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Working Mothers

11 Apr

I’ll never forget the day I left my son at day care when I first went back to work.  I knew I had no choice.  DB wasn’t going to support us in any real way nor was he interested in taking care of our newborn infant on a full-time basis (nor could he be trusted to do so).  It was a very difficult decision and one that I relented over for a very long time afterward – how I would be missing all of his growth and changes that occur so rapidly when they are that young. 

Of course, pain has subsided over the last 4-5 years but I will never forget the agony of leaving my infant and the anger I had at the US government for not supporting working families in a way that would allow a women to spend more time with her infant – even if unpaid – 12 weeks doesn’t seem to be enough time to bond with your baby when they just seem so small and helpless at just 3 months old – weighing at times less than 16 llbs!  What I learned is that many women are back in the office after 6 weeks for financial reasons – I can’t even imagine that!

Our country has so many problems but if we can ever clean up our current problems (like getting people employed, tax reform and saving the middle class from extinction), I would love to see our federal government sponsor some type of legislation that supports Working Mothers returning or not returning to work so soon after the birth of their children.

I saw this clip of iVillage’s Woman of the Week and I thought I should share it.  I think this women is a great role model for her daughter and for the Working Mother’s of Italy.  We are not all able to bring our children to work but she found a way to do it in the public eye raising awareness about the dilemmas of working mothers.

Here’s the link to the video – I can’t figure out how to actually embed the video here:

http://www.ivillage.com/ivillage-woman-week/1-j-392786?ice=iv:dailycandy:promoweek2

An Inspired Breakfast by Haagen-Daz

4 Apr

I have been totally inspired by this exquisite bowl of ice cream. 

  Mid-Western Boy keeps bringing me a pint of this Haagen Daz ice cream. It is white chocolate raspberry truffle.  There is something so delicious about the sweetness of the raspberrys against the richness of the truffles with a sweet taste of the white chocolate ice cream.  I’m addicted to it and I”ve been eating it almost every night after dinner. 

I didn’t think much about this new indulgence until Sunday evening as I watched one of my favorite television programs, Mad Men.  Betty Draper (Francis) has been depressed and it appears that she has gained a significant amount of weight.  One of the last scenese of the show is of Betty eating ice cream with her daughter after dinner.  Her daughter didn’t finish her bowl of ice cream and so Betty pulled it to her and finished it as well as her own.  At that moment, I stopped breathing – hadn’t I just done the same thing with my son’s bowl of my new indulgence?    I knew I had to stop eating the ice cream every night but I can’t stop thinking of about the raspberry and chocolate combination. 

And so, this morning, I figured out how to satisfy the craving with a much healthier version for BREAKFAST!  On the weekend, I usually prepare some steel cut oatmeal and leave in our refrigerator and then warm it up during the week to vary our breakfast.  I usually simply toss in some almond milk, chopped almonds and some honey or cocunut to sweeten it for us.  Other times I toss in blueberries and brown sugar.   This morning – – I created my newest addiction — I warmed up the steel cut oatmeal with some almond milk, mixed in a a teaspoon of local raw honey and tossed in some frozen raspberries and dark chocolate chips and ……I’m back in heaven – with a lot less calories and guilt and my four year old can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow!

A Quick Basic Meal For A Hurried Lifetstyle

31 Mar

I’ve been cooking this healthy basic meal almost every week for months now and I thought it might be something nice to share.  The reason I love cooking it – is that it is healthy, quick and has so many variations – even with the use of the same veggies over and over again – there is a sense of variety so I always have something to look forward to.

1.  I always begin with a few tablespoons of olive oil in a hot pan.

2.  I then add a few cloves of garlic pressed through and saute for about 2-3 minutes.

3.  I almost always add Mushrooms (all different varieties).  I find mushrooms are really filling. 

4.  Next, I check my refrigerator and I look for any colorful veggies that I have on hand.  Most of the time I have carrots and celery.  I quickly and coarsely chop them in the food processer and drop them in the saute pan and continue to saute. 

