Blueberry Crumble Doughnuts

After two months, I finally feel like I am settling into motherhood. In the foggy haze of these early days, it simultaneously feels like I have been a parent forever and for no time at all. The transition into motherhood was unexpectedly difficult for me. Since I have wanted to be a mother since I was a young child, I anticipated that the transition would be natural and instinctual. It never occurred to me that I may feel otherwise.

While not all women feel the same, I loved pregnancy. I enjoyed watching my body change, feeling the baby’s kicks and movements, and experiencing the joy of carrying a child. It helped, of course, that my pregnancy was virtually symptom-free—as far as I was concerned, there weren’t any aspects not to love.

When we found out our daughter was growth restricted and would therefore be arriving a few weeks earlier than anticipated, my heart grew heavy. I wasn’t ready for my pregnancy to be over, for this part of the journey my baby and I embarked on to come to a close. I wanted to stay pregnant forever. My body didn’t feel ready to give birth; I wasn’t yet ready to meet my daughter.

I told my husband that I needed more time. If I could somehow be pregnant longer, maybe I would find the emotional and physical connection I needed to say goodbye to my deeply loved pregnancy and welcome a new beginning with the birth of our daughter.

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When the big day arrived, I went into the hospital conflicted. Even with more time, I hadn’t been able to shift my unwanted emotions. Yet, I still felt hopeful. After reading so many stories of mothers feeling an instant deep love for their children during birth, I anticipated that these feelings would overtake me when the moment arrived.

During the C-section—when the doctors lifted my daughter over the curtain and I laid eyes on her for the first time—I felt taken aback. While I had no idea what she would look like, her actual appearance took me completely by surprise. The birth experience was shocking to me in a way I did not expect.

When they handed her to me for the first time minutes later, she felt like someone else’s baby. I felt detached and confused. Where was the instant love and connection I was supposed to feel? What kind of mother was I going to be if this is how I felt in these early moments?

I didn’t learn this until later, but over 40% of women do not bond with their babies right away. Even though my husband and I took childbirth education and early parenthood classes, our instructors did not touch on this subject. I wish I had been told my feelings were normal, that parenthood is an enormous adjustment and that sometimes it takes time for emotions to sort themselves out. Instead, I felt like I was somehow failing at this job I just began.

The next couple weeks were rough for me. I had a difficult recovery due to the C-section and resulting complications. I struggled to do the most basic of tasks, unable to sit upright or walk without enormous amounts of pain. Breastfeeding was not going well. Since Baby N was born early and weighed so little, it was vital for her to get the calories she needed to grow, but she also didn’t have the energy necessary to feed. I had to deal with the reality that I would not be able to provide milk for my daughter in the way I had planned.

The postpartum hormones hit me harder than I anticipated. I couldn’t even think about my pregnancy without bursting into tears. I was grieving the loss of being pregnant, of my life before having a child. Even though I’ve wanted to be a mother as long as I can remember (I was ecstatic when I found out I was pregnant), I was dealing with unexpected feelings of remorse—and then guilt that I could ever have these emotions at all. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation only intensified everything I was experiencing.

Life with a newborn is hard.

It was several weeks before I found myself in a better place, before I was able to fully bond with and enjoy time with my daughter. Now, of course, I can’t imagine life without her—her big smiles, goofy mannerisms, and love for sleepy snuggles.

My transition into motherhood was not beautiful or graceful. It has taken time for me to accept that reality doesn’t always match expectations and that’s okay. I expect I will learn this lesson over and over again in my new role as a parent.

Right now, the fog of early parenthood has not completely dissipated, but it is starting to lift. I am still working on finding my new identity both in and out of parenthood. One lesson I have taken away from the transition to motherhood is to have grace with myself.

One day at a time. Everything will eventually fall into place—it always does.

Blueberry Crumble Doughnuts feature a baked, cake-based doughnut. To prepare, blueberries are folded into a vanilla-scented batter. A cinnamon crumble is sprinkled over the top before baking. For best texture, these doughnuts should be enjoyed the same day they are baked, but I still savored the leftovers a day or two later.

