Magical Booby Milk

So many times in the past 11 months I have said out loud, “Thank God for boobs!”. Being able to breastfeed my daughter has been one of the greatest gifts I could have ever received. It hasn’t always been easy, we had 4 days in hospital after she was born learning to feed and then 10 weeks later we were back in hospital to have a 7 x 8 x 4cm abscess drained from my left breast. But here we are 11 months later, back at work, and still feeding! Hurray!

Feeding is such a delicate issue in mummy circles. I wish it wasn’t, because every single one of us is just trying to do what we feel is best for our baby and ourselves. I have heard people talk about their different struggles and can truly empathise with how hard feeding a little baby can be. I have had times of crying on the phone to my girlfriends threatening to cut my boobs off and fling them out a window. I have had times where the thought of having my daughter feed makes me wince in dread. I have had times of enduring over enthusiastic niplash (where your baby flings itself off to look at something). I have also had times of having my daughter drift off into blissful sleep whilst feeding. I have had times where the only thing that will soothe her is a breastfeed. I have had to wait in hospital emergency rooms for hours and hours on end, so grateful for my boobs.

And after coming out the other end of all those hard times, I am so glad we kept going. The benefit (for me and my family) has far outweighed the crap that we went through.

Why the blurb about boobs? Because I hope someone reads this and it strikes a chord with them. Or the day they start their breastfeeding journey they remember something I’ve written and it helps them to ask questions, find support and find a solution for them.

Our mothers group talks boobs often, and this week it has been all about supply. How do I boost my supply? How to I tell if my supply has dropped? We were comparing what works for us, when I remembered a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, Leon, for George’s Breastfeeding Bread! I am doing a sneaky cut and paste job, but here is the recipe. May your milk flow forth and nurture!

George’s Breastfeeding Bread

(abridged, for the full thing check out Leon):
330g spelt flour (or wholemeal)
170g white flour
5g fast-acting dried yeast
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. aniseeds
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. fenugreek (ground)
40g pumpkin seeds
40g sunflower seeds
2.5 tbs. olive oil
300ml warm water
extra sunflower and pumpkin seeds for the top (the recipe calls for pine nuts as well, but I typically don’t have those on hand, so I simply omit them)

Grease a loaf pan, mix all the dry ingredients together (except the extra seeds for the topping) in a large bowl, add the oil and water, and knead in the bowl briefly. Put the dough in the loaf pan, cut gashes across the top for the extra seeds and let rise for a few hours. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn down the oven to 400 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.

As an aside, I haven’t actually baked this… I never had supply issues. But it sounds delicious! Would love to hear if you’ve made it. Would also love to hear your breastfeeding stories, like hearing birthing stories, I’m addicted!

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An Effort to Flavour Ratio Dilemma

After spending a fair bit of time and nearly all my saucepans to make tonight’s dinner, the resulting meal was lacking in the flavour department. Which led me hypothesise an Effort to Flavour Ratio. For example, a bowl of cornflakes. Low in effort, relatively high in flavour. Women’s Weekly Pastitsio, high in effort, unexpectedly low in flavour. Who thought that a big casserole dish full of pasta, meat and cheese could be so boring! It smelt deceptively delicious too! The salt and pepper shakes were called to perform tonight. The raw pieces of zucchini on my plate seemed exciting in comparison.

On the upside, whilst making this fairly flavourless meal, I got to use a nifty kitchen gadget; a silicon sauce whisk. This was a Christmas present. At the time I wasn’t quite sure how I’d use it, but the few times I have needed to whisk a hot sauce, it has been amazing. The recipe tonight called for a white sauce. Quintessential Australian fare. Not something I remember having much of growing up. Very easy to get lumps, but not with my trusty whisk! Not need to smooth the top of the sauce before baking, it smoothed itself!

No photo sorry (I keep forgetting!) plus I can’t find the actual recipe I used on the internet. It was from the big Women’s Weekly cookbook called “Cook”. There are a few other recipes online that look like they’d promise way more flavour, with things like garlic and herbs in them. My Pastitsio turned out like something you’d find at grandma’s house for a special occasion. Except it wouldn’t be at my grandma’s, she can’t have onion.

Pastitsio

Affordability : Moderate. Has a lot of meat, milk, eggs and cheese. The anti-vegan meal to balance out the vegan chocolate mousse from the other day.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Allow close to an hour to get the meal in the oven. Then another hour in the oven.

Complexity : MODERATE. Lots of dishes, lots of bits to bring together. Not much return for effort investment.

Deliciousness : LOW MODERATE. Not bad. But not good either.

Mess : HIGH. Very glad I started with a clean kitchen before making this dinner. 3 saucepans plus a large frypan plus a baking dish plus a pasta strainer plus a chopping board plus utensils.

