Married to Medicine

Married to Medicine

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes with Warm Buttermilk Syrup

Brunch in the springtime is an obsession for me.  It's just so fitting, right?  Blooming flowers, fresh air, perfect weather, and ripening berries ... makes you want to enjoy!  

The blueberries at Wilson Farm looked amazing yesterday.  Had to get some, and M could not have been happier.  Proximity to Wilson Farm is one of the best things about where we live.  Fairly reasonable prices for top-notch produce and artisan breads and cheeses.  In the autumn there are hayrides for kids and, true to the region, hot fresh apple cider donuts.

My brunch obsession is also rooted in my husband's schedule.  Because his days off are rare, I like to go all out when he does have one.  I'll often wake up before the baby, happy and excited.  Then I'll start scheming and cooking based on what we have on hand.  I usually finish up around 10 a.m. and I'm happy to offer my sleep-deprived sweetheart the best reason I can concoct for him to get out of bed.  I do this every single morning he has off, unless we go out to brunch.  I love it.  (Although I'm wondering if I'll be able to keep it up once we have two kids).

Finally, and more recently... my "morning sickness" usually starts up around 10 am and gets worse All. Day.  Long.  So breakfast has been my only enjoyable meal for some time now.  I am utterly, completely out of dinners that sound even remotely appetizing.  But that's a topic for another blog entry, one you can read at your own risk.

Today's finds were unanimously deemed blog-worthy (even Baby M agreed...).  I had extra buttermilk and sour cream and figured there had to be a way of combining these with blueberries for T.D.F. results.  I scanned a few recipes and finally settled on this one.  Oh my.  I doubt I'll ever make pancakes that don't call for sour cream and buttermilk again.  These were *perfect*.  So light and with just the right flavor.  I'll be using this base from now on, whether I add blueberries or not.


De-lish!
This was my second time making the warm buttermilk syrup and I implore you to try it. It's SO easy to make - throw a few ingredients in a saucepan and simmer 7 minutes, done.  And it just adds more flavor dimension than maple syrup, which has always been a little too sweet for me.  It's got somewhat of a caramel taste, and the leftovers are amazing in coffee.  It's perfect on any type of pancake but I think you'll agree if you try this combo:  Blueberries, buttermilk, and sour cream were destined for each other.

Buttermilk Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt (a pinch)
3 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup blueberries (do not add more)

Combine dry ingredients in bowl; whisk to blend.  Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl; whisk to blend.  Combine wet and dry ingredients with whisk.  Fold in blueberries.  Heat a griddle or pan to medium-high heat, and lubricate as desired (I used PAM).  Spoon desired amount of batter onto griddle. Once pancake has set, reduce heat to fairly low for even cooking.  You want to start out hotter so that the batter doesn't spread too far, but the reduce heat so you can cook through without burning the outside.  Flip when bubbles appear.  Flipping works best if you use one extra wide "pancake" spatula (like the one mentioned here) and one regular spatula.

Please heed the above advice about adjusting the heat on these pancakes.  They are a little fussier than most - but well worth the extra effort.  



Warm Buttermilk Syrup

3/4 cup sugar
half as much buttermilk (half of your 3/4 measuring cup)
1/2 stick butter
1 tbsp light corn syrup (don't bother measuring; just squirt it in)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan, bring everything to a boil, and simmer 7 minutes.  Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

Leftovers may be reheated or added to coffee for a "caramel macchiato" effect.
Brunch away!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Morning Sickness: The Unpostable

Parenting has brought me plenty of surprises, no doubt.  But for real, the biggest one could have been avoided if people discussed their pregnancies prior to their 13-week announcements (not that they really can though).

"Morning sickness."  It sounds so... fleeting.  And all the movies show is a young woman feeling fine at breakfast and suddenly running for the toilet.  You get the impression that she was actually surprised to throw up (as opposed to half-hoping for it for weeks).  I mean it's usually portrayed comedically in that very regard.  And you also assume that anything called "morning" sickness will surely be gone by 10 am... I mean WHY else would they call it "morning" sickness?  Why???  WHY?????

Come to find out last pregnancy that "morning sickness" is no laughing matter, and it's anything but confined to mornings.  A more accurate name for it might be "The Two Month Awfulness" - just imagine how horrendous it would be to have a non-violent but ever-present case of the stomach flu for TWO MONTHS (or longer!).  I mean really, imagine that - you hardly can, because it's unfathomably miserable!  Another better name for it would be purge-atory.

