Sunday, August 12, 2018

Covering My Hair: A Hilarious Encounter

Most of the time, I get really sweet compliments on my hair wrapping.

"That scarf is gorgeous! Where did you get it?" (Most of the time, I can't remember.)

"You look like a queen." (I get this a lot from Ethiopian men.)

"How did you learn to wrap like that?" (Trial and error, is my usual response.)

But today, as Mr. T and I went through security at Coors Field for a Rockies vs. Dodgers game (Rockies won, all thanks to Charlie Blackmon, my secret boyfriend), this exchange occurred between two older gentleman and me:

Security #1: Do you have anything in there? (He gestures at my scarf.)
Me: What? No.
Security #1: You're not hiding anything?
Me: No ...
Security #2 (with an awesome curly mustache): He's just being ... (I can't remember what he said).
Me: Ha ha. Oh, okay.
Security #2: Do you hide your weed in there?
Me: Ha ha ha, right.
Security #2: I once used to have this metal container in my car but I swapped it out for wood and this copy stopped me to ask if I hid my coke in there! Ha!
Me: Uh, okay ...

Seriously, it was weird. And funny. And I never thought that anyone thought I could hide anything in my hair covering. I mean, I suppose I could. I suppose it's why when I go to the airport, inevitably they have to wand my head to make sure I'm not accessorizing with the newest trends in small bombs. But weed? Drug paraphernalia!? It had never occurred to me.

Perhaps this is a new business model I should look into ...

But seriously, I'm having a hardcore love-hate relationship with hair covering lately. Not that I'm considering uncovering or going to sheitels (wigs) full time or anything, but mostly that I just am not loving the way I look in my scarves these days. My volumizer is too big or too small. The scarf doesn't fit right. It makes my head look gigantic, it makes my head look lopsided ... everything is just wrong with it. I hit this slump once a year, it seems. I'm not sure why, and I don't know how I usually come out of it, but I pretty much hate it because hair covering is something I truly love.

Do you ever get in a slump? How do you dig yourself out of it? 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sometimes, Being a Mom Just Is

Sometimes, being a mom is feeling miserable, but still getting up, making lunches, and getting kids to school before starting a full day of work.

Sometimes, being a mom is waiting until everyone is in bed and driving away in the minivan to work, because coffee is expensive and it's too late to drink it anyway.

Sometimes, being a mom is being sick but, having promised your kids you'd go to a picnic, you muster up the smiles to go.

Sometimes, being a mom is thinking "Why did I do this? Can I just go back?" and not feeling guilty because being a mom is the hardest job in the world.

Sometimes, being a mom is making banana bread while holding a baby in one hand and cracking an egg in the other.

Sometimes, being a mom is being exhausted, defeated, and still having to function at full capacity for family, for work, for everyone except yourself.

Sometimes, being a mom is ignoring a screaming baby because you really want to post a picture of the lunch you packed because you're proud you're so put together sometimes.

Sometimes, being a mom is feeling fat, ugly, tired, bloated, lonely, exhausted, fed up, and utterly alone, even when you're surrounded by friends and family.

Sometimes, being a mom is feeling gorgeous and with it, even if you're "faking it" until you "make it."

Sometimes, being a mom is knowing that there are people relying on you every moment of every day, so you must. keep. going.

Sometimes, being a mom is smiles and giggles and moments of bliss.

Sometimes, being a mom is screaming and crying.

Sometimes, being a mom is winning.

Sometimes, being a mom is losing.

Sometimes, being a mom just is.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Instant Pot Shabbat: Instant Pot Recipe for Black Lentils (and more!)

instant pot shabbat black lentil recipe

So I joined the cult of Instant Pot (yes, it's Instant Pot, not Instapot) after resisting and resisting for longer than I probably should have. Although I've only had it a few weeks, I'm happy to say I'm in love and kicking myself for all the snide comments I made to others about the craze. The best part is that I've gotten rid of my rice cooker and small crockpot and now have more space in my kitchen, which, might I add, is super, unbelievably tiny.

Instant Pot Shabbat Salmon, Kale, and Potatoes
This is the photo from the Food Network, and my fish looked exactly like this. Period. 

I ended up doing both Shabbat meals in the Instant Pot: the first completely and the second partially. For Shabbat dinner, I pretty much followed this recipe from Food Network for Instant Pot Salmon with Garlic Potatoes and Greens, except:

  • I substituted kale (I'm so millennial) for the spinach.
  • I used a Moroccan spice mix I had laying around (mix it up!). 
The reviews were outstanding. My 4.5 year old loved it and my husband couldn't shut up about it. This one will be going into rotation. Seriously, I can't cook fish this perfectly in the oven, so knowing the Instant Pot can? Priceless. The best part was that it only took a few minutes and I did it right before candle lighting, so everything was hot and fresh.

