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Monthly Archives: May 2012

30th May: Any Excuse for Booze Welsh Rarebit

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It’s been one of those days. My little darlings saw fit to start their shenanigans before 5am. Bloody battles over bouncy balls, bottles of water (yup!) all before 7am.

He had been up with them for a couple of hours, refereeing their spats, when he appeared in our bedroom. I won’t repeat the word he used to describe his delightful brood. It was a bad one. He looked so relieved to be going to work.

“Have a good day darl, see you at 6ish”.

I had an overwhelming urge to grab onto his legs to stop him from going. Like a crazed woman in some asylum I beg, “pleeeaaase don’t leave me with them”….

Woeful Wednesdays is the term me and a couple of friends have adopted.

Mine are at home all day, as are my friends’. A gang of 7 kids meet up to wreak havoc on various local beauty spots and tourist attractions. With varying disastrous consequences.

Today was one of those days where I am utterly bored of the sound of my own voice. Hollering my children’s names one after the other as they blunder from fights, to episodes of incontinence, to abject danger.

We claw a bit of joy back with a nice picnic and a swim in the sunshine. My friend invites us for tea at her house. I hesitate. Not because I don’t want to go. We don’t get invited round to people’s houses much any more. Not surprising as we are like some sort of Travelling Stress Roadshow.

I bite the bullet and we go. All goes relatively smoothly. A couple of minor territory disputes. But all eat their teas nicely and it’s nearly home time.

Then the Fusspot vomits all over their table. My friend, in some sort of domino-like effect, duly runs off to be sick herself. Her mum, a lovely lady in her 70s, ends up clearing up the mess because the Baby has started screaming the place down. They were very sweet about it, as they doused the place in antibacterial spray. I wonder when we’ll be invited back there….

He’s out tonight. I open the fridge hoping it has been loaded with M&S ready meals by my Fairy Godmother. Alas no. It is the usual sorry collection of post-mature vegetables and cling-film wrapped mystery cheeses.

There’s half a can of flat lager on the side. I decide on Welsh rarebit simply so I can have a supper with an ABV.

Spring onion cooked in butter. Add flour to make a roux, then stir in the beer to make a smooth sauce. Add grated cheddar (?), mustard and some Worcestershire sauce. I have some chorizo so chop some of that in too. Pour the mixture onto some lightly toasted bread and shove it under the grill until brown and bubbling.

A bubble bath, a glass of red and an early night await me upstairs. Along with the cheering thought that I have a morning all to myself tomorrow, then dinner out with friends. Onwards and upwards…

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24th May: Moussaka

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Out of the mouth of babes…

Kids are great. They really do not give a hoot about social niceties. It’ s enviable really.

If I want a lolly, and you don’t give me one, I’m going to scream. I may tell you that I don’t like you, that I don’t want to be your friend. I will then throw something at you and stomp off.

How refreshing to live like that. I’m fairly sure that’s the reason little kids have such a carefree attitude. No angst. No bottling things up. Just rant and rave. Maybe even get your own way cos your mum just wants you to shut the hell up and stop humiliating her in public wants an easy life. Then…you’re done. Moodie over. Aggression released. Let’s move on….

Perhaps we should all try it. I’ll bet we’d feel better for it. Never mind the lip biting, clenched jaw when someone is truly peeing you off. Just kick them in their shins and snatch their sweets. Then laugh when they start crying. Brilliant.

The Big One has taken a lesson from Roy Walker. “Say what you see”.

“why is that lady in a wheelchair? Why is she making those noises? She’s a funny lady”

“that man has a big belly, doesn’t he mum?” he did

“Is that a man or a lady?”

this, in a very clear voice at the checkout. The lady (for it was a she, I think), was one of those thin, short haired types in her 70s. Jeans, Regatta walking jacket. Not butch by any stretch. Just totally androgynous. Her matching husband was clearly outside in the Nissan Bluebird, wearing matching clothes.

It was a good call. I mean she could have put on a bit of lippy. Or maybe some stud earrings. It was only the fact that the jacket was lilac that I felt I could answer relatively confidently.

“it’s a lady of course my darling” I chuckled nervously.

“but she looks like grandad” he hollered.

