Food + Wine

My New Normal

I could totally survive on one arm.  Totally.  After taking 2 weeks off from house work and heavy cooking to allow myself to heal, I am slowly getting back into the normal swing of things.  Only my normal now is a lot different than my old normal.  I’m now doing the house work and heavy cooking while holding or nursing a baby.  Last night’s dinner was Orange Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Roasted Shallots and Individual Sweet Potato Gratins.  Today it’s Short Ribs and Oatmeal Cookies.  And I somehow managed to put it all together with only one usable arm.  I’m even typing this post with one hand. And even though her tiny butt keeps activating the laptop mouse and moving the cursor, I’m getting it done.  All using my new normal.  It all seems totally impossible, and yet it happened.  Somehow.

It also doesn’t seem possible that I can fall asleep, like really asleep, while holding a baby.  I will be sitting up in bed, nursing my daughter and fall asleep, then wake up hours later still holding her.  I have never been a good sleeper, and have always had trouble falling asleep, but having a newborn to take care of has somehow changed that.  Weird.  We’re lucky though, that she sleeps for an 8 hour stretch at night, even with the bad cold that she’s suffering from now.  I remember being lucky to get 3 hours at a time with my son at this age.

Even though, so far, our daughter has been calmer than our son was, my husband and I are just so much better at being parents now than we were then.  I remember getting so stressed out over the littlest things back then, and now not much seems to get to either one of us.  I feel like we fought a lot more over baby stuff then like who has the best swaddle or is he or isn’t he actually hungry even though I just nursed him for an hour.  Am I calmer now because my baby is calmer or is my baby calmer because I’m calmer?  Or was she just born a calmer person?  (Where the heck would she get that from is what I wanna know!) What I do know is that we have never been happier, I have never felt closer to my husband and I have never loved three people more than I do my family.  It’s so true what they say about the heart growing bigger to make room for the new baby.  I always thought that line was so cheesy, but now that I’m living it, I get it.  And I’m totally loving this new normal.

*Balsamic-Brown Sugar Short Ribs with Cippolini Onions

-In a dutch oven on high heat, brown 1 1/2-2 lbs of boneless beef short ribs that you’ve seasoned liberally with kosher salt and pepper in a little olive oil.  Brown meat on all sides.
-Remove from the pan.
-Add in 4-5 large carrots that you’ve peeled and cut into large chunks, 2 ribs of celery, cut into large chunks and 1 1/2 lbs of peeled* cippolini onions, kept whole.
-Season the veggies with salt and pepper and stir occasionally while you allow them to brown.
-Add in 2 bay leaves, 1 small sprig of fresh rosemary, a handful of prunes, about 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar, 1/3 cup of red wine, 1 can of beef broth, 1 beef bouillon cube and 2 TB of light brown sugar.
-Stir this well and nestle in your browned short ribs.  Allow your liquid to come to a boil, then cover and place in a preheated 250 oven for about 3 hours. (You’ll know it’s done when the meat is easily falling apart and the veggies are softened).
-Remove the meat and all the veggies, discard the bay leaves and rosemary sprig, and place the pot on the stove, uncovered, on high heat.  Allow the liquid to boil rapidly and reduce to a thick sauce.  Taste to check the seasoning, adjust if necessary.  It should be sweet, savory and rich.
-Serve over mashed potatoes, buttered noddles, rice, polenta, grits, or anything else that can soak up the yummy sauce and garnish with some freshly chopped parsley and orange zest.
(*the easiest way to peel small onions or shallots is to place them in a pot of boiling water for less than a minute and then immerse them in a bowl of ice water.  The peels should rub off easily.)
(Extra tip-If you’re making this meal close to Easter, reserve the water you dyed your cippolini onions in because it serves as a great natural egg dye.)

This cookie recipe is an Oatmeal Raisin version of my Avocookies.  I rarely make cookies without using my Avocookie method because it’s a lot healthier than traditional cookie recipes.  If you aren’t familiar with the method, I basically trade out half the butter for ripe avocado puree and brown what butter I use so the butter flavor is intensified.  I also use whole wheat pastry flour to further bump up the nutritional content and fiber in the cookies.  When it comes to Oatmeal Raisin cookies, I like a small amount of raisins, unless I’m using golden raisins.  I’m just not a big fan of the regular kind.  You can use those if you’d rather, but I happen to like the combination of golden raisins and dried cranberries.

*Oatmeal Raisin-Cranberry Avocookies

-1 stick unsalted butter, browned and then completely cooled at room temperature
-1 ripe avocado, pureed
-1 cup white sugar
-1 cup light brown sugar
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 large eggs
-2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, (or 1 cup white and 1 cup WW pastry, or 2 cups white)
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 rounded tsp kosher salt
-3 cups oats
-1/2 cup golden raisins
-1/2 cup dried cranberries
-In the bowl of your standing mixer, cream together the butter, avocado and both sugars.
-Beat in your eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.
-In a separate bowl, mix together your flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix this into the wet.
-Add in your oats until fully incorporated.
-Add in your raisins and cranberries and mix by hand.
-Drop your dough onto greased cookie sheets using two large spoons (about the size of a golf ball) and press down with a wet fork.
-Sprinkle some white sugar over each cookie and place in a 375 oven for 7-9 minutes.
-Cool on a rack.

(For my other Avocookie varieties, check out Chocolate Chip Avocookies, and Dark Chocolate-Crystallized Ginger Oatmeal Avocookies)

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  • Reply Anonymous March 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    What lovely–and lucky–children!

  • Reply Everyday Champagne March 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Thank you!

  • Reply Tinky March 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I'm not sure I could put that meal together with TWO hands; yum. The two of them are adorable together….

  • Reply Everyday Champagne April 3, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Aw, that's sweet. Thanks Tinky!

  • Reply prchrmom April 10, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Couple of cookie questions: About how much puree do you get form one avocado? My son pureed a bunch for me and froze it in measured portions, so I'm wondering how much to thaw. Also, have you had good luck with kosher salt in baked goods? I don't seem to get it to dissolve properly, so some bites are overly salty and others are under-salted.

  • Reply Everyday Champagne April 10, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Hi there! To answer your questions…
    When its frozen, 1 large avocado, pureed will weigh roughly 9 oz. I puree them individually and store them in separate freezer bags so I can just pull one when I need it.
    And as far as kosher salt, its all I use and I've never had an issue with it. I'm surprised to hear of your problem, although I know many people prefer fine salt for their baked goods. I simply don't like to take the time to get my other salt out of the pantry when I bake! I say that if you're having inconsistency issues with your kosher salt, then stick with what you know works.
    Any other questions, please let me know! Thanks for reading-

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