A couple of weekends ago, we took a (long) road trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Once we got past Frankenmuth, the views started to get really great, but as nice as the Mitten is, it is nothing compared to the beauty of the UP.
I wasn’t really prepared for seeing Great Lakes in their glory. I had seen Lake Michigan when I was in Chicago, but the city is so big that it makes the water seem somewhat incidental. When we saw lakes Michigan and Huron, one on our left and one on our right, while crossing the Mackinac Bridge, we were stunned. The lakes are huge: they seem ocean-huge, but without the surf and deep sandy beaches. It was really amazing to watch the sun set over Lake Michigan on the night we stayed in St. Ignace and then rise again over Lake Huron the next morning.
Even the beauty of those two lakes was overshadowed by Lake Superior. The color of Superior defines “blue”. The first time we caught a glimpse between some evergreen trees, we couldn’t believe the color of it. It is crystal-clear and has layers upon layers of blue reflecting the sun and clouds and landscape, and it goes on forever into the horizon.
The drive through the forests were almost as amazing, with a wide variety of habitats and trees and wildlife. I can see why people love to go “up north” so much, and hope that we can spend some more time up there next year.
The reason we went was for the UP Beer Festival in Marquette. Thirty-two microbreweries and brew pubs from the state were there, with around 150 different beers on tap. There was also good food and live music. We liked every been we tasted, and loved our taco lunch. The baby crawled around on the grass in the shade and made some friends, including another Leo! It was a great day. The city of Marquette is a nice little college town (Northern Michigan University) with a great waterfront area.
On the way home, we decided to stop for pasties, the unofficial food of the UP, on the encouragement of a friend of ours. Apparently we did not choose our pastie shop well, because they were kind of gross. I imagine that it is hard to go wrong with what is essentially a combination of meat loaf and empanadas, so I’m going to try again, and may even make some at home one night.
So, a good time was had by all. Autumn is now here in full force in Flint, and our drive home was teased with hints of red and yellow leaves.
Now for the food!!!
Blueberry Lemon Tea Bread
This stuff is awesome. If you love blueberries, please make this in a hurry before they are all gone for the year. It is sweet and tart and lovely. It also happens to be nearly fool-proof to make! These are things I like in a dessert.
1/2 c. butter (or Smart Balance)
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs (from the Farmers’ Market!!!)
1/2 c. milk (almond milk works well)
1 1/2 c. blueberries (also from the Farmers’ Market!!!)
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (none of that squeeze bottle junk!)
For the glaze:
1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Beat the butter and sugar until it is blended. Increase speed to medium, and beat until it is light and fluffy, or for about 5 minutes.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs one at a time to the sugar and butter, beating after each. Add milk and flour, alternating a little of each until they are gone and are blended in.
Gently fold in the blueberries. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool loaf in pan on wire rack, then remove it from the pan (gently!). Pierce the top and sides of the bread several times with a skewer. Brush the top and sides with the glaze using a pastry brush.
This makes one loaf.
Don’t let the name deceive you: this is not your normal carrot cake. This is carrot cake for people who don’t like carrots. I’m not kidding. When I was a kid, this is what Mom-mom would make for us because we wouldn’t eat carrot cake in which we could see flecks of carrots. Am I right, Dougherty clan?
This is some seriously good cake. I served it with a simple white icing, but the recipe calls for cream cheese icing, which I might try to do using non-dairy cream cheese. I’ll let you know how that works out.
3/4 c. oil
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large jar of baby food carrots (or two small jars) (no, I’m not kidding)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1 t. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 35o degrees.
Mix all the ingredients except the eggs. Add the eggs. Bake for 1 hour.
For the icing:
sm. cream cheese
1 t. vanilla
a little milk
I guess you mix those together until you have the right consistency?
Ok, I don’t want this blog to be my personal soap-box, but this issue is unbelievably deserving of outrage. An agency in Madrid that supposedly provides shelter and support to poor mothers took a young Morrocan immigrant’s 15 month old baby away from her and has forbidden her from visiting because the mother was breastfeeding the child. Unbelievably, the agency also claims that breastfeeding is “chaotic” and somehow bad for the child. The circumstances of the separation are heartbreaking and atrocious.
Nine days ago, on May 31st, a Morrocan mother known as Habiba had her child taken away from her without her consent, allegedly because she breastfed her child on demand. Due to her dire financial situation, Habiba had been living with her 15 month old daughter in a women’s shelter in Madrid (Instituto Madrileño del Menor y la Familia- IMMF-, which roughly translates to Madrid’s Family and Children’s Institute).
