Friday, 29 April 2011

La Laaa LaLa, La Laaa LaLa, From Sea to Shin-ing Seeeeeeeeeeea

Aaaaaaah.  America.  How much do I love thee (and Florida in particular?)  Let me count the ways. 

1.   You're so so easy to navigate 
Big wide roads.  Roads without potholes.  Roads without traffic lights every hundred yards. Roads which enable me to get to outlet stores which are miles away, in the time it takes me to manoeuvre my car out of its parking space and around the huge puddles back home.  Roads, in effect, which are not London roads.  

2.   You're so so warm
Admittedly, it's raining right now, but it's nice warm welcome rain, the soil is sighing with relief, and we're quite happy to get out of the sun for a while.  By contrast, London is rarely warm. In fact the lack of warmth in London is the reason my children think that wearing fifteen layers of clothing is the natural state.  (Imagine their surprise when I stripped them naked and sent them off to play... The Boy looked v confused and started shouting "NO BATH" [but then he found his willy, unencumbered by pesky nappies diapers, and a dumper truck, and his happy glow returned]). 

3.   You're overrun by Kindly Strangers who LOVE my accent
A quick trip to the shops store and I'm left feeling like I should have my own talk show.  Seriously.  That's how much they love me.   

4.   You're inhabited by Grandparents 
Specifically, the kids' grandparents.  They don't see them often enough to be sick of them, and  time alone with them appears to be a special treat.  So, to treat them comprehensively, we've dumped said kids with them for two whole days and escaped to....

5.   Miami
Every country should have a Miami. The combination of sun + cocktails + no children (for me), and sun + cocktails + false tits everywhere you look (for the Man) has made this the best weekend ever.* 

6.   Our Children love you too
Well, we can only assume the Girl does.  She's been eating and drinking like a beast since we got here and - hurrah! - sleeping the nights through.  The Boy however is quite vocal about his feelings.  He regularly stops what he's doing, cackles like an extra in One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest, then announces "I'M SO HAPPY!!" before resuming play with his bits. Naturally, this makes us happy too (His happiness, that is.  The twiddling with his bits doesn't bother us one way or the other.  Although we'll be keeping him away from Miami until he's grown out of this habit.**)

But oh, America, you baffle me somewhat. What's with the puritanical attitude to naked toddlers? (To all those people who have wondered - aloud, and loudly - why the Boy wasn't wearing clothes, this is why:  he is TWO and he's on the beach.)  Why do your dollar bills all look the same? (There are very happy taxi drivers tootling around Miami as we speak). Why do you make your cocktails so strong?  (See ref to taxi drivers above). Why can't I get the hang of driving on the right side of the road? Or is it the left? I dunno.  Which is why I take taxis.  Which enables me to drink too many cocktails.  Which is why I have no money left to buy clothes for the children. Or ingredients for a recipe. But who needs to cook when you have:   7. Dirty Martinis...***


*Did I mention the Man's best friend who lives in Miami and owns a vodka company? Never has a best friend been chosen so well... (At the risk of being accused of blatant advertising - a risk which is completely outweighed by the benefits of FREE VODKA - I urge you all to scamper to your nearest cocktail bar (US only, alas) and order a double Zyr on the rocks, likedey split [Contact me if you have problems counting out your dollar bills for the taxi-driver on the way home. I have it sussed.  Almost.])


** The Man, lying on the bed with his hand down his shorts, informs me that the Boy is thus unlikely to ever make it to Miami. 


***See ref to Best Friend, above.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Ready to Pack It All In

By the time you read this I will either be pureeing food / wiping down surfaces / doing laundry in Florida, or – depending on your speed – sitting with my children and a couple of hundred very annoyed fellow passengers somewhere over the Atlantic.

For the moment, I am taking a break from The Packing.  In the olden days – before I was made got old – packing was one of the best bits about going away:  the anticipation, the shopping, the discovery of scrappy bits of clothes I’d bought the last time I went away...  Now it’s Hell, in a hand-basket suitcase.

