Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fluffy Vegan Pancakes

I really like pancakes. So does BuggaBoo, especially when I sing the pancake song. Which goes something like this:

One, two, three, four pancakes in a pan.
One, two, three, four pancakes in a pan.
One, two, three, four pancakes in a paaaaan...
One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four pancakes in a pan.

I thought I would share my recipe with ya'll. This makes a very fluffy pancake, if you like them thinner then use more liquid. I'm also going to describe my process, you can obviously make it easier by substituting ready-made ingredients. And I'm giving you the batch doubled because if I'm going to go to the trouble of making pancakes I'm going to make it worth my while and freeze the extras. This recipe is adapted from a 1950's Betty Crocker cookbook.

2 Tbsp flax meal mixed with 4 Tbsp water (equivalent of two eggs)
1/4 C raw cashews, sunflower seeds, or another raw nut
2 C water
2 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar then more water to equal 1/2 C (total liquid will be 2 1/2 C, but keep them separate right now)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour, or 2 C whole wheat flour with 1/2 C alternate flour (oat, cornmeal, bean, quinoa, etc. I grind many soft grains in my coffee mill.)

As stated mix your flax meal and water first, you want it to reach egg consistency before you mix it into your other ingredients.

Grind nuts, mix with 2 C water in blender, blend until smooth. Prepare lemon juice and rest of water, mix lemon water with nut milk to make a faux buttermilk. Or, if you wanna, pour 2 Tbsp lemon juice into your measuring cup and then add enough ready-made non-dairy milk to make 2 1/2 C. Let this milk clabber while you sift your dry ingredients. Oh, I've also had good success just using lemon water instead of milk, but the milk does make them taste richer.

Sift the rest of the ingredients together. Heat your griddle or pan at this point. I spray oil into my pan for the first pancakes but don't for the rest. I do have a non-stick pan. When your pan is hot enough a water droplet will skip about. When your pan is heated then add the flax and milk to the dry ingredients. Mix until all lumps are gone.

Ladle out batter into pancakes. Because this is a very thick batter I spread my pancakes out with the back of the ladle. These pancakes don't form bubbles like thinner ones, they're ready to turn when the edges and maybe a few spots in the middle start looking a little dry. I like my pancakes really crispy, though, so experiment. This makes about 16-20 pancakes depending on how big you like them.

These pancakes are intentionally not sweetened nor have added fat. We usually eat them with "butter" and something sweet, so why put that into the pancake? Leftovers freeze well, reheat in your microwave or toaster depending on how crispy you like them. One of my favorite things to do with leftover pancakes is to toast them and then split them down the middle like a biscuit. Ta-da! Two thin crispy pancakes.

Okay, I'm outta here. The Hubby just made me some amazing tofu-noddle-broccoli-dish-thing and I'm starved. Have a great night!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hit the Road, Jack

Wow, I haven't posted in a long time. Well, nine days. Yeah, that's for-EVER in the blogging world. But there's not a lot to post. I have pictures for a couple tutorials but we haven't put the pertinent programs on our cleaned computer yet for me to download them. And Baby is still safely residing in my uterus, despite the fact that my due date was Valentine's Day. Which makes me a little sad because 1) I wanna meet this kid! And 2) I think it would have been a little neat to have a Valentine's baby.

Hmm, what to post about? How about a mini rant? The Hubby, BuggaBoo, and I went for a walk yesterday. We walk a lot. People often comment on it. So, anyways, we were out, I was trying a new way of wearing BuggaBoo on my back and getting strange looks from Westernized Americans. Which, come on, I find it *so* much easier to tie a kid on me to do my shopping/walking than lugging a stroller around.

But the baby-wearing is not my rant. My rant is this: Jack in the Box had one of their semi-trucks in the parking lot. It had a quote from "Jack" on it that said, "Forget diamonds. Salads are a girl's best friend." And that just kinda ticked me off. So try to stay on for this crazy ride of a rambly rant, I'll try to make my point concisely.

First of all, the quote points to the fact that it's "understood" a woman is to look glamorous. You wear diamonds for glamor, they tell the world you have money and they sparkle. I'm not talking down diamonds, although I don't really get the hype, but that's what they're for. So, Women = Pretty.

