First of all, this post isn’t food-related. Maybe I’ll give you a recipe at the end if I feel like it, but I’m not making any promises, and if you don’t like my mood already, I suggest you stop reading now and revisit sometime in 2016. Why? Because I’m pregnant and at the point of expanding to where my stomach is stuffed somewhere under my breastbone (google a cross-section of a pregnant woman. THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ANY OF THE STUFF) and everything I eat gives me heartburn and indigestion and is basically beige comfort food anyway, so no one cares what I’m eating. Also, this is a blog first and foremost about indulgence, and oh man, am I about to be indulgent with my whiny feelings. Because that’s all I got left to do, people: whine and grow a human.
Being pregnant sucks. Those women who “omigod loved it!” exist out there somewhere (we are not friends), but for those I know and, better yet, trust, we’re all on the same page with the sucking. It’s uncomfortable. It makes a good night’s sleep impossible due to the fact that you have a giant medicine ball attached to your front and leaning on your bladder so you go from totally fine to “I will piss the bed IMMEDIATELY” about 6 times a night. A firey heartburn exists in your chest pretty much at all times no matter what you eat, probably because your stomach is so close to your throat you can burp the alphabet for the first time in your life, which also means all of those fancy meals you could wolf down before are a thing of the past—a half a sandwich is lucky if it fits in there now. Your boobs, although significantly larger (this goes for your nipples, too! Great news if you’ve always wanted nipples that looked like silver dollar pancakes!), are also sorer, and come with a nifty expanded upper back and rib cage that makes any bra you spent too much money on a mocking reminder of your previously much more fabulous life. Your ankles are now swollen pork tenderloins, a fine peach fuzz has formed on your cheeks and belly just in case your man is into having sex with baby chickens, and your profile now bears a striking resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock.
All those cute pregnancy books warn you about the fatigue that will make you pass out mid-afternoon with your hand in a box of Triscuits, which is real and debilitating, and my respect goes out to those women who are still expected to show up at their jobs while dealing with that kind of tired (seriously, if you want to go home early and watch The Price is Right and have a cry, I don’t blame you, and if your boss frowns on that sort of behavior, you remind him/her that you’re capable of volatility now and cannot be trusted not to gouge his/her eyes out. If you lose your job because of this suggestion, I’m so sorry. But on the bright side, daytime TV has become even awesomer, just wait, you’re gonna love it!). The books mention the mood swings, too, which turn you into a cuddly emotional World Vision donor and then just as quickly into homicidal maniac if your partner dares to bring home regular chicken breasts when you SPECIFICALLY ASKED FOR ORGANIC BECAUSE YOU ARE GROWING HIS SON, DOES HE NOT UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT ORGANIC IS?? And that brings me to the stress you will have regarding this little human you’re housing who you haven’t even met yet. This little leech who has the nerve to take over your body completely and make demands for pumpkin pie at 10am and kick and prod at your organs like a constant and deliberate reminder that your life of being selfish is totally over, that he will need you now and forever, up until you finally get to check out and hope you did the very best you could as a parent. See? I’m crying again.
Want to know what’s even worse than all of this, these things women have been quietly dealing with for eons just to keep the human race thriving and you are welcome? Being a pregnant actress. Here’s why: reason #1 being that almost no film company’s insurance will cover you should you happen to halt production by going into labor early so there goes any fresh new jobs, and the other being that unless a company’s in a preexisting contract with you they can’t lawyer their way out of, they’re not going to hire the pregnant-looking lady and shoot around your human hot air balloon when there are a slew of perfectly good (not as good as me, though) fetus-less actresses waiting in the wings. So that means right around month 5, the prospect of booking anything is gone until you manage to spit out your baby, heal your broken body, and then somehow swiftly starve your way back into actress shape by pilot season. All of this means pregnant actresses have a lot more time on their hands than those women who get to work while growing huger all the way up until they take maternity leave. (Quick reminder, our maternity leave is not paid, however involuntary it may be.) So we get to sit around jobless and worry we’ll never work again while watching the bodies we worked so hard for become larger and larger while our bank account gets emptier and emptier. Hahaha it’s so weird that I’m frustrated and want to strangle everyone!
Before all you people out there who are actively trying to have babies start poking needles into my action figures, let me just say that I am grateful this little baby found his way into my life regardless of making me live through pregnancy hell. I found out I was pregnant the same week my father passed away, and just before he died, in telling him the good news, I think it reassured him to know his legacy was going to live on, and that I was going to be okay. It gave me a sense of purpose that was greater than my sadness, and I’ll always be thankful for that. Also, that whole notion of loving someone you don’t even know yet is so true it hurts, and when your physical body and all of your life choices suddenly involve this little stranger, it’s pretty easy to feel like a mommy right away. But speaking of sudden, to have the life as you know it and all of the things that seem to make you “you” (acting, shopping, drinking wine, eating big meals, being selfish) yanked out from under you, and a hell of a lot of time on your hands to ponder it all, it can come as quite a shock. So even if you’ve been trying for a baby and finally find yourself pregnant, you are still allowed to complain in my books. Don’t feel guilty. Because it sucks, remember?
