It’s starting to feel like a game of snakes and ladders over here. Just when you think you’re moving ahead and ticking things off; tiny clothes washed in lavender scented organic detergents, the mechanics of swaddling wraps comprehended and change tables assembled, you tumble backwards.

Now we’re nearing the close of it all – there’s currently  something as long as a cluster of swiss chard all bunched up inside. Here on the outside I’m being kept entertained by long lists on excel; sprawling sheets which hark back to my old days as a project manager.  On one I’ve methodically categorised exactly who had loaned us what, a description, size, location and condition report. It’s been saved to  two physical locations and Dropbox for cloud redundancy (welcome to the yoke of being married to an IT guy).

There’s a fat glut of Life Administration to continue to toil with; figuring out how to register for family tax benefits and the seven different log ons that the Australian government ‘simplified’ web systems require. There’s the Australian tax returns to do and  the UK ones to boot. There’s health insurance to untangle. Motorbike and car registrations to sort. A few stray bank accounts on which I plum forgot to change into my married name some five years ago. It’s never ending joyous slope of paperwork and data entry-  which means I spend quite a few hours of each day with my feet up pottering away on a computer.

This also provides plenty of time to distract myself by popping over to other blogs, like this lovely one– to see how they’re tracking in their concurrent gestation. It’s then that you get the fright of your life when you realise their bundle arrived a few weeks earlier than expected.

It’s at that moment that I fell down the google-hole again. I promised myself and the universe that I wouldn’t do that anymore. (Mainly after some earlier battles in the mysterious ‘two week window’ of guessing if there really was a stowaway hitching along inside.)  It’s akin to blindfolding yourself in a room full of muppets and jumping at shadows that you think might be up on the wall.  Allowing natter on chatboards to secret ideas into my head is nothing short of dangerous lunacy. The logical part of my brain knows this. But the hormones aren’t very good at listening to her.

Nb for anyone who is tempted, googling ’37 weeks pregnant, headache, upset stomach’ is not useful, particularly when the first result reads ‘early signs of labour’. No. It’s not. It’s just hormones, a hotter-than-expected day and a not-terrific lunch. But it will provide an excellent incentive to pack a bag or two.

So I’m pleased to now report that the bags are packed with snacks, Gatorade, wraps and some clothes for him and a curious  machine called a TENS which may or may not prove useful when things start to hit the metaphorical fan.  There’s a note on the top telling The Hungry One what needs to be added last minute (baked goods from the freezer to bribe the midwives, my bathroom essentials and a phone charger) and a reminder for him not to forget his board shorts. As the nursing staff so patiently told us on Wednesday night at our final induction to the birth centre; ‘we’re fine with seeing you in all your glory if you make it into the bath or shower- but the boys? Them we don’t need to see’.

There’s now the scratching strokes of two play lists cued my phone- one called ‘calm’ and another called ‘active’. Whether or not Florence and the Machine’s ‘Kiss with a fist’  will be inspirational come crunch time, I’m not sure.

There’s also a capsule clicked into the car and the piece of paper which says it’s legal and good to go. The capsule has a ridiculous Italian accented name that I can’t bring myself to say out loud and is a beast of a thing which means that nobody can sit in the front seat without being able to pash their own knees.

And in the cupboard there are some curious supplements that I’m now taking which are hopefully sending a subtle hint to the stowaway that his tenancy agreement is soon coming to an end.

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Because it’s not just with the googling that I’m slipping back to the beginning of this journey. Just like in the early weeks I’m being visited by the bad Dwarves- and they make crappy houseguests. First in came Grumpy (largely because the nausea  is back). Then in came Sleepy and Bashful with his blinding, silencing headaches.  In their wake are their lesser-known second cousins; Itchy and Twanging- the latter who carries a special gift of a searing stabbing nerve pain in my right hip which prompts me to yelp unbidden in public.