Kosher Buddha Bowl with Instant Pot Black Lentils

For Shabbat lunch, I wanted to whip up a hardcore healthy Buddha Bowl-style meal, which included:

  • Roasted rainbow carrots
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Roasted red onions
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes
  • Black lentils
  • Tahini sauce (tahini, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, salt, pepper)
Brilliant! I love bowls that are packed with veggies and protein, and this one was going to be a doozy of goodness. The only problem? I couldn't seem to find a legit recipe for just making black lentils; every recipe was for a soup or red, green, or brown lentils. I love black (or puy) lentils because they're incredibly hearty and packed full of protein. After digging through some regular recipes and Instant Pot recipes, I decided to wing it. The result was outstanding! 

  • 1 cup black lentils
  • 3.5 cups broth or water
  • pinch of salt
  • Put the ingredients in the Instant Pot bowl. 
  • For settings, you want 3 minutes on high pressure. 
  • Make sure the steam valve is closed. 
  • Put the lid on and the process will begin. 
  • After the 3 minutes, let the Instant Pot sit for 10 more minutes. 
  • After the 10 minutes, release the steam valve carefully. 
  • Once the pressure is resolved, remove the lid, and enjoy!
You should have perfect black lentils for use in whatever you need to make. If you want them to be a bit more soupy, use 4 cups of broth or water instead of the 3.5. 

Pro tip: If you have cherry tomatoes that are starting to turn, chuck them in the oven at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let them cook until they start to burst and pop. Throw 'em on pizza, a buddha bowl, on spaghetti, or just eat 'em with a spoon!

Do you have a favorite Instant Pot recipe? Sock it to me! My Instant Pot is going to stay pescatarian/dairy, but I'm curious how you're using yours.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Mom's Life: The Moment You've Done Something Right

 You know that moment when you're holding your baby and your other kids are playing so nicely and quietly and you look down at the baby and think, "You know? I've got this. I've really got this?" And then the baby starts screaming and your toddler starts screaming because her older sibling isn't letting her play the way she wants to play and then all hell breaks loose and you're thinking, "Yeah. I jinxed myself there." And everything falls apart and you want to curl into a ball and get sucked into a time vortex back to college when you could stay up until 3 am drinking and delivering films for the college newspaper for printing ...

Just me? I mean, some of the specifics there are probably just me, but this is basically a cycle I go through on a daily (sometimes multiple times) basis.

Having three kids is stupid. It's just the absolute most stupidest thing any human being could ever possibly do. With two kids, at least you sort of feel like it's a level playing field if there are two parents and two kids. You can each man one child at a time. But with three? And three under 5? It's stupid. It's dumb. It's the stupidest thing I've ever done in my entire life (except maybe not really going for the decadent non-kosher foods before opting to go kosher perhaps).

But then there are these moments like today. As I attempted to chill the Zush out while sitting on the couch (he pooped twice, so there's the answer), my other two were schlepping half the toys from my oldest's room into my daughter's room to have a "show." Then, they shut the door and I'm there, helpless on the couch, attempting to ignore the ensuing laughter and thumping and pounding. They have taken to WWE-style wrestling, my 2 year old and 4.5 year old. I mean, it keeps them super occupied, which is cool, and usually no one even ends up crying, which is also cool. But getting them to calm down afterward? Impossible.

So it's almost Tirzah's bedtime and Zusha finally falls asleep, so I get Asher to clean up the whole mess (because Tirzah suddenly is tired and thirsty and can't help), and he does. (Miracle!) Then I get Tirzah ready for pajamas and she's massively pooped without telling me. Every single time the conversation goes something like this:

Me: Tirzah, you pooped. What do you do when you poop?
Me: Great.
Me: Okay, it's too late now. You did it. I found it. Next time, mmkay?

So I get her changed and in bed and say Shema and Asher decides he wants to read her stories. Cool, I think. This'll end in disaster. So I go sit down on the couch to troll Facebook Marketplace for killer toy deals, and I hear him reading to her.

And it is the single most beautiful, heartwarming moment of my entire week. He doesn't know the words, but he knows the stories, and he's reading to her with gusto and excitement like Tatty does. Eventually he comes out and shuts her door.

"She wanted me to read three books!" he says proudly.

My heart melted. It was helpful having him read her bedtime stories because after working all day and picking up kids and making the crappiest (and yet tastiest for them) dinner and then running to Target on a 15-minute run before Mr. T went into the deli for the night and then dealing with Screamy McScreamerson aka the Terrorist aka Zusha ... I was spent.