I started five days ago, making lists.  The List of Things to Carry On is itself half a page long (for the kids, obviously;  my own list comprises one word:  passport.) It’s a TEN HOUR flight, which breaks down into about 300 separate concentration-span units.  So I need to bring at least 20 different activities.  So far I’ve got:  crayons + paper;  stickers; books (3); cars (3); other automobiles (3); portable dvd player and dvds (6); finger puppets (2). (And that’s just for the Man. Hohoho)

Then there’s the food.  Food for her, emergency food for her, bottles for her, emergency bottles etc.  And we can’t really rely on him to eat the airplane food, so food for him too, juices, treats (any time he even looks like he’s going to shout he’ll be getting a gummy bear stuck in his mouth;  wonder how long it’ll take him to turn into Pavlov’s Boy?) Then nappies, wipes, cloths, soothers, teddies, changes of clothes, emergency changes of clothes...

I haven’t even started on the main packing yet – apart from the Easter eggs, (ironic) Royal Wedding commemorative mugs, Union Jack bunting, and – get this – travel black out blinds.  It is insane, and I’m panicking as I type.  People say “Oooh, lucky you”, and all I can think of is: “PACKING FOLLOWED BY TEN HOURS IN A PLANE.” 

Once we get over the jet-lag it’ll be fantastic of course, but by then I’ll be just about to start on the homeward-bound packing. FOR THE TEN HOUR – OVERNIGHT! - FLIGHT BACK.

And so I bid you all a Happy Easter.  May it be filled with the laughter of little ones, and the groaning of over-cholcolatified older ones.  And eggs of course.  I’ve just cleared out my fridge (anything to avoid The Main Packing) and made a great frittata / tortilla / solid omelette from some eggs and grey, limp food-stuffs (I think  it was food – it didn’t move when I prodded it) I found in the bottom of the fridge. If the Boy and the Girl don’t scoff the lot, I plan on cutting any leftovers into teeny squares, piercing them with  toothpicks, and serving this evening with many glasses of chilled white wine, to toast the start of our holidays.  And (hopefully) the end of The Packing.

Tortilla / Frittata *
You need (for 2 very hungry / semi-drunk people):
  • 3 eggs, beaten, with a splash of milk**
  • Some cooked vegetables, chopped.  (I used some boiled, grey potatoes I found in the fridge, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and a bowl of sliced carrots I caught trying to escape into the bin.  You can literally use anything, including frozen vegetables which you should first cover with boiled water for a few minutes.)
  • Some olive oil
  • A handful of grated cheese (any old cheese).

I probably don’t need to tell you what to do next, but I will (in case, eg, the Man is reading...)

Heat a good few glugs of the olive oil in a wide frying pan (at least as wide as a dinner plate). 
When it’s hot, add the chopped vegetables.  If using onions, add these first, and allow to soften before adding anything else.  Potatoes should be added next, if using, so they can brown.  If using tomatoes, wait until you’re about to add the eggs.

Keep the heat on medium and stir from time to time to stop it sticking.
When they have a bit of crunch, or are heated through, add the eggs, and stir like a mo-fo.  You want all the vegetables to be covered in egg.

If you have a lid for the frying pan, put it on now (otherwise just ignore this), and turn the heat down low.  Go off and wipe surfaces / hands / faces for abut ten minutes. 

Put your grill on high, sprinkle the cheese over the top of the frittata, and stick the pan under the grill until the cheese has browned, and the frittata has risen slightly.

Remove, and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes.  Cut into wedges and eat warm / cold / while packing.   

As the Boy says – “Happy Eater”. 

*Mrs Google tells me that the difference is that a frittata is Italian, and usually made with vegetables and/or meat; whereas a tortilla is, of course, Spanish, and usually made with onions and potatoes. Who knew?  (Most people, probably).

** 3 eggs will make a largeish, but not terribly thick,  omelette which will be enough for a couple of slices for a toddler, a slice for a not-yet-toddling-baby to squish and smear all over her face, and a couple of large slices for over-wrought parents to wolf down as they neck a bottle of wine.  Or else for only those same parents to have for a main course.  Add more eggs for a thicker omelette.  

