Sunday 24 January 2010

A week of firsts

Life here is full of change. This past week has seemed particularly so. Within a few days I learnt of one friend becoming pregnant and the partner of a friend suddenly dying. Sylvia has a new tooth that came through yesterday. She has had a week of many firsts. It is quite a list.

I saw a quote from Henri Cartier-Bresson on my friend Jo’s blog. It summed up the relentless progress of life which we try to capture with diaries and blogs and photos.

“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”

Cartier-Bresson might have been referring to babies or food when he wrote this. In particular, Sylvia has been making a lot of progress with eating. I am glad she is now eating bread. It opens up many possibilities. At Hellenic Republic a couple of weeks ago she had her first taste of restaurant food – some pita bread. But her favourite food is still fruit. Her little face lights up whenever I pick up a nectarine.

It is busy days here. I return to work in a week so I expect my blogging to be less frequent but I hope to still post regularly. I am already struggling to read all the blogs in my blogreader so apologies if my commenting is also less frequent. (It is also an appropriate time to apologise that my formatting is not great lately as I am having some hiccups with posting.) I have a few nice recipes to post but it all seems slow going. Here is her list of firsts from the last week. Having firsts isn’t limited to babies so I have given E and me a list each at the end of this.

Sylvia’s firsts:

  • First swim in a pool – if you can call standing in a corner poking gum leaves in the air vents swimming. I have booked her into swimming lessons this year, which should be fun.
  • First missing button on her top – don’t know where or when it disappeared – just hope we might find it before she does.
  • First piece of cake – she asked for it and surprisingly ate a few small chunks. Her dad was pleased it was a little neofolk – a vegan plum and walnut cake with a little buckwheat (recipe to come soon).
  • First time eating peas whole – she is fascinated by the little green orbs – no doubt she loves green like her mum – she loves to pick them up, study them and put them in her mouth but about half fall out.
  • First tomato – hard to know if she has swallowed – so many fall out but I think a few have landed in her roly poly tummy.
  • First piece of pineapple – a new love – she gobbles up pieces of fresh pineapple – we have never eaten so much of it before in our house.
  • First discovery of how to open the bin - so much fascinating stuff in there for a baby!
  • First taste of sourdough bread – not a success – she spat it out. She is still not keen on sour tastes but we will keep trying.
  • First time standing up without immediately falling on the nearest wall or piece of furniture for support.
  • First taste of lime juice – see below
  • First instance of eating from my plate – I have usually stopped the little hands that are eager to dig into my dinner but when she was really upset I did it to keep her calm (oh dear she is already emotionally eating) and because it was a rice and vegetable dish with a squeeze of lime juice so nothing that she couldn’t eat. Much of what she took ended up on the floor. But she felt like a grown up.
  • First tofu scramble – I was so happy that she was eating the sort of food we eat. I served it with less seasoning than ours and some of the above rice and vegetables. She wouldn’t eat it from a spoon but picked bits and ate it when I used my fingers. Much of this landed on the floor too but she seemed to like tofu with a bit of tamari. Ours was delicious and great on toast the next morning.
  • First taste of tamari – didn’t make a fuss but I suspect a bit of pineapple made it more palatable in the tofu scramble.
  • First taste of cow’s milk in her cereal – a complete disaster. She has now given up eating cereal. Some subterfuge might be required. Maybe she just wants to be a vegan. She is not keen on cheese either.
  • First play with her new squirters in the bath - who doesn't want an alien squirter in their bath!
  • First attempt to climb out of the bath – I put a halt to that as it is not the place for such shenanigans.
  • First butter on toast - went down quite well. Of course you can guess which sides ends up on the floor when it gets thrown over the side of the high chair.
  • First promite on toast - it was only the tiniest scrape but was not quite as welcome as the butter.
  • First time in her new playpen - to save our sanity - especially when she is chasing Zinc.
  • First pikelets – she was starving as I cooked the baby pancakes and her little teeth kept biting at my jeans. Once the pikelets were cooked she ate a few mouthfuls greedily. Then suddenly she wouldn’t eat a bit of them. Why it is desirable one moment and not in the next is a mystery but probably has some relation to how desperately hungry she is.

