Our #cheesebabygirl made her way into the world 10 days ago, just a day past her due date. To her credit, she started to make her appearance at 4:30am on her due date, but then took her sweet sweet time (33 hours to be exact). Zoella Mae filled our hearts and made us a family of three. Living up to her #cheesebaby nickname, she weighed 8lbs 11oz and measured 21.25 inches long. It seems the key to baking a chunky baby is to spend your entire pregnancy eating cheese. It's only fitting then that I saved these brie-filled hazelnut chestnut crepes to announce her arrival.
To say we're in love is an understatement. Obsessed. This first week and half of her life has given us a lesson in parenting under fire. After less than 24 hours home, we ended up at Oakland Children's Hospital for 6 nights where she was treated for a severe eye infection while doctors ran dozens of tests to make sure the conjunctivitis wasn't caused by a virus or bacterial infection that could dangerously spread throughout her body.
We're still getting to know this fiery lady, but this past week she showed us her strength in abundance. She endured a spinal tap, four blood draws, three IV lines (with a "club" arm), and prodding every 2-4 hours for 7 days, but continued nursing, pooping, napping, and fighting the nurses like a warrior woman. She has the raspiest sweetest cry with a powerful vibrato and she coos in her sleep (the cuter, more endearing counterpart to her daddy's snore). She's got the most kissable puckery pink lips and more hair than her grandpa (sorry, Dad). She's extra snuggly, prefers to sleep on her side without a swaddle, and can grip her tiny hand around your finger oh-so-tightly. Nothing about her feels fragile or frail.
While Zoella took it all in stride, Lucas and I rode a roller coaster of emotions and drew our strength from her. After 48 hours, doctors presented two competing expert options: the infectious disease team worried the viral tests were false negative and recommended completing the full 14-day hospital IV treatment just to be safe because the consequences of no treatment could be devastating, while the ophthalmologist was convinced it was just run-of-the-mill conjunctivitis and continuing eye drops at home would be sufficient. And ultimately they gave us the choice of which course of action we wanted to follow.
The choice was obvious. No amount of discomfort could ever cause us to sacrifice her care. So we cozied up in a hospital room with our little nugget and spent the next 5 days focusing all of our attention on our bond with her. Our first parenting lesson in letting go of expectations. My mom ("Nonny") brought us clean clothes and provided extra baby snuggles that gave us much-needed nap breaks during the day. After a week on IVs, the doctors received enough negative test results to feel confident she didn't have a viral infection and discharged her with a clean bill of health.
Home at last.
There are three definite up sides to spending your first week as new parents in the hospital under 24 hour care:
- We always had a professional on hand to answer all of our "is this normal?" questions about our newborn,
- Zoella learned to sleep through any amount of distraction or noise, including a blaring fire alarm for 5+ minutes, and
- The hospital rooms had no wi-fi, which forced us to disconnect and focus on snuggling, reading to, and getting to know all the quirks of this new human.
During our wedding ceremony, our friend read the children's book, An Awesome Book of Love. We read the book to Zoella over and over again in the hospital and each time, I teared up as I read this line that exactly describes the love Zoella has evoked in me:
"It’s about living life with such strength and emotion
And knowing that waves are just part of the ocean
And that ocean that ocean goes on for forever
Just like the love that has brought us together."
Until she joined our family, I had no idea love this strong existed. For her and for her daddy, who impresses me everyday with his devotion to his new daughter (and all of the baby poop).
Zoella Mae spent this first week of her life naked, so she's modeling three outfits a day to make sure she can get through her wardrobe before she grows out of it. Today we wore cats and teal.
I guess we should talk about these crepes, huh? On the same day we made cheddar jalapeño cornbread waffles, Alanna showed me her technique for making an ultra-thin crepe. She watched as I went, and at one point urged, "shuffle shuffle shuffle!" to which I reacted by...shuffling my feet like a tap dancer. It took about three more crepes to realize she meant "shuffle the pan." Do that, guys. Shuffle the pan to spread the batter out - because tap dancing really won't up your crepe game.
For these toasty brown crepes, hazelnut milk and chestnut flour work together to create a nutty thin pancake that envelopes and enhances the fruity, creamy brie. The smokiness from the torched burnt honey and chestnut flour offset the slight sweetness, creating a savory crepe with a balance of flavors that would work for any meal.
- ¾ cup chestnut flour
- ¼ cup sweet rice flour (different from "white rice flour" or "brown rice flour")
- 1½ cups hazelnut milk (or any other dairy or non-dairy milk)
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Butter or ghee for the pan
- 8 ounces soft brie cheese, thinly sliced
- A few tablespoons of honey for drizzling
- Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse until completely smooth.
- Heat a crepe pan or large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Use a scrunched up paper towel to wipe a small amount of butter or ghee on the bottom of the pan (you don't want it to pool, but just enough to prevent the crepe from sticking.
- When the pan is heated, hold it in your left hand and pour ¼ cup of crepe batter onto the bottom left side of the pan. Working quickly, tilt your wrist to rotate the pan so the batter spreads clockwise around the pan, and gently shake the pan to spread the batter into a thin even layer on the bottom of the pan.
- Set the pan back on the stove and let it cook until the edges slightly curl up and turn golden, while the top is no longer glossy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Use a rubber spatula to lift all of the edges of the crepe to make sure it hasn't stuck to your pan.
- Gently grasp and edge of a crepe with your finger tips and quickly flip the crepe (you can also use a large rubber spatula to help you flip the crepe if it's too hot!).
- Once flipped, place a few slices of brie along one edge of the crepe and let it cook for about 1 minute longer.
- Roll up the crepe around the brie and transfer to a plate while you repeat with the remaining crepes, starting by wiping a little bit more ghee or butter in the pan between each crepe.
- To serve, drizzle crepes with honey and use a rubber spatula to gently spread the honey over the top. Use a kitchen torch over the honey to carefully caramelize the honey until you see a few burnt spots.
- Serve immediately.