Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mint - it's not just for mojitos!

I love fresh mint. I think it is an unexpected flavor in a lot of dishes.
Not to mention how good it is in a mojito.

But in a pesto?
Sure! Why the heck not?

Paired with another favorite herb, mint-cilantro pesto is a nice addition to my sauce repertoire. It's easy, bright, versatile.
Try it on pasta, meat, veggies. Hmmm... maybe even swirled into a summer veggie soup.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Work, sleep, eat, work, sleep, eat

This is just the start of the dish. Looks good, huh?
Click through on the recipe to see the final product.

It has been an intense couple of weeks. Ben was supposed to have his surgery at the end of June, but then he got the croup and a sinus infection, so that was put off until early next week.
So there has been little energy for blogging.
The Man was also sick with a sinus/cold thing. It was not a fun couple of weeks.
Things seem to be improving though. Thank goodness.
Of course we had to eat through all of this, so at least I can glean a food post from the past couple of weeks!
The dish is called steak bun. But it does not involve any buns. In this case the bun in question refers to rice noodles.
I love the subscription my sister got me for Eating Well magazine. They also have a good website.
The dish for this post is from that. Of course I had to add my own touches.
It was a cool, fairly light dish. The steak made it very satisfying as a dinner and the base of the noodle salad was perfect at the end of a hot day.

OK. There is it. As for Ben and life and all the rest of it, I will work on being better about posting updates.
In the meantime, enjoy the food!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Stick-to-your-ribs ribs

I made some ribs.
They are really, REALLY tasty.
You should try them.

I bet this is my shortest blog post ever.

OK. Go eat.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Round Robin: Garden Portraits

It's been a while since I participated in the Round Robin Photo Challenge.
For you Robins who have not been here since my last challenge from April of 2009, I was a little busy being pregnant and having the most wonderful baby ever.

Now that the dust has settled and we are all finding our footing together (and now that he sleeps eight to 10 hours a night), I want to get back into doing some of my favorite things, including participating in the photo challenges.

It is nice to be back here.

That said, when it came time to pick a garden for the Garden Portraits challenge, I did not look far. I went to my own garden. Or lack thereof.

We are in the process of redoing the yards, front and back, so there isn't much there. But one thing that is left, and that I love, is the bear's breeches.

Maybe I just like it because of the name. Anyway, the plant is pretty cool these days. It used to just be a messy tangle of big leaves. Then suddenly, after years of not blooming, it flowered.
And they are pretty cool blooms.

Once I got my regular shots, I decided to play with the iPhone app, Hipstamatic.
All shots are taken with the John S. lens and the Dreampop flash. I used three different "films."

The next two are with the Ina's 1969 "film." This has been my favorite of the film options so far. But there are some others I have not tried yet since I have not bought all the paks.

These next two are take with the Alfred's Infrared "film." Pretty cool, old-school film look.

These last two were taken using the Blackey's "film." It is very contrasty, which I like. Though I don't think it really works with this subject.

Anyway, as I said, it is nice to be back in the land of the Robins. If you want to see who else played along on this challenge, go to the Round Robin site and check them out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

So it's not exactly soup season, but...

Soup is one of my favorite meals.
My mom always made great soups when I was a kid, and I love making soup now.
There are so many easy and flavorful combinations.
A favorite of mine involves tomato, red peppers and bacon. It's hard to go wrong with bacon, right?
The bacon-y tomato and red pepper soup also has a touch of richness from goat cheese and gets a little thickening from beans.
All in all, a very good soup no matter what the season.
With a salad or a sandwich on the side, this makes for a very satisfying dinner.
By the way... I do plan on blogging about something other than food.
Hopefully soon.
It's just been busy with work and baby and, well, all this cooking!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A night out - and paying for it later

I went out after work Saturday.
A friend was having a few other women to her house for wine and conversation. And food. Of course, food.
I had seen a recipe on the Whole Foods blog that looked like a good dish for just such an occasion.
It was girly enough, but still had some substance and nice strong flavors.

Of course, me being me, I could not leave well enough alone.

But my version of the fig and goat cheese tart with arugula salad came out so good, I don't think anyone minded my changes.

The only draw back to the evening was that I stayed out way later than my new normal bedtime of 9:30 p.m. and had a couple busy days after that. I don't think I really caught up on that lost sleep all weekend, making me one tired mama today.

