Planting seeds of all kinds…

Yesterday my husband and I had a long, difficult talk. I’m not going into details here, but some things he said were true. Or could become true. He thought my computer time had just grown into a bad habit of surfing around, like some kind of runaway from reality. While I do not agree, I can see where this comes from and there are some things that I could change. He said he missed the part of me that just did things, tried new things, planted seeds (let’s kindly forget his rant of last year that I only planted seeds to neglect them afterwards – while now he’s complaining that I’m not planting seeds at all), knitted, went out, suggested things to do. He’s wrong because I still do those things, he just doesn’t see them. I have my own rhythm and it seems that it works best without having him around. That’s not a nice thing to say, because I do love my husband very much, but we have been struggling lately and I think I lost the energy to invest all the time and getting nothing but negativeness back. I know my husband does see the positives, he just does not talk about them. That’s the way he ticks. The strange thing was that in the conversation he somehow turned his voice and acknowledged his own weaknesses and that they were part of the problem. He was just sad that where I had seemed to cope before, I fell a bit apart lately. And he felt like he was stuck in a downward spiral of having nothing to say or to tell and avoiding real interaction. He was used to that behavior, but now he feels like I’m doing the same and it scares him. At some point he begged me to be the strong one and get us out of it.

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Wow. Clearly I had to get that off my chest. How painful it was however, I was proud of him to try to translate his emotions into words. And while I protected myself by telling him that I refused to be the one that put all the energy in us without getting anything back, something that I know I really need to bring back that freshness and initiative, I took mental note of the things I could and was willing to change.

Less computer time and blogging when he’s home from work. That’s a good place to start and I hope it will make him feel better instantly. I might even feel better too.

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And then I planted seeds. You know, he brought it up. And I had really wanted to do it this year, I even bought some seeds a few weeks ago. Some mouse or rat or other animal had managed to get into my packages and feasted on my beans and stuff, so I had to get some new ones. Getting them in the earth didn’t even take much time. And it feels like the seeds I put in the earth, aren’t the only thing I have planted…

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Little boy and the horses

While the morning was rather misty and I could only see fifteen meters far, going to the baker, the afternoon was sunny enough to go outside. Little boy and I took a walk in the neighborhood and said hello to a lot of horses. He loves animals, but when a horse came closer, he wasn’t too sure anymore.

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The day was filled with playing and reading stories and going grocery shopping for the healthy snackbox of my husband. My little one loves loves loves grocery shopping. When we walked through the supermarket, I noticed all the Easter details that have spring written all over them. The yellows and bright greens, the eggs, the bunnies and the pullets everywhere. I would want to make the seasons and the rhythm of the year more present in my own house too. Maybe create some themed activities for the little one. I tried to color with him, but he’s more into putting the pencils inside and outside his mouth the box. He’s fifteen months old now. Ideas anyone?

Stuffed chicken breasts on raisin-spinach and rice. A lot of rice.

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Lately there’s a lot of cooking on my mind. On my mind that is because in reality, I have to do the actual cooking when little boy is taking a nap. He’s not napping a lot lately. I think my focus on food comes from a persistent stomach bug that is hunting us and sticking around. And my absolute wish to make my boy love and discover as much food as possibly. Right now, that isn’t too difficult, the kid loves to eat. But my husband also has asked me to help him eat better. That’s a tricky part. I love to cook and make new things or new combinations. While he tries everything, he sticks to his childhood preferences. Not that those are so bad, they’re just… always the same. Potatoes and carrots, green beans in tomato sauce, fish sticks with frozen creamy spinach and baked potatoes, spaghetti bolognaise…
When I make him oven baked eggplant and goat cheese salad with almonds, he’ll eat it, because he has to eat something, not because he likes it. And he gives me that look…
But lately he finds himself snacking all the time. Healthy things but mainly unhealthy things, because most of the time, they’re easier to grab. I guess he’s an emotional eater even more than I am and it did surprise him the most. He eats out of stress, and I think also because he can’t ‘sit still’. So I promised him to make him a healthy snackbox for work next week. See how that goes. And to make a good start with real food, I threw together something I knew he would like.

Preheat the oven. I always do that on 200°C, don’t know why. Put a handful of dried raisins in hot water to make them swell.

Prepare the chicken stuffing: season cream cheese with salt and pepper and put as much chopped tarragon in it as you like. Tarragon and chicken are a great combo. Add some garlic if you want to. Garlic is always good. We love garlic.

Bake seasoned chicken breasts till they’re brown on each side, but not cooked yet. Take them out of the pan, slice them in a way you can fold them open to stuff with the cream cheese mixture. Close up again, put them in a baking dish and in the oven they go. 15 minutes I guess, until it’s cooked through. Not dried out (although the filling will help you with that) but chicken has to be cooked through. You don’t want any nasty diseases. Especially not after a few weeks of stomach bugs liking your house so much that they pass by over and over again. Ever.

Cook rice. I only recently discovered how to cook rice without those little bags. So I always have too much, like for an entire army, still have to discover measures that fit our family.

Put the raisins in a pan with some chopped garlic (or if you’re lazy like me, you buy it in a tube or little pot, as a puree). Add cream cheese, a spoon or something along that lines and then put in the spinach. I love baby spinach, but any spinach will do, I guess. Stir and toss and make the spinach melt in the raisin-garlic-creamcheese mixture. It just has to be semi-coated, it’s not a sauce you’re making (although you could. And it would be heaven.)

Plate up: a layer of rice, a layer of spinach and a stuffed chicken breast on top. Enjoy.

