Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I was 24 weeks into a grueling pregnancy that left me wondering why the hell people do this multiple times. I'd been feeling acrobatics in my stomach for several weeks probably the coolest and most freaky sensation EVER, and the knowledge that my little podling was in there, growing, was about as fascinating and disturbing as anything in my life. We'd bonded and argued, let's be honest over the midnight kick-fests, the flipping, the turning, the swimming, and hell, even the puking.
I eventually learned to sleep through her "activity," though it took friggen weeks. We were much better friends after. I learned to appreciate the movement more, instead of wishing she'd just stop, for the love of god, just for five minutes. We'd gotten pretty in-tune with each other when the day came that she did finally settle. My first thought was, "Peace at last!" and I did a mental happy dance that it no longer felt like I had a conga line going in my belly.
An hour went by, and I figured she was sleeping. Kid must be tired as all hell, I figured. Another hour went by, and I wondered to myself if she was hibernating, like a bear. Long long sleep, then wham! Activity Central! It wouldn't surprise me. I wasn't concerned... yet. But when hour four creeped up, and I still hadn't felt a single kick, a flopping-over-in-my-sleep-to-get-more-comfortable turn, I started to worry. Being the Internet savvy person I am, I went online to figure out if this was normal. She was my first, after all. I'd never done this before. It could've been totally within the range of "normal" and I'd never know the difference.
I read and I read, but everything pointed at, "Who the hell knows? All kids, all pregnancies, are different." Gee, thanks, Internet. So helpful. I went back to watching Star Trek: TNG yes, I'm a geek... and I'm PROUD OF IT! and did what was suggested on several sites to get the baby awake and moving. I drank sugary juice, jiggled the tummy, talked loudly to her, played her favorite music... yes, she had favorite music by then. And it happened to be hard rock. My babies? Are awesome.
But she didn't move. Approaching six hours, two of them spent chugging juice and dancing like an idiot in an effort to wake-her-up-shake-her-up, and I still had nothing. It could be normal. I told myself this a million times as I debated calling my boyfriend and having him take me to the ER. In the end, all I had to go on was gut, and my gut said go. Look like a total moron when they tell you everything's fine. At least then you'll know everything's fine, and you can go back to being a total laze and watching TV, studiously ignoring the pile of dishes in the kitchen.
I couldn't get ahold of my boyfriend, though I tried several times. I asked myself if it was worth an ambulence ride. Nah, I thought. She's fine. She's just napping. But in true pregnant woman fashion, ten minutes later I'd changed my mind, and tried the backup plan: my boyfriend's parents. His mom managed to birth 7 kids holy sweet jeebus, SEVEN OF THEM! can you imagine? and I figured she could steer me in the right direction. His mom? Totally of the "listen to your body, it's not an idiot" crowd. She told me if I thought I should go, I should go. Worst that happens is I go home feeling a little foolish.
She and her husband came and picked me up, took me in. OB Triage has some nice ladies in it. They smiled at me when I told them what was happening, didn't call me a freakin' idiot worrywart, told me they'd be happy to check up on the podling. They found her heartbeat, and some of my panic started to ebb. The voice inside my head was laughing at me, of course. "See? Everything's fine, you twit." But it wasn't. The monitor they strapped me to also had a nifty device to monitor contractions, and it was graphing something disturbing enough to have them immediately check my cervix.
In about 15 minutes, I went from being one of "those" cases, a first-time-mom worrying over something trivial, to being 3cm dialated with regular, strong contractions. The words "pre-term labor" and "labor and delivery room" passed by my ears while I laid there in a panic. A real one this time. After that, everything happened very quickly. My boyfriend showed up several minutes after they got me in the L&D room, where I was being pumped full of magnesium sulfate to stop my labor, and corticosteroids just in case it failed. We heard from specialists what the numbers were. How little a chance our daughter had to survive. If we could just keep her in a few more weeks, they said, the numbers improved dramatically. Just hold out, they said.
It was hell. For three and a half weeks, I stayed in the hospital, praying she would stay in. She listened, thank god. When it looked like I was stable, I asked to go home. They were hesitant, but since I'd reached the golden point of 28 weeks, they let me. They sent me home on strict bedrest, with meds to keep my contractions at bay. I had to see the doctor every week and a half or so, a high-risk specialist who had treated me in the hospital. They counted off the weeks with me, and the hope they'd been afraid to show me began to come out. Once I hit 36 weeks, they breathed this huge sigh of relief, and a week later they stopped my meds. Labor was okay now. If it came, it came.
My daughter was born on 4-16-2006, at 39 weeks and a couple of days. I got lucky. Too many don't.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
What's going on in my world? The Swine Flu came and went with barely a disturbance to our household, making me laugh even harder at the End Of The World Epidemic People, but now we have another nasty mofo in our house: Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease. If you're going, "Say what? What the hell is that?" you're in good company. I did the same thing. It's a virus, it causes blisters in guess where! the hands, feet, and mouth, and potentially other places, and is generally a pain in the ass.
Andrea has it so bad in her mouth that she refuses to eat practically anything, and won't drink most juices. Can't blame her there... acid + sores in the mouth = ouch. Milk and water -- the colder the better -- have been our fallback, but swallowing hurts like the devil. While we were out of state, she became so dehydrated that I actually had my father-in-law drag my aching, migraine-suffering, nauseated ass off to the ER to get her seen.
Turns out the few sores I thought were just on her cheeks were actually legion and all over the roof of her mouth and down her throat. Hence, the rabid desire not to swallow anything. The very very nice student doctor who should really become a pediatric specialist of some sort wanted to avoid an IV almost as much as I did, and brought her three different kinds of juice to try since they had no milk in the ER, just to see if she could drink on her own. She sucked them all down when he asked why she did it for him and not for mom, only toddlers will ever understand so she narrowly avoided that horror.
Apparently, I was right to bring her in, though. Her fever was running just over 100 after a round of Tylenol, so they also gave her Motrin, which brought it down some more and finally got her out of her very disturbing glassy-eyed funk. I am not one of those mothers who panics every time her child has a fever. Only when they swallow potentially toxic stuff... that scares the bejeebus out of me. Most of the day, she'd just acted like she had a bug. Stomach bug, flu bug, whatever. I figured rest and Tylenol would cure it like it had so many times for me as a child, and she'd feel well enough to eat and drink after a good solid nap.
But no. She woke up drooling sticky drool, unable to swallow at all, burning up, glassy-eyed, incoherent, crying inconsolably, and generally acting like she was half-dead. This? Scared me. I can handle broken bones, bleeding, puking, knocked-out teeth, split open skulls, and sicknesses of all sorts, even if inside I'm questioning myself to hell and back. I have had most if not all of those things in my childhood and as much as my memory in other things sucks, the treatment of various bumps, bruises, and illnesses is ingrained in me. After I get over the initial shock of my poor little baby suffering these horrors, I generally can triage pretty well.
