My baby girl is one. A year has passed since the scary day that she came into the world unnaturally early. Eleven weeks premature, red, transparent and frighteningly small, proclaiming to the world with her kitten like screams that she had arrived. I cried. Tears of sadness, not joy. I felt cruel for having her before she was ready to breathe or feed by herself, not doing my best as a mother to protect her. But as my body was not giving her the things that she needed to survive in utero, it was time for her to brave the big wide world and show us her true strength.
And show us she has. I have marveled at her constant tenacity and unyeilding inquisitiveness for life. Her small stature has in no way affected her ability to reach milestones and endlessly gains her attention, in which she delights. She is cheeky, determined, curious, adventurous, never misses a thing, has an infectious, perpetual smile and takes everything in her stride. I am ridiculously proud to be able to call myself her mama and eternally grateful for the gift of a beautiful, healthy daughter.
To celebrate Thea’s first birthday, July 26th, I threw a Christmas in July long lunch for all our closest friends and family. For the occasion I wanted to make chestnut soup. Chestnuts are not in season in NSW in July though, but ever the pre planner, I ordered them online in May. With the help of Ma, I roasted and peeled three kilos and froze them ready to make soup in July. Doing a job like this is so satisfying. It takes time, but ultimately I always feel the resulting dish is that much better for the love that you put in to it. All the babes at the party seemed to agree, lapping up spoonfuls of their mum’s and dad’s chestnut soup.
Christmas in July would not be complete without a turkey and this bird was stuffed with lamb, harissa and rose petals. The idea of something a little bit different appealed to me and the rose petals sealed the deal. It was served with all the essential seasonal trimmings, including Brussels sprouts, roast parsnips and duck fat roasted potatoes. Thea loves roast potatoes! I think that she had four, which for a tiny human is a big deal.
For her first birthday cake, I made her a banana and coconut maple buttercream frosted baby friendly cake, baby friendly because it contains no refined white sugar or flour, only delicious, whole ingredinets. I found the recipe on the lovely blog Rubies and radishes. The frosting truly was something else and perfect for small fingers to get stuck in to.
This was a very special meal to mark an especially happy occasion with a wonderful group of people who supported me, the contemporary builder and Thea through an emotionally tough period in our lives. The act of preparing food, for me, is a way of showing love and affection, thanks and respect and I hope everyone left the party with satisfied tummies and full hearts. x
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 4 sticks celery, chopped
- butter to sweat veggies
- 1kg chestnuts, roasted and peeled
- 2 litres chicken stock
- good pinch of thyme, few bay leaves, grating of nutmeg
- sea salt, black pepper
- milk to thin to desired consistency
- chopped parsley and cream to garnish
Sweat the onion, carrot and celery over a low heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes until very soft and translucent. Add the stock, chestnuts, herbs, spices and seasoning and simmer until the chestnuts are soft enough that you can blend them with a stick blender. Thin the soup with milk as desired and check seasoning. Enjoy x