Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Clocks

Now I'm writing this on my mobile on Blogger, so it may be a shambles...

Last night I was melting into the sofa, (with my bottle of fruit cider, Twirl and a packet of salt and vinegar) when a post on Facebook reminded me the clocks were to go back an hour at 2am. I say "reminded", but really you have to have known about a fact in the first place in order to be reminded? Anyway, my thinking followed this pathway:

1. Whoop whoop! One whole extra hour in bed. Count it (one...) and weep! Amazeballs. (Reaches for second bottle of cider. 2 bottles? This chick's crazy!)

2. The Bairn! How will he know? Shall I go and whisper in his shell-like whilst he slumbers "have a lie-in, lil un". No, because he is a BABY and I'd wake him, plus his concept of the English language is, frankly, minimal.

3. After some very difficult mathematical workings INSIDE MY HEAD, realise that The Bairn will thus awaken at around 5.30am (Booooo hiss). Return second cider to the fridge. Reluctantly turn in for bed early.

The reality?

5.30am - I awaken looking at the baby monitor thinking "hhhhhrrrrmmmmph, suppose the wee man will be rudely shouting at me soonly."

5.35am - two obese cats start yowling for food, scraping at the bedroom door. I hadn't even factored these fat b@stards into the clock-changing situation!

6.00am - still awake, Facebooking like a saddo (Aaaaah, George Takei - whattaguy!), while willing the cats to die... That's harsh - maybe just disappear... and hoping The Bairn doesn't wake yet.

6.45am "aaaahdadadada. Babadaba." The Bairn awakes! At his usual time despite the clock change! Wee genius. His mum, on the other hand is a c(l)ock. What a wasted opporchancity for a lie in?

6.53am The Other Half still snoring contentedly. "So I suppose I'll be the one getting up?" I unreasonably think to myself - having been social networking, and compiling shopping lists and checking my bank balance (bloody depressing if you must know) AND WRITING THIS BLOG awake in my pit for an hour and 23 minutes.

Welcome, British Winter Time!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Family Food - Mulligatawny Soup

Oh look, chaps! It's suddenly become Autumn! (You may - my American friends - alternatively wish to call the season "Fall". But this Blog is British, so I'm right, and you are definitely all shades of wrong.) My favourite season. It's so pretty! And chucking on an extra jumper is a great way to disguise the ole post (extremely post, in my case) baby "Michelin Man" body-shape. Who needs serial dirty-pillow groper, Gok Wan? And his plethora of intestine-confining under garments. I mean, "How to Look Good Naked" should reeeeally be called "How to Contort Yourself Into Uncomfortable Clothing and Hire a Photographer to Blur Out Your Wobbly Bits", c'est non? Oui Madame. Oui!

So basically, my lovely friends, after a positively tropical summer (I believe, in The Tropics), it's fridge-eezing yet again, but now the trees are a different colour. We're back to winter warmers!

  • An onion, chopped
  • Clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped small
  • 1 red pepper, chopped small
  • Cube of frozen spinach, or a big handful of fresh washed spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup of lentils (washed)
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 pint chicken stock (baby stock cubes for the young uns)
  1. Soften onion and garlic in a little olive oil, in a deep saucepan.
  2. Add spices - stir through and cook for a few minutes - don't let the onions burn!
  3. Add carrot and red pepper - sauté for 5 minutes, low heat.
  4. Add lentils, stock and tomatoes.
  5. Bring to boil, then simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Add spinach - stir into soup, simmer 10 minutes.
  7. If you like it, a couple of teaspoon of fresh, chopped coriander leaves can be added before serving.
  8. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, natural yoghurt, or full fat soft cheese.
For younger babies, closer to 6 months, you may want to use less of the spices.
For the grown ups - a chopped chilli (seeds left in, you say? Are you mental? Yes I am!) adds even more warmth.
Check out The Bairn with two - YES, TWO! COUNT 'EM! - spoons. That's m'Boy. Also resulting in bi-wall mulligatawny pebble-dashing, unfortunately, but very proud nonetheless. Mad skills.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Family Food - Return of the Mac (aroni Cheese)

Altogether now:

"Retuuuuurn of the Mac, Retuuuurn of the Mac, Retuuuurn of the Mac, Blah blah blah bl-blah blee blaaaah."

So sang the 90s pop dude Mark Morrison, winning him a number 1 spot in the UK charts for a year and a day. (Factoid - he was painfully denied this accolade in the US, when scrawny street urchins Hanson launched a worldwide auditory assault with their catchy preschooler-appealing ditty "MmmmmmmBop" or something.)

I know I keep harping on about it being Baltic - and I should face facts and remember I live in sunny Scotland (it IS sunny today - see below for indisputable evidence).

Tampa - smug
Tampa - smug
Tampa - smug
Out the window - blue! (With layers of grey of course.)
As I was harping on, it IS cold, and as I am most comfortable in my comfort zone of preparing and consuming comfort food - here it is. Return of the Mac (aroni cheese).


  • 25g unsalted butter
  • Heaped tablespoon of plain flour
  • 3/4 pint of full fat milk (semi-skimmed is fine, just not as nutritious for babies)
  • 2 large handfuls grated cheddar - or adjust to taste
  • 250g dried macaroni pasta
  • Pinch of nutmeg or black pepper if you like that kind of thing
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius
  1. Cook pasta on the hob according to packet instructions. Mine was 8 minutes boiling with a little olive oil. Drain, then empty into oven dish roughly 30cm x 20cm.
  2. Easy, no lumps, white sauce see steps 3 to 7 (I use a plastic measuring jug)
  3. Melt butter in jug - 15 seconds on high power
  4. Stir in flour and beat a bit - should be a thick rue. Looking like a lump of moist plasticine (nice!) (more butter or flour until its right)
  5. Put back in micro for 15 secs on high
  6. Very slowly add your milk, stirring a few drops at a time to start with. That's the key to smooth sauce. Also if the milk is warm, it really helps.
  7. When all the milk is in, heat it 30 seconds on full power, stir/beat any lumps; then 1 minute on full, stir again; then another minute on full - it should be nice and thick. Whisk if its lumpy!
  8. Stir in cheese, until melted and seasoning if required.
  9. Pour over pasta in dish, sprinkle over remaining cheese.
  10. Cook in oven on a baking tray for 15-20 minutes, til cheese is golden.
Optional variations - broccoli and cauliflower florets cooked with pasta, chopped cherry tomatoes and ripped basil leaves stirred in with cheese sauce, maybe you could stir in cooked white fish chunks to tuna? I don't know! Good luck!