Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Moldy Tampons (...dot tumbler dot com)

This isn't the normal subject of the blog, so I'll give everyone the tag that Dan Kober has asked for in the past.

Today on my facebook newsfeed I found a story about a woman who found a moldy tampon

I'll let you go read that. 

Okay, back?  Sufficiently horrified?  Terrified of what you might have put into your vagina over the years hidden by the little plastic casing? 

So gross - I can't even think about it. 

As many of you know, I use cloth diapers.

Seriously, how cute is he!  Cloth diapers are adorable, also a bit greener than disposables, you never run out, and smell less.  But mostly, so cute!  (Go read that blog entry I linked to above, she's very funny). 

What you may not know, is that before I had a baby to put cloth diapers on, I was using cloth menstrual pads.  I will similarly sing the praises of them.  You never run out, you don't have to buy the every month (and remember to buy them every month), they're so much greener than disposables, you don't have to worry about carrying out a used pad in a bathroom that doesn't have individual trash cans in the stalls, and they're pretty, which surprisingly matters. 

If you're an anti-pad sort of girl, there are also several cup options, such as the diva cup and the moon cup.  (There's also some sort of natural sponge thing but that kind of freaks me out too so we don't talk about that). 

I originally started using cloth pads for environmental reasons and laughed at all the stuff about getting in tune with your cycle and understanding your body.  My relationship with my period was basically one of undying hate.  I had a period to punish me for being a terrible person who deserved to spend 1/4 of her fertile life in pain.  It was something I had to put up with for 7-8 days every month.  I would be in pain, I would pop Advil like candy, I would get those portable heat patches and I would get the fuck through it and try to forget about it until the next month.  

Cloth pads (and some therapy for the terrible person who deserves nothing but pain thing) changed a lot of that.  I stopped dreading my period so much. It's still not my friend (I had a friend in high school who called it "my little friend."  I'm not even kidding.), but it's much less horrible somehow.  I think the pretty patterns help. 

Everyone always asks about washing them (because it's gross to deal with menstrual blood, right).  It's super easy.  Now I wash them with diapers, they get a cold rinse, then a hot wash with detergent, and then some hot rinses (that's mostly for the diapers) to remove any left over detergent.  I usually throw in a little bleach, or some vinegar, or some tea tree oil to kill any nasties.  If you're not also washing diapers, you can just throw them in the washer with a small cold rinse, then either wash them by themselves with a hot wash with detergent and your favorite germ killing liquid, or just add them to a socks and underwear load. 

And really, isn't it less gross than using a moldy tampon?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Falling behind...

Well, it happened again.  I got busy, and stopped updating the blog.  I'm going to try to update it with more recipes though.  I'll probably start adding some tonight that I already posted on facebook.  This whole cooking without dairy, soy, or wheat has been an adventure (and one I'm ready to end), but it's taught me a lot about food.  And we're eating really healthily now, so maybe when I can eat "normal" food again, we will continue making a lot of our own meals instead of convenience foods.

I'll start with one of our new favorite meals: Fried Rice (This, as is everything else, is dairy, soy, and gluten free)
Attempt 1: Made with olive oil, carrots, onions, peas, and sprouted lentils

Attempt 2: Made with olive oil,
a carrot/corn/green bean frozen veggie mix,
onions, and sprouted lentils
1-2 onions, depending on size (I prefer sweet onion), diced
2-3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 bag of frozen peas
1 cup of uncooked brown rice (and appropriate water - follow packaging directions)
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Powdered ginger
Butter Substitute (Earth Balance Soy Free)
A few Tbsp of Sesame oil or olive oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup of lentils or dehydrated sprouted lentils (and appropriate cooking water)
Attempt 3: Actually made with sesame oil - really good that way - and the same veggies as the first.

Start the water for the brown rice and the lentils.  Add the rice and lentils (to separate pots) once the water is boiling.  Saute the onions in olive oil or sesame oil, then then the finely chopped carrots. Season with ginger, salt and pepper, and let those cook while the brown rice is cooking. When the rice is almost done, add the frozen peas which have been "defrosting" on the counter, and the chopped garlic and let those cook. Push the veggies to the side of the skillet (or remove if it's a smaller skillet), add some more oil, and then the rice. 

Season the rice with more ginger, salt, and pepper, and a spoonful of the Earth Balance soy free butter substitute. Let the rice fry for a bit.  Then add the eggs and scramble them with the rice and veggies. Then add the lentils.  One last round of seasoning with ginger, salt, and pepper to taste and it's done!  

It's a bit time intensive, the rice and lentils alone take about an hour too cook, but, your veggies will be nicely cooked by the time you're ready to add the rice.  You can chop everything ahead of time if you want to save time. 

We do variations on this meal a lot, including different veggies that we have.  This is the bare bones because we almost always have these ingredients in our pantry/fridge/freezer, so we can make it whenever we want.  

Serves 2 hungry adults with maybe enough for one lunch as a main course.  Serves 4 as a side dish. 


