Wednesday, June 29, 2011

3-year and 1-year stats

Last week Molly and Penny both went in for checkups. Here are the numbers:

Molly (at 3 years)
35 lbs (85th percentile)
39.25 inches (90th percentile) I prefer to say she's 3'3"
BMI (WHAT??? They do that for kids. Ok--I'll just record it in case I'm ever wondering) is 16 (55th percentile).

Penny (13 months)
22 lbs 6 oz (60th percentile)--she's getting skinny, probably because she won't eat anything except breast milk and watermelon and kefir (and any kind of Indian curry with rice)
31" (90th percentile). She's tall, though!
head circumference 18.5" (90th) and she has a big head.

Her tall, skinny, big-headed frame is not keeping her from toddling around. The kid can scoot really quickly. Yesterday she took one teeny tiny step. She can walk really quickly holding someone's hand.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

raw kale salad

I discovered this salad a while back in Vegetarian Times, and we love it. It's really easy to make, and it is very nourishing as well. Last night I dressed it up with a raw beet and carrot salad I made a couple of days ago (just shredded vegetables with some oil, vinegar, cumin, salt, and fresh herbs) and some pumpkin seeds. We usually just eat it plain, though.

1 bunch kale, stemmed and torn into pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey or other sweetener

Place kale in large bowl with olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Massage a few minutes until kale starts to wilt. Let sit on counter for about 30 minutes. Whisk together dressing and pour over kale. We usually have enough for two days of salad--it keeps surprisingly well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

new sauerkraut and kombucha

I got a bok choy in my CSA box last week. Bill spent a couple of weeks in China and Hong Kong a few years ago, and he has since not been a big fan of bok choy (really the only food he has an aversion to). When I was pregnant with Penny, bok choy for some reason completely repulsed me, and it still does somewhat (really the only food I have an aversion to). I decided to, of course, ferment it. I got the inspiration from a recipe that an acquaintance sent me that used seaweed. I happened to have some seaweed in my cabinet--Molly loves to eat dried seaweed--so I decided to give it a try. I just chopped the bok choy, added one sheet (minus a few bites taken by Molly) of nori, and a teaspoon of salt.

Molly mashed it all for me, and we packet it into a jar.

Thanks to my friend, Abacus, I have been doing some experimenting with kombucha. I made strawberry-raspberry kombucha first, and now I have some blueberry kombucha fermenting. I put three bottles of the strawberry in the cabinet for a secondary fermentation (also on the suggestion of Abacus). I will try it tomorrow. I only had three bottles in which to put the tea for the secondary fermentation so I got to drink some fresh. It was DELICIOUS!!! I can't wait to try the stuff in the bottles, which should be extra bubbly. The blueberry should be ready on Saturday or Sunday. I made the same basic recipe, except I added fresh fruit when I added the tea bags, I added less sugar because of the sugar in the fruit, and I let it ferment for four days rather than seven or eight.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fermenting: I've missed you!

I haven't posted in a while about the ferments I've been doing. I ordered some kefir grains on line (thanks for the inspiration, dear Abacus), and I have been making that every day since I got them a few weeks ago. It is definitely an acquired taste, and I think I have finally acquired it. I even got both Molly and Penny to drink some yesterday. It doesn't really taste like yogurt, as I thought it would. Kefir is fermented using little grains put in milk to ferment about 24 hours at room temperature. The grains reproduce themselves so I can share grains if anyone is interested. I have been putting the finished product in the fridge to drink; the taste is definitely improved when it's cold.

On Tuesday, Molly and I made some more sauerruben (i.e., fermented turnips) from the first turnips I saw at the farmers market. They were little tiny turnips, in contrast to the obscenely large ones from last fall. Molly and I both took a couple of sample tastes today. I think it needs another day or two, but Molly kept wanting another and another and another bite. So I guess she likes it now. Here is Molly stirring the turnips.

Today we made some more kimchi. Molly's favorite thing to do is to "smash, smash, smash!!!" the kimchi before and after we put it in the crock. Here is a picture of the magic combination of onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper (dried, purchased from the farmers market) that turns ordinary cabbage into that wonderfully delicious condiment/salad topping/side dish/breakfast we call kimchi.

