The Importance of Family: Get Yourself a Michelle Bayer

If you have the means to get yourself a Michelle Bayer, I highly recommend it. Honestly, three people (one breast-feeding) is the proper amount of people to take care of an infant. This especially applies since both my wife and I are trying to get 20-30 hours of work in each week. Beyond anything else, having someone with experience under your roof for the first weeks is the most important thing you can do for your new life as a parent.

Now that I’ve lived 2.5 weeks with Dylan Bayer, I understand the proper order of things.

Have a baby at 38 weeks. This allows Michelle Bayer to sneak ahead and be the first family member to stay with us since everything else was scheduled based on Dylan staying put for 40 weeks.

Michelle is my wife’s sister and best friend (besides me, I’m a given right?). She is an amazing cook, great late-night buddy, and has experience with newborn chaos. She’s helped out my brother-in-law with his one-year-old twins more times than can be counted. That’s right, infinity.

On two different nights of the week she was here, Michelle only slept three hours, allowing Lisa and I to get real sleep. Well, I got real sleep, Lisa was woken every three hours to feed the boy. She changed plenty of diapers (more than one is plenty in my opinion and honestly I don’t understand why anyone other than the parents should ever have to bother changing a diaper). Plus, I just love having a couple of cocktails and watching TV with her. She’s a friend beyond a sister-in-law.

Everything I just said pales in comparison to what she did in the kitchen. I was going to describe it for you in detail, but here’s another amazing thing about her; she describes it in detail for you. She decided (correctly) that we would need directions. Here is what our freezer now looks like. My only hope is that when my mother-in-law (with father-in-law) arrives tonight, she attempts to out due her daughter. That’s right, I’m going to try to create some friendly competition.

And now for the details of everything she did from scratch:

Chicken in Pipian Sauce
If you remember, take a bag out at the beginning of the day and put in fridge to defrost (This is the only recipe I would defrost to begin with– the others you can work with frozen unless you find a better way to prep them). If you don’t remember, run under warm water to release contents from the bag and put into a skillet. Add a bit of water and reheat on the stove top (low to begin with as it thaws, then you can turn the heat up). It can be used as a taco filling, or serve with rice and squash or other veggie.

Lasagna with Pumpkin and Swiss Chard (individually cut)
I would guess 2-3 pieces per person depending on how hungry you are and what else you’re serving with it. Not sure how long it will take to heat up. I would try to reheat in the toaster oven at 350 for about 15-20 min and see how it does. Cover with foil, then take it off to brown the top. Also, since you have a microwave I might experiment with defrosting it in the microwave first, then finishing it in the toaster over to brown.

Chicken Pot Pie (individual)
Same as the lasagna. I’d try reheating in the toaster oven. 350 and start checking it around 15-20 min. But they will probably take longer. Since they’re frozen I would put them in the toaster oven when you turn it on (as opposed to preheating– this goes for the lasagna too). Try keeping the foil on, then taking it off for the last 5-10 min. (i’m sure you can remove the pot pies from the foil and put them in the microwave if you are in a hurry to eat).

Cookies (individual)
They seemed to work at 350 for 12-15 min. Or you can just eat the cookie dough frozen 🙂

Dumplings and Buns
– Curried Siu Mai with Pork
– Thai Green Curry with Chicken
– Veggie
– Pork with jicama
– Roast Chicken Buns
All of these can be steamed. Place your stock pot on the stove top with about 2-3 inches of water. Turn on high. Cut 2 parchment circles with vent holes (Lisa– this is what I showed you– let me know if you need directions again). Line the bamboo steamer with the parchment circles. Place frozen dumplings on the parchment no closer than 1/4 inch to each other. (remove buns from plastic wrap before steaming). Place steamer on stock pot once water is steaming and close to boiling. Steam for 10-20 minutes or until they are heated through. All dumplings are cooked, so you are just reheating. I’ve probably left dumplings on the steamer for more than 30 minutes– so don’t worry about over cooking.
There are lots of sauces you can use to dip them in. But we usually put a small bowl of garlic chili sauce (near the siracha at the grocery store) out and a bowl of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar mixture and are very happy. For the buns– you can add anything to them you like (like kimche or grated carrots, etc) but we often just eat them as is– put a couple pickled shitakes and dip in the sauces.

I am torn. Part of me wants to share in the glory that is now my freezer with my friends and family. Kidding. I’m not torn. It’s mine … and my wife’s.

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