I wanted to use this post to just let you know how we going on the old baby-making front. Many of you have followed us through the last year, when I was ovulating during Sex Fest 2008, when I was making stupid sperm jokes, and when two people named "Pim" and "Ravid" had to have sex on the bathroom floor so their kids and the babysitter wouldn't walk in on them. You were also there when things didn't turn out as planned.
Some of you have e-mailed me asking how we were on this front and I figured you might be wondering. So, here's the skinny - we tried for baby number three for a year. I'm 44 years old. I just got my body back after three years of breast feeding. I want another kid, but I really don't want to be 45 and breastfeeding and 46 and just beginning to get my body back to being mine again. We gave it our best shot. It didn't happen. I am closing the shop. The uterus is getting a well-deserved rest.
As you can imagine, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, we have two awesome girls. Just beautiful little creatures and every day I wonder how we could have made two such glorious little beings. But we did, so there isn't any sadness really.
I mean, look at them. How could there be?
But I still believe our family isn't finished. I'm not sure why. I just feel it. So, we are looking at adoption as an option. We are at the beginning. Not sure. Just figuring it out. But not a day goes by where the girls don't ask for a baby sister. David says they also ask to go to Disney World nearly as many times and to have a puppy, and he is totally not making that up, but I just have a feeling, just maybe...
Anyway, we are all good here at Camp Foster. No blues. No regrets. I just wanted you to know that and know you have wondered now and again as I talked about babies and my eggs and David's testacles less and less. David is quite happy his testicles have not been featured here in awhile, so amen to that.
Thanks for wondering about us occasionally and making space for me and my family in your busy lives and for writing me with your thoughts. It is all appreciated. All important to me.
And because I wanted something a little homey these days, I made stuffed cabbage. Warm, comforting, good for the soul. And it did the trick. I left you the recipe.
PS: And yes, if you have adoption wisdom or experience, or friends, or friends of friends who do, I would love to hear from you and them. That would be appreciated, for sure.
(Inspired by and adapted from a recipe by Sassy Radish)
2 quarts water
1 large green cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup your favorite fresh mixed herbs (I used thyme, tarragon and sage), chopped
2 cups cooked rice
16 oz ground beef (Or you can also use 1/2 beef and 1/2 pork combination)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large can San Marzano tomatoes, whole tomatoes should be chopped
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 cup sour cream for garnish
Parsley for garnish
Steaming the cabbage...
In a large stockpot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Remove center core of cabbage. Once the water boils, turn off the heat and gently slide the cabbage into the pot of water and let it steam there with the cover on. Don't boil it, just steam. Take the cabbage out after 5 minutes or so. Cover the pot, turn the heat back on to re-heat the water and start peeling the outer leaves off your cabbage. You should get 4 or 5 leaves off the cabbage before the underlying leaves feel cool. Turn heat off the pot, pop the cabbage back in the water and let it steam, covered for 5 minutes. Repeat this process until you have removed all of the leaves and are left with a tiny little ball of cabbage with leaves too small to use. (I re-purposed these for slaw for David's lunch)
Reserve 2 cups cabbage cooking water. Trim the thick center vein from bottom of each leaf. This seems trivial, but you want to remove any hard stems that will keep you from rolling the filling up in the leaf. If the leaf is large, you can split the leaf at the stem and make two rolls from each, or if it is small, you can cut the vein out partially and when you are rolling, pull the sides over the filling before you roll it into a perfect little parcel.
Now, for the filling...
In a medium skillet, melt butter and a little olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and celery, and cook until golden and tender, about 8 minutes. Add herbs and cook another minute longer. Salt to taste. To this pan, add ground meat and let that cook for 7 minutes or so. The meat should be getting cooked, but not over-cooked. Add rice at this point and continue to cook, stirring rice into meat, until everything is piping hot and meat is cooked, about 3 minutes.
Using a tablespoon, spoon rice filling mixture into a leaf on the stem end. I used approximately about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling for each leaf, depending on the size of the leaf. You should eye ball it based on how plump and fat you want the little parcels to be. Fold sides of cabbage over filling and roll the cabbage into a little parcel, and arrange in a large, wide pot. Do that until you've used all the filling.
Now, here is where you can be a little foot loose and fancy free. The cabbage is going to cook on low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour. (Bring the heat up first and then set it down to simmer.) You can use your favorite tomato sauce or combination of tomato puree and tomato paste, whatever floats your boat. I used a large can of San Marzano tomatoes which I chopped up and poured into the pot over the rolls, with just a little of the reserved cabbage water. Eyeball this. Just put in enough water to give the tomatoes some liquidity and so you don't burn the cabbage parcels on the bottom of the pan.
Then, I salted the tomatoes, added a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the sauce, stirred it around, put a lid on it and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs with the kids. When David got home dinner was ready.
Serve with dollops of sour cream and a sprinkling of Parsley.
A couple notes: This dish is easy to put together right before dinner if the components are made in advance, for instance, I had rice left over from making fried rice in Lucy's class, I made the beef filling in the morning and stored it covered in the fridge. I also steamed off the cabbage leaves in the morning and stored them in tin foil in the fridge. They stored perfectly. When I got home, I rolled the filling in the leaves, plopped them in the pot, poured the tomatoes over, salted and that was it. So, if you make the components ahead, it's quick and easy at dinner.
Also, cabbage rolls freeze beautifully and make the perfect pack and go lunch the next day.