Blueberry Crumble Doughnuts

Yields 6-8 doughnuts

Blueberry Doughnuts
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 mL) milk
4 ounces (113 grams) fresh or frozen blueberries

Crumble Topping
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a standard-size doughnut pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk until uniform. Fold in the blueberries.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag (or large resealable plastic kitchen bag with the corner snipped off). Fill the depressions in the prepared pan with the batter until 2/3 full (alternatively, you could spread the batter into the pan using an offset spatula, but this results in more unevenly shaped doughnuts).

For the crumble topping, beat together butter and sugar until well combined. Stir in flour and cinnamonuntil crumbly. Crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until crumble topping browns and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15-20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Oh, Baby!

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My husband and I welcomed our sweet baby girl into the world before the end of 2018! Baby N has completely captured our hearts, and it is already hard to imagine life before her. It has been amazing watching her grow over the last six weeks—each day she is changing and learning new things about the world around her.

Like most birth stories, Baby N’s story is one I could not have predicted. I had an incredibly easy pregnancy. Besides some typical lower back pain, I had no other symptoms except for the growing baby bump—no morning sickness, food cravings, or exhaustion. I feel especially fortunate for this outcome because this pregnancy was considered high risk from the beginning, so Baby N and I were watched particularly closely over our nine months together.

As the weeks passed, we learned that N was going to be a smaller baby. Each ultrasound showed her overall growth percentile decreasing, but her size wasn’t going to become a concern unless she dropped below the tenth percentile. We also learned that N was breech, with her butt down and her head and feet comfortably tucked up under my left ribcage.

While it is possible for babies to flip into the correct position before birth, it becomes less likely in the latter weeks of pregnancy. Even though I didn’t really believe the old wives’ tales on how to flip a breech baby, I spent many evenings positioned upside down anyway, with a bag of frozen blueberries above my bump trying to coax her to flip around to avoid the chill. This method was wildly unsuccessful, along with half a dozen others I tried. Baby N was comfortable and would not be moved.

During our 34 week appointment, N dropped to the eighth percentile and was subsequently diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). The doctors believed this was due to increased resistance to blood flow through the placenta. We were cautioned that it is possible for the resistance to become so great that the blood flow can reverse direction, which is a very serious situation that calls for an emergency C-section to preserve the health of the baby.

This news hit us especially hard—baby N wasn’t due for another six weeks! Along with weekly appointments to closely monitor her health, we were told to pack and bring our hospital bags to the rest of our visits, just in case.

The reality that we could have a baby in a single week’s time was very overwhelming for me, especially since I assumed I would have several more weeks to prepare everything for her arrival. I spent the next week making lists of each task that needed to get done and frantically tried to get everything in order, both at work and at home.

I hoped that Baby N would be allowed to stay snuggled up under my ribcage a little longer. I still felt blindsided by the news and wasn’t ready for the pregnancy to end. I needed more time to enjoy her kicks and soak up my last few days as a non-parent.

Fortunately, my wish was granted. At our 35 week appointment, we learned the resistance was unexpectedly measuring less than it had before. At 36 weeks, the resistance was measuring completely normal, which no one (including the doctors) had anticipated. However, because N was still measuring so small for her age, the doctors believed she would do better outside of the womb. Our induction date was set for 37 weeks exactly. Baby N was going to be an early (full) term baby.

Since N was still breech, I opted to try an external cephalic version (ECV), in which the doctor manually tries to turn the baby into the correct position for birth. After two failed attempts (where Baby N refused to budge even an inch), she was born via C-section shortly thereafter.

Our little peanut was in perfect health, weighing in at a smidge over 5 pounds with a head full of fuzzy hair.

After spending a few nights in the hospital, we were able to return home in time for a quiet holiday. While the shift to parenthood was a huge adjustment, I’ve enjoyed getting to know and learn all about this little peanut. She loves to stretch for minutes at a time when she is unswaddled, clothes are her worst enemy, and her endless goofy expressions make me laugh. Who knew that simple things, like N discovering her tongue, would bring such joy? In the last couple weeks, she’s graduated to newborn sizes, and we discovered she loves to “dance” to music as she lays on the floor and kicks her legs.

Over the last six weeks, I’ve given myself a leave from the blog and social media to spend much needed quality time with Baby N. Parenthood is certainly going to be a balance, but I’m ready to start devoting more time to myself and get back to doing the things that I enjoy—like baking and sharing it with you.

