Too much of a good thing?

I haven’t posted for a while as I haven’t had much to write about since baby streamlined her diet after being sick – when the sum total of a meal is tapas of cheese, yoghurt and banana, there’s not a whole lot to write about! But then I discovered she was back on eggs. Like a song I heard the other day and have been playing on repeat, in the space of a week, she ate them boiled, scrambled, fried, baked, in a sandwich – hurrah! But how much more could I milk this chicken? I got complacent with the eggs and cocky.

I’ve made my peace with the robot radio controlling my kitchen and am quite enjoying barking out demands to someone who (usually) listens. And so, strutting round the kitchen to my new groove, I ventured into a kind of Spanish omelette, confident it would be well received.

Boil new potatos, chuck in some peas near the end for greenery. Meanwhile fry some onion in a pan and whisk up a couple of eggs (this will go down so well, it’s definitely worth being efficient and saving some for tomorrow night’s tea too). When cooked, add potatoes and peas to pan, pour eggs around. Sprinkle cheese over if you like. For speed, turn over to cook the other side if it’s nearly nursery pick up time and you still haven’t got tea ready. Serve. I’ll leave the review to baby – (before touching any) ‘nononononono. Ninished! Gaghurt? Nana? Nana. Naaaaaaaana. Pease, pease, pease. Bubbles?’

The Weight of Expectation

For a hilarious blog on this topic, check out https://theidentitythieves.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/what-happens-to-a-parents-heart-rate-on-a-day-out-with-kids/, for a more meandering, inconclusive musing, read on. I’m not sure if I’m alone, but I genuinely expect each chosen experience to be fun, every time. I have faith in our decisions. But all too often, I’m knocked off that precarious pedestal. Take today, trio out into the garden because ‘we haven’t been outside yet today, have we Mummy?’ (we went to ballet, but I take the point). I expect – general exploring of still alive plants, playing in playhouse and with ball – nothing too lofty. I get – insistence on getting bikes out, ridden for one width of garden (approximately 6 flagstones, then abandoned. Find multiple mushroom type things growing in rubber play material specifically designed to inhibit plant growth. Google ‘poisonous mushrooms garden uk’. Discover toddler capable of turning tap on to fill thimble sized watering can, but not off. Water quickly flooding the patio as baby keeps sitting and kneeling down in it, then clambering back up steps to house. I pick her up as toddler is (against my insistent advice to the contrary) trying to haul both bikes up the, now very slippery, steps. Decide to give it up as a bad job, only for some intense sobbing (on nearly all our parts)to mark the end of this sorry affair. I don’t know why I’m surprised, this happens literally several times a week.

However, ‘pizza whirls’ went down a storm (perhaps unsurprisingly given the clever marketing in their name) even though they contained both onion and mushroom. Sheet of puff pastry. Topped with tomato puree, relevant herbs (think I had thyme), onion and mushroom diced toddler small, ham shredded, cheese grated and then rolled widthways so it is a long sausage. Cut into slices and arrange on baking tray, brush with egg and bake for 15-20mins. Toddler started out by saying ‘I wish I had a sandwich’, but then changed her review to ‘yummy’. Perhaps she has the right idea, expect to be disappointed and you might be surprised.

Also credit to Ana for these little circles of loveliness!

Random

‘Let’s have a freezer week, it’ll be cheaper’. Yes, thanks for that, husband. Except we had one recently and now our freezer resembles the lost property drawer at the forensic lab. This will be interesting. Except it really wasn’t and was a week of baked potatoes and the like. Except for when I found a bit of energy to come up with a kind of random paprika pitta thing.

Sliced onion in pan with quorn pieces, smoked paprika and, after a couple of mins, sliced mushrooms. Probably cooked for about 10 mins. Take off heat and stir in a spoonful of yoghurt to distract toddler. Cut open pittas, toast and then fill with mixture. Went down remarkably well. Serve for yourself later whilst trying to forget you just had to clear up bits from the last sitting off the floor, add feta (or Sainsbury’s basics ‘salad cheese’) and coriander with a tomato salad to differentiate.

Just a little bit different

I told my business coach that I wanted ‘new experiences’ and when she asked for examples (given that I had just said I was all about stability) I clarified that going to a local trampoline park on a Saturday morning would meet the brief. I also realised on holiday a couple of years ago that lying on a sun lounger for 4 minutes feels like a two week holiday and then there’s that meme that’s always going round facebook that ‘You know you’re a mom when a 15 minute shower with the door closed feels like a spa day’. And this is true. I bet the Sainsbury’s marketing team would be thrilled that I’m channelling their campaign, but little twists is what it’s about. That’s a longwinded way of saying I’m back on beans.

In an effort to make beans more vegatabley (as now we’re supposed to be on 10 a day – another thing I’m lagging behind on- AND while I’m on things I’m lagging behind on, I’m supposed to be cleaning my toilet every day according to Good Housekeeping. I had assumed these two facts were unrelated, but now I’m not so sure…) I made a kind of beefed up beans.

