If you've seen me recently, you've likely noticed I'm getting bigger. A LOT bigger. And for once, it doesn't have to do with my deep-rooted love of cookies. The Hubster and I are pregnant (well you know with biology being what it is, I'm the one that's actually pregnant. But people always say "we," maybe to make the morning sickness and bloating a bit less bearable, so "we" it is). Both grandmothers went a bit bonkers at the news of a girl (we don't have any girl babies in our family) and immediately rushed out to start buying dolls and dresses. I asked for some blocks and plain onesies but was wholly ignored. And since I plan on reusing much of the stuff we got for Little Man, this poor girl will be wearing pink, frilly dresses half of the time and faded camo onesies the rest of the time. Don't worry, I'll just put the money I save in to a therapy fund for her.
The Hubster and I feel incredibly blessed by all of the calls, emails, and texts from our friends and family reflecting our unbridled joy. But it's also a bit hilarious for us because we vividly recall how that joy is often surpassed by the sheer terror and exhaustion of having a newborn. Add a toddler relishing his Terrible Two's and well, it promises to be interesting ride. Of all the people we've told, perhaps the ultrasound technician had the best response when we told him we also had a two year old son. His eyes widened and he chuckled. "That is going to be challenging," he said. It was clear he too lived in a house ringing with toddler shrieks and Disney's Mouseketools on repeat.
I feel a bit more prepared knowing what I want and don't want this time 'round. Want: More ice cream. Don't want: Hospital food. At all. Want: More massages. Don't want: A maternity photo shoot. I really don't need evidence of how I look like a bloated leprechaun. Want: More ice cream. Oh wait, I already said that. Well, it bears noting twice. Don't want: A freezer without ice cream.
For now, I'm appreciating the relative calm before the storm and enjoying all the stuff you can only get away with when you're pregnant. For one, I've pretty much given up on pants. No, this does not mean I'm going pantless (though I really love that part in an old episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where the dad comes home from work and announces, "I'm going to take off my pants and get comfortable, in case you all want to leave"). These days, I pretty much distinguish my formal and casual outings based on whether I'm wearing leggings or flannel pajama bottoms.
I'm also eating more than my fair share of treats. Like this chai toffee. Since I've cut back on my caffeine intake, I've had to figure out other ways to get my chai fix. Presenting, this gloriously buttery toffee filled with fragrant chai spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. And while I can't guarantee that this toffee will help with swollen feet, I'm hopeful it will make the 3 a.m. wake up calls easier.
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup chopped almonds
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tbs. water
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cardamom powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Toast the chopped almonds on a baking sheet for 5 minutes, or until fragrant.
With heavy-duty aluminum foil, form a 10-inch square shell with 1-inch high sides. Place the foil shell on a baking sheet, and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, cook the butter, sugar, water, and salt over medium heat until the temperature reaches 305F (hard-crack stage), stirring occasionally (watch closely after it reaches 290F because the temperature will increase rapidly). When the mixture becomes golden brown, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and spices. Pour the mixture into the foil shell. It will spread but may not reach the edges of the square. Cool at room temperature for 45 minutes, or until hard.
Melt the chocolate according to instructions on the side of package. Spread melted chocolate over the cooled toffee, and sprinkle with the toasted almonds, pressing lightly to set pecans into chocolate. Let set at room temperature 1 hour, or until the chocolate is set. Break toffee into pieces.
Adapted from Ghiradelli's English Toffee.