Life is getting more busy than usual, triggered by our decision to introduce a bit of upheaval in our lives (because, you know, an unplanned pregnancy when you’re 178 isn’t quite enough upheaval). And so in just over 2 weeks we’re giving up the lease on our house, putting everything we own into storage, and leaving this Godforsaken country and its shitty summer weather for the balmy (ahem) climes of Florida for a couple of months.
The enormity of what is staring me in the face started to dawn on me last week, when I started making my To Do list - top of which was finally getting my finger out and introducing the Grub to the NHS.
Actually, if that makes me sound like a contender for the Daily Mail’s Worst Mother Award (“22 Weeks’ Pregnant and STILL in Denial”), I did flag it at my GPs, ooh, about 2 weeks ago. The booking-in process last week went a bit like this.
“So you’re, what, about 12 weeks now?” asked the most unobservant lady in London, as she pushed my distended naval out of her face.
“Ummm... Actually, closer to 22”.
“Right. Pause. Well. Pause . Here are the choices we have for such a late registration. Recently moved here? Failure by your GP to report? Under the care of another borough? Unaware of pregnancy?”
“Do you have a box for lethargy, other things to do, and a bit of denial?”
We decided to blame the GP.
She then scanned (“Would you like a photo?” “No thanks, I have the ones from the earlier pregnancies still at the bottom of my handbag, if I get a rush of blood to the head I can look at one of those”), I had a little doze, the Grub waved hello, and off I went, clutching my orange book – the one you have to KEEP WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES. Which is fine if you’re the person who walks up and down my street dragging a suitcase behind you all day long, but otherwise – well really, I’m just glad I remembered to take it off the bus with me on the way home.
On the other end of the fun spectrum, the next day a client (yes! I have clients! Although it helps that she’s also a friend) brought me to Taste London for a v posh lunch thingy: a multi-course tasting lunch WITH WINE (sob), each course cooked by a different renowned chef. It was fabulous. Amazing food (Wolfgang Puck! Angela Hartnett! Jason Atherton! AND they were all there to chat to) and brilliant company. Noone talked about children or pregnancy, or the dangers of eating blue cheese / seafood / 2lt tubs of ice-cream. Just grown up food and grown up conversation. Bliss.
At some point in the week I also went to the Boy’s sports day (he outdid himself, and me, in terms of disinterest and laziness), got a new work project, and played Ms Nightingale to a vomiting toddler.
That last bit wasn’t much fun. On the plus side, we’re getting to the stage where our children can communicate verbally what’s wrong with them when they’re under the weather. On the negative side, one half of our current quota of children remains largely incomprehensible, so her distress at being sick is equally matched by her distress at not being understood. So on Saturday night, 20 minutes before the babysitter was due to come, she lay flopped on the bed, whimpering, a mild shade of green, before suddenly becoming quite animated. Yellow ball? Yellow ball! YELLOWBALL!!!!
Alas, yellow ball means nothing to me, and so I ignored her increasingly distraught proclamations, until – Bluuuuuuuuuuuuugh. All over, annoyingly, the Boy’s bed, pillows, floor, duvet and scratchy-elephant thing (she is nothing if not prodigious in her vomiting.) Half an hour of phone-calls, laundry and carpet-scrubbing later, we went through the motions again. Yellow ball? Yellow ball! YELLOWBALL!!!!!!!!!.... Bluuuuuuuuuuuuugh. This time she was in her own bed, tucked up with her own pillow, duvet, and cuddly toy. The third and fourth times– and by now my Saturday night was comprehensively destroyed, because nothing kills plans like having vomit that smells of cucumber in your hair – she was on my bed, pillow, duvet etc. “YELLOWBALL.....”
Once cleaned, I mused, aloud, if I should get the sick bowl, my cupped hands clearly not up to their usual standard. “YELLOW BOWL!” she roared, coherently and enthusiastically.
Well blow me down if I might not – finally – have a clever one on my hands.
It goes without saying, of course, that she hasn’t puked – on the bed, or in the YELLOW BOWL - since.
Needless to say I’ve been too busy this week to cook anything other than the usual suspects - pasta, mashed potatoes, fishy things – and soup. Lots and lots of pots of soup.
It’s nearly July - of course I’m cooking soup.
This one went down well at the weekend. (Until it came up again – but don’t let that put you off.) You need a blender, unless you, and your children’s superheroes of choice, like chunky bean soup.
(Finally, the photos are getting fancy...)
Quick-ish Pasta e Fagioli soup
(Quick-ish, because making it the traditional way – where you make the soup then cook the pasta in it – takes way too long for my liking. So instead I made the soup and while it was cooking – heretic that I am – cooked the pasta separately.
Also I can never be arsed fishing little bits of rosemary out of soup before I blend it – although I concede that that is preferable to having to spit out teeny weeny blended bits of rosemary – and so made some garlic-rosemary oil which I stirred through it, which although a bit faffy, was the perfect solution.
You Need (for 4 large helpings):
- Olive oil
- One onion
- 2 carrots
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 tin of tomatoes
- 2 tins of borlotti beans
- 1 litre stock
- A couple of handfuls of short pasta – macaroni or similar (or just pieces of spaghetti which you’ve broken up)
Peel and dice the onion and fry with the olive oil in a deep pan over a medium heat. Reduce heat and cover, leaving to sauté for about 7 minutes, until soft.
Peel and finely dice the carrot, and finely chop the celery. Add to the onion, increase the heat and stir well to mix. Leave to sauté and if it starts to stick add a half glass of water.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta separately, for about a minute or so less than instructed on the packet. (The pasta will be sitting in the soup for a while, so will cook more then).
Once all the vegetables have started to soften – about 5 minutes – add the drained beans and the tin of tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then add half the stock and bring back to the boil again. Cover, and leave for a few minutes for the beans to heat through.
Blend – either by transferring to a food processor (what a pain in the arse) or with a hand-held blender (my preference) – until either completely smooth or still a bit chunky / beany. However you and yours prefer it. Mine like it completely smooth – because that’s how Batman likes it, apparently. It should be really quite thick, so loosen it up with the rest of the stock – as much as you need to get the consistency you like (Batman likes it fairly thick) then add the drained pasta.
Lastly, make the oil. Place a large dollop of good olive oil in a pan with 2 garlic cloves (peeled and cut in half) and a few springs of rosemary. Place over a low heat and ignore until it starts to sizzle, then shake it a bit, and ignore again, until the garlic starts to go brown at the edges. Turn off the heat and remove the garlic and the rosemary, then swirl the oil through the blended soup.
It really sounds like alot of faff, but it’s not really. And it’s the perfect lunch for the absolute shocking weather we’ve been having. Finally, when regurgitated, it washes right out. What more could a hungry parent ask for?