Things I have been cooking lately #170: Jan Ellis pudding

Growing up in South Africa, you wouldn’t think we were very good at wintery food. However in Johannesburg, where I grew up, while the winter days are sunny and warm by Northern European standards, the temperature drops dramatically at night and it can get very chilly. One of my favourite wintery things that my mum used to make was warm baked puddings, always served with lashings of cold custard, which Mr O finds bizarre.

When our friend N (who is also South Afircan), visited a couple of weekends ago I decided to make a classic baked pudding to warm our cockles and he confirmed that cold custard was definitely the way to go. It must be a South African thing.

This pudding is named after some chap called Jan Ellis. I have no idea who he is but it has a subtle spicy, slightly orangey flavour and it took me right back to my childhood.

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The baby chronicles #29: Socialising with a baby

Weeks old: 29
I like: Biting mummy, Sophie la girafe, boobs, shouting
Mummy is learning: Patience, not to let her fingers get too close to my chops

Before Little O arrived I am happy to admit that my partying days were far behind me. However, I did enjoy popping out for a meal or a film with friends or Mr O, occasionally having a drink after work with my colleagues or inviting friends around for dinner. I think I would consider myself to be a very social person. One of the things I think I failed to anticipate was how much having a baby would impact getting together with other people. Read more…

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The baby chronicles #28:A rapid change

Weeks old: 28
I like: Rolling around, throwing my food on the floor, boobs, jumping so hard in my Jumperoo that mummy worries I am going to take off, being thrown in the air
Mummy is learning: To be a bit more careful with the throwing in the air to avoid head-on collisions

It was only two-ish weeks ago that I wrote Little O’s 6 month update and I can’t believe how much has changed. As adults we get used to things in our lives remaining the same for years at a time and changing very little in ourselves so I think it comes as an amazing surprise how quickly our little people can develop completely new skills and physical characteristics. Read more…

Things I have been cooking lately #169: Spinach and feta pies 

A couple of weeks ago I bought some spinach and feta rolls from the bakery stall in the food market that pops up in the centre of town on Fridays and Saturdays. They were delicious but a little pricey so I decided to have a go at making my own. They were so tasty we’ve ended up having them as a quick meal on several occasions since. They’re particularly good for when Mr O is working in the evening as he can just pop one in the oven for 5 minutes to reheat and have a fresh, hot snack when he gets home.

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Spinach and feta pies

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
Olive oil
200g frozen chopped spinach
200g feta cheese, crumbled
150g ricotta cheese
Salt
Pepper
2 sheets pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Preheat your oven to 200 C.
Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil over a low heat for 5 minutes in a saucepan with a lid. Add the spinach and put on the lid. Cook until the spinach is completely defrosted and hot through  (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the feta and ricotta and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Unroll the pastry sheets and cut each one into six (in half lengthwise and then into thirds). Place some of the spinach mixture in the centre of half the pastry rectangles. Don’t put it too close to the edges because you need room to seal. Brush all four of the edges around the spinach mixture of each rectangle with egg and then cover with another rectangle and press down the edges to close. Take a fork and press down all around the edges to make a nice pattern. Then use a sharp knife to make a few slashes across the top of each pie. Brush with more egg.

Place on a baking tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 6 pies 

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The baby chronicles #27: My breastfeeding journey

Weeks old: 27
I like: Games involving me being bitten (very gently of course), my new toys, boobs
Mummy is learning: Never to turn her back on me, to jump around in front of me like a loon when I am in the Jumperoo so I join in

Recently some of you might have seen stylised pictures popping up on Instagram or Facebook depicting breastfeeding mothers and babies. This is part of a “movement” called ‘Tree of Life’ that aims to normalise breastfeeding and to show the connection between mother and baby through the roots of a tree representing milk ducts and a tree the nourishment being received by the baby. You can read more here. Read more…

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The baby chronicles #25: 6 month update

Weeks old: 26

I like: Mushing up food, boobs, being tickled

I guess some of you will notice that there was no 25 week blog. As much as I try to update weekly, sometimes things just get too busy and with Christmas coming up and me once again having the genius idea of making loads of presents, I’ve either been exhausted or had “work” to do in the evenings.

As of Monday, Little O is officially 6 whole months old… a half a year. How did that happen? In some ways it feels like an absolute eternity and in other ways I am pretty sure that I gave birth about a week ago. But how are we getting on? Read more…

Things I have been cooking lately #168: Ricotta pancakes

What’s the smartest way to use up leftover ricotta cheese, you ask? I decided it was by making pancakes. Usually in this house we make more crepe style pancakes because Mr O isn’t really a fan of the American ones… and I have managed to cock them up royally each time I have tried to make them. These however were very easy and very delicious and definitely a good use of leftover ricotta. Plus if no one else will eat them and you can manage your greed, the batter keeps well.