And because of another suggestion by my dear friend Abacus, I have started back to my kombucha. I have had two scoby's taking up room in the fridge for the past few weeks. I've just been lazy about making a batch lately. Per Abacus's suggestion, I made a batch with strawberries and raspberries (she made one with strawberries and one with strawberries and lemon, if I remember correctly). I will also do a secondary fermentation on this one to increase the carbonation. I've never done that before, but Abacus had good success with it so I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will, too.

So right now I have kimchi, sauerruben, kefir, and kombucha taking up space on my counter.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy birthday, Penelope!

Today is Penny's birthday. I really cannot believe it. This year has been full of changes and has just flown by. On Sunday we had a small party with family for her birthday. My mom made her a ridiculously cute birthday crown, to be worn in lieu of a paper party hat. She kept it on all day, including when she fell asleep at the end of her own party.

I realized that I never wrote the story of Penny's birth. I kept telling myself to record it so I don't forget it, and I just turned around, and a full year has passed. So I will record it to the best of my knowledge. Really, this is for me to remember the day so feel free to skip this. :)

Around 4AM on the morning of May 24th, my water broke. I had to get up to pee and immediately realized what happened because it was exactly as it happened with Molly's birth. I woke Bill up, and he said "Let's just go back to sleep, try to get some rest." Because Molly was sound asleep in the other room, and I was still tired, this seemed like a reasonable idea. Looking back, it was probably pretty silly because Molly's birth happened so quickly. We also had some people lined up to watch Molly, and we didn't want to call them so early either. Around 7 when Molly woke, Bill stretched and said, "Now, did I dream it, or did your water break?" TRUE STORY! Anyway, long story short, we called the doctor and were told to get to the hospital pronto because of my history, even though I wasn't having any contractions yet. We made all the phone calls to our wonderful friends Tamara and Annie, who had agreed to share Molly duty until the birth.

Hours passed before any contractions actually started. It's funny because I had been on bed rest for about six weeks because every time I stood up, I would have contractions. After my water broke, nothing. We ran across the street to get food. I figured I would have the baby any time so I wanted to eat as much as I could. The hospital, though enlightened in many ways in terms of their practices around birth, still had a policy that laboring women are not supposed to eat after their water breaks, in case they have to be put under for something (the nurse told us this never happens because even in almost every C-section the mother is awake). No one was watching too closely, of course, but I just would eat in between visits from the nurses (who, by the way, were absolutely fabulous for my numerous stays at Alta Bates Hospital) so I didn't put them in the awkward position of stating the policy.

Around 3:30 or so I still was not very dilated, maybe about 4cm. The doctor was starting to get a little concerned that I might get an infection because my water broke. She wanted to start induction because the risk apparently goes way up after 12 hours, which we were getting very close to. Bill and I discussed it, and we decided to go ahead with it. I was absolutely terrified. I wanted a fully natural birth, and I was nervous I would have to get an epidural because the pain would be too much. Well, as I implied earlier, Alta Bates is really progressive, and their policy for Pitocin was to administer it at about 1/10th the rate of the national standard, which meant that it would be a very, very gradual induction. I only got two doses, and I started to labor in full force. I breathed through the contractions in any position that felt right, usually on my hands and knees with my head buried in my pillow. I breathed through them all, and I didn't need any pain medicine, which I was thankful for. Between the actual contractions I remember feeling very present, talking with Bill and the nurse. During the contractions, I was in a different place. I remember hearing the nurse and Bill continue their conversation while I was moaning and breathing on the bed between them. They were attending to me, and I would use my hands to communicate what I needed or where I needed them to push to relieve some of the pressure. My wonderful group of momma friends had had a blessing circle for me a few weeks prior to my birth, and I was channeling that love and energy during my contractions, breathing through them and picturing my body as water, with the waves of the painful contractions like the waves in the ocean.

