Eating chocolate babka
over the sink with my fingers,
the day violated me,
pinched my every nerve raw
with the constant need of me
to be all things
to all people.
It doesn’t matter that
it is all in my head.
I yell at my daughter to go to bed,
and stain the dish towel
when I wipe the chocolate
and cinnamon pastry from my hands.
Some of them are inspiring and really help me grow as a clinician and a human, like the training I attended on LGBTQQ issues.
Other trainings suck up eight hours of my life and make me itch from the inside out.
The training I attended on Food Addiction was one of the latter.
I suspected it was going to suck balls, but I really needed six more continuing ed units so I could renew my license and stay employed.
For the record, I went with the attitude that maybe it would be super interesting once I got there.
It was not. It sucked balls from the get go.
The first presenter was a nutritionist who spoke about gut health, and for a moment, I was excited to hear what she had to say about bacteria and micro biomes. But once she started preaching about how we were all going to hell as a species if we let our kids eat cake at a birthday, or a jelly bean at Easter, I realized she was way too orthodox for my taste. (Get it, “taste”? See what I did there? Thanks, I’ll be here all week.)
She lost me entirely when she stated that autism could be totally “cured” with “proper” gut health (don’t even get me started on that one), and that it was “crazy” for a colicky infant to be on acid blockers.
Ummm. . . I had a baby who was wicked colicky and was on medication for it. Does that make me “crazy”? Did I screw up my kid without knowing it before he was even a month old? Am I a horrible mom?
I couldn’t resist sticking up my hand to ask these questions, a bit ironically, because I already knew the answers.
No. No. And JUST NO!
I am not crazy, and I did not screw up my kid. Well, I’m sure I’ve screwed up my kids, but let’s be honest, we all do that as parents because we are human and we make mistakes. It doesn’t mean we are bad parents, or that our kids won’t get into Brown and become super productive and kind humans.
I go to these trainings, and my social worker ears hear stuff and my social worker brain thinks, “Umm hmm. . . Okay, fair enough.”
But my mom ears hear stuff and my mom brain thinks, “HOLY CRAP!!! I am doing everything wrong and now my kids are going to suffer horrible lives because they didn’t eat kiwi and avocado as their first foods!”
Then I get a grip and think about all the things I do well, and how loving and bright my kids are.
And I think it might be okay.
I’m not knocking anyone else’s nutritional choices, per se, although I may cringe when I see toddlers drinking bright blue “juice” in their sippy cups.
I am in complete agreement that we eat way too much processed food as a society, and it causes massive health problems. I buy organic when it is available and my wallet can handle it. I also limit Happy Meals and encourage fresh choices at home.
A super strict approach just isn’t for me, personally. It also doesn’t work for my family.
Some folks, including the presenter at that training, believe everyone in every family should eat the same thing as everyone else in the family at every meal. If this works for a family, that’s great. Back when I was a perfect mom– i.e., before I had kids and when I was pregnant –I was of the same mind.
Then I had said children and shit got real.
My son is an incredibly picky eater. He is well nourished, muscular, active, and growing like he is meant to. But there are like four foods he really likes to eat, and he won’t eat vegetables, so we feed him tons of fruits to give him vitamins.
We’ve tried, believe me we’ve tried. We did all the “right” things to encourage healthy eating, including offering foods multiple times, and being strict about eating what’s on the table. And we continue to offer all the choices, limit sweets, and encourage him to explore flavors and textures, but we are not strict about it anymore.
Some nights, my husband and I eat what I cook and my son eats peanut butter and jelly. Or yogurt. Or fruit, veggie burger, spaghetti o’s. . . you get the picture. (Oh wait, that’s actually more than four things. Hey! I win!)
My daughter is not as fussy, and she will usually eat what we have, but if she wants peanut butter and jelly, so be it.
Look. I spend so much time away from my children as a working mom.
So when we are together, I pick my battles.
