Thursday, January 22, 2015

Snooty Brownies: aka brownies with goat cheese, fruit and lemon

There are not enough words. This dessert is PERFECT for people who don't love overly sweet desserts. I am that person. I like a little tart. And I love fruit and chocolate together. Or chocolate with anything really, let's be honest. So I found a desert on The Kitchn blog. I loved the ingredients, but wasn't a huge fan of how it was made. So I tweeked. And I love it!

I saw the ingredients and knew I needed to make this, but I have never liked brownies that had a cream cheesy filling that was baked in it. I love cheesecake, so I don't know why it bothers me when it's baked into brownies, but it just does. Perhaps it's because you need a cakier brownie to hold up that cheese and I do not enjoy a cakey brownie.

So I decided to stick to my tried and true Carla Hall brownie recipe (minus the nuts and marshmallows). I will say that I've always needed to cook them longer than the 20 minutes she suggests, but I'm also pretty sure that I've never used the correct pan to cook them in. And also, grease the crap out of the pan. These bad boys are STICKY. And wonderful just by themselves.

But then, while they're baking, go ahead and make essentially what is the icing for these brownies. I take out the goat cheese at least an hour before to soften it. And I used mascarpone, both because the flavor is better than cream cheese and also because the texture is creamier. I used about equal parts of each and I just eyeballed it to see how much I think I needed to cover the brownies. I added a little sugar too. That is all to your taste. Like I said, I don't love overly sweet desserts, so I only added a little pinch.

I also made a fruit compote to add. I just took a bunch of frozen berries, stuck them in a pot, put it on low heat, and let them break down (with some help from my potato masher). I added lemon zest and lemon juice and some sugar and about 1/2 tbsp of corn starch to thicken it a tiny bit. Again, this is all to your specific tastes. I like mine tart, so I add a little and taste until I get it how I like it. It's all very scientific.

I didn't just throw the berries into the goat cheese mixture because I didn't want it to be pink icing, I wanted to see a swirl. But you totally could and it would be delicious. I just wanted a good picture.

Once the brownies cooled a little bit, a started to ice it. It was not easy. The icing was thick, and it was a bit challenging to spread. I would have added more mascarpone if I had any left. So I resorted to using my finger to spread it. Then I spooned some fruit compote on and swirled it in.

The rest? Is magical dessert-y history.





Loves and dessert always!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Measles vs Ebola- An Airplane Dialogue

I was talking this over with some friends recently. And I was suuuuuuuuper pissed about it before, and then forgot to blog/ rant about it. And then I brought it up and got all pissy all over again. So here goes.

I got a warning that on certain dates in December, someone had measles on an airplane that landed in Seatac (which is where we fly in and out of, and where we happened to be the day or 2 after this "epidemic" hit).

Apparently, the CDC spouted a whole bunch of nonsense, Disneyland was involved, all the sheeple lost their damned minds because OH MY GOD A RASH IS ON THE LOOSE! WARN EVERYONE! TOUCH NOTHING EVER! If you were anywhere near anything the infected may have breathed on, you're doomed. DOOMED.

Ummmmm. Take a breath, America.

For starters. It's the effing measles. It's a rash. Does it suck? Yup. Do you want it? Probably not. Are you vaccinated against it? Most likely yes. Because if you or your children aren't vaccinated you are death waiting to happen and clearly have no problems killing small babies. Or so I've been told.

And also? It's rarely deadly. Rarely. And here's the thing. If your immune system is SO compromised that the measles would kill you, you most likely are not in Disneyland, or on an airplane. I would think. Because there's A LOT of shit flying around on an airplane. And in Disney. Not that you don't deserve to fly or go to there, but that most people would simply decide not to.

Please don't send me hate mail about how sick people deserve to do all those things too. Because I agree, they do. But they do face a certain amount of risk, and you can't request that everyone on an airplane be sprayed down with antibacterial foam because there's a risk of you catching something.

I digress. Kind of.

Because here's the thing.

NO ONE STOPPED EBOLA FROM FLYING.

It barely made a blip in the news. I sure as hell didn't get a disclaimer about EBOLA flying through my airport, that I had just happened to visit (I apparently like to fly during disease season.).  The CDC was a big fat pile of worthless and "well probably you'll be fine unless you get a fever, and then probably you don't need to quarantine yourself (I'm looking at you, you numb nuts nurse out on your effing bike around the town because you were offended after HANDLING ALL THE  EBOLA)." I mean.