The labor was really short (though not as short as with Molly), and after about three hours I was ready to push. I remember the same feeling with Molly--when it was time to push, there was really no stopping it. I pushed about 15 minutes, and out came our little Penelope. I wanted her immediately on me, no bath or anything. The doctor put her on my chest, and immediately she started to nurse. The nurses wiped her off while she nursed, and Bill and I cried and cried and were so happy! What a difference from Molly's birth! I didn't let go of Penny for at least an hour; Bill couldn't wait any longer to hold her. I don't really remember birthing the placenta, but I'm pretty sure it was while I was holding Penny. She didn't get weighed for about two hours after she was born because we were holding her. The two of us have not been apart for more than a few hours since then.

Here the three of us are soon after the birth, before her bath and weight check.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Don't stop dancing, kiddo

We went to the Louisville Loves Mountains festival last night. It amounted to a (very cool) appearance by Wendell Berry and lots of beer and very good music. Molly had a fabulous time dancing, and, I gotta say, the kid has got some moves. Here she is dancing to Appalatin. As the name suggests, their music was a mix of Appalachian and Latin music--great for dancing!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Woo hoo!!! Molly has been in big girl underwear for just over a week now. She has had a couple of accidents, but overall she is doing great. One day, I reached the point where I thought, "I am going to die--DIE--if I have to change one more crappy pull-up." She had been in pull-ups for what felt like forever, and they were just way too easy for her to pee and poop in. So on the day I thought I would die, I just told myself enough is enough. I put her in underwear and told her she was wearing big girl underwear; don't pee or poop in them. And she didn't (for the most part). I am so proud of her!

Penny's sleep has been getting better. We decided I would not to feed her until after 4AM so Bill usually will go in if she cries and try to comfort her to get her to go back to sleep. We had to take a break because the stress of her screaming for so long was, well, really stressful. But we tried again a few weeks ago, and she has actually taken to it pretty well. She will most often be able to comfort herself back to sleep within a few minutes, but if she doesn't Bill can go in, and she usually will go back to sleep.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


This lack of sleep thing with Penny is just getting out of hand. In short, I was feeding her around midnight and again around 5 or so. Then she got sick a couple of times, and it eventually went back to her waking and wanting to eat about every two or three hours. Yesterday I kind of reached the breaking point. I felt like I was losing it--I was so exhausted and just feeling pretty depressed. I know a few people who have older kids who still do not sleep through the night so I realize that my situation is not unique. Nevertheless, I am just beat.

Anyway, in a nutshell that's what got us to the point of trying to do some sleep training again. When we did it a couple of months ago, it was a disaster. That little baby is persistent! She would scream--SCREAM--for hours. Literally hours! It didn't really seem to improve as the days went on either, so we kind of gave up. But...we decided it needed to be attempted again, and sooner rather than later. So last night, we set some ground rules that Bill would go in to her (with my gentle prodding to get out of bed because the man can sleep through most anything), at increasing intervals. I would not feed her until 5AM. She actually slept pretty well; for the first time in a number of weeks she slept until about 2:30. Bill went in every few minutes. At one point he came back to bed to inform me that she was actually STANDING in her crib. She has been trying to pull herself up for a couple of weeks, but that was the first time she's been successful. It was as if she were saying, "Fine. If you won't bring me the boobs, I will walk to them!" We got a pretty good chuckle out of that somewhere around 3:15. She finally fell asleep around 4:00. So we were awake for about an hour and a half, but it wasn't as bad as it's been in the past. Rather than screaming, she was just kind of fussing, which is much less anxiety-provoking (or blood-pressure-increasing, or adult-tear-inducing) than constant screaming. She woke around 6:00, and after I fed her she slept until about 7:30.

I am optimistic that tonight will be a sleep-filled night for all of us. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

corned beef modification

Okay, so when I said the corned beef would not be cooked, I did not expect it to be THAT raw. I mean, yeah, I figured it would be rare, but not really raw. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it was raw. I mean really, really RAW. Bill is very adventurous, though, and had a sandwich of raw corned beef last night. He said, "It was better with cheese and mustard." Nourishing Traditions promises that with the consumption of raw meet, one will have increased vitality. Bill did indeed have increased vitality today, but I am pretty sure it was a combination of the 70+ temperatures, the beginning of March Madness, and St. Patrick's Day all falling on the same day rather than the raw meat. We decided I should cook it.

