Friday, 16 November 2012

Duck and pancake (sort of)

I spent almost my entire first pregnancy worried about how much harder and worse it would be to be pregnant with a toddler in tow.

Of course, I was right to be worried. It's absolutely horrible. I have also got much fatter and stiffer quicker this time and am out of breath and feel queasy and faint at any sort of physical effort. Bending down makes me feel dizzy and lightheaded and if I pick Kitty up I feel like my bum is going to fall off.

But in some ways, being pregnant the second time around is easier. No-one pushes you around. No-one lectures you about how shit/marvellous having a baby is. Basically no-one really cares and it is great.

I also now know how long nine months is. It's a fucking long time. So you might as well take your coat and shoes off and arrange all your stuff around you nicely and get comfy because you're going to be in this state for a flipping age. My friend AC compares it with flying long-haul, economy. Just when you think you can't stand it any more, it turns out you're only in Dubai and you've got another huge slog left.

Mistake #1 that I am not going to make with this pregnancy is to look like a horrible slob. Last time around I just slopped around in disgusting denim jeggings and filthy Converse and ugly jersey tops, thinking that money spent on maternity jeans, or tights or new shoes or underwear or anything was a waste.

No fear. Not this time. I went out and bought, on the advice of my wardrobe guru Becky B, a pair of J Brand black skinny jeans for £185, which the nice girl in the shop, (Trilogy in Hampstead), sent off to get turned into a pair of maternity jeans. Then after you've had the baby, they turn them BACK into a pair of normal jeans! Let no-one say I am not thrifty. Although frankly they are probably going to be so knackered by next May that won't be much left to turn back into normal jeans.

And I've got a dress from Isabella Oliver, and ankle boots and a Zara tweed jacket with leather sleeves (I know! I AM fashion!), and some smart harem trousers and THREE new pairs of maternity tights and loads of these t-shirts from Top Shop, which are an absolute life saver.

Giles hates all of it. But as Becky B said as she saw me hesitating over the harem trousers "Don't ask yourself whether Giles will like it. He will only think you look nice if your arse and boobs are all hanging out." Becky B is Scottish via Blackheath and I always do whatever she tells me.

But I am, basically, doing all this for Giles. Because the person who really suffers during my pregnancy frump-outs is him. But it's not for him, him - if that makes sense - because he is a bit wary of all these rather @ManRepeller new clothes, but for other people, looking at him. I don't want people in restaurants to go "Oh look, there's Giles Coren and there's his.... really frumpy... dowdy.... fat... wife... urgh," I want them to say "Wow Giles must be really cool to be married to someone who wears harem pants!!!"

Mistake #2 I am going to try not to make this time is to get incredibly fat. I've already put on a stone, in the first trimester sugar/carb/neausea feeding frenzy - but I am wondering if all the eating I did last time in my 2nd and 3rd trimesters wasn't done out of self-pity and boredom, rather than actual hunger. I don't mean going on any sort of diet, I just mean when I've got a raging thirst I might try to quench it with sparkling water first, rather than a giant thing of Coca Cola.

(I once read in a pregnancy magazine, by the way, a thing that said "By five months, your jeans might be feeling a little tight." A LITTLE TIGHT??! Fucking hell, in both pregnancies I was in stretchy waistbands at EIGHT WEEKS. I wanted to set fire to the magazine but it would have made a terrible smell.)

What gives me hope is that I'm not as in to full Sunday roasts and lots of carbs as I was first time. All I really want is sushi. Sashimi, nigiri, california rolls, spicy tuna rolls. Maybe a seaweed salad? Cheeky little hot sake? It's all I can think about. Large bits of roast meat, creamy things, sticky, rich things all turn me green.

But that's still what my husband likes to eat, so I bought for his dinner the other day some duck breast. And then it sat in the fridge for days as I found excuse after excuse not to cook it because I just couldn't face it.

Then I came up with an idea, which was to use it in a sort of ersatz duck-and-pancake thing. I didn't hold out much hope for this as I only had fajita wraps for the pancake and a bottle of bought hoisin sauce for the sauce and duck breasts for the duck rather than leg.

But it basically worked. Which makes me think that if you could actually get some duck pancake pancakes from somewhere (one of you smartarses must know where?) you'd be really sorted.

I also discovered a very good way of cooking duck breasts, which gives you a really crispy skin and doesn't fill the kitchen with blue smoke.

1 Score the skin of the duck in a diamond pattern and then place on some kind of grill or grid suspended over the skin then pour 1/2 a kettle-full of boiling water over them.

2 Dry the duck very well and then put in the fridge to dry out completely - all day is great but 45 minutes will make a difference.

3 When you are ready to cook the duck, season with salt and pepper and five spice (if you want) and then put in a dry frying pan skin side down.You don't need any oil or anything because the duck is going to leak a lot of grease. If you have a skillet that will go in the oven use this. Cook this very gently for about 10 minutes, until the skin is brown and the pan is full of duck fat. Then turn the duck over and cook the bottom for 4 mins.

4 Now put in a 180C oven for 8 mins for medium and 10 for well done.

And that's it. Eat with your sliced up cucumber and spring onion with plum or hoisin sauce on whatever pancake type thing you can lay your hands on. Close your eyes and you could almost be in Chinatown.



  1. Duck pancake pancakes from Waitrose.But you knew that really, didn't you?

    1. where? none when I went...

