Thursday, November 15, 2012

Virtual Thanksgiving Dinner 2012

One of my favorite past-times as a kid was to make "dream meal" lists. My mom gave us each art journals which we were only allowed to use at designated times (which kept them from being scribble pads and made  us excited to use them, as well as keeping us occupied when she may have needed to get something done - brilliant) and I would divide the page into categories - breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert - and write out all my favorite things in lopsided rows. European pancakes (also called Danish pancakes) and pickles were probably always on that list somewhere. I requested lasagna every year for my birthday for quite a while, and I think I went through a white sauce enchilada phase too. Anyway, I'm here in my 20s, still essentially making lists of food to drool over. Except now I've developed a love of cooking and eating that I didn't have as a kid, so my wallet is skinnier and my tummy rounder. I feel like the alternate title to this post should be "for the love of real butter", because butter is one of my true loves and something I am grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Here is last year's fanciful Thanksgiving menu. My mom ended up making the Hearts of Palm & Avocado Salad for some event, which was a crowd pleaser. I thought I had included this Apple Cider Cream Pie that I made last year, but apparently not. That was also a crowd pleaser, apparently, but I left the gathering I made it for before trying it! I just remember it was a total pain in the butt to make. Here are a few Thanksgivingy options that stuck out to me this year. I'll have to report back next year on whether I actually make any of them.

This first list, without pictures, was inspired by the vintage episode of Iron Chef America in which the secret ingredient was "Thanksgiving staples" - it was Michael Symon's debut episode!
  1. Cornbread and Oyster Stuffing.
  2. Cream of Pumpkin Soup, topped with crispy Bacon, Shitake Mushrooms & Chives.
  3. Fried Chicken (this just sounds delicious paired with sweeter stuff like cranberry sauces - nothing fancy, but mighty yummy)
Here are some from Foodgawker & Pinterest that look amazing.
  1. Blackberry Hot Toddy.
  2. Holiday Tabbouli.
  3. Southwest Thanksgiving Panini and Chowder (Tortilla Chip-Crusted Turkey Cranberry Panini with Spicy Corn Tortilla Chowder).
  4. Sparkly Spiked Cran-Raspberry Granita.

I'm just getting back into the swing of cooking after a 3+ week hiatus due to the birth of Ishmael (starting about a week before his birth, I suddenly had no desire to cook whatsoever). Today I made Gouda and Black Forest Ham Grilled Sandwiches and Cantaloupe Smoothies. I need to go on a huge grocery run tomorrow and some planned meals are Indian Butter Chicken and the Cider Apple Chicken from last year's Thanksgiving list that I never made.

What are your yummy plans for this season? 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Devastatingly Sweet

You are, my dearly beloved.

I find myself getting a little defensive when I hear other women talking about how their husband is the best husband in the world. I think to myself, "they can go ahead and think that, but it's not really true, because my husband is better." But there are worse problems than knowing many ladies who think their husband is the best husband ever, right?

Jonas went back to work tonight after being home with me for three weeks. I've been dreading it, but 40 minutes into it, I'm ok. It's incredible that we've only been married for 10 months, come Wednesday. I feel like we've always been a part of each other. And while it's true that having a child is exhausting and we don't go out together as much (at all, yet), I feel like each day is a strand woven into and strengthening the rope that is our marriage. In the past 3 weeks, my love has deepened, my respect grown, my adoration made me faint, my individual self bled more and more into the body that is us. [I'm going to blow up this photo and put it in our living room. artist unknown, 1955]

He has held me as I've cried (which has been a lot) in pain, fear, wonder, love, and exhaustion. He's cherished my body that looks different and tired after carrying a child for 9 1/2 months. He's cooked and shopped for me almost daily, and ashamedly I've realized that if I had let him cook unpestered earlier, I would have realized earlier how creative and talented he is in the kitchen. He's held and comforted Ishmael many, many times when I couldn't bare any more crying or fussing or unknowable troubles of our son's. He's been the watchdog when I crash into sleep in the middle of the day, he's taken phone calls and handled visitors when I couldn't. He was a great husband before we had Ishmael, but I'm constantly blown away since having our son at how responsible he is, and how much he is a pillar to lean on in our family. He is much more capable than I ever gave him credit fore. Maybe I should lose half my blood more often so he has a chance to shine without my telling him what to do before he has a chance to do it on his own. I've thought many times of how incredibly difficult - it seems impossible to me - it would be to bare and raise a child without a strong and loving man by my side. I have a new respect and heartbreak for single parents.

I love to remember that Jonas was by my side, holding me and helping me as we brought our son into the world, and it melts my heart to see him tear up every time he remembers watching me in that amount of pain and losing that amount of blood. I love to imagine those first 2 hours of Ishmael's life that he shared with his dad, as both Ishmael and I got all cleaned up. And I'll always remember hearing him humming to Ishmael at the side of my bed in the hospital. I asked him what song he was singing, and it this song. My mom once told me she hoped my future husband would write a song like this for me.