5.  I then check my refrigerator and freezer to add some more color to my basic veggie dish.  I almost always have frozen organic veggies.  I love to add broccoli and peas.

6.  Finally, I love tomatoes and I find that they thicken up the  sauteed veggies as well.  So, I usually add grape tomatoes (halved).

7.  Finally I throw in cut up Kale and lower the heat and put on the pan cover so they steam down. 

While sauteeing the veggies, I usually sprinkle the veggies with california sea salt and black pepper.

While I’m preparing the veggies, I usually have a pot of boiling water on the side to add some type of carb.  The carbs have been varying as follows: whole wheat pasta, buckwheat soba noodles, short grain brown rice (my new favorite), and quinoa pasta.

When the carbohydrate or base is complete, I usually drain it and toss into the saute pan so that the juices of the sauce can cover the pasta, rice, noodles, etc.

VARIATIONS

I sometimes like to make different sauces in the sautee pan so it gives me a variety of flavors and tastes and I can keep repeating the dish but feel like I’m eating something different every night.

1. If I”m only feeling like I want something light, I usually just add lemon zest, pine nuts and feta cheese to the sautee pan at the end of the cooking process.

2.  If I’m feeling like Asian food, I add Tamari Sauce and Gomasio while satueeing the veggies.  At the end of the process, I add chopped avocado.  I LOVE this combination with short grain brown rice.  It also goes well with soba noodles.

3.  If I’m feeling like I want a mexican flavor, I toast whole wheat tortillas and mix in some mild salsa at the end of the veggie sautee and fold brown rice and the veggies into a burrito.

The variations are endless! This healthy meal can be made in less than 30 minutes and will work well for busy, hurried lifestyles.  It also stays well for leftovers later in the week. (I usually bring it as my lunch and send it to lunch in thermos with my son for school)!

Buon Appetito!

– City Mama

A Cook’s Kitchen Nightmare

24 Feb
 
The National Organic Program administers the O...
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English: A bundle of kale from an organic food...
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   On Wednesday morning I woke up to some very upsetting news. When I opened my refrigerator door to drink some cold refreshing water, it was at room temperature.  I wondered did I leave the door of the refrigerator open last night?  Everything in my refrigerator felt like it was room temperature.  I checked the controls and I went to work.  When I returned, the refrigerator smelled and everything inside was spoiled.

Yes, this is a kitchen nightmare for me.  I had so many organic vegetables (Kale, swiss chard, fresh spinach, ginger, celery, carrots, avocado) for my morning green smoothies that were totally spoiled.  All of the weekend’s work of preparing meals for the work week for my son and I for our lunches and dinners was lost overnight ! It was so disappointing not to be able to enjoy the turkey meatloaf stuffed with organic fresh spinach leaves, sage and thyme, my adult’s version of  homemade mac & cheese made of whole wheat penne pasta covered with melted fontina, creamy gorgonzola, rich ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and a cream tomato sauce and finally the bowl of homemade tomato sauce and fresh raviolis.   It was sad for me to toss into the garbage all of my spoiled vegetables in the green grocer’s bags that help keep them fresh for me. I poured down the drain organic milk, organic yogurts, and tossed into the garbage pastured organic butter and organic raw cheeses. 

Photo of a typical refrigerator with its door ...

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The only positive thing was that my freezer was still very cold and I was able to store my frozen foods in the freezer of my apartment building’s community room – thankfully!  In my freezer, I have tons of organic frozen vegetables, organic chicken, frozen soups that I prepared in the past, organic unsalted butters for baking and organic, humanely raised grass fed beef!

All of this mourning over lost food in my refrigerator and pouring of money (literally) down the drain had me thinking of all of the money I spend on my organic produce and foods.  It was an expensive loss (not to mention the urgent need to locate a new refrigerator that fits in this custom built kitchen) but I know that I am lucky to have the knowledge about food and the ability to afford to purchase my organic groceries. 

