08 November 2009

being pregnant and being a foodie

I have a fairly decent excuse for not updating this blog in goodness knows how long. In late August we found out that our family of 2 (plus puggle) will soon be a family of 3 (plus puggle). For various reasons, this just became public (that is, Facebook) knowledge, though the new grandparents to be certainly helped share the information for us as well as a status update could ever do.

There are so many things to discuss about being with child...and so many have already been discussed ad nauseum (sp? blogger's spell check can't get this one either) on blogs, in books, on sites devoted to every little thing pregnancy-related.

So, I figured I would discuss the one thing that I have not found a good source of information for: being a foodie while eating for two.

What is a foodie? My husband hates the term, though he falls into the category to some extent. Its someone who loves, adores, and will go great distances for really great food. A foodie is not scared by foods that are raw, items that they have never heard of, or cuisines from many time zones away. A foodie understands that Asian food is not the Chinese delights that are delivered to your house, and that Italian meals --- real Italian meals --- do not include melted mozzerella cheese. Foodies' concept of Ceasar dressing involves raw egg yolk and can't be purchased in a bottle. I have heard the following term describe my eating habit: "food snob". So call a foodie a food snob. It describes someone who loves unusual foods and unusually delicious foods, which could be as simple as a homegrown heirloom tomato with basil and a good extra virgin olive oil.

The following information is taken from my appointment with a pregnancy nutritionist and various reading materials. Please, please refer to a doctor with any questions about your own diet!!!!

Enter the restructions of pregnancy:
The biggest fear placed in the hearts of pregnant women is the fear of listeria. That's a lovely bacteria that lives in undercooked foods and unpasteurized cheeses. It can make a "normal" person have an unfortunate night of intestional issues and lose a pound or two the easy way. It can be utter disaster for the pregnant woman's unborn baby.
What this means for "normal" eaters --- hot dogs have to be thoroughly steaming (I love a good hotdog too!), no cold cuts that are not pre-roasted meat (bologna, etc.), all other cold cuts (turkey, roast beef, etc.) have to be toasted until steaming. Meat has to be cooked to well done.
No raw anything.
Only pasteurized cow's milk cheese.

What this means to me and my foodie friends --- No more proscuitto e melone. No more salumi, or charcuterie plates. No more smoked salmon, smoked duck breast, or other smoky delightful cold meat treats. No more pate, or terrain de pate. (Whoops. No one told me that prior to my birthday dinner. Sorry, little baby.) No more lamb chops, or any other lamb dish that is best served rare. (Apparently lamb runs the biggest risk of them all.) No more filet mignon, because there is no point in eating it cooked beyond a rare. (whoops again, didn't even know I was to be pregnant when I chose the filet at a wedding and didn't know the "at least medium well" rule when at said wedding) No more carpaccio. No more anything with crudo for that matter.
No more sushi or sashimi or salmon tartare. No more quail egg upon said sushi. No more maki with roe.
Adios to the delicious, non-cow's milk cheeses of Spain. No chevre, manchego, drunken goat. No more brie, either. Or feta. Or bleu cheeses, stilton or gorgonzolas.

Another great risk to the baby is mercury consumption. To this point, tuna is out. As is swordfish, steak, tilefish, and all other large fish. Granted, the only way to really enjoy tuna is raw anyhow...making one of my absolute FAVORITES a double whammy no. Back to my list of favorites that are off limits for being raw: oysters on the half shell. For my Dad's sake, I will mention that I am also no longer allowed cherrystones, though I can't really say I ever liked those anyhow.

So, where does this leave a pregnant foodie? Probably not even interested in half the foods she can eat. I lost my taste for any kind of meat that is not totally obscured by mincing and seasoning. Pork in a Peking Ravioli or steamed bun? bring it on. Pork chops...just typing the words are making me nauseous. Chicken in any way is not doing it for me these days. Oddly, the only 2 ways that I can get down beef is in a McDonald's cheeseburger (go ahead, call me a food snob) with tons of pickles, or in a meatball grinder.
On the other hand, tofu has become a craveworthy feast to me. And vegetables and fruits in any form. Pumpkin curry soup is a food of the gods right now. I almost tackled a student to the ground for a late season plum. Pomegrantes are a daily snack.

