Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Identity Crisis...

We are in the process of creating an identity crisis for our child. Neither D nor myself ever call him by his real name. To me, he's "Bub-Bubs" - don't ask why. To D, he's "Bugaboo" - again, no clue. Others call him "TD", to one friend he's "Jersey" - we just want to confuse the poor kid...

So here's the child - by whatever name you wish - for Aunty Leah, since she's too far away...

How in the world did he get so big??

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Cherry Family Birth Plan...

By request, here is our Birth Plan... the doctor on call at the hospital when we checked in got his hands on it. He then proceeded to make copies and throw them around to other staff members. I've never seen an OB laugh so hard in my life. Several other OB's and RN's came into our delivery room throughout our stay there just to meet us. Apparently this is not your usual Birth Plan?? hehe

The CHERRY Birth Plan

While we hope there are no complications during the birth of our child, we understand that circumstances may require us to re-evaluate our desires. If the need does arise for medication or medical procedures we hope to avoid, we would like to have everything explained to us as fully as time will permit so that we may give informed consent.

Mother: Laura S. Cherry
Father: Dustin T. Cherry (friends call him “D”)

OB/GYN: Martha Reilly, MD (Oregon Medical Group)
Pediatrician: Chris Hammond, MD (I’m sure you’re familiar with this trouble maker)

Due Date: 12 November 2010


My husband, D, will be present for the entire birth. If he passes out, just step around him.

Also present (but hopefully in the grandstands and not on the field) will be my mother, Susan Newbury-Oakley, and my mother-in-law, Pawnee Cherry. If at any time either of them get out of hand, feel free to kick them out. Just kidding. Kind of. They should behave themselves.

Last, but certainly not least, I have chosen a dear friend (and RN in your NICU) as my “doula” of sorts. I am paying her in cookies, however, so I guess I should technically call her my “specialized and highly qualified labor support leader.” Her name is Maren Lee. I’m sure that’s all the introduction this crazy woman needs.

I prefer to move around freely during my birthing time, stand on my head, do cartwheels, or assume any other positions I find comfortable.


I am extremely sensitive to pain medication. One Tylenol is generally enough to cure whatever ails me, and I only take that when my husband thinks I’m dying. For this reason, among others, we would like to use natural pain management techniques throughout the birth. Massage, water therapy, walking, dancing, and chocolate are my preferred methods, along with anything that has ever worked, since the dawn of time. Please feel free to share any and all tricks with me you may have up your sleeve.


My OB and I have discussed the matter of medical intervention, and we have agreed on the following: Induction will not be discussed (unless a medical need arises) until November 14th. I would like to remain without an IV unless it is absolutely medically necessary. And I would like to avoid the following things above others: Internal Monitoring, Induction, and Cesarean Birth.


I am open to anything when it comes to positioning and pushing. I would, however, rather remain in a more upright position rather than on my back or with my feet at my ears. Above all, I would like to play it by ear and do whatever feels and works best. Please feel free to offer suggestions!

I'd love a labor support person to massage my perineum with oil prior to crowning. Peeled grapes and a handsome greek god fanning me with a palm leaf would be ok too. Of course I want to avoid an episotomy, who wouldn't?

We would like a staff member to cut the cord, which hopefully won't be clamped or cut until the cord stops pulsing. We are not banking the cord blood. We would like the baby placed on my chest immediately after birth, to remain there for at least a half an hour, if medically possible.

Do feel free to toss it after it is all out. I waive the right to fry it up and eat it. Thanks.


In the event of prolonged labor, complications, or the need arises for a cesarean birth, my husband has final say. I would like him to weigh our options, discuss the pros and cons with the nurses and doctor, and make a decision.


Feed me. Let me shower. Send me home. I’m easy that way.


We would like our son to be a breastfed baby. Please do not supplement with water or formula prior to speaking with me. I would like to breastfeed within the hour after birth, and I would love for my husband to be as involved with the bathing/caring for the baby as allowed. Break that man in!

Thank you for everything!! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I swear I do other things besides cook...

You wouldn't know it to look at my posts on this blog, but I really don't spend all of my time in the kitchen.  As a matter of fact, Jon probably cooks more than I do.  I average about three times a week, if we are lucky.  Actually, it IS lucky, because Jon is a great cook.  He's making one of my favorites as I type: chicken enchiladas. Pavlov just rang his bell.

