Introducing Matilda Edith Smiley!

On Friday, July 22, Matilda Edith Smiley was born at 11:33am.  She weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces (the same size as Eliza) and was 20.25 inches long.  It has been so wonderful finally getting to meet her and having her home with us.  Eliza’s thrilled to be a big sister, and we love our two little girls.

Time to Cook

As Lynne shared previously, she was able to spend some time before the baby’s arrival making a bunch of meals we could freeze.  Having two weeks of paternity leave also freed up my time to watch Eliza, work in the basement, and get back in the kitchen, too.  Below are some fun dishes I was able to make this week using up some of our vegetables from the garden.  If you don’t keep up with the high yields, you end up wasting produce, and no one likes that!

Lamb pitas with Greek salad

Since we had a lot of cucumbers and cherry tomatoes ready to eat in the garden so I found this great recipe for a Greek salad (I love recipes that have a “100% would make again” score!).  Of course, some delicious veggies in a pita weren’t going to make a filling meal, so I thought it would be nice to add some lamb.  I found this recipe for some lamb patties to add to the pitas, using a bunch of spices my parents brought us from Turkey.  We tweaked the recipe using Turkish coriander, cumin, and oregano, as well as mint from the garden (and nixed some things like the allspice and the sauce), and the patties turned out delicious and crispy (ala falafel).

This may be one of my favorite meals I’ve had at home recently, since it’s definitely something I’d order at the local Mediterranean sandwich shop.  I was also really excited to use the cherry tomatoes, since they are growing so well and I didn’t even plant them this year.  Last year I had tried planting some cherry tomatoes from seed (and two years ago I had tried planting some Roma tomatoes from seed), and neither ever took until this year they all started growing randomly in different areas of my garden!

Tilapia with mango salsa and roasted beet salad with oranges

As I mentioned before, Lynne asked me to grow beets in the garden this year.  She enjoys them but I have bad childhood memories of disgusting sickly-smelling canned beets.  Well, they grew very easily and now we have lots of beets to eat!  I knew I had to find a recipe that got me excited, or else I wouldn’t want to try them again. I found a roasted beet salad that featured oranges and made use of the beet greens (they’re kind of like chard).

Overall, I was pretty happy with it.  The oil and vinegar took away some of that “beet smell” that I didn’t find appetizing and left them a bit sweet and sour, and the oranges were a very nice touch.

My parents’ neighbors brought them some large mangoes from Miami, which they were kind enough to share with us, so why not make some mango salsa?  These were hands down the best mangoes I’ve ever eaten in this country (almost as good as Thailand!).  I also added some mint to the salsa, which I think made it even better.  If you like your sweets spicy, you could also add some minced jalapenos or cayenne.  The salsa went great with some simple grilled tilapia.

 Homemade quiche with kale, onions, and toasted garlic

We’ve eaten a lot of Lynne’s delicious homemade quiche (the best crust in the world! Just ask Eliza), and since we have a plethora of kale in the garden (that didn’t make it into the quiche), I figured the two would go well together.  I simply sautéed the kale with some onions, but the fancy touch (and bit of a mistake-turned-awesome) is the toasted garlic.  

Corn – Raw(r)!

This one definitely doesn’t qualify as a recipe or anything I cooked.  The garden is full of corn, and on a whim I decided to pick a smaller ear for Eliza, since she loves eating corn on the cob.  Since the kernels were a bit smaller, we both enjoyed it raw about 30 seconds after it had been picked.  This was amazing!  I had never eaten corn on the cob that wasn’t boiled, grilled, or microwaved, but it was even better fresh and raw.  I’m not sure if store-bought corn would taste the same uncooked, but now it’s the only way we’ve been eating it, big and little ears alike – talk about easy!


The Day is Here!

The due date is here, that is.  We will be induced Thursday at 4:30pm and my doctor, who has been on maternity leave, is coming in early to do the delivery!  I am really excited about having my normal doctor there, and it has made it easier to wait this long.  I have a few more things to clean and some laundry to put away but we’ve had plenty of extra time to prepare. 

On Sunday Kirk took some pictures of Eliza and me.  I haven’t been too keen to jump in front of the camera, but I figured it was time to document the last days of the pregnancy.  As I look back I will recall my cravings of Mexican food, fruit, and canned green beans (and when I say Mexican food I mean the authentic stuff, which I would have eaten every night if Kirk had let me).  It has also been different mentally preparing for a second child.  There is not as much time to dream and think on the newest addition because I’m plenty busy with Eliza.  I have a joy-filled heart and am excited to meet Eliza’s baby sister.

I hope she’s ready for what’s coming!


Garden Update

I’ve been remiss in blogging about the garden this summer.  Spending most of my free time working on the basement doesn’t mean that we’re still not enjoying a bountiful harvest!

So far this year we’ve enjoyed the following produce (and so have many of our friends, family, and coworkers since we’re constantly giving our overabundance away!):

Spinach – always the first thing to go once the summer heat arrives, we used in a variety of salads and then harvested the remainder for a large batch of creamed spinach

Radishes – hundreds of radishes have been devoured plain, dipped in ranch, on salads, or pickled (with rice wine vinegar, coriander seed, and black peppercorns – try it!).  Some are still pickling now!

Green beans – we had a lot and enjoyed them with a homemade Thai curry, a great recipe my Aunt introduced us to, and pickled

Kale – sautéed and simple, but there’s so much left and it would be great in some potato or miso soup I think

Peas – We had a lot of peas, and Eliza ate almost all of them – raw.  I don’t know what she liked more, eating them or opening the pea pods and trying to get them out.  Just wait until she meets her first crab leg!

