Friday, March 25, 2011

Hip to be square.

This morning my 8 year old daughter handed me a homemade card; inside she had scrawled the words.....
To Mum
I Love You
You're Cool!
It was a really nice thing to receive and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy.....trouble is it's not true. I am not cool. I never have been - I probably never will be. Daggy is my middle name, well not literally but you know what I mean.

My clothes aren't remotely fashionable. Most of them are at least five years old and are in varying degrees of shabbiness. Maternity bras and nursing tops are de-rigueur - although I stopped nursing quite some time ago. Occasionally I will buy something that is new, shiny and beautiful. I will get it home, try it on.....and look like an idiot.
On my last birthday I bought myself a hat, it was gorgeous and very cool. Trouble is if there is one thing worse than a perpetually uncool person - it's a perpetually uncool person trying to be cool. Which is exactly what I looked like.

I listen to daggy music...most of it dating back to circa 1980's - 1990's. Ask me what music is "in" today and you'll be met with a blank stare. My younger sister - who is reasonably knowledgable about such things - is continually exasperated with my lack of musical kudos. She spouts off names of various "artists", groups and music festivals - she could be speaking another language for all I know.

Speaking of different languages did a new one get invented while I wasn't looking? Generally it seems to occur in places such as facebook, twitter or when people text one another. Peppering conversations with LOL's, BFF, ROFL and IYKYIM. I [of course] have no idea what anyone is talking about! Is this some cool way of communicating that technologically defunct people, such as myself, have been excluded from?

Another area where I suffer from a complete lack of understanding is Television. When my friends all chat about the latest happenings on the latest shows I smile and nod and pretend I know exactly what they're all talking about; "Oh yes!" I enthuse, "I just loooved that episode of Blah-Blah when Whatshisname kissed Whateverhernameis - it was awesome!" The absolute truth is that once the kiddies are in bed and I've cleaned up the catastrophe that is my house I usually crawl into bed with a book - and a dorky one at that.

So, having my daughter hand me a card that declared that I was "cool" made me feel distinctly special. In a matter of a few short years she will undoubtedly see me for the fraud I am - but until then I am going to enjoy the kudos of being momentarily, briefly,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Toddler Terror

As the end of the week approaches it begins, I start to feel sick and worried and a feeling of dread settles into the pit of my stomach. On Thursday night it's worsened to the point that I have trouble sleeping and then I awake on Friday morning exhausted and dispirited.
I know it has to be done, just as it had to be done last week....and the week before...and the week before that.

It's the bane of Mother's of small children everywhere - the weekly trip to the supermarket.

Until recently I have quite enjoyed my trip down the hallowed aisles of Woolworths. I love food and I love cooking, so a trip to the supermarket has always been a bit of an adventure (sad, I know) the possibilities, the opportunities, oh, what fabulous items can I coerce into memorable meals for my family?
But lately my weekly sojourn into the wonderful world of food has been interrupted.....disturbed....destroyed...and all by a person about 2 and a half feet tall who has the personality of a whirlwind.

Unfortunately my terrible, oops sorry, terrific toddler hasn't inherited her Mother's love of buying foodstuffs.

It begins almost the instant we drive into the car park and continues until we drive out again 45 minutes later; screaming, yelling, kicking, pulling things off shelves, biting, hitting, crying.
Little old ladies "Tut, tut, tut", other Mother's hurry away and avert their eyes and silently hope that their little angel isn't silently taking notes. Mother's with like-minded toddlers nod and sigh.....they too know the pain.
The treats I pack get spat out, the toys I bring get thrown, my gentle banter to try and divert her attention - ignored.

A fake and painful smile is fixed on my face as I throw obscure items that I don't need into my trolley and try to make my escape as fast as humanely possible. The lady at the checkout sees me coming; a look of fear flits across her face before she too fixes a fake and painful smile on her face. I apologise profusely as I hold onto my struggling child and quickly load up my items.
A man behind me mutters about "giving that child a good slap" and my heart sinks down around my knees.