Babies do not care that you stumbled into bed at almost midnight. When they want to be fed at 5:30, they really do not care.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My crock pot is my new best friend

And so are all those ingredients at the market that are already in some state of being prepared for me.
Sure, some of these pre-prepped ingredients might cost a little more. But sometimes the cost is minimal compared to the time saved.

Crock-pot braised short ribs with mushrooms and carrots get an easy assist from pre-sliced mushrooms and canned tomatoes.

After a little experimenting, I got this simple dish down perfectly. There is minimal prep for the main course. Chop an onion and smash some garlic. The rest is just a matter of dropping stuff into a crock pot and turning it on.

I get everything assembled and in the fridge the night before, then before I head out for work I start the slow cooker.

My day is much better when I know that such a fabulous dinner will be waiting for me when I get home.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

It ain't easy being cheesy

Of all the things I have ever cooked, I have never made macaroni and cheese from scratch.
I am not sure how this happened.
I think somewhere in my brain I thought it was difficult.
Oh, how wrong I have been.
I was going to make mushroom-sage bread pudding for a work potluck, but that would have meant going to the store on the way home from work on a recent rainy and blustery day.
I took a mental inventory of the items in my pantry and fridge and realized that I had a lot of cheese and a bag of pasta.
Yeah, I can make something with that.
A quick online check of mac n cheese recipes and I tossed all the stuff together to come up with a potluck hit: jalapeno mac and cheese and cheese and cheese.
The recipe, as written, has three kinds of cheese. The one I made for the potluck had more like six kinds of cheese because I had a four-cheese blend instead of the cheddar in the recipe.
Either way, this will be YUM!
I will be making this more often, though not all the time since there really is a lot of cheese and butter in this.
But definitely it will be my first choice for the next potluck.
Anyone planning a potluck anytime soon?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Baby pictures

We have been wanting to get some really nice pictures taken of Ben, and I just happen to know a great photographer for such things.
Finally his schedule and our schedule meshed and we had Kevin Sullivan from Captured Youth come to the house for a little photo shoot a couple weekends ago.
I work with Kevin, so I already knew what a talented photographer he is. But after looking at his portfolio of baby and kid shots, I knew he would deliver some beautiful photos of Ben.
And he more than delivered.
I was so blown away when I saw these yesterday. And after the death Monday of my sweet Lucy cat, I needed something to lift my spirits.
This worked. The photos made me so happy that I almost cried again!
This is what happens when the emotions are already right at the surface, I guess.
Anyway, as a taster of what we can expect to see when we get the 97 proofs (how to choose?), we got a lovely slide show with music to share with friends and family.
We had such a great experience with Kevin, and the photos are stunning.
I am already thinking that we might need to have him come back for another session when Ben turns 1.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I lost a friend yesterday

Lucy, my friend and family member for 19 years, has gone on to her kitty reward.
Instead of rehashing it here, it is really just too sad for me right now, I will link to the post I did for work.
And I will say that she was really just a freaking awesome cat.
I love the others as well, but Lucy was really special.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Last night's supper

As a kid I was not thrilled with the idea of eating lamb.
As an adult, I have a new appreciation for it.
Especially for the little tiny chops that some call lamb "lollipops."
They cook fast and are very tender.

I did them last night in a blend of smoked paprika and garlic that came out really good.

I will call my experiment "grilled lamb chops with smoked paprika and garlic". Very inventive, I know.

You know the deal... click on the name of the dish to get to the recipe.

And, as always, enjoy.

Easter Sunday fun day

We had a low-key Easter, including attending an egg hunt at the park in our neighborhood.
There were plastics eggs as far as the eye could see... well, as far as little kid eyes could see anyway.

My nephew collected some Easter goodies (Ben is guarding them) and we got out of the house on a nice, though slightly chilly morning.

Ben is making great progress in the growing up department. He is holding the head up with minimal wobbling and he is close to sitting up without help.

It's hard to believe he will be 4 months old in just a couple weeks.

We are having fun watching his little changes that seem to happen on a daily basis.

I hope everyone had a nice an Easter as we did.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back to blogging about food

I have been cooking up a storm since having Ben. But there has been very little time for blogging.
Tonight we fix that.
Instead of waiting to post this (and then it never happens), I am posting right after dinner.

I give you... salmon with arugula and warm lentil salad.

This was awesome!

Manfriend even said he could make a meal out of just the lentils.

So this will be a good one to add to the regular rotation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When good boobs go bad

Yup, my boobs. They went bad.
Well, not really bad, just lazy.

