Aug 26, 2010

i am an incredibly lucky woman. this has hit me more and more as i've grown older, and especially now, in my 7th month of pregnancy, as i reflect on the easy time i've had so far being with child. i've had a flexible work schedule with understanding employers, the freedom to rest and put my feet up when i really need it, a supportive husband who waits on me hand and foot and doesn't hesitate to give me a message at my slightest demand, and a body that so easily adapted to pregnancy i'm still in awe by it. other than the 6 or so weeks of constant nausea (that i have nearly forgotten the extent of by now), pregnancy for me has been a breeze. i'm incredibly happy with how i've been carrying this child, my body hasn't changed dramatically except for the basketball i'm carrying in front of me.

people keep asking me if i'm done being pregnant yet, if i'm exhausted by it and ready to have my body back. my answer: not yet. i'm still glowing and happy and comfortable with this baby in side of me. i love feeling him move, even at 4 am. i miss laying on my stomach, but it still makes me laugh when he kicks in protest as i inadvertently put pressure on my belly. i am looking forward to shopping for "normal" clothes again this winter - dresses with defined waists and shirts that don't have to be stretchy - but i'm loving my pregnancy wardrobe. (those full panel maternity leggings are the best invention ever!) i have been lax on the recommended food restrictions -i've really only totally avoided raw fish and shellfish and unpasteurized dairy (not that i come across it on a regular basis anyway) - but i do miss having a manhattan. i've had a half glass of wine or beer here and there, but bourbon, oh how i miss bourbon.

my motto for the past 7 months, and for the foreseeable future: keep it simple. don't overdo it. take it easy. i have to remind myself as i prepare for house guests, make plans with friends and family, plan for this baby and organize his nursery, and cook dinner. it's a good attitude to adopt in general, and i hope my logistics loving self can keep it after my son is born.

i love simple rustic food, sometimes with timely preparations, but using simple ingredients cooked in basic ways. roasting a chicken, braising a pork shoulder, simple grains and salads. these are the staples for the way that i cook. foods like these are comforting and casual, easy to share. and one of my favorite deceptively simple things to make is shortbread. 4 basic ingredients that everyone has in their kitchen, plus one or two extra if you want to be fancy. and who doesn't love a good shortbread cookie?

here's my basic recipe, with recommendations for just a few of the endless options for additions. i hope you enjoy it!

oh so simple shortbread
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
dash of kosher salt
granulated sugar to top

optional flavor additions:
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh herb (basil, thyme, lemon balm, rosemary)
1 tbsp finely grated lemon or lime zest
a little more salt, plus flaky maldon sea salt to top (my favorite)
2 -3 tbsp cocoa powder

preheat oven to 400 degrees. throw everything into a food processor and process until dough comes together, just 2-3 minutes. from here you can do two things: press the dough into a parchment lined jelly roll pan, spread until smooth and chill for 30 minutes, or wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 30 minutes to roll out and use cookie cutters. if you decide to use the jelly roll pan, press it into the pan making sure it is about 1/4 inch thick. use a knife to score the top of the shortbread to make cutting or breaking apart easier after baking. if you decide to roll the dough out and use cookie cutters, make sure the dough is very cold, roll it out to 1/4 inch thick, using a bit of flour to prevent sticking, and a floured spatula to help lift the cookies from the work surface onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. sprinkle extra sugar on top of the shortbread and slide into the oven. turn the oven down to 350 and bake for 10-15 minutes, (a little longer for the jelly roll pan to allow the center to cook evenly), turning the pan halfway through, until ever so slightly brown. the cookies won't look done, but if check the bottom of the cookie and it is lightly brown, it's done. it is important not to overbake these. if you wait until the edges crisp and the top gets medium brown like a chocolate chip cookie, you'll have crispy crackly shortbread instead of the crumbly cakey shortbread we're after here. cool on a cooling rack and enjoy.

i like to serve mine with homemade ice cream or sorbet, but they're also great as sandwich cookies with a little buttercream or chocolate ganache.

...or more appropriately simply by themselves with a cup of coffee or tea.


Aug 16, 2010

my "6 hours to myself today to get a bunch of crap done" did not result in many items getting crossed off of my to do list. instead i 1) found a swanky 50's inspired resort for us to stay at in door county over labor day weekend, 2) showered, 3) located and purchased shelving for the nursery on the internet, and 4) had a successful dry run of my hairdo for my 60's prom themed costume for this weekend. i wish i had time for a nap, but my 6 hours are nearly up.

i did not manage to 1) put away the laundry, 2) return the phone call to my insurance company from last week, 3) can the pounds of tomatoes in that bowl on the counter, or 4) reorganize/clean out my kitchen cabinets. maybe tomorrow.

our plethora of birth/baby classes has begun with a cloth diapering class yesterday. we were 99.99% decided on using cloth, and now we're at 100% with a firm decision on the system we plan to use. it was super helpful to hear a mom of 3 talk about her experience, down to her daily diapering and laundry routine, making the whole process much less daunting. and the diapers themselves - there are so many options! regular old grandma's cloth diapers with covers, prefolds with covers (and then there are indian or chinese prefolds), pocket diapers, all-in-ones, combo cloth/disposable systems, etc etc. and they all do the same thing, keeping poop and pee off of you and your stuff. we're going with prefolds and covers for cost, ease of use, and minimizing laundry bulk. i'm actually really excited to be saving money and the landfill by using cloth, and to avoid putting synthetic materials and chemicals on my baby's genitals.

we had a lovely woodland themed baby shower on saturday, complete with leaves and acorns and little woodland creatures. it was loads of fun, and we feel so lucky and honored to have so many fabulous creative friends who love us. xoxo, you guys!

i'm having some wardrobe issues - i've always had this thing where i don't wear the articles of clothing in my closet that i really love very often for fear of wearing them out, and now that my body is changing every week, i'm missing the windows of opportunities to wear things. so this week i'm wearing everything i love, with no fear. pregnancy is too short to keep wearing the same t-shirts over and over.

Aug 10, 2010

the weeks have been slipping away as my stomach grows and my bookshelf overflows with dozens of books on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, parenting and cooking. i'm trying to keep my life well rounded, but it's hard. we're excited and all i think about is this baby that kicks me nonstop. i'm not complaining, i love feeling him move around, and i'm going to miss it something fierce once he's born. though i'm sure i'll have lots of other things to love and think about missing as he passes from one stage to the next. i'm both happy and sad to be in my third trimester - so glad i've made it healthy and trouble free this far, so happy that we're closer to meeting our son, and so sad that pregnancy will be over in 12 weeks or so. i really love being pregnant.

the nursery has come together nicely, we just need to hang some artwork and buy a wall shelf. and finish filling out his wardrobe and make sure we have all those little things that one needs for a baby. like diapers. we're going to tackle using cloth diapers, we actually have a cloth diapering class on sunday. and a baby shower on saturday.

everything is babies right now.

except the cooking part. as soon as i'm finished working (just a few more weeks) i'm going to start canning and freezing food for after bb arrives. i have a list of ideas and recipes and foods that i know i'll want to have in the house but might not have the energy or time to prepare. and my christmas canning needs to happen early this year as well. i need to experiment with some new jams and spreads and sauces that might make good gifts. i'm looking forward to spending some time concentrating on something other than this tiny child growing inside of me. keep my mind off of labor and breastmilk and sleepless nights. and the excitement of meeting and caring for this little guy who i already love more than i thought i could love anything.

pregnancy hormones.