Onion chopped toddler small, some smoked paprika and a little bit of cumin (less than the smoked paprika, a tentative ‘not sure if this really fits here, but it feels right’ kind of amount) in pan with oil, cook down a little and add tin of tomatoes, cook down a little again and add tin of beans, forget about it while cleaning bathroom, run downstairs to smell of burning, salvage and serve with grated cheese and natural yoghurt on baked potato.

There are no answers

I spend so much of my time trying to understand why my children do the things they do. Why will my toddler only eat the soup if it is spooned into her mouth, but the baby next to her is apoplectic with rage if I try and help her eat it? Why can’t toddlers just turn the tap on, put soap on, lather, rinse off, dry; why the need to ‘clean the wall’? Why is trying to sleep on the hall floor apparently more comfortable than in an actual bed? But I try and remember the words of a wise friend – ‘there are no answers’. Hence why it’s not worth trying to fathom why the amount of effort you’ve put into making a meal is directly reflected in the level of disgust it provokes. Baby actually likes these ones, toddler not so much.

Broccoli and cheese soup. Onion chopped into pan, chopped celery into pan as I had it, small amount of peeled chopped potato to thicken, as these start to cook, broccoli split into florets and stalk relatively thinly sliced in, chicken stock to cover and let bubble for a bit until broccoli done. Blend within an inch of its life lest vegetables be identifiable to an untrained eye. Grate cheese over the top. Can add a swirl of yoghurt if you think that will make a difference to its reception.

Squash Dahl with egg and peas. Simplified from Jamie Oliver. Onion chopped into pan with peeled sweet potato (didn’t have any squash) cut small with garlic, cumin seeds, chopped coriander stalks and oil. Cook down for a bit, add red lentil and enough boiling water to cover. Cook (maybe adding more water) until lentils done and sweet potato squashable. Fry an egg, do some peas. Serve.

Trying to do the right thing

I’ve never really seen eye to eye with health visitors. Whenever I’ve been to see them for a Tete a Tete, it’s always ended up more in a head to head. Horns locked (and head-based metaphors exhausted), I’ve argued about vitamins, sleeping, signing, weight gain etc etc. But I also secretly want their approval – god, parenting is full of contradictions. So, today’s lunch was that health visitor favourite – cauliflower cheese. Or more accurately – cauliflower and broccoli macaroni (penne, not buying different pasta for one dish) cheese. Plus apparently pimped mac&cheese is de rigeur, so maybe I’ll be talk of the slide down at preschool.

Cooked penne, adding in frozen veg to cook in same pot. Made a white sauce in other. I promise – white sauce only took same length of time as cooking pasta. Butter in pan until melts, sprinkle of flour until it’s sort of coming together (less flour=more forgiving, took me ages to twig this), splash of milk, whisk until smooth, keep adding splashes of milk until a sauce, slightly thinner than you think, add grated cheese which thickens it slightly. Drain pasta and veg, mix. Add in handful of leftover and heated up roasted butternut squash randomly. I would have added some breadcrumbs and done under grill, but no time. Baby seemed particularly put out every time she ate a bit of cauliflower because it wasn’t pasta, giving me a look that fully conveyed the depth of my deceptive betrayal, but I enjoyed it.

Different doesn’t mean better

It was a heady fun-filled morning of dishwasher emptying, washing putting on, toy tidying and sorting out baby’s clothes to get rid of the ones that are too small now. I also decided to clear some of both of our clothes that were maybe mistakes, the ‘fun’ ones. I have a history of not being able to decide if something is ‘a bit different’ or hideous; a pair of knee-high, green, pirate-style boots being testament to that. So onto ebay the stuff goes. After trying to cram a normal person’s workday into a nap of previously unspecified length, it was time for lunch. I decided beans were on the menu, who am I kidding, they’re back, we both like them. But I made French toast/eggy bread because that makes it DIFFERENT.

Slice of bread, buttered on one side, dipped both sides in beaten egg, then fried in non-stick pan (the new one, husband, grey with the flecks in) butter side down first, no oil. The fact that baby left this bit until all other bits of lunch had been exhausted suggests that she agrees with the adage that different isn’t necessarily better, but I liked it.

Pitta bread pizza for tea, thanks to friend for this revelation! One half of a pitta lengthways, spread with tomato puree, sliced mushroom, spring onion, bit of grated cheese; under grill until cheese melts. We now eat this regularly, so not different and definitely good.

Control

I have no control of my own life anymore. Our kitchen has been taken over by some robot radio overlord who insists on assumptively playing me music she ‘thinks I’ll like’ and will only play things at two volumes – silent disco or club night. I appear to have zero control over feral children – ‘why are you wearing pyjamas again, it’s 12 o’clock?’, ‘stop dragging your sister around by her dress, she’s CRYING’, ‘I repeat, I will not allow you to ride on the reindeer now, it’s sleeping time’ etc etc ad nauseam; and it appears I don’t even have control over my own online shopping – Sainsbury’s having apparently decided ‘new year, new me’ and sent me sweet potatoes instead of baking potatoes. I didn’t notice because the stranger standing in my kitchen at 10pm on a Friday while we unpacked the crates together was a bit awkwardly intimate and I just wanted him out of there. So it was baked sweet potato for tea, with beans because I’m past caring.

