Introvert parenting – what I’ve learned in 6 months

As I sit here enjoying the brief respite that nap time brings, along with my very large coffee and homemade breakfast biscuits (stay tuned, recipe to come!), I am reflecting on the first 6 months of my journey into parenting.  More specifically, parenting as an introvert.

I feel that being an introvert is something that’s often misunderstood, and so becomes almost a dirty word.  People think that it means that you’re anti-social, or that you don’t like people, and that isn’t true at all.  I love my friends and family, and have had some of my best times over the last few years since we started “girls’ nights”, where we can all gather over food and wine, and just enjoy each other’s company.  What introversion really means to me is all about how we recharge.  Extroverts are energized by other people, whereas introverts recharge by being alone.

Personally, I’m a really strong introvert.  I need that alone time.  And not need like “I’ll be a bit cranky if I don’t get it”, but need like crying and screaming in the corner pulling my hair out need.  For me, this has been the biggest challenge of parenting.  Simply being needed that much is exhausting and draining for me.  When the baby doesn’t need me, the cat’s meowing because she wants attention, or my husband needs something, or housework needs to be done, or I’m working where 30 other people need me.  Some days it’s hard to find time just to breathe, especially when I’m making a choice between breakfast or a shower, lunch or cleaning the kitchen so I can make dinner…

Don’t get me wrong, my husband does help.  But his upbringing was different to mine, and so we do things very differently.  I don’t feel like cooking dinner but I do it because we have food in the fridge and I want to save money.  He doesn’t feel like cooking so he orders take out.  I’m not saying either is better, it’s just different.  And when you’re running on very low reserves, different can be frustrating too.  And then of course, there’s the mommy guilt.  The little voice that tells you what you should be doing instead of sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee, that tells you that you’re a bad mother for wanting time away from the baby.

If any of this sounds familiar, I feel for you, I really do.  Parenting is hard, and parenting as an introvert brings its own list of very specific challenges that other people just may not get.  And so I wanted to share a few of the conclusions that I’ve come to over the last 6 months.

1. You’re not alone

Introverts make up 25-50% of the population, so you’re not the only person dealing with this.  Of course, you may not wish to reach out to those people, and they may prefer to be in their own bubble for a while too!  But just knowing that I’m not abnormal has helped.

2. It’s OK to need what you need

I was racked with guilt about wanting time away from my family.  Here I was with a great husband and a beautiful, healthy, happy baby boy, and I just wanted to leave them at home and go somewhere else.  Anywhere else.  What I had to accept is that while being a parent changes your priorities, it doesn’t change your fundamental personality.  If you needed a certain amount of alone time to recharge before you had kids, you’ll still need it after you have them.  That’s just a part of who you are, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The worst thing you can do is to completely ignore what you need.  You can’t take care of anyone if you’re running on empty.

3. It doesn’t make you a bad parent

Mommy guilt is real.  Whether it’s because you use disposable diapers, feed your baby formula, put them in daycare while you’re at work, let them watch TV or eat junk food, or simply because you need a break from them for a couple of hours, there always seems to be something that someone says we should be doing better.  In fact, apparently 94% of parents struggle with guilt over their parenting choices.  The truth of the matter is that no-one is perfect, and it just isn’t possible to have and do everything.  You simply can’t work full time and be at home with the baby full time and do all of the housework and have a healthy homemade dinner on the table at 6 every day and have perfect make-up and hair and workout and and and….  At least, I don’t see how, and I certainly wouldn’t be sane if that was my life.  I feel very privileged that I don’t have to work full time and am able to be at home with my baby during the day.  But I work in the evenings, so I sacrifice time with my husband.  And there are days that I have to choose between having a shower and eating breakfast, so typically I choose to eat, because I’m nursing a baby and need the calories.  So maybe on those days, I spend a few hours with my hair smelling of baby vomit that got spat up into it at 6:30 am.  Choice and sacrifice is part of the deal of being an adult, and it doesn’t make you a bad parent or mean that you don’t love your child.  In fact, it makes you a great parent, because you’re doing what needs to be done, and that includes taking care of yourself on a level that other people can’t help with.  So if you need a night out with the girls and a couple of glasses of wine (a.k.a. Mommy juice!), that’s OK.  And if you need to leave the baby at home with Daddy for a couple of hours while you go to a yoga class, go to the gym, get your haircut, get a manicure, or just go to starbucks or the park and read a book, that’s OK too.  I can’t speak for everyone, but my husband actually likes having extra time with the baby, because he really only gets an hour a day with him otherwise, so you might actually be doing everyone a favor if you take a few hours for yourself.  Doing what’s right for you (at least sometimes) is what’s right for your family.

