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Those of you with palatial homes needn't read on. But the many residents of the world who live in apartments, small attached condos, trailers and other tight quarters will know what this is about.

You do your thing all day, you feed the baby, you bathe the baby, you play the exhausting game of convince the baby to go to sleep. It's 8pm. You're hungry. There's only one problem:

You can't make any noise.

Maybe the baby's room is adjacent to the kitchen. Maybe you've got a noise-sensitive baby. Maybe there's a pipe that carries sound from the kitchen directly to the baby's ear like how old restaurants with weird archways always manage to have two tables across the dining room from one another where the people at each table can hear the whispers at the other.

Using the stove is out of the question. Leaving the house is out of the question, not only because you can't leave the baby alone but also because opening and shutting the door would incite a riot in the crib. Forget about delivery, because the doorbell may as well be an air raid siren. Even the microwave is iffy.

What do you do?

For my part, I would probably be dead right now if not for the miracle food known as Number 19, also known as Goi Du Du, also known as green papaya salad. Specifically, shredded green papaya salad, grilled beef, basil, shredded carrots and "slightly spicy dressing" topped with crushed peanuts. This is a classic Vietnamese dish (if it's not, don't tell me) we get from a place near us called Saigon Grill. We order four of them at a time and keep them in the refrigerator. Best to order peanuts on the side and to add them yourself at the last minute because they don't hold up well when refrigerated.

It may not be hot food but it is a complete meal. It feels a little strange to eat it in the middle of winter but it's better than the alternative: cheddar cheese and rice cakes with a side of chocolate covered pretzels and peanut M&Ms.

I'm sure you all have your stories. Please tell them. If nothing else it will make me feel better. Warning, if you lecture me on how I should just plan ahead for my meals I'll kill you. Thanks.

Edited by Ellen Shapiro (log)

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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I hate to say this, because in general there's something about the things that bother me, but perhaps the use of a hot-pot would help on some days? Start in the morning, just eat in the evening. Not the most elegant of dining, but almost anything that is in the house *can* be made into a meal without too much thinking ahead.

There's also the idea (in the winter) that helps of a (cheap, don't get a really good one for they are nice and quiet :biggrin: ) humidifier in the baby's room that makes just enough noise to lull, with that "white noise" that will cover other delicately-made noises from the other room. . .

I feel for you. I tiptoed for years. Still do, sometimes.

(But it's worth it. :smile: )

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Maybe get a crockpot? I also tip toed for years and I did the white noise things in my son's room. I wouldn't let anyone turn a radio on etc because if they woke the baby after I'd spend 3 hours getting him to sleep, I was going to kill someone.

Crockpots are great for this sort of time. you don't really need to plan ahead much (except to make sure you've got ingredients. Stews, chilis, ribs, can easily be bubbling away and are very forgiving for those nights when baby doesn't want to go to sleep and dinner is going to be way way late.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Actually there's a lot of Thai recipes that do quite well in a hotpot/crockpot, if the idea of plain old "beef stew" or chili sounds too dreary. . .

A rice cooker can be helpful, too. No clattering around, no need to focus in too much on timing.

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Does tuna salad help at all? You can buy the tuna now in a foil bag, so you don't need the can opener, and you can dice celerly quietly, and even make a salad to serve it over. Or if you're out that day and pick up a roasted chicken, you could make a nice chicken salad, even with the chicken at room temperature if you leave it out? (Apologies if picking up the chicken implies thinking ahead.) Also, you didn't specify if cooking something while you can (when the baby's awake) was an option, only because I was thinking that if you had a flank steak grilled or broiled at some point, it's something you can eat cold with olive oil and lemon and not have to make noise reheating. Again, very sorry if that implies thinking ahead; I was more thinking of stuff that would keep for several days and be good cold.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Oh, yes, this is all very good advice. I was more imagining a sharing of war stories, though. If you've survived this scenario, what were your strategies, what did you do? Like what Marlene said, although I think the crock pot is a higher level of organization than a lot of beaten-down-by-stress-and-sleep-deprivation new mothers want to handle. Even the rice cooker, with its lag time, is a tough sell when you're malnourished and on the brink of madness, tears and hypoglycemia.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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I have been known, in past days, to open a bag of chips under the covers in the farthest bedroom from the baby.

Our first kid slept in the livingroom next to the TV (which was on most of the time), because the place was so small.

She slept thru anything - doorbell, dog barking, didn't matter.

