Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

It is the season for summer storms--thunder and lightning and big heavy raindrops. It takes the edge off of the heat, and it's perfect weather for soup. We have a plethora of fresh veggies from the garden right now, and since our fridge is already full of zucchini soup we decided to try something new: Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup.

Here's what you'll need:

A mess of tomatoes, we used about a dozen big ones
3 bell peppers (roasted)
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
2 potatoes
1 Zuchinni
2 onion (one roasted, one in the pot)
1 whole garlic 
Fresh basil, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. 

  • Scoop the insides of the tomatoes into a bowl and place the rest of the tomato onto a baking sheet. Make sure the baking sheet has raised edges because there's a lot of juice. 
tomatoes for days

  • Peel garlic and chop two cloves. Put the remaining cloves on the baking sheet to roast. 
  • Chop onions, placing half in the pot and half on the sheet. 
  • Drizzle your roasting veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast at 400 for about 40 minutes.
  • While they're roasting, cut up the rest of the veggies sauté. Add tomato insides and simmer low on the pot. This is in lieu of any sort of broth. Better to make your own, fresh. Add two cups of water. 

  • Add your now roasted veggies to the mix. Salt and pepper to taste. We also put in about five sprigs of fresh basil, because the world is a better place with it. 
  • After simmering for about twenty minutes, blend. We used the Vitamix and then strained for seeds. Had there been any, we would have re-blended them and added them back into the soup. But it strained clean. Next time I'll skip that step. and move right to serving.
  • Eat, enjoy, and feel good about your life.

how do people live without one of these babies
I don't mean to toot my own horn, but this soup came out amazing. Easy and delicious, it's a great way to use up summer veggies! It also made a ton. A share-ton. Soup for everyone! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: If I Stay

The first time I heard of IF I STAY by Gayle Forman I was sitting in a dark movie theater waiting for THE FAULT IN OUR STARS to start. I'm a firm believer in supporting authors and so I try and see as many book movies as I can, with the caveat that I read the book first. The preview to IF I STAY drew me in, and it was in my Amazon cart before the preview was even finished.

I finished this book in two hours. I couldn't put it down. This book was bittersweet. Mia watches her family and her broken body taken away after a terrible accident. Then there's a choice: to live, or to let go. The book is a series of flashbacks piecing together Mia, the daughter, the sister, the girlfriend, the best friend. Each scene is written with power and beauty, leaving the reader to revel in loss and love and wonderful and awful things.

I'm usually not a fan of flashback books, but Forman does it exquisitely. She layers the scenes so that you fall deeply in love with the characters, making everything harder and sweeter. By releasing bits and pieces at a time, she creates a modular story that increases in depth with each page. The pacing is perfect, the characters are painfully real. They are flawed and easy to love. The relationship between Adam and Mia is genuine, two music nerds on different sides of the industry approaching change.

There's also a balance. This is a heart heavy subject, but there are moments of joy and humor. It's really well done. Mia's parents are really fun. It makes the loss of them even worse.

What I love about the writing, is the details. "Pieces of my father's brain on the asphalt. But his pipe is in his left breast pocket." Even in terrible tragedy, the focus is the pipe. The pipe represents so much of her father's character: his punk rock soul and push against society. Even in death, that's what stands out. It's lovely, it's all so lovely.

If you're looking for gut wrenching contemporary YA, I highly recommend this novel. I'm really looking forward to seeing if the movie captures all the feels. This book is all about feels.

Monday, July 21, 2014


I am so proud to announce that I have joined Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the YAvengers! I'm ready to do whatever it takes to break into the world of publishing as:


Agent Natasha Romanoff. Codename Black Widow. I play with the big boys. What I lack in super powers, I make up for in skill. I specialize in espionage, secrets, and unhappy endings. (They might be connected somehow.)

In between missions, I daylight as Megan Eccles, mother of two and MFA candidate in Fiction. She writes YA speculative fiction, wears babies, and drinks gallons of tea. Follow her blogTwitterFacebook, or Tumblr.

I am honored to be part of the team, saving the world one word at a time. We'll be handling questions, interviews, and various hurdles in the world of writing and publishing. Be prepared for some kick ass awesome. 

Check out the other new members:

What to do with the Crusts

According to my toddler, the greatest offense in the world is a sandwich with the crusts left on. At first, I bargained with him. Then begged. The crusts are good for you, I said. You liked crusts just yesterday. But as with most battles of the will, my toddler won out. Eating is enough of a challenge right now. So I took off the crust.

The problem is, now I have a lot of crusts in my life going unused. My husband and I seldom eat bread, so for the last few months I've been tossing the crusts into the trash and mourning the waste. What can I do with unwanted pieces of bread? With that awful heel?

Then it hit me.

