Thursday, February 25, 2010

Broccoli Rabe

I've tried the above vegetable a handful of times, and never liked it - too bitter. But Eating Well featured broccoli rabe as the vegetable star of the latest issue, and included tips for toning down the bitterness. Namely: blanch it, and balance it with other flavors. The broccoli rabe and orzo salad with lemon and feta was very good. I wonder, though - was it only the prep technique that made it likeable, or is it that my palate has grown more tolerant of bitter flavors since I last tried it? Many of the things I like these days (coffee, strong beer, very-dark chocolate) are bitter, so it could be both.

Monday, February 8, 2010


About 20 minutes before starting this, I put Annika to bed. I feel that this is a blogpost-worthy event, in part because it must have been the weirdest bedtime "routine" she has had yet.

Things were fine from teethbrushing to changing into pajamas and on through story time, with only the usual amount of protest at each step. The only thing that was slightly unusual is that instead of sitting in my lap during stories, she wanted to squeeze herself onto the chair next to me. But okay, fine, it's actually easier to read that way, and the chair is (sort of) big enough.

After stories, I braced myself and said, "Ok, that was the last story for tonight, time to turn off the lights." This is usually when the howling begins, and tonight was no exception. She cried, said "No!" about 500 times, then wanted "Chair!" So, I sat down in the chair with her in my arms - typically, she will snuggle on my lap and fall asleep, then I'll move her into the crib. But instead, she squirmed and hollered until she maneuvered herself off my lap and onto the chair next to me. We sat like this for a few minutes, then she asked for water. I gave her the cup, but because she was leaning back in the chair, half of the water that she intended to go into her mouth went onto her pajamas instead, resulting in a fresh bout of crying. Lights on, towel the pajamas dry, lights off again. More crying, and my attempt to get her to snuggle on my lap only resulted in her climbing down to the floor. So she lay down on the rug, still wailing "no no nooooo nooo no..." while I sat on the floor next to her. "Do you want your blanket?" She said yes, so I covered her up. "Do you want Barkley (her stuffed puppy that she sleeps with)?" Yes again, so I handed her Barkley. I kissed her on the forehead, told her I'd see her in the morning, and closed the door. Not surprisingly, there was soon much wailing and rattling of the door, so I went back in and ask if she wants to snuggle on the chair. She said yes, but again she refused to sit on my lap. I couldn't let her fall asleep in the chair the way she evidently wanted to, though, because it would be nothing short of miraculous to move her into her crib without waking her up, and it obviously wouldn't be safe to let her stay in the chair. So I put her in the crib; the bawling increased in volume and she pushed her feet against the bars, trying to figure out how to brace herself to climb out. By now, my patience had started to wear thin, so I just said "You're going to have to lie down and go to sleep now. That's how this works." I gently made her lie down, covered her with the blanket, gave her Barkley again, and said "Night night."

And she replied "Night night" and was quiet. From Hyde to Jekyll, exactly as if someone flipped the switch to "off" between one howl and the drawing-in of breath to get the next howl ready. I closed the door and went downstairs, and I heard one more halfhearted moan, then nothing more.

I have no idea why she wants to sit on the chair instead of my lap all of a sudden, or why she is more willing to lie down on the floor than in the crib, or what exactly made her decide to shut up and go to sleep so suddenly. Toddlers are weird creatures sometimes.

In other news, I made Chicken Chili Verde on Saturday while my parents were taking care of Annika, and it was a hella lot of work but the end result was worth it.

I seem to be on a kick of reading books about the Mogul Empire and the world around it at that time - I just finished "The Twentieth Wife" and started "The Enchantress of Florence," both of which take place at least in part during the reign of Akbar the Great. I'm tickled by the overlap, because I didn't realize it when I picked out the two books. "The Twentieth Wife" is enjoyable reading, but not great literary art in my opinion. "The Enchantress of Florence" is by Salman Rushdie, so I can safely say that the writing is wondrous and bizarre, but since I just started, I can't say much about the storyline. I also recently read "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell, and I'm not sure what to say about that one - it was beautiful but tragic, so although I recommend it to any of my bookworm friends, the recommendation comes with the warning that it's not an easy read.

Friday, February 5, 2010


One of my favorite parenting-related blogs, Child of Mind, is running a weekly "parenting challenge" where each week, there's a particular approach/technique for small-child discipline that they're exploring, and requesting the readers' feedback on.

The first one is playful parenting - the idea of using humor and play to guide your kid's behavior, instead of coercion/threats/punishments/rewards. Specifically, when faced with a situation where your child tends to put up resistance to something you want done (brushing teeth, getting dressed, taking a bath) you avoid the upcoming power struggle by saying "Let's pretend..." and make up a scenario where the troublesome activity turns into a game/fantasy. Let's pretend that if you put on the red shirt, you turn into Superman... let's pretend that this bathtub is a pond and you're a frog...

I like this one and although Annika doesn't quite understand "pretending" yet, I do try to use humor and laughter to bypass temper tantrums and power struggles, and I can definitely see using this technique as she gets older. Unfortunately, right now the main sticking point with her is bedtime, and I haven't figured out a "let's pretend" scenario that would encourage her to go to sleep.

I do wonder though - at what age do kids start to see through this and/or stop enjoying it? I would guess sometime around 5?