Bittersweet Chalkolate

Blog about cooking, teaching, and everything else that is my life.


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May. Purging challenge. Day 5.

The first year of Maya’s life is such a blur to me and yet some moments stand out so clearly.

I remember bringing her home. I remember how the second night she wouldn’t go to sleep and she was crying and hiccuping and I was very anxious as I had no idea what to do. I remember the relief I had when my mom came. I remember not having enough milk to pump and sending Martin to the drug store at 2 am to buy formula. I remember the first time I gave her roasted sweet potato. She ate one tiny bite and that made me happy. I remember how much she hated being in a stroller. I remember..

I remember a lot of things. They came back when I found her old bibs, some of them with stains, some torn. She never really liked them and would always pull them off as soon as she could.

purging 5

My baby is growing. I do not want to forget giving her her first bath. I do not want to forget waking up almost every hour. As difficult as it was, it was an experience of a lifetime and it continues to be so. I will keep one bib just so one day I can give it to her. As this is what my mom did. And we can sit all night talking. Just like my mom and I when she was here helping me with Maya. And so I will tell Maya about hiccups and the stroller and the sleepless nights. I am so ever thankful to my mom for the toys and clothes that she saved. And I will think of her when I am talking with Maya. And probably I will cry as you truly understand your mom only when you have a child of your own.

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May. Purging challenge. Day 4.

I am having so much fun setting aside things to donate, you won’t believe it. I always thought that Martin and I do not own a lot of stuff. Clearly I was wrong as 15 things a day seem to be a drop in the ocean. But you know what? It is still better than not doing anything about it.

Today I have chosen 14 items that I am bringing to the Clothing Swap organized by one of the members of the choir I used to sing it. I did it in about 15 minutes if not less. I have no feelings of attachment to those clothes.

purging 4

I think I already said that after giving birth to Maya I haven’t been able to lose all the baby weight and this has been my struggle for a while now. I do not want to have clothes from my “previous” life when I was a certain amount of pounds lighter as then I look at myself in the mirror and I do not like what I see. They remind me of how I used to look and for some reason they do not motivate me but rather depress the hell out of me.

I have made my decision to lose weight. I am not entirely sure how I will approach that. Whatever I choose to do I am not expecting outstanding results in a matter of a month. It should be slow but hopefully this way the results will stay. I hope someone at the Clothing Swap will take my clothes and they will make someone else look good.

 


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May. Purging challenge. Day 3.

Toys. Parents’ guilt meaning more toys. And then a few more. And then birthday. Christmas. Grandparents are coming for a visit. We are visiting grandparents. More toys. I think, the entire purging challenge might consist of me going through Maya’s and Nick’s stuff. It is actually scary.

When I was pregnant I didn’t want Maya to have too many toys. I had this picture in my head where she would have only educational wooden toys. No plastic loud nonsense. Right. I also had a picture of her sleeping through the night at the age of 3 months. Obviously, I was delusional regarding both.

We do make an effort to buy “good” toys when we do buy them. But somehow we have quite a collection of things that sing, count, pronounce letters and name shapes and do all this in more than one language. And then I see her playing with pasta and wooden bowls for half an hour. Go figure.

I will continue sorting her toys. She doesn’t need 5 rubber duckies. She hardly plays with one. She doesn’t need 20 stuffed animals. How is she supposed to learn to be affectionate to them  if she has so many? I am sure she will not even notice the disappearance of these toys. I might take them to grandparents’ house. Muahahahahaha.

purging 3


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May. Purging challenge. Day 2.

I believe, every household has a drawer or two where people put things that do not “belong” somewhere else. And I am sure that the assortment of these things will be different in each household. For example, my drawer, which is in the kitchen, by the way, has pens, pencils, erasers, candies, balloons, candles, batteries, coasters, cheque books, push pins and paper clips, tab dividers, smoke alarm, bubbles, super glue, spinning top and tuner. I also have a glass bowl with a ton of small things inside but I will be sorting it tomorrow.

I am sure that the artist will not have pens and pencils in such a drawer for odd things. His pencils and pens will be nicely organized. Or maybe not. But they won’t be here. Or the household of a party organizer will not have balloons and birthday candles lying around together with batteries and smoke alarm. You get the idea.

