I could learn to like trucks

Trucks_IMG_2919I wrote rather publicly (here and here) about my anxiety over having a second child, and a boy child to boot. It seems like a follow-up is in order, now that the little guy is here.

My second pregnancy was not the comfortable, wonder-filled event that my first was. I tried to get excited, to envision this little baby who I knew I would (and did!) fall madly in love with, but I just couldn’t get there.

It’s possible that I’m just one of those people, who can’t really get excited about something until it happens. It’s also possible that a whole lot of crazy circumstances prevented me from getting on board with having a bun in my oven.

About a month after I found out I was expecting, my husband Shane, was hit by a car while cycling home. Over the next several months he underwent three surgeries, two to his shoulder and one to his back. The back surgery was just over a month before my due date.

Don’t they say to avoid stress while pregnant?

Things weren’t going so smoothly on my end either. After the morning sickness passed, I developed a common but not oft-spoken-of condition that made me feel like I’d been whacked in the groin with a two by four. All the time. The condition only got more painful as my pregnancy progressed. (Ladies, if you have this problem feel free to contact me for some sympathy).

Maybe if circumstances had been different, it would have been easier to find the joy in expecting a baby. It made me sad that I couldn’t find a way to relish what was sure to be my last pregnancy. I felt guilty for not feeling the way I thought I should, and I worried.

I worried about having a boy, and not liking stereotypical boy stuff, like trucks, superheroes and primary color combinations. I worried about how to care for a penis. I worried that my daughter would not be able to handle the transition from only child to sibling. I worried about not being able to afford a second child. I worried about the lack of sleep.

And then he arrived.

There’s a video from when they plopped him on my chest after a ruthless, un-medicated labor. I looked at him and said: “Hi, hi. It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay because it’s over now.” And then, as if it just dawned on me: “It’s a baby! Look, Shane! It’s a baby!” He won our hearts, just like that. He didn’t even have a name yet.

All of my anxiety evaporated with his arrival, and many of my concerns turned out to be unwarranted.

I no longer worry about the fact that he’s a boy, because he’s not really a boy yet. I mean, he is of course, but for now he’s just a sweet, little, totally adorable baby. He doesn’t run around screaming and banging on things with sticks, he hasn’t shown a preference for garish color combinations, he didn’t come out with a truck in his tiny hand.

By the time he develops an interest in all those “boy things” that I was so worked up about, I don’t think I’ll care, because I’m already madly in love with him. By that time, I might even find that I’ve learned to like trucks.

Oh, and baby penises? Totally easy to care for. Aside from the occasional spray, they require very little effort, and are simpler than baby vaginas.

Not everything has been as easy as the boy stuff though. My concerns about lack of sleep, and the transition from only child to sibling, turned out to be warranted. Anyone who tells you newborns are easy, is either crazy or a much more capable person than I. Probably the latter.

The same goes for the transition from one kid to two. It can be pretty heartbreaking when you have to choose between getting food on the table, and giving either of your kids only half the attention you feel they deserve.

It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been not-easy with a big fat side of joy and love. And it’s the joy and the love that I cling to, when I add another poop and barf stained item of clothing to a pile of similarly soiled items, and realize that dinner should have been ready an hour ago.

Maternity leave

Baby_IMG_2305In case you hadn’t heard, The Steady Table is taking leave of the steady posts for a while. Our delicious little nugget, was born the morning of December 2, 2013. Labor began shortly after I wrote this post, I guess the sauce worked after all!

Fish n’ chips… sort of

Perch_Fries_Salad_IMG_2274Shane was really pushing for takeout tonight. I think because he wouldn’t be home in time to cook dinner, and he knows how painful it is for me to be on my feet these days. I might have agreed to takeout, if I hadn’t already dragged my grumpy, hurtin’ self to the farmer’s market to buy fish this morning.

We settled on very simple fish, a minimal salad, and french fries from the chicken place around the corner. The fish was ocean perch, which I cooked by dipping in egg, dredging in seasoned flour and pan-frying in butter for about 8 minutes. It was good, simple and fresh.

For dipping the fish and/or the fries, I made a cilantro-Sriracha mayonnaise. The sauce was good but has not caused me to go into labor, so I’m  considering it a delicious sauce, but ultimately an epic fail.

Back in the kitchen

Risotto_Eggplant_Sausages_IMG_2259When Shane handed me a printout of this recipe and said “I was thinking I’d make this for dinner tonight,” my first response was “eh, I’m not much for roasted garlic.” And then I thought to myself: you freaking moron, your husband wants to cook for you… say yes!

I quickly said yes. But not before reading the disclaimer at the beginning of the recipe that says not to be put off by the roasted garlic, it’s not overpowering.

