MTT: The BEST Sticky Ribs

When I was pregnant with Hux I tried not to subscribe to the whole ‘eating for two’ thing. One, because it’s not true, and two, because when I was pregnant with Elfie I ate two Pret pastries a day and it took me a year to lose three stone of pastry weight.

Breastfeeding, however, is a whole other matter. Someone told me you burn an additional 500 calories a day when breastfeeding and my appetite will tell you that’s not far off. I am always hungry, always thirsty. I’m trying not to indulge in ‘bad’ calories bar one daily treat (usually one of those cinammon whirl cake things from Tesco’s bakery) and have loved tucking into lots of bread, pasta and potatoes, white carbs being previously avoided for their bloating properties. Somewhere else I’ve loved indulging is in the field of slow-cooked meats. Mmm.

These ribs are one of those such indulgences.

You know you’ve had a good meal when you have a sticky face and can’t pick your plate up because your hands are too filthy. You know, when you have to kind of use your wrists to grab a piece of kitchen roll to attempt to clean yourself up then give up and stick your face under the tap?

 

That’s what these ribs do to you. They are the sort of food you should probably eat with someone you know well (that lip smacking ain’t attractive) and you will wind up with sauce all over your chin (and in Will’s case, your trousers). These ribs are comfort food at its best.

The recipe originated from Masterchef Australia 2010 – which I fell completely in love with during my maternity leave with Elfie. The best of all the Masterchefs in my opinion.

I’ve left the original chili measures in though I tend to use half the amount of chili powder and omit the chili as I am a wimp.

By the way, if you serve these with fully loaded potato skins and sour cream your husband will let you have a lie-in the next morning.

MTT: The BEST Sticky Ribs
 
Don't be put off by the epic list of ingredients: I found most of them in my spice draw.
Ingredients
  • 1.5kg pork spare ribs, quartered
  • 2 tbs Olive oil
  • Rub
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • ½ brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Cooking marinade
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 250ml malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp hot English mustard powder
  • 2 tbs tomato sauce
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 125ml bourbon
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 jalapeno chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 orange, peeled rind
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Combine rub ingredients in a large bowl. Add ribs to the bowl, using your hands, rub the mixture into the meat to coat completely. Set aside in the fridge for 2-3 hours to marinate.
  3. Heat a frying pan over high heat. Drizzle olive oil onto ribs and toss to coat. Place ribs fat-side up and cook for 3-4 minutes each side or until sealed.
  4. Place cooking marinade ingredients and a tsp of salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes until thickened slightly.
  5. Transfer ribs to a large, non-stick roasting pan and pour over hot marinade. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 1½ hours or until falling off the bone, turning 3-4 times throughout.
  6. Serve ribs with kitchen roll.

 

9 Months Of A Bump

When I reviewed my 9 months of being pregnant with Elfie I commented how amazing the body’s capacity to forget is. You look at photos of your pregnant bump and it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside despite nine months of hell and illness. Don’t be fooled by my smiles, they’re just for the camera.

Weirdly enough I didn’t feel that pregnant but looking back on it now I definitely looked pregnant. Very pregnant. I kind of miss it (SEE??! 9 months of hell and my brain is tricking me into missing it) but having Huxley on the outside is wonderful. It’s so strange to look at the 6 and 8 week photos and imagine him as a teeny tiny foetus inside me. So much has happened in that period of time; we’ve moved house twice, I’ve worked on lots of lovely projects, stopped working because I was too knackered, experienced a Christmas and only hair my hair cut once (oops).

Pregnancy: it’s 40 long weeks of a beautiful, vommy, exhausting, wonderous experience.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BritMums Live 2012

 

Feeding on the train / Train sleeping 

When I woke up on Friday morning and saw that some of my fake tan had transferred itself to Huxley’s head I knew it was a good omen: I was going to have fun at Brit Mums Live.

I was right, too. I had the most wonderful weekend, from the friendly tube tramp offering swigs of red wine to meeting Aly and Bryony at The Hoxton and finally getting to ogle Steph in real life. The brilliant seminars, the great brands, the BiB awards, the prosecco, the cocktails. It was a whirlwind of hugs, learning, chatting and laughing.