But this time I was terrified. I know the markers of severe dehydration. I know how serious that is. Most people with high fevers will sweat to try to cool the body through evaporation. She had no water left. Her skin was bone dry, and she cried no tears. I pray I never have to see any of my children like that again. So if the child wants ice cream, by damn, she's gonna get ice cream. And popsicles. And chocolate milk. Anything she's willing to put in her mouth is fine by me, whether it be healthy or total junk. I cannot see her that way again, Internetz. Bring on the murdering psychos first. I'll deal with them with a smile if it means I never have to see that shit again.
And this virus is supposed to be highly contagious. Which means the other child will soon fall victim. *sigh* If there's any pity in the universe, it'll be after Andrea and I feel a little better. Why do I get the feeling there is no pity to be had? Eeep.
So, will you forgive me for welshing on the scheduled posting? Pretty please?
Monday, November 9, 2009
So why am I not excited! by! life!? Because apparently my body hates me, and has thrown me yet another curveball. I've been having trouble with pelvic/hip pain that is steadily spreading to every blessed bone in my body. Literally, my cheekbones hurt. I know it's just referred pain. I know my pelvis and surrounds are responsible. That doesn't stop me from crying like a baby literally every time one of my kids accidentally -- or on purpose, let's face it -- uses me for a jungle gym, or a stopping post in the latest cross-house race. Just sitting down hurts like hell.
And for once, I'm not being dramatic. Gasp! Shock! I know!
My OB's office bless their hearts, I love them... possibly more than chocolate referred my in-pain ass to an OMM clinic. What's an OMM clinic, you ask? An Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine clinic. Say that three times fast. It's something like a chiropractor, but much more likely to be covered by insurance. Yay! *happy dance! owowowowowow* I can't get in till next Wed. suckage but they do take my insurance awesome! so at least I should get some relief.
In the meantime, we may have to make an interstate trip this week, I need new glasses, the girls need to get to the dentist, and I still have to do the dreaded laundry. I was right, incidentally. The dishes taught them to multiply. Well, how else do you explain my one basket of laundry suddenly turning into two?? I don't know how we're going to accomplish all this before my appointment if I'm limping around in pain, but as previously discussed here on All Your Bread, parents don't get sick days. We get all our bennys in hugs and kisses and the like. We need an exchange rate... Five kisses and two "I love you"s for a sick day? Sounds fair to me.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
To keep their population in check, I've started washing dishes between meals if I know I'm going to eat something in it before too long. Like today, I had pasta in a bowl, and I washed it as soon as I was done, because I knew I'd want ice cream in a little while. I always want ice cream, truth be told. It's The Best Pregnancy Craving Evah, since I seem to be losing weight no matter how much I eat. Bwuahahahaha! Totally worth enduring three months of Puke Central. ... I think. Okay, maybe not, but if I'm going to go through that crap, I better get a benny, damnit.
And I'm pretty sure they're teaching the laundry to do it, too. Hold me, Internetz. I'm scared.
On a more positive note, I'm putting myself on a blogging schedule. Plan to read something from me every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I may have random posts like this one *coughcough* in between, but in an effort to make my life a more structured place -- shut up -- I'll at least put up something mildly entertaining and/or insightful on those days. Barring rampant sickness. Or labor. Because I refuse to amuse you people while I'm hanging over the toilet or shoving something out my lady bits. I'll leave you with that awesome visual. *evil snicker*
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
So when I started feeling like shit today, I figured, lovely. I get a day of hell. But o, dear Internet, I underestimated the demonic nature of the bug inside me. I did not just have the breathing issues of the past two weeks, or the coughing of the past week, or a simple fever. Those I could have lived with hell, I HAVE been living with the non-breathing and coughing, thank you and been happy to stop there. But no. We progressed ever so rapidly to violent puking, massive dehydration, and dizziness.
I have the mother-effing swine flu. Or H1N1, whatever. Because apparently it's EVERYWHERE in my area, and simply breathing air that has even been outside exposes me.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not crying "Oh, poor me, I have the dreaded flu of doom and now I shall die!" No, I know this flu is just like every other one I've ever had. It sucks, it lasts freaking forever or at least it feels like forever... and the prescribed solution is exactly the same. Bed rest. Fluids. Don't exert yourself. Eat when you can keep crap down. Avoid things that might make you puke. Don't drink alcohol. Blah blah blah. Some of these, like "don't drink alcohol," can be adopted without too much trouble. But the rest of it? *falls over laughing*
Seriously. Have you ever met a mother or father, especially of the stay-at-home variety that can lounge in bed all day, drinking gatorade and munching on crackers? Of course not. We eat whenever we can cram something in our mouths, we sit down roughly five times a day for about as many minutes usually on the toilet, and only because it's biologically necessary, we drink hydrating fluids whenever we can remember to -- and aren't occupied by something else, which let's face it, ain't often -- and avoiding things that might make you puke is a helluva lot easier when you don't have to change messy diapers.
And don't exert yourself? I'm not even going to touch that. Because seriously.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
You see, under "terminology," there's an entry called Goldilocks. Anyone over the age of 8 understands the relation to bears, of course. And the description even makes sense: a female, often heterosexual, who is often in the company of bears. Bears being the big, burly gay men often riddled with body and/or facial hair. Okay. But in parenthesis, because someone who writes these things has a sense of humor as perverse as my own, it says, "(a bear's fag hag)."
Because my mind is warped and twisted and wrong, it immediately conjured up for my mental viewing pleasure a picture of a woman, the fabled fag hag, dressed to the nines in a Goldilocks costume, standing next to a bewildered-looking grizzly. I found this funny enough to warrant my man looking at me like I'd finally lost my ever-loving mind. I probably have.
But this made me want to look for other "innocent" terminology in various subcultures, because obviously these people have awesome senses of humor. What I found instead was the disturbingly specific Hanky Code. Remind me never to leave the house with ANY bandanna in my pocket, because god knows I'll unwittingly be inviting someone to do horrible, unspeakable things to my body. My inner snark is currently whispering, "But it could be fun!" in my head. I told you my mind was warped.
Monday, October 12, 2009
But seriously. I've been fighting tooth and nail with myself to get back into the kitchen to make some bread, some muffins, some freakin' biscuits in a can for heaven's sake, but I just can't muster up the energy to do more than the requisite meals. In my house, this means a protein and a starch. Possibly a veggie or a fruit if it can be sliced and served. If it can be microwaved, it is Beloved. The idea of committing to a yeasted anything makes my back groan and my brain shut down with a firm, "Hell. No." Even quick breads and muffins give me pause because they must be baked immediately, and if the measuring and mixing tires me out, I don't have much choice but to put it in the oven. Which doesn't seem like much work, but when the hour for that bread to cook means I have to keep my eyeballs open and my ears tuned for the timer, all I suddenly want to do is sleep.
I am seriously considering cookies. My pregnant and weight losing self can afford the calories, and even I can manage to finish measuring and mixing before I get tired. I think... Shut up! Pregnancy and I don't mix. It kicks my lily white ass to the curb and laughs while it does so. The worst that happens is I freeze the crap to bake another day. But if I'm honest with myself, I don't want cookies. I know! Pregnant lady not wanting cookies. Crazy. I want some fucking cheesecake and I will happily kill someone to get it. I just don't have the energy or the patience, let's be honest to make one. And do you know how much that shit costs? Walmart -- WALMART, PEOPLE! -- sells a 9-inch cheesecake for $11. I can make a 9-inch cheesecake for $5, maybe $7 if I don't get my cream cheese on sale.
