Friday, January 27, 2012

Be Gentle with Yourself. And Eat a Cookie.

As indicated by the radio silence around here, it has been a doozy of a week - we've had a painful goodbye, 18 hours in the car, a little baby scare (don't worry, baby girl and I are both fine), a national exam, 30 hours of work training, a disaster of a house, an ongoing car problem, and a stack of work that is multiplying like rabbits.  The humans at this little White Hot house are just emotionally and physically exhausted. It has left me feeling a little bit weepy, a little bit defensive, and a little bit like snapping - we are doing the best we can.

I was thinking that over and over to myself yesterday morning while I was blow drying my hair, getting more and more upset with the world, when the realization struck me: that the person I needed to be talking to was myself. I am doing the best I can, and that's really all I can do.

So, I decided that I would control what I could and let go of the rest - I sat down at my desk, took a deep breath, put my head down and worked for 10 hours. And, you know what? Everything is looking a little more manageable this morning. 

I woke up early to gigantic baby kicks, feeling lighter and happier and ready to face the day. I got to talk to Hugh (on the phone, mind you) for fifteen minutes while he studied and I had coffee and fed the boys breakfast. It's Friday. Yesterday marked three months until baby girl's due date (!!). I spent a whole uninterrupted hour working on the nursery last night. In other words, I'm remembering today just how peachy my little life is.

Oh, and I have a perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe to share with you. Because it's the kind of week where I can justify eating a two cookies after lunch and dinner. And you should, too. Because, man, oh man, these cookies are good:

A Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
Barely adapted from Apple a Day
makes approximately 3 dozen

The thing I love about these cookies, aside from their deliciousness, is their texture. They are chewy, and they stayed that way until the very last one was gone. Because, really, who wants a crunchy chocolate chip cookie? Not this girl.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, cream butter and sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until completely combined, scraping bowl as necessary.

Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until just combined.

Add chocolate chips and pecans. Mix by hand with wooden spoon to avoid over beating. 

Drop cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheets in heaping tablespoons. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes. Note: the edges of these cookies should be golden, but do not let the tops brown. This ensures their chewy texture. 

Remove from oven. Cool cookie sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cookies from cookie sheets and cool completely on wire racks.

Eat them up!

Friday, January 20, 2012

What We're Doing. And Eating.

TGIF, my frinternets. Here's what's shaking at the White Hot house this week:

  • Henry sleeps in Fletcher's bed now during the day. What is cuter than a little cat man in a giant dog bed? Not much:

  • Fletcher is the cutest (most spoiled) dog who ever lived:

  • Passed my glucose screen with flying colors. Not so much on the hemoglobin check. Which explains why I have been craving red meat and spinach and ice (number one anemia craving, who knew?). So, in summary, it looks like we are just genetically predisposed to grow large babies, and I will now be popping iron supplements and giving myself free reign on the hamburger consumption:

  • All of our furniture for the nursery has arrived and is set up. It looks like a room for a sweet little baby girl, and I love it with my heart and soul. Now it's time for me to get on my project list, which includes: mobile, bunting, roman shades, pillow cover, matting prints, and painting the rug. In other words, I'll be busy this weekend. 
  • Hugh is a busy bee as always. Instead of being a whiner, I will continue to just feel that lucky that when he has one free hour a day, he wants to spend it with me.  Don't be jeal.

And these are a few things we have been eating:
  • Chicken Tinga Tacos - We actually made these in December, but I forgot to share the link with you. Which is a crying shame, because they were delicious. Make them for your next dinner party:

  • Barbecue Pork Quesadillas - File this under food that looks like a hot mess but tastes really good. Take some of your leftover pork and coleslaw from last week's menu, slap it between two flour tortillas with some pepper jack cheese, a pinto bean version of these, and a few sliced jalapenos (no, I have no idea why my heartburn is terrible all. the. time.), and heat until golden brown. 

  • Smoky Beef and Bean Chili - A solid slow cooker chili from February's Real Simple. I am a huge slow-cooker proponent, because, what's better than having dinner checked off your list and cooking away at 10am? This recipe isn't on their website yet because it's from the newest issue, so I'll have to come back and update with the link. 

