Apart from being warm and toasty dry, this week has been filled with the sweet goodness of babies. Two dear friends have recently had babies and so we have been cooing and cuddling and burping up a storm. Between hilarious and scary birthing stories and discussing whose chin/nose/hair they have, I thought it would be nice to do a post about what to give your friends when they have just given birth. A lot of my friends have kids so I have been down this road many, many times and, while I have previously bought the cute outfit, the soft teddy bear, the educational (or not so educational) toy, I have realised that there really is something better you can give – FOOD. We all have our own taste and each mother I know is very individual about how she wants to raise her baby. So much so that sometimes that cute outfit isn’t actually cute or that soft teddy bear isn’t made of non-allergenic organic wool, or that educational toy is really a just-recalled death trap! Food, on the other hand, can really help your friends out. After 24 hours of a screaming, feeding, fussy baby there is nothing better than reaching into the fridge for a homemade meal that someone ELSE made for you!!! Before you embark on this project make sure you know what your friend is eating or not – some nursing mothers avoid certain foods so make sure you have a suitable receipe to start. And because this is me we are talking about – packaging is also a major part of the process. Here we go:
I put this box together with an Italian theme. My friends love to eat well and everyone can throw a pot of water on the boil to make pasta – even in their darkest, sleep deprived hour! First up, the sauce!
I make puttanesca sauce pretty regularly around here. Please don’t let the anchoivies put you off making it – they simply melt into the sauce and make it taste even better. Most of the Italian food you would have eaten in restaurants has anchovies in it – that is their secret ingredient, trust me! My friends happen to LOVE anchovies so I went to town and added extra.
2 tins of diced tomatoes
5 or 6 anchovies
2 generous handfuls of black olives, pitted and chopped
couple of teaspoons but it depends on your tolerance of heat of dried chilli flakes
1 handful of bottled baby capers
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
Chop and dice one onion and get your pan on the hob over a medium heat – you don’t want it too hot as it can burn the garlic and that won’t taste very nice AT ALL! Pour in olive oil so that the pan is covered and put in the anchovies and let them melt so that there is no actually fishy bit – and once it is dissolved throw the onions in. Cook until translucent and then turn the heat down a bit and throw in the garlic crushed and the chilli flakes. Swirl it around and then throw in the olives, capers and mix so it is all coated and let it fry for a bit. Put in the tinned tomatoes and crank the heat up to high so it gets to a boil. Then turn it down to a good simmer (you will probably need a simmer mat to make sure you don’t end up with tomato on your ceiling) and cook until it is quite thick and most of the liquid has evaporated. About now you need to check that you have a good amount of olives and caper and if not add some more – also if you need chilli add it also. Bottle and refrigerate.
This is just regular pasta I repackaged in oven bags and tied with twine to look a little prettier. Everyone has a favourite pasta shape so I went for rigatoni and fettuccine but any shape you want is fine.
All thrown together in this cute basket (which can house baby’s toys or act as storage under the change table once it is empty) tied up with the letter A and a bow. Welcome baby Ava – I’ll help look after your parents while they look after you!