Category Archives: dinner

Assorted culinary disasters

Apparently it’s been a while since I roasted a chicken. When I took it out and thought I’d take a stab (har) at carving it, I couldn’t find the breast. You’d think it’d be right there, but it didn’t seem to be.

“I think the chicken’s upside down,” I said to the amassed hungry hordes. (That is, to B. The kids are not interested in chicken.)

I’ll have you know that cooking the bird upside down is actually a legitimate technique mentioned by Nigella Lawson as a surefire way to get a tender turkey, so let’s pretend I did it on purpose.

Sprouts and green beans

I didn’t take a picture of the bird, so here’s the veg. It was tasty.

None of my Christmas cooking really worked out, since I also made a Christmas log / bouche de noel / swiss roll that took forever to bake and then totally cracked when I rolled it up even though I followed all the directions that were meant to ensure that couldn’t possibly happen. It tasted delicious, though, and since it’s a fatless, flourless sponge, it basically has no calories so it’s fine to go back for thirds.

B said, “So what’s in it then?”
“Eggs. Chocolate and eggs.”
“So it’s a chocolate mousse.”
He’s right. It’s a chocolate mousse, baked and rolled up with cream inside.

Cracked chocolate log

I filled in the spaces with more cream

This morning I christened my new waffle iron. About two hours later I found the butter I’d melted to go in the batter still in the microwave, which explains quite well why they stuck to the thing. I look forward to doing it again tomorrow and including the butter, for improved letting-go.

Wobbly waffle

Maiden voyage

In other news, I’m on Instagram now. Some very nice person I’m married to gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and now I’m on Instagram and I can have fun with fancy filters and making my photos look all seventiesy. I have to practice taking selfies before I post any, though. And put on a lot of eyeliner, probably.

 

True Lies

Do you remember back at the start of the year when I made the monumental effort of having everyone eat at the table, together, every night?

It’s wonderful, we still do it, it’s become second nature now. We are so much closer as a family as a result, and my children have expanded their palates wonderfully too.

No. No, that’s a lie. Sorry, I couldn’t find the sarcasm font, but here I am admitting once again, just for a change, that I fell off the good parenting wagon. Or the good housewife wagon, or whichever wagon it is that applies here.

(No comments from the rabble down the back about silly wagons, now. The Americans won’t understand you, anyway.)

All summer, we slipped out of the habit, and I said “Well, when school starts again we’ll get organized and the TV will be off and they’ll be doing their homework and we’ll have dinner at 6pm all together.”

Nope. Nope nope nope. They come home from school and they want to flake out in front of the TV, not sit down with books and pencils. And they want snacks, and more snacks, and then they just want dinner, with no perceptible pause in between. And then, when he’s had some snacks, Dash wants to go outside and bounce a basketball or kick a soccer ball with his friend, and even Mabel does too, sometimes, or else she wants to play with her animals and her babies and her tiny bits of who knows what, making them do things and say things and basically working out her whole day’s experiences and frustrations the way she always does, re-grounding herself through her imagination.

And guess what? I want to let them. Because that’s what they need to do. And because it’s easier for me to give them a plate with food on it that I know they’ll eat, while they watch TV in their vegging out time, and then they can play while I get the other dinner together and we adults eat it in relative peace, and then the push for homework can begin, and because they’ve eaten early, it won’t all push on and over into bathtime or bedtime.

(Mabel’s homework is quick and easy and she doesn’t mind doing it, so long as I don’t pester her but let her come to it in her own time. Dash’s homework takes longer, but he does it in his room now on his new desk. The hard part is getting him there, but once he’s started he’s pretty self-steering.)

But the whole thing – routine, lack thereof, whatever it is – conspires against eating dinner together, and they still won’t eat what we (the adults) eat, which I fully understand is a circular argument and a self-fulfilling prophecy if I never sit them down with us and offer it to them; but I’m fighting one battle at a time here, and right now the dinner battle is not the one I’ve chosen. I don’t know what this one is, maybe it’s called giving up for the moment, but this is what I’m doing.

——–

I just didn’t want you to think I was all bloggy perfect in my life. I’m not. I don’t want to pretend to be. I want us to be honest with each other, so that the world inside the computer is as imperfect and real as the world outside the computer. That’s when you make connections, not points.

autumnal leaves on the ground

Random picture of leaves on the ground, which you are at liberty to believe is a metaphor for anything you like.

