the post-partum anti-recipe ::::
If I had to explain post C-section recovery to a naive person, it would go something like this. It feels like someone has punched you really, really hard below the bellybutton about ten times so any sneezing/laughing is painful, given you generous stint of constipation, made sure your boobs leak breastmilk at inopportune times (such as when you are wearing a thin, white shirt), are huge, and are sore. You are sleep deprived. Now, the hospital staff hands you your new bobble-headed 5-to-10-pound child whose job is to eat and poop, and explain that you will be even more sleep deprived than you already are, awakening at least every two hours to feed the baby with your sore, leaky boobs, change diapers ad nauseum, while recovering from this major abdominal surgery. Oh, and the other children you have? You will be taking care of their needs too, trying to help them adjust to the new family member, even with help from family. You think you will be sitting relaxed in a rocking chair, cozy with pillows and your baby nursing? Um, no, if you’re lucky, you’ll be hunched over in a chair, adjusting pillows trying to better your back support as your infant nurses on your sore body, while the other two children are screeching at each other and trying to annoy each other on purpose. You could be splitting up a fight between the two older kids, holding the infant with one arm as you storm across the room to break up the fight. You are a traveling dairy barn, feeling spent, and looking sufficiently haggard. I am nominally physically healed at this point, getting more sleep, but honestly can tip to the haggard direction with a few days of teething or children’s illness.
But it’s all good. Don’t get me wrong: I like being a mom. I like the fresh, new infant in my arms. I like the funny quips from my almost three-year-old son. I like the focus and attention of art projects, the inquisitiveness, watching the start of reading short words in my almost six-year-old daughter. I love the energy between them all. But it’s not always easy for me to keep track of every schedule, every request (no butter on the popovers for Grub, always butter for Peach, when I last fed Sky-Girl), and act as mediator when the fists are flying. This dish is something that you don’t have to keep track of, with no real recipe to consider, and absolutely adjustable measurements. Everything is pretty loose, just like my post-preggo body.
This lemon syrup is great for mixed drinks of all sorts (I am forever thirsty), something to liven up a dry cake (or a dry, sleep deprived momma), or even poured over a ricotta pancake (but I too tired to make it). Try something and let me know what works!
One year ago: strawberry balsamic smash
Two years ago: whole-wheat chocolate “PB&J” brownies (or cake)
- 6 large organic lemons, or so
- about 3 cups of sugar
- 16 quart pot
- Cut up all lemons and juice them into the pot, throwing the rinds in the pot after juicing. Don't worry about the seeds; you'll strain the mixture later. NOTE: Using the whole rind makes the final syrup a bit bitter. This doesn't bother me. However, if you want a really clean lemony syrup, then I would use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind from the bitter pith. Use the peeled rind and juice the lemons, discarding the white pith.
- Cover the lemons with water, but not quite. I didn't fully immerse my lemons, and a few rinds were peeping over the top.
- Add the sugar and bring the mixture to a simmer for 1 hour. Or so. You can cook longer if you want. The cook time is pretty loose. The rinds will soften. Mush them a bit with a wooden spoon to release lemon oil.
- Over a mesh sieve and large bowl, strain the mixture, pushing down on the solids. Allow the strained syrup to cool to room temp. Use the mushed up lemons to perfume your kitchen for a bit, then refrigerate for another use or discard. When strained syrup is cool, place into covered jar and refrigerate.
- Mix syrup into seltzer water, still water, tea, pour it over a dry cake to moisten, whatever you desire needing a lemony kick and sweetness. Add a lemon rind or two to the glass to garnish.