Inspired. That’s what I am. This year we threw caution to the wind and outsourced the birthday party to a play centre. No more tidying the house pre-party, being anxious about all the people arriving and being all squished in our tiny house with it’s tiny living room and tiny kitchen. Then no trying to calm down overexcited kids after it’s all over so we can clean up the mammoth mess. Well, not til next year: there’s no way we can afford to do play centre for every party, but it was nice to push the boat out for once. I didn’t wake up stressed with a list as long as my arm the morning of the party. I had one job for Dominic’s birthday, and I didn’t fail. *High-fives self*
Well I can tell you now for nothing, that goulash with boiled potatoes is the single most traditional dinner I have ever cooked. I’m not sure that I’ve ever cooked a stew of any kind in fact, even a beany one. Well, I’ve gone and done it now.
Do you remember your mum buzzing around the kitchen preparing your meals? She might have had a notebook of recipes to refer to, with bits of torn paper falling out, their sellotaped edges dried out over time. My mum’s is an A4 hardback curiosity, with some recipes from her schooldays, written in ridiculously pretty old Irish, and putting my scrawl to shame. (You should see me speed type though…)
She might have had a few trusty Delia books or the whole ‘Simply Delicious’ series from Darina, beaming and bespectacled on each cover. But not that many books were needed. Old favourites appeared over & over, some meals appearing as if by magic, buns & brown bread churned out with muscle memory. I know different now and I reckon I was a pretty ungrateful child all told. Though I ate a lot of raw veg, a trait Dominic has picked up to my delight. The work! The work put into feeding a family and feeding them well every single day while going out to paid employment 5 days a week. I have half the amount of children my mum has, and a husband who cooks too. My dear late dad was no caveman, but porridge or a mixed grill was about the height of his expertise. I didn’t understand how she was in the kitchen so much but now, as I wipe counters at 8am and 9pm with 9 hours in the office in between I get it. Now I get it.
I’ve written about risotto before. It’s a staple food in this house, but with my short attention span I like to mix it up as much as possible. Mark usually is in charge of risotto but I tackled this one – Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls Tomato Risotto. Everything for the basic recipe was already in the house, but we bought some rocket for our packed lunches and its peppery punch was fantastic with the sweet tomatoes. I also threw in four ice cubes of red wine in with the rice before the stock stage. Yes, I freeze wine. Yes, I have leftover wine! (Sometimes). Sure the kids will sleep well tonight!
Mama cuts up colouredy things while I sit in my chair and shout at her. And then she puts things in the hot-hot-hot water and then puts it all together and that’s called dinner and we all eat it and I throw a bit aswell.
Sometimes Dada makes dinner, when Mama says she sounds like Mammó used to saying “I just wish for once someone would put a dinner up in front of me”. But when Dada was going to make my food instead he had to work hard in his office and then Mama had to make it for all her boys instead.
Mama said Yuck Yuck Yuck and opened the smelly tin of pink stuff and gave some to the meooowss. Then she made the spuddies and she made spuddy-spuddies and the orange ones I love too, and she mashed them all together. She mixed it all up and made it bready on the outside.
Then Dada arrived in and me and the Dom-bomb and him ate them all up. It was my first time having them but they eated them before lots. Dada said he mixes an egg in too when he makes them. Mama had sadface and made her own din-dins.