Tuesday, March 30, 2010

hand to mouth

As much as I love to eat, it would seem that this is not a genetic trait. My 11 month old son hates to eat. Hates hates hates it. While he will, with various tricks, consume his purees, anything else is a complete exercise in futility. He will bring nothing hand to mouth. I have sat with him all day long, due to worry, trying to feed him everything and anything in little chunks. Finger foods, they say, should be easily and happily consumed by nine months. It is in his hair, on his clothes, in his little fat wrist folds, everywhere but in his mouth.

I could weep from frustration.

I watch him play, and I realised he rarely brings anything to his mouth. When he was a drooling machine, around six months, everything went in the mouth. Now it's my cell phone, once or twice a day that he chews on, and that's all. I've tried to get him to eat little chunks of pear, peach, avocado, cookies, digestive crackers, cake, pieces of bread, nada. And it would seem, after this day of mommy trying her best to get baby to feed himself, Ender has noticed that there is a battle taking place. Now he is refusing food from the spoon too. Great.

I am hoping it is just one of those days. It has been a crappy day, generally, and I think Ender is noticing my growing hysteria. I know I should wait, patiently. Instead, I google what could possibly be wrong. I read about six year olds eating purees. About occupational therapy and malnutrition and weight loss. I freak out.

People who have had kids who haven't had this problem are unsuprisingly unsympathetic. They suggest different foods, insinuate that I'm feeding him too much milk, as though what I'm doing is the problem. My mother keeps talking about how nice it is when they just eat off your plate in restaurants, rather than having to deal with a messy purees at home. I read recommended intake of food for eleven month olds and balk. In one day? I think. Those kids must look like sumo wrestlers. The amount of puree being consumed is becoming untenable. My tiny baby food maker overflows. The floor is scattered with uneaten crackers and pear chunks. 

Today is not my day. I will deal with all of it tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pictures of food

I realised recently that I take a lot of pictures of the food I cook, but rarely post them. Food photography is way harder than it looks, so don't judge me too harshly. I really have no idea what I'm doing.

So here we go...

This is Irish colcannon. It's like potato salad, but with more cabbage and served warm. I later used it to stuff my pierogi. I made up a crapload of this a while back when I was worried about money (needlessly, it turned out) and we ate it for a whole week. I think it made me feel closer to my Irish ancestors I only recently found out about. It also had pork bits in there that I had slow cooked with pepsi one night on a whim. The pepsi made it kind of...spicy. I don't think I'll do it again, though.

Coconut oil biscuits and tomato gravy. The tomato gravy just tasted like the best tomato soup you've ever had. This is from when I was experimenting with any fats that were cheaper than butter. Coconut oil is now a mainstay in our household. We use it for cooking, for hair conditioning, and I make up batches of biscuit mix and keep it in coffee tins whenever the desire strikes us.

My Julia Child chocolate souffle. Perfect. Delicious. Way easier than I thought it would be. It's basically just a roux/bechamel with yolk and whipped whites.

Homemade Montreal-style bagels. It was a big job, and I needed my husband's assistance, but it was totally worth it. As we kept on shouting, as we ate the entire dozen in the next two days, "It's so bagel-y!"

Comfort food. Chickpea dumplings in a yogurt-curry sauce. I can't take full credit for the sauce. I buy simmering sauces and then majorly stretch them out by adding yogurt, honey, plain tomato sauce, gram masala, cardamom, onions, garlic and ginger. The dumplings are way easy, just besan (chickpea) flour, water, and whatever seasonings you like. Roll into sausages and boil until they float. Cut into bits and simmer in some oil until brown. Pop in curry sauce.

I hope you enjoyed this food interlude. I recently cleaned and reorganized my cupboards, so hopefully there will be some more interesting things coming soon. :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Last name, first name, date of birth?

Well it was a productive, if not incredibly busy, weekend. I made a chocolate souffle (pictures to follow, my camera is out of reach at the moment) which turned out perfectly. Mike and I decided to make Montreal style bagels on a whim, and it was way too much fun. Boiling breads and baked goods has become my new obsession. It's just so gratifying as you drop those blobs of dough in the water and watch them puff and rise to the top of the pot. Dumplings were never de rigeur in our household, but I've learned to love them. I think boiling wheat/besan/anything products is highly underrated. It's not just for pasta, people!

