not so clever banter

Not a lot going on to write about, but I see it’s been a week since my last posting. My doctor’s appointment for this Friday has been rescheduled for next Monday, so unfortunately I’ve got a few more days to wait and see. However, everything *seems* quiet and uneventful on that front, so I’ll pretend I don’t spend a few hours every day worrying about it and move right along.

Liam continues to do well in school. This afternoon when we picked him up he was chattering away, saying goodbyes to the kids, and using words I don’t know but that were definitely French. Sigh…. I’ve been outpaced by a not-quite-three year old. It’s wonderful to see the smile on his face when I pick him up at lunch time and in the afternoon. Right now he’s relaxing on his daddy, rubbing his belly and watching “Finding Nemo.” I predict he’ll be asking to go up to bed within fifteen minutes.

Jesse has about three weeks between the time he finishes with the military and can begin with NATO (he has to start at the beginning of the month) so, assuming we get an all clear from the doctor, we’re planning on taking a mini-vacation. Maybe Paris, maybe Italy to visit some friends. Maybe we should rent a place in Bruges and just enjoy a couple days in Belgium’s most beautiful city.

Not much else going on, so I’ll leave you with a couple shots of Liam being adorable.

Taking a nap on the couch. Isn’t he just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.

Not a great shot, but it was a great moment. See those tiny white specs on the ground? It was snowing, the first snow we’ve had all year. I called Liam out to see, and at first he just stood in the doorway with a silly grin, laughing… “hehehehehehehheeeee.” By the time I got the camera. He was out running in it. About an hour later he was pretty miffed because everything melted away and he couldn’t build a snowman, but he was pretty happy at this moment.

Picnic Lunch

A couple days ago, a package from Gramma Bonnie finally arrived. We were beginning to think it had gotten lost in the mail. Some goodies for Jesse (one of a million items we’ve ordered from Amazon that they refuse to ship to us, because they apparently have a problem shipping to APO addresses, so we have to ship it to one set of parents and then have it re-shipped), but most important were the goodies for Liam. Let’s see: new socks; a soft, cuddly sweatsuit that he’s sound asleep in right now; warm, fuzzy mittens to match his winter coat, courtesy of his Aunt Pat; a police car that has barely left his sight since it appeared from the box; and a wonderful John Deere lunch box that he loves so much he begged to eat his cereal out of this morning.

Meanie of a mom that I am, I had to veto the weetabix in the lunchbox scenario, but we reached a compromise. I packed him a picnic lunch for after school.

Deftly working the clasps on his lunchbox.

See the smile as he discovers he’s got a banana milk (soy) box! Now he knows we really love him!

Peanut butter sandwich, carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes, grapes, and a banana milk. With his wonderful police car overseeing it all. Lunch just doesn’t get any better.

As you can see, Liam’s over his terrible cold from last week. He still has a bit of a lingering cough, but it’s just a minor annoyance to him now. His appetite seems to be returning, his sleep is getting back to normal, and, thankfully, his disposition is reflecting these changes.

Food without Photos

I have no photos of our two most recent experiments, but thought I’d share the verdicts anyway. Last night I made “Baked Tofu Nuggets” from Nava Atlas’ The Vegetarian Family Cookbook. I presented them to the family as fish sticks, and we had them with cocktail sauce, potatoes, and green beans. Jesse and I thought they were fantastic. Liam was still in his I hate everything mood, so he only ate half of one stick. Now that his disposition seems to be evening out, I bet I could make these later in the week and he’d gobble them down. Well done, Nava. Oh, I didn’t have any cornmeal so replaced the tad it called for with wheat germ. Turned out perfectly.

Yesterday a package I’ve been waiting for arrived — some vegan supplies I’ve searched high and low for around here and simply can’t find. Once I gave up my search and ordered them online, they were here in a week. Can’t believe I sat on that for a month. Anyway, of prime importance was the nutritional yeast I ordered. Wtih that my newest cookbook, Jo Stepaniak’s The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, opened up to me.

Tonight I made her Gooey Grilled Cheez sandwiches. Definitely a keeper for our family. Just cheesy enough to seem like a familiar comfort food, but with a taste all it’s own. Something in it was a little strong, but I can’t pinpoint what. Jesse thinks I should try adjusting the turmeric; I think I might want to cut back a little on the tahini and the onion powder. Nevertheless, these were wonderful and the perfect accompaniment to a hearty tomato soup. When I tasted the strong *something*, I worried that Liam might turn of his nose at these. Nothing doing. He still fussed about and took his slow sweet time, but he willingly finished his sandwich and went to bed with a full tummy. Definitely a kid-friendly recipe.

Kinda Minestrone

I decided a couple days ago that I wanted to make a huge pot of a hearty vegetable soup to see us through lunches for the week. I looked in all my many, many cookbooks and compared recipes, but couldn’t find anything that looked any better than my own.

