Monthly Archives: November 2010

I Guess I Should Be More Grateful- a Thanksgiving Post

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Maybe I am getting a case of the holiday nostalgia bug- but I have been thinking a lot about the last year and trying to process all of it. I love Thanksgiving- the idea of giving thanks is so simple. I love that it’s a non-religious holiday that everyone can celebrate. This time last year Andy was in the 6-week long process of losing his job. It was one of the most agonizing and painful times we have had in our lives.

For the record—I never really wanted to move to Portland, I was happy and content living our lives in Durham for a few years at least. We had friends, family nearby and New York was a short plane ride (or long-ass drive) away. Andy was offered a job here- after much debate we decided to take it and make another life for ourselves.

The weekend before Thanksgiving Andy’s company put him on unpaid leave with hopes of him starting back in the New Year (he didn’t). I don’t really want to get into to details of this process but I will put it this way: they are fuckers. It was Thanksgiving weekend, we were all far away from our friends and family and feeling so lonely and worried. Our dear friend Julie (our first friend in Portland) invited us to her family’s Thanksgiving. It was so sweet of her. While we felt sort of awkward at her family’s event we were so grateful to have a place and so warmed by her friendship and sweetness that it made it a really it a memorable holiday.

Let’s jump forward a year later. Last night we had an impromptu tree trimming party (yeah yeah I am a unabashed Christmas Jew). We had 17 people come over and had only planned the party in 2 days. Julie commented on how much has changed in a year. I had such goose bumps. We have found people, we have made a community, the adoption is moving along. Andy loves his new job. LOVES IT. They get him, he gets them; they are kind-hearted Canadians who have a very different set a values than most American companies. I love seeing Andy so happy in his job. I am so proud of him. I am so proud of us for getting through last year. To quote those t-shirts that make me cringe- Life is Good. It really is. I am grateful and thankful for all of this.  It felt wonderful, amazing and surprising to have a houseful of people and kids. This is our community that I have been craving. I am grateful, thankful and frankly humbled.

Pimp My Nest

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Everyone who knows me knows I am one crafty lady. I am mostly a knitter but have spent many hours spinning, quilting and crocheting. My mom and I do some craft shows every year. I mostly make really cute cowls but have started making these pins out of Pendelton wool scraps. Well about a month ago I was fooling around with them and made them into a little bowl. I then filled the little bowl up with some needle felted eggs and came up with something so freaking cute I really surprised myself!  Lots of people have asked how they could help with our adoption. I decided to put these things on my Etsy shop. All the proceeds will go towards our travel expenses. They look really cute on your Christmas tree or Hanukah bush or just to have and to hold. I will be putting more up over the next few weeks. If there is something specific you want- or a color that you are interested in and don’t see- just email me and I will make one for you!

Here is the link

http://www.etsy.com/shop/sexysheep

Andy’s Amazing Wat Wat Wat

My husband Andy is a really wonderful cook. He recently made some Wat that even impressed my friends Ethiopian daughter. We have had many requests for the recipe- so without much further adieu- Wat Wat WAT!

One thing I’ve noticed that differs greatly with East African cooking over your typical american cooking is that the spices get cooked with some fat (oil or butter) before being added to other ingredients – often we start sauteing meats and/or vegetables then start adding seasoning to it as they cook. In many African dishes, I saw it called for the spices to be sautéed in either a dry pan or with some fat at the start, then meats, vegetables, stock, etc added. Since I was doing crock pot cooking and since I already had this meal started, I used a sauté pan to make a spice mix, cook it for a bit, then ladled some of the wat into the pan to introduce it. Once that mixture was fully mixed, i poured the whole batch back into the crock pot, stirred it together and left it to cook for the remaining amount of time (about 4 hours on low in this case).

So while this recipe is for the beef version we made that first time, we have since followed a similar recipe and set of instructions with different spices and Chicken Thighs and Peanuts – both were great. Definitely try experimenting with different ingredients and spices, its worth it to experiment!