And it was great--very tender. I took it to my sister's house for a little party she had, and I expected to bring most of it home. Instead, it was all gone very quickly. Yay! Bill said it was the best he'd ever eaten. I cooked it in my Dutch oven with water, a beer, some peppercorns, a cinnamon stick, some whole cloves, and a couple of bay leaves. I brought it to a boil then cooked it at 300 for about three and a half hours.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Patty's Day fermenting

Yesterday was a crazy fermenting day! We have had a beef brisket in the freezer for a few weeks, and I have been wanting to try the corned beef recipe from Nourishing Traditions for a while, so St. Patrick's Day was a perfect opportunity! I quit eating meat the beginning of this year, but we are still working through our CSA meat share. I believe that it is the right decision for me to eat the meat we have remaining in the freezer, though, because it is a lot of meat, and I don't want it to be wasted. That being said, Bill will still be largely responsible for the nearly four pounds of meat that is this corned beef. Just to be clear, this corned beef will not be cooked. It will ferment for a couple of days, and then we will eat it. It has salt, juniper berries, red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, and whey. If anyone wants the full recipe, let me know, and I will be happy to share it.

I also made the mustard from Nourishing Traditions, which needs three days to ferment. Included in that recipe is ground mustard, water, whey, honey, mustard seeds, and lemon juice.

And the grand mammy of all ferments....I finally made my miso yesterday! I used the recipe from Wild Fermentation. I used pinto beans rather than soy beans because I had plenty in the cabinet. I will test it late this fall, probably around November. It was a pretty easy recipe to follow, but it made much more than I anticipated--I had to use two crocks rather than just one, and my crocks are precious because I only have three. I should have halved the recipe. I am really, really excited about this--I hope it turns out. I just ordered some more miso from the same company I ordered my koji from. It isn't cheap, so it would be really great if mine turns out nearly as good as theirs. I have had other miso bought from the grocery, and it is just not so good. It does take many months or years to ferment (the stuff I bought was one- or three-year fermented) so, like most things, you get what you pay for.

And Bill and I tested the honey wine this weekend. It needs another week or two, but I am definitely happy with the results! My dad and my sister both had samples as well and were not too impressed. It does taste like homemade wine, but I like the earthy flavor of it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Penny's stats

I took Penny in for her 9 month checkup today, and here are her stats:

weight: just over 22 pounds (though just last week she weighed in at 23), 97%
height: 28.75", 90%
head circumference: 18.25", 97%

She is still not terribly interested in eating anything other than breast milk, but we are working on it. I would say, though, that she is not starving, as illustrated above by her stats. For a couple of days we have been giving her little pieces of food that she can pick up herself, rather than being fed with a spoon. This method seems to work a little better. She's doing great overall, though. Little sweetie.

I realized that I never posted her stats for her 6 month checkup. Here are those stats, from 12/9/2010:
weight: 19 lbs, 12 oz, 90%
height 27.25", 90%
head: 17.5", 93%

Penny's sleeping is improving. Please do not confuse this for "her sleep is good." I still nurse her twice overnight, around midnight and around 5AM. Her naps are also getting better, and she is getting better at putting herself to sleep in her crib. This means, though, that it is really hard for me to leave the house because Penny goes down around 10, until around 11:30 or noon, and Molly goes for her nap around 2PM, until usually 4:30 or 5:00. Penny usually takes a second nap that overlaps with Molly's. It is actually a little lonely. I was visiting with people a lot for a while until I decided I really do not want to repeat the nap troubles we had with Molly. I am considering it an investment--her napping will just be so fabulous by the time she's down to only one nap that it will be absolutely worth it. She does have to sleep in the car now and then if we need to run errands, or if there is something else we have going on. All in all, things are going pretty well in the sleep department (even though Molly did not take her nap today.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

momma's boss

Molly: Who's Poppa's boss?
Me: [his name]
Molly: Who's your boss?
Me: I don't have a boss.
Molly: Yeah! You have a boss.
Me: No, I don't have a boss.
Molly: Yeah! You have a boss.
Me: Who's my boss?
Molly: probably Obama

ferment updates

Well, it has kind of been a week of failures in the 'ol fermenting front. To make myself feel better, I am blaming the cold weather rather than my lack of skill. I'm pretty sure it's not because my house is too sterile. There actually isn't any skill involved so I'm betting on the weather.