4. Tell your partner/support person

One of the hardest parts of this for me was to tell my husband that this was what I needed, and a lot of that comes back to the Mommy guilt and the feeling that I should be able to do everything and should be doing it better.  But once I told him we were able to make a plan so that it doesn’t get out of hand.  On Saturday mornings, I leave my husband and baby at home with a bottle of expressed milk in the fridge, and I go to a yoga class with one of my favorite instructors.  Sometimes I’ll come straight home so that I can watch the English Premier League football afterwards (I will still leave my husband to take care of the baby during this), and sometimes I’ll go to a coffee shop where I’ll buy myself a snack and a coffee and I’ll sit in the sun and read a book.  Yep – I’ll spend money on myself, and I’ll be by myself for an hour or more, doing something that outwardly achieves nothing.  And you know what?  It’s great, and I don’t feel guilty for doing it anymore, because I know that inwardly what it achieves is keeping me sane, and that’s vital for me and for my family.  My husband now knows that he needs to be at home and completely available on a Saturday morning.  And if your partner isn’t available, ask someone else to watch the baby.  Something I’ve learned from my friends is that everyone wants to play with the baby for a couple of hours.  So remind yourself that it’s OK to let them!

I hope something in there helps you if this is something you’re working through.  And if you have any other tips or advice for introvert parents, I’d love to hear them!

Lemon lavender shortbread (gluten free!)

First of all, happy Easter!

This recipe is something that I first made for an Easter brunch last year.  My best friend offered to host, and so of course my first thought was to bake.  Actually, that’s usually my first thought, regardless of occasion!  She has a pretty serious gluten allergy, and I love that this challenges me to find new things to bake.  I’ve been baking with regular wheat flour since I was a child, but I’m still relatively new to the world of gluten free baking.

While searching for gluten free shortbread I found this beautiful and simple recipe from King Arthur flour.  The base shortbread recipe is only 4 ingredients: almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract and butter.  Throw everything together in a mixer, chill, slice and bake.  Even with a small monkey at home I can get that done.  Since I was making this for an Easter brunch, I wanted to go in a more “springy” direction with the flavor, so I opted for lemon and lavender.  I would suggest you don’t overdo it with the lavender – it’s a pretty strong flavor and can either end up a little bitter or smelling like Grandma’s soap, neither of which is overly appealing.  This is an incredibly versatile recipe that lends itself well to a variety of flavor combinations, and it’s so easy to make that you’d be able to whip up a batch for any event, whatever the season.

The add-ins for this recipe don’t require any additional steps in terms of the actual baking.  Just throw them into the mixer with everything else.  I added the zest of 1 lemon and 1/2 tbsp of food grade lavender which I had pulsed in a magic mix to grind it slightly, but you could put it in whole if you wanted.  Once everything starts to come together, turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap and squeeze it into a log.  Chill for at least an hour to let the butter re-harden, slice into rounds approximately 1/4 inch thick and bake at 350 F for 12-14 minutes, until just starting to brown at the edges.  They’ll firm up as they cool, so don’t overbake them thinking that they’re still soft so they’re not done yet.  Been there, done that.

Of course, being me, this wasn’t enough work yet.  I so love to make things more complicated for myself, just in case everybody else doesn’t think they’re fancy enough.  So, once the shortbread had completely cooled, I half-dipped them in melted semi-sweet chocolate.  If you choose to melt your chocolate in the microwave, do it in small increments so that you don’t burn it.  Let the chocolate harden, and there you have it.  The most Easter-y thing I could come up with, completely gluten free, and totally melt in the mouth.  OK, so my chocolate isn’t going to be winning any awards any time soon, but unlike many gluten free baked things, these don’t have a weird cardboard-type texture and you won’t find yourself looking for the “real”  thing later on to make up for it.  So I consider that a win!

