Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pancakes for One

The Setting: Hovering between The Hovel (kitchen table/desk/place where mail goes to die) and the stove.

The Soundtrack: Jack Johnson Radio on Pandora, which for some reason is quite heavy on the 90s alternative/pop. Deep Blue Something, anyone?

On the Stove-top: Multi-grain pancakes. All for me.

The Scenario: Last night I bought some gorgeous organic strawberries and the absolute best, if absolutely most expensive ($7.99 for 6oz, and so worth it!), butter in the world, so pancakes were pretty much a given.

I usually like to do pancakes on weekends when Hoosband is home and we can glide lazily from bed to love-seat and spend the morning watching PBS and coating things in syrup (quiet your dirty mind, I'm talking about pancakes here).

But I have to work early all weekend, I am off today, and the griddle is beckoning.

Leftovers are a negative because I am sure to consume them all by mid-afternoon instead of saving them for future breakfasts, so the challenge is to make just enough for one fairly hefty serving--hey, I am growing a human, I can eat a full stack.

Here's what's cookin'.

1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 egg
4 T whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat pastry flour (I used a little of both)
2 T finely ground yellow cornmeal
2 T ground flax seed
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 T brown sugar
1 T melted butter

For serving:
A handful of bright and glossy organic strawberries
A hefty chunk of Vermont Butter and Cheese Company's amazing Cultured Butter with Sea Salt, softened slightly at room temperature (cut off a chunk and let it sit out at least 15 minutes)
The butter and berries are so good, there's no need for syrup!

1. In a small bowl, large glass, or, my preference, a 2-cup Pyrex liquid measuring cup, combine milk and vinegar and let sit 5-10 minutes. Alternatively, substitute 1/2 cup buttermilk for the milk and vinegar and skip this step.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients (whole-wheat flour through brown sugar), breaking up any lumps.

3. Add egg to milk mixture (or buttermilk) and whisk together.

4. Pour egg mixture over flour mixture and use a couple strokes of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to combine just enough so that the dry ingredients at the bottom and sides are moistened. There will be lumps. Swirl in melted butter with an additional stroke of the spoon or spatula. Let batter sit while you heat your pan or griddle over medium heat. I like to butter my pan or griddle, but be ware, butter browns quickly.

5. Pour about 1/4 of the batter into the pan and watch it sizzle. If you are concerned with uniformity, you can use a 1/4 cup or 2-oz ladle to portion out the batter; I like to wing it. The pancake is ready to be flipped when bubbles pop up all over the surface. The second side takes about 1 minute. Transfer pancake to serving plate, and repeat with remaining batter.

Makes 4 delicious and quasi-healthy multi-grain pancakes. Perfect for one with an appetite, or for two wimpy eaters. Serve with strawberries and VBC sea salt butter or your favorite accoutrements.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Home Sweet Emergency Room

The Setting: Last sick day before a much-anticipated (read "feared") return to work.

The Soundtrack: Something news-like on PBS.

On the Stove-top: Nothing yet, but Hoosband may be sizzlin up some chicken soon.

The Scenario: It seems I just can't get enough of the ER.

Friday, 10 a.m.

Slept in a little.

Breakfast of Blue Bell Groom's Cake ice cream.

Just took the second dose from my Z-pak.

Watched something on Netflix.

Time for a shower.

Picking up my prescription at the drugstore the other day, I took the opportunity to stock up on some new nice-smelling shower essentials, so I was particularly looking forward to a relaxing, rejuvenating shower experience.

I had just achieved a voluminous lather and a near-sense of self-pampering when black splotches began to swirl around my face. My head started spinning, and my shoulders became heavy and numb. I wanted to wash off all the suds, but the dark spots were increasing, and I knew I had to get to softer ground.

I grabbed the towel I had thrown over the shower door, shut off the water, and didn't bother drying off as I concentrated on stepping out of the shower and crossing the small amount of hallway from bath to bed.

The moment my feet touched carpet, the black spots became a solid sheet of near-unconsciousness, and I just managed to heave myself onto the bed before my body could crumple to the floor.

My phone was just within reach, and I willed my fingers to grasp it long enough to leave Hoosband a jumbled and questionably coherent voicemail.

I lay there, shaking, wet, but conscious, clutching my towel until Hoosband came home to take me back the ER.

We were whisked almost immediately to a private room, where a team of EMT trainees attempted to find my best blood-giving veins. It was a learning experience.

The next lesson was strategic placement of electrodes for taking an EKG.

"Who knows where lead four goes?" the instructor called out.

"Underneath the left breast!" was the enthusiastic response.

As my gown was unsnapped along the left shoulder and lowered down to expose the subject matter, I tried to remain a stoic cadaver. Peripherally, I could see Hoosband squirming in his seat, sitting on his hands, undoubtedly repeating in his head they are professionals, they are professionals...and hopefully gay.

After the EKG, which was textbook-perfect, I overheard, I was hooked up to an IV to treat the severe dehydration that was likely the cause of my episode.

Another ultrasound showed a healthy baby, and perhaps some insights into its burgeoning personality.  The Juice tends to kick and bat when its blissful prenatal environment is threatened by the annoyance of the ulrasound technician and her picture-taking methods, retreating and curling up into a "don't mess with me" ball when the kicks are unsuccessful at securing its peaceful solitude.

Hoosband says this behavior reminds him of someone...I don't know what he is talking about.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Note on Love

The Setting: The Hovel, aka, the kitchen table, sipping Lemon Zinger.

The Soundtrack: Back to the Future. Potentially the entire trilogy.

On the Stove-top: Nothing yet, but I've got a pretty good feeling my future is back to chicken soup.

The Scenario: I've noticed there has been a little blow-back since a certain food-celeb with a super-sized smile and a knack for making Italian food "everyday" commented to a women's magazine that men desire to be treated like kings in relationships and that women should indulge them.

