On the whole subject of crazy, I saw an article about a couple up in Abbotsford, B.C. who just had their 18th natural child in 23 years. No multiples, no adoptions. I'd figure after about baby 10, her uterus would go on strike. They say they are 'letting God guide their lives'. I say they are letting certain - ahem - body parts guide their lives!
I guess the Duggars are no longer the 'biggest family in the world'. Though that claim must be up for debate, I'm sure there are larger. But wait...they just announced #18. So they'll be caught up to the Abottsford couple, at least for a few months.
I became semi-obsessed with watching the Duggars when they had all their specials on Discovery Health. I have to admit, the whole organization (which, with 17 kids - 1 on the way - is how you'd have to classify their family) is fascinating. But as interesting as this massive family is, it's also a little disturbing. When does all this breeding become irresponsible? Sure, they apparently can afford to have all these kids, but at what cost to the children? How much attention can two parents give 18 kids? And to that end, if you are so compelled to have so many children, why add a few adopted kids into the mix?
I really shouldn't feed the beast and watch their shows, but it's like a train wreck. I can't stop. Help me!
My second offering this week is French Toast Casserole. It's a Paula Deen so you know it is by no stretch of the imagination healthy. But its a great treat, I like to make it for company, or for a holiday morning. You assemble it the night before so you can just pop it in the oven in the morning. It's always a hit, and reminds me of a big bread pudding for breakfast, all custardy and warm. Yum!
French Toast Casserole
1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.
I usually serve this with sausage, because if you're going to be bad, you should be really BAD!
Some of my favorite questions:
Often comments on husband's strength and masculinity - CAN'T. STOP. LAUGHING. Not that Brian isn't strong and masculine, but dude, SERIOUSLY. Dude.
Wears pajamas while cooking - how about 'wears pajamas while doing EVERYTHING.'
Wears soiled or ragged dresses and aprons around the house - Dresses? Aprons? what are those? Ok, I do wear aprons from time to time.
As a 1930s wife, I am
He sat me down to talk about depression. I don't know if he actually thought a seven-year-old could fully comprehend the concept.
The 'talk' started out with, " I was born with some bad genes." And that's all I really remember. Why? Because my seven-year-old brain was stuck on the fact he was born with JEANS. And bad ones at that - obviously not cool acid washed, pleated jeans - tight rolled, please. Yes, I was a child in the 80's. Shut up. I'm sure the speech was very heartfelt but I'll never know for sure. I got hung up on the jeans.
Where I'm going with this is that my mom and I were having a talk about traits - what I inherited from her, from my dad, other family members. We talked about how we both are pessimistic - or as we like to call it 'realistic'. It made me think about what I want to pass on to George; not that I can control these things, just a mental wish list.
I want him to have: my motivation, my love of reading, my hair (but not the premature gray). I hope he bypasses: my metabolism, my 'realistic' outlook on life, my self-doubt.
I made the mistake of saying to Brian that I hope George doesn't get his allergies, among other things. Unfortunately Brian misunderstood me for not wanting George to turn out like him - which was not my meaning. What I want is for the kid to get the best of both of us - I think that's a common wish for most parents.
Good jeans, I got 'em. Bad ones, hopefully they stay buried in the bottom of the closet!
Then I remembered hearing something about a bird poop facial. They charge $200 for this sh*t. Pun intended.
I totally need to rethink my career choices...I've got a back yard full of dog crap....there's got to be something I can doo (ha ha) with that.
The first thing that really caught my eye and got my goat was this book called The Happy Housewife by Darla Shrine - this quote is pulled from her book and from Andrea's post on her blog-
That is why so many women stay in their careers, because they just can’t cut it. You have to be strong, confident, and selfless to give up your career, give up your identity, give up a piece of yourself—all for your family’s best interest.
Pretty inflammatory if you ask me. I mean, this quote really, REALLY bothered me. To the point I really stewed over it. Then, reading around on other's posts on the subject, I started to get angry.
What it really boils down to, for me at least, is that I would love to stay home with my child. We are just not in a financial position for this to be an option right now. And it's not about me being selfish and wanting to have an extravagant lifestyle - it's about us paying our mortgage on our modest home. So I suppose I get a little defensive when I'm informed I'm making a choice to work outside of the home .
