Saturday 7 December 2019

Recipes - The Domestic: Home is where the pork is

A highly anticipated trip away from Yer Man and Himself gives some much-needed breathing space and time to reflect on how much she wants to get back

Blitz the blue cheese with bread in a processor.
Blitz the blue cheese with bread in a processor.

Sophie White

Before you actually become a parent, you have loads of notions about what kind of parent you will be. Afterwards, a kind of fight-or-flight situation kicks in and all consideration for your actions goes out the window.

Here are some of the things that I was convinced I would never do as a parent. Co-sleep with my child. Not that I'm judgmental about attachment parenting, I just felt that after nine months of pregnancy I was pretty ready to detach. Apparently the baby had not got the memo, and so we became unwilling bedfellows for a time.

Next up, I vowed that I would not get sucked into anything that "new studies" were claiming, such as breastfed babies are more likely to have good spatial awareness. The bullshit, basically. But natch, every report claiming that babies delivered by c-section were more likely to commit violent crimes or harbour life-long issues related to their birth-trauma throw me into an anxiety vortex.

The main thing I was pretty sure I would not do was feel guilty for leaving the baby. That's for people who love their children, I reasoned, and I had anticipated feeling pretty inconvenienced by mine.

In the early weeks, I pried the baby off the boob long enough to attend my book club and wasn't a bit guilty. More giddy, really, for being let out. Then, in true mother fashion, I began to feel guilty for not feeling guilty. I voiced this to Herself and was told that I was being ridiculous. Apparently, she'd never had a moment's pause about leaving me as a baby, which certainly explains a thing or two about my own lifelong issues.

Then, on a recent trip away without Himself or Yer Man, things crystallised for me. I was footloose and fancy-free, and then a strange new emotion set in. Not homesick exactly, but a kind of 'longsome' feeling, like a mixture of longing and lonesome. I found myself stalking babies around galleries, striking up conversations with French people - something I'd never do - just because they had children and sharing lifts with families to subtly get close enough to smell the baby's head.

On one occasion I found a tiny Yer Man-sized sock in my handbag and nearly wept. I showed it to a companion on the trip who thought I had found it on the street, and promptly looked disgusted, before edging away.

By the last day of the trip, I had hug-hunger like I had never experienced before. I counted the hours until I was home and could barge into the baby's room at five in the morning and hug the shit out of him. In that moment, I realised that I had not become the mother I had thought I would be; I might actually be a good one.

Baked sausages with Pear and Blue Cheese

Nothing says home like bangers and mash, and this version has some nice seasonal twists.

Serves 2.

You will need:

1 butternut squash, halved and deseeded

60g (2¼oz) blue cheese

2 slices of bread

1 tablespoon butter

6 sausages

2 pears, thinly sliced

1 red onion thinly sliced

1 tablespoon brown sugar

100ml (3½ floz) white wine

Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6. Place the butternut squash halves, cut side down, in an ovenproof dish and roast them for 40 minutes until they are tender. Blitz the blue cheese and the bread in a food processor. Melt the butter over a medium heat in an ovenproof pan and add the sausages, the thinly sliced pear and the sliced red onion. Brown the sausages on all sides, then sprinkle in the brown sugar and add the white wine. Bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes to reduce the liquid. Crumble the blue cheese and bread mix over the top and place in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the crumble topping is golden. To serve, scoop out the flesh from the butternut squash halves and top it with the sausage and pear bake.

Sunday Independent

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