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Our accomplishments last week:

  • On Monday, Max had his first bath! (On Tuesday he got his second bath. You can imagine the poopsplosion that preceded it. We are not a family that bathes its children daily.)
  • On Thursday, I swam continuously for almost half an hour! (That’s how long it takes me to swim a kilometer these days. Still, it felt terrific to get some exercise.)
  • On Friday, Frida pooped in the potty! (And also once on the floor of the bathroom. We are very proud.)
  • Also on Friday, Max lost his umbilical cord! (Tobias found it and put it on the kitchen table. We don’t really know what to do with it, so it’s still there.)

Accomplishments this week:

  • Tobias is back at work, and everyone’s still alive!
  • I went to the grocery all by myself, kid-free thanks to the wonderful babysitter! (Who called as I was grabbing a basket and consulting my list to report that Max had woken up and was hungry. I started leaking milk instantaneously and was soaked by the time I’d turned around and joggled the two blocks back to the flat. Luckily, the four flights of stairs are a breeze when your baby is wailing in hunger at the top of them.)
  • I went to the grocery by myself again! And bought groceries!

With those groceries I made two huge pots of soup. It’s still winter here in Hamburg, and visiting hours are open at Chez Rosenbaum (now featuring twice the cuddly cuteness!), so it’s nice to have something warm to serve guests without cooking for each one individually. This first soup is basically a beet slush with five spice powder. I didn’t have the powder, but I did have the five spices, a mortar and pestle, and an abundance of misplaced confidence in my ability to pulverize star anise by hand. (If you’re dropping by this week, watch out for chunks!) The soup was interesting by itself and is upgraded to actually quite good by a dollop of creme fraiche. The recipe is here; if you make it I recommend doubling the ginger and tripling the five spice powder. Also, ignore the instructions about microwaving the beets – just add them to the pot with the stock and cook the whole thing for 25 minutes. And it’s fine to use twice as many beets as the recipe calls for. Basically, the recipe provides a name and license to add Chinese spices to beets. You take it from there.

The other soup was one of those projects where each step is super easy so you do them all, and then you realize that you have actually cooked something pretty delicious and pretty impressive even if the kitchen is bombed. It’s a carrot soup with cumin, served with chopped parsley, crispy garbanzo beans (a matter of 10 minutes in the oven with some olive oil and salt,) pita chips (ditto, except only 5 minutes), and lemon-tahini sauce (mix lemon juice and tahini. Done.) The hardest part was cleaning and chopping the parsley, so I didn’t do it – I pinched a small handful off the bunch in the crisper and gave it a quick visual inspection for clumps of mud before sprinkling it on our bowls of soup. The combination of orange soup and multiple toppings is quite fetching, and the toppings can all be made ahead of time and doled out over the course of a few days (although by day two the soup will be served with chewy garbanzo beans, rather than crispy. Still delicious.)

I fear that I will not be updating regularly in the near future, as Frida is eager to get outside one of these days and Max is going to realize that crying is more fun than sleeping, so it is time for me to share my favorite kitchen trick: The Recipe Split, or, How to Maximize Impact While Minimizing Dishes, or, It’s Not Really a Great New Revolutionary Cooking Concept┬áBut It’s All I’ve Got Don’t Blame Me I’m Exhausted Jesus Christ I Have Two Kids in Diapers What Do You Want From Me. It goes like this: when you get to the last few steps of a recipe, look for ways to split it into two or more batches with different flavors/decorations/outcomes. For instance, when I make chocolate pudding, I eat some plain, add toasted coconut to the second serving, and add peppermint oil to the third. This way, I don’t get sick of chocolate pudding, even if I make it every day! Calcium, people, calcium. When making any kind of roll/bagel/toasted pita chip, I bust out the poppy seeds and the white sesame seeds and the black sesame seeds and the dried onions and the coarse salt do a few rolls/bagels/chips of each. They look dynamite in a basket together. Muffins: once you’ve filled half the muffins cups, stir something else, like frozen berries, into the rest of the batter. Pancakes? Add banana slices and pecans to the last round. Dip? Divide it into two bowls, and add a little smoky hot sauce to one. I don’t care what kind of dip it is, it’s fun to have a spicy option and a regular option.

Just in case you fear that this is turning into a lifestyle blog, I’ll remind you that two separate individual humans have pooped on me today.

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