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This is the phrase I’ve heard from my hubby about at least a couple of items that I’ve cooked in the past week. See, 2 weeks ago I started making and freezing about 2 main dish meals each week to reheat and enjoy after this baby is born. So each week when I sit down and do my weekly menu planning for our family, I always include at least 2 things for dinner that I think would be excellent nourishment post partum. Plus, with fall like temps hitting us early this year, it seems that most of these things are very “homey” as well.

It’s just interesting that I am in the full swing of nesting right now, and loving it I must add, and I feel like there is just extra “love” in everything that my hands touch right now. Including my cooking. And, I have to say that in my opinion, I have one of the opinionated, critiques of a husband who would tell me the truth about how something tastes whether I want to hear it or not. Last week, it was my spinach lasagna that he was in awe of, and that, we now have 2 pans of in the freezer, and tonight it was my scalloped potatoes and ham that he said was the best he’s ever had..(not even that I’ve just made), and that we have one large pan of for the freezer. I just think that there is some kind of magic in the air right now, and I can’t quite describe what I mean..Gabe thinks I’m just hormonally supercharged and as high as high can be. Whatever it is, I hope it sticks with me for the rest of this pregnancy, and I hope the “crash” won’t kill me.

Yesterday at my MW appt one of the things we were chatting about was food, and all the hidden junk that is in it.  Since both myself and my midwife have little toddler sons running around, we are at the same point as far as trying to find them healthy snacks and staying away from the sugar.  It was a really good talk that prompted me to come home and raid my cupboards and look at all the ingredients on certain items and check for all the hidden dyes, and especially high fructose corn syrup.  Yep, it’s in nearly everything alright!  So today I went to the health food store and restocked on all the things I tossed like ketchup, peanut butter, syrup, just to name a few.  Both my hubby and my son are big snackers, and so I am trying really hard to come up with more healthy options for them.  We have been buying lots of fruit, and veggies that I give to them with dip of course…and today I stocked up on nuts and dried fruits..ok so I spent a fortune on them, and knowing my hubby’s appetite, he could probably eat them all in like 3-4 days..but hey, he is the one who pays the bills, so if he is ok with that, more power to him!

I guess more than anything, I like the fact that I am becoming much more aware of what we put in our mouth’s everyday, especially now that we have a already hyper active little boy, who doesn’t need the added sugar in his body.  I am trying to find some sort of middle ground, because I can not control every little thing, and I really don’t want to, but by making these little changes I feel like we are moving in the right direction.

Yesterday I had a friend over for a visit, and she brought over lunch for all of us with her. It was a delicious soup that she had made called Chicken Ginger Soup. I must say I was a bit skeptical about eating soup on a rather warm spring day, but once I tried it, I was in heaven! It was so simple and pure, you could taste the healing qualities in every bite. After she left I was still craving more, and since I just happen to have had all the ingredients on hand, I made a pot of it for our family. (I actually just woke up this morning and ate a bowl for my breakfast). So after all this raving, I will share the recipe, as I’m sure she wouldn’t mind at all.

Chicken Ginger Soup

1 Whole Chicken

1 Piece of Fresh Ginger (apprx 2-3 inches long)

1 bunch green onions

1 Cup Brown rice (The good stuff, not the instant)

1 Lemon

Place the whole chicken in a large soup pot and cover with water. Peel the ginger and cut into rounds, put in pot with chicken. ( I also added a stalk of celery and a few peeled whole carrots to the pot, but it is not called for). I also added some sea salt in the water which gave it a great flavor in the end. Simmer the chicken until it starts to fall apart, about 1 1/2-2hrs. Remove chicken, cool slightly and then shred. Strain broth to remove ginger pieces and vegetables if you used them. Skim off any floaties, and place broth back in pot. Add Chopped green onions and brown rice to broth. Add about 1/2 -3/4 of the shredded chicken back to the pot, saving the rest for chicken salad, etc. Simmer for about 50 minutes until the rice is cooked through. Taste for seasoning, salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with fresh squeezed lemon on top right before eating.

Delish! Thanks Sally!

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I must admit, I am not much of a holiday gift giver. And I’m happy that most of my friends and family are the same way. The kind of gifts that I like to give and to receive the most are things like cooking great meals, a foot massage, a terrific house clean, time to myself, being told I am a great mom/wife . I guess what I am trying to say is that I am not a roses, jewelry, teddy bear type of person. Gabe likes games. He likes surprises. And he usually succeeds with these types of things.

Here is how my Valentines Day went.

I called Gabe at work yesterday to ask him if I could cook him a nice dinner. He said, “No, I think I might be working late. We can celebrate tomorrow night.” A little bummed, but I thought, ok, no big deal. Well, he ended up coming home at 5pm, and suggested that I go and rent us a movie and we would have a movie and popcorn night. He said, “Everyone goes out on Valentines Day, plus we don’t have a sitter. We’ll just hang in tonight and maybe go out tomorrow night.” Again somewhat bummed, but I said ok, and left to go and pick up a movie. When I returned home the car was gone from the driveway. I went in the house to find a note on the counter. The note read:

Ethan and I have left for awhile

so that we may bring you a happy smile.