One last note, you can easily scale this recipe back – we have a large crock pot, so when we pull it out, I tend to fill it to cook so we have plenty of left overs.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs of boneless Chuck (for stew)

1 large Yellow Onion (chopped)

2 Carrots, peeled and chopped

1/2 lb fresh green beans

1 large or 2 medium potatoes, peels and

chopped

3 cans of Tomato sauce

4 Gloves of Garlic smashed & chopped

lightly

3 tbsp Berbere

1/2 tbsp of whole cloves

1/2 tbsp black cumin seeds

8 or so Fennel Pods

2 tbsp of Garam Masala

2 tsp of ground cinnamon

2 tbsp Canola Oil or Peanut Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

In the Crock Pot, Add the meat, all veggies, 2 of the cans of tomato sauce and 2 cans of water. If meat is frozen, add it to the bottom of the pot, otherwise, just make sure it al fits in together.

Get it started cooking (if cooking for 4 hours, leave on high, if cooking for 6 to 8 hours, put it on low) In a saute pan, heat the Oil over medium high for 2 minutes. Add the fennel pods first and start stirring (oil isn’t sizzling you may need to bump up the heat, if oil is smoking, turn it down and let it cool slightly before adding rest of spices).

Next add the garlic, berbere, cloves, black cumin seeds, Garam Masala, and cinnamon. Keep stirring constantly. You don’t want to burn the mixture – just get it nice and toasty. After 2-3 minutes of sautéing the spice mixture should have a nice nutty smell and have darkened slightly. Add the reserved can of tomato sauce to the pan and mix throughly (depending on the size of the pan, you may not be able to add the whole can, just add enough to mix together well, then dump the rest of the can into the crock pot. taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste (remember there is no salt at all in the rest of the pot, so you’ll want to adjust the seasoning again once you have added spices).

Once you have mixed it completely, add the mixture into the crock pot and stir together thoroughly. Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally (every hour or so). About an hour before serve, check the seasoning and adjust as desired. You can leave the cloves in, but as i’m stirring, I tend to pick them out so people don’t eat them – if i don’t think i got them all, i warn folks eating to keep and eye out for them and not munch down on them.

Serve with Rice or injera. Enjoy!

Feeling Happy/Sad

Today we found out we were number 11 on the waitlist for our adoption. When the woman from my agency told me, I kind of gulped for air as I hyperventilated, let out a squeak of joy, texted Andy and then posted the good news on Facebook. I was then greeted by tons of good wishes from my friends and family. I LOVE the attention. I LOVE LOVE support. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that so many people have been able to join us on this wonderful journey.

But then I got a little blue… why? Because I started thinking about what our kid’s birth family might be going through. Our kid is either born, or about to be born and somewhere he/she has a family that is making the agonizing decision to trust us to care for and raise their child. There is a quote from the New York Times about adoption that I keep with me.

“The miracle of adoption isn’t just the creation of a family from disparate, distant people. Adoption is a phoenix; a miracle that arises from the ashes of despair. A baby is abandoned, a family lost and a whole new world gained. Like nearly everything else, an adoptive family is born of both joy and pain.”

So while we are celebrating our waitlist numbers and all the milestones this process has to offer—I know that simultaneously their is a family in Ethiopia that isn’t celebrating all these milestones and might be mourning or grieving the loss of their child. It’s a basic fact about adoption.

My most favorite kids on the planet are kids that I have known that have grown up with some heartache. I have seen them grow up into pretty amazing teenagers and they will be spectacular adults.  I know that our kid will probably also suffer some heartache as well. There is no denying that in adoption there is sadness and happiness. Friends who have brought home babies say that their children mourned the sudden loss of everything that is familiar to them. As parents- hopefully we can guide them into spectacular adults (that’s the best we can hope for right?) I also know we need to honor that birth family for giving our kid life and for enabling us to become parents.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. I think the magnitude of this is really coming to me in waves. I promise by number 8 I won’t be feeling so blue about this (eight is great). I am so freaking excited about bringing our little one home. I can’t stand it. I just want to know who they are. I want that photo so I can smooch all over it. Thanks for the good wishes—they really keep us going!