Wednesday, 31 August 2011

What to do with all those peaches...Part 2

A bit spurious, this title, but bear with me.

After yesterday when everything was wrong, today has been a much better day, even if I have spent most of the time feeling like I'm living in an episode of Outnumbered. To be honest, I think that's why it's so funny - because for most people with children, that's what it's like. I never felt the same affinity with other 'family' sitcoms - My Family for instance just didn't do it for me, but Outnumbered has me weeping with laughter and relief that someone else's family must be like mine because otherwise how could they have written it.

I managed to sneak downstairs early this morning and get on with some work. Blue had already crashed out of bed for his early morning loo trip, but was back in his room, ensconsed in a little world of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and J.K Rowling and pink was still fast asleep. Fred was ignoring me. We'd had a little incident at bedtime last night - I was on the phone to the husband and Fred had gone out for his bedtime sniff around the garden, come back in and had his biscuits. I turned off the downstairs lights but instead of going upstairs, had to go back in to the study and as I turned on the light, a flash of white and brown caught my eye, sneaking behind me towards the playroom. I caught him halfway through hoisting himself up on to the sofa, obviously settling down for a night of luxury. He slid off as he realised he'd been rumbled and we then had a comedy moment while he lay on the floor and looked all soulful and sorry but kept wagging his tail ever so slightly as if to say "Go on, let me...go on", and refused to leave the room despite my admonishments. Eventually he gave in and went sulking back to his bed, but as an experiment, I decided to leave the playroom door open. While I didn't hear him go back into the playroom last night, when blue got up this morning, I heard Fred leap off the sofa and return to his own bed...

Around 7, pink suddenly appeared at my elbow dressed in her yellow Easter Chick fairy outfit, all ready for holiday club. They had been told that they needed to wear something yellow today or bring a banana for "Marvin the Monkey". Fortunately tomorrow they only have to take a joke with them. I am keen to see what outfit she deems suitable - tiger outfit yesterday, fairy today - they must be holding their breaths at St Marys... The yellow thing though, caused a bit of a problem for blue. Blue is a boy who likes things to be as they are and as they have been planned out. Blue is a boy who does NOT like change. Last night, when we were discussing what he might wear to fulfil the 'something yellow' criteria, I'd reminded him about a yellow T shirt that he has, so all was well. However, this morning when he appeared, naked, asking where it was, that horrible and all too common feeling of maternal failure washed over me, accompanied with the very vivid realisation that it might in fact still be wet at the bottom of the washing basket. I suggested that he should put on another T shirt for now and I'd go and find the yellow one, iron it and hang it in the airing cupboard confidently predicting that it would be dry by 9.30. Queue lower lip wobble from blue. "But I might forget. I like to put on the Tshirt that I'm wearing and not change it" "We planned that I would wear that one mummy". So different from pink who changes her outfits up to 4 or even 5 times a day if I'm really lucky. We had a long and mildly hysterical conversation about contingency planning and he went off no happier, but slightly less close to tears. He then reappeared to tell me that it was OK because he had found his yellow stripy pants so he could wear those anyway. And in the end, the yellow Tshirt wasn't at the bottom of the wash basket after all - I had hung it on the airer. Quick iron - and bingo - yellow Tshirt and yellow stripy pants. Honour satisfied.

Lunch was a less random affair than yesterday's pancakes. The kids had both indicated a desire for tomato soup, so soup it was. I had lovely bread made yesterday, and started rummaging in the cupboard for some sun dried tomatoes. None to be found. My other stand by addition to tomato soup is some BBQ ketchup (a Gordon Ramsay tip, that was - honest!!), but today, in the absence of both, the soup was: 1 onion, 1 crushed clove of garlic and a grated carrot gently fried in some olive oil, add 2 cans of chopped tomatoes and a can's worth of stock (made up today from marigold bouillon powder). Simmer for a bit then add in a big handful of basil (from the garden, naturellement) and whizz up with a spoonful of creme fraiche/yoghurt (whatever you have in the fridge). The original recipe - the one that pops into my head when the kids ask for tomato soup - was in a Good Food mag - tinned tomatoes, sundried tomatoes stock and creme fraiche, but it gets changed according to what I have available. In the time that I took to knock that up, I also managed to make the turkey meatloaves that I was stressing about yesterday and put both in the freezer, and got to work on a kind of deconstructued fish pie/bake thing that I decided to cook for tea tonight (can't have turkey 2 days in a row unless it's Christmas, when you have to eat it for atleast a week: it's the law).

I love smoked haddock and had found some in the freezer on one of my recent riflings. I boiled a panful of new potatoes and steamed some spinach & chard (all garden veg!). When we got back from the park this afternoon, I poached the haddock in milk with bay leaves and peppercorns, then flaked the fish up in a baking dish, and mixed in the chopped and squeezed spinach. I sliced up some of the potatoes to make a layer, then used the milk I'd poached the fish in to make a white sauce flavoured with nutmeg to pour over the potatoes, topped it all with some grated cheese and bunged it under the grill while I steamed some carrots and beans (I'm getting a bit sick of beans if the truth be told). While this is the sort of meal I love, the kids aren't quite with me. Pink came into the kitchen at one point "What's for tea?" "Mummy's special delicious fish pie" said I - you see that was my mistake. They always get suspicious if I big something up like that, but I can't help it - if I know they probably won't be that keen, I just can't help but call it something like "Mummy's special, delicious XXXXX". "I don't like fish pie" said pink. "You do" I said "You really do". "Well I don't. You must have forgotten" Says she. "Well you need to try it because at your age, tastes change".

They didn't like it that much, but I was pretty pleased with it. Blue ate it all, give him his due, although tried to get away without eating the spinach by hiding it under his cutlery. Pink took one bite - "I've tried it and it's delicious" said she. "Now can I have ketchup on it?" Grrrr. Ever the diplomat, her alternative position on food she doesn't like is "It's really good but I just don't want to eat it". Double grrrr. What's even more irritating with her is that she is so wilful that she will go without anything just to prove a point. She would go without her most favourite thing if the deal was that she had to eat something that she didn't want in return. She must have been really hungry this evening because she managed half of her portion.

Anyway, I expect that most of you who might have started reading this in order to find out what I did with the peaches may have lost interest, but for those who have persevered, here it is. I had a big punnet of raspberries in the fridge from Allotment Junkie that desperately needing eating - or something. 700 grams - more than we could have eaten, and suddenly I was seized with inspiration. I made the raspberries into coulis and the search results when I'd quickly googled for coulis pointed me towards a recipe for caramleised peaches to eat with said coulis. Heaven - split and stone the peaches, turn them cut side up in the grill pan (line the grill with foil) sprinkle with a little caster sugar and then grill on high till the sugar caramelises and the peaches are slightly softened and hot. Serve with raspberry coulis and ice cream (or yoghurt, creme fraiche etc). A fitting and fine end to some delicious peaches, and some lovely raspberries and the best thing is that I've now got 4 more decent portions of the coulis in the freezer...

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