Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Phew! Just in time! I put up a bunch of posts on which I’d been working, before taking a break for the holidays, and this is the last one.

So, after the Little Prince was born, I finished this kimono. While the pattern was simple (simple enough to complete in the months when I had a newborn!), this was an exercise in frustration because of the yarn. I used Crystal Palace Mini Mochi Yarn in Jenny Lake color, which is a beautiful variegated yarn with many shades of blue. Sadly, though, it’s a single ply, and so uneven that I was literally unable to knit more than 20 stitches without having it break, even when I loosened my gauge and was as gentle as possible. So I doubled it up and used 4 skeins instead of 2, resulting in a thicker fabric. Plus, it turns out that while the bottom of the kimono is knit in one piece from side to side, everything from the armholes up is separate (right front, back, left front, sleeves), and so the variegation pattern really didn’t work out that well. But I’m sure it’ll come in handy with the cold weather over the holidays…

The shirt I’m most proud of, though, is the Little Prince’s Christmas outfit. I cut it close with this one, finishing only this week! I found the pattern on French Press Knits, via Pinterest (Ravelry link here). It’s actually a pattern from Dale of Norway, in issue #208 (Traditional Designs for Baby). I couldn’t actually find it on their website, but once I contacted them, they directed me to the right place (the link doesn’t work anymore, but you could always try your luck with customer service). I even got the recommended yarn, in barn red and white, and bought the smallest needles I’ve ever worked with, size 2 mm (US 0). So the small gauge took a while, as did the design: it was my first time working with two colors in a pattern other than stripes! I learned that the difference between Norwegian designs and Fair Isle is that in Norwegian designs, the pattern is centered on the front and may not repeat perfectly the entire way around. This wasn’t an issue for the size that I knit (12 months), because the sides of the body, where the patterns from the front and back met, were just a few stitches of white; on the sleeves, it looks like one of the patterns has been amputated (at least, it’s symmetrical!), but it’s on the underside and won’t show much, so it really isn’t an issue.

While the body came out really well, I think I pulled on the yarn a bit too much for the sleeves while knitting in the round, as the pattern was tighter than the rest. So I washed the garment and reshaped the sleeves a bit, and it doesn’t really show anymore, but I’ll be more careful next time. For the back of the neck, I used one button (from my stash) at the top; there’s a little gaping, but I don’t mind it. I didn’t have enough buttons on hand to sew in 3 or 4, and no time to go shopping for them, so I’m fine with the compromise. I also decided to make a shirt instead of a onesie, just because I don’t want to have to clean poop off of this! For the shirt in size 12 months, I used 2 skeins of red yarn, with only about 6 inches left at the end (like a boss!). I do have a third skein that I’ll use to make ornaments for next year’s tree (I’ve got the patterns already, just not the time). This is also the first time I get a real live boy to model my knitting, and it’s pretty awesome to actually see it worn! I’m including the picture where he moved his head and made it look like he’s in the witness protection program.

I also sewed a Christmas stocking for the Little Prince. What with all the sewing and knitting patterns out there, I couldn’t bring myself to buy one! I didn’t have time to knit one, and I was afraid knit fabric would stretch too much (but perhaps he would have liked that if it had made his stocking roomier!). I ended up using this pattern, from Simply Notable, but I didn’t follow the instructions. See, I didn’t want the seams to show, so I didn’t like how the pieces were supposed to be assembled… What I did was sew two stocking bodies: I sewed both with right sides together, but flipped one right side out to be the outer stocking, then slipped the other one inside it so that the wrong sides were facing and the right side were visible. Since the inside of the stocking gets a lot of use, I wanted it to look nice too! I made a loop from which to hang the stocking, which was essential to me. And to attach the trim piece, I put it inside the stocking body to sew it, so that once it was folded right-side-out, the seam was underneath the fold and invisible. I really like the result! (The fabric was from Hobby Lobby.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Baby gear - A follow-up

One of the unexpected things about being a new mother is how I have to fight my urge to plaster my Facebook profile with updates about my baby. I resist making status updates about him (I will not be one of those parents), but even the pictures I post are an issue. I have an online account on a photo-sharing website, not linked to this blog, which is primarily intended for friends and family, but even there I don’t have as much privacy as I would like. I’m considering making a password-protected account for pictures of my son. Some moms are really extreme in not posting anything, and while I agree with their reasoning, that is less convenient when none of your relatives live in the same country as you do. As it is now, I limit the pictures I post of him (especially on social networks), and my family has never posted anything – I intend to keep it that way.

The Engineer and I have found some sort of new rhythm with the Little Prince, even though obviously some days are better than others. I keep saying that there should be a scale for how rough a day was, and the unit should be the number of outfit changes required due to various bodily fluids… As in, “Oh, today was great, he’s still on his first outfit!” or “Three outfit changes and counting. I need a hug.”

We’ve even got a pretty good system going to allow me out of the house every once in a while: I’ll pump some milk and leave for a few hours to go see a movie and perhaps run a few short errands, then after I get back the Engineer will go see the same movie at a later showing, and we can talk about it later in the evening. It’s not the same as seeing a movie together, but it does allow us to see a movie in theaters, which rocks! We’ve done it for Gravity (good, not great), Thor 2 and Hunger Games 2 (both really good and similar to their respective original films).

Also, while feeding the freezer was brilliant, I should have made more cookies that were not lactation cookies. I had surprisingly low appetite the first month after birth, but then the breastfeeding really took a toll and I needed CARBS. It’s surprising how unsatisfying store-bought cookies are when you’re used to homemade, so I should have prepared more.

As for tips regarding things we bought for the baby, I figured I’d write a follow-up post to Baby gear, to let everyone know how our big-ticket items have fared for us so far.

Co-sleeping bassinette
The Arm’s Reach Mini Convertible Co-Sleeper was a wonderful buy and totally works for us. I love having the Little Prince so close when I’m in bed, too, as I can check to see whether he’s breathing just by reaching over (and first-time moms out there will confirm that checking whether the baby is breathing is something we actually do). I’m also able to feed him or soothe him when he starts fussing (without even having to get up), as opposed to fussing having snowballed into wailing by the time I get to his room! I’m glad that we went with the mini and not the full size, because even the mini version requires some maneuvering to get in and out of bed. That being said, the mattress height isn’t adjustable on this one, so we’ll need to either use it in the playpen configuration soon or transition to the crib for the night (the Little Prince is already familiar with it and takes naps there during the day). I was hoping to do this after his sleep regression, but that’s ongoing, so we might just move him to the crib full-time after the holidays and see what happens.

