Les Beaux Malaises

At crèche drop off this morning I bumped into an old friend of my father who happens to be a Grandparent at Anaïs’s crèche.

Me: Oh, hi Trish!

Trish: Hi Clare! (calls me by my birth name, then indicates towards a man escorting a preschooler into the building) You remember my son, Jack?

Me: Oh, yes of course. Hi!

Jack: (Confused face) You’ve a better memory than I!

Me: (Blushing)

Insert small talk about raising toddlers while blocking the entrance and straining with the weight of child on my hip.

Me: Well, have a great day! (Bowls past dawdling kids to get Ani into the nursery area.)

The conversation in my mind:

Me: Oh, you don’t remember me, Jack? I was 12, you were 14. Your mum threw a party at your house. We stole and drank my first alcoholic beverage together. We sneaked down to the river and kissed. It was my first kiss with tongue. After a while I asked to go back to the party. I felt sick and dizzy and Dad got me some water. When we left the party I asked for your number. You wrote it on a piece of paper. I bragged about you to my form 2 friends on Monday at school. After a few days I plucked up the courage to call you but when I dialed, all I heard were quick beeps, indicating the phone number didn’t exist.

I remember every cell in body burning with embarrassment. For months afterwards you would pop into my mind and I would burn all over again. I lived in fear of the moment we would again meet at one of our parent’s houses. Mercifully, we did not.

It was not my last regretful drunken pash, but I remember it better than any other – with the clarity of the most emotionally complex creature on Earth – a 12 year old girl.

And now our kids go to crèche together. How lovely.

Les Beaux Malaises

Vegan Blueberry Mini Muffins


These are toddler friendly, with no refined sugar. You could use all wholemeal flour but I prefer half white, half wholemeal.

1/2 C white flour
1/2 C wholemeal flour
1t baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon ground linseed + 3 Tablespoons water
2 heaped Tablespoons coconut yoghurt
1/3 C blueberries

Combine linseed and water in small bowl and set aside.
Preheat oven to 180 degree celcius.
Mix flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon together. Add maple syrup, coconut yoghurt and linseed paste. Mix gently. Fold in blueberries. If the mixture is too dry, add a dash of water or coconut milk.

Spoon into muffin tray and bake for 25-30 mins. Makes around 12 mini muffins.

*You could defrost blueberries (if using frozen) but I find it doesn’t make much difference to the finished product.

**Disclaimer: I don’t own measuring instruments so I use Crown Lynn coffee cups. You may have to use your own judgement to adjust measurements.

Vegan Blueberry Mini Muffins

Bento Du Jour – Autumn


Kim Chi Fried Rice – Nori-wrapped Tofu ‘Fillet’ – Edamame & Petits Pois – Pak Choy & Coriander Stalk Gyoza – Sugar-free Blueberry Coconut Mini Muffin – Grandma’s Cucumber, Tomatoes and Table Grapes – Mandarin



Red Lentil & Chard Dhal with Steamed Basmati Rice & Paratha – Coconut & Raspberry Chia Pudding – Brown Rice & Quinoa Crackers – Vegetarian ‘Ham’ – Home-pickled Gerkin – Sauerkraut



Green & Yellow Courgette Fritters – Red Bean and Kale Cassoulet – Tomato ‘Escargots’ – Roasted Beet Cubes – Fermented Gerkins – Pitted Dates – Crackers – Fairtrade Banana



Spicy Black Beans with Baby Leeks and Spinach – White Quinoa with Capsicum – Avocado – Tomato & Cucumber Salsa – Corn on the Cob – Herb Wrap – Black Boy Peaches – Sauvignon Blanc Grapes



Quinoa & Rice Fusilli with Wild Mushroom Ragu – Raw Capsicum – Avocado – Petits Pois – Vegetarian Sausage – Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin & Nigella Seeds – Courgette, Basil & Spinach Mini Muffins – Kalamata Olives – Kiwifruit – Pear Compote



