Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm a pumpkin! Say it loud, say it proud!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Grape stomp!

Grape stomp!, originally uploaded by jessicafm.

I'm a bit behind on my blogging due to David getting a nasty stomach bug last weekend and then, as he was on the upswing, I came down with it and was semi-comatose for two days.

So I apologize for being brief, but I fear I'll never get around to blogging about our activities if I wait until I have the time and/or energy!

So -- on October 21, Mom and Mick had a little "gleaning party," where we picked grapes that were left over on their Cabernet grape vines. The official harvest for their Owl Ridge wine was about a week prior and there were still plenty of grapes left that were ripe and ready to eat or process for food or drink.

Cabernet grapes!

Davey started feeling sick first thing that morning but, as Mom pointed out, he could just as easily feel sick in the vineyard as he could at home. So in between feeling sick and puking, he enjoyed going up and down the rows and tasting the grapes.

And eat them?

While at Mom's we helped make some grape jelly. I haven't tasted it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Unfortunately, just as we were all about to sit down and have a hearty lunch, Davey decided to puke all over us both so we had to take a nice, warm shower and change clothes.

"Oh, I don't feel well"

So we went home and just had a mellow rest of the day together. Poor little guy. Once he was asleep for the night I made some grape sorbet from a recipe of, as usual, the amazing David Lebovitz and his book The Perfect Scoop. Most tasty!

Cabernet Sorbet

The next day we went to the doctor who said it was a bug going around and to just make sure he got lots of fluids. By that afternoon his appetite was back and he was in a chipper mood. And then... that night... it hit me. Ugh.

But we're all better now in Merzville. Happy and healthy!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

North African Inspired Slow Cooked Chicken

This morning I woke up thinking I wanted to find a slow-cooker recipe for a whole organic chicken I had in the fridge. I looked through my cookbooks and found one I'd totally forgotten about: Ready and Waiting by Rick Rodgers. Wow, how long had it been since I'd looked through there?

Inside I found a recipe that sounded right -- not exactly what I had on hand, but close enough for rock 'n' roll. So I took his recipe for Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Stew and Moroccan Hot Sauce and made some modifications. We all, including Davey, enjoyed it!

Davey decided, for the first time, to have a napless day. Ugh!! At the end of the day, it's a good thing I'd chosen to do a slow-cook recipe!

North African Inspired Chicken Stew
1 acorn squash (~1lb)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp (a few good twists) freshly ground black pepper
3 carrots, cut in to 1/2 inch rounds
3 celery stalks, cut in to 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 chicken, cut up in to the usual pieces
1-3/4 cup chicken stock
1 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup raisins

1. Cut the acorn squash crosswise in to 3/4 inch thick rings and scoop out the seeds. Cut the rings in to quarters and pare off the skin.

2. In a small bowl, combine the spices.

3. In a 3-1/2 quart slow cooker, combine the acorn squash, carrots, onions and garlic. Sprinkle half the spice mixture over the vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over the chicken pieces and arrange the chicken over the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth, cover and slow-cook until the chicken shows no sign of pink at the pone when prodded with the tip of a sharp knife, 5 to 6 hours on low (200 degrees F). During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the garbanzo beans and raisins.

Serve the chicken and vegetables over rice or couscous (we enjoy brown basmati rice) with broth spooned over it all. Serve Moroccan hot sauce on the side.

Moroccan Hot Sauce
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/3 cup reserved cooking liquid from the stew
1 tb crushed hot red pepper
1 tsp lemon juice

1. Sprinkle the garlic with salt. Using a sharp knife, chop and then mash the salted garlic to make a paste. Scrape the garlic in to a small bowl. Stir in the reserved cooking liquid, the crushed hot red pepper and lemon juice.

2. Use a small spoon to drizzle the sauce over the stew.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More ice cream sandwiches!

Yep, another week, another reason for a gathering and another ice cream delicacy.

Davey and Jackie

Jackie Sapir came stopped by our home for a couple days on her way back to Australia. After ten years living in the U.S., seven of which were in San Francisco and the last three in Boston, she's decided to head back to Sydney. We were lucky enough that she stopped in the Bay Area and stayed at our home for a couple days before leaving the country. In fact, as I type this, she's sitting next to me on our sofa, however she flies to Sydney tomorrow.

At any rate, in her honor we held a small dinner gathering last night. Just a simple and casual affair: A giant recipe of pasta with red meat sauce, lots of garlic bread made on Acme Sourdough Battards, green salad and red wine (including a bottle of 2003 Owl Ridge Cabernet). Bonnie made chocolate chip cookies (mmm) , Polly made Molasses crinkle cookies and I made cinnamon ice cream.