Here are a list of nutritionist approved foods to sate the foodie's hunger and keep baby happy:
maki - sushi rolls with cooked fish and/or vegetables. Some of my favorites include cucumber, unago (eel) and unavo (eel with avocado). Spider rolls may not be too great as soft shell crab is not in season, but they are a good cooked choice as well. In fact, I was told that cooked rolls are one of the best foods to eat: they are low-fat, nutritious, and the ginger settles the stomach. Add some edamame and miso soup and you have a very filling and healthy meal. PS- green tea is off limits. This is because it prohibits absorbtion of folic acid. Of everything I have had to give up, this one is probably the hardest.

prosciutto and fig - on pizza, in a pasta meal. As long as proscuitto is thoroughly cooked, and eaten sparingly, its OK.

cheeses - hard, cow's milk cheeses are also OK. I adore parmiggiano with some balsalmic drizzled on it. Melt a little into a crisp and you have an absolutely amazing snack. This is a good time to try some artisan cheddars, swisses or other hard, cows milk cheese. A word of warning on artisan cheeses: be sure they are pasteurized.

lamb - for me, its one of 2 ways these days: well roasted leg of lamb with a good minty jelly or in kibbe, a thoroughly cooked lebanese meatloaf.

salmon - this fish is ok 1 time per week if farmed, 2 times per week if wild. My favorite way to prepare it (besides in sushi or tartare) is baked with a sour cream and dill sauce. Try to find this delicious recipe by James Beard. You never go wrong with any of his suggestions.

Other foods that have been elevated in status in my mind lately include olives (I can not get enough), and ceasar salads (just be sure that you have "egg beaters" in the dressing, as opposed to real egg yolk. In CT, the law provides that restaurants have to use this egg yolk substitute. In MA, it could be the same and the last restaurant where I asked missed this caveat, or it could be legal to use the raw egg with warning. If you ask, the kitchen should be able to tell you. From my days of waitressing, believe me it is asked at least once a day at any restaurant serving this salad.)
There are select Chinese restaurants that make some absolutely delicious tofu meals, including one in Farmington, CT that makes a "vegetarian duck" and "vegetarian goose meat" from minced mushrooms and tofu sheets that is so good, I ask my parents to drive it up from home for me when they visit. I also love a good Sesame Tofu if it shows up on a menu.
Another great choice is Vietnamese bun with tofu or shrimp. ( I lost my love of shrimp with pregnancy.) Its light, tasty, and fresh. Great for my picky tummy.
Thai foods also offer lots of tasty, cooked choices and plenty of vegetarian selections.

Happy eating, friends. Even if you are not pregnant, maybe some of these foods are new to you...try seeking them out. They aren't too hard to find, if I managed here in Central Mass. Maybe you have some suggestions for me? I would love to hear them!

Meanwhile, I will continue to look forward to my anniversary celebration. Baby D is due 4 days before our 4th anniversary. My gift this year? A platter of sushi, a gallon of iced green tea and a magnum of Vuvet Cliquot, please. :-)

20 July 2009

time for a little shopping, and dining.

I am absolutely using this space to make myself feel like I have my dream job from time to time. That dream job, friends, is a travel writer. It involves no children, no text books, no lesson plans, no early wake-ups (except for flights and excursions) and plenty of time on the beach and at the dinner table. Nevermind, the shopping! If only such a position as traveling critic/mystery shopper existed.....ah...sweet fantasy world. So, without further explanation...a couple shopping recommendations and a restaurant to be avoided at all costs if you happen to be down the cape anytime soon.

Chatham, MA- Girls, if you happen to need a cute dress (or a classy dress, or a unique dress, or a killer-"get the hell away from my boyfriend"-dress) for a wedding, shower or other event, I highly recommend "Violets". Its right on the main street where all the shopping is, in the center of town, sort of across the street from The Squire. The dresses are actually very reasonably priced for the selection and the variety. Shopping there consists of looking through rainbowed racks of dresses organized by color. They also have an amazing choice of costume jewelery to compliment their dresses or any pre-existing assemble you have to fancy up. The baubles are not nearly as affordable if bought in quantity (a necklace and pair of earrings cost me $70. A lot, I think, for costume jewelery.), but still ridiculously adorable and unique. I think that's the highlight of the offerings here...you are not going to be wearing something that anyone else is sporting to the same event. For example, my new earrings, which feature two thin, yet big dangly ovals, with tiny pinkish violet swarvoski crystals and a teeny little golden bird floating from the post. Not tacky...whimisical. A little bird! I loved them instantly. Whoever does the buying for this store clearly enjoys their role and has a lot of fun filling the small space with gorgeous items.