In later declarations and radio interviews, Nacho de la Mata, her lawyer, informed the media that Habiba had left her child at the facility’s daycare center as usual, and that the child was taken away immediately from there. She was then notified that she could no longer live at the shelter, for this facility only took on the care of mothers and she no longer had a child.
Fundación Raíces, a humanitarian organization, immediately took on Habiba’s care, providing psychiatric evaluations, performed by well know birth rights activist and author Dr. Ibone Olza, along with legal services, healthcare and financial aid.
According to anonymous information released in the press, supposedly coming from the IMMF, Habiba’s child was taken away from her due to her failure to comply to the center’s “Psychotherapy and Maternal Habilities Program”, allegedly because she was “a violent person”, although there are no records of this alleged violence.
Dr. Olza, the psychiatrist who evaluated Habiba, as well as a psychologist, whose name has not yet been released coincide in their impressions on Habiba:
“I’m under the impression that [Habiba] is a sensible and loving mother, with a healthy attachment to her child.”
“It is obvious that this separation is highly stressful for the nursling and I can easily predict oncoming symptoms of psychic distress if the physical and emotional bond with her mother is not immediately restored”
“Based on Habiba’s thorough psychiatric evaluation I have reached the conclusion that this woman does not suffer from psychiatric disorders nor does she have a drug habit. In my opinion, she is a very capable, loving woman who is now suffering enormously from having been abruptly separated from her child.”
“As a child psychiatrist, I know that suddenly separating a fifteen month old child from her mother, transfering her to a government facility with no one the child is familiar with present, causes great damage that could have enduring psychological consequences, if not reunited as soon as possible.”Habiba is not only suffering emotionally but also physically. The day Dr. Olza took on her care, she was suffering from engorgement and was on the edge of developing mastitis. Dr. Olza helped Habiba express her milk and took a half liter of breastmilk to the IMMF. After a lot of persuasion, and arguments about how it would be a crime to waste this mothers “liquid gold”, the IMMF accepted the milk although that poses no guarantee upon the child ever being fed it, as Breastfeeding is strictly forbidden in all child welfare group homes.
This news appears to contradict the strong support of breastfeeding in Madrid’s breastfeeding and parent-child bonding programs for health professionals . Thus the IMMF’s attitude on breastfeeding, and their opinion on it, calling it “chaotic and damaging to children” has caused great alarm among mothers everywhere, not only the breastfeeding community. According to declarations in the newspaper, allegedly coming on behalf of the IMMF, the reason for separating mother and child has nothing to do with their breastfeeding relationship, yet after saying that the child was removed from her mother’s care “temporarily and the case would be reevaluated”, they warned Habiba beforehand that nursing her child during their one hour weekly visit was absolutely forbidden supposedly because “it would be contrary to the child’s institutionalization”.
On Saturday June 4th, Dr. Olza decided to seek public support for Habiba’s case, and started a Facebook Group called Que el IMMF permita que Habiba amamante a su niña YA (IMMF please allow Habiba to breastfeed her child right now). In less than 24 hours, the group grew to over 2000 members, and currently has over 3500 (and continues growing by the minute).
Yesterday, Habiba was allowed to visit her child, for only an hour. After nine days of being apart, they were reunited for only sixty minutes.
Since information on this case became public, other similar cases of women being forced to wean their children upon threats of their custody being taken over by the state have been brought to light. A public petition in Spanish was signed by over 3500 people, and another 5200 have sent personal letters to the IMMF and other Spanish authorities, as well as Save the Children, Amnesty International and other NGOs to express their support for Habiba and request her to be reunited with her child as soon as possible.
This morning, a Spanish newspaper published further declarations by Dr. Olza about Habiba’s impression upon meeting her child briefly yesterday:
“My little girl is no longer the child I knew, at first she wouldn’t even look at me… she has lost half a kilo, she looks very thin, this is not proper childcare, she had circles under her eyes, she started crying as soon as I picked her up but then she would stop immediately as if she didn’t have the physical strength to cry any longer, she didn’t seem like my daughter, she looked like a dead child, a doll”.Dr. Olza explained to the Spanish authorities that the child’s reaction was perfectly predictable under the circumstances:
“She wouldn’t look her in the face, she looked at her as though she was a complete stranger, not wanting to go near her, [another possible reaction could have been] the contrary, not wanting to let go of her mother afterwards.”