 

Hux relaxes while I have lunch at the Hoxton / Room 1 at BritMums Live

Meeting people in person who you’ve known online for a long time is a bizarre experience. It’s a relationship you’ve invested in time-wise as well as emotionally, so if they aren’t what you were expecting in real life it can be heartbreaking. Luckily, all the friends I met over the course of the weekend were just as I expected: warm, friendly and funny. My kind of people. I’m sad I didn’t get to spend more time with some bloggers, especially that I didn’t get to re-create the great Cybermummy rose evening of 2011 with Grenglish and Richmond Mummy. Next year, ladies?

 

Photobooth with Aly / Photobooth with Bryony

So, that Friday was a whirlwind. Hux and I were able to check into our hotel at 11 before we had a bite to eat with Aly and wandered over to the venue with her and Bryony. Let me tell you- 500 women (and, like, 4 men) in one room…. That gets LOUD. And a bit intimidating, actually. I spent a while slightly freaked out at the amount of women I recognized.

 

Prosecco! / Espresso Martinis!

The first speaker was the hilarious Ruby Wax who spoke frankly about depression and her new website Black Dog Tribe, and then the first session began, the state of UK blogging today. Shamefully, I was having so much fun socialising that I only attended that one session, and spent the next couple of hours chatting.

Next up was a drinks reception courtesy of my new friends at Radcliffe’s Wines followed by the Brilliance in Blogging awards. I was up for an award in the Tasty! Category and was not disappointed to see it go to the inimitable Maison Cupcake (I’d spent hours practicing my ‘grateful loser’ face), plus I would never have lived up to Mammasaurus‘s amazing acceptance speech.  I did win a bottle of prosecco though, which pretty much made my evening… and made me very hungover the next day. I stumbled back to the hotel with Aly and Bryony for a drunken feast of steak and Espresso martinis, Hux being safely tucked up in his pram upstairs in the hotel room while his dad watched the football.

 

Dinner with Briony and Aly at The Hoxton / With Aly, the best person to have come out of Northern Ireland ever!

I thoroughly enjoyed the next day’s sessions, especially the Advanced WordPress one. It was so weird to spot Katy Hill wandering around the venue and every time I heard her speak I froze, expecting her to leap out having built a mini Tracey Island replica out of newspaper and loo rolls. Totally starstruck.

 

Outside the venue with Bryony / Licking Steph’s face…

One of the highlights for me were the keynote speakers. I remember sobbing at Nicki from Typecast‘s amazing story of her dayghter’s diagnosis with cancer at last year’s Cybermummy, and this year Hayley from  Downs Side Up completely stole the show. Her post titled What To Say When A Child Is Born With Downs Syndrome was simply brilliantly delivered with frankness, emotion and a touch of humour. There was not a dry eye in the house and she received a thoroughly well-deserved standing ovation. I think it resonated with all of us for different reasons, for me aspects of it reminded me so much of when Elfie was diagnosed and I wept again when I thanked Hayley for sharing and told her a little about our own journey. I can’t imagine having the confidence to recount the sadness we went through in front of all those people and think Hayley is truly one magnificent lady.

Phew, emotional.

Grenglish and Ministry Of Mum get props from me for sharing their hilarious posts, as does Karin for bravely reading out her post about the time she realised she was over her PND. Another warm and funny new real life friend who enjoyed her Hux cuddles!

I was starstruck again to meet Cherry Healey, another brilliant and inspiring woman.  I saw her present at last year’s Cybermummy but didnt have enough balls to introduce myself then so I’m glad I did this year (after some gentle bullying- thanks Aly).

 

Bryony and Aly in a session / Meeting Cherry Healey

I returned home that evening knackered and on a total high after spending two days in the company of such inspirational women. It was such a great weekend and though Hux was the star of the show I really look forward to attending next year’s event child-free (it’s impossible to take notes on a seminar while simultaneously rocking your child to sleep).

And of course there’s no better feeling than returning to your home, babies and husband after a weekend away, even if the man in your life does rip the piss out of the mutual love-in that was going on via Twitter. What does he know? Ladies, I love you!

To Dummy Or Not To Dummy?

I’m finding myself at somewhat of a crossroads with Hux. He’s a very sucky baby – feeding on demand which is about every 2 hours right now – and I reckon his late night feeds especially have become about comfort rather than hunger.

At the moment I am of the mindset that I will feed on demand for a while longer before I start trying to establish more of a routine. He’s piling on weight so it’s obviously working for him, but little and often feeds aren’t so good for our day-to-day lives. He stretches his feeds to 3 hourly on occasion at night time so I know he is able to go that long.