Tummy Filling Factor : MODERATE. Was full for a fair chunk of time.

Possum Friendly? YES. But the white sauce will be super messy! I offered her some plain pasta while I was cooking but it just ended up being flung over the side of the high chair.

Would I make it again? No. There are other meals to be made.

Bending the spine

I have a lot of cookbooks. Not enough. But a lot. I have cooked something out of 80% of them. But that still leaves a fair few that have been looked at, drooled over and then placed back on the shelf. Part of this whole meal planning thing was to help me get those books off the shelf, and put a crease or two in their spines. This week’s selection was “Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant“. It’s a vegetarian cookbook (from the vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant) which has a number of whole meal suggestions organised in cuisines. For example there is a Mexican menu, a Caribbean menu etc. It’s a no photo book, so you need to go by title and ingredients lists to get your belly rumbling. The benefit is, that it doesn’t age the same way food photos do. So you can’t tell how long the book has been sitting on my shelf for, phew!

My pick for our dinner was a Mexican Kettle Stew. A simple one dish wonder full of veggies and I added an extra 400g tin of 4 bean mix to plump it up a bit. Oh, and some capsicum.

Possum liked it and even ate some of the legumes. Legoman loved it and would eat it again. I loved how easy and tasty it was. Our vegetarian dinner guests gobbled it up too. As my Dad says… “it looks like everyone’s kicked a goal!”.

Kettle Stew with Rice

Affordability : Excellent. Loads of cheap veg and tinned staples.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Prep is super quick and easy but the potatoes do take a bit of time to cook thoroughly.

Complexity : LOW. I love a one dish meal like this. And very few steps.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Anything with sour cream AND cheese must be delicious.

Mess : MINIMAL. One pot for the stew and one for the rice.

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Everyone was very full afterwards, though I did go back for seconds.

Possum Friendly? YES. Especially good once bub has developed a pincer grasp as all the beans, chickpeas and corn provide plenty of practice!

Would I make it again? Yes, and will do before the cold months are over.

Here, taste this! It’s vegan…

That sentence makes me want to turn and run rather than open my mouth and chew. But after I got a text from Legoman at work this week that said “Friends for dinner. Can you please make a vegan, gluten free dessert?”, I didn’t really have an option. I have one vegan dessert in my brain as an emergency. A friend made it a while ago and it was surprisingly delicious. It was Vegan Chocolate Mousse! She refused to tell us what was in it until we started eating it. A great way to instil confidence in your dinner guests… “What’s this?” “I’m not telling until you eat it” “I’m scared”. But the brave (hungry) souls we are, chowed down and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her version used avocado. The one I found (thankyou google!) was a 4 ingredient, one dish wonder that can be mixed together in 5 minutes or less! And it is (kind of) good for you!!

What was that? You’d love the recipe? Sure! Here it is 🙂

Vegan Chocolate Mousse (taken from I Quit Sugar)

  • 400 ml can coconut cream.
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder.
  • 1/4 cup rice malt syrup.
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds.

Whisk ingredients together in a bowl. Serve into 4-6 glasses then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

I only had time to refrigerate for around 90 minutes between getting home from work and eating dessert with our guests. But it was still delicious and really rich. The chia seeds just hadn’t had time to get their jelly thing happening. So was a mousse with texture. Our fireman meat eating friend finished his entire serve, so clearly wasn’t an issue. This was a recipe that I just happened to have all the ingredients in the cupboard/fridge at the same time. Hurrah! Food that was meant to be 🙂

I forgot to take a picture before serving… But here is one after!

Vegan? Delicious!

Vegan? Delicious!

A Pretty Pair of Patties

It’s been a big week here at the Pea Fritters house! I went back to work, two days, and loved it! Possum made it to 11 months old and also got her top two teeth after a few very unsettled nights. And Legoman met William and Kate!! Phew! No wonder we’re all a bit tired tonight. And no wonder there hasn’t been much happening on the blog front. We have had a couple of dinner wins this week which I’d love to share with you. Both recipes are from a cookbook called “What’s For Dinner?” that I picked up at my local library. A great no fuss cookbook, the kind when I flick through, I just want to eat pretty much everything inside. I picked out the Tuna Patties and the Caramelised Onion, Chickpea and Spinach Patties for my meal plan this week.

