Friday, December 19, 2008

The Grandparents Arrival

My mom and dad arrived last Thursday after a week's delay. They will be staying with us until March in order to spend time with and help out with (!) their first grandchild. Since their stay will be extended they spent many weeks preparing themselves as well as my grandma. This proved more involved than expected as they were trying to anticipate every need which might arise in the next 3 months. After finally lining everything up - from daily checks on my grandma, to her medicine to getting her to church on Sundays - my dad got sick the day before they were to fly. The doctor said the added stress took its toll on his immune system which of course made him susceptible to bad stuff. He was concerned about arriving here and infecting me and of course flying with flu-like symptoms is never a good idea - for anyone! The change fee was waived by Lufthansa since they had a doctor's note, but they had to pay an additional charge since the category they originally booked was gone. Luckily they were still able to get a flight before Christmas so they could still enjoy the Christmas markets - more to come on that.

Here they are meeting us at the airport - they zipped out of there so fast the picture is blurry!

They packed lightly, huh?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cloth Diaper Contest Giveaway

For you mommies, in case you are interested:

This would be a great way to give it a try and get started!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Crunchy Clean

I have been researching the whole cloth diapering thing for the past few months - have I mentioned the addictiveness? An important part of the whole process is the detergent used, because it needs to be free of chemical additives, enzymes and things that will not rinse out and therefore make the diaper non-absorbent.

One of my favorite online forums is geared towards eco-friendly living with a heavy focus on babies and diapering. A lot of the women in this forum recommend Crunchy Clean diaper detergent. The owner of this online shop is a stay-at-home-mom and runs the business out of house. Her websites:

I really wanted to try the Crunchy Clean after reading all the wonderful reviews so I contacted the owner and worked out what shipping would be. It wasn't too expensive so I ordered the large portion to prep and fluff my diapers for Baby S. There are so many yummy flavors, but I decided on Reindeer Poo :) (Reindeer Poo - apples and pears; followed by middle notes of eucalyptus, pine, and geranium; and well-balanced with base notes of vanilla, cedarwood, and patchouli)

The detergent is easily transportable since it is powder.


White powder.

See where I am going with this?

I got a letter from the customs office asking me to come with an invoice and a description of what the article is to their office. Great, I thought. There goes my Crunchy Clean. Ironically, last night while reading yesterday's posts on the forum a woman told her story of the FBI arriving with her postmaster at her door. I guess it's not just the German government.

Once I actually found the customs office I was about 10 minutes late - the window they hand out packages was only open until noon. Accommodating. Anyway, the woman who worked there was super nice and I must have looked pitiful (and I tried to sound pitiful and gave her a story about having walked so far... - all the time trying to stick my belly out as far as possible! - ...which I had, because the map from the internet took me first to the wrong place). She went and got my package and I just had to show an invoice of what the actual cost was, well I didn't have an invoice. I showed her an email I had sent with the total and she was fine with that. She was like, 'what is this? It smells so good!' Me: 'Reindeer poo'


Can't wait to put it into action!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


We celebrate Thanksgiving every year on Saturday since Thursday is (obviously) a normal working day here. This year Jan and I were invited to the Middlebury Thanksgiving on Thursday evening. Middlebury is the program where I did my Masters degree in '01-'02. I have remained friends with the Director of the program in Germany, Heike, although I don't get to see her very often. She is extremely busy commuting between Mainz and Berlin (not exactly around the corner) and just finished her PhD last year. We finally were able to make a coffee date last week where I surprised her with my Baby Tummy. She invited us to the Middlebury Thanksgiving, which normally takes place at her apartment; however, due to her schedule this year was planned in a restaurant. Dinner was super good and it was nice to spend some time with Heike and meet some of the new Middlebury students.

We had 22 guests on Saturday for Thanksgiving Dinner. Six of our guests were unable to attend, so we actually had a smaller crowd than expected. How did we have room for 22? We moved our couch out of the living room and brought in 2 picnic tables - those 2 tables plus our 12 place dining room table worked out great. Our turkey was 32.45lbs!! Over-sized turkey + under-sized oven = chaos :) We had to take the grates (is this the right word?) out from the sides and the turkey was still touching the sides of the oven.