Note that if you have a mattress protector (which it turns out isn’t really necessary on this model, but still nice to have), I highly recommend the white sheets you can get online instead of the toffee sheet that comes with the bassinette. The reason? You’ll need to reach under the sheet to tuck in the mattress protector properly, and the Velcro on the edges of the toffee sheet is SO rough that I end up scratching myself to the blood each time.

Stroller / Car seat
We’re still very happy with our Graco 3-in-1 ClickConnect Stroller. It’s very easy to maneuver and quite sturdy, and it looks good. We’re still using it in conjunction with our car seat (the Graco SnugRide ClickConnect 40 Infant Car Seat), and I love the ease of transitioning the baby from car to stroller and vice-versa without having to actually move him from one seat to another. It’s true that the car seat is heavy, but that’s not a bug, that’s a feature (if it felt light, I’d be afraid it’d be too flimsy to be of any actual use). We never used the body cushion for newborns, because the Little Prince was too big for them right away, and we only used the head cushion for newborns a short time. I’d buy that combo again tomorrow.

Note that we just acquired a $20 umbrella stroller in anticipation of our first time on a plane with this kid…

We’ve got the Beco Gemini. This is the main area in which my preconceived ideas differed from what actually happened (like that e-card, “You are making it difficult for me to be the mother I want to be!”). For various reasons, I wasn’t able to use it right away. The Little Prince now doesn’t seem too comfortable in it: as long as I’m walking, he’s fine, but if I’m standing still, he wants out, so I don’t use it a lot. I’m not sure if it’s only because he’s not used to it, though, as this could be a vicious circle! To be fair, I think that he’s a little taller than what the carrier is designed for, judging by the pictures. Now that he’s got some neck control, though, I’ve been able to position him to be facing out instead of in, and he does enjoy that position a lot more, but even that has its limits.

I also tried a sling (this company literally gives them away if you pay for shipping) once the Little Prince had enough head control. So far, he seems uncomfortable in it, because I don’t think he enjoys being all scrunched up anymore. I’m sure that once he can sit up, though, he’ll love being carried on my hip. So I still have some work to do before endorsing a specific carrier wholeheartedly…

High chair
We haven’t used that yet; I’ll check back in once the Little Prince is both sitting up by himself and eating solid food.

Baby monitor
In hindsight, I’m glad the Engineer talked me out of the Angelcare with sensor pad, given the recall… (To be fair, the electric cord is never supposed to be in the crib in the first place, and a simple rigid cord cover can prevent the child from pulling it in, but those deaths are absolutely tragic.) The monitor that we’re using is Angelcare’s more traditional model, and it works well for us. I really like that it indicates the room’s temperature, too!

Cloth diapers
We have 24 bumGenius Elemental One-Size All-in-One diapers with snaps (which will last longer than Velcro). We use them during the day, then use disposables at night and when we go out. So 24 diapers works pretty well, though I admit there are days when I’d like a few more (since I hang them to dry instead of putting them in the dryer, it takes a while). The extra load of laundry isn’t too much of a bother so far, but the Little Prince is still breastfed, so I don’t have many stains to deal with. After about 2 months of use, I noticed a lot of leaking. I spent some time stripping the diapers with various methods, but that still didn’t solve the problem. I did some more digging and realized that our baby is what is referred to as a “heavy wetter”. So I bought some doublers for extra absorbency and I haven’t had a problem since. They’re actually so soft that the Engineer jokingly wondered whether they come in adult sizes!

On a side note: while I was stripping the cloth diapers, we were using disposables full time, and it became painfully obvious just how many blowouts we’re avoiding with cloth!

“Baby receptacle”
I’m introducing this category here because I’ve come to realize how useful it is. What I mean by “baby receptacle” is any contraption that you can move from room to room and in which you can put your baby so that he is in a close-to-reclining position. So rockers, bouncers, swings, etc., would be in this category. This is particularly helpful when you need him in the same room as you, as babies will eventually want to be part of what you are doing even when you can’t hold them. It also helps keep them somewhat upright if they have reflux problems (many newborns do, and ours was no exception). We lucked out, because my sister and brother-in-law (the Little Prince’s godparents) got us the Nuna Leaf! (I had first heard about it here, in French.) Our baby really enjoys it; we usually have it near the dining room table, and he likes being in the same room with us when we eat. I also like that it’s eco-friendly and doesn’t have any batteries or electrical cords; one good push and it can keep rocking for a few minutes. The cushion is removable and washable, too. Bonus: it looks fantastic and certainly doesn’t scream “baby furniture”, which is doubly nice because it can also be used for years as a recliner for children!

[Update, March 24th, 2014: I wanted to say a quick word on diaper pail liners. It can be hard to find one that you can wash in hot water, since they are usually made out of PUL. I did find two, however, that specifically say they can be laundered at ANY temperature: the Blueberry diaper laundry bag and the WolbyBug Doorknob Diaper Pail/Pail Liner. They both have a drawstring opening and can be used in a pail or on a doorknob. While I do wish the opening were a bit wider, I’m really liking them so far!]

Silver Dollar Pumpkin Pancakes

While continuing to work my way through my pumpkin recipes, I made two from my repertoire: pumpkin brownies (still as good as I remembered) and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. The reason I’m mentioning them is because the Engineer loved them and gave me one of his usual quotable snippets: “These cookies look like a mountainous landscape. I keep reaching for them because they look good on top of being good!” He wanted to know why I wasn’t taking any pictures, and I said that I had already blogged about them, so he insisted that I should mention them again. They’re just really good cookies!

I also tried pumpkin spice peanut butter and chocolate chip granola, but it wasn’t a big hit. Even with the salt and a slight readjustment of the spices, it was pretty bland, and took a really long time to bake. The taste was muted, and it was a bit underwhelming.