Can we just be rational here? For like, a minute? EBOLA HAS A 50% DEATH RATE WITH NO CURE. NO VACCINE. NADDA. ZIP. ZERO. As in, hello, you're effed. Measles? Like, 1% die. For that 1%, that's a huge bummer. But you know what we have for measles?

A CURE.

And therein lies the rub. There's no money in Ebola. They don't have a vaccine for it. There's nothing that they can force the population to get injected with so that they DON'T get ebola. (I will not even start a convo about the not quite accurate info being spouted that is vaccinated herd immunity. because hate mail.). But there's nothing to sell. So the CDC kept their mouth shut. They DID NOT STOP PEOPLE FLYING WHO HAD A LIKELIHOOD OF HAVING A DISEASE THAT 50% OF PEOPLE DIE FROM. They didn't stop it. They didn't even really talk about it. They didn't apologize. The media outlets almost let it become a frenzy of panic stricken what the hell is the government doing to protect us. And then. Funny enough. It dropped off everyone's radar.

But the measles? HOLY SHIT THE MEASLES ARE BACK WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE AND IF YOU DON'T GET A VACCINE RIGHT NOW WE WILL COME AFTER YOU WITH OUR TORCHES AND YELLING. The CDC made sure that they stated unequivocally that without the vaccine, you are a walking death threat. Stay in your homes. Be afraid.

Why, exactly? Ohhhhh.......because guess who's getting paid? Big pharma. Which donates quite generously to the government. Everytime a story like this pops up, there's a huge pay out. Doesn't matter that it's not life threatening. Doesn't matter that it's easily treatable. And also doesn't seem to matter that if you've been vaccinated for it then SHOULDN'T IT PROTECT YOU AGAINST NOT GETTING IT SO WHY THE HELL ARE YOU FREAKING OUT???

I feel like this should have been a catalyst for the crumbling facade of a CDC/ government entity that simply does NOT have our backs. At any turn. A government that is in the pockets of greedy business men/ corporations who are destroying our nation's food, medicine, and health.

Imagine my surprise when I heard crickets. Complete radio silence.

What is happening??

I know this all seems very conspiracy theory, and I swear I don't line my walls with aluminum foil so "they" can't hear my thoughts. But this one just seems SOOOO obvious. And no one says or does anything. I, for one, would like to believe that the leaders of this country have my best interests at heart. But time and time again, both financially, and health wise, they prove me wrong.

This one just hit so hard. And so close to home. As both measles and ebola and I apparently got close. Ships passing in the night and all.

So that's my angry Jersey rant for the night.


Monday, January 5, 2015

The Holding- A Toddler Poop Story

Oh the control. The crazy crazy sphincter control of a toddler. This is a story working towards a happy, or workable, ending. I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, but haven't gotten around to it, due in part to all the mid-wifing I've been forced into.

New job, you ask? Not quite. It's just that my SAHM position has required a new activity- cheering on, and coaxing out, the poop from my toddler.

Yup.

I sing songs about it. We have a poop party every time it happens. We never EVER say anything bad about poop (if you tell my child her poop stinks and is gross I SWEAR TO ALL THE THINGS I WILL CUT YOU).

Because the holding. DEAR LORD THE HOLDING.

It started over a year ago. I was about 18 weeks pregnant with little man, when the hubbs was sent to California for a work trip. For 3 weeks. Since there was just no way in hell he was going without us, we drove from Seattle to San Diego and stayed for 3 weeks. We learned stuff. We laughed. We cried. We screamed. And. We didn't eat nearly as well as we usually do.

Of course, there was no kitchen in our hotel room. And we tried to stick with as much organic food as possible. But let's face it. When you're eating out for every meal, that's not always feasible. And so, babygirl got a bit backed up.

And I know I can't be the only parent out there who has suffered through this. I know my mom had this problem with me when I was little. Once it hurts a toddler to poop, getting them to poop again is challenging, to say the least.

It took 2 weeks after returning home to get ALL of our bodies up and running in a fairly regular fashion again. And she had a few issues where it built up a bit, and we had to talk her into pooping, but it wasn't life altering.

