Friday, March 29, 2013

My Future Beer Belly

My pants have been fitting rather tightly as of late. It's conceivable that they have all been shrinking but after doing a bit of research (i.e. weighing myself) I have discovered that I've gained ten pounds. Now I only get around to weighing myself about every six months or so, so I'm not sure how recent or rapid this weight gain has been. It could be my exceptionally sedentary lifestyle that has contributed to this. Maybe it's the fact that I'm getting old. It could also be that there is some sort of strange chemical compound in that beer I got in Quebec that causes accelerated weight gain. Yeah, that must be it.

Jen calls this my Quebec Beer Belly.

Elliott and Martin's Easter Pictures

Yesterday the guys were thoughtful enough to make these Easter pictures for us. This is the first time they've used their fingers to paint for us as opposed to putting a footprint next to a picture of Santa or something. They did a pretty good job! I'm very impressed with how cleanly they cut out the bunny and centered it on the construction paper. They're exceptionally advanced for eight-month-olds.

Half Mango For Them, Half Mango For Me

We ended up eating a huge amount of mango today. I had a few mangoes and cut them up into little chunks for the guys. They had a tough time picking up the pieces as they slid across their high chair tray so I started helping them and having just as hard a time picking up the slippery bits to feed to them.

Cold Pizza for Lunch

Since it was Good Friday today, day care was closed. This meant it was a full day of daddy events. A year ago this would have meant staying inside all day and watching videos on YouTube. While that still sounds amazing I decided to take the guys out for a walk after a lunch of cold pizza (the pureed ricotta, tomato, asparagus, and multigrain cereal for the guys), and a nice walk through town.

Wombats Looking Super Jazzed Before Their Walk

This ended up being more of a workout than I thought. We live in the bottom of a basin which is why we're so prone to flooding. This means that pushing two babies in a stroller a hundred feet above sea level is actually a lot tougher than it seems it should be.

Wombats at the Cemetery

The high point of our journey was the cemetery -- the exact opposite of life!

Pan Fried Tofu with Steamed Broccoli, Carrots, Rice, Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce, and Soy Sauce

For dinner I pan fried some tofu and served it with rice, steamed carrots and broccoli, and two dipping sauces: soy and sweet chili.

Tofu on Broccoli for Dinner

For the second night in a row the boys had the same thing as us for dinner. Well, sort of. I served them pureed broccoli with rice cereal and cut up pieces of tofu.

Martin Eating Tofu

Elliott Eating Tofu

Tofu in Elliott's Hand

The tofu went over quite well. It was much easier for their tiny hands to grab than slippery pieces of mango. And since they haven't been indoctrinated into the "Eww gross TOFU!" culture of this country yet they had no preconceived notions about the food. They enjoyed it thoroughly.

Sixpoint Brewery 3Beans

Since all that Quebec beer has been going to my stomach I decided on the perfect remedy: American beer! I've been dying to try this 3Beans from Sixpoint Brewery that I've had chilling in the fridge for some time now. After having gotten carried away with all the Quebec beer I finally enjoyed a glass of this after dinner this evening.

This was a perfect after dinner beer. It gets its name from the three beans used in its brewing: Romano beans, cacao beans, and coffee beans. The result is a unique beer. It's brewed more in the style of a porter than a stout and I'm very happy that I have an additional three cans for the future.

My future beer belly is going to be great.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Baby Pizza

Spring is slowly creeping into the air. Perhaps there will be a sliver of time where we get moderate temperatures somewhere between 5 degrees and 95 degrees this year. At least a period of time that will last longer than a week-and-a-half. As in years past spring is more of a concept than an actual season. It's idyllic in everyone's mind of budding trees and warming temperatures but usually means you foolishly leave the house with no jacket then find yourself freezing to death after the sun goes down.

Pizza with Asparagus, Ham, Mozzarella, and Ricotta

To celebrate the season I got some surprisingly good asaparagus from California as we probably won't have much around here for a while. I made this pizza topped with tomato, mozzarella, ricotta, and sliced ham from the freezer which is still leftover from Christmas and still quite delicious.

Tomato, Ricotta, Asparagus, and Multigrain Cereal

I took some of the tomato, ricotta, and asparagus and pureed it up for the Wombats mixed with a little multigrain cereal. The end result tasted much more like pizza than I would have expected. This may have been the closest that the Wombats have come to having the same thing for dinner that we had.

Martin's First Tomato and Asparagus

Gleeful Elliott

The verdict was a positive one. They seemed to like it quite a bit. This was fitting because we liked the pizza quite a bit Of course by the time we are able to eat any meal we generally enjoy it for the sheer fact that we are hungry as hell.

Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL

For beer we had this Double Agent IPL from Samuel Adams. I've been wanting to try this one for a while as it is a new style of beer. They took a lot of the classic India Pale Ale hops and made what they are calling an India Pale Lager as a result using the lagering method rather than ale yeast. This beer ended up being quite good and while a lot of the traditional IPA elements are there it does have a very different characteristic to it. If I had been served this blind I don't think I'd have been able to put my finger on why it seemed like an IPA but slightly different.

I applaud Sam Adams for trying something new with this one. It was tasty and very easy to drink.

After dinner in order to entertain the Wombats we gave them their sippy cups.

Elliott with Sippy Cup

Martin with Sippy Cup

Yeah, they still haven't quite figured them out yet.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Living the Life of Riley (Riley is Someone I Know with One Baby)

Much of the beer-brewing art on Quebec bottles seems to fall into three categories: 1.) odd, white-trashy stuff that looks like it would be artwork hung on the wall of a biker bar, 2.) biblical references to the end of the world, 3.) oddly epic imagery.

Microbrasserie Le Naufrageur Colborne Biere Rousse

The most recent entry is, this La Colborne from Microbrasserie Le Naufrageur, falls into the third category. Apparently it pays tribute to The Colborne, an English Navy vessel that crashed on the rocks off Gascon-Newport in 138 leaving only six survivors and leaving a huge treasure of gold somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean

The beer itself was quite good. It had a nice bitterness but not so much from hops as from the roasted malt. It almost had the quality of the cooked tomato at the bottom of a pot of marinara sauce.

I must say, the Quebecois are exceptionally good at making full-bodied, flavorful beers at relatively low ABV. This is one area where Canadian microbreweries are outpacing American craft breweries' continued search for higher alcohol content.

Daddy's Day with One Baby

Today I had the day off to try to do as much cleaning, chores, and preparation for the weekend as possible. Around noon I got the dreaded call from day care. I was already cursing as I saw the number show up on my phone. You never get a mid day call with good news. "Oh, hey, just wanted to tell you that Martin took a great nap!" or "We've been discussing this and we'd like to knock $1,000 a month off your bill because your babies are just so cute!" or "By the way, Elliott's pooping has been particularly normal today."

Instead I was informed that they suspected Martin had conjunctivitis.

This meant mostly a nightmare of formalities for the day. In order to get them to accept him back in day care I'd need our doctor to clear him. I was able to get a late afternoon appointment. Until then I needed to pick Martin up from day care. I chose to leave Elliott there in order to make things easier at the doctor. Lugging two babies to the doctor's office is not a fun chore.

I have to say, an afternoon with one baby -- even a sick one -- reinforced something I've believed for a long time. Having one baby is so easy! There are so many things that are made impossibly easy by only caring for one baby. Don't get me wrong, I love both my sons but getting these brief taste has of caring for just one sick baby has left me envious of the carefree, joyful existence of the parents of the single baby. There's just one of them!

Singleton parents have it made and they don't even know or appreciate it! This life luxury is wasted on them! Everyone should be forced to care for two babies for at least six months so that when they take the extra baby to their real parents the parents can really enjoy the ease of single baby care. We need legislation for this.

It just may be tricky because it seems like it may involve a lot of baby-stealing. I'm still working those details out.

Elliott Was So Excited Until Dad Spoiled the Party

After the doctor's appointment, where the doctor rolled her eyes and gave Martin some unnecessary eye drops so that we could get him back in day care, I returned to pick up Elliott. I kind of spoiled the party because they were getting ready to take all the babies out for a nice walk since it was nice outside. Elliott was excited, kicking his feet, and sitting up front in the giant stroller. Then along came daddy to pluck him out of the stroller and take him home.

Elliott with Dragon Shirt

Elliott had to have been the coolest kid at day care with his dragon shirt on. I'm just upset they don't make it in an adult size.

Wombat Steam Time

At home we had some steam time for their congested, snotty little noses followed by a bath, then a huge pre-sleep screaming battle. Then Jen got home to help finish them off. It was a bit like the Americans rolling into Berlin but I was so beaten up and tired that I was quite happy to have the help, even to round up a few measly, shoeless Nazis.

Okay, this analogy has broken down somewhat. Moving along.

La Gueule de Bois Blonde Parfaite

For beer I poured this La Blonde Parfaite from La Gueule de Bois. You guessed it, another Quebec beer. This was a unique Belgian-style beer with a very pronounced earthy quality to it. Saying that it tastes like dirt is probably not fairly describing the enjoyment level of this beer. It was a good beer.

But it did also taste like dirt.

Spaghetti with Mushroom Cream Sauce and Peas

For dinner I threw together this pasta by segregating out the mushrooms and leeks from the lamb dish the other night, adding some milk and cream, then tossing in spaghetti and fresh peas, toping it with Parmigiano-Reggiano. The result was a very rich and filling pasta that took about ten minutes to make.

Broadway Pub Sein Desprit

After the wrestling match with two sick babies it felt like a two beer night. I opened this Sein Desprit from Broadway Pub, an extremely creamy hefeweizen from Quebec.