But all was not lost: I made the Pioneer Woman’s silver dollar pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, and man, those were awesome. Pillowy little numbers that are gone in a few bites… Fantastic! She served it with maple whipped cream, which would be wonderful if I had access to lactose-free cream here, but I don’t. I used plain maple syrup. I made half of the recipe below, because I didn’t have enough pumpkin purée or cake flour left, but otherwise, I would have made the full batch and put some in the freezer!

3 cups cake flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin purée
2 eggs
3 tsp. vanilla
2 ½ cups lactose-free milk
¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used a pinch of nutmeg instead, when I halved the recipe)

In a large bowl, combine cake flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Stir together and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin purée, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and milk. Slowly drizzle wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stirring gently with a spoon as you go. Once combined, if mixture needs more moisture, splash in a little more milk. Batter should be pourable.

Heat large skillet or griddle over medium-low to low heat. Smear a little bit of butter over the surface and drop tablespoon-sized amounts of batter onto the pan (more if you want larger pancakes.) Wait a minute or so, then flip to the other side. Pancakes should be light golden brown and set in the middle. Serve with maple syrup.

On infant clothing sizes

I have two pet peeves regarding infant clothing sizes. The first, I vented about on Facebook not too long ago, saying something along the lines of: “Given the increasing popularity of cloth diapers, would it be too much to ask of clothing manufacturers to adapt by making baby pants of the appropriate shape and size?” You see, cloth diapers are bulkier than disposable diapers. In the summer, this wasn’t a problem for me, because the Little Prince wore onesies in the house, and when I put pants on him to go out, he had a disposable diaper on, so the pants basically fit. But now that it’s cold, he definitely needs pants indoors, too. And there’s the problem: the only pants that fit over the cloth diapers are grotesquely long on him, and any pants that are close to the right length will never fit over a cloth diaper! I am loathe to buy several big pairs and hem them all, yet that would sometimes be better than rolling up the pants to the extent needed. As it is, I’ve basically given up on “structured” pants indoors, as the only ones that can fit over the diapers are of the sweat pant persuasion. I now look for elastic waists exclusively and buy big. I understand that 10 years ago, this was a problem only for a tiny minority of the population, but there are so many families using cloth diapers these days that I’m amazed no clothing manufacturer has stepped up to fill that niche!

To give you an example: on the picture below, the Little Prince is 3 months old. The Old Navy pants on him here are a size 6-12 months , and I couldn’t even button them because of the cloth diaper. You can just barely see his left toes peeking out from under the hem, which I’m sure you’ll agree is already rolled up quite a bit!

My second pet peeve is about the way clothing is labelled, size-wise. There is no consistency from one brand to the next, and sometimes not even within the same brand. Not to mention the discrepancies between the actual age of the child and the size on the garment label! I had been told that babies wear whatever size is twice their actual age (so a 3-month-old baby would wear 6-mo size clothing), but it isn’t even that simple.

When I started writing this post, the Little Prince was 4 months old. He no longer fit in 6-mo onesies from Babies”R”Us, but even now still has room to grow in 6-mo onesies from babyGap. The 6-9-mo Gerber onesies no longer fit, but the 6-9-mo First Impressions onesies are still too big, as are Carter’s 9-mo onesies (the matching pants barely fit width-wise with cloth diapers, but are too long). He fits in some 6-12-mo onesies, but not others (Old Navy and Leveret both seem too roomy on him, though again he barely fits in the 6-12-mo Old Navy pants even with a disposable diaper). He barely fits in a Falls Creek 3-6-mo pair of pants, which is bigger than an Amy Coe 6-mo he has outgrown. This isn’t an issue with adult sizes, because even though numbered sizes have changed over the years, they are still consistent from brand to brand at any given point (at least, that has been my experience).

Gerber tends to run small, but even then isn’t always consistent. I have two pairs of socks/booties from the same package that were labelled 0-3 months; one is now too small, but the second pair fits, loosely enough that they fall off easily. I also have two pairs of babyGap shorts labelled 6-12 months; one was outgrown over a month ago, the other still fits (over a disposable diaper, obviously), and both are smaller than the 6-12-mo onesies from the same brand (which themselves are wider than other brands).

There even seems to be little consistency between the size of the baby and the size on the label of various brands. I mean, first, kudos to the brands that do have the good sense to specify what their sizes mean! But I have a onesie from Kushies, size 6-mo, which they say is for babies between 12-16 lbs. and 21”-24”. For comparison, at Babies”R”Us, the same size corresponds to 12-17 lbs. and 24”-27” (so they expect babies to be taller for a given weight, I guess). But for Amazon, it is way smaller at 11 to 15.5 lbs. and 23.6” to 26”! That’s obviously smaller than average: the average birth weight is around 7.5 lbs., and babies usually double their birth weight at 4 months, which would mean that 15 lbs. would be in the middle of the range at 4 months, NOT the upper limit at 6 months. But at 4 months, the Little Prince was 18 lbs. and 27” (he was already 22” at birth!), so he can only wear the Kushies onesie with an extender, although interestingly enough, the sleeves still fit. This is what he is wearing in the picture below, at 4 months. Sure, he is in the upper percentiles of the growth chart, but still within normal range. Are there parents of smaller babies out there who have the opposite problem?

So far, the brand that seems to be the exception is Gymboree – I got 2 pyjamas at a yard sale that are labelled 3-6 months, and while the Little Prince started wearing them at 3 months, he still had room to grow in them. Admittedly, pyjamas tend to be roomier than onesies, and the sleeves and pant legs seem a little short on him these days, but I have no problem buttoning anything and the fabric isn’t pulling anywhere.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, how about more consistency? Why don’t brands size their baby clothing with the same criteria in mind? And why don’t they start making pants for cloth diapers? Heck, cloth diapers companies would make a fortune if they made pants, too!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Singles

I made this recipe on a whim, when something else I meant to make fell through because I didn’t have enough eggs. I did have bananas in the freezer, though, so this was perfect! I got the recipe from Fitness Magazine, via Pinterest. It reminded me a bit of these wholesome banana chocolate breakfast bars, except that I preferred the singles. I changed the recipe and used 2 eggs instead of 1 egg and 2 egg whites, since I really didn’t have enough eggs, but my way is easier. There isn’t much sugar in these, so they’re great for breakfast! They’re not quite muffins, even though they’re baked in a muffin tin, so oatmeal cups or oatmeal singles is an accurate name for them.