  • Not pictured: Chick-fil-a Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Again, with the heartburn, Catherine. Also, a Wendy's Chocolate Frosty. It was the first frosty I have consumed in probably 8 years and, holy moly, who knew those things were so delicious?!

With that, I am off to take the pup on his chilly morning walk, do some work, and go to the doctor. I think I spend about as much time with my doctor these days as I do with my husband...

Hope your weekend is just lovely and you eat something delicious and you get at least one hour with your most favorite person. 

See you Monday!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Day That Changed Everything.

It has come to my attention this week that I am rapidly encroaching on the third trimester. That we are down to a double-digit countdown. That this baby girl is going to be here in a blink. The weeks are flying by now and I barely have time to read about what she is doing at week 25 before my phone is buzzing with a reminder that we are now at week 26.  

Since Hugh and I started this (much longer than we ever anticipated) process in March 2010, I have been keeping a little journal. Rereading it now, as we are busy doing things like staying up late to frame prints for her nursery, I am struck by the true roller coaster of emotions we went through - the hope and excitement in the first few months, the humor from the months I was on Clomid (not that having to take it was funny, at all, but those pills made me act so crazy that really all we could do was laugh), the disappointment when it didn't work and we changed tactics and the months dragged on and on, and, in the final few months before we finally got here, the grief. Those entries are still hard for me to read and I cry every single time. Even now, with this belly full of baby kicking me every hour, I cry for how truly hard those days were, how sad and confused and alone we felt.  

But, like Hugh promised me would, we got there. And after the dark days of July, August 15th came like a giant explosion of joy and light and everything that was wonderful: 

I hesitated to share this because, well, it wasn't written for the world wide internet. It was written just for me, to remember how it felt to have known for twenty-four hours we were having a baby. It feels a bit like putting a love letter to Hugh on the blog (which, for the record, he would never let me do; private, that one). But since I started writing about being pregnant and sharing snippets of our infertility, I have gotten more emails and messages and comments of support and gratitude and comradery than this blog has ever received. It has made me wish I started sharing long before I did, if only because infertility can be an isolating path to travel and it would have been nice to feel a little less alone. So, here we go, the happiest part of the infertility journey to date... 

August 16, 2011 

I cannot believe I am actually writing this post. I feel hesitant to be putting the words on this page, feeling like every time I hit a key I am tempting fate to take this away from me. 

I am pregnant.

Three weeks and four days pregnant to be exact.

I feel literally over the moon with joy. I want to shout if from the rooftops. I cannot stop smiling. I have thought of nothing else for the last twenty-eight hours. I have no idea how a person waits until the end of the first trimester to share this news. I feel that people can just look at me right now and know.

Also, I am in shock. Not because this was unplanned. Actually, because it was the opposite. I am in shock because Hugh and I have been dealing with infertility since March 2010. Seventeen long months of waiting and worrying and blood work and tests and monitoring and temperature-taking. But mainly, it was the waiting. Waiting for that test to finally have two pink lines.

I don't know why I took a test yesterday morning. I wasn’t supposed to test, per my doctor, until Friday when I will be four weeks. I have gotten out of the habit of testing over and over again during the waiting period. But yesterday I woke up and thought, clear as day, I am going to take a test. After the five minute wait was up, when I went in to look at it, I almost threw the test away after seeing the faint second line, because I am so used to taking ovulation tests at this point (where one dark line and one faint line means you have, again, failed to ovulate). Also, it was 7:25am and I had been awake for approximately 6 minutes.

My hand was hovering above the trash can when the old synapses started firing and it clicked - more than one line on a pregnancy test, no matter how faint the second may be, means it's positive.

And if it is positive, that means you are pregnant.


I am pregnant.

I started shaking so hard I had to sit down. Then I immediately jumped up and ran to the hall to grab a box of digital tests (motto of the infertile: always prepared with testing arsenal, just in case). I dipped the test and sat there, staring at it, thinking it was way too early for it to be positive. Thinking the other test had to have been wrong.

Sixty seconds later, those digital letters were looking up at me: PREGNANT.

