In looking back on the last ten years, it seems there’s a trend of piling on Big New Things all at once: a few years ago it was write a book / get married. Then it was buy a house / have a baby. This time around it’s get a new job / have a baby. No easy transitions here, apparently. If you hadn’t yet gleaned, we’re expecting another baby in late January! I’ve been excited to share the news with you guys — and a little nervous, too. You never know when it’s the right time to share private news publicly, and those of you who have suffered pregnancy losses know that decision can feel particularly challenging. But the weeks are whizzing by here (not nearly as much time to nap and journal and idly bake things as I had in my first pregnancy; I miss those naps and Netflix binges!); we’re feeling positive and trying to wrap our minds around what life will be like with two small people.
Sam and I tried to get pregnant with this bambino for about eight months, a time that was punctuated by a miscarriage. During that time, I tried everything: giving up alcohol and caffeine, taking herbs and supplements to help with fertility, meditation, acupuncture, tracking my cycle like crazy. I felt the clock ticking … loudly. After eight months we decided to see a fertility specialist as it seemed we needed some support. I’d heard this would be a long road, too, but we were excited about doing something positive to move forward — even if it meant many more months of trying. While I had lots of friends who have gone down this road and were really supportive, my mom and sisters all insisted I just needed to chill out and stop thinking about it so much and everything would turn out just fine (ohhhh, the positivity!).
For those of you who may be wired like me (type-A planner prone to anxiety), this is not what an almost 40 year old woman wants to hear. I kept talking to them about the science behind fertility and the intense timing and how it really wasn’t a matter of just … chilling out. That month, I didn’t track my cycle and we looked forward to our next steps. And then, a few weeks later, I didn’t get my period. It turns out maaaaayyybe there was something small (even though I have trouble admitting it even now!) to the ‘taking a deep breath and step back’ approach.
I have friends who are trying to get pregnant or have suffered recent miscarriages. I have friends trying to figure out if they even want to get pregnant, and others who are unable to and have been trying for years. I know some of you here are in one of those boats as you’ve messaged me about it in the past. So I’m always a little hesitant to say much or offer advice as the journey really is so personal and unique and is so often not without its challenges. As Sam so wisely said years ago, “they wouldn’t call it trying to get pregnant if everyone just … got pregnant right away.”
We hired a doula a few weeks ago. She came over to the house in the early evening while Oliver was in the guestroom bed watching Bob the Builder, and we were all trying to stay cool in the living room with Le Croix and cracked windows. I asked her the questions I’d jotted down and then I hesitated telling her I had one more question but it was a bit morbid. I asked what happens to the doula fee if the pregnancy doesn’t result in a baby. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Oh, girl, we’re meeting this baby.” So there you have it. Full speed ahead.
I wanted to share a recipe with you today, but in truth, my entire first trimester was spent largely eating quesadillas, bagels and GASP McDonald’s french fries (you guys, I hadn’t been in a good twenty years and they’re kind of delicious). I’m thankful to be back in the swing of my much more typical eating routine, and thought I’d share these easy vegan tacos that I developed for Simply Recipes recently.
They’re made with jackfruit, a large fruit that’s thought to be indigenous to India, but today grows in many tropical regions such as Southeast Asia and Brazil. You can buy jackfruit canned in popular grocers like Trader Joe’s and it’s a beloved ingredient in the plant-based community because it shreds much like meat (hello, tacos and sliders) — which you can see in the photos above. If you’re curious about jackfruit itself, I wrote a general piece about it you may be into.
GET THE RECIPE: BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Tacos (Note: to keep the tacos vegan, use a vegan sour cream).
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.
In a few short weeks, we're headed to New York, Vermont and New Jersey to visit family and see my sister Zoe get married. In starting to think through the trip and do a little planning, I found Oliver the cutest tiny-person dress shoes I've ever seen (and he's quite smitten with them), sussed out childcare options for the night of the wedding, and found what feels like the most expensive (and last) rental car in the state of New Jersey. I try very hard not to be one of Those People that begins lamenting the loss of a season before it's remotely appropriate to do so, but this year, as we'll be gone much of September, I've felt a bit of a 'hurry, make all the summery things!' feeling set in. So we've been managing increasingly busy days punctuated with zucchini noodle salads, gazpacho, corn on the cob and homemade popsicles (preferably eaten shirtless outside followed by a good, solid sprinkler run for one small person in particular. Not naming any names).
Somehow, in what seems to have been a blink of an eye, we have a six month old baby. In some ways I can't remember a time we didn't have an Oliver, and in other ways it's all a blur broken up by a few holidays (a Thanksgiving thanks to grocery store takeout, and our very first Christmas in Seattle), a few family visits, a one-day road trip to Portland, a birthday dinner out, a birthday cake, weekend drives to nowhere in particular, swimming at the pool with Oliver, weekly get-togethers with our parent's group, doctor's visits, hundreds of walks around the neighborhood, hundreds of cups of coffee, dozens (or more?) of scoops of ice cream. Most of the worrying about keeping a baby alive has made way for other concerns, and Oliver's need for constant stimulation or soothing walks and car rides has been traded for stretches of time playing with a new toy or checking out his surroundings. In truth, it's thanks to that tiny bit of baby independence that this humble, summery cake came to be in the first place. So we've all got an Oliver to thank for that. Or, really, we have a Yossi Arefi to thank, as it's from her beautiful new cookbook that I've bookmarked heavily and am eager to continue exploring.
A triple berry summer crisp made with oats, quinoa flakes and hazelnuts. Summer in a skillet.
I had a weak moment on our honeymoon in Italy when I decided that I should be making gelato for a living. My enthusiasm for Italian gelato wasn't surprising to anyone. I'd done extensive research, made lists, had Sam map out cities in terms of where the best gelaterias were. I took notes and photos and hemmed and hawed over flavor choices: Sicilian Pistachio! Chestnut Honey! Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig! In truth, on that particular trip, I cared far more about treats, sunshine, and cobblestone walks than I cared about famous landmarks or tourist attractions, often leaving the camera back at the hotel in favor of my small black notebook which housed detailed jottings on dessert discoveries in each city we visited. Our friends Matteo and Jessica happened to be in Naples on the one night we were there, and we all went out for pizza together followed by a long stroll around the city. At some point the conversation turned to gelato (as it's bound to) and Matteo brought up the famous school in Bologna where many renowned gelato artisans study. My wheels were spinning. Maybe we should visit Bologna. I should see this school! I should talk to these students! I could make Sicilian Pistachio; Chestnut Honey; and Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig each and every day of our lives. Or at the very least, travel to Bologna to learn how and then come back to Seattle to take our Northwest city by storm. Well here we are six months later, back to reality, and the impetus to pack up my bags and head for Bologna has subsided for the time being ... but not the unwavering gusto to sample. That part will always be with me. It's been awhile since I mixed up a batch of ice cream at home, but the other day a beautiful new cookbook landed on my doorstep and I flipped right to a recipe for dark chocolate sorbet with toasty, salty almonds. I didn't need much convincing.