Everything turned out alright, though it took a bit longer to cook than I thought.

Everything else went well and everyone went home with full bellies. I didn't take any other pictures except a few of Adrian watching the older kids playing Uno. He was so fascinated with them!

Oh, and one picture of the youngest family member, Leela, who was born in May. The picture is a bit blurry because I didn't use flash - I felt bad flashing her!

Thursday, November 27, 2008



Happy Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Cold Front

It has been unseasonably warm here for the past few weeks, but that changed this weekend. It dropped down to freezing for a few hours and we actually saw some snow flurries! I wasn't too excited about the flurries, because we don't really get too much snow so I didn't take it seriously.

Not that it should have been taken seriously, but there was about 1cm of accumulation, which was gone by this morning. I tried to take a picture of the pretty snow covered tree outside our bathroom window, but it was pretty dark. Here is what I came up with, one with flash, one without:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Belly Music

We have received some really great baby music CDs as gifts, so I loaded them to my Ipod and hooked up the earphones under my maternity pants on my belly. As soon as I did this the baby started to flip and move around! They say the music in-utero is good for the baby, so I'm hoping it is relaxing and not too loud (it was pretty ridiculous how long it took me to decide on the volume). A bonus would be if this music is therefore even more relaxing for baby once it's out - I have visions of a baby who goes to sleep without fussing (at least too much anyway...a girl can dream, right?).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Last Day of Work

Today was my last official day of work. My maternity leave begins tomorrow. It is law that you must stop working 6 weeks before your scheduled due date. I have 7 weeks to go, but I had a few leftover vacation days that I wanted to use up. On Friday my colleagues threw me a surprise farwell/good luck with baby party - it was super sweet, but a little strange to think I won't be back for so long. I will take off the first year of Baby's life and am planning on returning in January of 2010. 2010!

I have about 3 weeks before my parents arrive. My goal is to have a project for everyday. Tomorrow my projects are ironing shirts and finishing my knitting project (yes, I started knitting!). I still have some leftover loose ends to tie up at work, so I'll probably work on that in the afternoon. Maybe I'll even plan dinner for tomorrow night - but I don't want to take on too much at once, we'll see how everything else goes :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Info Evening

Last night Jan and I went to the hospital (St. Vincent's) for an "Info Evening." Basically we got the tour and a run down of what to expect during Birth. We met the head of the Gynocology Department, the head Pediatrian in the nursery and some midwives. Everyone was very nice and we both found it quite informative.

Obviously the basics work the same as they do in the US. One of the major differences; however, is that the midwife is the one actually in charge of the birth - although they tried to make it clear that the mother is really the one calling the shots. Most normal deliveries take place with the midwife and an OB, who can take over if complications dictact that a C-section is necessary. What I also found reassuring is that they stressed to go into the birth with an open mind. I have been reading about making a "birth plan," but this seemed strange to me, since you can never be sure what will happen. I also didn't want declare ahead of time that I will go med-free and then have the conflict during labor of wanting meds, but not wanting to give in. I will take things how they come and adjust to my needs.

I will sign up for a preparation class which is lead by the midwives and lasts a few weeks. After you are home from the hospital, a midwife visits you on a regular basis to check that all is going well and give you some additional support. About 4-6 weeks after birth they provide a course for mothers to begin building up muscles. All of these "extras" are covered by insurance which is great!

This is one of the fun toys they offer in the delivery room.

This is the link to the hospital we picked, it's in German, but there are some pictures for those non-German speakers among you:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

30w 4 d

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What a difference 9 days make!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Jan and I went to the English Theatre tonight in Frankfurt. We'd never been there before so it was a new experience and it was super! We saw "Gaslight"which is a script written at the turn of the century and plays in Victorian England. It's a sort of murder mystery which was filmed in 1944 with Ingrid Bergman.