My honey wine never started bubbling as expected. Rather than giving up, I went ahead and added half of the packet of the champagne yeast to it. It started bubbling so I put it in the gallon jug with an airlock, and I hope it's ready to drink in a few weeks. I will certainly try again in a few weeks when the weather is a little warmer; hopefully then the wild yeast in the air will be more active.

The dosas were also a failure. The recipe called for a whole bunch of cilantro, which was just too much. The batter was supposed to be thinner. As I am sitting her typing this, I am actually realizing that I halved the recipe so I used twice as much cilantro as I was supposed to. Yes!!! That makes me very happy because I really liked the taste of the cooked (failed) dosas, but they wouldn't stick together like pancakes, as they were supposed to. So...that means I will definitely try those again, too!

The sauerruben is delicious. It is just like sauerkraut, with just salt and caraway seeds, but it is made with turnips instead of cabbage. Molly and I shared a bowl today--we both loved it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

fermenting and sleep

First, as I was typing this blog's address into my address bar, one of the suggestions as I typed "Kristais" was "Krista is awesome." Of course I had to click on THAT to see what it was. It was some kid's facebook page. Kind of a letdown.

So, my honey wine still does not seem to be taking off. I am being patient, though. It has been sitting on the counter and stove for a week now. I will give it a few more days and decide whether I should just throw it out or add the yeast to it. I also decided to keep the turnip kimchi. This afternoon I had pretty much decided to throw it in the compost. It wasn't that the taste was bad; I think the turnips were just cut up too big. I should have used my food processor like I usually do. I actually cannot remember why I didn't. I think I was holding the baby, and it was easier to wield a big huge very sharp knife with one hand than listen to her crying really hard and using two hands for the food processor. I will eat it for a few more days, with the idea that if we don't like it, I don't need to force it on the family. Molly actually really likes it.

I did not make the dosas today because our dinner got rescheduled for Sunday. I guess I will just let the batter keep on fermenting until then.

And, perhaps the most interesting news of all, my miso and koji got delivered today so I can 1) eat miso every day and 2) make my own miso with the koji. I will of course report back, perhaps with photos.

Oh, and a quick note on Penny's sleeping. Last night she only woke up once between 8:00 and 6:30, around 2:00. Woot! The night before it was twice. These are definite improvements. There are a few things working together. The researcher in me would say there are just way too many threats to internal validity to tell what is working, but I have stopped drinking coffee (though I am still drinking black tea. Still, it's a drastic decrease in caffeine, down from that pot or more of coffee I was drinking every day), we have put a very loud humidifier in her room, and her naps have become a little more consistent. I will probably reintroduce coffee in a few days and see if that makes a difference (let's hope not because I really love coffee!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dosas and sauerruben and t'ej

I'm not sure if the honey wine (t'ej) is taking off. The recipe says that in three or four days it should start bubbling, at which point I am supposed to transfer it to the jug. It has not yet started to bubble, but I am not too disheartened yet because my kitchen is really cold, so it could just be taking a few extra days. When I went to My Old Kentucky Homebrew to buy an airlock, I talked to the very helpful worker (who is probably the owner), and he told me I should probably add some champagne yeast. I bought it for $.89, but Bill talked me out of using it. As he said, the fun in what I'm doing really is wild fermentation. So I'm just going to be patient and "(t)rust that the yeast will be drawn to the sweet honey-water from the air" (Katz, 2003, p. 29).

We are having one of Bill's coworkers and his wife and daughter over for dinner on Friday. I am going to make Indian food and was thinking I would just serve naan that I bought in the store. BORING! Instead I'm going to make dosas, which are essentially Indian pancakes made with a batter of fermented lentils and rice. I soaked the lentils and rice overnight, and then I put them in the food processor with some yogurt and extra whey I had in the fridge. This batter will ferment for about 48 hours, and then I will thin the batter with some water and add a few extras (e.g., cilantro, garlic) then make them on our cast-iron griddle. I will report back on how they turn out.

