The end of January is always a huge relief. There's something about the first month of the year that feels like we are collectively holding our breaths, reluctant to commit to the new year and, in this case, a new decade. In our house, we are perhaps feeling this even more acutely than usual, as we are on the countdown to a new baby as well.
he third baby has very much felt a part of the family since its inception, due to the keen interest of its older brothers. Since the bump first announced itself, it has been enjoying the kind of violent affection showered on all younger siblings. The older brothers, in a further act of passive aggression, christened the new progeny 'Spike Twig' - not the most attractive moniker, and one I sense it'll be hard to shake once it's out in the world.
Spike Twig, for its part, seems already more than capable of defending itself against their crushing, vaguely menacing hugs. At the mere sound of their voices, Spike Twig roars to life and begins its offensive from inside the belly. It doesn't bode well for the relaxed, easy-going child I'm hoping will be emerging. And of course, I'm very much caught in the middle of this vicious sibling love-in.
The third baby, I've decided, is the real unknown. From the moment I learned that I was pregnant, I set about hunting for reassurance from the people who had bravely opted to be outnumbered by their young. Initial reports were comforting.
"It'll be grand," was the general response which I cuddled close at night when, alone in the darkness, I calculated and re-calculated just how many more years till Himself and I could feasibly leave the children and take luxury cruises together. And, more crucially, how old would we be by then? Another child had just set our freedom date back to our mid-40s.
Then a friend who has hung up her uterus casually mentioned, when outlining her reasons for not wanting another child, that "Everyone says the third one changes everything".
Hang on, what? This was not the cosy party line they'd been feeding me. It was like discovering some shadow government was out pedalling the 'be grand' slogan to shout down the Three Children Truthers. I felt betrayed. And it sounded so ominous.
"The third one changes everything." Everything. Now this is echoing in my head during my long nights of the soul. At a time of such profound crisis, there's only one thing for it: wrap meat in pastry. These black-pudding rolls can alleviate any New Year existential angst, even the apparently changes-everything third baby.
Black Pudding & Apple Roll
You will need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 red onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
500g black pudding
1 x 375g roll of puff pastry
2 tablespoons of good tomato chutney
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 Preheat the oven to 220°C, 425°F, Gas 7. To make the black pudding filling, add the olive oil and the butter to a non-stick pan. Sautee the finely diced onion, the sliced garlic, the diced apple and the dried mixed herbs in the pan until the onion is softened. Mash the black pudding in a large bowl, and add the onion, garlic, apple and herb mixture. Mix and combine thoroughly.
2 Roll out the puff pastry and spoon the black pudding filling down the centre, lengthways. Spread the tomato chutney alongside it, then brush the pastry edges with the beaten egg. Carefully roll up the pastry, and rest the roll along the seam.
3 Cut the long roll into six smaller rolls and transfer them to an oven tray. Brush each roll with more beaten egg, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, then bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden.
Sunday Indo Living