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The baby chronicles #24: Stupid things that annoy me irrationally

Weeks old: 24
I like: Sticking my hands in mummy’s mouth and ears, biting my monkey, boobs
Mummy is learning: To stay where I can see her as much as possible to avoid me kicking off

Last weekend we put up our Christmas tree with the help of the other O’s, drank mulled wine, ate mince pies (well some of us did… some crazy people don’t like them??) and enjoyed thinking about Little O’s first Christmas and how special it will be.  Read more…

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The baby chronicles #23: Expectation vs reality vs expectation

Weeks old: 23
I like: Hey Duggee, playing with my feet, boobs… but only at home when nothing else exciting is happening

When I was pregnant I told myself all I wanted to achieve in the first 6 months of Little O’s life was that he, Mr O and I came out of it alive. I told myself I was not going to put pressure on myself to be perfect. I wouldn’t care if I had a messy house or how I fed my baby or where or how much he slept. I was just going to wing it. I never looked at all those mummy Instagram feeds and thought, “I want to be the perfect mum”. I figured I’d approach motherhood with a “this’ll do” attitude Read more…

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The baby chronicles #22: Bouncing back… or not

Weeks old: 22
I like: Playing with my feet, squealing at the top of my lungs, playing in my jumperoo, boobs… sort of

Today I caught up with some friends in London, including my friend, D, who witnessed Little O’s actual birth. Regaling the group (none of whom have children) with the story of Little O’s entrance into the world, which she watched at the “business end” was quite something to listen to and I got the idea that the fear of god was being put into everyone – not only at the idea of the pain of giving birth but also the possible after effects.

This made me think about some of the concerns I had when I was pregnant about how having a baby would change my body… possibly permanently. I wanted to know how having a baby had changed other real women’s bodies. So five months in, I am going to tell you (warts and all, so stop reading now if you don’t actually want to know) what’s changed for me.  Read more…

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The baby chronicles #21: Some things I have noticed

Little O will be five months old on Sunday and compared to the early months of his life it feels like things have settled down a bit. I mean we still don’t sleep much and he does new things all the time but meeting up with the mum of a newborn at our playgroup last week made me realise that we are in a completely different place from those shell-shocked first days.You know at the beginning where you can’t quite believe the hospital has allowed you to bring home a human being and are actually expected to keep it alive. With that in mind I thought I’d share some things about mummery that I have noticed recently. Read more…

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Film Friday #285

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Behind the Candelabra chronicles the relationship between animal trainer, Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) and iconic pianist, Liberace (Michael Douglas). When Scott first meets the closeted Liberace, he is repulsed by the aging star but Liberace works away at him with expensive gifts, offers of employment and a lavish lifestyle that he cannot resist until he is completely in his thrall. Things become even more intense as Liberace convinces Scott to undergo plastic surgery to make him resemble himself as a younger man. Read more…

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The baby chronicles #20: Sleep is for the weak

I like: Daddy’s glasses, waking up at 4am, boobs, being naked
Mummy is learning: How much caffeine one human can consume, not to be a hero

When I was pregnant people constantly told me to sleep as much as I possibly could because I would soon not be sleeping very much at all. In fact both my mother and my mother-in-law suggested that might never sleep again. I never scoffed at this suggestion. I believed that I would be giving up my sleep. I had no doubt that lie-ins were a thing of the past and that I was likely to have to get up and tend to Little O multiple times a night. What I didn’t really understand was how it was going to affect me. Read more…

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The baby chronicles #19: Trick or treat

I like: Chewing my hands, my squeaky zebra, boobs, charming old ladies… and builders
Mummy is learning: Always to have a spare set of clothes, to give me a second to settle myself when I cry

Sometimes having a baby feels a bit like Halloween. There are lots of treats in the way of memorable moments and adorable little actions but then there are also plenty of little tricks that are a bit less fun. I suppose it keeps all things in balance. And as it was Halloween earlier this week I thought I’d share some of the tricks and treats that Little O and I have shared this week. Read more…

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The baby chronicles #18: The give-up days

I like: My kick chimes, rolling over (only when daddy is looking), looking at myself in the mirror, MONKEH

Mummy is learning: Patience, patience,patience, patience…

Today I want to talk a little bit about a side of being a mum that I don’t think enough people talk about… the days where you just kind of want to give up. I think they’re probably more common than you think.

This last week has been really hard. In my last post I mentioned that Little O and I had both been unwell. It didn’t affect either of our moods in a positive way. Although I don’t really like to admit it, I am quite a short tempered person anyway. I get frustrated very easily when things don’t go my way. Sort of like a four year old. My mum says I started stamping my foot as soon as I could stand. When I am ill my already short temper goes from centimetres to millimetres. Coinciding this with Little O being ill was a recipe for disaster. Read more…

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Film Friday #284: Halloween special

I pretty much only watch horror movies once a year because they really aren’t my thing and that’s in the lead-up to Halloween. So here we go… my 4 horror movies for the year.

Hush (2016)

Deaf mute writer, Maddie (Katie Siegel) lives on her own in a remote house in the woods where she is working on her latest novel and struggling with the ending. As she works into the night a masked man (John Gallagher Jr.) stalks her but he’s going to get a lot more than what he bargained for. Read more…

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The baby chronicles #17: The sick baby blues

Weeks old: 17

I like: Boobs, pulling blankets over my head, Tellytubbies

Mummy is learning: To crack on no matter how rough she feels.

This post is very late because Little O and I have both not been our best over the last week. He’s had a mild cold for a few weeks but it has now migrated into his chest and left him rather miserable.  Read more…

Things I have been cooking lately #167: Pretzel tiffin

About a week ago when I was in Tesco buying essentials (nappies, bread, milk), I also came across a packet of salted caramel pretzel tiffin squares. These, of course, also counted as essential so I brought them home for Mr O and I to enjoy and they were glorious. I decided to make a sort of attempt to recreate them and although my version doesn’t have a caramel element they’re still pretty tasty… and very easy.

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