(Unitarians don't have many rituals, but this is one of my favorites. And today it's Dashiell's turn, just like his sisters before him.)
And now we have the great joy of welcoming a new child to the world and to our religious community. We welcome this child with joy and wonder at the miracle of life, and embrace him as a member of the community of humankind by formally giving him his name.
We humbly thank the Spirit of Life which brought him forth and bestowed him upon his family and the world for a blessing.
And we pledge our support to his parents and families, recognizing that we all have the power and responsibility to shape his world.
(adapted from words by Kenneth Patton) Humanity is our responsibility; human beings are that part of the total universe that we can do something about. To our children we can give our love, our care, our respect. It is a sacred trust and a transformative power.
Could the parents of Dashiell please come forward?
(Parents/guardians bring child to front of church, accompanied by godparents.)
Minister: [taking the child in her arms] What is the name of this child?
Parents give full name of child.
Minister: Dashiell, we welcome you and we give you this name as yours forever.
And from now and into the future, the names will become what you make of them. May your life make them a blessing to the world.
You are unique. There is no one else like you in the entire world. Your parents and your family and all of us welcome you in all your uniqueness. We give you this rose, different from every other rose in the world, as a symbol of your uniqueness and beauty.
We welcome you to this community. Water is the stuff of life; water connects all living things, all of humanity; this particular water comes from the Water Communion services of many years. The rose is dipped in water to symbolize your essential connection with all of us in this community.
Minister touches the rose to the child's forehead, hearts, hands, and feet, and gives the rose to the child.
May your life blossom as beautifully as this rose.
(Minister gives the baby back to the parents to hold.)
Litany of dedication: Charge to parents
Minister: Dashiell is not only your son but also the child of life itself, with its infinite possibilities and myriad forms of beauty. To you is entrusted the sacred joy and privilege of guiding him in life in all its possibilities and teaching him to recognize his own path, hoping that he will find his own truth and live his life according to his spiritual ideals.
Do you, then, promise to the best of your ability, by your example, your teaching and your affection, to raise Dashiell in the ways of truth, beauty and love?
Parents: We do.
Charge to congregation
Minister: Members and friends, adults, youth, and children of the (our church), chosen community of this family, will you please rise as you are able?
No child grows up outside the influence of his community, and no parent raises a child alone. If our hopes for Dashiell are to blossom, we must water them with love and commitment, creating the community for him that we wish to see flourish in his time.
Do you promise to freely and wisely love and respect this child, to offer him your steady presence and best selves, to nurture and sustain him and his family as they learn and grow and change together?
Congregation: We do.
Let us join our hearts together in the spirit of prayer and meditation.
We give thanks for this new life that has come among us. Each new child brings us new hope for a new beginning. We see the great potential that lies in every human life, and we know this child will bring his unique gifts to humanity, if we help him to do so. May we recognize and nurture the unique gifts of this child. And through all the challenges and joys to come, may this child’s life be blessed with hope and courage and love. And all blessings, always, on this family.
Yesterday I made the girls a quick spaghetti cacio e pepe before we headed out to see a local performance of the Nutcracker. Bunny noted that I rarely make pasta anymore and it's true. As I've mentioned 100 times before, J. tries to avoid carbs, we're trying to avoid wheat, and I'm trying to lose weight. (SIGH.) But as I was blending the grated cheese with the pasta water, a little butter, and fresh ground pepper to make a luscious, creamy sauce, I realized (perhaps with a little help from Anthony Bourdain): pasta is GOOD. And easy. And I acknowledge that my girls miss it. So, I'm going to try and work more (GF) pasta into our meals because they really do love it.
As we get closer to Christmas, I'm trying to keep things relatively light in anticipation of the crazy eating we will be doing.