On nights like this we barely have the energy left after dinner to watch shows on Hulu. Particularly after cleaning all the dishes, washing the baby's bottles, preparing the baby food for the next day, sweeping the Mum-Mum and puff debris off the floor, and (if we're lucky) taking showers for ourselves. When we do get the energy to watch shows it is rare that I can last through the whole show.

Still, I've seen the first eleven minutes of some pretty good episodes of The Mindy Project.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Passover Chain Fight!

Tonight was the Wombats' first Passover. Sadly I couldn't figure out a way to make them a particularly Passover-y mashed dinner. I briefly considered crumbling up matzoh to mix in but I figured having sharp cracker shards in their meal may not be a great parenting move. Instead I opted for chicken, kale, and acorn squash with rice cereal. No sharp objects or choking hazards.

Haroset Salad

For salad I started us off with chopped apples, mixed greens, pistachios, lemon, and balsamic glaze with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Honey Lemon Roast Half Chicken

I also roasted a chicken which I seasoned with a BBQ rub then drizzled with lemon and honey.

Spinach and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

As an accompaniment I made these olive oil mashed potatoes with fresh spinach, salt, and pepper.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon and Macadamia Nuts

Also, I roasted some great California asparagus with lemon zest and chopped macadamia nuts.

Shmaltz Brewing He'Brew Jewbelation 15

To pair with tonight's dinner I tried looking for a He'Brew beer I haven't had before at the local beer store. Sadly there was nothing there that I haven't had. Instead I went to the beer cellar and came out with this He'Brew Jewbelation Fifteen from Shmaltz Brewing Company. I picked this one up some time in 2011 and it had been aging for probably about eighteen months. Each year they brew an anniversary ale using the number of the anniversary for the number of malts, hops, and ABV. This version was brewed with fifteen malts, fifteen hops, and weighs in at a heavy fifteen percent alcohol.

The resulting beer was pretty amazing. It was extremely complex but far smoother than I would have thought for fifteen percent alcohol. I thought I wouldn't be able to finish the whole glass but after sipping it I actually felt far less affected by it than I would have imagined. I felt like I could have easily had a second beer, just not a Jewbelation 15. Maybe something in the 5-6.5% range.

Wombat Chain Fight

While we struggled to get through our dinner before the babies lost their minds they enjoyed a time-honored Passover tradition: Baby Chain Fight!

Matzoh Crunch Napoleons

For dessert I made matzo crunch, one of my favorite dessert items. To make it a little different this year I combined it with vanilla custard to make a version of Jen's "Napoleons" by layering it with the cracked matzo crunch and topping it with whipped cream. Kosher? No. Delicious? Yes.

Mazel Tov!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Game of Groans

Last night the Wombats had more visitors. They are probably the most popular guys I know. I'm actually a bit shocked they make the time for me and Jen these days.

Katie with Martin

Jocelyn Feeding Elliott

Katie and Jocelyn came to visit which means that they also got saddled with the task of feeding and caring for the babies while Jen tried to get a few things done around the apartment. One of these days the babies are going to be too old for this and we're going to be on our own to care for them and take care of our normal household tasks.

That day will be a sad, sad day.


This morning, while Jen was at Yoga, I took care of feeding the babies their lunch. As I played with Elliott I didn't notice that in my other hand Martin had fallen asleep sitting up and drinking from his bottle. This made for an easy transition into bed where he slept for several hours. His brother, on the other hand, was a bit less cooperative and I was required to entertain him for the entirety of his brother's fantastic nap.

Martin in Kitchen

After Martin woke up I entertained him in the kitchen while I prepared dinner. I just needed to watch him to make sure he didn't eat any of the grocery bags that he could get his grimy little paws on.

Brewery Ommegang Game of Thrones Iron Throne

For dinner our friend Gina brought over this Game of Thrones Iron Throne Blonde Ale from Brewery Ommegang. We'd never actually seen Game of Thrones but we were big fans of Ommegang so we were happy to enjoy a Belgian-style ale while Gina filled us in on the entire plot of the first season. I'm pretty sure we're completely caught up now. There's a lot of boobs and horse people. Got it.

Beer Braised Lamb Shanks with Buttered Potatoes, Leeks, and Mushrooms

I wanted to make some Renaissance Faire style turkey legs but I couldn't find any so I went with something authentically medieval and made braised lamb shanks. I braised them with garlic, shallots, leeks, mushrooms, carrots, brown ale, chicken stock, marjoram, bay leaf, sage, and thyme. I also made some boiled potatoes with butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley.

Gina with Elliott

After dinner Elliott refused to go to bed -- stealing a move from his older brother -- so Gina was kind enough to entertain him. Jen and I are shameless in forcing our guests into baby care.