If I had to choose a type of food to live on for the rest of my life, I would choose soup.  I'm a soup fan.  It is like a warm blanket and a good book in a bowl.

If not soup, then I would choose seafood.  I will eat pretty much anything that comes out of water...and that includes eel and seaweed, so I'm not just talking.

So, as you can imagine, clam chowder is my idea of absolute heaven.

And it is so easy.  Guess how it starts!  Rood veggies. In a pot.  Imagine that.

I always begin by sauteing onions and garlic in olive oil or butter or a combo of both.  I then add equal amounts of carrots, celery, and potatoes.  Those potatoes are from my garden. The last for the year.  They were so good.  The Yukon gold and red work well because they stay firmer than russets when cooked.  I then empty the water from three cups of chopped clams onto the veggies.  Add a bit more water if needed, but don't bring it over the veggies.  We want just enough to basically steam the veggies until they are fork tender.  Firmer is better.

This here is a pitcher of raw milk.  My friend Heidi keeps me supplied.  I got a couple of cups of cream skimmed off the top before I transferred the milk to this pitcher.  The cream is rich and yellow.  If fresh cream is hard to come by in your parts, you could also use a pint of half and half.  Poor it into the veggies.

Take half a cup of butter and melt in the microwave.  Add about three tablespoons of flour and mix into a paste.  Put some of the liquid from the chowder into a cup and poor slowly into the paste, mixing to keep smooth. When it is combined, pour back into the chowder, bring to a boil and reduce the heat.

Salt and pepper to taste and then my secret ingredient, inspired by a fish and chips place in Florence, OR that Jon and I used to love before they had the audacity to close up and move to Salem to take care of an ailing mother or something.  Whatever.  All these people thinking of other people besides me.  Sheesh.

Oh mama.  Serve with buttered garlic toast or crackers.  Sand and surf is optional.

Speaking of soup...Jon and I have become meat snobs.  It started with watching Food, Inc. and then things fell into place so that we could get our own good, local, humanely raised meat to stock our freezer.  We don't eat out much anymore.  We don't mind.  Our food is better anyway.  So, recently, a family here in Sanpete offered to sell us some chickens.  I was going to throw five or so in our freezer, but wanted to see what I could do with a roast chicken before I did that.  Jon bought one a while ago that I had forgotten existed and I put it in the slow cooker rubbed with some olive oil and some poultry seasoning.  I was able to turn it into about four meals.

After it was cooked, I carved it up and stuck the meat in the fridge.  I then put the carcass into a large pot and covered it with water.  I added an onion, a carrot, and a couple of stalks of celery.  A couple of teaspoons of salt and some pepper went in too, and then I left it on low overnight and all day.  I kept the lid on, so that I didn't lose too much liquid.  When I got home from school today, I strained the stock and then I (you'll never guess) sauteed an onion and some garlic in olive oil in the pot and then added a carrot and some celery.  I know...this is so hard to believe, but it is true.

I covered the veggies in the strained broth, chopped up some of the meat that I had carved off of the bird, threw in some of the good meat that had come off of the carcass, and seasoned to taste.  I brought it to a boil and then added a couple of handfuls of Costco egg noodles.  Simmered for about ten-twelve minutes or until the noodles were tender.  The veggies and the noodles got tender about the same time and it was so yummy.  I had quite a bit of chicken left over, so I made a simple chicken salad that I will eat as a sandwich tomorrow, and then I canned the remaining broth.  I'll use it to make cabbage soup on Wednesday...or maybe pantry stew...I'm telling you, it's a cuddly blanket for your belly.

And last, but not least, another of our standard recipes.  This is going to come as a shock though, so you might want to sit down if you're not already.  Besides, what are you doing reading a blog standing up?

This does not start with root veggies.  It has nothing to do with them...well, except for the onions and garlic, but what can I say?

This one starts with about 5oz of spinach (two or three big handfuls) in a HUGE bowl.  Add 8oz mozzarella and 1/3 cup Parmesan.

