God Problems

20 10 2009

This #nogod trending topic on Twitter reminds me of when I was a freshman at Georgetown, and I took the required first-year religion course — The Problem of God. When my extremely religious father saw my schedule he flipped out. “The problem with God? What is the problem with God?” I could have told him my problem, but instead I responded, “It’s of God, Dad. OF” I mean, seriously. It’s a Jesuit college. I’m pretty sure they don’t have a problem with God. Maybe that’s why I didn’t really fit in there.

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Monday Night Shopping Spree

20 10 2009

Like many parents, especially in these times when many are in dire financial straits, Roger and I are on a budget. We’re by no means poor, but we’re not exactly well-to-do either. I have always put aside money for savings and retirement, but when Azita was born I stepped it up a notch. I’m absolutely terrified of one of us losing a job now that everyone is losing their job and not having a big, fat savings cushion for us to land on. Add to that all the extra expenses that come with having a child (childcare, anyone?), and you can see why I haven’t added to my collection of Marc Jacobs purses in over a year.

It’s been hard, I’ll admit. I mean, I love fashion. New clothes make me happy, and I’ve been denying myself that pretty big dose of happiness for quite some time now. On top of all that, it doesn’t help that for the past 9 months I’ve been gradually losing the baby weight, so NOTHING FITS! Yes, I had to yell that. Every morning has been a depressing exercise. What fits me? Now what in that really small pile can I put together that is decent enough for an office and makes me feel at least somewhat presentable.

Well, I’ve had it. So last night on went on a big, wild shopping spree under my bed. Yes, you read that correctly — under my bed. I crossed that final frontier. I opened up the suitcase that stored all my pre-pregnancy clothes and tried them on. And, guess what? Most of them fit. Some of my clothes were a little more snug in places they weren’t so snug before. Things are definitely shifted around. But, I CAN FIT IN MY PRE-PREGNANCY CLOTHES! I really, really had to yell that.

I did finally get rid of some things. Things I will likely never fit in again. Things I’m not sure are all that appropriate for a mother to be wearing, even one like me with very few fashion boundaries. But my closet is now full again, and I am really happy. And best of all, I didn’t spend any money and I also lost some weight damn it. That’s way more fabulous than a Marc Jacobs purse.





Jiggity Jig

16 10 2009

It’s the weekend! Have I mentioned that it’s the weekend? I’m doing a big happy dance right now because I really miss my baby, and in about one hour she will look up from whatever she’s playing with when I walk in the door to her daycare, give me a giant lopsided grin, and crawl over to me as fast as she can. Usually a gleeful shrieking noise accompanies this looking, grinning and crawling. It’s my favorite time of the day, and it’s almost here. Also, have I mentioned that it’s the weekend?

And while I’m mentioning things, have I mentioned how much I want this coat? Seriously, I’ve put it in my shopping cart, removed it, put it back in and removed it again about 10 times already in the past hour. It’s sort of like my very own version of the Red Ryder BB Gun. I’m pretty sure it will poke my eye out, but I still want it anyways.

Have a great weekend dear readers.





Iron and Oil

15 10 2009

Azita had her 9-month well baby visit on Monday. I went in to this appointment fully expecting the doctor to say she’s growing really well and oh look, she’s crawling and cruising and doing all sorts of other things a little ahead of schedule. Great!

Well, things didn’t turn out so great. I mean, true, Azita is hitting all her milestones ahead of schedule. But, I’ll admit that it took me by surprise when I found out that Azita had gained just under a pound total in the past three months and has suddenly dropped from the 50th percentile in weight to the 10-25th percentile in weight within such a short time. Honestly, I’m still reeling a little from all of this. What did I do wrong?

I know Azita has been a bit finicky lately. She usually refuses food and sometimes refuses a bottle. I just didn’t know she wasn’t gaining weight. But now that I think about it, it should have struck me as a little weird that the newest member of her daycare — a 4 month old — is bigger than her.  And that’s where the guilt is really coming from.  How could I not notice this?

In the end it’s not really that big of a deal. I’m adding some formula powder and a little bit of oil to all of Azita’s food, and I’m taking the 45 minutes it takes for every meal to make sure she actually eats something. Really, it does take that long. She is a master of elusion, this one. So, I know she will be ok, and I’ll pay a little more attention to her growth from now on.

But then last night I come home to a message from her doctor. It turns out Azita’s CBC on Monday wasn’t normal either. My baby is anemic. Seriously. What happened to the doctor’s appointments where she got her vaccines and the doctor checked off all the good boxes? I know that anemia can be serious, but I also know that it isn’t really a huge deal if you treat it. After all, I was also anemic as a baby, and I grew up to be perfectly healthy.

It’s just that now I have to spend my days trying to get my baby girl to ingest iron and oil. Not exactly what I thought I’d be doing at this stage of her life. Boo hoo. Woe is me.

But enough whining already.  She’ll be all right, and it’s worth it. I mean, I get to come home to this every day:

Azita_playpen





Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

14 10 2009

Roger had a root canal yesterday, and prior to that he’s been suffering from a killer toothache. So, his diet has consisted basically of foods the same foods Azita is eating — i.e., anything soft and mushy or pureed. To help ease his growing hunger pangs, I made a batch of my vegetarian split pea soup last night. Let me tell you that this soup is so quick and easy to make that I spent all of 10 minutes prepping it just before I worked out in the evening, and it was done by the time I finished my workout. And, it really hits the spot. It’s something we could eat for any meal  (I’ve even had it for breakfast, but I’m weird that way) and feel thoroughly satisfied.  Since last night, Roger has received a few requests for my recipe, so here it is.

