laurenlikestocook

Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page

Falling in Love with Fall

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2013 at 11:55 am

Every season has its Pros and Cons.  For most of my life, Summer has been my favorite.  No school, lots of beach, juicy fruits, and Summer love.  Fall reminded me of school, cold weather, and the inappropriateness of flip flops.  However, I’ve come to realize that Fall actually has a lot going for it.   Many positive events have happened in my life during this time.  I became a sister, starting playing guitar, began running in college, ran my first 5k and 10k, met my husband, moved in together, got engaged, got married (well, 4 days shy), got pregnant, visited Europe for the 1st time, and started this blog! – all in Autumn.  Not the same one, obviously, but still a recurring theme.  So how is it that I’ve held Summer up on this seasonal pedestal for so long?

I’ve noticed that I’ve experienced the seasonal differences and changes with all my senses.  Temperature changes are the most obviously observed, but there are slight sensory signals, too.  All seasons have a bouquet of smells, but in New York, Summer smells like sweaty garbage.  A lot of women complain about how cold it gets once September rolls around, but I’d give up sandals any day to avoid the stenches of July and August.  Plus, boots are way more fun.

I had a chance to reflect upon this topic on my morning walk today.  Every step in preparation and participation of said walk evoked positive associations with this season.  I put on my leather jacket, which reminded me of Italy (where it was purchased).

Taken in Florence shortly after purchasing this jacket.  We were on the way to our Italian cooking class.

Taken in Florence shortly after purchasing this jacket. We were on the way to our Italian cooking class.

I covered baby Rocco in a warm blanket, and thought of all the events that led up to creating, growing, and nurturing him.

Our first Halloween together.  Or we can pretend it was Oktoberfest.

Our first Halloween together. Or we can pretend it was Oktoberfest.

I leashed our pup, and walked down the neighborhood streets.

From our Engagement photo shoot.

From our Engagement photo shoot.

I stopped in the local cafe to get some coffee and a bagel.  The baby was sleeping, so I was able to sit outside with a hot cup of joe and read the local paper.  Physically holding the newsprint reminded me of my days as a recent college grad riding the subway to my first “real” job, mastering the proper NYT fold.

Only in Brooklyn does a cup of coffee come with such a polite warning.

Only in Brooklyn does a cup of coffee come with such a polite warning.

The sun was shining, the air was crisp.  It just felt great being alive and enjoying life’s simple pleasures.  And then I heard a man screaming down the block, I’m assuming at the women worriedly smiling while he exclaimed “stop laughing at me,” (but that’s only a guess), and I was brought back to reality.

I walked back home and began to think of everything on my to-do list.  I thought of a line from The Great Gatsby that a friend posted the other day on Facebook: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”  A true and potent statement that I’ll keep in mind this season.  Summer may be the fun season of the past years, but I look forward to renewing myself, my home, my relationships, and my culinary skills all Fall long.

Advertisements

Finding New Ways to Cook

In Fruit, Lentils, Quick Meal, Rice, Vegan, Vegetables on September 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm

My baby loves to be held and walked around, and won’t shut up until I pick him up.  All advice I’ve ever read about getting things done with an infant suggests wearing your baby.  While this works for folding laundry, cleaning the counters/floors, and even loading/unloading the dishwasher (can you say squats like whoa?), this method does not avail itself in the food prep department.

The biggest challenge I’ve had in the kitchen as a new mom is the ability to actually use a flame to cook food.  My best bet is to wear the baby when he’s awake to do the washing, chopping, and take out all the pots/pans I need.  Then, as soon as he’s napping (or if time doesn’t allow for that, I put him down to scream), I’ll turn on the stove and get to the actual cooking part.  However, three times a day of piecemeal preparation is exhausting and super time consuming.  Sometimes I’ll just make a smoothie because it’s easy (and he like the sound of the blender), but I mean how many liquid meals can I consume daily?

Today I really wanted a cooked lunch.  I had come back from baby and me yoga starving.  I had no leftovers, and I’m sick of eating a plain old sandwich.  So I looked in the pantry and pulled out a few things to put in the rice cooker.  I have a small one, which is perfect for 2-4 servings of grains.  It also has a steamer insert so you can cook veggies on top.  Just plop the grains/lentils in, add 2.5 times the amount of water, any spices you like, and bam.  It does the work for you and stays warm even after it’s done cooking.