Cucumbers – it took them a lot longer this year, but the cucumbers are finally ripe. We’ve been dipping them in ranch and pickling them in the same concoction used for the radishes, and maybe we’ll try this simple recipe.

Chard – three different types, all just as delicious, sautéed with onions or garlic, and for one batch I added some leftover ground breakfast sausage – the perfect one bowl meal

Lettuce – we went overboard again and have been eating about 9 different kinds of lettuce (including Bibb, one of Lynne’s favorites) and spicy arugula

Green onion – last year’s remainders made it through the winter and got more than four times the size of your store-bought green onions, went to seed, and still taste great!

Herbs – cilantro galore (planted via last year’s seeds), dill, basil, parsley, mint (one of my coworkers even made awesome mint-iced brownies when I took some of the harvest to our New York office)

Raspberries – the best fruit in the world, and it’s nice having a couple handfuls of berries every two or three days – although Eliza will eat them as fast as Kobayashi if you let her

Things that are almost ready to pick/eat:

Cabbage – we have lots of loose green cabbage to pick, but I still have no idea what to do with it – recommendations?

Carrots – guessing from how long my other plants develop their root systems, and the fact that these bad boys still aren’t ready, I’m guessing they are going to be ridiculously long carrots

Beets – we picked one and have a dozen more ready to go.  I’m not a fan, but Lynne is, and she says that fresh homegrown beets will convert me…we’ll see!

Tomatoes – we planted three different kinds this year (yellow, pink, colorful heirloom), and they’re doing well, but not quite ready yet.  To my surprise I also had dozens of new plants spring up from some red tomato seeds I planted last year that never took

Peppers – also way behind this year, I think only two plants made it :(

Things that need a bit longer:

Corn – growing well though!

Okra – I won’t be experiencing any record yields like last year.  The wet June really slowed down the growth, and I’d just be happy to get any okra by August this year

Fennel – year two of the experiment, only one plant grew (just like last year) and it’s not looking very full

Leeks – my wild tomatoes overtook them, so it’s hard to see if they’re even there at all

While this picture only showcases a section of the garden in the background, it’s way more entertaining than staring at vegetables and leaves!



Stocking Up

I wanted to stock up the freezer with some meals to reheat once the baby arrives.  After the false alarm on the 4th it got me antsy to get this checked off my to-do-list!  This project would not have been possible without the help of my mom.   We spent all day (literally 10 hours!) getting all this cooked up.  We doubled and sometimes tripled the recipes so that my mom and I could split up what we prepared.  It was so much more fun doing this with someone else.   We talked about maybe doing this once a month so that our freezer could always be stocked with some quick meals so that there would be less of a need to go to the store or pick up other food.  Eliza was also amazing all day and kept herself occupied while we cooked, which was such a big help.

Throughout the day the phrase “I have never cooked/cut this much before!” was said quite often.  The large amounts were a bit crazy especially the four packs of bacon that we had to cook up!  In all we made 6 quiches (with bacon, mushrooms, spinach, etc.), 2 sausage/egg casseroles, 3 lasagnas, 12 twice baked potatoes, and one batch of Rice Krispies treats.

Freeze Rice Krispies treats you say?  No, these were just made for us to eat now and they are almost gone already.

Fourth of July with a Bang

Since I was 38 weeks pregnant we stayed in town this 4th of July.  We headed over to Kevin and Tammy’s for their annual firework extravaganza.  Kirk and Papa had been setting off some smaller fireworks for Eliza over the previous weeks so that she was somewhat prepared for what was to come.   There are so many fireworks to set off that our family can’t even wait for it to get dark.

I have had contractions (ugh) for the past few weeks.  I normally have about three an hour, but it can vary a lot.  While enjoying the fireworks I noticed that they were coming more and getting a bit more uncomfortable.  After waiting a while they didn’t seem to be changing so I timed them to be about 5 minutes apart.  After getting Eliza home with Gram we headed to the hospital to see if anything was going on.  They watched the contractions for a while and saw them start to taper off so we were sent home and told it would be “soon.”  Seven days later we are still waiting.

Eliza loved the fireworks that dropped the “parachute men”

The infamous Value Jet, an annual tradition of strapping fireworks to a glider for repeated launches until it breaks/melts


Hot Enough to Boil Shrimp

Last weekend our friends hosted their second annual shrimp boil.  It was a warm night with hot food, but it was oh so delicious!  Eliza spent the night with her Gram and Papa so Kirk and I enjoyed a night out together (which may be our last for a while).  Shrimp, corn, Andouille sausage, potatoes, onions, lots of Old Bay, and Bell’s Oberon – hard to top!

There’s nothing like eating off of paper with only your fingers!

Grilled peaches and ice cream for dessert.

Tony found some paper lanterns at a fireworks store and we sent one off.  It was beautiful to see it go up at night, and amazing how far away you can see the flame.

We took a picture of our house church before the two new members arrive.  Laura went into labor four days after this was taken with their son Riley.  We hope that we can join the club in the next few days!  We were also excited to celebrate Tony and Meredith getting engaged!

Daddy’s Oldest Daughter

They look alike don’t you think?

Photos taken during our 4th of July festivities.

Hoping that Daddy’s youngest daughter makes her appearance soon!