Pre-children, weekends would be filled with indecision and worry (and fun and hangovers). Where to go, what to do and who to see? Was there something better on that we could/should be doing? Was it a good use of our free time to be lazing about reading the papers? Did I really need another pair of shoes? (Actually, that question was never asked, at least not rhetorically).
These days, weekends are like any other day, except with the Man around – so I get a couple of hours extra sleep on one of the days, and he on the other day. Other than that, it’s same old, same old: make breakfast, entertain, stop face-scratching (of baby by herself, and of baby by her brother), exhale in shock at amount of dirty towels which have gathered in the bathroom, clean kitchen, make food, feed food, clean kitchen again, yadayadayada.
So this weekend I decided to branch out and do something completely different: I spent a half day in a spa, had a boozey lunch with my girlfriends, then went shopping.
Oh ok then, I did none of the above (although I did go for a swim. On Saturday night. How pathetic is that? However I’m clearly not the only one with no life - would you believe that the pool was packed?) No, instead of my fantasy spa-day, my branching out consisted of making a vat of rice pudding which I thought might last a couple of days, but was gone within the hour.
Rice pudding is the business. It’s cheap, uses up the several litres of skimmed milk you inadvertently bought during the week, easy to make, and is pretty healthy (see ref to skimmed milk above). I threw some on and while I waited for it to boil I did a load of laundry, fed the boy, stirred it some, added more milk, cleaned up after the boy, turned my back and the boy dumped his water on the floor, put the boy in the naughty corner, mopped up the water, stirred the rice some more, put the boy back in the naughty corner (what part of “stay here” does he not get?), sterilised bottles, re-seated the boy, then sat down for the remaining 5 minutes before the rice was finished and played the What-Colour-Is-This? game (every answer is “ba-looooo” which means he gets it right about 15% of the time.)
I don’t even have a recipe for it. It is, however, an easy-peasy one which doesn’t require ovens or measuring cups or scales. Just a pan, 2 main ingredients and two minor ones.
Lots of milk. At least 400ml per person.
A bit of butter.
Take the pudding rice, and put as much as you think you need – about a handful per person – into a pan. Cover it generously with milk (I used skimmed, for a richer flavour use semi- or full fat) and throw in a bit of sugar (depends how sweet you like it; I take the view that less is more, and if you’re a more is more person when it comes to sugar, then you can always add it later) and a spoonful of butter. Bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat, stir to break up the rice which will have stuck together, and go off to do some laundry.
After a few minutes, take a peek and stir it again. If it’s looking thick, add more milk, bring back to the boil, reduce the heat and stir again.
Repeat the peeking/stirring/adding-milk-if-necessary process a couple of more times until you’ve used more milk than you ever thought you could use, and the rice is very soft. This usually takes about half an hour.
Turn off the heat, cover and leave to stand for a few minutes, while you round up your brood and put spoons, bowls and jam on the table.
Serve and bask in the happy glow that comes from watching your offspring eat something healthy and filling.
Can also be eaten in the naughty corner.