 

A Week of Dinners

I’ve done a week of dinners a few times before, usually one at a time to get me out of a blog rut. This is just a quick one, the whole week in one fell swoop, with not enough photos, as part of a linky thing from Bumbles of Rice. Go check out what everyone else is eating too…

Monday

This was a supremely bad week to choose because I did no meal planning and precious little food shopping. On Monday I remembered too late that Dash had a baseball game at 6pm (our usual eating time) so I had to throw this together even faster than usual. Luckily, carbonara with ham and peas is about as quick as quick dinners come; it’s usually a Friday night standby for me.

Carbonara

I like my carbonara with linguini. Makes a nice tangle.

Tuesday

An actual dinner that I prepared for. Chicken and bean burritos slathered with avocado. I put some rice and red peppers and onions and salsa in here too, as well as cheese, of course. (There might not have been beans, actually. I don’t remember.)

Burrito

I wanted to pick it up, but this was really a knife-and-fork burrito.

Wednesday

I totally forgot to take a photo, but Wednesday was some salmon fishcakes I had made ages ago and put in the freezer, with steamed brocolli. There was potato in the fishcakes, so that’s all there was on the plates, which made them look a bit sad.

Thursday

I’m a sucker for a nice label, and for some reason I thought this Safeway Select Tikka Masala sauce might be nice. The ingredients were okay, though the 30% sodium was not; but I knew the kids wouldn’t come within a mile of it anyway. More chicken, chickpeas, and courgettes (zucchini) went in as well to up the veg content.

Tikka masala in a jar

There’s the jar.

Served with basmati and naan bread. Okay, but not a patch on homemade Indian, which I do make now and then.

Tikka masala on the plate

Look! Inauthentic vegetables!

Friday

This is the sort of dinner I think is very boring but that makes my husband very happy, what with the meat and the spud. So I cook it every now and then, because I like him. Pork chop (with steak seasoning), mashed potatoes, and ginger roasted carrots (really, nothing easier and the only way I like carrots since I found out about them) and roasted broccoli.

Pork chop

Manly dinner

Saturday

I forgot to take a photo on Saturday, but it was just the rest of Thursday’s heated up, with cous cous instead of rice.

Sunday

Sunday was Mother’s Day in America, which is where I am, so I ordered a pizza online in good time, and picked up a nice bottle of white wine when I went down to pick it up, because if you want something done right, you should just do it yourself. We have a new local independently owned pizzeria and it’s pretty good. We had a mediterranean with ham, and Mabel got her own cheese pizza because she eschews toppings. And I made these cupcakes for dessert.

 

You will note that I don’t mention what the kids ate. If you like, you can imagine that they ate all these things except maybe the Tikka Masala. Some people’s kids might have.

Super(non)taster

The good news is that dinners at the table continue to go swimmingly. I’ve been “forgetting” about the star charts for ages now, and everyone still shows up in their seat at 6.00. Thanks to the light in the kitchen going kablooey and needing a call to the electrician to replace, we’re even eating in the dining room, which adds to the formality of the occasion and makes it more of A Thing. Which is nice.

The bad news is that Dash has taken agin his peanut-butter sandwiches somewhat, in the last couple of days.

If you’re new around here, you won’t know about Dash and his food issues. He has Food Issues. He takes picky eater to new heights. Which is really what I want to talk about, but let me preface it by asking you not to send me to Ellyn Satter or It’s not about nutrition or any of those other great resources out there for helping you get your child to eat. Chances are I’ve already seen it. I’m also over and done with blaming myself for starting him out the wrong way by giving him solids too early or too late or too mushy or too whole or too much grains or too much fruit or all the other things you might suspect. It’s not my fault. It’s the way he’s built. (I know this because my second child is a perfectly normal picky eater and I did much the same with her.)

Anyway, with that said, I will skip over all of Before and get us to Now. If you want to read about Before, search for posts tagged “Eating.”

A while ago someone told me about supertasters and I got all excited, because I thought maybe Dash was one, and that that would explain everything. Supertasters basically taste at a higher level than the rest of us, so regular tastes seem far too strong for them. It’s not a medical diagnosis or anything, but I thought it would be nice to have a label for him that would help other people get that we’re not just letting him eat ice cream all day because he doesn’t like his veggies. (We’re not.)