Yes, of course the cinnamon ice cream was from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. Any of you that read this blog could have guessed that. ;-)

Doesn't it sound like the Molasses Crinkle Cookies are just begging to be paired with the Cinnamon Ice Cream? Um. YES.

Anyone want the recipes for the cookies and/or the ice cream?


Monday, October 15, 2007

A new year, a new photo album

Wet laughter, originally uploaded by jessicafm.

So in the first year (and the months leading up to his birth), we uploaded well over 2500 photos in to David's first photo album. It's time to start a new photo album for his second year of life. As with the first one, we'll keep the newest pictures at the beginning of the photo album. So for those of you that bookmarked the original photo album (you know who you are), you can go ahead and bookmark this new photo album now:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One year well-baby visit

Yes, I'm a handsome boy, originally uploaded by jessicafm.

Hi all! This morning David had his one-year well-baby visit with Dr. Lee. Aside from having a cold and still having allergies to eggs and dairy, Dr. Lee pronounced Davey as perfect. Who didn't know that? Ha!

In terms of the cold, Dr. Lee checked David's ears to check to see if any ear infections have started. His ears are perfect.

In terms of the allergies, I described what happened when I put dots of raw egg white, egg yolk and liquid milk on Davey's skin. He said he'd like us to take David to an allergist to do real allergy testing to see what, exactly, he's allergic to, and to what degree. It's possible he's only got a topical allergic reaction, and that he could eat dairy or eggs with only a rash as a problem. Or we could find that he's highly allergic to something and that we should keep an Epi-pen on hand. The allergists he recommended, Dr. Tam and Dr. German, are the doctors I already go to for my asthma. I also went to school with Dr. German's son, Donald Jr. It's a small world! Drs. Tam and German are both very busy men, apparently. We'll take David to see Dr. German at his next available appointment: November 27! Until that visit, we'll continue to avoid eggs and dairy in David's diet.

Dr. Lee went on to say that he'd like to see David drink a lot more soy milk than we're currently giving him, as now that he's in his second year we need to increase his calcium intake. He also said that he's a proponent of weaning off breast feeding after one year. Though he admitted that La Leche League would kill him for saying that. His view is that there are obvious benefits to breast feeding for the first year, but beyond the first year breast feeding becomes more of a pacifier and that David should be getting the majority of his caloric intake from solid food at this point.

I'm not sure how I feel about weaning him just yet, so I'm taking that advice under consideration. However I've asked Marina to start giving Davey soy milk instead of my breast milk when they go to the park or I'm otherwise not available to nurse him. Maybe we'll start slowly weaning him now, mostly to ensure he's getting soy milk to ensure he's getting the calcium he needs.

And, finally, to his stats:
Length/height: 29-1/2"
Weight: 17lbs-10oz
Head: 18-1/2"

And, lastly, David got some vaccinations: HIB and Hep-B. The nurse was going to also give him a flu vaccine, but I told her that he was allergic to eggs, so no flu shot for him. Now it's ultra-important that Mark and I get our flu shots. Heck, we should pay for Marina to get her flu shot too, if her insurance doesn't cover it.

Chocolate ice cream sandwich

Chocolate ice cream sandwich, originally uploaded by jessicafm.

Um, YUM?!

For David's first birthday party, I made a couple of ice creams from David Lebovitz's, The Perfect Scoop: Cinnamon and Philadelphia Style Chocolate. In an unprecedented move, I served up all the cinnamon ice cream at the party without taking photographs! The cinnamon ice cream went lickity-split, as we were also serving apple pie and you know that combination couldn't be beat. The chocolate ice cream was very good, as well, but it was not completely finished by the end of the party.

Tonight I decided that I needed to make an ice cream sandwich with the chocolate ice cream and a couple of Safeway's "chewy chocolate" cookies. The cookies are actually cocoa meringues with walnuts. While the photo is enticing and the flavors individually delicious, the combo didn't quite work. The cookies tasted much sweeter than the ice cream and they were too crispy to really work well. But it had to be done. ;-)

Now, in case you'd like to make the ice cream, here's the recipe. I highly recommend it! For this batch I used Scharfenberger cocoa powder and Ghiradelli unsweetened chocolate.