“… it was absolutely predictable that the child wouldn’t seem happy upon seeing her mother given the circumstances,” which is something that an untrained observer could [but should not] interpret as “the child not loving her mother, or that [Habiba] was not a good parent”.
“On the contrary, the fact that she reacted this way is proof that the child has suffered enormously from this deep feeling of abandonment“Not only has the child been traumatically separated from her mother, but there also aren’t sufficient caregivers to provide children with the nurturing that they need. After visiting the shelter at which Habiba’s baby is being held, Fundación Raíces told the press that during night shifts, there are only two caregivers for 42 children under the age of six.
Minutes ago, Dr. Olza, published the following urgent request, asking all supporters currently residing in Madrid to please protest in front of the IMMF right now:
Less than one hour ago, a representative of the IMMF in charge of Habiba’s case has verbally accepted that she sees ” her child one hour a week in order for her to maintain their breastfeeding relationship” to which the president of Fundación Raíces has replied that he obviously has absolutely no knowledge whatsoever about breastfeeding. His response was that the IMMF would evaluate the possibility of more generous visitation rights. We ask you all to please go stand and protest in front of the IMMF building right now to request that this institutional abuse upon Habiba is put to an end immediately. The address (in Madrid) is Calle Gran Vía 14. The following is extremely important: please take the picture above printed on paper to use as masks during the protest, Habiba does not wish for her face or anyone else’s to be displayed in the media. We will all wear this drawing as masks because We are all Habiba.I’m perfectly aware that this story seems very much like a hoax, but with well know professionals such as María Teresa Hernández, member of the Spanish Pediatrics Academy’s Breastfeeding Commitee, award-winning lawyer Nacho de la Mata, well reknown authors and birth activists Isabel Fernández del Castillo and Ibone Olza, among others backing the information and giving their personal impressions on the matter publicly, things seem greatly believable.
If this story has touched your heart, if you wish to help in any way, please share this post. If you have a blog, please re-publish this information, if you know anyone in the press, anywhere in the world who could help in any way, please do contact them.
If you know some Spanish and would like to read further about Habiba, please refer to the following articles, with more detailed information:
- Madre lactante separada de su bebé de 15 meses por negarse a destetarla injustificadamente ¡Hagamos algo!
- Habiba, aún separada de su bebé. Esto es lo que podemos hacer por ayudar
- Todas somos Habiba
- Que el IMMF devuelva a Habiba su niña ¡ya!
- Habiba ha visto a su hija una hora, ¡tan solo UNA hora!
Leer más: http://www.amormaternal.com/2011/06/please-help-habiba.html#ixzz1OsaYJdoi
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives
I’ve been suffering through April in Michigan. All winter, I’ve been very good – no complaining, no whining. I’ve taken the snow, the cold, the ice like a champ. But I refuse to take it in April. SNOW ON MY BIRTHDAY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
So, now it is supposedly spring, but I wore a hat and mittens to the gym today when I went to get my birthday massage (no exercising). The sky was blue and sunny and everything, but no warmth at all. Kind of like a vampire day: good looking, cold, and evil.
Anyway. An update on Leo – that’s what you are really here for, right? He’s doing really well. He finally recovered from the RSV after the doctor prescribed an albuterol nebulizer for a week. He has also learned to clap, which is hilarious. I think that he thinks clapping means “I pooped”, since the only time he really claps is after he poops. Which he is doing on the potty almost all the time now.
The boy is cute. I’ll post a picture another day. But, man, he is cute.
As I have mentioned before, Mom-mom’s recipes aren’t always terribly…informative. This is a good example of a recipe that required a bit of trial-and-error and some research in order to master. You’d think that a cupcake recipe would be straightforward, but you’d be wrong in this instance.
In fact, at first glance, a novice would see nothing particularly out of the ordinary with the recipe.
And, I didn’t, so I made them, just re-arranging the order of the ingredients to do wet first then dry. Everything was looking good until the end.
I made a couple of errors the first time around, resulting in cupcakes that were more cup than cake (they were sunken like fallen soufles). My first error was in trying to make them non-dairy so that Joe could eat them. I think now that maybe the almond milk just didn’t react the same way that cow milk does with the other ingredients. Cow’s milk has a pH of 6.8, so it is slightly acidic. Almond milk is alkaline. Baking soda requires an acid to release carbon dioxide to make air bubbles in the batter, so that could be why they were so flat. My second error was not adding the milk and flour correctly. You wouldn’t know it from the recipe card (!!), but you need to add them little by little in alternation. I learned that from The Cook’s Bible by Christopher Kimball. My third error was possibly not having a hot enough oven.