There’s not much you can do in the midst of it all except put your head down and keep on keeping on. So right now I’m pressing play on my ‘calm’ playlist. I’m retreating to the kitchen- barefoot, pregnant and all. I’m making food which brings me joy. And  I’m convincing myself that the only snakes I will happily entertain from now are in a pie.

This one is a good one. It’s Mediterranean, in all the best sorts of ways with a crunch of filo pastry and a supple centre of swiss chard, ricotta and the pluckiness of feta.  It’s delightful eaten warm at home with a rustic salad of chopped tomato, cucumber and mint, dressed with yoghurt and red wine vinegar- but if you’re up to venturing far from the house it would also go down a treat eaten cold at a picnic (it transports particularly well in the cake tin).

It’s a low key, celebratory sort of supper that lets you keep your hands busy for twenty minutes or so while making it- which is an excellent distraction technique from large question marks which flit through your head with every slight tightening of your stomach.

Because we’re nearing the top of the hill. There’s just a little bit of the ladder left to climb. And I’m quietly hoping that the view from the peak will be nothing short of spectacular.

Swiss Chard and Ricotta ‘Snake Pie’

Serves 4

Shopping/foraging

2 tbsp olive oil
2 bunches of chard- around 600 grams
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced/crushed
150 grams of feta, crumbled (pasteurised if feeding to pregnant ladies)
250 gram tub of ricotta cheese (drain the contents of the tub to remove any extra liquid)
3 spring onions, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
5 tbsp pumpkin seeds/pepitas
4 tbsp ground almonds/breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, melted
8 sheets of filo pastry (360 grams)

To serve: salad of chopped tomato, cucumber, mint and chives, dressed with greek yoghurt, splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat the oven to 200C/392 F.

2) Take a 23 cm springform cake tin and use 1 tbsp of olive oil to grease the bottom and sides.

3) Place the other tbsp of olive oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven/ wok. Place on a medium heat and sautee the garlic for a minute (careful not to let it scorch).

4) Rinse the chard and roughly chop into 2 cm strips.

5) Place the chard, with some of the water still clinging to its leaves in with the garlic and olive oil. Sautee over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until it has shrunk to about a quarter of its original size.

6) Strain the softened chard and press to remove as much liquid as possible. Leave to cool.

7) Mix together the crumbled feta, ricotta, diced spring onion and egg. Season with salt and pepper.

8) Combine the cheese and egg mix with the wilted chard and garlic. Add a tablespoon of pepitas/pumpkin seeds and stir.

9) Set up a production line of your filo pastry, melted butter, ground almonds and filling.

10) Take one sheet of filo. Brush it with melted butter. Place another over the top. Take a quarter of the filling and create a stripe that goes diagonally across the rectangle, leaving 2-3 cm clear at the far ends. Scatter the top of the filling with a tablespoon of ground almonds and a scattering of pumpkin seeds.

11) Fold the far sides in and then roll the pastry into a long sausage- do not wrap too tightly, it will need to be able to curve without splitting.

12) Repeat with the remaining sheets of filo and filling.

13) Place one of the links in the centre of the cake tin and curl it around into an ‘e’. At the end of the ‘e’ start the next sausage and trace it around the perimeter. Repeat until you have a coil that snakes around the tin. Brush with butter and scatter with the remaining pumpkin seeds/pepitas.

14) Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until crisp and brown.

15) Cut into quarters and serve warm with a tomato/cucumber salad.

 

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 36 Griddled Rockmelon with Balsamic, Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil. Recipe here.

Week 35. Cabbage Rolls. Recipe here.

Week 34 Pineapple Lime Upside Down Cake. Recipe here

Week 33 Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas. Recipe here.

 

Week 32 Chilled Honeydew, Cucumber and Mint Soup. Recipe here.

Week 31: Truffled (lower fat) Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. Recipe here.

Week 30: Broccoli, Lemon and Pine Nut Loaf Cake. Recipe here.

Week 29: Red Cabbage, Fennel and Pear Slaw with Pork Chops. Recipe here.

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.