Cook and drain half a pound of penne pasta.  Set it aside.  Next, a half an onion and three cloves of garlic in half olive oil and half butter (a tablespoon or so of each).  I have one of those monstrous things of garlic cloves from Costco in the freezer, so I pull out the cloves I need and shred them.  This makes the garlic really potent.  You can use fresh diced up...I'm all about personal freedom.

Brown up some meat if you want (chicken or beef or whatever), but I often leave it vegetarian.  Then add a pint of diced tomatoes...or a can...whatever.  Last, when everything is heated through, add 1/3 cup or so of pesto.  Hence the greenish color.  It didn't look so green in real life.  It looked yummy in real life.

Pour everything together in the HUGE bowl and mix carefully until all ingredients are evenly distributed.  This is important...and a bit tricky, but I have faith you will prevail.  

I dump it all back into the pan I used to make the sauce, but you can use a 9x13 casserole if you want.  Sprinkle the top with more mozzarella and Parmesan, and stick it in a 375 oven uncovered for half an hour.  I forgot the last picture because I was so excited to eat it, but it comes out beautifully brown and bubbly and  smelling lovely.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

4 Months 28 Days



Both taken around 7am.  Both suspiciously similarly white.  I mean, really? More months with snow in the year than without?  Who's idea was this?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Two Suppers for an Autumn evening

I just wanted to say suppers.

But seriously.

Two meals so decidedly simple.  So perfectly...perfect.  Both take about half an hour, and sometimes less.  Both will have you dreaming of a white Christmas, fires in the fireplace, and mugs of herbal tea and hot chocolate.  And Hawaii.

Well, let me explain.

I spent my first year of college at BYU-Hawaii. It was lovely.  I studied on the beach.  I scuba dived.  Dove.  I went scuba diving.  I lived with nine girls.  I ruined chocolate chip cookies.

I made chicken curry with my best friend, Coby.  It was a Sunday tradition.

It is easier than pie, which is actually quite difficult, is cheap, and is yummy.

Root veggies in a pot.  I always start with onions and garlic in olive oil.  It makes the house smell lovely.  I add a couple of stalks of celery, a couple of carrots, and some potatoes. 

So many good things begin this way.  Pantry Stew, Curry, Clam Chowder...

Next, brown some sort of meat with the onions.  Stew meat, lamb, chicken...whatever you have or makes you happy.  Ree would say, "whatever makes your skirt fly up".  I love Ree.

I add enough water to barely come to the top of the veggies.  Simmer until the veggies are just tender.  It takes about 10 or 15 minutes.  Then I add a very secret ingredient.


Speaking of skirts flying up.  Stir in this stuff until it melts, and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes.  It will thicken up.

Serve over a bed of rice.  Think of middle eastern spice markets.

Don't go away just yet.  We aren't quite finished.
Remember that part in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory...the new one...where they are eating cabbage soup and are sad about it?  Yah, they're idiots.

I have a good friend...a book, to be precise.  I eyed my mom's, which was losing it's cover and looked like it was three hundred and fifty years old.  Knowing me well enough to know that I am not above stealing from my own mother, she got me my own.


She is a smart woman.  This cookbook is from the 40's.  It includes recipes for rabbit, squirrel, and other small game.  It never calls for "a can of..." or "a package of...".  It assumes that you have to make what you is unfamiliar with the center isles of the grocery store.  It harks back to a simpler time.  I love its naivete.

As you can see, it starts with two tablespoons of butter, melted in a saucepan.  Add 1/4 cup of chopped onions (I usually just add half of a medium onion) and saute until tender.  Add 1/4 cup of raw rice, 1 quart of water, four bullion cubes (or four cups of chicken broth), and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Simmer it all together for 15 minutes, covered.

Add and 2 and 1/2 cups of finely sliced cabbage.

It came right out of my garden.  Full of vitamin C and mellow goodness.

Simmer another five minutes.  Now get ready for the best part.

We use nothing but the finest in this house.  Dish up the soup.  Sprinkle it with shredded cheddar, and top with a bit of paprika.  Sometimes I add a bit more rice (if you do this, add more water proportionally) and a bit more cabbage than the recipe calls for, but it is heavenly right out of the book.  Talk about comfort food.