I'm still figuring out what to do with all those turnips, and I found a recipe in Wild Fermentation for sauerruben, which is pretty much sauerkraut, but it's made with turnips rather than cabbage. I made it exactly the same way, shredding my turnips in the food processor, adding salt and caraway seeds, mashing the heck out of it with the potato masher, and then packing it tightly into a crock with a weight.

And speaking of turnips, I tasted the turnip kimchi today, and it is very interesting, very spicy. I think it will be ready by Friday so those poor souls coming for dinner on Friday will get to (be forced to out of politeness?) taste it.

I ordered some seeds today for my garden. I am very excited about having my first garden, but I am extremely intimidated by it. I hope I get at least some yield. The seeds I ordered include the following: beets, spinach (two types), lettuce (2 types), kale, and cilantro. I am going to start out small, with some of my favorite (all greens, including the greens from the beets) and most used (beets, for the juice) vegetables.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Okay, I'm committed now to making miso. I ordered the koji today, which is essentially cultured rice, necessary for making miso unless you have wild koji spores in the air (usually just in miso shops or basements where miso has been made for years). I haven't decided whether I will make the one that takes a year--red miso--or the one that takes only a month--sweet miso. The koji is expensive ($14.50/pound, and the miso uses 1.75 or 3.5 pounds), and the one that takes longer to ferment uses half the miso. So....I might start with that one and see how it goes. If I just love the process of making it I will probably order more koji and make the sweet miso.

I ordered on-line from South River Miso Company, and I added two types of miso to my order. I figured I was already paying for shipping so I should probably just go ahead and get some instant gratification and order some already-aged miso. I ordered a one-year fermented chickpea miso and a three-year fermented soybean and barley miso. Sounds good, huh? The red miso also requires a tablespoon of aged miso for the recipe so I will just use the miso I just ordered. I am really excited about this! The process does not look hard, just obviously time-consuming. I will get to finally use the room I have jokingly been referring to as my fermenting room since we moved into our house over the summer. The recipe (again from my pal Sanderkraut, author of Wild Fermentation) says to leave it in a non-heated cellar, basement, barn, garage etc. Bill's been busy converting our garage to his workshop so I don't think I'll put it in there to ferment because of the risk of some bits of metal or wood getting into it.

Note: the one-year actually refers to one summer so I will be able to check the miso in the fall, something to look forward to when the weather turns chilly again.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

turnip kimchi

Yesterday I started the process of making the turnip kimchi. I let the thinly sliced turnips and daikons soak overnight in a brine with about 3 tbsp. salt in 4 cups of water. Today I finished it up and put it in the crock to begin fermenting. I will check it in about a week. We have some guests coming for dinner on Friday so I might check it then and let them sample it. Here is the process (again, based on the recipe in Wild Fermentation):

Dice an onion or a few scallions or shallots (I used an onion because that is what I had on hand), grate about 3 Tbsp of fresh ginger, and put about 6 garlic cloves through a press. Put all this in a big bowl and add a bunch of red pepper flakes--I probably used about 2 Tbsp. You can also use fresh chilies. Experiment with the seasoning and adjust to your tastes. Drain the soaking vegetables, but save the brine. Taste the vegetables to see if there is enough salt. It should taste pretty salty; add more if needed. Mix the drained veggies with the onion-chili-garlic-ginger mixture and pack tightly into a crock. Press down (I use a potato masher) until juices rise above the veggies. Add some of the reserved brine if necessary. Weigh down--I use a liter-sized mason jar filled with water--and cover with a towel. I also usually put the crock inside another dish to catch any runoff brine. Now I just need to wait a week or so and taste it. I have a good feeling about it. I was a little nervous about the turnips, but I really think the onion-ginger-garlic-chili combination would make most things taste good.

Friday, February 18, 2011


As promised (or as suggested), I am going to post about some food. I did three ferments today, including two new ferments! Now, dear readers, do not expect this level of productivity in the future. My mother-in-law had Molly all day today, and Penny napped for two hours. The three ferments were yogurt (not new), turnip kimchi, and t'ej (Ethiopian honey wine. I am not exactly sure how this differs from mead). I also have some kombucha fermenting on the counter; I got this started yesterday.