I'm thinking a lot about school lately. I hope both Mike and I get in, and are given the opportunity by these random arbiters of destiny to fulfill our dreams. How odd is it that some bureaucrat gets to decide this? And it is all based on a couple pieces of paper, in my case. A short letter pleading my worthiness, and a computer printoff filled with numbers that signify, in turn, my intelligence and stick-to-it-iveness. I've always had a bit of an obsession with school applications. In my senior year I applied to thirteen different universities. My parents, clearly not keeping track, kept doling out the application fees.

"How many is that now?" My mother asked offhandedly. I think I mumbled something vague about open opportunities with a dash of world as my oyster rhetoric that I love so much.

In the end, I got into one university, which was perfect because it was the one that I wanted to get into and it saved me the trouble of having to decide. I should say from the outset that my lack of options wasn't from poor grades, but rather, overambitiousness. I had graduated a year early, but my graduation was only going to come through in August. I hurriedly completed the last of my coursework in the chunnel, reading the Great Gatsby beneath the Tour Effiel. I found the contrast of European historicity and feigned American classism most ironic. Most universities weren't willing to give me a conditional acceptance except my alma mater, which did. As time went on, I would continue to love the bendiness of their administration, the flexibility of their manifestos. There was always someone sympathetic that you could wheedle if your tuition was late, or you really really needed to get into that class that was full.

I think those thirteen applications were the harbingers of the future. I learned to fill in my name, last then first, in caps in those tiny blocks. Birthdate, SIN, address, phone number, signature. It's a formula that is the catalyst for all of the hallmarks of life: school applications, marriage certificates, mortgage papers and your child's birth registration. Little did I know, as I pressed out those facts about myself to thirteen different schools through whitened knuckles and ball point pen, that it would eventually determine my entire future. Even if I did only get in to one of them.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Babyhawk Review

Alright, so my babyhawk baby carrier arrived. I'd say 'finally' arrived, but this one was ordered from a different website, and the other one refunded my money. This website actually had incredibly fast shipping. After excitedly ripping it from its packaging, I knew that the claim that the regular sized straps fit up to XXL size men and size 22 women wasn't going to be true. The ties that are advertised are ones that wrap around the body sometimes three times. I'm not a small lady, but I'm never larger than a size 14, and I've had to modify the wrapping that is recommended on the package. In retrospect, I would have ordered the longer straps option. My husband, who is a size medium, large at most, had the same problem. The fabric was of good quality and I was really happy with the day of the dead themed pattern that I chose.

I tried out three positions for my almost 11-month old son. The first was the back carry, since it was the one I was most excited about. The baby bjorn, as much as I loved it, did not have this option. After some tweaking, I finally got Ender in the right spot for a back carry. As I mentioned before, I couldn't do the cross tie because the straps were too short, so I tied it in the way that makes the straps like a back pack. Ender seemed very pleased, and it was fairly comfortable. My shoulders started to ache pretty soon into our walk, though, and I suspect the cross tie would have alleviated that issue. Then Mike tried the back carry, which he found much easier than the front carry which always hurt his back when we used the bjorn.

When I tried the hip carry and the front carry with the babyhawk, I was the most happy. The strap across the bottom provided some lower back support, making my baby feel weightless. The head rest was at just the right place, which is saying something for my very tall baby boy. Overall, I'd give the babyhawk five stars.

I think it's a real shame that such a great product is being hampered by such poor customer service and bad marketing. The fact that the babyhawk is not available in the myriad of trendy baby stores here in Toronto is inexplicable. The market is ready for it. I saw several bugaboo moms (read: more disposable income than brains) drooling over my carrier, and I grocery shopped with ease in it later in the day. It is made for the urban mom. Strollers are nice as the exception rather than the rule. If you want to grocery shop, run errands, take your child to the doctor, visit with friends, ride the bus, strollers are a big bulky hassle. Baby slings are great if your baby will tolerate it, but mai teis are great for kids up to forty pounds. That means no more dragging your toddler around the mall who refuses to sit in his or her stroller, and can't keep up.

