Making peanut butter

My boy is teething. Hard core, in pain, teeth pushing through his gums. He is in a terrible mood, and very few things soothe him. 

My normal rock star eater suddenly doesn’t want anything. I made him spaghetti–normally his favorite–only to have it thrown on the floor. 

The only thing he will reliably eat when he gets like this is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Well, that and fruit. But since babies cannot live on fiber and fructose alone, PB&J it is today. 

Every April we try to avoid grocery shopping and eat through our pantry. Needless to say, it leads to some interesting meals. I’m not too proud to break with the plan and buy my hurting toddler some peanut butter; however, I had a jar of peanuts in the stockpile and was inspired by my friend Angela to try making my own. With a little help from the kitchn, I gave it a whirl. 

You can literally do it with a food processor, peanuts and five minutes, but I felt bad for my kid and made it creamy with some canola oil and sweet with honey. The only thing I’ll do differently next time is store it in a half pint jar. 

Maybe he’ll eat this meal.  

New year, new projects

2014 was a ridiculously great year. I started it hugely pregnant and quickly found myself with a newborn, which was unlike anything I had ever imagined. The short version, it was better. The long version, read past posts. Professionally, I had my first journal article published and spent my time at the museum working on big projects that matter. We traveled a lot, celebrated friends’ weddings and accomplishments, spent time with all of our big family, had fires in our backyard, drank wine, started and finished home improvement projects, cooked meals and were generally blessed.

I have no idea what 2015 will bring. I know that in a few days, I’ll have a one-year-old who is close to walking. I know that we will start and finish projects, make meals and hang out on the couch binge watching TV episodes. I will read books and try to exercise more. I will consume more caffeine than I did last year largely thanks to Greg’s new espresso machine.

I’ve never been big on new year’s resolutions. January is a hard month for me, which makes it a bad time to try to change or create new habits. In the past, it has lead to frustration and made my mental state worse instead of better. So instead of resolving to massively change something, I take on a project. In college, I did a 365 day photo project, which resulted in a visual journal of the year I was 21. Last year, I had a baby. 2015 is the year that I will learn how to cook Asian food.

For those of you geographically inclined, you know that Asia is an extremely large continent. The sheer amount of land mass has resulted in varied food cultures, some with overlapping flavors and others that are quite distinct. That means that saying that I am going to learn how to cook Asian food is ambitious and includes Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisines among many others. I want to learn how to make the noodle dishes I like to eat and expand what we have for dinner. Our first dinner of 2015 was chicken apple curry, a very mild curry that the kid loved. Authentic? Probably not. Different and delicious? Definitely.

Anybody got any cookbook recommendations?

Simplicity in Baking

It’s been a rough two hours. Apparently, I broke the baby’s heart when I decided to shred the chicken for the soup instead of picking him up. At least, that’s what his plaintive wails sounded like to my ears. The shrieking was compounded by the fact that he a) has learned how to pull himself up and b) decided to crawl to my legs, pull himself up, and alternate the screaming with “kissing” the back of my knee. Only a callused heart could not feel for his baby emotional anguish. The complete melt down lasted until bedtime two hours later.

So while cooking and then eating and then cleaning up to that background, I realized that I was going to need to do something to make my brain feel better. We had a great day today–swinging and walking and napping and playing with blocks and reading–but all of those excellent hours were in severe jeopardy of being replaced with the reverberations of the yelling. Whenever I have this feeling of unwanted memory replacement, I find that I want to bake.

I love baking because it is simple. There is no inventing or wondering what should be done next. You follow the recipe. You do what the piece of paper says to do whether you are baking bread, creating cookies or making English muffins. It is basically the opposite of raising a baby. Where the one feels like constant improv, the other is a set art. If I do what the wise recipe creater said (and I picked a good recipe to start with), it will work. And today I needed to do something that I knew would turn out right.