Chickpea curry

Our wonderful doula brought us this curry just after Plum was born. It was so good then, and it’s so good now. I’ve also cooked the potatoes and carrots together in the Instant Pot so that the only monitored cooking you have to do is sautéeing the onions, adding the rest of the veg and sauce, and heating it all up.

1 can coconut milk
2 TBS yellow curry paste
1 TBS palm sugar
1 tsp turmeric
1 large carrot, cubed
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 cup green beans, cut into ½ inch pieces (I just whatever veggies are in the house – broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, whatever)
1 can chickpeas
1 medium onion, cubed
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (or 1/2tsp ground ginger)
2 TBS of coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 tsp of salt

Heat the oil in a deep skillet. Saute the onions until almost translucent. Add potatoes, carrots, green beans and grated ginger, cook until almost soft. While that is cooking slowly whisk the coconut milk with the yellow curry paste, turmeric, salt and palm sugar. Pour over the vegetables, add the chickpeas and bring to simmer. Cook for about five more minutes. Serve over white or brown rice.


Homemade chicken noodle soup


Buy a whole chicken and cook it any kind of way. I cook mine in my Instant Pot (chicken breast side down in pot, add a cup or so of water, high pressure with natural release for 30-60 minutes depending on the chicken’s size and how frozen it is).

Next, let the chicken cool and remove all the meat from the bones and skin. I store the meat in the fridge, add the bones and skin to a big pot and then cover them with lots of water and boil on high all day long, adding more water as needed so the carcass stays covered. You can also make stock in your Instant Pot (there are plenty of suggestions for best practices online). The stock should get cloudy and the carcass should fall completely apart. The longer you boil it, the yummier it will be.

During the last hour or so of cooking the stock, chop an onion and several carrots*, and saute them in another large pot until onions are translucent and carrots get soft-ish. Then I pour the stock I’ve just made over a fine mesh strainer and into the onion/carrot pot. Roughly chop half the chicken and add it, too. (The other half of the chicken can go into the freezer or you can add it all if you want very chicken-y soup).

I season up the stock at this point: salt (don’t overdo here; you’ll add more at the end), pepper, marjoram, sage, rosemary, parsely, and any other spices that seem chicken soup-ish. Add a bag of frozen peas and cook over medium heat for 15-30 minutes to let the peas get to the texture you like and the flavors go together. In the last 5-10 minutes, add your noodles. If you’re using egg noodles, they cook very quickly. If you’re using different pasta, it might take longer. I often add the noodles and then just turn off the heat on my flat top electric stove, cover the soup, and let it sit ’til we’re ready to eat. Add salt to taste here, too, if you’d like.

*You could add celery here, too.


Plum at nearly 19 months

WALKS confidently and most of the time, though still looks like a toddler and likes to crawl for occasional funsies.

Makes all kinds of facial expressions; she’s probably best at surprised faces and furrowed brows

Eats most everything; especially loves cheese, blueberries, sauces (aioli, ranch dressing), and donuts

Says more words than we can count. Most are recognizable to us, but still somewhat toddler-ified

Climbs confidently onto everything, including tables if we let her (we usually don’t)

Has started to communicate about peeing and pooping (sometimes in advance, most often after the fact)

Names and touches/points to body parts on herself and others; we’re trying to limit her to poking herself in the eye

Points to various family members and herself while saying names: “Mama, Dada, Bubba, Zeze, Doggy, Mae [sounds like a My/Mae hybrid]”

Plays peek-a-boo expertly with family via Facetime

So social! Loves riding the bus, visiting with friends, park time, babysitters

Why we skipped the infant car seat

When we were planning baby gear, we didn’t get an infant car seat, we just started with a convertible car seat. I’ve shared our reasoning with several friends, and I wanted to share it here, too.

When you’re talking about a carseat to put a newborn in, you have two choices:

1) Infant car seat: this is the type that you see babies get carried around in and set on the floor in restaurants in. The baby lays in a fairly horizontal position and is low in the car in this type of seat. This is also the type of seat you can clip into some strollers with the right attachment and that has a separate base that stays in the car, meaning you can have one seat and two bases for two different cars. Most of these car seats can also be installed without the base using just the seat belt. Two examples are the Graco Snugride and the Britax B-Safe. These seats are usually safe to 30 or 35 lbs, 29-32 inches tall, or when baby’s head is closer than 1 inch from the top of the car seat, whichever comes first, though if you have this type of carseat, you should definitely check the regulations for your particular model. The limitations on how big your baby can be and still ride safely should be specified on the seat. Babies generally outgrow this seat sometime between 5 and 12 months, depending on baby’s height and body proportions. You could have a baby with a long torso that is still technically within the weight and overall height limits on a seat, but can no longer ride safely because his or her head is not contained appropriately within the top of the seat. Also, a report came out last year that said that babies should be moved out of their infant seat by age one.

2) Convertible car seat: this is the type that stays in the car. Infants might need an insert in order to ride in this type of seat (depends on the seat). The baby can recline at an angle that is safe for their limited head control, but generally sits up higher and slightly more upright than in an infant car seat. You can put very little babies in some of these seats, and then the seats can be used up to much higher weight and height limits. Examples are the Clek Fllo, Nuna Rava, and Graco 4Ever.