I wasn’t always an organic zealot.  It began when I was pregnant with my son in 2006.  I started with little things – like organic milk and organic chicken.  I didn’t want to eat food that was injected with antibiotics and other hormones while I was having a child develop and grow inside of my body – New York City if filled with enough toxins and my domestic life was toxic enough.  That was the extent of my organic food purchases – it was expensive and I was going through a divorce.  However, a few years later I started to read about our food supply and how the FDA has allowed it to be modified over the years, improved by science, some may say.  I’ve read books like Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, the 3-Day Cleanse by Zoe Sakoutis and Erica Huss, Kris Carr‘s Crazy Sexy Diet and Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal.  I watched movies like Food Inc.  I learned about genetically modified crops, genetically  injected animals and the need to eat locally and seasonally.  Doing all of these things, I’ve learned, benefit not just our bodies but also for our land, our animals and our environment. 

I’m hoping to read the New York Time’s reviewed book, The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan soon (see review: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/books/tracie-mcmillan-writes-the-american-way-of-eating.html?_r=1&ref=books).  Her view is different from the others – it discusses the workers at the bottom of the food industry and how they are impacted and what needs to change in our food industry so Americans can start eating better again.

I urge you to sign petitions like ones flying around Facebook: http://signon.org/sign/tell-the-fda-that-we.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=2537995 and tell our government that our food, at the very least should be labeled.   Americans should be aware that their food is not natural, straight from the source, that science has attempted to modify it to make it cheaper to grow.  Safe, organic food should not be for Americans that could afford to pay for it – safe natural, organic food should be available to all Americans despite socio-economic status. 

 

A GIANT win!

9 Feb

I hosted a Superbowl party on Sunday to watch the NY Giants beat the New England Patriots for the 2012 Superbowl Championship.  It was an awesome day on many levels.  Firstly,   my son confirmed that he is a Giants fan more than a Jets fan (which has been a point of contention in our house because DB thinks it is very important that his son grows up to be a Jets fan and has been trying to brainwash my son against the Giants – very sick, I know) and secondly I was able to host a Superbowl party for the first time ever.  DB never allowed me to invite people over for the Superbowl for a variety of reasons (television too small; nobody likes me and would come, etc.)  But I digress.  I couldn’t wait to cook for the party!

 I love cooking for friends and family and watch them come together to enjoy a nice meal.  I’m not sure if this is a result of my Italian-American heritage or just because I love food.  Either way, it is important for me to have every meal prepared and eaten together – including our breakfast, lunch and dinner!  I prepare almost every single meal my son eats including his snacks — kale chips, cookies and cakes!

Many of my friends marvel over how do I make time to cook among all of my – duties including being a full-time attorney and a mom (and now girlfriend too!)   I think the key to being efficient when juggling all of these other responsibilities with cooking for a group lies in the following three things (1) Fresh Direct food delivery service; (2) organizing my grocery list early in the week; and (3) a slow cooker!

A slow cooker has been an excellent addition to our busy life and has encouraged me to make more meat recipes for my Mid-Western Boy – who absolutely loves meat dishes.  I never used a slow cooker before last month and now I make at least one awesome meal a week with it – including on Superbowl Sunday!

On Superbowl Sunday my guests arrived around 1 hour before the actual game started.  I prepared everything but the sliders before my guests arrived.  I began grilling the sliders about 30 minutes before the game started so that everyone had fresh burgers to much on during the first half of the game.  I had hoped to cook wings for the second half of the game during halftime (they were prepared already) but my guests confessed that they were too full for the wings.  So, I left them to eat later in the week. 

I love eating together and talking about the food.  My guests were impressed with all of my “homemade” dishes but especially my meat-less chili and my secret ingredient macaroni and cheese!

CityMama’s Easy Superbowl Party Menu

Drinks:

I kept it simple with two different beers; a pitcher of fresh, fresh lemon flavored water (and some soda for those that are still addicted to the high fructose corn syrup)

Appetizers:

  When the guests arrived I put out salsa, tortilla chips, baked potato chips, mixed olives and various  cheeses for them to much on.    I had also warmed up “pigs in a blanket” that I purchased at Trader Joes the week before.  I toyed with making my own pigs in the blanket (I have some mini organic chicken apple sausages that I give to my son for lunch) but I didn’t want to waste time on preparing something that will be gone with two bites and that was easy to buy already prepared!