I love the theatre and was glad to have the opportunity to enjoy it again before the baby is here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Soap Nuts

Okay, so I promised a post about laundry detergent. Because I have decided to use cloth diapers - which I am addicted to by the way, I spend every evening online researching diapers and diaper accessories - I have begun researching how to care for them. There is so much information out there and everyone has their own way of doing things, so we just have to try it and see what works for us. What is really important however, is that you use detergent without "stuff" which will remain in the diaper and cause them to repel or could irritate baby's sensitive skin and of course use no softener. "Stuff" includes perfumes, enzymes, bleach, among other things.

more info:

great comparison of detergents:

what does all this mean? I don't really know yet...I am still doing the research. My issue currently is that I am doing most of the internet research in english, which recommends US products, which is unhelpful to me. So, I am beginning to research in german and trying to find equivalent products. The nice thing is that there are wonderful physical stores (versus only internet products) close to where we live where I can buy eco-friendly (and therefore hopefully diaper friendly) products.

In an effort to keep my washer (and now dryer...a different post) free of detergent residue I have started washing our laundry with eco-friendly detergent. The first thing I tried was "soap nuts." Soap Nuts are actually berries from a tree in India which have soap-like qualities. They are very sticky and in combination with water become soap-like. They are obviously all natural and you need no additional softener. I put about 8 nuts in a cotton sack and put tea tree oil on the sack to add a nice scent. Then, I just pitch the sack into the washer and that's it! I really like the soap nuts so far for most things. They don't seem to be 100% effective on dirty jeans - although this could probably be fixed with some stain spotting or other tweaking to my regimen. I bought other liquid eco-detergent to wash dirty jeans and harder to clean things. The soap nuts have worked great on everything else though!

Here is an informative website from Australia about soap nuts:

Once you start reading about all the chemicals which can get stuck in your clothing and you wear against your skin everyday, other alternatives start looking very inviting. If you use, or decide to use eco-friendly detergent in the future, I would be very interested in knowing what it is and how you like it!

I'm becoming pretty crunchy, huh? I love it! :)

29w 2d picture

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Toys Containing Banned Plastics Still on Market

Today there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about plastic toys that contain chemicals called pthalates. They have been found to be harmful to children, and are being banned in the U.S. as of February 2009. If you are planning to buy for babies (including ours!) PLEASE take this into account during the next few months. Retailers are marking down prices on these toys, making them even more tempting to buy. THEY ARE NOT SAFE.

Articles like this strengthen my desire to raise a plastic free baby as much as possible. Being green is a one day at a time pursuit. I am far from perfect, and I choose one project at a time. My current project is laundry detergent...that is a different post, I promise.

If you are looking for safe toys for babies and children, look for wooden, natural fabric, and metal toys - i.e. sans plastics.

I'm sure you can find local stores that sell good quality toys as well... even large retailers carry them!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Glucose Test

Today I had my glucose test. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I was a little nervous that I'd have gestational diabetes, based on my family history and the PCOS (and it's connection to insulin). However, I passed! I was pretty confident that I would since I've felt fine, but it was nice to have the confirmation.
I know you are all mad at me because I'm slow uploading pictures - I'm working on it, I promise.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

23w 2d

The view from above

I feel like I am bigger than I look here

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Collecting Baby Stuff

It's great when you have a sister-in-law who has a toddler - she's done with all her baby stuff, still has it and it is in great condition! Last weekend we picked up a station wagon full of stuff from Andrea for the baby. We got large items like the crib and pram, as well as changing table topper, books, toys, blankets, sleepers , etc. This will help decrease our initial investment so we can start saving for Harvard! :) For the first few months the baby will be housing in our room as the baby room also doubles as a guest room, and we didn't think my Mom and Dad would really be so happy about every two hour feedings. Here are some pictures of the current state of craziness:

19 weeks and getting bigger!

I can't believe I am so close to half way - these past few weeks have really flown by. I guess we've been busy. Here is my 19w 1d picture. Not sure it looks different than 17 weeks, but it sure is! Yesterday was the first day I wore a maternity top - I still fit into my other tops, but they're a bit tight :) My mom sent me a package the other day from the Mall of America with a couple tops, so I thought I'd try one out. Thanks mom!