Now, after a day of almost nineteen degree weather, my baby is napping and I'm treating myself to homemade chocolate pudding and strawberries. This chocolate pudding is actually a modification of my favourite drink, cioccolata calda, and can be served as a pudding or as a beverage. It's very easy to make. If your baby is napping, forget the dishes for a minute. Go ahead and treat yourself to something nice:
1 oz semi-sweet baker's chocolate
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch

In a deep mug or bowl, put in your chocolate and milk. Nuke for three one minute intervals, whisking with a fork every time. When the chocolate and milk have somewhat blended after three minutes (your chocolate will look grainy in the milk) whisk in your cornstarch. Nuke at two more one minute blitzes. It will bubble and expand as it thickens. Let it cool for a few minutes, and enjoy!
It's rich without being sickeningly sweet, or overly creamy. It's probably diet friendly, though I'm not sure about that. You can also do it stovetop, if you have more patience than me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Weaning and OAMC

OAMC - have you heard of it? It stands for Once a Month Cooking, and I think it sounds like a fantastic idea. You spend one full day cooking your butt off, shove it all in the freezer and then enjoy your loads of free time. Plus your meals are more likely to be balanced with this little bit of forethought. I think I'm going to do it. Hopefully I can get Mike on board, since it'll mean blowing our whole food budget in one day.

The weaning of my son is going well. My goal was to breastfeed for one full year, and I think I may go past that. Still, without really trying more and more feedings are being dropped every day. I was worried because Ender is a very boob-dependant baby. When he was brand new he just spent hours and hours eating, which was very frustrating for busy-body me. He has yet to bring food to his own mouth and eat it, which is strange, but he does eat his solids now with great enthusiasm. Since he turns one year old in a little more than a month, I think complete weaning is a little overly optimistic, but daytime weaning is a definite possibility. Tonight he fell asleep on me without feeding. Amazing how quickly they decide to take these steps without even asking our permission! At this point, one week shy of eleven months old, he is feeding twice to three times a day. Once before each nap (which is one or two a day) and then once before/during bed. I can't wait to get my boobs back! This may sound weird to anyone who hasn't breastfed before, but the idea of having one's body to oneself is incredibly exciting.

Today I got some chores done, visited my dad very briefly to drop off some stuff, and enjoyed the beautiful weather. The whole family walked around the city, did some marketing and had lunch at a little polish cafe. I had goulash and dumplings, which I insist on reproducing at some point. Since the boys were sick, the 'to do' recipes have been piling up. So far on it are: hungarian goulash and dumplings, moroccan beef, lentil salad, chocolate souffle, and zucchini bread. Yummy. At the moment I'm making a very questionable crock-pot concoction which will most likely have bad results. Chicken, terragon, chinese eggplant and okra. Hmm. I think it will just be a tasteless mucky mess, but we'll see. It's the day before grocery day, and I had to clean out the fridge.

Due to the car breaking, we had to postpone travel plans to visit Ottawa. My friend had his baby mid-January and I wanted to go see her. I hope he's not having a too-hard time of it. She's two months old now. I had to go back and look at pictures of Ender to remember what two months looked like, and to bring back the memory of what he could and couldn't do, and what my own limitations were. It was a very different, and a very difficult, time. I found around two months that I was very hard on myself, expecting that by that time I should be 'good' at being a mom. The truth is, it's not about being good at it or not. A two month old baby is a lot of work. Full stop. And adjusting to being a mom takes a long time. I'd say I hadn't fully sublimated it until six or seven months in.

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A post in which I lose my head, and then find it again

Babyhawk--are you as tired of hearing about this as I am talking about it? Probably. Well it was finally resolved. I have to say that for being a homegrown mommy-run business I am absolutely baffled at how rude, incompetent and completely useless their customer service representative was. She (self-admittedly) forgot to get my refund, did not respond to my calls and e-mails (though acknowledged recieving them) and brushed me off on our last call to say she couldn't deal with it at the moment because she was heading to a pta meeting. Um, ok? I called her boss. Bingo, next day I got my refund. It's not like me to get all nasty. Ok, maybe it is. But this was justified. 2 friggin months of waiting!

I've re-ordered by carrier on a Canadian website. Hopefully I have better luck. I would like to say I didn't buy another babyhawk, but I did. Just, buyer beware. DO NOT ORDER FROM THE BABYHAWK WEBSITE.