Having Shane back in the kitchen is a delight, and well timed to boot. I feel like it’s been 6 months—and maybe it has—since he’s been able to take on dinner. He donned his back brace and got to work, while Rose and I did some Rainbow Looming.

The recipe he made was Jamie Oliver’s Roasted Sweet Garlic and Thyme Risotto with Toasted Almonds and Breadcrumbs (recipe also below). As promised, the garlic is subtle, and not overpowering. The recipe’s got all kinds of interesting and unexpected touches like a lot of celery and a crunchy, toasted breadcrumb and almond topping. Really delicious.

Shane grilled up some Italian sausages to go along with the risotto. I made a spicy roasted eggplant salad, because my friend Britta brought over labor-inducing foods (eggplant, pineapple, hot peppers, spicy hummus) and comforting foods (chocolate pretzels, pita bread, spinach dip) today.

I had one contraction before the eggplant, and am hoping it will bring on more as the evening progresses. And if not, well, I can comfort myself with the chocolate dipped pretzels, and the fact that Shane is back in the kitchen.

• Roasted Sweet Garlic and Thyme Risotto with Toasted Almonds and Breadcrumbs •
from this Jamie Oliver recipe from via the Food Network
total time about 1 hour 10 minutes to 1.5 hours

2 large heads garlic, whole and unpeeled
Approximately 1 quart (1.1 litres) chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 head celery, finely chopped
14 ounces (400 grams) risotto rice
2 wine glasses dry white vermouth or dry white wine
Sea salt
1 good handful fresh thyme, leaves picked
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 ounces (70 grams) butter
4 ounces (115 grams) freshly grated Parmesan
51/2 ounces (155 grams) shelled and peeled almonds, lightly crushed, cracked or chopped
2 handfuls coarse fresh bread crumbs
Olive oil

 For the basic risotto: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Roast the whole garlic heads on a dish in the oven until soft, about 30 minutes.

Stage 1: Heat the stock. In a separate pan heat the olive oil, add the shallots or onions, garlic, and celery, and fry slowly for about 4 minutes. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

Stage 2: The rice will now begin to fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring, it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavors will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.

Stage 3: Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Separate the roasted garlic cloves and squeeze out the sweet insides into the risotto. Add the thyme and black pepper to the risotto. Turn down the heat to a highish simmer, so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladles of stock.

Stage 4: Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir gently. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes. This is the most important part of making the risotto, as this is when it becomes outrageously creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat as soon as possible while the risotto retains its perfect texture. In a frying pan toast the almonds and bread crumbs in a little olive oil until crisp and golden. Season with a little salt. Set to one side. Serve the risotto with the toasted almonds and bread crumbs sprinkled over the top. Lovely.

Shrimp Scampi with lots of help

ShrimpScampi_IMG_9955My parents came down yesterday to help me get ready for this baby. They also brought dinner!

My dad made Melissa Clark’s Shrimp Scampi, which is utterly delicious over crusty bread (or over anything, really). I could probably eat it every day.

He also brought roasted tomatoes, which he’d made the day before. They’re roasted at 300 degrees for 3 hours with some garlic, salt, olive oil and thyme, which makes them all soft, melty and really flavorful.

My mom made a salad from my CSA veggies, at my request. I really wanted raw vegetables but there wasn’t much in the way of lettuce-like material in the box. She made a delicious salad of cabbage, carrots, radicchio and a lemony-rice vinegar dressing. Yum!

I had a long list of very small jobs for my folks to tackle, which they accomplished in no time. When I learned they were staying for a whole 24 hours, I decided it was time to make room for baby. This morning, I sent them off to IKEA with my aunt Gail, while I did some serious purging and organizing.

They returned and were a total power trio. My mom and aunt cleaned the kitchen and moved furniture to and from the basement, while my dad assembled a particularly challenging IKEA side table.

The room will now fit two children. I really wasn’t sure how that was ever going to happen and am eternally grateful to my family for making it so. I guess I can have this baby now. Please.


Shrimp_Cauliflower_IMG_9897I’m not sure what I thought about tonight’s meal. It wasn’t bad, but I can’t tell if it was good or not. This might be because I am so totally uncomfortable, from my waist (or lack of waist) down that I couldn’t even concentrate on dinner.

We had Sizzled Shrimp Provencal over rice, Pan Roasted Cauliflower and salad. Both recipes were part of my attempt to plan this week’s meals ahead of time.

If my head were screwed on properly tonight, I’d probably say that the cauliflower was very good, but a bit time consuming (there was a lot of prep, and a lot of steps). Were I more comfortable, I would probably also tell you that the shrimp was unremarkable.

It seems like you can’t go wrong with capers, garlic, lemon and parsley—which is what went into the shrimp—but for some reason I feel like it works better with white fish, chicken or with the addition of lots of butter and white wine.

