Monday, 21 January 2013

Art, Man!

Sometime in August 2012, I decided...

"Tonight, I will become an artist!"

Or something more like...

"Tonight, I shall procrastinate about painting something for the first time in roughly a kazillion years. I shall find a photo, or set up a still life, or try sketching a portrait. It'll likely be crud, therefore I had better give it some careful consideration. Maybe I should make a cup of tea while I think about this some more."

So in October, an old university friend, now a keen rambler (Who'd have thunk it? Back in the day, the furthest we walked was 20 minutes from our closest nightclub to our flat, having spent our £5 budget on ten 50p vodka and cokes.) had posted this stunning photograph -

Immediately, I knew I simply had to paint it, darling.

And a few weeks later, when I eventually tore myself from Sons of Anarchy, I hauled my lazy backside up the stairs to The Studio (also known by the pseudonyms The Spare Room, Tuff Crate City or Catland) - and began to paint.

I love painting! The tension just flows from every appendage. For the hour and a half that The Bairn naps, I can forget about work, the infinite laundry pile, financial worries. It's unadulterated bliss. All that matters is that the colours sing and the composition is in harmony. Aaaaaah.

And then it's finished. I'm sitting thinking "This is great! I'm really chuffed to bits with this one. I'm going to be finished soon - cant wait to get that last stroke on..... There we go!" Then I'm all "Oh. That'll be that then." And I just know it'll be flipping months before I achieve inspiration PLUS MOTIVATION.

Pretty though, eh?


Monday, 14 January 2013

Family Food - Pasta and Roast Veg Bake

I have been REALLY living up to my industrious pseudonym

I have:

  1. Actually had a proper night out (whoop whoop) with the lovely ladies from my antenatal class. May I add that I AM NOT UP THE DUFF AGAIN - the class in question was pre-The Bairn.
  2. Lost an entire day following the afore-mentioned night out.
  3. Started painting again, after a break of a couple of months.
  4. Began a new exercise regime, a.k.a "toddler chasing" now the Bairn is a confident staggerer.
  5. Got right stuck in at work again - dealing with such delights as eyes stuck together with dried mucus, 5 year olds lying about what they can see, and (the piece de resistance) an argumentative elderly lady with dementia and double vision.
  6. Doing an entire actual SHEDLOAD of cooking.
My very gorgeous fellow optometrist friend was over for lunch today, so I decided I'd make things easy for myself and create a dish using only items I already had in my over-stocked fridge. WRONG! The dish I had chosen necessitated a morning dash to the supermarket, followed by an unscheduled Bairn-related nap-tastrophe; culminating in a wild panic to tidy the house, prepare lunch, prepare dinner (to be heated up later), as the wee monkey then refused another nap until 5.30pm - in a bowl of fish pie.


  • Pasta - I used shells, enough for 4 people
  • About 1 pint of white sauce (or a jar if you're cheating, as I did)
  • Red onion
  • Yellow pepper
  • 1/2 a large aubergine
  • Courgette
  • 10 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Mozzarella
  • Seasonings as required - salt, pepper, Italian herbs
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, heat up 2 roasting trays with a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. Roughly chop garlic, aubergine, pepper, courgette and red onion - 1cm thick at least for aubergine and courgette.
  3. Scatter veg over trays, should be spaced out a little, add seasoning and a drizzle of oil on top.
  4. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, mixing up half way through.
  5. Cook pasta as per packet instructions.
  6. When it's all done, put it all in a casserole dish, stir through the white sauce, handful of grated mozzarella on top.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Serve with garlic bread.
It's not hard, it's just the washing up after that puts me off making this regularly! But then again, I am a lazy cow.


I also used about a "tit and a bit" of roasted chicken from the previous night's leftovers.

Plus, a few wee blobs of pesto over the top with the mozzarella, and added cheddar.

If making a homemade white sauce, laying off the salt etc - it could be mushed for babies.


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Family Food - Sauce for Meatballs

There's really no excuse for this title not being "Family Food - Homemade Meatballs and Sauce", but let's face it, I'm a lazy bint. I mean to say, I'm SUPER BUSY. And a bit lazy. And the meatballs you can buy ready made are fantabulous too. Yes, they have salt and other additives in them, but you can't have it all. They might well still be repeating on me 24 hours later - again, you can't have it all. Buuuurp.

The Bairn is going through an horrendously fussy period just now - teething, as well as run down after the usual marathon of nursery-donated bugs - so I was delighted when he had enthusiastic second helpings of this meal! I felt compelled to share my genius with you all. Also, my New Year's Resolution is to blog AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK. You heard it here first! On New Year's Day, the original Resolution was to blog twice a week, but (as I have admittedly fallen at the first hurdle) I had to give this careful reconsideration.

So... The recipe. It's got loads of veg in it. For wee ones, teethers, and fussy tikes, you could blitz it all (without the meatballs) in a food processor and serve it with orzo - that really tiny rice-like pasta. Or rice. Or couscous.

One onion, finely chopped
One large clove of garlic, crushed
A medium carrot, grated
Tomato purée (optionally - some are salted) - dessert spoon
A red pepper, chopped small
1/2 pint of beef stock (baby stock for little ones)
Seasonings - salt, pepper, herbs

  1. Fry onion in a little olive oil until transparent.
  2. Add carrot, red pepper, tomato puree and garlic, stir and cook for further few minutes.
  3. After another few minutes, add in tomatoes and stock.
  4. At this point - if serving with meatballs, brown them about 5 minutes on each side in olive oil, then transfer into the sauce.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes, lid on the pan.
  6. 10 minutes from the end, add your generous handful of spinach - season to taste.

I chopped up the meatball for The Bairn, and mixed it all up with small pasta shapes - he will ONLY eat with a spoon at the moment, with which he has pebble-dashed the entire back wall of our dining room in a mixture of Weetabix, porridge, ketchup and yoghurt hues. But more on interior design in future blogs.

The next day, I served the leftovers with pasta, sweetcorn and grated cheese - second helpings again! Go, The Bairn!