Saturday, 4 March 2017

You're doing it right

Last night the kids were being little demons - fighting, screaming, shouting at each other, us, themselves, it was noisy, so, so, noisy and stressful.
The bedtime run up - where even more stress can be made by the tiny one procrastinating getting dressed into pajamas for up to forty minutes, I had enough.
 Ever the devious mother, casually I mention that the first person to get their pajamas on, gets first pick of the colour of bowl in which supper is contained.
They were massively underwhelmed by this and continued to argue about paw patrol and whose house is whose and which figure they are playing with, and will be buried with, so no, you can't ever, ever have a turn.

I sat watching them, wondering how they had forgotten to share, how sick of each other they seem to be, and what a rotten job we seem to have done at times.

I quietly pointed out that the FIRST child to get their pajamas on, could also sit on my knee while we watch my little pony on the tv.
I have never seen four kids get dressed so quickly, around 90 seconds, - a world record.

Ayla was first, sparking tears from the other three.
Quinn had forgotten how she loves to draw-out getting dressed for as long as possible until mummy turns a special shade of purple and starts screaming "get dressed" like some kind of banshee. Quinn's favourite place to sit is on me and she panicked she might be relegated to, the horrors "daddys knee". However, being the only kid who has to get a nappy on for bedtime she was slowed down more than the others.
Zarek who had dressed himself a mere fraction of a second behind Ayla, was very upset until I pointed out I had two knees and they could each have one.

Gaius who accidentally put two feet down the same trouser leg, which slowed him down, was screaming and crying, Quinn is sobbing on the floor at not being quite fast enough to win, when Ayla said "it's okay, I'm going to give my place to Gaius". Gaius stopped crying and Zarek piped up "Quinn, you can have my knee", and Quinn stopped sobbing.
I looked at my two generous children, who despite being cross earlier, had done something so altruistically kind and thoughtful to help someone else they could see is hurting, I realise we've not done such a bad job after all.
The look on Zarek and Ayla's faces said they were both sad to not get to sit on my knee but had decided their sadness was less than the two who were crying on the floor.

We went into the kitchen where the fastest dresser could now choose the snack bowl colour and again tears broke out from the two who got the colours least matching their favourites. (It's friday, everyone is tired and easy to cry).
 Ayla and Zarek negotiated with each other to swap bowls around until Quinn had the green one, (her favourite), Zarek the blue (his favourite), Gaius the orange and Ayla the purple (the smallest unwanted bowl) as a compromise to make the most people happy.

I gathered all four up in my arms, smothering them with kisses and telling them how kind they are and how proud I am before we all snuggled together on the sofa to watch the tv.
These precious moments, often discovered, or greater appreciated an afternoon of fighting and arguing just further demonstrate that while they might bicker over toys from time to time, when it really matters they always choose kindness.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Chunky Minestrone Soup

It's meaty, rich and chunky. The perfect indulgent winter warmer.
Freezes well and defrosts well too without becoming watery.

(I have made both a more watery version, and a thicker version to trial it, and I prefer it thicker and chunky. If you prefer it more liquidy, add more water to the pot when cooking.


3 Small cloves of garlic
1-2 Carrots (I use two)
1 Potato (any size)
2 Balls of frozen Spinach
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
2 Tins of Chopped Tomatoes
Tomato Puree (roughly 2 tbsp, a little more is fine)
1 teaspoon Dried Mixed Herbs
4 Rashers of unsmoked Streaky Bacon
30-60g of Dried Spaghetti snapped into pieces (I probably use whats left in the tail end of a spaghetti pack) and I definitely don't weigh it. Just grab a small handful ;)

(Pinto Beans can be added for the last few minutes before serving if desired or instead of bacon - one of my kids hates them so I exclude them if he is eating this too)

Put a tiny splash of oil (or a few sprays) into the bottom of a deep(ish) pan.
Finely Dice the garlic and add to the pan, setting onto a med-low heat (don't let it burn!)
Peel and finely chop the potato and carrot(s) then add to the pan with the garlic until the garlic has softened or browned. Give it a stir and let the flavours permeate through the veg.

Boil the kettle and add 300ml of boiling water in a jug to the stock cube. Mix until dissolved and then pour into the pan and turn up to a medium heat.

Pour in two tins of chopped tomatoes and your tomato puree - mix well.
Pop your spinach into the microwave for 1 minute to fully defrost - chop it roughly and then toss it into the pan (otherwise i find it all clumps together in one sodden yucky heap and the kids can spot it!)
Add the mixed herbs.

Snap up your spaghetti (4 times per length) and throw it in, turn the heat up to boil and let the pasta cook and the liquid reduce slightly.

Cook your bacon however you like (for this recipe I put them on a sheet of foil in the oven for about 10 minutes to get them dried and crispy) but you can fry it in a pan.

Once your spaghetti is cooked (6-8 minutes ish)  turn the heat back down to low and stir.
When the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove from the oil and snip it up with scissors into little chunks and chuck into the pan.

(add beans if using)

Stir through for a couple of minutes and serve. If you are making it in advance, this soup actually gets better if you let it cool down, thicken and reheat it later on to eat.  

Serving Suggestion: 
I like to toast some pitta breads, cut them up with a pizza cutter and let the kids dip the warm dough in the soup.

Bon appetite!