Harwichport, MA - On the same note of absolutely fall-in-love-with-everything-on-the-rack selection, with a more casual weekend feel, try shopping at "Isabel". On Route 28, across from The Mason Jar, this store took over for a consignment store a couple years back and has held on for the past few summers with adorable clothes. The feel is a funkier J.Crew, or a prepped out Anthropology, maybe. There are sundresses, shorts, jeans, t's, sweaters... if I had a black Amex card I could easily fill a closet here. The prices, for the most part, reflect the store's vacationy location. You pay a premium for shopping within walking distance to the beaches in town. For my Central Mass friends: if you are a Natick Collection shopper, the tags here will be par for the course. If you are a Greendale Mall shopper, you may be in for some sticker shock. That said, I have Natick Collection tastes with a Greendale Mall budget, and this store is great source of inspiration for adding to my season's wardrobe updates.

East Harwich, MA- For the love of god, do not confuse "The Upper Crust" pizzeria, located on rt.39 in the 400 plaza here with "The Upper Crust" located in Brookline and Boston. Do not order pizza from this place. The undercooked nastiness that we paid over $30 for this weekend shamed me as an Italian, and as the daughter of a family who owned a pizzeria. It shamed me as someone who eats pizza. Hell, it shamed me as someone who eats at all.

13 July 2009

when did you grow up?

It was a couple weeks ago that I was flipping through a copy of "Real Simple" magazine and saw an essay contest asking would be authors to write about the moment they realized they were really, true, honest-to-god adults. Since that moment, the thought has popped into my head several times, interrupting my best efforts to remain forever trapped in college mode.

And my efforts to not grow up have been pretty impressive.
I am one of the last of my friends to hold on to non-motherhood. Not because I don't adore babies, but because I also adore laziness and sleeping in, and beach trips and unplanned runs to the store, and freedom to do what I want, pretty much when I want. The puppy can go in a crate (but rarely does when I am not working!) but a baby can not.

I watch E!, I read Twilight and buy US Weekly if anything about the movies are on the cover, I waste money on iTunes and more money on Coach bags. I still punch new holes in my ears and plan on tattoos in what my husband considers my midlife crisis (giving me a lifespan of 62. thanks, Babe.) Credit cards are still used, and 401K's...who really needs them. Especially when 11% goes to the pension plan anyhow, thanks Mass teacher retirement fund.

BUT...despite this...I did discover this month that I am, in fact, a true grown-up.

Several occasions illustrated this to me in glaringly obvious and painful ways. Let's look at last week-

Monday - Try to plan camping trip with girlfriends. Two of us must "check with husbands" first. (Reminds me of being a child, checking with Mom) Three of us must schedule around parental doctor appointments. (When you hit the "real grown-up stage", you take your parents to the doctor and help them fill out forms, give medical histories, and calm them down.)
Go to dermatologist - instead of being inundated with sun safety and acne info, shown botox info. Awesome. Told that "freckle" on face is "age spot". Revolt with third piercing in each ear. Now I look 15 again. Except the little sign indicates that I need a parent to sign if born after 1990. I was in high school in 1990, wasn't I?

Tuesday - Bring mom to doctor. Try to help her with "these ABC's that you're so good at"...by that, she means the medical terms and abbreviations. I am not good at them because I have a master's degree in reading, I am good at them because I have a list of them on my own medical history: GAD, SAD, IBS, GERD. Have anxiety induced stomachache waiting for mom's appointment, which the nurse asks me to accompany her in for. "My mom needs me too, she is forgetful". Um...shit...when did my youthful mom get old enough to need me to help her? when did I get old enough to be helpful?

