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.


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.

Soup: a revelation

Soup is my latest revelation. I know. But it’s only obvious when you know the answer! For some reason, I’ve stopped making soup, but I love it – warming, different textures etc for baby, can last a few days and most importantly for toddler – stealth vegetables. Necessary as toddler says stuff like ‘mushrooms make me poorly’.

This did admittedly take longer than 10 mins, about 40 start to finish. But, there wasn’t too much to do, which was good as I had to keep stopping for group hugs. Plus, the toast is good on its own for v quick lunch.

Chopped onion, in pot with oil, ideally I would have put in a small amount of shredded ham but it went out of date a week ago, so, no. Parsnip, carrot and a couple of potatoes (only a couple so it didn’t turn to glue) roughly the same size in pot. Cooked for a few mins until sweated down a bit, big handful of dried red lentils on top and then poured stock on top until very decently covered. Used Kallo v low salt. Ten mins from end – grate cheddar and half an apple together, pile on lightly toasted bread, grill, cut into little squares and call it ‘croutons’. Blended soup with hand stick blender. I would prefer it unblended but I never get to do anything I want anymore. Serve. Lion plate optional.