Thursday, November 11, 2004

All About the Roots

I don't know if it is a vitamin deficiency or because we had our first freeze this week, but I've been having lots of thoughts of root vegetables this past week.

On Saturday evening, while flipping channels, I ran across a cooking show featuring Lidia Bastianich. She was plating up some barbecued ribs or something, but what caught my attention were the roasted root vegetables. She'd already completed that segment and I only got a sidelong look at them, but I was intrigued.

Googling around, I couldn't find the recipes for the episode of Lidia's Italy in question, but I did find a roasted root vegetable of hers, which helped set the to-get list for the farmer's market: leeks, carrots, and potatoes (the Yukon gold looked good). For the parsnips, I had to stop at the co-op on the way home, where I also picked up some Tofurkey beer brats. The rest of the ingredients were in the cellar or fridge.
Roasted Root Vegetables
  • 3 medium leeks
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 2 large outer celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 6 small red or white new potatoes, cut in half
  • 3 small yellow onions, peeled and cut in half through the core
  • 20 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • salt and pepper
(I cut the onions into wedges, had extra rosemary and garlic, and bigger potatoes cut into cubes). The recipe can't be simpler: toss everything in a big bowl, pour into a greased 13 × 9 and then put in a 400°F oven for about an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure things brown evenly.
It turned out very tasty; next time, I might try adding a little vegetable bouillon or even more rosemary or a little balsamic or something just to give it a little more zing.

Last night, was root vegetables redux. Thinking about the Tofurkey brats, I had some dim idea that brats might traditionally be cooked with onion, cabbage, and apples, but I wasn't sure of the specifics. It seems to be an approved combination, but it took some googling to find a recipe that suited me.
Sheboygan Skillet*
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (original recipe has 2 pounds drained and rinsed sauerkraut)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups water ( or beer)
  • ½ cup apple cider or apple juice (NOT apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon bouillon granules
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 pound fresh bratwurst
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced
In a large skillet, melt the butter and sauté the onions and garlic until tender. Stir in all other ingredients except brats and apples. Bring to a boil, uncovered.

Meanwhile, brown the brats. When the other mixture is boiling, add the brats, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the potatoes are tender, stir in the apples and cook, covered, a further 5 to 10 minutes, until the apples are tender.
This worked out less well than hoped, largely because — for some reason unfathomable to me but that (thankfully) makes Evelin laugh — I read "apple cider" as "apple cider vinegar." It makes no sense (and actually may add something back to the recipe since I was using fresh green cabbage instead of sauerkraut, but a half cup was way too much). The end result wasn't inedible, but it definitely was too vinegary. Since I figured out where I went wrong, Evelin may let me try this recipe again, but for a while there it looked like it was going to get written off as a bad experiment.

*The original recipe was entitled "Oktoberfest Bratwurst and Sauerkraut Skillet;" apologies to Wisconsin, but "Sheboygan Skillet" is more fun to say. Googling around, it looks like if I want to talk about Sheboygan and bratwurst, I need to try this preparation method.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Daddy-Daughter Day (Disaster)

Well, disaster might be a bit too strong of a word for it, but I can definitely say things didn't go as I'd hoped.

Sunday was Evelin's book club day (Willa Cather's My Ántonia), so Celeste and I planned a nice afternoon of hanging out and stuff. I figured we'd spend some time on the playmat kicking the monkey and poking Taggie, maybe take a walk. Who knows.

Celeste had other ideas.

Since Evelin was going to be gone for about four hours, we had some expressed breast milk in the fridge, but Celeste's eating was timing out for Evelin to feed her just before she left around noon. Often, after lunch, Celeste likes to play for an hour or so, but not yesterday. After a burping, she snuggled down on my chest for nearly a 90 minute nap.

I could deal with that; read a little, relax a little, go with the flow. However, when she woke up, it was a different story. Around 2:20 p.m. or so, Celeste needed a change, something that never makes her happy. That I could deal with, but after a new diaper she usually calms down. This time, she didn't. It'd been about two-and-a-half hours since she'd last eaten, so I figured she was hungry, but that bottle did not suit her or something.

