Putting food on the table

Most evenings around 8pm, Him Indoors and I embark down a well-trodden conversational cul-de-sac. He removes his head briefly from the Guardian comment threads to ask, “What’s for tea?”

An innocent enough question, you might think. My heart sinks. Luckily my brain rises to the occasion – racing through the full range of options suggested by the contents of the fridge. James Martin would be proud of me.

“Pasta and hummus?” No response.
“Spinach and milk?” Nothing.
“Egg – lette?” One eyebrow imperceptibly rises half an inch.
“What do you want to eat?” I ask, hoping to brilliantly volley the dilemma back into his court (and that the answer will require only eggs, hummus, pasta and milk to make.)
“Tapas.”
“That’s like saying you’d like a buffet.”
“Ooh, I WOULD like a buffet.”
“Soup?”
“That’s a drink.”
“With bread?”
“Still a drink.”

A brief discussion follows about my taking the question “What’s for tea?” too personally, and we go our separate ways. I to write a blog post about my inability to produce a basic meal, he to pore mournfully through the freezer. By now he will have discovered that that particular cupboard is also bare.

Who are these people who keep a freezer full of past triumphs anyway? Who has the foresight to cook for their kitchen appliances? Should I make the toaster a portion while I’m at it? Even assuming I had the organisational skills, I just don’t have the vision to look at a lump of frozen guano and see the chicken casserole I made last Wednesday.

My excuse, and I’m sticking to it, is that the freezer is full. Full of peas, ice, croissants, mince and fish fingers. The idea of shoe-horning a couple of lasagnes in there as well is laughable. Perhaps Alpha Mums have a chest freezer in the garage? Not that I’d be any better prepared if we did have the outbuilding required for such a thing. In that scenario the food would be there, but I’d lack the emotional resolve to reconstitute it.

Thank heavens for Tooting, the curry nirvana of the Western world. I couldn’t possibly move to the actual countryside, we’d surely starve.

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Blueberry pancakes

I have to thank my cousin Laura and her husband for the inspiration for these.  They made them for us on a recent family get together and they’re just the best pancakes ever.

The blueberries add a sweetness and juiciness which takes them to another level.  Add a couple of rashers of crispy bacon and a generous drizzle of maple syrup for breakfast nirvana.  Very popular with two year olds!

Blueberry pancakes

Makes 12 or so

Dry ingredients

150g / 6oz plain flour
40g / 1.5 oz vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients

1/2 pint buttermilk
50g / 2oz melted butter
1 egg

and…

a small punnet of blueberries

1. Mix the wet and the dry ingredients in separate bowls.

2. Pour half of the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well.  Then stir the remaining dry ingredients in.

3. Heat a pan to medium heat and dollop on a couple of spoonfuls of mixture.

4. Add three or four blueberries to the top of each pancake.

5. Turn when browned and bubbles appear, which should take around 90 seconds.  In another 90 seconds or so they will be perfectly cooked.

6. Serve with butter, maple syrup and crispy rashers of bacon (plus sausages and a poached egg according to Him Indoors.)

Tractor!

The big news is that we’ve given the garden an overhaul.  We’ve ditched the veg beds, the worms have been released into the wild and the compost heaps dismantled.  The small boy needs a football pitch!  Whilst it’s sad to see it all go, we haven’t entirely given up on growing our own.  I hope to be back into it before too long, but the small patch of earth is to be used for sitting about and kicking a ball around for the foreseeable whilst we do more baby wrangling (number two due early May.)

There are four small fruit trees in blossom at the moment, so the garden is not quite barren.  Two apples, a cherry and a plum are all budding away and we hope for some home-grown fruit this summer.  The boy is a fruit fiend and loved the apples last year – fingers crossed we get a good crop.  The raspberries also went in the overhaul, but it might be possible to plant some in pots on our new patio (does that mean I’m finally a grown up, having a patio?)

The most exciting discovery for the small boy was to find that we have a ‘Tractor!’ in the shed.  I don’t have the heart to tell him it’s just a lawnmower.  He was very excited about pushing it up and down, we may have a useful garden helper before long.  No doubt though by the time he’s strong enough to push it around on his own the novelty will have worn off.

Tooting Life – Kitchen table

Tooting has another lovely cafe, this time on Fransiscan Road, on the way to Tooting Bec Common from where we live.  This one has just popped up in the last few weeks, so we took the small boy along to try them out.

It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the small boy greeted the proprietor with “Cake!” as the door opened.  He’s not stupid, that one.  We tried out their excellent carrot and walnut cake, Him Indoors had a sticky bun.  The place is very well kitted out for a freshly opened cafe and they’re well prepared for kids, with a changing table, toy baskets and a buggy store outside.  Highly recommended.

Chocolate chip buns

I know these are so easy you barely even need a recipe, but if you’re into speedy baking these take 15 minutes to make and another 15 to cook (5 to scoff the lot.)

Great to make with kids too.  So straightforward you might even get them in the oven before they get bored and run off to dismantle the television.

Chocolate chip buns

Makes 12

100g / 4oz self-raising flour
100g / 4oz butter
100g / 4oz caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
large handful of chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas 5.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add the eggs a little at a time and mix in.
4. Fold in the flour and mix thoroughly.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6. Spoon into bun cases and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and springy.