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.


Pille said...

Sorry to hear that breastfeeding didn't turn out to be easy, but at least he's got a good appetite - that's a good sign.!!

And I'd love some chorizo meatballs for dinner tonight :)

Helen said...

Well anything with chorizo gets me every time! Nice variation. Glad to hear you are still eating well even with the new arrival and that baby is eating well too. A chip off the old block then :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Annemarie sometimes we are wise to do something that wasn't the way we planned it. And it sounds like you're one the right path for yourself and your family, and that's a very good thing.

Love the Chorizo meatballs.

Beth said...

I can sympathasie with the whole breastfeeding thing - I only lasted a month - it was soooo painful. You did really well. Meatballs look great.

Molly Loves Paris said...

I'm sorry to hear you had such trouble. I had four children, and I found for one thing that always the first two weeks of breast feeding was absolute agony. It's no wonder people used to have wet nurses. Hanging in there for 2 months is a terrific effort on your part.

CraftMafia said...

You need to post a recipe for something like steak and ale pie. (Or perhaps you have one up here; I should check.) I've never been much for chicken pot pies (wasn't something I grew up with, and frankly, it just seems odd), but I think my mind could be changed with steak involved. :-)

I'm sorry to hear about breastfeeding. I'm sure it's disappointing, but it sounds like not only do you have some found time, but you have a great set of mom-brand ziplocs! How creative!!

As always, brava on the post, and give baby A&N a purple cow kiss.

Annemarie said...

Hi Pille - Do try the meatballs, they make you feel as if you've put in loads of effort but involve such little fuss.

Hi Helen - yes, he's very much our boy. Can't wait to see what he choses to eat when the time comes!

Hi Tanna - I can always count on you for kind words and wisdom. :)

Hi Beth - I really admire anyone who perseveres with breast feeding when it's going rough, even if it's just for a little while. Well done!

Hi Molly - Funnily enough, I've been thinking about wet nurses LOADS during my struggles. Must be a common line of thinking!

Hey Crafty - thanks. Will either post about steak and ale pie or wing you an easy recipe. Really: steak, beer, and puff pastry, what's not to like?

Jules Howard-Wright said...

Welcome back xxx
Love to see you soon

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Sorry the breastfeeding didn't work out. I agree with you about all credit to anybody who keeps at it when it's tough going. I really struggled second time round, I remember crying and feeling absolutely wretched, I kept at it for I think 14 weeks, having to express my milk to give it to him in a bottle. Eventually I gave up and thank goodness as I was almost a basket case by then! Still am of course. ;) x

Pille said...

Annemarie - I did have your chorizo meatballs for dinner that night (and even blogged about it) - they were delicious and different and very easy to make.
Thank you for the recipe!!! Greetings to baby A&N!

Jeanne said...

I love the sound of these meatballs! Anything with paprika just has to be good...

Sorry you had no luck with breastfeeding - a couple of my friends had the same problem. But as you say, this frees up a little more of your time for things like... chorizo meatballs :)