Monday: Green curry coconut chicken laksa (a twist on Malaysian noodle soup garnished with chilis, cilantro, and squeezes of lime)
Tuesday: Taco salad (sans chips): ground beef, beans, and veggies
Wednesday (CSA delivery day): White chicken chili or maybe chicken stir-fry and rice
Thursday: Spaghetti all' Amatriciana (pancetta, onions, tomato), a big salad
Friday Family Movie Night: Take out and a movie (and a cocktail!)
Saturday: Not sure yet.
Sunday: Baby Dash's naming ceremony and my niece's first birthday party. It's going to be a busy day.
Baby Dash is finally weaned and you know what that means. It's back to Weight Watchers, which means that my weekly menus will take a PointsPlus-friendly turn. I haven't done Weight Watchers (for real) in about a year and a half—long enough to cook, birth, and nurse a baby (for nine months). My how things have changed! It's going to take me a month to refamiliarize myself with the points values and figure out the points for all my favorite snackies.
As I continue my weight-loss adventure, I very much welcome your favorite low-points/high-satisfaction recipes. Please share! Since this is not a diet blog, I won't be sharing points, but if you are familiar with Weight Watchers, you should be able to figure out the points for everything I'm cooking. In general, we try to limit carbs so you won't find pasta, rice, or potatoes as the centerpiece of our meals, but, rather, as an enhancement.
Here's what we have planned this week:
Monday—Turkey breast, cranberry sauce, sauteed greens (kale, collards, chard) with potatoes and chilies
Our weekly produce delivery, delivered today. (Not shown grapes, apples, and baby bok choy.)
This year, Thanksgiving is so nutty (in a good way), that I actually (nerd alert!) shared a google doc with the family to help with menu planning. This is an extra-special Thanksgiving here in the San Francisco Bay Area because our beloved 49ers will be playing Thanksgiving eve, about the time we usually have our dinner. Turkey and 49er football—according to many members of my family, it just doesn't get any better.
This year, for the first time in probably 20 years, I won't be making the turkey (my mom will be roasting an almost-24 lb. organic bird), but that's okay. More room in the oven for the side dishes, what Thanksgiving is all about for me! Also this year, there is no dungeness crab available due to a pricing dispute. We're having to improvise with canned crab for some recipes and won't be having our usual pre-Thanksgiving crab dinner. BOO!
Here is what we'll have on our table and who is making it:
Thanksgiving Menu 2011
Crab-Artichoke Dip (my sister)
Tuna Mousse (my sister)
Cheeses from Artisanal (Tata) with fruit from my CSA delivery—I had a sneak taste of the cheese and OMGYUM.
Champagne or vodka martinis (duh!)
Roast turkey (Tata)
Traditional Stuffing (Tata)
Sausage-Oyster Dressing (me)
Mashed Potatoes (my sister)
Sweet Potatoes (my sister)
Roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta and red grapes (me, adapted from this recipe)
Chestnut, leek, pearl onion, and fennel confit (me, adapted from the recipe included here-scroll down a bit)
Baked butternut squash "stuffed" with rainbow chard (going to wing this with produce from the CSA)
Fresh cranberry sauce (me)
Canned cranberry sauce (because the kids love it, and let's face it, so does everyone else)
Avocado Mold (Tata)
Pinor Noir, Rosé (maybe bubbly? Okay!)
Pumpkin Pie with fresh whipped cream (Tata and my niece)
Port and, okay, maybe a little more champagne
If you are still hunting around for the perfect veggie side dish to complement your Thanksgiving or holiday meal, look no further than the recipes included here. These are two CItyMama posts from years' past that I still refer to every fall and winter.
I'm delighted to be a new Hidden Valley "Love Your Veggies" Parent Panel Member! I grew up eating Hidden Valley Ranch (and especially Green Goddess) salad dressing that my mom made by adding milk and mayonnaise to the spice packet and shaking it all up in a Mason jar. As a result, I've always held a special place in my culinary heart for Hidden Valley (and only Hidden Valley) Ranch dressing.
As part of my "official duties" I'll be posting throughout the year about specific veggie-related initiatives. Hopefully you'll find them informative. In the interest of transparency and full-disclosure, these posts will always be clearly labeled.