I decided a week or so ago I needed to start making yogurt again because the packaging is wasteful, and it is much cheaper and the taste is pretty much exactly the same with homemade. So I made some yogurt today. In the past, I have made a full half gallon, but that can be a bit of a daunting task for the fermenting period. I have had to find room to leave all that warm milk out for a few hours. The last two times I've made it, I've only made a quart, a much more manageable amount. The basic process for making yogurt is to heat (whole, organic) milk to about 180F, then let it cool to about 110F. It isn't necessary to warm it to such a high temperature, but it makes the yogurt thicker. Then mix about a tablespoon of yogurt from a previous batch into the warm milk. Leave it to ferment in a warm (about 100F) place for about 8 - 12 hours. I usually put it in a cooler with another jar full of hot water. If, after this amount of time, the yogurt hasn't thickened or hasn't developed that yogurt-y smell, add another teaspoon of yogurt and warm the cooler up again.

My CSA has had SO MANY turnips lately. What can you do with turnips??? Really, if you have suggestions, please list in the comments. I decided to attempt turnip kimchi. In Wild Fermentation, my go-to fermenting book, Sanderkraut gives a recipe for root vegetable kimchi, which includes turnips, daikons, carrots, and a few other root vegetables. I only put in turnips and daikons that I had left. I will post the recipe for this in another post.

Finally, the one I am most excited about, is the wine (also from Wild Fermentation). I have also gotten quite a bit of honey from my CSA lately, and I needed to clear out some cabinet space. The recipe for this is to mix 3 cups of honey with 12 cups of water, cover with a towel, and let ferment for a few days until bubbly. Then transfer to a large glass container with an airlock and let ferment for 2 to 4 weeks. I only had room in my ceramic crock for a 3:1 ratio of water:honey so I hope I can just add the extra three cups of water when I transfer it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Few Toys

We started Molly's life buying very few toys, and we have asked people not to buy her many toys. She does have a few beloved toys that she plays with, and our families are very thoughtful with the few toys they buy her (which is very appreciated!!!). This really started as a necessity because 1) we were broke when Molly was born so we didn't buy much of anything, and 2) we had a small apartment so there just wasn't any room to put any toys. This lifestyle choice is very good for Molly, though, and I assume it will also be for Penny. Parents have been joking for generations that they would buy their kids toys for Christmas or for birthdays, only to have the kids play with the boxes. This is really true! Yesterday, for example, Molly woke up and got her three dolls and then went to the diaper hamper and pulled out a few diapers. She took them into her room and laid them out very neatly and told me she and her dolls were going to do "yoda," which in English is "yoga." She did yoga with her dolls ALL DAY. She would roll up the diaper "mats" and then take them to another room and unroll them again. She would lie on the floor with them and do different poses. It was really interesting to see her imagination working. This morning she rearranged her chairs so that her dolls could sit on either side of her (and one on her lap) while she read to them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

food swap

Today I went to a food swap. It was so cool!!!! I made sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, granola, wheat berry sprouts, chicken broth, and diaper cream/hand salve/lip balm (not a food, I know, but it was a hot commodity nonetheless). Everyone brought homemade or home-grown food, and it was used as currency. I came away with bread, jam, buttermilk, ricotta cheese, frozen cabbage, frozen corn, canned green beans, a knitted wash cloth, amaretto, pea soup, pepper relish, and...I think that's all. Not too shabby, huh?

From the list of foods above, you may be able to deduce that I have been really into my fermenting lately. I have made a lot of sauerkraut lately because we have gotten so much cabbage from the CSA. I will probably attempt miso next. From the book Wild Fermentation, it does not look very difficult; it just takes patience for the fermentation to occur. I was thinking about starting a blog about food, particularly fermenting. I'm not sure what else I could do, but if I have a goal to blog about it regularly, I can expand my horizons a little. Maybe I will try again with sourdough bread. I think I need to get a bread stone for that to turn out correctly. I have had trouble with bread--Abacus, do you have any tips?

Penny's sleep has not improved too much, but it has a little bit. Bill has gotten up with her a few nights so I can get some sleep. Last night and the night before, I fed her around 1:30 and again at 5:00. It's not ideal, but it's definitely an improvement over the every-hour wakings/feedings she was doing for a while.

