Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Update

Outback sunset
Tomorrow I will be ten weeks.  I had a scan today and we have a heartbeat and a little dancing embryo.  Cue a huge sigh of relief.  I don't think I'll feel confident about this pregnancy until this little Pickle is actually born, Pipkin was also fine and dancing at ten weeks, but its progress at least.

I wanted to keep myself busy to keep my mind occupied and... be careful what you ask for Lisa.

Time has flown what with the new job in the mornings and co-ordinating this move.  I've been busy sorting and cleaning and packing and freecycling the various random items we are not taking to Australia with us.  

I've also sorted out the paperwork for the import application for the Land Rover and sent it off with the 15 additional documents required to support the application.  Fingers crossed.  The Landy enjoyed Australia the first time and will be much happier having adventures there than sitting parked outside a London flat.  I'm still working on coordinating final readings and cancelling various services and regular payments.

We check in to a hotel this weekend, the movers come on Monday for the furniture and we fly a week from today.  We'll spend a ten days or so holidaying with friends in Brisbane and then head on to Melbourne to find a place to live.

Before we found out about this pregnancy we had intended to spend a month or so hanging out in Thailand while we waited for our goods to sail from one end of the planet to the other (as Mr Duncan can work from anywhere he has access to the internets), but I'm anxious to find a new doctor and get in the 'system' as soon as possible, and for that we need a proper address in Melbourne.  I just hope we can get one and move in before the whole country shuts down for Christmas.

I'll be without a kitchen until we find a place to live - and without my kitchen things until probably February when our shipment should turn up - so it may be a while before I post any new experimental recipes.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Chicken Liver Pate with Apricots

Very proud of my home-made chicken liver pate
As a relatively new meat-eater, offal and liver has never really been on my list.  I've tried pate a few times but found it either extremely fatty or quite bitter tasting. I can't even imagine trying liver and onions!  So in order to add some liver to my diet per the dietary guidelines I'm following in this pregnancy I thought I'd better try making my own liver pate.

I know when you're pregnant you're advised not to eat pate due to risk of listeria.  I reasoned if I made my own, I could keep the equipment and work surfaces boiling water clean and ensure all the ingredients were thoroughly cooked.  So I did.

I went down to our butcher's and bought some organic chicken livers with no problems.  I thought I'd have to order them in advance.  Man, I'm going to miss our butcher when we go to Australia in a couple of weeks.

It took me quite a long time to find a recipe I liked the look of.  Most of them required loads of butter or cream, but I wanted to avoid that fatty taste.  Lots of them also included some form of alcohol to balance out the bitter rich flavour of the liver.  While I definitely wanted that balance, even the smell of alcohol is enough to make me want to puke at the moment so I needed an alternative.

I finally decided on the Chicken Liver and Apricot Pate recipe from Kavey Eats. It was absolutely delicious!

I made a half recipe, with double the onion and when I discovered my thyme plant completely dead in the garden, substituted dried mixed herbs for the thyme.  I also soaked the dried apricots in hot water before using.  This was more for the benefit of my hand blender than anything else.  I had enough to completely fill two cling-film lined ramekins, one of which went into the freezer after cooling.

The servings were quite big and the pate just a little sweet for my palate so next time I'll find smaller containers and reduce the number of apricots a little.  There will definitely be a next time.  I just have to find a decent butcher in Australia...

*************

For other meals I've mainly been using up store-cupboard staples and repeating my favourite recipes.

Blackbean, Butternut and Corn Chili Sin Carne

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Potato, Basil, Feta and Avocado Salad




Friday, 18 October 2013

Homemade Granola

Homemade granola
I spent most of my life skipping breakfast.  I'm not a very morning person and I find it hard going just dragging myself out of bed, into the shower and out the door in time for work.  When I eat immediately after waking I feel weighed down like there is a lump of stone in my stomach.  

During the past several years of trying to conceive, as I learned about the importance of maintaining stable blood sugar levels, I have made more of an effort to eat within an hour of waking.  Mr Duncan, aware of my disinclination to get up eat early, sometimes made me a breakfast parfait to take to work and eat at my desk.  He'd just throw some chopped fresh fruit topped with a dollop of yoghurt and a handful of granola in a travel-friendly container.  Yum.

Since reading this article on the cause of and solution to preventing morning sickness I've been eating even more beans than I usually eat - and I think its working.  I've been getting bored with beans though so thought I'd try branching out to other sources of soluble fibre as suggested by this handy-dandy factsheet. Now that I'm working again, it seemed to me a daily breakfast parfait is the perfect solution.  Just fill it with fruit and oats full of soluble fibre.  The yoghurt adds to my dairy count for the day.

We used up the last bag of granola a month ago and now we're only a couple of weeks away from moving I wasn't about to buy a new one.  Granola is expensive and I find even the low sugar shop bought options to be very sweet.  

Mr Duncan has mostly replaced his toast-based breakfast habit with porridge as part of his blood pressure lowering efforts so we have lots of organic steel cut oats in the house which need using before we move.  We also have odds and ends of nuts, seeds and dried fruit...

First I thought I would make muesli and serve it with fruit and yoghurt. This brought back vague recollections of my mother making homemade muesli.  Then I remembered how much I always disliked it.  The oats became all soggy, tasted like raw flour somehow and I felt like I was eating paste. It was improved a little by cooking like porridge on the stove for a warm winter breakfast but always left me feeling weighed down and stodgy.  Maybe this is the source of my distaste for breakfast?  