Now excuse me while I go turn up the heat.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pantry Stew

Tonight I made pantry stew in honor of my dad, who was known for mixing his food in crazy fashion.  He would have loved this soup.  Tomorrow it will be 8 years since we lost him to lung disease.  I miss him.

I decided to share the recipe with you.  The problem is, there is no recipe.

So, I decided to take a picture of the pot I made tonight...but then stopped, because I realized that that would be misleading; it never looks the same way twice. 

I'm just going to tell you about this wonder.  You take whatever you happen to have in the pantry by way of veggies or beans and throw it in with some root veggies or whatever is going to go bad if it doesn't get used.

Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...I'll start from the beginning.

Start by heating up some olive oil on medium and then saute a chopped up onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.  Brown some ground beef or some stew meat. 

Add to that a couple of carrots, a couple of stalks of celery, and a couple of potatoes.  Have squash? Add it.  Have zucchini?  Add it.  Have broccoli?  Add it.

It is that kind of dish...forget "a cup of" or "two tsps of"...its just "some" and "a couple".  Let your hair down.  Be free.
Pour in a can of chicken or beef stock.  Add enough water to come up to the top of the veggies already in the pot.  Use bullion instead of stock, if you must.

Pinch of salt and some pepper.

This is where it gets interesting.  Ready?

Beans.  I added great northern, black, kidney, and green tonight.  Sometimes I add pinto.  Sometimes I add navy.  I always mix it up.  Three or four cans is about right.

I added a can of corn tonight too.  And a small can of green chilis.  And a small bottle of pimentos, because I wanted the jar to use for salad dressing in my lunch.  I threw in a handful of chopped tomatoes.  Sometimes I use a can of diced. Tonight I used fresh, because they are coming out of my garden right now.  I was going to add mushrooms, but only had canned and didn't feel like it.  So sue me.

Once the potatoes are tender, I add the spices.  This gets fun because I pull down half my spice cabinet to do it.

Basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, and savory.  Pinch of each.  I thought about dill and then decided that wasn't the direction my heart was taking me.  Turmeric, cumin, and red pepper tonight.  Just a bit. A dash of seasoning salt. Splashes of Worcestershire sauce.

Voila! Curl up on the couch with a bowl of this in your lap.  I'm going to eat mine with some homemade bread my visiting teacher brought me yesterday. 

Have I mentioned I love fall?  And my dad. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Talk of the Taters

We dug up a couple hundred pounds of potatoes a couple of weeks ago, and my niece Kayla gathered all of the "potatoes with personality" and put them in a bucket for me. They have been sitting in the produce fridge ever since, and as I went to retrieve the neglected pears also sitting there, I spied them with my little eye!

They are so cute.

They are almost human.

And I need your help in giving them names. There's a name associated with each one, which I put below each picture as to not screw with your thoughts, but my question for this psychotherapy session is....

What do you see in the 'tato??

So.... without any further ado, here are the taters...

Tater #1

"Sitting Dog"

Tater #2

"I Have No Clue"

Tater #3

"The Mouth"

 Tater #4
"Rubber Ducky"

Tater #5
"Bulbous-Nosed Man with a Distinguished Brow"

Tater #6

"Rubber Ducky Reincarnate" or "Laying Dog"

Tater #7

"The Hand" 
Dun dun dun duuuuuuun...

Tater #7
"Sloth?" or "Winnie the Pooh"

Tater #8

Tater #9
"Little Lamb"

And a family of taters...  or ducks. I can't decide. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Saucy Situation

There was a saucy situation going down in my kitchen today...

I received an email from OSU Extension Agent Ross Penhallegon, advising me to pick tomatoes and use them in sauce immediately. The weather we've been experiencing in Oregon lately has been less than ideal for growing tomatoes.

Heat, rain, heat rain... that makes for a lot of cracked, pathetic, and confused tomatoes.

I decided to get crackin' myself and whip out a batch of sauce.

We use this sauce for everything... pastas, pizzas, calzones, lasagna... it's a wonder sauce. It's fabulous.

The recipe comes from Barbara Kingsolver's Book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" - a must read if you haven't done so already.

She calls it her...


Dun dun dun duuuuuuuunnn...