Maple & Miso-Glazed Aubergine with Sushi Rice and Edamame – Roasted Nori – Pak Choy & Coriander Stalk Gyoza – Quinoa Crackers – Nut-free Tahini & Linseed Raw Balls – Avocado – Wild Apple Compote



Ratatouille with Wholemeal Cous Cous – Garlic & Herb Fried Spaghetti Squash – Pickled Lebanese Cucumber – Beetroot Leaf Fataya – Wholemeal Pita Bread – Hummus – Kalamata Olives – Fairtrade Banana



Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Agria Potatoes and Nutritional Yeast – Golden Beets – Petits Pois – Courgette, Basil & Spinach Mini Muffin – Avocado – Cucumber & Capsicum Sticks – Fejoa – Coconut Yoghurt  – Pear


IMG_7764 (1)

Miso Fried Rice – Nori-wrapped Tofu ‘fillets’ – Garlic & Sesame Broad Beans – Crackers – Tahini & Vegemite Mini ‘Escargots’ – Fairtrade Banana – Sugar-free Coconut & Raspberry Cake



Penne with Roasted Vegetable Ragu – Fresh Tomato – Crumbled Broad Bean and Chickpea Falafel – Brown Rice & Quinoa Crackers – Wholemeal Ciabatta – Nut-free Tahini & Linseed Raw Balls – Roasted Nori – Homemade Cornichons – Fairtrade Banana



Red Rice Noodles with Japanese Turnip, Pak Choy & Spring Onion – Baked Sesame Tofu Fingers – Courgette, Basil & Spinach Mini Muffins – Mandarin – Tahini, Cucumber & Vegemite Petits Escargots – Spray-free Grape Halves – Coconut Yoghurt


Bento Du Jour – Autumn

Tumeric Pickled Courgettes

*I used 2x medium-sized jars – about 270ml

2 medium courgettes, halved (or quartered lengthways) and sliced

1/2 finely sliced red onion (or 1 spring onion)

2 tbs cheap salt (approx)

2 jar-fulls of vinegar

4 tablespoons sugar

1 tsp dried dill

1 tsp peppercorns

2 tsp black mustard seeds

1tsp ground turmeric (or use fresh if you can be arsed, I can’t)

1/2 tbs good salt

So, here’s what you do:

Use your jars to measure out some vinegar into a saucepan and then sterilise jars in boiling water or oven (google it). Chop your courgettes and onion, sprinkle thoroughly with salt, toss to coat and leave in a bowl for 10-20 mins. Move courgettes into a colander, rinse under cold water then leave to drain in colander for 10-15 mins. While these are draining, get your pan of vinegar and add sugar, peppercorns, mustard seeds, tumeric and salt. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Check your salt-sugar ration by giving it a wee taste. Adjust if needed. Add dried dill. Stuff the drained courgette pieces into your jars, top with hot pickling liquid, close lids tightly and store in fridge.

I have no idea how long these last for as we keep eating them too quickly! They’re already delicious after 24 hours but best after 10 days.

Bon Ap!


Tumeric Pickled Courgettes

Early Autumn Savoury Muffins

I never want to see another courgette. Ever. Or at least until next Summer after several months of limp-dick supermarket zucchs at a million dollars per kilo. This year we had a glut. It’s been great but I have pickled, preserved, frittered, fried, gratin-ed and made a freezer-load of rattatouille and I’m officially over them. Here is my last-ditch effort to use up the final few while sneaking green stuff into my toddler’s lunchbox.



 Courgette, Spinach and Basil Mini Muffins

1 Cup grated zucchini
a few spinach leaves
1/4 small red onion or 1 spring onion
2-3 sundried tomatoes
a handful fresh basil leaves

3/4 Cup soy or almond milk (preferably unsweetened)
5 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

2 Cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon mixed dried herbs or fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Finely grate courgette (if you squeeze liquid out of the courgette you’ll need to add slightly more milk later on.) Finely chop onion, dried tomatoes, basil leaves and spinach, mix with courgette and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Combine milk, vinegar and oil in a small bowl.

