We seem to be moving in a good direction. I’m not getting my hopes too high up there because I don’t want to jinx anything, but seeming is at the very least a good place to start. What I mean to say is, after a couple nights this last week during which our little munchkin decided to sleep no more than two one-and-a-half hour chunks per night and that was it, and I was starting to feel quite at the end of my already frayed rope and like I had to be doing something terribly wrong because aren’t they supposed to start sleeping more after they turn 6 weeks?? Then the last couple of nights we’ve had a breakthrough in the form of a couple 4-hour sleep periods.
And let me tell you, from where I’m sitting, 2X4 hours feels as good as 12. In other words, thanks to these couple nights I feel like a human again, instead of an emotionally ragged zombie, and I feel ready to continue the charge forward with tackling this parenting business.
It does help that our little sometimes-sleepster-sometimes-nonsleepster is the world’s cutest creature. Especially when he looks at you wide-eyed, then cocks his head and gives a coy little half-smile. That’s the best.
In an effort to tame his periods of screaminess, I’ve been eating dairy free for the past two weeks (well, except butter. Butter isn’t dairy, it’s more like the life force of the universe; and it doesn’t have very much casein anyway). And it’s been making a difference. Well, maybe it’s the removal of dairy, maybe it’s that I’ve also been guzzling fennel tea by the bucketful, or maybe it’s just that Espen has gotten past the generally recognized peak age for fussiness. I’m not doing a randomized controlled trial here. As long as some bit of it is working, I’ll keep doing all of it.
The no dairy thing is a little rough though given that most of my favorite foods are incontestably Dairy (with a capital D). Normally I inhale all things cream and cheese with joyous abandon. But let’s be real, having a baby who doesn’t scream in pain after every meal is even more joyous. And, while I do find myself craving whipped cream every day, it’s also true that a dairy free diet doesn’t not equate to some sort of sad, dull diet full of deprivation.
I can still eat this salad, for example, and just look at it! Gorgeousness.
Bagna cauda salad dressing is one of those things I really wish I had thought of myself, but though I didn’t, I’m so glad I’ve found it. I fell in love with the traditional dip bagna cauda when we had it on our honeymoon in Alba in Italy. This recipe, another from F&W, takes those flavors of slowly simmered anchovies, milk, garlic, and oil and turns them into a zippy dressing with lemon juice and zest and capers that comes together in seconds in a blender.
The briny, biting flavors of the dressing (which are given a touch of lushness from a bit of melted butter (mmm, butter)) stand up powerfully against the bitter radicchio and greens and contrast boldly with the round, sweet flavors of roasted fennel and potatoes. This is not a subtle salad. It won’t appeal to those in search of white, bland foods. But if you’re looking for some amazing flavors to wallop you upside the head and make you say, “yes! This is exciting! This is why I eat!” then this just may be for you.
And to top it all off, while it looks like something you slaved over – a salad for company – it takes only about 30 minutes! I mean, I managed to make it, and these days that’s saying something.
- 2 medium fennel bulbs (2 pounds)—halved and sliced ¼ inch thick
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved
- One 2-ounce can (or jar) anchovy fillets, drained
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 large head of radicchio, shredded
- a couple handfuls arugula or watercress
- optional: 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced (we had the salad as originally written, then added avocado, and the avocado was super good, but I'd still call it optional)
- Heat your oven to 425F. Toss the fennel with 1 Tbs. olive oil and salt and pepper and spread it on a baking sheet. Then toss the potatoes with another Tbs. olive oil, salt and pepper and spread them on a second baking sheets. Roast the potatoes and fennel in the oven until tender and golden, about 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking time.
- While the vegetables roast combine the anchovies with the capers, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and pulse them to chop. With the machine running, drizzle in the remaining half-cup olive oil and the butter and puree until smooth.
- To assemble the salad, toss the fennel and potatoes with half the dressing. Add the radicchio, and greens (arugula or watercress). and avocado if using, and toss with more dressing to taste. Serve!