Then I reconsidered, because when he tastes pasta he spits it out and complains that it’s “too plain.” I didn’t see how I could reconcile that with being a supertaster. First things are too strong, then they’re too bland. Was he just being stubborn for the sake of it? Because he really wanted to subsist on nothing but peanut-butter sandwiches for ever?

Then I heard from someone whose son is a grownup supertaster that he said bland foods can also taste terrible, just in a different way. She said he would never eat rice or pasta. BINGO! I thought. I read some more about it today and a lot of things rang bells: not liking carbonated drinks, finding orange juice horribly bitter, running a mile from broccoli and kale… (okay, so he’s not the only child to do that). There was a test you can do with food colouring and a hole punched in a piece of paper. You’re meant to count how many little bumps on the tongue you can see through the hole. If you have 35 or more, you’re a supertaster.

I borrowed a tiny vial of blue food colouring and we were quite excited to do the experiment. I wasn’t quite sure about Dash’s result, so I did it on myself as well. By my count, we both come out as “non-tasters”, he slightly moreso than I. But I couldn’t see how anyone could possibly fit 35 or more papillae in that tiny space. And since I’m pretty confident that I taste quite well, thank you, I wonder if we did it wrong. (B has offered himself as a third guinea pig. I will let you know how that turns out.)

So maybe that theory has been exploded too. It was nice while it lasted. Apart from the general coolness factor of being a super-anything, it would have explained a lot that I find it hard to explain to people otherwise.

I suppose he’s still super-picky, but that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

That one time he almost tasted some pizza.

That one time he almost tasted some pizza.

Dinner music

An unforeseen side-effect of dinner-at-the-table has been dinner conversation. I had vaguely wondered if I’d need to make a list of topics to discuss or something, but I had banked without the rest of my family members, who of course are far less reticent than I.

Mabel has taken it upon herself to play gameshow host at dinnertime, and plies us each with a question. Sometimes it’s “What’s your favourite colour?” but last night it was a real doozie: “What’s your favourite song?”

To a five-year-old, that’s a pretty easy one. Hers is “Of course I want to build a snowman,” a lesser-known imaginary-response version of the song from Frozen, sung from Elsa’s point of view. Her brother didn’t have much trouble deciding that his (right now) is “Beat it.” Can’t fault Michael Jackson, I suppose. Better than One Direction.

But her father and I were stumped. We spent the rest of the evening taking turns to play our contenders, just a few of them, on the iPod. If you could break it down to favourite song by a certain artist, or in a genre, or in one period of your life … but favourite song? Just one? Ever? Impossible. I’m still trying to come up with my definitive list.

Do you have one? What’s your favourite song?

Children wearing headphones

Choonz

Updatey things for a Friday

First of all, I’m sorry to inform you, if you didn’t already know, that Mabel and Dash are not my children’s real names. Maud is also not my real name. I’m very sorry if you feel betrayed in any way by this information, but it is on the About page, so I wasn’t intentionally keeping it from you. If you want to call your children Mabel and Dash, I’m delighted, but you should probably think about cutting me in on the royalties. (What do you mean, children don’t come with royalties? They should.)

Dinner at the table is going well. So long as I am proactive about turning the TV off at exactly 5.59, I have two eager diners sitting up and even demanding to be let set the table one minute later. Three, if their dad is home on time. Enthusiasm for tasting new foods has dimmed a little, but seriously, I’m just happy to have them sitting there seeing new foods being eaten by other people. We have actual dinnertime conversation, and I get to tell them not to talk with their mouths full, and it’s just like a real family.

My point with this is not that I think you have to eat dinner at the table too, or that you should do any of the things I do. It’s simply to encourage you by showing that change is possible, even if you think you’ve missed the boat because you didn’t institute whatever rule it was when they were born, or first eating solids, or turned four (five, six, seven…). If you don’t like the way things are, make a change. Or if you’re not ready for that, at least don’t despair, because when you are ready for it, you can do it.

We went to get Mabel’s American passport renewed yesterday. Previous passports (they have two each and the Irish baby one got renewed at 3 years) have been cause for photo-related hilarity and/or gnashing of teeth, but I was hopeful that this would be a straight shot. Mabel wasn’t great about holding her head up for the nice lady, but the nice lady was very canny and left the room while I wielded the camera, and I caught her in an accidental smile.