I pick my battles very carefully.
If it isn’t a major safety issue, or some really important life lesson, I try my best to let it go. This does not come naturally for me, because I do tend to be anxious and rigid. So when I feel the hard interpersonal work I’ve struggled with is being challenged, I feel anxious and oppositional, as I did at that conference.
In the long run, I’ve decided I don’t want to fight at the dinner table, when we are able to be there together, and I’ve made peace with this decision.
So, if we are eating four different meals, I don’t give a tiny rat’s pooper, so long as we are together and doing our best to enjoy each other’s company.
I refrained from sticking up my hand and getting defensive about this at the conference. As I sat there, in agitated silence both as an incensed mom and a bored social worker, I comforted myself by being pretty sure my kids would not develop eating disorders or food addictions as a result of my slip shod dietary practices. I used to be really fussy too, and I’ve grown to have an incredibly diversified palate, so I have faith we are all gonna’ make it.
It gave me an opportunity to examine how sensitive I/we can be as moms when we hear something that a.) we do not like, or b.) makes us feel like we are parenting wrong because our kids are munching on cake at birthday parties, and frequently enough in between.
It also reminded me that food and the family is as loaded an issue as the most amazing baked potato can be.
As parents, we work so hard to nourish our babies bodies, minds, and spirits. It is frightening to feel your child is hungry, or not getting what they need. Ever have trouble breastfeeding, or talk to a mom who has? I rest my case.
I jotted down some of these pointers on the evaluation forms they gave us at the end of the conference. Then, I pretty much got on with my life and ordered a couple pizzas to bring home to the fam.
Does your family have food issues? Have your feeding choices ever been challenged as a parent? How did you handle it?
Dear Chef Ramsay.
I’ve always been a fan of your cooking shows. I find it uber sexy when you yell and scream at your minions who do stuff wrong, or not up to your standards. I kind of fantasize about having you as my side kick, who can yell at people who piss me off throughout the day so I can get my point across but still be seen as the nice lady.
I would also love to be in the kitchen with you. . . But I hate to cook. I fucking hate to cook. I’m a working mom and I barely have time to breathe, or the energy with which to wipe myself after I use the toilet. I sort of imagined my kids would breastfeed until they could make their own grub, but that’s not quite how it went down.
So meals around our house are usually catch-as-catch-can, if you know what I mean.
I realize you are a gourmet, Michelin Star winning chef, and in all likelihood you do NOT know what I mean.
Let me explain.
Every now an then (read: nightly), I get home late, and have about 30 minutes to spend with my kids before they have to go to bed. I emerge from bedtime, tired, frazzled, and hungry as hell. But I don’t really want to cook myself that divine scallop and risotto thing, or get into a beef wellington, because remember? I’m tired and I hate cooking. Fucking hate it.
Dinner after bedtime usually looks a lot like this:
So sometimes when I am in my kitchen making a “mommy dinner” between eight and nine p.m. , I like to think of a witty way in which I would present it to you. For example:
My dear Chef, may I present to you this dish I have concocted. I call it English Muffins three ways. First, we have the muffin buttered with plain, organic, and free-range butter. Then there is a muffin smeared with cream cheese. And finally, a delightful muffin spackled with peanut butter. I’m serving this tonight with a $14 Shiraz (from the big bottle).
I try hard, sometimes, to cook special and nutritious stuff for my family. But on the nights I get home late and don’t want to turn on anything more complicated than the toaster, this might be all you get:
Or this: Ok, we all want to have meals like this: But sometimes we have to accept that English muffins and a little vino is all we are going to get. And let’s face it, at that time of the day, after the day we have had, that’s what tastes best anyway because it is all we have the energy for.
Don’t worry about my nutrition. I swear I eat a huge salad and about four servings of fruit throughout the day while I am at work. And besides, wine counts as a fruit, right?
Thanks so much for stopping by Chez Momaste. We hope you enjoyed your muffin platter.