I'm talking day after day, week after week.  You wake up nauseated.  You eat breakfast nauseated.  You go about your day nauseated.  And your evening too.  A few weeks in you run out of things to eat.  You know how when you get the stomach flu, you can't even think about the last thing you ate before you became ill?  Well that happens to everything you eat, for weeks and then for months.  As one friend of mine put it while wandering Whole Foods: "Water water everywhere... nor any drop to drink."  Misery!  On top of that, you're still able to feel hunger (or a perverse, barely-recognizeable version of it) and not eating only makes you more nauseated!  You can't win!  Back when I was pregnant with M, if people asked whether I had cravings I explained that basically I was after whatever one food I could imagine that didn't sound like it would make me want to throw up.

Unfortunately - or actually, probably very fortunately - I cannot post the "morning" sickness FB statuses that have been haunting my head for the past week and a half.  That would entail announcing my pregnancy early.  So instead, I'm keeping a list of them right here.  Hopefully this will paint a more accurate picture than the movies do.  And give me something to look back on the next time my "mommy amnesia" kicks in and I start wanting another baby.
  1. Sexism... big deal, people.  THIS is what's keeping women down!  THIS!
  2. NEVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  3. EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  4. No.  There HAS TO BE a better way.  
  5. Wondering which food to ruin next... almost out of options.
  6. Feeling fabulous with just mild nausea today... Par-TAY!
  7. Today's Savior:  Mrs. Grass's Noodle Soup
  8. Whoa... one wrong move with the toothbrush and it's ALL over.
  9. Don't think about throwing up... don't think about throwing up... don't think about throwing up....
  10. Just make it through March, just make it through March, just make it through... tonight, just make it through tonight, just make it through tonight.
  11. Dear God, I know all throughout middle school and high school I prayed that you would turn me into one of those girls who just doesn't enjoy eating.  Please God... I take it back!
  12. Oh I get it now.  I've been idolatrous with food.  This is God's way of showing me that I've relied to strongly on food and derived too much pleasure from cooking, baking, and eating.  He's turned my favorite hobby into a source of constant misery... this is all because I was too into food.  HAVE MERCY!
You get the idea.  

I can't wait to post this.  Because that will mean that I'm through with first trimester, and presumably feeling better.  Just... 6 more weeks to go :(

And I want to disclaim too that of course I'm also SO thankful to be blessed with another pregnancy.  In fact, that's about the only thought getting me through these days.  

Two.

(written before the nausea set in... I recommend writing down your happy thoughts and excitement about a pregnancy before the nausea sets in...)

I love the sound of it.  I love looking at the word.  And most of all I love the idea that Baby M and I already have another teeny-tiny little companion, accompanying us as we go about our daily activities.

I love wondering if this companion will be a baby brother for M, or our first little girl.  I love that we have an October due date, with M's birthday being in September.  I love the idea of reusing all of M's most-treasured outfits, the ones that remind me of each wonderful stage with him.  And more than anything, I love the expression on my husband's face when I asked him if he knew how many people he was looking at as I held M and surprise, elation, and sheer joy coalesced with an exclaimed "Three?!"

I have to admit, I haven't always loved the idea of two.  I've *loved* it but I've also lived in fear of it.  The first time you're pregnant, at least if you spend a couple months nauseated, you're already wondering how you'll ever do it while chasing a toddler.  The first time you deliver, at least it you have a rough delivery and recovery, you can't imagine how you'll ever manage a sequel while parenting a newborn and a toddler.  And then of course you also hear the warnings from other parents about how transitioning to two children is harder than transitioning to one.  Still others warn you that you haven't experienced any "real" parenting until your child hits the "terrible twos"(or the "terrible three's" or "age four" - whatever age their then-most-challenging child happens to be) - so you worry that you don't even know what parenting is and you've already signed on for two children (yikes!).  If you're me, you worry that although so many others have done just fine with it, you'll be doing it with no family in the area and a husband whose career track means he won't be around much for another few years... with financial struggles in an expensive and logistically difficult town.  :/

The best advice I've received on this front came from my good friend Jen, mom of two (ages 4 and 2) and soon to be mom of four.  "Nothing that's really amazing is ever easy," she said.  Of course, she does make it look easy...