 

 

(Think of what you’ll do with the tons of leftover rice. Make a rice salad adding tomatoes, corn, spring onions, ham, mayonnaise, cream cheese and chives. Have it for lunch the next day. Think again, because you still have another ton of rice.  Promise yourself to work on your food measures.)

 

 

 

Just the two of us

So far for ‘she’. I’ll drop it. It works in French, and it has worked in my mother tongue, but in English, I cannot make it work. I’ve used the third person to force myself to look at my life from a certain distance. While it helps, it’s not easy to write it down that way. So, no more she. I’m here!

It has been a while, but we enjoyed a lovely weekend together. My husband and I went out to have dinner in one of the most known (and expensive) restaurants of the country. He turns thirty today, and it has been on his wish list since I know him. To make it perfect, we booked a night at the hotel, while LB was spending his first night out with my parents. We all enjoyed it very much, including LB who has slept longer then ever!
I could describe every dish we ate, but that would take to much space and words can’t nearly express how delicious it was. One work of art after the other. Not much new stuff (as we already eat a lot of different foods in our daily menus), but lovely combinations and textures.

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We’ve asked ourselves: can food ever be worth this ridiculous amount of money? Then we decided: maybe yes. It has been part of a much anticipated experience and we enjoyed it with every fiber of our bodies and souls. On top of that, it was our first night together without LB since he was born. It was nice to spend all that time at the table, eating exquisite food, talking about it and knowing we could go to sleep without getting up early. Ofcourse I woke up way too early, but it was not my responsibility to get LB out of bed and dressed for once. A lovely breakfast together and a walk through the city topped it off.

This week I’ll set the budget for April and I’ll dive into making menus. I discovered a beautiful blog, french foodie baby,  that really ticked all my boxes and makes me enthusiastic about trying to incorporate new habits and changing the attitude towards food we have as a family. One thing I would like to do very much, but that will be really hard to incorporate is share meals. I’ll post about that later. 

Portulaca soup

The little boy having a fever reduced her kitchen plans for the day. She had wanted to prepare a good veggie-packed ‘stoemp’ (mainly potato mash, mixed with whatever you want and one of  her all-time favorites), but prepared very simple and bare food instead. Broccoli, potatoes and salmon. For her husband, she added a few spoons of Boursin Cuisine, but she and the little boy ate it just like that, topped with a teaspoon of margarine.

The portulaca she had taken from the store because it looked so bright and green and springy was turned into a pretty good soup instead. Very basic, but for those who are interested:

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Make the base: chop up some vegetables (she used one shallot, one leek white that was camping in the fridge and the stem of the broccoli she prepared for dinner), put them in a pan with some butter and stew a little, till they start to sweat. Then pour over water, maybe a liter and a half to start with. If you were preparing other vegetables (like she was), you could use the boiling water of those. She added a stock cube too, only one. Since she was cooking for LB, she got used to lessen too salty extras and it tasted just fine.

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After it has boiled a while, add the stalks of the portulaca. Lower the heat, let it simmer. Pop in the leaves and put on low heat. It doesn’t really matter how long. You can put a mixer in it whenever you want now and obtain a lovely bright green soup. Season to taste.

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Butterflies all over again

This morning she had loved her husband to pieces. She couldn’t even tell why exactly it was, that the routine of the every day suddenly made place for a vague of deep and overwhelming love. She had passed the night on the couch, running to the toilet every thirty minutes, crawling in pain. It was that bad, that she even called the doctor with nightshift. It just hurt that much.
When she had somewhat sticked herself together to prepare her slightly feverish little boy for daycare (teeth, oh teeth, there are so many of you that have to pop) and her husband had finished his shower, he firmly told her, right before leaving, LB on his arm, that they would discuss the decision of letting go of the cleaning lady this weekend. He wasn’t happy with it. She had been angry at first, because she had not taken that decision on her own, and he had approved. Apparently he didn’t understand exactly what he had approved of. His arguments were honest and even considering: he needed that mental rest that at least once in a week the house was cleaned. Maybe not perfectly, maybe not the way he would do it, but cleaned. He knew her messy character, he knew she would put her best effort in it at first and then stop finding the time to do it on top of a fulltime job. He said that he knew she needed some time for herself, to blog, to read, to do whatever it was that he couldn’t understand, but that she clearly needed.

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She knew he was right. She had wanted to cut finances where it could, with the best intentions. And probably she would be able to do the cleaning on top of everything else. But it would soon become overwhelming. And she would still do it, but feel stressed about it. No good thing. And he would be unhappy about it, because he needed a clean house, a sanctuary to come home to, he had done it himself for years, but couldn’t bear the idea of combining that work with his current job. So honestly? Even if she was sure they had talked it through and his reaction now showed he hadn’t actually been listening very well, his arguments made good sense. It was hard to hear though.

In some way she wanted to invest the mental energy that went into work, into her house and her family. Maybe because work wasn’t going smoothly lately, maybe she changed after the birth of their son, but anyway: she really wanted to take care of the house and all the beloved beings in it. Even if tidiness was not her strongest point and not something she was used to invest in. She didn’t know yet how to explain that to her husband, but he left a great opening there in the promise they would talk things over again this weekend. It showed he knew her well and while there was a but of egoism in there (his mental rest – but then again: it’s how he functions, so why don’t take it into consideration?), there was also a lot of care and the feeling he had to protect her from herself. Realizing that, all while looking at him with their son on their arm, all adult and man of the house, made the butterflies in her painful stomach go wild. No doctor would help with that…