We grow together.

‘The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.’ – Osho

It is true, you know.

It’s been almost 20 months since Kiki has joined the gang on this earth side. The small baby of ours who used to be so reliant on us round the clock, are now seeking her own freedom.
She’s walking, talking and constantly demonstrates her ability to challenge both of us and her surroundings. She is small but fiery pocket rocket who is not yet understood the ramifications of passionately expressing her feelings in public. She loses all senses when she’s not happy and goes straight on the floor with all burnt out floppy limbs and cries her lungs out like no one’s business. Then again, she does also find humour in silliness. It never fails to make me feel so high when she cackles breathless. She’s an emotionally rich soul with the swagger of her father. She became her own person.
We, somehow, miraculously, created a corker.

I always thought I wasn’t a natural mother. I definitely wouldn’t tick myself as an earthy type, if there was any boxes to tick or cross. I thought I struggled and was the only person perhaps incapable of embracing this what is considered to be a wholesome experience. For the past 20 months, I would often tell people that I am not a natural mother, that I am just trying my best keeping my small human alive. I doubted my ability to mother so tirelessly.

And that small child of mine is alive, thriving in fact. Somehow we have managed to navigate our way through the unknown.
I’ve learnt she’s not as fragile as I fear but fearless and agile, loves a bit of rough and tumbles, doesn’t like being hungry and has strong will and stubbornness of both her mother and father. She also has rather sweaty head and smelly feet. I think it’s the thick curly mops from her father and my easily sweaty chubby feet.
She also probably knows that she has us under her thumb. But I don’t mind. I won’t take her cheeky fake tears away to knock her confidence. I like that she is charming.

The thing is, I finally found motherhood interesting.
It’s not easy, for sure. How could it be easy when you’re the influence of her being though? I used to constantly ask myself questions after questions and google absolutely everything came to my head wondering what other parents would do. But in the end, for me, it was up to me; up to us, Toby and I. It was the collaboration between informations and decisions; my ethos and belief; husband and wife; mother and father; parents and child that mattered, no one else.
And after all those months questioning myself if I was doing the right thing by adopting a ‘no-method-but-go-with-the-flow-within-the-reasonable-boundaries’ free styling, well, it turns out I didn’t do too bad.

It’s a huge learning process for all us, isn’t it?
Since the birth of our child, Toby and I have been constantly working out how we could function better as a family. In our subconscious minds, we eat, sleep and breathe wondering how we can bring the world we love to her so she can really live her life to full. Since Kiki, I never stopped looking at my own childhood with my tired eyes, desperately hoping not to repeat the same things that I used to dislike. Not to mention my quiet desire of wanting to sneakily expose her to the things that I always wished to do well or be. And I think it’s this very process of delving deep into our own insecurities, allows us to grow.
We adult through our children, perhaps.

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Roasted Tofu and kimchi Spring Rolls
makes around 12

for tofu
1 pack of firm tofu
1tbsp sesame oil
2tbsp tamari soy sauce
1tsp dark soy sauce
2tbsp mirin
1tbsp cider vinegar
3tbsp water
1tsp chiu chow chilli oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1inch ginger, finely grated
pinch of black pepper
sprinkle of brown demerara sugar (optional)

for pickled carrots
2 medium size carrots, julienned
2tbsp rice vinegar
1 fresh lime, juiced
1/2tsp sugar
pinch of salt

for rolls
12 rice paper
12 small young kale leaves (6 cut in half if large), blanched and rubbed in olive oil and lemon juice
fresh coriander and mint leaves
some kimchi (shop bought), finely chopped
handful of peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
crispy onions (shop bought)

Although it can be little fiddly to assemble if you’re not used to making these, this spring rolls offer quite a taste sensation. Roasted tofu itself can be made in advance if you like. You could throw these into rice bowl with some vegetables and enjoy it with some Sriracha or even Korean chilli paste to add extra kick.
Pickled carrots will taste perfectly sweet and sour like the sort you get in banh mi. Addition of kimchi adds depth of flavour and kick.
I used a lot of short cuts to make the prep easy as no one, especially those with small humans have a lot of time.

First of all, place the block of tofu on a plate with another flat tray on top and use something heavy to extract excess moisture. Couple of cans of baked beans will do it. After 30mins, blot it with some kitchen paper, cut them into 12 sticks and put them in a roasting dish. In a separate bowl mix rest of tofu ingredients, pour it over tofu in the roasting dish. Sprinkle sugar if using.
Roast them for 40mins turning once mid process at 180ΒΊ. When ready, remove it from the tray to cool down.

While tofu is roasting, you can prepare pickled carrots and sort out the rest of bits and pieces so they’re ready to go.
Kales will need to be blanched quickly after removing hard stalks, then rubbed thoroughly with some olive oil and lemon juice to soften.
I would also highlight, although kale in this recipe provides wonderfully deep earthy flavour, it can be quite hard to take a bite if it hasn’t been softened enough. I purposely used young leaves for that reason, but if you’re worried, you can always shred them or opt for baby gem or cos lettuce.

Assembly is simple. Well, relatively.
You need shallow bowl with warm water to soak the rice paper. Each paper should only be dipped for no more than couple of seconds and you do this as you go along, not all at once.
Place wet softened rice paper onto flat surface, place all components onto the top half of the circle, fold over the bottom then tuck one side and roll. This will give you open rolls like mine. If you prefer to have sealed rolls, just place all components in the middle of the rice paper disc, fold over bottom end, tuck both sides and roll.
Once you try few times, you will get the hang of it. If all fails, just get people to wrap theirs themselves which will also be quite fun.
I’m banking on the days I can ask Kiki to make her own and mine, too.

As each components are all well seasoned and sourness from pickles and kimchi provides enough sauce alike, I personally don’t think it requires dipping sauce. But as with anything else, it is up to you.

Hope you enjoy.

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Let me tell you. She still has me in tears and belly laughs all in the same breath. There’re many days that my sanity is being pushed to the knife edge and somedays it’s just plain boring hard for no reason. But I know I am doing the best at staggering on and Kiki knows that she is loved with an inch of our bone and to the death. And I think that really is the truth of motherhood; parenthood. We’re all doing the same, trying and in it together.