The month of October was spent at the dentists' office. We recently changed insurance and then had to change dentists and with that series of changes it meant that I crammed a bunch of appointments in a few weeks. Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 and Son all had a date with their dentist.
I probably shouldn't complain because we are lucky to have insurance and we are lucky to have such nice dentists. But I have to complain because although Daughter #1 and Daughter #2 got off relatively easy (minor grooves in the rear adult molars requiring some sealant), Son did NOT get off easy.
My life spent at the dentist for Son in a nutshell consists of 3 cavities requiring 3 root canals, leading to 1 abscess and 1 tooth extraction. He's FOUR YEARS OLD and he had three cavities which required 3 root canals and now one of the root canals didn't take so he developed an abscess and now he has to lose the tooth. (All of these procedures were done without a cool video playing on the ceiling and no laughing gas.)
No one is more upset than I am. In fact, up until this evening I was seemingly the only one upset, only Son heard me talking about a taking out a tooth and had a temper tantrum on the floor about it. "I don't WANT to take my tooth out!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. I couldn't help myself. I said to him, "You are losing your tooth because you haven't brushed carefully enough nor have you allowed me to brush your teeth well enough nor did you take your antibiotics regularly enough nor did you do the salt water rinse after every single MEAL!" Yep. I laid that ALL at Son's feet. Because really, the person I blame is me.
I'm not sure if I could have prevented the cavities. He's susceptible. I struggle with brushing his teeth because he fights me on it. When the abscess first developed he screamed and yelled about the antibiotics (something that I wasn't really all that keen on giving him in the first place) I had a hard time being consistent with the medicine only because he was a bear about it. And the end result is at the age of 4, Son will be missing a back molar that doesn't grow back until he is 12 years old. The dentist reassured me that this was incredibly common as I sat in a chair with my head between my legs. I am nauseous from all of this because this is not common to me.
And I sit blaming myself wondering what more could I have done. Brushed harder? More often? Yelled more about the medicine and flossing? Been more diligent and vigilant about gummy and fruit consumption? I know that casting blame around isn't the best use of my time nor is it productive but I can't help wondering what I did wrong.
It's times like this when I feel like a horrible mother that I have to do something to make myself feel like a good mother. Kale. Whole grains. Nutritious foods. These things make me feel better and it's an area where I know I can always be better than I was yesterday. I found this recipe in my Bon Appetit magazine and knew I had to make it right away. The yellow and green colors were appealing and the use of kale, which is sturdy so it holds up well made me feel healthy, just by its mere presence. There is a bit of finickiness as the kale, beets, barley all require separate preparation before it is tossed together, but each separate preparation is so simple that this can be an easy weeknight meal (and it can be made ahead to boot.)
The recipe calls for Tuscan kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Lacinato kale, or cavolo nero, which has long, narrow, very dark green bumpy leaves and is available at farmers' markets and some supermarkets. I find that the best way to separate the leaves from the stems is to grab the stem with one hand and with the other, pull down and basically pull the leave away from the stem. (I prefer this from the more tedious method of cutting out the stem, but you can do this too.)
Barley and Kale Salad with Golden Beets and Feta
Adapted from Bon Appetit November 2012
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 bunch Tuscan kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch squares
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 medium golden beets (about 1 bunch), trimmed
1 1/4 cups pearl barley
4 ounces feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons (or more) lemon juice
Whisk 1/4 cup oil, red wine vinegar, honey, and lemon zest in a large bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Add kale and shallots; mix until completely coated. Cover and chill until kale is tender, at least 3 hours.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°. Place beets on a piece of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil. Completely wrap up and seal beets in foil. Bake beets until tender when pierced with a thin knife, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool completely. Peel beets using your fingers. They will peel easily. Cut into 1/4-inch pieces (you should have about 2 cups).
Cook barley in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Drain barley and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet; let cool completely.
Add beets, barley, and feta to kale. Drizzle salad with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Fold gently to combine. Season to taste with pepper and more lemon juice, if desired. Salad can be made two days ahead. Cover and chill.