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Three Plus One Makes Four

Three Plus One Makes Four Nourish Paris

Here we are, deep into the fourth trimester. I wish I could say it’s been slow, sleepy and spent mostly in bed – but that would be a lie. Such is the fate of a second child (and mother of two!). 

Luckily we’ve found Fred to be generally calm natured. He’s slotted in nicely to our small, toddler dominated space. Arthur’s somehow found it in him to make some room for his brother, even asking me if Freddie can share his bed this evening (hard pass; too much risk of erratic kicking from both boys). I was worried about this dynamic; that my precious first born would feel ousted, that our firm routine would suffer, that our apartment would descend into a molten pit of dirty nappies, dirty dishes and disturbed sleep…and don’t get me wrong, things have changed but here are my thoughts on how to have a calm, restorative fourth trimester with a toddler in tow:

Let go of any and all expectations

You have two children now – it will take some getting used to. When they both cry at the same time you will momentarily have no idea who to go to first. If you have a partner around – divide and conquer, if you don’t – prioritise. I find everything generally goes better if I put my boob in Fred’s mouth first. The situation immediately drops a couple of decibels and I’m able to tend to whatever Arthur needs (learning how to breastfeed while baby wearing really REALLY helped this one.) It doesn’t look glamorous or Instagramable, you don’t look glamorous or Instagramable and your apartment CERTAINLY doesn’t look glamorous or Instagramable but the baby is fed, the overall volume of things has massively decreased and your first born is getting attention. That’s a win in my books. 

Nothing will look anything like you expected. Which is why you must…

Accept all offers of help 

All of them. Including the things you thought you’d never accept. Like a long bubble bath at your mate’s house while she holds the baby because you don’t have a bath and your back is SO stiff from all that falling asleep upright. 

Let your mother-in-law hold the baby, let your friend do your washing up, eat the cake that people bring you even if you’re freaking out about the baby weight. Nobody will ever bring you baked goods over in such quantities with no judgement at how fast you eat them ever again. Take advantage. 

Let the little things go

No. You don’t need to mop the kitchen floor right now. 
Yup. Your toddler can in fact watch Cars 3 for the second time this week and it will not kill him.
Who gives a sh** that it’s dry shampoo? (I HIGHLY recommend H&M’s dry shampoo.)

Cling to the structures that help

Having said all of that, if you have systems and structures that keep you sane already in place, cling to them. For example, I made an effort to shower & put my makeup and clean clothes on every day in the couple of weeks postpartum when you don’t really feel like doing that. It helped me feel fresh on next to no sleep, prepared for the day with my kids and happy about myself. I also like my environment to be tidy – so I take at least 10 minutes a day to do a superficial tidy away of surface mess (hide it in cupboards). Do what works for you and don’t apologise for it. Sometimes self-care is a reluctant shower and a speed clean. 

Nourish and love your body 

The big one. You just had a baby! Your body is incredible! Reward it with nourishing food, warm drinks, hearty soups, stews, casseroles and stir fry’s. Hopefully some kind soul (or yourself) have filled your freezer with at least a couple of meals that take minimal effort from you and only require one hand to eat. Treat your body with respect and love – it’s just given you the greatest gift and does not want to hear any “Snapping back” “Shedding the baby weight” bollocks the Daily Mail might want to throw at it – in fact, just step away from tabloid newspapers and “Women’s magazines” altogether. 

Finally, give yourself a massive hug. This mum stuff isn’t easy, but you’re going to be just fine.

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Paris Kitchen: Batch Cooking

Paris Kitchen: Batch Cooking Nourish Paris

When I was about twenty-five weeks pregnant with Fred, my friend Jenni and I got together to cook. She had her six month old daughter playing nearby and we managed to shop for and cook twenty eight portions of food (four different recipes!) in an afternoon. I have always batched cooked, but we currently have a tiny freezer in the top of our fridge so I’ve felt a bit limited with it. As far as space goes, I really shouldn’t feel limited – I have the scope to do so much when it comes to preparing meals in advance, as do you and here’s how:

Why batch cook?

Batch cooking for me ensures that I always have a healthy meal on hand and ready to go. I can host toddlers for tea or a friend for dinner at a moment’s notice. I rarely ever have to make a dash for the shops in the rain, with a baby strapped to my chest and a wilful toddler asking constantly for chocolate cake. Making things like sauces and pesto means that my cooking time during the evening is drastically reduced and I have more time to play cars on the kitchen floor. It means that my husband (or the person who doesn’t normally stock or run the family kitchen) can serve my kids healthy food that they enjoy without having to think about it and the whole thing reduces kitchen induced stress dramatically!

