Category Archives: food

Thoughts about food cravings

They say your taste buds change when you get pregnant. You hear all these stories about pregnant women craving strange foods or combinations of foods, or only being able to keep certain foods down. I’ve been extremely lucky – I haven’t gone off of anything, I haven’t had strange-combo cravings – pickles and peanut butter, watermelon and mayo – and I haven’t had any cravings for things that would normally be outside my usual diet – bread and butter pickles, rare steak, watermelon. My mom was very sick when pregnant with me, and saltine crackers and Pizza Hut macaroni salad were just about all she could eat for quite a while. By comparison I’ve been incredibly lucky. There was one day, very, very early on, when the thought of hot milk for a mug of hot chocolate very nearly turned my stomach, but I gripped the kitchen countertop and told the little person taking up residence in my uterus “No. I am not going to let you take hot chocolate away from me,” and things have been pretty low-key ever since. As I approached nine and ten weeks, and especially late in week 11 and early in 12, I noticed that if I didn’t eat something every couple of hours, I’d start to feel blah and weird, and my throat would get tight, and maybe that was this “morning sickness” people talk about. So I started to just snack on something every couple of hours, small meals and fruit or yogurt in between meals, and everything’s been peachy keen ever since.

So, no weird cravings, but I have noticed that there are certain flavors that are definitely more appealing and enjoyable to me. Of note: sour, savory, salty, spicy. Here’s a list of the things the Frog Princess has enjoyed so far, notice any commonalities?

  • Large spoonfuls of peanut butter
  • Lots of toast. Not because it’s bland, but because it’s a vehicle for yummy things like butter, jam, and peanut butter, and because I like that slightly burnt toast-y flavor.
  • Oatmeal made with skim milk, maple syrup, and peanut butter.
  • Hot sauce. Korean go ju chang sauce – I’ve been putting this on everything, mostly eggs, and mixing it with duck sauce for Chinese takeout. I’ve also started using sriracha on pizza and mixed with ketchup for fries, and Frank’s Red Hot on taco soup or casseroles, more frequently (read: at all).
  • Lemon juice. Lots and lots of it, mixed with room temperature tap water, or in hot water with a glop of honey.
  • Pineapple (also relieves headaches naturally, if eaten on an empty stomach; a pregnant lady’s best friend come week 10)
  • Patak’s Major Grey chutney (a mild mango and ginger chutney) – good on an egg sandwich, or mixed with goat cheese, or on an egg sandwich with goat cheese.
  • Tart berry sauces or jams: cranberry, lingonberry, beach plum.
  • My mouth is watering uncontrollably at the mere thought of Indian food: palak paneer, paneer tandoori, muttar paneer, keema muttar, aloo chat, mango chutney, onion chutney, masala chai. I did a homemade chicken tikka one night that set my mouth on fire, and it was perfect.
  • That spicy mayo you get in sushi restaurants. Can’t resist it.
  • B&M Original baked beans covered in ketchup. The ketchup MUST be Heinz. This is normally something I love, but since I found out I was pregnant I’ve loved it even more.
  • Saltines. I love them anyway, but I love them more now. Salty, carby, happy.

I also find myself reverting to the foods I enjoyed when I was little:

  • Baked chicken fingers with mayo-mustard dipping sauce
  • Graham crackers in milk
  • Baked beans & (kosher) hot dogs (the first meal I ate after getting a positive test result)
  • PB & J on oatmeal bread toast

Does being pregnant make you crave the comforts of childhood, or is it your palate preparing for life with a two year old? It’s hard to tell.


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Filed under and baby makes four, food

Home, Grown

I made carrot cake jam today, and then I went on my social media networks and asked myself this:

“Why oh why do 6 jars of homemade jam sitting on the countertop make me so darned happy?”

Seriously, why?

Why do I feel so accomplished, like I’ve really done something, somethingsomething, when all I’ve done is shred some carrots, chop some pears, measure some spices, apply some heat, use a timer, and follow written directions?

Why are the 6 jars of carrot-cake-batter-y looking goodness sitting on the counter something to make me so pleased?