And even if you didn’t, don’t worry. We sort of get off on hearing you yell about your dissatisfaction.
Hey Moms! What do you love to eat for dinner? Do you have a special “mommy dinner?” Do share your favorite recipes below in the comments!
I just pulled a pan of blondies out of the oven. Before you get all excited and impressed, I confess, they are from a box mix, but the good kind from Trader Joe’s. So yeah, they aren’t totally from scratch, but they will still be a very delicious treat for Jack when he gets home from school.
Since Jack was an infant, I’ve stayed home on Mondays. Sometimes they are really challenging and exhausting days of drudgery that live up to the “Monday” reputation. Other times, they are filled with sweetness, domesticity, and go by way too fast.
Today is one of the latter.
It started in the usual way, with Emily waking up waaaaayyyy too early (4:45 a.m. thank you very much daylight savings you jerk!), climbing over the edge of her crib into bed with me and nursing. Jack even came in and cuddled for a few moments, something my six year old rarely does anymore. Our morning was peaceful and efficient getting Jack ready for school, and Emily dressed in warm clothes to go for a walk. We watched Jack get onto the bus, and then walked around the neighborhood for a bit, before being driven back into the house by the biting breeze off the bay.
For a while we played with Play doh, which is Emily’s new favorite thing, ad she practiced saying “purple.” I turned on reggae music and we bopped around to Bob’s sweet jam.
We took a jaunt up to my BFF’s house to exchange hand me downs- my boy stuff for her girl stuff. After a brief visit, Emily and I headed back home for lunch, another nursing session, and her nap. I made the aforementioned blondies and also got my dinner prep going for vegetarian tacos tonight.
Jack has just started karate, and tonight he has a private lesson that I can not wait to take him to.
This may all sound like boring, everyday chores to you, but being peacefully domestic is really a gift to me.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have caught on to the fact that I have a really hard time juggling work, family, home, self. I live in an overwhelming sense of dread when it comes to cooking and cleaning the house, because the dirt and laundry and meals never end. The demand I perceive on my time, energy, and unconditional love does not ever seem to meet what I perceive as a scarce supply.
But then there are these days that are just a kind of sweet spot. They ooze caramel and chocolate over all the bumpy lumps of life, and for a little bit, I get to be the person I always dreamed to be- sweet, patient, indulgent. I get to be the mom who greets her kid off the bus with home made cookies and cocoa (well, sort of home made).
I always dreamed of being a stay at home mom who drove the kids to soccer and karate and dance and embraced baking for school functions and trying new nightly menus. But that life was not my destiny. Sometimes I fight this life in which I’ve landed, and other times I accept it as my own creation.
Mondays are my little slice of home-mom-life before I get launched into the rest of the week of long days of work-mom-life.
You may find it a little sad or even pathetic that a box of Trader Joe’s blondie mix represents peace and tranquillity in my domestic spirit. But I can’t wait to slice one up for Jack with a nice cup of cocoa, because he won’t care they came from a box. He will only know mama made them with love.
And then we will go to karate.
This post is dedicated to my BFF Nikel, who is a way better cook and home maker than I could ever dream of being.
In general, Momasteblog is not the place you will find awesome recipes, house cleaning tips, or sweet DIY projects. I’m not very crafty or clever, and I HATE to cook. But I am a mom, so feeding my family healthy and balanced food is a necessity.
Since I am a working mom, there is very little time to cook. I usually make a big batch of something (pasta, lentil soup, etc.) on Mondays to last a couple nights. My husband is home on Wednesday, so he will cook on that night. Thursday is leftovers, cereal, or cheese and crackers. Friday is pizza (aka family fun night). And the weekends are a free for all.