Gluten free lemon lavender shortbread

Base recipe: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp food-grade lavender, ground or whole, as desired
  • Optional – semi-sweet chocolate for coating

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in mixer with paddle attachment until a dough starts to form.
  2. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log
  3. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  5. Slice chilled dough into rounds 1/4 inch thick
  6. Place on lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes
  7. Cool for 10 minutes on tray to allow cookies to firm up before transferring to wire rack
  8. Once completely cool, half dip the cookies into melted chocolate, if using.

 

Bandanna bib

Finally, after all of the chaos of last week, I’m able to get back to some of my (far too) many ongoing projects.  If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know that I currently have a drool monster living in my house!  Since he got more mobile and is rolling everywhere, he has also become something of a spit up monster.  In the hope of keeping at least some of his clothes clean, I wanted to put bibs on him all the time, instead of just for meal time (homemade baby food posts to follow – stay tuned!).  But, the bibs that we have, while cute enough and certainly functional, cover up the cute outfits that I so diligently choose several times a day.  Cue my search for bandanna bibs.  These tend to be smaller than regular bibs, so they’re great for drool (although not so much for food-related messes), and can be more a part of the outfit than a cover for it.  And you know what I found?  Man, are those things expensive for what they are.  I mean, seriously, a small piece of flannel and cotton for $4 each?!  Are you kidding?!

With this is mind, and armed with coupons, off we went to Joann fabrics and crafts after church on Sunday.  I had planned to get a couple of flannel fat quarters and a couple of cotton fat quarters and start from there.  What I actually ended up with was a small bundle of each (reduced from $9.99 to $5.99 each).

20170409_135614

OK, the polka dots may not be the most masculine of prints, but it’s going to be drooled on by a baby who hasn’t yet been introduced to the concept of masculinity.  I think we’ll get away with it.

I should say at this point that I am definitely not meant to be a seamstress.  Sewing always seems like it should be so easy, but for some reason I seem to create a multitude of problems with tension, threads catching or breaking, or just not even getting the stitches straight.  So if I can make these, you can!

For these you’ll want one piece of cotton and one piece of flannel.  Actually, it doesn’t really matter what fabric you use, as long as at least one of them is absorbent.  Once you have your fabric, you want to start with squares.  Or at least, roughly squares.  I measured 12 inches down each side of the fabric, folded it intro a triangle and cut around it.  If you want the pattern in a specific orientation when the bib is finished, you may have to rotate your fabric, since the diagonal between 2 corners will end up being the top of the bib.  One square will make 2 pieces, so you can just use one square if you want the same pattern front and back, or you can use it to make 2 bibs so that you can replace the first one when it’s been soaked through!  Keeping your “square” folded into a triangle, fold it in half again so that you can find the middle of the long side.  Either mark or make a small cut here (you won’t be keeping this piece, so don’t worry about making a hole in it). Unfold back to the first triangle, and measure 1 inch down from the middle point that you just marked or cut.  Draw a straight line from this point to each corner and cut, leaving 2 pieces that are roughly triangular with a shallow v on the long side.

Pin the pieces with the right sides facing each other and cut around an inch off of the top corners to make it less bulky when you turn it.  Sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, making sure you leave a hole to turn it the right way afterwards.  Where you leave the hole is up to you.  Personally, I find the finish a little neater if I leave one of the ends open, but it is definitely harder to turn.  You may also want to cut a small notch into the point at the bottom (being careful not to cut the seam), just to remove some of the excess fabric.

Once your bib is the right way round, press it to neaten the seams.  Of course, you don’t have to do this.  If I’m rushing because I don’t have much nap time left to work with, I’ll skip this step.  If I was making this for someone else, I would definitely do it.  Pin the hole closed, and top stitch all the way around  Finish up the ends, sew on a snap and you’re all done!

The only thing left to do is wrangle it onto the drool monster!

20170411_104042.jpg

Since the fabric was reduced and I got 40% off the snaps, I managed to make 8 of these for about $14.  There are no specific fabrics that you need to use for these – you could upcycle an old towel or t-shirt, or dig through the bargain bins at the store.  The only hard and fast rule is to make sure those snaps are on nice and tight so that they don’t become a choking hazard.

If you want a printable pattern instead of measuring, folding and cutting, please let me know and I’ll make one.  If you make some of these, I’d love to see the results!