So, forget the diamonds! Eat a salad! Point number two: You can only be glamorous/pretty if you're THIN, people! Eat a salad! Feel virtuous! And that salad better be your best friend, because your figure is more important than everything. Once again, I'm a big supporter of eating a healthy diet, but crazy dieting never helped anyone.

The Hubby thought it was funny. No, I'm not mad at him for that. We talked about it and what I saw when I read the quote and he agreed with me, that it was detrimental to women AND men because it holds up a stupid ideal. So this leads to point number three: This way of thinking is so pervasive that you don't consciously think about it anymore, it has become FUNNY.

Now, the salads they had pictured weren't "wimpy" ones, they were covered with fried chicken, cheese, and croutons. The calorie and fat count would rival a hamburger and fries. But the IDEA of a salad being slimming is what they are selling. So the disconnect between the quote and what they're actually selling also made me a bit mad.

So, I'm a little peeved at JITB. But I still love their fries.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn

Okay, I'm ready to blog. And this is going to be a long one.

Last Tuesday, the second, Baby decided it needed to be breech. I don't know why. Baby didn't like being breech, considering the way it was straining to turn back all day Tuesday, but breech Baby was. We found out at our prenatal appointment that Tuesday. Our wonderful, amazing midwife was certain Baby was breech but urged us to get an ultrasound to confirm that fact before attempting to turn Baby so that we wouldn't accidentally turn a head-down baby to a breech position. We were able to make an ultrasound appointment for that afternoon.

Ultrasound tangent time. The Hubby and I don't like routine ultrasounds. We aren't sure of the safety of the technology. I was going to post links for you to look at but Firefox is doing some crazy chicken-dance and keeps shutting down when I have multiple tabs, so if you really want to read up on it, that's what Google is for. Actually, if you don't mind, use "goodsearch (dot) com" and put in the "Oregon Midwifery Council" as your charity of choice.

So, we aren't sure of the safety of ultrasounds. They have been shown to cause low birth weight and they are known to heat fetal tissue because they are energy waves. When your baby's tissue gets too hot protein synthesis can't happen and growth halts until the tissue can cool down. Bones retain more heat than fleshy tissue, and this is most notable in the skull. Diagnostic ultrasounds spend a lot of time looking at the head and face to determine birth defects. Having ultrasound waves pointed at the head for a long time heats up the skull, causing the brain to slow or stop development until the skull can cool down. If the heating up takes place during a delicate part of the brain development, who knows what can happen?

Also, diagnostic ultrasounds can tell if you have birth defects. But there aren't many birth defects that can be fixed while you are pregnant, and the ones that need attention after birth your midwife or OB/GYN can tell after the birth. So if you find your baby has a defect during pregnancy there isn't much you can do unless you're willing to have an abortion. Which we're not. Also, I have personal experience with this. My sister found out at her 20 week ultrasound that her baby girl had a condition incompatible with life. She knew her baby was going to die. So she grieved during the pregnancy and grieved the death of her daughter. I have decided I don't want that.

In short The Hubby and I "play" statistics. We compare the statistics of something being wrong to something that can be fixed to the risks that ultrasounds pose and have decided that most ultrasounds are not wanted in our case. However, we are completely okay with ultrasounds when medically indicated, such as the case of Baby being breech. It was a short ultrasound just to tell the position of the Baby, which was all the information we needed.

However, the technician treated us like uninformed bumpkins. First she asked us how far along I was. I told her 38 weeks. She expressed amazement that we hadn't had an ultrasound earlier and then asked us "If you haven't had an ultrasound how do you KNOW you're 38 weeks?" Um, what? It's called "knowing your last menstrual period and calculating the date from there". Heck, I even adjusted for the fact that my cycles are different from the "standard" 28 days.

Due date tangent. What is the deal with changing due dates based on ultrasound measurements? Do OB/GYNs really believe that ALL babies grow at the same rate and that they can really tell how far along you are based on your baby's size? Almost all of my mommy friends that have had ultrasounds get their due dates changed, and often to an earlier date. So, here's a real story to illustrate the point I'm trying to make. My friend A had a due date. At her 20 week ultrasound the due date was changed to a week earlier. This new due date approaches and passes. They induced her three days after the new due date, because "being late is sooo dangerous!" Which that is another tangent... Okay, after 41 hours of induced labor they perform a c-section because baby is distressing from the really hard contractions. Baby is about 6.5 pounds. Does that sound like an overdue baby to you?

