After both deciding we weren’t really keen on the idea of a Facebook announcement, we chose to go fully ‘old school’ and tell our friends in person, as we saw them. And, well, wow- time really got away from us! Most of our friends and family were told around Christmastime, but there were a select few stragglers that we just couldn’t pin down. Once we hit the 5 month mark, it became abundantly clear that we either had to arrange a lunch date ASAP and tell them already, or just show up with a baby this spring all surpriiiiiise!
It’s not that I’m not excited- I’m so excited! But it’s tough to go out and be social when I find myself in bed by 8:30pm these days and asleep by 9.
All things considered, I’ve had a pretty good pregnancy so far. I’m not excellent at it, though. Some women were just born for this. They’re so good at being pregnant, I gaze at them with envy and wonder.
One such amazing pregnancy wizard (“PW”) is a graphic designer I work with. She is just two weeks farther along than me, and has been in the loop since the beginning, so we have become pregnancy buddies (it’s also her second, which helps- she can walk me through everything!).
She’s so good at being pregnant, she glows with it. PW doesn’t drink at the best of times, so giving up wine was a non-issue for her. She meditates, does yoga, eats organic and takes good care of her body. While I often feel like a mess, PW makes it look like a walk in the park- she is kind and gentle and calm, you can just tell her baby is sitting in there like a tiny buddha, floating in amniotic nirvana.
I’m sitting here fretting about how much caffeine is too much and whether the cocktails I had in September- before I knew I was pregnant- mean my child is some kind of pickle now. I wear too much black, I curse too much, I squirm at baby showers, I ate a piece of sashimi a few weeks ago, I had a sip of Guinness over the holidays and I eat blue cheese.
I try and do everything right, and educate myself to make the best choices possible for our little one. But, at the end of the day, I’m learning that my best is not perfect (after enjoying lemony decaf tea for the last few days, I now discover that one of the main ingredients, lemongrass, in strongly contraindicated during pregnancy. Who knew? What did everyone do before Google??).
It is what it is. I am a happy pregnant person, mostly (despite no pâté, wine or sashimi), and I’m so grateful to have PW around to walk me through everything and bless me with her pregnancy-serenity like a contact high (this is a pregnancy post, why are you talking about contact highs? Stop using drug metaphors. You are so bad at this, Finn!)
I’m also discovering PW is a wonderful source of recipes. Every week she inspires me with a new recipe that is old-hat for her but totally fresh and amazing for me. I can barely wait until each weekend to get cooking.
This is one such recipe. Apparently PW has been making her own yogurt for ages. Had I known it was this easy, I would have been doing the same! All you need is milk, a spoonful of probiotic yogurt and time. Yep, that’s it. The technique is easy enough, so I sort of fell down the recipe-rabbit-hole with this one and kept going.
If you strain the yogurt, it becomes thicker- almost like a creamy Greek yogurt. Amazing. Love it.
If you stain the yogurt overnight, it becomes wonderfully thick. Thick like goat cheese… but yogurt! LABNEH. Also known as ‘Lebanese Cream Cheese,’ labneh is much lighter and lower in fat than traditional cream cheese, but just as creamy and spreadable and with a deeply pleasing tang that could only come from real yogurt. I adore it.
Of course, now I was on a roll. By all means, make the homemade yogurt and stop there. It’s heavenly with fresh fruit (and this brittle crumbled over top).
But, if you are having that much fun (as, shockingly, I was) (who am I kidding, I wasn’t shocked. I am a total food nerd.), then keep going! Strain the yogurt using some cheesecloth and roll that labneh into bite-sized snack balls.
I have had lots of mini cheeseballs in the past, made with herbed or spiced cream cheese. They are wonderful and delicious however, these are wonderful and delicious and tangy and healthy and different.
Keeping with the middle eastern theme, I rolled my creamy labneh balls in a nutty homemade Dukkah- a spice, herb and nut mixture. All in all, this recipe requires, yes- like 2 days of waiting. BUT, only like 10 minutes of actual effort. It’s worth the wait.
I could eat these all day, and that’s not just the pregnancy appetite talking (although I’m sure it helps).
|Homemade Yogurt & Dukkah Encrusted Labneh Balls|| |
- Homemade Yogurt:
- 1 litre whole milk
- ¼ cup plain, probiotic yogurt (at least 3% fat)
- ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
- ½ cup pistachio nuts, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp ground sumac
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp chili flakes
- To make the yogurt, heat the milk in a saucepan until it is almost boiling. Remove from heat and cool the milk until it is lukewarm. Stir in the ¼ cup of yogurt. Cover the saucepan with a lid and leave it unrefrigerated and undisturbed for 10 to 12 hours. The longer fermentation, the more tart your yogurt will be. After leaving to ferment, refrigerate your yogurt for at least 6 hours or, ideally, overnight. The yogurt will thicken as it cools. That's it! There's your yogurt!
- To make labneh from your yogurt, place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth in half so that it is doubled and lay it in the strainer. Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth, letting the liquid run into the bowl. Tie the top of the cheesecloth with a piece of string, empty out the first bit of liquid strained out from the yogurt, and then let the cheesecloth bag sit in the strainer as the remaining liquid leaks out. For creamy 'Greek yogurt' consistency labneh, this should take roughly 3-4 hours. For firmer, goat cheese consistency labneh like I use with the Dukkah encrusted balls, leave to strain overnight in the refrigerator.
- To make the dukkah, combine all ingredients in a bowl.
- Roll the firm, goat cheese consistency labneh into balls 1-2 inches in diameter. If the labneh is sticking to your hands, place it in the refrigerator to cool and coat your hands with water or olive oil before attempting to roll again. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of dukkah over a plate, the same way you do when you're going to add a salt rim to a margarita glass. Once the balls have been formed, roll them in the dukkah on the plate to coat. Serve immediately.
- Store any leftover non-dukkah coated labneh balls in a sterilized jar, submerged in olive oil. Store the remaining dukkah in an airtight container- it is excellent served with olive oil and bread to dip and sprinkled overtop buttered popcorn!