Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aunt Tequila

Yesterday we got a visit from Auntie Caolan or, as she is now known, Aunt Tequila. If you don't know Caolan then you may think this nickname is because she likes to come over, hold our children, and drink copious amounts of the Mexican spirit. Those of you that known Caolan know that her name is pronounced KEE-lan and when saying 'Auntie Caolan' it sounds a lot like 'Aunt Tequila.'

Auntie Caolan (Aunt Tequila) with the Wombats

Aunt Tequila and Uncle Paul (unflattering nickname to be named later) both decided on their first visit that they'd have to pick their favorite baby. I forget which one they each picked but I'd have to assume from the smile on Elliott's face that Caolan picked him.

Scharfer Maxx

I put out this Sharfe Maxx before dinner for us to enjoy while the babies took their normal late evening nap.

Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale

I also cracked open this India Pale Ale from Alexander Keith's. I'd had a couple of Alexander Keith's beers on my last trip to Quebec so it was nice to get them from Jen's dad in the form of a twelve pack. I mistakenly thought I'd mentioned them on this blog but I hadn't so, clearly, it didn't count.

This beer was good but in a blind tasting I would never have picked it as an IPA. Instead I would have guessed it was an import lager. The other two Alexander Keith's that I have enjoyed in the Old Country were a little more true to style.

Tomato, Artichoke, and Parmigiano-Reggiano Salad

For salad I put out this salad with sliced tomato, artichoke heart, scallion, olive oil, salt, pepper, and green onion. It was a nice break from our normal avocado-heavy first course.

Grilled Corn Chowder

For dinner I used up the rest of the grilled corn by making this chowder with garlic, onion, potato from the farmer's market, red and green onion from the farm share, vegetable stock, milk, and green onion. I thickened it with some roux and served it up. Considering the vegetable stock and the low fat milk it was pretty tasty.

Dual Feeding

After Aunt Tequila left there begun a mighty fuss which lasted several hours. It culminated with me feeding both babies simultaneously while Jen got ready for bed. She wasn't in too much of a rush because she took the time to take this picture of me.

Of course I was holding this position for twenty minutes so it couldn't have been that hard.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

No Rest For The Wombats

Today began early for me. From 3:30 AM to 5:00 AM, Martin was inconsolably fussy, leading me to a lot of bleary-eyed pleas for him to calm down, nasal aspiration, attempts at feeing, 5-10 second stretches of successful pacifier use, and just general misery. Eventually I rocked him to sleep and it was time for Elliott.

Elliott wins the Best Baby prize for last night because when I took the gamble of not waking him to feed after Martin fed he stepped up to the plate! Normally this would result in a twelve-hour stretch of us trying to get them back on the same schedule, but Elliott took one for the team and decided for the first time ever that he'd just skip a feeding so that they ended up staying on the same schedule.

What a guy. He definitely started off the day in the coveted #1 slot. But don't worry, that wouldn't last long.

The Ernst Clan with the Wombats

Sadly, Gregg and Nana needed to leave after lunch and a trip into town to take the boys to Tarry Market where they were able to walk around with all their boring relatives who enjoy nothing more than just going around and looking at some food.

They'll probably grow up and be really into yachting or something else that we know or care little about.

Grandad with Elliott

After holding Elliott for a while this afternoon Jen's dad called to me that he though Elliott was in need of a diaper change. What happened next was another verified Poopsplosion™! Great horrors were unleashed on that changing table. Entire limbs were covered in poop! Elliott needed a full change, I needed a new shirt, and even the changing table needed to be changed.

So, yes, Jen's father was correct in his assessment. So correct.

Canadian Goat Cheddar with Chestnut Valley Soppresata and Marcona Almonds

After an unprecedented two-and-a-half hour recovery nap I sprang into action to prepare some snacks for dinner. I'd thought the guests would be with us for three nights but they only ended up being with us for one, so I had some cheese to spare. I put out this Chevre Noir (Canadian Goat Cheese) from Damafro in Quebec. It was an appropriate and delicious cheese for our Canadian family and went wonderfully with some Chestnut Valley soppresata, Marcona almonds, and more of the sunflower honey from yesterday.

