Monday, 16 May 2011

Thai pork patties

Babies really fuck up your life.

But it's not for the reasons that you might think. It's not really the sleeplessness, or the back-breaking feeding, changing, washing, washing, washing, feeding, scrubbing, washing, folding, folding, shh shh, folding, washing, or the constant worry that they are bored, or hungry, or sleepy, or not sleepy, or understimulated or overstimulated or constipated, or not constipated enough.

Those are just details. They are just the sort of slightly tedious minutiae that litter any kind of job. And looking after a baby is - as is well-documated - a full-time job. (No weekends off or anything, as I was surprised to discover when my first Friday night as a mother rolled around.)

No, they fuck up your life because even though looking after them is a grind that at times you worry might send you completely out of your fucking mind, if you attempt to leave them in the care of someone else for more than 20 minutes, you start to feel weird, then sick, then heartbroken, then demented. You desperately want to let go. But you can't.

About a month ago, looking after Kitty full-time was getting to me a bit. I was getting depressed. I just wanted to walk out of the door and keep walking, without having to tell anyone where I was going or what time I was going to be back.

What we need, I declared to my husband, is a part-time nanny. One was duly sourced, poached off another family and roped in to drop in once or twice a week and play with Kitty while I wrote, or cooked, or went for a walk, or went to Waitrose.

And she is lovely. Posh, charming, friendly, biddable and knows a lot about babies. And yet I hover over her like a dark cloud when she's here. While she is feeding Kitty or waving Sophie La Giraffe at her and saying "Peepo!" I am NOT doing any cooking, or writing, or running any errands. I am hopping from foot to foot, waving at Kitty from corners of the room or fetching the nanny tea.

"This is fun!" said Nanny A brightly and not unkindly the other day. "I get to play with you while Mummy waits on me hand and foot!"

I took the hint and managed to go next door to read a cookbook for a whole twenty minutes.

My husband doesn't want to know. "There is no point," he said in his serious voice, "having a nanny if she's just here to help you play with Kitty. Go out. Do things. Do some fucking exercise so you can stop moaning about your belly. She's just getting to know Kitty just the way that you had to, that I had to, that Shura had to. Let her get on with it."

I narrowed my eyes at him and sidled out of his office and went to curl back up in the corner of the bedroom to do some more rocking backwards and forwards.

The cookbook I managed to read was a new one by a boy called James Ramsden, who is a very modern sort of cookery writer. He's one of those cooks and writers who attitude is "It's only dinner." His new cookbook is called Small Adventures in Cooking and it is available for purchase here. Despite the fact that it won't lie flat on a worksurface and doesn't have enough pictures for a cook with as shit an imagination as me, it's very jolly and I recommend it to you.

I cooked from it the other day some Thai Pork Patties.

These are excellent for a light supper wrapped in lettuce (James recommends Little Gem but I am so fucking sick of Little Gem I can't tell you so I used iceberg) and dipped in chilli sauce. They are also absolutly fantastic cold, so make too many, is my advice, and have them for snacking on in the fridge.

For 2 as a light supper with plenty left over for snacking
this is not James' exact recipe but it was nice anyway

500g best minced pork
1 large red chilli or some dried ones, whatever you've got, chopped finely or crumbled
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped finely
1 small bunch coriander, chopped
2 sprigs mint, chopped
salt and pepper
2 handfuls breadcrumbs
2 eggs
2 spring onions, chopped
groundnut or peanut oil for frying

1 Combine everything well in a bowl sprinkling over 2 or 3 generous pinches of salt and a good 6 or 7 twists of black pepper

2 Form into pattie-shapes. I like mine small-ish - finishable in two large bites, but you must do yours however you like. Then turn on your extactor fan, stuff a teatowel under the kitchen door and fry off your patties in some medium-hot oil for about 3-4 minutes each side. If you can, fry them in a pan that has a lid otherwise your house will smell like the back end of a chippy all night and for most of the next day.

