Monday, February 23, 2009

Recipe: Sweet potato coconut soup

While Brian likes to point out that "no one cares what I had for lunch," I feel compelled to post recipes from time to time. You care what I had for dinner, right?

This is based on a recipe from Fresh Food Fast by Peter Berley. For a while I was doing it with tofu instead of beans (about eight ounces, just cubed and tossed in with the liquid), but then Brian and I realized we don't really like tofu. We usually have it served over rice, and if you serve it over brown rice, that healthiness combined with the beans and the different colored vegetables should probably let you justify any number of chocolate chip cookies for the rest of the week. I mean, orange veggies, leafy greens, whole grains, legumes? SO HEALTHY. 

Also, this soup was one of the first real foods that Adriana ate. She tried a bit of rice cereal at seven months old, and then turned up her nose at most solids (especially purees). But just after her first birthday she chowed down on this. Apparently I just wasn't offering her interesting enough flavors.

Sweet Potato Coconut Soup with Black Beans and Chard 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 small or 1 large sweet potato peeled and diced (one-inch)
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 jalapeno, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 (15-ounce) can black beans
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 small bunch chard, center ribs discarded, sliced thin
juice of one small lime
handful of cilantro, chopped

  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onions 3-4 minutes, until softened.
  2. Add sweet potatoes, ginger, pepper, garlic, and coriander. Saute 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Add beans, water, coconut milk, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in chard and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in lime juice and cilantro and serve.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Baby's first joke (I think)

Adriana came and found me while I was folding laundry.

DAD-WHERE? She asked, something she wants to know pretty much every day.

"Where do you think he is?" I asked. Usually she replies WORK, but this time she just repeated her question. "He's at work," I told her.

DAD-WHERE? Adriana repeated.

"Work," I said. We went back and forth a few more times, and finally I said, "I don't know, where is Dad?"

MOON, she signed. 

"Dad's on the moon?" I asked. She nodded, and then giggled so hard she had to sit down. For the rest of the morning as played with her baby or read books, she would stop every now and then, sign DAD-MOON, and collapse in a fit of giggles. Pretty soon I was laughing too, and I didn't even get the joke. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Head and shoulders, scabs and toes

I don't think of Adriana as a particularly clumsy child. In fact, I think she's quite well coordinated for her age. But she is an active little girl and takes her fair share of tumbles. As a result, her knees are frequently a bit banged up--one of them always seems to have a scab. 

Still, I thought she knew what her knees were. She points to any body part you ask her to, her knees among them. She follows along when I sing "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes." But the other day she pointed to a scrape on her ankle and told me "knee." I guess she was less clear on what exactly her knees were than I thought. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

25 months

Last week we flew to Florida for a few days, to visit Adriana's great-grandfather, and the trip certainly demonstrated the highlights and challenges of this age.  Adriana cooperated well at the airport, provided that we gave her plenty of warning for things. I told her as we got in the car to head up to SFO that when we got to the airport I was going to put her in the carrier until we'd gone through security, so instead of fighting me as she often does when it comes to carriers and strollers these days, she happily let me swing her around onto my back. We warned her that her monkey and shoes would have to go through the X-ray separately, and so she didn't object when Weed was tucked into Brian's bag and I placed her shoes in the plastic bin with mine. She does well with quiet play these days, even independent play, so the flights to and from Florida were uneventful. She drew with crayons, played with her doll and her monkey, looked at pictures of dogs and cats in the Sky Mall catalog, and then had some milk and slept for at least an hour. Flight attendants and other passengers stopped to tell me what a good girl she was. Once we were in Florida, she did surprisingly well with being in an apartment that was not exactly child-friendly. She had her crayons and her legos, and there was a piano to play on. For the most part she didn't show too much interest in the fragile knick-knacks that were down at her level (a couple of ceramic cats were an exception to that). 

