A thoughtful gift for new parents

Almost a year ago exactly I received one of the most thoughtful, understated and yet heroic gifts I had ever experienced.  At this time we had one confused and slightly bedraggled two-year old, and one very loud and needy newborn, both under my sole care most days as Nick’s paternity leave had ended and he was forced to drag himself back to work. Overwhelmed, under-washed, always hungry and likely having to pee, I was in the thick of being a solo daytime new parent of two.

DSC_0954With my attention now split between two little people, holding any kind of conversation with another adult felt nearly impossible, no matter how many playground trips we made or playgroups we attended. I felt both outnumbered and isolated at the worst of those times, especially in the early days.

One evening (in retrospect it was probably actually more like 3pm) in the midst of the haze of guilt and nappies I happened to open the door to find a tupperware staring back at me.  There had been no knock, no sign at all of its expected arrival, and yet there it was, filled with homemade meatballs and tomato sauce.  Later that day- or maybe it was a few days later I honestly don’t know- I got a text from a neighbor, letting me know it was they who dropped it off.  It was nothing short of heroic in my eyes.  No need for me to try have a conversation, offer thanks or even a drink.  No obligation to get dressed, bathe the baby, or remind the toddler to say please or thank you.  Just pure support and care without the need for anything in return. And it solved one of my immediate yet always neglected needs at that time- to eat!  Those little meatballs might as well have had little wings on them…

DSC_0935So when I ran into a friend at the playground earlier this week with her two year old son and her twelve day old baby, I knew exactly how I wanted to congratulate her and offer my support.

DSC_0940I made and froze a big batch of these cookies before Isla was born.  They were most frequently eaten by Nick and I around 3am, one-handed, with the freezer door still open, cookies defrosting in our mouths.  This was actually a delicious way to eat them, as they were so soft they practically melted.

These cookies, and those meatballs are the two most powerful food memories I have from that hazy, chaotic and irreplaceable period in our lives.   It was a wonderful reason to be able to make them again, and hopefully give someone else the same magical momentary sigh of relief, as I had been gifted with just a short time ago.

Pear, Cinnamon & Oatmeal Cookies inspired by Joy the Baker’s

makes about 24

2/3 cup/ 150g unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1/2 tsp vanilla paste

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cup oats, rolled or otherwise

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

generous pinch of nutmeg

2 medium or 3 small pears, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat to 350F /175C Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil and set aside.

Peel and dice the pear and toss with lemon juice.  Set aside.

Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl until creamy, either about 3-4 minutes with a mixer, or a hell of a lot longer if by hand.  Add your egg and beat for another minute, then add your vanilla and continue mixing until blended completely.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.  Add this to the butter and egg mixture slowly beating on low speed until just incorporated.  Stir in the pear chunks last so as not to bruise.

Bake for 10-13 minutes or so.   These are very soft cookies, and will tend to go a bit flatter than your average chocolate chip ones but make sure to watch the edges of the cookies to make sure they don’t burn.  Allow to cool and harden slightly on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Great with a glass a milk, or cup of tea (depending on your country of origin!).

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