Why I have all these things there, I have no clue. Over the years they accumulated in that drawer and now they live there. Or so they thought. Today I decided to organize that drawer and let go of a few things. This is what will be leaving my house today.

purging 2

Very random things, I know. Looking around my house I can see that I can do this challenge not just for a month but for a year. I am so far from this :(( but it inspires me and gives me even more motivation to get rid of things.


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May. Purging challenge. Day 1.

purging 1

Long time ago I read somewhere that a person can easily throw away 15 various things a day for quite a while and they will still have enough to keep throwing. It can be anything – old receipts, bank statements, plastic containers, old clothes, shoes, toys, books, CDs – you name it. It can be big or small, significant or not, as long as you are throwing or donating it, you are doing the right thing. Sounds like something I would LOVE to do.

I am very anti consumerism. I can wear the same jacket for 10 years. Or have the same bag for ever. Honestly, I have never been into clothes or jewelry or shoes or bags. I would rather travel. Or go to the spa if I cannot travel. I prefer experiences to things and when I have too many things I feel like they are suffocating me. If only I can get Martin on board. Sigh.

I have never been scared of throwing things out. Never. I do keep a few movie tickets or cards or maps from places I have been to but they do not take half of my living space.  Getting rid of things feels like a virtual weight loss. I am serious. Every time I donate a bag full of stuff I feel like I have lost a few pounds myself. Very therapeutic.

So, I will do my best to purge 15 things a day for a month. Whether it is 15 paper clips that I know I am not going to use or 15 toys that Maya will not play with or 15 pieces of paper. It doesn’t matter. It is spring and I am in a cleaning state of mind.

Today I have put together a donation bag full of  toys that Maya is no longer interested in. In my building we are going to open a room for parents with small children. They can go there and play and spend time with other parents or other children depending on who we are talking about 🙂 So this is my first contribution. I am sure tomorrow I will have more items that I can donate. Maya has too many toys anyway, I do not think she will notice. Aaahhh. Feels good.

 


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April. Cooking challenge. Days 24 and 25.

Oh those mug cakes. How I love thee! Thou art the joy of my morning. Thou make my heart and stomach rejoice. Happy am I that google hath thee in multitude. Here is my ode to thee, oh mug cakes!

Microwave Blueberry Muffin in a Mug

Strawberry muffin in a mug

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon* baking powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon* baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon blueberries, fresh or frozen
    Streusel topping
  • 1 tablespoon (½ oz/15g) butter, cold
  • 1½ tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1½ tablespoons brown sugar*
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a microwave safe mug mix together the first 6 ingredients until smooth.
  2. Mix in the blueberries.
  3. In a small bowl, rub together the streusel ingredients with a fork until butter pieces resemble bread crumbs.
  4. Sprinkle streusel on top of muffin batter, spreading out evenly across the surface.
  5. Microwave for 1 minute or until it is firm to the touch on top (timing is based on my 1200W microwave so your timing might vary).
  6. Enjoy immediately!

Note

I didn’t have blueberries so I cut up three nice big strawberries instead. It was heaven.

 I am not sure if I told you but my slow-cooker broke down on Saturday. Sunday morning I was at Walmart choosing a new one as I couldn’t imagine surviving the week without it. I got the same size 4 quart slow cooker. It is a Crock Pot as well but this time around I can program it which means even less work for me.
The very first dish that i cooked in it is Crock Pot Sticky Chicken Drumsticks.
Sticky chicken drumsticks

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds of drumsticks and/or wings
  • ½ Cup honey
  • ½ Cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ Cup balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ Cup low sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari sauce
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp ground ginger

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together honey, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger to create sauce
  2. Add drumsticks/wings to a 5 qt or larger crockpot.
  3. Pour the honey mix onto the drumsticks/wings and mix well.
  4. Cook on high in the slow cooker for 4 hours. After 2 hours give the drumsticks a toss to coat in the sauce again. Cover and continue cooking.
  5. Once fully cooked, remove drumstick/wings from the crockpot and place on a baking pan that is lined with foil and has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  6. Broil for 2 minutes or until browned.
  7. Remove the drumsticks/wings from the oven and turn them to the other side.
  8. Broil the other side for 2 minutes or until browned. Watch very carefully they may not need as long depending on your oven. This step is optional but gives the chicken a better texture on the outside.
  9. Serve. This is great with some steamed rice!