In any case, once I saw that pink line my fears and reservations faded away, overpowered by happiness.  To my surprise, I've found that pregnancy the second time around is *at least* as exciting as the first time around(!!!)  Here's why, and a few other differences between first and second time pregnancies:

(1)  This time, you know how amazing parenthood is.  You just can't imagine that love and joy until you actually experience it for yourself.

(2)  This time, you're not counting every.  single.  day.  (but you're still counting weeks).  You've got a toddler to keep you busy!  And he's still doing amazing new things every day as he grows, so you get your fill.  Actually, once my nausea hit I was counting the hours...

(3)  This time, you know what to expect from delivery - and you expect that there's no way it will be as scary as the first time, or in many cases including mine, as physically traumatic.

(4)  This time, you don't need to stress about baby gear.  You've done your hours upon hours upon hours of research.  Figure out your double-stroller and you're done.

(5)  This time, you know your body better.  Believe it or not, I could tell I was pregnant within days of implantation, before any test could have detected it.  There were just the faintest of stirrings that I knew weren't period cramps, and a few episodes where I was hungry in a certain way.  "Just knowing" seems to be pretty common your second time around, at least among my friends.  I also have a better gauge on how much I can actually eat this pregnancy.  Many women gain less weight the second time around.  Considering I only JUST took off ALL (but 2 lbs) of the baby-weight as I became pregnant with #2, I am really hoping to just not even go there again.

While I'd say that the *fear* has melted away, I do still have concerns.  Can I handle two kids on my own for weeks at a time while Mark is constantly working?  What if baby #2 is a big napper like M was - how will I keep M entertained in our 2-bedroom apartment during all those naps?  How will I get to the doctor, the dentist, or a salon with two kids in tow?  How will I *ever* fly home to see family when M needs his own plane ticket and we likely have to also pay for a taxi (not to mention, how does one fly solo with two very young children)????

But I come back to what my friend said - nothing worth it is ever that easy.  We know we want at least two, and we are thrilled that the timing was exactly our first choice.  So this is how it has to be.  I'm thrilled, elated, already SO IN LOVE, and feeling ready to face the challenge.

And he is too ... right?  :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mango-Blueberry Muffins with Lime-Almond Glaze

These.  Were.  AMAZING.


They take a little more effort than classic blueberry muffins but are well worth it.  Tangy but still sweet, unique, a bit tropical... perfect.

If you use fresh mangoes (which I did) you'll need to make sure you have 2 ripe ones on hand - the original recipe gives the option of using frozen, but I can't vouch for that since I haven't tried it.  Plus, what's better than fresh mangoes??  I recommend using "champagne mangoes" - the yellow, flatter kind.  March is really the month for mangoes; they're pretty much the only seasonal enjoyment I take at a time when I'm usually SO done with winter weather.  You can still find them right now though... try to buy them yellow and wait until they're just getting soft and having a slight bit of give.

Here's a great video on how to best cut a mango.  I find that once I slice off the two big, flat pieces, it's best to cut those into strips and then use a knife to scrape the skin off the strips.

Here's the recipe, adapted from About.Com South American Food.  It makes 21 muffins.

For the Muffins:

  • 2 and 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup cubed mango, fresh or frozen (I used fresh - 2-3 mangoes)
  • Juice of 1 lime (a little over 1 tbsp) - juice a fresh lime, it's worth it**
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used fresh)

For the Glaze:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 3/4 tsp almond flavoring
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or cream, depending on how thin or thick you want it
  • 1-2 pinches salt
  • Coconut shreds or sliced almonds for garnish, if you wish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.  Mix together flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.  In a blender or food processor, puree the mango with the lime juice until smooth.  Gently mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until just barely mixed.  Toss the blueberries with 1-2 tbsp flour to coat; gently fold into batter.  Fill muffin tins 3/4 full, almost to the top.

Bake at 425 for 5 minutes, then lower temp to 350 and bake another 10.  Check for doneness; muffins should be domed on top and firm or spring back to the touch.  If not done, bake another 5 minutes until done.

Cool muffins while you make the glaze.  Melt the butter, and whisk in the powdered sugar, milk/cream, lime juice, salt, and almond extract.  To glaze, you can either place the glaze in a bowl and dunk the muffin in top down (if it's a thinner glaze) or frost like a cupcake.  We LOVED this glaze and we preferred frosting it with slightly thicker glaze.


Friday, April 6, 2012

My Top Ten Most Useful Products: Updated!

