Being 41 is not a reliable form of birth control

Prego_IMG_7711That’s right folks, somehow I managed to get myself knocked up, by accident, at the ripe old age of 41. This is baffling to me on so many levels. The first of which is, that we were not trying, at all.

We are a historically under-fertile couple. Back when I was 34, “experts” told us we had a .05% chance of getting pregnant naturally. With the help of my amazing acupuncturist, we eventually did, but it took a while.

I am in the midst of peri-menopause. My hormones have been in decline for a few years, getting ready for that old pause in the meno. On my way out, expiring, heading towards old-ladydom, that’s me.

The single-kid thing has always been fine by us. I am not one of those people who looks over at the parent with two kids and thinks How lovely! or Maybe someday… No, I look at that mom with one in the Bjorn and another in the stroller, and think: That poor woman or What a pain in the ass.

We were done, diapers and baby-proofing are distant memories. Quit while you’re ahead we’ve always said. We already have one great kid, why spoil a good thing? Plus, it’s cheaper.

At restaurants, our adorable, well behaved child sits quietly between us, and politely engages in our adult conversation. I watch as the parents of multiple children struggle to maintain order and enjoy their meal. Smiling at my husband, I think to myself: Well, aren’t we just the smartest couple here. Just not smart enough to use a condom.

So how did this happen and what does it mean? Well, I know how it happened, technically, I just can’t fathom how it actually came to fruition.

What does it mean? It means we have to completely re-arrange our world view, our life plans, our furniture. Fortunately, Shane and I have not been great about making life plans, so that’s one issue taken care of already.

It means I might eat chicken. Once, during my last pregnancy I found myself standing outside the Gourmet Garage on 7th Avenue devouring a whole (cooked) chicken breast with my bare hands. All bets are off.

It also means that The Steady Table might be on hiatus for a little while. During those dark days, those awful newborn weeks, which people who have more than one kid on purpose seem to forget about between pregnancies.

What if it’s a boy? I don’t like super heroes, video games, guns, aggressive stuff, banging, yelling, screaming or any other loud noises. I don’t know anything about little penises. And man-oh-man, I really don’t like screaming.

I’m sure I sound cold and ungrateful, but I don’t mean to. I struggled with infertility once, I know how it feels. Who am I to scoff at an unexpected baby surprise? It’s just that it’s not what I had in mind. Feeling like shit 24/7 for the past 8 weeks didn’t help either.

I will eventually embrace this pregnancy. It’s pretty much impossible to deny that it was meant to be, the way it happened against all odds. Some little soul, out there in the ether, decided it would be nice to be a part of our family. We’re a pretty fun family, after all.

If everything goes according to plan, this baby’s going to pop out—quickly and painlessly, please!—in early to mid-December. And in spite of everything, I’m going to love it like crazy. We all will. Even if it’s a boy.

Also, this is what we had for dinner:
Burritos_IMG_7710

 

 

 

Shrimp tacos

Shrimp_Tacos_IMG_7701The blog Dinner A Love Story has a great little section called What To Cook Tonight. I was perusing it during my slow work day today, and the moment I set my eyes on Shrimp Tacos, I was sold.

I didn’t really follow the recipe, except to douse the shrimp in lime juice, and to add a pinch of sugar to the sour cream and lime sauce. The recipe is wonderful in it’s flexibility, you can use whatever you want for your fixin’s.

We used corn tortillas which I warmed quickly over the flame. Our accoutrements were sliced radishes (from our very first CSA box of 2013!), cilantro, slivered red peppers, guacamole and the sour cream and lime sauce from the recipe. Also a CSA salad, of course.

I got everything on the table in 40 minutes start to finish. You could probably cut the time by not emptying the dishwasher and not putting away the CSA veggies until later.

Rose was super-excited about the DIY aspect of the meal, and the fork-free aspect as well. She was a bit ambitious with her fixings and didn’t actually like any part of the taco except the shrimp, but I give her props for trying. Her’s is the top right taco in the image above.

Shane said the meal was tasty but not nearly filling enough. Sigh.

Lazy Wednesday: Pizza Garden

PizzaGarden_IMG_1416The Pizza Garden isn’t really called The Pizza Garden. It’s called Gianni’s, and it’s a pizza place in our neighborhood that has a lovely, peaceful, garden. They also have a great, classic, thin-crust New York slice, and they serve beer and wine. It’s a win-win if you ask me.

The weather was so nice, and our Pizza Garden dinner was so pleasant, that we didn’t even care when Rose’s Italian ice spilled down the inside of her dress on the way home, and then a bird pooped in my hair.

Too earthy

Tofu_Kale_Wheat_Pasta_IMG_7694Crispy baked tofu over whole wheat linguini & kale with a creamy, lemony ginger sauce. Sounds good, right? Does it? I’m not sure anymore.

This dish did not go over well with my family, at all. It was too earthy-healthy for Shane. With whole wheat pasta, tofu and kale, I should have known it wouldn’t be up his alley. Also, it turns out he doesn’t like linguini. It had too much green in it for Rose, I knew that from the start.

