Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Week 26-28 - Into the final trimester

Everything is going really well. I had another appointment with the mid-wife and more blood letting as well as a chat and general reassurance. Blood pressure and urine were both fine, which is reassuring after the pre-eclampsia I had with the Pickle (although technically at this stage it could occur with the Pickle it did not start until much later, and even then I felt so well I almost thought that there must be some mistake).

As we were listening to Beanie's heartbeat I asked the midwife about foetal heart monitors and the NHS recommending against home monitors. Apparently midwives hate them, they only ever use them as the Mums love it, but they say that it only ever indicates a short moment in time and does not give an long term useful assessment; apparently home monitors are even worse as Mums can have difficulty picking up the babies heartbeat, sometimes picking up sounds from the placenta or even mistaking their own heartbeat for the babies. Now that Beanie is kicking away it is easy to feel complacent, but I was chatting to another pregnant friend and she was feeling so low that hearing the heartbeat was just what she needed to refocus and enjoy her pregnancy again.

The other thing that the midwife said was that veggie Mums often have the healthiest diet (as we were chatting about the blood tests for anaemia etc that were needed at this stage). Apparently if you are vegetarian you are more likely to be aware of what you eat, and less like have problems with vitamin and mineral deficiencies at this stage. I have not had my blood test results yet, but about half of women can have low iron in pregnancy it is something to be monitored and rectified but not a cause for concern if addressed.

 My twin Mum (BF due one week later, currently living in Belgium) has been told off her baby store of choice that at six months pregnant she has not prepared her 'Baby List' and emails from Mothercare are informing me that I should have bought half their store my now. I have been busy sorting out the house and filling endless bin bags and sacks for Oxfam, next week I'll try to explode some myths about quite how much we need to buy to prepare for baby (the irony is that I am an on-line retailer of baby products).

What Beanie is up to
Beanie is now got a regular waking and sleeping pattern - I can feel it and it is not coincidental with mine. His eyes can open his blue eyes, his eyes will stay blue - probably for ever based on family genes - but until he is a few weeks old we will not know for sure. Beanie may feel heavy now (over 2lbs) and he is now over 30cm long, but I am girding my loins (well, certainly doing my pelvic floors) as I prepare for him to triple in weight between now and B-Day.
Some Mums start leaking colostrum (the baby superfood that precedes breast milk), annoying, need breast pads but strangely reassuring.  After being induced last time my milk did not come in when the Pickle was born so inadvertently I let her get dehydrated as she was constantly trying to feed but there was nothing there for her to drink, so I am watching for that colostrum with interest - even though we still have a long time to go.

What I cooked
 I am getting much more hungry at the moment, I am trying to avoid random snacking so instead I am having an earlier lunch, healthy snack when the Pickle has her supper at about 5pm then a smaller supper with the Hubster after the Pickle is in bed. Mindful of needing both iron and fibre I have been fine tuning a recipe for Dal Kofta. They are great in a curry sauce and rice as a main hot meal, as an alternative to falafel or as a snack with a little humous, yogurt or chili sauce. As they are so versatile I don't mind spending the time making them.

Dal and Cashew Kofta

Pour 1 cup of lentils into a sieve and rinse in water until the water runs clear. Traditional recipes require red lentils, but I like a mix of mainly red lentils topped up with puy and any other lentils I have to add a little extra texture. Add to a pan with 2 cups of veg stock, bring to the boil then simmer for around 20 mins or until the lentils are soft and the liquid absorbed. Watch carefully towards the end, I aim to have them soft but with enough bite so they are not mushy - also it can catch on the bottom.Turn off and let it cool.

Next chop or blitz in a food processor one onion until it is finely chopped and add to the lentils. Then blitz a slice / crust of bread and process to breadcrumbs and add to the mix. Next blitz up 3/4 to 1 cup of cashew nuts - not too fine if you want a crunch to your kofta and add to the lentil mix. Next add about a desert spoon of tomato puree (I just give it a good squirt) then either 1 teaspoon of medium curry power or 1 teaspoon of cumin and a large pinch of paprika - then you can add dried fruit, raisins go well with the curry option and chopped dried apricots go well with the cumin version. Mix all together.

Pop in an oven at 180'c / 350'f and cook for 40 mins, checking and turning the balls about half way through.

Optional Curry Sauce
Fry1 tsp black mustard seeds in oil until they pop, then add 1 tsp of each of garam masala, cumin and ground coriander and a pinch of paprika and cayenne - cook for a few mins and add about an inch of finely grated ginger and a crushed clove of garlic , Add a tin of passata or chopped tomatoes and 200ml  can of coconut milk and simmer for 5 - 10 mins. If it looks a little dry add veg stock until it is a better consistency. Carefully add the cooked kofta and simmer for another 5 -10 mins.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Week 25 - 26: Beanie is viable

There is no mistaking it I now look pregnant! I feel pregnant too. My normal brisk hour long walk is becoming a slog, as I puffed my way up the hill I even considered having a brief sit down before continuing, but the bench is at the summit and so I kept on going along the easy route (Everest, it is not!)