Anchor Brewing Humming Ale

As I worked on making a quick dinner I poured a Humming Ale from Anchor Brewing for me and for Grandad. Apparently the term "humming" is an ancient beer term used to describe a strong, effervescent ale or just to praise a beer that was really good. This was brewed for the first time on the 30th anniversary of Anchor's location on Mariposa Street and is now brewed in the summer. It's not officially a summer beer but it's got a very nice lemony hop character that is well suited to the summer months. I'd highly recommend picking up a six pack for use after mowing the lawn.

I don't have a lawn to mow so it's even better for me!

Corn and Spinach Risotto with Shrimp, Sausage, and Parmigiano-Reggiano

For dinner I browned up a little garlic and onion with butter and olive oil, tossed in some arborio rice with sauvignon blanc, some chicken stock from the freezer, farm spinach and tomatoes then cooked it down. When it was just about done I tossed in the remaining dinner from last night with the grilled sweet Italian sausage, fresh sliced scallions, and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Grandad with Martin and Elliott

After dinner Grandad took one last snuggle with the guys before heading out to prepare for his long journey home tomorrow morning.

Martin Listening to the Calming Sounds of Ozzy's "No Rest For The Wicked"

Martin was not happy about Grandad leaving and threw an enormous fuss. After trying all of my tricks (even foolishly remembering to try feeding him again) nothing worked. In desperation, I put on Ozzy's No Rest For The Wicked and within a matter of minutes he calmed down into a shallow sleep as I rocked him to the gentle sound of Ozzy's screeching vocals accompanied by Zakk Wylde's pinch harmonics.

That's what Rock and Roll's about!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Long Walk

Yesterday marked yet another visit by friends and family who were eager to meet the Wombats. This time, we had family members from from three different countries converging on New York to check these little punks out.

Nana with Martin

Representing Canada was Jen's Nana.

Great Uncle Gregg with Elliott

From Switzerland was Uncle Gregg, who arrived just in time to hold Elliott's limp, sleeping body.

Grandpa with Martin

And, formerly representing Canada, Jen's father came from the good old United States of America, giving him home snuggle advantage.

Grandpa's Canadian Beers

Jen's father also brought a good amount of Canadian beer with him, giving him home Nate advantage as well.

Martin After The Terrible Poopsplosion

This morning began with the normal fussing followed by Martin having the most unbelievable Poopsplosion™ to date. I thought I could smell something unsavory in the air, but by the time I figured it out I felt a wetness in my lap. Indeed, this Poopsplosion™ was so intense that Martin and I both needed a complete outfit change, and Martin needed to be hosed down in the sink.

Though the temptation was strong, I did not hose myself down.

Grandpa and the Wombats on the Long Walk

After lunch we decided to head out to pick up the farm share. This walk was just a little over a mile. The walk there went great. We got there, picked up our vegetables, met a triathlete, then headed home. Immediately on turning back, however, Martin began what would be his greatest fuss to date.

Carrying Mr. Fussypants Home

I tried carrying him for long stretches but nothing helped. After a while he set Elliott off and the two of them screamed as if we had tossed a live porcupine into each of their car seats. After getting home we fed them and they slept. It turns out they were hungry!

We never learn.

2012 Stone Ledge Farm Share (Week 12)

This week's farm share consisted of tomatoes, broccoli, summer savory, red onions, peppers, spinach, carrots, tomatillos, plums, peaches, and nectarines.

Local Cheese Slate

After a brief unplanned nap I put out this cheese slate with honey, Kunik goat cheese from Nettle Meadow (Gregg's favorite), Tumbleweed from 5 Spoke Creamery, and the Dorset from Consider Bardwell Farm, the silly-named farm we enjoyed cheese from just the other night.

Tomato Avocado Salad

I think I've worn this salad out over the course of the summer but it's so delicious that I just can't stop making it. I used primarily items from the farm: tomato, red onion, and summer savory. Items not from the farm: avocado, olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Grilled Corn and Shrimp with Italian Sausage

For the main course we stopped by the meat market and picked up some sweet and hot Italian sausages which I grilled. I also grilled up some corn and shrimp. In a pan I rendered some bacon, tossed in some crushed garlic, summer leeks, chilies, sweet peppers, and potato. I threw in the corn and shrimp at the end with a tiny bit of butter and summer savory. The farm chilies were a little hotter than I'd anticipated but the dish was quite nice.

