IMG_6337Sometimes you hear a phrase that resonates like a bell – it tolls on and on in your mind. The one for this week was the ‘Crudites of Futility’. It comes from the 2016 Dictionary of Modern Parenting. The Crudites of Futility are;

“A plate of curling carrot batons and shriveled cucumber slices that shouts: ‘As parents we really want our children to eat healthy but they have other ideas, however we are not prepared to admit this in public because we are very middle class.’  Forget it, no one is eating fruit and vegetables at a three year old’s party. No one.”

IMG_6373[1]I am well familiar with the crudites of futility. If you are too and would like something to dip them in, or you just fancy a nifty alternative to hummus, a sprightly yet substantial sauce to serve with barbecued lamb, chicken or fish, or are chasing another starter that can be sneakily transfigured into a bowl of soup with the addition of a cup of boiling water or stock (also try this trick with the sweet potato hummus from #poppyseedtopumpkin 1 – you won’t regret it), then skip straight to the recipe at the bottom. This roasted red pepper and white bean concoction could be what you’re looking for.

Yesterday for lunch I ate the crudites of futility. They consisted of an enormous platter of slender batons of carrots, courgettes, red peppers, celery and cucumber. They were all left over after the over catering fail I committed for Will’s third birthday party on the weekend.

Yes, I put them out as a smug, well meaning suggestion to the toddlers that perhaps they could temper their indulgences with some crunchy raw veg. I also had platters of them for the adult paleo folk and vegetarians among us. I had bowls of spiced carrot hummus, as well as this red pepper dip. But they were all largely overlooked in favour of coconut oil popcorn (who doesn’t love popcorn with a beer on a Sunday afternoon?), dairy free/ refined sugar free/well meaning organic cornflake honey joys and coconut oil chocolate crackles (also there so one of Will’s best friends who has serious allergies could imbibe). There were also enormous stretches of molten beef and chickpea/spinach and ricotta meatball subs that were carved to order.

Oh and cake. The cake was a subtle thing. Three layers of my date/oat flour and cocoa torte (recipe here) were cleaved together into a pirate’s galleon, frosted with chocolate cream cheese and decorated with a variety of novelty objects, including a flotilla of boats that were made from orange jelly, made from nothing except orange flesh and gelatine, which I thought were delicious but the toddlers roundly found suspicious for their lack of refined sugar.

Yesterday I ate all the crudites of futility because in the 24 hours prior I ate far too much cake – including some leftover sections which we re purposed into a jaffa trifle with some chocolate coconut custard and the left over orange jelly which we ate with teaspoons while we watched the Olympic swimming finals.

After all of that I felt that it was probably time to turn my attention to my other offspring- the one who has been calmly resting inside for the past week, slowly unfurling to the dimensions of a capsicum. For certain my boy deserved a pirate singing sea shanties and performing physical stunts for 75 minutes for his and his pals’ entertainment in the yard. He deserved balloons and cake and celebrations and a good two hours of introspection that descended at 10.42 am yesterday when I realised that exactly three years ago he came into my world, still in his sack – a mythical seafarer’s blessing from days of yore.  It was then I promptly fell down an iphone hole of combing for photos of his past year and collating them into an album — all the while I was supposed to be writing a piece of advertorial copy and he was happily ensconced in a toddler yoga class at daycare (I kid you not).

And then after that I though that it was time I do right by the bump. She deserved some attentive vegetable nourishment, some vitamins and minerals in the form of crudites made palatable by swiping them through this delicious dip. She deserved that  so that one day, she’ll grow to be just as rambunctious as her sibling – and most probably ignore the vegetable sticks at her third birthday party too. All the more for me, I say.

(Nb, did you see how I just slipped that in there? Yes – as it turns out the little red pepper who is curled up inside is a girl – and we’re thrilled).

Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Dip

IMG_6337This dip can be easily switched and swapped to your heart’s content. Try replacing the white beans with chickpeas, or take a cheat’s hack and use a jar of drained marinated red peppers and use them. Coriander instead of flat leaf parsley would also work. It serves well as a dip  or alternative to hummus on wraps , but can also be used it as a sauce for barbecued lamb, chicken or fish, as a sauce for sausages on rolls, or try thinning it with some boiling water or stock for soup.

Serves 4

Ingredients

IMG_63261 red pepper
1/2 clove of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 x 400 g tin of white beans/ cannellini beans rinsed and drained
1 small handful of flat leaf parsley
Pinch of red chilli flakes
Salt to taste

Here’s how we roll

1) Place the red pepper directly over a gas hob and allow the skin to blister and blacken. When it has charred on one side, use a pair of heat-proof tongs to turn it over to char on the other side.

IMG_63272) Place the charred pepper in a bowl and cover the bowl with aluminum foil or glad wrap. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes, then use your hands to peel the now- sweaty, charred skin off the pepper.

IMG_63293) Chop the pepper and remove the core and seeds. Add the pepper and remaining ingredients to a food processor or blender.

IMG_6331 4) Blend to combine.

IMG_63325) Transfer to a bowl to serve with crudites.

IMG_6333

Previously in Poppyseed to Pumpkin

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. (Nb, you can also see the poppy seed to pumpkin process in the app, or ebook from my first pregnancy with Will, or read about it on the blog here.)