It takes two to tango. Back in the day when I worked in the communications department of Family Planning (now THOSE were some fun team meetings) there was a health promotion campaign with that as a key message.

Now, with technology and increasingly fluid family structures, that might be a little less true than it once was.

But at this stage I’m happy to call it;  a second pair of hands sure helps when you’re talking about creating life.

Since we’ve got something in the general vicinity of a red cabbage lurking in my middle- now that we’re officially into the third trimester, here are some things that I’m grateful to The Hungry One for.

Without saying a word, he will gently nudge me up the two flights of stairs to our flat- like a cat pushing a toy across a polished floor.

He doesn’t even blink when I make a noise most akin to a hippopotamus, marooned in mud when trying to get up off the couch. Nor when I get stuck in a piece of clothing and need help getting out of it.

Most mornings he will silently leave a yoghurt drink, a glass with vitamins and a cup of tea next to my bed as as a gentle alarm.

I get that this is a pretty thankless caper for the Dads. There’s a whole series of both noisy and private jokes between me and the stowaway that he’s not party to. Anytime I squirm of jump from a boisterous kick he’ll rush over- ‘can I feel it?’ Most of the time the bump will then go into hiding, with a severe dose of performance anxiety. It’s like your house is haunted by a petulant, persistent phantom.

Meanwhile the active, enthusiastic, heel wearing, occasionally quite-entertaining-when-three-glasses-of-pink-wine-down wife has been replaced by a distended mass wrapped in leggings and dresses that closely resemble sacks. It’s like living with a grey Grimace, who whimpers when it has to lean down to zip up her (flat) boots.  These days my idea of a raging, raging night is to eat a shameful quantity of oxtail ragu and rigatoni while watching back to back episodes of ‘Grand Designs’- and then fall asleep on the couch at 9 pm.

There are compromises that need to be made. If he’s going out for a (rare) boozy night with his work buddies, we know now to shut the bedroom door and prepare the spare bed.  Our room just isn’t big enough for three, plus the sweet peat of last night’s whiskey nightcap. We’ve now built an extra five minutes into the ‘out the door’ timetable- so nobody is left anxiously jangling keys or tapping feet while I dash to the bathroom ‘just one more time’.

And if I’m contemplating the movements of cabbage sized objects- and  nursing a raging craving for slaw-  sweet and crunchy, with fennel and pear, then I know to pick him up a monster of a pork chop to have griddled on the side.

While we’re passing time by keeping the home fires burning, this I know;  the smell of smoking wood drifting in from the balcony is good for morale. Any excuse to light the barbecue is a good one.

And when making dinner (and a life)- a job shared is a burden halved. So for that, and many things- I’m grateful.

Nb, this makes quite a bit of slaw- though it will also keep well in the fridge to have on sandwiches the next day. The key here is the balance of flavours- the fennel adds a clean note of aniseed, the radish a sly hint of pepper and the pear helps sweeten it.  The lower-fat alternative to a mayonnaise dressing is a muddle of yoghurt with apple cider vinegar. While I think it’s lovely with pork, it would also sit happily alongside any other grilled or roasted protein- I’m thinking spicy chicken would be a good substitution if pig is just not your thing.

 

Red Cabbage, Fennel and Pear Slaw with Pork Chops

Makes enough slaw for four people

Shopping/foraging

Pork chops
4 pork chops
1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp honey

Slaw
1/2 medium red cabbage
1 small fennel, fronds reserved
1 crisp pear
5 radishes
1 small bunch of chives, finely diced
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of honey

Here’s how we roll

1) While you wait for your grill to heat up (you want to get it going on a high heat to start with), marinate your pork chops in the crushed fennel seeds, apple cider vinegar and honey.

2) To make the slaw slice the red cabbage as thin as you can, so it forms slim ribbons. If you have a mandolin, or a food processor, you might want to whip that out.

2) Do the same to create shavings of fennel (reserve the green frondy tops).

3) Core the pear and use either the food processor or mandolin to create thin slivers of pear and radish.

4) Combine together in a large salad bowl and add the fennel fronds.

5) To make the dressing for the salad whisk together the yoghurt, apple cider vinegar and the chopped chives. Season with a little salt and pepper.

6) Toss the dressing with the slaw and leave to sit while you grill the pork. (Nb, you can also make earlier in the day and leave it in the fridge so the flavours can get to know each other).

7) Grill your pork chops. Preheat the grill to as high as it will go (though if you are using charcoal, build one side hotter than the other- that gives you one side to sear on and another to cook from).  Place the chops on the grill and put the lid down for one minute. Then flip them and close the lid for another minute.  Open the lid and turn the heat down to medium. Rotate your chops and cook for three minutes with the lid down. Open it again, flip to the other side and cook for another three minutes. Let the chops rest for four minutes or so on a plate in a warm spot before serving with the slaw- and perhaps some chilli sauce on the side- if that’s your thing.

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 28: Coconut and Almond Bread Pudding. Recipe here.

Week 27: Szechuan Pork Noodles with Smacked Cucumber Salad. Recipe here.

Week 26: Jicama, Chicken and Cashew Salad. Recipe here.

 

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.