So it's Friday evening and I'm feeling a bit stressed. In fact, I have anxiety about what to put in our picnic tomorrow when we will be going to Wisley to meet up with the husband's great aunt from Australia (henceforth "GAA"). She is already in England staying with another family. Tomorrow, other family (F1), the Recipe Junkie mob, plus another family (F2) are meeting up at RHS Wisley so that we can spend the day together and then we will assume responsibility for GAA.
Now the 2 other families are almost entirely unknown quantities. The wife/mother in F2 is somehow distantly related to the husband, and the wife/mother in F1 is her step (or half - I can't remember which) sister. All quite complicated. F1 includes and 18 month old and F2 includes a 9yr old and a 7 yr old.
I could handle all this except I have only met the adults from F2 once, at a funeral, and the adults of F1 not at all, and I just don't know how to approach 'the picnic'. I don't know if these other children are paragons of virtue who will only eat wholefoods and spurn chocolate in favour of fruit, or faddy fusspots. And secretly (well, not so secretly) I want to produce something that will show my family to be good. I can't guarantee their behaviour, but if I get the food right, then at the picnic at least, I can be pretty sure that for 5 minutes, all will be well, and it's the thought of those 5 minutes that I am clinging on to. So here is the dilemma - do I try and rustle up something delicious, organic and delightful (which the children will probably eat but might - might just - turn their noses up), or suppress my desire to perform as an alpha mummy (exhausting myself into the bargain) and just produce a normal picnic. For the past few days I have been considering the many suggestions for picnic food in the many Good Food magazines I have (in month order) in the study. Should I make ploughman rolls (home baked with cheese and tomato baked into them)? Should I make a fritatta or roast some chicken legs in some exotic marinade? This must, I think, be the current manifestation of my competitive streak.
However, I did nothing about the ploughmans rolls, the fritatta or the chicken legs, and given that it's already after G&T o'clock, and I am blogging you can guess that I have managed to get a grip and head for the middle ground (I should clarify that I do not yet have said G&T in hand). Ham and cheese rolls it will be (peanut butter on crackers for Pink - I would rather pander to her foibles than have her not eat enough and be foul). But I think I might manage some homemade hummus and some carrot sticks to dip, and, as I type, there is in the oven, Nigella's seed cake (from Kitchen). An odd choice, perhaps, but I know that my kids will like it, and I can't help feeling a little bit smug about taking homemade cake along. It's another really easy loaf cake, and it has ground almonds and caraway seeds in it. The smell from the kitchen is divine. And there it is again - that feeling that perhaps F1 or F2 will turn up with homemade cake AND something else (that I can't think of) that will make me feel inadequate (or, heaven forbid, they will have compared notes to come up with a super amazing picnic) . But inadequate I will just have to feel.
In the midst of all this angst, I managed to burn the kids' fishfingers for tea, but at least they'll be able to eat homemade cake tomorrow.