Given all that, I needed to try again. And this is what I came up with (this time, with regular milk).
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup Crisco
- 3 squared of semi-sweet baking chocolate
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 cup of milk (start with 2/3 cup, and add more if the batter isn’t just runny enough to drip slowly/ooze off the spoon, rather than sort of glop off the spoon)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. I recommend having an oven thermometer to make sure, since it is really important that the oven be hot enough. The second time, I had to increase my oven temp to 380 to get it hot enough.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Melt the chocolate. You can do this any way you please, but I like to melt it with the Crisco in a saucepan (just be careful that it doesn’t get to hot, or the Crisco supposedly will catch on fire!). Cream the Crisco, sugar, and chocolate. Add the eggs one at a time, beating a little after each one. Add the vanilla and beat a bit. Beginning with the milk, alternately add half the milk and half the flour, beating after each addition.
Fill your cupcake pan, and bake for 18 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick.
Every night, as part of his bedtime routine, we read Leo a book. While we have received several great newer and classic books from folks as gifts or hand-me-downs, we also have a pretty sizable collection of books that were mine or my brother’s when we were little. Most of them are Golden Books, which are their own special kind of cute-weird, but we also have some other oldies-but-weirdies.
Last night and tonight, we read the baby Dolphin, by Robert A. Morris, with pictures by Mamoru Funai. It is A Science I Can Read Book, so it is definitely for older kids, early readers, but we read him pretty much anything with pictures and not too many words. I don’t think that we’ll be reading him this one again for a while, though.
It starts off innocently enough, talking about a mommy who gives birth to a baby dolphin, and how the baby learns to breathe and nurse from the mommy. There are illustrations of the birthing, breathing, and nursing that are sweet and cute. Then the dolphins go to sleep.
The next day, the baby learns to eat and hunt with the pod. This is where it gets hairy. SPOILER ALERT: A shark bites off the tip of the baby dolphin’s fin! What?!
Ok, so he heals and everything, but seriously? I think this book is not age-appropriate.
Morris, Rober A. Dolphin. Harper & Row, New York, 1975.
LEO POOPED IN THE POTTY.
No, I’m not kidding, hallucinating, or delusional. He really did!
We decided to start potty training a little early, because we heard that even though it takes longer in the number of months to train, it can still get you out of diapers earlier. So, we got Leo a potty yesterday at Meijer when we were grocery shopping. I did not have high hopes; I figured that we’d be practicing sitting on it until the cows came home.
According to the Baby Whisperer, you put the kid on the potty when they wake up in the morning, about 20 minutes after eating through the day, and before going to bed. At first, it is supposed to be mainly getting comfy on the seat, but if they go by accident, you are supposed to get all excited and really freak out. So we tried it.
And this morning, it worked. After breakfast, I put him on his mini toilet seat, and after a couple of minutes, he valsava-ed and plop! I didn’t even have to try to freak out, because I was so surprised!
Parenting is getting excited about poop!
Last week, March teased us with a bit of Spring, but now we are back to our regularly scheduled snow, ice, and cold. Blech.
The boys and I used the reprieve as an opportunity to head south to Ann Arbor. We thought that we’d hit the AA farmers’ market and do some shopping and walking-around.
Coming from Flint, we had high hopes for the farmers’ market. Here, we can do almost all of our grocery shopping at the market during most of the year, with beautiful produce, amazing meat, and lovely spices, among other things, on offer. AA’s market was a Disappointment. It is a weak yuppie hobby market! Maybe it is better in the spring and summer, but right now, it is really lame. So, needless to say, we were forced (FORCED!) to do our grocery shopping at Whole Foods instead. Anyway, for all you Flint haters, I’ll have you know, our farmers’ market ROCKS.
The rest of our day was fun, though. We had an amazing lunch at Zingerman’s, which really should be on everyone’s Michigan bucket list. The sandwiches and desserts are amazing. If you can’t make it up here, you can also order their stuff online – you won’t be disappointed.
Leo is getting on well. He still isn’t crawling, but he is learning new things every day. On the good side, he’s sleeping through the night now. One would think that that would be great for me, but I have been trained by that tiny tyrant to wake up twice a night, and, being such a good student, I do so. ARGH. On the bad side, he has also learned that he can make us do what he wants by crying. Clever little dictator.
