Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Mama Spoon

I have this very old spoon. The very same one pictured on the right. It's a baby spoon. Although for a baby spoon it is rather large, larger than a teaspoon but smaller than a dessertspoon. I can't imagine it fitting into a wee little mouth. 

The spoon's bowl is engraved with flowers, its also slightly bent where it attaches to a heavy little handle. It's mildly tarnished. I think it's even silver plated, in parts the silver has even worn away. I keep it on my bedside table, or at least close by. I have been known to take this spoon with me when I travel.

It's the family spoon.

I love it. Oh spoon, how I love thee, let me count the ways...

Whenever I need comfort from the woes of the world, apart from Tall Man's shoulder or one of me ladies, I seek out the spoon and stroke its spoon-iness. It's well worn. Not all because of my stroking obsession but because it is quite old and it has been well used.

This spoon - she's got history. This spoon once belonged to my Grandmother (Estelle) and she used it to feed my Mum (Maree) when she was a babe and then my Mum fed me with this same spoon and now I have the spoon. I have never used the spoon for culinary purposes, it just seems far too special. I guess I treat it more like a blankie than a spoon, weird but true. Always within arms reach connection to family, home, food and love.  It is the grand old spoon of love. I am yet to feed Little Squish with the spoon. It needs a darn good clean first.  

I can't wait to really! It has to be a special moment though. I might feed her some of her 1st birthday cake with it. That feels like a nice intro to THE spoon. This spoon just oozes with nourishment and yummy maternal cuddles and sweet sweet love. 

It is home. 

As this is about nourishment I thought I would share with you my most favourite of favourite comfort food recipes.  It's quick, simple, refreshing, healthy, delicious and nutrious. I make this whenever I feel run down, tired or just plain over it.  Plus you have to eat it with a spoon :)

Chicken & Lemon Soup


1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

a good handful of caraway seeds

4 free range chicken breasts

6 cups of chicken stock*

juice of 5 lemons, approximately 1/2 cup

half a celery, chopped leaves and all

cooked white rice

* I've tried a few different chicken stocks, but this one is great.  I always try to have free-range frames in the freezer and some stock ready to go.  I leave out the bay leaves though as I think it makes it taste bitter. I also tend to add a good dose of salt. But, if you don't have the time, use pre-made stock.

Saute the onion until transparent , then add the garlic and caraway seeds, simmer for a few minutes. Add the chicken stock and whole chicken breasts. Simmer until chicken breasts are almost cooked through, approximately 10 minutes. Then add lemon juice. When chicken breasts are cooked, remove from soup. Add celery to soup and continue to simmer. Meanwhile, on a chopping board, use two forks to shred chicken apart into bite size pieces. Add chicken back to soup and serve.

I generally serve this on white rice. But I have also used risoni, brown rice and quinoa. They all work well and it just depends on your mood or preference really.

Photo to follow

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mama Seeking Sanctuary

We are incredibly sleep deprived at the moment. 

Little Squish has not swung back into her lovely 16 hr sleep routine since we came back from our trip up to QLD to meet ALL the relatives (that's another story!).  Some parents would say our comeuppance has arrived.

Sleep depravation is the worst. Any parent will tell you. It leaves you constantly lethargic, lacking the will to live and well, if you're me, incredibly irritable. Being the lively mama I would like to be is a constant uphill battle. But strive on I will, even if with a little hmmph and a frown face on.  Snappy and grumpy. Tall Man would agree. ;-(

So this week was about seeking refuge - quiet, low impact activities to soothe and sate the weary blearys. With a synchronous phone call from a dear friend, who has been having her own chronic battle of a different type, we decided to head for the hills for a slow day.

Hi ho, hi ho off to the William Ricketts Sanctuary we go.

Oh My Goddess! As soon as we entered this place, the knots in my shoulder melted away, time slowed and all seemed right with the fact, what world.  The soft tinkle of bellbirds, moss covered grottos, ferny glades...aaaahhhh!

Bill as he was affectionately known, was an incredibly inspiring artist. He bought some land up in the Dandenongs back in 1934, setup a studio and dedicated his life to sculpting clay and the landscape into an incredible homage to nature and indigenous Australia. Rich in aboriginal lore, this place exudes its own spiritual aura....this is my kind of bush medicine. William Ricketts had such 'reverence for life', exploring his deep connection to nature, the aborigines, Australian fauna and the earth mother in his work.  Sublime.

My spirit was renewed.

I thought I would scrap a recipe for this week's blog, I really haven't been that motivated to cook. Quick easy snacks is where we're at.  I will share something soon.  So, I thought I would share some tips for seeking sanctuary and staying sane in sleepless times.

  • Scheduling unscheduled time is a must. Our lives get filled to overflowing sometimes, time seems to fly by leaving one deliriously spinning. Stopping should not be a luxury but a weekly activity that takes priority.  Lying around doing absolutely sweet FA every now and then is all it takes to recharge. Little Squish loves it when I am in blob mode, lying on the floor I become her climbing gym. Also, watching the odd trashy rom com, will not destroy their minds...but it may save yours.

  • Practise grounding exercises.  Whether its yoga, swimming, dancing, walking, meditation or kick-boxing. Know what it is that releases all the dross that helps keep you well oiled with happy endorphins flowing.  Do it.  It's so easy to put so many other things and people first. But happy mama equals happy baby, happy man, happy world happy everything. This is when you can call on papa, family and friends for some solo time.

