19 March 2017

Bits and pieces

I have several drafts half-written, but they aren't finished yet, and there's a bunch of little things rattling around in my head, so let's throw them all down on paper quick before the kids wake up again. 

The big one: we're night-weaning Kit, and it's going... well, we're making progress. She only asked for it a few times while I was singing her to sleep this evening, and I only took two heels-in-the-face in the same time period, so it was a pretty successful bedtime. Last night she did a good job most of the night: she was asleep by 8:06, didn't wake up until 1, was back soundly asleep by 3, and didn't wake up again until 6:30. Hopefully tonight goes even more smoothly than last night!

This wasn't my idea. I like nursing, at least until 2, or as long as baby wants to and mom is able to. Little Bear went past his second birthday, and we never had to go through this awful crying process with him because he was old enough to understand what was happening when we stopped. So I'm hating doing this to Kit! And I've spent way more time snuggling her, carrying her, whatever she wants during the days to try to make sure she knows that I love her and I'm not trying to push her away. 

So why are we doing it right now? Well, we've sort of laughed about my memory for a while now, how Matt could totally tell me my birthday present two days before my birthday and I'd still completely forget in time to be surprised... or we'll have a disagreement, and an hour later I honestly cannot remember what it was about... If something isn't written down on the to-do list, the shopping list, etc., the chance of me remembering it is pretty low. Nothing serious, just forgetfulness, as far as I was concerned. Matt was starting to wonder, though, and combined with some other things I have going on, I decided to talk with a doctor about it. She ran a bunch of tests, and everything came back pretty much perfect, so she started asking me more lifestyle questions: about the kids, our diet (good), my exercise routine (haphazard), my sleep... and pointed out that I haven't had a single solid, uninterrupted night's sleep for almost five years. Oh. Yeah, that might have something to do with it.

So we're trying this, hoping that Kit and I will both wind up sleeping through the night, and that getting enough sleep will help me function more like I used to. But it's so hard! 

As for my mediocre exercise regimen, I'm supposed to work on that too. I had the actually pretty valid excuse that my diastasis recti hasn't healed from Kit yet and exercising made it hurt a lot, and my doctor agreed that a standard core workout was not the best idea and recommended the Fit2Be program for strengthening and healing my abdominal muscles; anyone have any experience with their method?

It's funny; we're gaining seven minutes of daylight a day right now, and all of that sun is sure making it look like March, but it doesn't feel much like March outside! I mean, winter lasts pretty much forever, and that's something you just accept here, but by mid-March we're so ready for teens and 20s above zero so that the kids can spend a bunch of time playing outside. Little Bear and Kit are full of it these days, and I know it's partly because of the returning sun, but I can't just send them out to play and work off all that excess energy when it's this cold.

And... Yep, no, no brain. I don't remember what else I was going to write about. Food! And feast days. And maybe something else? I'll keep writing, and maybe it'll come back to me.

These will get their own post, I promise, but I did try out a recipe for homemade tortillas during spring break and they worked! I was skeptical of the dough, and I couldn't resist the temptation to use partially spelt flour instead of all white flour, but they were so delicious fresh, and were flexible enough to fold easily for burritos, and sturdy enough that none of the burritos tore or fell apart, and they were just as delicious the next day in quesadillas. Definitely a success! 

They'll get a decent write-up soon; I'll put it on my to-do list so I don't forget. :-)

Another soon-to-be-post: sourdough starter. I haven't forgotten my promise to post about my method; life and night-weaning just swamped my ability to get anything done ever, but I have pictures and words and I'll get it all together soon.

We celebrated St Patrick on Friday on his feast day, but we celebrated again tonight because the supper we wanted to make had meat in it (his feast isn't a solemnity in our diocese) and the meat didn't thaw quickly enough on Saturday. We made a moose stew with Guinness, topped with Irish cheddar & herb dumplings, and oh it was all so good. Matt's not much of a soup person, and he declared that I could make the recipe again as often as I wanted. We're still very wintery here, so I expect we'll be having it again at least once before the snow melts. I'll have to add this one to the to-be-typed-out list as well!

For the feast of St Joseph tomorrow, Little Bear is looking forward to making bolognese and spaghetti, because St Joseph is a patron of Italy. Okay, that's why I assigned it; right now he's just excited about it because he gets to use the recipe from his cooking class. We'll talk about St Joseoh and why he's a patron of Italy again tomorrow, though. And I need to come up with some kind of dessert that uses blueberry pie filling; it's not Italian, but I have half a quart jar in the fridge and it's hard to find excuses to use pie filling during Lent! It's a little on the runny side, so I don't think I trust it in a pie; any suggestions?

Kit is starting to make noise, so I'm done for the night. Recipes to come! And any blueberry pie filling suggestions would be very much appreciated!

06 March 2017

Soft pretzels for Lent

I haven't made soft pretzels in years; in my head, they're way too hard for anything other than a special occasion. We needed meatless meals for Kit's nameday last week, though, so I decided to give soft pretzels a try again to make her supper a little more special. And you know what? They really aren't that hard! Time-consuming, yes, and harder than most things for kids to actually helpfully help with... rolling the dough "snakes" took a long time, and Kit didn't understand why she couldn't just wave a piece of dough around in the air for a few seconds and then pat it out on the pan, but Little Bear got the hang of it by the time he was halfway through his second.

And they are sooooo good! If you like soft pretzels and don't mind spending the time shaping them, it's definitely worth trying to make your own.

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup spelt flour (or other whole grain flour)
2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons melted butter (or 3 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil)

10 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda
milk or an egg wash (1 yolk + 1 Tablespoon water)
coarse salt

Combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast; set aside until foamy. In a mixing bowl, combine flours and salt. When yeast mixture is ready, add to flour along with butter or oil. Combine thoroughly and knead about 8 minutes. Shape into a ball, and place in bowl, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in size.

Begin bringing water and baking soda to a boil in a broad, straight-sided pot, and begin preheating oven to 450 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Divide dough into eight equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a rope/snake at least 24 inches long. Lay on the counter in a U shape; cross the ends over each other twice, and fold the twisted ends down to press against the lower edge of the U, forming a pretzel shape. Place four pretzels on each sheet pan. One at a time, place pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds. When each is back onto its baking sheet, brush with egg wash or milk and sprinkle with coarse salt. Don't assume that a kid will interpret "use the smallest amount possible" as anything other than "go ahead and dump the entire thing of salt on it". Remove excess salt as necessary.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from pan right away, and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Thinking about it, there's no logical reason for me to have believed that making pretzels was too hard when I think that making pita is easy. Hmm. I guess it's time to try something else that's always seemed too hard... maybe tortillas? I'll have to start looking around for a recipe, and report back once I've tried!