If you are still reading my blog …then all I can say is thank you. Gosh life sometimes throws a curve ball and an uphill struggle.
I am still here..still loving to write…and still cooking.
I think that may be one of the reasons I love food..it doesn’t matter how hard life gets..how little there is..how many arguments there are. For me there will always be a dinner to make. Its my rock I guess, I don’t want to gush..but I write and cook from my heart…and when it feels like nothing is going right for us..I can still make dinner.
Tonight it was meatloaf.
I will be honest, it wasn’t the best. My daughter loved it and asked if we could have it again. I ate it with pickles and salad, and a small glass of wine. dear son moaned, but he is in a bad place…however he got through two slices. There was garlic bread and homemade chips..no one was going to starve.
whatever life throws at us..there is still washing up, but I shall be glad there is because it means we have eaten. There are grumpy children to wash and tuck in bed.
Our tummies are full, puppy is walked, we have comfy beds to go to ….for now I shall be just glad of that.
Arrgghh still trying to live out of the freezer. (not literally lol).
so tonight I am making what I call party tea. We have lots of bits to use up and I am too tired to think. so tired, that the minute I get in from the school run I am lighting the wood burner and putting on my PJs.
No dressing or cooking to impress tonight lol.
There will be chicken pieces and sausages. Prawns and spring rolls. Garlic bread and maybe a bit of lasagne. I will make a salad, and a fruit cocktail as well so we don’t feel too unhealthy. There might even be chips :).
It really is amazing how many times we go shopping without checking what we already have. I am a great one for just cooking what I fancy, but the whole downsizing of the cupboards and freezer are going well. I have also saved a lot of cash this week, which can only be a good thing. I am not going to pretend its been easy staying away from the aisles full of treats. but its certainly been worth it.
I might make a chocolate biscuit cake as my reward…
I think cooking is a bit like when you get to a car park, and there are loads of spaces..So you drive round deciding, which is best. Yet if there is only one spot, you just park and you’re glad of it. I am like that with dinner some nights. So much choice, I spend more time pondering than I do actually cooking and eating it.
So I am going old school. Chicken chips and peas. Crumble for pudding. Or maybe pizza and salad. A fruit cocktail for pudding. Spag bol, salad. Fresh pineapple for pudding. See it’s easy when I go simple.
I think I don’t have time to wash muddy potatoes, or chop and peel some raw veg as a snack starter. But I do, I am fooling myself. I even have time to make Pud if I rope in the troublesome two, or four, depending on which day it is and how many children we have.
So I shall start to practise what I preach. Be my own Mother I guess, now I am 40 maybe I should grow up…just a little. Don’t worry I am not going to become all conventional. I just remember a lot of happy times peeling spuds and icing the odd cake with my Grandma. Occasionally my Mother would let me make up the custard powder or a packet of quik gel (for people under 30 that is very instant jelly lol )
I am beginning to understand just how important cooking is…It is about finding the time. Nurturing my home and family, spending time together..And not over complicating life. We are so ready to gather possessions, in my case recipe books and kitchen stuff. We can’t move for dusty cds and ironing piles of clothes we don’t really wear (that might just be me ..Not you J). People tell me they don’t have time to make a shepherds pie; yet they never miss an episode of Eastenders. I think it might be time to jiggle priorities..Or at least be aware of where our time sneaks away to.
I am not particularly opinionating I know..that’s not a real word ), just muttering as usual, and reassessing how my life is passing by.
The best meals involve gathering every chair you have and then some….
Life has been a little rocky, for lots of reasons. And surely the best antidote to this is a feast?
It wasn’t grand. Hard-boiled eggs, bowls of crisps, cheese, salad, a fresh baked loaf, hot sausages, cold roast chicken, olives and dips…. a little wine, some fizzy pop..Scones and jam and cream….and most importantly…5 people I love.
A meal is not just about the food, the company is just as important. It seems the surrounding don matter either.
Being squashed around a noisy table with friends and family..Surely that is the best recipe you are ever going to get?
The chairs might not match. The napkins were kitchen roll….there was a bit of competitive pickled onion eating with the boys’ lol. It was wonderful….
If you are ever passing, pull up a chair…there is always room for one more.
I have tried my best to be faithful to our relationship, the one where I cook and write, and hopefully you read and send me your comments.
But today I feel I have failed you.
Today I have been unfaithful, (with a shop bought pizza and some oven chips)
I know, you thought you knew me, that you could count on my daily provision of dry wit and moist cooking. The only explanation I can give is that I was caught up in the moment. One look at its deep topping and golden stuffed crust, well it stirred a hunger deep inside me. I was weak, it was in the trolley before I had chance to think of the consequences.
I guess no one is perfect.
If you can forgive me I promise I shall try harder tomorrow. I shall fill the freezer with delicious offerings that I’ve pre-made, so that I shall not be turned again.
