Saturday, July 16, 2011

Our Greatest Blessing & Deepest Joy

I woke up Sunday feeling absolutely wonderful and full of energy. A feeling that had become familiar to me in my last two months of pregnancy. I danced. I cleaned; did laundry. I prepped food for the BBQ Daph and I were planning later that night. The day before, Saturday, I had a pressing feeling something was in store for me on Monday, 7-11-11, so I rushed to prepare the house, myself and get things in order for what might come. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but...

We ate late and shortly thereafter something told me I should shower quickly if I was expecting to get one. I did. Approximately one minute, literally 60 seconds after stepping out of the shower, my water broke. I shrieked and started to hyperventilate. I didn't expect it to happen so suddenly. I immediately called an ambulance because I was concerned I may need a c-setion quickly even after being assured I shouldn't.

Everyone I encountered in the first hour, from the EMT to the the nurse who signed me in to the E.R.said I may have jumped the gun and could have waited until I, 1. had contractions, and 2. they were closer together. By then I only had 1 or 2 fifteen minutes apart. I felt naive and foolish for over-reacting. When the fetal heart monitor was placed around my belly 5 minutes after intake, a nurse came in and then stepped out after saying 'your baby wants attention'.

A doctor followed her to review the baby's heart rate. While she was asking me questions I noticed her countenance change to one of concern. She excused herself. Several nurses appeared in the room at once all poking and prodding some part of me and hooking me up to different machines, followed by two doctors who were telling me they were going to do everything they could to keep my baby safe, and then an anesthesiologist who wanted a brief medical history, explained what was about to happen, and obtain my signature of consent.

I was rushed into the operating room for an emergency c-section to remove my little cub whose heart beat was dropping during contractions. I lay on my side and watched the baby's heart rate drop to below 100 during contractions while they struggled for 20 minutes to get the epidural in. 'You're doing a great job, Mommy', they said. I prayed. At 4: 05 on the morning of 7-11-11, my little cub, Barrett Leo Alemy, was born just over two weeks early weighing 6 lbs. 1 oz. at birth. He is perfection!

We are blessed to be able to hold and hug and give kisses and caress that ever-so-soft skin and experience this most precious, brilliant little miracle of ours. It's the greatest gift in the world being able to say I'm his Mom. And I only hope that one day he feels as proud of the job I did for him as I am of the one he has to make his way into the world healthy & strong, and into hearts of his Mommy and Daddy.

We're just mad about about him!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Our New Favorite & Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

When I was a little girl, my grandmother brought me to the home of a family friend named Richard who lived in Canton, Ma. He had the most beautiful garden. I remember being fascinated as he walked us through his backyard to share with us all the strange and wonderful things he was growing. One of which, rhubarb, immediately caught my eye--it was so interesting and new to me. Years later I threatened to bake a pie using the vegetable I remember seeing in my childhood, but just never got around to it. Would I even like rhubarb(?)

When I learned Daph, who is French, never had pie before, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use it. That way we'd both be trying something new. Upon peeling and cutting the vegetable I decided immediately I'd hate it because the smell wasn't very appealing.

Hours later the pie was baked and ready to be cut into and served with the vanilla ice cream I made...Well, how do you describe love at first bite? The perfect marriage of sweet and tart. The quintessential taste of summer. The essence of home baked goodness. I could on, but this pie speaks for itself. I've made Triple Berry and Peach and Green Apple and Sweet Potato, but Strawberry Rhubarb pie stands alone as the best and favorite among everyone in my home. Maybe it will come to be in yours too.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Recipes Courtesy and Adapted from Simply Recipes and What's Cooking America


2 & 1/2 cups red rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces (Trim outside stringy layer of large rhubarb stalks; make sure to trim away any and discard of the leaves which are poisonous; trim ends.)
3 & 1/2 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
(The ratio of strawberry and rhubarb is pretty flexiable. 6 cups total was my goal)
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons of quick cooking tapioca (I used corn starch and it worked out great)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*Unbaked pastry for two-crust 10 inch pie (See below)

Method: (Start with pie crust then return to begin filling)

1. Set oven to 400 degrees F to Preheat. In large bowl, add strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, tapioca or corn starch and lemon juice. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

2. Add filling mixture to pie crust lined pan. Add top crust and either fold edges underneath and pinch dough around or trim edges and crimp upper and bottom crust together. Make slits over top crust to allow steam to escape while baking.