Mix flour, yeast flakes, pepper, salt, baking powder, baking soda and dried herbs in a larger bowl then add liquids and veggies. Stir to combine but don’t over-mix. Add a little extra liquid if the mixture is too thick. Spoon into mini muffin tray and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Makes roughly 20 mini muffins.


Early Autumn Savoury Muffins

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream.


Sleep deprivation is not what I had imagined. Before having a child I was pretty sure I knew was tiredness felt like .. I’d partied, and run half-marathons, and taken double long-haul flights. Turns out this assumption is just another to add to a list I like to call, “Things I Was Wrong About Before I Had A Baby.”

The unrelenting, insidious, consuming reality of baby-induced sleep deprivation is quite unrelated to ‘tiredness.’ It’s another beast altogether.

It is never, ever resting.

It is ending a busy day shift with a needy baby or a busy toddler – exhausted and ready to collapse, only to start the dreaded Night Shift.

It is spending every evening whispering, tip-toeing and on edge, waiting for your child to wake.

It is watching the clock for the ‘end of the hour’ so you’re mentally prepared to get up and settle the baby.

It is going to bed with the anxiety of not knowing if you will have 2 seconds of rest, or 4 hours before you have to force your eyes open and drag yourself out of your warm horizontal heaven to deal with the needs of another human, who cannot tell you why they are not asleep and who may be awake for 5 minutes or 2 hours.

It is whisper-fighting with your partner about who’s turn it is, how much noise they’re making, the light, the temperature, who is in more desperate need of sleep, that time they accidentally flushed the toilet.

It is knowing exactly how many hours of sleep you have had, because for 14 months you have spent every night counting the hours – knowing that if you have less than 4 you will have to cancel everything but more than 5 and you can have a reasonable day if you drink enough coffee.

It is exhausted, murderous thoughts in the middle of the night – not the kind that you could actually do, but the, “oh, the baby’s face is getting close to that pillow, I’d better move it… well at least it would shut her up and I could go to the fuck to sleep,” *moves pillow* kind.

It is lying awake when the baby actually sleeps because, 1. you’re worried they’ll wake, 2. you’re worried they won’t wake and it probably means they’re dead, 3. you’re worried about climate change.

Yes, this is the ‘natural parenting way’ and yes, we chose to have a child and no, parenthood is not a daytime-only thing, and apparently we’re not the only parents in the world that aren’t sleeping even though it usually feels like it, and it’s temporary and blah blah blah.

But here’s the plot twist – I wish we’d trained. I wish we’d cried-it-the-fuck-out. Maybe not at 6 months but 10 months for sure. By then the baby mostly cried from habit and displeasure rather than actual issues. But we don’t let our baby cry. What kind of monster does that? Friends would tell us about holding each other down to stop them from attending to their screaming baby and honestly, that sounded sick to us.

So we let the madness continue, and then she was 14 months old and I had not slept one entire night since her birth. I was getting 5-6 hours of broken sleep per night. I couldn’t work effectively, or even follow long conversations. Our whole family was suffering. And worst of all, my daughter was exhausted, constantly overtired. Her 1 year old sleep regression had stretched into 4 months of extra sleeplessness, with 2-3 unsettled hours per night, regardless of cuddling, rocking, feeding, co-sleeping. I watched as she desperately wanted to fall back to sleep but was unable to. She cried and grizzled and tossed and turned. She would fall asleep only to wake again after 10 minutes. Until the day I reached my ‘natural parenting’ limit.