Note:

We do love chicken but 4 pounds is honestly just too much. I had only a pound and a half (6 drumsticks) so I again halved the recipe. I also used garlic and ginger powders instead of fresh ones. 


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April. Cooking challenge. Days 22 and 23.

I am three days behind with my blog again. But I did 30 minutes of yoga and another 10 of meditation so I am quite ok with it. As I am writing I am listing to guitar relaxation music and I have just done the dishes which I find very relaxing and rewarding as well. I am a weirdo, i know. Life is good even when it is not.

Today in the morning I wanted to make super-duper healthy brownie for breakfast but I guess since no brownie should be healthy mine burnt in the microwave. I will never know how healthy brownies taste. Tomorrow I will try an unhealthy one and something is telling me that it will turn out just fine.

So I have two recipes for you – Churro in a Mug and Fried Cabbage with Sauekraut and Sausages. The second recipe is a combination of this and this.

Churro in a Mug tastes pretty close to an authentic one. That cinnamon sugar on top is what seals the deal. There is a tiny store on the way up to Park Guel in Barcelona. They make delicious churros and serve them with a tiny cup filled with creamiest and darkest hot chocolate. Enough for one sip. How it is supposed to be.

churro in a mug

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon flavorless oil (vegetable, canola, sunflower)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoons roughly chopped chocolate

Directions:

  1. In a microwave safe mug mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon
  2. Add in the vegetable oil and milk. Stir until this comes together into smooth batter ( Not to worry if there are a few lumps)
  3. Spoon the chopped chocolate into the center of the batter.
  4. Microwave for 45 seconds to 1minute or until the cake has risen and is firm to the touch (timing is based on my 1200W microwave so your timing might vary)
  5. Combine the additional cinnamon and sugar then generously sprinkle on top. Enjoy straight away!

Note

I had dark baking chocolate which I put inside and that was a mistake. It was way too bitter. Just add dark chocolate chips or a piece of a regular dark chocolate. And be generous with that cinnamon sugar 🙂

A few days ago I was craving sauerkraut. No hidden reasons or announcements. I simply wanted to eat the entire jar. But than I thought that I would make myself sick so I decided to make fried cabbage with sausages. I grew up with this dish. I was hoping that so did my husband as he is half Polish after all and Polish make a very similar dish but judging by his reaction – not so much. Anyway, I satisfied my own cravings and this time I selfishly cooked for myself and not for Martin or Maya.

fried cabbage

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jar of sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 small green cabbage
  • half a can of diced tomatoes, juice drained
  • 3 sausages
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Drain the sauerkraut but it’s okay if a little of the pickling juice remains.
  2. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and using a paring knife, remove the thick core. Finely shred the cabbage using either a chef’s knife or the shredding blade of a food processor. Your goal is to have equal amounts of sauerkraut and shredded cabbage. Hold aside.
  3. In a stockpot or large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, place 3 tablespoons of oil and the diced onion. Cook over medium-low heat until the onion is soft and translucent but not browned, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the shredded cabbage and drained sauerkraut to the onion. Add one more tablespoon of oil and several grinds of black pepper (not too much as you can always add more later). Using tongs, toss so to combine with the onion and coat with the oil.
  5. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook for at least 15 minutes checking and mixing every few minutes.
  6. Add drained diced tomatoes, cover and continues cooking for another 30 minutes. Continue mixing often for the cabbage not to burn and get evenly fried.
  7. As the cabbage cooks it will slightly darken and the shreds of cabbage and sauerkraut will blend together.
  8. Cut the three sausages and fry them in a separate frying pan.
  9. Add them to the cabbage and tomatoes.
  10. Taste and add more salt and black pepper if needed.

Note:

I combined two recipes as I wanted a bit more substance to it and I wanted some meat in it. Adding bacon is also good. Everything tastes better with bacon, right? This dish is not an exception. Next time.