So granola it had to be.  I based it on a granola recipe by Elizabeth Rider, but replaced some of the honey and coconut oil with fruit juice and omitted the salt and vanilla extract altogether.  It was so much easier, and tastier, than I expected.  I wish I'd started making it years ago!

Ingredients
  • Whole rolled oats
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit juice
  • Honey
  • Coconut oil
Method
Set oven to 150 degrees celsius.

Mix a spoonful of honey and a teaspoon of coconut oil in quarter of a cup of organic apple juice until dissolved.  I actually only had an empty jar of coconut oil with scrapings left so I poured the juice and honey into the jar, screwed on the lid, ran the jar under some hot water and gave it all a good shake.

In a large bowl, mix a couple of cups of rolled oats with several handfuls of roughly chopped nuts, seeds and dried fruit.  Pour the liquids over the oats mixture and use your hands to ensure the oats are evenly coated.

Spread evenly in a single layer over a clean baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until oats are dry and toasted.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Silverbeet Pie

In the interests of upping my intake of dark leafy greens I re-visited a dish I used to make all the time in New Zealand.  Basically it is greens and a cheese sauce with a potato top.  It is total comfort food for me - like a vegetarian shepherds pie - my Mum used to make when I was a child.

Silverbeet is a type of chard from New Zealand. Everyone I knew grew it in their garden, it was nearly as indestructible as mint. Cheap and nutritious.  I actually made this dish with kale and spinach instead of chard today and it turned out as good as I remembered it.

Fertility focus
Dark leafy greens like Kale and Spinach, are full of antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin K and are good plant sources of calcium.

Ingredients
  • Butter
  • Onion
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Silverbeet or other dark leafy greens
Method
Set oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Scrub and chop potatoes into even sized chunks.  Boil until cooked and mash with just enough milk to make up a dryish mash.

Wash and chop greens and pile into your pie dish.  You want enough to completely fill the dish while the greens are raw.

Finely chop the onion and saute in a knob of melted butter over a medium heat.  When the onion is soft, add a small spoonful of flour to soak up the butter and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes.  Basically you're making a roux and want to cook off the taste of raw flour.   Once you've done this add a little milk and mix in, keep adding milk until you have a creamy sauce without lumps.  Remove from the heat and stir in about half a cup of grated cheese.  

Pour the hot cheese sauce over the greens and mix.  The greens will wilt a bit.  Squash them down into the pie dish and top with the mashed potato.  Sprinkle over a little more grated cheese and bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned and the sauce is bubbling up the sides.

Mum always used to sprinkle the top with nutritional yeast which makes for a cheesier tasting, crunchier top.  

Friday, 11 October 2013

Oily fish, dairy, eggs and greens

Spanakopita without the pastry
Given my normal eating style is very close to the Weston Price dietary guidelines anyway, last time I was pregnant I looked into the Weston Price Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers and it made sense to me.

Because of my age I'm at higher risk for pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, placenta praevia, pre-eclampsia and premature birth.  The other diet I looked at was the Brewer diet which claims sufficient maternal nutrition plays a major factor in preventing such complications.

While trying to conceive I limited my intake of dairy and revisiting the eating guidelines for these diets now I'm pregnant has prompted me to include more oily fish, eggs and dairy in my diet.

And you can never have too many greens can you?


Nicoise Salad with Tinned Salmon and Avocado

This Indonesian Gado Gado salad is based on the same ingredients as the Nicoise - eggs, potato, green beans and greens but with a spicy peanut sauce instead of the fish.

Gado Gado
Smoked Mackerel and Spinach Pate

Harissa Sardines with Cucumber Couscous and Spinach
Courgette and Feta Frittata
L.
xx

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The Sword of Damocles

Conception room with a view
I feel like the Sword of Damocles is hanging over my head.  Yes I have another chance and I should be happy but I can't help but feel its all about to fall apart again at any second.  Slip through my fingers...

I feel guilty that I am so... not negative exactly, but certainly not positive. Not quite ambivalent as I do care, in my head at least, but I'm not ready to let myself feel that I care very much.  I'm too apprehensive. Its not safe.

I feel like a total ingrate and it seems unfair somehow to all women everywhere who want to be pregnant and aren't and unfair to the wee one inside me right now.

I feel bad that my emotions are not of sweetness and light, unicorns and rainbows.  I am supposed to be the mother doing the best for her child.  I know that relaxation and positive thought correlates with successful pregnancy outcomes and maternal anxiety correlates with adverse outcomes.

I know there are no guarantees and I have no control other than looking after myself in the same way I have been for all the years we have been trying to have a baby.  But I want so much to be able to do something, cling to something, anything that might indicate that this time will be different.  Cue symptom spotting mentalness, which I know is futile, but I don't seem to be able to stop checking in with myself for symptoms fifty times a day.

And even though I understand all these things in my head, I really don't have a clue what to do about changing any of it.

I had my last session with the grief counsellor this week and she said it is a normal part of grieving - that as this one grows, I re-experience my loss of the others.  That she'd be more worried about my mental health if I was all gung-ho and super upbeat about everything.  Nice enough to hear, but it doesn't change things.

I started work at a new contract today - its only mornings for the rest of the month, but I'm hoping a set of data problems to solve for work will help keep my mind focussed on things other than the feelings of impending doom that threaten to overwhelm me.

**********

In other news

  • The movers are booked
  • I bought our flights to Australia this evening and we're off in a month
  • I still need to figure out how to say goodbye to Poppy and Pipkin before we go.  I so hope I don't have to say goodbye to this one too.
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