3 cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 ¼ cup lactose-free milk
¾ cup mashed bananas (about 2 bananas)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Lightly mist 18 cups in a muffin tin with cooking spray (note that I only needed 15).

Combine the oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and stir until thoroughly mixed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, mashed banana, milk and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until blended together. Mix in chocolate chips.

Spoon the oatmeal mixture evenly between the prepared muffin cups. Bake uncovered for 18 to 22 minutes or until oatmeal is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Once cool, use a fork to gingerly unmold.

Product reviews - Daiya, Vosges and Garden Lites

So I finally got to try Daiya’s pizzas. It’s a relatively new product, but it had been in the pipeline for a while, and I was really looking forward to it. I tried the fire-roasted vegetable and cheese-lover varieties. They are made in a “dedicated gluten-free, peanut-free and tree nut-free (except coconut oil) facility”, and the cheese is vegan. First, I really like that the fire-roasted vegetables pizza actually had a lot of veggies on it, because many times one is disappointed when comparing the image on the box with the contents of the box. That pizza was good, but the problem was the baking directions: they call for baking the pizza for 20 to 25 minutes at a screaming-hot 500 °F. As you can see by the result, that is definitely too much, especially for a thin pizza like that.

So when I tried the second one, I looked online and realized that, while the Daiya website doesn’t address this, many commenters said they baked theirs at lower temperatures or for less time. So I baked the second one at 450 °F for 20 minutes, but the problem there was that the dough was still raw in the middle, even though the edges were beginning to burn.

As I was looking at the box just now while typing this, I noticed that the cooking instructions are on a sticker, so I peeled it back and saw that the original instructions were to bake it directly on the oven rack for 13 to 17 minutes, again at 500 °F. I can see why that would be a mistake, because the dough goes through an incredibly soft stage during baking, so it does need the support of a baking sheet or pizza stone.

While I haven’t found the right way to bake them, I have to say that the toppings are really good. I like Daiya cheese to begin with, and it’s great to have it on a pizza. I think that if I had accurate baking times, I’d definitely buy this again (as it is now, I hesitate, because it’s significantly more expensive than regular thin-crust frozen pizzas, so the trial-and-error method for baking times would be expensive). American Flatbread’s Vegan Harvest pizzas are fool-proof, though there’s only one flavor.

I also tried Vosges’s Crispy Carrot Bar, made with milk chocolate. In one word: Wow! This actually works. The carrots are cooked in orange juice, then crisped in the oven, and those two flavors go well together. I can actually taste the carrots, which remind me of the carrot chips at Whole Foods. I’ll admit that I would prefer darker chocolate, and it eventually gets on my nerves that hard pieces of the carrot stay stuck in my molars after the chocolate has melted, but again, the flavors in this chocolate bar totally work.

I also tried Garden Lites’ muffins. I had enjoyed their soufflés, and now their muffins are finally available in my area (at Target once again!). As a reminder, Garden Lites makes frozen products heavy on the vegetables, gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free (though they contain eggs and therefore are not vegan). The muffins are pretty small, so I would say that a serving is two muffins, not one. They defrost quickly and consistently in the microwave, though, a definite plus. The banana chocolate chip muffins were really good. I could see little flecks of green in the crumb, but not many, so I’m surprised they’re still the first ingredient! In the chocolate muffins, zucchini and carrots are the first ingredients, but the chocolate hides them well. The chocolate flavor was actually pretty deep, and not too sweet at all. The crumb was moist and spongy; I wouldn’t have known they were gluten-free if I hadn’t read it on the box, but I’m not going to say that I was surprised at the pleasant texture of a gluten-free product because it’s happened so often that I’m no longer surprised. Plus, they are chock-full of iron, and both kinds pack 5 g of fiber per 56-g muffin! I really like them and might pick them up on a more regular basis (we do find ourselves going to Target more often now that we have a wee family member).

Lactation Cookies

If you’re well informed, you’ll know that all mammals produce lactose in their milk (well, except for pinnipeds, but you’re not going to find that milk on store shelves anytime soon, so for all intents and purposes, mammals make lactose). According to most sources, though, humans on average make more lactose than any other mammal. So I find it somewhat ironic that I, Lactose-Free Girl with a lactose-free diet, am currently producing more lactose than any other species!

I’ll begin by just coming out and saying it: the first few weeks after birth, breastfeeding is gorram hard. I knew it would be hard, because every book I read said so, every website and blogger said so, and every mother I spoke to said so. It started off hard, and I thought, “Okay, that is what I was expecting. I’ve got this.” Then it got harder, and I decided to go see a lactation consultant about it to get some help. And literally overnight, it got so incredibly hard that I had a little emotional breakdown. I was lucky enough to see a lactation consultant that day, and after the use of a breast pump, nipple shields, and another consultation, plus tons of practice (for both me and the Little Prince, I might add), I am now at the point where breastfeeding is pretty easy. My advice to any expectant mothers who plan on breastfeeding would be to find out what your local resources are (lactation centers, La Leche League, etc.) and to make an appointment for one week after giving birth – have your partner call the lactation consultant along with family members to announce the birth, or if you live in an area where it takes longer to get an appointment, make it for about a week after your due date and keep the consultant posted. [End of PSA.]

As far as lactation supplements are concerned, I wanted to share my experience in case it helps anyone else. I pre-emptively took supplements the day after the Little Prince was born: since I have trouble swallowing pills, I went with a tincture of fenugreek and blessed thistle, taken three times a day. It tastes vile, but for me, it helped (which I know because when I stopped for a few days, my milk production went down, and then increased again once I resumed taking the supplement). You don’t need to take it the entire time you breastfeed, though; after one or two bottles, you’re pretty much good to go.