I’ll be posting two recipes that I’ve made recently for white cake and chocolate cupcakes. The white cake turned out ok, but the cupcakes were a major fail. I think I’ll need to try both again.
Sorry for the radio silence on this end, folks. We had a crazy week, a week on the East Coast, and then a sick week, so we’re just getting back up to speed now.
Our trip “out East” was a whirlwind, and very fun. We visited my Mom, Joe’s sister’s family, many friends, Joe’s parents and his brother’s family. All of this in addition to the fact that I was there for work and Joe put our house on the market and wrote a proposal for his work. CRAZY. It was during this time, also, that Leo decided that sleep was optional at best, so we were operating large machinery in a compromised state, to say the least.
Much to the annoyance of the finance people at work who deal with my expense reports, we drove. That made it easier to do the visiting rounds, but not “easier” as such. Leo is a great road-tripper, thankfully. He mostly sleeps, looks out the window, plays with toys, or sips on a bottle. Very chill. Hotels, on the other hand, he HATES. I don’t blame him, really. The hotel cribs look rather uncomfortable, compared to his crib at home, and they look like a jail cell or a zoo cage. I wouldn’t want to sleep there, either. He did much better in his crib at Grandma and Grandpa’s and his pack-n-play at Aunt Beth’s.
During this trip, Leo also gave us another day care gift, this time respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Lovely. Coughing, congestion, aching, fever. JUST WHAT I WANTED TO BRING HOME. Thank god for DayQuil and NyQuil.
I have done some baking, so I’ll post some recipes soon for white cake and chocolate cupcakes. In the meantime, I’ll get my act together and find some good photos and video of the boy for you.
It has been a busy week, chez Reinsel. Leo has finally figured out how to sit up by himself, more or less. He still hasn’t fully mastered it, so we can’t just plop him on the floor, but he is getting really close. Joe is working on a proposal for a really cool project he wants to do with this student assistant (! You know you are coming up in the world when you have a student assistant). I worked with some people at work on an abstract that we are going to submit for the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Conference in November in the Bahamas (do I need to say how much I hope it is accepted?).
We celebrated Valentine’s by getting a babysitter and going out on the town. We tore it up, let me tell you. First, we went to the new wine bar, Cork. It is really nice. A bit more formal than we were expecting, but very cool. They have this machine where you get a card that you can use to dispense your own wine in various serving sizes, so you can create your own tasting. You can buy cards for $25 or $50, and they don’t lose their value, so you can use some today, and some later, and recharge it. We didn’t do that, since we aren’t sure when we’ll be able to get back there, but if we ever become regulars, it will be great.
After that, we went to our favorite restaurant in Michigan so far, The French Laundry in Fenton. Even though we had a reservation, we had to wait for about an hour because people were lingering over their dinners. And dinner was definitely worth lingering over. While we waited to be seated, we met a nice couple who are also beer lovers, so now we know about the beer pairing nights at the Woodiron Grill in Owosso. I guess we’ll need to engage that babysitter again soon. And maybe a driver.
Anyway, in the midst of all the craziness, I did find time to make another recipe.
- 2 1/4-oz packages of active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/4 cup shortening melted and cooled (be careful melting shortening – it can catch on fire)
- 12-12 1/2 cups flour, divided (6 and 6)
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar, salt and shortening, and stir until dissolved. Add half the four, and beat until smooth (I used my stand mixer with the regular beater for this part). Mix in enough remaining flour to form soft doug that clings to the bowl (I used the stand mixer with the dough hook for this part). Turn out onto floured board (or your floured granite countertop, as the case may be) and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic (during this period, you will have to add flour little by little so that it doesn’t stick, but don’t overdo it).
Cover and allow to rise 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down. Cover and let it rise again, about 30 minutes. Divide dough into 4 parts and shape into loaves. Place in greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise, 30-45 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes.
Note: This worked out well for me, even though I didn’t have enough regular flour, so I threw in about 1/4 cup of whole wheat and who knows how much rye flour and finished out with an undetermined amount of bread flour. I think I was lucky, as I know that bread making is a science. I only have two loaf pans, so I made two loaves in the pans and two free-form loaves. I let the dough rise in the sun, covered with a damp towel. We’ve tried making bread here before, and the surface always got too dry because it is so dry in here; the damp towel stopped this from happening, so the bread got to rise all the way.