September 3, 2013 § 1 Comment
I was musing earlier about how much/little I have written about Henry on this blog over the past year. In the late months of pregnancy and even into the delusional early months of parenthood, I envisioned I would write reams about the emotional life and daily minutiae of raising a baby. I had a whole separate blog planned for it in fact. But the little stories and narratives in my head stayed there, writing time trumped by the barer facts of survival. So, in no particular order, some things about Henry.
He has the best, dirtiest, laugh you’ve ever heard. Actually he has a range of laughs. He laugh-growls, belly laughs, titters to himself. He laughs a lot.
He adores people and provokes smiles all over the place. Most mornings we go out for coffee, one or the other of us wearing Henry in the carrier so he can watch the world go by from adult-height. Of course we make friends with the usual suspects – people with other babies, dogs etc – but the unlikeliest of folks smile as he goes past, grinning or pointing or just chattering away. It makes my morning, every single day.
He has a ceaseless appetite for details. Buttons, zippers, tags, cables: all undergo systematic prodding, scratching, pulling, biting. Many ladies in our lives now have teeth marks in their necklaces.
His favourite things in the world are, in this order: doggies, trees, his book of kitten pictures, and cheese. That kid can eat a lot of cheese.
He’s fiercely independent. Won’t be helped to walk, stand, eat. This leads to bumps and oh-so-much mess, but it’s worth it. His independent spirit means he can also entertain himself with a power cable (unplugged!), or a remote control, or a piece of paper, for a really long time.
But yes, going back to the won’t be helped to eat thing. I’m always on the hunt for recipes that make something that he can just go to town on, all by himself, but that also involve some form of veg, since broccoli florets or carrot sticks don’t really do it for him and his 7 teeth. Ravioli have become a firm favorite, as have pancakes and fritters of all kinds. These green pancakes hail from Ottolenghi’s Plenty, which is just about the first place I go to when I want vegetable inspiration. They’re packed with spinach and scallions, but have a soft and spongy quality that makes them perfect both for little hands, and for classy family brunches. I’ve been having mine with smoked trout or salmon on top, and a dollop of Greek yoghurt with a squeeze of lime (inspired by the original lime butter that accompanies the recipe). Henry can often be found with a handful of pancake and an opposite handful of trout, smiling face smeared in yoghurt. They’re the times when I believe with every inch of myself that we’re doing ok.
Green Pancakes with Lime Butter
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
250g spinach (preferably baby spinach)
110g self raising flour (or 110g/1 cup all purpose flour, plus an extra 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)
1 tbsp. baking powder (in addition to the baking powder you are adding if you are using APF)
50g/4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 tsp salt (I omit the salt when cooking for Henry and add some celery seed instead)
1 tsp ground cumin
6 spring onions/scallions
2 green chillies (I omit these when cooking for Henry)
olive oil or ghee for frying
100g/1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
grated zest of a lime
1 1/2 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro (coriander)
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Start by making the lime butter, if you choose it as an accompaniment. Put the butter in a medium bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until soft and creamy. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Tip onto a sheet of plastic wrap/cling film, and roll into a sausage shape. Twist the ends of the plastic to seal the butter. Chill until firm.
For the pancakes:
Finely chop the spinach and set aside in a medium bowl. Chop the scallions, and chiles if using, and add to the spinach. Note – the original recipe called for wilting the spinach in a splash of water first and if you can’t find smaller, more tender spinach leaves you may wish to include this step.
Next, make the batter. Put the flour, baking powder, eggs, melted butter, salt, cumin and milk in a large mixing bowl and whisk until well combined and smooth. Add the scallions, chiles and spinach and mix with a fork.
Pour a small amount of olive oil or ghee into a heavy frying pan and place on a medium high heat. For each pancake, spoon about two tablespoons of batter into the pan – you should get quite small pancakes, about 7cm in diameter and 1cm thick. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side, or until they turn a good golden-green colour. Transfer to kitchen paper and keep warm until serving. Continue making pancakes, adding more oil as needed, until the batter is used up (note – you can also keep leftover batter well covered in the fridge overnight and use the next day).
To serve: pile up 3 pancakes per person and serve with the lime butter and any other desired accompaniments like smoked fish or salad.