Monday, 18 April 2011

Potty Mouth

Just as a monkey left at a typewriter long enough will bash out the complete works of Shakespeare, so the Boy – admittedly only about half as intelligent as your average monkey – will occasionally string together all of his random questions to form a coherent conversation.
Our House, Friday Morning.  The doorbell rings.
Boy:  Whatsat noise?
Me:     Sounds like the door bell.  Shall we go see...
Boy has galloped off through the hall, slowing down only to pick up a shoe, which he is now banging against the front door.
B:       WHO-ARE-YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-WHAT-DO-YOU-WAAAAAAAAAAAANT
Me:     (Opening door just wide enough to take a parcel from the disturbed-looking postman, and shutting it quickly before the Boy can escape)  Thank you, sorry about that..
B:       (Banging me with the shoe): WHATISITWHATISITWHATISITWHATISIT
Me:     Oooh, it’s a parcel,  I think it’s a present for someone special...
B:       ME! Me ‘pecial, MEMEMEME!
Me:     Yes you certainly are. 
We sit on the kitchen floor  with the Girl, the ants, and a regurgitated sliced pan, and open the parcel. 
Boy:   (Deeply suspicious)  Whatsat?
Me:     It’s a.... POTTY!
Boy:   (Still suspicious, and again banging me with the shoe) Whatzit for?
Me:     (Forced joviality, despite pain in head and leg) It’s a special toilet for big boys!
Boy:   Whatyoutalking’bout?
Me:     You do your wee-wees and poos in the potty! 
Boy:   (Silence.  Although the look in his eye says:  NotFuckingLikely)
Me:     Like a big boy! Hurrah! 
Boy:   NO! 
And disappears under the table, where the ensuing grunts and audible concentration suggest a dirty protest. He then emerges, victorious.  And smelly.
Me:     The next time, if you do your poo in the potty you’ll get a treat...
Boy:   (Suddenly perky) Treat?
Me:     Oh yes.  A little treat for a wee-wee and a big treat for a poo (Because as we all know, there’s treat hierarchy when it comes to body effluents.)
Boy:   (Very interested) What treat?
Me:     Do a wee-wee or a poo in the potty and you’ll find out.
There’s an urgent tugging at clothing and shaking of (a very laiden down) nappy, the removal of which I – carefully - participate in, and suddenly he’s butt naked (literally) and sitting on the potty.  Days pass.  Nothing (well, nothing solid) happens.  He stands up.  
Boy:  Treat!
Me:     (Tentatively looking into the potty)  But there’s nothing there..
Boy:   TREEEEEEEEEEEEAT!
Me:     I told you, you have to do a wee or a poo for your treat.
Boy:   (Looks confused.  Then pensive. Then his eyes light up as a thought suddenly hits him)  But I did a fart...
He got the treat.  In this house the power of persuasion is as important as the ability to pee and poo in a toilet.
Moving away from this topic entirely, let’s talk about cakes (although in my experience, there’s nothing like a slice of cake to get the Boy scuttling under the table).  It was the Man’s birthday last week, and we celebrated with a very very convoluted homemade cake.  It looked fantastic on the cover of the Sainsbury’s Magazine;  not so fantastic as it collapsed all over our counter.  Plus it took forever. (Almost as long as it’s taking for the Boy to get the hang of the whole potty thing.)  It involved lots of homemade fiddly steps, and while I love the Man, there’s a limit to that love.  And that limit is, I discovered,  homemade custard filling.  So the next day, just to annoy myself, I made a pavlova, which took about 15 mins work – if you can describe holding an electric beater as work – and tasted alot nicer.  (Lumpy custard just isn’t pleasant). 
I know I know that pavlova / meringue is very very dull, but wait!  As well as a meringue cake, you can branch off and make Eton Mess...  Isn’t there something happening at the end of next week that demands marking with a smashed-together meringue-strawberry-cream mixture?  Yes indeed (and you all thought I was ignoring it...*).  However, if you are making Eton Mess, skip the whole meringue-making step and go buy ready-made meringues.  Seriously.   Otherwise, read on. 
Pavlova
You need (for 6, generously):
  • 4 egg whites
  • 8oz / 200g of castor sugar
  • A teaspoon of cornflour
  • A couple of drops of malt- or white wine-vinegar
  • 300ml Carton of Double / whipping cream
  • Soft fruit for the top – strawberries, kiwis, bananas – whatever.
You also need an electric mixer / food processor, or biceps of pure steel.
(Some quick meringue tips here:
  • For each egg white, you need about 2 oz / 50 g of castor sugar.  4 egg whites will give you a fairly big pavlova – about 8-10 slices. 
  • You don’t actually need all the other ingredients, but accepted culinary wisdom (ie, my mother) has it that it results in a chewier interior;
  • Everything that touches the egg whites needs to be spotlessly clean. 
  • If you’re unsure about your egg-separating abilities, separate them individually into a small dish first before tipping them into the big bowl.  (This means that if some pesky egg yolk escapes, it won’t ruin all the egg whites, you won’t have cause to swear loudly, and then won’t have to spend the rest of the day saying “frog it” very deliberately when your toddler is around, in the vain hope of erasing the Actual Word from his teeny brain.) )
Preheat oven to Gas 2 / 300F / 150C
Separate eggs.  This is the trickiest bit about making the cake.
Beat the hell out of them for a few minutes.  When you can turn the bowl upside down without them moving, then you’re ready to start adding the sugar.
Keep beating until all the sugar is gone, then for an additional half minute or so. 
If you’re using the Chewy Interior ingredients, add them now. 
More beating.  (Isn’t this fun?) 
When it’s white and glossy, spoon the mixture out onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment.  Get as creative – or not – as you like with the shape, but make a lip around the edge;  you’re making a shell, into which the whipped cream and fruit will go.
Stick in the oven and reduce the heat to Gas 1 / 175F / 140C.  Leave to do its stuff for an hour, then leave to cool (either in the oven, or not) for at least 2 hours. (If leaving in the oven, it'll obviously take alot longer - overnight is good.)
While your children are fighting over the RAW EGG-covered bowl and whisk, beat the cream, prepare the fruit (chop, sugar, lime zest, etc), and have a nap. (Or not).   
Within an hour of intending to eat, assemble as follows:  Cake shell, then cream then fruit. 
Stand back and take a bow, and snigger in amazement that anyone would ever think of making anything more complicated.
For Eton Mess:
Take a mallet to your beautiful creation – OR smash up some ready-mades – and mix half with the whipped cream.  Add the zest of a lime, a handful (per person) of chopped strawberries and stir through.  Just before eating, add the rest of the broken meringue. 