I cook a lot like my Gramma, or at least I aspire to. What that means is I don’t tend to pay attention to the details like how much of a certain ingredient goes into a recipe. I put in what looks/feels/seems right, and adjust accordingly. This annoys Jesse to no end, but 98% of the time it works and he is none the wiser. Ummmm, until he reads this post, that is.

So…. I heat some olive oil in our large soup pot, then saute 4-5 cloves of garlic for a couple minutes. Add one huge chopped onion and saute until it starts to soften, about five minutes. Then I add some chopped celery and carrots (three each?) and saute these while I’m getting the rest of the ingredients ready.

I cheat and use 2-3 prepared cans of vegetable broth (you can make your own, but I never seem to bother). Add these, a 28oz can of diced tomatoes, and a rinsed can of kidney beans. Then it’s time to clean out the vegetable drawer. Let’s see, looking at the picture it looks as though I needed to use up a couple zucchini, some super-ripe tomatoes, a couple handfuls of spinach, and about half a dozen large mushrooms.

I season the soup with fresh oregano, basil, and salt and pepper. Let it cook for about forty minutes and that’s about it.


I say “kinda minestrone” because Jesse is adamant that true minestrone must have pasta. If that’s not included, it’s just vegetable soup. And he would know. As we all know, Ohlsson is an old Italian-family name.

thump thump thump

The doctor’s visit yesterday went much better than I was anticipating. I was hoping and praying for the best, but trying to prepare myself emotionally for the worst. At first all I could see was an empty sac, like last time, only at least doubled in size. The fact that it had grown so much should have clued me in, but I was too nervous to put my armchair-doctorate to work. My doctor kindly pointed out the little white spot in the lower right hand corner, then she zeroed in on about four pixels, flickering like mad. Those tiny flickering pixels were a heartbeat.

We are so happy, even the news that she’d like me to continue resting and taking it easy for at least two weeks, and she advises no travel (we were taking a trip to Italy next week) until I’m past the 16-week mark, can mar it. But you know what would make it even better? Since I’m supposed to lay around as much as possible and take it easy, that pretty much means that no housework is being done around here, other than dinner, dishes, and the occasional load of laundry. Anyone want to come catch up on the housework?

She didn’t give us an ultrasound picture, but trust me, you couldn’t see anything. Here’s a better representation.

This is a dry split pea — the approximate size of our baby. And yet he has a beating heart, the beginnings of nervous, musculature, and skeletal systems, tiny arms and legs forming, and a bazillion other things that make him a living being.

In not-so-awe-inspiring news, Liam is really, truly sick. My poor boy has gotten progressively worse since my last posting. Last night was pretty rough, as he was coughing and running a fever, whimpering and moaning in his sleep, and waking up every half hour or so. I slept with him so I could attend to him as much as possible. Right now he seems a little better, so hopefully the worst is behind us.

Liam watching his current favorite, Polar Express, laying on the couch with his pillow. I hope he feels better soon.

Burger Battles: round 2

Tonight we tried a second black bean burger recipe. This one is also from a fellow blogger, Kate at Vegan Ventures. We really enjoyed the taste and overall appearance of these burgers, but the consistency wasn’t what we were hoping for. Maybe the only “problem” is that we’re too recent converts to a vegan diet and expect a meaty consistency that we simply won’t find.

Kate’s black bean burgers on Rudi’s buns. Alongside are potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes, drizzled with some sun-dried tomato-flavored olive oil and various seasonings. Really a good meal. Too bad Liam’s not feeling well enough to enjoy it. He had his favorite comfort food — Weetabix.

Liam got a bit sick…

All told, it’s been kind of a rough week health-wise in our household. I’m worried about the pregnancy, although things seem to be looking up — the bleeding’s subsiding, the progesterone doesn’t seem to be knocking me out quite as much, and my spirits are much higher after my talk with the doc on Friday. Saturday Jesse came down with some kind of 24-hour stomache bug (that only lasted about two hours) that left him shuddering, it hit him so hard. Now Liam’s sick.

Starting yesterday he’s got a rattly cough and seems to be running a low-grade temp. He’s also complained about his ears, but we think it’s actually his throat that’s bothering him and he can’t distinguish between the two. Either way, it’s tylenol for the pain and fever, and sudafed for the cough. Jesse tried to give him some Robitussin, and Liam thought that was just about the most vile thing we’d ever tried to give him.

I sent him to school today because he seemed to want to go. Most of the moms here work, so they send their kids unless they’re seriously ill, which Liam is not. So the germs recirculate anyway. It’s not as if by keeping him home I’ll break the cycle and spare the other children. This afternoon, though, he stayed home. He’s just kind of sluggish and wants to cuddle and lay around, not rough-house and be around a bunch of screaming kids.

But he does not want to take a nap. He doesn’t need to take a nap. He’d much rather play games on the computer.

See? He’d been talking to me about two minutes before I shot this.

He never even moved when I picked him up and resettled him on the couch. Note the hand in the pants, a la Al Bundy. Boys will be boys, I guess.

