Release 2.0

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wow, second labor went so much more smoothly than the first.  Baby Ellie arrived on June 5th, two days past her due date.  I woke up at 7am with mild cramps and had my "bloody show" (even though I already lost much of my mucus plug the Sunday before...TMI?).  The cramps were about 10 minutes apart and quickly grew in intensity.  By 9am, they were 5 minutes apart.  Based on horror stories I'd heard about second babies coming super quick and moms not making it to the hospital in time, we promptly packed our stuff and went to the hospital with BB and Ah Ma.  We got settled in a room by 9:40ish and the nurse checked my dilation - 3 cm.  At this point we talked to the anesthesiologist about having an epidural that was half the dose (Frog had written a letter explaining the complications I had last time with my bladder).  Luckily the anesthesiologist was very open to following Frog's suggestions.
Soon after, my water broke as I sat on the bed.  Then the contractions really started coming hard.  Thankfully, I was able to breathe through the pain better than last time.  No hyperventilating and thinking I was going to lose my sanity hahah.  It was still beyond any pain I'd felt before but at least I wasn't panicking.  Luckily I didn't have to bear it long before the epidural came (which hurt - I don't remember it hurting before).  After that they checked my dilation again around 11:45am - 8cm and the baby's head was pretty much coming out.  My OB arrived just in time to prep and deliver.  I gave two pushes and baby was out!  Badge, Ah Ma, and Spike were all there to witness the gore of body fluids and blood and new squiggly baby.  They even set up a mirror so I could see all the action.  Following tradition, Ah Ma had Monkey on facetime, pointed at my nether regions.  In her other hand she recorded a video.  She's such a good multi-tasker.

Baby was healthy as can be when she came out, weighing 7 lbs and 1 oz.  I had a minor tear but other than that everything was pretty textbook.  The hospital stay was nice, despite the incredibly gross hospital food.  Badge stayed with me and everyone else flittered in and out.  BB spent most days playing at Spike and Frog's.  He showed mild interest in the baby but otherwise continued to run around with the crazy energy of a toddler.  Baby was a natural latcher but was so sleepy the first couple of days that she would always fall asleep at the breast.

Once home, Baby started becoming fussy at night, wanting only to breastfeed.  We assumed she was just comfort sucking so during one night of desperation I gave her the pacifier.  The next day, she started rejecting my breast and crying when I tried to breastfeed.  Oh no, nipple confusion??  Cursing myself, it took a day or so to get her back on the breast.  On the fourth day, we took her to the pediatrician for her follow up.  Poor thing had lost 15% of her birth weight (now she weighed 5 lbs and 15 oz)!!  Within 10% is ok but 15% is way under.  Also her jaundice level had elevated to 16 since she was dehydrated too long.

The primary reason of course is that my milk hadn't come in.  I could tell my milk was starting to come in that fourth day (as compared to the fifth day with Max) but I didn't want to risk anything so we decided to supplement with a little formula.  I didn't want to disrupt breastfeeding so the pediatrician gave me this tiny tube feeder that you can slip in the baby's mouth while they're latched to the breast.  This worked out pretty well and I was able to get 20ml into her after breastfeeding.  We fed her every 2 hours.  The next day, we took her back to the ped and she had gained almost 4 oz.  Amazing!  We also repeated the jaundice test (saddest thing in the world because they have to prick her heel and squeeze about 100 drops of blood out of it).  It was down a little to 15.6, whew.  That day, I stopped supplementing formula (mostly because she didn't seem to want it after breastfeeding and my milk had fully come in).  We took her in one more time the next day and she'd gained another 3.2 oz.  Whoo hoo!  The ped said we could skip another jaundice test; she was confident it would resolve itself now that baby was getting fluids.

As for myself, it's been about 12 days and I'm mostly recovered I'd say.  I haven't had insomnia, night sweats, anxiety, or crazy hormonal issue thank god.  All in all, doing pretty well.