So, tech doesn't believe I'm actually 38 weeks along. She also can't understand the fact that a midwife can actually feel the position of the baby, nor does she understand the fact that we don't want our baby measured. But instead of treating us like intelligent adults and asking us our opinion she gets all flustered and makes somewhat snarky remarks ("And here's your placenta, which is good information to have." "You're right, it is good to know, my midwives already knew where is was." "How?!?" "You can hear the placenta with a fetascope.") and then won't let us leave until she consults with a doctor.

So at that point Baby was breech and we needed to change our birth plans. In Oregon you cannot legally deliver a known breech at a birth center. However you can birth them at home. We started planning for a home birth. Two weeks before I was due. Why a home birth? Because if I went to the hospital it's nearly certain I would have to endure a c-section. And because vaginal breeches do not carry a significantly greater risk than vertex (head down) babies with experienced midwives or OBs. The problem is finding an experienced OB/GYN. I saw my niece's breech birth in a hospital and there is no way I'm letting a doctor do that to my baby. Thankfully my midwives are experienced in breech birth and they do a great job with it. Ask my friend that had breech twins with them.

So we were feeling peaceful about the breech position of our baby, but apprehensive of the home birth. Not because I'm scared of home birth, but because it's was a complete change to what we had been planning. And I don't know if you know this, but mothers that are two weeks away from delivering don't do well with last minute changes.

We set up an appointment for that Friday (the fifth) to try an external cephalic version. This is where you try to turn the baby manually into a vertex position. The head midwife of the birth center was doing the version while one of my midwives was monitoring the heart rate of Baby. Halfway through the version Baby's heart rate dropped waaay down. Since this indicated a problem, probably a cord wrap, the version was stopped. The midwives said that Baby could still turn itself but they weren't going to try manually. We were okay with this, if Baby wanted to be breech that's okay. After the version attempt, however, we felt we needed to tell family we were having a home birth and why. By the way, we aren't worried about a cord wrap. Many, many babies are born with a cord wrap and my midwives, once again, are experienced in dealing with them.

The responses I got from family ranged from "Oh, no, that's TERRIBLE!" to, "Eh." And, honestly, both extremes were not helpful. The best response for me was "I know everything is going to be alright, but I'm sorry this happened." You know, indicate concern but not like it's the end of the world. I found out just the other day that there were MORE extreme responses, such as family that wanted to call me up and tell me exactly why I needed to deliver in a hospital. Thankfully I was protected from those calls by a sensitive family member. Thank you. I know the risks involved with a vaginal breech, and I would have been okay talking about my relatives' fears, but I have a feeling that I would not have been heard, which would have been stressful for me.

So when we went to our next prenatal appointment this last Monday and discovered Baby was transverse (sideways) the stress mounted. With a transverse baby you absolutely cannot deliver vaginally, it is always a c-section case. My midwife was sure that Baby was in the process of turning itself. I felt the fear that I would go into labor before Baby finished turning. I had my cervix checked to see if A) we had time and B) if Baby had and arm or shoulder engaged in my pelvis. Luckily I was a "tight zero" and all my midwife could feel was Baby's back.

We started talking about options. My midwife told me about a naturopath that performs versions with the use of an ultrasound. That way he could see exactly why Baby's heart rate dropped and could deal with it. We set up an appointment for Thursday to feel Baby's position again and make a choice.

We chose not to tell family at that time that Baby was transverse. Considering the reactions from telling them about the breech birth we knew we could not deal with the fear that would be generated from this new position.

Monday night/early Tuesday morning I woke up to do my nightly ritual: going to the bathroom about twenty times. During one of my bathroom breaks I was feeling Baby and was sure that where there had been a head there was now a back. I remember thinking I was very excited and I wanted to wake The Hubby for him to feel, but I didn't want to jinx anything, especially if Baby decided to move back. So I just went to sleep. When morning actually happened I had The Hubby help me feel my belly. And we were pretty sure Baby was head down. So I called my midwife and asked if I could go in that day and get checked out. She said of course and I took BuggaBoo with me to get my belly felt.

