There’s Something About Sunday… It’s the Yorkshire puddings.

There really is something about Sunday that makes it realistically essential to my sanity. This stems from a mixture of time to sort out my life & food.

I got up late this morning after LSH let me lay in until 9.30 (bliss!) as I’d been up half the night coughing like a plague victim. I needed sleep. I needed my body to just get on and heal itself.

So at 9.30 I dragged myself downstairs to drink the final cup of coffee from the machine and commence on the standard Sunday morning homework marathon (them doing it, me marking it!). I find this quite relaxing now as they know Sunday is homework day – there’s no arguments, just get on with it. And now beanpole likes her teacher, she’s throwing herself into her tasks!

LSH took the girls over to his mum & dads at around 11, leaving me at home due to the evil germs that I really don’t want to share around. So, I carried on with various prep & marking bits until 2 then put away some laundry until they got home.

Our afternoon was spent with TinyPants drawing, making dens and playing strange computer games whilst Beanpole and I made a start on her take home task (like homework, but long term) which she’s chosen to do on dinosaurs (huge surprise)… The task is to chose a time and place in history that you would like to travel back to & make a scrapbook about what went on there. She’s throwing herself into this one!

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The best bit about Sundays is that we have time to cook. Traditionally, it’s a roast, and today we’ve got roast chicken with all the bits. Especially Yorkshire puddings.

These are my domain & today’s are sage & onions yorkshires.

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They start off looking a bit weird, but then I sit in front of the oven threatening to maim anyone who dares to open the oven as they start to rise….

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Wow, my oven needs cleaning… Well that’s on the list!

After this stage, it’s basically witchcraft to get them to this stage….

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Cue one big family dinner, bath time all round and ready for another week at school 🙂

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Slooooow Beef Stew

This stuff is stick to your ribs good, and with the first reports of snow appearing over Engkand today, a nice warming dinner was in order.

Stuff you need (makes enough for 6)

3 small onions (30p)
2 carrots
1 small swede (stew  pack £1)
Braising steak (£3.60)
Bottle of beer (£2)
Oxo cube (20p)
Garlic granules (10p)
Paprika
Oregano
3 bay leaves
Corriander leaf (about 10p for a few shakes each)
Gravy granules (5p)

Baking potato – £1.50 for 6

Total per person £1.55

Get stuff cooked:

Chop up the onions and leave them in a small amount of vegetable oil in the slow cooker on high to sweat.

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Chop up the beef into cubes just under a inch. In a frying pan, braise the beef in a mixture of water and the oxo cube until all sides are browned. Now pour about 1/4 of the beer in the pan. Don’t worry that it fizzes and looks a bit weird.

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Pour the dodgy looking beef and its juice in with the onions. Then in the same frying pan put in the carrots which have been roughly chopped to over 1cm thick and add the rest of the beer. This will soak off any beef that has stuck to the pan as well as making your kitchen smell lovely.

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After boiling for a couple of minutes, add this to the beef and onions.

Now chop up the swede and add this along with a generous (ready bloody loads) of the dried garlic and a good shake of coriander, paprika and oregano.  Finally,  put in three bay leaves.

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Once the lid is on, turn your slow cooker down to medium and cook for a good 5-6 hours (or 10-11 hours on low) until it looks like this:

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30 mins before serving, add a shake of gravy granules to thicken the sauce.

Serve with jacket potatoes and green veg.

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Taste tested this evening. Yum 🙂

Sunday Smells

It rained today. All day. Add to this that LSH has a streaming cold (which could take him from us at any time) and today looked like it wasn’t going to go well.

As it turned out, today was possibly one of the most relaxed weekend days I’ve had in weeks. All down to the new routines we have in place for ‘helping’ and my lax attitude to childcare.

This morning started with the smell of bacon. There is no better smell to wake up to (unless Johnny Depp, as Jack Sparrow doesn’t smell of bacon). And as I staggered downstairs in ruffled pyjamas and make up spread down my face I realised that not only was LSH cooking breakfast, I was up in time to get in on the action! I claim Sunday morning pre-9am my time to be completely incapable of logical thought or conversation. I’m not that much better most other mornings, but Sunday morning I verge on finding Nick Jr an academic challenge.