My firsts:

  • First macaron – having read about them often on blogs, I finally brought a macaron at Browns. Now I understand the excitement. I might even try baking them some time if I feel really brave.
  • First visit to the local outdoor swimming pool – I went with Sylvia and some of her little friends. Reminded me of my childhood swimming in an unheated pool. Reminded me of why I usually go to the indoor pool.
  • First experience of taking back an unopened packet of brown rice infested with weevils to get my money back from the supermarket - now I have some suspicions of why I occasionally discover weevils in my pantry - most displeased!
  • First attempt at making eggless pikelets/pancakes – not bad – see below.
  • First glimpse of digital tv at home – our first viewing was Torchwood. Love the program but have missed many episodes since it filmed on analogue.
  • First trip to the Australian Open to watch tennis – more about this in another post.

E’s firsts:

  • First week in a secondment at work
  • First opportunity to play with the new set top box for digital tv – he loves having yet another remote control – so does Sylvia!
  • First time preparing Sylvia’s breakfast – he has fed her breakfast before but not prepared. However when I am back at work he will have a day at home with her and will need to take more responsibility.
  • First time peeling a banana – I can’t verify this but he had to have some guidance when he prepared Sylvia’s breakfast this morning. He looked at the banana in bemusement. I asked when was the last time he had one. He guessed that it might have been 1973. So I guess his mother might have peeled it for him. He has learnt an important life skill.

So many shiny new experiences in our house. So much change. I can guarantee there will be more. I want to try tweaking the pikelet recipe and want to try making pizza for Sylvia (Aodhan liked it so she might too).

Meanwhile here is what I did with the pikelets. I have called them eggless because I used cow’s milk but I am sure they would be easily veganised with non-dairy milk. They are still a bit of work in progress. I added some baking powder because I like my pancakes fluffy rather than flat. These were a bit gooey inside but I still enjoyed them with promite on the plain ones and cream cheese and jam on the banana ricotta variation. Well someone had to eat them!

Eggless Pikelets
Adapted from Somthing about Penguins

1 cup wholemeal plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1¼ cup milk
¼ cup apple puree

Banana and Ricotta variation
1 banana, mashed
2 dessertspoons of ricotta

Mix flour, baking powder, milk and apple puree (and banana and ricotta if you choose to add these). Drop dessertspoonfuls on a buttered or oiled frypan over medium high heat. Cook til bubbling and then turn over and cook for another minute or two or until golden brown spots appear on the underside. Eat warm or cold on the day you make them.

On the Stereo:
On the Rocks: Part 1:
Various Artists


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your friend's partner - after several such sudden deaths last year, I know how devastating and disconcerting such losses can be.

    On the upside, what an amazing week of new experiences! My life feels quite dull in comparison, although I have very much enjoyed eating my "first" Greek-style yogurts with thick caramel on the bottom and dairy-free neaopolitan ice-cream sandwiches!

  2. I am loving this list. (except the weevils mind you.) Sounds like you lovely daughter is well on her way into toddlerhood. ANd, good luck with your time back at work. I am very conflicted on returning to work--enjoy the good brook the bad. I know it will go well.

  3. Wow, so many firsts. I loved sylvia's first, she is so adorable. Sorry to hear about the death though, sudden deaths are so horrible.

  4. pikelets are the best! yay at sylvia eating them!

  5. what a list of achievements. Sylvia's bin discovery made me chuckle. Your list reminds me of writing 'things done' lists at the end of the day rather than 'to do' lists at the start. Much more encouraging.
    Condolences to your friend x x x

  6. I'm smiling.....Love this summary of firsts!!!! Fantastic achievements. And I feel blessed....about the plum jam. ♥♥♥

  7. Hi, how are you? All the pictures are lovely:))
    I like this recipe, it looks easy, I never made pancake and I think I will try this for my niece and nephew. I read you want to make pizza, I made some small pizzas for my niece and nephew, actually I made them with my niece when she was only 5. They love them, if you like you can take a look...Bye from Rome, Sabrina

  8. I just adore your photos of Sylvie - I never fail to melt when I see chubby baby arms. Wow, it has been a busy week of firsts! I would never have even thought o fmaking pikelets without eggs - what a grand idea. The number of times I get caught without eggs is legion, so it's good to know about this alternative. BTW, made your beetroot and orsange chutney on the weekend - delicious! Will post about it soon.

