Wednesday, November 30, 2011

bittersweet chocolate and pear cake

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You can't possibly begin to imagine the sense of accomplishment I feel in merely titling this post.  I haven't written about food in so long that it causes me a bit of physical pain.  Clearly, I have a serious problem when it comes to time management, because HOW DO MOM BLOGGERS DO IT?  Posting day after day, even though many of them have multiple small children running about?  I only have ONE wee baby, and it's a struggle to shower every day, much less keep up with household chores and all  sundry items that need to be taken care of.

I'm just going to come right out there and say that I am exceedingly proud of myself for the construction of the piece of deliciousness you see pictured above.  I made it when sweet baby A was only 2 months old (yes, that's right, almost THREE MONTHS AGO).  Yes, it is true that newborn babies tend to sleep more, leaving us new moms with slightly more down time than we have when they're older and nonstop awake and rolling all over the floor like there's a fire in the house.  By no means is it easy, however, to prepare food for yourself with an infant, no matter the age.  Hence the pride.

Strangely enough, when I was pregnant I didn't want much to do with sweets at all.  It wasn't exactly a pregnancy aversion, because I'm not the hugest dessert person, but it was weird for me to avoid things that were traditionally my favorites, like dark chocolate, cinnamon doughnuts, and lemon bars.  I kept up a steady diet of cheeses and savory items, from which baby A clearly benefitted (see entry on ginormous nature of my newborn babe).  The pendulum rapidly swung upon his birth, however, and all I wanted (and still want) are sweet things.  Vanilla meringues and chocolate chip cookie dunkers from Trader Joe's.  Salted caramel cupcakes.  Every new Ben and Jerry's flavor in the freezer.  Yes, even brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tarts (I'm capable of sinking quite low).

It is because of my unquenchable craving for sweets that I opted to take a whole bunch of pears from a delicious gift basket and swiftly turn them into the opposite of healthy, this bittersweet chocolate and pear cake.  I have probably mentioned this before, but I'm not a fruit person.  I know I need to eat it, and I do, but I don't like it! A giant bowl of freshly sliced pineapple will make me happy, and maybe some delicate raspberries or really juicy strawberries, but the rest of the general fruit population I could probably live without (in my defense, I've never met a vegetable I didn't like).

Needless to say, as I looked at those pears one summer day, a little memory crept into my mind, that of reading about Deb's recipe for a pear and chocolate cake.  Two things particularly stood out, the shards of dark chocolate and the lightly whipped cream.  Side note: I would eat anything, I think, if accompanied by lightly whipped cream.

Conveniently, I had two bars of bittersweet chocolate in my pantry (saved for making these, also a heavenly treat I enjoyed this summer) and a container of heavy cream in the fridge.  Feeling virtuous about the fact that I was indeed going to put the pears to good use, I set about making the cake.

The cake is a wonderful piece of heaven.  I know that it really is especially good because my pears were rather forlorn and old-ish, so the fact that it tasted so good in spite of that fact is a testament to the success of the recipe.  It's also not that difficult, because I made most of it while baby A sat cheerfully in his bouncer right next to me, and even though he is very good-natured, he has an extremely short attention span.  You should make it immediately.  DO NOT FORGET THE CREAM.

P.S. I don't know if I have ever been more excited about a food blogger's upcoming cookbook than I am about Smitten Kitchen's.  I can't plug her site enough.

the best so far

My first movie outing was a resounding success.  I shan't spend much time dwelling on the lovely appropriate-ness of our movie selection, my most delicious guilty pleasure of all (and we know I have many, MANY of these). It will suffice to say that my beautiful and hilarious sister and I, along with my wonderful sister-in-law, cozied up in a theater that had more than enough available seats (movie anxiety YET AGAIN UNWARRANTED) and giggled and whispered throughout what is undeniably the glossiest, highest quality Twilight film thus far.  Granted, the original movie has quite a bit of charm, so I'm not sure I can call The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 my favorite.  Let it be known that I feel even more ridiculous typing out that long title than I do admitting that I loved watching it and can't wait to see it again.

P.S. Minus the elaborate back, the dress was heinous.  It matches the ring.

