Friday, 11 February 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3.

Today I have an awful migraine and a bit of a midweek hangover! Being the only person drinking white wine during a dinner where the participants insisted on ordered one bottle of red and one bottle of white at every turn, I got a little tipsy. I wandered home in the wee hours babbling nonsense to Oh Daddy who had been left nursing B all evening with her post jab induced fever. I was woken up an hour after going to bed by A who insisted that he had Mini-Man-Flu (not how he put it) and that in no way could he go to school in the morning so I was less than bright and breezy when I got up this morning to say the least. Add to this two feverish and  snotty kids, a messy house and a distinct lack of chocolate or hangover munchies (ready salted crisps? WTF?) anywhere in said dirty house and its a bit hard thinking of reasons to be cheerful this week...

So rather than thinking about my reasons given my sore head, I'll write the first things that come into my head. My reasons to be cheerful this week are:

1) During a rather lengthy drive with my father and the kids this week, I farted. Having had a bit of a dodgy belly for the first part of the week it was not pretty. I covered up my shame by blaming it on A! I got away with it so that made me cheerful.

2) I was the only person drinking white wine last night. This induced warm fuzzy cheerfulness.  

3) It's the start of the February break. Huzzah!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Wordless Wednesdays - Packing (I haven't started yet!)

Listography - Top 5 things I would like for Valentines Day.

                                        A bit drunk and sunburned during the Edinburgh Festival...

This weeks Listography focuses on the all important Hallmark event of Valentines Day. So here is where I reveal that like myself, Oh Daddy is a bit of grumpy git sometimes. I knew that when I signed up years ago that Valentines Day was never going to be an extravaganza. He is your typical Scottish man. However amidst the mumbling and swearing that the occasion produces he always manages to surprise me with something. Don't feel sorry for me if you have one of these partners/husbands who constantly showers you with trinkets and love tokens as this is the way I like it. I have a friend whose husband leaves her poems in her handbag and this kind of stuff makes me gag! If were to receive a poem from HRH I'd imagine it would go something like this:

Roses are red

Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And so are you

But the roses are wilting
The violets are dead
The sugar bowl's empty
And so is your head

We figured out years ago that Oh Daddy is one of those guys who does put a lot of thought into the presents that he buys me but he buys lots of little things, in the hope that one will hit the nail of the head. This ritual is very expensive and so I usually tell him what to buy me beforehand or email him some suggestions. He decided ages ago that we were going out for dinner to a new restaurant to mark the event. The truth is I don't really care about Valentines Day at all and have everything that I want and need but I certainly won't knock back any attempts on his part to woo me all over again.

So for the Listography this week I shall list my impossible Valentines wishes:

1) A lie in. Not just letting me sleep for an hour before unleashing the kids on me. A proper lie in where you all vacate the premises so there is no noise. A proper lie where you send in a make-up artist and pastry chef so I can wake up looking refreshed and well rested and I get to wake up to the smell of freshly baked pastries.

2) To watch a film. I'd like to be able to watch a film without being interrupted by children or falling asleep after the opening credits!

3) A cape. No, not because I have some raging desire to become a superhero but a fabulous cape designed by a local seamstress. There is an amazing design collective operating from a shop in Tollcross and they stock beautiful designs. As well as being a bit on the dear side, I am completely the wrong shape for one. However, if I were 6 feet tall, lithe and a brunette here's how I would look:

4) All over plastic surgery. Everything lifted, tucked and nipped please. I may be beautiful on the inside but I'm a bit droopy on the outside!

5) A removal firm. With 10 days until we get the new place I'm starting to freak out a little...

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Winds of Change.

The winds of change are blowing through this house again.

Within the space of a fortnight I have gone from being a Stay at Home mum to a Working from Home Mum and have secured one PT job and potentially another. I blogged a few weeks ago about my nomadic tendencies and we found out yesterday that we have a new place to move into! The new place is all part of my plan for becoming self employed.


Oh, and we move in in a fortnight!!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Nom, nom nom...

Right so I've decided instead of just posting recipes, I'll do food themed posts instead. Posting recipes was the way that I made sure I actually blogged about something in a week when I lacked inspiration but I've caught the bug again and so these posts seem dull in comparison.

This week I had thought about posting about how you can cook one dish in a myriad of different ways. The point of this post is if you follow this blog and like to cook but maybe are a bit short of time, the point of this is to see how how you can take one base recipe and adapt it to your daily situation. Whether you have half and hour to cook dinner or half a day. There are certain recipes that I like that can be adapted extensively to suit your day. I'm guessing though that if you blog already, then you can cook as many parent blogs I read feature home baking or recipes. I'll see how it goes.

