Well, if you asked me this time last year, how I felt about being a responsible grown up and doing the whole starting a family thing, I might have laughed off sheepishly and quickly changed the subject. Just so I can avoid possible embarrassment of not necessarily feeling too maternal about the subject matter, and also in a slight fear that you might judge me, or categorise me into something which will only result in heated debate that I don't wish to get into. Because it is meant to be a very personal thing, right?
See, rewind the time back a few years, thinking about this whole baby thing, it was at the core of my relationship really. Whether it be with Toby, close friends, neighbours or even almost complete strangers, they will all quite happily and confidently ask me/Toby about the possible prospect of little baba of ours, assuming that we will, deliver one day.
I, over the past three years, thought long and hard about this little chicken.
Was I ready? Did we have enough financial security to afford a child? Was I physically and emotionally ready and fit enough go through this most mental changes in my life? And did I have any faith and hope in my dearest Toby to support me along the way and be my punch bag that I can hit hard, as and when I felt beaten up with the uncontrollable surge of hormones? Did we have enough room in our very grown up shack to accommodate the little chicken roaming freely around? Were we ready to love and coo over this non communicable little thing, just so we can allow it to be sick on our dry-clean-only tops, change their pooped nappies and wipe its enviously plump and soft bottom that will ultimately make me feel like 100 years old sack? Oh, lets not forget, I definitely was not ready to even think about life without WINE and our from time to time madly-in-love date nights where we can behave as wild and bad as we wish to feel each other to remind us who we are!
I mean the list of questions just goes on.
The more I asked myself those questions, the more I tried to justify and find the reasons why the possible presence of chicken would be a negative attribute to my life.
Then there was people. You know, the ones that tell you 'oh, there never is right time, you just do it because that's what everyone else does.'.
That, really, made me retaliate. Why would I ever put myself through this most biggest and greatest commitment in my life without having the clarity and confidence in decision making process? I lived my 34years of life being an absolute control freak(-ish), I wasn't going to change over night and suddenly adopt a just-go-with-the-flow mentality, because that's what everyone else does!
I was so sure that one day, when the time is right, I will, for sure, know about it. I will be able to make the conscious decision to go a head to let my womb to be the home for our grain of rice, or not.
Let me tell you.
That day did come. Like the lightbulb moment.
One day, I woke up and everything kind of started to make sense in my head. I revised my list of questions, had more serious discussions with Toby about pros and cons of our life dominated by chicken/s, and reached the verdict of 'Yes, we do want to put ourselves into many sleepless nights and we will find the joy in pooped nappies because we're here to reproduce, and we endorse the imminent need to start the Scott Empire before we face the limits of our frail infertile body clock. '.
I suppose the fear of us two getting old on our own, the visions of Christmas in 30years time without children, and us staring at each other bickering over nothing because we're bored shitless definitely contributed huge part in my decision making process. And yes, there was number of weekends where Toby and I just stared the hell out of our empty hall way like two lost souls as we didn't have any plans nor the enthusiasm or will to do anything because it all felt a bit same old and meaningless.
But it was an advice from a good friend gave me the kick up the back side.
She said 'you'll always doubt what life would be like with one and think I wish if I'd done it, if you don't do it. But if you do it, you'll never regret it.'.
Well, action speaks louder and we made many many endless attempts of try an error of exercising making chickens, of which I can tell you, for me it was not fun. It wasn't sexy and it was damn frustrating when unwelcome period visited me every month. This monstrous blooded witch made me feel very inadequate. Over 15 years of trying hard not to get pregnant, it was as if my body has just completely forgotten how to accommodate the wriggly worm. Peeing on the stick obsessively just so I know if my body was even doing what it suppose to do was getting tedious and I almost nearly gave up.
Honestly, I learnt a lot about female body and have huge respect for our amazing human organism.
Then one day, and who knew that I could be in owe of the little digital stick that I just peed on, when the little plastic stick, really unexpectedly read I was 2-3 weeks pregnant, my heart raced and I cried, relieved that I, my body does bloody work!
So for the past 26 weeks or so, I have been quietly embracing the changes.
I've been learning about how my body functions as I create a comfortable home for our then grain of rice, now a rice cake; mochi.
I demolished many bowls of spinach and lentils, craved a lot of sweet pastries and cakes, and ate more bread than I ever consumed in my entire life. I sweated over the sudden weight gain, and fret over the possibilities of double chin I hate to carry. I am getting used to my fat chubby feet and comfortably crack a joke about it as Toby cheekily offers to lend me his shoes. Feeling sick from time to time gave me a great comfort in a weird way. And most surprisingly, I am sort of enjoying my ever growing tummy.
My wardrobe is getting very limited, and yes, it does piss me off when people make a comment about how big or small my tummy is and poke it around a bit as if it is a public property. But nevertheless, it is, for sure, an incredibly wholesome experience that feels so warm and precious.
Lemon Polenta Cake (Inspired by Lemon Syrup Cake by Nigel Slater)
for the cake
210g butter (room temperature)
210g vanilla caster sugar
50g pistachio nuts (plus some extra, toasted and finely chopped for topping)
125g ground almonds
150g ground polenta
1 tsp baking powder
1 orange juice and zest
pinch of salt
for the syrup
1 lemon juice and zest
1 lime juice and zest
1 orange juice and zest
75g golden caster sugar
I came across this recipe quite a while back and successfully used time and time.
Original version is absolutely divine. It is very moist and lemon syrup cuts through the cake really nicely. I played it around few times and found pistachio gives really nice bite to the cake. Also kept the syrup a bit sharper with additional lime and less sugar.
The cake above was made with blood orange which gave beautiful colour and sweetness.
It makes a decent dessert served with nice dollop of saffron yogurt.
First of all, finely chop almonds and pistachio nuts using either food processor or knife.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a large mixing bowl, and slowly whisk in the eggs one at the time making sure eggs mixed in thoroughly each time.
Add grounds almonds, chopped almonds and pistachio nuts into the egg mixture. Gently stir in the polenta, baking powder and pinch of salt along with juice and zest of orange.
Spoon the mixture into the lined cake tin, and bake for 25mins at 180º initially then for further 30mins or so at 160º.
If the cake is browning too quickly, cover the top with tin foil.
Check if the cake is baked through before taking it out of the oven. Depending on the depth of the cake tin, it may need little longer in the oven.
To make the syrup, pour all ingredients except limoncello into small sauce pan, and bring to boil. Keep bubbling at high temperature until the liquid has reduced to about 150ml. Remove from heat and add the liqueur.
When cake is ready, take it out of oven but keep them in the tin. Spike few holes, pour over the syrup, let it cool and top generously with chopped pistachio nuts.