Split the difference and you've got a nearly 50% markup. That's highway goddamn robbery, people. It's wrong, and something must be done. Like maybe, one of my Good Internet Buddies volunteering to come over and make me some? Please? I will beg for cheesecake. Shamelessly, people. Take advantage of this weakness, just for god's sake GET THE PREGNANT WOMAN SOME CHEESECAKE!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Or maybe I just miss my cats.
And with all the mass foreclosures in our area, we're also considering buying! a! house! Holy god, I'm becoming an adult. It's freakin' scary, I tell you. Next thing you know we'll be buying a minivan and... oh, wait. We are buying a minivan. Or something like it. Ah, crap, I went and grew up. Does this mean I have to throw away my cartoon collection?
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Oh, I know: I feel like crap. I felt like crap last night, too, when my youngest decided that screaming at the top of her lungs for hours on end just wasn't enough to brighten my day with. Okay, technically it was night, because my children have decided they must be on an overnight schedule. Just like Daddy! Yay! *groan* We had to add injury to the mix.
I am not generally one to panic. Prone to dramatics, perhaps, but honest to god panic? Nah. The one and only time I truly panicked about one of my children was with the first one, the very first time she bled. To my credit, it was quite a bit of blood, and I didn't freak out until I couldn't stop the gushing. What happened, you ask? The day she started scooting, I had her on the bed with me because I had The Morning Sickness of Doom, and before I could catch her, she decided to take a header off the edge to get to her stuffed animal on the floor. Yeah. Face freaking first. Nosebleed of the year!
So when my youngest crashed off the rocking chair and started crying, I sighed, and heaved my heavily pregnant and yet only 4 months along, *sigh* ass off the couch to tend to her. They climb, they jump, they run, they scream, and generally speaking, this is when I know they're both okay. When it gets quiet or someone does the "I'm actually in pain!" cry, I know something's wrong. Until then, it's just rambunctious toddler fun. Now, my kids often cry for thirty seconds and then run off to rejoin the fun, and I expected this tumble to be like most others. I realized I was wrong when I saw blood.
Aw, shit. This was my first thought as I hunted down the source of the blood. It was her head, of course, because that's just my luck. I checked her pupils, asked her to stand up, but honestly, other than the "damn that hurt!" crying, she was just fine. I wasn't worried. I took her to the bathroom, stopped the bleeding she has AWESOME clotting, incidentally and washed down her head so I could see it. It was a tiny cut, really. But because Murphy hates me, it was deep. Damn deep. I realized my poor little two and a half year old needed stitches.
I had to call her daddy home from work, bundle up my kids, haul my huge self around for 4 hours of car rides, ER visit, a stop at Walmart for peroxide, and finally making food for us all because now we were all starving. Why couldn't this crap happen on one of the days or nights that I feel halfway decent? Because say it with me, kids Murphy. Hates. Me. Now my child has three staples in her head that she didn't even cry over, go Raven! and I get to add a wound-cleaning regimen to my day. Taking care of two kids and a full-time-working significant other while being pregnant isn't enough, Universe. Please, add some more on.
Someone shoot me.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I didn't mean it that way, perverts.
One of the best scenes of said movie? When Will Smith brings down the alien craft, opens it up, punches the squirmy wormy inside in the face or at least what looks like the face, and says, "Welcome to Earth." Bwuahahahahaha. I'd like to think I'd have something similarly witty to say were I ever in such a situation. Being honest, it'd probably be right after I messed my pants. Because holy shit.
What's your favorite movie?
Thursday, September 24, 2009
It has hot spots, cold spots, possessed spots; it goes from 25 degrees too cold to 50 degrees too hot in less than twenty minutes; it has randomly turned itself off a few times in my years with it, which number just under three. I affectionately call it The Beast in my head, because honestly, what else do you call a machine that works when it wants to and flips you off when it doesn't? That burns your cookies and leaves your bread prettily browned on the outside and raw in the middle.
Ideally, I'd call it "gone." But I live in an apartment complex that doesn't believe in replacing appliances unless they plain just don't turn on. They keep "fixing" our crap, and we keep calling when it breaks again. Incidentally, I've gotten to know most of the maintenance guys pretty well. Nice guys. But anyway. I was a doof and didn't take the bread's temp until I'd already turned the oven off and done a couple other little things in the kitchen, so I had to wait to put the loaf back in, and I'm not sure that's good for it. It ended up still having patches of undercooked -- though thankfully not raw -- dough. It was mostly tasty, though.
And hey, I baked! Go me! *happy dance*
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I also forgot to put away dinner last night, which totally sucks, because those mashed taters were freakin' tasty, man. I couldn't remember how far along I was when my grandmother asked me -- I actually had to look at the calendar on my laptop, where I have my week-by-week. No, I'm not kidding. I'm that retarded. I did this with each of my kids; with the first, it was on a paper calendar, because our old computer sucked ass. With my second, it was on the desktop AND on a paper calendar, because I couldn't always access the computer... my man's a computer-holic. *sigh* Tragic.
I can't even remember how much Carnation Instant Breakfast powder to put in my milk, and I just made some this morning. That shit is GOOD, by the way. Rich Milk Chocolate ftw! Seriously, my brain is like swiss cheese. Enough holes to build a small city in. Calling it a sieve is being kind! ROFL
But that's okay... this is what The Powers That Be created Post-It notes for.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I'm finishing up the last of the baking utensils tonight and holy piling plates, Batman, there were a freakin' ton of them! because I still hope against hope that I have enough energy after all this crap to make some muffins. I want me some chocolate chocolate chip nut muffins. I've posted the recipe here before, and *drool* are they good. I've been craving chocolate like crazy lately. And coffee. And sour gummy worms. The last two of which I've often wanted mixed, which proves that indeed I am preggers. You know, just in case the rapidly expanding waistline left me with any doubts. Ha!
Hey, anybody wanna come over for Insanely Chocolate Muffins I think this is my new name for them, LOL and hot cocoa? Yeah, buddy!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
And do you know what toddlers do when you try to clean? If you're a parent, you do; if you've babysat a toddler, you do; if you've ever observed someone cleaning around a toddler, you do. If you are none of the above, thank your lucky stars you did not have to witness the beat-head-against-brick-wall exercise that is cleaning when toddlers are around and conscious. Seriously. They come in behind you and undo every blessed thing you've just done, and they make two other messes to go with it. Your only real recourse is shove the little monsters at your significant other and order them out of the house, or distract their destructive little selves with something even more fascinating than making Mommy scream and blubber like a madman.
For my children, this is not easy. They've learned that when Mommy gives them full cups of juice, a big bowl of food, and a movie, there must be something awesome going on. They don't stay in their room. They come out and demand to know what you're doing, and can they do it too? "No," makes them cry, but there comes a point when you'd prefer murderous screams to redoing everything three million times. I reached this point when Andrea turned two. She's now three and a half. You do the math.
