The Office

Being back home has been a lot of a lot. A lot of memories-slash-skeletons uprocking in my face and a lot of me choosing whether or not to accept the dance. I'm much more selective with my memory-embracing dance card if Fred is with me, of course. I don't need to tell Fred that little anecdotal tale of that time that crazy thing happened at that party in that house we're walking past right now, right? Sure was a good story, though. You get the idea.

But really, the main a lot of a lot that has been happening in the three months since we landed in our new home, the reason for the absence of a lot of a lot of writing and sharing stories with you is that I'm pregnant. Fred and I are having a baby! And we are a lot of a lot of everything ranging from elated to petrified.

From the first months of my physical fragility, fear, nausea and hormonal tsunamis (poor Fred), to the last few weeks of genetic tests and waiting for results, I haven't been able to think, focus or mentally commit to much, especially with concentration for writing. And, of course, this is all I have wanted to talk about. But couldn't. Not yet. I'm relieved to be able to put it out there now.

When we moved into our new apartment, we discussed the smaller, extra bedroom being an office-slash-photo studio. Mostly, it became the room where we crammed all of the things we didn't want to look at or deal with until later. But then it became the mystery room that neither Fred nor I knew what to do with. Was it going to be an office or a nursery? We didn't want to treat it as either until we had some solid news. And so it sat, unattended to.

A week ago, in one of my OCD fests, I couldn't take it any more. I had to do something with the extra room. For some reason it had become my albatross and it kept staring at me, taunting me – even through the closed door. So I went to setting up sort of a mini office on one side of the room. An organized and tidy place for Fred or I to do work. But also something that would be able to stay and become part of the nursery, or could possibly expand and be a straight up office. Depending, you know?

Yesterday, Fred and I finally received the call that had had us emotionally upended during the wait, the definitive enough results of the genetic tests. And a bonus, the news of our baby's gender - she's a girl! Though all sorts of unforeseen events can happen in life, and one ultimately never knows, we had decided that this was our GO point. Game on. Hey world, we are having a baby!

So, I guess I will have start working on the nursery part of the extra room. And man, I don't know how or where to begin. I guess we have to get stuff. Advice is welcome. We're new here.

To tell you the truth, as far as my kitchen and its goings on, you haven't missed much. The most entertaining food things with me have involved my cravings that primarily require bringing outside things in. Most notably, my newfound sweet tooth-related items such as ice cream, donuts, very specific chocolate, mainly Rolos (absolutely nothing fancy – the trashier the better). But there was also the carrots-dipped-in-ranch-dressing phase, the extra-toasted-bagel-with-cream-cheese phase, the butter croissant phase, the cold sandwich phase (which was limited as I'm not supposed to eat cold cuts), the completely-void-of-seasoning-in-all-food-phase (think something akin to elderly people cafeteria food), and the spicy soup phase. In a bizarre turn I have not craved my usual salty crunchies: no chips. Until last night when I housed a family sized bag of the salt and vinegar variety. Following a dinner of New England clam chowder and a salad. What can I say?

The recipe I'm sharing with you today is from the spicy soup phase. It's Winter. Everyone loves soup. And I'm guessing you don't want a recipe for homemade Rolos. Wait, that's not a bad idea, actually...

Well, until then, let's celebrate with this soup and Thai one on.

Tom Kha Gai
(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit September, 2013)

Makes 6-8 servings

1 1” piece ginger, peeled
10 kaffir lime leaves or 1 Tablespoon lime zest and ¼ cup lime juice
6 cups chicken stock
1½ pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1” pieces
8 ounces of mushrooms of your choice, stemmed, caps cut into bite-size pieces
2 13.5 ounce cans coconut milk
2 Tablespoons fish sauce 
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, tough outer layers removed
Chili oil, cilantro leaves with tender stems, lime wedges and sliced jalapeño (optional) (for serving)

Cut the lemongrass stalks into 1-inch pieces and smash them with the side of a large knife, a pestle, or any heavy object lying around in the house; do the same with the ginger. Bring lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves, and broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors become married, 8–10 minutes. Strain broth into a new saucepan and discard solids.

Add chicken to broth and return to a boil. Reduce heat, add mushrooms, and simmer, skimming occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms are soft, 20–25 minutes. Mix in coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar. We added more fish sauce as the recipe progressed. It's really up to you.

Serve with cilantro, chili oil and lime wedges. And maybe a slice or two of jalapeño peppers if you're feeling wild and crazy.

One year ago: Bagels
Four years ago: Chicken Pot Pie
Six years ago: Oyster Stew

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