Lentils and Brown Rice with Beans, Dried Cherries, and Sunflower Seeds

Makes 2-4 Servings

1/2 cup short grain brown rice
1/2 cup French Lentils
2.5 cups water (you could also use broth)
Salt, pepper, sage, marjoram, thyme, and turmeric – all to taste
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 lb mixed green and broad beans, chopped
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped

I threw in the rice, lentils, water and spices in the pot insert, then covered with the lid and pushed the on button.  This takes about 35-40 minutes to cook, so about 5 minutes before it’s ready I added the cherries inside the pot.  After mixing, I put the steamer attachment on top, added the chopped beans, and covered until it was done.

photo 1

 

I mixed the beans with the rest, then sprinkled in some fresh cilantro and sunflower seeds.  Very tasty.

photo 2

 

You can see that the rice is yellow.  That’s from the turmeric.  It doesn’t really have a strong flavor, but it makes things look pretty.  It’s also anti-inflamatory.

That’s my newest tidbit in the kitchen department.  Even if you don’t have a screaming baby, I’d try it.

This was not taken today, but on another occasion where Rocco insisted on helping in the kitchen.  As I look at the photo, I realize I'm wearing the same top, so we must have also gone to baby and me yoga that day.

This was not taken today, but on another occasion where Rocco insisted on helping in the kitchen. As I look at the photo, I realize I’m wearing the same top, so we must have also gone to baby and me yoga that day.

Shana Tova!

In Fruit, Holiday, Jewish, Quick Meal, Salad, Vegan, Vegetarian on September 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I know it’s been a long time, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts as the Jewish new year approaches.

Last year was the most remarkable year of my life.  I grew a beautiful baby inside my body, being mindful that what goes into, as well as what I do to, my body affects my little one’s.  I also nourished him outside of the womb during my “4th Trimester”, which may have been the most challenging part of this whole year.  I’ve learned a few tricks here and there that work for me, and I’m hoping to write about them this coming year.

13 Weeks - End of 1st Trimester

13 Weeks – End of 1st Trimester

26 Weeks - End of 2nd Trimester

26 Weeks – End of 2nd Trimester

39 Weeks - End of 3rd Trimester (and the day I actually went into labor!)

39 Weeks – End of 3rd Trimester (and the day I actually went into labor!)

52 Weeks - 3 month old Baby Rocco and Me

52 Weeks – 3 month old Baby Rocco and Me

I have a lot of ideas, recipes, and stories to share with you all!  At first I was hard on myself for not posting in quasi-real time, but what pregnancy and motherhood have taught me is that it’s okay to not be perfect –  I should focus on the positives of what I’ve accomplished instead of negatively harping on what I have not.  So instead of apologizing for my tardiness, or agonizing over writing the perfect blog post, I’m just going to share one little recipe with you that focuses on the now.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, is often ushered in with greetings of a Shana Tova U’Mitukah.  This translates to a good and sweet year.  Interestingly, I was listening to Q104.3 this afternoon in the car, and the DJ played 3 songs with a common theme for callers to guess.  Today’s theme was Rosh Hashana.  But what was more interesting was his comment on the translation.  He said that although people translate Shana Tova to “Happy” new year, it actually means “good”.  The reason why good is used, rather than happy, is that happiness may be founded on material things, whereas good is an intrinsic virtue.   I thought it was a nice anecdote to set off this upcoming new year.  I have already learned in the past months that what made my past year great was not the things I acquired, but the good I did for myself and my family.  One of the most important contributions I’ve made is my focus on healthy nutrition, which can also tie into the “sweet” part of the salutation.

Traditionally, Jews will dip apple in honey to signify the sweetness of the new year, as well as consume other sweetened foods, such as raisin challah.  I have a recipe that I often make at the cusp of summer and fall which would provide a healthier twist to the apple and honey custom.  It’s a recipe I found years ago, and I’ve made my own modifications.

Apple Coleslaw

Addapted from All Recipes

3 cups sliced cabbage (I used purple)
1 gala apple, diced
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup mayo (I used light)
1/3 cup brown sugar (can sub agave or honey)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Handful chopped cilantro (optional)

It’s really simply – chop all the veggies, put in a large bowl.  Mix the last 4 ingredients to create the dressing and pour over the veggies.  Very pretty, refreshing, sweet, and healthy!

Much prettier in person.

Much prettier in person.

This is a great recipe to bring to a party or bbq, but even better to add to your holiday table.  Wishing you all a very sweet new year filled with lots of goodness!