Until the end of my pregnancy.

And then, the shit simply didn't hit the fan.

She knew things were changing. And at 2 1/2, didn't have all the words to tell us about it. And so she held it.

My mom flew out the week before I was scheduled for my c-section. Babygirl didn't poop for almost that whole week. I scoured the interwebs for natural ways to help it along. Of course, miralax was the go to. And thanks but no thanks. I'd rather not drug her up, and have her muscles not be able to do what they need to do. But Dr. Sears had some really great suggestions. Turns out that one of his children had this issue for about 2 years. His wife, also a doctor, said she felt like a mid wife for those 2 years. That's when I started crying because YES! THAT'S EXACTLY IT!

So, the night before I had little man, we filled her up with prune juice, a little apple juice (because for some reason apples weren't doing the trick but organic apple juice shot it out of her), and flaxseed oil. We mixed it with the prune juice because that oil is hard to smell, much less get down. Then, we put her in a hot, soapy bath and let her play. (we used castille soap- nice and oily. lubing up the works).

God bless Nana. She had her feet in there with her, playing, trying to get her to hang out in a squat like position. And suddenly. Babygirl screamed a bit. And out came 2 of the world's largest, hardest turds. Her tiny little belly shrunk down noticeably. Nana scooped those turds out with her hand, amazed at the size, and how she was able to get them out cause they were like rocks. We praised her up and down, we laughed, we sang, we eventually flushed the poop down.....and we all slept better knowing she was healthy and not in pain for her first ever sleep time without mommy and daddy for the next day or two.

 From then on, we would make sure that babygirl had a shot of prune juice every day. Literally. We give her prune juice in a shot glass (easier to measure, and she gets so excited to use real glasses her size). It keeps her poop on the soft side so if there is a build up, it's not ripping her apart. And the hot soapy baths are like magic. It opens and relaxes everything. Sometimes she poops in the bath tub, and sometimes, right afterwards, in her diaper.  And of course for the day or two after, her poop is really really soft. And usually she poops a lot, clearing out the rest of her intestines.

One memorable time, at nana's house in jersey, she got all stopped up after the plane ride. We stuck her in the bath after a few days, and nana was so relieved that she finally pooped, that she scooped the poop out of the tub with her hands, held it there and sang to it. SANG TO IT. People, this holding stuff is no freakin joke.

I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Out of all of the experiences I've had in parenting. The placental abruption. The NICU stay. The burn unit with little man. The toddler tantrums. The no sleep. Far and away, the holding and ensuing constipation in babygirl has been the most draining. The most taxing. The most nerve wracking. We still struggle with this. It's been over a year. And there's no physical reason this is happening. She simply likes to hold it. She flat out refuses to go on the potty. She panic screams if I suggest it most of the time. She used to like to go in the bathtub, but recently when she's in the tub and feels she has to go, she asks to get out and put a diaper in. And girlfriend does NOT like to get out of the tub ever. I'm not sure if that's progress or not....is a tub closer to potty than a diaper? Is there a way to measure that? Is that the oddest question ever asked?

So here's what I've learned, and what I'm still learning. Almost all of my friends have never had this issue. I love/ hate them.

I'm super thankful that it never lasted for so long that we had to get the poop physically removed from her body. I know people who have. And I am so so sorry they had to go through that. That's hellish.

What we're currently doing right now seems to be working fairly well. So I'm gonna share. Because honestly? There's just not that much info out there on how to manage this without lasting side effects, emotional scarring, and medication. So here goes.

At least a shot glass full of organic prune juice every day. Even if you're not doing an organic food lifestyle now, please just get the organic prune juice. The other crap they put in juices will only help to stop up the works if it's conventional. and a bottle of it goes a long way if you're giving it in shot glass doses.

As much as possible, try to get organic, virgin coconut oil into their diet. We like to drink smoothies. We add organic yogurt, spinach, coconut oil, chia seeds, berries and usually some peanut or almond butter. Obvs, the spinach helps a ton too.

Food. I try and make sure she eats enough ruffage. Greens are colon's little broom (thanks Mario Batali!) and definitely help to push it through.

To get the ruffage down, we let her dip it in extra virgin olive oil. This kid is OBSESSED with dipping her food. OBSESSED. And she loves loves loves olive oil. This helps with a) getting her to eat stuff she may have been opposed to and b) all the oil. lubing up the works from the inside.

