I randomly came across a documentary called “The Business of Being Born” today (thank you facebook). It ended up watching it while I ate my lunch, and it was incredibly eye opening and moving. And by moving I mean it made me feel all warm and fuzzy by the end.
Basically it’s about the business of having birth by hospitals and insurance companies versus a natural birth and home birth. It talks about some of the history of giving birth in the U.S. as well as some frightening statistics, such as the fact that although midwives attend almost 70 – 80% of births in other developed countries, in the U.S. less than 1% of births are attended by midwives (instead of doctors in hospitals), and yet the U.S. has the second worst newborn death rate in the developed world. This documentary will really make you think. I recommend it to any woman planning on having a baby either really soon or just someday.
You can watch the trailer on the website here.
You can also watch the documentary on youtube here.
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There are so many things in Japanese grocery stores that were (and for some, still are) new and strange to me. Some I’ve grown to love, some not so much, and some I still have no clue what they are (vegetable? fruit? toxic ooze?).
One item that initially weirded me out a little, but that I’ve grown to love over time is shirasu. They’re basically baby sardines or anchovies that are boiled and dried, and then packaged and sent to the stores.
Although you can use them for pretty much anything, my husband made a side dish with them that I love and have since copied numerous times. You just mix a lot of grated daikon (Japanese white radish) with the shirasu, and then add a little ponzu (a citrus and soy sauce based sauce). Mix it up a little and serve it cold. Delish. Here’s a close-up so you can see what shirasu look like.
Another food a lot of people in the U.S. are unfamiliar with (but a lot less likely to make them squirmy unlike shirasu) is Japanese soba noodles. They seem to be growing in popularity recently though, and I think you can find them available in most health food stores in the U.S. these days. Soba noodles are simply noodles made with buckwheat flour and are very good for you (whole grains people! whole grains!).
Although I love soba noodles served Japanese style (especially when served cold in the summer), sometimes something a little different is nice too.
This recipe is kind of a Japanese fusion recipe for soba noodles. It’s based on a recipe from this book, but like most recipes, I tweaked it a bit here and there to suit my tastes. Both my husband and I really liked this dish!
Like a lot of stir-fry recipes, you can use whatever veggies you want for this. It’s even good for cleaning out the veggie drawer. I would suggest, however, using fresh and in season vegetables. That’s my advice for pretty much any recipe, but I just wanted to throw that in there.
Sesame Soba Noodles with Veggies and Marinated Chicken (serves 3 – 4)
- 300 grams (about 10 1/2 ounces) dried soba noodles
- one large chicken breast
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. cooking sake
1/4 c. white vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
3 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1 head broccoli, chopped into small pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 leek (or several green onions), sliced
- 1 – 2 Tbsp sesame seeds (for garnish)
- Cut chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Combine marinade ingredients in a wide, shallow bowl and add the chicken. Mix so that all chicken pieces are coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or up to several hours.
- Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Break the soba noodles into 3 or 4 even lengths (optional), and cook them in boiling water according to the package instructions. When finished cooking, drain, and run under cold water (unlike pasta, you always need to wash soba noodles after cooking). Set aside.
- Heat a large pot of boiling water. Add the broccoli florets and carrots and boil until al dente. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Heat a about 1 Tbsp of oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Add the red pepper and leeks (or green onions), and stir-fry briefly until they get some brown on them (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat.
- Turn the heat down to medium, and add a little more oil to the skillet. Using a slotted spoon, add the chicken pieces to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until completely cooked through. Remove from heat.
- In a very large bowl, and the soba noodles, vegetables, and chicken, and then pour the dressing over everything. Toss (using you hands is the easiest) well until everything is well mixed and evenly coated with the dressing. Add to individual serving plates, garnish with sesame seeds, and serve.