Of course, my version of this soup has none of the usual pork products that typically go in it. Now that the air has taken on a permanent chill, you may want to make this on a cold, dark night when you need something easy for dinner. The bonus is that it is very budget-friendly. Nooshijan!

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Makes 6-8 hearty bowls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 160z bag dried green split peas
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper (or any other color that strikes your fancy), diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, large dice
  • 1 medium white potato, large dice
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Knorr’s Vegetable Boullion cube
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil  in a soup pot on high heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, celery and bell pepper to the pot and saute until the onions are translucent and everything else is soft.
  3. Add the potatoes and sweet potatoes to the mix and saute for another minute or two.
  4. Add everything else to the pot — split peas, water, bouillion cube, turmeric, salt, and pepper — and stir.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to low-medium (I usually put the stove on 3 out of 9) so that the mixture is simmering.
  6. Let the soup simmer, stirring every 15-20 minutes or so, until the split peas have disintegrated and are mushy — about 45 minutes.
  7. Serve while still nice and hot. Tastes great with a couple dashes of hot sauce.




Elizabeth Mitchell Saves Our World

13 10 2009

This past weekend I had one of those moments where I felt like there would never be a time in my life where I wasn’t suffering a setback.  I’ve had a lot of good times in my life, but like just about everyone else I’ve had a lot of bad times too.  Lately I’ve been thinking that things are so great. Then last Saturday morning happens, and it was clear that Roger and I had another major setback in our journey towards our goals. It sucked. It really really sucked all kinds of unsavory things, and I’ll admit that I cried.

And I felt really down and sorry for myself. Down enough so that we canceled all our plans for Saturday, and instead we did the one thing that usually makes us feel better when life isn’t going our way — worked really hard. We cleared out our storage unit. We did loads and loads of laundry. We cooked. We cleaned. We rolled our sleeves up and exhausted ourselves, but I still stayed up all night worrying myself awake.

Then Sunday rolled around. We had tickets to take Azita to her first show — Elizabeth Mitchell live at Jammin Java. Azita loves Elizabeth Mitchell. While she can’t really voice her musical preferences yet, I assume she loves her because whenever she’s crying we just need to pop in some Elizabeth Mitchell and she’s suddenly smiling and cooing. The sudden turnaround is really miraculous actually. Turns out that a little Elizabeth Mitchell is good for Azita’s parents also.

As we sat there at Jammin Java worrying about life as we waited for the show to start, kids were running up and down the aisles. They were laughing and screaming and crying and singing, and Azita stared in wonder. Her head flipped back and forth trying to take it all in. Her eyes were giant saucers. Her mouth was fixed in a big grin. She giggled. She cooed. She shrieked with delight. And then  Elizabeth Mitchell got on stage and started singing.

And Azita began to wave her hands and smack them on her leg to the beat of the music. It was then that I knew it would all be ok. There really are few things that can be a setback now. Azita is in my life, and that means that I will always be exactly where I want to be.





Khoresht-e Fesenjan Veggie-Style

10 10 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, as promised, here it is…a vegetarian version of one of my favorite Persian dishes — Khoresht-e Fesenjan. This dish typically consists primarily of chicken cooked in a pomegranate and walnut sauce, so it wasn’t the easiest thing to make veggie. However, I think the star of Fesenjan is the fragrant sauce, so this dish is still soul-satisfying despite the lack of chicken. And, there’s lots of satisfaction going on with this dish, since it makes 6 hearty servings (or 4 if you get a little piggy like Roger and me). Nooshijan!

Vegetarian Khoresht-e Fesenjan

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion (I like using Vidalia)
  • 3 cups of walnut halves or pieces
  • 1 large butternut squash, cubed (should be about 4 cups when cubed)
  • 3/4 cup of pomegranate paste/syrup
  • 1 tsp of saffron
  • 2 tbsp of advieh
  • Salt
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 cups of warm water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Toss the butternut with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and place it on a baking sheet. Bake the butternut squash for 30 minutes or until soft and slightly browned.
  3. Set the squash aside.
  4. Place the remaining 3 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large saucepan on high heat.
  5. Slice the entire onion very thinly.
  6. When the oil is heated up, put the onion in the oil and brown the onions. Make sure to stir every few minutes so the onions don’t stick to the pot. You want the onions to be really good and brown.
  7. While the onions are cooking, put the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until they are well ground. They should have the appearance of a coarse flour.
  8. Add 1/4 cup of the pomegranate paste to the walnuts and pulse until well-mixed.
  9. When the onions are brown, add the butternut squash to the pot and mix.
  10. Then add the rest of the pomegranate paste, 4 cups of warm water, and the walnut mixture. Stir very well, making sure that the walnuts are well-incorporated with the water and pomegranate paste. At this point, the mixture will be a light chestnut brown color and will be very slightly watery.
  11. Using a mortar and pestle, grind up the saffron with a pinch of salt (kosher salt works best). Then add the saffron and the advieh to the mixture.
  12. Bring the mixture to a boil then turn the heat down to low.
  13. At this point, I would taste a little of the sauce. Does it taste a little too tart for you? If so, add a couple tablespoons of sugar. I personally like my fesenjan a little bit on the tart side so I never add sugar (especially since the butternut squash adds a little extra sweetness), but many people prefer this dish with a touch of added sweetness.
  14. Cook for about 45 minutes or until the mixture looks very thick and a darker brown.
  15. Serve over basmati rice.