Cooked one big potato in microwave for 6 mins, cheese and beans on top. I did make tomato soup for lunch which was nice – chopped onion and celery in pan, would have done carrot too and potato but didn’t have any (see above). Tin of chopped tomatoes and passata with veg stock with little bit of sugar. Cook for a little bit. Blend with some cream cheese. Served with dipping toast, watch toddler pick out any bits that aren’t totally blended, sigh.

Efficiency

Yesterday was all about efficiency. I was so successful that I’m writing this the next day. Having realised quite so much cheese goes into our lunches (see left, known in my family as ‘cheesy dream’ – eggy bread cheese sandwich type thing – amazing), I made what husband and I ate for tea the night before. Less brain power – efficient! Baby then had an inordinately long nap and so the tomatoes cooked down really nicely and I got nothing done because I was never sure when she was going to wake up.

Inspired by a recipe on the BBC Good Food page. Chopped onion softened, add garlic, then tin tomatoes, little swirl of pesto. cook for 10 mins or over an hour if baby sleeps that long. Crack an egg each into small wells and cook with lid on for about 10 mins. Serve with pitta bread toasted in slices. These, and the yoghurt on the side, would have gone better with the coriander I used the night before instead of the pesto, but still worked. Add sprig of basil to feel like you’re on one of the lunch jollies that husband gets taken on all the time, and serve. If you want to remember what being efficient felt like, serve to baby wearing brand new white top.

Balance

Word of today – balance. Lovely, lovely day meeting up with friends. Play versus work versus money versus children discussed by adults; sentiment mirrored by toddlers – ‘I’m a bit bigger’, ‘I’M a bit smaller’. Fresh air and woodland play in the morning balanced at home in the afternoon by 4 back to back episodes of current favourite TV programme for overtired toddler. And so it was for food. It’s the end of the week – ha, self-employed, no end to the week – the end to the bit of the week where I’m the only one allegedly in charge, and we’re all tired. Hello again, baked potatoes. However, the potatoes I had were totally inappropriate sizes for the job in hand and so wedges it was with ‘mini crustless quiches’ and that same soup from the other day to provide the veg. Thank god for soup.

Eggs beaten in jug, good splash of whole milk mixed in. Little bits of ham and grated cheese on bottom of cupcake tin, egg mixture poured over top. In oven for 20-25 mins, came out as overcooked as I feel. 15 would have been fine I reckon.

Soup, soup eh doop

So, today we’re rocking a carrot and coriander soup. After a couple of days where everything feels harder work than you think it should be, where we’re on the brink of Trump (which frankly sounds like a particularly revolting place to be) and I’m watching Theresa May suck up to Scotland with a tartan blazer, soup feels like we’re on track in the right direction. Plus, I made it yesterday, so today is reheating, wins all round.

Half onion chopped in biggish chunks, in pan, chop 3 carrots, in pan, cook down a little bit, good shake of dried coriander, veg stock to decently cover. Handful of lentils. Simmer for half an hour. Blend with a handful of fresh coriander. Serve to baby while feeling virtuous. Serve with a tortilla wrap as you’ve run out of bread. I suppose this could be toasted under the grill a bit into tortilla chips, but not today.

Keep it simple, stupid

Keep it simple, stupid – blunt but fair, and applicable to today, and really any day spent with children. It’s been snowing, so the last two days have largely been lived inside. Despite my best efforts to over-complicate things, I keep realising that things largely work better the simpler they are and I’ve had two food wins on this basis recently. Simple things, just put together differently than I normally would.

Porridge – worthy, cheap and inexplicably viewed as a massive treat by toddler. Researching ways to make it more exciting (if this isn’t living!…) there’s loads but I’m not about to be toasting any nuts or sourcing exotic seeds at this stage in the game. Taking it back to what I had in, I finally  found a use for the apple puree that baby spurned. Swirling some into the cooked porridge with some cinnamon shaken over (I’ve no idea how much – some, not a lot) and banana sliced on top actually felt lovely and cosy with the snow outside.

For tea, a Nigel Slater recipe that has ridiculously few ingredients. Garlic, sliced and in pan with oil until just starts to fizzle, tinned tomatoes in and cook down for a few mins. Pour into oven dish, lay skinless fish fillet on top, breadcrumbs on top and in oven c200 for 10 mins. Made with mash. Miraculously toddler devours. Continuing with the keeping it real vibe, baby would only eat it in fistfuls. Made yoghurt for pudding, served in old Gu pudding dishes (‘so we mustn’t throw these on the floor’ I was instructed) with heated up frozen berry mix on the bottom and crushed up amaretti biscuit (knew there was a point to keeping those) on top.

Then told by toddler (unrelated, I hope) that I was her best friend. The simple things.