Chocolate Ice Cream, Philadelphia Style
2-1/4 cups heavy cream
6 tb unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
1 c sugar
pinch of salt
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 c whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together the cream, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, roiling boil (it will start to foam up). Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until it's completely melted, then whisk in the milk and vanilla. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend for 30 seconds, until very smooth.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator and then freeze it in your ice cream maer according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The First Cold

Another first for the beginning of his second year of life: A cold. As bedtime neared on his birthday, Davey started showing the telltale signs of a cold. Oh, my sweet boy. Sneezing, congested coughing, crankiness. Needless to say, nobody slept well that night! He was awake and squealing, screaming, coughing, sneezing and crying at least once an hour all night long.

Yesterday was spent trying to rest up and eating homemade chicken soup (my Jewish mother genes kicked right in at the first sign of the cold). Thankfully he liked the soup (heck, so did we). Mark went out and got a humidifier and some Vick’s Baby Rub. It was a cranky day, but by the time dinner was over, Davey had a warm bath with California Baby Cold & Flu Bubble Bath, warm pajamas and slippers, Baby Rub on his chest and back and the humidifier on. He slept quite well through the night, waking at 12:30am and 4:30am for nursing, but going back to sleep easily until he arose for good at 7am.

I'm not sure if I'm happy

Today he’s doing a lot better, though he’s still got a crusty nose and a slightly cranky personality. That could be just as much from the cold as the fact that the weather’s funky and he’s had to stay in the house all day instead of going for a long walk and an hour at the playground.

Oh, and now I’VE got the cold, too. At least that means I’m making appropriate antibodies to pass along to him through my milk. There’s always a bright side.

Somebody please pass the Kleenex.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy birthday David!

Teddy Bear Zombie, originally uploaded by jessicafm.
Our sweet baby David is now a year old! Yes, everyone kept (okay, still keeps) telling us that time flies when you have a baby. I always agreed with them and said I understood. And I still suppose I did understand, but until you've got a kid, it's impossible to realize just how fast time zooms by.

We celebrated his birthday with a party filled with family. Everyone brought something tasty to share for lunch and we supplied the hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, Chinese chicken salad, cinnamon ice cream, chocolate ice cream, crystal geyser sparkling water and organic sodas. As befitting a Freiberg (or Merz) family gathering, there was too much food and it was all fabulous. Go family!

Everyone was so generous in their time and gifts to David. It's marvelous to see him well loved.


For his part, Davey seemed to enjoy watching everyone (he IS a real people watcher), crawling around, playing with his toys, eating lunch al fresco with everyone and getting to eat birthday cake.


He did need to escape to the quiet of his room a couple of times, which is understandable. It was a lot of commotion and action for one little guy to take in. Once everyone was gone, we had a quiet time, the three of us, opening the remainder of his gifts. Davey's having a good time exploring all his new toys and books. Thank you everyone!

After a quiet dinner for the three of us, Davey had a nice, big-boy bath in the adult-sized tub with some new bubble bath. Mmmm, fun! Mark gave him a new hair-do:

A new hairstyle for a new year

While having his bath, Dad and Linda stopped by on their way home from the airport. They'd had a gig in Florida on Saturday and spent Sunday aboard aircraft, flying home... on their anniversary... in different rows. Awww. :-( But they were happy to be home and together. After visiting a while and bringing Davey a really cute card, they headed out to have a romantic anniversary dinner at Kitchen on Grant Avenue. Happy Anniversary, Dad and Linda!

And speaking of anniversaries... Happy anniversary David and Dee Merz!

October 7 is a great day.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Enjoying his pig on a string

Enjoying his pig on a string, originally uploaded by jessicafm.

Nearly 1 year old - holy cow!

Today I brought down two toys that were gifts to him before he was born. Until now, I wasn't sure if he was ready for them. But now he's most definitely ready and enjoying them greatly. Debra, one of my colleagues, got these wonderful toys (grasshopper, pig, chicken and car) from a wood crafts-person in New Hampshire. They're absolutely gorgeous and have captivated Davey.

Thank you Debra!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Someone likes guacamole

P1030428.JPG, originally uploaded by freemntn.

Davey's recently shown us that he's over the whole "bland food," thing. On Thursday night he gobbled up boef provencal that I made for dinner, sauce, onions, fennel bulb and all. Last night he cheerfully chowed down on ling cod sauteed in white wine, lemon and capers. And tonight he gobbled up guacamole on tortilla chips. He didn't eat so many chips, but we did a lot of double (and triple) dipping in the guacamole.

What a good little eater!