Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Be still, my heart

Run, don't walk to your nearest Dunkin D%nuts for these beauties and you can thank me later.

I'm not sure what they're called in English but I think they are the seasonal chocolate maple

I'm not a huge doughnut person to begin with and even then I usually go for the standard chocolate glaze or cinnamon sugar varieties but people, for these lovelies, I make an exception.

I don't know if it is the baby growing or the--hmmm?--12 maple doughnuts I have eaten over the course of the last 14 days that is to blame for the kilo I put on since my doctors appointment two weeks ago but lemme tell ya, ya'll, it hurts so good. They are to die for, which given the calorie count of each one is a real possibility, but it is worth the risk. Believe me.

So, you heard it hear first, folks. I highly suggest you wake up 15 minutes early tomorrow to treat yourself and your arterial walls to a steaming cuppa joe and one--or a dozen--maple doughnuts. You won't be sorry.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Two Saturdays ago, the hubs and I went to a Swiss restaurant in town for fondue. It seems the appropriate thing to do when the weather gets unseasonably cold, unwelcomely early. Cold weather has compensations of its own--almost all of which are culinary.

The fondue was delicious. Cheesy, aromatic, and appropriately gut-bomby. Just what the sadistic proctologist ordered. We were so satisfied that we decided we could eat fondue once a week and not tire of it. It was 15 Euro a person bill, though, that snapped us back to reality. Although the meal was scrumptous, it was only melted cheese, some white wine, and a splash of kirschwasser. I wouldn't call ourselves brillant chefs but even we could find a cheaper way to satisfy our cholesterol laden cravings. So, we decided to find a traditional recipe, buy a pot, and make fondue our damn selves. Never had a smarter plan been hatched...on that day, at least.

So, on Saturday, we did our research on traditional recipes, picked the brains of the cheese ladies at the grocery store counters about the best mix of cheeses, and purchased our pot. Then yesterday, we commenced with the fondue preparation and consumption.

Honestly, folks, it was better than the restaurant meal. I can't say that there was a reason for this except that it was really, really good; really, really easy; and really, really inexpensive. We ended up forgoing the nutmeg and adding a fourth of the flour in spite of the cheese lady's advice and buying four different types of cheeses to get the right balance between sharpness and mildness. Other than that, though, we stuck pretty closely to the recipe below--tasting as we went along. I should note that traditionally the Swiss drink black tea with fondue, the Germans--you guessed it--beer, and the French dry white/red wine. They all agree, however, that regardless of what you eat or drink with fondue it shouldn't be overtly cold as the cheese will congeal in your stomach creating an unpleasant gastro-intestinal (ahem) blockage. So be warned or warmed, as it were.
Traditional Swiss Fondue (serves 2 hungry people)
1.5 cups shredded gruyere
1.5 cups emmenthaler (Swiss) or Vacharin-Fribourgeois (French)
1/2 cup Appenzeller
2-3 tbsp. flour
1 garlic clove, halved
1 c. dry white wine (e.g.,Chablis)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 dash kirschwasser (cherry brandy)
1 pinch nutmeg
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1. Rub the inside of your fondue post with garlic clove and discard clove
2. Add wine and heat over medium heat until hot but not boiling
3. Stir in lemon juice and kirsch
4. Combine cheese and toss with flout
5. Add a handful of cheese at a time, not adding more until the cheese has melted
6. Stir constantly in a zig-zag motion for a smooth consistency
7. Remove pot from stove and place over sterno to bubble gently.
8. Serve with boiled new potatoes, rye or french bread, blanched broccoli or cauliflower, garlic sausage, and/or crisp apples.
9. Swoon, faint, and thank your lucky stars you took my advice!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mad Science

I had a sneaky feeling that I was playing with fire when I logged onto MakeMeBabies.Com.

I mean, any website that claims to be able to predict what your yet unborn child will look like must be a either cursed or at the very least cruel. Or maybe it is the person doing the searching who is the cursedly cruel one. Either way, it ain't natural but it is oh so tempting.

Before pushing the send button, "Please wait while we make your baby," it reads, I did have a fleeting thought that if my computer generated child was ugly I would be filled with the same amount of regret and remorse as I fear is possible if the actual Gummy Bear is, shall we say, unforgettable in the looks department. I've wondered if I might be the first mother to recoil in horror at the sight of my slimy newborn when he enters the world should he inherit the very worse physical qualities of JB and I. All of my friends tell me that it is impossible to look at your child and think they are anything less than perfect but I have my doubts. I can be pretty ruthless when it comes to judging whether a baby is cute or not. Part of me, I guess, fears that all my days of talking trash about other people's kids is going to come back and slap me in the genetic face. And well, if I use this website's photo as any clue, I'd be right.