Exactly at 19 weeks I started feeling movement. I wasn't sure at first if it was the baby, but I've had similar sensations in the same place since. Last night we were watching the Olympic recap for the day and the baby was jumping! Jan was even able to feel kicks, which I wasn't sure was possible this early. I have to admit it wasn't as weird as I thought it would be - I was having alien-like premonitions, but it wasn't that freaky. It was cool to actually feel what we already know - someone is growing in there!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Baby Bums have never been so cute!

I have decided to use cloth diapers and I am super excited! There are so many different choices, which has made going through a million websites a bit daunting, but I have found some great resources. For those of you who are interested, here is a great website with a lot of good info:
What is really cool, besides all the other benefits (cost, enviroment, no diaper rash, no chemicals, earlier potty training) is that many of the cloth diaper stores are run by stay at home moms. Can't wait to see my super cute baby bum!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Don't forget to VOTE!

No, not in November, although that is important too :)

Vote on my Poll to the left. And keep your eyes open for my girl/boy poll coming soon!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Coming out of the closet

You inherit, adopt, copy behavior from your parents. I keep hoping that my child will only get the best of both of us - Jan's determination, my eyes and hopefully neither of our allergies. Something I seem to have inherited or adopted from a parent-who-will-remain-nameless is sometimes being closed off. This might surprise some of you, but those who know me well will tell you how difficult it is for me to open up in certain situations.

I have debated about sharing my story, but I am determined not to be ashamed, but proud of what we accomplished. I was diagnosed with PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome) a while back, although I was able to self diagnose after about 5 minutes in the internet. I was pretty much a textbook case. This syndrome is genetic and explained a lot of questions I had, as it can effect a great deal about your heath, including heart disease and diabetes. Something else it is directly related to is infertility. Infertility is a scary word, which for me always meant "no chance to get pregnant" - this seems not be the case, at least in the world of dealing with PCOS.

We were pretty relaxed considering we didn't know what to expect in the future. I tried a lot of different things to try and get my body healthy - acupuncture, herbs, changed diet, and I believe all those things made me healthier, but weren't bringing me close enough to our final goal. My doctor was extremely supportive (as was my acupuncturist who acted as a therapist as well) and finally suggested a non-invasive surgery to hopefully correct things. Almost immediately after the surgery I was having symptoms I had never had before - I was normal! Two months after surgery I was pregnant; after waiting and trying to decide the best path, I couldn't believe it happened "so fast".

The reason I am sharing my story is because this syndrome occurs in 1 out of 10 women! It is important to be your own advocate if you feel you might be suffering from this. Here is a great resource if you would like more information: I had never heard of it before although it seems to be so widespread and I am trying to do my part to make others aware in the hopes to help other women who suffer from this as well.

Mine is a success story, pass it on.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

17 weeks

Here is my exploding 17 week belly. I didn't really mean to take this picture, I accidentally snapped it. I thought it actually turned out okay, so I kept it. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Right on Track

I had an OB appointment today - I am officially 16w 5d and everything looks great. Baby was moving around a lot and everything measured in the normal range. I am still feeling really good. I did have a pretty bad headache yesterday, so my doctor reminded me again how important it is to drink enough water. Jan yelled at me that I wasn't drinking enough, but I swear I'm trying! It's become a hot summer after all - YUCK!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Here I am at 12 weeks"

"Hi, see you all in January!"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Baby Shower

A former colleague of mine is having a baby in August and we hosted her baby shower on Sunday. My colleague Elizabeth planned great games - The Price is Right, Guess Sarah's Girth, The All-About Sarah Quiz, and Guess the Baby Picture. We had some yummy food (thanks in part to Jan's help) and had a good time hanging out all afternoon.

Sarah opening her homemade hat from Elizabeth



In case anyone in the free world hasn't heard the news yet: we're expecting a baby in January!