P.P.S. I aspire to post more than movie trailers in the month of December.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Team Peeta

Monday, November 14, 2011

I. Am. So. Excited.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

baby essentials

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

To follow up on my post reflecting on my lessons and revelations as a new mom, I thought I might take note of the things that I have found most helpful in these first few months.  There must be something like 5,000,000 baby items out there, tempting or confusing new moms and moms-to-be everywhere. It's increasingly a challenge to sift through them to figure out what really might be necessary or provide comfort and support.  Just like any other new mom, I had a giant baby registry, even though I really made an effort to keep my list practical and devoid of space-consuming or frivolous items.  I'm quite glad that I registered at Amazon-had I actually physically been in a baby store (it would have been Buy Buy Baby, btw, that place is a baby wonderland!), there is no telling what would have made it on my list.  I took stock of the things I feel I couldn't live without and have recorded them here.  In a few more months, perhaps I'll create a "nice to have" and "totally unnecessary" list.

muslin swaddle blankets.  I have a solid collection of these, and though they're not the cheapest items to purchase, they are completely wonderful, and exceptionally multi-purpose.  I use them to cover the stroller or car seat when we're out, as burp cloths, as a playmat of sorts on the lawn, and of course, for swaddling.   Aden + Anais and Luna Lullaby are my mainstays.

Gerber cloth diapers.  I know not every baby is a monumental spitter like my precious little baby A, but most will still muss up their clothes from time to time after eating.  Forget about buying lovely burp cloths with cute designs, because these are all you will need!  Side note: if I were to go the cloth diaper route in the future, I would certainly be more inclined to try the hip, efficient all-in-ones or pocket diapers.  No prefolds (which these Gerber cloth diapers are) for me!

multiple changing pad covers.  I was blissfully ignorant when I included a single changing pad cover on my registry.  After only a few days at home, and multiple poop explosions and/or pee fountains which my inexperienced hands failed to catch with a clean diaper or washcloth, I realized it would be a whole lot easier if I had a few spares.  Of course, it's not really necessary, if you stay on top of your laundry or are not averse to throwing a regular towel down on the changing pad if you've forgotten about your laundry and your lone pad is swirling around in a whirlpool of eco-friendly detergent.  A towel will suffice, but because they're not actually fixed to the pad, baby will be quite a bit more wiggly and slippery.  I currently have three covers, which is just about the right number.

bouncer.  Of all the soothing/entertaining baby gear we acquired, the bouncer has by far been the most useful.  I know every baby is different, and some will respond more positively to certain items than others, so this item might not be as essential for you as it is for us.  The swing, for example, was something most moms encouraged purchasing, but baby A never warmed to it at all.  The bouncer, on the other hand, has been wonderful!  I keep it in the kitchen all the time, where it props up little A while I'm eating breakfast and lunch or cooking dinner.  He likes it mostly for his vantage point right now, though as he becomes more mobile I'm sure he'll appreciate the movement factor.

iPhone. Last on my list, but certainly not least. I admit that it's a bit snobby for me to include such an expensive device as an iPhone, but I am getting every single penny's worth. There is seemingly no limit to the usefulness of this device.  In fact, I don't believe I ever truly appreciated it until I had a baby.  It was cool to be able to surf the web in such a clean, flawless, fashion, and I loved having the dual function of the iPod feature, of course, but I never really used my phone to its full potential. Now, I entertain myself while nursing with the Netflix and Kindle apps.  In fact, I've read more books in baby A's first three months of life than I did during my entire pregnancy (full disclosure: when it comes to books, I will always be a three-dimensional, classic, words on the physical page kind of person-I just make an exception for the up-all-night stage of babyhood).  I've added a Raffi station to my Pandora app, and it's a cinch to thrust the phone into the iHome in the nursery, though the phone's speakers are just the right volume to use anywhere.  I tried multiple new baby apps before landing on my favorite, Baby Connect.  It's excellent, keeping track not only of nursing, diapering, and sleeping, but also milestones, moods, medicines, and doctor's appointments.  In the anxiety-inducing first days of new-motherhood, it's hugely helpful to have an easy way to keep track of everything, rather than having to find pen and paper all the time to write down each pee and poop.  The camera is, of course, of exceptional quality, and it's wonderful to be able to email or text videos and pictures instantly.  What I would NOT suggest is using your phone to engage with that devil, Dr. Google.  STAY AWAY FROM GOOGLE, NEW PARENTS!  Too long there, and you'll be diagnosing your precious newborn with all number of horrific, and probably obsolete or nonsensical illnesses.

There you have it!  My can't-live-without-'em list!  Excuse me now while I ensure one of my three changing pad covers is clean...

Bel Ami

I'll have you know that Bel Ami is a fine piece of French literature.