Flying Dog Brewery Raging Bitch Belgian Pale Ale

While everyone enjoyed some rose I poured myself a Raging Bitch from Flying Dog Brewery. I've been avoiding this beer for a while just because I found the schtick of naming the beer something like this a little tiresome. But on the strength of their Wildeman Farmhouse Ale I've been trying more of their stuff lately and this one was pretty good. It had a very intense floral scent combined with citrus notes and a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Dinner Table (Night 1)

All in all it was a fantastic night. Who knows when this assemblage of family will ever get together again? All I know is it's totally worth having babies just to trick odd assortments of family members into coming to visit you.

You've been duped, family!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

More Friends, More Eggplant

The last few days have been filled with excitement, intrigue, and exhaustion. Actually I'm not sure about the first two as they may have been caused by some sort of delirious fever dream caused by the exhaustion.

Every day begins with an ambitious list of activities and chores to perform but usually ends with the conceit that half the list will be left unaccomplished. That's fine, actually. We've been getting a lot of stuff done with the Wombats. It's just that some days the simplest of tasks, such as giving the babies a bath, just keep getting passed off from day to day until one morning you realize you cannot pass them off any longer when you touch child's head and it coats your hand in a shiny layer of scalp grease.

Elliott meets his new friend Megan!

The guests continue to arrive at our doorstep, presumably following the star that now hangs in the sky high above New York for all to see. Most recently we had Megan visit. The babies turn us into liars by mostly sleeping when we have guests. Eventually Elliott woke up and spent some quality time with her.

Danielle with Elliott

Yesterday we had another friend visit, Danielle, who also got to hold Elliott while Martin slept. Martin is the more devious of the babies. Lately he has been the fussier of the two and the more restless sleeper.

Martin Holding a Strange Position Asleep for over Twenty Minutes

However, during recent visits, he tends to just sleep most of the time. Sometimes he strikes an uncomfortable-looking pose like the one pictured above which he held for approximately twenty minutes.

Consider Bardwell Rupert Raw Milk Cheese

While the guys slept we took them outside to enjoy some drinks and snacks. We had this raw milk Rupert cheese from Consider Bardwell Farm in Vermont. This was a really nice hard cheese which reminded me of Gruyere. I mostly got it because I thought the farm had the silliest name of any farm I've ever heard of. What a bonus that the cheese was really good!

Cricket Hill Brewing Co. Jersey Summer Breakfast Ale

For beer I had this Jersey Breakfast Ale from Cricket Hill Brewing Co. in New Jersey. I haven't been able to find this brewery in New York so I had to smuggle it across the border on a recent trip to New Jersey. I just got it to add to my summer ale collection but it turned out to be quite excellent. I didn't realize it was a Belgian style ale until I looked it up on their website. It had a nice citrus taste, rich flavor, and would be easy to enjoy two or three if you are the type of person that can drink that incredible volume of beer.

I've never met anyone that could put them down like that.

Mixed Salad Plate

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant

For the main course I took the farm eggplant, hollowed it out, and threw it on the grill. I filled it with a stuffing of garlic, onion, peppers, sausage, diced bread, basil, butter, and olive oil. It turned out better than I expected and was a great way to combat eggplant fatigue.

Stone Fruit Crisp with Phin & Phebes Ginger Snap Ice Cream

For dessert Jen had made a crisp with the aging stone fruit and some ginger. I served it up with the Ginger Snap flavor of Phin & Phebes Ice Cream on Jen's recommendation. The combination of the two was excellent. The only other flavor of the ice cream we have left is the banana flavor but given Jen's hatred of bananas I think I'm going to have to wait until Jen's next business trip to enjoy that by myself.

Just me, the Wombats, and a pint of banana ice cream. Thankfully I will have the guys with me, because otherwise that would sound like an evening of sadness.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Parenting Tip: They Might Be Hungry

I feel like yesterday was a landmark day for the Wombats and, more importantly, for their parents. The Wombats were in pretty good form all day except for a few bouts of sudden shrill shrieking. Each time this happened we would try rocking them, shushing them, walking them around the apartment, giving them a pacifier, and burping them. Each time none of these tricks worked.

As a last resort we would try feeding them and, wouldn't you know, it worked! This is amazing new science that is really going to help us in our parenting.

It's not really that we're stupid or bad parents (though we are both of those things). It's more that we just can't believe sometimes that they could possibly be hungry so soon after eating a tremendous amount of food. Some of these screeching fits happened less than two hours after feeding so, we assumed, it must be something else that was bothering them. They couldn't possibly be hungry again.

It's almost always hunger. Got it.