Here is the first long awaited belly shot. I started showing around 10 weeks, at least for people who knew I was pregnant. There isn't any hiding it anymore! Here is my super huge 14w 5d belly!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I'm it

Kristy has tagged me for the first time since elementary school, with a meme (whatever that is). Here goes...

Three things...

...THAT SCARE ME: raising children bilingually, labor, my parents getting older

...I LOVE: my family and friends, reading, traveling

...I HATE: being wrong, the sun (we're going through a rocky patch in our relationship), being too warm (hence the sun thing)

...I'M DOING RIGHT NOW: hanging out at work, relaxing in the cool breezy weather, completing this meme

...I CAN DO: speak German, consul people (or so I have been told), teach

...I CAN'T DO: speak Spanish (but I wish I could and I go on spurts when I try to learn), eat sushi right now, I'm not too good about being firm

...THAT ARE MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE FOODS: salmon sushi, savoy cabbage and red onions, ice cream

...SHOWS I WATCHED WHEN I WAS A KID: Who's the Boss, Family Ties, Smurfs

People I'm tagging to do this on their blog: no one, everyone's been tagged :)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Auditors in Köln

So, last year I was asked to lead an English Seminar in Köln (Cologne) for a group of Bank Auditors. It sounded pretty daunting, but like a challenge I couldn't pass up. They were scheduled for two days (Fri and Sat) every month for a year, so it was a pretty big committment. The group ended up being really nice - we started with 6 men and were down to 4 within a few months (it wasn't me though :) , their work environment doesn't seem to be so great and so there is a high turnover). I scraped together audit cases and we worked our way through them - not the most entertaining of seminars I've ever given surely, but they didn't give me much to work with.

At any rate, they decided to continue this year, so here I am again up in Köln for a Friday night. Köln is only about a 1 1/2 train ride from Mainz (on the fast train) so it would be doable to go home in the evening, but one 6:09 train on Friday morning is enough for me. It's nice to "sleep in" on Saturday and have breakfast in the hotel. I have taken advantage of the English movie theater here in the city a few times and saw "Becoming Jane" and "Atonement" last year. I had a routine of going and eating sushi (yummmm - salmon nigri!), but I guess I won't be doing that this time :) Tonight I am going to walk around a bit, scrape something together for dinner and head to my hotel for a night of reading and being mad that nothing good is on TV.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Back to the Living

It's been too long since my last blog, but I am back on the horse again.

We had a very nice trip to the US in May. We began our trip at a belly dance show in Washington DC. Carrie dances with a troop in DC and we were able to see her perform - it was cool to sit in the audience with her on the stage. Brought back memories of when we were little and were going to different theater productions with her mom. We stayed with Carrie in Baltimore for a few nights before training to New York. I had never been to Baltimore before, so it was a nice to be a tourist. We had some wet weather unfortunately, but the sun showed up on our last day. Carrie was able to have a day off work and tour us around the city. We visited the harbor, Fort McHenry ( and ate yummy crabs. We also met Carrie's boyfriend, Ian - he's a keeper, Car! :)

From there we hopped a train to NYC. We stayed with Michelle Roark in the Flatiron District. She has a cute little apartment and a fiery (read: bi-otch) roommate. We had a great time visiting the sites with the highlights being seeing Morgan Freeman on Broadway in "The Country Girl", seeing the Yankees play at Yankee stadium (they got killed by the Mets!) and walking around Brooklyn. If I had to live in NYC, I think I'd live in Brooklyn - super nice area, parks, quiet - like a real neighborhood, and still a subway ride to Manhattan. Of course the big event was Lindsey's wedding. They had a welcome cocktail reception on Friday evening at a bar/restaurant in Grand Central Station and the wedding and reception took place at the Harvard University Club. It really was a once and a lifetime experience and we were glad to have the opportunity to take part. Both evenings were very elegant and yet relaxed fun.

From NY, we flew home to Chicago. We visited with family, hung out in the city, saw Abbi and Andre and spent the weekend in Bloomington before heading up to the Indy 500.