There are also foods that are thought to boost milk production: brewers’ yeast, flaxseed, and oatmeal (see here for more information on the subject). Again, I’m not saying that it will work for every woman, but for me, it really made a difference, to the point where I had too much milk and had to dose things carefully. For example, oatmeal granola sprinkled with flaxseed meal and brewers’ yeast worked TOO well after roughly 36 hours (with one bowl per breakfast). But there are gentler ways to add those ingredients to your diet. Like cookies.

The recipe I used is adapted from Peaceful Parenting (although I’ve also seen some here and here that are more like traditional chocolate chip cookies, plus a gluten-free option here, to name only those). What all these cookies have in common are the three ingredients mentioned above (and, often, nut butter); they can easily be made vegan, if you wish. I still have some in the freezer, and they come in handy for when I know I’ll be pumping and want to increase my supply ahead of time. I’ll probably use them when I start weaning, too, to keep up my supply even with fewer feedings. Note that while these ingredients increase lactation, they would not INDUCE it, so these cookies are perfectly safe as a treat for non-lactating women, men and children. The Engineer enjoyed a few on occasion, but I have a tendency to hoard them for myself. They are actually quite good, and I think I’d just make them without the brewers’ yeast if I weren’t breastfeeding. If I remember correctly, this recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour, I think)
1 ¾ cups rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¾ cup almond butter or peanut butter I used Skippy’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter)
½ cup butter, softened (I used cold margarine)
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup milled flax (i.e. ground flaxseed)
3 Tbsp. brewers’ yeast
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups (12 oz.) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat nut butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, flax, brewers’ yeast, water and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, beating after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture, then add chocolate chips (you may need to finish beating by hand).

Roll dough into small balls, about 1 heaping tablespoon per cookie, and place 12 on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten with a fork, if desired, and bake 12 minutes. (If you freeze the balls of dough, just add 2 minutes to the baking for the frozen dough.)

Liens de la semaine

- Saviez-vous qu’on cultive maintenant du safran au Québec? La nouvelle entreprise, Pur Safran, est située à Saint-Élie-de-Caxton, petit village devenu mythique dans mon esprit...

- Un site intéressant sur le métier de câlleur, mettant en vedette Jean-François Berthiaume, du groupe Galant, tu perds ton temps.

- 5 opinions mal informées au sujet des vaccins, parce que malheureusement c’est encore d’actualité…

- Et un petit retour sur le projet de Charte des valeurs au Québec, parce qu’on en parle encore beaucoup… Il est entendu que certaines valeurs ne sont pas compatibles avec les sociétés occidentales. Je pense par exemple à l’enlèvement, au viol et au mariage forcé des petites filles en Éthiopie, ou même à certaines valeurs d’origine religieuses comme celles dénoncées par Ayaan Hirsi Ali (une femme que je respecte beaucoup). Mais là, vu le tollé d’indignation soulevé par la photo de deux femmes portant le niqab pour promener des enfants de garderie (soit dit en passant, je connais la mère d’un des enfants dans cette photo, et je partage leur point de vue), je me retrouve dans l’étrange position de devoir défendre l’intolérance parce que je suis absolument contre la Charte. Cet article de Michèle Ouimet résume le mieux ma pensée. J’ai beau être pour la laïcité de l’État et du gouvernement, je suis aussi pour la liberté de croyances, alors le projet de Charte tel que formulé actuellement m’horripile au plus haut point, tout comme la réaction de certains Québécois vivant surtout hors des métropoles. Comme Maria Mourani, qui n’est plus indépendantiste à cause du projet. C’est de leur réaction dont on parle le plus, et il faudrait une présence médiatique tout aussi assommante de la part des gens qui sont contre le projet!

Tant qu’à parler de chartes, pourquoi ne pas publiciser davantage la Charte québécoise pour une image corporelle saine et diversifiée? Pourquoi ne pas reconnaître, tant qu’à y être, que la diversité culturelle est tout aussi acceptable que la diversité physique?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Coconut Strawberry Muffins

This recipe, found on The Kitchn, was originally called “strawberry cupcakes”, but I really think they’re more of a muffin. This means that I wouldn’t normally frost them; I did so here in an effort to emulate the original recipe, though I used Rice Whip to keep things lactose-free. These muffins, then, use coconut flour, so they are gluten-free (and have the advantage of letting you bake something gluten-free with only one kind of flour, always a plus, though the arrowroot powder might still count). The top of the muffins got a little oily, yet they were still somewhat dry, which is a characteristic of the coconut flour – it absorbs a heck of a lot of moisture. They only faintly taste of coconut, and if your strawberries are in season, those will definitely be the dominant taste.

½ cup coconut flour
1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
¼ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
½ cup agave nectar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
½ cup finely chopped fresh strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease 8 muffin cups (the original recipe called for paper liners, but I found that they stuck to the muffins way too much, hence the greasing I recommend instead).

In a large bowl, combine the coconut flour, arrowroot powder, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Blend the wet ingredients into the coconut flour mixture with a handheld mixer until thoroughly combined, then fold in the strawberries.

Scoop ¼ cup of batter into each prepared muffin cup. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 1 hour, then serve (with a light frosting if desired).

Chickpea Salad with Red Onion, Sumac and Lemon Juice

This chickpea salad recipe from The Kitchn was wonderful! I’m enjoying the tartness of sumac (especially since eating this), and it goes really well with pomegranate molasses. In order to make sure the red onion wouldn’t be too sharp, I shaved it thinly using a vegetable peeler (a tip I picked up on Pinterest). The original recipe called for cooking chickpeas, but I don’t really have time for that these days, so I used canned chickpeas instead. Made that way, it’s a really quick meal, and it only gets better in the fridge. I didn’t use mint this time because I really didn’t have much of it in the garden, but it would be a great addition.

3 cups dry chickpeas, cooked (or 4 15-oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
1 large red onion
1 Tbsp. sumac
1 tsp. chili powder (I used some Korean pepper, you know me)
1 tsp. salt
1 bunch Italian parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 large lemon, juiced (about 3 Tbsp.)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. pomegranate syrup
salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 to 6 sprigs fresh mint

Peel and quarter the onion. Shave it as thin as possible into a large bowl, using a very sharp knife, a vegetable peeler or a mandoline. Stir in the sumac, chili powder, and salt. Use your hands to massage the spices and salt into the onions for several minutes. Drain off any liquid that develops in the bottom of the bowl.