I have spent so long wondering how that moment would feel, how I would react, and now it was here. And now I can tell you how I felt: I was laughing and crying and shaking and saying aloud over and over "I'm pregnant." Fletcher was sitting in the doorway of the bathroom, looking at me with his head cocked to the side like I had lost my mind.

My whole life changed in that minute.

And then it was time to wait for Hugh to get home. Also known as the longest ten hours of my life. I am certain there were points in the day during which the clock started moving backwards.

Hugh finally called me at 5:32pm to tell me he was on the way home. I, somehow, managed to make totally normal and calm conversation with him during his drive. But all I kept thinking was I was about to change his whole life. This was the last time I would ever talk to him when it would just be us to think about. After he walked in that door, he would be a father-to-be. And everything would be different - perfectly excitingly wonderfully different. I was so excited my hands were trembling when he pulled in the driveway.

He came inside and Fletcher was losing his mind, as usual (see: we all love Hugh). I had the test in the pocket of my dress and my hands on my hips as we chatted so Hugh wouldn't see them shaking while he petted Fletcher.

For all the hours and hours I have spent fantasizing about finally getting to give Hugh this news, I didn't really know what I was going to say. I thought about getting a little baby thing to wrap up - a onesie or a rattle - but everything seemed so insignificant and trivial compared to the hugeness of this news. Writing it across the sky didn't feel big enough. So, in the end, I decided to just tell him.

I said I'd gotten him a present. That guy of mine loves presents and immediately looked excited. I told him to close his eyes and hold out his hands and he obliged. I, with still shaking hands, set the test right side up across his palms and said, okay, open your eyes.

He looked at it for a second, apparently thought it was a new digital thermometer, and said "Oh hey, look at that," in the most half-excited way ever. 

Then he saw the digital window. His eyes got huge. He looked up at me with complete shock, mouth literally hanging open, no sound coming out. I started laughing and crying at the same time and said, "I'm pregnant. We're having a baby." 

And then there was what I'd known would come; the moment that got me through every single one of those failed months - we were hugging and crying and laughing and kissing and stepping back to look at each other before we started hugging and crying and laughing again. I have never in my life wanted something more than I wanted to be able to finally be able to tell Hugh we were having a baby.

Finally, we got there. 

Can you believe it?

I hardly can.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Toffee Bars

It's official. With the dessert. I cannot be stopped, my friends.

Dessert has somehow become my go-to comfort food over the last 6.5 months, which is bizarre to this lifelong savory food lover. Maybe it's because I can't have my true favorite comfort food right now. But we're rolling with it. Especially the husband part of us. I believe he is in the kitchen eating one of these bars right now. At 5:30am.

Also, I always thought I didn't like toffee. Who knew that toffee is basically crunchy salted caramel? What is not to like about that? Nothing, says the girl who was eating it by the handful while waiting for the base of this recipe to cook...

Chocolate Peanut Butter Toffee Bars
Barely adapted from Marta Writes - I love this blog for her great writing and her perspective, so finding a tasty recipe there was icing on the cake. Check it.
makes 9x13 pan

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), at room temperature*
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 extra large egg yolk, at room temperature*
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cup toffee pieces (equivalent to one bag Heath baking pieces)

Heat oven to 350. Line 9x13 pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on each end. Spray foil with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar, and egg yolk on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until mixture is smooth, scraping bowl as necessary. Add flour, oats, and salt, and beat on low until just combined, about 30 seconds. Mixture may appear crumbly. 

Press mixture evenly into the bottom of prepared pan. Back for 20 minutes, or until golden brown, taking care not to over bake.

Remove pan from oven and distribute chocolate chips evenly over cookie base. Return to oven for 3 minutes. Remove pan from oven and spread melted chocolate evenly over cookie; a small offset spatula works well here. 

Sprinkle toffee pieces evenly over chocolate. Cool pan on wire rack until chocolate is set, at least 2 hours. 

Cut into small squares (this dessert is rich), serve with a glass of milk, and eat it up! Alternately, this would be a fun (and easy) party dessert served with a glass of bubbly to contrast the sweetness. Apparently that is no bueno for baby girl, so I had two glasses of milk instead.

