Thursday, 29 January 2015

How To Save Fruit Stall Peaches

Last weekend on the way to the beach, Keith and I fell for the age old trap of the roadside fruit stall. Let's buy peaches, we thought, we can enjoy them while we sit on the beach. It'll be fun, the kids will drop them, we'll do endless trips to the sea to rinse sand off them and wash faces sticky from peach juice.

In reality, I bought a punnet of slightly fuzzy cricket balls which sat on my lap in unyielding smugness while we drove to the beach, and back.

You know the drill with these fruit: You take them home, put them in a bag with a banana, or on the windowsill and they spend the next five days not ripening before going mouldy on the sixth day.

Well not this time, my friends! I'll be damned if I'm going to be beaten by stone fruit!

Poached Peach Salad 

Ingredients

  • Disappointing peaches from a roadside stall, two per person
  • 1 tbsp dried tyme
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 1 Glass White Wine
  • Soy Sauce
  • Agave Syrup
  • 1 Lettuce
  • 1/2 Bulb Fennel
  • Olive Oil
There are no measurements with some elements of this recipe because remember, we are trying to salvage fruit stall disasters. Some may be sharp, some might be bitter, some might defy the laws of nature and manage to be sweet and juiceless (how, HOW does this happen?!?). The key here is to taste and adjust, taste and adjust, until you have the right result.

Method

  1. Halve the peaches. If they are so under ripe that you can't de-stone them without losing a finger, or turning them into baby food, get an extra sharp knife and cleave them straight through their stony little hearts. You can remove the stone halves easily later.
  2. Place the peaches in a saucepan with the star anise, the dried thyme and wine. If needed, add a little more wine, or a little water until the liquid comes to the top of the fruit.
  3. Bring to the boil, clamp a lid down and reduce to a simmer. Depending on the state of your fruit, you could have to wait between 10 and 45 minutes for them to cook through so get comfy,  but keep an eye on them.
  4. Once soft, gently remove the fruit and put into a colander. Get a tea spoon and take out any stones that you left in earlier.
  5. Put the poaching liquor back on the heat and bring to a simmer to reduce. When it starts to thicken, add agave syrup until it is slightly on the too sweet side. Then add soy sauce, one teaspoon at a time until you get a nice balance of sweet and salty.
  6. Shred the lettuce and the fennel and put into a serving dish.
  7. Get out your griddle pan, open all your doors and windows and stick on a high heat.
  8. Chase the dog back into the house after he escapes out of the open back door to make friends with the neighbour.
  9. Drizzle a little olive oil onto the cut side of each peach, spread about and when the pan is smoking hot, take your last breathe of smoke free air and get them grilling.
  10. Arrange the peaches on the leaves and drizzle your dressing on as artistically as you like.

I'm not claiming I have invented fire or anything, but anything involving foliage and my son refilling his plate three times has to have something a little bit special about it. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

What Does It Take To Feed Another Woman's Baby?

Today I am so happy … no wait, I'm mean honoured … to be able to share the thoughts of an incredible woman. 

I saw Corinne’s story in a community for women who have been a part of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project where she was sharing the news that she had just sent her last shipment of breast milk to her surrogate baby and was stoked that a chance conversation meant that going forward, her expressed milk would be used to help the recovery of a methadone addicted baby* being adopted by her friend.

I'm going to ask you to go back and just re-read that last paragraph because … just … wow. 


So while surrogacy is way, WAY outside my sphere of experience I really wanted to find out more about this amazing lady, and what it means to her to donate her breast milk:

Would you like to share a little about why you chose to donate milk? Why was it so important? What kept you going? 

I sent my milk to Surro-baby for about 6 months and knew that even after they were done receiving milk, I still wanted to pump for weight loss purposes. I decided that if I was going to pump I couldn't just throw it down the drain when there were babies out there that could use it! I was resolved to donate my milk to a NICU and when my friend told me her adopted baby was due in 3 weeks and would be in the NICU I was so excited that I could actually help this baby! I will drop the milk off for her in 2 weeks and she will have about 600oz to last her until the little girl is out of the NICU. 

That's such an amazing gift. Was the decision to pump afterwards always part of surrogacy for you?

I had always planned on pumping afterwards, yes. The parents told me a few months in that they were interested in the breast milk and I was happy to give it to them. They bought the supplies for me and a freezer which helped a lot. 

Did you find it came easily for you? I know some mamas struggle to express even when they can nurse just fine. 

It was easy for me because my 4 year old son never latched as a baby. We struggled for 2 weeks with a consultant and the kid just would not do it. So I pumped exclusively for 9 months for him. I think my body remembered how to let down for a machine again. The sound of the pump triggers a let-down ... even seeing the pump will give me a let-down. Plus my daughter who is 2 likes to snuggle while I pump. That helps too. 

