I’ll be Gone

Life as it currently is – not really the easiest thing to sum up.  I mentioned about a month ago that things had been a bit rough, and have been trying to figure out the best way to word it.  I try to keep things separate on the blog knowing that most people come here to read about tasty treats and not infertility.  So for those of you looking for veggie dishes – check back on Thursday.  For those of you that want to be caught up on Operation Impregnation – please stick around!

Part 1 Part 2 of the journey

Our second mini-IVF was a disaster, plain and simple, as we were left with no transferable embryos.  This left us with the one frozen blast from the first mini-IVF (aka IVF #2) – which was nicknamed Frostie.  In early July I began the medication needed to prep my body for Frostie, maxing out our pharmacy coverage for all future IVF treatments.  Frostie was transferred and within days I was getting positive pregnancy tests.  After the previous disappointments I decided to keep this one to myself, counting down the days until what I knew would be a positive BETA.  Then disaster struck, on the Thursday evening before my BETA I felt a sheering sensation on my left side and knew that it was over, that Frostie was gone.  The test on Monday confirmed my fears, my blood results were so low as for the cycle to be considered a fail – but the multiple positive HPTs were enough to convince my nurse to record it as a CP.  The loss of our last embryo was devastating, the only thing keeping me from the deep end (outside of husband and family) was an upcoming vacation to my favorite gaming convention.  Most of the people there were familiar with our situation and so I was welcome with open arms – outside of those filled with alcohol (Caramel Appletini) and caffeinated beverages.  This trip gave me time to recover while a weekend away with my better half helped us both to heal, and to begin talking about next steps.  The next cycle was a break cycle, no appointments and just a refocusing on the important things in life. We began researching adoptions and further investigated donor eggs.

When we first began this journey I was more than a little opposed to donor eggs – it made so much more sense to me to adopt.  Then I realized how difficult adoptions are, especially non-foster based domestic adoption.  After being turned down by three adoption agencies due to religion, and accepting that our under-30 status took international adopts off the table, we went back to talking about donor eggs.  Joe had always been open to the idea, assuming I was willing to take the risk.  With donor eggs, I take the same medication as with the FET cycle and then have a transfer on either day 3 or 5 (as with a standard IVF).  However since we’ve had at least 4CPs there is no way to guarantee that a donor egg will create a sticky embryo.  While all tests have come back negative for any likely disorder causing miscarriages, there is still the small chance that something is wrong and my body is unable to carry.   Thankfully we live near Shady Grove Fertility which offers a Shared Risk/Shared Donor program – which is what we have decided to go with.  Under this program we will pay a set amount of money and will then have up to 6 transfers.  If during that time we go home with a baby, Mazel Tov!  The journey is over.  However if after 6 transfers we are still babyless we get all the money back – and we’ll be at least 6 months closer to hitting 30 and thus eligible for international adoption.

So where are we at this moment?  Currently we are waiting to check off our final box on the egg donation form.  Then, depending on timing, I’ll either start the medication or take the cycle off and start the medication in November.  Once I’ve started medication, transfer will be scheduled for 4 – 6 weeks out depending on where the donor and other recipients are in their cycles.   The average rate of cycles is 3.2 so while we can hope and pray that the first one is the winner, we realize that we are just at the starting point for this journey and it could be another year (or more) before we reach the end.

That’s it – or at least that’s it for now.  For those of you that made it to the end – Thank You.  I first started posting about our IF journey a little over a year ago, when we had our first BETA confirmed miscarriage.  It’s been a rough year, with two more miscarriages added to the tally  - along with lots of medication and tears.  I’m still hopeful that at some point we will be parents, be it thru donor eggs or adoption, it’s just taking much longer than I ever thought.

Hold at Night

Black Beans and Rice

Black Beans and Rice

I though fall had arrived – last week the air had that familiar crispness to it and the humidity was starting to drop to a more tolerable level.  However it appears that Mother Nature isn’t quite ready to say good-bye to the warmer temperatures making me glad I was lazy in leaving my tomato plants outside “just in case”.   This resulted in a few more cherry tomatoes, and another jalapeno – all of which joined together to make today’s delicious dinner.   The other ingredients are all pantry staples, which means the dish came together in record time which was another bonus since things were a bit insane towards the end of last week (eek Holiday cleaning!!!!).   I was able to toss everything together and let it cook while I attempted to knock a few more rooms off my seemingly never ending cleaning list.

Hold at Night

Serves: Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups black beans, presoaked and well rinsed
  • 1 cup brown rice (presoaked and well rinsed if needed)
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely torn
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced

Instructions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, then add the spices. Toss well and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the black beans, rice, and vegetable stock - bring to a quick boil then cover and turn heat to low. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.
  3. Stir in the basil leaves along with the tomatoes then season to taste with salt, pepper, or more chili powder!
  4. Serve and enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/09/hold-at-night.html

Just another meal justifying my love for beans and rice – such basic ingredients that can be tweaked in so many different way to create the perfect meal.  We both topped ours with some “pico de guac”, recipe for which will be up later this week!  Joe also grabbed some chips to go with his while I decided to go with some extra tomatoes, either option being perfectly acceptable!

Break of Dawn

Sweet Potato Corn Stew

 Sweet Potato Corn Stew

I mentioned in a post last week that I recently received a LARGE amount of tomatoes from Chocolates and Tomatoes Farm.  Today’s post shows were the vast majority of those tomatoes wound up – in a delicious stew perfect for /52weeksofcooking’s stew theme.  Since the tomatoes were all seconds I knew that I had very limited time to use them, and while the sauce took care of a fair amount, I still had a few pounds left.  With the clock ticking I decided to improvise and figure out what I could make with the little produce left in my fridge.  A sweet potato, the last of our Eastern Shore Corn, and a bunch of fresh herbs – perfect for a hardy soup.  Plus the weather has taken a clear turn for the cold so no worries of overheating the kitchen!  I debated roasting the tomatoes before hand, but decided that one-pot clean up was the right answer.