Add the chickpeas and chopped parsley to the onions and use your hands or two forks to toss everything thoroughly. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and pomegranate syrup and toss with the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue tossing until the onions are fully incorporated and no longer in small clumps. Refrigerate until serving (this salad gets better overnight).

Just before serving, finely chop the mint leaves and sprinkle over the salad.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Penne with Italian Sausage and Tomato

I’ve been meaning to blog this recipe for a while, and I didn’t get around to it because… I lost it. I know I have this recipe, I MADE IT for the freezer and had made it multiple times before, but I just couldn’t find it last week. And apparently it’s not even on my own blog! So I emailed my mother (because I got the recipe from her) and she sent me a copy. I believe it’s from an Anne Lindsay cookbook. I like using mild Italian sausage, but you can definitely use something spicier if you want. I made this latest version with pasta that contains vegetables (I think it was squash), because I figured I shouldn’t turn down extra veggies when I can sneak them in. The dish is easy to make, and it’s pretty good on a weeknight, though the sausages benefit from being cooked slowly. The Engineer and I both really liked it! This makes about 4-6 servings.

1 lb. Italian sausage (I use mild)
1 lb. penne (or short pasta)
vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz. can tomatoes (undrained), coarsely chopped (I used a can of diced tomatoes)
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ cup chopped fresh parsley (this wasn’t in my previous version of the recipe)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. parmesan (optional, and again it wasn’t in my previous version of the recipe)

In an oiled skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink in the middle, about 15-20 minutes. Drain well, cut into thin slices.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until tender but firm; drain and return to pot.

In an oiled nonstick pan, cook onion over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, basil and oregano; simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add cooked sausage. Pour over pasta and toss to mix. Sprinkle with parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and parmesan (if using); toss again and serve.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Batch of links

- I’ve always said that organic foods are not more nutritious than their “regular” counterparts. It looks like I was wrong: organic milk really is better.

- Why Weight?, an article with some very good reasons to use a kitchen scale. Plus a post on The Kitchn on how to train oneself to use a scale when cooking. Personally, while I see how useful a scale is, I often end up measuring things by volume because that’s how North American recipes are written out, which is probably more of a habit than anything else. That being said, I tend to weigh flour when I get to the end of the bag and can’t conveniently use my fluff-scoop-level method, even with a recipe written in volume…

- Have you heard about WikiPearls? There’s an article here and a detailed website here. It’s basically a sphere of food, like ice cream or yogurt, surrounded by a flavored shell or skin so as to make it portable. I could really go for the mango sorbet in coconut shell!

- I talked about Zero8 recently, in French, but now I can do so in English. The restaurant had to close last month, due to their rent being too high, but the owners have now undertaken what might be the largest crowd funding project in Quebec: trying to raise $250,000 to reopen, and possibly open second and third locations in the province. The Engineer and I have made a donation (about 80% of which will be returned as gift certificates; if the project fails, we get all our money back). I don’t know of any other restaurant that takes allergens and food restrictions so seriously, so I believe it is important to encourage them and I hope you’ll join in.

- On a related note, did you know there’s an app that can find gluten-free fare based on your location? It’s called Find Me Gluten-Free, and it’s free!

- Also, I wrote before about a food allergen detector, though I haven’t heard any recent development from that particular device. I did, however, read about another one: a Toronto-based company is in the process of making TellSpec. This device has a scanner and you read the results on your smartphone. It works by analyzing the contents of what it’s pointed at, so if you point it toward food, it should be able to tell you what allergens are in it. It has more holistic goals, too, so it could also tell you about environmental contaminants, for example. It should be on the market in August 2014, at a price-point between $350 and $400, though the price should gradually diminish over the coming years. Let’s hope it works!

- Broccoli’s Extreme Makeover, about a (sadly, fictional) campaign to popularize broccoli. I honestly think that, coupled with a few good recipes, this would work!

- Here’s a link to a very long article (fair warning) titled How junk food can end obesity. My friend Jen shared it, and she was right when she said it was really interesting!

- I heard about a new-to-me grocery store, Aldi, about which I’m curious. I even learned more about Trader Joe’s!

- An article about famed cookbook author Paula Wolfert, who is coping with the early stages of cognitive impairment by cooking.

- Nigel Slater’s 5 rules for the home cook, with which I agree.

- An interesting NYTimes article about the allergy epidemic. It examines the link between the environment (including the mother’s environment during pregnancy) and allergies in the population. It seems that early exposure to certain microbes actually decrease the subsequent risk of allergies to those same microbes.

- It also seems that microbes can affect our emotional state. Can you imagine if modifying one’s microbiome somehow helped treat depression?

- You know how the American Humane Association gives its seal of approval to movies, certifying that no animals were harmed? It’s apparently meaningless.

- His Day Is Done, Dr. Maya Angelou’s tribute poem to Nelson Mandela, was good to hear.

- Interactive billboards tell you where the airplane overhead is going. EVERY airport should install these!

- And on a festive note: WestJet wins Christmas, plus a 10-month-old’s Christmas wish list.

Batch of links - Chemicals

I had a recent talk with the Engineer about chemicals in our immediate environment. [On a side note, I think that “chemical” might have become a word with a new meaning, the way “organic” has. Organic used to refer to carbon-based life forms and materials, but now it refers to the absence of certain pesticides for produce and the absence of growth hormones and antibiotics, as well as more ethical treatment, for animals. I think that chemicals are now thought of as potentially harmful/toxic man-made substances, as opposed to simply naturally occurring molecular structures that make up every thing you can think of.] So I decided to do a little round-up of some links I have on the subject…

- First, The story of cosmetics. I’ve been sitting on this for a while; it’s really interesting.

- There’s also Unacceptable Levels, “a film about chemicals in our body… and how they got there.”

- Many of the products that want to raise awareness about breast cancer (for example) actually contain carcinogens. I’m not sure if the CEOs are oblivious or hypocritical, but I don’t understand how this can just continue for years on end without major companies putting their money where their mouth is!

- I would love to see a well-constructed scientific study on the effect of GMOs (at least, the ones doused in pesticides). Seralini’s controversial study was retracted, not because it wasn’t valid, but because it had too many flaws to be conclusive. So we still don’t know one way or another, and I find that bothersome.

