I’m beginning to dread every article I see about parenthood (which makes it sound like I spend my days skimming the papers, flicking through mags and generally keeping on top of the world. I am, of course, referring mainly to the headlines, or the first paragraph, which I occasionally see as the Girl rips last week’s (unread) Sunday newspaper to shreds and stuffs it in her mouth). They seem to fall into two categories. The first, generally found in the aforementioned Sunday papers, are of the Hysterical Motherhood variety, and nearly always start with the following words: “A recent study has found...”. Accordingly, recent studies have found that women who went back to work within a year of having a baby / breastfed until their child was a teen / didn’t breastfeed at all / actually dared to push their child around in a pram which faced away from them, were more / less likely to have children with high IQs/Low IQs/no IQ whatsoever and the women themselves suffered terrible guilt / emotional breakdowns / loss of libido, as a result.
The other articles are written by parents themselves and just annoy me*. One I saw the other day was by a woman who “confessed” to losing her cool “from time to time”, which seemed to be enough times in her children’s lives to count on one hand (and describe in the article). That’s even worse than the newspapers’ barely disguised misogyny – it’s just plain lies. I mean, it has to be, right? The only thing that stops me from handing myself over to social services at the end of the day is an assumption that every half-normal parent who looks after their kids spends most of the day gritting their teeth and SCREAMING silently.
That I am guilty of this (but not guilty about it – obviously, or I might try to be more patient) was brought home to me by the Boy today who, when he poured his full cup of juice over the Girl’s head, immediately then said “Uh Oh, Mummy crosssssssssss...” He didn’t seem upset or put out by this – just stating the fact, and pipping me to the post. Instead of the usual bark, I had to laugh – although it didn’t stop him from the day’s Nth visit to the naughty corner. (The Girl just looked delighted - at the attention from her adored Big Brother, as well as the rare treat of orange juice cascading into her (ever) open mouth).
So I’ve thought up an invention that is going to make me millions – enough in fact to hire people to be nice to my children all the time. It’s a bottle which is made of special light-weight fully soundproof material. You hold the open end over your mouth and BELLOW into it as the circumstances demand. Not only is no sound heard by the outside world – or the tiny ears that inhabit it – but the bottle then sucks all the negative energy out of you through your mouth and disposes of it. Somehow.
It’s called: the Bottle It Up. Brilliant, no??
It may take some time to develop – I suspect that the energy rebalancer feature is going to be particularly tricky (involving alcohol perhaps?). But until I have the time – and patience - to develop it, there’s always the clenched-fist-and-countdown-till 7pm. And, of course, the naughty corner. Which sort of operates in exactly the opposite way to the Bottle It Up – creating negative energy – but right now it’s all I have.
Actually, that’s not quite true. I find, somewhat strangely, that mashing potatoes is a good stress buster. With the added benefit that you then have food for the Boy for the next two weeks – hurrah! But to add to my ever-increasing list of Things To Feel Guilty About, I started to feel bad last week that I feed him ALOT of mashed potatoes. And then I remembered a lovely recipe I’d seen on some blog somewhere, and lo! The mashed potatoes were transformed into something fabulous: home-made gnocci. Sounds – and looks – complicated, but is in fact ridiculously easy. And you can get as creative as you like. Give it a try. For the good for your blood pressure. And your offspring’s jaded palate.
You need (for four):
- About 500g mashed potatoes (leftovers are fine)
- Plain white flour – about 200g (the ratio is about 40%-50% flour to the mash – depending on how wet the mash is. Start with less and add more if needed)
- An egg, beaten
- Salt and pepper
- Any fancy ingredients you want to add to the gnocchi – herbs or cheese or other mashed root vegetable (in which case reduce the volume of the potatoes accordingly). I added some grated chedder, which was lovely.
To your cooled, mashed potato, add the beaten egg and then the flour (and anything extra you're using), and mix it all together. It should form a thick dough – if it’s very sticky add some more flour.
Knead the dough for a minute or two and then cut into four, and roll each piece out with the palms of your hand into a long skinny sausage shape. You want it to be no fatter than a fat cigar.
Cut each length into pieces about an inch long (or as long/short as you want).
You now have gnocchi. Easy wasn’t it?
When you’re ready to serve, pop the pieces into a pan of boiling water, until they rise to the surface. That’s it.
Serve with Dead Simple Tomato Sauce, butter and parmesan, or
a jar of homemade (natch) pesto; or really anything you’d serve with pasta. And of course lashings of positivity.
(* The irony of this is not lost on me)