Main Course:

City Mama Secret Ingredient Macaroni & Cheese: I prepare a healthy version of homemade macaroni and cheese topped with breadcrumbs and sliced tomatoes.   My secret ingredient (substituting some cheese with frozen winter squash).  Trust me – no one can tell the difference. 

Slow Cooker Meatless Chili: I love this recipe because it is so easy to make and it yields a lot of servings.  In a slow cooker I put the following ingredients: 1 large can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of northern beans, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 can of black beans, four or so cups of chicken broth, a diced fresh pepper (usually green), 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and some oregano.  I set the slow cooker for 8 hours.  When it finishes cooking I add 1 cup of cooked couscous, some shredded cilantro, salt and black pepper to taste.  Before I serve the meatless chili, I use a ribbon shredder and shred some extra-sharp Wisconsin cheddar cheese and cut up pieces of avocado.  It is so simple and so filling!

Prime Angus Beef & Turkey Sliders : This is always a bit hit at a party but it does take some time to make them.  I purchased packages of already prepared sliders made of organic turkey and some made of prime angus beef.  I heated up a cast iron grill pan on my stove (removed the fire alarm from the kitchen) and grilled 6 sliders at a time!  I also toasted the buns on the side of the grill pan that wasn’t being used.  I grilled each burger for about 4-5 minutes per side and topped the buns with organic red leaf lettuce, organic beefsteak tomato, melted wisconsin cheddar and some ketchup.  Pickles served on the side.

Dessert:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches: I prepared my chocolate chip cookie recipe the week before and froze the batter in a log form.  I defrosted the log the morning of the Superbowl and baked the cookies earlier in the day. I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream in between two cookies and passed around dessert!

Persistence of Time

1 Feb
Old Post Office Pavillion clock tower

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It has been a very long time since I’ve had a few minutes of time all to myself.  A few moments of time to gather my thoughts and write about city life and my son.  Time  to be creative and passionate.

I never realized how important this time to  myself was until I didn’t have a whole minute alone.  I always knew I was a person that liked to be by myself but I never realized how much I would crave solitude as I have over the past several months.

My son’s father hasn’t taken my son for an overnight visit for over one month now.  My days have been exclusively dedicated to spending time with my precious four year old son, who demands my attention, with screams and constant yells of “mommeeee!”  All of this time together has brought us closer together.  I wake up to my son calling out to me, we spend the morning commuting  to the office on the city bus doing puzzles or reading books.  I spend the day at my office working, negotiating and thinking about various issues that each day brings.  At the end of the day, I pick up my son from school and we spend the evening talking, eating dinner nd getting ready for bed.  All of My time is either spent at the office or doing something with my son.    If my son is cooperative in the evening and gets to bed at a decent hour, I can have a few minutes to myself to clean up the kitchen and pack up our food for lunch.  However, this is not my time.  this is what i call Family Time.  Just like cooking is Family Time.  It is an activity that is meant for the family to enjoy.

What I really want is a break – some time to myself; so I’m not rushing from work to the bus to the connecting bus and then home.

I have no one to blame but myself.  I wished for my son’s dad to fade out of our life.   And now it appears he is fading out.  I feared that the fading out would have a negative impact on my son because he was losing this male figure in his life.  His Dad. 

What I instead observe is that my son is better adjusted.  He listens to me, is not as aggressive and is very affectionate with me.  I don’t sense that underlying anger that my son seemed to have exhibited during the summer and early fall when he was seeing more of his father. 

Yes, I feel a sense of justice.  I feel that maybe my son will have a fighting chance at growing into a well balanced man if his father fades away into the background.  My son won’t have to learn to deal with the lies and manipulating thoughts he was infecting my son with during the latter part of last year.  Yes, I feel a sense of victory.  I only hope this fade away is consistent because the only thing consistent about DB is that he is inconsistent.

