I got home from the blogger preview of the musical "Rated P for Parenthood" all abuzz.
"I want to take you to see it," I told DH (dear husband).
"Why," he asked suspiciously. "Will this make me feel bad about my parenting?"
I laughed. No, this was not like me leaving parenting how-to books strategically placed around the house with pages flagged for him to read. In fact, all the characters in the show, moms and dads alike, are by turns confident, confused, protective, goofballs, lusty, sentimental, and imperfect, as they raise children from birth to college age, with hope and heart.
Rated P is directed by Jeremy Dobrish, who I went to high school with.
After the preview I found him in the crowd and was delighted to see he looks much the same as he did 25 years ago. But how much has happened in our lives since! We both have daughters, ages 10 and 5. We're both in that sweet spot of parenthood, the balance point on the teeter totter, with a lot of small-child rearing behind us and the unknowns of adolescence and independence ahead. In many ways I've not wanted this period to end.
But seeing the Rated P moms and dads sing, dance, cavort and joke about the messiness and joy of it all, I'm somehow encouraged and reassured that it could all turn out just fine.
"You'll like it," I told DH. "The writers have improv and sketch comedy backgrounds, so it's funny and uplifting, and hey, any show that has the line 'I didn't know old people sext' is guaranteed to be a good time."
Rated P for Parenthood opens Wed, February 29 in NYC at the Westside Theater for an open-ended run - book a sitter, and buy your tickets - DH is looking forward to his!
I love risotto. I love everything about it. It's warm, comforting, tasty, open to endless variations, and in my imaginary life I can stand by the stove, stirring love for the people I'm feeding into it for half an hour as I sip wine and make lovey eyes at my husband.
Pause for screeching as my real life kids, "I'm HUNGRY!" and "I HATE SQUASH!", clamor for food NOW, followed by the sound of something crashing that will probably take a dustpan, vacuum cleaner, tub of Clorox Wipes and a double time-out to clean. Risotto, I love you, but it ain't happening tonight.
So when I received Debbie Koenig ("Words to Eat By" blogger)'s new cookbook: PARENTS NEED TO EAT TOO: Nap Friendly Recipes, One-Handed Meals, and Time-Saving Kitchen Tricks for New Parents (William Morrow), I was thrilled to see "Zucchini and Spinach Risotto" listed among dozens of other delicious sounding "Quick Suppers," "Nutritious Nibbles" and slow cooker recipes I can't wait to try. Now, I'm not exactly a new parent (G is almost 11, R is almost 6). But I still want to have my risotto and my sanity, too - I'll take any time-saving tips I can. The publisher invited FFUD to participate in their Blogger Cooking Party - asking me to try a recipe and write about it, and in return they will send a lucky FFUD reader a free copy. A win-win-win!
How did it go?
First of all, I'm the kind of mother who cheers "Antioxidants!" whenever a kid takes a bite of a leafy green vegetable. So the fact that the recipe calls for 2 whole zucchini and half a bag of spinach made me cheer from the get-go.
Second, it calls for a cup of wine, which meant I had to open a bottle and pour myself a glass while I was at it.
Third, it says to prep everything and then put it in the pot and...step...away...from...the...risotto. No stirring! For almost 20 minutes! Well, good god, what am I suppposed to do with myself in that time? I put in a load of laundry, sorted the groceries, helped my kids write out Valentine's cards, and sat down and sipped my wine. This could not get any better!
The only risk was that Little Miss "I HATE SQUASH" would protest about all that zucchini but I had a feeling it would melt into the dish, and it did. The verdict? G (almost 11): "This is very good. Creamy, cheesy, yummy!" R (almost 6): "Best dinner ever" (Don't tell her she ate squash). DH (dear husband, between bites): "Mm. This is good." Me: Lovey eyes for everyone!
PARENTS NEED TO EAT TOO promises a lot: delicious, nutritious dishes that are easy to make, and that adults and kids will enjoy eating, and this dish totally delivers. After 10 years as the head cook of my house I am still somehow stymied every night by what to make. Searching online for recipes is a gamble. I can see myself starting my search between the pages of this cookbook, instead.
Want a chance at a free copy? Throw your hat in the ring here - post a comment about what cooking is like for you, and I'll enter you into a drawing. Or, you can buy you, your sister and your best friend, a copy here. If you purchase before Feb 21 you get access to bonus recipes online.
Zucchini and Spinach Risotto
(from Parents Need to Eat Too, by Debbie Koenig)
Serves 4 to 6
Yes, you can make risotto with a baby in the house! Here’s a little secret: Risotto doesn’t actually need to be attended to like, well, a baby, with you hovering over the stove,
adding liquid in stages, and stirring, stirring, stirring. Heresy, perhaps, but wouldn’t you
rather eat a creamy, satisfying bowl of inauthentic risotto than yet another frozen pizza?