Happy Monday…gosh another day nearly gone..Another dinner to make.
I find Mondays tough…I love relaxed weekends, where we go at our own leisurely pace…we never plan much as its our down time. But all too soon we return to Monday, the day of hustle and bustle. Clearing up the general trail of toys and discarded mugs..Back to shipshape and the weekly shop.
Today I bought some lovely mince at the butchers and some freshly baked bread cakes …so tonight it will be Happy Meal night. Not much cooking, a homemade burger containing only real food. And some tasty chips, made from nothing but potatoes, a splash of oil and a sprinkle of salt. Our free toy is a spanking brand new book each, to read at bedtime. After that all we need is a bath and PJs, a mug of hot chocolate and a square of home baked shortbread.
Currently I have three freezers (don’t ask,) and as it’s the weekend, I found myself sitting comfortably, thinking what relaxing pursuit should I indulge in …I strangely came up with the idea to sort out said freezers. (Note to self. Find a hobby)
I have come to the conclusion that if you are like me, we are not using our freezers very efficiently. I am currently trying to use my space wisely..in the hope I end up with just one useful freezer, which will be good for both for my electric bill and space.
My new rules are:
Fish fingers, half eaten tubs of ice cream, my own body weight in broad beans and massive joints of meat = Bad.
Fish, prawns, summer fruits and vegetables we actually eat, and homemade ready meals = Good.
This may seem crazy at first glance, but there seems to be no point in storing things I can grab at the corner shop whilst doing the school run or make from scratch in big batches (fish fingers, chicken nuggets, chips)
Joints of meat take forever to defrost and I would be better just cooking loads all at once after a visit to my butcher, and then storing it as homemade ready meals, than spending 12 hours defrosting something to cook from scratch.
I don’t often eat ice cream, but when I do I like the good stuff, So I resolve to buy these smaller tubs when they are on offer at the supermarket, and stop housing half empty litre tubs of sub standard raspberry ripple that the kids once liked until I mistakenly gave them scoops of the good stuff. J
I have an ice lolly mould in the drawer, so have set it the task that it was designed for and filled it with juice and berries and actually put it in the freezer for an after tea treat.
There are already a couple of portions of chilli and some beef stew which will saving me cooking when I am busy and tired in the week. And tomorrow I resolve to roast a joint of beef as well as my standard pork joint so we can have a dinner or quick hot beef sandwiches when my mealtime imagination has deserted me (usually by Thursday). It’s not being the most entertaining of afternoons, but I have taken pleasure in ticking another chore off the very long list, and am sure I will thank myself during the week…. The only downside seems to be…I have developed a bit of an obsession with those foil containers and artistic labelling oh well ….they will keep me amused until I take up a proper hobby.
I was going to say I always seem to be cooking, but I guess that would be stating the obvious. What I mean to say is I always seem to be cooking what I call “children’s tea”. This week we have already had the homemade nuggets. (A small sample of which are in the freezer…to see if they work as a future ready meal). We have sampled my new cottage pie recipe, (also in the freezer for a quick dinner next week.) So I think today I shall declare it sausage, egg and chip Wednesday. YAY. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Good quality butchers sausage, eggs contributed by Peckish, Dora and Mrs Grey, and some quick homemade oven chips. I shall throw in a tin of our favourite baked beans (the one with the turquoise label..Yes turquoise not green…don’t get me started 😀 ) as one of our 5 a day and I think we will feast like kings, all be it low budget kings.
You never know, there maybe bananas and custard as a pudding…I’ve got to get my five a day somehow.
To say my son is a fussy eater would be an understatement. But like most kids he will gobble down chicken nuggets and chips without a word of complaint. Oh my, how it drives me crazy the amount of lovingly prepared food he will refuse to even try…if I were offering up boiled sheep’s brains with spaghetti I could understand. But I generally save that for the grown ups menu (only joking honey don’t worry).
So with the New Year and good habits in mind I am trying to revamp the chicken nugget, and so far its not going to bad…..he tried one, my daughter and I wolfed the rest, they were delicious. They are still a work in progress, I aim to get him to eat two next time, but hey at least he tried.
The recipe is below if you would like to give them a try. They are also delicious with sweet and sour sauce and rice for a healthy quick “takeaway”.
Sky @ thesideplate.com
8 chicken thighs, trimmed (and bashed out flat if you are feeling that way out)
1 tub of butter milk or natural yoghurt
1 tsp of garlic granules
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper (I use white because they cant see it – sneaky mummy!)
1 small packet of panko breadcrumbs
Mix the seasonings into the buttermilk then place in a dish with the chicken and leave to marinate. The longer the better 24 hours is ideal.
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and dip into the breadcrumbs…..if you are gentle they should stick.
Shallow fry the chicken in two batches until the breadcrumbs look golden, then remove and place on a baking try. Pop in the oven for 20 mins on about 220..Like I say its still a work in progress.