(This is my 100th blog post, by the way!)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

sleep, or as it's known in the real world, lack of sleep

I thought Molly was a bad sleeper. Well, Penny is determined to one-up her older sister. We have been trying to get her to sleep through the night for weeks now. It is hard! On the third night, Molly surrendered. She slept through the night. Penny is not giving up. She can moan and cry and scream for hours on end. And, unlike her momma, she can go without sleep AND without coffee. Two night ago she slept until 5:30, and we thought we had turned a corner. Last night, however, she woke at 2:30 and was awake until 4:00, at which point I finally went in and fed her. I've been waiting until 5AM.

Now, I realize parents (particularly mommas) have been doing this forever, and there are many people whose kids have special needs and have genuine sleep disorders (I know a couple), but I just want to complain for a minute about how difficult it is to go without sleep. I forget very common words, like 'shoes.' I forget why I went into a room for something. I seethe with anger when I can't immediately locate the milk in the fridge. With one kid, I thought it was hard, but I could sleep when she slept. With two, there isn't that break. I can't imagine with three or more, though I know we always live up to our own situations. I also know many people have it much harder. Okay--I'm finished complaining. Just let me go get another cup of coffee--be right back.

And I'm not writing this just for complaining's sake. It is for posterity and so I can show Molly and Penny later just how much trouble they caused me. Just kidding. They are truly, truly delightful little people. Molly is just getting so grown up that she is no longer a toddler, but a little girl. It's amazing to watch. Again, this is something that has been happening forever, but it is a truly amazing transition. I laugh so much at them because they really are fun to be around. Molly is actually developing a sense of humor and will joke with us. Penny thinks Molly is the most hilarious person she's ever met, too. The good far, far outweighs the sleep deprivation, and I am very happy to be able to stay home with them.

Penny also does not have the interest in food that Molly had. She really just wants to nurse more than anything else. She has eaten a few solids, but she generally only takes a bite or two. She is 8 months old now, and the medical 'experts' say to start giving solids at 6 months. We have started to introduce them, but we are just letting her go at her own pace. She is clearly not wasting away--she weighs a lot, still in the 90th percentile for weight and height--so I'm not concerned about it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

sick sick sick!

So once Molly recovered from her pneumonia, she apparently caught a stomach virus, which manifest itself in vomit and copious amounts of diarrhea. Ugh! She seems to be on the mend now, but she generously shared her germs with her sister. Penny woke for her 5AM feeding covered in goo, either spit up or vomit. I tend to think it was the latter because she hasn't spit up in any notable amount in months. And when she woke this morning, she had a fever of close to 102. I took her to the doctor (who I was supposed to take Molly to see, but we essentially switched kiddos for the appointment time), and she barfed all over me while we were waiting for the doctor. Meanwhile, Molly was screaming for the sucker the nice, well-meaning nurse gave her. I was waiting to give that to her until we got to the car because when she eats suckers, it usually involves a ton of red slobber--she doesn't quite grasp the whole "suck"er concept. Anyway, now both girls are sleeping, and I guess we will just wait to see how Penny's illness plays out.

It's not so bad, though. Molly is such a sweet big sister. Penny has not wanted to put her head anywhere other than upon her two soft food sources, but Molly has just cuddled with us, saying "I want make Pe feel better" and rubbed her back.

Friday, January 14, 2011

molly's story

This morning, I got in bed with Molly when she woke up. We have this cuddle time most mornings before Penny wakes up (and because it is still so dark outside). She has been asking me to tell her stories before we get up for the day. Today, I was pretty tired so I asked her to tell me a story. She started to rub my head and face like I usually do to her, and she started:

"Once 'pon time there was a little girl naaaaamed....Momma! She was sad (said with a frown and a shake of the head and much fanfare). Then Poppa came along and made her happy! Then he said....The End."

She told me three this morning. Here is another one:

"Once 'pon time there was a chitten (chicken). He said bok bok. Then he said...The End!!!"

Molly is getting over pneumonia this week so she's had to take extra lung medicine. Here is a sweet picture of her getting her treatment while she and Penny play with their instruments.

Also this week, my sister returned from Afghanistan, where she has been since November. It was a wonderful reunion!!!