DIY positivity

I had so many plans for last week. Baking projects, baby projects, crochet projects, blog posts… And then it all went wrong. My father-in-law went into the hospital for a minor procedure and ended up having major heart surgery. So instead of the baking and sewing and crocheting, I worked and took care of the baby and tried to just keep everyone going. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have finished at least one of my projects so that I can post it. But until then, I’m just working on staying positive.

While I was pregnant I took a lot of yoga classes. I was actually in a class the day before I went into labor! My favorite instructor at my local studio likes to start the class with a short story or anecdote from her week, and a quote that helps or inspires or encourages her. In the middle of my pregnancy I also lost my dad to cancer, so I was willing to take positivity wherever I could find it. It was around that time that she read this quote in class:

This really spoke to me, and inspired me a great deal through the pregnancy. Being a mom has definitely proven that it was worth turning my life upside down! So I’d like to share this with you today, and encourage you to embrace the change, big or small, because you never know if life will be better upside down! 

Oatmeal “cupcakes”

Being a nursing mom, there’s one thing that I spend a fair amount of my baby’s nap times doing.  No, sadly not sleeping.  Eating.  I eat A LOT!  While originally I was concerned about when I was going to lose the weight, I found that what I was really concerned about was when I could stop wearing maternity jeans and wear “real clothes” again.  Well, during all of the planning of workouts and counting of calories I discovered that what is far more important to me than that is producing enough milk to feed my tiny boy with a seemingly monstrous appetite.  Once again, the pinterest searching began, looking for ways to hide those ingredients that are supposed to help with milk supply.  I’ve stayed away from the brewer’s yeast, partly because of the hassle of getting the right thing, and partly because everyone seems to think it tastes awful, but what I do eat in fairly large quantities is oats and flax seeds.  I’m not the biggest fan of morning oatmeal – I’m a savory breakfast person, and so oatmeal just doesn’t do it for me.  I’ve been making chocolate, almond butter “energy balls”, which are fantastic, but take a block of time to prepare, thereby taking up all of the time during one of my son’s naps when I could have actually been eating or showering, or doing any of those other things that simply need to be done in order for life to work.  So, I decided to try to come up with something a little quicker, or at least less involved.  Out came the cupcake pan and the silicone liners, and a few of my pantry staples.  Within minutes, these were in the oven, and 20 minutes after that they were cooling to go into the fridge.  I use the term “cupcake” fairly loosely here, purely because I don’t have another name for them at the moment, but I’ll gladly take suggestions!

To make these I literally took all of the ingredients and threw them in a bowl.  After mixing, I distributed everything into the silicone cases, topped them up with water, and put them in the oven.  Done and done.  So foolproof that even I, with my mommy brain, managed not to screw it up (unless you count accidentally throwing the measuring cup in the trash and then spending 10 minutes looking for it!).  And it’s completely customizable with any ingredients you like.  Can’t eat nuts?  Just leave them out.  Don’t like coconut?  Swap it for something.  Don’t have applesauce?  Switch it for banana, or just leave it out.  You get the idea.  Mine are not particularly sweet because I don’t add any sugar, but you could sweeten them if that’s your thing.  If you come up with other flavor combinations I’d love to hear about them!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup each of your fillings
    • chocolate chips
    • coconut
    • dried apricot
    • chopped walnuts
    • anything and everything you like!
  • pinch salt
  • water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Line a 12 hole cupcake pan with silicone cases (or paper cases)
  3. Mix all ingredients together
  4. Distribute between cases
  5. Top up with water – just below the top of the filling, you don’t want it too wet
  6. Bake for 20 minutes
  7. Store in the fridge once cool

Chocolate walnut couronnes

This is not the post I had planned for this week.  I was hoping to get my next baby project posted, but sadly it’s taking more time to finish than I anticipated.  So, instead, I baked.