Eat as quick as you can and then rush back to your 24-hour cotside vigil.


  1. If babies fuck up your life, then I am ready for mine to be fucked up! Unfortunately, I have to wait until I have finished my 2nd/3rd degree and get a decent enough job to pay Mat leave. Ah well.

    At least the pork patties look and sound delicious!

  2. Thanks for update and recipe - if I lived in a civilised country I would pop out and source minced pork, but I don't so I'll just sulk. PS: even from that angle Kitty looks the spit of you ...

  3. Sounds lovely. For a moment I thought that they came out looking like a baby but realised it must be the beautiful Kitty! Will be making them soon - the patties that is.

    S x

  4. Hey Ester!

    Thanks for righting an awesome post... on my birthday at that! ( I have also confirmed that Monday birthdays are the worst, so this made it better.) I have also forwarded your blog onto a friend of mine who just had a baby. She loves it b/c she says she feels so much more sane knowing that you are out there and are actually being honest about having a newborn and not all " this is a 24/7 miracle of life everything is fabulous and easy!" about it all.

    Be well!

  5. Kitty looks so so so utterly delish! So does the recipe. xxx

  6. Amusing as always but this time with the addition of a photo showing your gorgeous bubba!

    Keep em coming! (the posts and photos, not popping out more babies)

  7. AH! I mispelled your name... sorry!

  8. Martin G of Manchester Fame16 May 2011 at 20:21

    I hate Little Gem lettuces! Huzzah! I am not alone! (They look awesome by the way, usually I shy away from anything with Pork MINCE).

  9. It is true, the umbilical isn't really ever cut, it pulls and pulls and stretches - and tightens when they are moving into their teens and look at you like a piece of something the dog dropped...
    but then you get better at it, and even suggest to your husband that it isn't really that long away the joys of visiting a garden centre for cake without the whinging 'Not another garden centre" ...
    ..and the joy of your daughter making you a cake for when you come in!!! That's really something, a thirteen year old who one day hates you for not allowing bare legs with the short skirt like everyone else and then the next day bakes you a cake.
    Whatever you do Kitty will be yours.
    P.S We had roast chicken tonight.

  10. I went back to work when my baby girl was 6 months old, straight back in to a 45 hour week, 55 if you count the commute.. She was little, she didn't really know if it was me changing her or not. It nearly killed me though, the absolute guilt. Cherish the moments with your daughter, mine is ten now and more beautiful every day. :o)

  11. I was bored shitless when I had my baby. Complete physical exhaustion and zero mental stimulation. Worshiped her all the same!

    Now she is 13 and wonderful. As above, snarls one minute, next is bliss. Both moods are great actually, and I feel I am doing my job because she is able to be all those things with me, knowing I will always love her whatever happens.

  12. Had first proper chortle for the week reading this. So true; gem lettuce should go put its hair in braids and be quiet in a corner. Iceberg far superior. One last point; that baby is criminally beautiful. Criminally.

  13. A Bedtime Story for Parents

    I hope this is viewable in the UK. It's hilarious.


  14. Mmmm, I'm going to make these for some friends on Saturday, I think they'll like the 'meat wrapped in a leaf' idea.

  15. I'm behind the times and just discovered your wonderful blog! I'm making these for dinner tonight, mixture is ready and waiting to fry... Can't wait.

  16. Hi,

    This is the first recipie of yours I've tried and I was very impressed! I was a bit worried about the chilli because I'm not a spicey food fan but it was fine. It also worked really well as a whole meal with only lettuce and a bit of dip and there's leftovers!

    I have your blog as an RSS feed with my email which is brilliant as I can sneak a peek at work and plan dinner with inspiration.

    Keep up the good writing :-)

  17. I keep coming back to this recipe - is brilliant!

  18. yummy more no carb recipies please I made these today for lunch without breadcrumbs and they were great Sarah