Straight from the book: 'The point of this recipe is to make a large amount at one time, when tomatoes are in season. If you are canning it, stick closely to the recipe; adding additional fresh vegetables will change the pH so it's unsafe for water-bath canning. If you're freezing it, then it's fine to throw in peppers, mushrooms, fresh garlic, whatever you want. This recipe makes 6-7 quarts - you can use any combination of pint and quart canning jars or freezer boxes."

I got 10 quarts out of my batch, and only did one thing different than the recipe calls for.

I let my simmer.

Overnight. All night. The whole night. Night entirety.

It was a glorious smell to wake up to. Really.

Here's what you'll need:

10 quarts tomato puree (about 30 lbs of tomatoes) - And if you're a little slow like me, that's 40 cups. That's how I measured mine out. While I was washing the tomatoes, I cored them and then I chucked them in my blender and frapped the suckers. It felt good. 
4 large onions, chopped
1 cup dried basil
1/2 cup honey
4 Tablespoons dried oregano
3 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons ground dried lemon peel - I didn't have any so I left it out. So there.
2 Tablespoons thyme
2 Tablespoons garlic powder (or more, to taste) - I used the 2T garlic powder, plus about 3T garlic salt. Cause I'm crazy. And I have a husband who hates sweet sauce but loves garlic. Can you blame him?
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Soften onions in a heavy kettle (I used my big aluminum stock pot) - add a small amount of water if necessary but NO OIL IF YOU ARE CANNING.

Add pureed tomatoes.


Add all seasonings.

Bring to a boil, and simmer on low heat for two to three hours until sauce has thickened to your liking. Stir frequently, especially toward the end, to avoid burning.

This is where I changed things up a bit. I let the sauce simmer all night long. Aaaalllll niiiiggghhhttt loooong! Aaaalll niiigghht. Okay I'm done singing. 

I can let things simmer all night long for two reasons: 

1. I have a natural gas stove. I wouldn't recommend doing this on an electric range - ask my sister how that fares. 

2. I am pregnant. Let me rephrase that... I am hugely, ginormously,8 months, fatty fatty type pregnant... which means I don't sleep so good. I toss and I turn and even when I can get comfortable and I don't have to pee, I still wake up at 3 am just for kicks and find myself fully alert and energized. I swear that's my body preparing me for late-night feedings. Anyways, I'm not complaining - I still get enough sleep - but I can get up several times in the middle of the night to stir sauce and not think twice about it. Last night D woke up and I was just sitting in bed, staring off into space. He looked at me like I was nutso and in only a way D could, asked sincerely, "Everything okay?" He's so sweet. I let him know I was just contemplating the meaning of life and that he was free to go back to sleep. Don't mind the crazed fat lady sitting next to you. Dream away. 

Where was I? 

Oh yes. I can leave sauce simmering. You may not be able to. If you cannot, follow Barbara's recommendation. If you can, praise the Heavens because it means you can break this saucy situation into two days. Excellent. Procrastination at its finest. 

This morning I collected my canning things, fed the child in the high chair, and started filling quart jars. 10 quarts of sauce is easy shtuff. 

If you can't simmer when the sun's down, continue the process as follows... 

Meanwhile, (this is back when you've added your seasonings and such to your sauce... I'm almost positive you forget where I left you) heat water in canner bath, sterilize jars in boiling water or dishwasher (what's that?) and pour boiling water over jar lids.

SIDE NOTE: Make canning easier on yourself, and use a couple of tricks that women have used since the dawn of time. They're tried and true, and they are glorious. I like easy. Easy peasy. 

1. Steal your paper towel holder. use it to hold your rings so you're not chasing them all over the counter. They're slippery little buggers. 

2. Don't run your jars through the dishwasher every time you're going to use them. Run them under hot water for a  moment, drain them, and then stick them in the oven at about 250 degrees. I promise by the time you use them, there will be nothing living. And then they're piping hot when you put what you're canning into them. Love it.

Bottled lemon juice or citric acid - NOT optional!

Add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice OR 1/2 teaspoon citric acid to each quart jar (half that much to pint jars). This ensures that the sauce will be safely acidic.

When the sauce is ready, ladle it into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Cap jars, lower gently into the canner and boil for 35 minutes. Remove, cool, check all seals, and store for winter.


Voila! You  have Super Sauce!!!!

And thank you Barbara Kingsolver!!