When You Realize You’re a Crummy Chef

Lately I’ve been trying to master my homemaking skills.  This includes baking and cooking.  I learned that cooking tasty food means taking extra time to let flavors meld and really soak into the food.  I thought I had done pretty well, especially for someone who used to subsist on microwavable everything.  I made lasagna from scratch using my mom’s recipe.  I roasted my own vegetables.  I never give my child microwaved food.  I thought, “yes, I am killing this homemaking business!”

Then I went to my friend’s house for dinner.  She made something I often make, meat sauce with noodles, only it was delicious and Ro ate two helpings.  TWO! I can hardly get her to eat any of the sauce when I cook it.  That’s when I realized I am in reality a crummy chef.  It’s as if some people have the magic touch in the kitchen and some just don’t (ME).  Much like a green thumb, I lack this magic touch.  No matter how hard I try, my lentil soup is bland and my meat sauce is lackluster.  I’m thinking I need some one on one tutoring.

Maybe this is an unrealistic goal, but I want to be the mom who makes delicious food that her children remember fondly and come home for as adults.  But, so far it looks like I’ll be the mom my child invites out to eat.  Wondering if I can turn this around, or if after 15 years of cooking for myself I should just let it go.

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So Grossed Out

I knew we had silverfish, but c’mon!  No matter where I’ve lived I’ve always seen them.  Every once in a while I’d encounter a silverfish in the bathroom, and no biggie, I’d squish it and not think twice. But after today, it’s all I can think about.  In case you live in a really clean world and don’t know what a silverfish is, here’s a close up picture:LepismaSaccharina

 

Apparently our bug problem has gotten so bad, that nature has called in the big guns (i.e. house centipedes).  I guess they eat silverfish, ants, and roaches.  I’m beyond disgusted.  This morning hubs found one in our bathroom amongst ants and I’m sure silverfish.  If you’ve never seen one, brace yourself:

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I purposefully picked a small image so that you don’t throw up.  Just searching for images gave me the heebie jeebies.  I can hardly finish writing this post and can’t believe I’m subjecting anyone to reading this, but here I am.

So what are we to do? I’ve googled natural ways to rid our home of these pests, and come up with one that I’m willing to try first. Well, obviously we need to do a deep cleaning (spring cleaning here we come) and then I’m going to spray lavender oil everywhere.  Lavender is going to be my signature scent.  Ants and silverfish are supposed to hate the smell, so I’m going to go nuts.  In fact if you ever come visit you’ll probably feel very relaxed when you leave.  Let’s hope it calms my fears a little too.

A Toddler’s Mezze Lunch

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Mezze- A collection of small dishes served to accompany alcoholic drinks as a course or as appetizers before the main dish in Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan, the Near East and the Balkans. In Levantine, Caucasian and Balkan cuisines mezze is served at the beginning of all large-scale meals.

Subtract the alcoholic drinks and large-scale meal and you have the eating patterns of a toddler. Reminds me of this song:

Replace the word “shots” with “snacks” and  change any name of liquor to a cracker, bread, cookie, or fruit, and it’s our theme song all day everyday.

Cereal bars, pouches, blackberries, blueberries, tortilla, crackers, avocado, pasta…

 

Eating Out: Joe’s Falafel

The Husband has a running list on his phone of all the restaurants and spots he wants to try (pretty impressive for a non-planner).  Depending on what neighborhood we’re in he can refer to the list and find us something to eat or drink that’s likely to be delicious.  Joe’s Falafel was on that list.  We were actually on our way to Silverlake to get lunch on a Saturday when we mapped traffic.  A travel time of 45 minutes was NOT going to work with a hungry toddler in tow.  So we looked for something new in a neighborhood a bit closer and found ourselves at Joe’s.

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Whenever we eat Mediterranean I have to have a veggie platter.  I absolutely love falafel, baba ghanoush, and dolmas.  I was not disappointed with Joe’s Vegetarian Combo Plate.  It had all my favorites plus the most delicious cabbage I’ve ever had. (Did I tell you I’m a huge fan of cabbage?)  I shared my plate with Ro but it was VERY hard.  I know she felt the same way because she ate a full falafel, a bunch of red cabbage, hummus, and pita.  I was shocked! Especially since the falafel was pretty spicy (which I appreciated). I can only presume the extra kick comes from a ton of fresh garlic.

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The Hubs wasn’t as impressed with his Beef Lafa, but I’m pretty sure this place is master of falafel.  I mean, just look at that deep fried perfection.  Even Ro approved, and she’s a picky critic.  Any place that is toddler approved has got to be doing something right.  I think we’ll be heading back to Joe’s very, very soon!

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Joe’s Falafel

Neighborhood: Studio City

3535 Cahuenga Blvd W
Ste 105
Los Angeles, CA90068

 

Naptime Recap: Scandal Season 5, Ep. 11

I used to love Scandal! I was obsessed. Don’t get me wrong, I still like it, but now I watch it because I’m invested more than obsessed.  We ARE on Season 5 after all.  I’ve got to say though, this season feels preachier than others.  I have always enjoyed the strong female roles that Shonda Rhimes writes into her shows.  She doesn’t subscribe to traditional characters and I appreciate that.  But up until this season you could interpret themes of feminine power and independence for yourself, now she just beats you over the head with it one monologue at a time.