*On the contrary - I recently Googled “Kate Middleton Pictures”.  I wouldn’t suggest this if you’re easily shocked.  Or are a stickler for details - I suspect that those boobs do NOT belong to Katie. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Pizza (and Profanities) in the Park

Ah sunshine.  A few hours and you begin to think that anything is possible.  Even, for instance, taking a crazed toddler and his half-crazed baby sister to the park, on your own, for general merriment, followed by pizza and ice-cream.

Note to self: Never forget that toddlers – at least my one – have no concept of “later”.  As in – “No, you can’t have an ice-cream now, you can have one later.  After your pizza.”
Naturally, he got his own way (the anticipated general merriment having been replaced by a tantrum which roused sleeping dogs and caused birds to take flight). And so the falling apart of the afternoon began.   We weren’t the only ones to hit on the novel idea of ice-creams in the sunshine (nor, I suspect to ignore a child’s abhorrence to the relative theory of time and treats), and the queue snaked out the door.  As did the other queue – the one for food (real food, that is) and drinks.  So I decided to kill birds with stones and put the Boy in the ice-cream queue and myself in the pizza one.  There followed much line-hopping, pushing, more tantrums, escape and abandonment (by him, I should point out, not me).  By the time every single person in the cafe had been disrupted in one way or another, a nice lady took pity on me and offered to get the blasted  ice-cream, while I held two children (the pram was hogging a table outside) and ordered pizza.  “No-pizza-no-pizza-no-pizza-no-pizza..." “And a fresh orange juice please."  “ME!!! ME FRESH OJEE JUICE!”  “Two fresh orange juices please." “That’ll be three-hundred and fourteen pounds...” 
And so it came to pass that I had to carry a fully grown man toddler, a very melty ice-cream, a rather large baby, and two glasses of juice, filled to the brim, out to our table.  Sometimes I just think there’s no point in washing my hair at all.  Or wearing clean clothes.  Finally we sat down, two half glasses of orange juice, one drenched baby, a toddler with sticky pink stuff all over his head,  and a tired old mother on the verge of collapse. 
The plus side to ice-cream is that it keeps the Boy occupied – indeed, quiet  - for several minutes.  Which is just long enough to unpack the Girl’s dinner, bib her up, get everything a safe distance from her grabbing hands, and start shovelling food in. Unfortunately the Boy beat me to it, and as soon as the ice-cream was gone, so was he.  A kindly Labrador cleaned his face for him, which the Boy took as an invitation to chase, and off they galloped.  I decided to be uncharacteristically calm, and lo! he returned – at the same time as the pizza arrived, steaming hot and plonked on the table.  The Boy clambered onto his chair, leaned back, and... crashed backwards.  I leapt up to try to catch him, knocked the remaining juice over the pizza, picked the stunned Boy up, and turned back just in time to see the Girl grab her bowl of food and dump it on her lap before flinging the bowl to the ground – covering herself, my bag, and the side of the pram with mush.  Overcome with temporary Tourettes I bellowed “OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE!” - much to the horror of the hundred or so very proper people and their well-behaved children who were sitting around us.  You could literally have heard a bowl of mush pin drop.  Even the Boy looked at me in horror.  He then looked at the pizza in horror, jumped down, and ran off after a dog shouting “no-pizza-no-pizza-no-pizza” (the Boy was shouting that is;  not the dog).  The Girl giggled, grabbed the pizza and shoved a sodden slice in her mouth.  
At least someone enjoyed it.  Riddled with shame, I gathered up our (wet, filthy) belongings, and the Girl and I went off in search of the Boy, who had disappeared with a pack of wolves.  I may have forgotten every single other trick of dealing with toddlers, but I never leave the house without an emergency lollipop;  thus armed I managed to lure him away from a life of feral scavenging, and back home. Where, ever a glutton for punishment (and possibly even more stubborn than my son) I made pizza for dinner. 