Tuna Patties are a childhood favourite for many people. They don’t actually pop up in my childhood memories, but I love them none the less. The recipe has a great whallop of flavour which isn’t always present with Tuna Patties. Super easy and super tasty! I made a little tweek to the recipe, which was the substitute 1/3 of the potato for sweet potato, worked a treat. I will be making these again for certain. Possum enjoyed hers and Legoman said “These are the best Tuna Patties I’ve ever tasted!”, which was big seeing as his mum was sitting next to him at the time. Here is the recipe…

Tuna Patties (adapted from What’s For Dinner by Michele Curtis)

500g potatoes

250g sweet potato

2 Tbsp butter

grated zest of 2 lemons

3 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

1 Tbsp good quality mayonnaise

1 tsp Dijon mustard

S and P

475g tin of good quality tuna (I used Sirena), drained

1 egg, lightly beaten with 4 Tbsp of milk

100 – 200g breadcrumbs

oil for cooking

Peel, boil and mach the potatoes. While still hot, add the butter, lemon zest, parsley, mayonnaise and mustard and season with salt and pepper. Break up the tuna and add to the mashed potatoes. Mix well to combine and shape into 8 – 10 cakes. Put in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes. When the patties are cold, dip them into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs, so they are completely coated.

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Place a large heavy based frypan over high heat and add a generous splash of oil. Cook the patties in batches for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a baking tray and cook in the preheated oven for a further 10 minutes. Serve hot with a green salad.

The second patty recipe is for Caramelised Onion, Chickpea and Spinach Patties. I haven’t had much luck getting Possum to eat chickpeas, so I though this might be a good way to sneak them in. It worked! She ate 3 for dinner tonight! Once again, I made a few tweeks to the recipe…

Caramelised Onion, Chickpea and Spinach Patties (adapted from What’s For Dinner by Michele Curtis)

olive oil

4 onions sliced

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

250g frozen chopped spinach

S and P

3 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander

400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed and mashed with a potato masher (but leave it pretty chunky)

1 egg

1 Tbsp yoghurt

breadcrumbs

besan flour

Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring them often, until the onions soften but do not colour.

Meanwhile, drain, rinse and mash your chickpeas in a bowl.

Add the spinach and spices and cook for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add coriander leaves. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add to the bowl with the chickpeas then add the egg, yoghurt, breadcrumbs and besan flour (amount and ratios to your liking). Mixture should be nice and sticky.

Heat olive oil in a frypan. Dollop a large spoon on mixture into the pan and flatten with the back of the spoon. Cook for a few minutes each side until golden brown, topping up the oil as needed. Remove from pan onto some paper towel. Serve with lemony, garlic yoghurt (mix a crush clove of garlic and some lemon juice through natural yoghurt).

A Pretty Pair of Patties

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Takes advantage of pantry and freezer staples. I managed to find a kilo of organic potatoes on sale at the supermarket for $1.50 too!

Time Factor : MODERATE. The cooling time for the tuna patties drags it out slightly as does cooking the onions for the other patties. But both well worth it.

Complexity : LOW. Very simple mix and cook recipes.

Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. Very happy with both of these! Will have to photocopy the pages for my Pink Folder of Wonder!

Mess : MODERATE. Dipping and crumbing adds to the mess. But in the scheme of things, not too bad. Even better when your mother in law is there to help with the dishes!

Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. Surprisingly filling! A bit of salad with the tuna patties, and a scraggle of leftover with the chickpea patties did the trick.

Possum Friendly? YES. Both recipes are fantastic Baby Led Weaning recipes. Nutritious and delicious! Plus they have a lovely mix of flavours from herbs and spices without relying on salt or sugar to boost them along.

Would I make it again? Yes, indeed I shall!

Prince William looks over Narrow Neck Lookout as Catherine looks on.

And here is a pic of Prince William and Kate, at Narrowneck lookout (taken from SMH article). Those two handsome legs in black pants at the very top of the picture belong to Legoman 🙂 and that’s our mate Tim on the left in the white helmet. Apparently they were lovely and put everyone at ease. Happy Days!

Moussaka without Eggplant?

Apparently you can still call it Moussaka. It’s a good word to say. Moussaka. Moussaka. Moussaka.

This week’s meal plan has gone out the window a bit. Legoman came down with some tummy bug which left him with no appetite for multiple days, plus we had a friend make us some lasagne… so I haven’t been cooking a huge amount this week, but the freezer has a little breathing spacenow.

Tonight I did get to try out one of my intended meals though. Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka. I think it was the lamb and feta that made it a moussaka, otherwise it didn’t really resemble the dish at all (in my opinion). Well whatever it was, it was easy and yummy. And Possum thoroughly enjoyed it. It is becoming more and more apparent that my daughter won’t eat just plain vegetables. They need to be in something. Unless it’s roast sweet potato, then she will eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So this was a good meal to get her veggie count up for the week.

I love the internet! No need for me to write out recipes, even this one which I found in a book from the library! So here is the recipe!

The book I found the recipe in is called “One Pot Wonders“. A year ago I would’ve walked straight past this book, and straight past the other three books I borrowed along similar lines (“What’s for dinner?“, “Three Good Things” and “Everybody Everyday“). My how times have changed. It’s not so tempting anymore to borrow the amazing niche recipe books that seem to pop up every week. Even my taste in food magazines has taken a massive shift. As I was unpacking my cookbooks and food magazines this week (they had been in storage), I wondered when I would need to cook anything from my lovely collection of Gourmet Traveller magazines… one day.