The Wombats in their Activity Gym

After making this miraculous discovery I got a chance to play with the guys in their activity gym where they got to recreate their favorite battle scenes from The Matrix. Here, Neo and Agent Smith engage in a climactic final battle. Evenly matched, it's anyone's guess as to the fate of the artificial construct.

Uncle Joe with the Wombats

After a long day of discovering (and rediscovering) that the babies only cry because they're hungry we were visited by Uncle Joe! They both seemed to like him quite a lot despite the appearance that Elliott was underwhelmed and Martin was filled with terror.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Corn, "Panzanella", and Boiled Potatoes

I'm still impressed that I can ever find time to make anything at all for dinner. This means that I've gone days forgetting to shower or put on clean underwear but it's still rewarding to know that I can put a very simple dinner together even with the care and feeding of two fussy babies.

I grilled up some skirt steak, corn, and boiled some potatoes which I tossed with olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper.

Tomato and Avocado "Panzanella"

I also made this twist on a panzanella salad with stale bread, avocado, farm tomatoes, farm chilies, red onion, farm basil, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Aumone Sauvignon Blanc (2011)

To go along with dinner I poured this sauvignon blanc.

Harviestoun Brewery Old Dubh

After dinner, for dessert, I enjoyed this Old Dubh Special Reserve 12 from Harviestoun Brewery in Scotland. This is a barrel aged beer, aged in whiskey barrels and was bottled in July of 2009. It was a very rich stout-like beer with bitter chocolate and coffee flavors. Not your ideal summer beer but a great beer to drink slowly as you rig up babies to tandem breastfeed and change diapers.

The coffee notes are really accentuated by wet and poopy diapers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Fussing Cease Fire

Sunday night may well have been the Wombats' least fine hour. Something was stuck in their tiny craws and as a result we got essentially no sleep. Jen's mum left on Monday leaving us tired and frightened for was was to come.

Then, a strange thing happened.

The Wombats Asleep in their Rock 'n Plays

Monday night the Wombats may have had their best night ever. They got cozy in their Rock 'n Plays, slept soundly for four hours, then had some great uninterrupted stretches in the night. We awoke on Tuesday morning feeling startled and refreshed. They had slept just like little angels. Angels that cry, fuss, and poop their pants, but angels nonetheless.

2012 Stone Ledge Farm Share (Week 11)

On Monday, before Jen's mum flew out, she was somehow able to get out to pick up the vegetables. This week we got a whopping four pounds of tomatoes, a basket of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, two oriental eggplant, a bunch of basil, two Walla Walla onions, sweet peppers, hot peppers, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, summer leeks, plums, nectarines, and peaches.

Avocado, Tomato, and Peach Salad with Fresh Mozzarella

Last night I put together this salad with farm kale, mixed greens, farm tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, farm peaches, avocado, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard Calzone

I'm getting a little bit of Swiss chard fatigue but I powered through it to make this calzone for dinner. I cooked some garlic, farm summer leek, red onion, and the chard. I added in some Pomosugo marinara sauce at the end then folded it all together into some pizza dough with fresh mozzarella before baking it on the pizza stone for about fifteen minutes.

Sam Adams New World

For a drink I had this New World tripel from the Sam Adams Barrel Room Collection. Like most of the recent beers from Sam Adams it was excellent. This may have been the best beer I've ever had from the Boston Beer Company and it was a very tasty tripel, different from any I've had in the past. At 10% ABV I was only up for half the bottle but that's why they invented champagne stoppers -- for lightweights like me.

That's actually not why they invented champagne stoppers at all.

Phin & Phebes Vietnamese Iced Coffee Ice Cream

For dessert we had this fantastic Vietnamese Iced Coffee ice cream from the new Brooklyn ice cream maker Phin & Phebes Ice Cream. Much like the tripel I had with dinner this was an outstanding version of the coffee ice cream style but with a very unique twist to the variety being made with cardamom and chicory.

As a native Rhode Islander I feel compelled to be an obnoxious a-hole and comment on how I was raised on coffee ice cream and how that makes me feel like some sort of aficionado. Everyone in my home state considers themselves an authority on coffee ice cream, coffee milk, and (of course) Del's Lemonade. So why not act like my geographical place of birth automatically makes me an expert on something? What's the point of being born anywhere if you can't be a sanctimonious prick about something because of it?

I'm from Rhode Island and I know good coffee ice cream. This is great coffee ice cream!