Dogs are worse than babies, though. Just try to use the can opener or open the fridge with a couple of lap dogs asleep with your spouse. That spouse won't be asleep for long. Those little yappers can hear a pin - or fork - drop.

Stop Family Violence

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Oh! do I know how that all feels. We lived way out in the country when my children were little, so there was no neighbour worry, but my daughter (second child, if she'd been first, I wouldnt have had the courage for another) was an extra-ordinarily light sleeper - I swear she could hear the first bubbles in the kettle as it boiled - and I so needed that cup of tea. She had two or three very brief catnaps by day (10 minutes max) and didnt sleep a night through till she was over 2 years. And she was very high maintenance when she was awake - this child would not simply amuse herself. In our most exhausted moments, in a pathetic attempt to retain our sense of humour, my husband and I used to "joke" which said "if only we could put her in the chook (chicken) shed" (which was out of earshot). My daughter (who is now my best young friend) says that was child abuse - we say it would have been child abuse had we actually done it.

Remember - however bad it feels, it wont last forever.

Soup saved it for me - but we had a slow-burning wood stove and a permanent stock-pot / soup pot on the back of it.

If planning ahead was possible in the state of fatigue and frustration that you must be in was possible - you wouldnt have started the thread. Do whatever you have to do, and eat whatever you can get by whatever methods you can think of - dont worry about nutrition - there is no medical evidence whatsoever that a few months of potato chips (under the covers or not - love that story) or chocolate or cold canned beans straight from the can will kill you.

If you tell us where you are, perhaps some nearby e-Gulleters can do a meal run?

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Salad rolls? You'd need to boil some hot water in which to soften the wrappers, but there are plenty of plug-in kettles that don't have whistles. Then you can use use whatever salad fillings you have. And if you have a George Foreman grill, maybe you can add some thinly sliced "grilled" beef or shrimp to them. Easy and fast!

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Would tv dinners help? I know, I know, but given your limited choice of cooking methods and options, these sound like a better meal than a bag of chips. I wish we lived near each other, I'll be glad to bring you home-cooked meals for brekkies, lunch and supper.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Light sleepers and high-maintenance when awake - yeah, I know all about that! My first baby's head was covered with srumbs, splodges of soup, and streaks of soy sauce from hastily consumed meals with him always, always, always on my lap! When my 2nd baby slept for 4 hours and more at a stretch, I thought something was wrong with him!

Crockpot sounds good to me - partly because you're cooking early in the day when the universe still seems a welcoming place. Otherwise, big sandwiches...hunks of cheese...tomatoes and fruit that doesn't crunch when you bite into it...

I should have known what was coming when the woman in the neighboring bed in hospital unwrapped a candy, and my newborn son immediately woke up screaming!

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I bought a lot of pre cooked foods then (pre made salads, rotisserie chicken etc) ate them cold, while sitting on the stairs, watching Ry in his car seat on top of the dryer, with the dryer turned on hoping against hope, he'd fall asleep to the vibration. If I was lucky, he'd fall asleep around 2.a.m. and I'd just take him and the car seat and place the whole thing in the crib. To transfer him out of the car seat was to wake him up and start all over again. He slept in 15 minute stretches with awake periods of 12 hours at a time for the better part of 9 months. He also got every virus known to man and his doctor said he was working his way through all 250 of them before he was 2. To look at this child was to invite a fever of 105 in the blink of an eye. My car knew the way to the hospital all by itself. In fact, one day, (by this time I had him in daycare a couple of days a week to get a break) the daycare called me and said he'd started one of those fevers again. I got in my car and was three quarters of the way to the hospital, when I realized I'd forgotten to stop and pick him up! Autopilot. And you haven't lived until you wake up one morning and realize that your 3 year old suddenly can't stand up, resulting in a three week stay at Sick Kids where I lost 15 lbs because we were afraid to leave his room to go find something to eat.

I have many war stories. :biggrin: I also had a spouse who was working 12 hours a day shutting down a data centre, so I got no help or relief in that area. You'd be surprised what you can toss in a crockpot with very little thought or pre planning, but those premade meals at the supermarket were a god send.

Those and a lot of wine got me through the first year :biggrin:

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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My primary adaptation/contribution to the effort has been to stop caring about the temperature of food.