Breakfast done, I could smell coffee freshly brewing and this liquid nectar was just the thing needed to kick start our Homework Hour. In previous weeks, this has been horrific. Tears, snot, shouting, threats and full on sit down protests have ensued since the start of September (not just from me). But the last few weeks we have learnt about GoHenry and the power of pocket money! (The nice thing about this is not only do they get bonuses for tasks like actually doing their homework, I can deduct money for poor behaviour) They are mercenary little souls, but homework was got out, completed without fuss and done well.

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They instantly both logged onto their GoHenry apps to make sure next weeks pay reflected their newfound efforts, which it did. Payday is Saturday, so they still have to wait a full week for their money, but they can see it coming and both are budgeting their sweets accordingly. BeanPole even started her take home task by designing an Ancient Greek vase that she is determined to make and paint. She used a photo found online “but left out the Minotaur’s willy in case Mr T gets cross”.

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After an unusually pleasant homework session, it was my turn. As I sat down, the smell of LSH preparing the pork joint for slow roasting wafted through the house… Mmmm…..Session three of marking and planning for this weekend (I’m breaking it down into 3-4 hour chunks). I set a lot of tests this past week and I’m paying the price this weekend. The upside of this is the lovely progress graphs I’m collating for the term so far. This is a long half term and right now graphs are making me happy. I feel more organised and the more I feel I need to chase people to catch up, the more coloured conditional formatting I use. I am an INFJ – I need to feel in control!

A full 10 hours of marking and planning since 5pm Friday night and I feel back in control for tomorrow. I don’t begrudge this time. It’s what is needed to be effective and give the kids my full attention when I’m at school. I am pleased that I got it all done though.

While the kids played on various computer games & LSH fell asleep in front of the Grand Prix, I snuck into the kitchen with the iPad and attacked the groaning pile of ironing. The smell of the slowly melting pork loin mixed in with the lavender steam from the iron for the next two hours made the house smell lovely and warm in cold contrast to the continued miserable weather outside. Over the course of two hours I pressed and folded what felt like every item of clothing my children own, being kept going by a marathon catch up of Miranda and Mock the Week. I giggled my way through tedium.

Next followed something truly shocking. Having placed each child’s clothing in a personalised pile, when asked to take them upstairs and put them away nicely….. They did! No arguments, noises or arm swinging. I checked. In shock, I duly ticked off the ‘put clothes away’ task on GoHenry and thus another 50p was added to next weeks payday.

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Dinner finished by LSH, I frantically finish the apple crumble as everyone sits down to eat. Mum is shattered after being in work all weekend – more to follow on that next week… But dinner smells amazing. LSH makes a mean roast dinner and the 6 of us always make a point of making Sunday dinner a family meal. We talk. Or ‘debate’. And the kids make everyone laugh.

After dinner, it’s bath night. The kids are duly scrubbed clean for Monday morning. Hair is washed, and the lovely orangey scent of their shampoo makes me want to hug them tight and sniff their heads once I’ve dried their hair and snuggled them up warm in their pyjamas. This is not to be though as they opted so spend some of yesterday’s earnings on sweets which they had for pudding instead of my apple crumble (rude!) and were subsequently bouncing off the walls. Ah well, it’s LSH’s turn for bedtime. So while he reads them something in a low monotonous voice in the hope of boring them to sleep, I can sink into a lovely Radox filled bath and contemplate just how nice today was. And that Sundays smell really nice.

Woodies American Diner – Don’t Wait Ten Years to Go There!

Dear Americans, I don’t go too much on your politics, but OMG your food!

I had a total moment earlier after spending the whole day at the beach with the kids. That’s it! I’m not cooking! We’re going out for dinner, and I want to try American food!