Then again, maybe the shrimp was fine, and my dissatisfaction is all due to this lump:


Pre-surgery Chicken Cacciatore

Cacciatore_IMG_9884I didn’t post last night because instead, I was sitting on the couch drinking a glass of wine. Why? Because I’m well into my 3rd trimester and I can. (And also because my husband is having back surgery today.)

Surgery? You say. Didn’t he just have surgery a couple of months ago? The answers are yes and yes. He had a double surgery on his shoulder this past summer. And now, with only a month and a day to go before our baby is due, he’s having surgery again.

Everything will be fine, and in the long run, it’s good he’s having this done. But it does mean he won’t be able to pick up our newborn. Sigh. After several uncomfortable weeks of wishing for an early (but not too early) delivery, I now want our baby to stay in for as long as possible.

Anywhoo, about dinner. I made a shortcut version of Chicken Cacciatore from a recipe I found on Momfilter. I know nothing about Chicken Cacciatore. If you had asked me about it before last night, I would have been able to tell you that it’s a chicken dish, and that’s about it.

Not being familiar with the dish, I’m not sure what makes this version a cheater’s version, but I can attest that it was really easy and quick to make. The only time consuming part is chopping all those darn mushrooms, which doesn’t actually take all that long.

I worried that the dish would be boring. It wasn’t boring, it was quite good in fact, I ate around the chicken pieces. It’s a definite make-again.

• Cheat’s Chicken Cacciatore •
from Momfilter (especially the humorous instructions)
I’ve made it even more quick and easy with a few shortcuts below

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs*
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb fresh, sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp rosemary (minced if you’re using fresh)
1 x 19 oz can chopped San Marzano tomatoes
1 x 15 oz can of cannellini beans

Get out your Dutch oven – or another large, heavy bottomed pot – and your cutting board and knife and that’s all you’re going to need for this recipe. Don’t you feel more relaxed already?

Warm the oil in your pot over medium high heat. Slice the chicken thighs into about four pieces each and season them with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the meat**. Don’t worry about cooking it through, you’re just building a nice color for now. When the meat is brown, set it aside on a clean plate.

Reduce the heat slightly and toss in your mushrooms and butter. It’s going to seem like too many at first but fear not. They will eventually submit to you, collapse and take up much less space. Just keep stirring them every couple of minutes. Once they’re cooked down, add the garlic and rosemary and let it sautee for another minute.

Add the tomatoes – not drained – and beans – drained. Add the cooked chicken pieces and allow it all to simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Taste to check seasoning and add some salt and pepper if you like.

*Boneless, skinless, breasts work great too, add some extra butter to compensate for the lack of fat in the breasts.
**My meat never seems to get brown, I cook it until there’s no visible pink and some pieces are slightly golden.

Lazy Thursday

LazyThursday_IMG_2095The wonderful thing about being a regular our favorite coffee shop, is that when the shop is closed for a private party, you might just get an email from one of the owners, letting you know they’ll be closed, so that you can make alternate plans.

Thanks to one of the kind owners at Espresso 77, we didn’t walk the extra block out of our way to find the shop closed. At the moment an extra block is feeling like an awful lot of distance to me, so I’m particularly grateful.

Instead, Rose chose pizza at Gianni’s, which was fine with me. She also took this photo of me with my 32 week protrusion, just for her auntie Trish, who can’t see us from all the way over there in Ireland.


All it takes

All_It_Takes_Sauce_IMG_9327See the photo on the left up there? Those three ingredients, are all it takes to make the delicious sauce on the right. Well, those three ingredients, 45 minutes, and the option of salt & pepper. What I’m talking about here is Marcella Hazan’s famous sauce.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but if you haven’t tried this sauce already, you really should. It’s going to blow your mind with it’s effortlessness.

You simply take the three ingredients pictured above left, bung them in a pot, simmer for 45 minutes—with the occasional stir and smoosh—and you’re done. And it’s delicious.

I made a double batch tonight, one for tonight, one for the future (I’m in dinner-nesting mode).

We had ours over spinach ravioli, but it works well over any pasta, or in lasagne. Or, if you’re pregnant, in a bowl with a spoon.


Turkey burgers & salad

Salad&TurkeyBurgers_IMG_9298Tonight was simple turkey burgers (for them), and roasted eggplant, cherry tomato and fresh goat cheese over greens. I loved the salad, but was a bit full from eating half a jar of pickles before dinner (that’s right), and couldn’t enjoy it like I should have.

We’ve been working on giving Rose a bit more responsibility, now that she’s going to be a sibling. We have some catching up to do, after having her do pretty much no work at all, when we thought she was going to be an only child forever.

She’s been setting and clearing the table, and does a decent job (see below). What should we task her with next? Laundry? Moving the car?