What we are eating this week

Thursday – 23/09/2021

Dinner Speedy sausage stroganoff tagliatelle

This was a new recipe for us. I spend at least 30 mins every week perusing food magazines on Dublin City Libraries Libby App. If you have a library card in Ireland I think you can access it. Thousands of magazines at your fingertips.

I’m writing this on Saturday. I didn’t actually cook on Thursday evening. I worked a little late and by the time I emerged, Vinnie had produced this. While we all agreed that it was delicious, even the kids balked at the butter, cream and sausages in the one dish.

Sometimes I think we’re doing something right with this parenting lark. Then I discover on Saturday evening that a quarter of the Chocolate Fudge Cake that Mum made for their Coffee morning in aid of the Irish Hospice Foundation is gone. And only one certain person has been nibbling away at it since Thursday…!!

But back to the Stroganoff: yes it has mushrooms which only Nipper 2.0 will eat. But I got a great tip once: rather than chopping them up small leave them halved or quartered and then the kids can fish them out. I’m not one to pander to finickiness but I do remember loathing mushrooms as a very young child. I have a memory of eating a delicious mushroom salad in Simon’s Place but feel it was probably in the 2.0 version of his place which would mean I was much older than even Nipper 1.0 is now. If anybody also remembers that delicious mushroom and (I wanna say) pepper salad and can tell me the recipe or even the ingredients I would be a very happy lady.

Friday – 24/09/2021

Dinner Pizza

Friday night is ALWAYS pizza night. While I do have detailed instructions here on the blog for how I used to make pizza, Vinnie has entirely taken over the process and makes what many, MANY have called the best pizza they have ever tasted. He starts them baking on a cast iron skillet and then transfers them to grill in the oven on the pizza stone. We used to go for very thin bases but these are much thicker, doughy bases. I know he’s my husband and I’m biased and all but if we ever invite you for Friday night pizza, decline at your peril. The kids will have Coke Zero and Vinnie and I share a Whiplash Body Riddle. Such a pair of squares!

But but BUT! This week I missed pizza Friday because I was out out OUT! I had a fun afternoon with my lovely colleagues doing a super scavenger hunt in Ballsbridge before retiring to a local hostelry where a number of drinks were drunk. I didn’t go wild myself – too much gabbing. Also, I knew I had an early start: parkrun is back!

Saturday – 25/09/2021

Dinner: Bolognese for freezer

Because I knew I would be running on Sunday (see below) I kicked off Saturday by volunteering at our first post-Lockdown parkrun. It was glorious: glorious weather and a glorious get-together.

A ginormous bowl of subagetsi

Every few weeks we’ll make a massive batch of either bolognese or chilli (meat or veggie). Then I will add the batches to our meal plan for the coming month, usually on a weeknight when we have activities on.

This week I went for bolognese. We use Rachel Allen’s recipe from her book Home Cooking; it’s simple and quick which was a good thing this week.

I was reluctantly chaperoning Nipper 3.0 and friends to Forbidden Planet and on our way Vinnie texts me, “Did you get mince?” I definitely ordered some – we have been shopping online on and off for years but every week since I went back to work full time in Winter 2019. He checks the receipt, which is “miraculously” still floating around the kitchen. He double checks that none of the kids filed the mince in the wrong part of the fridge or freezer and lo! there it is, gone! as they say.

So we all rendezvous in SuperValu Sundrive and I go and have a chat with the manager, who, thanks to my previous religious weekly attendance for The Big Shop knows me and sorts me out with my mince and change (a different cheaper brand) even though it’s all from a different store (Lucan) originally. Online grocery shopping has some serious pitfalls!

It’s well after 8pm by the time we sit down to eat. I am exhausted by bedtime and sleep like a log.

Marshalls and tail walker close off the first post-pandemic parkrun at Tymon Park.

Sunday – 26/09/2021

Dinner Lasagne

Sunday’s dinner is Lasagne. We are doing our first post-lockdown race on Sunday (yay! Naas 10k) Lasasgne is the family’s favourite meal but it’s definitely a treat. It will be well deserved after our 10k race.

Dessert Crock Pot Apple Pudding Cake

One of our neighbours has very productive apple and pear trees. We have received two bags this autumn so far. The first batch I made into, firstly, a double batch of individual crumbles. My intention was to put half in the freezer for another less apple-filled time but they were gone by the following evening with a dollop of sour cream. Then, secondly, I also had enough apples to make an apple tray bake. This is a very simple and delicious recipe from Odlums. I added cinnamon and I will also add the reassurance that you will think there is not enough batter to create three layers. It is barely more than a thick smear but it does poof up and is delicious.

Another bag was delivered this weekend, a mix of apples and pear, me ol China plate! As we are heading out early afternoon to do the 10k (which starts at the annoying time of 2pm) I realised this was the perfect opportunity to rustle up this amazing slow cooker number, Crock Pot Apple Pudding cake from Bunny’s Warm Oven. It’s been years since I last made it but the memory (and probably the calories) lingers.