Today I took advantage of the lovely weather that has finally arrived and went for a walk, exploring a part of the neighbourhood I have never walked around. It was filled with cute bakeries and delis and coffee shops. None were stroller friendly, unfortunately, so I couldn't go in. But soon, I see myself spending a lot of time there. The sunshine was glorious. I think I got a bit of a sunburn.

This post is feeling skeletal because I'm trying not to focus on all the negativity lately. Still, it's hard to avoid talking and thinking about. I've been bummed out. Stressed out. I have too much on my plate, and when Mike is sick, it's all on me. Not to sound bitter, but when I am sick, everything is still all on me. So I guess I'm just a little sad about that. I try and tell myself there is always more good than bad. Glass half full and all that rot.

I've got things coming at me from every angle and I'm having a hard time keeping up. How on earth do people live in this day and age? I feel like every time I keep up with something, another thing is crumbling apart in the background. Be a good mom, your house is a mess. Have a clean house, your kid turns into Ted Bundy. Maybe not, but you get my point. There's no way to do it all. And where did this feeling of obligation come from, anyway? I've never been the type to think I had to do it all. I never cared if my room was messy or if my friends thought I was stuck up because I didn't want to go out. Now I've become a slave to the balance. Evenings out twice a month, sweeping every day, baths on all days that start with T. It's enough to drive a woman mad.

Let us simplify. Focus on being. Ender is sleeping on my lap, with his long-lashed eyes and sleep-sweat slick hair making him look more than a little like a mewling puppy born only minutes ago. He sighs with comfort, one tiny hand resting on my breast, his jaw suckling a nonexistant teat. He is perfection. He smells of sweet spoiled milk and another delicate odour that can only be described as the smell of posession.

My days will improve. Mike will not always be sick. The car will not always be broken.


I will keep on keeping on.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Soufflé Day

After a weekend of snot, tears, sleep deprivation, rain and more rain, I had been feeling like a woman on the verge. Nothing like everyone in your family being sick to make you realise the power of adrenaline. So, I did what any reasonable wife and mother would do in my situation: I attempted to make a soufflé.

I think that one should never say that they are 'going' to make a soufflé, as this may tempt the soufflé gods to make your soufflé thick and rubbery. They look for any excuse, so best not to give them one. Say you are going to 'attempt' one, and you will avert the evil eye. It was a cheese soufflé from Julia Child's cook book (of course), which I modified to add mustard seed. My first instinct was to double the recipe, because the soufflé dish I have is giant, and a good soufflé is all popped over the edge and messy and ridiculous. It is a dish of excess, chaotic beauty. I didn't double it, as it was my first soufflé, and I didn't really want to be left with a mess of inedible egg and cheese. But as in all baking, one should trust their first instinct. It rose, but not over the edge. My carefully crafted aluminum foil collar went unused. Still, it tasted fantastic. For those of you who haven't had a soufflé before, I would describe it as a mixture between angel food cake and an omlette. Properly made, it is moist, airy and a perfect brunch served with blackened pudding (or sausages) and broiled tomato halves.

I encourage everyone to try and make a soufflé. If I can do it, you can too. It seems the souffle is going the way of the Dodo. As soon as Mike tried it, he remembered that his grandmother used to serve something similar. You'll be filled with a sense of accomplishment, as well as personal history. I can almost guarantee your female ancestors once hovered next to their ovens, nervously watching this miracle of expansion.

I think I'll try a chocolate one next.

Friday, March 12, 2010

On Waiting....

Spring rain always reminds me of Nova Scotia. Our townhome has the lucky and unusual distinction of having a bedroom with a roof above (as opposed to, say, some random person`s linoleum) and when it rains here it makes the most relaxing pitter-patter on our rooftop patio. It lulls me to sleep and makes my body melt into my sheets. We are all sick, taking naps in shifts today. I think there has only been one or two hours in which we have all been awake simultaneously. Blame it on the rain.

The illness is one that was thoughtfully cultivated by some tiny Unitarian, and was seemingly amplified as it was passed along. Ender dealt with it like a champ, I was mildly ill, and Mike is/was knocked off his feet. It was also a fast onset, so we each got the sickness one day apart from eachother, our misery piling each upon the next. Two packages of tissues, one package of menthol cough drops, and a lot of complaining later, we all sit in the faux-gaslight of the living room. Mike reads in the rocking chair, Ender sleeps in my lap, I sit on the laptop bathed in blue light. We all breathe through our mouths. Occasionally someone sniffles. We all listen to the welcome monotony of the rain.

