Thursday, December 13, 2012

I KNOW A MAMA WHO

Wakes up every Monday morning and vows to stop drinking wine forever and ever and ever and ever.  Forgets to drop her son off at his best friend's birthday party. Can't remember how she got from point A to point B but knows a car was involved and that the kids were in it. Likes to eat caramel sauce on top of caramel ice cream for lunch. Slams the dishwasher door shut with such anger that it breaks. Feels guilty when she does anything for herself. Drowns out her newborn baby's screams with Eminem. Wears her nightgown underneath her coat during the Monday morning carpool drop off. Knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that she could lift a truck if her son were trapped under it. Takes forever cooking dinner so that she can be by herself in the kitchen.  Makes her son go without his morning milk because she needs it for her coffee. Kicks a hole in the kitchen wall. Desperately misses her pre-breastfeeding breasts. Drinks martinis while cutting her childrens' hair. Grounds herself by placing a hand on her son's head. Wants to run away once a month. Still believes that Prince Charming is coming. Yells what the fuck at her son. Parallel parks her car into a tree branch. Sneaks in while her children sleep and inhales their exhales. Has an abortion because she is scared her marriage won't survive a third child. Keeps pretending she's too tired to read "Charlotte's Web" to her son because she doesn't want to live through Charlotte dying again. Doesn't love her babies until they're no longer babies. Says to her son you are my beauty cakes my little goose my precious donut. Doesn't always use a car seat. Calls her son a jerk in front of his best friend. Listens to Kelly Clarkson even when the kids aren't in the car. Is always one poem away from bursting into tears. Climbs into bed with her son when he's sleeping because that's when it seems like he loves her the most. Is scared of her daughter's beauty. Forgets she has children. Wonders if the love she feels for her son is the same kind of love that other moms feel. Gets jealous when someone else's kid is amazing. Loves one of her children more than the other. Throws books at her husband. Feeds her son dinner in the bath. Yells at her kids a little bit every day. Calls her husband  motherfucker in front of her son. Still knows the dance moves from Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" video. Flirts with her daughter's teacher. Is one tantrum away from taking away Christmas.  Thinks white bean soup with potatoes and Brussels sprouts can fix anything. Wishes she had a large tribe of women picking her up, carrying her along, rooting her on. Says out loud I'm a mama I'm a mama I'm a mama I'm a mama I'm a mama I'm a mama and still doesn't quite believe itFeels like she's drowning. Feels like a superhero.

(Thank you to the six women who told me about mamahood and then oh so generously allowed me to intertwine their stories with mine. I owe them all truckloads of soup and ice cream.)
I've had a lot of Caramel Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce on hand for the past two years.  But I just started making this White Bean and Potato Soup with Brussels Sprouts. My newfound cracked out love for Brussels sprouts has sort of freaked me out (I used to hide them in my napkin or try to feed them to the dog). I coat them in pesto and crème fraîche. I sear the heck out of them in brown butter. I nibble on their crispy little caramelized leaves. I crave them as much as caramel ice cream. 

Make some crème fraîche and keep it festering on your counter for a few days. Confit some garlic and set it aside to cool. And then get busy making some soup. 
WHITE BEAN AND POTATO SOUP WITH GARLIC BROWN-BUTTER BRUSSELS SPROUTS
printable recipe
serves 4-6

for the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil (or bacon fat)
3 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 head fennel (tough outer layer peeled off), cored and diced
kosher salt
3 anchovies
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
10 medium-sized potatoes (my favorite are Yukon gold or butterball), peeled and cut into about 2" by 2" pieces
6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 cups or more white beans (navy, cannellini, or butter; previously cooked or from a jar or can)
kosher salt/pepper to taste
lemon juice
white or sherry wine vinegar

for the Brussels sprouts:
24 Brussels sprouts
kosher salt
pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 cloves garlic confit
1/4 cup chopped parsley
kosher salt/pepper to taste

optional toppings:
chopped parsley
olive oil
coarse salt
thick balsamic vinegar
parmesan cheese
pine nuts
croutons

directions:
Place large soup pot on the stove over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add celery, onion, fennel, and big pinch salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and softened (about 10 minutes). Add anchovies and garlic, stir for a minute on medium heat until anchovies are dissolved (use back of wooden spoon to help them disintegrate). Add wine. Stir and cook down until liquid evaporates (about a minute). Add potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes). Add white beans and simmer for another 20 minutes. Remove and puree half of the soup (or use an immersion blender). Add puree back to chunky soup. Taste and adjust. Season with salt, pepper, and/or lemon juice/vinegar. If it's too thick, add more chicken stock. Cover and keep warm while you make Brussels sprouts.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Trim stems off of Brussels sprouts and remove any brown outer leaves. Grate off half of each Brussels sprout. Set grated slaw aside. Don't worry if the intact halves look scrappy and funky. Salt and pepper exposed grated sides. Heat butter in a cast iron pan on high heat until it just starts to brown. Place Brussels sprouts grated-edges down into the brown butter. Keep an eye on them. When they're nicely browned (a minute or so), add olive oil, toss them about, and then throw the pan into the oven. Cook until just tender (about 20-25 minutes). Remove from the oven and toss in grated Brussels sprouts slaw, lemon zest, garlic confit, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mush up the garlic confit so that it spreads throughout the slaw. Throw back in the oven for two minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and taste. Season as needed.

