Tofu and Noodles in Ginger Scallion Sauce

This was a very easy, tasty recipe I made tonight and thought I’d share. My husband wasn’t crazy about it, but what does he know? Thank you to my friend Ava who shared the recipe for the sauce. I threw the rest together with what I had handy. While it came together quickly, there are still a buttload of dishes/pots in the kitchen waiting for a fairy to come do them. Don’t be shy, dish fairy!

Tofu and Noodles in Ginger Scallion Sauce

inspired by Gilt Taste <– click here and read!

serves: 4 – 6

Ingredients:

sauce

  • 2 bunches of scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 oz ginger, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup / 8 oz neutral oil good for high heat (I used grapeseed)
  • salt (I used about 2 heaping tablespoons kosher salt)

other stuff

  • one package noodles of choice (I used some whole grain spaghetti)
  • one package super firm tofu (could also do seitan, tempeh, etc)
  • frozen peas (whatever other veg you have would likely work great, too)
  • dark sesame oil
  • soy sauce or tamari
  • hot sauce or red pepper flakes, optional

Method

  1. Put on a big pot of water and bring to boil, cook noodles according to package directions.
  2. While you’re waiting for the boil, press the water out of the tofu. I basically do it like this, except I put some paper towels on top and under the tofu and use various canned goods as the weight. Leave it weighed down for now. Preheat your oven or convection oven to 400F or so.
  3. Read ginger scallion sauce recipe through. Make sure you get out all of the necessary equipment and ingredients.
  4. Now, liberate your tofu from the oppression of the weight, cut into cubes or whatever you like, and put in single layer on foil on some sort of shallow baking pan with sides. Drizzle with soy sauce/tamari and sesame oil. Pop into the oven or convection oven for 10 – 20 mins (basically, I just let it bake until I was ready to plate the dish, but keep an eye on it).
  5. Prep the scallions and ginger according to recipe, put in big pot/bowl (I used my big stock pot) and salt to taste. He wasn’t kidding, it does taste nasty at this point.
  6. Heat up the peas in the microwave or on the stove top in a little water.
  7. Heat up the oil for the sauce according to recipe. Keep a close eye on it. When it seems damn hot and/or almost smoking, dump it in the huge pot with the scallion/ginger/salt mixture.
  8. Assemble the dish: serving of noodles, top with tofu, then peas, then sauce. I used about 2 tablespoons of sauce per serving and this was probably too much as it was a bit greasy. Top with hot sauce or red pepper flakes, if desired. Gobble up.
Image

Now you know I’m no food stylist. Busted.

Posted in meals, recipe, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Again with the meal planning.

I’m still trying to get a handle on this, a a meal planning system that works for us. Now that I have 4 people to please, I want to try and keep it simple, healthy, and make stuff everyone will actually LIKE and EAT. I also genuinely enjoy cooking most of the time. It brings me pleasure, I do wish I had more time for it, and that it didn’t necessarily feel like a chore to squeeze in so we could shove some food down our gullets.

We all have our childhood favorites– meals that we’d have over and over that bring back fond memories. I’d like that for my boys, rather than frustrations at the table. At the same time, I also want them to occasionally try new things. But I’ve decided that I’m ok with mostly making the same thing over and over.

Some childhood memory meals of mine include:

  • macaroni with meat sauce (spiced with fennel seed which gave a unique flavor)
  • baked chicken
  • chicken and rice casserole
  • pork chops
  • fish sticks
  • meatloaf, god I loved meatloaf
  • spaghetti and meatballs

Sides included: ‘candied’ carrots, broccoli drowning in cheese sauce, potato patties, applesauce, sweet potatoes, corn…

There were other items, too, but those were my favorites and meals I recall having again and again.

Since I’ve recently been transitioning to a fully vegan diet, I’ve been trying out a lot of new recipes. This is hit or miss, and when it’s a miss, that means I am the one trying to eat a whole lentil loaf within a week. There is also, of course, the time issue. Working full time + kids + rest of life means that carving out time for meal prep is challenging. When I’m on the ball, I can do some prep before bed or in the morning while we’re all starting the day. When I’m not, that means frozen veggie burgers and frozen veg for dinner (which honestly, is pretty much how we survived Leo’s first year!).

So, in an effort to be more on the ball with meal planning, I am attempting to sort out our favorite meals and come up with some sort of schedule. 