Why do I get a thrill when Jim comes up from the basement with a jar of homemade pickles?

Jim says it’s because I value “old knowledge.” Which could be the reason, because I did major in Classical Languages in college. Latin and canning — two things most people don’t know how to do anymore. He also says it could be because canning is sort of subversive, sort of cutting edge, and sort of old school all at once. And I guess because I’m sort of all those things?

Meghan and I have frequently discussed that among our generation — the late-20-somethings and early-30-somethings — there is a resurgence in home canning, bread baking, gardening, local foods, CSAs and farm shares as a result of heightened environmental awareness during our formative years. We’ve simply been exposed to it longer, and sooner, than the late-30-somethings.

The term “greenwashing” was first coined in 1986. The Slow Food Movement also began in 1986. Captain Planet ran from 1990-1992 (my ages 6 to 8). The Land at EPCOT, opened in 1982, two years before I was born, is a 2.5 million square foot facility “dedicated to human interaction with the land itself.” The Land has undergone a few facelifts in the last few decades, but the central tenet has remained the same. The “Living with the Land” attraction has remained basically the same since 1993. Twenty years! Nearly two-thirds of my life!

So what did I do before writing this post? I googled the question.

And I found “Zombies vs. The Joy of Canning: Motivation in the Productive Home” by Erica at NWEdible. Go read it, I’ll wait – she’s hilarious. She goes more in-depth in to the gardening/urban homesteading side in her discussion, but she still strikes near to what I believe is the heart of the issue. At least, for me. Especially down toward the end, which I’ll quote here if you don’t want to read her whole post:

Right now, we do have a choice – those #10 cans of tomatoes are cheap and easy to buy. Those pears from Argentina are available in June. That feedlot ground beef is on special for $2.49-a pound. McDonalds is on the way and Hot Pockets and Lean Cuisines are in the freezer section.

So why go to all that trouble? Why not run out and grab a can of crushed tomatoes and a jar of jam right alongside the Lean Cuisines and Hot Pockets?


Because I have a pantry that reflects a summer spent in relaxing work and joyful creation.

Because cooking dinner makes me proud.

Because the food is delicious.

Because this kind of work makes me happy.

That’s why. And that’s enough.

This is why I support my friend Amber at the Farm School, why I’m in love with the local apple orchard, why my Valentine’s Day present was a half-share summer CSA from a local farm. It’s why I’m excited to find a local source for my eggs at this year’s farmers market.

It’s why I want to get my own tomato plants in this year, why I planted blueberries, why there’s an old kitchen cabinet in the basement (next to the auxiliary freezer) filled to the gills with canning supplies and groaning with canned goods.

Because I can open a jar of my own early-September apples during a February blizzard. Or October cranberries in May.

Because I like knowing what’s in my food, what I’m feeding myself, my husband, and my growing little daughter, though she isn’t even HERE yet: jams, sauces, and pickles I made; animals husbanded and eggs raised by my friend; fruit and vegetables from nearby farm families.

Because this kind of work makes me happy.

That’s why. And that’s enough.

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Third Meat Share

Meat, glorious meat! I am anxiously awaiting the day when GoogleMaps A) figures out that going down the Mass Pike is not my first choice when Storrow Dr/Soldiers Field Rd is 1) equally viable and 2) not a toll road, and B) decides to send me the same way to and from the pick-up location twice in a row. So far, third time has not been the charm.

Unless the charm is MEAT.

2013-01-24 14.18.31

Starting in the upper right corner and proceeding clockwise, we have:

YET MORE bacon (hallelujah!)
1 packet country style pork ribs
1 packet ground beef
1 packet ground pork
1/2 leg lamb
1 beef shank/soup bone
and 2 more packets of pork loin chops

The Farm School must have some super-happy chickens this month — each CSA’er gets TWO DOZEN eggs this time around. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a month’s worth of breakfasts to me. This morning I just finished my last allotment of farm eggs by scrambling an egg and baking it wrapped in a honey-oat-flax tortilla with some Mexican cheese blend and some pre-cooked pastrami. Breakfast egg-cheese-protein wrap…with ketchup. And PS, if you ever ask yourself what’s for breakfast, one of these days your answer should involve some combo of cheese, eggs, and black pastrami, with either some potato or some tortilla or toast to meld it all together. With ketchup. Your tastebuds thank you in advance.