I ought to explain that ever since LSH and I started dating ten years ago, we’ve driven countless times past a specific American style diner on the seafront and despite trying to go a couple of times (they were fully booked), we’ve never actually eaten there.

Well now we have.

If you live near Brighton, or actually happen to be in the UK (the hours of driving will all be worth it) Woodies Diner is somewhere you should not wait ten years to visit!

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The kids were mildly shocked that I’d suggested going out to get burgers and milkshakes and couldn’t quite believe their luck when they were given free reign with the kids menu (£5.95 for food, a drink and ice cream. Or £1 extra if they want milkshake).

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The staff were really friendly and we were kept entertained by looking at the various signed surf boards on the ceiling and the big TV with Grease playing on a continuous loop! (Ok, this is a very stereotypical 50s diner, but bear with me just wait til you see the food).

We started off with milkshakes (the kids ones are quite small) which were made without a hint of crusha. These were MILKSHAKES. LSH apparently makes weird faces when he drinks banoffee milkshake!

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The kids were delighted with their choices.

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TinyPants even waited until I’d taken the photo before demolishing the lot! (And some chili fries on the side)

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Then ours arrived.

Oh good god! How am I meant to eat that?! It was an 8oz handmade burger topped with onion rings, bbq sauce, bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, and salad. It came with fries and onion rings on the side too!

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LSH had an equally amazing chilli burger which was the same 8oz burger topped with home made chilli. I am pleased (and slightly ashamed) to report that we ate the lot. Well, nearly.

We did also share a bowl of chilli fries between us.

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I was full. Properly need a little nap now full. And BeanPole was staring blankly at the tv while TinyPants looked close to food induced coma. It was clearly time for ice cream!

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It turns put they did indeed have room for ice cream. But then we proclaimed to as well, and shared this. It’s a Fudge Funday (chocolate, fudge & rum raisin ice cream topped with cream, toffee sauce and nuts).

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When we paid the bill, BeanPole announced to the waitress that she had found the place that she wanted to come for her birthday. She’s got good taste! Everything was fresh, well prepared and the place was clean and beautiful.

To top it off, they gave us a car sticker for the car! (Went straight in)

We got back home nearly two hours past the kids bedtime, tired and feeling a teeny bit sick. Suffice to say, the kids went to bed with no fuss at all with very full tummies and Woodies is completely to blame for any lack of special cuddles with LSH later. Far too full for any of that nonsense!

I Don’t Know About You, But I’m Feeling Twenty Twoooooo ooo ooo!

Before I start, I’ll apologize for further popularizing those lyrics. But LSH and I had a bit of recapturing our youth today.

We made the decision that we are finally brave enough to take the kids out in Brighton shopping without me having some kind of cardiac failure because they wander off. This started me back on the decision that I need to do something with my hair before going back to school. In my head I’m stylish, however the truth is I’ve been a bit scruffy of late.

I spent a full 40 minutes desperately trying to put my hair up into victory rolls. Fail. Pin curls? Fail. How hard can this be?! Actually, it turns out that 50s hair when you have really thick wavy and long hair is REALLY difficult. I did not resemble a 50s pinup. I looked like Wurzel Gummage.

So, out came the scissors and The Fringe was reinstated. There is not a single hairdresser I’ve visited that has ever managed to achieve this look when asked, shown pictures and given tutorials. I, however appear to be able to snip my way to the Betty Page Bangs in a few minutes and about a million times better with the rest of my hair successfully pinned up into a doubled ponytail.

It’s a look I can rely on – after 6 hours of hard shopping in some very dodgy British summer weather, this is the result! (The roots were also addressed this evening. I am typing with appalling smelling red stuff on my newly bleached roots)

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Hair done, we headed out. It was raining. Wow, it was really raining. To the point where a local oak tree was hit by lightning right outside someone’s house.

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But it was well worth it. We walked the girls left, right and centre, and ended up in the comic shop where TinyPants nearly had a full on happy fit when she caught sight of of the Spirited Away graphic novel. So with that and an Adventure Time comic duly purchased we headed off for lunch.

