hot pepper 1

So said my friend Molly, from the pea patch, after my due date came and went with no sign that the little person was ready to splash down.

It’s been a strange transition for me. I’ve been off work for weeks, ever since my last two shifts induced regular contractions. I checked dozens of tasks off the to-do list and ruled out big new projects that may never get finished. There was the cooking frenzy, which should keep us fed for a while. I put up pear butter, plum jam, and dried some Italian prunes. Still no baby. So then what?

Everybody’s got an opinion about what to do right now. Read lots of books and see a bunch of movies, some said, so we did. Go out and eat great meals, others suggested, and so we have. Most memorable of all was a nearly perfect dinner at Tilth Restaurant, and not even the contractions that came with the ricotta dumplings put a dent in the evening. Parenthetically, Tilth was the first restaurant where I wasn’t looked at askance when I asked if the cheese was pasteurized. Much appreciated, and we’ll be back for date night.

And everybody’s got an opinion about how to bring on labor. One friend suggested gardening, which she credits for inducing three deliveries. Others resorted to distance walking or yoga and acupressure, plus a roll in the hay.

Then there are the foods that supposedly induce labor. The most popular advice involves eggplant parmigiana, though a search yields little more than a story about dish served at a restaurant in Cobb County, Georgia, which is backed by guarantee. Some claim it’s the basil and oregano and not the eggplant itself that does the trick. Others suggest spicy foods. Now spicy is something we can do — thankfully no third trimester heartburn here — and to boot, we’ve had ripe cayenne peppers since late July.

Recipe Redux: Spicy Noodles with Chicken and Green Beans

¼ lb rice stick noodles, or more if desired / ¼ lb green beans / one dozen cherry tomatoes / 1 tbls fish sauce / 2 tsp sugar / 2 tbls fresh lime juice / 1 tsp chili paste, or to taste / ¼ tsp salt / 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces / 1 shallot, minced / 1 cayenne pepper, minced, or to taste / 1 stalk scallions, minced

Pour boiling water over noodles and soak for 10 minutes to soften. Rinse in a couple changes of water and drain. Meanwhile, cut green beans into bite-sized pieces and halve tomatoes. Thoroughly mix together fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, chili paste, salt, and ¼ cup water.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl in vegetable oil. When hot, saute green beans until just cooked, about 4 minutes, then reserve. Bring skillet back to medium-high heat, using more oil if needed, and add chicken, shallot, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until chicken is lightly browned. Add noodles and fish sauce mixture. Stir constantly, so sauce coats noodles as they cook. If needed, use 1-2 tbls water to keep noodles from sticking to pan. When noodles are tender, 3-5 minutes, mix in tomatoes and scallions and serve. Feeds 2.

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