Saturday, 28 February 2009

Easing Back Into Things with a Side of Chorizo Meatballs

Well hello. I'm emerging from the post-baby world, ever so slowly, and though it's currently not filled with as much palate-delighting home-made treats as the pre-baby world was, it does have its own special glow. Baby A&N is a lovely little child (except, of course, when he decides not to be) and, predictably, has an incredible appetite. Though he didn't match my friend's son's feat of doubling his birth weight by month 2 of life, he wasn't far off with hitting 16lbs by week 10 rather than week 9. For someone who loves food as much as I do, this pleases me no end.

Sadly, breastfeeding turned out to be probably the most difficult thing I've tackled (this includes any of the Daring Baker challenges) and after 2 months of antibiotics, infections, and a baby who wasn't as deft with his follow-through as he was with his need to sate himself, I gave up breastfeeding. Quite bittersweet since it was something I never questioned not doing, but in the last 2 weeks it has produced a happier mother with even just eensiest bits of free time on her hands - which lets hme do delightful things like getting out of the house, taking the occasional bath, and starting to think up things to cook again.

In the mean time, Mr A&N and I have been getting by as best we could, particularly when it has come to dinner times. A roast chicken is an ever-giving thing, giving us a hot dinner one night, a hodge-podge the second, and a soup the third. Simple pasta sauces are don
e in a batch, packaged up in spare breast milk storage bags (!) for their convenient pouches, and defrosted and topped up with the meat or vegetable du jour as needed. One of the best additions to pasta sauce was a Spanish-style meatball, recipe below (though no pictures since it felt enough of a triumph to make them).

We have also bowed to time pressures and tried some ready-made foods, as much as we don't like the idea. Our supplier of dinner-time salvation has been Abel and Cole, the company we get our weekly vegetable box from and who has a good range of groceries and other foodstuffs you can order through their website - perfect food shopping for someone tied to the house most of the day feeding and tending to a baby (and themselves, every once in a while). We've become huge fans of their steak and ale pie, which is a pretty perfect example of what that pie should be like: all buttery and flaky pastry, rich gravy,
and good chunks of meat that aren't skimped on. Mr A&N was less impressed by the lamb and apricot pie (not enough gravy or spicing by his assessment, and I agreed) and by the steak and kidney pie (why mess around with kidneys when you could just have more steak, is his attitude - one I'm not in agreement with). So their steak and ale pie is delivered to us every other week, a bit of an indulgence but still cheaper than a take out meal.

I hope to be getting to know my cookbooks more in the coming months and not just trying out more things from them but using them to get my creative cooking juices flowing again. The Moro East, River Cafe Green, and Borough Market cookbooks have done me well in the past and deserve a re-visit, while a Shaker Cooking book given as a Christmas present makes me want to re-discover early American cooking. Hopefully Baby A&N will go along with those plan, and maybe even pick up a food tip or two for later in life.

Chorizo Meatballs (a nicely spicy, slightly Spanishy twist to your normal spaghetti and meatballs)

  • 1 lb / 500g pork mince
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika powder (I used hot paprika since I like it spicy. Or, if you want it a bit hot but can't find the right paprika, add in a touch of chili powder or chopped chili)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • olive oil for sauteeing (about 1 1/2 Tbs depending on the size of your frying pan)
  1. Combine the pork, paprika, and garlic in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Roll the pork into small balls, somewhere between the size of a nickel and a quarter.
  3. Heat up some olive oil in a frying pan, enough to coat all of the pan.
  4. Cook the meatballs, gently turning after 3-5 minutes when the meatballs are looking cooked halfway through
  5. Add the meatballs to your favorite tomato sauce. To bring a touch more spanish-ness to the meal, you might want to add another teaspoon or so of paprika to the tomato sauce as well.
  6. Serve with spaghetti or your favorite pasta.