I wonder if everyone else remembers sitting in their parents car, watching fat rain drops slither, join and disperse like mercury. Cars take on a special smell when it rains. I could sit in one indefinitely, appreciating the forced conversation that always occurs in that tiny shelter. In Halifax the rain comes down torrentially, turning east-west roads into pounding rivers, making sidewalks almost unusable if one hasn't worn proper footwear. The sky opens and it pours for days and days, sometimes weeks. Here in Ontario people are shocked when it rains for a few days. Cars careen along highways when there is slight fog, causing huge pileups. In Nova Scotia, the mud, the fog, the rain, the temporary rivers, are all taken in stride. One must wait for the weather. I hope when I'm older I'll have a veranda, where Ender and I can sit and wait on the weather. The rain will drench the wood giving off that heady fragrance of summer as we wait, and wait, and talk. I want him to learn to wait, and enjoy the storms as they come.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's raining concrete

Oh my, it has been a while. As the days get warmer, longer, and brighter, I find myself much less inclined to write here. Quite the paradox, as I have so much more going on in my life, and therefore much more to say. Probably it is the surfeit of feelings and information which makes me avoid writing. I'll be doing something and think that it would make a good theme for a blog entry, but when you have a weekend and week like I've had, it's best to just let it all out in one bout.

First off, I went to Unitarian Universalist church. I bit the bullet, put Ender in the infant care with what seemed to be two lovely women (one a volunteer and the other the 'constant care provider') while holding back tears as I watched Ender play, staring at three other children who were about five or six months older than him like they were creatures from another planet. I probably was a little distracted from the service because of this first experience with daycare. The service itself was ok, everyone in the congregation was super friendly and seemed very involved, which is more than I can say about some Protestant churches I've been to. It was the day before International Women's Day, and therefore the service was planned and run by women from the congregation. I especially enjoyed one part where about six women of ages ranging from seventy-five to twenty-five gave a two sentence long statement about when they 'became feminists'. Some were funny, others sad. There was also a drum circle to begin and finish the service. Overall, it was quite enjoyable. We stuck around to look at the pamphlet table for coffee hour, spoke to a woman at the welcome table, and then left. No one really approached us to talk, and I think probably the best way to meet people is probably in smaller groups that are organized by the church. I'm not sure yet whether I'll go back. My only dislike: hymnals. Ugh. I think that all the singing in church might very well be detracting from its appeal to the younger generations because singing in church makes me feel terribly uncomfortable. I just don't like it, I don't think anyone else likes it (with a few exceptions, of course) and I don't see the point in it. Singing does not make me feel spiritual. It makes me feel tone deaf.

Mike seemed to enjoy his UU experience. I think that the idea of a church without God is still sinking in for him. What that means exactly is different for each person. I mean, for some Unitarians there is definitely a God (capital G), whereas for others (such as myself) it is entirely about community, a celebration of our collective humanity and an attempt to find closeness in a sterile world. I think I will go back, now that I write this. I want to see the minister do an actual sermon, though.

After church, we went to go see Mike's parents. They were planning a cruise they are going on with some friends of theirs through the Greek Isles and then through to Venice. It sounds amazing. Personally, my ideal cruise would be from New York to Iceland to Denmark. I think the icebergs would be amazing, and what an ideal way to travel with a baby! No airplanes! Heaven.

So then the next day, Monday, the weather was still gorgeous, so we went out for a walk. Near our house they are doing major construction to remove a bridge. This involves the vibratory setting of concrete, which Mike explained to me, but I wasn't really listening (sorry sweetie!) and it is apparently a very messy process. I'm still not clear on why they were setting concrete when they are removing a bridge, but that's besides the point. When they do this, they set up a tarp so that concrete bric-a-brac doesn't fall on unsuspecting pedestrians below. However, this unsuspecting pedestrian was not so lucky. I felt something wet on my head and I looked at the closest construction worker.

"There's shit raining from the sky."