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We went to a lovely cafe above the shops and the girls shared a table, milkshakes and a HUGE plate of nachos while they read their comics.

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LSH and I spent lunch giggling over how little has actually changed in some of the places we used to go before we had kids. There are some of the shops we used to go to, now catering for a new set of teenagers, but they still smell the same! There is nothing quite like the smell of Brighton (and I mean that in a good way!) – it’s a mix of food from everywhere, incense, spices and beer. And just as we thought we were as comfortable as you can get, we realized that LSH had ordered a burger which contained peanut butter as sauce (weirdly nice…) and the cafe was playing the soundtrack to Labyrinth!

Our final stop on the way back was at Chockywockydoodah where the girls were allowed to buy some chocolate spread, and definitely not some of these creations which we’d need a second mortgage for!

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My own personal shopping included a couple of Hell Bunny dresses for work (they are lovely high necked 50s style ones, rather than the busty ones which are NOT appropriate for work!) and a satchel! Ooh I love my new satchel! I’m ready to go back to work now.

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I make my left overs taste gooooood – chicken curry of no particular type.

I made roast chicken on Tuesday. And after we ate, we stuck the rest in the fridge for sandwiches… Except no one has had a chicken sandwich, so what to do with a chicken carcass and six hungry people?

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The simple answer is curry. The long answer is this recipe which has been adapted from a variety of different places from friends who make a simple curry powder and jam sauce to a master chef takes you seven hours butter chicken thing (mine is NOT that complicated). What it is not, is out of a jar.

Firstly, I use spices. This curry needs to be mild enough for the kids, but flavorsome enough to keep LSH interested in eating my food. Not too sweet for my Dad, but not sour or too weird looking for my mum. Oh, and I have to be able to cook it with TintPants “helping”. And not make too much mess.

For this you’ll need:

Chicken – cooked. Some. (Depends what’s left on the carcass!)
2 chicken stock cubes
2 onions
1 can of chopped tomatoes
Coriander
Garlic powder (or chopped, whatever)
Garam Marsala powder (about 2tsp)
Medium curry powder (about 2 tsp)
Cumin
Some fresh coriander (it’s yummy)
Randomly chopped up veg (I had courgette, cauliflower and aubergine in the fridge)
Water

Rice to go with it, or equally some naan bread works well too. Or both…

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Roughly chop the onions, and fry them gently in a big pan or wok in a good slosh of oil. Chuck in the garlic and spices and fry the lot until the onions are soft. Then put in the chopped tomatoes and crumble in the stock cubes. Refill the can with water and stick this in too.

Once they’re all in the pan get the sauce simmering, then cover with a lid and leave to simmer on low while you write a blog post about the nice smells coming from your kitchen.

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Give the sauce a taste and then chuck it into a blender (this bit is important!). Once blended, you’ll end up with a thick creamy sauce which has no need of flour to thicken it, which makes my gluten free friends happy.

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It’ll go an orangey colour once blended. This is the colour from the onions and everything when blended. Give it a taste, make sure it’s slightly stronger than you’d like. This is because the rice makes it blander (is that even a word?). But anyway, this is the texture you’re looking for…

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Next you need to strip the chicken carcass. This is foul (ba boom tss!). It’s just not pleasant having your hands buried in a cold, oily chicken. But for the taste, it’s well worth it. Fry the chicken bits in oil and a sprinkle of garam Marsala.

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Then cut up the vegetables into big chunks (over 1 inch) and fry these along with the chicken for a few minutes. Why veg? Well, that chicken won’t feed six so it needs to be bulked out with something, and it’s quite a nice way to add in extra veg to a curry meal. This will definitely have a few of your five a day…

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Stir in the sauce and use a little water to clean out the last bits in the blender and loosen the sauce, then cover and let it simmer until the veg softens (about 25 minutes? Long enough to cook some rice). While it’s simmering, you might want to stir it a few times just to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

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Finally, eat. You’ve been sniffing this food for around an hour now and you’re probably hungry.

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