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Posts from the ‘Baking’ Category

Little By Little

Here’s the thing: I’m almost 31 weeks pregnant.  That means Scott and I have about 9 weeks to go before our lives are tossed into a giant salad spinner of literal and figurative poop.

Little by little, we’re getting ready.  We took some childbirth classes and set up a crib, and we moved a dresser into the baby’s room.  Thanks to Scott’s sister and some generous friends, the dresser is now stocked with hand-me-downs.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me not to have to buy this stuff.  Just last night I was sitting on the floor sorting through a box of borrowed onesies, saying things like, “Look at these things! Do you realize how much money we’re saving? We’re making out like bandits!” while Scott, who has done more research on the finances of childrearing than I have, looked at me like I was hovering over an abandoned buffet on the deck of the sinking Titanic going, “Look, honey! Free hors d’oeuvres!”

We’re going to have the baby at a hospital in downtown Chicago even though we live in the suburbs.  If it’s snowing and it’s rush hour, it could take an hour and a half to get there, so we’re going to drive to a hotel near the hospital as soon as I start having contractions.  The plan is to rest and watch movies and take hot baths there until it’s time to pop across the street and have the baby.

At that point we’re going to call Oprah and she’ll meet us on the labor and delivery floor, and on the count of three she’ll tell me to look under my hospital bed.  And when I see my baby under there I’ll be like Oh Oprah, you shouldn’t have.

That’s option one.  Option two is we’ll find out that the baby’s head is the size of a sombrero and he needs to be extracted by C-section while I’m so high I’m trying to eat the wallpaper.

Option three is I’ll push him out with the help of an epidural.

For those of you who haven’t spent 20 hours researching epidurals in your pajamas at the dining room table like I have, I’ll say this: epidurals are great for a lot of women because they ease some of the pain.  They’re also kind of controversial these days–not with doctors, but among the natural childbirth set, like doulas and midwives and the authors and bloggers who warn against “medicalized” birth.  These people rightly point out that once you get an epidural you’re confined to bed for the rest of your labor, among other things.  But some of these advocates go further and try to shame women into thinking that if they get an epidural they’ll lose their autonomy and the magic of childbirth.

Take, for example, the ladies in my swim class.  When I told them I was keeping my pain management options open, they looked at me like I’d said I was going to polish my blood diamonds and dump antifreeze in a mountain stream.  One of them volunteered to come to the hospital and physically restrain me from getting an epidural, lest I regret it for the rest of my life.

I was so taken aback that I didn’t say anything, but later I pretended to lose control of my pool noodle and I splashed her right in the contact lens.

I haven’t decided yet whether an epidural is right for me.  This is because if you give me 40 weeks to make a decision, I will eat Doritos and read emails for 39 weeks and only then will I tell you my answer in exchange for a small fee, like a shoulder massage or a new tube of chapstick.  It’s also because I have no idea what the pain will actually feel like.  I have no idea what complications might arise.  I can plan all I want, but if I get my heart set on one particular way to do this, I’m bound to be disappointed.

And being disappointed isn’t fun.  Just ask my new favorite person on the internet—the commenter who posted on the allrecipes or foodnetwork or whatever website I was just on to say that a certain chicken chili recipe was flawed.  To quote him directly:


Now, I don’t know if he bought the rattlesnake at $20/lb. or if he just ran over it on a backcountry road, but either way he probably spent a lot of time browning it and chopping up vegetables, only to find that the recipe was pretty much a chicken-only situation.  What a disappointment, right?  He must have been so bummed.

Today’s recipe is dedicated to that guy.

I promise it’ll work as long as you don’t substitute anything.

spiced nutsTo be clear, it’s especially important not to substitute anything for the nuts.

spiced nuts 2

Lightly Spiced Pecans {download & print recipe}
by eggton
The only way to get glazed nuts to be really crunchy, in my experience, is to fold them into whipped egg whites before you bake them.  These aren’t very spicy.  Add another 3/4 tsp. of cayenne if you want them to have a real kick.


3 c. pecan halves (this is 2 6-oz. bags)

1 egg white

1/4 c. sugar

3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. allspice

1/4 tsp. cumin


Preheat the oven to 315 degrees.

Beat the egg white until it’s completely light and foamy.  (I use an electric mixer.  No clear liquid will be left on the bottom of the bowl when it’s thoroughly whipped.)  Add the sugar and spices and whisk together.  Whisk in the pecans.  Arrange the pecans in a thin layer on an ungreased baking sheet or two–preferably one with sides, like a jelly roll pan.

Bake the pecans for 15 minutes, being careful with the temperature.  (An oven thermometer helps me here because the actual temperature of my oven can really vary from what I set it to.)  Take the pecans out of the oven and cool the oven to 250 degrees. Scrape the nuts off the bottom of the pan and respread them.  Bake them at 250 degrees until they’re brown (but not dark brown and charred), about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately scrape the nuts onto a drying rack.  Break up any clumps and let them cool completely.  (They’ll crisp up as they do.)  Store the cooled nuts in a plastic bag or Tupperware, or freeze them.

Thuder + Seymour 11.24The minute Thanksgiving was over, Seymour started up with the Christmas carols.