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Archive for October, 2012

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Back in April, or maybe May, we had our HVAC system checked for the coming summer. I answered the door with my newborn in my arms, and the guy mentioned that his wife was pregnant. Yesterday, the same guy turned up, only he’s not quite the same guy now because he has a two-week-old baby girl at home.

I asked if he wanted to see how ours had grown, and he said, “I’ve seen enough babies for now.” I laughed and said I had to fetch the kid anyway — can’t really leave him to his own devices for too long, ha ha.

The guy finished his testing, and as I was signing the paperwork he said, “I hope I didn’t offend you by saying I didn’t want to see your baby.” I assured him that if anyone understood that feeling, it was me. “You’re going through a crazy time. I’ve just been there. It’s overwhelming in lots of ways. Don’t worry about it.” I meant every word.

We chatted a bit about sleep deprivation, how his wife is holding up, what his baby girl is like, and the evils of video monitors (Him: “I’m not even going to mention to my wife that those exist.” Me: “Good call.”).

The last thing I said to him as he moaned (deservedly) one more time about sleep deprivation was something quite a few people said to me. It was one of the only things that really made sense to me in my addled state and helped me keep going.

“It gets better.”

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Sometimes when I’m driving with the baby in the back and he’s getting fussy, I’ll contort my right arm to reach back there (don’t judge — at stoplights!). I’ll waggle my fingers at the spot where I imagine the baby’s face to be, and he’ll grab my fingers. Then he shoves as much of my hand as he can into his mouth.

Just today, I recalled that my mom would reach her hand back from the front seat for one of us to hold, especially during long car trips. It might be the embellishment of time, but I remember my older brother and I fighting over who got to hold her hand. I remember feeling happy and safe whenever my hand was in hers.

And so the tradition continues.

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Black Bean Brownies

In my ongoing quest to chip away at my lingering baby weight without feeling deprived, I recalled that I had a recipe for black bean brownies. The beans replace the flour, which ups the protein and fiber content and makes you feel virtuous about eating beans. Miraculously, I located the recipe, but was shocked at the amount of sugar it called for: three cups. Jeepers, I thought, that just doesn’t seem right.

After a brief internet search I found this recipe, which was very similar but only called for 3/4 cup of sugar. And so I happily set up my mise en place whilst the baby slept.

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Because I am an inveterate and incurable recipe messer, I upped the cocoa and vanilla content, and added the baking powder a few people talked about in the comments.

Here’s what I ended up with:

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I do not agree with the commenters who claim these are indistinguishable from regular brownies. They are not chewy so much as very, very dense, presumably because the eggs have no wheat protein to play with. Fans of Asian sweets will recognize the particular texture of red bean paste, which almost has a snap to it when you bite through.

However. These are a reasonable enough facsimile for my purposes, and perhaps for yours, if you are looking to feel more virtuous about your brownie consumption or are on the hunt for a decent gluten-free brownie recipe. (At least, I think they’re gluten-free. I’m not an expert, so celiacs please proceed with caution.)

Here’s my recipe for those who would like to try it:

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan. Blend first two ingredients in food processor or blender until very smooth (1-2 minutes). Add all other ingredients and process until combined. Stir in nuts and/or chips (optional) and bake for 30-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting, freeze cut brownies if desired — they hold up well.

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. cocoa
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. instant coffee (optional)
1/2 c. chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

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I have nothing to kvetch about today. I pondered for a bit but all I came up with was formula lumps. And there’s not much to say about that. They’re gross. Ew.

Um… Here, look at this nice photo of autumn leaves:

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Artwork

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This lithograph was a baby gift from a good friend and her husband. It’s by W. Myers and is called “Your Move.” The nursery was previously known as the Indian Room because of, duh, all the Indian artwork on the walls. We are not the redecorating types, so this print was the only addition, and it fits in nicely.

I feed the baby in that glider, and when he seems to be done I turn him around to face me, partly to cuddle him and partly to see if he needs a burp. About a week ago, he looked up above my head, got a huge grin on his face, and then started giggling. He now does this after every feeding.

Easily the best five parts of my day.

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Last week, I realized our baseball team was in the playoffs, or nearly there. I’m not sure which because I don’t pay much attention to baseball, or any sports except sumo wrestling, which I’m sad to say is not covered on the nightly news like it is in Tokyo.

But anyway, I figured out that our team needed to win that night’s game to advance, and it had been a while since I’d sent a photo of the baby to my former coworkers. They are, generally speaking, baseball enthusiasts. I also knew there was at least one Cardinals shirt among the kid’s scads of Onesies, because this is a Baseball Town and he had received several, along with a teeny-tiny ball cap.

Late that afternoon, I plopped the baby on the bed, snapped a few shots, and sent the cutest one to my former colleagues. Our team won, and I was urged to dress the baby in the shirt again for the next game.

Next day, while doing my normal chores and simultaneously preparing for a weekend houseguest, i.e., frantically vacuuming during naps, I made a horrifying discovery when I went to shift the laundry. That little shirt, that cute, tiny red thing I know I had washed at least once before, had turned a bunch of stuff pink.

Yes, I know I should segregate my laundry. It’s just that most days, it doesn’t seem worth the effort.

Anyway, I tossed the load in the dryer and ceased to think of it.

Yes, I know I shouldn’t have done that if I was at all serious about ever trying to get that color out. Sleep deprived, people. Sleep. Deprived.

Next on the docket was a load of whites, and I figured, hey, maybe it’s worth throwing those pink bibs in there. Surely they’ll get lightened up a bit. Maybe they’ll even come out white.

Friends, that is not what happened. What happened was, the evil dye from that evil little shirt transferred from the three pink items onto the rest of the whites. Except for my husband’s button-down shirts — let’s hear it for cotton-poly blends!

But that little shirt had gone too far. I went on the warpath, by which I mean I Googled “dye remover” and went to the store I thought might have it. Success. I bought three boxes along with a bottle of wine (for the house guest!), came home and opened up the box to read the instructions. And that’s when I learned that you can’t use the stuff in a front-loading machine. Of course.

Ten minutes later, I had a big pot of water and dye remover simmering on the stove and was wearing rubber gloves. I dipped item after item into it, stirring constantly with my long wooden spoon per the instructions and feeling like a witch over her brew thanks to the semi-noxious smell (they’re not kidding about adequate ventilation).

It worked. It worked so fast and so well it took some of the original dye off a few things. Folks, I’m here to tell you Rit Dye Remover is your friend, and it’s on sale at the Esquire Schnucks.

And now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go make sure that cute, evil little shirt is in with the dark load so the baby can wear it for the next game.

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My husband has a sweet and creatively gifted coworker who knitted this sweater for our baby. People who can knit impress the hell out of me because I’ve tried, and failed, and I know it takes talent, precision and patience to do it well.

Even though this is newborn-sized, the A-line design means it still fits. I love it so much I will put it on him until it won’t button up any more.

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