As I near the halfway point with pregnancy #2, I’ve been trying to imagine how I’ll do certain things with two little ones in tow. No joke — at each store I’ll try to figure out where I’d park and if I’d put one kid in the cart and carry one, or stick the carseat in the cart, or if Marcus would maybe be responsible enough to walk quietly beside me (one can dream!). Sometimes I feel a little panicky, but then I remember my mom had five kids under 9 at one point. We may not have gone out much but we weren’t hermits. Just like toting one kid around was an adjustment, two will be too — but with God’s grace we’ll get there.
One of the concerns I had when I was pregnant the first time around was if I’d have time to cook and bake. I’ve always enjoyed preparing dinner and considered it a relaxing part of the day. To be honest, it’s taken me longer to “figure out” how to cook with a kid than it has to bake with one (because I usually just wait until my husband is home before I attempt any involved baking). And by “figure out” I mean that I haven’t really. As soon as I think I’ve got a schedule down, something changes — first it was Marcus not napping at that time, then it was him starting to climb on things whenever I was in the other room. You get the idea. If I’ve learned anything in the past 18ish months it’s that parenthood requires constant adjustment. No matter how many kids we end up having I’ll never have it “figured out,” and that’s ok. As my mom told me early on, when I was voicing my frustrations about not having enough hands: “Oh, you know, sometimes the house just won’t be clean. You do the best you can.”
Hopefully I haven’t painted this bleak picture where it sounds impossible to get things done with a kid! It’s just different, and I’m still learning. Some of the adjustments I’ve made since having a kid:
- Divide meal prep into 15 minute increments. Chop vegetables during naptime; prepare marinades/sauces while the kid is eating; etc.
- I don’t freeze a lot of cooked meals, but if I cook a batch of beans I’ll make a triple portion and freeze extras for quick additions to soups and stews.
- Make batches of hard boiled eggs and granola at the start of the week for quick meals.
- Always have frozen dumplings on hand.
- Have a recipe base of quick meals that you can easily customize with whatever ingredients you have on hand. (Notice how many times the word “quick” has shown up? Lol.)
Curry is one of those quick meals that shows up in some variation on our dinner table every couple of weeks or so. We live right next to a little Japanese grocery store, so we always have a box of Japanese curry roux in the pantry. Most of the time we eat it over rice, but the other week I decided to switch it up and make it with udon noodles (another constant pantry item). It. Was. So. Good! The preparation was slightly different, but about as quick as how I make curry over rice. For the udon version I use less curry roux but dashi stock instead of water — this makes for a slightly thinner but still flavorful sauce that easily coats the noodles.
- 3 cups dashi stock (homemade, or using dashi powder)
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- About 1/2 in. ginger, peeled, sliced, and minced
- 1-2 c sliced vegetables of choice (my favorites are carrot, celery, and mushroom)
- 3/4 lb your choice of meat/seafood, sliced if needed (I usually use chicken or a package of fish/beef balls)
- 1 Tbsp. mirin
- 2 pieces/blocks of Japanese curry roux
- 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce (or to taste)
- Salt, sugar, and white pepper to taste
- 1 green onion, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- 3 packages udon noodles (about 600 grams)
- Prepare your dashi stock.
- In a large frying pan or saucepan, heat oil on medium high. Add garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant. Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add remaining vegetables, season lightly with salt and sugar, and saute another 3-4 minutes. If you’re using an uncooked protein, add it at this point and increase the heat to high. Saute until the meat/seafood is almost cooked through.
- Add the dashi and mirin and bring to a boil. (If I’m using beef/fish balls, I add them once the stock has come to a boil.) Skim off any fat or scum that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the curry roux. Once the curry has dissolved, put the pan back on medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened to your liking. Stir occasionally to make sure the curry doesn’t stick to the bottom.
- Taste and add soy sauce, salt, and white pepper if desired.
- Prepare your udon noodles according to the package instructions. Serve curry sauce over the udon noodles and garnish with green onion, if desired.