But if I don't do all of these three things, they inevitably read: every five minutes come toddling out and ask for one of the three. And because they can never synchronize these things, I get interrupted by each child each and every time they think they need something. Oh, and don't forget diaper changes/potty time! Throw a few of those in there, too. At the worst times. Like when I'm elbow-deep in cleaner. Example:
Raven: "Poop! Poop!" as she comes running out to me, pulling at the back of her diaper like she's got the worst wedgie of all time.
Me: Rolling my eyes, sighing, and washing my hands clean again of the bleach water I've been using to sanitize things. "Lovely. Okay, monkey, go lay down." I call my youngest monkey because she climbs everything and screeches and hoots like one. She's weird. I'm so proud!
Raven: "'Kay!" She proceeds to run to the couch, pull down the blanket, hide under it, and make a two-minute butt change take ten because we must play "where's the baby?"
If I'm lucky, I get ten minutes of peace between interruptions. If I'm unlucky as I was that day I just manage to get back to my cleaning when the other one comes out for something, or the same one remembers something else they needed. In this case, it was the other one...
Me: "What, Andrea?" as I try, valiantly really, I should get medals for not strangling these kids to hold back the snarl of frustration.
Andrea: "I'm hungry and thirsty."
Me: Sigh. I've just given her food and juice, so I know she's neither. Or if she is anything, it's probably thirsty because she wolfed down her juice and then her food, in that order, and it dried out her mouth and/or throat. Oy. "Bring me your cup, and I'll give you a little more juice."
Andrea: "And something to eat!"
Me: "No, Andrea, you just ate. You need to wait a little while."
Andrea: With the most indignant tone ever heard by man, "But I'm hungry!"
Me: "I doubt that, honey," and seeing the immediate protest forming in her little brain, I added, "You're not getting any more food." End of story, right? *falls over laughing*
Andrea: "You hate me!" as she goes into full pout mode. It is at this point that I start praying for patience and have the overwhelming urge to slam my head into the nearest solid object. Repeatedly. My lovely child has entered the "you hate me, nobody loves me, wah" stage. God help me.
Me: "I don't hate you Andrea. I love you very much. I just don't want your stomach to explode." Humor is lost on three year olds...
Andrea: "My tummy's not gonna splode! It's hungry!"
Me: I'm laughing now, and this so doesn't help. I stifle it long enough to ask her, "Are you going to bring me your cup?" She stomps off ranting about something unintelligible, and comes back a minute or two later with her cup... and her plate. Sigh. I take them both, put the plate in the kitchen, and splash a little juice in her cup. "Here."
Andrea: "What about my foooooooooood?" Oh god, the whining. It's worse than the defiance. At least that was just loud talking, something my poor eardrums are used to by now. They will never get used to the whining.
Andrea: "But whyyyyyyy?"
Me: "Andrea, don't whine. Talk like a big girl."
Andrea: "No! I'm not a big girl! I'm a baby!"
Me: Grumble, mutter, snarl. It escaped me at the time that she had, in fact, complied and talked like a big girl... while she sassed me. Geh. "Babies who whine and cry are usually tired and get put down for naps. Do you need a nap?" This is like threatening her with brutal torture. Nevermind that at three and a half, she should still take a nap. She cut those out just before she turned two.
Andrea: With a horrified look on her face which is probably one of the funniest things I've ever seen she yells, "No!" and runs off, food completely forgotten.
I don't know whether to do a happy dance that our round robin on the food subject is over, or drive an icepick into my skull because now her sister has come around again, begging for something or other. I don't even remember what she wanted. My brain had shut itself off at that point... I'm pretty sure in self-preservation. I do remember giving up on my cleaning less than an hour later because of a vicious migraine. I wonder how that happened? Insert hefty dose of sarcasm here.
So my foray into cleaning my entire house should be fun. I say fun, I mean eye-gouging torture. Wanna come over?!?! *twitch*
Monday, September 7, 2009
So I had my first ultrasound last Thursday. I was pretty afraid I was having twins, because in just under thirteen weeks of pregnancy, I'd gained 5 inches in my waist while losing 11 pounds. Everything else had shrunk by about a half inch, but my stomach just kept getting bigger! But the ultrasound tech swore to me and I made her promise! that there was, in fact, only one of them in there. She said my abdominal wall seemed pretty lax, so I might get kinda big. Joy. Thanks, lady.
Apparently, my body decided to give me a big ol' middle finger. It's basically said, "Screw you, and the horse you rode in on. I've held in two kids within the last 5 years, lady. You're lucky I haven't risen up in revolt by now." And I gotta admit, 3 pregnancies in 5 or so years is a bitch. I gotta give this point to the muscles. Go lax, my friends. Have a party. Just be sure to save me a daiquiri, okay? Seriously, I'm going to pick a day, sometime after I've healed up and feel human again, and go drinking. I'll pump for like a week before, hand Andrew a bottle and point out the boob juice in the fridge. Bye, babe, I'm gonna go get my drink on! I should push him to go out with his brothers/friends/guardian leprechauns for a day, too. He deserves it.
My next ultrasound isn't until 20-22 weeks into my pregnancy. That's like... er... late October at the earliest. I'm supposed to wait that long to know whether I finally get my boy or not. I can't buy most baby clothes because "gender neutral" is a bitch to find. It's frustrating. Some progress, however: we've chosen which car seat to buy -- the Graco My Ride 65, baby! -- and we got a swing, too. It converts into an infant seat and a toddler rocker. Tell me that isn't kick ass. Go ahead, try. We already have a play yard and a couple strollers.
I think the only thing we lack is a crib. The play yard has a bassinet for the first 15 lbs or so, so we can figure out if the baby will tolerate sleeping alone. My first two didn't. Co-sleeping may be convenient, but breaking them of the habit is a bitch. Two-edged sword... I pray he/she will sleep alone without the three hour crying jags of my first two. Then we can figure out how to pay for a crib. Freakin expensive crap. What happened to the good ol' days when families passed down crap like that? When cribs and such were actually built strong enough to last through multiple generations.
Not to mention, my house is full of useless crap. Now, you ask, why do I keep useless crap? The answer: I don't. Andrew does. He is a pack rat. I'm considering signing him up for a 12-step program for Pack Rats Anonymous. Seriously. He has stuff from his college days. It's crazy. At least most of it is in boxes, and boxes stack. But that just means I have mounds o' boxes... everywhere. It literally looks like we just moved in. But I think I prefer this to crap piled everywhere, spilling over on itself like an avalanche. I've seen houses like that. *shudders* Shoot me if I ever let it get that bad.
Now, I've made Andrew go through some of the boxes -- mostly because I started to, only to uncover stuff of his that I have no idea what it is, and it's either he gets to it or the kids do *evil cackle* -- but a lot of it is just papers and books that we have nowhere to put. Bookcases get demolished in our house. We have toddlers. I'm told this is normal. I got sick of putting everything back five times a day, so now I've stopped insisting on pulling things out of boxes. They're safer in the cardboard prisons. Dressers suffer the same fate as bookshelves... Clothes go in, clothes come out -- repeatedly. In one day. In one hour. In 5 golddern minutes. So clothes stay in their baskets. There are clean baskets and dirty baskets, and that is the only system that exists in my home.
