Thursday, March 15, 2018

New babies

Most Saturday mornings I’m up around 7, so I can get to the farmers’ market before it’s overrun. This past weekend, I set the alarm for 6, much to DP’s disgruntled surprise.

“Why are you getting up so early?” he grumbled.

“We’re going to see the new baby today,” I responded, in my best “duh” tones.

“Huh?” he said, but then fell back asleep before I could explain that I was getting up to implement my three rules for visiting new babies and their parents:

  1. Bring presents for the baby. I aim for two: a practical one that the parents will like, and a fun one that the baby will like. (We brought two Australian standards: this Bonds Wondersuit to help Mum and Dad build the autumn wardrobe, and this instant classic to entertain the baby.)

  2. Don’t stay too long. This one requires some judgment of whether the parents’ need for adult interaction outweighs their and the baby’s exhaustion, or vice versa. This visit we stayed for 90 minutes, which was on the long side for me, but then I have been known to depart after 15 minutes – usually because the mother looked ready to drop and I didn’t know her well enough to say, “Give me that baby and go take a nap!”

  3. Bring food. Ideally food that can be pulled from the fridge and devoured with one hand when ravenous but still baby-wrangling. I brought:
-       a batch of my favorite pasta salad, with a few handfuls of shredded parmigiano Reggiano thrown in to add protein and make it a more complete meal; and
-       this Upside-Down Polenta Plum Cake from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now – I substituted a mixture of cranberry and peach jam for the plums.

All of the above were well received, and I even got some baby-snuggling time, so that's a win-win in my book on etiquette and enjoyment.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Peaches plus

Peaches and rhubarb are only the beginning of peaches-plus combos I have come to love over the last few years; just this summer I’ve also experimented with peach-raspberry tarte tatin, peach-blackberry crumble and, over Christmas, peach-redcurrant jam.

Peach-redcurrant jam
I used what I had in the fruit bowl to make this when I realized I had enthusiastically overbought redcurrants, forgetting that no one but me likes them. This batch was probably about 600 g/20 oz fruit, roughly 65/35 peaches/redcurrants. I added in half the weight of sugar – some of it from my stash of citrus sugar. It wasn’t a long cooking job, as it was such a small amount; I followed my usual method and I got about 2 jars out of it – one 360 g/12 oz size, and one 240 g/8 oz. I didn’t bother with canning for only 2 jars, just stashed them in the fridge for easy access for breakfast toast, yogurt-and-granola, etc.

The peaches and redcurrants make for a great sweet-tart combo – worth a try if you can a) get your hands on some redcurrants (this batch is the only time I’ve seen them for sale anywhere in Australia in the past 6 years) and b) don’t immediately eat them all yourself.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy 2018

It's already 2018 in Australia, and in a Christmas-vacation-week fit of inspiration, I've already come up with a list of manageable (and measurable) resolutions/goals for myself. I'm applying one of the lessons I learned in 2017 from reading this fascinating book, and publishing them here as a way of providing external accountability for myself.

1 new recipe/week - to broaden my cooking horizons (and provide RL blog fodder, I hope).

2 new books/month - I spent a lot of 2017 escaping reality by doing what a friend calls "comfort reading" and what I call "re-reading all my favorite books." So this year I'm tackling the very large piles of unread books which have been collecting next to my bed, in my living room, behind my desk...(note: cookbooks don't count). I'm also open to recommendations.

3 minutes meditation/day - the next step of meticulous mindfulness.

4 fasting days/month - I tried intermittent fasting about 5 years ago and found it had a positive effect on my eating habits generally. So I'm going to try it again this year, aiming to start with one day a week. (Maybe some new recipes from this also!)

5 30-minute exercise sessions/week - linked to #4; I've been managing to do some form of dedicated exercise 3 times a week pretty consistently for the last 5+ years, and have found it beneficial for both my physical and mental health, so I'm going to try to bump this up.

6 pages creative writing/week - some for here, and some for destinations TBD.

I'm planning to update on my progress here monthly. If you're looking for external accountability too, feel free to share your 2018 plans/goals/resolutions too.

Happy New Year!
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