I originally wrote this blog entry back in 2012 and decided it was time to update!  I didn't change a thing other than adding two new ones at the end - guess useful is useful!

My readers and friends know that I'm OCD about everything, but especially about shopping.  It's not that I'm a compulsive shopper... I don't overbuy (believe it or not).  Rather, I obsess over every.  single.  purchasing decision and then I take to blogging and posting about it.  I've been doing this for years; I once spent close to three hours reading and re-reading reviews of every single kind of measuring cup that exists - on Amazon.com, BedBathandBeyond.com, and Target.com.  I bought the perfect set and then wrote a review that 353 people found helpful.  And it *is* better than the others.  Wondering how?  Among other things, the 1/4 cup is properly weighted to sit up on its own and the circumferences on all the cups are slightly lower than on other sets, so even the 1 cup will scoop in a canister, and not make a mess when you level off the extra.  Cooking is more fun with these.

Anyway, here are a few products I consider to be worth every last penny.

(1) Amazon Prime.  For $99/year you get free shipping on almost anything you could ever need, from toiletries to food to baby products and more, with Amazon Prime.  Let me tell you, it pays for itself many times over.  First off, you'll never need to go to Target, Walgreens, Babies R Us, Kids R Us, or anywhere other than the mall for your own clothes ever again.  A lot of people don't consider wear-and-tear when they think about driving their car but the federal reimbursement rate is $.55 cents per mile, and gas is only getting pricier.  Each trip to Target costs me 40 minutes in the car and 14 miles (so about $8.00 according to the feds).  I would probably need to go once every 2-3 weeks as a mom without Amazon prime.  Say I went every 3 weeks for a year, and multiply by $8.00/trip.  That's $140.  And that's just Target!!  So considering that it literally pays for itself, you're left with all the time and hassle (and pollution!) you'll avoid by pointing and clicking on your item.  GOLDEN.  Bam, your life is so much easier.

(2) A Rockin' Umbrella Stroller.  I'm talking nothing less than a Maclaren, but if you find a sale go for the Uppababy G-Luxe.  This stroller weighs just 11 lbs... about as much as a newborn named Matthew.  SO easy to pop in and out of your trunk, and folding and unfolding is a DREAM.  It's also a one-handed push.  So if you need to run into a store, you pop it out, pop baby in, and you've got a free arm for your grocery basket.  It also rolls well enough to do walks anywhere, so you'll never have to lug your heavy jogging stroller over to a friend's house.  The cup holder for your coffee is worth its weight in gold (obviously).  And don't forget to calculate resale value into your stroller purchases... you'll get a decent return on this someday, and you can subtract that from the sticker price.

(3) The Best Floor Steamer You Can Find.  Still mopping?  How would you like to mop your floor in 1/5 of the time?  Trust me, you'll NEVER go back.  No more getting out soap and waiting for a bucket to fill.  No more going back and forth to the bucket with the mop.  Just sweep, plug this baby in, run it over your floors, and you're done.  My kitchen floor takes me about 10 minutes to sweep and mop.  Bonus:  no more cleaning chemicals for your baby to crawl on and then suck his hands.  We got the Shark "Vac then Steam"(then on sale at Costco).  They don't make that model anymore, and we never used the "Vac" part, so I now recommend this Shark floor steamer - awesome reviews and it's on sale right now for $39, down from $100.


(4) A Kindle.  Okay I cheated and my mom gave me her old one.  But these are truly worth buying, and the 7" Kindle Fire is now only $49.99 - way less than it was back when I first wrote this blog entry in 2012!  Especially if you have a baby - you can read while nursing without needing to hold a book open, you can half-read while you play with your baby (until they get older), you can read on a plane even traveling "infant in arms" because you don't need both hands, you can read more easily on a machine at the gym, etc.
Now only $49.99 - way less than it was when I first wrote this blog entry in 2012!

(5) Key Finders.  Probably going to be my new baby shower gift.  They should hand these out at the hospital.  Twenty bucks people.  Found them out of desperation after the 3rd time I searched through a very stinky kitchen garbage can for our keys.  Free shipping if you have Amazon Prime!