My husband and I have recently starting binge watching the Great British Bake Off, and it makes me want to bake.  A lot.  I shouldn’t be surprised by this given my affinity for baked goods.  Apparently, at the age of 3, when asked what I wanted for Christmas, I responded with “some cake”, and at the age of 5 or 6 I asked my Mum to teach me to bake without a mixer, in case at some point in my life I didn’t have one and still felt a compulsion to bake.  So what I wanted to bake first was some kind of sweet bread.  I would have loved to start with a traditional Cornish saffron cake, but my husband isn’t a big fan, and he tends to get mad when I bake for people who aren’t him!  So instead, I was planning to make a Croatian povitica.  That is, until I looked at the recipe and saw that the dough would need to be stretched out to 1m in length, and that just isn’t going to happen in my mournfully small kitchen.  So, option 2 was a couronne.  This is a twisted sweet bread named for it’s crown-like shape.  The one on the show was filled with apricots and marzipan, which sounds delicious to me, but my husband wasn’t loving that idea.  I’m not much of a traditionalist with much food – I’m all for changing things up to suit different purposes.  In this vein, I switched out the filling for something closer to that of a povitica, although I’ll say now that I didn’t really follow a recipe so much as look at a list of ingredients and make something up.  I also decided to make 6 small ones instead of 1 large one.

I made a couple of substitutions to the dough itself.  I didn’t have any bread flour, and with a 5 month old I’m not dealing with the hassle of the grocery store for 1 ingredient.  So I used regular all purpose flour instead.  I also didn’t have instant yeast in my pantry, but I did have a jar of active yeast in the fridge, so I used that instead and just converted the quantity.  The rest of the ingredients and instructions for the dough were following Paul Hollywood’s recipe, which you can find here.  OK, one other substitution I should admit to – I made it in my mixer and just finished the kneading by hand.  Tired Mommy arms and all that…

Once the dough was made and rising, I started on the filling.  I creamed 1/4 cup butter with 1/3 cup sugar until pale and, well, creamy.  I then beat in 1 egg yolk, followed by 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa and finally 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts.  The walnuts could have been finer, but I wanted there to be a bit of texture instead of the filling just being paste.

To assemble the couronnes, I basically followed the instructions in the original recipe except that after rolling the dough I cut it into 6.  I spread the filling onto each in a fairly thin layer and rolled them tightly from one of the long sides.  I did find it helpful to pinch the seams closed before cutting the rolls in half lengthwise, and then twisting the pieces around each other.  Once twisted, I curled the ends around to make circles and transferred the couronnes to a baking sheet.  Next time, I’ll probably reduce the width of the initial rectangle so that the 6 pieces aren’t as long and either have them be wider or a little thicker to make the rolls smaller but thicker.

The recipe stated to glaze with apricot jam, but since I didn’t have any, and I’d already separated an egg to put the yolk into the filling, I used the beaten egg white to glaze them.  I did this once they’d been in a 400 F oven for 20 minutes, and then put them back in for another 5.  The final step is the icing, which has to be done once they’ve cooled.  For this I used the icing that I put on my scones when I bake them.  It’s very simple, just powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract.  The exact quantities aren’t overly critical, it depends on what consistency you’re going for.  All I would suggest is to add the liquid very very gradually – it doesn’t take much to make it too runny.  You can use water instead of milk, and switch the vanilla extract for something else or leave it out altogether if you prefer.  I didn’t want the hassle of cleaning a piping bag for something so small, so I used a snack sized zip top bag with one corner cut off.  Put the icing into the bag, squeeze out the remaining air and seal the top.  Cut one of the bottom corners off (the amount you cut will determine how fine your piping is) and squeeze.  Then just throw it out when you’re done!

OK, they might not win me any baking championships any time soon.  But that’s not going to stop me eating them all before my husband gets home fighting my husband for them when he gets home from work!

20170331_141323.jpg

Chocolate Walnut Couronnes

For the dough:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 packet instant yeast or 2 1/4 tsp active dried yeast

1/4 cup butter, softened

3 1/2 oz milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

For finishing:

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1-2 drops vanilla extract

1/2 – 1 tsp milk or water

 

To make the dough:

Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer, add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until a soft dough has formed.  Knead until the dough is soft and smooth.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling:

Cream the butter and sugar until pale.  Beat in the egg yolk.  Stir in the cocoa and walnuts.

Then, assemble the couronnes:

Pre-heat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Roll the dough out into a large rectangle and cut width-wise into 6 even pieces.  Spread the filling on each piece, leaving a gap around the edge.  Roll each piece tightly from the long edge, and then cut in half lengthwise, leaving a small piece attached at one end to make the twisting easier.  Twist the 2 pieces together like a rope and join the ends to form a circle.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Glaze with the egg white and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.  Once cool, finish with a drizzle of icing.