Why we chose the Clek Fllo and skipped the infant seat all together:

  • I didn’t want to buy an infant seat that my baby might outgrow in as few as 5 months. I didn’t want to store an extra car seat for the next baby or have to buy another car seat in the first year.
  • I didn’t want to carry the baby around in the car seat or push the baby in the car seat in the stroller. The infant seats weigh at least 7.5 lbs, so add an 8+ lb baby and you’re already lugging a not insignificant amount of weight around. I occasionally lifted the 20 lb twins that I nannied for in their infant seats, and it was a lot. I felt like I would much rather carry my baby in my arms or in a baby carrier. We got the stroller + bassinet because we wanted to have the option of a bassinet to take into restaurants and have a place for Plum to hang out if needed and because I wanted her to get used to hanging out flat on her back in the stroller, which is how we wanted her to be comfortable sleeping (as you probably know, back sleeping is the safest for SIDS prevention). We ended up using the bassinet for sleeping in the house (naps and night time), too, which was a bonus that we didn’t anticipate and which we would not have been able to do with an infant car seat because they are not approved for sleeping.
  • I wanted to have one car seat that would work rear-facing for as long as possible. Our friend who is a pediatric emergency doctor recommends that children stay rear-facing ’til age four. Knowing that we were likely to have a tall/large kid, I wanted to get the seat that would last the longest, and that’s the Clek Fllo. It has one of the highest weight and height limits for rear-facing.
  • I knew that some babies hate the car, and one theory about why they hate it is that they can’t see out. Many convertible car seats allow them to sit more upright. Plum never hated the car, and obviously I don’t know if this is because of the convertible car seat or because she is generally easy going (probably the easy going thing, honestly).
  • We didn’t need to think about switching the car seat back and forth between cars.

All of that said, this is just what made the most sense for us. Most people do start with an infant seat, and I am sure it works very well or else the car seat companies wouldn’t sell so many of them. As a parent, you decide what is best for your family.

Plum at 15 months

Makes kissing noises, blows raspberries, smacks her lips

Cruises all around and does a tiny bit of standing if she lets go of something

Antagonizes the cats and then makes a frowny face when they paw or bite back

Says so many words. Some of the ones we can understand are: Bubba, Dada, Mama, more, dinner, bottle, dog, cat, water

Loves dancing so much, whether she’s sitting or standing holding onto something

Colors with toddler crayons

Nurses only once per day (in the morning, if at all) and loves to drink cow’s milk out of bottles. We are so close to weaning!

Occasionally tries out a hilarious scowl on us

Eats everything, but favorites include: rice and beans with salsa and cheese, steamed carrots, bananas

Still wants to read books all the time, and often brings them to us and plunks herself down in our laps

Can go down the slide by herself (very carefully turns around and slides down feet first on her belly)

Sings along with music or with me singing

Gives hugs/squeezes to people and kisses the cats

Makes her panda and hippo stuffies dance to music

Crawls so fast and in moments of especially intense crawling, determinedly crawls with her head down (more aerodynamic maybe?)

Best homemade lasagna

I talked about this on the most recent episode of Friendlier, but I thought I should share it AND write it down, so that I remember it.

1 lb bulk sausage (I use Harris Teeter Sweet Italian Pork Sausage)
1 onion, chopped
2 jars of pasta sauce (I use one Harris Teeter Arrabiata and one Harris Teeter Garlic Lovers)
12 lasagna noodles (regular, not no-boil type)
16 oz Ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly grated black pepper
3+ cups of shredded cheese (I use a combo of mozzarella, asiago, provolone, parmesan, romano, and fontina that comes in a bag, but you can’t really go wrong here)

Brown/crumble the sausage and fry the chopped onion in a deep skillet (I do both at the same time; you can also add some chopped garlic if that’s your thing). Add both jars of pasta sauce to the onion/sausage, turn the heat way down, cover, and simmer for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.

When the sauce is nearly done simmering, bring a pot of salted (very salty) water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook a minute or two less than specified on the noodle package (this should mean very al dente noodles). Drain water and lay out noodles on a silpat, parchment, or waxed paper, so they don’t stick to each other.

Preheat over to 350. Combine ricotta, eggs, half cup of parmesan, and some freshly ground black pepper and mix until uniform. Add a little sauce to the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish (just so the noodles won’t stick), then lay out 4 noodles side by side on top of the sauce. Distribute half the ricotta/eggs/cheese mixture onto the noodles (cover as evenly as possible), then add at third of your remaining sauce and spread out. Sprinkle a third of your cheese evenly on top of the sauce. Add another layer of noodles, followed by remaining ricotta/eggs/parm, more sauce, and more shredded cheese. Cover this cheese with the final four noodles, then cover the noodles with the remaining sauce, and cover with foil. Bake in preheated oven* for 45-60 minutes. Then uncover, top with remaining cheese, and bake another 30ish minutes.

*Your 13×9 will be very full, so it’s a good idea to put your lasagna pan on top of a cookie sheet or foil on the bottom of your oven to save a mess.

P.S. I realize this is only sort of homemade because I use sauce from a jar. Oh, well.

Plum at 12! months

Nearly always all fours crawls, unless she’s holding something, in which case she still chooses commando crawling

Has pulled up independently to a full stand at least twice and a half stand—where her legs are straight but her torso is still parallel to the ground—a whole bunch of times, and usually puts her feet down first when we’re setting her down

Can climb up and down a single short step like the the threshold of our door and the cat scratcher

Loves dancing (seated on the floor and in our arms) and invents new moves daily. The best by far is a head/torso wiggle.

Kind of fakes a laugh when she hears other people laughing both in real life and over Facetime/on podcasts

Mimics the cats’ meowing and sirens with a sort of high pitched “aaaahhh” sound

Mimics the dog’s barking with “hm hm”

Much more interested in crawling after us and the dog and cats than playing with toys

Always up for a book. Looks through them herself a lot each day, and also loves listening to us read. Current favorite: Ten, Nine, Eight

Loves most food, but really, really loved the carrot cake Vati (my dad) made for her birthday. Atta girl.