Wednesday - Funeral. For the day old daughter of friends. When you see the child of someone your own age pass away, you know that you are the older generation. When you see any child pass away, you wonder how it could happen. I believe that we needed more angels and she was too perfect for this imperfect world, and so was called to be an angel. I imagine my 'other mom', my nonna, and my mother in law, in heaven, cooing over her and taking care of her now. I pray that her family finds strength and comfort, but can not imagine how.

Thursday - still sullen from yesterday, I head to the dentist. They show me the clipping of my wedding announcement from three years ago. Three YEARS ago?! While my mouth is otherwise busy being scraped and polished, I think back those three years. Then, I think back the 7 years before that. Then, I realize that my husband and I have been together for TEN years. Then, it hits me that he has been out of college for ten years and had I not taken that year off, I too would have been out for ten years. Next, I recognize the fact that we have been out of high school for 14 years. Good god. Grown-up. The hygenist and I talk about our parents' health. Grown-up.

Friday- I go to the beach with three friends. I am the oldest. By five years, at least. On the ride home, someone asks about a guy from my husband's home town. "He's old." He's five years older than us. Yeah, he IS old. He is probably not Grown-up. He is looking for legal representation. Knowing what I do of that family and town, he's probably functioning on an 18 year old maturity level.

I AM grown-up. I worry about my parents' health. I worry about a mortgage. I plan to have children, eventually, and realize I need to be less selfish to do so. I have seen loss, and fear it, but know it is unavoidable. I lose words, and have to stop and think to recall ideas that used to just pour out. My age has a three in the tens place. I am seriously considering entering an essay contest. You can win money...for more coach bags. :-)

08 July 2009

Once upon a time...

there lived a tired teacher in a little, tiny town that she thought was too far away from anything really worth seeing. Like a mall with more than 10 stores. Or the beach. So on her first summer of not doing anything, she started talking to her dog. Talking to her dog too much for her own peace of mind. Hence, i diari della principessa.
At least now I can honestly say "I am not wasting time on facebook."

The beach comment above is not quite fair, as I do spend my weekends at the Cape. But its fair enough since the weekdays in summer are spent wishing my husband would make the career move into education and we could spend all week on the beach. He'd be a lot happier if I wasn't at home when he was at work.

Oh, the Cape. I just returned from a week at the Cape. I have a 15 month old Puggle, who is like my child. She loves the beach as much as I do (that is, she loves the warm sand and sun and wants nothing to do with the 57 degree water). And, the Cape welcomes her. Our usual beach, Nauset in Orleans allows her to bask in the sun as she deserves if she comes in on the O.R.V. road. And my father in law, he enjoys taking the truck out there too. As do many of my friends who purchased pretty expensive vehicles for the sole purpose of taking them on the beach. So we all rush to purchase $180 beach stickers. (well, not me. I drive a pretty badass corolla, but no one's beliving that thing can offroad in sand)
So, besides New England making some sort of cosmic mistake and believing that it was part of the Pacific Northwest for the past 4 weeks working against our beach plans, further insidiousness interupted the Puggle's plan for beach dominance last week.

The Piping Plover.

"tastes like chicken" "oh, cute" "our new babies" "little f*$#ers"
Go to any beach mid to lower cape right now, and you will hear these comments. I promise you.

No offroading at Nauset until August. No offroading at Race Point until god knows when. Half of Marconi is closed (2 were born). I can't remember which beach, but one beach closed entirely on the 4th of July (also the first sunny day in weeks) because 1 bird hatched. Or so a really drunk partygoer told me that night.

Nature is great. It does suck that we ruined their habitat, but there is a point where we seem to be overprotecting them. If we didn't exist, would they receive the protection they get now?

Eh, I am just bitter because everyone around me is cranky about this.

Personally, I have reason to be happy. We got a National Seashore pass and I get to spend the summer at beaches with bathrooms (!!!) No peeing in sand or running into 55 degree water for me this year. Daily drives up to my favorite towns on the Cape: Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, P-Town. Being able to just leave my beach crap in my car since its my car with the sticker on it. Being on my own schedule.

I will happily take it. I think I am going to go join some sort of group to protect those plovers. They did me a real solid this time around.

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