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The Domestic: On new-parent alcohol syndrome


Sophie White

Sophie White


January is typically a month of regret for me. Last year, I escaped this unpleasantness, because I had a far greater shit-storm on my hands in the form of a two-week-old baby. This year, I have no such distraction, and so am forced to do the annual self-flagellation.

On top of the traditional New Year's resolutions every year I like to compile a list, usually gin-soaked, of my shortcomings. In past years, this has mostly revolved around such cheering topics as my lack of career goals or focus, an excess of weight and my continued failed attempts to get into the gym.

This year, I am delighted to report that I have a whole new category to add to the shortcomings list: failings as a mother. Not great for the general mood, but a welcome change to the usual line-up.

In my innocence, I actually thought that my new state of motherhood would dispel all the more frivolous concerns about weight, goals and boozing. I kind of presumed that I would just have more important things to be thinking about, such as the new little person in my life, but no, I am as narcissistic as ever.

If anything, his presence has focused a spotlight on those shortcomings, and in the case of the boozing, has made them even worse. Before Yer Man, I admit I was an enthusiastic imbiber, but was always moderate enough. Since becoming a mother, however, I have become a bit of a binge-drinker.

I blame the baby, natch. Because we are now let out so infrequently, when we do get out, it is absolute carnage. The window of opportunity for fun is usually only a few hours, so we have to have all the fun - by fun, I mean wine - we can in that short space of time.

At a wedding early last year, we quickly became those people - the guests that are initially the life-and-soulers, giving the dancing socks, whooping at the speeches, instigating the dance-offs, before invariably being forcibly removed as it becomes increasingly likely that they may cry or vomit on the bride's dress; the liabilities, basically.

You never want the first thing people say to you, with quiet amazement, the morning after a wedding, to be, "I never knew you were such a good dancer" - or worse, singer.

Unfortunately, this past year, Himself and I have earned ourselves a bit of a reputation as, if not good, then at least enthusiastic dancers. And wedding-guest liabilities.

I was preparing to spend this January shame-spiralling for all the weddings I spoiled this past year, until the latest one. Himself - he does a really good Swayze - and I were mid-lift during Time of My Life, when I overheard one bystander express reservations about our antics. Another attendee explained that we were new parents, and mild outrage immediately turned to pity: "Sure, aren't they great to be out".

After a bout of bold behaviour, I usually try to redeem myself with a bit of healthy eating, and this spiced cod dish is perfect for purging the badness.

Cajun Spiced Cod with Rice and beans

Serves 2.

For the fish, you will need:

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon onion salt

2-3 fillets of cod

For the fresh salsa, you will need:

1 red chlli, deseeded, finely diced

½ red onion, finely diced

2 tomatoes, finely diced

A handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Juice of 1 lime

To serve, you will need:

Olive oil, for frying

1 red pepper, sliced

½ red onion, finely sliced

150g (5oz) dried brown rice, cooked according to packet instructions

1 can red kidney beans

150g (5oz) Greek yoghurt

Juice of 1 lime

Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6. In a bowl, combine the cumin, the paprika, the dried thyme, the cayenne pepper and the onion salt, then coat the cod fillets with this mix. Place on a lined oven tray. To make the salsa, put the finely diced chilli, the finely diced red onion and the finely diced tomatoes in a bowl and stir in the chopped fresh coriander and the lime juice.

Bake the cod fillets for 12-15 minutes. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and sautee the sliced red pepper and the finely sliced red onion until softened. Add in the cooked brown rice and the tinned red kidney beans. Stir-fry to heat through. In a small bowl, mix the Greek yoghurt with the lime juice.

Serve the cod with the rice and beans, a generous spoon of the fresh salsa and a dollop of the lime yoghurt.

Sunday Independent