Saturday, February 20, 2010

"This means nothing to me, oh Vienna" or Pizza night!

I'm flying this morning to Vienna for a course in a specific method in molecular biology. The course is held in the University of Vienna and is 5 days long. Because it starts Monday morning, I'm arriving Sunday noon. So I'll be a week (!!!) away from home. I've never left the kids for such a long time. I'm really pleased that I was accepted to this workshop and that my boss agreed to fund the whole week, but I'm so apprehensive of leaving my kids for so long. Of course they are left with their dad, and grandparents, which will provide the best possible care.
Well, I'd like to confess: I am a control freak, and a perfectionist. Now if I was in a CFA (control freaks anonymous) meeting, all would have declared:" we love you Yael!" It's hard for me to let go and believe they'll manage without me, (although they will, and brilliantly). On top of that there is the guilt that always accompanies me because I'm a working mom. There's always this little voice of the guiltiness demon:" you don't spend enough time with the kids", "they'll grow up to be miserable sods", "and you don't deserve to have fun, ever" etc. I know that its complete rubbish, I work very hard in both my full time jobs but it's always there.

In order to reduce the guilt trip and feel more like a good mom and a domestic goddess I decided to bake the family a homemade pizza. In my personal explorations these past months I've been to a baking class with my best friend Sarah and we learned to bake pizza among other types of bread. I even got a pizza stone for Valentine from my dear husband.

So, Friday morning began with shopping for cheeses, flour and toppings for the pizza like mushrooms. I cooked the tomatoes' sauce myself! It took 1kg of fresh tomatoes with sautéed onion and garlic. After almost 2 hours of cooking I mashed the sauce and passed it through a sieve to get rid of all the seeds. It tastes great.

Then I moved to the dough. According to the recipe we got in the course, I used my lovely Kitchen Aid and eventually before I put it to leaven, I pinched a piece and stretch it in order to see the gluten network so necessary for good dough. We bought ready-made gluten-free pizza base for my celiac afflicted daughter.

After the first leavening I cut the dough in 8 pieces for pizzas and focaccias, and left it for a few more hours during which we roasted bell peppers in the oven, cut mushrooms and sliced mozzarella cheese.
When all was ready, we just assembled the pizzas, with the home made sauce and each one putting on top his favourite foodstuff.

It was a great family fun, and I'm leaving the gang with some good and tasteful memories. Now I'll finish packing and hope I'll have some great time in spite of the guilt demon. i'll try to keep a Viennese blog and add my lousy pictures of the tourist attraction in the city and maybe some photos of food.

I saying goodnight with that song by Ultravox, oh Vienna…

Monday, February 15, 2010

Science project

Sometimes I think I'm doing a good job. Most of the time I have a horrible sense of incompetence: not a good enough scientist, not a good mom, a lousy housewife, etc. BUT there are good days that I feel on top of the world, and wonder where the hell the truck with the medals is?
Yesterday was one of these days. Not only was I efficient at work but I got home before 4 o'clock and all the kids were home early. I managed to help my middle daughter with the homework, have fun with my son and his new fire engine and even get the girls to play the piano, without threats or shouts. I felt like Gandhi. Then my friend Shiri called. There was a science project from school and our daughters were teamed together for it. I met Shiri 2 months after my eldest daughter was born, when I was on verge of complete collapse and post-natal depression. Meeting her in the neighborhood supermarket with her own 3 months old baby was the start of a long friendship where I give and get a lot of help and support. Our daughters are best friends since the cradle. Shiri is a creative person, that’s what she does for a living she's an interior decorator and it renders her as responsible for all sorts of school projects where I am the loyal side kick. Yesterday she bought 3 meters of pipe for the school science project: "the digestive tract". Of course the girls were supposed to do the project, but as I say, Shiri is a creative person. I was called in as the science expert (it's my unofficial role even though Shiri's dad is senior doctor). So Shiri drew this figure on a huge cardboard and using nylon stockings we created the liver, stomach and Shiri's masterpiece, the colon! Using a hot glue gun without any of us getting serious burns, we glued it all. Two women and six kids, all of them under twelve and we managed to create this marvelous model of the human digestive system. Isn't that being superwomen or what?
Here is the photo of the masterpiece, anatomically accurate people! Including the pancreas! It will be presented in the girls' school from Wednesday.

We got home, had dinner, showers, bed time story for the little guy and when my husband arrived at around 10pm, the house was asleep.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The cheery optimistic post – nothing like pancakes (gluten free)

What would we have done without Nigella Lawson? Her recipes are simple but tasty and made with the best ingredients. In our household they proved themselves time and again as a great success. I already wrote about the chocolate cake which was voted "desert number one" by my family. This time I want to recommend the pancakes from the book "Nigella bites". We have modified them to be gluten free. These pancakes make Saturday mornings a real treat. The warm sweet smell of burning butter early in the morning makes us all smile. So even though we had a difficult week, sleepless nights and we tend to forget to be grateful about our lovely family, this breakfast units us all with sugar high. We all sit together and munch on pancakes that are spread either with lots of Nutella or with real maple syrup (the one from Vermont is very good but costs a fortune here in Israel) and we discuss the events of the week and whether this round of pancakes was better than the last one. It's a family meal where we're all in a good mood, laughing and joking as if we were the Brady Bunch.

Here is one of the gluten free versions we've tried. Hope it will make your Saturdays mornings lovely. You will need:

30gr unsalted butter
225gr gluten free flour combined from 1/3 corn starch, 1/3 tapioca flour and 1/3 soy flour
2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
300ml milk
2 eggs
Butter for frying pancakes

Melt the butter and set aside to cool while you get on with the rest of the batter. Put everything in a blender and blitz. Heat a non-stick frying pan, smear a small amount of butter and start frying. Pour small amount straight from the jug so that you have discs of about 4cm in diameter. When you see bubbles erupting on the surface, turn the pancakes over and cook for a couple of minutes on the other side. Makes about 20 pancakes.
Don't they look very nice? as if they were full of Gluten....

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Trouble sleeping

Well this post comes after a week of very troubled sleep, too much caffeine and no exercise. My energy levels have reached rock bottom and with them my mood. This depressed frame of mind is completely physiological, I’m sure. Sleep deprivation was shown in endless researches to be a cause for many ailments among them depression and even psychosis, weakened immune system, decrease in cognition and ability to perform the simplest tasks. Well I’m there. My youngest sons’ cold had left me and The Husband beyond exhausted. Not sleeping properly for a week takes me back to the days when my kids were newborns and I woke a few times at night to breastfeed them. I used to feel like my life is not completely real, as if I live in a hallucination. I have this sensation today after a whole week of waking 2 or 3 times to a crying baby and then finally wake up at 6:30 to go to work (see my post about mornings). The thing is the patient aside from the bothering night cough is having a marvelous time. The other day when I was on sick shift with him at home, he had some much energy we spent 2 hours in the playground. I kept the caffeine in my blood stream on steady levels.
So, I’m looking forward for the weekend and some rest. I bet I’ll be euphoric after a 7 hours sleep night or even after a long cozy siesta. Next post will have to be cheery and optimistic. I know that there are moms out there that have kids that do sleep, but for me sleeping kids are like unicorns – only in fairytales.
                                Isn't this a pretty drawing of a sleeping unicorn?