Suddenly the answer occurs to me, the solution, the light at the end of the tunnel, healer of hurts and up-lifter of moods. I cuddle my precious child, kiss her and then hand her a piece of chocolate.....ahhh, silence, what bliss.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Banana Bread"

I love baking this kind of thing for my children, although it's laden with butter & sugar (two of my favourite ingredients) it always makes me feel like I'm serving them something wholesome. This recipe is a godsend, it simply does not fail - you can make it again and again and be assured that it will be perfection every time. I have been baking this for years, I hope you love it as much as I do.......

125grams butter, softened.
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarb soda
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1/4 cup maple syrup (golden syrup works as well)
You can also add 1/2 cup of chopped nuts or 1 cup chopped dates at the end if you wish.

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well.
Fold through flour, baking powder, bicarb, nutmeg & cinnamon, stir well. Incorporate bananas & maple syrup until mixed through.
Pour the batter into a greased and lined baking tin and bake for approx 45minutes.
Serve with lashings of butter & the obligatory cup of tea.

Monday, March 7, 2011

On Holiday.....

Unfortunately this title is misleading (although I fervently wish it wasn't) I am not taking a holiday, not in any way, shape or form. It seems that a certain part of my psyche has though; it's packed it's bags, has bid the rest of me "adieu" and has officially gone on holiday.
      The part of me that is missing is my brain - kind of an essential part of the body if you ask me.
Seems like it's taken a quick gander at it's surroundings, observed the chaos and insanity and decided to make a run for it. I can't blame it really.
    The problem is I'm struggling without it and I would quite like it back.

Observe the following;

I am constantly "about" to do something - I just can't remember what that something was.

When calling out to any one of my children I go through quite a few until I get the right one, "Georgie...Josh...Bell....damn-it...Oliver!" ( and no, damn-it is not one of my children's names)

I leave things behind...forgot the nappies, wipes, lunches, drink bottles, spare clothing, hats...I remembered the children - does that count?

I start sentences, get halfway through and then.....Huh? What? Where was I? Forget what I was talking about.

So, if anyone sees a brain (smallish, a bit daft) enjoying a Pina Colada on an exotic beach somewhere please send it back my way.
I would really appreciate it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie

There is something incredibly homely and comforting about a Lemon Meringue Pie. It's old fashioned, a little bit frumpy and that's what makes it so damn appealing. Every mouthful is like a little piece of heaven, it is one of those things that make you happy simply because you're eating it and that is -to me- one of the most important things about good food.

First of all I'm going to give you a recipe for the pastry base. Making pastry is incredibly easy and the taste is amazing, full of buttery goodness. Please, give it a try.......
1 1/2 Cups of Plain Flour
1 Tablespoon of Icing Sugar
140grams cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
2-3 tbsps cold water

Place the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add yolk & water and mix until the mixture comes together. Scrape it out of the processor, wrap it in cling wrap and refrigerate for approx 20 mins.

Preheat the oven to 240C

Grease a flan or pie tin. Roll out pastry (flour the rolling pin and surface if the pastry is a little sticky) until it is large enough to line the tin. Gently ease the pastry into the tin and trim the edges. Prick the bottom of the pastry shell all over with a fork and then bake in the oven for 20mins or until the pastry is golden.

Lemon Filling;

1/2 Cup Cornflour
1 Cup Caster Sugar
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
1 Cup of Water
60grams Unsalted Butter
3 Egg Yolks (save the whites for the meringue)

Combine the cornflour and sugar and place into a medium saucepan, gradually stir in the lemon juice and water until smooth. Cook over high heat while stirring until the mixture boils and thickens. Take off the heat and whisk in butter and egg yolks. Cool the mixture and then spread it into the pastry case.
Now at this point you are supposed to cool the half assembled pie in the refrigerator for an inordinate amount of time. I am of course a notoriously lazy and impatient cook so I shove mine in the freezer for 20 mins or so. I'm probably breaking some sort of "cooking law" here but, hey, it works for me!
While you're waiting for it to cool make the meringue.

Beat the egg whites - that I hope you saved from before -  in a small bowl until soft peaks form, gradually 1/2 Cup of extra sugar until it dissolves. Be very, very careful not to over mix (as I have done on many occasions) you'll end up with a curdled mess and stuff up your Pie Perfection!

Retrieve your pie case from the freezer (if you cheated) and heap the glossy and gorgeous egg white mixture on top. Place in the oven and watch carefully - it will probably only need a couple of minutes and the top will be a lovely golden brown.

Homemade Heaven!