Le Gobelet La Medieval

To keep with this medieval theme I also had this La Médiévale from Les Brasseurs du Hameau and sold exclusively at Le Gobelet in Quebec. I felt the weird man on the label with the sword should fit in nicely with this book and television series that I've never seen. The beer was enjoyable, though overly carbonated. I suppose the head on this beer was was analogous to the boobs in the television series.

You've got to love HBO.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Form

The entrance into spring has been a bit of a blur. This is the fourth final season for the Wombats collection.

You gotta catch 'em all!

Le Trèfle Noir Chronique

On Thursday I welcomed spring with this Chronique -- or as I like to call it Bubonique Chronique -- from Le Trèfle Noir. The Quebecois breweries seem to be fascinated with the red (or rousse) style. Every brewery seems to make a version of this beer and it is far more popular than it is in the States. This one was pretty good and extraordinarily flavorful for a mere 4.8% ABV.

Last night I got caught up at work then caught up in traffic. This resulted in me arriving at day care exactly three minutes before they closed and thus avoiding the astronomical cash fines levied when one arrives late. So far we have never had to pay the late fees and I'm hoping it remains that way. After paying what we have been paying for day care it hardly seems fair that they'd ever be able to charge us more. In fact, I have long held that they should follow us home after we pick the babies up and do some light chores around the house including all of our dishes and cleaning the babies' rooms.

Spring Farfalle with Peas, Bacon, and Shrimp

After getting the babies to bed I continued the spring theme with this farfalle with bacon, olive oil, butter, peas, onion, red pepper, bacon, shrimp, and parsley with a little Parmigiano-Reggiano. The only reason I didn't add garlic is because, for the first time ever, we seemed to be out.

Brasseurs du Monde Nectareus

To ring in spring with an appropriate beer I selected this Necatreus honey brown ale from Brasseurs du Monde. This was a fantastic beer albeit a little too sweet to have before dinner. I'd definitely recommend it as the end of a meal moreso than an accompaniment. Still I'd rank this among the top honey brown ales I've ever had. While originally purchased because of the badass bee on the label I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the beer inside the bottle.

Brasseurs du Monde Nectareus

One thing this series from Braseurs du Monde does is put a nice key on the back to show you what the beer pairs well with. This one apparently goes great with smelly cheeses and cartoon-style hot dogs.

First Strawberries

For breakfast this morning we gave the guys their first taste of fresh strawberries.

Martin's First Strawberries

Elliott's First Strawberries

The initial bites didn't seem to go over well but once they got rocking they loved it. In order to stretch the berries I added a little milk and oatmeal to them. Hours later they still smell like strawberries, a phenomenon that hasn't really occurred with any other foods we've given them.

I'm pleased that broccoli doesn't have this same effect.

One Day's Worth of Baby Equipment

There's a huge incentive to getting them to bed for their nap. Once they are both asleep then you can enjoy a little time to yourself doing some hobbies that you really enjoy such as washing a mere day's worth of baby supplies.

I love a little me time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Irish Breakfast for Dinner

Nana and Grandpa had to leave tonight but before they left they had a great day hanging out with the Wombats.

Grandpa with the Wombats

Nana STIM with the Wombats

Despite the ultra-serious looks on their faces they were all smiles with their grandparents today.

Nana STIM and Solemn Martin

For some reason Martin got extremely solemn at one point in the afternoon and just sat on the couch staring at Nana STIM. He didn't cry and he didn't smile. He just sat there and regarded his Nana with suspicion. This lasted about 30 minutes.

Later in the day Martin sat in the rocker with his grandpa for the better part of two hours and seemed to have a blast. This marks the longest period of his life where he has ever been content in doing one thing.

Martin Grabs Sock From Laundry to Eat

I am alwas pleased when I put them in their footie pajamas because that means Martin cannot remove any socks and try to eat them. After I did the laundry and put the clean laundry on the couch he plucked a clean sock from the pile and stuck it in his mouth. If he could talk he would have said: "Check and mate, Dad!"

Irish Breakfast For Dinner

For dinner I used up the rest of the leftovers from St. Patrick's Day by making this bubble and squeak with bangers, corned beef, fried egg, mustard, rye toast, and Murphy's Irish Stout. A fitting farewell meal to celebrate all 5% of our Irish heritage.

Le Gobelet McFly

After dinner, I decided to celebrate Irish tradition the way that Biff Tannen would and I cracked open this McFly, another beer Le Gobelet. I still remain thoroughly impressed with these beers. I'm very much looking forward to the next entry in the series.

As St. Patrick's Day and its myriad leftovers come to a close spring is upon us. I will be skipping spring seasonal beers this year in order to make a dent in my ever-accumulating beer collection. It also helps that spring happens to be my least favorite of seasonal beer offerings.

By the time I crack into another seasonal beer the Wombats may be a year old.

Holy crap.