are neatly wrapped up on the first day (we had dinner with Momma D and my mum decamped to do some cross-border shopping in the States so we were off the hook with my family) and you have nothing but aimless days filled with some household chores and some dinner preparation and some friend visiting (but not too much).  It was perfect.  We cooked and cleaned and napped and relaxed.  There was a flurry of activity yesterday, spurred by my receiving my weekly pregnancy-email update.  According to Baby Centre, at 23 weeks the twerps are now considered "viable" (that is, if they were born now, they would be disgusting jellybean quarterly baby Voldemorts, but have a high statistical probability of survival).  The word "viable" resulted in me yelling at the Dotytron and rhyming off a nonsensical list of tasks great and small that I, in my fevered nesting state, would like to see accomplished.  The list included everything from doing something with the speakers and bass bin that had been plopped unceremoniously on top of my cherished rosewood buffet, to buying the minivan, to like, remortgaging the house, to cleaning the basement, to organizing extra cables and labelling them.  I went cuckoo, admittedly.  

The Dotytron was a peach and tried to stem the tide of hormonal anxiety by writing up a list of things to do, which culminated in "contract gonorrhea." 
We got a good chunk of business done and reorganized the basement some more and put things away so that they made sense for access.  The speakers and bass bin (what I jokingly refer to as the "Valve Soundsystem") have been rendered slightly less unsightly in a show of compromise between the Dotytron's quest for audio fidelity and my quest for harmonious living room aesthetics.
The Big Yam got (another) ear infection.  At least now he can tell us, although I'm not sure that hearing him plaintively cry, "My ear hurts, my ear!" is an improvement because it kind of breaks your heart.  He was a trooper though.  We pulled him in for Sleep Away Camp and dosed him with painkillers until we could see our doctor and he rallied enough to participate in the Annual Street Easter Egg Hunt.  This year we ramped it up.  I made breakfasty/sweet bread/snacky type things and someone bought coffee from Starbucks and someone else brought fruit and juice and cups.  The hunt was over in about half an hour, but we got an awesome group shot with all the kidlets on the street and then everyone stayed outside for another hour or two while the kids rode their bikes and the adults chiefed it up.  So cute!

We went to our friends' house for a tapas meal (I think there were like, 10 different dishes?  And cava?  And red and white wine?)  and caught up with our amazingly talented, interesting, intelligent, and engaged high school cronies.  Sometimes, when I take a look around at all the amazing people in my life, I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to count so many smart, talented people as friends - old and new.  As someone who thrives on conversation, debate, philosophizing, and taking the world apart and (trying) to put it back together again in a way that makes sense and is reflexive, honest, thoughtful, and conscious, gatherings where hours of wide-ranging conversation disappear in what seems like minutes are the stuff that I live for.  We came back from that lunch feeling very lucky, very loved, and very, very full.  

The Big Yam is so so so delightful right now.  Basically, if he's not whining, everything he says/does right now tears us to pieces with cuteness.  A small sampling:

- Washing the dishes from dinner, over the sounds of the tap and the suds, the Dotytron and I heard a very grave, "Mama, I'm not happy with you" from the Big Yam, who at the time was preoccupied with hopping on the couch in his jammies.

- He likes to put me to bed on the living room couch, which includes pulling a blanket around me, singing "Blackbird," and more often than not, him climbing up on the couch to snuggle in next to me with a: "I want to be cozy" or "I want tickles."  

- There is lots of dancing, all the time, and the newest iteration of his dancing style is hilarious.  

- "Mama, can I have butter on my bread?"  "Yes, I'll give you some."  "I want aaaaaaaaaaaa-lot."

He really is the best.  I was tired yesterday and fell asleep and missed the bedtime routine, despite the Big Yam's exhortations that "Mama, come!" I just couldn't move from the couch.  Then when I finally roused an hour later, I felt so guilty.  It was definitely hormonal but I was so sad.  I know you love all your kids (hopefully?) but there are times when I can't fathom loving the twerps as much as I love the Big Yam.  Or at the very least, I don't know where the extra love comes from.  I'm also trying to be very conscious that our time together where it's just us and him is limited and soon he's going to have to share us and we'll have to share ourselves and him with his siblings and it's going to be so different.  I don't know how you pay attention to all the little details of your kids when you have more than one.  I don't know how you find the time to give them the love and support and learning opportunities that make them grow when you have more than one.  

I don't know the twerps.  I know the Big Yam and I find myself being hyper-protective of our relationship.  I don't really know how you find the time/energy to make more than one kid feel special and awesome.  Two at the same time?  How the heck does that work?  I know this is something all parents with more than one kid grapple with.  I also know that this is me being a hormonal mess.  Still, it eats away at me a bit each day that goes by as we move closer and closer to imminent twerp arrival, especially when I'm reading stories to and being cozy with and  planting kisses on my sweet little Boobla.  

'Twas a weekend of good eats:

Saturday morning breakfast - oat & whole wheat scones with Devon cream & my concord grape jelly.

The craving for crispy fish & tartar sauce continues apace: sweet potato oven fries, a dilled cucumber salad, and a panko-crusted salmon burger with arugula, tomato, and tartar sauce on a buttered toasted bun (you'll notice my attempt to be low-carb by only eating half a bun).  This recipe for sweet potato oven fries produced the best version we've ever had.  All you have to do is soak your cut sweet potatoes in advance (to take out the extra starch, I'm guessing) and then drain them and dry them on a towel.  Then you put them in a paper bag with some cornstarch, shake it around so they get all coated.  Toss the coated fries in a bowl and toss with oil.  Season and bake in a 450F oven until crispy, turning halfway through.  

You'll then notice how I completely went ultra-mega-carbs by making Bouchon Bakery's TKO's - their take on the Oreo cookie, aka the most sinfully delicious, salty-sweet, rich thing in all of existence.  I dream of this cookie.  I rolled my dough out a little thick, but with a cold glass of milk, there are few things better.

My new favorite healthy lunch, inspired by some cheap brie I scooped with Dr. Rei on our lunchtime travels last week - pan-toasted sourdough bread, with my homemade tomato jam, some sliced red onion, some avocado, and melted brie on top.  Sided with more cucumber salad.

We closed out the weekend with breaded cod sandwiches, sweet potato latkes with apple sauce and chili mayo, and a broccoli, red onion, and almond salad.

Tonight we had Spanish style braised tripe with chickpeas and chorizo, served with warmed crusty bread for dipping.  I love me some tripe and it was nice to have the day off yesterday to prep it so it only had to be reheated today.  Recipe below.


Spanish Style Tripe with Chickpeas
serves 4-6

3 lbs tripe, cleaned and cut into 1" strips
2 T. white vinegar
1 c. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 links semi-cured chorizo (not completely dried, not the fresh kind either, I get mine from Segovia in Kensington)
1 large Spanish onion, sliced thin
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. Spanish smoked paprika
pinch saffron 
1/2 can of tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

- in a fairly large pot, put the tripe, the vinegar, and just enough water to barely cover the tripe.
- bring this to a boil, then skim the scum off the surface and drain the tripe.
- heat enough olive/canola oil to cover the bottom of a heavy dutch oven and sauté the chorizo over medium-high heat until it starts to render.  
- add the onions and sweat, add the minced garlic, the spices, and the tomato paste and cook out.
- add the chickpeas and tripe and about 4 cups of water. 
- bring to a simmer, reduce heat to a bare, bare simmer and cook the mixture with the lid on for about 3 hours, or until the tripe is tender, stirring occasionally.  Add water as needed to reach desired consistency (I like it to be a mostly thick stew with just a bit of extra gravy).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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