While I do feel a sense of victory, I feel that the battle has been devastating to the warrior (me).  I’m exhausted, I’m spent and I’m searching for time, time to be by myself, time for solitude and time for “being” instead of “doing.”   Maybe this is how all mothers feel at one point or another.  Even if it is how all mothers feel. . . I just don’t think it is acceptable. 

Last night I worked on building in time for solitude in my schedule.  I’m decided o begin with 15 minutes twice a week.  I’m going to deliberately unchain myself from my desk at the office and sit on the benches outside my office building. I’m not going to bring my blackberry or my iphone.  I’m not going to bring documents to review with me. 

I’m going to sit for 15 minutes and do nothing – twice a week.  The idea of it just relaxes me already.  Today will be my first day.  Wish me luck!

Would you like Some Cheese with that Whine?

7 Dec

I don’t usually rant about being a single mother.  I know I have a great situation with a great kid.  I like being able to make decisions for the both of us with little involvement by his father.  However, lately, I’m feeling like my son is exhausting me and I wish I had someone else to help, to intervene.   I don’t know if it is him being a normal developing four year old or if I’m just literally exhausted from doing this on my own for his entire life.

ISSUE #1.  He has begun whining – a lot.  It is driving me crazy.  I don’t know how to deal with the whine.  He whines about anything of whiche he doesn’t get his way- his result.  He wants water when we are walking home from school, he wants to watch television while we are eating dinner, he wants to play with puzzles when it is time to go to bed.  He has never whined before and now it is incessant.  I give in. I think every parenting book probably says don’t give into this behavior but at the end of a long work day, I just don’t want to hear it!  I am not a saint.  I am exhausted too!  I sometimes feel like I had somebody to whine to after a long day.

 At the end of the day, I need quiet time to decompress.  This time of year, I need that quiet time even more than ever because of how busy I am at the office with end of the year projects.  In addition to the end of the year projects, we have Christmas and holiday stuff to prepare for – so when I’m not thinking about work, I’m thinking about Christmas presents and how I’m going to fit it all in (although most of my shopping is completed online).

ISSUE $2. He doesn’t listen.  I need to repeat myself several times for him to do something. Pick up your toys from the floor, put your coat on, we are leaving for school.  He deliberately ignores me and has already developed selective hearing.  I have bcome a nag to my four year old son and I can’t take hearing myself.  I just wonder if other parents have this same issue with their children?  I feel so alone in it and I don’t share much about it to anyone. 

ISSUE #3. Beating himself up or Manipulation? The other thing that is driving me nuts is that when I do lose my temper or raise my voice to discipline him, he throws a total crying fit.  His words are hurtful.  He says to me – “you don’ t love me mommy”, “you are not proude of me”, “I think I’m a bad guy” and “Someone should kill me I’m so destructive.”  Upon hearing this language, I immediately run to him and start holding him and kissing him telling him that Mommy loves him very much and thinks he is a good boy but just would like for him to listen to me better and control himself.  I kiss him and hold him and wait for him to stop crying.  I even start to tear up when he articulates these thoughts outloud.  I just wonder if he is trying to manipulate me and distract me from his behavior that I am trying to correct?

Last night I just wished I had someone else to tell him to listen to me.  I wish I had someone in the house to defend me – to help me – to be the bad guy for once.  I feel like I’m always the bad guy because I am the only one that disciplines him on a regular basis. He even told me I’m a bad guy because I yell at him!

What other choice do we have as a single mom?  I guess we just have to hope and pray that our kids turn out alright and they look back on their life and think about how lucky they were to have a mom  that sacrificed so much to give him the best possible life she could.

I think that’s a long time to wait for a return on this investment.  So, instead, last night I did what any frazzled mom would do, I turned on the television, went into the bathroom, lit a candle and took a warm bath by myself while he was occupied with Go, Diego, Go.  I did feel a bit better before our bedtime story.

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