Thursday, October 28, 2010

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FFwD: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

So, sometimes I'm funny about fruit in my food. Don't get me wrong - I love fruit. Fresh fruit....by itself....un-touched by other kinds of foods. If I'm eating chocolate, there better not be a hint of orange. If I'm eating meat, I better not find a pineapple lurking. If I'm having cheesecake, keep it pure and strawberry-free. (PS - sometimes when I pretend I'm going to become a world-famous chef, it's this road block that reminds me it will never happen.)


But this weeks' recipe didn't worry me. I know I love apple pie....so I figured I'd like this apple cake. However..........however.....I LOVED this apple cake. LOVE. Like TruLuv4Evah. It's so different than you'd expect - it's super heavy on the apple, light on the cake....and the "cake" part is so moist and so....well, almost custard-y, that it stops acting like a cake and just acts like this happy blanket cuddling up with all the apple chunks.


The recipe calls for rum, something I don't have nor did I want to (aside from the whole pregnant and Mormon thing, I just do NOT like the flavor of rum). So, I used a lot of vanilla instead...like 2 tablespoons of vanilla...and maybe a little heavy cream. PS - I love vanilla. Vanilla could probably stop world hunger and fix the Middle East crisis and still be home in time for dinner. Dorie says to use 4 different kinds of apples. Large apples. A few of mine were more medium, so I actually used 5 apples...which turned out to be a good thing since one of them was so bruised I could I only use about half of it. I chose Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Macintosh, and Fuji. Aren't they pretty?


And then I peeled them....aren't they....naked? (see that big Red Delicious?...Who knew under that dark red skin was lurking the grossest of bruises...)


And then I chopped them up....aren't they...........chopped?


And then I cooked it up. (My first experience with a spring form pan, which I had to borrow - thanks, Tami!)



And then....then I cut me a slice....




And THEN....then I introduced it to Blue Bell's Natural Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.....


And then, friends.....then I died. *sigh* ....Then.I.Died.


Verdict: If none of my other recipes have encouraged you to buy this cook book, please know this recipe alone will be worth the cost.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

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FFwD: Hachis Parmentier


I am 33 weeks pregnant. And I've entered a new phase of pregnancy that I honestly did NOT know was coming. My stomach - the part of my insides in charge of holding all the yummy food I eat - has shrunken. It's currently the size of a peanut. Ever since I had the stomach flu, I have had the hardest time eating. I get nauseous if I eat even a regular amount of food, let alone the pregnant amount I've been eating these past 7 months. I eat and usually about an hour later my body realizes it actually does NOT have the room after all to store what I just ate. I hate it. I have only a precious few months left of "eating whatever the crap I want with no regard to Weight Watcher points!".....and here I find that I can barely eat a single serving of anything.


Why am I telling you this? I'm telling you this so you know why I only had one serving of this meal. Had my stomach NOT been taken over by an increasingly huge baby, I would've probably gone back for thirds. Friends? I love this dish.


Yes, it's basically the French version of Shepherd's Pie. ....But you wanna know a secret? I've never had Shepherd's Pie. I know, I know - "Oh, the humanity!" "How are you a normal person!" "Did your mother not love you - did she never feed you comfort food?!" Yes....yes she did. But we ate chili & tortillas and meatball sandwiches. We were never really "meat and potatoes" kind of people. Especially me. I don't really eat potatoes. When my mother served baked potatoes, she made me my own little dish of rice.



But that aside - I am in love with this dish. I loved the creamy goodness of the mashed potatoes (*gasp!*...do I like potatoes now?!). I loved the familiar smokiness of the Emmental cheese sprinkled on top. I loved LOVED the combination of the cube steak, sausage and homemade beef broth. Friends? I loved this dish. This is the first dish so far that I can say that I will, without a doubt, 100% be adding this into our regular dinner rotation.


And yes...yes, I MADE homemade beef broth. And I am super proud of myself.



Verdict: If it were actually fall here, I could see calling this the ultimate comfort food...and possibly eating it every single cold day.

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Please Don't Punch Me In The Face

What I'm about to say may not be a popular statement. It may elicit anger and violence from some of my fertile friends. It may frustrate and depress my infertAdd Imageile friends. But I cannot hold it in any longer.


...I love being pregnant.