Eventually I'd love to be at home with my children and my hope is one day that will be an option. I can't say that I'm not envious of women who get the choice. I admire the fantastic job many are doing with their kids. That said, I also think there are some women whose children would be better off in daycare...that's another post entirely!
So this whole 'mommy wars' thing - what's the deal!? If we are doing the best we can to raise healthy, intelligent, loving children, I don't see the argument or the need for the condescending comments (again, back to this Darla Shrine person). Teaching your children to be respectful and open-minded is the aim here - and I think the 'mommy-wars' battle is missing the boat. I found this the other day. Its by a work at home mom and I love her for writing it. Thank you, and thank you to all you work at home moms who are doing their thing and not being judgmental over what the rest of us have to or choose to do.
I have two recipes this week: the first one is very basic but a super quick and easy way to work zucchini into your dinner as a side dish.
Zucchini (as much as you like), about 1 centimeter slices
Onion (as much or as little as you like), thinly sliced - I like Walla Walla Sweets
Olive oil, a few times around the pan
1 T butter
Heat the olive oil and add the butter to melt. When sizzling, add the onion and zucchini. Saute to desired consistency (I like mine a little firm). Sprinkle to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. You can also add other veg into this, like peppers, yellow squash, mushrooms. Also, instead of sauteing, you can pack it all up in foil and throw it on the grill.
The second recipe is a little more (but not much more) complicated. It's a healthy recipe, but also has CHEESE. Cheese is GOOD! These are great as is or dipped in marinara (this one is from Ellie Krieger):
2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (3/4-ounce)
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove with spatula. Serve immediately.
(serving size, 1/2 cup) Calories 105; Total Fat 6g (Sat Fat 2g, Mono Fat 2g, Poly Fat 0g); Protein 5g; Carb 8.5g; Fiber 1.5g; Cholesterol 1mg; Sodium 222mg Excellent Source of: Molybdenum, Vitamin C Good Source of: Calcium, Manganese, Vitamin B6, Protein
The back story here is that my cousin, who is quite a few years older than me, has had a pretty major drug problem for years. It is very sad - she was a very bright teenager and had a lot of things going for her. Of course, there may and probably were things going on in the background that I had no clue about (isn't that always the case). She worked at the hospital and was eventually fired (and convicted) for stealing a prescription pad. So we definitely know she had a problem with prescription narcotics. I also remember a family holiday when she kept going in and out of the bathroom - with her husband at the time - mellow going in and crazily energetic coming out - dilated pupils, the works. Looking back, that was pretty obviously cocaine.
Back to Axel. When we found out my cousin was pregnant back in April or so, we were a little wary...had she cleaned up? Would the baby be okay? Everyone was hoping for the best, for both their sakes.
He was born on June 28, and everything appeared to be fine. But it wasn't. About a week after he was born, his parents took him to the pediatrician. He wouldn't stop crying. I guess the pediatrician freaked out (as they should have) and called CPS. Little Axel was going through withdrawals.
He is still in the hospital. What we know is that my cousin was trying to clean up during her pregnancy and was given methadone (which I think is for coming off of heroin). She was supposed to wean off of it in the last months of her pregnancy, but didn't. So Axel was born addicted to methadone.
I don't know much about addicted babies, but am learning. Axel is hyper-sensitive and cannot be held. He can only be fed by one or two people and it must be completely quiet - no distractions - or he will refuse to eat. The nurse says that if all goes well, he will possibly be normal by 18 months.
On July 25 we are supposed to have a family intervention. I have talked to another cousin and we are wary of what this is supposed to accomplish. Will she be angry at us for interfering as neither of us have had contact with her for years (we have been instructed not to have contact as she apparently was stealing from family members to support her addiction)? I have committed to go, though I'm terrified. I can't even think about this poor little baby without getting upset. My reaction right now is just sadness, but I'm worried it will turn to anger once we are face to face.
The best case scenario right now is that my uncle and step-aunt get Axel and my cousin goes to rehab and then a halfway house. The worst case is that he ends up in state care. That is almost too much to bear.
I'm really struggling with this, probably more so since I've recently become a mother. This child has such a tough road ahead. I want so much for him to be healthy, and I also want my cousin to be able to have a happy, sober life with her child and experience the joy of being a mother.