  • Eat nurturing, wholesome food. Try to steer clear of processed foods. Dark chocolate is often an essential item though ;0)

  • A cat-nap is better than no nap. Even if there are a squillion loads of washing, dinner to cook, things to fold, people to see, places to go etc., etc.   F%#$ it all and lie down for 5 minutes. It will make the world of difference. Deep Conscious Breathing will also help.

  • Stay in touch with your ladies. Spend time in heart-connecting conversations lying on the grass in the backyard under the shade of a tree with your besties and a cuppa. It's a no-brainer really. Friends are so awesome at giving you perspective, unconditional love, sharing woes, achievements and giggles with. Yay!

  • Find a little time to do what makes your soul sing. Even if all you have is a few minutes. Busting some moves in the lounge room to your all-time favourite rock-out song is gold. Here's mine. Make sure you recognise that you are gifting yourself this time too.  It's so easy to forget when you're busy that you have done some great things for yourself.

  • Pamper yourself.  I love a good massage. I also love a pedicure.  But getting to a salon is virtually impossible these days. I also wonder how good it is to breathe in all those awful acrylic nail chemicals.  So, I now do it at home, sometimes while breast-feeding. Feet in a bucket of peppermint infused warm water, a quick scrub, rub on some oils and tingly fresh toes in no time. If you can convince someone to give you a foot rub then double bonus.

  • Ask for help. I'm getting better at this. Tall Man thinks a little too good. Don't let yourself feel inadequate, guilty or whatever it is that stops you just asking for some assistance. We can't do it all, all the time. Plus it's always good to do boring things with friends.

  • Please add your sane-keeping tips below, we could always use more...

Alrighty then, I am going to leave you with some gorgeous inspiration by Linnea of typenandimage as found on Etsy.

Love and blissings to you and yours,

mama mara

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hellooooo...welcome back to the bright new shiny world mama mara

Little Squish is now 81/2 months old and although I have immensely enjoyed the sweet homely love bubble that we created, I have started to crave my own creative outlet and intellectual stimulation and see what the big wide world has got on offer at the mo.  Starting this blog is all part of this.  Let's just say I was so far out of the loop I was becoming unravelled.  

So as a new mum, who is interested in all things wholesome, verdant, environmentally and future savvy, The Sustainable Living Festival (SLF) and its extensive program have been a massive...woohoo!

Little Squish-friendly - tick, free - tick, right up my alley - tick. 

So I have marked the calendar, my new low-key diary, with all the adventures that Little Squish and I are hoping to get to. Yesterday we managed to get ourselves out to Heide, only 20 minutes late, for the Planting by the Phases of the Moon talk by Danielle Violato.  

As old as time, gardening at its simplest. Joy! How lovely to be so in tune with the moon, the stars and the seasons so that you can maximise the growing potential of your crop.  The theory is that on a molecular level the water content in the soil and then in turn the seed and the plant are affected by the phases of the moon, just as the tides and menstrual cycles are. Put very simply, planting leafy greens around the new moon and more root vegetables closer to the full moon can yield happier more bountiful plants. It is of course a lot more complicated that that also involving zodiac signs, the seasons and of course the weather.  I am going to attempt to put this into practice and see if I can conduct a controlled experiment and see how well it works. Watch this space.

Our day got even brighter on driving home, one of my most all time favourite worldly wordy women, Eve Ensler was interviewed on ABC Classic FM. The podcast is available here.

Following our big day out, I was so inspired and famished I whipped up some spinach parcels. Ordinarily I use feta and ricotta, but I had recently bought some quark and I am all for using what's in the fridge or cupboard to create and try new recipes.  So, quark was having a debut in my kitchen with this recipe. It turned out to be quite exceptional. Quark tastes like a combination of yoghurt, sour cream and cream and seems to be commonly used like ricotta is in recipes and if you say it a three times you do sound like a crow.

Quark and spinach parcels

A large bunch of silverbeet/ kale/ spinach, rinsed and chopped roughly. I just used a combination of what I had, It made about 2-3 cups of cooked greens.

1 large onion, finely diced

1 tbs rice bran oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced

A handful of pine nuts

approx 250g quark

2 eggs

a small wedge of feta, I use danish

salt and pepper to season

some chopped fresh thyme

some chopped fresh basil

3 - 4 sheets of pre-made frozen puff pastry sheets, defrosted.

some milk or a beaten egg for basting pastry.


Pre-heat oven to 180°C.  Simmer or steam greens until slightly soft and wilted. Drain well. Shallow fry onion, pine nuts and garlic in some oil until lightly carmelised.  In a large bowl mix greens, onions, garlic, pine nuts, egg, herbs, feta and quark.  Lightly season.   Brush the base of a large baking pan with oil, then lay out one sheet of defrosted puff pastry, so that is looks like a diamond in the pan.  Fold each point of the pastry square into the centre of the sheet, and slightly crease along the base, so that you have a square shape on the bottom of your parcel. Use this as a guide to fill your parcel.  Spoon mixture onto pastry, don't overfill but try to put enough in so that it will be a nice plump parcel.  Then bring each point of the parcel up to the centre, two at a time, squishing the seams closed using your fingers until your parcel is closed. You should be able to make about 3-4 large parcels, one per tray.  Brush on some milk or a beaten egg to enhance the golden brown factor.   Pop in the oven for approximately 20 mins or until they are golden brown. Cut parcel into four following the seam lines. Enjoy with a green garden salad or as a snack. 

Perfect for us to pop in a container for our next adventure.

I am so glad to have entered the great land of blog and look forward to hearing from you all :0)

Blissings to you and yours,

mama mara