 

Sweet Potato Corn Stew

Serves: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 3 lbs tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups fresh corn off the cob
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 2 cups no salt added vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 7 minutes, or until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to help break down the tomatoes.
  2. Add the corn along with the diced potatoes and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, still stirring the tomatoes but allowing the sweet potato to slightly roast.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a quick boil. Stir, then cover, and turn heat to low. Simmer the stew for 20 minutes, then use a hand immersion to blend the ingredients until desired thickness. For those with a stand blender, move the soup a 1/4 at a time, leaving at least 1/4 of the soup unblended.
  4. Cook for a final 10 minutes, adding pepper if needed. Serve and Enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/09/break_of_dawn.html

I served this stew with some French Honey bread, which is staple this time of year – along with my favorite Apple Cider Bread.   This stew also included a variety of tomatoes, including the green zebra variety I mentioned the other day!

Note: For all my Jewish friends (and family), L’shannah Tovah! 

Counting Seconds

Plov: Vegetarian Style

Plov

Sometimes I make a dish with no idea what is going to happen at the end – to include if it will even be edible.  I had heard of Plov before, thanks to Silk Road Bistro, but wanted to make it more of a main dish without the standard lamb.   Lots of googling gave me a good list of vegetables to start with: carrots, onions, and garlic  - along with the addition of some variety of currant.  When it came to the main protein all I knew is that I didn’t want to go with tofu, I wanted something with a firm bite to it as a contrast to the soft vegetables.  I decided to go with chickpeas since their origins in Turkey led me to believe they would have easily spread to the Central Asia region that I was focusing on for this dish.

Counting Seconds

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup cranberries

Instructions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the cumin and coriander and cook for 1 minute before adding the onion and garlic.
  2. Continue cooking the onion and garlic for 15 minutes, the onion should start to caramelize and the garlic should be a rich golden color. Add the rice and stir, until coated in the oil then add the water.
  3. Bring the water to a boil then cover and turn heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then add the chickpeas and recover.
  4. Cook for a final 5 minutes then stir in the cranberries and Serve!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/09/counting-seconds.html

Another thanks to /r/52weeksofcooking for sending me on another delicious food journey – I’ve learned so much in doing these weekly challenges and can’t wait til the next one! Though of all the dishes I’ve made for this challenge, this one is easily in the top 5 as the ingredients are all standard ones making it super easy to prepare.  Ever since Wegmans added cranberries to their bulk food section I’ve had a fresh supply in my pantry – and while they aren’t burberries they are delicious.

Reality

DC VegFest

VegFest Nachos

It’s not often that I go to an event regarding food and come away disappointed, but that seems to be the trend lately.  I’ve been a HUGE fan of the DC VegFest since I stumbled upon it a few years ago on a DC adventure involving the Eastern Market and the Capitol Book Faire – and I was hooked.  There were demos showing how to work with nutritional yeast and Vegg when it come to vegan baking as well as info booths about all the uses for tofu and why the type matters.  I was able to try vegan cookies and cupcakes as well as smoothies thickened with tofu and the new (at the time) Daiya meltable line.  I came away with information on why being a vegetarian matters as well as how to be a GOOD vegetarian.  For many people, including myself in my early veg years, living vegetarian is synonymous with living the anti-Adkins diet of all carbs all the time.  VegFest was a nice post-college reminder that there is more to life than pasta and rice.  It was at VegFest that I saw my first Tofu Press and while I’ve never invested in an official one, I press my tofu each and every time and the difference in taste/texture is amazing.  To me this is what a vegetarian food festival should be – teaching people how to live a healthier life even if it’s as simple as #MeatlessMonday.

Instead more and more food festivals seem to be about preaching to people why what they are doing isn’t enough, or isn’t “right”.   From National Food Expos to VegFest to the Emporiyum, more and more of the focus seems to be on organizations preaching to people about why their specific type of living (natural oils, fruitarianism, freegans, etc) is the RIGHT one- Revival style if you will.  It’s almost the reverse of the classic teach a man to “fish” story – instead of being taught how to do the skill they are being told they aren’t good enough since they aren’t “fishing” but not being told HOW to do it.  I have heard speaker after speaker preach about the importance of green leafy vegetables,  but not one of them gave a recipe for HOW to use green leafy vegetables.  I heard speakers going on about the importance of limiting soy intake, but not one of them talked about HOW to make your own nut milk/cheese.  I get that talking about the problem is easier than fixing the problem, but from my experience it seems as if many of these organizations were doing a better job in their early years which makes me wonder why the change.   I saw more clothing, soup, and products booths at the event this year then anything else.

In the end I’m sure it comes down to money – bringing in produce to cook is not cheap and shockingly (to me) I’ve never seen a local farm participate in one these food events, only restaurants selling the final product.  So why the disconnect?  Why the move from showing people HOW to borderline discouraging them by saying what they are doing isn’t enough?  Is this the new direction for Food Festivals – making them more like user group seminars where the attendees are expected to already know how to make their own almond milk or cashew cheese?  I’m not sure, and with that I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to stop going to these events – but I know that I’m not going to be as eager to bring friends to the events.  I want to go to a VegFest that is a celebration of all things veg*n – which to me means including the fruits and vegetables and legumes that are so fundamental to this way of living.

Note: Nachos pictured above are from Bread and Brew and were fantastic!  However in fitting with my other issues, a recipe for that fantastic vegan queso would have been a fantastic addition :-) Tho Belle did appreciate the frisbee the bamboo plate was resting in!