*Fun facts: If your butter is not at room temperature, slap it on a plate, cut it into 8 tablespoon-sized pats, and let it sit on the counter. You'll be ready to roll in 30 minutes. I find this method more reliable that heating it up in the microwave, which can lead to butter that it too soft and baked goods that spread all over the place.

If your egg is not at room temperature, submerge it in a cup of warm water for 5 minutes and, ta da!

Friday, January 13, 2012

What We're Doing. And Eating.

Y'all. What a week. Apparently, over the course of the last seven days, my body has realized it is pregnant. And now all of the sudden I am dealing with calf cramps, shortness of breath, heartburn like I have never even dreamed of (seriously, body, heartburn from drinking water?), and, most notably, an intense urge to cry over everything. little. thing. that doesn't go right. Let's just say, we are all glad this week is almost over.

Fortunately, the good is still outweighing the bad and, really, I have nothing to complain about. Baby girl is kicking away morning, noon, and night, which thrills me to no end. I am obsessed with her. And, no surprise to us, she's a little rockstar in there; last ultrasound said she looked perfect. And huge. Like sixty-seventh percentile for growth huge. Really, it's kind of expected, given that Hugh and I were quite large ourselves, weighing in at 10lbs even and 9lbs 4oz, respectively. Grow, baby, grow.

So, other than being a little bit of a hot mess, here's what we've been up to as of late:
  • A few nursery projects. I am so in love with this room I don't even know what to do with myself. So, I just hang out in there and get more and more excited for her arrival. Fun fact, it used to be our guest room and the place where I folded laundry. When Hugh and I were waiting (for one thousand) years to get pregnant, I would stand in that room, folding laundry and daydreaming about what it would be like to have a crib in the room instead of a bed. And now, there's a crib right where the bed used to be. And my heart is happy. I'm saving the big reveal until it's all finished, hopefully by the end of February, but in the interim, just know that Fletcher is a huge help:

  • My children are cute best friends:

  • And one of them has decided denial is his coping method for the fact that my lap real estate is quickly decreasing:

  • Loving this article.
  • Taking my glucose screen early (see: 67th percentile). It was no big deal. People freak out about that test, don't they? I say, if you can't drink 4oz of some overly sweet and flat-tasting orange liquid quickly, well, you probably didn't go college, did you? Also, I rewarded myself with a Chick-fil-a breakfast, so there's that.  
  • Oh, did I mention Hugh declared his intended specialty? No big deal.

We've also been eating some delicious food, per the usual. Check it:

  • Lasagna and a really good salad - This was a solid basic lasagna recipe. A little heavy on the ricotta for my taste, but if that's your jam, then you would love this one:

  • Dessert. Lots and lots of dessert - Seriously, who am I? Last night Hugh took me on a little dinner date. And I suggested we order two types of homemade ice cream at the end of our meal. Then, as I was inhaling them both, spoon alternating back and forth from bowl to bowl at rapid-fire speed, Hugh acted like his sweet-tooth had been satisfied so I didn't have to share. Such a gentleman. Pregnancy, you are marvelous. And strange. 
  • Falafel - I am working on perfecting my own little recipe to share with you, frinternets, but I'm not quite there yet. In the meantime, this one is pretty darn tasty. Also, I was going to take a picture of this pretty little dish for, but by the time I remembered, this is what my plate looked like:

  • Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins - These are a great, healthy make-ahead breakfast. We've been eating them all week. I do not know what the recipe specifies that they are for 12 - 18 month olds, but we 28-year-olds enjoyed them just fine:

  • Hugh's Magic Muscle Milk - Because everyone is on the green smoothie bandwagon these days, aren't they? Must be January. I added a scoop of peanut butter this time. See: grow, baby, grow.
  • Redemption Salad - Last but certainly not least, this was the star of the food that came from our kitchen this week. It's like a New Year's resolution in a bowl - light and fresh and veggie-packed - but it's also totally delicious. And pretty, to boot:

For the dressing, we subbed 1/4 cup soy sauce for the salt, quadrupled the lime juice, and used canola oil in place of the grapeseed oil. I also added a thinly sliced red bell pepper to the salad, as I had one languishing in the crisper.