We don't typically resort to the flaxseed oil until there's a real big issue with getting the poop out.

We sing poopy songs. She loves them. I shall share them with you because that's how much I love you.

to the tune of "the little white duck"
I'm a little brown poop, swimming in the water
A little brown poop. Just doing what I oughta
I flew right out of Ava's tooshey
It didn't hurt at all, cause I'm nice and squishy
Cause I'm a little brown poop, swimming in the water
Plop! Plop! Plop!  (her most favorite part)

Yes tooshey (touchey??) and squishy rhyme. And if you figure out how to spell tooshey, lemme know.

The other one, sung to "Camptown races"
Every one poops every day
Do da. Do da.
Every one poops every day
Oh doo doo day.

Did you see what I did there at the end? With the doo doo? I know. Hilarious.

People. I'm pretty sure this is why I got my degree in music education.

It's a fun way to remind her that everyone has to poop daily, without nagging her about it. Because the nagging? That results in a lot more holding.

She goes to the bathroom with me all the time. And we're constantly talking about how to poop. How much mommy poops, which she thinks is hilarious cause it's pretty much always. How we squat down (or at least bend our knees) so the poop comes out easier. And she gets pretty excited sometimes to show us "look I stand like THIS to poop!" This is usually done in front of people we're not close with.  Because of course it is.

If it's been 2 days and we've only had little teeny turds, or none at all (except the tell tale "shmear" meaning she held it with all her might and it tried to beat her), then it's time for the big guns. She gets no more dairy. And, we start to promise a reward. If you poop, you can have a cookie/ some ice cream/ etc. She knows we take that stuff away because it blocks up her poop, so she can have it again if she just let's it go. Oooh, that's another one we sing. Let it go. Thank you disney.

Day 3. If I watch her holding it in several times in a short span of time, the next time she tries to hold it, I'll go and hold her in a squat position. She faces me, her feet are planted on my thighs, and I hold her calves and make sure her knees are bent. She does not like this. I'm not a huge fan either. But we remind her that she doesn't want to have to go somewhere so they can take the poop out. Then she usually says "I do all mine byself" goes to a corner and finishes up.  And if not?

BATH TIME!!

Let's just not talk about how many times I've had to scrub out my tub. It's traumatic and I'm trying to block it out.

I can only pray that little man won't have this issue, and that one day soon, she will simply just want to go. Right now, she sleeps through the night without peeing, and she loves to pee on the potty, but potty training is just not happening because I just want her to shit regularly. And if I try and take away the diaper for that I usually get rewarded with lots more holding. Awesome. I'll let you know if I have a break through in that department.

So that's where we stand. I'm a mid wife for poo. It's not a great title to hold. It's exhausting. And when daddy gives a glass of milk after day 2 of not going saying "it doesn't matter now anyway, she's had all the prune juice" I try my hardest not to bitch slap him. (Sometimes daddy doesn't quite get it. Daddy has yet to shovel shit out of a tub. I shall change this very soon.)

I hope this was semi helpful for you. I know I would have appreciated it when this whole shit show started.

 I'm on FIRE with the puns today.

Loves and poop!

UPDATE!!
I super super don't want to jinx us, but we've gone for almost 2 months with only an incident or two of holding (neither of which lasted past the 3rd day, and both times, as soon as we got in the bathtub she said "mommy look I did BIIIIIIIG poopy!"

What finally seemed to work was making the most ridiculous analogy of all time.

I compared poop to a fish. I straight up did.

Her fave movie for a while was Finding Nemo. She gets very sad when Nemo can't find his daddy and daddy is looking for Nemo. So I told her that, just like Nemo wants to get back to the ocean to be with his family, her poops desperately want to fly out of her tushie into the toilet to be with their family. So far, she's totally buying it. She still goes in the diaper (whatevs, she's GOING!), but then we flush it down the toilet so they can all be together as one big happy family. I was just so ready to try ANYTHING AND ALL THE THINGS! And this seems to be working!!!! She empathizes with movies a lot (typically substituting her name and our names for the characters and telling me stories that way), so this hit home.

Here's to staying on this every day poopy train and hoping it works for you too!!