And lastly, a quick word about the partners who put up with us: Nothing is more invaluable than a someone who tells you you’re still beautiful even with the extra weight and peach fuzz, who rubs your pork tenderloin feet and takes your shoes off when you just can’t reach, and who doesn’t judge you when you cry for three hours in the bathtub and get out of it only because you can’t hold your pee any longer. My someone is Charlie, who has gone through all of this with me without batting an eye and has stayed calm and reassuring even in my thickest of tantrums. I’m pretty sure it’s burned into his memory the day I was watching a CNN orphan special while eating a fried egg sandwich and I cried so hard I sneezed the contents of my mouth all over my own face and waddle-ran to the bathroom while Charlie just sat there stoically, even though I’m pretty sure he wanted to jump off the balcony. This is a man who will pluck an inch-long white hair that’s decided to hormonally spring up on my neck like he’s positively fascinated, and a man who has breakfast ready for me every morning even though he’s the one working a full-time job while I sit on my ass watching House Hunters. Instead of being weirded out by the pointy shapes jutting out of my midsection from our son’s feet while he practices karate or god knows what else in there, he falls asleep with his hands on my belly so he doesn’t miss anything. He also doesn’t seem to mind too much that I’ve subconsciously decided to start snoring like a foghorn at this stage of gestating, and for that I say, “only a few more weeks left, Charlie!” And I love you.
So bear with me in these coming few weeks with my tweets and my posts, because unfortunately the internet seems like an inviting place to vent and I’ve already established I have nothing else to do. I have been assured this will all be worth it, and I believe that whole-heartedly. I’m just going to need to complain my way to the finish line, okay? Also, I’m going to need a chicken finger sandwich with mayonnaise on white bread in the next 20 minutes, and if any of you decide to lecture me on what I’m choosing to put in my body, think about whether you want to live first. THINK ABOUT IT.
Alright fine, here’s a recipe for chicken fingers.
HERB CRUSTED CHICKEN FINGERS WITH HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE
(and a quick Mac and Cheese because we’re going off the rails here. Join me on the fat side of life!)
Ingredients for Chicken Fingers:
1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
2 cups fine breadcrumbs
a few springs of thyme, leaves trimmed
a few springs of rosemary, leaves trimmed and chopped
a small handful of parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
a dash of red pepper flakes
(*if you don’t have access to fresh herbs, who cares? A blend of dried spices works well, too, like herbs de provence which you can find in any grocery store, and also works great on a roasted chicken or turkey)
1/3 cup of regular mustard
1/3 cup of Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper
cooking spray or olive oil to coat a baking sheet
Ingredients for the Mac n Cheese:
1 package of macaroni
1 cup of milk
1 cup sour cream (full fat please… as if I have to say that at this point)
1 cup sharp orange cheddar, grated
1 cup sharp white aged cheddar, grated
1 cup of fontina, grated (jack cheese works well here, too, if you want it to be a little zesty. Or parmigiano reggiano if you feel like being fancy. Basically do whatever you want.)
1/3 cup of fine breadcrumbs
some butter, olive oil, or cooking spray to coat a baking sheet
If you’re doing this all at once, good news! The oven goes on at 400F for everything.
Heat a large pot of water over high to boil for the macaroni.
Set up three shallow dishes for breading the chicken. Place the flour in one, breaking up any lumps with a fork. Beat the egg in the second dish with a generous splash of water. And in the third dish, stir together all the herbs, the garlic, the breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Next, trim the chicken breasts into strips/fingers—don’t worry about them looking perfect, as long as they’re roughly the same size so they cook evenly. Set up a baking or cookie sheet and spray with some nonstick spray or coat it with some olive oil so the fingers don’t stick. Dredge the fingers in the flour, shaking off any excess, next coat in the egg, and then in the breadcrumbs mixture until coated evenly and nicely. Place on the baking sheet in an even single layer. These will bake for about 35 minutes, flipping once in between. Don’t overcook them or you’ll end up with chicken finger hockey pucks and start crying.
While the chicken does its thing, make the dipping sauce. Mix both kinds of mustard, the honey, and season with salt and pepper. You’re done.
Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Get a 9×12 casserole dish and grease it nicely with the cooking spray or butter or olive oil. Get a large mixing bowl and mix the cooked macaroni, the milk, sour cream, eggs, and half of each kind of cheese. Pour into the casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese (yes, all of it, don’t be such a buzzkill) and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes and rest ten minutes before cutting into it. Quick note: if it looks like a lot of liquid in with the pasta before you bake it, don’t worry. I find a wetter macaroni is better because it’ll prevent a dry macaroni and cheese when it finishes baking, which will also make you cry.
THIS SERVES 1 PREGNANT LADY or a family of 4.