♦ Only Child

Dear Shaina,

Maybe we’re just a family that likes transitions. WeIMG_8302 seem to find ourselves at that edge over and over again…and we kinda like it.

I’ve started measuring my transitions in relation to bathroom facilities. In the space of a month, we journeyed from a very large home with a 180 square foot master bath complete with soaking tub and walk-in steam shower to a 110 year old, 586 square foot condo with a single bathroom measuring a mere 5 x 8 feet, maybe.

A week long jaunt off to Berkeley for your amazing graduation (we’re so proud of you) afforded us a one room “cottage” sporting a toilet at one end of the room and a kitchen sink at the other, leaving us to find our way to a novel outdoor shower right outside of the cottage. IMG_8278

After returning to Birmingham, we made our annual trek to the Acoustic Cafe music festival where the facilities consisted of Porta-Potties, pumped well water and…well, we skipped the shower altogether.

We managed to get ourselves clean and relieve our bodily waste in much the same way in all locations.

The more obvious adjustment occurred with the convergence of people and stuff. More precisely, you and three hundred pounds (that is actually an underestimate) of your stuff returned to the bedroom of your youth.

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You actually did a pretty good job of making it disappear pretty quickly. The laundry room was pretty active for about a week. We all started eating a little healthier. Visits to the grocery store became a little more frequent. New routines and rules began to emerge…your rules. No TV in our bedroom after you go to sleep, and no talking either, due to your highly advanced and sensitive hearing capacity, even with ear plugs.Forget anything else we might want to do in our bedroom.

IMG_7984It’s a transition…we’re used to being on your own.

Then there were the kitchen activities, mostly a pleasure. You chopped, I wiped. You dropped, I swept. You dirtied, I washed. It worked.

The Vita Mix fiasco was the I Love Lucy moment for me; Dad on the step-stool with his phone camera strategically poised above the Vita Mix as explicitly directed by you, me delivering ingredients upon demand, and you confidently tampering away at your culinary creation.

And then, WHAM! You opened the lid, as you had done hundreds of times before, the blade hit something still frozen and the rest was a gloriously executed explosion of chocolate and raspberry goup splattering the walls, ceilings, floors, chairs, hallway and even your ever-tolerant father. He wasn’t happy.

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You immediately said you would clean it up. I laughed and grabbed my camera. I had the best time ever!  Watching you scrub that ceiling and those walls…Bubbe would be proud!

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Only children are often over indulged, self-centered and spoiled. We made an effort to not overpower you, but when it’s two to one, as it always is with an only child, the odds are automatically stacked. We encouraged your independence, self-reliance and self-determination. You don’t typically present as an only child. More often than not, you were a quiet, undemanding and too easy to get along with child. We were secretly pleased when we finally had to punish you for lying to us when you were 15 years old and you shocked us by standing up to us, while we whimpered about the broken bond of trust in our tiny enmeshed family.

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You are the poster child for “nature vs. nurture.” Your innate calm, thoughtful, easy-going qualities were cloned directly from your father, along with his feet. But nurture apparently had its way with you. Along with my eyebrows, you seemed to have acquired a few of my louder more authoritarian traits. It looks like you’re stuck with a pretty strong dose of both of us.

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We couldn’t be more proud of the young adult you have become (although we don’t necessarily want to live with you). You found your voice and it’s one hell of an amazing voice! But don’t worry. We’re used to transitions…and we absolutely love this one!

Glad to have you home…for a short while, anyway!
Love,
Mom
xoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxoxo

 

It’s summer time and there’s not much cooking going on. The garden is beginning to take hold and a few things are landing in my kitchen. Most of these recipes are modifications of some old tried and true ones, but with every new season, there are new variations. The quantities aren’t precise so use your judgment and know you can’t go wrong with a little more or less of any ingredient in these dishes. Enjoy!

Squash Casserole

  • 2-3 pounds yellow squash
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • Vegetable bouillon to taste
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1 – 2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3eggs beaten
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

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Cook cut up yellow squash, carrots and onions in a large soup pot filled with water and vegetable bouillon to taste until vegetables are tender.

Drain vegetables when cooked into a large bowl. Broth may be reserved for a soup base.

Add 2-3 tablespoons of butter to the hot vegetables and stir until melted. Using a stick blender, blend all the vegetables together to your desired consistency.

Add yogurt, garlic and half the cheese and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Add eggs and mix together.

Heat up a casserole dish (or several small casserole dishes) using a little of the butter in a 350° oven.

Melt the remaining butter and add the bread crumbs and remaining grated cheese for the topping. Pour squash mixture into heated casserole dish(es) and top with bread crumb mixture.