- I’ve linked to this before, but some pesticides have been linked to endometriosis.

- And just recently, GMOs have been proposed as a trigger for gluten sensitivity – or at least, they are aggravating it. According to this study, it would be certain crops modified to be pesticide-resistant that are problematic: the pesticides work by puncturing insect cells and killing them, but it might be doing the same to cells in the human intestine, increasing their permeability to gluten and making some people more sensitive than they would be otherwise. The actual article, a literature review, is here. It even suggests that our gut bacteria may have integrated a piece of GM DNA and are manufacturing its own pesticides! As with Seralini’s study, more data would be needed to conclude with absolute certainty, but it’s the first time I see some evidence in this regard. It even suggests that GMOs can increase the prevalence of food allergies…

Batch of links - Tourism

I realized I had a lot of links pertaining to specific cities, so here’s a tourism interlude!

- A food lover’s guide to Austin, with farmers’ markets, grocery stores, specialty shops, etc.

- The ultimate guide to food trucks in San Antonio – I’ve got to start trying some of those!

- Also, 52 things every San Antonian must do. I’ll refer to this when we start our monthly outings again…

- A series of sponsored posts about Montreal food I stumbled upon on the Bon Appétit website: the many faces of Montreal; Montreal, a city for eating; shopping in the markets; the French roots of Montreal cuisine; and vegetarian cuisine. More to see on Tourisme Montréal. This made me both homesick and hungry.

- Montreal: A Timelapse Discovery. This isn’t actually about food, but it’s fantastic.

- MMMM! Montreal, a food travel article that was published in a local magazine. I was just flipping through the pages, minding my own business, when I saw an image that I recognized immediately as being in Quebec – it is the first one at the link, taken at Montreal’s Jean Talon Market.

- In parallel, Travel Tex has been putting tourism ads in French-language magazines. It turns out that they have information in 8 languages on their tourism website, including French, which is awesome. They’re still using stereotypes and showcasing their shopping in the Coup de Pouce I read, even though women have interests other than shopping, but I appreciate the effort.

- Finally, I got an unsolicited email through this blog that, for once, turned out to be interesting. Sandals and Beaches Resorts now take into consideration guests’ food restrictions and create safe menus. Watch this video to find out more. I’m not saying I would base a vacation on this because of lactose intolerance, but I can totally understand how someone with life-threatening allergies or celiac disease might! In any event, I think this is really good news.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Turkey and Mushroom Risotto

One of the reasons I wanted to make a turkey on Thanksgiving this year instead of just turkey breasts is that I wanted leftovers so I could try this turkey and mushroom risotto from Bon Appétit. I didn’t have turkey stock, so I used vegetarian “chickn” broth instead, and I found that 6 cups gave me the right consistency (though leftovers could have used more broth). This was absolutely delicious! Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with risotto, especially if it’s got parmesan.

6-8 cups turkey stock
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter or margarine, divided
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups assorted fresh mushrooms (preferably wild, but white buttons will do), thinly sliced
2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
1 cup shredded leftover turkey meat (optional, but that’s kind of the point)
½ cup shredded parmesan
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

Bring stock to a simmer in a medium pot over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt 3 Tbsp. butter in a large pot over medium heat until it begins to foam. Add onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent and just beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes.

Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, and any liquid released has evaporated, 5-7 minutes.

Add rice; stir to coat. Add ½ cup warm stock and stir constantly until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock by ½-cupfuls, stirring constantly, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Add leftover turkey meat, if using; stir to combine and to warm through, adding a little stock or water if necessary to keep mixture creamy, about 3 minutes.

Stir parmesan and remaining 1 Tbsp. butter into risotto. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among warm bowls. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Latkes for Thanksgivukkah

Since the Engineer, the Little Prince and I had Thanksgiving dinner with friends, we decided to contribute a little something special: latkes. It was the first time since the 1800s that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincided, and apparently it won’t happen again for another 70,000 years, so latkes seemed like the only appropriate way to celebrate. This time, I went with this recipe, found via ”A few keys to transcendent latkes” on The Kitchn. Spoiler alert: the keys are the correct ratio of potato to onion to binder, the correct oil temperature, and salting the latkes immediately after frying them. (I think after this, I only have three recipes left to try. Then there should be a showdown at some point…) I really liked these latkes, but I think I’ve been spoiled by my duck fat latkes and should probably use that exclusively to fry latkes from now on. The recipe below makes about 40 latkes.

10 russet potatoes
4 yellow onions, peeled and halved
4 eggs
½ cup matzoh meal (roughly)
canola oil
kosher salt
lactose-free sour cream, apple sauce or sugar, for serving

Preheat the oven to 250 °F.

Peel the potatoes and plunge them in a large bowl with cold water. Either cut them into large chunks, and then shred them and the onions in a food processor, OR keep the potatoes and onions whole and grate them on the large holes of a box grater. Personally, I use the food processor.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly and set aside. Transfer a few handfuls of shredded potatoes and onions to a double-thickness of paper towels, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can muster. Place in the bowl with the eggs and repeat with remaining potatoes and onions. You'll use quite a few paper towels, so be prepared. (I have a dish towel that is now my latke dish towel, and I find it SO much more efficient than paper towels, and easier to handle, too!)

Stir in the matzoh meal and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork, making sure to distribute the eggs thoroughly.

Heat a few glugs of oil in a large heavy skillet (you'll use about ¼ cup oil at first, but you'll keep adding more) over medium-high heat. I like using two skillets at the same time, to speed things up. To see if the oil is ready, put in a pinch of potato mixture; if it sizzles and turns golden in about 10 seconds, the oil is ready. Use an ice cream scoop or ¼-cup measure to form the latkes; drop in the oil and flatten gingerly with a spatula. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. As you proceed, the pan will get hotter and the oil will need to be replenished. Adjust the heat and add new oil as necessary. Carefully remove any burnt particles.