Mabel's photo

(We got to keep the second print. Which is nice because all the photos in my wallet were at least three years old.)

Terrible mother seeks redemption: dinner-time edition

Here is my secret shame. Which I can only tell you about now that I’m doing something about it. Because up till now I’ve just been a bad parent, and no matter how much everyone pretends to blog about their terrible parenting, nobody really does.

Increasingly, totally, I’ve been feeding my children their dinner by bringing a plate into them while they watch TV. Dash, we know (bad parenting already acknowledged), has a sandwich on a plate. Mabel might have a bowl of pasta, which she would eat with her fingers although I definitely gave her a fork. There might be some broccoli in there. She might have had an apple or there might not. There might be some chicken, which I would offer and she would reject. It was all very terrible and reeked of atrocious parenting and yet I was powerless to change it. It made my life easier because once they were nominally “fed” I could make something nice for B and me and we could eat it in peace while they continued to watch TV. Mostly, I was lazy and blaming it on the children.

Two nights ago I decided I’d had enough. I was sick of being the waitress in the movie theatre of my home. I called a family meeting, got out my trusty notebook, and wrote a list.

This was basically how it went:

  • Aim: We need to eat dinner together at the table.
  • Difficulties: They don’t want to wait till 6pm. B can’t come home earlier than 6pm. How can I get them to wait longer, and then to turn off the TV and sit with us?

The answer, as usual, was bribery. Sorry, I mean a star chart. They now both have clear motivating factors – an Anna doll (from Frozen, that Anna, of course) for Mabel and more money for Dash, who likes acquiring money and has no immediate plans to spend it on anything.

I put forth my plan, as follows: That we all have dinner at 6pm every night; that we all sit together and eat our food with nice manners. That in return, I will provide food that people like, and also a hearty snack at after-school-time so that they can wait until six for dinner.

Then I got them to help me list food they like for dinner (Mabel, that is) and for snacks, so that I could go shopping. And we agreed on the star system, of course. They can earn a total of three stars per dinner: one for eating at the table, one for using good manners, and one for trying/eating a new food. (Definition of “trying” is at my discretion. Because for Dash sometimes a lick counts; for Mabel I expect a bit more than that.) And I get a star for every dinner-for-four I get on the table, because mums need motivation too.

Once Dash stopped shouting at me because he wanted to have the meeting in what he had decided should be the “meeting room” (aka the front room) and I wanted to stay at the kitchen table, the rest of the discussion went down a treat. They loved being part of the decision-making process, they really did.

Last night too, things went surprisingly well. I’m still making three (mostly) separate dinners, but first things first. Dash sat at the table while we ate cooked food that he could smell (quinoa, kale, chicken) and didn’t complain about it. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but for him it’s a big deal. Mabel ate her pasta and peas with a fork. They both tried some raw carrot: Dash didn’t like it and Mabel has found a new favourite food. (They have both had carrrot before, I promise.)

I made the table a bit more exciting by letting them both drink their milk out of small, sturdy wine glasses, which they loved. I’m thinking tonight I might put fancy napkins at each place, if only to stop Dash wiping his fingers on his sweater.

So we all got our stars last night. I have decreed that they will earn 5c per star, which doesn’t sound like much but works out to 1.05 at the end of the week, which effectively doubles Dash’s allowance and will get Mabel to her Anna doll a lot sooner than she otherwise would. I have not yet decided what my reward will be, but I’ll be making sure I get one.

Will it work? Will it fall by the wayside like so many others of our star charts? Will I be ferrying food back into the TV room in a week’s time? I suppose it’s up to me, really. I do feel better for having started it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a pizza to put together.

Children sitting at the table

Dash dictates exactly how much pizza he might taste.

Christmas by the mouthful

Some people think Christmas is all about the giving. Personally, I think it’s all about the free licence with food and drink. Not to overdo things, of course, but just to push the boat out a little and indulge in some foodstuffs you wouldn’t usually have in the house.

On Christmas Eve I made a cheesecake for the following day’s dessert, and cinnamon buns for the next morning’s breakfast.