There. I'm a jerk. Are you happy now?

The Wombats "Watching" Eureka

Jen's first full day alone with the babies was a smashing success. She said they behaved like little gentlemen, tiny farting gentlemen.

For the second night in a row the Wombats even slept through dinner -- a very new phenomenon. It may have been the soothing sounds of the final episodes of Eureka that kept them calm. It may have been that they are just getting used to their tiny new bodies.

My theory is that with our help leaving they took a look at their sorry, inexperienced parents and made a pact with each other to go easy on us, at least for a few days. They probably figured that we needed all the help we can get. Things are challenging enough even when they are well behaved. I'm sure we're just trading this for some days of pure terror when they are two years old.

One day at a time.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mo' Fuss

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. On the blog, from time to time, I have been known to engage in hyperbole. When I talk about the babies fussing up a storm or being inconsolable I am often just exaggerating for artistic effect. Even though I've been doing this for four years on the blog now that there are babies involved there are repercussions to the license I am taking. Generally this comes in the call of a frantic call from my mother or in Jen not speaking to me for a couple of days.

Elliott Fussing

Today I have been given permission by Jen to tell it like it is. The babies were kind of a mess today. Elliott spent large patches of the day wailing. After trying everything we'd often try feeding him which worked for short times. He couldn't, we thought, possibly still be hungry after we fed him twenty minutes ago.

Oh, how wrong we were.

Martin Chillin' in His Rock 'n Play

They took turns hanging out in their Rock 'n Play Sleepers while the other fussed. It got so bad that while I napped Jen assembled the second Rock 'n Play Sleeper even after arguing with me incessantly about the absurdity of these purchases and promising to return one or both of them.

Who's the fool now?

Primaterra Pinot Grigio Rose

So it was that we didn't get out to the patio until dusk to enjoy a brief pre-dinner drink. For Jen and her mum I poured this pinot grigio rose from PrimaTerra of Italy. I admit, I only bought this because I was intrigued by it being the palest rose I'd ever seen. It turns out it was quite tasty if not indistinguishable from normal pinot grigio. I think that perhaps it was the result of a wine-making accident that they have capitalized on it. I know so little about wine that it's hard to say.


After a couple of minutes Martin started fussing so Jen got the opportunity to use her nursing cape for the first time. I'm pretty sure that's not what it's actually called but that is what I choose to call it nonetheless.

Two Brothers Brewing Company Dog Days Dortmunder Style Lager

While I grilled I enjoyed this Dog Days Dortmunder Style Lager
from Two Brothers Brewing Company, right in Jen's mum's back yard. After the disappointing experience I had with their other summer beer, Long Haul, this was a refreshing surprise. It was a very crisp, clean tasting lager with a slightly sweet finish. It was perfect for a hot day at the grill. It's just unfortunate that it was an overcast evening in the mid 70s.

Grilled Spicy Avocado Chicken with Grilled Corn Tomato Salad

I grilled up some chicken that I'd marinated for forty-eight hours in a spicy avocado marinade then topped it with a salad of grilled corn, farm tomatoes, lime, red onion, olive oil, and avocado.

Grilled New York Japanese Toy Eggplant

I also grilled up these locally grown New York Japanese toy eggplants with a little salt and pepper and then finished them with fresh thyme from my mother's garden.

Summer Slaw

With the remaining cabbage from the farm I made a slaw with red onion, carrot, whole grain mustard, mayonnaise, lime juice hot sauce, salt, and pepper. We didn't really need this dish but I couldn't bare the thought of the cabbage remaining in the fridge for a second longer.

Hot Bread Kitchen Cherry Chocolate Bread

I had thought to use this cherry chocolate bread from Hot Bread Kitchen for a pre-dinner treat. I thought it would have a savory chocolate flavor but it ended up being so sweet that we had slices of it for dessert instead.

Last night's viewing of Time Machine Chefs was a tremendous disappointment. It was a good idea with very poor execution. After hearing about it my father-in-law suggested another program called Let's Cook History on Enlightenment dining. Tonight we are opting to watch that to make up for the raw disappointment of Time Machine Chefs. But first, a viewing of The Curse of Mr. Bean to make up for all the Olympic diving we've been missing.

That's right. This blog will now almost exclusively be about TV programs that we watch while feeding babies. There has been much clamoring for more entries on this subject.

Silent, secret clamoring.