While all the evidence (see above) might suggest that I really don’t know how to make life easy for myself, I refuse to do anything which involves yeast and kneading – even pizza.  The following is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe (“Cheat’s Pizza” – although this version is quicker than his), takes a few minutes (about 15, from start to finish), and, I’m pleased to report, is good enough for toddlers, weaned babies, and sobbing mothers alike.  With any luck we may never need to go to the park cafe (or indeed, leave the house) again. Hurrah.
Quick-as-a-flash Pizza
You need (for 2 adults, or 1 adult, 1 toddler and 1 baby):
  • A cup and a half of self-raising flour
  • Half a cup of tepid water
  • Some olive oil and salt
  • A portion of tomato sauce, or a tin of chopped tomatoes*
  • A ball of fresh mozzarella (no need to  use good stuff – in fact, the less milky it is, the better)
  • Some grated parmesan
  • Any other pizza toppings your hungry little heart desires
(Note – you also need a food processor and a relatively deep, oven-proof frying pan.)
Measure a cup and a half of self-raising flour and put into the bowl of the food processor.  Using the same cup, add half a cup of tepid water, a couple of glugs of olive oil, and a pinch of salt, and blend.  It should only take a minute or so to have a sticky ball of dough.
Put the heat on high under the frying pan;  put your grill on high also.
Cover the ball of dough with flour and roll it out til it’s fairly thin – not ”see-through” thin, about half a cm (JO calls for 1cm thick, which I think is too much – I don’t like it too doughy – but if you do, then listen to the him, not me).
Drizzle some olive oil on the pan, swilling it around to cover the base.  Then using the rolling pin, lift the dough and lay in the pan as evenly as possible.  Keep the heat on high.
Spoon the tomatoes (whichever you’re using – see my note below) onto the dough – use as much as you want, depending on how much tomato sauce you like on your pizza.  (I was fairly generous, and JO’s recipe calls for the same.)
Tear the mozzarella ball into chunks and scatter on top of the sauce.  You’ll probably find that half a ball is enough. 
At this point, add any other toppings you might want – salami slices, grilled vegetables etc (I dotted some pesto around) – and then cover it all with a couple of tablespoons of roughly grated parmesan.
All of this should take no more than a couple of minutes.  If it’s taking longer, take the pan off the heat - the underside of the dough will start to burn otherwise.
Stick it under the grill for about 4 minutes – keep an eye on it and if the exposed parts of the dough start to burn, remove.
More olive oil on top, remove from the pan, and leave to cool for a few minutes, before tucking in. 
Serve with a mollifying and abashed apology for earlier Bad Mummy behaviour. And a vat of wine to numb all lingering residual shame. 

*If you have some tomato sauce to hand – ie, the stuff you’d put on pasta – that’s ideal.  I didn’t, and was feeling very very slovenly, so just opened a carton of chopped tomatoes with basil and oregano.  Jamie’s recipe calls for a half tin of tomatoes blended with garlic, olive oil, and various other things (I stopped reading when I got to the instruction to blend, and instead took the easy route).  I suggest you do the same too – to cut down on time and washing up.   If all you have to hand are plain chopped tomatoes, then liven them up a bit with anything you have to hand – dried herbs, a spoonful of pesto sauce,  a couple of dashes of Worcester sauce etc.  