With that, I'm off to pack my bag for a weekend away with these favorites. And then, I get to spend the whole day on Monday with the dreamiest husband there ever was.

Hope your long weekend is the peachiest. See you Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hitting Reset.

I am starting my week over this morning. Slowly, I am realizing the key to acting intentionally is to recognize that some days just aren't going to go as planned and, when it all goes to hell in a hand basket, sometimes the best thing you can do is call it a day and try again tomorrow.

Yesterday was a doozy. We will call it my first official pregnancy meltdown, which I would say is pretty impressive given that I am six months in. Car trouble + Hugh choosing a specialty (like, for his career) this week + work + oh, did I mention I'm twenty-four weeks pregnant and have one billion things to do before the end of April was just a bit more than I could handle. 

Fortunately, my dream husband came through with an epic pep talk, and I am feeling much more like myself this morning.

Today, I am remembering this:

I was up early this morning, equipped with my list, my coffee (Not a word, friends, unless you are my doctor, which you are not, because I would never let my doctor read my blog. He thinks I'm crazy enough as it is.), and my it's-a-new-day attitude to get things done.

Let's be awesome this rainy Wednesday.

Monday, January 9, 2012

You Are What You Eat. I Guess That Makes Me Sweet.

Here's the goss: prior to becoming pregnant, I was not much of a dessert eater, much to the chagrin of my sweet-toothed husband. Not much as in one square of dark chocolate was enough dessert to last me a week. Or two.

Then this baby girl came to town. And now I am a sugar-craving machine. I do what I can to control myself, but seriously, I fantasize about cookies and cake and pie and scones and french toast and sea salted chocolate - the list is frighteningly lengthy, so I will just stop there - all day long. 

I also used to prefer desserts that were barely sweet at all (see: dark chocolate squares). Yet, last night I found myself unable to quit eating homemade salted caramel sauce straight from the pan. Ah, pregnancy. Totally awesome. And totally bizarre. Safe to say, Hugh loves this new side of me. If only because it means that there is always something sweet to eat at our house right now.

On that note, I feel like by January 9th you have been virtuous enough in the new year to deserve a little prize. So here are some sweet treats that have been showing up in our kitchen these days:

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Curd, Strawberries, and Cream Cheese Icing - If a best friend comes to visit you and her birthday was the day before, what do you do? Why, you bake her a birthday cake, of course. You also blow up some balloons. And while you are doing these things, you quietly feel sentimental about how this is the nineteenth of her birthdays you have celebrated together and about how very lucky that makes you. Note: this is our go to vanilla cake at the White Hot house.

Hello Dolly Bars - The birthday girl brought her sweet husband with her to visit. While Lofton and I were chatting, he mentioned this was his favorite dessert. Lucky for him, it's almost identical to Hugh's favorite dessert - Magic Bars. Also lucky for him, I am highly suggestible right now when it comes to what I eat (see: I am no longer allowed to watch Food Network around dinnertime, lest we abandon our home-cooked dinner plans for a date night of thin crust pizza and Greek salad again) and once I looked at the recipe, I was in the car in less than ten minutes driving to the grocery to buy the ingredients. The four of us ate all but one tiny square of these before the night was done.

Cranberry Lemon Scones - Hugh and I made these for Christmas morning. They were delicious. I would recommend popping them back in the fridge for thirty minutes prior to baking to ensure the butter is extra cold and they don't spread all over the pan (but if they do, they will still be delicious). Also, I used regular lemons. Because there is no way I am paying $2 for one lemon at Publix.

Rolo Pretzel Delights - After we mashed the pecans onto these, we also sprinkled them with sea salt. And then we ate them all. And then we died and went to heaven, because seriously, they are addictively good. And they take less than ten minutes to make from start to finish. This is my number one sweet treat recommendation from this list. But don't make them if you are low on the self control for sweet and salty snacks (are you listening, self?).

Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce - Holy cow, this is so good. In my previous life, I was not a big proponent of Cooking Light desserts. I figured I was eating dessert once in a blue moon, so when I did, I would eat whatever I wanted. Well, now I am eating dessert twice a week, so I am singing a different tune. Also, this bread pudding was just how bread pudding should be, and the sauce is a total revelation. If you don't like bread pudding, just make the sauce and eat it with a spoon.

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookies - What might just be the perfect chewy gingersnap cookie recipe. Lucky for me, the other members of my family are not huge gingersnap fans, so I got these all to myself.

Grapefruit Creamsicle - I already told you all about this. Now I'm just being pushy. Make it already, okay?

Well, that about covers the sweets we've consumed. In the last three weeks. Anything we're missing? Please, just tell me. I can be at the grocery in less than ten minutes...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Portrait of a Marriage

Since I got pregnant, I have been taking weekly photos to keep track of how the belly grows. I take them in front of a chalkboard wall in our office using the tripod and the self-timer and they look like this:

First weekly photo, three days after we found out as I was pregnant. Yes, I knew the baby was the size of a poppy seed and there wasn't much to see. Too bad I wasn't happy about it at all...

Lately, as I'm really growing, Hugh has been taking the photos for me, which usually ensures me a little pep talk while we document my expanding waistline. 

Now, let me preface this with the fact that Hugh and I don't always see eye-to-eye on my fashion decisions. Lately I've been partial to leggings and v-neck t-shirts, topped with some version of those drapey, bulky cardigans that women love and men hate. 

So, this week, Hugh was teasing me during our photo (for which I was wearing one of my beloved sweaters) and my raging hormones were making me a little bit snappy. Every picture he took left me feeling less and less cute, and he kept right on joking away. These were the kind of facial expressions I was making at this point in our little photo session:

Ah, marriage. They get you at your best. And at your worst. 

Finally, I snapped that if he had any pointers, I was all ears. 

Hugh responded, "Sure, I do. Don't wear your bathrobe to take your weekly photo."

Touche, Hugh, touche.

But I still love that sweater. 

Post Script: Just to prove I don't only look cranky and blobbish these days, here's a photo I took the next day to send to my Mom. Baby girl's getting huge in there:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Grapefruit Creamsicle

I'm going to go ahead and get it out of the way first thing in this post: I really don't think there is anything Hugh can't do. It borders on ridiculousness, honestly. Fortunately, I am the beneficiary of his overall awesomeness, so you will hear nary a complaint from me. 

Hugh loves ice cream. He also loves projects. And I love Hugh. So for his birthday this year, I bought him an ice cream maker. Due to our busy schedules and my (extreme) particularities about what I will and will not eat over the last three months, he didn't have an opportunity to give it a spin until our holiday break. 

Then came the lengthy endeavor of deciding what to make first. Finally he settled on a recipe from December's Bon Appetit for Grapefruit "Creamsicle." The gist of the recipe is you make grapefruit sorbet and put it in a pan beside store-bought vanilla ice cream, then when you scoop them out together they taste like a creamsicle. 

Except, if you've ever met Hugh, you can guess that there would be no store-bought vanilla ice cream in this equation. If he was taking the time to make the sorbet, he would take the time to make the ice cream, too. What can I say? We like processes around the White Hot house. 

 Grapefruit Sorbet whirling away in the ice cream maker. 

Now, knowing vanilla ice cream has a custard base and that custard can be a bit tricky if you've never made it before, I was giving preemptive pep talks that he shouldn't be too worried about it and it might take a few tries to get it just right. You know, making sure his ego didn't take too big of a hit if it didn't turn out. 

Oh, Catherine, when will you learn? Hugh's dessert was complete perfection. Seriously, the vanilla ice cream was the best I have ever had, the sorbet was wonderful, and, side-by-side, they were like a little revelation of tart and creamy deliciousness. 

So, moral of the story, ice cream making is not going to be the thing at which Hugh does not excel*. Also, you should make this dessert, stat. It's worth the space an ice cream maker will occupy in your cabinet. 