My husband was at work. My daughter had woken three times in the two hours since I’d put her to bed and I knew she was ramping up for a long unsettled period so I wouldn’t get any downtime that evening. I heard her stir…and I.just.didn’t.move. I couldn’t. I could not spend one more second leaning over her cot with my back throbbing in pain. I could not shhh or pat or cuddle or feed for 1 second more. I just couldn’t. So she cried. And I listened. It wasn’t blood-curdling as I’d feared. It was complaining. It was grizzling and then it was pissed off. And I sat and listened – my heart breaking but my mind firm. After 15 minutes I went in. I gave her a quick cuddle, explained that she was now old enough to fall asleep alone, I told her I loved her and she was safe, I tucked her in and walked back out of the room. And after two more visits, one nappy change, a very large glass of wine, a lot of second-guessing, encouraging self-talk, and intellectualizing, she stopped crying. She fell asleep on her own for the very first time.

That was almost a month ago and she has slept for 11-12 hours per night ever since. Just that one hour of crying and our lives have completely changed.

I recognise my face again. I’m nicer, and so is my toddler. I care about the problems of my friends again. I like my husband again.

I spent so long believing that it can’t be kind parenting to let your baby cry because it goes against your instincts, but the problem is ‘instinct’ is one hell of a fuzzy concept. What can feel like instinct is sometimes closer to emotion (especially when you’re tired AF), and emotions are not the same as instincts.

The truth is, because I let my child suffer for one hour, we have both suffered FAR LESS since. She cries a fraction of the amount that she used to. At some point in her first year we decided we had a ‘bad sleeper.’ We did every single gentle training technique. We bought shushers and Lulla Dolls, we co-slept, but she would not sleep. That was our family’s karma, and would be our life for as long as it took. And yet here she is – sleeping. Sleeping like a ‘good sleeper.’ And we are free from zombie-parenting, back-crunching, co-sleeping-from-2am Hell.

So yes, it turns out, we do let our baby cry. We are those monsters. It seems so obvious (now that I can string a thought together) that kind parenting can and must include teaching important, difficult lessons (at appropriate stages).

One of the truest things I heard when I was pregnant is that you don’t know what kind of parent you’ll be until you are one. It seems to be a lesson I need to learn over and over again – that listening to my own gut and paying attention to my own child is far more useful than any article, myth, study, mum’s group or blog. I only hope that the next time my daughter needs me to be a hard-arse for her own good, I can ‘woman-up.’ I’m sure  this new toddler phase will offer an opportunity or two…

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream.

Bento Du Jour

My toddler has started attending crèche one day per week. One of the (many) unexpected highlights of this new phase is lunchbox preparation – although I must confess that if I had more than one child attending school five days a week this activity would quickly become tedious. If you’re in that boat and need some inspiration, feel free to take a peek into these lunchboxes:


Sticky Rice with Toasted Nori – Spring Onion and Sesame Omelette (from Grandpa’s happy hens) – Avocado with Fresh Salsa-  Brown Rice Crackers – Organic Homemade Ciabatta – Grandma’s Cucumber – Heirloom Tomato – Peach Slices – Coconut Yogurt.


Sesame & Shiitake Rice Noodle Salad – Hummus on Wholewheat – Ratatouille – Herb-Crusted Vegetarian Sausage – Brown Rice Crackers – Fairtrade Banana


Quinoa Spaghetti with Basil and Carrot Top Pesto & Grated Courgette – Organic Green Pitted Olives – 5 Grain Bread with Sun Dried Tomato Hummus – Herb and Tomato Lentils – Grandma’s Cucumber Slices – Wholewheat Crackers – Roasted Nori Sheets – Auntie Liz’s Fresh Peach Slices.


Fusilli with Broccoli & Sunflower Seed ‘Cheese’ Sauce – Cherry Tomatoes – Pitted Kalamata Olives – Homemade Fermented Gerkins – Plum – Avocado – Homemade Organic Ciabatta with Vegemite & Hummus.


Potato & Courgette Gratin – White Beans with Garlic and Herbs – Sesame Stir Fried Green Beans and Frys ‘Chicken’ Strips – Wholewheat Crackers – Plums – Fruit Salad – Coconut Yogurt.


Black Lentil, Pea and Potato Curry – Paratha – Coconut Yogurt – Avocado – Fresh Cold Tofu – Plums – Cucumber Sticks

Bento Du Jour