Technically I may be on the early side but the nesting instinct has kicked in. It may be something to do with being so exhausted for the first trimester, not much got done from my permanent home on the sofa. I'm trying to take advanage of the middle months, before I start to get uncomfortable. I've been sorting, tidying and cleaning for the past 10 days - which is so out of character I can only attribute it to pregnancy. Note to self: I have more pairs of 5 inch heals than I am ever likely to wear, but they are still beautiful!

Once I have stored out all the backlog I can start to think about buying anything new for Beanie. I have started to write a list,  but I am really only focusing on the first week. More important to me is that we have a relative degree of order so that when Beanie is born I can focus on him - I think that tidying is far more arduous and time consuming than a little on-line shopping if, worst case scenario, Beanie arrives early. I will be writing a list over the next few weeks and will have hospital bag and all that he needs for the first week at least a month in advance.

Preggy Brain, truth or fiction? Well, I wrote most of this blog then forgot to write publish so that is not me working on full brain capacity. Last time around I was pretty good (I think) except for one missed meeting. Other friends find that the concept of preggy brain is an excuse for colleagues to get away with blaming them for mistakes with impunity. What do you think?

What Beanie is up to?
Beanie is having a real growth spurt at the moment am so I am having to be careful what I eat. All his organs are now in place and his skin is going from transluscent to opaque. He is almost 30cm long - which I find a bit surreal as I look down at my rather neat bump.
His nose is 'unplugged' now and his ears are working so he can hear all the sweet messages that the Pickle is giving him (even if he really can not talk as she claims she can hear)... I can start to influence his taste in music mwah, ha, ha, ha [evil laugh]!
I am still feeling comfortable, if short of breath, and slathering myself with moisturiser and stretch oils is now part of a ritualisitic 'me time' rather than a chore (even if evidence indicates that even that does not effect the appearance of strech marks).
Got a midwife's appointment next week, so must remember to take in my 'sample' as they are watching out for pre-eclampsia.

What I am cooking
I am doing loads of entertaining at the moment before I start to bed in and nest (and I am still feeling comfortable) so I have been perfecting the art of low maintainance cooking for small tribes of people. (I have also not been too proud to ask friends to bring the puddings). I like this menu as I can do much of the work the night before and display it all on a big platter with a green salad and the range of colours together look absolutely fabulous!

Slow Cooked Lamb
I was looking for a celebratory food that would not tie me to the oven, and mindful that shell fish was out and any meat needed to be 'properly' cooked, I decided to go for a slow cooked lamb dish. Remember to marinate over night and start cooking it good and early (it takes 3 - 4 hours so it is not a last min dish).

Take a large clean freezer bag, big enough to fit in a shoulder of lamb with the bone in (about 2kg). Dry fry 1 tsp of each: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamon pods for a few mins then crush in a pestle and mortar and add to the freezer bag. Next add 3/4 large pot of greek yoghyurt, juice and zest of 2 limes, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a small handful of chopped mint and about 1 tbsp olive oil and a good grind of black pepper. Mix roughly in the bag then add the lamb.

Seal up well then careful massage the marinade into the lamb before popping in a fridge overnight, if you get a chance turn it occassionally massaging the marinade into the meat as you do. Transfer to a roasting dish marinade and all and cook for 3 -4 hours at 180' - then leave to reast for about 15 mins. Cooked for 4 hours it is so tender it almost falls from the bone. Blitz up the marinade with a hand blender and it turns into a gorgeous sauce. Easy peazy - and it looks impressive!

Warm Squash Salad

 Peal, deseed and chop a butternut squash (or similar firm pumpkin), set aside.In a large lidded pan cook one grated onion for about 3 mins then add 1/2 tsp each ground ginger and ground cumin and 1 tsp paprika and cook for another min. Add  the squash, juice 1/2 lemon, the chopped rind of a preserved lemon, a handful of chopped green herbs (a mix of any parsley, coriander, mint, chives) and 1/2 cup water.

Season, cover, then simmer over a low heat for 20 mins until squash is tender, adding more water if necessary and gentley stirring to make sure it does not stick. Can be served hot or warm

Cous Cous
This is just an encouragement to enhance your couscous! I add loads of chopped mint and parsley as well as pommegranate, lemon juice and a selection of dried fruit and seeds such as raisin, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.