The tumbleweed rolled though the shop as my cheeks burned. Thanks son.

Summer appears to have made a fleeting arrival. For some reason I think Moussaka is summery. Maybe because I’ve eaten it on my hols in Greece.

I’ve always used Delia’s recipe. It’s gorgeous and I don’t see any reason to change it.
Onions, garlic and lamb mince browned in olive oil. Add in a glass white wine and some tomato purée, some chopped parsley and a bit of cinnamon. Clearly I lob in some spinach for good measure.

You’re meant to do the aubergines properly. Salt them, griddle them etc. I never quite have time for that so I slice them and roast them in a hot oven for 20 mins instead. To pad it out, I blast some sliced potato in the microwave for a bit. Then layer everything up before pouring over a white sauce with 2 eggs stirred in. Cover with grated cheese and bake for 40 mins.

Labour intensive but always a winner. I’m off to put some makeup on before someone else’s 4 year old asks loudly if I’m a man….or a granny. 8/10.

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17th May: Moules Frites

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His ‘To Do’ List upon returning home from work:

1) Dump dirty clothes on kitchen sideboard.
2) Scoff tea.
3) Place own plate on work top near dishwasher. (NB. Our dishwasher has the very latest ‘Fingerprint Recognition’ technology. Which means that only I can open it. Apparently.)
4) Practice incredibly loud, repetitive piano sonatas whilst kids vie for his attention.
5) Act surprised by my foul rattled mood as I clean up shite from under table and stack techno-dishwasher.

My ‘To Do’ List

1) Remove sweaty clothes from sideboard and place in laundry basket.
2) Feed kids their tea.
3) Tidy up everyone else’s mess.
4) Seethe.
5) Start drinking before I have a rage induced stroke.

I paint quite the picture don’t I? He’s a love really. Obviously nicer that he’s home doing piano practice than at some men’s club downing pints…

That said, he does pretty much inhabit his own little world. He tells me his playing is relaxing. Let me assure you that it is not. In.Any.Way. Not at that time of day anyhow.

So there I am on hands and knees sweeping up detritus and chipping crud off booster seats. He has the dreamy trancelike gaze of a cult member as he practices the part of Beethoven’s Appasionata that he is currently working on. “Beautiful” he murmurs to himself at his favourite bit. In those moments I have a very clear image of myself ‘accidentally’ slamming the piano lid on his hands.

The Big One demands mussels for tea. Quite the gourmand. I’m sorry if this sounds very smug and middle class. “Oh Tarquin has never even SEEN a fishfinger…hahaha”. I assure you that my children do eat lots of beige freezer crap too.

Moules Frites, or mussels and chips, were a staple when we lived in Brittany. A very easy and cheap crowd pleaser. I hope that, by making this old favourite for tea, I can suppress my murderous thoughts and transport us back to that golden age where we spent our days supping beer and playing ping pong….

Sweat an onion and two garlic cloves in some olive oil. Stir in the mussels (they need to be washed and de-bearded first – the only ball ache about this dish). Add a glass of white wine, bring to the boil and cover pan with lid. They need to slowly simmer for about five minutes or until they have all opened. I then fish them out and reduce the liquid on a fast boil before adding some chopped parsley and cream. Served with skinny oven chips and crusty bread. Yummity yum.

Obviously a major hit with my biggest boy. Fusspot tries one and gips. The baby flings a few on the floor. But, I hear you ask, did it have the magic effect on my husband-induced rage??
9/10 delicious but not magic…. 😉

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11th May: Cheesefest

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Any excuse for a party.

We really don’t get out much. No local babysitters means we have to ‘make our own fun’. A shonky Royal Wedding Party, a Carols Round the Piano party, ‘Sophisticated’ Dinner Parties….you get the gist.

This time it was a rather cheesy Fondue Party.

In our former guise as fun loving travelling types, we spent a lot of time in the French Alps.

By God do they love to melt cheese. A lot. And who’d have thought there would be so many ways to do such a simple thing?? The apparatus is incredible! The tables in any mountain retreat look like medieval torture chambers. Hooks, Maces, Scrapers.

The menus read like that Monty Python sketch:
Ham, Onions, Cheese, Cream.
Cream, Cheese, Onions, Ham.
Cheese, Onions, Ham, Cream.
Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam.