Cinnamon Buns

Sunday, December 29, 2013

I've made cinnamon buns twice this year.  The first time was a month ago when I decided to try a recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  The recipe seemed promising although I had problems with the dough not rising.  Probably because it's arctic cold in our house.  Flavor came out great but texture was simply not as fluffy as hoped.

I held off trying again until this week when Monkey came to town for the holidays.  This time, I used a recipe from my Baking Illustrated book and boy did it deliver.  Both recipes were similar but for the second go, I used a technique Monkey recommended for rising the dough: preheat oven to 200, turn off the oven, and put the dough inside.  Sure enough, super puffy.  Everything about these buns were fabulous, including the icing.  Will definitely make again.

Here are pictures of this week's buns.

And here are pictures of the previous buns which failed to rise to expectations (pun intended har har).


The best part of the holidays are when you're stuffed after dinner, the baby is finally sleeping and you get to snuggle up on the couch and watch movies...still wearing the pajamas you woke up in of course.

So far, we've watched Ghostbusters as previously mentioned.  I don't think I've watched that since I was a teenager.  Bill Murray will always be funny in my book.  We also watched Stardust, a fantasy movie from 2007 that Monkey recommended.  Badge grumbled about this one, thinking it'd be a total dud, but he was the first to admit it was anything but.  Surprisingly cute and funny, the whole family enjoyed it.  I kinda want to watch it again.

After Stardust, we went on a tear and watched Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Twelve.  We're now going to go watch Ocean's Thirteen and drink some more egg nog that Monkey whipped up this afternoon.

Christmas Time

Friday, December 27, 2013

Well it's certainly been a while since I last blogged.  Oops.  I'll play catch up later.  For now, I'll focus on documenting our Christmas day.

On Christmas morning, we rolled out of bed and started opening presents.  This was BB's first year opening presents, and though I'm pretty sure he had no idea what was going on, I like to think he enjoyed the chaos.

In the afternoon, I made egg nog using a Saveur recipe that Badge saw at the doctor's office (and immediately swiped).  The flavor was great, but was pretty thick and frothy from the whipped egg whites.  The family all had differing opinions on preferred thickness so I just left the milk out for individual adjustments.  The recipe called for 1 cup rum but I used 3/4 because that's all I had left.  It seemed like enough since Uncle Jamie still got drunk, which I suppose isn't saying much.  The egg nog really didn't last long and we were all disappointed when it was gone.  A double batch will definitely be considered next year.

For dinner, we decided to revisit some of our old favorites.  Since we didn't have mac n cheese at Thanksgiving, it was a must.  We also remade the same scalloped potatoes from our past two Christmases, tried a new roasted cauliflower dish, and made caesar salad with Monkey's addicting dressing.  For the main course, I was originally planning to make some beef short ribs but was distracted by a large slab of pork belly while shopping at Whole Foods.  The mere thought of crispy skin on top of tender melt-in-your-mouth meat was all it took to make my decision.

Over all, the dinner came together pretty quickly, except of course the pork belly which took 3 hours to roast.  Everything was delicious.  There was really nothing I would not make again.

At the end of the meal, we were all utterly stuffed so we put BB to bed and parked it on the couch to watch Ghostbusters.  We took a break towards the end of the movie to make some hot chocolate.  It was the perfect end to a great Christmas.

Egg Nog
Courtesy of Saveur Magazine

  • 1 cup light rum
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 2 tbsp
  • 6 eggs (yolks separated from whites)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground anise
  • 1 cup milk

Whisk rum with 1/2 cup sugar and egg yolks in heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until very thick, 2-3 minutes; chill.  Whip heavy cream in a bowl until soft peaks form; chill.  In a large bowl, whip egg whites, 2 tbsp sugar and spices until soft peaks form.  Fold whipped cream and cooled egg yolk mixture into whites; stir in milk.  To serve, ladle egg nog into mugs and garnish with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.  Serve additional rum on the side if you like.