Maybe something like:

  • Sunday: pasta/noodle dish (spaghetti, mac n’ cheez, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, etc)
  • Monday: rice dish (rice and curry, stir fry with rice, beans and rice)
  • Wednesday: tortilla (fajitas, burritos, ‘mexican lasagna’)
  • Thursday: soup/salad/sandwich day (any 1 – 3)
  • Friday: pizza night

I know I’m not going cook every day, so I think even 5 nights is plenty. We can have leftovers sometimes, and I also like to take leftovers for lunch at work which saves me a lot of money and plastic waste. I’ll also go nuts and throw in an occasional wild card recipe.

Now, I can fill in a few recipes under each category that I know we like. Hopefully, this will increase our home cooking and healthful eating, and decrease whining. Win-win!

Please share what works for you, or your favorite recipes! How do they compare with the meals you grew up with?

Wish me luck!

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Today

Dear Jonah and Leo,

Leo, you turned one about 6 weeks ago and I’ve been unsuccessfully meaning to complete this letter to you. You are an absolute delight. You are now toddling happily around the house in that great Frankenbaby / zombie baby style that new walking babies do. You still have just four teeth. You laugh a lot, especially at your big brother. I can’t get enough of you. You look so much like your uncle Mike and Papa and Gigi– the fair side of the family! I love listening to your babbles. You love music. And books. And playing. And you still love being held a lot. I still have to put you in the baby backpack most days so that you are happy while I prep our breakfast. You sometimes cry Monday mornings when suddenly everyone is leaving for work and school. You’ve been mostly sleeping through the night, which is nice. I wish you’d sleep later, of course, but I guess that will come. You love to eat, but really just want to feed yourself, which is very different from how Jonah was.

At the end of October, there was a huge hurricane that hit much of the eastern seaboard and left a lot of damage in NYC. We were very lucky to be unaffected and got to enjoy a nice week together. The country finally decided to think seriously about climate change. Well, at least to talk about it– a huge and painfully overdue step. But will we actually change in time?

We were a big hit on Halloween in our Wizard of Oz costumes.

Then in early November, Barack Obama was re-elected. Your father and I and just over half of the country and 99% of the world breathed a sigh of relief.

Then today, December 14, there was an awful horrible tragedy in our neighboring state of Connecticut. Someone went into an elementary school and murdered nearly 20 children and several adults. The country is reeling. I couldn’t concentrate at work– I was obsessively watching the news unfold online. I was scared the whole way coming home, and couldn’t wait to see you both and hold and breathe in my sons. I hope the grieving families know that the nation, the world, are sending them love and light, that we’re grieving with them. They have a long painful road ahead. I hope our country will do justice to the memory of their children and neighbors and commit to more sensible gun laws and better support and help and nurturing for those with mental health problems. It seems like the least we can do. We can’t bring their babies back.

I hope that by the time you are grown and reading this, you won’t be able to believe that such a thing was able to happen. You won’t be able to fathom it. I hope.

You didn’t know today was any different as we lit the Hannukah candles, read stories, I tucked you in and reminded you of how very much you are loved. And maybe it isn’t for us. Others aren’t so lucky.

love always,
mama

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Lactation Cookies! aka Cookies!

Get in mah belly.

Once I heard about “lactation cookies,” I knew that I wanted to try some next time I was lactating. No need to twist my arm on anything involving cookies. Sure, I’m a fan of evidence and all, but I’m willing to take the risk to try some of these babies to help inform my lactating sisters. I also thought that if I really like them and get my act together, perhaps this could be a future postpartum gift when I’m bringing food to new moms or debriefing with doula clients.

These cookies are adapted from this site. Click on over there to read more about what makes them lactastic. I wanted to make them vegan, but if you don’t, you can add in the original 2 eggs and butter for the oil. I was also a dumbass and added white chocolate chips (white! like milk!) which of course are not vegan. You can add any combo of nuts and/or chips that you like, or raisins, cranberries, whatever. Go crazy. These cookies can handle it, and a nursing mama deserves to have her cravings met! I also think you could do any combo of sugars, agave, maple syrup, etc for the sweetener. I thought the molasses would add some interesting flavor and the extra iron would be nice for new mamas, too.

My “assistant.” He thought we were just making cookies, ha ha ha!