My Friends!

My Friends!

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

Affordability : MODERATE. Used lamb leg steaks (zhoojed in the food processor) instead of lamb mince. Better flavour and texture but about twice the price. Veggies are cheap filler though. I’d stretch it further and serve with rice and maybe some steamed greens on the side.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Prep is quick and easy but takes about 15 minutes on the stove top and then an hour in the oven. And the carrots were still pretty firm after all that!

Complexity : LOW. Straight forward one dish meal. I always find it a bit more difficult the first time I use a new recipe though.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Was yummy and belly filling. Possum loved it, hurray!

Mess : MINIMAL. One pot wonder! The book didn’t lie!

Tummy Filling Factor : MODERATE. I would’ve liked some carbs of some kind with it.

Possum Friendly? YES. She loved it! Preference for the lamb, then the zucchini, then the carrot. Was a bit crazy messy though as the yoghurt sauce top disintegrated all over her high chair.

Would I make it again? Yes, but I would add some eggplant 😉

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

And a little extra… After realising I buy a whole heap of stuff that I really don’t need, I am trying to make a conscious effort to cut down on crap in my life. So today, I happily unsubscribed to a whole heap of emails that keep telling me to buy things, that unless I opened the email, I wouldn’t even know about! And then this image popped up in my Facebook feed, very timely indeed. I am going to print it out to stick on the fridge as a reminder that there are many other ways of meeting needs. I hope it sparks a thought in your mind as well.

Leftover Pies

I challenge you to think of a food that isn’t yummy when teamed with pastry… Anchovies? A tart! Strawberry yoghurt? Pastry dip sticks! Steak? Beef wellington! The list goes on and on! If you do think of something, leave a comment, enlighten me!

So it’s the end of a week, when there is food to be used up before the weekly shop and cooking cycle begins again. What better way to use up that food than to surround it in golden buttery puff pastry. The main items that needed eating this week were vegetables, I had been a bit over zealous at the fruit and veg shop last week! Tonight, I made Space Curry but with extra eggplant, no cauliflower and with zucchini, butternut pumpkin and silverbeet. Possum still loved it just as much as she did the first time and ate a heck of a lot of eggplant at dinner. For a bit of added fullness, I added 1/3 cup red lentils, 1/3 cup millet and 1/2 cup extra water and let it simmer away while Possum and I had 5pm dinner.

Space Curry Version 2.0

Space Curry Version 2.0

Just as I tend to over fill my tortillas, I also tend to over fill my pastry. I thought the pies were going to be melted blobs of goo coming out of the oven, but miraculously held together! There was enough filling to make two large parcels and 4 small ones with curry leftover for lunch tomorrow.

Leftover Pie

Leftover Pie

Just a reminder, take off the plastic backing from the pastry BEFORE piling on your filling… lesson learnt the hard way.

Leftover Space Curry Pies

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Cheap vegetables, canned chickpeas and some store bought curry paste and chutney, the added lentils and millet help to fill it out even further. The puff pastry adds about $5 (I buy the stuff made with butter as I don’t believe in margarine).

Time Factor : MODERATE. Quick to get the curry started, but allow 30-60 minutes cooking time depending how cooked you like it all to be. Allow 10 minutes prep to get pies made up and another 20 minutes in the oven. Despite the curry being cooked and ready, tonight’s dinner was a bit late.

Complexity : LOW. A nice simple curry to make. If making pies doesn’t tickle your fancy, then you could just make rice! (Even cheaper still!).

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Tasty but I prefered the Space Curry as, Space Curry. But it did work well surrounded by golden puffiness.

Mess : MODERATE. One pot for the curry, but a couple of trays and some egg mess with the pies.

Tummy Filling Factor : MODERATE. Curry as curry would’ve been more filling, but the extra protein in there helped.

Possum Friendly? YES. Possum loves curry, and Space Curry especially it seems. Her patience was tested waiting for her serve to cool down enough.

Would I make it again? Yes, Space Curry is now planted in the go to list.

Leftover Pies

Leftover Pies

In Possum news, she had her first trip to the library today where she could get out of the Ergo and crawl around. She was more excited by two big kids there than the books (which is surprising as she loves her books!). She is starting to point and has learnt the concept of putting things in, which is a great achievement after months of pulling stuff out. Possum has also figured out a little game. She hides a piece of her dinner under the tray and smiles very cheekily at you and when you say “where did it go?” she pulls it back out and starts giggling. A very cute game, though she played it at lunch with spaghetti bolognese… a messy amount of fun. But worth it to see her be so creative.

We <3 books!