Thursday, September 14, 2006

a quickie (menu-style!)

Dinner tonight was an exemplary effort - I made something out of, well, pantry. Here it is, before I forget what I did - but first, an appetizer:

With the babes tentatively taking steps, new accomplishments are unfurling themselves, in truth being but modification on previously acquired skills. So his stair climbing + standing + shifting weight while upright = ability to climb on a little push along car. The Eldest at first greeted this with a certain territorialism, made the sharper by a general angst about being invaded.

Ten minutes and several 'let him have a turn, kid. How would you like it if a bigger kid grabbed something from you?s' later, the babes was climbing on and off the car quite competently, having figured out how unfold his leg once his bum hit the seat. And the Eldest seized an opportunity.

Would you like a ride? The babes beamed, and the Eldest pushed him slowly, gently around the room. The babes fell off at each turn, but determinedly climbed back on the car, grinning with delight. Sensing A Proud Mama Moment, I leaned back and let it wash over me.

Five minutes later: don't grab his legs - would you like it if I grabbed your body and held you still?

Main Course:
Lemon-Garlic Bok Choy:
fistful of cloves of garlic, smashed with the side of a knife.
drizzle (2 TB?) olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
baby bok choy
lemon juice (2? Tb)

Pour oil into wok, heat. Saute garlic, then add bok choy. Let brown a bit, tossing in wok. Cover and turn off flame for 2-3 minutes. Bok choy will have gone from bright green to dark green at the leafy tips. Take off stovetop altogether, add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Toss.
Frizzled Broccoli and Tofu Pasta
2 crowns broccoli
fistful of smashed garlic cloves
1 inch ginger, sliced into matchsticks
vegetable oil
rice pasta (asian, not faux wheat pasta - also called rice threads), possibly also called bifun
1 block tofu, firm or extra firm
black pepper
soy sauce (I used tamari)
mirin (rice wine)
zest of one lemon, chopped a bit

Part One: Heat 1 Tb oil in a wok. Add garlic, ginger and saute briefly. Then add broccoli and saute perhaps 5 minutes. Broccoli should start to have dark patches showing. Add 1/4 cup mirin and cover, let steam itself to tenderness. While still bright green, remove from heat and dump in serving dish.

Part Two: in a bowl, cook the rice threads. This can often be done just by leaving them in very hot water for 15 minutes (the package I had said ten minutes - it was wrong).

Part Three: pour 1/4 c. oil into wok, heat. Cube tofu, pressing to squeeze out extra liquid. Add to wok, and fry until golden brown. Toss with rice threads and broccoli, adding salt, pepper and soy sauce to flavor. Add lemon zest and serve.

Sorry that I don't have more precise measurements! But it was all delicious, though I think the tofu-pasta could use a little something. If anybody makes it, let me know how it goes. And hurrah for the Eldest who finally, reluctantly tried a bok choy and looked astonished. Finally, he waved a fist in the air, thumb up. It's good, then, I asked. He nodded, emphatically...but declined to help himself to any more.

Step by step, we build a palate, no? Tomorrow, we test out figs. Also tonight, granola bars! More on that as we see how they store and hold up in backpacks.

Dessert: a bit of food for thought.
I read this, on Doulicia, and then fumbled an answer to this. Not depressing to my eye, but certainly a pause for respect and for thought.

I get told a lot that I'm this extraordinary person, that what I do is amazing, blahditty blah blah. Deep down, I know that what I do is based on two things: first, sheer stubbornness. This is my family and I will feed them, no matter what idiocies their immune systems throw at me. And from pride, this will be good food. Second, a very specific kind of naivete. Naturally, I shall explain..

Most new parents, high on pregnancy and the headiness of taking that plunge, don't think about the possibility that the child may have a medical oddity, that this fragile group of cells may not quite divide right, grow properly. They cling to the naivete that everybody is beautiful on their wedding day, that they will hold a tiny, perfect baby (somehow without the vaginal conehead - that never makes it into the fantasy), and they will glow with the joy of new parenthood.

They deliberately block out the reality behind the ultrasound, the bloodwork, the AFP. Me, I get that. Bodies work, don't work, almost work - I know that now, deep in my bones. But I draw the line at admitting to myself that children die.

Oh, I know that they do. A dear friend lost her first daughter to leukemia. I grew to know her while we were both in the hospital, I visited her, I was in and out with the Eldest while her daughter fought the leukemia. And I was there the day the doctors told her it was going to be terminal. I remember that small wooden box, with a pink blanket... and then I stop remembering and refuse to think about it. I tell stories about Isabella with her mother, but otherwise I stand firm. Where my family is concerned, whatever happens, we'll figure it out. It's an attitude that assumes that there will be an outcome to figure out, a consequence or fallout other than simply


This attitude has kept me calm and functional through too many real crises, and it's the same stubbornness that made me mutter, returning home from a certain tomato festival that, no, I was not giving birth that day. The fact that I didn't only serves to reinforce my certitude. Bad cosmic move, people.

Bumpy parental road, yes. A silent room where a child's voice is not - absolutely no. May I remain ignorant, surrounded by naive compatriots. And, refusing to think about my blank spot, may I continue to embrace the bumps in my parenting road because, at the end of the day, I have them.
Enjoy the meal, all. And a happy anniversary to the FIL and MIL! I hope that the offspring gift arrives in a timely fashion, to beautify your home and all it represents for two seasons, if not more...returning year after year.

1 comment:

Auntie A said...

More power to you and your extraordinary stubborness, I say...

And thanks for that description of Eldest and Babes 'sharing' the car. As one who has frequently mediated between 2 small people wanting to ride the same bike, I can relate.

Hope your eye feels better soon!