Paris Kitchen: Batch Cooking Nourish Paris
The lovely Emily & Sarah releasing their inner Chefs

Paris Kitchen: Batch Cooking Nourish Paris

Planning

  1. Gather your team
    Maybe it’s because I’ve always cooked in big family kitchens or restaurant kitchens but I like cooking in a team. Find some other like-minded friends, or mums who have kids the same age as yours (similar portion sizes) and cook together! This is especially great in Paris because we don’t all have fully equipped or big enough kitchens. Choose the friend with the biggest and most equipped kitchen and get together.
  2. Menu plan
    I never batch cook for the whole week ahead as we dont have the space, but make things that I use a lot of (the seven veg tomato sauce – recipe below), meals that I know are always a hit when I do them (the fish pie – recipe to come next week), or things to bring out in a no food in the house crises (meatballs, fish fingers, crackers, pesto, soup etc). Be sensible about what you’re actually going to use or you’ll end up with a freezer full of bone broth because you’ve read about how awesome it is for you but you’ll realistically never use. 
  3. Shop
    To save time when I batch cook I make sure to shop somewhere that will definitely have everything I need, which is not as easy as it sounds in Paris. When I do our weekly shop I go to the market/cheese-monger/butcher/baker etc. but for batch cooking I head straight to the supermarket. The list is split into the ingredients for each meal and whatever containers I’m going to need to store them.
  4. Storage
    Generally I try to eliminate plastic and disposable containers as much as possible using mason jars and IKEA glass storage boxes. However, we do use ziplock freezer bags for the soups and sauces as they freeze flat and save us so much space. I’ve also just found some excellent toddler portioned size foil ramekins.

Paris Kitchen: Batch Cooking Nourish Paris

Execution

Some general advice to consider:

  • Rather than cooking one recipe at a time, I like to wash, chop and cook all the veggies first. Especially if I’m doing seven veg tomato sauce or a vegetable soup. That way I can get the sauce on the go quickly while the onions and leeks are sweating in olive oil for the fish pie. 
  • This doesn’t have to be your technique. Once you’ve done it a couple of times you’ll find your own rhythm and flow for the process. 
  • I like to clean as I go, it keeps me calm as I cook and means that you don’t extend your cooking time with clean up.

Paris Kitchen: Batch Cooking Nourish Paris

Seven Vegetable Tomato Sauce

We use this sauce as a base for practically everything. I keep it un-seasoned in portioned bags so that it can be transformed easily into soup, pizza base, pasta sauce, curry, tomato base for chilli and spaghetti bolognese or anything else that calls for a can of tomatoes.

  • Two 400g cans of chopped tomatoes

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 leek
  • 1 onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 small sweet potato 

Roughly chop all the veg into cubes.
Fry the leek, onion, garlic and carrots in a glug of olive oil over a medium heat until they start to soften.
Add the rest of the veg and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Add the cans of tomatoes. Fill each can up 3/4 of the way with water, swish around and add to the pot too. 
Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for an hour or until the vegetables are soft.
Blend the sauce with a stick blender, divide into portions, let cool and freeze for up to three months. 

The fish pie, meatballs, pesto and crackers are all recipes I’ll be putting up on the blog in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled on instagram and Facebook!

Happy cooking!

xx

 

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Paris Kitchen: Quick Chocolate Orange Cake

Paris Kitchen: Quick Chocolate Orange Cake Nourish Paris

Paris Kitchen: Quick Chocolate Orange Cake Nourish Paris

Stan’s love language is not gift giving. He doesn’t see things and think that I’ll like them, it’s just not in his nature – so generally I’m pleasantly surprised when he gets a gift so spectacularly right , it’s as if he was in my head. Obviously my favourite gift this Christmas was the Harry Potter wand that controls the TV (all my Witching dreams come true!) but my runner up was the absurdly lovely book “Feeding a family: A real life plan for making dinner work” by Sarah Waldman.

Christmas day was just a week ago and I’ve already made three dinner recipes and three desserts from this book. They’re all healthy, packed with nutrients and what’s more, Arthur has devoured all of them. As I might have mentioned, we’ve been going through a bit of a vegetable dry patch with Arthur. I’ve tried to remain calm about it, tried to remember that it’s just a phase but, as a cook it’s been really disheartening and my passion for cooking family meals has suffered as a result. 

Well, long story short, I think Arthur’s eaten more vegetables this week than he has in the whole of the rest of December. Basically this book is the inspiration I’ve been searching for and I encourage you, if you want to up your kitchen game with ease, to get this book and follow Sarah Waldman’s blog too. You won’t regret it. 

I’ve included in this post her recipe for quick chocolate citrus cake. This dense, delicious cake has been a massive hit in our house (particularly with Terry’s Chocolate Orange loving me and Arthur!). Just to clarify – this ISN’T my recipe and I want to give full credit where credit is due.

Recipe

  • 200g dark 70% chocolate
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose unbleached flour
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • Whipped cream & sliced orange for the top
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 210° Celsius and grease an 8 inch cake pan. Line the cake pan with greaseproof paper.
  2. Slowly melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat until smooth. Add the coconut sugar to the chocolate mixture, stir well, and set aside to cool for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the eggs one by one to the chocolate mixture, whisking well after adding each egg. Add the flour and the orange juice and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for around 25 minutes or until the center of the cake looks just set.
  4. Once removed from the oven allow the cake to cool for ten minutes or so still in the cake pan on a wire cooling rack, then carefully invert the cake onto the rack and peel away the greaseproof paper. Allow the cake to cool completely before topping with the whipped cream and oranges.

This cake is decadent enough to be served as dessert at your next dinner party, but equally just as easy to whip up for your kid’s gouter or evening dessert. It was such a treat to have chocolate cake mid-week that Arthur thoroughly enjoyed it, as did I!

Happy baking!