You better put on your nicest gown,

for a night out on the town.

It is best to use a hurried walk

because you must get to the next place by 7 o’clock.

Later on, to open the door

you will need to remember #3654.

Until then the next place to go,

Is somewhere you already know.

You don’t have to go too far

to get a cup of Z——-. (fill in the blank)

Good Luck!

So now I am excited, and hurried as fast as I could to put on my sexiest little black dress, high heels and all, a little makeup and mess up my hair..(guys think messy hair is sexy, I guess) Out the door I went, fancy outfit, driving a truck, and headed to a coffee shop.

I didn’t know if I should expect to find Gabe at the coffee shop, so when I got there I looked for signs of him, and didn’t see him anywhere. So now looking quite confused, I proceeded to the counter only to be stared in the face by a giant package sitting there with my name right on the front. The two people working were thrilled to see that I had arrived, and couldn’t wait to see what might be in the package.

Well, there was a note that said to open the box, and I must assemble the puzzle in the box, then flip it over to reveal my next message. Of course, Gabe made the puzzle and he must not know that it has been ages since I have assembled one, let alone one with so many funky corners and pieces of all sizes. The two baristas where so bored and were thrilled when I was asking them to help me assemble the puzzle. After about 20 minutes we finally got it together. It was a heart(of course!) and then I flipped it all over to reveal the message and it said. “Happy Valentines Day Brandy! Be at the Fitch Building at 7:30, studio 314. Alright! I headed downtown and went inside the otherwise empty building and found studio 314, peeked inside to find Gabe and a lovely table for two, black table cloth and all, flickering in candlelight waiting for me to arrive. He served me sparkling juice, wonderful appetizers, and an amazing dinner that he cooked himself on his college hot plate..ha ha. It was delicious, but more than that it was so thoughtful. We had a great evening without our son, bringing back memories of what brought us together in the first place. Oh, what a night.

You know, it really isn’t that bad. The South side that is, or even Des Moines in general. I was reminded today of just how lucky we are here in our little, quiet neighborhood. I feel so fortunate that I can go less than five minutes by car, or 15 minutes by foot, and find myself at my favorite Butcher Shop, Italian market, and Bakery.

It is true, I have developed a love affair with Findley’s Butcher Shop, Graziano’s Italian Market, and Florene’s Bakery and Coffee Shop. Since Findley’s opened about a year ago, I slowly have learned from the husband and wife owners, that they get all their meat locally. Not organic, but here in Iowa. I should mention that it is really good meat too,I can definatly live with that. Plus, since I am a sucker for great prices, I always like the fact that I leave feeling like I just got a really great deal. The best shaved pit ham from here in Iowa for only $3.99/lb!! Lunch meat for the week. Also the pork baby back ribs, Delish! Gabe can vouch for the fact that they were hands down the best he’s ever had. (Recipes to follow).

Ok, so you probably think I’ve gone mad, right? Have I become a traditional meat eating Iowan? I like to think not. But if I’m going to eat it, I am going to support my very local butcher in the process. And now for why I love Graziano’s. If you are not familiar with the south side of Des Moines, not that you really should be, but this is the Italian neighborhood. And Graziano’s is the food mecca for all your cooking and baking needs. You walk in and instantly get the most amazing whiff of spices, pungent cheeses and freshly ground Italian sausage. I can find practically anything I might be looking for including farro, which is a grain that I used to cook a lot when I lived in Portland, but since have never been able to find it. Local Italians sell their specialties there including sauces, fresh pasta, delectible little cookies, even fresh yeast cake!

Florene’s has been here for a couple of years and we happily tripped over it the weekend we were moving into our house. I must add that I believe what really happened was that I was just complaining to Gabe that I would have to drive at least 15 minutes for a pastry and a good cup of coffee, not to mention the conversation, and it was like-Whoa…what is this little gem we have stumbled upon? Could there really be something like this so close to our house? I remember feeling giddy. I still am. I have formed a great relationship with Tom the baker, and Kelly who runs the front of the house. She watched Gabe and I as we were buying a house together, then the belly bump appeared, and each week she watched as it grew larger. Florene’s was my very first outing with Ethan after he was born one cold January day last year, and since Kelly has become a great friend. I should say that besides conversing with Tom and Kelly, I also am a huge fan of the cinnamon raisin swirl bread and the delicate, flaky danish. Ahh, life is good.

I like to support my local community. It makes me feel good to know that I am not supporting another greedy corporate chain, and I am helping a small business succeed. I am also proud to be an Iowan. Yes, vacations are nice, but coming home to our little corner on the South Side is the best feeling of all.