When latkes are done, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle immediately with salt. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and keep hot in the oven. Repeat until you've cooked all the latkes.
Serve hot, with lactose-free sour cream, apple sauce or sugar (a Hungarian tradition passed down on the Engineer’s paternal side). I like ending things with sour cream AND sugar on a single latke, but confess that as a side, I eat them plain, with sour cream if it’s lactose-free, or with apple sauce.

Thanksgiving dinner

This year, we were invited for Thanksgiving dinner by one of the Engineer’s colleagues and his family. We had also had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with them in 2011, so we accepted gratefully. Since it was also Hanukkah, we brought latkes, and the Engineer also made his gingerbread. That being said, I still have a stockpile of Thanksgiving recipes I want to try, so we decided to have Thanksgiving at our house on Wednesday so that I could make a dent in my stash! This year’s spread was pretty close to the 2011 Real Simple menu: no-knead onion rolls, cider-glazed turkey, gravy, sausage and apple stuffing, brown sugar-glazed carrots with rosemary and pecans, and sweet potato pie, plus fluffy baked mashed potatoes from last September’s issue. And then I made turkey mushroom risotto with the leftovers. I’ll just give links to the recipes here, because otherwise it’d be too clunky of a post.

I made the onion rolls with white flour (not white whole wheat), and I have to admit that they were better than most breads I’ve made. I made these on Tuesday, because there’s no way I could have made the whole meal in one day with the Little Prince in the house! The Engineer took care of him while I cooked. (Plus, I needed the baking dish again for the stuffing.) The onion rolls weren’t as hard as I had made them out to be in my head. Somehow, bread never is, especially with a stand mixer! They were delicious, too, though there were too many for us to eat. I used real butter here and I was fine. I’d definitely make these again for a crowd!

For the cider-glazed turkey, the Engineer managed to find a relatively small bird, just under 9 lbs., so it didn’t take too long to bake. I actually took it out of the oven before it was completely glazed – the cider only goes on during the last 30 minutes or so. I actually read this year something that I didn’t know about roasting a turkey (or maybe I once knew it and had forgotten): basting the turkey while it’s in the oven does not keep it moist; it only helps the skin crisp up. The quality of the meat has more to do with how juicy it’ll be, and basting the turkey after it has come out of the oven and is resting achieves no purpose other than making the skin soggy, basically the opposite of what we want. I really enjoyed this turkey, which had simple flavors and was pretty easy to make, too. Note that I used margarine instead of butter. I’m now considering making turkey more often; I’m used to seeing it only for certain holidays or gatherings, but it’s a really inexpensive way to get lean protein for the week!

For the gravy, I didn’t actually follow a recipe. I almost didn’t make any, because I’d never made it before. But I wanted a little something to moisten the meat, especially since I opted not to make cranberry sauce this year (the Engineer had decided that he didn’t want any, and I didn’t want to eat all of it by myself). So I remembered watching my friend Rob make gravy: you start by making a roux, then you pour the pan juices through a sieve and into your saucepan while whisking. I didn’t get the proportions right, as I had too much roux, so I thinned it out a bit with water (though broth would have been better). It was delicious, though, easy to make, and a great accompaniment! What a great way to use up pan juices, too. I don’t have a gravy boat, so I made do with a little pitcher that I normally use for maple syrup.

Now on to the stuffing. The Engineer said that it’s his favorite part of holiday meals, and he enjoys it even more than the turkey! I’ll keep that in mind for future years. So I made the recipe from Real Simple instead of the Epicurious one I had in my bookmarks, because both had the apples and sausage that appealed to me, but I didn’t feel like parsnip that week. I find it interesting that the former had 6 times as much broth as the latter, though! The recipe I used called for baguette, but the other recipe called for sourdough, and I think that would be good too (and in any case, a good alternative if you can’t get your hands on good baguette, which is sometimes the case here). I really liked this stuffing, though I think I’d cut the pieces of bread even smaller next time. I used mild Italian sausage, but you could adjust that depending on what your favorite sausage is. I’m suddenly thinking this would be great with Whole Foods’ chicken apple sausage…

As for the side dishes, I halved the brown sugar-glazed carrots recipe. I also minced the rosemary leaves into the dish instead of leaving the sprig whole, which meant that I didn’t remove the rosemary at the end. While I enjoyed the dish, I would consider making it without the nuts next time… I also made these fluffy baked mashed potatoes. They appealed to me originally because they contain cream cheese, which is delicious, and because they are mixed with beaten eggs before being baked, so I was attracted by the novelty of the whole thing. In the end, though, I made a lactose-free version by using Greek yogurt instead of the cream cheese. It still had some of the tang that I would have lost with a soy substitute, but it wasn’t as pronounced as the taste of cream cheese. I have to say, though, that the recipe calls for much more butter/margarine and milk than I usually put in mashed potatoes, but the texture (before adding eggs) was wonderful! It’s giving me ideas for next time I make something like this. Anyway, I didn’t quite get the top browned enough because I baked it with the stuffing while the turkey was resting, and it was either burn the stuffing or not broil the mashed potatoes, and I made a judgment call.

And finally, dessert: sweet potato pie, a classic. I had actually been putting off that recipe for a while, because it calls for sweetened condensed milk, which is full of lactose and I didn’t have an equivalent. But I realized that I had two substitutes bookmarked: one from, where you just mix a bunch of ingredients that don’t really have anything to do with milk, and one from, in which you mix a non-dairy milk with sugar and let it reduce. Since I at least recognized the process in the second recipe, that’s the one I used. I made it with rice milk, and essentially, I made a slightly less thick version of brown rice syrup, which is perfectly logical. Note that a 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk is measured by weight, not by volume, so you don’t have to adjust the quantities (you’re looking for 300 mL, or just over a cup of fluid). For this pie, I also didn’t use real sweet potatoes, preferring 2 15-oz. cans of sweet potato purée. This actually made too much filling for the pie, I suspect; I used my deep pie dish, but it took forever to bake and never quite set properly in the oven (I gave up after a full 85 minutes!). That being said, it was fine once it cooled! I should have baked it a little less, then, and I’ll use less sweet potato purée next time. I also didn’t have lactose-free cream, so I served it with Rice Whip and topped it with (non-candied) nuts. While I like the whipped topping, I’d omit the nuts entirely next time. The recipe itself is one I’m keeping!