Food Glorious Food – Four Winter Dinners. And A Cake

With me and the kids home now, the grocery shopping bills are through the roof. They’re savages year round, hopefully it’s just a phase for me. There’s a lot of post school snack preparing going on, throwing fruit at them to ward off cries for treats, then giving in on the treats and of course serving up the inevitable dinners.

As an aside – a lot of stuff busy parents do gets greeted with responses of “super mum” and “I don’t know how you do it” responses. And it’s appreciated, believe me. Okay, so if you (I) post pictures on social media of your homecooked meal/children playing outdoors/you out anywhere with more than one of them, then you (I) are (am) looking for a response. And validation. And y’know; adult human contact through the day. But at the end of the day, it’s just what you do. You get on with it, and if it means baby in the sling while managing to put on some mascara, or breastfeeding while pouring bowls of cereal one-handed it’s just how it is. The new normal.

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Five Family Dinners

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If you follow me on social media (and if not why not? No excuse now, buttons are on the right or underneath on mobile) you’ll know how often I meal plan. I mean, I post a picture of it each time I do, so I know it’s not that frequent – I guess that’s about every few months. Right now, I have some potatoes in the oven baking, and I’m trying to get some writing done before yer man gets in with the two Tasmanian Devils. We decided on baked potatoes about half an hour ago, while he was getting up from his desk to leave work and I was on the bus home. Plan-schman. That makes me an idiosyncratic parenting/food blogger really; to neither meal plan, nor batch cook. We’ll soldier on…

Here’s a selection of family dinners we’ve eaten recently, old favourites and new attempts. The one thing they have in common is I’ll make them again. We all ate them happily, including the fussier four year old. (Proof is below!) Continue reading

Midweek Madness: Speedy Peanut Stir Fry Sauce!

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Stopped momentarily on the way in from work to appreciate these beauties.

Things have been a bit haphazard since… ooooh, well, all this year basically. Continuing along the meandering path that is my career, I have two sort-of jobs. I’m adulting hard – I’m self employed now you see, it says so on the 76 page form I sent to the tax office.

In job number one I worked all through January, and have done the odd shift since then. Then I took on a few weeks work (job number two) in a different company at the beginning of February and two months later I’m still there. So I’m basically working full time until I’m told otherwise – it keeps getting extended (yay!) and we have a very understanding creche. I have to turn down shifts that I’m offered in job number one just in case I get more work in job number two (I prefer it you see). But I am conscious of ‘keeping in’ with job number one and not forgetting how to actually do the job, so I have committed to sporadic weekend shifts there.

Which is all to say my meal planning and organization is disastrous at exactly the point that I could really do with it being the opposite. I do have a couple of speedy midweek specials that I roll out and one of them is a stirfry – rice or noodles, tofu or quorn or neither and whatever veg are to hand. Always topped with nuts or seeds, and often with this super good peanut sauce.

Now, don’t laugh. I signed up to Snapchat (@jillo_properfud). Luckily I don’t have a child old enough to point and laugh at me. When I told my husband he looked confused – though strangely not threatened – and said is that not just for teenagers sharing nudie pics? Loads of great bloggers are on there, and even though I’m not sure I have exactly cracked it in terms of how to best use it, I did realize very quickly that the Story function is perfect for recipe videos. This is my first one. It’s very rough and ready. VERY. But I’m not entirely ashamed of it, and I don’t care what my voice sounds like after a good conversation with fellow bloggers made me realise everyone thinks they sound like a dickhead at first.

Super Easy, Ridiculously Tasty Peanut Sauce

I keep chunks of peeled chopped ginger in a ziplock bag in the freezer. When you need to use just steep it in some boiling water for a couple of minutes before sticking it in the blender.

  • Blitz a big garlic clove & and inch or so of ginger.

Now add everything else and blitz it till smooth.

  • ½ a cup of smooth peanut butter. I use the Meridian brand for all my nut butters.
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. I’m probably a bit more liberal with this.
  • Juice of half a lime.
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. I’m not sure that it matters if it’s dark or light, I just like to use the soft one, not demerara or anything like that.
  • Chilli flakes to taste. You could use half a red chilli either if you and yours like a bit of heat
  • ½ a cup of water (less if you want a thicker sauce)

That’s it! It’s that easy.

This keeps in the fridge for a few days, so you can be nice and prepared and make it in advance. When you’re ready to use it just toss it over your veg and stir it through until warm.

Because I was actually trying to feed my family in a hurry I didn’t take any actual nice pictures of the dinner as well as snap chatting so instead, here are a couple from a trip to Cork last week. Don’t be fooled. It rained for 75% of the time, but when it was good, it was very very good.

IMG_1097Dreamy rockpool

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#tbt to this day forever please

IMG_1192Pondering jumping fish. Rarely is he ever transfixed for so long.

Fake It Till You Make It: Summer Veggie Food in the Rain

halloumi salad
halloumi salad
Summoning Summer

The barbecue has gathered dust in our shed this year, and we spent most of the weekend with our noses pressed against the glass, gazing mournfully at the rain outside. My optimistic Australian brother in law is made of sterner stuff than us. Even though he has Irish citizenship now, he can’t quash the need to cook over fire and he has been known to stand outside in january barbecuing while holding a golf umbrella over himself and the food. So when we popped over to my sisters house and I saw him preparing fresh corn to chuck on the barbie I felt compelled to summon a bit of the summer spirit he manages to maintain. Fake it till you make it, if you will. Veggie style, of course.

I had four ears of fresh corn, still wrapped in their lovely husks and a block of halloumi with which to rustle up a summery sunday dinner. So with that, and the general contents of my fridge and garden I made Warm Halloumi Salad with Grapes, served with fresh Corn on the Cob and Roast Potato Chunks.

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One each.

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I Am Solo Parenting. Send Potato Gratin.

Potato Gratin.

Picture the scene:

It’s the school summer holidays. My husband is away for work. I am home with the children.

I am in the bathroom with a five year old yelling from the other side of the door “I heard you flush one minute ago! Where are you?”

I am refereeing possibly imaginary fights from the shower, trying to discern if actual injuries have occurred or if it’s hysterical laughter. I guess I can just wash my hair tomorrow instead. The kids won’t care.

I have stopped tidying away the toys in the living room at bedtime. I’ll be in bed about an hour after them.

I wonder, when I am having the exact opposite experience, do I really need to know how the staff in the hotel my husband is staying in keep asking him if he is okay, sir. And if they can do anything for him, sir.

I regret having pizza the night before he left, and chips with this cousins the next night. Now I have to feed them healthily for the rest of the week, and I keep no meals handy in the freezer because it is weeny and I need seventeen frozen bananas, ice cream, bread for toast and all that quorn.

The Reason I Can't Batch Cook
The Reason I Can’t Batch Cook

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