    2. well they're in with the ready made Chinese food in cardboard/cellophane packages in our Waitrose.Quite small packets with 10 or 12 pancakes ,I think.

  2. A friend of mine swears that it's piss easy to make the Chinese pancakes. And I'm inclined to believe her, because she's a bit thick.

  3. Lol!! Trust me come spring you'll be digging out those jeggings! The second pregnancy lasts about 2 years...

    Sounds lovely. I'm ashamed to say I've never cooked duck before. I'm going to be brave.

  4. I don't go into actual shops because I don't like other people, but Ocado says Waitrose does Chinese pancakes and I've bought them in shops in China Town too.

    1. That is exactly how I feel about supermarkets - why should I go an traipse around with other people when I can sit on my sofa and summon the food to my house?

  5. Oh, I spent the second half of my pregnancy in Italy, and there was intense pressure from everyone to keep the weight down. Pregnancy magazines said things like, at five months, it would be sufficient to gain two kilos (one third of a stone, right?), and gynecologists (every pregnant woman has one of those) give advice on dieting during pregnancy (!!)... and my mother-in-law bought me scales for Xmas when I was eight months pregnant...

    Saying that, when / if I get pregnant again, I will definitely try to limit myself to one breakfast (instead of two!) and from gaining three stone...

  6. Yep - Waitrose does them. I've got a pack in my fridge as we're having duck pancakes tonight!

  7. I am 22 weeks preg with number two and had similar resolve about not getting so fat again. Have given up already - pathetic lack of willpower. Saw an NCT friend for lunch this week who is 16 weeks, has no bump and still in her old jeans. Could've wept. Then she had a falafel sandwich and I had burger and chips. Inexplicable.

    I bought a load of stretchy dresses and tunic tops from the White Company in large sizes this time, as nicer quality than many maternity brands, and I like to emphasise the bump while it's a bump, rather than the ocean of wobble afterwards.

  8. Strangely duck pancakes were my second pregnancy craving!
    What did you wear to the wedding?? We all want to know...

  9. Elizabeth Medovnik17 November 2012 at 22:43

    Ignore Giles - I bet you look amazing! I used to look ok before I was pregnant, and reasonably ok while I was pregnant (thanks to my sister giving me a lot maternity cast-offs), but since Mimi was born I just wear stretchy Pineapple trousers and something from M&S called a cardigown if it's cold. I do change into jeans when I go out but I always look scruffy because I can't be bothered to wash my hair anymore. If you're feeling dizzy, could you be anaemic? I recommend Solgar's 'Gentle Iron' as it's easy to absorb and doesn't cause constipation, and Floradix is supposed to be very effective at raising your iron levels. Hope the queasiness improves very soon xx

  10. I remember the midwife first time round telling me off for putting on so much weight but I continued tradition for the next two. It does come off. Just stick to the sushi & Thai/Vietnamese foods which are all pretty delicious but not fattening.
    Enjoy your wardrobe.

  11. Ahh I was in denial for much of my first trimester. My jeans were impossibly tight by 8 weeks but I still wore them unbuttoned (with some sort of horrific "belly band") until close to 13 weeks, only because if I'm still wearing them it must mean I have not gained much weight, right???? However, despite feeling like a squishy roly poly for the first 3 months, my mood/ general outlook in life improved vastly once I acquired some maternity jeans that actually fit. So good on you for getting the clothes; I think it's totally worth the expenses.

    Also- agree with you on benefit of 2nd pregnancy: no one harassing you about what it's like to have a baby. That drove me nuts.

    Hope you feel fantastic (not dizzy/ queasy/ out of breathe) for the rest of your pregnancy...

    Veronica x

  12. I had a cobalt blue fisherman smock type-thing which I thought looked way too cool ever to be associated with matters maternal.

    Visiting a restaurant while wearing it, the Maitre D said, "It can't be long now, Madame."
    At that stage, the baby was three months old....

  13. Hello. Very funny post and congrats on your second pregnancy. I put on weight really fast with baby no.2 because I was lazy and greedy.

    One tip is the Heattech tops from Uniqlo are great worn under things that might otherwise get a bit short over the bump. They are really stretchy and keep you warm (despite what everyone says I really felt the cold with both pregnancies).

    Also those little pancakes you get from Waitrose, children love them and will eat almost anything if wrapped up in them..

  14. Yes, those topshop tops are So useful pregnant or not. Hides a multitude of sins.

    Going to try your Banana bread again today, but with dates. I bit confused about measurements as date quantity a lot less?

    Hope the nausea subsides. Mine got worse with each pregnancy. Three girls. Just what you need to hear!

  15. Yes yes I agree, what did you wear to the wedding?xx

  16. Order a gazillion pancakes from Wing Yip Chinese supermarket - pretty sure they'll post them out. They come frozen, in packs of about 100 so you'll be eating them for ever but they're lovely so you won't mind.

  17. Esther you're a genius! I just made this for lunch. Brilliantly easy and no smoke. I didn't have a cucumber or onions nor pancakes - so I thinly sliced and shoved in a corn tortilla, wrap style. It was delicious. I'm always going to use this method of cooking from now on - what a revelation. Thanks!

  18. You can buy massive packs of the pancakes frozen in chinese supermarkets. They're broken into smaller sets of 4 each or 6 each on the inside.
    Just leave on the counter to defrost naturally :)