New mums are faced with a deluge of conflicting information about what they should and shouldn’t do about almost everything when it comes to parenting!
The dilemma of modern day parenting is nicely summed up by a recent post doing the rounds on Facebook. It goes something like this:
How to be a parent in 2017: Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, nutritional, and social needs are met while being careful not to over-stimulate, under-stimulate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen-free, processed foods-free, GMO-free, negative energy-free, plastic-free, body-positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-storey, multilingual home, preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two years apart for proper development; also, don’t forget the coconut oil.
How to be a parent in almost every generation before ours: Feed them sometimes.
While obviously mostly a leg-pull, there’s a certain element of truth in there. Given love, a caring home and good food, opportunity to laugh and explore, a little bit of structure and guidance, and a chance to be a part of the community, most people do OK.
So providing good food is actually a major part of being a parent!
Fortunately, it isn’t really all that hard, especially if you have the chance to get together with friends and neighbours and share produce, and maybe share the cooking tasks as well sometimes.
There are possibilities with food co-ops as well, especially if a group of people join up together to take advantage of bigger supplies, which are often cheaper, but can be a bit of a challenge for one family to deal with.
Getting together with other like-minded people, with children of a similar age, provides not only moral support but the opportunity to pick each other’s brains for good, tasty, easy-to-make recipes that might keep almost everyone in the household happy.
If you have a young baby just starting on solids, it can be a lot cheaper to make your own baby food and freeze it as ice cubes, than to buy the prepared stuff in tins or jars.
You can also incorporate what you know your child likes, and is therefore most likely to actually eat. Common first foods include things like pumpkin, kumara, stewed apples or pears, and these can be prepared really cheaply if you have a vege garden and some fruit trees, or have friends and family who have surplus produce.
For older children, and the adults in the household, keep it as simple as possible.
If you can incorporate plenty of fresh (and even better, organically grown) stuff out of the garden, so much the better. With a small baby in the house (and very tired parents!), no-one wants to be messing about with haute cuisine.
Use what you have, and find recipes that older children and partners can cook! To get you going, here are some very basic ideas for things that might make life easier at the end of a long, tiring day.
Singapore Fried Noodles
This is a great quick dinner. It can be made with or without meat, and is an ideal extendable dish in the event of surprise dinner guests! Again, it’s very easy to do and older children can help with the cooking.
250-300g rice vermicelli noodles – you can cut these into about 10cm lengths with kitchen scissors if you find the full length difficult to eat!
3 – 4 tbsp mild flavoured cooking oil (light olive oil is good)
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
2 medium courgettes, trimmed and julienned
1-2 celery sticks, washed and cut into thin matchstick lengths
4 – 5 spring onions, trimmed and sliced into short lengths
300-400g leftover shredded roast pork, cooked chicken, cooked mince, or any other cooked meat you enjoy. This is optional – the dish is equally nice made just with eggs and vegetables
2 tsp curry powder
2-4 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
salt to taste
Soak the noodles in boiling water in a large bowl for 20 minutes, turning with a fork to loosen the threads from time to time.
Drain the noodles and rinse in cold water to stop them from sticking together.
Lightly whisk the eggs to blend, and make a thin omelette in a non-stick pan, using a little oil.
When done, remove, roll up and cut into thin strips. Set aside.
Heat remaining oil in a wok and add carrot and spring onion. Cook until still crisp but tenderised.
Add meat and stir-fry briefly.
Sprinkle in curry powder and fry briefly to develop the flavour.
Add egg ribbons and noodles, turning to blend thoroughly and heat the noodles through.
Add soy sauce and salt to taste and mix well. Serve at once
Cabbage, apple and onion
This sounds weird but tastes really good. The amounts given here produce 4 large servings.
1 medium onion, sliced in half and then into half rings.
1-2 sweet dessert apples, peeled, quartered, cored and finely sliced (Lemonade apples are particularly nice for this)
½ a small cabbage, finely sliced (1/4 of a large one will be ample)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp sugar
Butter or oil for frying
In a heavy-based frying pan, heat enough oil or butter to cover the bottom of the pan to 1-2mm.
Add the onion and apple and fry gently until the onion and apple are well softened.
Add the sliced cabbage, salt, pepper and ½ tsp sugar, and stir fry the mix over high heat for a minute or two until the cabbage is just tender but still bright green and with a bit of crunch.
Serve with risotto, casseroles, or almost any savoury dish you like!