I realise it’s a tricky climate and historically it must have been pretty tough to produce much else. But how on earth do they all not have rickets or some other vitamin-deficiency ailment??

For a piglet like me, however, it’s total dreamsville. Stale bread dunked in winey cheese?? What’s not to like??

Like the total suckers we are (and me being heavily into amassing kitchenalia), we clearly bought a couple of devices before returning to Blighty. They used to get a regular airing in our funky Just Married days. Less so now, as we can’t even muster up the energy to search for the French to English plug adaptor.

He brought me a load of cheese back from his Alpine Schmoozefest so we decided to go searching for that plug and invite some chums over for a cheese feast.

It’s a sociable, if not a little frustrating, way to eat. Not helped by our miniature table. A fondue bubbling away, a raclette machine pumping out the heat, platters of meats, pickles, potatoes and bread teetering on various stools and windowsills.

Our friends are game and get stuck in. A couple of them have even come dressed in Crimplene – above and beyond. It’s not breathable and there are two heaters on the table! They could spontaneously combust at any given moment! I toy with putting some Demis Roussos on the stereo and donning a kaftan. I don’t. Much hilarity ensues. We drip molten cheese everywhere and stuff our faces Alpine stylee.

I must admit that it doesn’t require any culinary effort on my part, save boiling some spuds and opening some packets of cured ham. To atone, I make a Pavlova for pud. My Nana’s Pavlova needs its own entry on here so I’ll save that for another time.

We drink a fair bit and tell tales of pre-kiddie travels. Mopeds, inappropriate gropings – one of our friends has us howling at his Vietnamese misfortune. Best leave that one there….

Cheesy Fun Times 10/10.

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5th May: Fusspot turns 3!

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Sleep deprivation and accompanying tales of woe appear to have become my Schtick.

However, today’s tale is a happy one. My little fusspot’s third birthday.

Of our three offspring, he is the one that has caused us the most worry. Even his arrival was traumatic. We spent the first year of his life camped out at the doctor’s surgery, in and out of various clinics and hospitals. All he has to do now is gip on a bit of badly-chewed sandwich, and me and He are immediately transported back to those early days of stress, anxiety and blind panic. Relaxing? Not very.

The odd bit of gipping aside, he has made amazing progress. He is now a completely, beautifully, boringly ordinary three year old. Yippeeee!

Days like this call for celebration. We hire a hall and a bouncy castle and invite some lovely friends and family. We enjoy throwing a good shindig. How else do you get to have loads of the people you love in one place?

Us being us, all does not quite go to plan. By tea time the day before the party, all three kids are on different antibiotics. Various freaky mouth germs resulting in sore throats, swollen gums, hacking coughs. No one is sleeping, especially not me and Him. It’s all looking bleak. Best laid plans and all that…

We toy with cancelling. But Fusspot is so looking forward to it and it just feels wrong to break his little birthday heart. I send out a text to the invitees to put them in the picture. Most say they’ll still come. Happy days. We decide to go for it.

The big day arrives, pressies ripped open, sandwiches made, cupcakes iced and it’s off to the party. 20 Pirates and Princesses have a blast. And it’s a very proud feeling to see our lovely Fusspot chuffed to bits with himself, in his pirate garb, rocking out to Agadoo with an eight-foot lion 🙂

Not much cooking I’m afraid. This being the Fusspot’s dream party lunch, it’s clearly crisps, cheese and sausages all the way. I do manage to bake him a Treasure Chest Cake. Not my finest culinary moment but at least it tasted nice.

I used Nigella’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe. As I lather on the chocolate buttercream, it starts to crumble and break off. It’s all a bit much for my frayed nerves. I feel on the cusp of having a ‘cakedown’ as my youngest sister-in-law might say. I surprise myself with my cool. I hide it in the fridge and deal with it in a mature fashion in the morning. Impressive if you know my temperament!

The kids and the eight-foot lion follow the Treasure Hunt clues. X marks the spot and the treasure chest cake is eventually discovered. Fusspot seems delighted with my ham-fisted artistry. And, to be honest, I’m totally delighted with him. Happy happy day. 10/10.

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