Friday, November 25, 2011


This year for Thanksgiving we decided just to stay home and have our first Thanksgiving as a family.  It was really nice!  I was worried we'd be sad that there weren't other people, and it always nice to see friends and family, but it was nice not to have to rush off to someplace else or worry about transporting food or any other logistical issues. 

I cooked for several hours and made a pescatarian dairy/soy/wheat free Thanksgiving dinner!  We had salmon (from a sustainable fishery certified by the marine stewardship council), mashed sweet potatoes, quinoa with red pepper, butternut squash, and caramelized onions, and risotto with acorn squash, yellow pepper, and onions.  We also had wheat free rolls (made from a Pamela's bread mix).  Oh, and we also had deviled eggs (I just boiled 4 eggs, so we each had 4 deviled eggs), but we ate those as soon as I made them and did not make it to dinner time. 
om nom nom nom
It doesn't look like tons of food on the table, but we will be eating leftovers for several days! 

Of course, the important part was Alex's first Thanksgiving. 
We all know I'm the star of this blog!

He feasted on sweet potatoes and acorn squash.  It was the first time he had tried acorn squash, he seemed to like it, but more of it ended up on him than in his mouth.  He had fun though and I think he enjoyed sitting at the table with us!

Yes he does have squash in his eyebrow, why do you ask?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Snowy Halloween

We had an early snowstorm here in CT at the end of October. 

The snow was really wet and heavy, and the trees still had all their leaves.  And apparently, the way sap runs though trees changes in the winter, to make them better able to stand up to the snow.  Who knew?  Well all of those factors resulted in trees just going down all over the place, which meant that for the second time this fall, we had massive power outages all over the state. 

We were lucky and never lost power.  Shhh don't tell anyone.

We did lose a lot of trees though.

  The storm actually came while Emily was visiting to watch Alex so I could study for my comprehensive exams (which I took on Friday, eek!).  My plans of studying on campus were quashed, because it wasn't safe to drive to campus because of all the downed trees and wires.  So I took a break so that Alex could enjoy is his first snow!

Alex was not a huge fan, it was cold and wet.  He got to wear his adorable snowsuit though! 

Halloween was on Monday after the storm, and it got cancelled for a lot of the towns.  We still had people come trick-or-treating at our apartment though and we dressed Alex up in his monkey costume from his Grandma Tag!

And we carved Monsters Inc. pumpkins.  Dan did Sully, I did Mike, and I also carved a little Boo in her monster costume for Alex. 

We got through the storm just fine and went on with life, but a lot of people were out of power for a week or longer.  I'm sooooooo thankful that we didn't have to worry about keeping heat or finding a hotel. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snowtober... really?

It is October 29 and we are getting 8-12 inches of snow.  We knew it was supposed to snow a bit tonight, which was ridiculous already.  But then it started early, which meant that I had to leave working on campus early, and it took me an hour to drive home from campus. 

And if that weren't bad enough, to get almost a foot of snow in October - they had to come up with a stupid name for it. 

I call shenanigans.

That is all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Godfather (Part I)

This weekend, we went back to Ohio for Alex's baptism.  Although we have a church we (well mostly I) attend in CT, all of our families live in Ohio, and we just got our new rector at St. Mark's three weeks ago (as in, we didn't have anyone who could baptize Alex when we bought our plane tickets).  So Southwest was having a sale over the summer, we bought three tickets and picked a date.
So we had to get the baby, and all his stuff, on a plane.  We of course, left later than we planned.  As we were on the freeway, I realized that I had forgotten my cell phone (nooooooooo!).  I use Dan's phone to call my phone, no ringing from inside the car (sob!).  It's too late to turn around, we're already running late.  I accept my cellphoneless existance for the weekend.  Dan drops me, Alex and all of our stuff off at the door, then went to park the car.  I lug our stuff inside and collapse in a heap (baby stuff is heavy!).  And then I hear my cellphone (Joy!).  I manage to hang up on my mom attempting to find my phone in my backpack.  I call Dan and tell him where I am.  Then several minutes later, I remember - the carseat base.  I call him, no answer.  I text him, no answer.  Dan shows up a minute later, no car seat base. Damn. 

We lug our stuff over to the Southwest counter, get our bags checked and all that, and ask about the carseat base.  They do recommend using the base on the plane.  Double Damn.

We head over to security, and are directed into the family/medical line.  Dan decides to run back to the car to get the car seat base, I wait in line.  And wait and wait and wait and move approximately 4 feet.  After about 10 minutes,  I see a man with a car seat base looking at the front of the line - that would be my husband.  I shout his name to get his attention, he comes over, after asking permission from the TSA, and gets in line with me.

At this point I'm starting to feel less favorable towards the "nice" person who directed us to the family/medical line.  I don't think that was meant to be helpful to us.  I think they try to stick all the slow people into one line to let everyone else go faster. 

We're starting to get antsy - we're past the time they should have been boarding our flight, and we're still stuck in security.  We start to get worried about missing our flight.  We finally get through security, which wasn't actually that much of an ordeal for us.  They let me carry Alex through the regular metal detector, although Dan had to use the backscatter X-ray thing.  We speed walk to our gate, and get there exactly 2 minutes after our plane's scheduled departure, and they've already closed the doors.  We missed our flight.  Triple Damn!