If anyone has any good resources on any of these subjects - addiction, addicted infants, interventions - I'd love to hear about it.
Well, there really isn't much to tell. Last I heard, the whole 'intervention' thing has been bagged. I'm not sure the reason, though I have a feeling it may be that she's just not ready - meaning she's not hit rock bottom. Anyhow, I'm trying to find out more about little Axel, and of course my family is not sharing info...why can't we be open and honest - how else are we going to help this little guy? I guess he is still in the hospital, but unfortunately that's all I know. I hope six months from now I can write an update that George, my cousin Jason's daughter Alli and Axel all spent Christmas Eve pestering each other. All for now, H.
This week's recipe is a two-fer. First off, the best guacamole I've ever made. It's a Tyler Florence recipe and it's AMAZING. I love the piquant taste of the lime with the richness of the avacado and the smokiness of the cumin.
4 ripe avocados
1 lime, juiced
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 vine-ripe tomato, diced
1 big handful fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 T extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Halve and pit the avocados; scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados with a fork, leaving them still a bit chunky. Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together to gently mix.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn't brown and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Secondly, my mother-in-law's "Taco Dip." It may not be the most sophisticated dish and we're definitely using the term "mexican food" loosely here, but I promise, this is the first thing devoured from the table whenever it appears. I've taken a few liberties with it, but it's essentially the same thing they've had at family gatherings for years.
1 16 oz can refried beans
1 16 oz tub of sour cream (I usually use light sour cream, you can't really tell)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup salsa or pico de gallo (commercially made works fine, use your favorite)
shredded cheddar or mexican blend shredded cheese
guacamole (use recipe above or your favorite)
chopped green onions
In a bowl, mix the sour cream and taco seasoning. Set aside. Spread the beans in a shallow dish. Next, spread the guacamole over the beans, then the salsa/pico/ then the sour cream mixture. Top with the shredded cheese (as much as you like, but at least enough to cover) and the olives, onions, tomatoes and cilantro. Cover and refridgerate for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips.
I baked a lot over the weekend but managed to share/dump it off on others. On Saturday I made a lemon blueberry poundcake and it was fantastic! Here's the recipe. It is by no stretch of the imagination good for you! It has three sticks of butter though, so you know it tastes heavenly!
For the cake
1/3 cup milk
6 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
2 /3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup freshly grated lemon zest
3 cups picked over blueberries, tossed with 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
For the Syrup
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
My friend Andrea is starting a Friday recipe swap...this week's theme is bread. I'm actually stealing Rachel's recipe...we used to make this one all the time when we were doing Weight Watchers (er, yeah, I need to start that up again). I believe this is from Cooking Light. These muffins freeze well, I put them in individual baggies in the freezer for a good grab-n- go breakfast. I know the ingredient list is long, but these are well worth it. Yummy!
PreparationPreheat oven to 375°. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours and the next 8 ingredients (all-purpose flour through salt) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in carrot, apple, and raisins.
Combine milk, oil, vanilla, egg whites, and orange in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add milk mixture; stir just until moist.
Spoon 3 tablespoons batter into each of 28 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake in batches at 375° for 20 minutes or until muffins are browned and spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove the muffins from pans immediately, and place on a wire rack.
Yield28 muffins (serving size: 1 muffin)
Nutritional InformationCALORIES 114(22% from fat); FAT 2.8g (sat 0.3g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 3.5g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 61mg; SODIUM 188mg; FIBER 3g; IRON 1.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 22.6g
I must say I really love the summers down here in Pioneer Square. Okay, there are some things I can do without. Like the smell of pee radiating off the hot pavement. Or the homeless guy by my parking lot who likes to forgo pants when it gets warm.
I really do think Pioneer Square gets a bad rap. I absoultely think it is unsafe down here after dark - don't get me wrong - but during the day, it's just fine. I love to stroll the three blocks down to the Elliott Bay Book Co., then hit Magic Mouse toy shop. Have bento at Imo. Pioneer Square honestly reminds me of a bigger, cooler Fairhaven. Great restaurants, unique shops, and very unique people.
I'm hearing rumors they might move our office south to the main building on 1st (the old Seattle Sears building with the huge Starbucks siren on top). I'm praying they don't. I would really miss being down here in the thick of things.