I'm going insane. To be fair, I'm already insane. I'm going to start drooling and smacking the wall with my head soon. As soon as I no longer feel like microwaved death, I'm going to go through what things I can and throw away every blessed thing I can get away with. Anything I can't, I'm throwing on Andrew's side of the bed and he can do with it what he pleases. Including putting it back in boxes and stacking them in corners. But I guarantee you I can condense the shit. Just cutting the stacks in half would save what's left of my sanity. I know, funny, right?
Anyone else have a pack rat hubby/boy toy/roommate?
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Oh yeah, I'm a bad girl. I haven't been posting. Again. Want to know why? I'm going to pretend you're all clutching the edges of your seats in anticipation and nodding enthusiastically. ... Shut up, it's my fantasy! I'm experiencing an all-new level of Hell! Go me! My newest pregnancy symptom appears to be vertigo. Yup, vertigo. I apparently have Central Vertigo, because it always accompanies the most agonizing migraines I've ever experienced with the exception of one particular nasty mofo that showed up right about the time I got my first period... thank you, Mother Nature, you raving bitch and sticks around for the after party. My head still feels like it's spinning and I can't quite walk a straight line yet, even though I kicked the worst of the migraine a day ago. Go home, Mr. Vertigo. We're out of beer.
I praise whatever bug got up my butt the other day to go to the City Market and pick up a snotload of fruits and veggies, because guess what my kids got for dinner yesterday? Yup. Rabbit food. They ate blueberries, peaches, apples, bananas... oh, and some cheese, because I figured they should get some sort of protein. And hey, cheese is good for them. Right? Er, right. I managed to drag myself off the couch and stay upright! Go me! long enough to cut up/clean off/chuck in a bowl a bunch of each of the above and drop it in front of their starving little faces, which were happily glued to the TV. I know, I'm a terrible mother. I let them watch more than a half hour of TV a day. Well, bite me, AAP. Disney happens to keep them out of trouble while I'm busy rolling around on the couch, half dead, calling myself an idiot for wanting a third child. Not because of the kid, but because of the pregnancy. So there.
This is my life. It sucks. I accept that. But at least you now know why I haven't been posting.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Do you know what's in my fridge today? My cupboards? My freezer? Premade, prepackaged, preservative-laden crap. That whole "I should make my family's meals from scratch to make them healthier" line went out the window about the time my stomach started growing (seriously, I need MATERNITY PANTS already!) and my visits to the bathroom became frequent enough to make me seriously consider just installing a cot. (I decided not to, since it would have to go in the tub. And I likes me my showers. Not stinking rules!)
Pasta Roni, jar gravy, frozen fries, frozen meatballs, frozen ravioli (okay, that one's not so bad since I've yet to buy a pasta roller to make my own...) (yes, I actually want to make my own pasta...) (stop giving me that look!), hamburger helper (really proud of that one!), and the list goes on. I still insist on real deli meat instead of bologna, real cheese instead of 'individually wrapped processed cheese food product' which by the way gives me the creeps, and fresh fruit and veggies when we can find them on sale. But it's pretty bad. Add that to my addiction to frozen entrees, and I'm pretty sure my sodium intake is about three times what it should be.
You know what? I'm okay with it! (No, I didn't have a mental meltdown first, thank you!) Once I get through this last pregnancy, I can have my tubes tied, my back dealt with, and focus on the family I've cobbled together -- er, lovingly built. Yeah, that's what I meant. I can flip the bird to hormonal birth control (evil!) and actually get some of my pain issues under control because I won't have to worry about "oh, crap, I'm late, am I pregnant again?" Because yeah, I'm paranoid I might hurt the little bean that may or may not be there. I try to keep the stuff I put in my own body to a minimum; I certainly don't want the first influence on my offspring to be some chemical crap I choke down because the muscles in my back won't stop doing a jig.
Yay for no more pregnancies! And yay for crappy food!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
It seems like I feed them every five minutes. They should be little chubbos by now, tottering around the house like mini Michelin men... er, girls. I should be rolling them around by now. But no! The Metabolisms of Doom (previously mention here on All Your Bread) take every calorie and gobble it up like a greedy little child with a chocolate bar. Or like me with a chocolate bar. (shiver) (Scary.) They keep growing up, not out! I could have sworn that thing was supposed to happen in spurts, not constantly. But maybe I'm wrong. It's been known to happen.
But still. Seriously. We take them out for pizza sometimes, and between them, they polish off a large (LARGE!) pizza by themselves. I can barely choke down half a large pizza. I'm embarrassed to take them out to eat because it looks like they haven't seen food in three weeks! "No, really, Mr. CPS rep, we DO feed them! I swear!" I'm waiting for this conversation. I really am. Of course, all I'd have to do is hand them over for an afternoon and let CPS feed 'em. And feed 'em. And watch them goggle as my children still act like they're half starved.
I'm pretty sure it'd be the quickest closed case in CPS history. (snicker)
Am I alone in having toddlers who eat like teenagers?
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I still (try to) make (most of) the meals, and I (try to) make them nutritionally balanced while staying on a budget and not requiring ungodly amounts of time on my feet. Sometimes I fail (okay, I fail a lot... but they have Metabolisms of Doom, so I don't feel too terrible) but I like to think my demands for fresh fruit and cheese to be bought and served to our ravenous monsters makes some dent in the french fry habit. Hey, they even like fruit and cheese! Score!
My diet is sadly lacking, however. All that fruit? That cheese? Even the damned frozen potato sticks? Yeah, that's funny. I can't eat them. I crave McDonald's egg and cheese biscuits, which I know for a fact blow my caloric load cheerfully out the window. I want ice cream, chocolate milk... every dairy that isn't cheese and yogurt. You know, the good kinds. My unborn munchkin has his daddy's appetite, god help me. Like Andrew, I drool over steak and potatoes instead of the veggies and chicken I used to love. I want nothing to do with multigrain anything; give me white stuff, all the way.
Some of these cravings and preferences I understand. White breads and crackers are easier to digest, steak is an awesome vessel for iron (along with being, let's face it, freaking tasty), and fibrous veggies can be unsettling to the stormy seas of my stomach. But the ice cream and chocolate milk over cheese and yogurt? (And here I must add that I have had a long-standing love affair with ALL things dairy for my ENTIRE life. I loved the really good stuff, too! I swear!) I have no explanation. Egg and cheese biscuits? No idea. And since I know there's very little of either egg or cheese in those damn things, it can't be a nutrient thing.
I pretty much chalk it up to Andrew's bizarre genetics. It can't be mine. (Stop giving me that look.) I actually like healthy food. (Nevermind that as a kid, I thought kraft mac and cheese and cheapo hot dogs were The Best Food Ever. That has nothing to do with it!) It must be his contribution to The Bump. (I said quit with the look! Obey the crazy pregnant lady!)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I'm going to pretend you cheered and go on with my life now.
