Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Loving the Leftovers: Cream of Crabmeat Soup

These days, free time comes in short supply and when I do find an extra moment during the day I either make a mad dash for the shower or run to the basement to throw yet another load of dirty burp cloths and baby clothes into the washing machine. So when it comes to meals, time is of the essence and the easier the preparation, the better. We’ve found a few favorite dinners that are easy to put together and make enough to throw leftovers into the freezer for a future meal. Our freezer, which was previously virtually unused, is now stocked full with Tupperware icicles just waiting to be unthawed.

One of our favorite meals to make is soup. Before Lucy was born, we dug into the Found Recipe Box for some new recipes to try and pulled out the card for Cream of Crabmeat Soup. At that time, I didn’t appreciate how easy this recipe is to prepare. I took my time opening cans and pouring them into the soup pot, scraping each one to make sure I got every last drop. I carefully cut up the crabmeat, daydreaming the whole time about what life would be like with a baby and how I couldn’t wait to share the Found Recipe Box with my little girl. When it came time to eat, Ryan and I both sat down at the same time, savored each spoonful of soup and lingered around the dinner table after we finished so that we could see the end of our TV show before doing dishes. As we poured the rest of the soup into a container to freeze, I never imagined how different our lives would be the next time we tasted that rich, creamy broth.

Now, unless we can time meal preparation perfectly to catch a moment when Lucy is sleeping, Ryan and I take shifts to eat – and by “eat” I mean devour our food so quickly we barely taste it so that the next person can dive into their meal which has already started cooling off. I am no longer reading recipe cards, but instead am following the heating instructions for already prepared meals. And any daydreams I have are usually the result of dozing off on the couch with Murphy while Ryan and Lucy spend quality time together discussing her future of following in her father’s footsteps and becoming a soccer player – a sport which she practiced frequently while in the womb.

But, life moves quickly and I know that these sleep-deprived days will be over before I know it. Soon, Lucy will be crawling around collecting dog hair on the floor while I heat up those frozen meals. Then she’ll be walking, soon after running, and chasing Murphy around the yard. So I’ve taken the lesson Cream of Crabmeat Soup taught me and I’m savoring every moment I have with Lucy. When she falls asleep in my arms, I just stare at her instead of placing her in bed to sleep like all the books recommend. I absorb her warmth, memorize her face and place soft kisses on her forehead, careful not to disturb her peaceful slumber. Sometimes I wish I could press pause, freezing those moments just like I did the leftover soup, and linger there just a little longer before thawing it out and moving into the future. Because you can always throw a cold meal in the microwave to reheat it, but if I let those precious moments I have with Lucy go, I can never get them back. And nothing is more delicious than spending time with my little soccer player/future Found Recipe Box baker.

She's trying to think of something sweeter than her...shortbread tarts, chocolate cake? Nope, not even those!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Introducing the Newest Little Cook in the Kitchen: Pink & White Birthday Cake

On Monday, January 31st, Ryan and I welcomed the newest addition to our family into the world and I am very excited to introduce you to Lucy:

Although she decided to join us one week earlier than expected, she took her own sweet time in arriving. After 30 grueling hours of labor, we were finally united with our beautiful little girl. She weighed in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 20 inches long. We had a few bumps in the road throughout delivery and Lucy had to spend two days in the Special Care Nursery, but she’s a trooper and was ready to head home with Ryan and me when we left the hospital. We were so happy to bring her home and there were a lot of people who were very excited to meet her, especially her big fur brother, Murphy.

Although, his enthusiasm wore off pretty quickly when he realized that she would be keeping him up throughout the night. He tossed and turned and grunted his frustration through those first few late night feedings, but has since learned to sleep through it and has grown quite fond of his new little sister.

Lucy and I have been slowly recovering and adjusting to life apart from each other. It was a weird feeling to not be pregnant any longer. I used to spend so much time with my hand on my belly eagerly awaiting my baby’s next kick. Then, all of a sudden (well, after 30 hours), she wasn’t there anymore. It was an empty feeling, until I got to cradle her in my arms, stare into her wide blue eyes, run my fingers through her thick hair (can you believe all that hair?!) and hold those tiny little feet to see firsthand what was creating all those kicks I had grown so fond of.

Look at all that hair!
 I’ve never really been a person who sits still very well; I always have to be doing something. But since Lucy has come into my life, I have discovered that I could spend hour upon hour simply sitting and staring at my beautiful baby girl. I am in complete awe of her.

I have also discovered that it was a lot easier to get things done during the day when she was still that little bundle of joy kicking inside my belly. I haven’t had more than a couple of hours of sleep at a time in over a month, showering has become a luxury and laundry has turned into a daily chore. But thanks to a rare afternoon when Lucy took a nap for about four hours, I was able to sneak into the kitchen and make the cake I picked out for her as soon as we found out we were having a girl: Pink & White Birthday Cake. I made a few changes to the recipe to save some time. I only made two layers instead of three and I chose to make them marbled pink and white instead of solid color layers. And I also used store-bought pink vanilla frosting (with Funfetti of course!). The cake was delicious and was a huge hit with all of the visitors who came over to meet Lucy. It was the perfect recipe from the box to celebrate Lucy’s birth.

Once Lucy and I have a better routine, I’m hoping to be able to spend a little more time in the kitchen. But until then, my postings will be a little sporadic. I apologize for the huge delays, but promise that I will be back. We still have a lot of recipes to make and I’m committed to making every single one in The Found Recipe Box! Hopefully I can finish before Lucy starts school...or gets her driver's license.