It doesn’t take much analysis to gather that Olivia is a strong, independent woman, but somehow she has to go on a tirade about how she doesn’t need a man or a baby or a husband or even a boyfriend.  She just needs someone to sleep with when SHE wants, her career, and her badass self.  I appreciate that perspective.  Truly.  But EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK!?! Can we not just let the plot unfold so that I know what’s going to happen to the characters? Or is that too much of a patriarchal standard and expectation?

In case you missed this episode titled “The Candidate,” here’s the gist:

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Look, I agree Olivia.  Growing up my parents always told me to get my education, have my own career, and then think about shacking up if that’s what I wanted.  Maybe this show is for people who don’t hear that often enough.  But for me, it’s starting to sound like a broken record.

 

Where Is My Mind? (not the Pixies song)

Actually, I LOVE that song and now it’s stuck in my head.  “Where is my mind…Where is my mind…” Ever since becoming a mother I feel like I’ve kind of lost mine.  I think I’ve lost it in many ways, but the way I’m referring to now is the “I can hold a conversation and keep focus kind of way.” I realized this the other day when I was talking to my husband and went from one topic to another to another and then back again.  He went along with it and then said, “wow, for a minute I was wondering how you got to that topic, but then I see how you got there.” That’s how I feel lately, like my brain is rambling.  I’ve somehow lost the ability to stay focused.IMG_5569

It reminds me of when I was a fresh faced teacher in faculty meetings and one of the “veteran” teachers would chime in to put in her two cents.  Everybody took a deep sigh and braced themselves for what was to come.  This older woman was a circle talker.  She’d go on and on about something you’d think was completely unrelated and then somehow bring it back to the topic at hand approximately 10 minutes later.  I used to roll my eyes at the inefficiency of it all. And now I fear I have become her…

I’m still trying to wrap my head around why this has happened after becoming  a mother.  How could this have happened to someone who used to hate talking and tried so much to keep to the point?  Here are a few working theories:

  1. After speaking to my child in pretty simple language for 12 hours a day I’ve forgotten how to carry on a conversation with adults.
  2. I repeat myself so often during the day to get my toddler to listen to me I feel like I have to repeat my point over and over in different ways to be heard.
  3. Or the converse, I repeat myself so often that I don’t even hear myself anymore.
  4. I have such little time to talk to adults these days that I just can’t stop when I get the chance. (Like verbal diarrhea once baby goes to bed)
  5. My brain is forever changed after having a baby. Hormones?
  6. I just don’t give a crap anymore.  Who cares if people think I’m rambling? Who cares if they’re zoning out?  Who cares if I make no sense? It’s my turn to talk!

I’m also not sure if this is a thing for new moms or if it just happened to me.  Or maybe it’s an effect of being a Stay at Home Mom? In any case, it’s also a reason why I keep blogging. Gotta keep my brain in check and my ideas coherent.  I hope this post passes on both fronts.

Recipe Tin: Carrot Cake Bars (GF)

Before Ro was born I imagined myself making all her food from scratch, using only the best quality ingredients, and never EVER adding sugar or sweeteners.  Because as every enlightened mommy knows–sugar is EVIL.  These are the ridiculous dreams of a naive first time mom.

Once I came to terms with the fact that my baby has her own tastes and opinions and I couldn’t give her bland foods forever, I made these Carrot Cake Protein Bars.  I altered the recipe a little since giving a baby protein powder is ill advised. Here’s the recipe from 86 Lemons, and I’ve added the substitutes  I made to make it baby friendly in red.

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CARROT CAKE PROTEIN BARS (VEGAN, GF)

Author: Leanne @ http://www.healthfulpursuit.com
Recipe type: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten-Free, American
Serves: 8 bars
INGREDIENTS
2 Tbsp Ener-G Egg Replacer * 4 eggs
½ cup warm water *NO WATER
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
¼ cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp non-dairy milk *Whole Milk
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup coconut flour
½ cup unflavored, vegan, gluten-free protein powder *almond flour
¼ cup ground or milled flaxseed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp gluten-free baking soda
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp sea salt
pinch of ground cloves
¾ cup shredded carrots
¼ cup raisins (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.
Mix egg replacer and warm water together thoroughly (until it starts to get kind of foamy). Combine “egg” mixture, mashed bananas, maple syrup, non-dairy milk and vanilla extract in a large bowl with a hand or stand mixer.
Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl. Once incorporated, add to the wet mixture and mix until smooth.
Add shredded carrots and raisins and mix until just incorporated. Allow mixture to sit for 1-2 minutes to thicken up.
Using about ⅓ cup of mixture per bar, form it into a ball, then roll it between your palms so it begins to lengthen a bit. Press the form onto prepared pan and shape into a bar, about ¼” to ½” thick.
Bake bars for 22-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The bottoms of the bars should be golden and the tops should be cracking slightly.


I bake about 8 of these and freeze half.  We tote them as a healthy portable snack when we are out and about.  Inevitably we end up eating them around our little friends and they all gobble them up too.  I’ve shared this recipe with at least 4 other moms and now I’m sharing with you.  Enjoy!

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Hello

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Since this is my first ever post here on Mary’s Loves, I just thought I’d say hello.  I hope this space will help me keep perspective while I try to navigate through this crazy world.  I’m always trying to be a better mother, teacher, friend, wife, daughter and sister.  I hope to share everything from the little moments that make me smile to the challenges that I face in chasing my dreams.  Let’s do this!