Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Cranberries, Goat Cheese, And Almonds

As I was driving home, I realized that I did not pull anything from the freezer for dinner, and I remembered that my fridge was lacking veggies–except some onions and carrots. I fretted as I was driving home. I figured something pasta-ish would work, but what else? No red sauce in my pantry. No mix of veggies to stir fry around.

Goat cheese. Onions. Cranberries.

Bam, dinner.

I threw the onions into the caste iron skillet with some olive oil and cooked it over low heat to caramelize them. That takes a while. I put the water on for the pasta as I tried to figure out my next steps.

Nico tried dog and cat food for the first time today. Never mind that he rejected his string cheese snack. I think 14 months was a pretty good effort at keeping him from the pet dishes.

Next, I googled some information about cranberries, because I had a bag of fresh cranberries, not the dried ones. I decided to boil them with a little honey, to take away some of the tartness. After that, I mixed the pasta, onions, and cranberries, mixed up a vinaigrette, and topped with goat cheese and almonds.

It was so yummy! My odd-ball toddler loved it! What toddler loves cranberries, balsamic vinaigrette, goat cheese, and caramelized onions? My kid. He’s destined to be a foodie.

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Ingredients:

1/2 pound of pasta, prepared
1 onion sliced thin
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1.5 cups of fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons of honey
8 oz goat cheese
Almonds
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
Thyme
Salt pepper

Instructions:
1. In a skillet, add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil until warm. Add the onions and turn the flame down to medium low. Let the onions caramelize slowly, stirring occasionally, about 15-20 minutes.
2. Rinse the cranberries. Add to cold water in a pot. Warm over medium heat. Add the honey once it boils. Simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Mix the pasta, onions, and cranberries.
4. In a cup, mix vinegar, olive oil, Dijon, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix well and pour over pasta.
5. Add goat cheese and gently mix.
6. Serve with an almond garnish.

Home Fries

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Lately my CSA box has been full of potatoes. I love potatoes. However, we don’t usually go through a bag of potatoes in a week. I looked in my pantry the other day and I had 2.5 bags of potatoes. I also had a bag of sweet potatoes. How the hell am I to use all these potatoes?

Luckily, at the same time Potato-polooza was discovered, I also noticed we ran out of eggs and yogurt. I decided to make home fries for breakfast. I wanted to go for simple, but as I was dicng the potatoes, I decided to throw in a couple sweet potatoes. Nico totally approved, which is funny, because he hated sweet potatoes when he was around 7 months old.

Home Fries

2 tablespoons of butter
4 potatoes, diced
3 sweet potatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
Salt, pepper, and any other spices that seem fitting

1. In a large pot, add the sweet potatoes and potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Drain potatoes.
2. Warm a skillet, add butter, and add the onion. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft.
3. Add the potatoes to the onions and mix well. Continue to cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes begin to brown. Season with salt and pepper, as well as other desired seasonings.

We loved these! A bit labor intensive for breakfast, in my opinion, but so worth it. It made quite a lot of home fries, so we had the leftovers for dinner with some mahi mahi.

52 books?

I think I want to attempt to read 52 books in 2013. I used to be a crazy reader, until motherhood took over. It’s not that I don’t have time, I just don’t prioritize it. I’m going to cheat a little bit, and have my first book be one that I am currently reading, though I am only 20 pages into it. This is the book for week one.

N’s home birth story (over a year later)

I’d written up the story of Nico’s birth to share with some close friends after his birth, but only a choice few people had the opportunity to read it. I had such a positive birth experience, and I wanted to share it with a wider audience. Hopefully someone who is considering a home birth (or any other birth experience, really) will benefit from our story.

I was due on Wednesday, November 2, 2011. I woke up that day with no signs of a baby coming. I got up, got dressed, and went to work. When I arrived, my students were quite freaked out. They were very worried that I would give birth in the middle of 2nd period English. In fact, I later learned that the students selected a student who would be responsible for helping me if I went into labor.

No baby that day.

The next day was a Thursday–got up, got dressed, went to work. The only think that was different at school that day was a student having a pretty major meltdown that I had to deal with, along with a co-teacher.

When I got home, I decided to take a hot shower, to try to take away some of the stress from my hard day at work. We had an old claw foot tub, and as I tried to climb into the tub, it was clear that the baby had dropped. I almost couldn’t get into the tub!

Later on, I got a call from my brother. He and his girlfriend were driving from Florida to California, moving for a new job, and they were going to pass through town. I invited them to stay the night. I was up later than normal talking with them. A couple hours after my bedtime, I started to feel a little off, but I assumed it was exhaustion. I went to bed having what I realize now were early contractions.

I work up around 3:30am and the real contractions were happening–back labor too. I was in disbelief. I knew the baby has to come eventually, but I hadn’t processed how I was going handle that part. I decided I needed some time to think. I let Mark sleep, and I quietly labored for a couple hours. Around 5:00am, I work Mark up to let him know that it was happening. We called the midwife, who suggested a hot shower. While I got myself in the shower, Mark went to wake up my brother and his girlfriend. They quickly packed up, with directions to a local gym where they could shower on their way to the Grand Canyon.

I was surprised with how panicked I was during the early part of my labor. I read a ton, had a great network of friends who experienced childbirth, and thought I was completely prepared. So not the case. My poor midwife had to deal with panicked phone calls until she finally just came to the house.

We got the birth pool set up, the midwife checked my progress, and I continued to labor. Once I got into the pool, I felt a lot of relief. The warm water felt so good. After a while, I wanted to move around, but I quickly returned to the pool. As the contractions got closer and closer together, I got more and more uncomfortable. I didn’t think I would make it. I got to the point where only my midwife could talk to me. I splashed Mark any time he tried to talk to me. His job was to put constant and firm pressure on the small of my back. The assisting midwife, in my labor cloud, couldn’t do anything to please me (in hindsight, she was terribly helpful and insightful, she actually made a suggestion that kept me from getting an episiotomy).

I finally got to the point where I just couldn’t get comfortable in the pool. It was right at the time I was supposed to push. I moved from the pool to our couch (it was covered with piddle pads and such–most common question about my birth experience). After 2 hours of pushing, I was exhausted and ready to quit. My midwife said that if I didn’t get the baby out in the next push that she’s have to do an episiotomy. The assisting midwife suggested that roll onto my side and push in that position…and it worked!

Nico Jack was born at 3:21pm at 6lbs 8oz and 19inches long. Typical of this kid, he cried a bit, but calmed down immediately after being placed on my chest. I say I was in active labor for roughly 12.5 hours and pushed for 2 hours.

I loved my home birth experience. After Nico was born, we relaxed in the living room with the midwives, while they checked and double checked everything with me and Nico. A couple hours later, my in-laws arrived with a stew, pizza, and fresh groceries. They stayed for only a short period of time, and after they left Nico and I climbed into bed, along with Mark later on. As Nico slept, I did something terribly normal (watched Grey’s Anatomy) on an extraordinary day.

I was amazed at how alive I felt after giving birth. I was given strict instructions to stay in bed after giving birth, but I felt like I could have ran a mile. I was up the next morning, and I felt like it was a normal day (besides the fact I had a baby!). I am so thankful for the opportunity to be under the care of such an amazing and knowledgable midwife.

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