I knew this before, of course -- in theory. I may have even admitted it a time or two. But being pregnant and laid out on the couch 80% of the time, I have realized just how lazy I am. I know I need to pick up and vacuum, that's not even up for debate. Laundry was supposed to get done today... yeah, that happened. (snort) I think the only truly "clean" things in my house are the toilets, and that's just because I spend 10% of that extra 20 hugging them and praying for a swift death. (To which I always quickly respond with, "I didn't mean that! Medical coma! Just have someone put me under for 6 months. Please dear god, medical coma!)
Baking? Is so far down the list as to be nonexistent. I actually turned on the oven the other day (instead of making Andrew do it) to make chicken strips for my kids to gnosh on while I wallowed in my misery on the couch. I also managed to make broccoli with a miraculously clean pan. (I did a load of dishes the other day! Go me!) Thank god my kids are (generally) easy to please when it comes to food. My youngest used to have all sorts of "I don't want that, just feed me a baby food, damnit" issues. Do you know how much baby food an 18 month old can go through in a day? Sweet baby Jesus, I thought we'd go bankrupt.
But since my life now consists almost solely of roving the Interweb (shut up, I like my word better) and gracing the porcelain gods with my presence, I figured I should post anyway. "Your regularly scheduled bread baking program will resume... sometime." Or something like that. In the meantime, you can read my snarky comments and laugh at my many creative ways to describe tossing my cookies. (See? There's another one. Ha! I'm on a roll!) ... (Shut up.)
Thursday, August 13, 2009
(deep breath) I bought... biscuits in a can.
I know, I know! I, who can bake artisan bread well enough to make my nose wish it could cry, bought pre-made, store-brand biscuits in a can. It wasn't even Pillsbury! I have angered the Baking Gods, shamed my bread baking ancestors. And my only excuse is... well, standing too long makes the being in my belly angry. And I fear it's toilet-hugging wrath more than I do the Baking Gods, or my ancestors. Take it up with the Wee One! It's not my fault!
... oh, good, I wasn't smote down with a cupcake-scented lightning bolt. Perhaps I can be forgiven.
And now I must go, because my ice cream is melting. And melted ice cream is an even greater sin than biscuits in a can.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
My mom died in May; you should know this, I blogged it a while back. She died of cancer, colon cancer, the most treatable form there is. Except by the time any doctor figured out what was wrong with her, she was in the ER in excruciating pain because the tumors had spread so far and grown so large, they were choking her internal organs to death. Now, this is not to say that my mother wasn't partly to blame. I love her dearly (yes, love, present tense, because so long as I live, my love for her exists) but she was not the most medically responsible in the world.
As a child, my mother had problem after problem with her health. Most of it stemmed from the first 11 years of her life, when she lived without a good portion of her diaphragm. This usually kills people at or soon after birth, but my mother's organs shifted upward in the womb, providing the same support to the bottom of her lungs as a normal diaphragm would. She got lucky. But no one noticed. So her organs kept moving up, her lung capacity shrunk, and her heart had so much pressure put on it that it enlarged and had to struggle to work.
X-rays showed doctors the problem, and a series of surgeries fixed it. But damage had been done; more surgeries were required through her childhood as problems cropped up because of this damage. It was hell. My mother understandably grew to abhor the hospital, and she wasn't very fond of doctors, either. Not because she didn't like them -- she was quite grateful to the profession -- but because most visits to the doctor had ended in months of recuperation and pain. As a result, she only saw doctors on a "crisis" basis in her adult life. And only when forced by myself or my grandmother.
Don't believe me? She lived with chronic, debilitating migraines for twenty years (that's 20, as in two whole decades, as in most of my life on this earth) before she went to the doctor for help. Her logic? They weren't going to kill her. And as long as she didn't risk losing her job because of them, they could be dealt with. It was, in fact, the risk of losing her job that forced her hand eventually. My mother, bless her, would out-stubborn a lazy, tired, old, sick, half-dead donkey if making it move was her goal.
But I know my mother. I lived with her for 18 of my now 23 years on this planet, and I went with her on many an occasion to the doctor's office. I know she told at least two separate doctors about her intestinal difficulties. Do you know how they see warning signs of colon cancer? A simple outpatient procedure called a colonoscopy. A stupid camcorder they shove up your ass. Her insurance would have covered it, and god forbid they hadn't, the damn things aren't that expensive. I would know, since the guy I happily shack up with and love to pieces has collitis, which requires ROUTINE colonoscopies. Seriously. He gets one every one-two years. It's THAT simple. It's pretty much the same as a mammogram.
Actually, it's exactly like one. They're just checking a different part of the anatomy for cancer.
This one, simple test could have saved my mother's life. But two doctors -- two! -- missed the early warning signs, so she never got one. When her cancer was finally caught, she was a hairsbreadth away from terminal-stage. That's when they tell you to go home and kiss your loved ones, because there's nothing they can do. They had to extract a good portion of her insides just to keep her alive for the chemo.
Her doctors were skilled or lucky or both, because she survived surgery against all odds. She went through round after round of chemo. The doctors told her if she lived through the next year, she might have a shot. Her quality of life would be severely diminished, she would have to be closely monitored by specialists for the rest of her life (however long that might be), but she might just live. At this point, my mother just wanted to stick around in whatever form to watch her grandchildren grow up, and be damned the condition of her body. As long as her mind was intact, she insisted, she could bear through it.
My mom? Was the shit. A rock in the storm? Psssh. She was concrete-reinforced, diamond-hard, nuclear bunker style. She gave death the finger for two and a half years, and by god, she took the cancer down with her.
Originally, I was devastated that she could have beaten the cancer only to die from the aftermath. Now, I think of it more as a, "I'm gonna die? Ha. You first." Which is just awesome. If Mom had to go, I'm glad she took that sack of shit disease out first. Bend over and grab those ankles, Fate. But see... she shouldn't have died. She fought so hard, went through so much in her life, the deck should have been stacked in her favor, not the other way around. Hadn't she paid her dues already? Hell, she PREpaid.
No parent should ever, ever have to bury their child. It is cruel, unfair, and downright twisted. I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy -- and believe me, the things I have wished upon them are pretty dark and dastardly. But to have nursed your child through some of life's biggest shitstorms, gotten them to a relatively normal adulthood, and have all that thrown back at you? That's just plain wrong. My grandparents are blessed in so many ways, but in this, they got jacked almost as bad as Mom.
I'm not very close to my family anymore. Usually, this isn't such a horrible thing. I know that if anything important happens, the family grapevine makes a stop at my house. We younger generation (heretofor "The Cousins") have all grown up, and most of us have moved on to the bigger picture of life. The two who are actually still minors are teenagers, the last of the group, just thankful that they're finally moving from the kiddie table to the big one. They, like most teenagers, take only passing notice of the rest of the clan. This is good, this is normal... and believe me, we can use all the "normal" we can get in this family.
But on nights like tonight, I really wish I was closer to them. Especially The Cousins, as they are of my generation. My grandparents are wonderful people, and they try so hard to fill the void left by my mother, but it isn't the same. I can't talk to them on an equal footing because I will always be a child to them, as all of their offspring are. Logically, we are adults, but as any parent will tell you, emotionally, we will always be "their babies." At least The Cousins are all of a relative age, and I could talk to them as peers. But I've drifted apart from them.
