Monday, September 17, 2012

A long overdue, and very personal post. And some food pics.


Hi. I've been away from this blog for quite some time now. I guess I've been writing this post in my head for a long time, but finding the time to actually put down in words what I've been going through the past several months has been hard.

When I had the baby, I didn't want this to suddenly turn into a baby blog. I wanted to keep it mostly about food. But my life suddenly was all about a baby. Cooking used to be one of my favorite things to do, but suddenly dinner became a necessity, almost a chore to prepare on top of the new 24 hour a day job I have as a mom. I lost my inspiration. Most of our dinners have become some combination of the following: quinoa/rice/couscous/some kind of grain, with tofu/tempeh/beans/some kind of protein, and a side of steamed kale/salad/some other kind of green thing. It's like vegan Mad Libs for dinner. It's whatever I can prepare as quickly and easily as possible. Not very exciting and not really anything worth blogging about.

As much as I love and adore my baby, becoming a mother has at times felt like I've been hit by a speeding train. For several months the exhaustion was simply overwhelming. I was barely functioning. It's gotten a lot better, but for a long time it was very difficult for me. I was so tired and I was depressed. The depression hung over me like a cloud of anxiety, panic, and self-doubt. On top of that, I felt guilty for being exhausted and depressed because I wanted this baby so badly, and I was so lucky to have him that I felt like I didn't have the right to complain about anything. I thought I could do it all on my own, but that has proved much harder than I ever imagined, and I wish more than anything that we had family here to help out, but we don't.

The sleepless nights and early morning wake-ups (Bodhi went through a few MONTHS of waking up for the day before 5:00am in the morning...some days as early as 4:00am! 4:00AM!) also put a strain on my marriage. We were tired, cranky, and fighting all the time. We couldn't agree on how to deal with any of it. It felt like nothing was working the way it was supposed to. Fortunately things have gotten a lot better all around, but for a while it was... not good. I hope I'm not making it sound like I haven't enjoyed new motherhood, because despite the difficulties, Bodhi is the love and joy of my life. He is the sweetest, happiest, healthy, delicious little bundle of joy and I love him so much my heart could just explode. But I think it is perfectly fair and honest to say that as much as you love your baby, being a new mother is HARD. REALLY, REALLY HARD. It's ok to admit that it's not easy. I've had to learn that myself.

On top of all of the other struggles, we had the heartbreaking task of recently having to find my beloved Bella a new home. This has been so hard for me to process that I haven't even really talked about it with anyone yet. I have written about Bella many times on this blog, she is the cocker spaniel that we adopted from a shelter 3 years ago. She had always been a very anxious dog with some slight aggression issues. We tried everything we could to help modify her behavioral problems, from training to natural therapies to even prescription anti-anxiety medications, but none of it seemed to help and unfortunately her problems only amplified once we had a baby at home. We thought, we hoped and prayed, that she would eventually get used to Bodhi, and they would even get along and be buddies. Instead, she became increasingly more aggressive and began snarling whenever he would get near her, and snapped at him several times trying to bite him. We were always there to intervene but felt that an increasingly mobile baby and an increasingly anxious dog were a disaster waiting to happen. Making the decision to re-home her was one of the saddest decisions of my life, but the right one to make for Bodhi's safety. I was heartbroken though. We adopted her with every intention of providing her with a forever home. I imagined Bella and Bodhi running and playing, having the best of times together. I imagined Bella living her whole life with us. Our home and my heart have an empty space without her here, and I can still barely speak of her (or type these words) without crying.

So all that is to explain why I have been so neglectful of this blog. I've really missed it though and I've missed connecting with people through it. I miss meeting new people through the blog, I miss reading comments, I miss the feeling of accomplishment when I create a dish that makes people want to dive in and eat it! I hope I haven't lost too many readers because of my lapse in posting. I really do want to get back into the habit of posting regularly but I don't want to be too ambitious and set myself up for disappointment when I fall short of my goals. So we'll say maybe one post a week to start with. Just to get back into the groove of things. I am actually leaving tonight for two weeks to visit family in Germany. I'm not sure if I'll be able to post while in Germany - or if there will be anything worth posting about while there. My mother lives in a smallish town there, and there definitely are not any veg restaurants around. We may have to survive the entire time off of beer, french fries, and sauerkraut.

At any rate, I want to express that I am grateful for each and every one of you who visit my blog and take the time to read what I have to say. Thank you for being patient and not giving up on me.

We don't get out quite as often as we used to, but of course I have to leave you with some vegan food porn of another recent brunch we had at Maimonide of Brooklyn, because this wouldn't be Vegan Good Things if I didn't. Enjoy.
xoxo,
Leinana

P.S. - I know, I know, my LAST post was also about Maimonide, but what can I say? We don't get out of our immediate neighborhood all that much and besides, the food there is awesome! Next one will be something new, I promise!

Chilled creamy corn soup with curried popcorn. I have to say that this soup is GENIUS. I don't even generally like cold soups and I devoured this one. It was so smooth and creamy and tasted like fresh summer corn. The curried popcorn added the perfect amount of heat and texture. Genius, I tell you.
Watermelon tomato gazpacho. Again, not a huge fan of chilled soups but these were both part of a prix fixe brunch we got. The gazpacho was very refreshing and flavorful. Those are edible flowers on top.
Herbed sweet potato home fries. Yum.
Silver dollar blueberry pancakes topped with walnuts and banana. Thick and fluffy, just like they should be.
One of our favorite brunch dishes there - the homemade "sausages" with spicy grits and super garlicky kale. Spicy, smoky, delicious.
Lemon cheesecake with blueberries and coconut whipped cream. The cheesecake was a little denser than I like, but the flavors were incredibly good.
But THIS was the surprise hit of the entire meal. Fresh vanilla bean and coconut tapioca pudding, with mango, banana, and a lemon cookie. I probably would not have ordered this if it were not part of the prix fixe menu - I mean, I can make tapioca pudding at home, right? That would have been a huge mistake because this dessert was MIND-BLOWINGLY GOOD! Light, tropical, fragrant, refreshing. I wanted to lick the bowl. This reminded me that sometimes what sounds like a simple dish is really the best thing. I am still dreaming of this dessert!
The little monkey. Worth every sleepless night and more.