Pre-baby freezer stocking list and Cornish pasty recipe

As I mentioned when writing my toad in the hole recipe, the best idea I had in my final weeks of pregnancy was to fill my freezer to the brim with pre-made food.  I will start with a disclaimer here – I have a compulsive need to organize things, and there’s almost nothing I love more than a good spreadsheet.  Seriously, it comes right after family, friends, wine and chocolate!  So, armed with my trusty laptop, I spent many, many hours searching the internet for recipes that sounded good, and arranged them all in my mind-saving spreadsheet for easy access.

Now I realize that this doesn’t sound fun to some (OK, let’s try 99% of) people.  And so, what I’d like to do with the first part of this post is to share my own for you all to use as you wish.  The only thing that I have removed from the spreadsheet is the highlighting that I used to keep track of what I’d made and what was still to be done.  It’s a small thing, but I really recommend doing that as you go.  My list was really big, and my mental capacity at the time was teeny tiny!  It’s amazing we manage to get through pregnancy at all, with all of the things our darling unborn children do us along the way!

In it’s full form, this spreadsheet also included many other sheets, including our baby registry list, contact info for various people (in all seriousness, my husband could barely remember my name by the time we got to the hospital, we needed lists!), packing lists, lists of classes we were taking, and a few other things.  If you want a more comprehensive version, let me know and I’ll send it to you.  For now, this is purely my recipe list.  I didn’t actually get everything on this list made, mainly because my apartment contains a somewhat sorry excuse for a freezer, but I have since had everything on the list, and I personally like all of the recipes.  For things that don’t need a recipe, or for recipes that I already had myself, I just listed freezing instructions.  You’ll see when you look at it.  The spreadsheet is freely available for you to download.

Freezer list.

There is something on this list that you may not be overly (or at all) familiar with if you’re not from the UK, and that is Cornish pasties.  This is something that I have been eating since I was a child, because my Mum’s side of the family are all from Cornwall, and it’s one of those things that would always put a smile on my face when my Mum made them for us.  Originally, they were something that the tin miners would have had for lunch, with a savory filling at one end a sweet filling at the other end.  The folded crust made it nice and sturdy to hold, and would be thrown away so that they didn’t have to try to scrub their hands clean in the middle of a mine.  They’re very simple in terms of ingredients, but if you want to make the pastry from scratch, they can be time consuming.  The list does include a link to a recipe from the BBC website for shortcrust pastry if this is a route that you want to take.  I have to admit that I have never been good at making pastry.  Scratch that.  I’m terrible at it.  I have almost no issues with baking cakes, breads, other baked items.  But when it comes to pastry, the only success I’ve ever had is a recipe that uses a food processor and makes a sweet shortcrust pastry for a chocolate ganache pie.  So, being heavily pregnant and easily annoyed by almost anything, I cheated and used pre-made pie crust.  Does it taste as good as when my Mum makes it?  No.  Is it good enough when you’ve barely slept and only have 5 minutes to eat?  Hell yes.  The other ingredients are potato, onion, swede (also called turnip or rutabega, depending on where you are.  Only the Cornish call it turnip though, don’t confuse it with the small white things that the rest of us know as turnips!) and chuck steak.  You don’t even need to pre-cook anything.  We always used plates as templates to cut the pastry – side plates for smaller ones, dinner plates for large ones.  And when I say large, I mean enormous.  A side plate sized one is plenty for most people.

To make the pasties, cut your pastry into circles, and fill one side with a decent heap of diced potato, swede and onion.  Add some steak, also diced, and season with salt and pepper.  Fold the other side over, and use either milk or egg wash to make sure that the edges seal together.  Fold the sealed crust inwards, similar to a calzone, and transfer to a baking sheet.  Poke a hole in the side to let the steam escape, brush with milk or egg wash, and bake at 350 F for around 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Done.  Personally I think they’re best hot with tomato ketchup, but they work cold too.  If you’re making a batch and freezing them, cook them, let them cool, wrap each one individually in foil and then freeze them all together in a large ziploc bag.  Then you can just pull out as many as you need, unwrap them and reheat from frozen in a 350 F oven for about 30 minutes.  I hope you enjoy the recipe, and if you give them a try please let me know how they turn out!