My son was exactly the same. That must be so lovely to be able to give your children that wider view of normality and how amazing the human body is. Have they reacted well to seeing you go through this journey?

They have! I explained that I was watching my friend’s baby in my tummy, and helping her grow, and when she was done growing I would give her back to her mommy and daddy. My son loved saying hi to her in my tummy and held her and kissed her in the hospital. It was a perfect end for them. My kids didn't think twice about it after I explained it to them that way.

Children are so open minded and generous aren't they? So what is your plan for this new little pickle? Will you be visiting her / donating long term?

They really are. Well she will live close by and I see this friend often so I will probably see her as often as I see my friend. I still plan on pumping another 3 months at least and she is welcome to that milk. After that I will probably stop depending on future surrogacy plans.

How does it make you feel? What keeps you going? I mean, I know why breast milk is important to me when it comes to feeding my baby, but what keeps that commitment alive in you? 

I don't know really. I am a care giver by nature. A nurturer. Always have been. If someone needed help or was sad I was always first to comfort and help. So as a mother when I think about babies who need this milk, or who can benefit greatly from its properties I can't help but to step in and donate. It’s like it’s a part of me, this need to give and help. I think that's why surrogacy is so easy for me as well. It’s the best feeling ever to help another, I feel like I have a selfless purpose again and that makes me feel whole.

On a practical level, how often do you pump? How long? Do you eat ant differently or take any supplements?

I pump every 4 hours, round the clock. It takes me about 10 mins each time and an additional 10 to clean and sanitize the supplies each time. I cut milk out of my diet for Surro-baby because it was making her gassy, but now I am drinking milk again. I ate mostly organic but that was because Surro-baby’s mom, my friend, had groceries sent to my house every other week and she sent me awesome food.

Round the CLOCK?! What sort of pump do you use?

I pump at 11 and then set an alarm for 3:30, and the kids wake me at 7:30am so I pump again then. I use a Medela pump which has lasted me 3 years and is still going strong. 


Corinne has written a blog about her incredible surrogacy journey from deciding to become a surrogate to the healing after the baby was born and their trip to Disneyland as a celebration of her life. You can find it here 


* no judgement on the mama, she broke her back in a car accident and chose to not abort the baby when she found out in recovery she was pregnant. She has made the hard, but honest decision that she cannot care for her baby right now.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Dusty Bookshelf Challenge

I don’t make New Year resolutions. You know why? Because they don’t work. 

If you wanted to do it, you’d already be doing it, and if you don’t want to do it, making a promise when you've had too much wine and crammed your mouth full of grapes isn't going to suddenly change your mind.

This year is no different, but I know a good idea when I see it and Stacey’s Dusty Bookshelf Challenge is a very good idea. Especially for someone who only finally started unpacking boxes of books a clear YEAR after moving house. 

Don’t judge me, something has to give, I’m not a frickin time lord!

Over my nice long Christmas holiday I managed to unpack my books and clean the conservatory up well enough to be able to curl up with a book and not catch several communicable diseases. I also realised quite how many books I own, and how many of them have been quietly neglected since Uni, and that I actually quite miss.

My promise to myself this year is to keep my goals achievable, so I counted along my shelves and picked 10 books that I haven’t touched in the last decade. Or possibly ever.


Bill Hicks – Love all the people

Let’s face it, you haven’t listened to politically incorrect comedy unless you’ve YouTube’d a Bill Hicks sketch. In actual fact this book isn’t even mine, it belongs to the old man, but I need some subversion in my life every now and then. 

Lorenzo Carcaterra – Sleepers

A buddy book about four friends and revenge, and also not my book. I do own books, but right now I'm liking the idea of striking out from my usual subject matter and seeing whether mobsters really are as cool as Hollywood would have me believe. 

Charles Jennings – The Fast Set

Seriously, I own books, just not this one. Keith has a growing collection of Land Speed Record books and while I have spoken before about an article I saw as a young child on Donald Campbell  motherhood, and “life” have used up my available brain power and stopped me from getting enthused by motor-sports until recently. The cult show Roadkill has fixed that, and I figure if I'm going to give this area of my life some love, I might as well start by brushing up on my history. 

Francoise Sagan – A Certain Smile

I read this when I was a young, and hugely sentimental teenager. Of course I did, it’s about a young student getting bored with her loyal boyfriend and going after his married uncle instead; what teenage girl would turn down that kind of drama?! I picked this one for the mix because I want to know whether it stands the test of time. I suspect I will get 20 pages in and want to slap the main character round the face with a dead fish but since I have two children destined to one day be teenage girls, it never hurts to remind yourself of the nightmare that lies ahead.