Baby is now officially vertex! I don't know why we had to "go through" all this. I have found many blessings in this experience, though. First, before Baby turned breech I was actively comparing Baby to BuggaBoo. After Baby turned they became their own person to me, not just a different experience. I have really connected with Baby through this whole thing. Also, I was afraid of the labor pain. I knew I could deal with the labor, but I was starting to panic about the pain. Now after being faced with the very real risk of a c-section I can say I am excited for natural labor to happen and to feel my body give birth. What a glorious thing to have a baby naturally! I have come to trust my baby and my body more, though it took a lot of faith. I have grown so much closer to my midwife, my "new" one (the other midwife delivered BuggaBoo, so we already have a great relationship). I have come to love and depend on her so much.

So now things are back to normal, whatever that means. I will be giving birth at the birth center, provided that Baby has decided it's done doing somersaults. I am having a vertex baby. Looking at it superficially nothing has changed. But I can tell you so much has changed, and I am glad for this growth.

And I am ready for this baby, whoever they may be.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Commercial Break

I am breaking from blogging for a while. I have a lot going on in my life that I want to write about but don't want to, and I'm afraid if I do an innocent little post all the troublesome stuff will come pouring out, thus negating my need to keep to myself right now. So enjoy this intermission and have a great day!

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Just Remembered!

Okay, a few more things have caught my attention on the topic of saving money. So here are the ideas, in no particular order.

We make our own laundry detergent. Here are some recipes for homemade laundry detergent, we use recipe number three. I've had good sucess with it, it even gets my diapers clean. And I love the fresh scent of the Fels Naptha soap. Mmmm...

I (usually) bath BuggaBoo in the utility sink. This is a new one, I stumbled onto it a few weeks ago. It started because he has a SUPER poopy diaper (yup, I'm a mom) and I didn't want to rinse off his bum the tub. Low and behold, the sink in the laundry room worked great. I love it because I don't have to bend over, Baby loves it because I'm not squishing him/her by bending over, and BuggaBoo loves the novelty of being in the sink. It saves a ton of hot water to bathe him in the sink, which is just the thing I like to hear.

We own a li'l scooter for The Hubby's commute in the summer. This thing can go a loooooong way on a tank of gas. He only has to fill up once for an entire work week, which for him is 3-4 days a week. We save so much money that way.

We buy a student public transportation pass in the winters. When the weather gets too icky to safely drive the scooter The Hubby gets a Tri-Met pass through Portland State University and uses it to go to school and work. This is also nice because it leaves me with the car. This semester he is driving to school and work but that's because my due date is so near and he doesn't want to have to be sitting on the train trying to get back to me if I'm in labor.

I breastfeed. Not only does this save on formula costs but it saves on medical costs. BuggaBoo has gotten sick a few times, but very rarely and never seriously. He's never had an ear infection. Breastfeeding helps with your child's immune system EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT PRODUCING MILK. A lot of the antibody transference is from the areola and nipple area, so just the act of breastfeeding protects your child from illness.

I know how to sew. Do you HAVE to sew to save money? No. And sewing from brand-spanking-new fabric is hardly cost effective. But altering clothes, especially free, oversized clothes, is a great money saving strategy. And it's even easier to make children clothing from adult-sized clothing. It helped me make cloth diapers on the cheap. I was able to pick up some free flannel bedsheets to use, my MIL bought me some uber cute fabric (thank you!) and I was able to pick up more flannel fabric/bedsheets at the Goodwill Outlet, a thrift store where you buy stuff by the pound.

We're on a "Time of Use" plan from our power company. The "Time of Use" plan, or TOU, is where energy is less expensive during off-peak hours and more expensive during on-peak hours. There are also mid-peak hours. The different prices for us are $0.04/kwh, $0.06/kwh, and $0.12/kwh. The hours change from winter to summer, but basically power late at night and all day Sunday is cheap while power in the evening is expensive. When I had more time in my life this saved us more money, but it's still working for us. Our cheap power starts at 10pm, so that's when I wash and dry diapers. I'll also cook things overnight in the cockpot, or do prep cooking on Sundays for the entire week. This also helps us when we decide to heat the bedroom since we heat it when we're sleeping and power is inexpensive.

Okay, my brain is mushy again. Have a great day!