I added cardamom because I love it, and grinding the seeds fresh really brings out the flavor. I had fenugreek in the cupboard, too, and knew it was another traditional milk supply enhancing supplement, although the amount here per cookie is likely negligible but why not go for some placebo effect. I put the cardamom and fenugreek seeds in my little coffee grinder and pulsed away until it was fine, and added the mixture to the dry ingredients. If you aren’t a fan of stronger flavors in your cookies, you can just nix the molasses (but replace with sugar/other) and cardamom and still have a lovely treat.

The mixture, coming together!

The verdict? Very yummy cookies! Still great a day later. They are moist, chewy and spicey. Not too sweet, in fact you could probably reduce the sugar a bit further and they’d still be lovely. When I make them again, I’ll probably use about 1/2 cup fewer chips as the batter couldn’t hold them all. I also, only sometimes, get a slight bitter aftertaste. Is it the fenugreek? Let me know if you know. Oh, and do they increase milk supply? Who knows? I did have a good pumping session before bed, so what the hell, let’s say it was the cookies. Yay, lactation cookies!

[P.S. The jar of brewers yeast was like $16 and what the heck should I do with it? Start making micro brews in the tub? It will take a while to use it up on just cookies, I imagine.]

Spiced Mama’s Milk Cookies (vegan)

Adapted slightly from: Peaceful Parenting (mostly the second recipe)

Yield: About 4 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. ground flaxseed (aka milled)
  • 6 tablespoons water
Wet:
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil (or margarine, or other oil, etc.)
  • 1/4 c. dark molasses
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Dry:

  • 1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat flour or all purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons brewers yeast (NOT nutritional yeast!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cardamom seeds, ground
  • 2 heaping teaspoons fenugreek seeds, ground
  • 3 c. rolled oats

Additional mix ins:

  • 12 oz package white chocolate chips (note: these weren’t vegan, so make sure your chips are if you are vegan!), approx 2 cups (I’d reduce to 1 1/2 cups, see note above.)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds (or whatever nuts you like, or none)
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut, moistened (I just drizzled some water over and let it sit a few minutes. If you can only find sweetened, just reduce your sugar a skosh. If you hate coconut, just pretend this isn’t here.)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In one bowl, mix flaxseed and water. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the applesauce, oil, molasses, sugars, and vanilla with a hand-mixer until well blended.
  4. In a separate large bowl, like the biggest one you have, mix all of the dry ingredients except for the oats.
  5. Add the wet to the dry and mix well by hand.
  6. Add the flax mixture and stir some more.
  7. Add the oats and stir stir stir.
  8. Add the choc chips, nuts, coconut, or whatever additional mix ins you like, and stir until everything seems well distributed.
  9. Spoon or scoop onto cookie sheet, about golf ball sized portions. Press gently with fork.
  10. Bake about 12 – 14 minutes. Cool. Enjoy.
Posted in breastfeeding, recipe | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Bad Habits

This evening I had to cut off a hangnail for Jonah (he’s 4.5 years old). I’d noticed recently that he was mimicing my bad habit of picking at my cuticles. Kids are little mirrors– they pick up EVERYTHING, good and bad, and do it for you. Of course I try telling him, “No, Jonah, that’s a bad habit. I know I do it all the time and we shouldn’t do it. Here, instead you can play with your toy or cuddle this stuffed animal. Try to catch yourself and stop. I’ll try, too.” Of course this sparked a discussion of why and I ended up having to define cuticle. I think he got the gist.

Easier said than done, and we know the whole “do as I say but not as I do” stuff never works. I guess it is good as it reminds me of what I need to work on, too.

What about you? What bad habits of yours do you see your kids picking up and how do you try to address it?

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Have Smartphone, Will Nurse

“No pictures, Ma!” A photo of Leo nursing, taken with my iPhone.

In the 4+  years between my babies, the smartphone was born. I held out for a while, not needing one of them fancy contraptions, but finally my dinosaur phone (i.e., just over 2-year-old flip phone) was falling apart and I figured, why not? Maybe I will love it as much as everyone else seems to. I got the iPhone last summer, and as predicted, most of the technology is lost on me. I downloaded some apps but never use them. I still use an actual laminated map if I’m going someplace new in the city. I do like the better texting and being able to check email, the odd website, and Facebook. I also occasionally use the camera to snap a photo or video of the kids and send it instantly to the grandparents. I listened to some Hypnobabies tracks while I was pregnant. That’s about it.

