We’ve had our share of lists.

But I think I’m going to start making a new one.

It’s of things that one should not say to a pregnant woman.

It starts with; ‘ooh, you’re really starting to look properly pregnant now, aren’t you? Not just like you’re really bloated!’

(That one came directly from one of the personal trainers who floats around the gym, flexing her triceps in the mirror at 9 minute intervals). To which I smiled, put my headphones back in and returned to listening to Florence and the Machine.

Here’s a few other ones:

‘Should you be eating that?’

Unless the woman in front of you is inhaling gravel from a driveway, in the misplaced understanding that it’s edible, I’d avoid passing comment on what a pregnant woman is eating. Your best bet is that she’s not an idiot and has made her own calculated risk.

‘You’re memory’s not very good at the moment, is it?’

No, it’s not. But the one thing I’m not absolutely not forgetting is that my brain is more akin to a kitchen colander than a steel trap these days.  And I don’t like it. I don’t like leaving my credit card behind at the shops. I don’t like forgetting that I only have half a pack of filo pastry in the freezer, instead of a full when I’m mid way through making a strudel. And I really don’t like discovering library books under my bed 11 days past their due date. I never used to be that kind of girl.

‘Would you like a margarita?’

Yes, yes I would like a margarita more than I would like to be able to invest in a time share scheme for the lump on my front.  (Are you ok to take Tuesdays and every second Thursday?). After a gritty day I would like the taste of a salty rim and the mellowed blur that comes from two shots of tequila. But no, I’ll be happy over here with a sparkling water. You have mine. Really.

And a recent favourite:

‘Have you thought about what school you’ll send him to?

If there’s anything that makes me break out in chills quicker than a conversation that descends to the realm of stitches and frozen peas it’s the schools one. No. I haven’t. At this stage my answer is constrained to one where the uniform is navy blue or prison grey. I had forrest green. It didn’t do great things for my complexion.

On the flip side there are plenty of things you can happily ask now that I’ve got something the size of a jicama inside. ‘Can I touch the bump?’ being prime among them. Sure! I’m a total hump harlot. Anyone can touch. You can even see it if you want (though not that many people do and I should really stop lifting my shirt so much).

And then there’s a sterling pearler; ‘would you like to go on a babymoon?’

Ah, a babymoon. A ridiculous marketing concept, wrapped up in a delight. Ostensibly the excuse to run away, before you’re too big to do anything except groan like a sea lion marooned on a couch. Yes, yes I would.

The babymoons of my fantasies take me to a place where the water is the colour of cheap jewels and the sand is white. I’m not particularly picky. Vietnam would be nice. Or Thailand. I could definitely rock a pair of fisherman’s pants right about now. Or Mexico. I would be quite content hanging in a hammock in Tulum. Someone may need to help me into it- but once I’m in, I’d be happy there for quite a while.

Which brings me to this salad. It’s inspired by our jicama-dimensioned stowaway and can whisk itself to either South East Asia, or Mexico, depending on the accessories you add to it. Add some chipotle sauce and maybe some guacamole on the side and you’re south of the border, scratching around for a Pacifico lager and a novelty sombrero. Alternatively, add a slosh of soy and fish sauce to the final product and you’ll feel an abiding sense of calm descend- and a keen desire to finish your meal with a frappe made from nescafe, condensed milk and ice.

And so, a confession. We’re not off to either Vietnam or Mexico. But we are heading off for a short spell. Driving, not flying being the key brief, so on Saturday we’ll pick up a sensibly sized car- big enough for me and a supportive cushion and jaunt on over to the Continent. We’re going to drive down to Salzburg, via Bruges and Frankfurt, so I can indulge in my childish need to do the Sound of Music tour (a childhood of being told I was once the spitting image of Gretel rears its ugly head). Then we’ll skip on down to Lake Bled in Slovenia and come home via Baden Baden- so The Hungry One can eat his body weight in the true, authentic versions of Black Forest Cake.

And when we come home, stuffed to the gills with schnitzel, noodles, cake and cream we should probably have a few nights with salads as fresh as this.

Jicama, Chicken and Cashew Salad

A jicama (pron Hikama) is sometimes called a Yam Bean or Chinese Potato. It’s a tuber that resembles a turnip in appearance, but the texture is somewhere between a nashi pear and a radish/daikon (and in fact, if you couldn’t find a jicama you could always substitute with a mix of both daikon and nashi pear). The flavour is clean and bright. It needs to be peeled and is lovely cut into very slim matchsticks for a slaw/salad.  This one combines with carrot, cashews, chilli, poached chicken and herbs. It does need a bit of a dressing- lime juice on its own is clean, but adding some chipotle sauce or a slosh of soy and fish sauce helps to elevate it further. Feel free to substitute the chicken for tofu or cooked prawns.

Serves 2

Shopping/foraging

2 chicken breasts (around 175-200 grams each)
1 jicama (weighing around 550 grams), peeled and cut into slim matchsticks
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into slim matchsticks
2 spring onions, finely diced
1 small bunch of mint, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp cashews, roughly chopped (or peanuts)
1/2 red chilli, diced
1 lime, juiced

Optional
Fried garlic or onion chips (available from Asian grocers). Chipotle sauce (to take it in a South American direction), or a few tablespoons of soy sauce and a drizzle of fish sauce, to make it more South East Asian.

Here’s how we roll

1) To poach the chicken breasts place them in a pan with hot water. Bring to a boil, then quickly turn the heat down to low so that the water is barely simmering.  Partly cover and gently simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the  heat completely, and allow chicken to remain in hot water for 15-20 minutes, until completely cooked through and it can shred into strips.

2) Use a sharp knife, or very sharp vegetable peeler to remove the sandy skin of the jicama.

2) Use a mandolin or a sharp knife to cut into thin matchsticks.

3) Place the jicama in a large salad bowl.

4) Add the julienne of carrot, herbs and diced spring onion.

5) Combine with the shredded poached chicken, diced chilli and roughly chopped cashews. Season with a little salt and dress with lime juice.

6)  Top with some fried garlic or onion (available in jars from Asian grocers) and serve with an additional sauce, if you would like more flavour. Soy and fish sauce will take it on a trip to South East Asia, while a chipotle sauce will wing it to Central America.

 

 

Forty Weeks of Feasting

Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make this process a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far.

Week 25: Corndogs. Recipe here.

Week 24: Eggplant Moussaka. Recipe here

Week 23 Candied Grapefruit Peel and Dark Chocolate Cookies. Recipe here

Week 22 Roast Carrot and Hummus Soup. Recipe here.

Week 21. Spiced Pomegranate Meatballs with Mint and White Beans. Recipe here.

Week 20 Banana Berry Flax Muffins. Recipe here.

Week 19 Mango Pudding. Recipe here

 

Week 18 Sweet Potato, Red Onion and Feta Pie. Recipe here

 

Week 17 Red Pepper, Chicken, Onion and Date Tagine. Recipe here.

 

Week 16 Avocado Mint Salsa with Pea and Mozzarella Quesadillas. Recipe here.

 

Week 15 Orange, Polenta and Rosemary Cake. Recipe here.

 

Wk 14 Lemon Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Pasta. Recipe here

 

Wk 13 Clementine/Mandarin Curd. Recipe here.

Wk 12 Plum and tomato tartines. Recipe here

 

Wk 11 Sprout and mushroom gratin (in which we come out of the closet). Recipe here

Wk 10 Date tart. Recipe here

Wk 9 Roasted grapes with baby chickens. 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.