I guess it's my fault for picking up and moving to where we had no family, immediate or otherwise. There are hubs of family in many a state, but Michigan is not one of them. I moved away, and therefore all close ties were cut. Only my mom, and by extension, my grandparents, were "immediate" family anymore. It hurts that the cousin I was closest to as a child has so wildly diverged in lifestyle from me; I miss her, I miss being close to another human being who came from the same insane bloodline as I did. I may respect her for becoming her own woman and making a life for herself, but that doesn't mean I can't mourn the friend I lost in the process.
So I'm sitting here, alone but for my kids (who can't understand why Mommy is so upset), thinking about my life. About the unfairness of losing my mother at so young an age, about the family I once was part of and now am simply an extension of, about my lack of human connection. I'm expecting my third and final child, I have a good man, a roof over my head and food to eat... but I feel like I've been ripped off. I want my money back, damnit. And I wonder if I'm just being ungrateful.
But you know what? I figure, if life can suck, so can my attitude for one night.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
My success partially led to my failure. Now, I'm sure you're asking, "How can you have failure out of success? Isn't it the other way around?" No, it's not, because the laws of the universe do not apply in my kitchen. I'm not sure why, but I've accepted it as a fact of my life. Things that should work don't, and things that shouldn't do, and my subscription to Murphy's Law is going strong. For whatever reason, my first attempt at bread bowls turned out picture-perfect (except for a little overbrowning on a couple, but I blame that on the oil... that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!) and what did I use as the vessel of choice? You got it, a Pyrex bowl. One of the little, flat-bottomed, straight-sided round ones. No longer shall it be relegated to prep bowl status!
But where my bread bowls rose beautifully and detatched with little persuasion (read: bashing and slinging of bowl) the potato bread held on for dear life, until a butter knife and extreme prejudice tore it (literally) from its comfy home. Why, I ask you? I oiled it well. I even oiled the dough. Sure it was a stickier dough than the bread bowls, but with enough grease, I can keep burnt cheese from sticking to those baking dishes. Seriously, have you ever chiseled lasagna out of a pan? My whole kitchen used to turn blue from the language I used. But even that horror of culinary bitchfest doesn't stick, so why did my bread?!?!?!?!
I blame the imps. Pixies, brownies, leprechauns, whatever the hell you call them. The little things that run around your home creating chaos so they can laugh at you while you rip your hair out in frustration. ... why are you looking at me like I'm crazy? I'm not-- er, okay, nevermind.
Well, whatever happened, I had The Best Bread Bowls Evah! and the Roasted Potato Bread of Doom. I guess they balance out. Did I mention the recipe for the bowls came from The Fresh Loaf? Awesome site. Awesome recipe. Just plain awesome. Go visit.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Nut Muffins. You heard me, two chocolates and some nuts in a paper wrapper of heavenly goodness. So I went trolling for a good recipe. A really good one. But I couldn't find any! With the plethora of CCC (that's chocolate chocolate chip) muffin recipes on the 'net, I thought I'd find something. But every recipe I came across had to be tweaked to make it truly spectacular. So I sat down with the best one I found, read over the reviews, and put together something that turned out as yummy as anything I've ever had the pleasure of baking.
Now, I know muffins aren't bread. But they have flour and leavening, so by damn, they're getting blogged about! On to the recipe!
2 cups (8 1/2oz, 240g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2 1/8oz, 62g) cocoa powder
3/4 cup (5 1/2oz, 155g) white sugar
3/4 cup (4 1/2oz, 128g) brown sugar *NOTE : Scoop the brown sugar, do not pack.*
2 tsp (3/8oz, 10g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (1/8oz, 4g) baking soda
1/2 tsp (1/8oz, 5g) salt
1 1/2 cups (12oz, 340g) milk
2 tbsp (1oz, 28g) veggie oil
1 tsp (1/8oz, 5g) vanilla extract
2 eggs *NOTE : Using American Large eggs! Use roughly 3 1/2oz, 100g of eggs.*
1 cup (6 3/4oz, 190g) chocolate chips
1 cup (4oz, 112g) chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Grease or line muffin tins.
Bowl 1: Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Bowl 2: Beat together milk, oil, vanilla, and eggs.
Combine the contents of bowls 1 & 2, being careful not to overwork. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Toothpick test is difficult because of chocolate chips, but if muffins seem too soft and “wiggly” after 20 minutes, bake the extra 5.)
Cool in pan 5-10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Norwich Sourdough w/Oats
Makes: 4 petite loaves
Rise Time: ~5 hours
Bake Temp: 475F, 240C, Gas Mark 9
Bake Time: ~35 min
- 1c, 8oz, 227ml hot water
- 1tbsp, 3/4oz, 21g honey
- 1 1/3c, 4 1/4oz 120g rolled oats
- all of the soaker
- 5 1/2c, 24 5/8oz, 700g bread flour
- 1 2/3c, 7oz, 200g white whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2c, 20 1/4oz, 600ml water
- 1 1/2c, 12 5/8oz, 360g ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter
- 1tbsp, 3/4oz, 23g salt
NOTE: When measuring starter by volume, you MUST stir it down first! I am making the assumption that an average cup of wheat-based starter (whole grain or not) weighs 240g. If you have a rye starter, a spelt starter, a kamut-amaranth-potato starter, whatever, it's going to weigh differently. Possibly a lot differently. Use weights whenever possible to avoid horrible mishaps. Grams or ounces doesn't really make a difference; while grams are more rigidly precise, ounces are still very accurate. As long as your scale goes down to eighth ounces, you'll be fine.
Soaker: Mix hot water (very hot tap water works fine) and honey until well blended. Stir in rolled oats and let sit 5 minutes.
Mix/Autolyse: Combine all of the soaker, the flours, the water, and the starter in the bowl of a stand mixer on low. When just combined, turn off the mixer and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Mix in salt and knead on medium-low speed until a medium level of gluten development is reached. I could try to explain it, but Susan from Wild Yeast has already done a stand-up job of it here. Seeing as this recipe is directly adapted from her Norwich Sourdough, it's a very good place to go for advice.
Ferment: Plop (gently!) into an oiled container of some sort and cover loosely. Susan suggests a low, wide container so the necessary folds can be done at 50 and 100 minute intervals inside the container. It does make things a bit easier, but you can always oil up a surface and your hands and do it, too, if you don't have a big enough bucket.
Divide: Turn ye ol' mass of dough onto a floured or oiled surface. (I prefer oiled, since it doesn't muck with my hydration as badly.) Divide the dough in half, then in quarters. If you want to break out your scale again, cover it with oiled plastic wrap (greasy side up, please!) to make your 500g loaves as close to perfect as the laws of physics... and digital readouts... will allow.