The only sad thing about this month is that there are only two pickups left! But it has been wonderful. What a wonderful opportunity.

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Christmas Menu, 2012

Ask Jim what his Christmas traditions are, he says, “Chinese food?” Just like that, with a question mark at the end. I don’t want take out on Christmas, though, I want to cook. And I’ve been wanting to make Nigella’s crispy duck ever since I got her Express cookbook. Finally, the stars align…

Crispy hoisin duck: Slow roasted, shredded, tossed with hoisin sauce
Steamed white rice
Steamed vegetables (pea pods, water chestnuts, peppers, onions, carrots, mushrooms…)
Egg rolls (frozen — I cheated this year)

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Christmas Eve 2012 Menu, a mix of traditions

Torskeboller: Fried salt cod and potato balls. The Italian tradition of a “Feast of Fishes” on Christmas Eve meets Scandinavia. Serving this with Nigella Lawson’s garlicky mayonnaise.

Pork chops baked in sauerkraut and tart apples, with steamed broccolini: This year, pork loin chops from the Farm School take center stage. A nod to Jim’s Pennsylvania-Dutch homeland.

Sour-cherry coffee cake: A nod to the Schwarzwald area of Germany, in the southwest near the Rhine, whence we think the Wicklines came to America in 1736. And an excuse to use my beautiful tube pan.

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Second Meat Share

About time I posted this, right? I’ve been sitting on this bounty since last Thursday…

2012-12-20 14.27.29

Meat, meat, meat! The second Farm School Winter Meat CSA share of the season. Containing everything pictured above plus a dozen cute little brown eggs, not pictured, most of which are, yet again, destined to become egg sandwiches and fried eggs.

Another packet of smoked bacon
1 packet of ground lamb
1 smoked ham slice (and it’s beautiful to behold)
1 boneless New York sirloin steak (hefty, gorgeously marbled)
1 pork butt roast (the size of my head)

For some reason, I wasn’t able to really embrace the first meat share until I knew what was in the second. We were able to finish off last month’s pork breakfast sausage fairly quickly, because we made it in to patties, refroze them, and could just pull out a pattie and fry it when we wanted it. And it was delicious, perfectly seasoned with sage and clove, firm, not at all fatty, and rich in flavor. I’ve also been working through the hot Italian sausage from last month, baking one partway, slicing it, and finishing it in the frying pan and tossing it with cavatappi and chunky garden pasta sauce. The Italian sausage shares many of the breakfast sausage’s qualities, being firm and rich and not too fatty — mostly what fat there is fries off and turns the outside of the sausage a lovely crisp golden brown.

I’m trying to plan more meals using the Farm School meat in the coming month, because there’s very little point in having all this lovely bounty and then not using it. Pork chops from the first share are thawing now to be showcased on a bed of sauerkraut for Christmas Eve dinner tonight. I’ve already got plans for the ham slice and the steak.

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Mental math

I just realized that for wanting to have had a more creative year, my creativity came out in places I wasn’t expecting in January. If I attempt a bit of mental math, I can think of:

  • 8 8-ounce jars of wine jelly in August (4 red, 4 white)
  • 21 8-ounce jars of apple butter in early September
  • 9 pint jars of cranberry sauce since mid-November (and 3 more to go…)
  • 20 dozen of Grandma’s T’s chocolate chip cookies in December alone…
  • …and 5 or so dozen butterscotch triple chip cookies…
  • 4 loaves of brown bread in December (so far)
  • my first loaf of challah (didn’t turn out too bad!)
  • home-fermented apple cider beer (4 gallons)
  • one batch of homemade baked beans that could do with improving
  • my first crack at matzo ball soup, which turned out a winner if I do say so myself
  • America’s Test Kitchen apple dumplings

And the year’s not yet over! Still plenty of surprises left in this kitchen….

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