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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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.

Equal opportunities carb savages – potato cakes & noodle soup

We love an aul’ spud.  For years I would deny them: my new found culinary freedom when I went to college meant I could alternate pasta and rice and never see a spud that wasn’t chipped & deep fried, or encased in a packet marked ‘Hunky Dory’. When I was little,  I would try to hide pieces of potato under my cutlery long after everyone had left the table, having been instructed to stay there til I’d finished everything (an 80’s phenomenon due to the starving babies in Africa, and the more recent memories of an fairly impoverished upbringing).  Luckily my darling father would take pity on me as he went about his daily washing up chore (we had a dishwasher, why on earth was there so much washing up done in our house?) and let me escape to watch Home & Away.  They were nearly always boiled, sometimes leftover & fried on a saturday morning.  There was the occasional baked potato, and the traditional roast, and quite regularly home made chips.   It was only boiled I rejected whole heartedly but the proliferation of them into every single dinner meant I couldn’t exclude them from my diet fast enough when given the opportunity.

mash you can hold
mash you can hold

Then I had a kid, and mash became part of our lives again.  It’s buttery/creamy/whatever you’re having yourself deliciousness is so tasty, that it’s a pretty good fall back meal when you haven’t a clue what else to make.  Last weekend, with no shopping done and a few roosters in the cupboard, little potato cakes were on the menu.   It’s mash you can hold!  Incidentally ‘a few roosters’ is actually an item on our shopping list – my mothers influence is strong there.  We had no eggs and each recipe near the top of my google search seemed to contain one, so I just went with a roundabout experiment that really worked!  Binding, schminding…  This makes about 12-15.

Oven baked potato cakes:

  • Chop a few roosters (okay, 3) quite small & cook.  I do ours in a microwave steamer, and the small pieces were done in 5 minutes plus a couple of minutes sitting.
  • Mash well with a decent dash of milk and more butter than you think you should use.
  • Grate in cheddar, add a couple of chopped spring onions and season well with black pepper
  • Spread out little cakes on a baking sheet.  Either make little patties with your hand, or use a scone cutter (they don’t keep their shape and spread a little though)
  • Bake in the oven at a high temp (I used 200c) for 7 or 8 mins each side.

The beauty of these is it’s not an exact recipe.  Throw in what you have – caramelised leeks would be gorgeous I’d say, or different cheeses.  If you’re cooking something else in the oven at the same time then just use whatever temperature you need it set to for that.

And the equal opportunities part?  Well, since we had spuds on saturday, we had risotto on sunday (and monday), and then our very favourite – noodley doodleys tonight.  In a noodle soup form for parents and Dominic (who used his pilfered Wagamama chopsticks – we took a bunch) and ‘deconstructed’ for Theo.  The constituent parts proved very popular with him too.  He has the art of the pincer grip down pat now.  I even left the plate in front of him while he ate and it lasted a good 8 minutes there I’d say!

We’re definitely enduring a throwback-to-the-eighties Ireland in some regards what with our rampant recession. But I thank the gods of air travel and globalisation for broadening the range of grains and carbs available in Ireland.  I know there was plenty of rice and pasta and maybe even noodles around then (just not really in our house) but cous cous and quinoa…far from it I was reared!

Jill

Noodle slurp

Is it ramen or just noodle soup?

I write this in the midst of a horrible headcold.  So really I need to make this again as it’s a healthy, tasty feel good broth.  After our slightly disappointing trip to Wagamama (where I freely admit we made too conservative a choice for Dominic) I decided to make my own noodle soup.

(Can you sense a theme at the minute? – we’re really digging our noodles and currys on the blog right now)
As I’m on maternity leave right now, I’m always on the look out for quick lunch options that aren’t bagel-cheese-tomato-lettuce.  I’m so sick of that!  So I picked up some Clearspring Organic Instant Miso Soup Paste – figured a sachet of this and some noodles would be a lovely lunch in 5 minutes.   Instead I was distracted by the thoughts of a more substantial meal for all of us.  Having used 2 sachets in this soup (box of 4 was €3.99 in Dunnes) I’m going to go buy a full pouch or jar of the paste as the sachets don’t seem particularly economical at all.

I fried up some tofu in some sesame oil in one pan.  Then I sauteed some ginger, garlic and leek and added the miso dissolved with 400ml of water and another 750ml of Marigold stock in a large saucepan.

I simmered this with a head of broccoli and a chopped courgette and added some Udon noodles.   I have a rather large noodle selection in the cupboard – Chunsi brand Udon from the Asia supermarkets on Drury St and at the Jervis Luas stop, and the Clearspring Soba are two of my favourites.  I’ve run the gamut of gammy flavoured noodles but I find stick with the plain ones and add the flavour yourself is the best advice I can offer.

Chopfingersticks

This fed 2 adults and a toddler for dinner and lunch for the 2 adults the next day.  Maybe I’ll actually look up a recipe next time, so I can officially call it ramen and not just noodle soup!

Noodley doodley

noodley doodley

Mammy’s always saying she loves asian food.  I don’t know what that is but I love when she does noodles and rice and currys n all.  Sometimes we have it at home and sometimes we have it when we go out to playgrounds and shops. It was my auntie Rachel’s happy birthday and we all went to Musashi which is a place that has lots of noodle and rice. Uncle Phil’s family were there too, so there was a little girl at the table and me too and we were the bosses.

There was a big happy birthday cake and I helped Rachel blow all the candles out and everyone played with my dinosaur that danced around the table and he lives in mammy’s handbag. But before all that I had a bitta dinner.  Mammy thought I wouldn’t eat it because I love my snacks and had lots of them and then the food arrived and it was a big big plate.  The lady with the food gave me a fork when daddy asked her to but I shouted No! Chopsticks! because that’s what you use for eating noodles and for drumming. You use fingers and other people to help eat noodles too.

bitta help

I ate my noodles and chicken and veggies all up and it was noodley doodley which is what you say in our house when you love your noodles.

Think I might let mammy and dada bring me there again because it was so yum and they said it was less than €5 which I think is a lie because I didn’t give them any of my moneys that I play with at all.  They’re all my millions for me.

Dom