Apologies for the blogging lull. The Girl has just learnt how to crawl – properly crawl, not the double-amputee-drag-herself-across-the-floor she’s been doing until now – and, frankly, it’s taking up ALOT of my time. Added to that, she seems to have all sixteen (or is it twenty? Twenty-two?) of her teeth coming through at once, and so is like a very very nimble snail whipping about and leaving a trail of slime in her wake. When I haven’t been catching her teetering at the top of the stairs, I’ve been wiping up puddles of drool. It’s both time consuming and sweetly lovely, in equal measure.
Anyway. I went for lunch with my old boss last week, ostensibly to chat about the possibility of my brain ever working again and my returning to paid employment, but in reality we just got pissed on delicious wine (in the afternoon! On a school day! AND I was wearing vomit-free clothes. Talk about Grown Up) and talked shite.
Which is just as well – not the talking shite bit, rather the side-stepping the Going Back To Work issue – because, really and truly, I’m just not qualified for anything much these days. In fact I was thinking that I might need to update the “skills and experience” section of my cv, to reflect the current state of my life, as follows:
Example: at any time of day (or night) I am generally doing three things at once. Eg – peeing, showering, brushing my teeth (720am); holding a screaming baby, wiping vomit off my face, stopping a toddler from squashing a lady-bird (1115am); mashing sweet potatoes, booking an appointment, sweeping the floor (150pm); pushing a swing, see-sawing a see-saw, holding a conversation (430pm); necking wine, necking dinner, facebooking (820pm); rolling out of bed, cursing, preparing a bottle (522am).
Example: Brokering peace agreements between possessive toddlers and toy-snatching babies. (In the interests of candour, I should disclose that to date this has yielded much the same success as all Middle-Eastern talks.)
Example: Toddler imploding, wanting something NOW. Negotiate terms of the receipt of that something, so that he ends up getting it a few minutes later than he wanted, and screaming for the entire duration of the interim few minutes. (Um, yes, I may need to work on this one a bit).
Example: "Blugh grrr raghhh aynee RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE!" = "Please may I have an ice-cream as quickly as possible?" (See “Negotiating”, above, for a hint as to the outcome of this request.)
Skill: Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes (AKA Feeding the 5,000 kilo children)
Example: Constructing a meal for a toddler and a baby out of one (soft, sprouting) potato, the cracked, dried-out heel of a long-since dead piece of cheese, some green stuff I found in the bottom of the fridge, and a pint of ketchup.
Skill: Complete and Utter Lack of Vanity, Dignity or Shame
Example: I had a doctor’s appointment In Town this week, and afterwards spent several (awful) hours traipsing aimlessly up and down Oxford Street. Before I left the house the baby-sitter appraised me (one of her job descriptions is that she mustn’t let me leave the house looking like a complete tosser). She pointed out the “mud” on my upper arm (poo, actually) and the strange triangular bruise on my forehead (don’t ask). What she didn’t point out – and what I didn’t notice until I had been traipsing, traipsing, traipsing, for ooh, about 72 hours, past about 12,00 people, as well as nattering on and on inanely to the very proper doctor - was that I was wearing my dress INSIDE OUT. But Was I Bovvered? Not even remotely. I have no sense of decorum or shame. Or, indeed, dress.
Skill: Various Basic Medical Proficiencies
Example: Treating a bloody nose, administering
gallons of Calpol, and bandaging a cut knee, all at the same time (see “Multitasking”)
Skill: Physical Endurance
Example: Subsisting until early evening on crusts of toast discarded from a high chair by a fussy baby.
Skill: Physical Strength (under duress only)
Example: Carrying 40lbs of dead (and possibly screeching) weight from the supermarket all the way home.
Which actually isn’t entirely unimpressive. But as I appear to be qualified only to be a foot-soldier in the First World War, and my old boss doesn’t work in the armed forces (or own a time capsule), for the moment it seems that I shall remain out of the paid work-force, and in parental servitude.
Luckily, you need no skill whatsoever to make the following very lovely summer dinner dish – a Caponata of sorts. Which is just as well, as I’ve been making it every other day for the past two weeks. (You’ll note that “creativity” and “imagination” did not feature on my new cv.)
You’ll Need (for 4 as a generous main; halve the quantities if you’re cooking for two – there’ll be plenty left over for hungry offspring)
- Two medium aubergines
- Two Onions, roughly choppes
- Two Cloves of Garlic, sliced
- Two Peppers (preferably red or yellow), roughly chopped
- Two Courgettes, sliced fairly thickly – about 1cm
- Two tins of tomatoes (any type)
- A handful of raisins
- A handful of pine-nuts
- Some fresh basil, if you have it, chopped.
- A couple of tablespoons of capers, if you have / like them. I don’t, particularly – generally too salty - so I tend to leave them out. Include them however, for authenticity. Make sure they’re rinsed well.
- Salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Chop the aubergines into dice-sized cubes. Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a large frying pan, and add the diced aubergine – all at once, if you can. Keep the heat high-ish, and stir often, to stop them sticking. Once they start going brown, lower the heat, and leave them to soften through.
While they’re cooking, heat some olive oil (again, be generous) in a deep pan, and add the chopped onions, leaving them to soften over a medium heat. Add the garlic and peppers, stir to cover with the oil, and cover the pan, so that the vegs all start to soften – about 5-7 minutes. Add the courgettes, stir well, and cover again for another few minutes.
Add the tin of tomatoes, breaking up plum tomatoes if using. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Add the raisins and the pine-nuts (and capers, if you’re using).
Check the aubergines every now and again – you don’t want them to get mushy. Once they seem cooked / soft, take them off the heat. Add them to the tomato mixture once you’ve added the raisins and pine-nuts.
Leave to simmer until the courgettes and peppers are soft.
Season with salt and pepper, and the basil, if using.
You’re meant to leave this to cool before eating – but patience is most definitely not a skill I possess. If you were lucky enough to be sitting under the patience-tree at the appropriate time, leave the dish to cool, then serve either on its own, with bread, rice, cous-cous, mashed potatoes – whatever. Otherwise, eat it scalding hot, burn your tongue, and exercise those basic medical talents you’re getting so good at.
PS – We’re off to the back-end of Ireland at the weekend for the month. I’m not sure about the internetedness of the particular pocket of green loveliness we’ll be
sheltering from the rain staying in, so apologies in advance for any radio silence during July. Be sure to check in in mid-July however, to see if I’ve remembered the Girl’s birthday...