We are looking forward to our September trip - lots of exciting things happening!
Sorry I am not very funny, it's been too long since our trip and it's too hot here! It had to have been over 90 today - try surviving that with NO air conditioning! BLAH!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

London Baby!

Last weekend we flew to London for 4 days. I had a training on Monday and Tuesday so Jan came with to hang out in London. I love London! This is only third short trip there, but I always think "wow, I could live here" - after I win the lottery of course :) My favorite thing about London is the theater - so much a part of the city's identity.

This is the reconstructed Globe Theatre - Michelle Roark and I saw "Romeo and Juliet" here in 2004. It is truly an amazing feeling being here, even through Shakespeare didn't walk this stage, his spirit is definitely present. Unfortunately the season hadn't opened yet, oh well, one more reason to go back. More info:

We went to see the musical "CHICAGO" while we were there. Amazing the talent of this actors - what an amazing opportunity to keep the theatre culture alive and well, I have a lot of respect for all of them.

Another London favorite of mine are the markets, we spent Saturday morning hanging around Borough Market where we taste tested many yummy foods, from cheese to baklava to chocolate to wine. It rained on and off while we were there, but that didn't discourage anyone.

Of course one thing that we also enjoyed was the historical pub culture in London. Often you hear that the food in Britain is horrible, but I find that if you quickly assimilate to their style you can appreciate their cuisine. I enjoyed their world famous ale, even if it was a tick warmer than the ice cold lager.

We also saw the key sites of Buckingham Palace, Parliament, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, etc. For all pictures check out the online album:

London, we'll be back!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Back Home Again in Indiana...

We are in the final prep phase of our May trip and I just wanted to update our dates. If we can meet up with anyone along the way that would be great! Joerg will be traveling with us since we are all invited to the wedding in NYC.

May 10th: Arrive Wash DC, staying in Baltimore with Carrie
May 13th/14th: Train to NYC - staying with MRoark, Lindsey's wedding on the 17th, Yankees game on the 18th
May 19th: Fly to Chicago - stay with parents
22nd/23rd: Drive to Bloomington with parents - stay at IMU :)
25th: Indy 500
27th: Fly home from Chicago

Time is pretty tight this time unfortunately, but if we can work something out with any of you we'll do our best!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Taking a page out of Tara's book...

I subscribe to "Body and Soul" magazine which is published by the Martha Stewart Company. I discovered it last September when we were home and I have gained so much from reading it. It has great environmental tips as well as interesting food stories and health tips. You can check it out at I tried this recipe tonight from this month's volume and we loved it! I can enjoy asparagus for what it is worth but I have never really thought yum...until tonight. Not sure it beats out the Wirsing, but it was really good. The nice thing is - super easy and you can easily pair it with something else. I (through Jan's directions) changed the original recipe a bit, so the one I am posting here, is a bit different than on the website.

Read about health benefits of asparagus

Prep: 25 minutes
Total: 25 minutes

Serves 4
1 medium thick asparagus bunch, tough ends removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic cream
4 large eggs
2 ounces shaved parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet with a rim, toss asparagus with oil. Season with salt. Bake until asparagus is lightly browned and tender, 15 to 18 minutes (timing will vary depending upon thickness of asparagus).

2. Mix together balsamic vinegar and balsamic vinegar cream in small bowl.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large skillet with 2 inches of water to a simmer over medium heat. Break one egg at a time into a cup, then tip cup into pan. Simmer until whites are set and yolks are soft but slightly set, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spatula, scoop out eggs one at a time and drain on paper towels. With a paring knife, trim edges (this would have been a good idea, but I didn't do it).

4. Divide asparagus among four plates and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Top with shaved Parmesan and an egg.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

der Wirsing = Savoy Cabbage

This is my current favorite vegetable. It's called Savoy Cabbage in English, but I can never remember that. It is one of the many veggies that I first got to know when I got to Germany. I (or Jan) cut the the leaves into stripes and then steam them in a frying pan along with fresh ginger, red onions, sesame seed oil and soy sauce.

It's a great veggie side to fish or meat or tofu! I ate it tonight with sauteed squid - Yum!