Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The American Family

I read an article yesterday (forgive me, I can't link to it using the Blogger iPhone app) on Slate that more women in their 20s are having babies out of wedlock. Most of these single moms have lower education levels.

Among those holding college degrees, the story is completely different. These women are getting married later, having babies after marriage, and then staying married.

The article suggests that an explanation for both phenomena is that marriage has become a "capstone event" in people's lives. Rather than being something that happened along the path of one's life, marriage is now the cake-topper. First you go to college, then you explore the world, then you get married.

And this idea that you need to progress up a life achievement ladder to marriage also explains why some people have babies and yet feel unready for marriage. They haven't reached the premarriage rungs yet, so they're not "ready" to slap the capstone of marriage on their lives. The existence of babies apparently doesn't change this.

This is a fundamental shift in the conception of marriage in just a generation.

But it makes sense:

When my parents got married, birth control was in its infancy (pardon the pun), abortion was illegal, and not a lot of women completed college or had demanding careers.

But that wasn't the case for my generation. We had the opportunity to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And we were encouraged by our mothers to get educations and delay marriage until we'd done some stuff.

This shift in the conception of marriage from a place where babies happen to a place where personal fulfillment is realized is a direct result of ladies like me delaying marriage and family in favor of education, personal exploration, and career.

Which brings me to gay marriage....

The argument goes that gay marriage will threaten the fundamental shape of the American Family by decoupling procreation from the marital unit. Leaving aside the obvious arguments that such a position fails to take into account infertile heterosexual couples or those heterosexual couples who choose not to have kids, the argument that gay marriage decouples marriage and children and turns marriage into an emotional and relational achievement is false.

Gay marriage does not and will not do that because it has already happened. And it happened under everybody's noses, and to many a parent's delight, as girls like me went to law school and delayed marriage and childbearing until we were in our 30s and 40s.

So don't blame the gay folks for the reimagining of the marital state. Marriage changed when your daughters went to school and work. Blame feminists for the change in the conception of marriage. Blame me. I reimagined it first. They're just following my lead.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

Oh yum! I found a recipe online for vegan peanut butter cookies, and adapted it according to my tastes and pantry. The result is a yummy, chewy cookie that you'd probably not guess was animal-product-free. You could also probably make almond butter cookies, or even make them gluten free by using almond flour. ( I wonder if tahini cookies would be too weird.) I like playing around with recipes to make them my own. It's what makes cooking fun...a little bit of art, a little bit of science, a little ingenuity when you're missing an ingredient.....

So...anyway...recipe! Here we go!

1 tube Ella Organics butternut squash, carrot, apple, and prunes (or a little over half a cup of apple sauce)
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

Bake at 375 (or 350 convection).

Sift together dry ingredients. Cream together the fruit/veg purée, peanut butter, soy milk, vanilla, and brown sugar. Add dry ingredients to the wet in three batches. Roll the stiff dough into 1.5 inch balls. If you want to be a traditionalist, roll the balls in white sugar before you place them on the cookie sheet. Do that peanut-butter-cookie-crosshatch-thing with a fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cookies that look like the ones below. Yum!

Sleeping on the floor

When your little guy cries out at 11:30 pm.... And you've soothed him and put him back to bed..., And you're still up an hour later...worrying, for no rational reason.

The only thing there is to do is make a pallet for yourself and sleep in the nursery floor, listening to the slow, soothing cadence of your sleeping toddler's breathing. Nighty night.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Veggie Barley Risotto

We've made Chicken Barley Risotto for years. I adapted from a recipe Mark Bittman created for Thanksgiving Turkey left overs, which I'd run across in the New York Times.

In an effort to reduce the amount of animal products we eat, I decided to see if our barley risotto could go vegan.

Oh yeah, it sure can!

I actually love this recipe better than the chicken version, so much so that I'm planning to put it into weekly rotation. And, The Working Dad went back for thirds. Whoop!

Here's the recipe:

First, a note: except for the barley, broth and water, I just eye-ball the measurements.

1 cup pearled barley
1.5 cup vegetable broth
1.5 cup water
2 table spoons canola or olive oil
2 shallots chopped
1.5 cup mushrooms (I used portobellos this time, but whatever you've got.)
1.5 cup chopped veggies (Here, you can experiment or just use what's in your fridge. I used asparagus and carrots because that's what I had on hand.)
3 handfuls baby spinach
1/3 cup soy parmesan (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons of the herbs of your choice (You'll need less if you use dried. I just grabbed the Italian blend from my pantry, but dill or tarragon are lovely in the chicken version and would probably be great in this too.)

In a skillet, sauté (in the oil) the shallots, mushrooms, and chopped veggies until the veggies start to look bright whatever-color-they-are. Throw in the spinach and allow to wilt. Toss in the barley and toast it for a minute to a minute and a half. Pour in the broth and water. Add the herbs. Simmer on low until the barley cooks, 30 to 45 minutes. The barley and mushrooms make a nice sauce, so you can skip the soy cheese, if you like. But for a little added richness and flavor, toss in your soy cheese at the last minute and allow to melt. Serve by itself or with a salad and toast.

I can't wait to experiment with various farmers market veggies with this recipe this spring! Yummers!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

So what if I wrote a novel?


What if I wrote a novel? What would it be about? You often hear the advice to "write what you know."

But if everyone wrote what they knew, we wouldn't have fantasy or horror fiction.

But I'm not sure I can sustain that level of whole-cloth creation. Nor am I sure that I've the patience to create a whole alternate universe and all of its rules. Plus, I like to read fantasy type stuff, but that doesn't mean I want to write it.


Write what you know.
Write what you know.

Here's what I know:

What it's like to grow up in a small town....
What it's like to be a sorority girl at a small state college....
What it's like to go to law school....
What it's like to struggle with a legal career and then come to terms with it....
What it's like to be a single woman into middle age....
What it's like to marry your best friend....
What it's like to struggle with infertility....
What it's like to be a professional woman in "this man's world"....
What it's like to own and care for a diabetic cat....
What it's like to parent a toddler....
What it's like to struggle with your weight....
Some combination of some or all of the above...
Probably other stuff too that I've not thought about in this moment....

So there's got to be something there, right?

Then, where to find the time?