Serve soup piping hot. Garnish with cooked Brussels sprouts/slaw and any of the optional toppings above. The soup freezes beautifully.

50 comments:

  1. Being a mom is so hard sometimes it breaks your heart. But we all just keep trying.our best. Like you I hated Brussels sprouts until recently. Now I eat them roasted with bacon, or baked with cream with anything. Merry Christmas

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  2. <3, you are superhuman...I'm pretty sure of it at this point...I've been reading your blog for 2 years!! ;-p

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  3. I know a mama who used to crave her time alone. Now her house is quiet all-the-livelongday. Until 5p. Then the madness starts and the cold, dark house becomes warm and bright again.

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  4. Holy Crapballs this was one awesome posting - soup included!

    Love you, your beautiful inspiring children, and that you make me a better cook and a better mama & me!
    xo

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    1. thank you, patricia! and holy crapballs is a new one for me. i like it!

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  5. Thank you for this post! Yesterday the f word came out -- of course when one of my two was practicing the cello. That seems to inspire swear words. Today was filled with frustration and it was wonderful to hear someone else's similar frustrations. We're are all so human -- wonderfully resilient and terribly fragile at the same time. My husband has warned me that it's only going to get worse with our sixth grade puberty navigating child. Oy vey, I say. Then husband thought it would be good to remind me that I, too, was rude to my mom during my adolescence. Fortunately, your blog post is a better, more soothing does of reality. Thank you!

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    1. oh vey is right! those hormones are rapidly approaching our house as well. i'm glad you found the post to be soothing. that was the overall feeling i had hoped to achieve. but i do know that some of the thoughts are a bit jarring. but i also know i'm not the only one experiencing them. great to hear your (written) voice, susan.

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  6. I'm rooting for you. So appreciate your brutal honesty. Very well written.

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  7. Your posts always make me smile and feel like this shit is real. Thanks! I am not ready for kids yet and wonder when I will be, seems like a crazy idea, the idea of never ever being alone every again. haha. Such is life. I'm still a newly wed, so no clock is ticking this year!

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  8. Love the post! Will say the book Potatoes Not Prozac solved a lot of these problems in our house. Love this blog beyond all things!

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  9. The first time I read this I thought, "not me, not me". 2nd time through, I realize, "oh, yes, some of this is me too." Sending peace and power to all of us.

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  10. Wonderful and so perfectly normal. I was delighted to learn that you had not single-sourced the material. Whew... And White Beans? Our house cannot get enough of them, so you've saved my bacon. Honest-injun true?? I'd rather hear more about D&B invading your kitchen.

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    1. they don't want to be in the kitchen this month. too much going on in their lives! maybe over the holidays. i think they need a break. so i'm respecting that.

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  11. Maybe our superpowers are in fact being able to keep breathing even when we're continuously drowning ... ?

    Beautiful post xx

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    1. yes, amanda. i love that!

      my friend jen used to have an email signature that read: "i make breastmilk, what's your superpower?" every time i read it i smiled or cried or yelled out "fuck yeah, that is a superpower." mamahood is all about finding your superpowers. through breath. through ritual.

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  12. And forgiving yourself every single day!!!!
    Great post. Rock on Mama.

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  13. Mammas unite! I'm feeling the love around here ;)

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  14. I'm not a mama, but I do love how you share the real, raw side of motherhood here. And this soup? Ohh boy, looks incredible. Never would have thought to top a soup with brussels sprouts but I must try it immediately.

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  15. You = amazing! This mama approves.
    www.artbymegan.com
    Megan

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  16. This may just be favorite post yet!
    Thank you so much for your honesty - especially when it comes to loving and hating your children. This mama often has fantasies of running and running but then I always think I'd die without them...I just love them so! When reading your soulful posts I feel less alone in the ocean of mamahood and more connected to the reality of loving and living and making yummy food!
    xoxoxox

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  17. I often find myself holding my breath while reading your blog. Heartfelt and honest, thank you. LisaInIllinois

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  18. Thx for being you, Phyllis. You made me laugh and cry at the same time. Looks like we share a lot of similarities in this “wonderful motherhood land” When I was a kid my mother use to say: “one day I’m just gonna go out to get a pack of matches (she smoked back then) and never come back!” After all these years now I know how she must of felt.
    Happy Holidays!

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  19. Thank you for this post and for the wonderful soup recipe... I don't know what I needed more today. Just so you know, the soup was beloved by all at our lunch table today (though the kids insisted on Brussels sprouts on the side. Next time, I will win them over!). Even without fennel, it was stellar. Served with chopped parsley and creme fraiche of course.

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  20. I love this. More mommas need to say how they really feel so we know we're not alone. Your blog does that for me. Thanks.

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  21. this is good.

    freak out and carry on...happens all the time over here.

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  22. ...and you're saying that i should revisit brussel sprouts....hmmmm.