Shape: Make the little buggers into whatever shape you so desire, keeping in mind that large deviations in shape may require adjusting of bake times. I like mine in little rounds of pillowy goodness. Susan shapes hers into pretty batards – go look! Oooo, pretty... *drool*
Proof: Gently scooch your dough shapes over to where they will rise; baking sheet if you plan to bake on that, pizza peel/parchment paper/what-have-you if you plan on baking on a stone. Sprinkle with flour, cover if you want (I rarely do and it doesn't seem to hurt anything) and walk away for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Well, actually it sorta depends on how active your starter is, but as long as it's not half-dead or a raving beast of bubbly demonic power, 2 to 2 1/2 hours is a good guideline. Now set your oven to 475 (or equivalent) and go watch a movie like a good bread baker.
Bake: Are your dough shapes poofy and at least marginally bigger than they were before? No? Go away again. Check back every half hour until they are. Yes? Wonderful! Now we score. Slice open the tops of those bad boys any which way you please, trying not to deflate and totally ruin all your hard work. When that's done, toss the method of choice into the oven and let it roasty toast away for 30 minutes. Check your bread. Not done? Go an extra five and check again. Keep doing this until your loaves are golden brown and delicious, and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Now I know your first inclination will be to take the bread out, toss it on a cooling rack, and hover over it like a nervous new mommy. It also probably involves lots of sniffing, oooing, ahhing, and steaming of unlucky eyeballs held too long over a very hot loaf. But do not give in! Leave those loaves in the oven, with the door cracked open and the oven off, for an extra five minutes.
Now you may steam your eyeballs. Cutting is not allowed until the loaves have cooled; however, sniffing is permissible. At least until your husband/wife/child/roommate/dog/cat/fish looks at you like you've finally lost it... then you might wanna stop.
Monday, May 11, 2009
See y'all later,
Sunday, May 10, 2009
To bake bread. What did you think I was gonna say?
After being without flour for two days, I was getting mighty twitchy to bake something. Anything. I debated making a (gasp) all-white banana bread, but decided to ask my darling man to pick up some bags of King Arthur on his way home from work in the morning. I resisted the evil urge to make an all-white loaf by this much. You see, I've made this promise to myself to incorporate as much whole grain flour into our diets as I can without sacrificing taste and texture, because we eat a LOT of bread, and it's a good way to get whole grains into me and mine -- especially the kids -- without having to really work at it. I'm lazy, and I'm comfortable with that. =)
So when he came home with the flour this morning, I got all giddy happy and debated what to make first. Sandwich loaf? Artisan? I finally settled on a country loaf, but put it off to make lunch, then my littlest was upset most of the day. Around 7 o'clock, I figured I probably wouldn't be able to make anything. Then my littlest dropped off, and yay! I had just enough time to rip off a loaf. Bread machines are wonderful things, by the way. Then I remembered Andrew had mentioned wanting some bread, cheese, and wine soon. Go figure, I end up making an all-white loaf anyway. xD
I really need to break him of the all-white habit, though. Seriously. Maybe I'll try adding cornmeal...
Bake Temp: 375F
Bake Time: 40 minutes +5
- 500g Bread Flour
- 350g Water
- 20g Oil
- 8g Salt
- 8g Yeast
Friday, May 8, 2009
Several dozen enterprising bakers are working their way through Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, and while I don't yet own the book, with the help of some of the BBA Challenge participants, I'll get my hands on some of the recipes and follow along as best I can. If you're interested in joining, hop on over to Pinch My Salt for more info and to contact Nicole to add your name to the growing list.
The first recipe on the list is called Anadama Bread. I got the recipe (and story behind it) courtesy of Heather over at Flour Girl, and after admiring her wonderful loaf, went off to make my own, ecstatic that I actually had all the ingredients on-hand. I was temporarily set back when I realized I didn't have all the bread flour I needed, but hey, I'm just following along, right? I can make substitutions if I need/want to, and as long as I learn something, I got something out of it. Bonus if the bread is tasty!
I'd soaked my cornmeal overnight, anticipating this gorgeous, high-rising loaf, and lo, it rose. And rose. For something weighted down with a cupful of whole cornmeal, it was a big sucker! Not to mention the 2 cups of King Aurthur White Whole Wheat I'd tossed in to make up for my lack of 4 1/2 cups of bread flour. I'd figured at nearly half whole wheat, it would at least slow the thing down. But in just under the times given by the recipe, my dough had crested my 9x5in bread pans, and I tossed them in the oven.
So you can imagine my surprise when, upon opening the oven after the first twenty minutes of bake time (to rotate the baking sheet the pans were on, as per instructions) I saw they had shrunk slightly. *blinkblink* O-kay. Well, they were still pretty high-rising for whole-grain loaves, so I figured, what the heck. Maybe that's just the nature of the dough. But sure enough, at the end of bake time, I pulled out what looked like two bricks. Well, crap.
Except, they weren't bricks. Two hours after I'd pulled them from the oven, I sliced into one to find the moistest bread I'd ever made -- that was actually cooked through, of course. I don't know what miracle happened, but those scrawny blocks of golden-brown pitifulness actually turned out to be really (I mean REALLY) good. Go figure!
Now, I don't like to judge a bread until it's been around for a few days, and I've had a chance to taste it at different points of maturity. But after only two days, I can tell you I much prefer this Anadama Bread fresh. Not that it isn't still chewwy, moist, and flavorful; it is! But I personally prefer the flavors to be defined; the molasses to have a sharp sweetness, the corn to be a prominent feature in my mouth, both taste and texture. Unlike a good rye bread, which smooths with age to the betterment of the bread, this one just becomes... okay. You may feel differently. In either case, I encourage you to go grab a copy of the book and try it out yourself.
It's an amusing mistranslation that has lent itself to all sorts of usurping, from DnD's "all your gold are belong to us" to my own very bad attempt at blog humor. Now that I think about it, it's funnier for someone (like myself) who loves Japanese games/anime/everything and thinks that dubs -- and sometimes subs -- are done by drunk French monkeys trying to speak English. Seriously. It's that bad.
But back to bread. I've got the bug. Yes, the wonderfully tasty, often frustrating yeast bug. It should really have it's own entry in the mental health dictionary. It's an affliction yielding ungodly good bread with enough carbs to make your jeans groan. You think I exaggerate? Make that perfect loaf of sourdough, mow down with some good cheese and a bottle of wine, then come talk to me. My fiance still hasn't forgiven me for the dent to our wallets.
That isn't to say making bread is expensive! I read somewhere that the average sandwich loaf costs about $0.50 to make, and for the same high-quality bread, you'd pay something like $2.50-$3.00 at the store. No, bread isn't the expensive part... It's that once you've made nirvana in a crust, you can't just toss some Kraft on it and sip a coke. No, you need to get that nice Pinot Noir you saw at the store for $12.99, and that $8 per pound jarlsberg. To do it justice, you understand!
But seriously, now. Bread baking has become quite the passion for me, and while my significant other might blame me for his addiction to bread, cheese, and wine over the last few months, I can't see an end. Sourdough, yeast, quick, it doesn't really matter. I'll make it all, and enjoy it with something close to orgasmic pleasure. So this little corner of the WWW is dedicated to my obsession, and whether no one reads it, or millions do, I'll enjoy sharing my trials and triumphs.