Monday – 27/09/2021

Dinner: Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Vinnie will be out so getting the dinner out of the freezer or the slow cooker keeps the evening ticking over.

Vinnie goes to training with Kevin English as did I until the lockdown. I’ve gotten even slower and really less competitive (like I ever was!) since lockdown. I’ve had a run of weird back and hip problems since lockdown. A sit stand desk and a better chair (not even a particularly fancy one, just one from IKEA! Replacing the actual designer fancy one I bought like an eejit) has improved the situation. But I was hobbling – but still running!

Still, though Vinnie showed me a photo from his Facebook memories this week: me about to embark on my first half-marathon seven (?) years ago. I’ve done two since then but not until 2019, both faster than that first (as I recall) so I’ve had ups and downs before.

Also with the dinner ready to go, I might grab some time to put on my skates and practice my technique in the kitchen while Nipper 1.0 does the washing up.

Skating is my lockdown skill. Everyone else was learning to bake (done), knit (done), crochet (done) and I got sucked into this hobby that really doesn’t have enough representation of small, grey haired, mammies from Ireland so I’m redressing that balance very slowly. I’m certainly not half as gung ho as some of the young ones but it gets me out of my head big time. I’ve met some nice folk down at my local rink and I get a bit of a mean thrill from speeding past the other mammies plonked on the banquettes watching their darlings. Get up and join in, missus! I want to shout.

Tuesday – 28/09/2021

Dinner: Chickpea & Chorizo Fideos

This is a really odd recipe that I just had to try out when I first read it. Toasted pasta? Colour me intrigued! I made it slightly wrong the first time I made it and everyone loved it but now I can’t quite remember what I did wrong and haven’t achieved the same glorious heights of appreciation since. But it’s still popular. Also it has chickpeas which is a vegetable which as I have been typing all of this (on my fecking iPhone like a dope) I realise we probably seem to be sorely lacking in our diet. I have broccoli to go with the Chixken cashew on Monday. We’ll have a green salad on the side with lasagne on Sunday and most the other meals have some vegetables in them but I agree, it’s not a great veggie week at all. We have our peaks and troughs.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I generally try to make something that reheats well as Nipper 1.0 is out at karate till after 8. But I’m considering this approach since school has returned and as winter comes in and thinking should we be making something that he can attack after school and then snack when he gets in rather than eating a heavy meal late at night. Decisions, decisions. Mental load, how are ye?

Wednesday – 29/09/2021

Dinner: Chips n Stuff

This is our cheat meal once a week of food we have not cooked from scratch. Straight out of the freezer usually. If I can find them I’ll opt for frozen sweet potato fries which I have myself convinced are healthier. We’ll have petit pois and usually Donegal catch but occasionally Chicken Kiev. But yeah a shocking meal. My poor nod to fish once a week.

I’m not a big fish fan. I find it boring if it’s not cooked interestingly and I often don’t feel I’ve cooked it interestingly. It’s hard to explain. I’ve a few amazing fish recipes which I go back to so I get bored of them. I’ve some that I’ve loved but the kids have refused to even look at (hello 25 minute cod with lentils). I keep them in my AnyList for the day the children all leave home. To cheer me up, like.

And that is it! See you next weekend for the next instalment!

Tomato Soup for Nipper 3.0

Roseanne’s Tomato Soup

It’s really not a soup day but I made this at the beginning of the week and reheated a portion for lunch today with Nipper 3.0. I made up this soup for her after she came home raving about the delicious tomato 🍅 soup she had in her friend’s house. I tried a few different recipes and none passed muster with her. She suggested I ask her friend’s mum. “Oh it’s from a carton.”
Ah okay.
Well here’s the one that finally got the seal of approval. This tomato soup reheats really well so make a double or triple batch and stick it in single servings in the freezer for these busy school days and long working days especially as the weather, eh, turns cool.

Prep Time: 5 min 

Cook Time: 40 min 

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  •  25 g Butter
  •  1 Onions, chopped
  •  0.5 tsp Smoked Paprika
  •  1 Tbsp Flour
  •  1 can Tomatoes, chopped
  •  1000 ml Chicken Stock
  •  3 Sun Dried Tomatoes, in oil
    Or
  • Sundried tomato paste
    Or
  • Red Pesto
  •  Handful Basil, fresh
    Or
  • Mixed dried herbs or pick up a pack of the pizza seasoning from Flying Tiger – it’s really good!
  •  Salt
  • Pepper

Preparation Steps

  1. Melt butter and sauté onion very slowly until caramelised.
  2. Add smoked paprika and sauté to release flavour.
  3. Add flour and cook gently for about 2 mins.
  4. Add tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to the oil stirring.
  5. Add sun dried tomatoes and basil and simmer for 20-30mins.
  6. Use blender stick to blend if desired.
  7. Taste and season very carefully

Back to school with bangers

Blackberries and green beans from our own garden

September is closer to New Year in my mind. I have been invigorated by the summer sunshine or certainly the summer light but there is a change in the air. A few tiny leaves waft to the ground. It’s not warm in the morning. There is a tinge of golden appearing on the trees. The smells are damper, edged with decay.