So, here is the picture I put in of my self: (Don't I look eager and motherly?)

And here is the one I used for J: (Looking equally eager and Bill Cosby like in his protectiveness)

And here is the science experiment gone wrong that is our computer generated child:

What do you think about my little new baby Braving Berlin ?
MakeMeBabies.com - What will your baby look like?

Eee-Gads! Does that even look like a child to you? I mean come on. It's a bit offputting but for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. And yes, I typed "boy" but doesn't he look like a girl with an overactive thyroid? He/She has a mustache, for God's sake! I'm sorry but that is just disturbing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


To say that I've been having a bit of a problem sleeping throughout this pregnancy is an understatement. I really haven't slept well since I was about 10 weeks pregnant. Between the growing bean, the frequent restroom visits, the overactive mind, and a bout of pregnancy induced restless legs syndrome, I lost the sleeping wars far in advance of the newbies arrival. I tried everything from sleeping sitting up on the couch to increasing my magnesium intake and I'm still plagued with near constant exhaustion. Knowing this, you would have thought I'd be doing everything to prevent new distractions from allowing me to get some rest. I guess I'm just not that clever.

Last night around 11pm:

J: Hey, is that a new book?
Me: Uh, huh.
J: What's it called?
Me: Twilight. I just ordered it from Amazon. Frances is reading it and says it's the new Harry Potter.
J: Hmm. What's it about?
Me: Vampires.
J (sarcastically): Oh, that should help you sleep!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day weekend

Did I mention that it was our anniversary yesterday? Six years of wedded bliss were marked with the end of our marathon childbirth course. I am happy to say that we have survived and, in fact, thrived under the martrimonial confines that is legal partnership. We'd both do it again if given the chance which is nice to know. We also fared remarkably well in birthing bootcamp with the guidance of our instructor and the good humor of our friends who joined us.

Since the closest english class available was given at a natural birthing center, we knew we were swimming up stream having already signed all hospital paperwork requesting that full medical intervention be provided at the onset of anything resembling pain. Every relaxation technique, tool, and mantra was explored in the attempt to ward off the temptation to seek artificial pain relief. Combination breathing and uses for birthing balls and stools were demonstrated; positions for early, transition, and back labor were practiced; and two videos documenting women laboring in and out of water were shown. But still, I am not convinced.

I mean, I can undestand why some women choose to go that route. Some want to meet the challenge of pain and conquer it and others want to connect to their ancestors who for thousands of years have achieved unmedicated births. But I've experienced pain before, thank you, and don't feel the need to embrace the ring of fire for the sole purpose of saying I did. And frankly, the notion that women have labored unmedicated for centuries and continue to do so successfully doesn't give me the slightest bit of comfort or encouragement. I'm sure that if you asked my ancestors who were forced to drop their babies in the midst of picking cotton only to resume work with their sucklings on their backs if they would have liked the benefit of a PDA I'd bet that they would have replied with a resounding "Hell ya." Don't get me wrong: I respect women who have chosen the unmedicated route but have no intention of digging deep within myself to connect with the power that is my womenhood. I've been dug deep enough by the Gummy Bear over the last 8 months. My proverbial threshold has been reached. I'm glad that I know what to do if, for whatever reason, an epidural isn't an option but I feel confident in my decision to anticipate one.

I think one of the best take aways from this weekend was seeing J's reactions. Because a childbirth class in a birthing center Berlin would not be complete without the placenta meet and greet, everyone had the chance to see and--yes--hold a newly aborted placenta. I don't want to see my own placenta, let alone someone elses, so I passed but my husband who never ceases to amaze not only opted to see one but to hold one. He strutted back into the room proudly declaring that placentas are pretty cool. Turns out the placenta which, interestingly enough is the only organ humans create for a purpose and then expel, looks like steak. There also appears to be a variety of nifty uses for ones placenta. You can take the scientologists approach and eat it, for instance, to replenish lost hormones and nutrients. You can bury your mutterkuchen (or Mother cake in German) under a tree as a symbol of your growing child. Or you can send it off to a homeopathic pharmacy to get it dried into a cure all pill for mother and child. Huh. Who would have thunk it?

Practically, though, J changed a diaper for a first time and was able to ask questions about childcare. We had some good laughs about the indignity (no, I'm sorry, the wonders) of childbirth, got practical information about what to expect, and we checked off one more milestone on the journey to parenthood. Turns out it wasn't a bad way to spend our anniversary --or appropriately Labor day weekend--after all.