And then suddenly I had a baby nursing at all hours and I was busting out my phone A LOT. It helped me wile away the time during those marathon nursing sessions in the wee hours. Specifically, I’d fallen in love with the Dear Sugar column a few months prior to Leo’s birth, and was able to catch up on the backlog of her beautiful posts while nursing. Additionally, I used a breastfeeding appto help track feedings, diaper action, and sleep (ha ha ha) since I couldn’t remember one moment to the next in the newborn fog. With my older son, I have notebooks filled with my OCD scrawling of every nursing and diaper change until whatever time I realized I could let it go already. So, what are the pros and cons? Let’s see:

Pros:

  • a toy to keep you company during long nursing sessions, especially if you watched the whole Battlestar Galactica series with your previous baby
  • a variety of apps to track feedings, changes, and sleep
  • keep up with friends via text, email, Facebook, and maybe even a good old-fashioned phone call while nursing– helps to feel less isolated and find instant support at any time if you’re in a rough patch
  • you could follow a suggestion I saw on Best for Babes (probably while nursing) and video your baby nursing, to be viewed later when you’re back at work or otherwise separated to help get your milk a-flowin’ for the pump

Cons:

  • you’ll totally jack up your eyeballs from squinting at the tiny screen in the middle of the night
  • perhaps you could have safely dozed while nursing but now you’re obsessively ‘liking’ stuff on Facebook
  • the electromagnetic waves are probably melting your baby’s brain
  • maybe I should be cooing over my baby now and then rather than the pretty phone?

So, that’s been my experience and inner struggle so far with the smartphone in my role as a breastfeeding mother.

What about you? Do you play with a fancy phone while nursing, or something else? 

Posted in breastfeeding, postpartum | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Reentry Ruminantions

Happy boy even as mama heads back to the rat race!

My maternity leave ended about 3 weeks ago. I’m still readjusting and figuring out how to be a working mom again [yes, I know all mothers are hard-working mothers but you know what I mean].

By US standards, my leave was awesome! 12 weeks paid through maternity leave and disability, and I was able to add 2 weeks of vacation on either side, for a total of 16 weeks paid leave. I finished work at 38 weeks pregnant and had exactly a week to get the nest in order as Leo arrived at 39 weeks on the dot.

Being on leave reminded me of how critical that time is for the mother and whole family. I needed that time to establish successful breastfeeding, rest and recover from birth, help my older son adjust, and bond with the new baby. It is such an emotional and chaotic time that I can’t imagine trying to function at a job as well. But heading right back to work is reality for many new mothers in the US. Even now with Leo at 4 months, I’m still tired as he still wakes to nurse at night, but it feels like nothing compared to the exhaustion of the newborn weeks.

I’m also very fortunate to have a clean private room for pumping at work. Euphemistically called the ‘wellness room,’ it’s set up for pumping and helps to keep up my milk supply, ensuring Leo continues to get my milk when I have to be away.

In fact, there is a lot of attention these days to making sure that employers provide nursing moms with appropriate space and time for pumping. This is absolutely important– an investment in mothers, families, and the health of babies! However, I do worry that the focus on pumping at work distracts from something for which we should all continue to advocate and that is paid parental leave in this country! Both are crucial!

I’m sure industry appreciates the focus on pumping as this means: more sales of expensive single user breastpumps, bottles, nipples, and breastmilk storage bags; and employers not shouldering the financial and administrative burden (to put a negative spin on it) of paying for an absent employee AND someone to fill in for her temporarily. But if pretty much every other country in the world can figure this out, I’m confident we can too, America! Did you know we’re one of only FOUR countries in the world without paid leave for new mothers? Yikes.

Check out MomsRising.org which currently has a petition on paid family leave. Please sign and pass it along!

Further reading:

You can read more about the critical issue of family leave in the US on the MomsRising site here. It’s eye-opening and shows why our babies, parents, and families deserve better.

Sociological Images posted some maps which give a nice visual on paid leave (maternity and otherwise) around the world.

This article illustrates (with graphs!) why family leave is a class issue. They also link to this article which goes into more detail and has a cool interactive on how education and race/ethnicity impact access to paid leave.

What about you? Were you able to take maternity leave? If you have a partner, did s/he also have access to leave? Was it paid? For how long? How did it work out for your family?

Posted in advocacy, family leave, postpartum | Tagged , , | 1 Comment