I had so much trouble breastfeeding that I just had to write about it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Ben update

I left off before Ben had the VCUG, which is basically an X-ray of his bladder, etc.
They filled his bladder with dye then took pictures to see if the dye was backing up into the kidneys, which would be a reflux condition.
Turns out it was not doing that.
The urologist we had been seeing now thinks it is a UPJ obstruction.
But since he doesn't know and, by his own admission, he does not treat many patients as young as Ben, we are moving on.
We have an appointment next week at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.
I am hoping for a more understanding doctor there.
I also am hoping that they can be more specific in what the problem is and how we treat it.
Since they deal only with kids and parents, maybe they have better bedside manner than the urologist we have been seeing.
Anyway, I have the tests and reports that we have so far (two ultrasounds, the VCUG and the renal scan) for Ben.
Other than the apparent kidney problem, Ben is doing great.
He is smiling and chatting all the time. He sleeps 8, 9 or 10 hours a night and wakes up smiley and happy.
Going back to work was very hard on me, but three weeks back into it and things are improving.
It just makes me appreciate the time with Ben even more.

Professional blogger

Well, not really.
I am not part of the Mom Blog at my work.
Technically this is not my job. I am not getting paid extra for it.
But it will be fun to contribute on occasion.
My first post: Talking about being an old mom.

Next up I will be writing about my boobs. Fun.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

And the news is not great

So it turns out that Ben most likely needs surgery.
The pediatric urologist here in Torrance wants to refer him to a more special specialist at UCLA.

But first we need a test called a VCUG, to be done here in Torrance next week.

I did some research on the guy at UCLA. He apparently has done a lot to advance minimally invasive surgery in infants and children. So at least that is good.

But the results of the renal scan from last week show that there definitely is fluid backing up into the kidneys. If left untreated, it could cause permanent damage to the kidneys.

At least the VCUG will be quick and will not require Ben to be sedated.

I just wish there was a way to speed up this timeline. We were told Monday that he needed the VCUG, but the first opening is March 4.

We have to wait for the insurance company to OK the referral to the doctor at UCLA. That can take a week, so we probably will not get confirmation on that until next week. Then we will have to see how long it will take to get an appointment with him. Then there will be whatever tests he wants to do on Ben.

And damn me for switching from the PPO to the HMO to save a few bucks on insurance.

Having to wait for referrals is just one more thing slowing down the process of getting Ben treated.

And I go back to work in two weeks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You really wish there was no need for oxygen masks that small

I did great when they did all the vital sign checks.
I didn't even flinch when it took two nurses several minutes to put in an IV.
I was stoic as they wheeled us from the prep area down to nuclear medicine.
I made sure to ask my questions rationally when the anesthesiologist came in to the room.

But when they put that little oxygen mask on my 2-month-old, I lost it.

We were up early today. Ben's big day. The renal scan.

We had to be to the hospital by 6 a.m. to check him in and start the pre-procedure prep.
He was right on time, waking up at 4:45, giving me plenty of time to give him some water (all he was allowed to have after a 2 a.m. feeding) and giving me time to make myself some tea and breakfast.

We got to Torrance Memorial and got him signed in and up to the short stay area. Once there they weighed and measured him so they could make sure to give him the proper amount of anesthesia later.

They put the tiniest little baby blood pressure cuff on him. It looked like something from a child's toy set. But when they did not have the proper adapter for the machine to read it, they switched to a child's cuff on his leg.

Through all this, though he had to have been hungry, Ben was a champ. He even managed to charm every nurse who came in to help prep him.

When it was time for the IV to be put in they took us to pediatrics. After trying one hand, then a foot to no avail, the first nurse brought in another nurse who was able to get the IV on his left hand. He screamed, of course. But all in all he was quite good the nurses assured us.

So good, so sweet, so strong they kept saying.

Then it was back to the first room.

Finally, shortly after 8 a.m., they came to take us downstairs to nuclear medicine where Ben was laid out on a full size bed while the anesthesiologist explained what he would be doing. We asked our few questions.

And then they put that mask on him and told us it was time for us to go to the waiting room. It had never occurred to me that they would put an oxygen mask on him.

It had never occurred to me that they even made oxygen masks that small. It is just not something one really thinks about in the normal course of a day.

But there it was. A little mask on my big baby, who suddenly seemed like such a tiny baby.

After some more kisses, we left Ben there and went to the waiting room. Me, Nick, my mom... waiting. I had a book with me, but it was impossible to think of anything but Ben.