Birthday, Father's Day, and Monkey Visits

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday was Badge's birthday.  At his request, I made german chocolate cake over the weekend.  This cake is a pain to make; there are so many steps.  

But oh man is it worth the trouble.

Since I had eggs to use up, I also decided to try a new french apple cake recipe.  Verdict?  I like this recipe better.  It doesn't feel as oily.  Perfect to eat for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. 

Note: I tried to take an artsy photo by throwing in completely unrelated ingredients in my fridge, like blueberries and thyme.  Humor me and pretend it makes sense.

This weekend was full of eating and drinking and merriment.  Monkey flew in Friday morning and I took the afternoon off.  That night, Badge and I met up with friends for an awesome dinner at Urban Solace while Monkey and Ah Ma babysat.

On Saturday, we took BB to the Del Mar beach.  It was his first time up close with the ocean and boy was he freaked out.  After some crying, we managed to get him to calm down - mostly by stuffing cheese in his mouth and facing him away from the ocean.  Once we finished picnicking on the grass, we let him cautiously venture out onto the sand.  As expected, he eventually adjusted and had a blast poking and sand and pouring water around.  I took a ton of pictures, but the cutest ones were of Badge with BB.  What a wonderful father.  We closed a great day but ordering a ton of Indian food.  Mmm...

On Sunday, we met up with Spike, Frog, and Dog at Sipz for lunch.  Towards the end of lunch, Frog took BB next door to a karate studio.  Apparently they let him run around the mat to his hearts delight.  Check out this hilarious video.

In the late afternoon, we went over to Spike's for pizza and to watch the basketball playoffs.

Overall, I'm pretty sure I could skip dinner every day this weekend and still not manage to make up for all the food I ate, but who cares?  It was such a fun and relaxing weekend.  Till next time Monkey comes!

Mini Foods

Monday, May 27, 2013

I couldn't resist buying BB some frozen mini blueberry waffles from Whole Foods this week.  I don't usually buy any frozen food for him but these looked extra cute and delicious.

One really can't fault frozen food for convenience.  This morning, I just popped the little suckers in the toaster and added a dab of butter and maple syrup.  Ta da!  He certainly enjoyed them.  Once we move, I'd definitely like to invest in a waffle iron and make these things for real.

Oh did I mention we're moving?  Our house has been sold and is currently in escrow.  That means it's a mad dash to find a new place to live.  The inventory in SD is horrible.  Badge and I are having a hard time finding something we love.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I made risotto tonight (added roasted brussel sprouts on the side).  It was delicious.  I love butternut squash.  The end.

Well, not quite.  I continued my flurry of cooking activities by baking a french apple cake.  The recipe was touted as a mixture between a cake and a custard.  Thus I was intrigued.

Unfortunately, after mixing up the batter halfway, I had to put everything on hold while I fed a fussy BB who'd gone the whole day without a nap.  I'm not sure if that had any effect on the cake but it did feel a little more greasy that I would have liked.  At least, I could certainly taste the 1 cup of oil that went in.  Perhaps substituting canola oil for veggie oil wasn't the best idea?  Damn you Whole Foods for not carrying veggie!  Overall, the cake was still tasty, esp paired with vanilla ice cream.  I'd definitely try making this again (when I can devote my full attention).

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash
Courtesy of Ina Garten

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.


French Apple Cake
Courtesy of Cooks Illustrated

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and sliced 1/8 inch thick crosswise
1 tablespoon Calvados
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup (5 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Place prepared pan on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place apple slices into microwave-safe pie plate, cover, and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Toss apple slices with Calvados and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.

2. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk egg, oil, milk, and vanilla together in second bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup batter to separate bowl and set aside.

3. Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine. Using spatula, gently fold in cooled apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing on apples to create even, compact layer, and smooth surface.

4. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons flour into reserved batter. Pour over batter in pan and spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly over cake. 5. Bake until center of cake is set, toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top is golden brown, about 1¼ hours. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.