Jonas, you crush me with your sweetness. I'm beside myself with love at the thought that our son will grow up with many of your traits. And also your eyebrows.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Call Me Ishmael

Hi Baby, you're probably not going to care about this for a long time, but when you do, we can dig this out and you can see all the reasons we named you what we did. I was surprised that your dad came up with most of it, since I've always been a name-crazed person, but I agreed immediately to both his choices. We decided on your first name before we were married and before you were ever conceived, but I had been pregnant for about 5 months by the time we agreed on your 2nd middle name and 7 1/2 months by the time I'd decided to add your 1st middle name, which your dad said was my call.

Ishamael (Hebrew, meaning "God Hears")-
Your dad brought this up (he later said he thinks he had been considering it as a name for a character in a story he was writing) and it happens to have great meaning to me, so I quickly agreed. The story of Ishmael in the Bible is a beautiful example of God caring for the lost and broken, especially when there is little to be found from others. I wrote about the whole story, including scripture references, here. We've also been going through the book of Genesis at our church, Element, and there are some great sermons concerning Ishmael available for free on iTunes. I had also recently read the graphic novel "Habibi" by Craig Thompson which is one of my favorite books. Although I don't think its depiction of the Biblical character Ishmael lines up with the Bible (the Koran tells the story in such a way that Ishmael offered himself as a willing sacrifice), there are some really beautiful stories about him which maybe I can read to you someday. Here's an illustration (image from tumblr) from the book - incidentally, Solomon is one of my favorite Bible characters as well and another name that I thought of for you. Post-birth: You were born with an unusually shaped right ear-lobe which your Grandma Welch pointed out as a reminder that "God hears."

Azure (Persian, name of an ancient city. Pronunciations vary.) - Azure was the name I was on the fence about for a long time. I originally wanted your name to have some reference to the fact that you'll be born in the year of the dragon, and there's a dragon in some Asian mythologies called the Azure Dragon. That's a little nod to China in your name. There are a bunch of other cool things about "Azure" too, which is generally the name of a shade of blue, originally a deep blue but more often associated with a lighter vibrant sky blue now. The word is originally Persian and was the name of an ancient city in Northern Afghanistan, where a lot deep blue stones came from, now synonymous with lapis lazuli (which happens to be one of my favorites; the photo above is of a lapis lazuli earring I wore when I married your dad, that belonged to my mom and came from Tashkorgan. photo by Peter & Emily Kappen). In English and French, "azure" generally refers to the ocean, which is also something your dad and I love and enjoyed looking at a lot as we drove around while you were in my tummy. Traditionally, pigment made from crushed azure was the most rare, expensive and precious, and that is why the Virgin Mary's robes were always painted in blue (I can't remember where I read that, though) [image]. She is another incredible Bible character to me. The official color azure happens to appear in the Swedish flag as well, which is part of your heritage. The reason I went back and forth about whether to include "Azure" in your name for so long was that it makes your name sound more Middle Eastern than ever (not that I mind that!), though this is the only truly Persian name of the bunch. I'm sorry if you get beat up on the playground for this name or pulled over for extra screening in every airport. I don't wish you pain, but I do wish you trials and I hope you grow through any discrimination people show toward you and that it teaches you the value of compassion.

Rajan (Sanskrit, meaning "King". The J is pronounced like the J in "Taj Mahal", kind of a zh sound that we don't use in english!) -
I had a baby brother who passed away who was named Ryan. We never got to meet him, but we will someday in heaven. Rajan has the same meaning as Ryan, just in a different language. Upon googling "Rajan," I discovered it is also the name of a very special swimming elephant.

Tucker  (English, various interpretations of meaning) -
We wanted to give you a Swedish or in general, Scandanavian, name, but it didn't work out quite that way. However, you'll still have this sir-name, which means "shoe maker." I think it's kind of funny that most people will expect that you're from another part of the world when they hear your name, until they get to "Tucker", in which case they might think you're African-American. According to wikipedia, "Tucker" actually isn't Swedish and it doesn't mean "shoe maker." Rather, "Tucker" probably has Saxon roots and means literally "to torment", but referred to people who worked (or wrestled, as it seems) with cloth and the process of making it.

If you had been a girl, your name would have been Mercedes Magdelaina (on the Welch side of the family, boys get 2 middle names and girls get a middle name starting with M). Some other boy names we liked were Liam (but then everyone suddenly named their sons Liam), Odin and Darius. We didn't tell everyone what your name would be until you were born, which made everyone very curious. We realized after we had finalized your middle names that your initials are IART. We don't know whether you'll be an artist, but it made us smile that your name turned out that way. I hope that's not too cheesy for you.

Some nick names you acquired pre-birth: X-Ray (your Grandma Tucker knew the first letter of your name is not one of the most common and that a middle name started with an R), Squirrel, Young Coconut, Teeny Boots, Bambi, Rabid Monkey (labor was Monkey-Go-Time), Sesame (and a succession of less endearing size-related terms), the Insidious Baby Fu Manchu (not in any racist sort of way), and Zeus. Post-birth; people keep bringing up the first line of Moby Dick, so "Moby" is a possible new nick name. Your dad and I call you "Squishmael" or "Squishy" sometimes!

We love you, Ishmael. 
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