We need to talk about the googling.

It’s a kernel that germinated around the same time that we had a confirmed poppy seed aboard.  If you’re a fly by the seat of your pants, let the wind take you where it may kind of person, then I envy you. If you’re the sort of folk who is compelled to research things ‘just in case’, then there’s a good likelihood questions will crop up in a corner of your head when embarking on a new stage of life. The kind of questions that find their voice in dark, cave like corners of the internet. But never fear -once you cross into that abyss there’s a good chance you’ll discover plenty of other people, far nuttier than you.

It’s a journey down a slope with an imitation by acronyms. I’m not sure how much richer my life is for eventually twigging what DD, OH, DPO, TWW and a few other stickier iterations of alphabet soup mean on motherhood forums. I have now relegated them to the ramshackle and useless part of my brain that knows all of the words to ‘American Pie’.

From there begins the slippery dip of googling symptoms. And yes, it appears that Dr Google will confirm the following things are not out of the realm of possibility during this phase; a phantom metallic taste, cramping toes, itchy skin, manic dreams, a propensity to weep during fabric softener advertisements and aversion to rosemary.

And lastly, the Google Syndrome will crescendo to the pinnacles of  searching for permission. Or more specifically, sentences hastily typed into browsers that start with ‘Pregnant can I eat…’

I should know this stuff. Food is my patch of grass. It’s not rocket science. And as much as I’d smugly thought ‘pah, the last recorded case of lysteria in Australia was in bagged salad and bean sprouts. I’m going French’, well, that was before the Jindi situation. So, best keep away from the unpasteurised cheeses, chicken that’s been in the fridge for a day too long, salmon sashimi, home made aioli and runny eggs. It’s only 36 weeks.

But the grey areas of paranoia can still creep in. ‘Can I eat goat curd?’ ‘Can I eat chorizo?’  ‘how many times a week can I eat fish? have all found themselves typed into an apple device, in cafes, on the tarmac of airplanes and in supermarkets.  Then there was the time in the cinema, just before tucking into mixed M&Ms to keep me going during a screening of Django Unchained; ‘Can I eat peanuts?’.

Not long after, like a toddler sick of being scolded, it’s a habit that turns on you. You start googling things just in a vain search of positive affirmation. A search history will reveal ‘yogurt in pregnancy’; just so you get the pat on the back of someone in the ether saying ‘yes, good work, that’s excellent ‘. ‘Chia seeds in pregnancy’, ‘seaweed and  lentils in pregnancy’ soon follow.  A childhood reared on star charts raises its ugly head.

I’m now on rationing. I think I’ve got it under control.  The strops at missing out on sushi dinners and soft eggs for Sunday breakfast are getting fewer (but by gosh, there’s going to be a special hug for the person who brings a platter of salmon sashimi to my hospital bed when the stowaway finally reveals itself).

It’s a situation that’s largely been helped by finding sweet alternatives. And so, in this, the week of mandarin/clementines, it’s time to think about a curd.

This is a product of my kitchen so sunny it’s impossible not to be cheerful when making and eating it. It’s got the acidic sprightliness of lemon curd, made more aromatic and intriguing by the not-quite-orange taint of a clementine. It’s the smell of picnics and ambles through orchards wearing floral print sundresses. It’s got a softly drooping texture that’s perfect for spreading on scones, swirling through ice cream and layering in trifle (try with rumpled banana bread, raspberries and wee cubes of mango).

And it’s simply sublime on french toast (at least that’s one easy way to go french).

There’s nothing simpler; slices of bread, sopping with beaten eggs, vanilla and milk, fried in lightly browned butter. The trick to perfect french toast I’ve recently twigged is when flipping onto the second side, clamp a lid onto the fry pan for a good minute. This helps the eggs and milk to lightly steam and puff into a gentle custard centre.

Serve with yogurt, (tick), blueberries (tick) and curd (don’t care). *

*Actually I lie. I fell into a Google hole here as well.  And yes, the egg yolks in curd are cooked sufficiently to be deemed perfectly fine.

Next week we graduate to lemons. Well done stowaway.

Clementine curd

Shopping/foraging

3 clementines/ mandarins
1 lemon
175g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
50g unsalted butter, diced

Here’s how we roll

1. Grate the zest of the lemon and the clementines/mandarins and then juice them (it may help to place the pulp over a strainer and push down with a spoon to get all the juice out of the clementines.

2. Mix the zest and juice with the sugar in a saucepan. Stir in the egg yolks and mix to combine (nb, if you add the egg yolks to the citrus and sugar earlier and accidentally walk away the sugar and citrus can ‘cook’ some of the egg yolk, leading to unsightly lumps. This is a better order to do it in). Add the butter and place on a very low heat.

3. Cook, stirring all the time until the curd coats the back of a spoon. If you end up with lumps, don’t fret too much, just strain before it cools. The curd will thicken considerably on cooling.

4. Pour into a clean jar and place in the fridge. It will keep for up to two weeks.

Forty Weeks of Feasting; the  journey so far

Wk 12 Plum and tomato tartines. Recipe here

Wk 11 Sprout and mushroom gratin. Recipe here

Wk 10 Date tart. Recipe here

Wk 9 Baby chickens, with roasted grapes. Recipe here.

Wk 8 Raspberries and elderflower spritz. Recipe here.

Wk 7 Blueberry pancakes. Recipe here

Wk 6 Lentil and ginger soup. Recipe here

Wk 5 Sesame Miso Crisps. Recipe here

Wk 4 Poppy seed scrolled loaf. Recipe here.