No, wait....let me say that again:

I LOVE being pregnant.

Let me be clear on something: It hasn't been a cakewalk. Heartburn started early and with ferocity (for the past 5 months I've been on prescription strength antacids). Headaches unlike I've ever known started about month 4 and after exhausting the limited strength of Tylenol (seriously, who does that work for?), my doctor prescribed me the strongest thing I could take...and it really didn't do much at all. And now I'm in that "my stomach is scrunched up so tiny that I eat 5 bites and I'm full and nauseous and wanting to throw up because there Is.No.Room" phase of pregnancy. As an avid Weight Watcher-er, seeing the scale tip past The Number Which Should Not Be Named has been scary. I've been confined to wearing flip flops for 3 months. And, already being a fidgety sleeper, I have HATED having to deal with sleeping with this newly shaped body.

However...HOWEVER.......I still love EVERY minute of this journey.

Granted, I fought hard to be here. I was born wanting to be a mother. When I was little and people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd say "a ballerina, an ice skater, a nurse, and a mother". At college, I quite literally wanted to kidnap every baby I saw on campus (...there is an annoying amount of babies on the BYU campus). As I got older and single-er, I started feeling violent towards all the girls with whom I grew up as they had baby after baby...and I went home to my lonely apartment every night. When I finally got married at age 31, I felt gratitude that I had "life experiences" under my belt. Two months into our marriage we started "trying" and 3 years, 3 IUI's, 1 IVF and over $20,000 later, I find myself 7 weeks away from my dream.

Oh yes...I fought hard to be here. And, once again, I feel gratitude that the journey was long.

But that's not why I love it.

I love being pregnant because....because I'm a partner with God in creation (finally!). Because Andrew and I will have a tangible product of our love to show off to the world (finally!). Because the science of the whole reproduction thing is absolutely astounding to me - I am literally GROWING A HUMAN BEING IN MY BODY (finally!). And because every time I feel this little boy squirm, every time he pushes and kicks and hiccups and twirls and giggles (yes, I think my boy is already giggling)....every time I watch my belly do that creepy wave, I am reminded that He Is Mine (FINALLY!); that Heavenly Father is loaning me one of his Most Awesome spirits to raise and love and protect and teach and guide through this mortal coil.

I am filled to the brim with joy and love. I am glowing and emotional. I am crazy and needy. I am awestruck and humbled. I am fat and happy.

I.Am.Pregnant.

*This painting is called "For This Child I Prayed" and my sister gave me a framed print of it at my baby shower. It's the story of Hannah and her desire for a son (Samuel) and the prophet Eli promising her she would be a mother.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

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FFwD: Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup


I wasn't going to make this. I really wasn't. I had the stomach flu last weekend and was still getting my tummy back to normal. Andrew wasn't excited about it. It called for a bunch of odd ingredients. ...I was just going to sit this one out. But then.....well, then I did make it. So...there.

I know you're all thinking, "Vietnamese soup?...Um...how is that French?" Well, actually France and Vietnam are pretty closely related and have been for hundreds of years. France actually ruled over Vietnam from 1887 to 1954. So, apparently there are quite a few Vietnamese restaurants in the France.

I'm going to be honest...this soup worried me. Scared me. Stressed me out. The ingredients were crazy. Star anise? (I HATE licorice) Dried red chili's? (I am NOT a spicy eater) Asian fish sauce? (.....Asian fish sauce?) And then there were odd directions like putting a bunch of stuff into cheesecloth and just letting it hang out in the soup for a while. ...Eh? Or adding the ingredient "2 dried red chili's".....but not explaining whether we were to dice them up, mince them, add them whole.....if they're whole do we take them out later? Do we take the cheesecloth thing out, too? ...Do we see why I was going to sit this week out?


But I really need to start trusting in Dorie. Because kids...she doesn't lead me astray. Sure, I completely ignored her when she told me to add star anise. I decided to add the dried chilies whole and then just take them out. I halved the whole recipe except for the amount of noodles (meaning my noodle soup was heavy on the noodle, light on the soup). BUT still....I trust you, Dorie. ...Mostly.



This soup was surprisingly easy to put together, even though I just whined about not understanding parts of it. It went very quickly (which was good since I didn't get home from work until 6). Also...this soup was surprisingly tasty. With all the changes I made, I have NO idea if it tastes the way Dorie meant for it to. But I dug it. Truly I did.



