Home for the Holidays

12.22.09: Leo's 19th month


Holiday time, snow, family, croup… It’s a time to balance between great, festive expectations and the desire to go into hibernation, a time when at least two parents in Brooklyn would really love to just do nothing. But, as I discovered immediately post-partum, doing nothing no longer exists. Ah well, maybe it wasn’t as fun as I’m remembering it.

So what are two tired-out adults and one croup-y child to do? (“Croup?” everyone says, “isn’t that an outdated disease?” No, it turns out croup is alive and well, and it’s quite contagious.) Well, we’re working on our own brand of hibernating. It doesn’t involve that novel I got for Hannukah, or the chicken soup I planned to make until the snowstorm prevented me from buying a chicken. Instead, Aaron called in sick on Monday to prolong the weekend (he’s got sick days, and hey, Leo’s sick!), we’ve lingered in our PJs as long as possible each morning, and we’re been playing with trains and eating through our freezer of food.

That last is critical to the plan. Just in case you, like me, are in the mood to sip cocoa and do the least cooking possible, I thought I’d offer up these insights from the depths of our freezer:

Frozen wild-caught salmon is more sustainable than fresh salmon, and when thawed in the fridge it tastes at least as fresh. Plus, it’s fast-cooking, mild enough to be kid-friendly and it’s healthy. Leo loves it on pasta.

We still freeze pancakes every few weekends, to warm up in the toaster oven and eat with Greek yogurt and bananas.

Frozen portions of leftover brisket are like gold—serve over egg noodles with applesauce (which also freezes beautifully), your favorite green veg and mashed butternut squash.

Did you know that eggs last for months in the fridge? We bought several dozen from a farmer and they’re the freshest, most yellow-yolked eggs we’ve ever had.

Frozen spinach is a new staple for us, ever since the disappearance of Leo’s stand-by vegetable, kohlrabi, from the shelves of our supermarket. We combine it with those eggs to make Spinach Squares or we stir drained spinach into pasta sauces.

Frozen peas are probably in every parent’s fridge, right? We also love shelled edamame and even the occasional lima bean.

High-quality ravioli and tortellini are great to stock up on when you’re at an Italian specialty store that sells fresh pasta. I buy glass bottles of good tomato puree too, to make a super-fast sauce.

For snacks, we always keep Cheddar and Scallion Bites on hand in the freezer.

Since we are never without rice, milk, sugar and eggs, Rice Pudding is becoming a frequent indulgence for us. Leo will eat this (and, sigh, Cheerios in milk) even when he’s under the weather and doesn’t have much appetite for anything else.

So there it is, my thrilling plans for this snowy holiday season, complete with lima beans, an old-fashioned cough, and the truly key ingredient: a wonderful little family.

Recipe: Rice Pudding