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).
Healthy Comfort Food
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)