For the next 40 minutes or so, she was alternating between screaming and taking maybe two or three tugs on the bottle and me trying to bounce/rock/sway/swing/dance/sing/plead with her. Apparently she did take in a bit from the bottle because after about 10 minutes of calm swinging on the front porch, she puked it all up.

After a change of clothes (for both of us), Celeste settled in on my chest for a chapter or two of Don Quixote and fell soundly back to sleep.

Around 3:30 p.m., Evelin called to say she was on her way home. I warned her that Celeste was going to be really hungry when she got home, so please hurry. I tried to keep the panic from my voice. I'm not sure I succeeded.

Around 4:00 p.m. Celeste started to wake again. I changed her diaper, but Evelin was still on the road, so I made up a fresh bottle. Maybe it made a difference that the milk was warmer this time*, or she was just too hungry to be picky this time, but Evelin got home just as the last of that bottle was going down. And this time it stayed down.

Hopefully, the next time, it will go a little more smoothly ...

* Back when we were giving her formula, we never heated up the water and Celeste was fine with it, so I didn't think to try to warm up the first bottle. The second one was made with milk that still had some ice crystals in it, so I ran the bag under hot water for a while before loading the bottle. It wasn't body temperature, but it was definitely not refrigerator temperature. Maybe, for Celeste, breastmilk has to be warm and formula has to be cold.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Celeste is 9

Back to the good stuff: Celeste is 9 pounds today! Her head is 15 inches and her length is 21.5 inches! Obviously this breast milk stuff does a body good!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Post-Election Blues

So anyway. I stayed up until about 2:15 a.m. watching the results. Unlike the World Series, I didn't wake Celeste up to see history happen; I just hope she's not still paying for Bush's fiscal mistakes when she's my age.

I did go to work (despite waking up at 5:00 a.m. to help take care of Celeste), but the lack of sleep and general malaise caused me to head home by 1:00 p.m. where I did what I'm sure a lot of people did. I headed straight up to the roof ...

... to clean the gutters. And then I did a bit of raking. Yardwork helps take the mind off things.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

It took me about 15 minutes to vote once the polls opened; I queued up about a half-hour before the polls opened, however. Showing up at 6:30 a.m., I was about the 20th person in line, but people were falling in line behind be rather quickly. By the time the doors to the middle school's gym opened, the line was looped through the hallway, out the door, across the parking lot, and down the hill to the sidewalk. I'd guess there were nearly 100 people there and it was definitely the longest line I've seen at the polls ever.

Evelin and Celeste went to vote when they thought the pre-work rush would be over. No luck. She called me from the line, which was still out almost to the sidewalk around 9:30 a.m.; she called again when they got home -- it was about two hours later.

All day long, I saw people everywhere with I Voted!/¡Yo Voté! stickers.

On my way home, I flipped by the school to see how the lines were. People were still headed inside (and there were more and more cars headed into the parking lot), but no line stretching outside, at least not at 6:45 p.m. or so.

[Full Disclosure: This entry was composed after the election. I'm sure it would have been a lot more excitement and optimism had I written it up Tuesday afternoon.]

Monday, November 01, 2004

N No More

Well, Celeste is definitely getting bigger. We have used the last of the N-sized diapers and won't be buying any more. She's wearing size 1s now and there's no going back!

Actually, it's pretty obvious she's getting bigger. We can look back at some of the clothes we had her in her first two weeks and she now fits into them. The preemie clothes a friend loaned us when Celeste was born have been sent back; I don't think they fit after the fourth week or so.

And ...she's holding up her head (some). If she's tired, her head flops a lot, but if she's rested he can be propped up without us having to hold her head up. Plus she's really good with tummy time.

And while I'm bragging, she is smiling occasionally (and we're pretty sure it's real smiles, not gas), but she seems to smile more at her mobile or bunny than at her mother or me. Oh well...