Pizza Night

Last night was another great pizza success. Sadly, Liam is coming down with a bit of a cold, and opted to pick away at a peanut butter sandwhich instead. Poor kid. I also think the vinegar in the topping was a little too much for him. What? Vinegar on pizza? More on that in a minute.

The sauce and the crust are from “The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.” How did I cook before I got that book? And, funny enough, when my copy first arrived from Amazon I thought it looked too gourmet-ish for me. I swear I use it almost daily — some of the recipes I already know by heart.

The cheese-like substance is Faux Feta from “How it all Vegan.” I think I really underestimated this cookbook originally. Recently I’ve found some fantastic recipes in its pages. This is where the vinegar comes in. The original recipe calls for red wine vinegar. When I first made the recipe a few weeks ago, I didn’t have any so substituted balsamic. Simply divine. The sweet yet tart taste perfectly complemented our toppings. This time I had the red wine vinegar, so gave it a try. Good, but a little too sharp for our tastes. Certainly too sharp for Liam. That said, it went well wth the toppings we chose this time around. If I was using Faux Feta for a salad or a vegan version of spanakopita, I’d use red wine vinegar. For the pizza, I think I’ll revert to balsamic.

Usually we like to top the pizza with sauteed mushrooms, kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. I’ve (gasp! sob!) run out of sun-dried tomatoes, as has our grocery store, so this time I substituted green peppers. Not Jesse’s favorites, but I sauteed the mushrooms and peppers with some garlic first and he found them not objectionable.

The finished product. It was great! Jesse doesn’t seem to miss the pepperoni and sausage at all, and we both find the Faux Feta to be a fine substitute for cheese. I’ve just received “The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook” and have ordered the few key ingredients I can’t find locally; when they arrive we’ll try branching out on our cheese-y topping.

Tonight we resume our burger battles, so come back soon and see how round two worked out!

ups and downs

Over the last week I have been absolutely everywhere on the emotional scale. It’s been pretty hard. Friday evening I was sure I was bleeding too much and that it was over. I called my doctor to see if I should bother continuing with the progesterone supplements. She was surprised to hear that the problems continued, but advised me to continue taking my meds by all means. Apparently the blood test I went in for on Thursday showed excellent progression of my hcg levels, and she was quite hopeful because of these results. She advised me to take it as easy as possible and we’ll see what we see on Tuesday. Let me tell you, never has a week dragged so long. Still, I’m much more at peace after hearing about the test results, and after comparing this pregancy to the data I have on Liam’s, in which the spotting started within 24 hours of when it started this time, continuing for ten days. And here is my wonderful lad, proof that everything can work out just perfectly.

Liam begged me to take his picture. We were just sitting down to have our lunch (second photo), of which he ate every last bite.

After he stopped posing. My goodness, what a ham he can be!

a sampler of easy vegan family meals

If I let myself think about it, it can be a daunting task to make sure our family is getting good, nutritious meals that everyone will eat and enjoy. Daily I consult recipe books, surf various vegan food blogs, and spend a great deal of time in the kitchen preparing new dishes. Enter last Tuesday, when my doctor advised me to stay off my feet as much as possible, and the task suddenly got much more difficult. Or so I thought. It turns out that Liam vastly prefers the simpler meals. Here is just a sampler of some of the meals I’ve made in recent days. Pardon the photography!

A definite keeper of a “recipe,” if you can call it that. I cooked up a box of whole wheat pasta. While that was cooking, I combined a box of silken tofu with a jar of pesto (no cheese, I checked), added a can of mushrooms, and warmed that up on the stove. This got rave reviews from everyone at the table and will become a staple in our household. Minimum time on my feet, no chopping of vegetables, and every plate practically licked clean.

“The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen” is my current favorite cookbook, perhaps my favorite of all time. That’s where I got the recipe for this fantastic pasta sauce. We made a large batch weeks ago and I just took it out of the freezer for last night’s supper. Now, usually, it looks much more appetizing than this. I had the brilliant idea to steam some spinach and then puree it into the sauce, because Liam definitely lacks in his consumption of dark green leafy vegetables. I had no idea how, ummmm, vibrant, the green of the spinach would be. When I mixed it into the sauce the whole concoction became kind of brownish-green. We added a can of mushrooms and a can of chopped olives, and ate it by candlelight. Since he couldn’t see that it was the color of vomit, Liam thought it was great and ate every bite. We ate the leftovers for lunch today — I added a can of tomato sauce to improve the color a bit, which is the result you see here.

On of the first vegan cookbooks I bought was “How it all Vegan,” which is supposed to be a classic. It’s not my favorite, but I must admit I’ve found some spectacular recipes here. One we just tried today is this chickpea-peanut butter dip for veggies and fruits. You’d never know this was good for you. The original recipe calls for jam or fruit spread smeared across the top, but we didn’t think it was necessary. Making the dip and chopping the veg took me less than five minutes.

Liam helps himself to a bite of celery and huge glob of dip. That’s my bean-hating boy!

Well, it’s Sunday again, so it’s pizza night! I’ll try to post some pics later to show everyone how deprived we are. MMMMM.