We Should All Be Friends With Organic Farmers

Our good friends Robin and Steve are visiting (and their adorable 15 month old son who is approximately 45% cheeks). They live on and run an organic farm in New Jersey, and brought with them a giant bag of root vegetables, and so they are my new favorite house guests ever.

Steve was at a farming conference today, so Robin and I stayed in and hung out with Cheeks and made a pretty little lunch (in between my hourly back-icings and thoroughly unsexy third trimester grunting/panting sessions aka regular breathing).

I like to buy the par-baked bread at Trader Joe’s and pop it in the freezer for when I need a fresh baked bread fix. While the bread was toasting up, I made a quick salad of shaved watermelon radish and celeriac (thanks, farmer Steve!). I pulled a quick tangy dressing together with a few spoonfuls of plain Greek yogurt, a glug of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, chopped capers, parsley, chives, garlic, and sea salt. Once out of the oven, I topped the bread with chopped Kalamata olives, herby goat cheese, more parsley, and sliced zucchini (sautéed quickly with onion and garlic).

Totally quick, easy, and delicious, especially when enjoyed alongside Bob the Builder and copious cheek-squeezing.

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Now, what should I do with three pounds of rutabagas?

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Pregnancy Back Pain & Fancy Grilled Cheese

After a pretty rough first trimester, I sailed through my second. Everything people said about those middle months was true: you get the good kind of hormones, feel happy, get that glow (or in my case, go to Sephora and buy a $32 blush because you really, really want that glow), the nausea goes away, you get to feel your cute little fetal parasite use you as an inside out punching bag for the first time. Glorious! I loved everything about it.

Towards the very end of my second trimester, I started to get some occasional, nagging back pain, always in the middle right of my back, sort of under my shoulder blade. I thought it was just a sleeping-on-it-funny thing, and it would come and go. Fast forward a few weeks, and it’s become a constant, someone-is-slowly-stabbing-me-with-a-jagged-dagger-all-day situation. I’ve tried heat, ice, massage (husband, not professional), tiger balm, Tylenol, yoga stretches, and 2 chiropractors. I’ve asked nurses, doctors, and midwives what to do about it. So far, nothing has brought any consistent relief.

I have a newfound respect and sympathy for anyone suffering any kind of chronic pain. Also a lot of medical bills. Chiropractors are pretty expensive considering they may or may not be actual doctors (my desperation outweighs my skepticism). The one I’m seeing now treats hockey players which I think is a good sign. Pregnancy is a lot like hockey: full body assault, and you might lose some teeth (I lost half of one last week, but that’s another story).

Anyway, there is one thing in this world that always makes everything better: grilled cheese. It makes first trimester nausea subside, gives the baby a reason to somersault cutely in trimester two (at least this baby loves her carbs), and now in the third, it still brings its little comforts. As a bonus, it’s easy to hold and eat with one hand while you balance a plate on your huge belly and readjust the ice pack under your back.

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This particular grilled cheese was made with good sourdough bread slathered in mustard and layered with shredded gruyere, a handful of cooked lentils, and a few threads of sauerkraut (a nod to the classic Reuben). Served with a pile of pickles and arugula.

Little Goose: you are welcome for that sandwich. I know you liked it because you keep kicking me in the bladder. I’m cool with that, as long as you’ll at least consider unwedging your tiny feet from my ribcage.

I wish fetuses weren’t too young/unborn to negotiate.

What I Ate Today: the Third Trimester Edition

Here’s a pretty typical day for me lately, except they usually end with a little more effort at dinner. Today ended on a bad note, so I’m giving myself an A for Effort and calling iceberg lettuce a vegetable. Feel free to pretend instead that I ended the evening with a giant bowl of ancient grains dotted with seasonal vegetables and heirloom legumes. While we’re at it, let’s also pretend I haven’t gained 40 pounds this pregnancy and barely fit into my favorite Rush t-shirt.

6:30 am – a bowl of frosted mini wheats with a scoop of crunchy peanut butter, a cup of decaf with vanilla soy creamer, and seltzer with a splash of OJ.

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Here’s what I packed for the next 12 hours (there’s nothing worse than a pregnant lady who runs out of food, so I always plan for a little extra)

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10:00 am – this beautiful office banana. So majestic.

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10:30 am – Am I on 3rd breakfast? Whatever. I ate this bag of mixed nuts.

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12:30 pm – Quick lunchroom photo of my little salad (lettuce, beets, chickpeas, onions, and feta with olive oil and lemony white balsamic) and leftover Spanish tortilla slice. That’s my coworker, Spike’s, hand waving over the food.

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1:00 pm – This tiny little 3 Muskateers. Hey, I wonder what that little stain on my hand is?

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4:30 pm – Unpictured scarfing of single serving popcorn bag I obliterated on the drive from work to my first doctors appointment of the evening.

7:00 pm – My “thank god I made it through this tragic day I am so not cooking right now how the eff am I going to survive 80 more days of this pregnancy” dinner of 3 black bean tacos with cheddar, onion, salsa and lettuce

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Since you asked, work kept me late tonight (again) and I almost missed my first appointment, one I desperately needed to keep because of the stabbing pains I’ve had almost constantly in my back lately. They kept me waiting at that appointment, and then I missed my next one. Cute, right? It is not a thing that when you’re hugely pregnant, you suddenly get magical sympathy from people and are allowed to not get held up at work and stuff.

The good news is that you can come home, change into a full body sweatsuit, and cry hormonal rage-tears into a couple of tacos while watching Chopped. Because nothing goes better with food than food tv.

Ultimate Potpourri

Heat 3 tablespoons coconut oil in large skillet. Add three chopped onions, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger. Breeeeeeathe.

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When you’ve arrived back on earth after that little detour to the pearly gates of allium heaven, making this cauliflower and chickpea curry with basmati and garlic naan is also not a bad idea.

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The Irish Frittata (aka Spanish Tortilla)

My Dad is zero percent Italian, but likes to pretend he isn’t by over-pronouncing Italian food words ala Giada de Laurentiis (“spig-itty,” “mooz-a-rill,” etc.). One of his favorite things to cook is Sunday brunch, which combines daytime fancy cooking with WASP-approved day drinking, two of his most treasured activities. For almost every Sunday brunch, he makes a frittata with his five favorite toppings: cheese, broccoli, peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

It’s really a good frittata, but I have eaten this thing about seven hundred times. These frittata toppings are so dead to me.

But the basic idea of delicious stuff stuck together with eggs and broiled in the oven and then sliced up, served hot or cold, with a salad or toast or some fruit, you can’t knock it. It’s a perfect weeknight meal that will yield leftovers and taste even better the next day.

I had a big (pregnancy) craving today for some real Spanish tortilla, that salty, potato-ey cold slice of carbohydrate, infused with olive oil and golden bits of onion. This thing is a vaguely-Irish pregnant lady’s dream dish.

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I used this recipe, but with fewer eggs (I only had six) and less olive oil (because wow). It was glorious. And it’s going to be even better tomorrow.

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Here she is served up with a pile of steamed broccoli, a few slashes of Cholula, and a totally random and deeply lonely slice of roasted red pepper.

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your frittata/tortilla/egg casserole comfort zone. There is more than one way to stick stuff together with eggs.