Recently I’ve noticed that Hux likes to feed himself off to sleep and will find it hard to sleep without the comfort of sucking, particularly at night time. So now I’m left pondering the introduction of a dummy.

I’ve always been dead against dummies, vile pieces of cheap plastic that they are. Until we realised what an unsettled baby Elfie was, and that if we have her a dummy she would sleep and be happy. So Elfie became a dummied baby, though strictly at bedtime only (you’ll never catch her with a dummy outside of her cot). I’m desperate to wean her off them and will be doing so as soon as she seems more settled; personally I hate to see toddlers and young children running around with dummies in their mouths and I worry about the harm this can do to their teeth.

On the couple of occasions I’ve offered Hux a dummy he has spat it out in disgust, it seems he hates anything that aren’t milk and nipple flavoured. Interestingly he has taken a bottle on a couple of occasions when I’ve expressed and Will has fed him (so I can go to the pub, natch) so I know he is able to take teats other than a nipple. Maybe it’s the size of the teat that offends him? I’m not sure if I should give up on the dummy and go with my suck-hungry baby, hoping he grows out of it, or persevere with getting him to take one.

What would you do?

 

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to my Daddy, my children’s Daddy, and the Daddies who aren’t with us any more but are still loved very much.

 

 

You do a terrific job and we are so lucky to have you in our lives, aside from the universal affliction of Dad beer and curry farting, bad jokes and your blindness to dust. Nevertheless I wouldn’t swap any of the Dads in my life, not for anything.

Huxley At 4 Weeks

Little Huxley was a whopping four weeks old yesterday and it feels like he’s been a part of our family forever. Being able to reference ‘the kids’ and ‘my son’ has been such a huge novelty I’ve found myself repeating it over and over this week. I feel like I need to pause for a second to reflect on when I grew up enough to have KIDS – not one, but two of them. With one child I was able to convince myself I was still pretty devoid of responsibility, still footloose and fancy free (hah!) but two children… that shit’s cray (as I hear the footloose and fancy free kids are saying these days).

I had a bit of a Eureka! moment last night when reflecting on the last nine months + 4 weeks; I realised I can do this motherhood gig. I spent so much of the pregnancy worrying about how on earth I would cope with two children and I’ve realised that I can, I am capable and it will be OK. It’s hard, it’s a juggling act and a few things arent being accomplished as they used to (work, laundry, twitter, hoovering…) but with the support of our families we’re getting there. Ridiculously this realisation has been such a relief, I almost feel like I’ve been spending the last month holding my breath just waiting to flounder under the pressure of our new life and knowing that it doesn’t have to be like that is wonderful. Touch wood.

Huxley is a completely different baby to Elfie and I’m finding the experience this time round so far removed from what we went through with her. I’m not sure if this is because there was so much negativity surrounding Elfie’s early stages as she was so poorly, because I’m more experienced or because of the sort of baby he is but I feel so much more relaxed. He is the apple of my eye.

We’ve slipped into different parenting choices this time around too. Because of Elfie’s health difficulties she was only breastfed for a week or so before we moved onto bottles, but Hux is still going strong on the boob. At his weigh-in last week he’d put on a massive 2lb which apparently is Very Good for a baby who is completely breast fed. We are cosleeping with him as he refuses to sleep in his BedNest, but I’m enjoying this more than I thought I would and don’t miss my own bed space. There’s something really special to be able to wake up with your nose in the nape of your baby’s neck… mm, newborn. I’ve also become a bit of a baby wearer and find it so much easier to take Hux out in the carrier rather than his pushchair and he loves to sleep this way.

 

Hux has so far been a bit of a colicky baby, the evenings in particular are a struggle. He has a lot of tension in his little body, his neck, back and tummy seem to trouble him most and it’s very difficult to bring his wind up. So to help him along I’ve taken him on a couple of cranial osteopathy sessions which seem to have relieved some of the poor little man’s discomfort. I don’t know what kind of witch doctory they perform, I find it hugely intriguing as the osteopath makes the most subtle of movements with her hands on his body, but the effect has been mind boggling. It makes him a much happier and more relaxed little boy.

 

One thing I want to work on over the next four weeks is Huxley’s independence. He’s still such a teeny baby so I’m not too worried about his clingyness but if I could retrieve a couple of hours a day to eat lunch, cook dinner and cuddle Elfie whilst he happily sits in his swing chair it would make all the difference. He’s just such a mummy’s boy right now.