But we also witnessed a couple of full-scale tantrums that surprised us. She was out of her normal routines and not getting quite as much freedom to run as she is accustomed to, and it was frustrating for her. We thought we knew what tantrums were a year ago, but now she's really gotten the hang of them: every now and then when she is upset or overtired or overstimulated, we witness the wrath of the two-year-old, as she hurls her body to the floor, kicks, screams, and throws things. I've found it's best to let her  blow off steam for a minute or two without interfering (although we do have to make sure there's nothing in her way that she might accidentally hurt herself on), and then she is willing to be soothed, usually by nursing, but sometimes with some other distraction. And so we faced this twice in Florida, both times in our hotel room when she was feeling cooped up and frustrated. But for the most part we were able to head off the worst of her tantrums. Several meals were eaten at shifts, so that Adriana could get outside to play. Of course, in some ways that aggravated the problems more, because it meant that she wasn't eating well. Adriana has always been a bit of a quirky eater, and eating when there are distractions is nearly impossible for her--and restaurants are full of distractions. We took food back to our room after breakfast, picked up snacks at the supermarket, and sometimes just nursed a bit more often than we normally do at home. It was good to see her eat a good meal the night we got home, gobbling up a bowl full of vegetable barley soup, rather than the diet of French bread, string cheese, grapes, and Cheerios she'd been subsisting on while we traveled. She has been such a good eater lately--eating a real breakfast in the morning, two light lunches most days (one before her nap, one after), and a decent dinner--and it was hard to watch her intake of "real food" decline throughout our trip. 

Adriana's language explosion continues. I kept a careful list of the words she said and how she pronounced them, up until she reached 100 words. Then I couldn't keep up with her and going to the computer every time there was something new, and I stopped. She combines words now into little sentences. "Mom read book," she commands me many times a day, bringing me a story to read. "Ana get ball," she exclaimed over and over at the Children's Discovery Museum earlier this month. And her spoken language lets her demonstrate the other things she is learning. She can identify colors and likes to label things--blue cars, purple balls, brown shoes. She sorts things constantly: I leave her alone to play while I shower and come back to discover that she has stacked all the red legos in one tower, the green in another, the blue in a third and is working on the yellow ones.  She sometimes builds with her alphabet blocks, but she nearly as often just divides them up by letter, as she is recognizing and naming some letters. She surprised us the first time, pointing to a capital letter A and telling us, "A, Ana," since I always say her name when we are looking at alphabet books. She also now identifies B for baby, M for mom, D for dad, and S for Sam. She tries to fit other letters and numbers into these categories: V gets matched with A; W, N, and 3 are all M to Adriana; 5 might as well be S; and O is a D, according to her. Going through the airports on our trip, she spotted the double A of the American Airlines logo and shouted, "Two! A! Ana!" with great glee. She describes her games and gives me instructions as I play with her, in a mix of spoken and signed language. During a tea party, she signs cookie and places an imaginary one on my saucer beside my cup. As I pick it up to take a bite, she tells me, "No, dip," and demonstrates dipping her cookie into her tea before tasting it (and I have no idea where she learned that). She signs panda and then says "eat pie," as she serves her toy panda a pie made of legos. She uses her made-up sign for "where?" as she speaks the word of what she's looking for. 

I am thrilled right now with the joy that Adriana takes in things. We've had a great deal of fun this past month taking her to places we thought she'd like: the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Oakland Zoo, and Butterfly World and a park with a carousel in Florida. At the aquarium she ran eagerly from tank to tank, signing fish, demanding to be picked up for a better view, and then demanding to get down so she could run to the next tank on her own. She watched with great excitement as river otters played and wrestled in the water (although she backed way nervously as their game took them close to the glass where she was standing). She gazed in awe at sharks circling before her in a room that looked into a great tank. At the zoo, she leaned away from us when she was in our arms, trying to find some way to get closer to the monkeys and lions and elephants. She talked about that trip for days afterward, telling us about the monkey that was jumping in the trees, the monkey that was sleeping, and the elephant that pooped. At Butterfly World, it was hard to get her past the initial walkway into the garden as she pointed to flowers and butterflies, exclaiming over the colors. While the carousel in Florida wasn't the first she's been on, it was the first time she seemed old enough to really enjoy the experience, and after two rides she still was begging for more: "Mo' neigh! Mo' neigh! Mo' neigh, pwee!" Everything is amazing to her and it's so much fun to get to witness her joy. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

In honor of the tenth anniversary of our first date, today I will poke fun (gently, of course) at my husband

I'm not sure if this is the lamest reason or the most awesome Brian has ever given me for requesting a ride home from work:

"If I pedal home in this rain, my hair will run."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I am *so* glad she is talking

At SFO last week, I took Adriana into the restroom with me.

"Mom pee," she observed. And when I didn't respond she repeated herself. "Mom pee! MOM PEE!"

Finally I gave in. Just as she likes us to say aloud the words she signs, she likes to have her words repeated back to her. "That's right. Mom's going to the bathroom."

"Mom pee! Yeah!" She exclaimed one more time. And then as I zipped up my jeans, she waved to the flushing toilet. "Mom! Pee! Bye-bye!"

The people waiting in line smiled at us as we emerged from the stall.