"Yeah," he nodded, "They're setting concrete." As though this were the most normal thing in the world. So normally, in fact, that Mike, Ender and I continued walking down the street.

I looked at Mike. He looked at me. We realised that both of us were covered in concrete liquid. It was very disgusting, humiliating, and I was very upset. We went back to the construction worker, who hadn't noticed how badly we had been hit when he first talked to us, but was nice enough to call the foreman. The foreman was clearly afraid of being sued. It was very dangerous, and they're damn lucky it didn't hit my kid. However, I wasn't hurt, Ender wasn't hurt, and I was happy enough to have them pay for me to get a new sweater. I am not a litigous person, despite what others may expect. An ability to independently sort out conflict is part of what makes this country great.

It was a very nice sweater, a Bench sweater, for you fashionistas, and not cheap. I went to Bench to get a new one, but my sweater was out of season and all of the teeny-tiny cartigans were a little too tight, a little too young, and way too branded. I hate having a logo across my ass, it isn't classy and it's not going to be remembered fondly in ten years, I guarantee you. I picked a sweater I didn't like, paid for it and kept the reciept for the construction guys. I am returning it tomorrow to buy something I actually like.

Did you know, my closet is ten billion shades of grey, from dove white to pigeon grey to crows black? There is no colour, and there is a lot of herringbone and stripes. I'm not sure when this happened, but it was definitely post childbirth. I think I'm subconciously trying to mask my hips and belly. Dieting has commenced as of today, and I think I did fairly well. Go me.

Well that's a dent in my story, dear reader. More soon.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Listen here, you, I used to be somebody.

I feel like I'm becoming stupid. Dumb-er. Umm..you know. Less intelligent. There was a time when my brain, as well as my intellect, was a fine-tuned machine. I knew what I knew, and I knew it inside out and backwards. I was looking through some old sociology papers of mine. Here is an abstract (read: short summary) of a paper that I wrote at one point in time:
Abstract: Brainwashing has long been a controversial notion in understanding religious conversion. In this paper, I utilize Foucault’s notion of bio-power in identifying brainwashing as a form of medicalized social control over human bodies and minds. Discourses created by government agencies, psychologists, and the media have all contributed to understanding the adherents of new religious movements, pejoratively termed ‘cults’, as brainwashed and mentally ill. The counter-hegemonic manner in which some adherents new religious movements live their lives frequently defies the ‘common sense’ of normative societal practices, making them prime targets for social control, as they represent bodies which have failed their purpose in society. Due to some of the lost legitimacy of brainwashing discourses, child abuse accusations are growing as the new stigmatizing force against these groups. In both cases, discourses on the ‘truth’ of the danger of new religious movements are utilized as justification for intervention and control. Conceptualizing brainwashing as a form of bio-power brings to light the political forces and discourses which frame new religious movements negatively. In identifying widely unseen forms of control, there is greater potential for new religious movement members to be seen as individuals with full agentic capacity and rich religious experience.
Ummm...what? Genius, that's what.

I couldn't write like that now if I had all the time in the world. So what changed? For one, I am no longer immersed in academic culture. At one point in time, approximately the time that I wrote the above paper, I hadn't read a novel in over five months. My reading, which took up two hours of my day every day, was entirely composed of academic papers. I was filled with an urgency of importance. What I was writing mattered and everyone needed to read it. Except, no one did. No one, except other sociologists knew what I was talking about. It was baffling. I tried to explain the import of what I was doing. That religious minorities were being consistently marginalized. Anyone who was listening had their own 'pet' cause. No one wanted to adopt mine.

Three years later and still, no one cares. For some reason, even though I claimed I read that academic literature because I found it interesting, I no longer read it anymore. Maybe it's for lack of having anyone to talk to about it. I really miss having my brain work in overdrive, my heart pounding as someone concludes their argument and then the three seconds of silence as they await my retort.

Academia is the only form of competition I appreciate. Everything else is too sweaty and smells of India rubber.

So I suppose I shouldn't complain the way I do about my completely useless fifty thousand dollar education. You know, the education that sucked away 5 prime years of my life into abject poverty so that I could be a secretary post-graduation? It had its benefits. I'm sure if I hadn't of gone, I would have been consumed by the idea that my life was in some way incomplete. I'm like that. I tend to focus on the tiny missed stitches, rather than the fabric of life. I like to think of it as being detail/goal oriented. I'm horrified by the idea that I will wake up one day, an incomplete person, too old to fix what I find lacking. I'm glad I went to university. I enjoyed the hell out of it. I just wish that what it gave me wasn't so fleeting.