Everyone loves croutons. It's one of the few exceptions to the bread ban in my house. We love that little crunch on the salad. Mass 'em up and use them as bread crumbs. I only buy them when I'm really hungry while grocery shopping. They're a treat. But with an abundance of crust, we have the perfect vehicle for croutons.

To make them, I save up the crusts for a few sandwiches. I usually wait until I have about six sandwiches worth. Then it's go time.

  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Shred the crusts into crouton sized pieces in a metal pan. I've done it in glass and ceramic, but it doesn't get quite as crunchy. 
  • it should look something like this
  • Add about two tablespoons of your favorite oil. I usually do olive, since I flavor mine Italian. Butter, coconut oil, and lard all well!
  • Season. I do a few shakes each of seasoning salt, pepper, garlic, and onion. Then I toss about two teaspoons of Italian herbs. If you have fresh ones, that's even better.
  • Toss. Make sure they're evenly oiled and seasoned.
  • yummm
  • Put them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they're all crispy and golden brown.
  • Let them cool, and that's it! 
Crusts turned into a tasty addition to any salad or meat loaf. And if you can believe it, my toddler loves them. Of course.

What do you do with those pesky crusts?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Every Child is Different

"Every child is different," they say.

After getting over the initial shock of pregnancy and birth mid-quarter during grad school, I assumed it would be easy. Anthony was a piece of cake. He was what they call an easy baby, a good baby. You know, the ubiquitous they of grocery stores and Target check out lines. I constantly received comments about how well-behaved he was and what a good mom I was. Every time, I felt like I was leveling up in parenting. I was breastfeeding, cloth diapering, eating and feeding organic. We wore in in the moby and ergo and made sure to apply benzo-free sunscreen. Why not? Anthony thrived. His first words were "What is that?" and he is inquisitive, funny, and fantastic.

about fifteen minutes before Vince was born

He made my pregnancy with Vincent more manageable. Through the nausea and vomiting, the sciatica and trouble walking, Anthony was pleasant. He would bring me water when I was curled up in a ball on the couch. He thought it was hilarious when I barfed. He named all his toys Vincent, and talked about his little brother constantly. He was even there when Vincent was born, watching with anticipation while his brother made his journey into the world.

And Vincent. Those of you who follow me on social media might know him as the Curmudgeon. While he didn't struggle with his latch like Anthony, he didn't like to nurse. He nursed, but only out of necessity. He wouldn't nurse to sleep or for comfort. He would eat, then cry, then sleep--not always in that order. He arched his back in pain and wailed. I took him to the chiropractor when he was twelve days old. He was adjusted, and I limited my diet to a sort of egg-free paleo in hopes that it was something in my breastmilk. You know it's bad when you have hope in a crazy diet. It got a little better, then worse. I finally conceded to the pacifier when he was about four weeks. He took it.


Unless he was being worn, he was miserable. Making dinner was a nightmare. Going to the bathroom was a nightmare. Eating a meal was a nightmare. He just cried and cried and I felt helpless. He didn't want the boob, he didn't want to just be held, he didn't want anything. If I walked around long enough with him in a woven wrap he would eventually sleep. When family members held him--if family members held him--it was for a minute or less. He was the opposite of my chubby, happy Anthony at this stage. I wasn't writing. I wasn't reading. Mostly, I was trying to comfort a 'mudging curmudgeon and not lose my mind.

this was constant

And they. What would they say? My kids were in disposables. Anthony was eating a steady diet of squeezable applesauce. Vincent was gnawing angrily at a pacifier instead of comfort nursing. Can you level down? I missed the lazy days of snuggling Anthony on the couch and reading a book or power watching Doctor Who. Vincent was not a "good" baby. But to say he was "bad" would be awful. There is no such thing as a bad baby. He was difficult. He was different. The ubiquitous they of check out lines and public outings would chime that. Every child is different.

There it was, that moment of clarity. As if on cue, Vincent fell into a routine. He started smiling at five weeks. At six weeks, he stopped his back-arching screaming. He would eat and self soothe into a nap or happily suckle on the wubbanub. I still wore him constantly, but without the desperation and extra five-thousand steps a day. I turned in my papers for grad school and went to residency, where Vincent was a good baby, an easy baby. He was perfect, the quintessential newborn. I was shocked and happy. More importantly, Vincent was happy. Vincent is happy.

Don't get me wrong, we still have miscommunications. Sometimes I offer the boob when he wants the pacifier. Sometimes I don't wrap him as soon as he'd like when he's tired. Occasionally I make a loud and upsetting noise. But that's okay. We're just getting to know each other, after all.

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Every parenting experience needs to be treated individually. We learn and we grow. They do, too. If we give our children the chance to simply be, without the expectations of older siblings or friend's children or internet strangers or they, we will be that much happier. I know I am.