Grapefruit "Creamsicle"
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Grapefruit Sorbet
makes 1 quart

1 1/8 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated grapefruit zest
1 3/4 cups fresh ruby red grapefruit juice

Bring sugar and 1 cup water to boil in small saucepan. Stir just until sugar is dissolved and remove from heat. Stir in grapefruit zest and juice. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour, until cold (Hugh started the vanilla ice cream while this was chilling). 

Process mixture in ice cream make according to manufacturer's instructions. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

Spread sorbet into half of 8x4x2 1/2" loaf pan. Spread 1 quart vanilla ice cream (recipe below) to fill the other half of pan. Cover and freeze until firm, about 2 hours. This is how it looks:

Note: we found this dessert was even better the second day. 

Vanilla Ice Cream
makes approximately 1 quart

1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat whole milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean using a paring knife. Add seeds and vanilla bean pod to milk mixture. Whisk to make sure sugar has dissolved, then cover and remove from heat. Let mixture steep for 1 hour.

Set up an ice bath by placing a 2 quart bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the smaller bowl and add cream to smaller bowl. 

In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks together. Whisk in some of the warm milk and vanilla mixture, stirring constantly. Add warmed yolks and milk mixture back to the small saucepan. 

Cook over low heat, constantly stirring and scraping bottom of pan, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not let boil. 

Strain the warm custard into the heavy cream. Stir mixture over the ice until mixture is cool. Add vanilla extract. Chill thoroughly, at least 2 hours. 

Remove vanilla bean pod and freeze mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. 

Eat it up!

*Mandy and I are always jokingly (kind of) trying to come up with things that Hugh won't be good at. In five years we have come up with nothing. Nothing. Wtf, frinternets?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Beginning of Something Wonderful.

Happy 2012! Not to be a blogging cliche, but I love the fresh start of a new year. New planner, new goals, another chance to do it all right. I have a sneaking suspicion 2012 is going to be pretty fantastic - not in small part due to the little girlie kicking away in my belly, protesting that we are out of bed approximately two hours too early today. 

2011 was simultaneously wonderful and pretty awful. We clinked champagne flutes at midnight last year already ten months into the process of trying to have a baby. And, as much as I tried to focus on everything else I had going on and count all of the things I had to be grateful for, infertility has a way of occupying every single thought in your head. 

The first eight months of last year, we were trucking through a lot of dark days. Every new page of the calendar was staring me in the face as another month failed, on top of the fact that I was pumped up on medicines that made me feel and act like a crazy person. At the time, the only bright spot I could find was that Hugh and I cleaved together during those days rather than being driven apart.

But, just as my peach of a husband would promise me over and over again as a sort of mantra, we got there. On August 15th at 6:45am, our whole life changed with one little test (that I almost threw in the trash before I realized it was positive). I spent the next four months completely overwhelmed with excitement, but also feeling like I was floating along in a fog. A fog of hormones and shock that we were finally having a baby and joy so huge it was honestly a little bit scary, and, let's not forget, the paralyzing fear that something was going to happen to take it all away. 

It's funny how much can change in just twelve months - last year we spent part of our holiday break deciding on fertility medicines and a strategy with my doctor. This year, we spent our time off painting a nursery and hanging up baby clothes and putting together a crib. Oh, life, so tricky sometimes.

And now here we are. Back from the holiday that we both needed much more than we realized, and eager to welcome all that the year ahead promises. I am refreshed and ready to go. Which brings me to my 2012 resolutions. Last year, I had a three page list of things I wanted to do differently, ways I wanted to be better. It wasn't my most effective year of resolutions, let's just put it that way. In hindsight, it is easy for me see I was grasping at straws, trying to get control over something since I couldn't control the one thing I really wanted. 

This year, I've decided on a simpler plan for my resolutions. Over the last eighteen days I have spent much of my time off reflecting on what I want the year to look like, on how I want to feel when we're toasting its end in twelve sure-to-fly-by months, and I have decided that my 2012 will be driven my a word:


I want to be intentional with my energy, my time, my diet, my money, my relationships. Coming off of a year during which I feel like a bobbed along in the current and, for the most part, let my life happen, I am ready to be living with intent again.

Let's do this, 2012.