...Plus now, I have a whole jar of fish sauce in my fridge! So....bonus!

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Eli: The First 30 Weeks

Having an IVF is a stressful, agonizing, terrifying experience. It's not what I would call "fun" or "the way to go". BUT...if you ever do find yourself on the IVF side of infertility, let me tell you the best part: the ultrasounds. So.Many.Ultrasounds. I have quite literally watched this boy grow from an egg to...well, to an as-of-today 3.75-ish lb, 16-ish inch baby boy. Most pregnant women have 2, maybe 3 ultrasounds throughout the 9 months of gestation. Me? I've had 12**...and will probably have at least one more.

Come with me now, as we follow the development of this gorgeous child who I'll get to meet in 8 weeks:

1. Fertilization: That's right folks....one of these fertilized eggs is my son. ...How many of YOU know what you looked like the exact minute you were conceived? ...Suckers.




2. Implantation: See that little white dot? That's those two eggs being rocketed into my uterus. And guess what! One of them stuck!


3. Week 5: It's official! I'm pregnant!


4. Week 6: Yep...still in there!


5. Week 7: Feelin' queasy...which I'm told is a good thing.



6. Week 8: Whoa...are those arm and leg nubs? K - he's a teddy graham person.


7. Week 10: The official hand off from fertility doctor to OB...obviously my fertility doctor has much fancier machines...



8. Week 14: The longest I've gone without seeing my little guy....and look how much he's grown!




9. Week 18: It's a boy!!! A 12 minute long ultrasound, as my son did NOT want to share his business with the world. But eventually we peeked anyway. And just look at those toes...



10. Week 22: Check out this kid's profile - doesn't he already look like Andrew?


11. Week 26: ...The creepiest picture I have of Eli. I mean...dude......look at that creepy face, all starin' back...heebie.jeebies.



12. Week 30: Ok...heebie jeebies quickly replaced by...oh my word, the loveliness of that face. And would you get a load of those cheeks?! Are you kidding me?! *sigh*


13. Week 30: In case you missed it.....it's a boy.....





**Yes, I know there are 2 week 30's - but we really have had 12. One was during week 28 when we ran into some complications...she just didn't take any pictures.

Friday, October 08, 2010

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FFwD: Gerard's Mustard Tart


My family, the Keller family, has a thing for condiments. It's kind of a sickness. My brother, my father, even my sister's husband - between those 3 fridges I would feel very comfortable saying they have probably 50 different condiments. Barbecue sauces, relishes, marinades, and mustards. Lots of different mustards. This tart? This tart is for them.


But wait! Guess what?! It's also for YOU - you, dear reader, who does NOT belong to the mustard of the month club (yes it's real and yes my brother was once a member)! Because while this tart is heavy on the mustard (1/4 cup of 2 different kinds), it also heavy on the awesome.

Before even starting this recipe, I was skeptical. I mean, a good spicy/brown mustard is pretty tasty. ...But an entire pie shell filled with mustard tasting egginess?....Not so sure. As you're adding the mustard and the salt and pepper, Dorie even suggests adding those things "to taste". Friends...I HATE adding things "to taste". I am BAD at adding things "to taste". ....Especially since this is a new recipe and I have NO idea what it's supposed to "taste" like! Um, also...I'm pregnant...and pregnant girls are NOT supposed to be "tasting" raw eggs. But I took one for the FFwD team. ...You're WELCOME, Dorie.



Dorie's recipe calls for carrots and leeks. But she says the original recipe calls for tomatoes. And since I'm more of a tomato fan than carrots and leeks, I went for the original. I probably could have cut the tomatoes up smaller...but then it wouldn't have had the cool fan effect. See?:




Aside from the fact that I took two nights making this (night one: making tart dough, chilling tart dough, rolling out tart dough, chilling tart dough; night two: cooking tart, chilling tart, cooking tart......stupid day job), this was an incredibly easy recipe. Plus also, it gave me an excuse to make some homemade creme fraiche.....oh.my.yum.

And maybe this is what it looked like after only me and Andrew had our way with it.....please don't judge......remember - I'm eating for two.


Verdict: Heck yes. Mustard my tart, please.