I freaking LOVE Autumn. I am full of the joys of Autumn. I love the excessively bright days where skies seem crazy blue when contrasted to the oranges, yellows and browns of the trees. I love blackberry picking.

With all this joy I feel I should channel some energy back into my blog. Kicking it off with an easy one but I hope it will help you get organised for the first full week back at school. This week’s menu includes lots of comfort meals and also freezer meals. Hopefully it will make the transition easier while we get used to the new old routine. 

A couple of the recipes this week are doubled (or sometimes even tripled!) so I can put extra dinners in the freezer. I immediately add these to dates in our AnyList app so I don’t forget about them. They are always scaled to feed 6: the sixth dinner usually being lunch for Himself the next day.

As a reminder we have three children aged 14, 12 and 8. Two in primary and one just started Junior Cert year. 

Continue reading “Back to school with bangers”

Christmas Cards: yay or nay?

I asked my family to tell me what were their highlights of 2016. I had this vague notion that I might type them up, print them and send them out with our Christmas cards. This plan rests on a vital activity that is yet to happen: sending Xmas cards. Maybe next year one of my highlights will be that I sent all my Xmas cards by 15 December 2017.

(More anon on the highlights of 2016. I’ll take my sweet time with this too!)

Maybe next year I’ll send Oíche Nollag na mBan cards.

Every year we get a fabulous letter from friends in New Zealand with updates about all that has happened in the preceding year. Every year I swear I will respond in kind. This has never happened.

Being honest, receiving your Xmas Card was very pleasant, but not a highlight. I’m very conflicted about Christmas cards and, coward that I am, I am now admitting it because I know many of you feel the same way.  I’d love to know your thoughts on Xmas cards.  I did sit in front of the telly on St. Stephens’ Day and during the course of some festive film I managed to write all 50 odd cards. Like all procrastination, it actually didn’t take me as long as I feared it would. It allowed the opportunity to take my new pen (thank you Himself!) for a drive. The completed cards with fully addressed envelopes are currently stamped, sealed and sitting on the hall table. Imagine! And after that Herculean task. Or is it more Sisyphean? I understand the logic of sending cards to people abroad that I am less likely to see but sending cards to people I will be spending at least some of the holiday season with seems a bit pointless. Probably they wouldn’t mind if I didn’t send them.

Update: after I had happened upon the genius idea of kee ping the cards until next year and sending them all on December 1st and being super smug I discovered Himself had whipped them off the hall table and posted them on his lunchtime walk. Happy Christmas y’all! (Except Neela, Lizzy, Benny and Gill and a few others whose addresses I’m dubious about!)

Foiled again

Glendalough From The Spinc

I returned from the shops. I was irritated about buying less than optimal tin foil again. “Foiled again,” he said.

It bothers me that the too-small tin foil bothers me. It can join a list of small irritations that I allow to crowd my day. I know I should let go. In the space that would remain lies insight, time, possibility. It irritates me that I can’t access that and the cycle begins again.

I dreamt last night that I would no longer be able to park a car without parking assist. Parking was never my forte. I dreamt that while I struggled with the parking my children went on the the restaurant. As I gathered myself out of the car in the dream (the car in the dream, not the dream car; I most definitely do not have a dream car!) As I gathered myself in the dream I dropped the eggs. They broke. I had to clean them up. There is little in life more difficult to clean up than eggs. Yes there are things that are more difficult because they are more disgusting. But disgust aside there is little in life more difficult. However there is little in life more rank if not cleaned up, even in my dream I was conscious of this.

I found my children in the restaurant (also the dream restaurant as opposed to my dream restaurant). They were behaving well and had already ordered. Definitely a dream, says you. But their order was strange and involved a lot of couscous. I sent some of it back, irritated that the restaurant had taken their absurd order but also that they had served a plate that looked so unappetizing.

I clearly have control issues.

Thinking about how my irritation invades even my dreams, plugs those gaps, uses that space, that it’s a bad habit, a picked scab, a refreshed feed filled with fresh indignation, it occurs to me that it is insignificant whether I allow it to happen or whether I purge that mode of Being.

I watched a comedy musical about astrophysicsa last night. I know. The reality of the universe highlights our absolute insignificance and egocentricity, especially as a musical comedy. Numbers so large separate me from the universe that I cannot even grasp those numbers.

It irritates me that I cannot grasp those numbers.