Sometimes, kids feel like my greatest curse. Seven o'clock hits, and I'm exhausted. My internal clock kicks me awake at 5:30 am or earlier every single day whether I want it or not. I do what feels like 30 loads of dishes a day and am constantly detaching Batman stickers from my feet, not to mention cursing the sand that is everywhere all the time from the preschool playground. I feel like there is stuff, everywhere, and I can't get rid of it enough to feel like I have ownership of my space, my personal, individual, Chaviva space.

And then sometimes, I realize that I'm almost 35 and this is precisely where HaShem wants me to be. We're all on a journey, and we are where we are for a reason. I don't really get the reason. Sometimes I feel great regret and resentment and then immense guilt for feeling those things. It's a cycle I'll never understand, probably, but when I hear Asher reading to his sister and making her laugh and smile or making Zusha smile just by looking in his general direction, I know I must be doing something right.

In other news: Today we celebrate THREE YEARS since Mr. T returned to the USA after his nine month immigration disaster absence. And yet, three years on, it still feels so raw and close. Boy I hope it feels less painful as the years continue to roll on.

Happy 4th of July folks!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Review: Millennial Kosher by Chanie Apfelbaum

I love me some free stuff, and cookbooks are among my most favorite things to get for review. The thing about cookbooks is that I rarely buy them because when there's something I want to make I usually Google the recipe. It's easy, it's fast, I'm presented with millions of options ... but sometimes it's nice to have a physical book in hand while meal-planning for the week (I say half-jokingly because I'm trying really hard to do this and failing pretty miserably, mostly because my kids are jerks when they come home from daycare and all they want is string cheese and yogurt).

When I got the email to review Millennial Kosher by Chanie Apfelbaum, the creator of kosher food blog Busy in Brooklyn, I was pretty skeptical. I feel like anything labeled "millennial" is bound to be terribly stereotypical and ridiculous. While I waited for it to arrive, I envisioned everything topped with a fried egg or mixed with kale or featuring some kind of bizarre ingredient no one has ever heard of ever -- except in Brooklyn, of course.

The cookbook arrived and I cracked it open with my typical -- millennial -- skepticism. My reaction, which I said, out loud, to my husband, and then Instagrammed (because I'm a millennial)? "I want to make this! And this!"

Yes, I flagged pretty much every page that didn't require me to do a weird gluten-free substitution (and, of course, I didn't flag any with meat because that's not how we role at home).

First up? These deliciously pickled red onions. I don't normally pickle things, but when it's this easy, I couldn't not pickle them. I put them on everything. Just like a millennial would, of course. Salads, sandwiches, tacos, you name it.

Then, I made these ridiculous easy Tempeh Tacos for dinner, and while I tried them in a lettuce leaf, the family tried them in taco shells. Then they tried them in lettuce, and they decide they were actually a lot better in the lettuce than in the taco shells! Textures play well together, and Chanie knows her stuff. Next time, they'll trust me. This is a picture of the tacos, and below it is a picture of what the tacos were supposed to look like. Sometimes I'm on point with my food photography, and sometimes I just really, really want to eat and don't take time to take awesome photos. 

Then? Then I made the Peanut Butter Granola. Now, this is my favorite thing ever. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to everything, having three kids under 5 and all. I typically buy granola, but the gluten-free stuff is stupid expensive. Making my own would make so much more sense, especially when I buy the giant bag of gluten-free oats at Trader Joe's! This peanut butter granola is divine when paired with yogurt and some jelly. It's like eating a PB&J, but better. 

So good. I actually also threw some in a blender with almond milk and a frozen banana and a bit more PB powder and oh my goodness PB goodness for breakfast. 

Last up? For this post, I mean. Not the last thing I made. Because I have made all the things, and the things I haven't made I intend on making with a delicious vengeance. The final thing I want to show you is this Pad Thai Bowl, which uses quinoa in place of the noodles. I made it all fancy for Shabbos presentation, and the family devoured it. In fact, I think I'm going to make it this week because it was super fast and easy. Nothing like pleasing the whole family with one easy, nutritious, quick dish, especially on Shabbos. 

Basically, when Chanie says millennial, she means we're busy, we're overworked, we're hungry, and we just don't have the time to make gourmet food that's delicious and nutritious. This cookbook has something for everyone, and the recipes are easy to follow and are sure to please a crowd. My recommendation? Add this to your bookcase and embrace what it means to be someone who practices the art of Millennial Kosher. 

*****BUY THE BOOK*****