On the side of our change table (freshly stocked with wipes, nappies, cloths and creams that smell like you’ve stumbled into a glade that’s sheltered by musk sticks) there’s a poster. It was a gift from my godmother’s daughter- an honorary sister. She’s s film critic. She knows me too well.
It’s both a quote from a guilty pleasure film and a true statement at this juncture.
I have carried a watermelon.
Yet unlike Frances Houseman I am not dismayed by having said that out loud. I am chalking every step up with pride.
But at this stage my forward progression is slowing. In the past week I thought the tenure may have even come to an end. On Sunday morning at 3 am we were shirked from sleep by a creeping burn with a kernel below my belly button. It rose and stretched, like a glowing ember and then receded. ‘Oh my’. I said from bed. Twenty minutes later, it was back. Then every twenty minutes for the next eight hours.
We went out to breakfast. I fell down a google hole of ‘best pre labour food’ which revealed a logical mix of slow carbohydrates and some protein. A bowl of quinoa bircher at Bronte’s ‘Three Blue Ducks‘ seemed about right.
We walked the cliffs and white smiling sand beaches of Bronte and Bondi, stopping every kilometer or so so I could breathe and stretch. We joked that we were ready. The bags are packed. The Hungry One’s duffel contains board shorts, a large tub of protein powder and a hoodie (we’d been warned that hospital air-conditioning can get cold). Mine has an organic baby blue striped outfit for the Stowaway’s first few days which was bought by his grandmother, which cost more than any shirt I’ve bought for myself in recent memory. There are a few comfortable dresses and some well meaning ‘energy ball’ snacks. There’s a note perched on top of the bag suggesting to The Hungry One that prior to going to hospital he might want to check if I want a smoothie- there’s blueberries and banana portioned in the freezer and yoghurt and almond milk in the fridge. Based on recommendations from friends there’s a bathroom bag filled with things they forgot; deodorant, toothpaste, a toothbrush, spare hair elastics and lip balm. I’ve even been able to source some quad-coloured juggling balls, so if it all gets too much I can manically bang them together and mutter ‘Red, red, red’ like a demented monkey (who am I to judge the time honoured pain management techniques of others?)
In my naive glory I even left a sunny voicemail message for the Birth Centre from the curve above Tamarama Beach. ‘Hi, it’s Tori Haschka, it’s 11 am- I’ve been having cramps every 20 minutes since 3 am. Not sure what’s going on, but if anything changes significantly, I’ll let you know. Thanks!’
And then we got home and I lay down. And then… nothing. Like a candle flickering out it all went dim. I fell asleep and awoke with a realisation. My son is a tease.
Which is fine. It leaves me plenty more time. Time to do important things like get a head start on recipe testing for some exciting projects glimmering down the line.
Time to see if I can squeeze even more into the freezer (already in there- two apple rhubarb loaves, two apple, ricotta, raspberry and almond loaves, a batch of chocolate, coconut and cherry scones, three bags full of chicken soup with notes affixed suggesting that a drained tin of white beans or lentils prior to serving would be a good addition, ten pre-made and individually wrapped ham and cheese quesadillas ready to be toasted for an emergency oozey snack, a glut of white bolognaise, a shocking quantity of chorizo, tomato and white bean stew, 12 lentil chia patties and three rolls of chocolate cookie dough all ready to sliced and baked to feed unexpected visitors).
And time to rest. Because here’s the thing Baby didn’t tell us. It might be awkward as heck carrying a watermelon, but it’s also tiring. Let’s hope the end is in sight.
Nb- this sweet treat is exactly the sort of refreshing thing you should eat when your legs are molten with exhaustion and you need a bit of a glucose/ fructose hit to help you get through the day. The rosewater makes these simple jellies a little romantic and with a sloshing of yoghurt or cream it is easily twisted into an elegant dessert. If the raspberries jauntily affixed on top look a little like mammary glands to you, I can only suggest two things. 1) Get out a bit more. 2) Serve the berries scattered around the base of the unmoulded jellies instead.
Watermelon, Raspberry and Rose Jelly
1/2 medium watermelon (around 1.3 kg), to create 2 cups of watermelon juice
1/2 cup of sugar
1 punnet/1 cup of raspberries
1/2-1 tsp of rosewater
2 tbsp of agar agar flakes (or 1 envelope of gelatin, or 4 leaves of gelatin)
Yoghurt, or double cream to serve
Here’s how we roll
1) Cut the rind off the watermelon.
2) Either use a juicer, or crush the watermelon to release the juice.
3) Strain the pulp to remove seeds and ensure you have a smooth liquid.
4) Combine the strained watermelon juice with half of the raspberries and the sugar. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar.
5) Crush the raspberries with a spoon to release the juice.
6) Strain the watermelon/raspberry juice to remove any seeds.
7) Return to the saucepan. If you are planning on using gelatine sheets, soak them in cold water for a few minutes until they are gloopy. Then add to the warm juice and stir until they have dissolved. If using agar agar add to the warm juice and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for five minutes, stirring well at the end to ensure it is all well dissolved.
8) Add half a teaspoon of rosewater. Taste the jelly mix. If it is not too strong, add another half a teaspoon. The thing with rosewater is you can always add more, but you can’t take it away. The strength of them can vary from brand to brand.
9) Pour jelly into moulds or plastic cups. Set in the fridge for 6 hours.
10) Gently un mould the jellies by pulling on one side with your finger to introduce an air pocket. Top with natural yoghurt, or double cream and serve with the remaining raspberries.
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.