Luckily, Southwest is awesome, and they totally got us on the next flight out.  We had time to get some food (sweet potato fries FTW), feed the baby, go to the bathroom, etc.  It's finally time for our new flight, we get to board during family boarding and we need to get the car seat set up.  Turns out there's not quite enough room for the car seat without pushing up on the seat in front of it.  Unfortunately, there was a person in that seat, a person who kept responding by pushing back.  Not helpful guy.  We finally get the seat in.  I am pointedly instructed to put on my own oxygen mask first, before the baby's.  And then we leave.  Alex, at this point, had taken 0 naps.  It was 3:00pm.  At this point during the day he should have had 2-3 naps.  0 naps.  So my flight was spent attempting to amuse a very tired and cranky baby who did not like all of the ear popping and pressure changes, thank you very much. 

We had enough time at our layover to use the bathroom and change Alex's diaper, and then back on the plane.  I made Dan sit next to Alex so he could deal with Mr. Fussy Pants this time.  Alex was totally fine on that flight and slept for most of it (of course).

We made it safely to Columbus, which is where we'll pick up next time.  Class dismissed :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, and Garlic with Caramelized Onion Soup

First, I really need to come up with a shorter name for this soup. Second, as an introductory note, I don't measure most things when cooking, so what I'm about to share is mostly estimates. Cooking, to me, is an art, while baking is a science (and thus needs accurate measurements).

Anyway, I mentioned on facebook sometime in the recent past that I had made delicious soup. Well, I'm finally getting around to blogging about said soup. More accurately, I'm going to share the "recipe." I put recipe in quotes because I made it up, and per the note above, did not measure most ingredients. So, here goes...

2-3 pounds butternut squash, "peeled" and chopped
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bulb garlic (yes, I really like garlic)
3 cups stock (I used homemade veggie stock that Corinne made, but other stocks, or even water, would probably work)
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
Olive Oil

Salt (I used fresh ground sea salt)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2) Peel off the outer papery layers from the bulb of garlic. Chop a small bit off of the pointy end, and stick, chopped side down, into some olive oil. Set aside.
3) Hack the skin off of the butternut squash, as there really isn't a good way to peel one. Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and "guts," and then chop the rest into smallish pieces. Smaller pieces will roast faster and more evenly, but you really do not need to cut it too small.
4) Peel and chop (around the same size as the squash) the sweet potato.
5) Put the sweet potato and butternut squash into glass baking dishes, trying to keep it to a thin layer (I had to use two in the end)
6) Drizzle (liberally--I tend to use lots of olive oil, but I think that's the Italian in me) the sweet potato and squash with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Toss to coat.
7) Take the garlic out of the dish, and thoroughly coat with olive oil (I just rolled it around in the dish, but I've used a pastry brush to apply olive oil in the past). Wrap the garlic in foil.
8) Put the baking dish(es) and the wrapped garlic in the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes, making sure the pieces are nice and tender. You can stir it once or twice during this time to ensure even roasting.
9) In the mean time, heat some oil in whatever pot you will eventually use for the soup. When the oil is warm, add the onions. Cook over medium to medium high heat. The goal here is to caramelize the onions. While I've never run in to any issues, apparently this is harder than it looks. So, here are some tips: use a decent amount of olive oil (butter works too), stir immediately to coat the onions, you do not want to saute the onions so gradually lower the heat as the onions cook, finally, the more the onions cook the more you will need to stir to avoid over cooking/burning/sauteing. The onions should gradually turn translucent and then, after some time, start to turn a caramel. If they don't change color, don't worry. You'll know by the smell (sweet and smokey) that they are caramelizing.
10) When the squash, sweet potatoes, and garlic are done, remove from oven. Let the garlic cool (or, work quickly with reckless disregard for your fingers...not that I would ever do that *looksinnocent*), if possible, let the garlic cool unwrapped. Once the garlic cools, remove the cloves from the peel/covering (at this point they should come out with very little effort).
11) Add the squash, sweet potato, and garlic to the onions in the pot. Season with a little more salt and pepper, as well as cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes to let the flavors blend.
12) Add the stock and simmer for 25 minutes.

13) Remove from heat. Let cool. Blend (I left it slightly chunky as I liked having a few pieces of squash and sweet potato, thoroughly roasted, left in the soup) to desired texture. If you have an immersion blender, this is pretty easy. If not, let cool longer and blend, in batches if necessary, in a blender.

14) Return to pot (if you used a blender), warm it up to taste, and serve. This soup is really good with bread.

Thoughts: I had considered adding a splash of white wine when I add everything to the pot, prestock, but didn't. I still think it would work well with the soup. A possible alteration would be to use some cream or milk, added after the soup is blended. However, because of Alex's dairy intolerance, I didn't try this. The soup was rich, with well-blended roasted flavors. Moreover, the cumin and coriander worked amazingly well with the cinnamon and nutmeg. It seems that adding these seasonings at different times allowed the flavors to seep in and ultimate layer well together.