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Pet Loves


The Girl celebrated April Fool’s Day a day early, pretending to have a sniffle, then a cough, and then – hilariously – another chest infection requiring further medical intervention and her third bout of disgusting grainy antibiotics in a month.  Oh how we all laughed.  Especially my sister who was tasked with minding her for the weekend.  Oh well. 
Not everyone had a crap weekend however.  The Man and I, for example, had a wonderful couple of days – once the trauma inflicted by No Sleep Whatsoever had lifted somewhat.  We saw dear friends married off, got choked up (as we always do at weddings), became quickly un-choked when the priest wished them “blessed with children”, caught up with old friends, ate and drank, and slept.  And then we slept some more.  And then we had a nap, because all that sleeping wore us out.
The Boy – who didn’t appear to notice my absence, until he saw me again, since when he has whinged nonstop – also had a great time.  And why wouldn’t he - he was treated like royalty. An amnesty was announced on bed-time, vegetables and naughty corners; he was allowed to sleep in (and fall out of) a Big Bed; and best of all, he spent the weekend consorting with animals.  Any time he got tired of clambering on and over the fattest dog in Dublin, he went on a cat-hunt, armed with a shovel, a rolling pin, or a hammer. Once the cat had managed to hide, he then had a huge garden to explore, and yet more dogs (ones that could actually move without heaving and panting and lying down) to chase and torment. And kiss, lick, tug, bark at, nuzzle, and generally love.
And then I dragged him back to London – no wonder he’s whinging - where the closest things to animals he gets is the all-pervasive smell of fox piss in the garden and the occasional pigeon begging for rice-cakes.
Until today, that is.  Reader, without any effort whatsoever, we have acquired pets! Not your conventional pets, admittedly, but the Boy is entranced.  Me – not so much.  Ants aren’t exactly my thing.  And in the kitchen to boot.  But the Boy... You’d swear he had his own petting zoo. He lies – quietly! - watching them scurry back and fro, feeds them bits of bread (and spit), chats to them, strokes them, builds them bridges and caves, rounds them all up into a pen made from crusts, and counts them continuously (“one, twoooo, ther-eee, fo-our, fy-ive, sven, eight, ten, twelf, eighteen!”).  So far I’ve only counted six at any one time, so I’m not too worried about pest control just yet.  (It was sven seven but I inadvertently stepped on one a few minutes ago; as I type the Boy is lying with his nose against it, bellowing “WAKEY WAKEY MR ANT...”) 
Poor Mr Ant.  The good news is that the Dust Buster will finally have a use. Tho’ I spose I could have used it for sucking up all the crumbs and prevented the infestation in the first place.  But then I’d have to entertain the Boy myself, and why do something yourself when you can get an invertebrate to do it for you for free?  
Which leads me to a fantastic recipe I have for deep-fried crickets. Nutritious and crunchy, and cheap.  I know!  Whooda thought. 
Haha, fooled you (only 5 days late). But I do have a nutritious and crunchy and cheap trick up my sleeve, which, luckily, doesn’t involve any of God’s baby creatures, back-boned or otherwise (and is so easy that I'm almost embarrassed to post it).

Goat’s Cheese Tarts (AKA Cheat’s Pizza)
You need (for 4)
  • A roll of ready made puff pastry
  • A jar of pesto
  • Two rounds of firm goats cheese, cut into 6 slices. (Remove the skin from the top and bottom slices)
  • Three regular tomatoes, sliced.
Heat oven to 180c / 350f / 4
Unroll pastry.  Decide whether you want several mini tarts or one big one.  Smaller ones look better.
For smaller ones:
If you want to be fancy, get a cereal bowl, invert it on the pastry and cut around it.  Otherwise just cut the pastry into square roughly the same size, each square about half as wide as the width of the pastry. Roll the sides of the pastry in on top of itself to create a lip.  Put the pastry on a greased baking tray.
Spread a generous tablespoon of the pesto onto the middle of the pastry, up to the edge. Lay three (or so) slices of tomatoes on  each disc, interlaced with three slices of cheese. 
For one large one:
Cut out a pastry rectangle as large as you want, and lay on a greased baking tray.  Roll in the sides to create a lip, spread with pesto, and create a single layer, overlapping, of tomato and cheese slices.
Pop in the oven for between 15-20  mins for the smaller ones, and 20-22 mins for the larger one.  Keep an eye on it after 15 mins cos these babies burn quickly.  You want the pastry to be puffed up and browned, and the cheese to be bubbling.
That, my friends, is it.  Nutritious, crunchy, and cheap.  And flakey - which floor-dwelling household pets will appreciate.