But was it good? I’m having trouble being objective. I thought it was good when I was tasting in the kitchen, but as soon as I saw the sour faces at the table I doubted myself.

I think it could be more successful as a tofu side dish than it was as a pasta dish. Perhaps I’ll make it again, just for me, without the pasta. Maybe next time I make chicken for Shane and Rose.

Sunshine

IMG_7688The sun finally came out on Cape Cod. We basked until we had to go.

I’m leaving you with this, instead of dinner, because the meal we stopped for in Connecticut was lousy and totally overpriced.

Pappa al pomodoro

Still rainy and freezing. It’s the perfect weather for warm, filling, Pappa al Pomodoro (bread and tomato soup). Pappa al Pomodoro is one of Jenya’s (many) specialties.

The other big news is that Shane finally caught a fish. A bluefish, which my mom cooked the Adriatic way. It went well with arugula and roasted eggplant salad.

Anna and Rose made Anna’s Best-Ever Brownies for dessert.

• Pappa al Pomodoro •

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 28oz cans diced tomatoes (we use San Marzano)
36oz broth
1 loaf stale ciabatta or boule (not sourdough), cubed
salt & pepper to taste
approx. 1/2 cup slivered basil leaves
freshly grated parmesan and olive oil for serving

Saute garlic in oil until soft. Add tomatoes, broth, bread and salt (to taste). Simmer for about an hour and a half. If you used fresh bread instead of stale, you may need to use an immersion blender to blend the bread into the soup a little. When soup has simmered for an hour and a half, add basil, check for seasoning and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a handful of parmesan cheese.

Bowl cake and a birthday celebration

We celebrated André’s birthday today with a late lunch/early dinner barbecue. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly grilling weather. In fact, its even colder and more miserable today than it was yesterday.

Wayne braved frigid temperatures and lashing rain to man not one, but two grills for shrimp, burgers and dogs. Rita made her famous salad. André’s sister Amy made potato salad and his other sister, Julie made pasta for the kids. But the highlight of the meal was Jenya’s Bowl Cake!

Do you know about Bowl Cake? My mom “invented” it when she and my dad were first married. She made him a cake, but it broke apart when she tried to get it out of the pan. Always one to put a positive twist on things, my mom simply crumbled the cake and served it in a bowl topped with whipped cream. My dad said: “This is great, what is it?” to which my mom replied: “It’s bowl cake!”

• Bowl Cake •

1 cake that did not come out of the pan, crumbled into somewhat consistently sized pieces
2 pints heavy or whipping cream
sugar & vanilla extract to taste

Whip the cream and season with sugar and vanilla to taste. In a nice, glass bowl (see photo above), place half the crumbled cake. Top with half of the whipped cream, the rest of the cake and then the rest of the whipped cream. To serve, scoop out of the bowl with a big spoon. 

 

A cozy winter meal to kick off Memorial Day weekend

Winter_Cape_IMG_7581It’s effing cold here on Cape Cod, and also rainy as hell. What a lovely way to kick off the summer!

As always, dinner was a highly communal effort. Shane made potatoes and the Oktoberfest Stew that everyone loves so much, the one he made for Rose’s last birthday party.

My dad made broccolette with lots of lemon and slivers of lemon peel. And Wayne kindly made me a few perfectly cooked and seasoned shrimp, since I don’t eat beef.

My mom made two salads, a “regular salad” with arugula, fresh peas and julienned carrots, and a “milk salad” with basil, Boston lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes and creamy burrata which melted into the dressing when tossed. I forgot to photograph the milk salad, sorry.

• Oktoberfest Stew •
from  Petite Abeille via mint.com
serves 4

1 ¼ pounds stewing beef cubes
salt & pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
two peeled and crushed garlic cloves
1 large, chopped onion
11.5 oz dark beer (preferably Chimay)
a fresh bouquet garni made from 4 sprigs thyme, 4 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 slices rustic bread
2 tablespoons dijon mustard

Generously season the beef cubes with salt and pepper, then coat them in the flour. Heat a large, heavy frying pan that has a tight-fitting lid. Melt the butter and vegetable oil over medium to high heat. Add the cubed beef in batches and brown over fairly high heat for about four minutes to seal. As each batch browns, remove the cubes from the pan and place them on a plate. Add the chopped onion to the fat remaining in the pan and cook gently for six to eight minutes until translucent, then the crushed garlic cloves and fry for three minutes more. Return the meat to the frying pan and stir well to combine with the onions.

Pour in the beer and bring the mixture to just below boiling point. Add a bouquet garni and red wine vinegar and brown sugar. Cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for 90 minutes or until meat has become tender. Spread two slices of rustic bread thickly with the Dijon mustard and place it on top of the stew, mustard-side down. Replace the lid and simmer the stew for 20-30 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the meat is very tender. The bread will absorb some of the pan juices and dissolve to thicken the stew. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove the bouquet garni and stir in a handful of fresh chopped parsley.