Once you get past that issue, a whole world of room-temperature dining opens up. Some foods normally consumed hot are actually kind of interesting cold, for example a grilled cheese sandwich, cold, is not the same as a normal cheese sandwich at all. Not only is it different, but it is also different from a grilled cheese sandwich an hour ago. Indeed, it has many different stages of its life. For example, after it has been sitting in front of the TV for two hours while you've been trying to get the baby to sleep, if it happens to be in front of a drafty window, it takes on a patina similar to a caterpillar's cocoon-building efforts. There are also interesting permutations of trying to reheat and reconstitute a cold grilled cheese sandwich. I don't recommend the microwave.

I thank our son for helping me to acquire that and other important gastronomic information.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Can you cook a little while the baby's awake? When my daughter was tiny she cried whenever I set her down except when I was cooking--she liked to watch me cook, and would lie in a little pen in the kitchen for long enough for me to fix an easy dinner.

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Please, please, please don't worry about me! This is about commiserating, not solving anything. I'm posting, so I do have some time now although cooking is not a priority during that time because things like bathing take priority. I'm mostly giving a retrospective of the last year and a half and hoping some of you will have similarly hellish experiences to share. Please do!

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Well, then.

Checking in here is War Correspondant Carrot Top. I'll attempt to set the scene for you as briefly as I can, for time is always short during wartime. One must always be on one's toes, ready for the next movement by the troops or the enemy (and sometimes they are difficult to tell apart).

My specialty has always been trying to fix the world through food. A daunting task, but one that has its pleasures, and besides, M.F.K. Fisher hinted that it could be done.

I had my first baby post-career years. We moved out of the city, my then-husband and I, to the boondocks of Rockland County. And then we moved again, and again. Each year we moved, the kitchen (besides the rest of the house) being dissassembled and reassembled by me, with Baby #1 in tow and Baby #2 who arrived 18 months after Baby #1.

We moved so much not from neccesity (who would?) but due to then-husband's (let's call him TH for short?) need for "always something better" or alternately "always something wrong". Years later, I discovered that it was not the kitchens he managed that required something better or something different, but most likely the waitresses he was sleeping with upon their offers (as, through history apparently, there are always some waitresses who think sleeping with the boss is the Best Idea to try) who wanted something better or something different from him in return for their favors.

So each year would bring a new home to put together (I can't live in disorder) and a new kitchen to get used to, new places to find that had decent food for sale. And it would bring a loss of the support system that had started to be built in the last place.

But the war is not waged most intensely outside the walls of the home. It is, as you note, waged most intensely inside, where the Babies are who need to be fed and where the Mother is (and sometimes the Father, but one should not automatically assume this!) who needs to figure out how to do it and somehow keep her own health and sanity.

TH was never home, but when he was (arriving at 2AM or so) he wanted a hot meal. Sort of like the Babies, you know. He grew surly if there were no hot, exciting meal that could be placed before him upon his arrival home.

The war waged more deeply. Baby #1 was the sort that slept lightly and when awake, required high maintenance. She still is. Baby #2 was an explorer who liked to get around and get into things and make big lovely messes that only he can truly appreciate. He still is.

What do you do? You do the best you can. And that is different, for different people. And nobody can (or should) put imprimateurs upon what will or should be eaten by you and your family during the war. Your boundaries of acceptance will need stretch, as they will need stretch as this amazing new person, Baby, becomes who they are and challenges many of your previous ways of life.

When the day was a gentle one by mystery of chance, some shopping and cooking could be done. One might whip up something tasty, something beautiful, to find that Baby simply is not interested. That can be devastating. When it happens over and over again (and when you *know* you know how to cook, for you've actually been an executive chef) it can appear as if this war zone is more like something written in a science fiction book than any reality you can imagine. You might eat this beautiful thing yourself, but somehow the essence of taste would be clouded and not satisfying.

Take-out food. Casseroles. GD it all, chicken nuggets when they get older. Farmer's markets are good for some (note, I say some, but not all) Babies for some do like the absolutely fresh - but they will not eat the same fruit or veg if it is from the grocery store. Palates more attuned, perhaps? Who knows. They can not tell us when young, except by simple and bold refusal or acceptance.

Crockpots. Canned foods. Frozen foods. Those victorious warriors who have done without them are few.

You do what you can, and sleep whenever you can, for enough sleep makes any food taste better. Life is different now, as this War Correspondant can attest, than it was without the Babies.

But then you look at what you have, these Babies. And know that a gourmet meal will not, and can not, ever replace them.

But mostly you have to have that revelation while the Baby sleeps.