I sort of fantasized my kids would breast feed until they were old enough to make their own grub. This was not the case. I despise cooking to the point where I resent having to boil water to make a box of mac n cheese. It doesn’t help I have a kitchen the size of an airplane bathroom, and everyone I live with is extremely picky: I don’t eat meat (usually), my husband is allergic to tomatoes, and my son will only eat PB&J. My daughter has the most versatile palate in the family, to which I attribute starting her on whole table foods at six months old, instead of doing the typical baby cereal and purees. (Baby led weaning– check it out!)
Anyhoo, my buddy, Nikel, occasionally shares simple recipes with me. Once a year, I cook up a big crock pot of what I’ve affectionately nick named “Cardiac Attack Mac N Cheese.” You’ll understand why I call it this, and why I only make it once a year, once you read the ingredients. (You also might send me hate mail/comments mocking me for feeding my family the very opposite of a “healthy diet.” But whatevs.)
It is a simple recipe for a massive amount of delicious, creamy comfort food in your slow cooker. I’ve tweaked the recipe to make it slightly healthier by using high protein/fiber pasta, low fat sour cream, and low fat milk.
So, here it is folks: the ONE RECIPE I will ever share with you.
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter cut into pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
3 eggs beaten
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 tsp pepper
Boil the macaroni according to the directions on the package. Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. In a slow cooker combine cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard, and pepper and stir well. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for three hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with a big, green salad.
Yield: 12 servings. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 3 hours. Exercise time necessary to stave off cardiac incident: 90 minutes (or more if you have second serving…)
Ps, if you cook it longer, you get yummy crusty cheesy goodness on the sides of the slow cooker which gives the mac and cheese a delightful texture, in my opinion. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: Momasteblog is not responsible for any obesity or other health issues incurred by the making and eating of this meal.
How do you feel about cooking for your family? Do you have any super fast and easy recipes you depend on?
It has been two weeks since we ate all the berries from that sunny morning’s picking, but I can still feel the sticky juice dripping down Emily’s face as she stuffed berry after berry into her mouth.
Almost a month later I hear Jack’s joyful shouts as he finds the “perfect” strawberry for our collection.
I froze a bunch of them.
The rest we ate atop shortcake biscuits, covered in fresh whipped cream, or plain out of bowls at lunchtime.
All these weeks later I still muse over how marvelously different their shape, texture, and taste was from the store-bought berries we had eaten all winter and spring.
Three years ago, I took little Jack berry picking, just the two of us. We filled a modest box of strawberries, and I remember enjoying them, but I do not remember them to be anything like the berries we picked this year.
This year, there was something extra-special about that excursion, about the momentary alignment of four beings’ happiness.
Inhaling those fields, intoxicated by the glowing strawberry scent, it seemed unreal. I briefly imagined I was someplace like Disney, where they pump artificial aromas out of grates to please visitors and tempt them to buy cotton candy or popcorn. Then I remembered I was someplace real and natural.
The essence of all those berries ripening in the early summer sun became all the more enchanting.
When I was very small, my grandfather used to pick a hearty wagon-full of strawberries. He made his own jam from his pickings, but not before he allowed me to sit at his kitchen table and eat my fill. This all-I-could-eat strawberry buffet is probably how they became one of my favorite foods.
But over the years, eating the watery, hard, and tart berries grown so far away from me, I’ve forgotten how strawberries are supposed to taste.
Watching Emily and Jack gorge themselves in the field, I realized they never truly tasted a strawberry before.
This collection of thoughts jar me. How far we have come from being connected and mindful about the food that we eat, where it comes from, and how it is grown.
Later, I stood at the sink, washing off the still warm fruit with cool water.
I held a few strawberries in my hand and mused on their perfect shape, texture, taste.
Part of me wanted to save them forever, stems still attached.
Part of me wished we had picked more, wished that I knew how to make jam, or that I had the motivation to bake pies, slumps, crumbles, buckles, or muffins.
But you can’t stuff bliss in a bottle or muffin tin.
So smiling, I sliced them up, and they were consumed and enjoyed.