About an hour later the anesthesiologist came in to tell us that the procedure had gone well and that Ben was fine. He was being moved to post-anesthesia recovery.

A few minutes later we were allowed in to see him. Me, Nick and my mom checked on him, but the area was too small for us all, so I was the only one allowed to wait with him until he was awake.

Several minutes later he started moving the arms and legs, slowly waking up. The eyes fluttered open, the arms were windmilling and the mouth was making the hungry face. But there were no cries.

We needed cries before we could go back upstairs where they would continue to monitor Ben.

Finally, we got the appropriate number of cries and little noises out of him and we were wheeled back up to short stay where we would be for another 90 minutes or so while we fed him and they checked his vitals often.

He ate well and was able to keep it down. Finally, 6 hours after we got there, we were able to leave the hospital and take Ben home with the instructions to change the diaper often and make sure to give him a good cleaning. We were told to wear gloves.

Because our baby will have radioactive pee for the next 24 hours.

And with that, we left to make the short drive home.

By the time we got there our happy, smiling baby was back, wanting to be fed again. The only sign that he had been to the hospital was the little ID band around one wrist and the blue bandage where they had removed the IV.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

When it comes to a baby, making tough choices gets tougher

If anyone would have told me that I could fall so totally, completely, head-over-heels in love with a guy in just two months, I would say they were crazy.

But it has happened.

Of course the guy in question is my sweet little bug, Ben.

It was two months ago today that I met Ben, and it did not even take two seconds to love him, let alone two months.

It was love at first sight.

Not that this has been all peaches and cream. We have had our ups and downs these past two months. But all in all, the ups are far greater than the downs.

Ben is a sweet-natured baby. He can look serious and contemplative, but when his little face breaks into a grin that grows wider and wider until his whole face smiles... I melt.

So it seems so unfair that we now are dealing with a medical issue. It seems so unfair that any baby would have to deal with any medical issue, but it is especially rough when it is your own.

When I was pregnant with Ben one of the doctors found something on the ultrasound: There was some extra fluid in Ben's kidneys. We were told that it would most likely clear up and resolve itself before he was born. But I still had ultrasound after ultrasound to monitor it.

And right up to just before he was born, the fluid was still there.

We then were told that most likely it would resolve itself soon after he was born.

When he was just a day old, Ben had an ultrasound of his own. The fluid was still there.

At that point we could only wait and check it again when he was a month old. And there it was, the fluid was still there after a month.

So now we get to the point where we are referred to a specialist.

At this point it still does not seem to concern the doctors terribly and so we don't worry about it too much, but we make the appointment to see the pediatric urologist.

We are told that what Ben has is called hydronephrosis. Basically there is a blockage somewhere along the urinary system. It can be anywhere from the kidney, down the ureters, at the bladder, etc. Whatever it is, it is causing the fluid to build up in the kidneys.

This could be a problem because it can lead to permanent kidney damage if it does not resolve spontaneously or if it is not treated.

The verdict from the urologist is that Ben needs a more comprehensive test. The ultrasound shows that there is a fluid build up, but it cannot show where the blockage is or how serious it is.

And until those things are known, they cannot treat him. So we have an appointment tomorrow to have a test done.

A test that scares us more than we like. It is called a Mag 3 lasix renogram.

What it means for Ben is that they will have to put in an IV and a bladder catheter then inject him with a radioisotope. A camera will then track the isotope along the path from kidney to ureters to bladder until they can see where the system is backed up.

Yes, radio as in radioactive. According to the doctor and the research I did, the exposure is less than a regular x-ray. Sorry, but this does not make me feel better.

And in order to do this test he has to be completely still for about an hour. And the only way to make sure a 2-month-old stays completely still is to sedate him. Again, this does not make me feel better.

But we were told by more than one doctor that this test will give us the most complete picture of what is going on with Ben. So we will be there tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. to get him signed in.

We will watch as they put in an IV. We will wait while our baby goes through something that the doctors say is fairly routine, but that for us is the complete opposite of routine.

And what then? Well, that depends on what they find. There are different treatments for different things based on where the blockage is and how severe it is.

It is easy when the doctor tells me they need to do some test or procedure on me. No big deal.

But when it comes to a baby, that is a whole other story. He has no say in it. We have to make the right decision for him. We can only take the information we get from the various doctors and try to do what is best for Ben.

So please, whatever it is you do for luck or divine intervention, please do that for Ben. Cross your fingers, say a prayer, rub some worry beads... We will take all the good thoughts we can get.