936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
I realize I’ve had a slight hiatus in blogging. Trust me, it has not been specific to blogging. No, I fear this hiatus also enveloped my cooking, pursuit of good food, judgment of what good food is, and consumption of real food. What could cause such a detour in what seemed so strong–our pursuit of real food? This, I tell you!
Now, I determined, I even prayed, that with my next pregnancy I would continue strong in well-eating, for the sake of my health, the baby, and my family. However, by the time this little guy (yes–guy!) reached the size of a sesame seed deep within my abdomen, all bets were off. It’s as if one morning I woke up, and takeout pizza reigned supreme! This was followed by a good month of a cuisine, if you could call it that, of takeout, dine in, or bagels. Without getting into all of the details (I have upcoming blog entries to entail those), at the end of 4 weeks of eating, well crap, my poor husband had had enough. Enough greasy sausage pizza, enough mediocre Chinese, enough evenings of coming home from work to no good food. Of course I was guilt ridden, and he did all he could to assure me it was not my fault, and it was only for a time, but something had to change
Slowly, surely, I took step by step back into the kitchen, toward the counter, then the cupboard, still avoiding the fridge knowing full well of the untouched, rotting produce leftover in the bottom shelves form our days of good food. Meal by meal I pushed myself. I found tricks. Make a simple casserole before noon (before my nausea would creep in), something I can pop in the oven while Grayson commutes home. I tried the slow cooker, but that ended up a big mistake come 3:00pm when stomach-turning fumes–I mean, delicious aromas of soup came wafting through the house. Grayson was thankful I’d cooked. I wanted to hurl.
Simple meal by simple meal I pressed on. Stuffed shells. Burrito pie. Tacos. I used be judgemental about those flashy cookbooks staring at innocent bystanders in Barnes in Nobles “Five ingredients or less!” “15-minute meals!”. However, these I found in my first trimester were my refuge. If there were more than five ingredients, I would lessen the load by cheating. Canned enchilada sauce? Why not!? After all, it was better than takeout.
I knew from experience this illness would just be for a time. However, my question remained, how long a time? During my pregnancy with Ezekiel, I did get over the nausea around 12 weeks, but my standards of eating were different back then, and my return to food was characterized by many bagels, and ice cream every day. I feared the worst, that even after the sickness of this pregnancy subsided, I would remain unable to touch a vegetable until this child was born.
But then came my break–Thanksgiving vacation, or “Turkey Palooza”, as it’s known in my family (blog post to come)! Every year my parents rent a large house for all of our family to spend Thanksgiving week together, complete with wild, wacky traditions. I look forward to it all year, every year. And this year I had an additional anticipation for this week: a whole 7 days of other people cooking food, and no take out or restaurants! I did challenge myself and volunteered to cook a couple of meals throughout the week. Tuesday evening I prepared iron-skillet lemon, garlic, and dill chicken drumsticks, served alongside homemade potato and cheese pierogies. Saturday I had signed Gray and myself up to make everyone breakfast. We needed to use up leftover ingredients in the fridge, and so I slyly dropped the responsibility of breakfast in my blessed husband’s lap by declaring “we” would make omelets. He makes the best omelets around, after all!
Our Thanksgiving vacation served as my transition back into real food. We’ve been home from vacation for four days now, and I am proud to announce I have made dinner three of those nights! Okay, last night resulted in a run to Noodles and Company, but it was an “off” day. This morning I played my usual game of “what sounds good, or edible, for dinner?” The first viable option to pop into my mind is what is on the dinner menu for that night. I rush to the store before I can change my mind, returning home with bags in hand–there’s no turning back now! Today’s winner was Chicken Saltimbocca. Someone gave me a recipe for this a couple of years back, and although I was highly impressed, the recipe has since sat in my cupboard untouched–until tonight. I’ve put a slight spin on the recipe, mostly due to ingredient variations and a lack of grocery funds, but this spin ended up a great success!
Chicken Saltimbocca is an Italian dish comprised of chicken breast cooked with veal or prosciutto and white wine. The original recipe I was given had this dish served over rice cooked in onions. My variation is a “Violet Rice”, the name was deemed after I chose to use an “Imperial Blend” of white, purple, and Jasmine rice, resulting in a surprising, bright, almost obnoxious (but delicious), purple rice!
My next variation was my choice of meat. I did opt for the called for chicken breast. However, being at the end of our budget week, our allotted grocery allowance was running on change, and I couldn’t bring myself to spend our last grocery dollars on a $5.99 package of 3oz of prosciutto. So, although I would recommend prosciutto for this dish, I found that some thick-cut Virginia ham made a much heftier but still suitable exchange for the prosciutto ham.
My final variation was my herb mix. The original recipe called for Herbes de Provence, which is usually a staple in my home, and I did indeed have some on hand. However, this particular container of Herbes de Provence I had brought home from the bulk section of a local market. I found it a little bit too coarse for my liking, and so I poured the lovely herbs into our coffee grinder. However, I must have gotten a little carried away with the grinder, because when I was finished the herb mix resembled a sort of “herb dust”. It has remained untouched on my spice shelf since. And so for this recipe I opted for some “Fines Herbes” I had on hand. Fines Herbes is a lighter variation, I find, of Herbes de Provence, a little more delicate in nature, and ideal for eggs, fish, and chicken. Fines Herbes is a mixture of parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil.
This is the “fanciest” dish I’ve prepared in the past 3 months, and pleasantly simple. I prepped the chicken and ham in the morning, so that shortly before Grayson arrived home I simply had to chop an onion, cook the rice, fry up the chicken, and mix the sauce–a total cooking time of about 30 minutes. I do realize this dish contains one little veggie (the onion), and the sauce is comprised of wine, sour cream and sugar. These facts would usually disqualify this dish from a veggie-full, real food pursuit dinner. However, I’m pregnant, and this is what the pregnant woman wanted, and it may have only had one veggie, but it had a veggie!
Sometimes our goals in life acquire a relative facet to them. Circumstances force us to be flexible. We have to assess our original intent and purposes, and align them with new developments. For instance, I would have to admit that in the past 3 months we have compromised our standards of eating, and veered from our goals. However, I can choose to sit in guilt and wonder at the negative affects all of those poor food choices will have on this child and my family. Or, I can give myself some slack. I can be thankful that in the past 3 months my nausea was relatively mild, and that I was able to eat at all, taking in calories to help my baby thrive. I can choose to move on, embrace a new day, take it one step at a time and return to good eating as I’m able.
During my hiatus from good food, I have been working on several blog entries documenting this struggle of mind, will, and nausea. I plan to post these in the coming weeks in hopes of encouraging some other pregnant soul somewhere that 1. It’s ok to eat pizza, for a time. And 2. You can return to good food after nausea! For those who have been pregnant, hopefully these posts will be a simple humorous relief, a look back on those fond mornings of crackers and ginger ale at the bedside. And for others, my hope is to provide a humorous tale, and a word of encouragement that a detour from your goal is not the end of the world. After all, in the little things of life there must be wiggle room, and in the big things of life, there must be grace.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!