All photographs are ©Amber Rishavy.

All photographs are ©Amber Rishavy.

Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies

This post is sponsored by Bob’s red mill. Thank you for supporting the brands I love and use in my own kitchen. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This post is sponsored by Bob’s red mill. Thank you for supporting the brands I love and use in my own kitchen. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

With the holidays right around the corner (and a baby on the way!), December is shaping up to be a busy month for my family. In year’s past, it has been my holiday tradition to spend days in the kitchen meticulously cutting out and decorating my favorite holiday cookies—like these honey, sugar, and chocolate sugar cookies—to share with my family and friends.

This year I honestly don’t have the time to spare.

Instead, I’m going to feel out a new holiday baking tradition. My goal is to spend the next few days filling the freezer with cookies from easy-to-make recipes, and enjoying the remaining days by relaxing before our sweet baby arrives.

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These Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies meet all of my criteria this year: simple to make, freeze well, and quickly disappears from the serving plate.

For this cookie recipe, I turned to Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour. I prefer to use unbleached flour in my baking because it means the flour is not chemically treated. To create the classic light colored appearance and delicate texture of all-purpose flour, the wheat bran and germ are removed during the milling process (which is the key difference between whole wheat and all-purpose flour).

Crinkle cookies get their crackled appearance from being rolled in powdered sugar before baking. The sugar draws out moisture from the outside of the cookie, causing the edges to dry out before the interior is finished baking. This difference in moisture levels causes the top of the cookie to take on a crinkled appearance.

With a handful of chocolate chips to provide a richer chocolate flavor and ground ginger and cinnamon to give the cookie a spiced warmth, these cookies are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth this holiday season.

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One of the qualities I look for in a good holiday cookie is its ability to freeze well. Knowing I have homemade cookies stashed away that can be ready at a moment’s notice is a relief during a busy season when events pop up or unexpected guests drop by. Happily, these chocolate ginger crinkle cookies can be easily frozen using two methods.

The first method is to form the cookie dough into balls and freeze them before rolling them in powdered sugar. When ready to bake, the frozen cookie dough balls can be rolled in the sugar and head straight towards the oven. This method is great when you can spare a few minutes to bake or you want to serve hot cookies straight from the oven.

The second method is to bake the cookies as directed and allow them to fully cool before placing them in an airtight container in the freezer. When ready to be served, pull the cookies from the freezer and allow them to thaw. This method is best when you anticipate the cookies being eaten quickly since the powdered sugar can become sticky if the cookies are left out for longer periods of time.

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These Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies are a seasonal take on the classic cookie. The chocolatey cookies are spiced with ginger and cinnamon to bring out traditional holiday flavors. After chilling the dough, the cookies are dipped in powdered sugar and baked until they take on a crinkled appearance. These cookies are best served alongside friends and family with a tall glass of milk.

One Year Ago: Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Cake & Pumpkin Caramel Bread Pudding
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Gingersnap Tart
Three Years Ago: Caramel Apple Crumble Pie & Rosemary Olive Bread
Four Years Ago: Maple Syrup Cake with Toasted Almonds & Pumpkin Pie (Dairy-Free!)
Five Years Ago: Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts & Stovetop Popcorn
Six Years Ago: Molasses Ginger Cookies, Marbled Butternut Squash Bread, Chai Pear Scones, & Hot Bourbon Apple Cider
Seven Years Ago: Grandma’s Applesauce, Honey Roasted Chickpeas, Caramel Apple Tart, & Cranberry Orange Brioche
Eight Years Ago: Fig & Balsamic Jam, Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, & Raspberry Vanilla Creme Brulee

Chocolate Ginger Crinkle Cookies

Yield 18-22 cookies

1 cup (120 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached White All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (43 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup (85 grams) powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, spices, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla, stirring until a uniform batter forms. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Place cookie dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or overnight) until completely chilled through.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Roll chilled cookie dough into 1-inch balls. Drop cookie dough balls into the powdered sugar and coat evenly on all sides. Place balls at least 2-inches apart onto a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until cookies have a crackled appearance. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool completely.