My 9- and 7-year-old daughters will proudly tell anyone who will listen how much they love Brussels sprouts, spinach, lima beans, broccoli, and salad—all manner of vegetables that conventional wisdom would have us believe all kids hate.
I often wonder if kids are inadvertently taught to hate vegetables because we’ve all been conditioned to believe that that’s supposed to the case. With my own family, my children have the benefit of two parents who love all manner of veggies, and I know it’s at least partly because my husband and I were raised by parents who love veggies as well.
With a mother who has also dabbled in vegetarianism, and a father who loves one hot vegetable and a salad (he's a "meat and two veg guy") with dinner, my kids don’t have a choice but to love their veggies. It’s not that I’m doing anything consciously, I’m just raising my kids the way I was raised—to be exposed to a wide-variety of foods and cuisines, to have an appreciation of where food comes from (we visit u-pick farms and participate in a weekly CSA produce delivery), to help prep and cook our meals, and to have to try everything at least once.
Here are my tips for getting kids to eat their veggies
Be upfront—I’m not an advocate of hiding veggies in food. I love them, and want my children to appreciate them for that they are. Start cooking vegetables as “stand alone” items from the time your kids can eat table food. Once you start disguising vegetables, or dousing them in cheesy sauces, it’s harder to go back.
Raw Deal—I have found that my own children love veggies raw—so when they ask for a taste as you are chopping that pepper, radish, fennel bulb, or bunch of broccoli, let them have one. Take advantage of their interest, and if they like it, allow them to sneak another taste—and then remind them often of how much they liked that vegetable.
It’s Hip to Dip!—A great way to let veggies stand on their own and eat them raw (or lightly cooked) is to let kids dip them into their favorite sauce or dressing. With my own children, dipping was a developmental phase. For a time it seemed like everything had to be dipped into something else. If this gets your little ones to eat their vegetables, let them have it. Our favorite dips are: a dish of fragrant, fruity extra virgin olive oil sprinkled with a little sea salt; Hidden Valley Ranch dressing made fresh from the packet—like (as I mention above) my own mom did—with our own milk and mayo; apple or pear sauce; Thai peanut sauce; sun-dried tomato pesto; rosemary-white bean hummus; and tzatziki.
Yes, it's another soup recipe, but what can I say? We're a family that loves its soup! This is one that I usually start as I'm cooking breakfast in the morning and it's done by the time the kids are off to school.
CREAM OF ZUCCHINI AND BROCCOLI SOUP WITH WHITE TRUFFLE OIL
White truffle oil is found pretty easily now. Check your local "gourmet" grocer, cheese shop, or places like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table. In a pinch, you can mail order. My favorite comes my local olive oil shop and, according to the owner, it's the same kind that is used at the French Laundry. (Take that with a grain of truffle salt!)
1/2 onion, chopped
5 zucchini, scubbed and sliced
the stems of a bunch of broccoli (I used the florets for a salad), peeled and chopped
1 box of low-sodium chicken broth
3/4-1 cup of heavy cream (or half-and-half, but not milk), amount depends on how liquidy the soup is and your personal preference.
sea salt and pepper to taste
white truffle oil
In a soup pot, saute onion, zucchini, and broccoli in a couple glugs of olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and simmer on medium-low until broccoli is very soft and zucchini is falling apart, about 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and whiz the pot with a stick blender until pureed. While whizzing, slowly pour in the cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowl and add a few drops (a drizzle would be overpowering) of white truffle oil.
Great news! I'm really happy with our first weekly delivery from Farm Fresh To You. Customizing helped us to avoid the dreaded persimmions and grapefruit (just not my favorite fall produce), and the quality of the produce is top-notch. Looking foward to this week's delivery.
Also we ordered our Thanksgiving turkey this weekend (organic and 24 lbs!). We'll pick it up two days before Thanksgiving. Have you ordered yours?