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).
The Thanksgiving Table
Today is a different kind of day. Usually posts on this blog come about with the narrative and I manage to squeeze in a recipe. But sometimes when you really stumble upon a winning recipe, it speaks for itself. We'll likely make these beans for Thanksgiving this year. They're one of those simple stunners that you initially think couldn't be much of a thing. And then they come out of the oven all sweet and withered and flecked with herbs. You try one and you realize they are, in fact, a pretty big thing.
I always force myself to wait until after Halloween to start thinking much about holiday pies or, really, future holidays in general. But this year I cheated a bit, tempted heavily by the lure of a warmly-spiced sweet potato pie that I used to make back when I baked pies for a living in the Bay Area (way back when). We seem to always have sweet potatoes around as they're one of Oliver's favorite foods, and when I roast them for his lunch I've been wishing I could turn them into a silky pie instead. So the other day I reserved part of the sweet potatoes for me. For a pie that I've made hundreds of times in the past, this time reimagined with fragrant brown butter, sweetened solely with maple syrup, and baked into a flaky kamut crust. We haven't started talking about the Thanksgiving menu yet this year, but I know one thing for sure: this sweet potato pie will make an appearance.
It has begun. Talk of who is bringing what, where we'll buy the turkey, what kind of pies I'll make, early morning texts concerning brussels sprouts. There's no getting around it: Thanksgiving is on its way. And with it comes the inevitable reflecting back and thinking about what we're thankful for. And about traditions. The funny thing about traditions is that they exist because they've been around for a long time. Year after year after year. But then, one Thanksgiving maybe there's something new at the table.
I didn't expect green beans to bring up such a great discussion on traditions, sharing of poems and how a piece of writing can linger with you. So thank you for that. Your comments pointed out how important people and place are and how food takes the back seat when it comes right down to it. Even if you feel quite warm towards Thanksgiving and are looking forward to next week, reading about recipe suggestions and meal planning online and in magazines can start to feel tiresome right about now. Why? Because I suppose when it all comes down to it, in the big picture it doesn't matter what we all serve anyway. Next year, you likely won't remember one year's vegetable side dish from another. What you'll remember are the markers that dotted the year for you: whom you sat next to at the table, a toast or grace, and the sense of gratitude you felt for something -- large or small.
I got a text from my mom the other day that read: demerara sugar? I responded back with a question mark, not sure what she was referencing. It turns out she was experimenting with a new pie recipe that called for the natural sugar and wasn't sure why she couldn't just use white sugar as that's what she's always done in the past. A few days later we talked on the phone and she mentioned she'd let me take charge of the salad for Thanksgiving this year as long as there was no kale. No kale! And I wanted to do the mashed potatoes? Would they still be made with butter and milk? In short, we're always willing to mix things up in the Gordon household. Whether it's inspiration from a food magazine, friend or coworker, either my mom or one of my sisters will often have an idea for something new to try at the holiday table. But what I've slowly learned is that it can't really be that different: there must be pumpkin pie, the can of cranberry sauce is necessary even though not many people actually eat it, the onion casserole is non-negotiable, the salad can't be too out there, and the potatoes must be made with ample butter and milk. And while I was really scheming up an epic kale salad to make this year, there's a big part of me that gets it, too: if we change things too much we won't recognize the part of the day that comes to mean so much: the pure recognition. We take comfort in traditions because we recognize them -- because they're always there, year after year. And so today I present to you (mom, are you reading?): this year's Gordon family Thanksgiving salad.