  9. I enjoyed all your firsts and especially Sylvia's which give me a taste of what's to come. A lovely post Johanna :)

  10. Great list of firsts, so fun! I got a giggle imagining Sylvia with her first dish of peas, many of them falling out of her mouth, and also E's lack of banana experience in his adult life. Too hysterical!

    I tried vegan pancakes for the first time a couple of weeks ago and found that particular recipe to be a disappointment. They looked great on the outside, but they were too moist in the center. Cooking them longer did nothing but overcook the outside. I am going to keep working on that one!

  11. What a lot of firsts - congrats Sylvia on so much progress! But euwgh about the weevils :( And I cannot believe that E hasn't ever peeled a banana!! Weird man...

  12. Lots of first this week. Hoorah for Sylvia's first bread, but I'm very sorry to hear the bad news about your friends partner.

    Most of all, I just wanted to stop off and wish you lots of luck returning to work next week. I hope it's fun and not too stressful.

  13. I'm surprised you've had time to think with all those firsts!

    Family legend has it that my uncle was about 6 when given a banana for the first time, after the war. He, too, looked at it in bemusement and asked "How do I open it?" In his defence, he'd never seen a real banana before!

  14. Thanks everyone - it was a busy week - and sunday night she had her first wheat pasta and loved it - plus has had some plum jam and chocolate cake since then! Thanks also for your kind condolences for my friend.

    Thanks Hannah - I was amazed to count all the firsts - life is never dull at the moment if you are interested in such minutiae - yoghurt with caramel on the bottom sounds excellent - I hope to have my first one day

    Thanks Maybelle's mom - I feel ambivalent about returning to work - it will be so strange to spend a lot less time with Sylvia but interesting to be back in the big bad world (um do I count that as a good thing or not?)

    Thanks Kristy - yes sudden deaths are horrible - they teach us what shock really means

    Thanks Steph - these pikelets weren't fantastic but are worth some tweaking as pikelets are such fun

    Thanks Nic - I think I prefer to things done list than the things to do list - so much cheerier and less stressful

    Thanks Kitchen Butterfly - will share my first plum jam with on the blog soon - was very excited

    Thanks Sabrina - hope you have fun doing pancakes with your niece and nephew - have made pizza before with kids and it is great - would like to do it more often so I hope sylvia will like it

    Thanks Cakelaw - glad you liked the chutney - I have mine jarred and am trying to finish others so hope it lasts ok - yes I love eggless recipes because I get caught without eggs and it is liberating not to need them

    Thanks Jacqueline - am sure you will love it all (once you get some sleep)

    Thanks Sarah - hope to hear if you find the way to perfect vegan pancakes - these were too moist in the centre too which is why I say work in progress - I wondered if it was because I added baking powder to the original recipe and made the batter thicker.

    Thanks Lysy - the weevils are nasty beasts - why can't they just have a nibble and leave rather than ruining a whole cannister for a wee bite - as for E, I find it hard to believe he has never peeled a banana but I think he is helpless in the kitchen to minimise my expectations of him???

    Thanks Sophie - I was pleased Sylvia is eating bread after quite a bit of spitting it out because it is a good thing to eat socially - as for work, I will be interested to see how we go - will be a big change

    Thanks Kathleen - funny that now children are getting more distanced from fresh food just as though they are living in a war zone - did your uncle appreciate it?

  15. hi johanna, i have been reading every post on your blog but been so remiss in commenting - but i loved this post and really can relate to so much of it! what a wonderful and exciting week for you all, and all the best with more changes next week when you return to work as well. your bub seems to be enjoying the world of food, which is marvellous! I'm looking forward to hearing more about your kid-friendly recipes in the future. take care, frances

  16. Thanks Frances - nice to hear from you - wish I could tell you that there will be more kid friendly recipes but with Sylvia now having eaten chocolate cake, salad with garlicky dressing, tomato and peach chutney, banana and berry smoothie, and nut roast, I am hoping she will be eating lots of adult recipes soon :-)


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