Lentil Salad

I sometimes make a healthy-ish batch of salady things for my lunches. I like salads but need them to be quite solid and hearty otherwise I’m hungry again an hour later, which is why I like a lentil salad.

This recipe is delicious, reasonably low-calorie as long as you don’t put too much oil in, but it’s also accidentally vegan so if you ever need to come up with something for a vegan guest it’s handy to have in your back pocket (just don’t add any feta!). Sadly I have once again failed to take any pictures to show you how delicious it was though.

Ingredients

  • Courgettes (two large or three small ones)
  • 1 tin of green (or puy)  lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 4 or 5 Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red onion
  • Small handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • Lemon juice
  • Balsamic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh Feta cheese (optional)

Method

  1. Chop the courgettes (you can do rounds, half-rounds, or even long slices – any way works) and red onion. Toss with olive oil and roast at around 190 for half an hour or until they are soft and starting to go a little black and crispy.
  2. Allow them to cool, then add to a bowl with the lentils and sun-dried tomatoes and basil
  3. Add a little lemon juice (approx 1-2 teaspoons) and balsamic (approx 1 tablespoon), and if you like you can add a little oil (I often use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes for extra flavour) and toss it all together

For a non-vegan version this is really good with crumbled feta mixed in too, and you can experiment with mint, coriander or parsley instead of basil for slightly different flavours. You could also roast some red pepper along with the courgettes.

A non-story

Recently we had a really bad day. I started writing it all down in excruciating detail before remembering that I’m an incredibly boring mum now and have nothing interesting to say nowadays apart from the minutiae of our tiny little lives and not many people actually care. So I decided (for once) to edit myself.

In a nutshell, I made the wrong choice as a parent, I did something which I thought would be ok and things went wrong, and it was upsetting for both of us and led to an extreme amount of mum-guilt and tears all round.

Suffice to say I have now made more work for myself and also learned a valuable lesson.

Basically that’s all you need to know – I felt really crappy and beat myself up about it but it’s all fine now and I suppose parenting is all one massive learning curve so occasionally you will get things wrong. It’s inevitable, and it’s hard not to feel crushed by guilt when it does, but all you can do is have a good cry, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try to do better next time.

Smoked Haddock Chowder

While at the library recently, as my baby girl was pulling random books off the shelves, she picked out a children’s cookbook (Professor Cook’s Dynamite Dinners) which we decided to try out.

Our first recipe was a Smoked Haddock Chowder and it was DELICIOUS! Admittedly children’s recipes are often very bland so I have added a few spices, but overall it’s a very nice recipe so I thought I would share.This one is designed to be served in a bread roll soup bowl, which is also fun, though impractical, as the bread roll is so small you can’t fit much actual soup in it. However it’s also yummy in a bowl with a crusty roll on the side! Sadly I forgot to take a picture of it though…

Ingredients

  • 6 Crusty Cob bread rolls (we only bought two and froze the excess soup)
  • 1-2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 500g potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1.2 litres of milk (I only used a litre but it wasn’t enough – definitely needs the full amount)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed (I added more garlic as I needed a bit more flavour!)
  • 300g tinned sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into small pieces
  • 450g smoked haddock fillets (skinned)
  • Handful of parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

I also added 1 vegetable stock cube (though a fish stock cube would probably work too) and a few of pinches of paprika to taste.

Steps

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c
  2. Cut the top off the rolls and pick out the soft bread, leaving the “bowl”, brush the inside with olive oil and put into the oven for 15mins to seal the bowl.
  3. Put the chopped potatoes and onion into a large saucepan with the milk and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 mins.
  4. Stir in the garlic, peppers, sweetcorn, and fish fillets (whole). Simmer for another 5-10 mins until the fish flakes easily into pieces.
  5. (At this point I also added a stock cube, some paprika, and plenty of salt and pepper to taste). Add the chopped parsley at the end.
  6. Spoon into the bread bowls (or regular bowls!) and serve.

I’m not too sure how well this freezes, but have put a couple of tubs in the freezer so we will find out!

It’s also nice that it’s a soup that doesn’t take ages to cook – really quite quick as long as your potato chunks aren’t too big.

Forever

Today, on the 7th January, 2020, a judge heard our case, and as there were no final objections or appeals to be lodged, she granted my daughter’s adoption order.

A mere 6 months after I met my gorgeous baby girl for the very first time, I am now officially, legally, her mama.

Forever.

And ever.

It was such a monumental moment in both of our lives. and yet also slightly weird and mundane. I got the call while we were at toddler group, her social worker called me as soon as the hearing was over to tell me the good news, then we had a snack and went home for a nap. We celebrated by going to a soft play centre in the afternoon with some friends, and in the evening I did my best to explain to my baby girl that a wise judge said I could be her mama forever and ever, though I don’t think she has really understood any of it!

It’s such a huge, mega thing, and yet we carried on going about our day in a very normal way, mostly I guess because I already am her mama, but it’s been unofficial for the last 6 months.

In some ways this was really just a formality, as nothing about our daily lives will change in the slightest. And yet, she’s going to get an adoption certificate that says I’M her mummy, and she’s going to have MY family name, and I can apply for a passport for her, and all sorts of things. I was able to give her a new middle name (she already had two so I changed the 2nd middle name to a name that I chose for her). In giving her a new name, and a new family name, today she became a little bit more MINE in a way that she wasn’t before. (The books tell me this is called “claiming behaviour” and an important part of attachment, though we hardly need it!).

I still find it so hard to believe it has only been 6 months since she came into my life – it feels like she has been in my life for so much longer than that.

There is still a slew of paperwork to be done in finalising everything, but it’s all over, it’s official, no more waiting, no more bumps (other than the usual mother-daughter bumps) – we are now, and forever, a real, proper family.

It feels amazing, and weird, and lovely, and strange. I’m the happiest mama in the world.

The Year in Review

Well, as 2019 draws to a close, it’s worth a little reflection. This has been such a momentous year for me – the year that I became a mother, the year I met my gorgeous daughter, and went on a steep learning curve on how to live with a toddler!

Looking back on the year chronologically, January and February were a little tough – I had had several failed adoption matches at that point, and I felt forced out of my job after the restructure so had to change jobs to fit with my childcare needs. So the beginning of the year certainly felt a little bumpy.

However looking back there were also lots of positives mixed in there – a successful and interesting trip to Afghanistan for work, and a lovely mini-break to Leicester with two of my best friends. Not to mention my amazing kitchen renovation which I still love! Continue reading

Separation Anxiety

Last week I had my first full day away from my daughter after spending 5 months together pretty much every minute of every day.

It was HARD.

The organisation I work for has an annual big conference that brings together the movers and shakers working in my specialised sector and it’s a very popular and interesting event. It goes all week, but I had discussed with my boss the idea of using one of my “Keeping in touch” days to attend, as a way to check in and see people and get back in touch with what’s going on in my line of work while on maternity/adoption leave. Continue reading

Toddler Life

Well here are a few more snippets into the minutiae of our daily lives at the moment – a few little things that make me laugh or just reflect life with a toddler!

As she has a birthday quite near to Christmas, there has recently been a flurry of packages arriving in the post of things that I don’t necessarily want her to see… So I have been handing her the giant bubble packets of air to pop while I squirrel away whatever was in the box, and then show her the empty box. This seems to be working, but she now thinks we are just ordering tons of empty boxes full of bubble wrap for her to pop! Continue reading