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  23. I don't always comment, but I do always read. I'm not a mama, other than to my dog, which I don't really say, because that's really kind of weird. The Internet, readers, other bloggers....in a way, we do form a tribe.

    Also, I liked Brussels sprouts for the very first time this weekend; my aunt made mac 'n' cheese with bacon and Brussels sprouts. Maybe I'll try your soup recipe!

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  24. Oh Phyllis, weird calling you so when I don't know you, but feel like I do, somewhat, a teeny tiny bit. As usual/always, your post makes me FEEL. Even as a non-mom, and maybe even moreso, it demonstrates your ability to evoke emotions. What I mean is: I would be part of your tribe, pick you up, carry you along, root you on.

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    1. oh wow. thank you. so glad i made you feel. that's huge. and thanks for your support.

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  25. I'm a little disappointed. I've enjoyed the blog for a while, and you always seemed so devoted to your kids (you made a blog about them after all!) and this post seems to negate all that. I really don't mean to sound judgmental, and perhaps you were hoping to shed light on motherhood as "not all fun and games". Maybe you needed some validation that being a parent is hard. It really is. But cursing out a kids father in front of them? Is that what we want our kids learning? Is that a mother we celebrate? I don't think so. I celebrate the mother I've seen here previously- who dedicates time and energy to teaching her children about skills and exploration through food and cooking. Who writes about her children as if she can't get enough of them (not expressing any anger or jealousy that they aren't some other kids). Can you write about THAT mom again, please?

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    1. it would be dishonest to write about a mom that i am not. i speak my mind in front of my children. i speak my mind on my blog. i speak my mind in front of my husband. and in this post, 7 other women joined me in expressing very similar things. it doesn't matter which of the words up there are mine. just know that i've felt them all. i've lived them all. and i'm very comfortable posting them as my own.

      i'm grateful for your comment. and your honesty.

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  26. I just discovered your blog through Pinterest and I'm so happy I kept reading and discovered this post. Truly breathtaking and beautifully, gut-wrenchingly honest. As mothers we need to protect each other and ourselves and one of the best ways to do that is to be honest about the journey.

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  27. Wow. Just found this blog. What incredible writing.

    Ten or fifteen years down the road, you all will miss the crazy early days of mothering so much! We just had our adult sons here for almost two weeks over the holidays. Now they are gone, back to their own lives. Our little Berkeley bungalow is ours again. And it feels too empty.

    Maybe I'll make your soup this week. Good comfort food.

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  28. Yes. Yes. Yes. All of this... It is us. It is every fucking day and it is beautiful and terrible and it is REAL. Loved this post so much I might print it out and frame.

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  29. This is curious I had no idea about this until I stumbled upon this post of yours here. In addition to that I want to ask you a question which is highly important for me. Do you own any useful data on how to protect your personal thoughts from being used without you knowing it?

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  30. Just discovered your blog and love it. Great post. Terrifyingly familiar but I was glad to realize that not all experiences came from one poor mama ;-)

    I'm SO making your baked french toast this weekend :)

    Marie

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    1. yes. quite a few people were relieved that these weren't only my experiences!

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  31. I'm new here. And this is the first thing I read. And I know a momma whose stories feel this same way. sigh. sigh. and more sigh. nice to breathe this in on a tuesday morning that apparantly felt like a monday morning as my 6 year old blows me off on her way out of the carpool line. Nice to meet you and your brussel sprouts.

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  32. Just found you by wandering over from bendandbirdy, where Catherine apparently just found you recently too. Thanks for this. I needed it, and I know I'm not the only one. Bless these internets and their capacity to connect us!

    Thanks ever so much...
    berivan

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  33. Just wanted to tell you, like everyone else, how much I love your blog. Like, LOVE your blog. It embodies exactly what cooking should be about: life, love, family. It's about having good days and bad days and being human and saying "fuck" and "hella" even if it makes people uncomfortable or confused. And obviously, your food is AMAZEballs. So please don't change one teensy, weensy thing about how you write and share and cook. Its all perfectly imperfect.

    Thanks so much for keepin' it real.

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  34. Thank you for not being one of those bloggers who seems to be saying, "Have a look at my perfect life." Thank you for the honesty. For relieving the lonliness for a moment, for making me cry in a good way, for making me not feel bad for doing similar things...

    Great stuff. I will be back.

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  35. It seems that I am repeating much of the same words as above, but thank you. I was recently married and that includes being a step mom to 3 kids 11-5 50% of the time. I have never sworn so much in my life. Your post made me want to cry and think, good, good, my selfish thoughts are not so crazy and my car seats will probably survive being hit over and over again. One of my biggest frustrations is the fact that my "new brood" are extremely picky eaters. So while I might try this soup, sounds amazing, it is unlikely it will go in the rotation when the kids are around. Anyway, thanks again.

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  36. Love, love love the honesty and the truth and the beautiful, gorgeous food.

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  37. you. I love your recipes almost as much as I love your high jinx, hilarity & honesty.

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  38. Just stumbled upon this recipe and not only does it look great - love the honest writing!

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