Monthly Archives: April 2012

chawan mushi

I tried something new today. Ever since I saw my chef-crush Paul Qui make it on Top Chef I have wanted to try making chawan mushi. This weekend I finally had time for some kitchen play, so I gave it a shot.

First I had to make the dashi. This is the amazingly savory stock that goes into miso soup and lots of other Japanese food. It’s made with water, dried seaweed, and dried tuna.

First you simmer the seaweed (kombu) in some water:

Then you remove the seaweed and put in the dried bonito flakes:

After a few minutes of simmering the fish sinks to the bottom — like bizarro reverse dumplings. Then it’s time to strain it through cheesecloth, and that’s it. Dashi.

To make the chawan mushi (recipe here), the dashi gets beaten in with eggs, rice wine, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, sugar, and salt.

This mixture gets poured over cooked shrimp (recipe calls for crab but sadly, that ain’t happening here) in custard cups, then steamed.

It’s supposed to steam for 8-10 minutes but it took me nearly half an hour; I assume I had the heat too low. The finished product:



This BFN hit my husband really hard.  I had already told him I was pretty sure the cycle hadn’t worked, but having a small amount of familiarity with my thought patterns he wrote that off as pessimism.  I got (embarrassingly, violently) sick right in the middle of our Passover seder, and he convinced himself that it was a pregnancy symptom instead of, you know, a microorganism.  I was really a little surprised this weekend when he told me how upset he was.  I wish there was something I could do to make it easier for him.  I wish I could tell him that this is going to have a happy ending.

We are going to take a month off from treatments to recover and to think about what to do next.  Certainly there comes a point at which IUI has to be abandoned — but how do we know when we’ve gotten there?  Is three enough?  Have we tried hard enough?  I feel like I’m nine years old, asking my mom if my room is clean enough yet.  And three IUIs is not the whole story, not by a long shot.  There is the three and a half years before the IUIs, not to be held up as equal but not to be forgotten either.  There is the niece, and the other niece, and the nephew, and the friends’ kids conceived, born, and sent off to preschool since we decided to have a baby.

That’s what we said to each other: Let’s have a baby.  As though you can just … have one.  As though that’s something you can decide.

Have we tried hard enough?  Do we deserve it yet?

My husband is ready to move on to IVF.  Like I said, this BFN really tore him up, and he looks at the odds for IUI and finds he is wholly uninterested in any more of this.  He’s ready to put all the eggs in one petri dish.

Some boring, but necessary, arithmetic: if I keep working at my current job and put all my wages into making payments, it will take me about a year to pay off a $15,000 IVF attempt.  This does not sound unreasonable to me.  Unlike the last time we were looking at IVF, it is a realistic possibility now.  A realistic possibility that I have to deal with as more than a distant thought experiment.  I have to consider this, and come to a rational decision, and then act on it.  Making this decision feels like too much to ask.  (Haven’t we tried hard enough?)

That’s why we’re taking a breather.  We (OK, I) have to think about what’s next, and I need to do it with a clear head and that means not being in the middle of a cycle.  Also I really, really need at least a few weeks in which nobody shoves anything past my cervix.


BFN today, not that I expected anything else, but no sign of my period. My body is just fucking with me at this point.

he did it

My husband is now a tenure-track professor!  Clearly we need to lay in a supply of tweed jackets with leather elbow patches.  And I think I’m supposed to join the Junior League.