There’s something very wrong with allowing someone to take away your child with the sole intention of cutting her open. It does rather go against the maternal grain. Yet this was my predicament a couple of weeks ago. It was only to be a minor operation, but when ‘minor operation’ involves ‘general anaesthetic’, to my mind, we’re getting into the realms of confusing oxymorons.
I’m sure powerfully-built, hearty types that went to boarding school and had super fun playing lacrosse and hockey would take it all in their stride. But I was only ever a day girl at a convent, and so was pitifully weak and teary. I did as I was told though. I scrubbed my lovely girl with Betadine solution the night before, and then hoicked her out of bed the next day to do it all over again. Slightly OCD I thought, but I was only following orders. We left in the chilly September dawn, and taxied our way to the hospital.
Once installed in our room, I presented the patient with some consolation prizes; lego to build and a terrible Barbie DVD. Barbie and Tchaikovsky is a very wrong combination, but I knew it would make her day and I was duly rewarded with a sharp intake of breath, twinkly eyes and a great big grin.
Before we’d had time to think, the man with the trolley arrived. They won’t allow you near the operating theatre in France so I escorted her to the lift and then snivelled my way back to the ward. As I read a book – each line 5 times – I tried not to remember those statistics where children die under anaesthetic. Tried not to picture their serious yet compassionate faces as they told me the worst. I was just planning what I’d wear to the funeral when the man with the trolley came back.
The nervous excitement she’d worn on her face just an hour before, had been replaced with a flushed look of pain. She was a tiny, vulnerable newborn all over again. I wrapped her up, stroked her hair and cuddled her until she slept. The rest of the day was a blur of her crying in pain, dozing off, demanding to go home, listlessly watching me build her lego, and dissing the hospital because they didn’t even have a DVD player to play the awful Barbie.
They finally let us home and we ensconced her with great ceremony in a duvet nest on the sofa. She was to rest for the next 5 days. Her siblings presented cards and beadwork that they’d made in her honour, and the mood improved immeasurably. With the help of Calpol and Codeine she got through the night, and the following day I carried her back to her nest with unimpeded view of the television and colouring books to hand.
It was here that I made my error. As it hurt her to call for me, I presented her with my fantastic megaphone, and benignly said she was allowed to use it. I even suggested that she use the siren function to save her voice altogether. Now we are not talking some brightly coloured ELC megaphone; we’re talking an armed forces grade, ‘come out with your hands where I can see them’ model, with shoulder strap for use in mobile applications. It is one of the best things I’ve ever asked for on a Christmas list.
Suffice to say, my daughter was overjoyed. For the next five days I’d be beavering away in the kitchen and then almost collapse with fright as, ‘MUMMY! COME HERE!’ reverberated about the house. Or I’d be on the phone;
‘Oh thanks for calling, no she’s doing fine…’woooooo woooooo, weeeeeeeee, wwwwaaaaawwwww neeeeeee nawwwwww’ and the siren would effectively end my conversation.
As the pain receded, so her delight with the new toy increased. Cut to full bathtime / bedtime horror with my other three children, and from her pit in front of the telly I’d hear,
‘MUMMY! MUMMY! I NEED A DRINK’.
‘MUMMY, IT’S HURTING’,
‘MUMMY! I CAN’T FIND THE CLICKER, CAN YOU COME AND CHANGE CHANNELS?’
So all in all, a rather taxing week, but there were some perks. Dear friend Chantal waded unto the breach and did lots of school runs, which left me plenty of time to tend to my decibel-enhanced invalid and also, to pootle in the kitchen.
I came up with this Clafoutis on day 3 of the recuperation period.
Postoperative Clafoutis (serves 4 adults)
This worked well with wheat and gluten free flour and both were a hit. It's always such a boon when the children ask for seconds. It is lighter than a clafoutis made with eggs and wheat flour, more cake-like. I've yet to make it with real eggs and gluten free flour, there's room for improvement. We ate it with soya cream, but it would also be good with vanilla ice cream.
For a gluten free version:
dairy free spread for greasing
175ml rice milk
2 tsps vanilla essence
2 heaped tsp of 'no egg' powder
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds
5 tbsps rice milk
1 tbsp sunflower oil
5 tbsps sugar
0.5tsp xanthan gum
5 tbsps rice flour
2 tbsps buckwheat flour
0.75g bicarbonate of soda
40 fresh / jar cherries (mine came from a jar in their own juice, do check they are gluten free)
granulated sugar to sprinkle gaily and with abandon
If using wheat flour:
Replace the xanthan gum, rice flour and bicarbonate of soda with 7 tbsps wholemeal wheat flour. The rest of the ingredients remain the same.
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, Gas 4. Grease 4 square dishes (11cm x 11cm) for individual desserts, or a dish that is ovenproof and holds about 2-3 litres
- Put the 2 tsps of no egg powder, the linseeds, the oil, and the 5 tbsps of rice milk into a bowl and mix well. Add the vanilla essence
- Put the 175ml of rice milk into a large mixing bowl and add the no egg / linseed mix. Whisk with an electric whisk until it foams up, or whisk until your arm cramps with a manual whisk
- Add the sugar, a tbsp at a time, and whisk in between each addition
- Mix the xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, rice and buckwheat flours (or wheat flour if using) together. (Add to the bowl tbsp by tbsp, whisking well with each addition
- Divide the mixture between the four dishes and plop about 10 cherries into each one, or scatter them around a big dish. The batter will rise up and engulf them until just their glistening maroon pates are showing. (did you like that burst of eloquence?)
- Place the bowls into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes...but do check obsessively, I would hate them to burn
- Remove from the oven and scatter the sugar over the top. I prefer them served after 10 minutes or so, even if they do sink back down a little, but you must do as you see fit
- Serve to a sofa-bound invalid
© Pig in the Kitchen 2007