I bought a veg bag

It was suggested, recently, that I get involved with the PTA at school, and I was pretty open to the idea. I like organising stuff and am the type of annoying person who looks on admiringly at things whilst mentally totting up the ways in which I’d have done it differently. It was also going to be a chance to work with a friend of mine who is brilliant at all things fun, themed and innovative; having been to a few parties at her house and been privy to her boundless energy for pretty much everything, I knew she’d be great to team up with.

But eventually I thought better of the whole endeavour. I hate to commit to things and then not be able to deliver, and the amount of work put in by the current PTA team was awe-inspiring and off-putting in almost equal measures. With three children at the young-ish end of the scale, a husband whose work hours are erratic and a freelancing job to factor in to the mix, I had visions of not being on hand to set up the very tombolas and cake stalls that I’d helped to organise- and the thought did not thrill me at all.

So I pulled out of the running and felt relieved, yes, but also a bit crap about ‘not doing my bit.’

Shameful that it has taken me nearly two years and pulling out of a potential PTA role to get in on the Abel & Cole fundraising scheme, but better late than never. I felt properly good this afternoon, collecting my veg bag, from which 25% of the profits will go to the school. I’m looking forward, too, to stretching my cooking muscles to make use of what we actually have, rather than buying the same stuff week after week (regardless of provenance),  just because it fits in with an already-well-established dinner repertoire.

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I’m not entirely sure that I’ll sell the kids on the leeks but hey, it’s not all about them is it? And since the boys hate fish anyway, well, I’m off to rustle up a Leek, Mackerel & Avocado salad – served up with the glow of parental participation on the side. Yummers!

Leek, Mackerel & Avocado salad from british-leeks.co.uk

Leek, Mackerel & Avocado salad from british-leeks.co.uk

we’re so Over it

It’s a small thing. But I do love living smackeroo between two Overground stations. Even on a miserable night like last night, it was so quick and easy to get to Shoreditch High Street on the Ginger Line, where we met with our nephew for a fantastico meal at Hawksmoor. Really amazing food, great atmosphere and such a gorgeous, friendly, fun and knowledgeable waitress. And oh my, the size of those cuts of meat. Impressive. Just as impressive as the fact Husband and Nephew made short work of them, and that was with a starter and dessert parenthesising them. Not to mention a couple of Collinses and a few bottles of very nice Malbec.

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And tomorrow night, it’s the other nearby station we’ll head to, to meet friends on the top floor of Smiths of Smithfield. I worked the breakfast shift on the ground floor when it opened in 2000 under Masterchef’s John Torode  – surely one of the nicest bosses I’ve ever had – and could only dream of dining on the 3rd with a view over London. The staff have so far proved to be just as gorgeous now as they were then (my manager became, and remains, one of my dearest friends) and have been massively accommodating with all of our requests, both in terms of food and seating arrangements.

A great night and a great meal are marvellous things, no matter what. But sometimes, the mere thought of getting somewhere, especially when it’s cold (still! in April!) and rainy and the children have been less than angelic, can be a bit off-putting. I love our neighbourhood, but I love the ease with which we can venture out of it too.

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I have a well-stocked fridge

It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, the near-empty fridge. On the one hand, I tend to get a bit twitchy when supplies are low. I’m comforted by an abundance of food; it reassures me that I can feed my family without resorting to panic-buying trips to the local chippy. On the other hand, it fills me with the glow of a previous shop well done: supplies used up, no wanton disposal (honestly, who wasn’t a bit shocked and dismayed by the recent statistics claiming that up to half the food produced in the world is chucked out before it’s even prepared or served?) and the ‘waste not, want not’ approach of my upbringing.

So I’d just reached that vaguely panicky point today – “Yes alright, nice one, look at that, everything gone, well done you! But now what the devil do you think you’re going to eat tonight?! (never mind that everyone was eating out tonight) – when, like manna from heaven, my friendly Ocado delivery driver (in the Courgette van, since you ask) turned up. And, just like that, peace, love and greenery were restored.

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I don’t particularly enjoy the putting away of it all – my fridge beeps in a very irritating, stress-inducing manner if the door is left open for like, more than a minute – all very well in terms of deterring a potential fridge foraging/ leftovers grazing/ mindless eating incident but a total pain in the ass when you’re trying to find room for five heads of broccoli and a bag of rocket or twelve. Not to mention trying to hide the less virtuous items at the back of the fridge so that the Juniors won’t spot them just as you open the fridge door to smilingly offer them an apple.

Before

Before

 

After

After

But – in the same way that nutritionists urge us to ‘eat a rainbow’ because it not only looks better than colourless, stodgy food but is better for you too, well – isn’t a well-stocked, colourful fridge a thing of beauty?

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I let him have the Saturday lie-in

Presumably most couples with children take it in turns to stay in bed on a weekend morning? Yesterday, I let my husband have first dibs: I’m not great at switching straight into Relax Mode on a Saturday, as I am too full of thoughts of Stuff To Be Done. So I was up with my earlybird children, making pancakes, stripping & laundering the beds and re-making them with fresh linen, supervising homework and taking them off to swimming lessons while Husband slept off the effects of a long week at work.

Today, my turn. We had dinner at the truly excellent Magdalen last night and a slight dessert wine fug left me very glad that it was my turn to lounge about in bed. On top of that, it was a sunny morning, so my husband took the kids to (and I avoided) the park (result!). Tucked up under my beautiful White Company blanket, a birthday present from one of my dearest friends, I drank Nespresso and admired the blue sky through the windows over my head. And – total joy – it’s a mega bumper issue of the Sunday Times Style supplement today. Bliss!

 

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I checked the recipe

We had friends over for dinner last night. A few weeks ago, I’d torn a scrap from a newspaper and pinned it to the fridge, a recipe involving lamb and purple sprouting broccoli. It sounded hearty, tasty and best of all involved a long, slow cooking time which would enable me to get things pretty sorted long before our friends arrived.

So, the Ocado order came on Friday (no missing items, no substitutions … I totally love it when that happens) and on Saturday morning, I made up a batch of pumpkin & halloumi fritters (to be served as nibbly starters with sour cream, sweet chilli and a glass of fizz and pomegranate) and took the kids to swimming via Flock & Herd for the lamb shoulder I’d ordered on Thursday. Earlier in the week, I’d been to Rabot Estate to buy a selection of chocolate ranging from 50 to 100 percent, which I planned to do with fruit and cheeses from Norbiton Cheese at Brockley Market.

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So far, so organised. Until, at some point in the afternoon, I glanced at the scrap of paper on my fridge and realised that it was very vague on quantities. How many anchovies? How many olives? It mentioned the chef’s name so I had a quick google – “Theo Randall lamb shoulder purple broccoli” and got the answers I needed … and the sudden realisation that I should’ve asked for the lamb to be deboned.

Mild panic ensued, and you-tube was consulted to for demos and how-tos. Um, no, not going to happen. So I did the sensible thing: called Flock & Herd. “Come back, we’ll sort it out,” said the jovial chap at the other end of the phone. They did, just moments before closing time. Phew. I mean, lucky it was a slow cook recipe. Imagine if I’d been about to start merrily prepping at 6pm?

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