Is there anything better than a baby? Ok, maybe a puppy… but, is life getting too darn expensive to be a parent? For most of our artist friends the answer is a depressing yes.
Johnny and I went to visit our friends – Harlot’s Artist featurees Melissa Lauren and Nathan Hiltz – and their brand new baby girl Leah Madeleine. (See their features here and here). It’s been two decades since I held a baby and I didn’t think I’d be in danger of it waking my inner mama.
It kinda did… I think?
I was pretty sure we put that idea to bed, Johnny and I don’t feel strongly in either direction. Not wanting to be alone when we’re old and incontinent isn’t reason enough to be parents, I’m just worried that in ten years I’ll regret our non-decision.
In a session with my therapist I fired off all my reasons against it and he efficiently blew them all away. I’d have to go off my meds, I’m terrified of postpartum depression, I wouldn’t have the time to ‘find myself’… and the aforementioned financial burden.
Seeing Melissa and Nathan coordinate and manage this weird being was a revelation. Leah is a very tiny girl and the doctor had them feeding her every hour their first day home – around the clock! We were watching them become a team and family.
I can’t say it rang my inner alarm clock and it may already be too late, but I am second guessing all those ticks in the con column. I might actually be a good mom and I know Johnny would be a kickin’ daddy (who incidentally I haven’t expressed any of this to yet… irk!), but if a person is on the fence should they air on the side of no?
I’ve read countless articles by women declaring their opposition to child rearing – they’re proud to be the spokeswomen for a generation that is admitting being a mother does not a woman make – what about all those in the undecided category?
I guess my next step is to spend more time with Leah and spend less money on extraneous items. I can slim down my grocery lists. I can make healthier and more frugal dishes.
We can spend a wee bit longer deciding, but we don’t have forever. I knew being a parent was scary, I didn’t know deciding if I wanted to be one would be this hard.
CHICKEN VEGGIE RAGOUT with PASTA
This pasta sauce is so comforting, satiating and cheap. Yes, you can use ground beef or pork, but lighten up once in a while with chicken or turkey. You can add even more veg – fennel, peppers, broccoli, hearty greens – or amp up the mushrooms.
I always add balsamic to my tomato sauces, it has great zing. I also find a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity is essential and adding the tomato paste before the liquids allows it to caramelize and creates serious a depth.
1 tbsp olive oil
400 grams ground chicken or turkey
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 small onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
a big pinch of dried chilies
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 dashes worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 x 796 mL/28 oz can stewed or whole tomatoes
1/4 cup water
2 bay leaves
340 grams box pasta
Parmesan cheese to serve
Heat the oil in a large pot or pan. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Saute over high heat until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat slightly to medium/high and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots, stirring 7 – 10 minutes until the veg softens. Dice the parsley stems and add them with the mushrooms, oregano, fennel, cinnamon and chilies. Stir until fragrant and the mushrooms cook down, about another 5 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and allow to caramelize, about a minute. Toss in all the remaining ingredients except for the pasta. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 30 minutes, checking every so often to make sure it doesn’t stick.
Remove the lid and simmer uncovered another 10 – 15 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and add back to the pot reserving 1/4 cup of the starchy water to thin out sauce, if needed.
Taste sauce for seasoning and add more salt or chilies as desired. Remove the bay leaves. Chop up the parsley and sprinkle in.
Spoon and mix a couple ladlefuls of sauce into the noodles. Divide noodles into 4 bowls and top with sauce. Grate over some fresh parmesan and serve with crusty bread and a fresh salad.
You can freeze this sauce or refrigerate it a few days, it’s even better later!
ONTARIO WINE PAIRING
After that stressful subject I’m ready for some wine!
I’m going back to Konzelmann Estate Winery for one of my favs – their 2014 Shiraz. It’s super affordable and is actually available at the LCBO, so you can pick it up tonight.
My favourite part about this guy is its bold peppery finish. This vintage isn’t super full bodied like some shiraz, its medium body stands up to the tomato meatiness, but allows the veg to shine. With a nice smokiness and some cherry in there it has a beautiful and juicy mouthfeel.
Enjoy it on its own as well…
Did I mention it’s $13.80?!