(6) Laundry Sorter with Removable Bags.  Space is at a premium for us but we still made room for this thing.  Now I can see at a glance what load needs to be done (whites, brights, or darks), grab the bag, and head to the laundry room (down two flights of stairs in our basement).  Bonus:  It's a LOT easier to carry a bag than a basket, especially downstairs (and then back up) - safer too.  Double bonus:  The bar overhead on ours isn't very pretty but it enables us to keep more hanging clothes in our master bedroom (and who sees your master bedroom?).
Love.  It.
(7) A DSLR Camera.  Oh, we had to save up for this.  I believe it was my birthday present from parents, in-laws, and husband and then some.  But this is another purchase that pays for itself.  It costs about $600 - not anymore!  The new version of what we got is down to $399.99! - but guess what?  We've never once paid for professional photos (update:  We did start these, when my son turned 3).  While we certainly still would if we could, we really had to choose.  We chose the camera and have never looked back.  I love that we have such high-quality photos from all ages and all trips, with all family members and with backgrounds that are meaningful to us and will bring back so many memories over the years.  After a *lot* of research we settled on the Canon Rebel T3 the newer version of which is the Canon T5.  I can tell you why, if you're in the market.



(8) The Libman Soap Wand.  I've been through all the other brands and they all either leak soap or require you to repeatedly press a worthless button to get soap out.  This is the one to get.  Makes doing dishes a breeze - you don't have to bother getting soap out or opening it.  I also wear some cheap kitchen gloves (from the grocery store, or $2.49 as an "add-on" item on Amazon) - that way the water can get scorching hot and it doesn't damage my skin.  Hot water + this thing = dishes done in a snap, even the ones that can't go in the dishwasher.
(9) A Backpack Diaper Bag.  Nobody ever listens to me on this one, because they want something "cute."  But if you're a SAHM, believe me, the last thing you want to do 24/7 is have your baby on one hip while you're balancing something else entirely on your other shoulder.  I had the Columbia Trekster Diaper Bag, but they don't make it anymore.  The newer diaper bag backpacks look a lot better, actually.  It almost makes me want to have another kid.  No.  No no no.
Those were the days
Looks awesome.  No for real. See more like it here.

(10)  Lemon/Lime Juicer.  Best $1.99 I ever spent.  If you're serious about cooking, you're going to end up juicing lemons and limes - and there is a **major** difference between fresh squeezed juice and that nasty stuff in the plastic bottles.  You'll need lemon juice for salads like the divine Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing, or in various cakes, cookies, and glazes.  I've also discovered that a little fresh lemon juice stirred well with sugar can really jazz up a fruit salad - add some crushed mint leaves; even better.  Lime juice you'll need for various tex-mex dishes and meat marinades.  Lemons and limes are a major pain to juice without a juicer, but even the very cheapest juicer will make the task a piece of cake.  Ours (like the one pictured) is apparently too simple for Amazon but here's one that looks good.
Ours is too simple for Amazon - snagged it in the grocery store.
(11)  I'll end this piece with a list of other kitchen gadgets I would never want to live without.


  • A cookie dough scoop - scoop cookie dough (and muffin batter!) 5x as fast and have more even cookies, wish I had invented this one.  
  • Mini muffin tins for Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies - an absolute all-time fave.  
  • An immersion blender for Curried Butternut Squash & Pear Soup - the recipe that is the staple of our autumns.  
  • Glass "tupperware" like these (63% off as I'm updating this!), or for babies, these - so much safer than plastic and so much nicer to use - goes straight in the oven or microwave. 
  • I also think any serious cook needs a Le Crueset.  Mine was my Christmas gift from Dear Husband last year - his idea, kudos to him!  
  • And a *really wide and flat* "pancake spatula," like this.  
  • Oh oh OH!  And I could NOT live with out our egg cooker - best $20 ever spent!  Hardboiled eggs for all our salads and for egg salad and deviled eggs (it also soft-boils and poaches) at the push of a button - and they always peel easily!  
  • Finally, our newest addition:  The Griddler.  Best gift EVER EVER EVER.  It is crazy-easy to use and it grills perfectly indoors, or use the flat side as a griddle for the easiest pancake flipping ever!  58% off as I'm updating this - whaaa?  Awesome!

The Griddler.  58% off as I'm updating this entry.

Egg Cooker.  Best $20 you'll ever spend.

And there you have it, my master list.  If anyone else has products they can't live without, I'd LOVE to hear about them!

And if you've been following me for awhile now, please join me in my new Facebook group where we all post our best-find deals and coupon codes on high-end kids' and women's toys and clothing!  Click here for the group!

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