1 shallot or small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium zucchini, shredded
Half a 5-ounce bag of baby spinach, roughly
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
4 to 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth,
vegetable broth, water, or a combination
1 cup white wine or vermouth
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Stage 1 (10 minutes)
1. Prepare the shallot, garlic, zucchini, and spinach.
2. Put each in a separate bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
Stage 2 (15 minutes)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the
shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the zucchini and
a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini has released most of its liquid
and almost all liquid has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. If it will be more than two hours before you cook again, cover pan and refrigerate. If
not, it’s OK to keep at room temperature, covered.
Stage 3 (25 to 30 minutes)
1. Heat the broth or water until nearly boiling (I usually do this in the microwave).
2. Return pan with the zucchini mixture to the stove, and heat over low heat. If mixture
looks dry, add a glug of olive oil.
3. When mixture is heated through, raise heat to medium and add the rice. Cook,
stirring frequently, until each grain is coated with oil and rice begins to make a
4. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has been
absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of the broth or water all at once, and bring
to a boil. If you’re using plain water, add
1⁄₂ teaspoon salt; if using broth, don’t salt
at this point.
5. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until rice is almost tender,
15 to 17 minutes. Toward the end of this time, chop the basil (it will turn black if
chopped too early). When the rice looks moist and creamy but not soupy, add the
basil and the chopped spinach (a handful at a time) and stir until spinach is just
6. You want to maintain that creamy-not-soupy consistency, with rice that is just slightly
firm in the center, so add some of the remaining broth or water if needed.
7. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and Parmesan, and season with salt if desired.
MAKE BABY FOOD: Texturally this one’s ideal, just as it is. There is alcohol in the
recipe but most of it will have cooked off. I did feed this to Harry when he was a
baby, but that’s a decision each family must make on its own.
"Want some Bailey's in that?" My brother-in-law asked, pointing to my coffee. This was the day before yesterday, Sunday brunch. "Absolutely, yes!" I said. "My month without alcohol is over. Now, I want it at every meal." Joking! Sort of!
I did it, I gave up drinking alcohol for 4 weeks, as part of my New Year's effort to find ways to increase energy and focus in my life. Mary Carlomagno issued the challenge in her guest blog post here, and I took it on, all by myself in my circle of fair-weather family and friends, but with online support from Facebook friends doing similar fasts from alcohol, sweets, TV, etc. "How was it?" people ask warily, usually followed by "I don't think I could do it. Don't ask me to!" You want to know the truth? It was really pretty hard.
Not that I drink all that much, mind you. Except for the glass of wine while cooking or with dinner, the occasional margarita with a girlfriend, the mimosa that comes with Sunday brunch after church, the beer during the football game, and...you get the idea.
So the month became about finding other ways to celebrate or self soothe. At first it started with sweets. Which, many pointed out, would negate the calories saved from not drinking, and give me a sugar crash which would sabatoge my goal of feeling more energetic over all.
Then, it became about distraction, which meant FB chatting with others who were staring down their own temptations and screaming at each other through the computer "Drink water! Take deep breaths! Think good thoughts!" and laughing til the moment passed.
Then, and here is the payoff, it became about paying attention to the other stuff in front of me. The food, instead of the wine. The company, instead of the margarita. The football game, which for Giants fans was really exciting enough without a beer. The food at my favorite Italian restaurant is delicious with or without wine. My friends are fun with or without a pitcher between us. And while there were moments when I wished I could unwind after the kids finally fell asleep with something stronger than herbal tea, I was probably better the next morning for not feeling fuzzy and tired. I also spent a longer time stretching at night, which helped my aging joints a lot more than a nightcap would have.
I broke the fast with a fancy cocktail with a twist of orange, on Friday night, at a bar with a girlfriend. The drink was delicious, the atmosphere was convivial, and I loved every sip. But we talked endlessly, laughed uproariously, long after the glass was empty and we'd moved on to ice water. The company was, without question, the best part. Which, when people ask "why would you want to give up alcohol?" may be the bottom line. Because by doing so, it made me appreciate everything else that much more. Life is actually full of natural highs. I'm going to enjoy all of them, with or without a twist.
Patty Chang Anker blogs about learning things she never got around to learning as a kid now that she's hurtling into middle age. Hilarity and humiliation are sure to follow. Join the fun!
Listen to Your Mother Show NYC - VIDEOS ARE UP!!
They're hilarious, poignant, unforgettable, and only 5 minutes long! Click the logo to see moms across the country riff on motherhood.
Mine was full of laughter, tears, and um...technical difficulties...check out the NYC show here
FFUD is a "What's Hot" BlogHer Spotlight! Thank you, BlogHer!
THANK YOU for voting me into Circle of Moms' Top 25 Funny Moms!!!