Bake in 350° oven for 45-60 minutes until topping is browned and casserole is set.

 

Fennel Slaw

This is another summertime favorite.  Easy to make. Light and refreshing. Can be made ahead of time.

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  • 2 Fennel bulbs
  • juice and zest from two small or 1 large lemon
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil or to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Variations: add sliced fresh radishes or green onions

Thinly slice fennel bulb and mix together with the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before serving. Adjust seasonings to taste.

 

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◊ voice

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Dear mom,

People are asking how my transition from Berkeley to Birmingham feels and I’m like what. What’s a transition? I sweat double here than I did in Berkeley. That’s the only change I notice. Deep inside though, I know I left Berkeley with heaps of growth and new knowledge.

Earlier last semester, I got roped in to speaking to a class of undergrads studying journalism + Judaism. Don’t ask. They wanted me to speak about new media stuff. Because I know things?

I sat in front of the class and felt 17 again. I told them what I was working on and admitted I don’t feel like a real reporter. Then they asked questions and I was surprised I had real answers.

Towards the end of the talk, one of the girls in the room raised her hand. She said, “Like, how did you get the courage to start to get your voice out there?”

I foreal laughed out loud. Then I was kind of stumped. I have a voice?

I thought about my literal voice. About the first semester of school when my instructor made me repeat sentences over and over and over again until I ended on a hard stop instead of a question. I learned how to mask uncertainty from “I have a story idea?”

I thought about the voice coach who came to radio class and made me YELL my script in front of class. “Get angry!” She said. All I could do was giggle.

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Sasha’s turn to be humiliated

Sometimes I listen back to my voice on recorded interviews and bang my head against my desk. I sound like a drunk 5 year old. I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself.

Other times, though, I recognize my voice –with its giggles, uptalk and meek rambles– as valuable. It’s taken me to some cool places. Though that recognition is fleeting, it’s a remarkable change from two years ago.

I’m not sure I have a firm answer for the girl who asked me how I found the courage to put my voice out there. I’m still kind of laughing about the whole thing. But what I said to her was this: find people who believe in themselves and surround yourself with them. Allow them to lift you.

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I spent the past two years surrounded by brilliance and fearlessness that motivated me to be those things too. Why did I really spend so many hours in the B1 cave? Because working next to people venturing into the frontiers of virtual reality and building apps and creating a freaking media empire, etc, etc, etc filled me with courage.

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As my transition from that wonderful bubble into the real world hits, I’m counting those first moments I saw the value of my voice to fortify me.

xo,

Shaina

I made a lot of angst recipes during the last few weeks of school. At the end of the day all I usually wanted was to crush nuts in the vitamix. Pulverizing is empowering.

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Plant based snickers bars:

Bottom Layer

  • 2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup dried figs, chopped
  • tsp sea salt
  • tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbs coconut flour
  • vanilla bean paste

Middle Layer

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 5 -7 dates
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • handful rosted peanuts, chopped

Top layer

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 8 dates, soaked over night
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Chocolate layer

  • ¾ cup coconut oil
  • ¾ cup good cocoa powder
  • ½ cup honey

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  1. Add ingredients in layer 1 to food processor and pulse until dough forms
  2. Transfer dough to a small loaf pan lined with parchment paper press into a square about 1/4 inch thick. Put into freezer.
  3. Repeat above steps with ingredients for layer two. Reserve peanuts and mix into dough after combined.
  4. Spread layer two on top of layer one. Place into freezer.
  5. Melt ingredients for chocolate layer above low heat and spread on top of layers 1 and 2. Put into freezer until all layers are hardened.
  6. Remove from freezer.  Cut into squares. Store in the freezer or fridge to keep fresh until serving.

 

Paleo birthday cake to celebrate Mozzified turning 1!

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Cake*

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp raw honey
  • 5 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • vanilla bean
  • some sea salt

*double this recipe for 2 layers

Mango Filling

  • 1 3/4 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hour and drained well
  • handful ( 5- 7) dates
  • 1 cup dried mango
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • vanilla bean
  • some sea salt

Frosting

  • 1 cup coconut butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • splash of beet juice
  • splash of carrot juice
  • splash of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • vanilla bean

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Preheat oven to 350. Using double the cake recipes, pulse dry ingredients in a food processor and then pulse in wet ingredients.  Grease two 6 in pans with coconut oil and pour batter into pans. Bake for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile puree all filling ingredients in food processor until smooth and creamy. Add warm water as needed. Place in bowl and set aside.

Put frosting ingredients into small pot and warm over low heat while stirring.

Remove cake from over and allow to cool. Cover bottom later with filling. Add top layer and cover with frosting.