My sense of confidence in my brain, the ability to articulate my feelings with a rational backing, is all gone. It's something that I don't think most people realise (I know I didn't) that your academic field, no matter how immersed you are in it at the moment, no matter if you live and breathe it, is just like a language. If you don't use it, it's gone. I no longer talk sociology, and I miss its adjectives, its way of wrapping everything up in a neat little package and at the same time blowing it to smithereens. But it, like the toys of my childhood, needs to be left behind. It is a part of my former self, rather than my present. It was an adult decision, realising that I needed to do concrete things with my life to be happy, rather than resting in the realm of the abstract, where the only risks I took were using Foucault as a theoretical framework for religious persecution. Since then, I've birthed a person through my body. I've promised myself to not one, but two people, for the rest of my life. I may feel stupid sometimes, but I always feel important.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Onion Bhajis and Babyhawk

It may sound weird, but I think Indian cuisine is the ultimate comfort food. I'm not sure what it is about those spicy blends of cinnamon, curry and ginger, chickpeas and lentils, stewed meats and rich, creamy sauces. It's perfect for the middle of summer, the dead of winter, and as the spring has sprung, I'm craving Indian. So I'm sharing my recipe for onion bhajis, which was created entirely by me, and therefore is by no means authentic. But it was damn tasty! Feed them to your husband, who claims he hates onions. Feed them to your children, who say they don't like Indian food. Call them 'fritters' if you must, but no one can resist the oily, slightly sweet deliciousness of onion bhajis! Adjust seasonings to your taste, if these ones don't suit you and your family. We like things full of flavor at our house.

Onion Bhajis

2 or 3 onions, roughly diced
2 cups besan (chickpea) flour
1/4 cup white flour
3 tsp gram masala
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp fresh ginger, diced and pressed through a garlic press
1 clove crushed garlic
2 pinches baking powder
salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup water to your mix, and then keep adding it by the tablespoon until it becomes a sticky batter that holds together.

2.  Fill a roomy pan 3/4 of an inch deep with vegetable oil, and heat to deep frying temp. You'll know it is the right temp when a candy thermometer reaches 370 f, or a little bit of the batter sizzles when you put it in the oil.

3. Drop the batter in by tablespoons full. They shouldn't be too large, smaller than an egg is about the right size. If you put them in and they seem too big you can break them up with a spoon while frying. They'll make those tiny yummy crunchy bits that everyone likes to steal when the big bhajis are gone. Don't put too many in at once. Four or five bhajis per regular sized pan should be sufficient. Even I am guilty of crowding the pan, but this is a big mistake, because it will lower the temp of your oil and cause the batter to absorb the oil. Instead of deep frying, you'll be stuck with a sticky oily mess.

4. Flip the bhajis occasionally, so that they don't burn. You know they're done when they are a deep orange colour. Put them on a plate lined with paper towel. Enjoy!

I also tried to make burfi, but it never set. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but I decided to turn it into a tasty ice-coconut thing. It hasn't frozen yet, but I have high hopes for it.

Ender has popped another tooth today. He's such a little trooper. The last few weeks have been rough, but that little tooth gives me such a feeling of accomplishment! All our nights of tossing and turning, drooly sobbing, all of it has lead up to this. The ability to chew. It's no small feat. Despite my prodding, Ender has yet to show any interest in finger foods. The child will bring everything and anything to his mouth except foods. Which makes sense when you have no teeth. But I have high hopes that this one little tooth will change all of that. I will admit I'm going to miss making these gourmet purees, and I dread the idea of having to think of three square meals for this little person, but there's no way around it. My little man is growing up. Soon the milky sweet smell of his breath will be replaced by the smell of Doritos, his perfect baby-powder scented feet will grow and grow and grow until I tear my hair out with frustration at the number of shoes, sitting like nesting dolls, in ascending order, along the wall.

I can't wait.