Chilli con Carne three ways

This seemingly humble dish has been adopted and simultaneously killed by the student population of the UK. For shame!! I love Chilli in all its various forms and with every topping and accompanment imaginable. Now I must confess that I only cook this two ways but there is a third option available. The first way is what I'd call the weekend way, where it is slow cooked for hours to produce a fantastically rich and melting stew.

4 tbsp olive oil
1 large green chilli, roasted, deseeded and pulped
1 red chilli, roasted, deseeded and pulped
4 garlic cloves, roasted and then pulped
1 green pepper, charred and then finely chopped

Fran's Spice Mix
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
5 black peppercorns
1 clove
1 tsp chipotle chilli powder
1.5 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp tomato purée

500g red kidney beans
Flour (for browning)
Salt and pepper
500g beef skirt, diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
Bay leaf
250ml dark beer
600ml beef stock (plus more boiling water as the sauce cooks, if required)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
Worcestershire sauce (about a tablepoon)
1 tsp cocoa powder

To Serve
Juice of half a lime
Handful of chopped coriander

Roast the chilli and garlic in the over for about 20 minutes, on 190 degrees, before leaving them to cool down. Remove the seeds from the chilli and squash together with the garlic.
Blacken the pepper on top of the hob (if you have a gas hob, otherwise roast in the oven) and then transfer to a plastic bag to steam for a few minutes. Remove from the bag, skin, deseed and then chop finely.
At the same time, toast the coriander and cumin in a frying pan on a low heat, for about 10 minutes. Once cooled, grind them up with some black pepper and a clove and transfer to a bowl, add the other powdered spices.
While both these things are happening, cook the beans (soaked overnight) for 20 minutes, rinse and put aside until later on.
In a large pan, brown the seasoned meat and remove to a plate. This took about 20 minutes. In the same pan, add some more oil and soften the onions for about five to 10 minutes. Then add the pulped garlic and chilli, the bay leaf and the diced pepper and cook for another five minutes.
Add the powdered spices and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook for two minutes. Return the meat to the pan and combine with the spice paste. Deglaze with the beer, then follow with the stock, tomatoes, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and more seasoning. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1.5 hours, checking there is enough water as you go along.
After 1.5 hours, add the beans and cook for a further 1.5 hours. Just before the end of the cooking time, add the cocoa powder and cook for another five minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lime and a handful of chopped coriander stirred through (if you’re making this the day before then add the lime juice and coriander just before serving).

The second way involves just as much care and attention with the flavours but only takes half an hour in total from fridge to plate. I love this as a mid week supper and the flavours are so rich that people think you've been cooking for hours.

Second Way.

1 large onion or 2 banana shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli deseeded or keep half with seeds if you like it spicy
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and roughly chopped
Olive oil, for frying
500g good quality beef mince
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
3 fresh tomatoes or 1 beef tomato, roughly chopped
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
100-200ml chicken or beef stock
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
400g kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
Handful of chives, chopped
200ml soured cream
Boiled rice, to serve

Sweat the onion, garlic, chilli and thyme in 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan. At the same time, brown the mince in a separate pan over moderate heat in a little oil.
Add the dried spices to the onion mixture and cook until they release their aroma. Then stir in the beef and mix well. Add the fresh and tinned tomatoes and leave to cook down a little for about 5 minutes.
Pour in the chicken or beef stock and stir in tomato puree to taste. Drop the cinnamon and bay leaf in then bring to the boil and leave to simmer.
Once the sauce is beginning to thicken add the kidney beans and leave to cook for another 5-10 minutes to allow the beans to soak up the flavours. Check for seasoning.
Mix the chives and soured cream together. To serve, spoon the chilli into the centre of a mound of rice, with the soured cream and chives in a separate bowl on the side.

The third way involves buying a ready meal and pinging it in the microwave! 

Friday, 4 February 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3.

I've been busy plotting this week so haven't had much time to blog. I have a few posts in the pipeline but thought that pre-school run I could just about manage this. Again this meme is from the lovely Mich at Mummy from the Heart where we sit down near the end of the week and reflect on what's been happening in our lives.

1. For the first time in ages I'm having my hair done tomorrow. I might actually look presentable next week instead of the brassy homage to Nancy Spungen that I appear to be sporting at the minute!

2. I've been organising this week. Mostly our lives, our future and it's all very BIG and monumental but this weekend I will mostly be organising the house. Tackling the mountain of ironing that has built up and gutting out cupboards. I am in no way looking forward to this part of the process but to that feeling of serene calm and smug orderliness that comes after the big clean up.

3. We're having afternoon tea with H today. I'm very lucky to have excellent friends and she is just simply an amazing person who we love dearly.