3. Place pie in 400 degree preheated oven and allow to bake for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake pie for another 30-40 minutes, or 40-50 if baking 10-inch pie. Place on cooling rack to cool. If serving warm pie, juices will definitely run, but pie will still be delicious!

Shortening-Butter Crust:

2 1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour, plus extra for rolling
2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup Plus 1 teaspoon chilled vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water


Rolling Pin
Wax Paper

To Sprinkle over bottom of crust before adding fruit:

Mix together 1 tablespoon each, flour and granulated sugar. This will help prevent pie filling juices from soaking through bottom of crust.

*Serve pie with softly whipped cream or Vanilla Ice Cream.

To Make Crust:

In standard sized food processor, or large bowl, process, or mix with hand mixer, flour, salt and sugar until combined. Add in shortening and process or mix until mixture resembles coarse sand, approximately 10 seconds. Add pieces of butter over flour mixture and process in 1 second pulses, or mix, turning hand mixer on then off, until pieces of butter are no bigger than small peas. Add 6 tablespoons ice water to mixture and, using a rubber spatula or hand mixer on low, fold in, or mix until just combined. Pinch dough with fingertips to be sure it sticks together, If not, add an additional 2 tablespoons ice water. Do not process or mix more than 30 seconds.
Turn dough onto work surface and gather into ball. Divide dough in half and flatten each into a round disk-like shape. Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

After an hour, remove one round of dough from refrigerator. Measure out and lightly flour two equal pieces of wax paper. Place dough, in center, between two pieces of wax paper, begin to flatten round of dough with rolling pin. Give wax paper square a quarter turn after each roll. Roll dough two inches larger than inverted pie plate. (Place pie plate, upside down, over dough to make sure it's big enough.) Carefully remove only top layer of wax paper. Turn remaining wax paper holding dough, so that the dough is facing down, into pie pan. Make sure dough is even in pan. Carefully remove second piece of wax paper, which should be bottom side up. Brush off excess flour. Roll hanging dough under itself to crimp or cut off excess. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Reserve both pieces of wax paper and repeat process of rolling with second dough round, only this time, leave rolled out dough in wax paper and refrigerate until needed.

Immediately start making pie filling.

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July & Red, White & Blueberry Cupcakes

Happy 4th of July everyone! No matter where you are in the world, I hope today is spectacular.
Last night Daph and I put the grill together. No easy feat for a French guy and a girl who takes the 'directions are optional' approach to putting things together.

I've been looking forward to grilled summer squash all year long. And something I've never tried before but looks oh-so-irresistible, fresh peaches grilled and served over vanilla ice cream.
At over 9 months pregnant, I've decided it's best I don't venture Downtown Boston and attempt navigating through blustering crowds of people for the annual fireworks display over the Charles. Surely something to see at least once if you're ever here! Instead Daph and I will stay home and enjoy the show my neighbors put on every year that's pretty impressive in its own right. The legality of which notwithstanding. What is it about fireworks that bring out the kid in us all?!
I've issued an everything goes on the grill policy all day long, so we're guaranteed a good time that's not only bursting with things that go boom in the night, but delicious too.
Might I add, these cupcakes...or muffins (you decide) are a perfect way to start a day like today.

Red, White & Blueberry Cupcakes

Recipe courtesy and adapted from My via Cooking Light

Cupcakes Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (about 6 3/4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
10 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
(I used homemade whole milk buttermilk plus whole milk because it's what I had on hand.)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
For the "red" I added 1/4 cup fresh raspberries

Frosting Ingredients:

1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh blueberries (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin/cupcake pan with 12 liners. In large bowl, sift together 1 and 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In separate large bowl, mix melted butter and egg. Allow butter to cool just a minute so egg doesn't cook. Using whisk, stir. To butter-egg mixture, add buttermilk and milk. Stir with whisk. Add in lemon rind, stir. Slowly pour butter-milk mixture into sifted dry ingredients. Gently stir just until combined. Using remaining 1 tablespoon of flour, toss berries in small bowl until coated with flour. Gently fold berries into cupcake batter. Filling cups 3/4 full, spoon batter into lined muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes in 350 degree oven, or until inserted wooden pick comes out clean.

To Prepare frosting: In medium bowl, add cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon lemon rind, vanilla and 1/8 teaspoon salt. On medium speed, use hand mixer to beat ingredients until just combined. Carefully add in sifted powder sugar. To save from washing an extra bowl, I sifted sugar into same bowl. Beat until just combined. Use fork to stir in lemon juice. Spread evenly over cooled cupcakes. If desired, garnish cupcakes with fresh berries. Cover and store in refrigerator.

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