Pete McCarthy – McCarthy’s Bar

In 2003 Keith and I went on a 10 day bike tour around Ireland. I could bore you with pages of writing on every last detail but if memory serves, you should read this book instead and know that every detail is true. That’s why this book makes the list, I need to remind myself of a time when I could fit in size 8 leather and jump on a bike whenever the mood took me. 

Toni Morrison – Sula

When the front cover of a book tells you it won the 1993 Nobel Prize for literature, it’s almost a veiled threat. I read this book at Uni and can still remember glimpses of it. I have no extra perspective on Afro-American history, but I do have a new perspective on the subtleties of motherly love so it felt like a very worthy book to revisit.

Various - Lost in Translation Stories of New Zealand

Two years ago, while we were deep in the process of getting our visas, we walked home from the Notting Hill Carnival alongside the canal and passed a book shop housed in a boat. This was sitting in a box outside, slightly water damaged (occupational hazard I suspect) and I bought it because it felt like the sort of thing I should be reading about the country I was hoping to make my new home. Unfortunately that was at the start of The Great Reading Hiatus of 2012 and since then it has been living in a box of books.

Marina Lewycka – A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

This is a very well-travelled book. I bought it when I was working in The City, and I have packed it for every flight I have taken since, and never managed to get round to reading it. I have no doubt that it is going to bomb gloriously after that much anticipation, but for the sake of form as much as anything else, I am going to read this bloody book.

Eowyn Ivey – The Snow Child 

I’ll be honest, I have no idea where this book came from. Well, I have my suspicions, I think my mum gave it to me when I was last in the UK and I'm pretty sure I promised to read it. Remind me again about that saying on good intentions ...

Scott Phillips – The Ice Harvest

Again, no idea on this one, if I hadn't found it in the bottom of my suitcase I would have said it had been left by a guest. I'm sure this will be a fascinating book. That wasn't supposed to sound sarcastic.


So first up is Sula, because I don’t like being passively threatened by book covers. And for anyone worrying that this blog will become a book club, I won’t bore you reporting back until I have read them all. 

That way, I will be able to tell you which ones went back into the bookcase, and which got used to start our next BBQ.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Kiwi Mummy Blog Review – Little Ones Care Pack (2 of 6)

It would appear that my children learn faster than Pavlov’s dog that a blue and white chevron box means mystery treats.

At the end of last week we received our second Little Ones Pack  from My Care Pack. 

You remember My Care Pack from last month right?  You give them $34.99 a month and in return, they select some Kiwi made products they think you will love and send them over lovingly wrapped and boxed. It’s the kind of surprise, mystery mail you want to find on your doorstep. 

The theme this month was Creative Minds and as far as themes go, it was the perfect antidote to Christmas. After spending a few weeks wallowing in passive consumption we were desperately in need of something to kick start the year.

This month, our minds were stimulated by:

Seedling My Pet Rocks  – I know what you’re thinking, but this is not just any rock. It’s a clay kit that comes with a veritable smorgasbord of accessories to create your very own personalised pet amorphous lump. In the case of our household, the two eldest are going to end up with pet pebbles and I’m going to end up with a carpet full of glitter, but this activity is very much in the vein of Ugly Mugs and I always was a sucker for them. 

Origami Paper – This is going to be used for one to two things; either Esme is going to turn it into confetti, as she does with every other piece of paper, or Alfie is going to spend five minutes trying to make a paper plane before he loses his mind. Either way, I suspect we are not going to see a vast swathe of carefully folded cranes appearing any time soon.

Elliotts Reviver Gold Kiwifruit Juice – I’ll be honest with you here, the children saw none of this drink, mainly because me and their father decided that we were in far greater need of detoxification and … well we just wanted it. It was tasty, and I felt instantly less jaded although that might be because I got to drink it without hearing three children wail at how the others had a larger share than they did. 


Tiger Tribe Super Clay Mini Tubs – These are some kind of awesome. Self-contained and with one for each of the biggies it means no arguing and they are simple enough that once the baby is either distracted or asleep, they can be constructed with minimal supervision. I know the makers claim they are non-toxic but I don’t want to watch the toddler trying to poop out 40g of brightly coloured clay, ok?

So is it good value for money?

I stand by my last opinion that if you are on a tight budget, you probably wouldn't go hungry to be able to afford this service. If, however you want to buy a gift that keeps on giving you should definitely look at subscribing.

This would be perfect as a birthday gift from a relative, or parent who wants to look like a hero every month even when they sometimes forget to make lunches for school until five minutes before the school run.

It becomes better value for money with a few children in the house because the contents are totally shareable, even with a variety of ages because you can use the activities in an age appropriate way.

I was sent a Little Ones pack from My Care Pack free to review. The opinions expressed are my own, in all their glory. I shouldn't have to tell you that, clearly nobody would actually pay me to express views like this.
 
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