:smile:

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Sandwiches. I lived on sandwiches. Of course this was before carbs were evil. I had a ton of condiments, lots of veggies, the best lunch meat I could afford, and at least two kinds of good bread. Sometimes I wish I had written down the different kinds because I could have written a book about them.

I also ate a lot of salad. I used a lot of the sandwich ingredients come to think of it.

The nice thing is that now my kids eat a lot of salad and sandwiches because they were always the grown up food. It makes pulling lunch together a whole lot easier.

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Breakfast cereal, 24/7/365 and counting, is another thing that has saved my life. I have to take the cereal box into my bedroom, pour the cereal in there, then re-stow it in the kitchen! On a good day maybe a banana can be sliced in, but there's big-time risk in taking a knife out of the drawer I tell you: one false move and a few other utensils shift and you're doomed. A small amount of noise in our bedroom won't wake anyone, well it won't wake the baby at least, but almost anything that happens in the kitchen beyond gently opening or closing a cabinet, fuggedaboudit. Try opening a can of soda in my kitchen while he's asleep and see how that frequency penetrates through three simultaneously running white noise machines. Keeping a knife in the bedroom seems a little too Lorena Bobbitt you know? Curiosly an ambulance or fire truck won't wake him possibly because it can't be eaten.

Edited by Ellen Shapiro (log)

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Breakfast cereal, 24/7/365 and counting, is another thing that has saved my life. I have to take the cereal box into my bedroom, pour the cereal in there, then re-stow it in the kitchen! On a good day maybe a banana can be sliced in, but there's big-time risk in taking a knife out of the drawer I tell you: one false move and a few other utensils shift and you're doomed. A small amount of noise in our bedroom won't wake anyone, well it won't wake the baby at least, but almost anything that happens in the kitchen beyond gently opening or closing a cabinet, fuggedaboudit.  Try opening a can of soda in my kitchen while he's asleep and see how that frequency penetrates through three simultaneously running white noise machines. Keeping a knife in the bedroom seems a little too Lorena Bobbitt you know? Curiosly an ambulance or fire truck won't wake him possibly because it can't be eaten.

AHA! Freeze dried fruit in plastic bags, (plastic, not cellophane, which crinkles) a plastic knife with which to cut bananas, pears, dried apricots and other quiet (non-crunchy) fruits, and a big plastic thing to stash them in, all in the bedroom. Wash and dry knife as neede in the bathroom sink, if your plumbing isn't noisy. If the running water is too loud, I'd wipe the knife down with a little of the hand sanitizer stuff, and then wipe it down well with tissues or a paper towel after using.

Sorry I can't compare war stories, my only child slept like a top (thank the Most High!)

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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My infant daughter needed precisely five and a half hours of sleep a day, between 3 am and 8:30 am. (She gave up naps at two weeks.) Cooking and eating was never a problem because she was awake anyway, cheerfully watching and listening through dinner prep, dinner, clean up, the 10:00 o'clock news...

She would scream without cease -- for hours if that's what it took -- until I removed her from her crib. We lived in a small apartment and our nearest neighbor was the only person around more exhausted than I; a first year resident at Pres-St. Lukes hospital. I really couldn't in good conscience, send him back to the ER more sleep-deprived than he was already.

Balzac and Trollope were my companions of the wee hours. I'd sit in the kitchen rocking chair with my daughter on my knees -- alert and cheerful she was, always! -- reading 19th century literary epics. She'd eventually drift off, I'd hurl myself into bed and wake up to her cries at 8:30. She was rested and refreshed, I was a zombie. This went on for a year.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Glad to hear it has been a year and a half and things must be improving....you know, of all the sleep deprivation and hunger I went thru in that first 5 months,(cereal, yeah) what I strikes me so clearly is sitting with my firstborn in the early hours looking out her bedroom window at the lightscape that was Hong Kong and wondering why the hell were so many lights on at that time of night :huh:

anyway, they grow up fast and sooner than you would think the problem noise is the sort they make :rolleyes:

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Wouldn't it be easier to introduce white noise to the baby? Seems a better solution than being the silent cook for the next 10 years.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Wouldn't it be easier to have magic powers? :)

Like I said we have three white noise sources in the room: a Homedics "Acoustic Relaxation Sound Machine," a HEPA air filter, and a humidifier. We also often play Mozart all night at a low volume. His baby brain is easily able to select gastronomic noises over all that anyways.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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