An update on the Me vs. Babyhawk debacle:
The carrier still hasn't arrived. I stupidly thought that ordering directly from Babyhawk was a good idea. Definitely not. There are Canadian stores which carry Babyhawks and promise DELIVERY within a week. I ordered mine on the 27th of January. It took 12 business days to make, they tell me, and then got shipped, which can take 2 to 3 weeks. When 3 weeks expired, I e-mailed them to find out what the next steps are. Apparently 3 weeks as an outlier estimate means nothing. I was informed that I needed to 'wait'. This confuses me. What is the point of a 3 week time frame except as an indication that there is something wrong with the shipment when it takes longer than that?

The weather is turning nice, and I just want my money back so I can buy a different carrier and get out and enjoy it. The stroller, my 25 lb son, and 2 flights of stairs is too much to cope with, and I need my little man strapped to my back. I am very upset with Babyhawk. I do not recommend them, and I think they have crappy shipping policies and poor customer service. I have been waiting a month and a half, and still no one has apologised. As of Monday, I'm demanding my money back.

Figures that the first thing I ever buy online would turn out this badly. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lotus Feet

I've been lacking inspiration lately, so I'm just going to give a rundown of the events of my past few days, so as to keep this thing alive:

On Sunday, I had plans to go to the Unitarian church. At the last minute (ie. fifteen minutes before we went out the door) I freaked out that I hadn't called in advance to find out more about their infant care that they state exists, on the website. Having never left my son in any kind of public childcare before, not even at teh gym, I was convinced that this was a valid reason not to go. My bad. So, all dressed up and with nowhere to go, we decided instead to take a trip to the Bata Shoe Museum. Mike wanted to go to the Art Gallery of Ontario, since we have a membership that was lovingly gifted as a babyshower gift almost one year ago, but we go there SO much and I'm very tired of their permanent collection. So the Shoe Museum it was!

We saw the permanent collection, which was fun, and then went up to see the chopines. Chopines, for those of you who aren't bizarro historical fashion freaks like myself, are the original platform shoe. They were popular in 16th C Italy and Spain especially, and most of the examples were from there. The Italian chopines were simple, some towering almost three feet high, and the soles were in the shape of flowers so that each step made a little flower pattern in the earth. Leave it to the Italians to turn shoes into poetry. Interesting the way women's feet are frequently referred to in terms of flowers. I'm thinking particularly of the lotus feet (bound feet) of chinese women during the turn of the century. 

The shoes themselves were mostly pale leather with flowery cutouts. The Spanish chopines were of equal height, averaging, I would say, around one and a half feet, but much more richly decorated with velvet brocades. These tall shoes were a way for women to have longer, more elaborate skirts to show off. Men attempted to keep up, but mostly they wanted to be able to walk, so their shoes were more reasonably sized.

This exibit was exciting for me because A. It was my first chance to see any antiquated textiles, and B. It is my first foray into the world of historical footwear. Usually I've interested myself in what one can see, such as skirts, bodices and tunics, or what shapes the garment, like underwear. I basically overlooked footwear. I think that I will probably blame this on the fact that as a tall woman, beyond six feet tall, with what I shall call a 'generous' shoe size, I have avoided loving shoes. Isn't that sad? Because I know most shoes won't fit me anyway, I avoid following the trends, picturing them on my foot, or coveting them in magazines. There is something very stifling about shopping based on your size, as opposed to based on your preference. You could give me a room full of shoes in my size and it just wouldn't be the same as picking something out of some random magazine, tracking it down and buying it. That's probably why I love purses so much.

Turns out, it's a very important part of historical fashion. And since most historical fashion wouldn't fit me anyway, and my interest in it is about dressing other people anyway, I might as well start taking notice.

Pair of Venetian Chopines we saw at the
Shoe Museum, with flower petal soles.

So then, on Monday, we went back to the daily grind of whatever it is we do. Then Mike had a dentist appointment today. Life is comfortably boring.

Oh, and my stupid alma mater seems to be screwing around with my transcripts AGAIN. I seriously can't get a break with these people. Sent them my transcript request on the 10th of February and the charge hasn't come off my credit card yet. I tried to call them on Friday, and it was some concocted holiday. Then again on Monday, and they had above average call volume so they just...wait for it...hung up on me! Same today. I hope I can actually talk to someone soon, because this is driving me nuts!