While I can't say I'm surprised at the rumblings and grumblings, considering the things that we Interneters rumble and grumble at, my mind still throbs and aches a little at the idea that this concept could be offensive.

The way I see it is this:

I strive, and I don't think this is uncommon, to treat others the way I would like to be treated.

Doesn't mean I achieve a 100-percent success rate (some days, especially today when my head feels like a mucus balloon at A Night at the Roxbury, I'm sure it's more like 5 percent), but that's what I'm aiming for.

And that's just for others.

When it comes to the others that I love, shouldn't I aim even higher?

Isn't that at least a part of what love is, after all, a compulsion to put someone else's wants and needs before my own?

I'm just thinking on the keyboard here, but I know I prefer to be treated exceptionally well.

If I desire to be the recipient of that kind of treatment, shouldn't I treat my husband at least that well?

What is the point of being married (or in any long-term, committed relationship) if you don't want to treat your partner like a king or queen?

I'm not suggesting anyone be a martyr for a relationship or develop crazy codependent tendencies, but just let love be love.

If your partner is worthy of your love, then love him or her in every way you can. If your partner is not worthy of your love, then break that wishbone now and run with whatever piece you're holding.

That's how the musings of my mucus-balloon mind see it, anyway.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are We There Yet?

The Setting: An apartment that has become so messy in recent months that Hoosband has dubbed parts of it The Hovel.

The Soundtrack: The ice machine mostly, accented with phlegmmy coughs and my other grotesque attempts to purge the mucus from my head, nose, chest and body.

On the Stove-top: Chicken noodle soup. Campbell's. Condensed. Monosodium glutamate and all.

The Scenario: Just when it looked like the curtain of the first trimester was lifting and appropriate energy and hunger levels might be eagerly calling my name from the front row, beckoning me to come on stage and put on a hell of a show, the pulleys cracked, the rope spun out, and the curtain came crashing down.

I could finally talk and think about food without immediately running to the bathroom.

I was finding the aromas of Hoosband's dinner choices far less offensive, watching our favorite cooking shows on PBS again, reaching into the fridge more eagerly, and consuming a much greater quantity and variety of foods than in previous weeks.

I was still inhaling saltines by the sleeve, but it seemed that the bad times were more or less behind me.

And then came Thursday.

Wednesday night I had begun to develop a bit of a tickle in my throat. I assumed it was from all the spicy habanero cheddar I'd been snacking on at work, and I figured it would pass within the hour.

By midnight the tickle had matured to a full-on assault, torchuring and tearing out my trachea every time I ventured to swallow and keeping me up all night.

Thursday morning found my mind and body tired, my throat in pain, but my intentions set on going in for the closing shift at work as scheduled. Tiredness I was used to, and I could certainly handle a little sore throat.

Around 10:30 a.m. I was half-watching Gilmore Girls on DVD, half-sleeping on the loveseat, when my phone rang from the kitchen. I jumped up and ran across the room to answer, began to carry on a conversation, and then crumpled to the floor inexplicably, still, somehow, clutching the phone.

"Are you still there? Are you OK? Hello?" I could make out the sounds, but I couldn't answer.

Finally, "I...I think I fell...I think...I passed out. I think I'm OK now."

I managed to stack my bones and muscles into standing position, drag myself into the bedroom, pull off all my clothes, yank on the ceiling fan, and fall onto the bed, still clutching the phone.

"I think I overheated," I tried to convince myself I would be fine. But the facts were these: I was pregnant, I had just passed out, I had no idea why, I was alone, and if I were to fall again and hurt myself or the baby, there was a chance that no one would know for hours. I wasn't even sure if I'd make it through this phone call.  "Can you call my husband?"

So Hoosband left work early, and we set out on another adventure to the ER.

We arrived earlier this time, and the wait was significantly less.

The doctors were not worried about my sore throat. I had an ultrasound to check on the Juice and an EKG to check on my heart. Both were fine.

The ultrasound technicians were laughing a great deal at my expense, but I didn't get to see any pictures. I was told that my left ovary is a phantom and that my baby is a wiggle-worm.... At least the second part sounded positive.

I was cleared to go into work that night and close (almost) as scheduled...better late than never...and I was off Friday.

All was well.

Or was it?

By the time Saturday morning made its way to the party, my sore throat had escalated into an all-you-can-blow mucus festival and a renewed connection with my toilet bowl.

Every cough seemed to set off my stomach acid in a new and exciting way.

I tried to go into work, but I couldn't even clock in.

Sunday, Monday, and now Tuesday have found me at home, clutching a roll of toilet paper, and carrying around a rapidly filling snot-rag bag.

It makes me feel dirty to know that in a few minutes I will be calling out of work yet again because of a measly little cold, but what can I do?

Because I am pregnant, I can only take Tylenol, which helps a little with the mucus-induced headaches, but not much else. I cannot treat the cold symptoms with pseudoephedrine and the normal bag of tricks, so I am restricted to unmedicated nasal spray, a personal steam inhaler, vapor rub, chicken soup, hot showers, lots of sleep, citrus fruits as long as my stomach can take them, and fluids as long as I can keep them down.

And since the cold has called morning sickness back from its hiatus, I am not having much luck with food or fluid retention.

I can barely stay awake for three hours, let alone on my feet for eight; it hurts to talk, breathe, and think; and it probably wouldn't be a good business practice to bring my snot-rag bag to work.

So I am grounded. Apartment-bound. Bored, but in too much pain to be productive--hence the hovel.

Heading into my thirteenth week, my gums are starting to swell, which rounds out the balloon of doom formerly known as my face quite nicely.

I have heard the second trimester is a time of painless, pregnant bliss.

Oh my goodness, I hope so.