I’ve never made a baked cheesecake before (the only kind, in the eyes of Americans, but an Irish cheesecake is an unbaked, chilled affair that’s like a firm mousse on top of a crumb base, often lemon flavoured. It can be delicious in its place, but I wanted the richer, slightly crumbly texture of the item we first discovered in Milano of Dawson Street, where it was billed as New York Cheesecake. (In the UK, the Milano chain has the much less enticing name of Pizza Express. It’s much nicer than that.)

I used this recipe from my friend Jennifer, because I trust her for matters great and small, from watching my kids to helping people birth their babies (she’s a doula) to creating and recommending recipes for most excellent baked goods. It was simplicity itself to whip up (especially since I own both a food processor for the base and a stand mixer for the filling) and turned out every bit as toothsome as I had hoped. I prefer the taste of a digestive-biscuit base to the graham-cracker one, but that’s probably just what I’m more accustomed to. (And also because Digestives are nicer.)

The only part that made me swear unbecomingly was lining my springform pan with parchment paper, which I only felt the need to do because the non-stick coating is peeling away in places and I don’t want to ingest any teflon with my cheesecake.

Cheesecake

Jennifer doesn’t mention that when you remove it from the oven it will have puffed up amazingly, but it sinks back down again as it cools, because most people probably know that already. This is totally normal, as are any cracks that might develop in the centre (but I think that if I’d run my knife around the edges immediately, as she suggests, it wouldn’t have cracked so much). That went into the fridge overnight, and dessert for the next day was all taken care of.

For the cinnamon buns, I used the dough in this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, with the variation for apple cinnamon buns that you’ll find in the notes at the end, though I didn’t include the apple. I used plain yogurt instead of buttermilk, and they came out every bit as delicious as Deb promises. I made the dough, let it rise for two hours (I was afraid at this stage that it wasn’t working, because it didn’t rise enormously; but all was well), and then made up the buns and left them in the fridge overnight for their second rise, as instructed. In the morning when we came down blearily at 7am (thank you, Mabel, for not waking at 5:30), all I had to do was turn on the oven and put them into it. We didn’t even bother with icing on top. They made an excellent start to the day, though so did presents.

Cinnamon buns

Lunch was catch-as-catch-can, because I don’t see why people who are getting fancy breakfast and fancy dinner, earlier than usual, even, should have the temerity to get hungry in the middle of the day as well. If we’d had guests I might have made some sort of effort to have soup on hand to warm up at this point. As it was, leftovers from two nights previous were just fine.

And then for dinner.

I’d been thinking about beef wellington, which sounds – and looks – wonderfully impressive; but with only two of us eating (the children scorn real food) that seemed like overkill. Then the lovely Deborah of Debalicious told me that there was such a thing as an individual wellington made with a sirloin (or filet mignon) steak. And that some recipe used pate or fois gras instead of the mushroom duxelles. I was sold.

I read through several recipes and ended up using this one from Emeril, but not for much more than guidance about method and timing, really. I had read that the mushroom duxelles is all about adding flavor to a cut of meat so lean that it can be flavorless by itself. B doesn’t like mushrooms, but I decided to use a layer of caramelized onion, deglazed with vermouth, instead. I found some duck liver pate in the local supermarket, so that was my top layer, and I used frozen ready-made puff pastry to wrap up the barely seared steaks. (Next time I will remember to defrost the pastry before I need it.)

Dinner plate with individual beef wellington, green beans, and roast potatoes

The thing I was most afraid of was overcooking them, because when you have an expensive cut of beef the worst thing you can do is waste it by turning it tough and grey. I cooked it for barely the required 20 minutes and rested it for ten, and the inside was quite pink. Maybe a tiny bit too pink, if I’m honest. The pastry was also not quite as crisp all over as I’d have liked; I put it down to not having been thoroughly defrosted. But in all, for a first attempt, it was quite a success. B certainly cleared his plate in no time flat. He’s a good audience that way.

Inside the wellington

I served it with lemony green beans (Nigella, Feast) and amazing roast potatoes, if I do say so myself, which may not have been a strictly necessary carb, but are the one part of real Christmas that we can’t do without.

And then cheesecake, perfectly unadorned.

Cheesecake, sliced, and glass of wine

Later, to fill in any tiny gaps around the edges that might have developed, there was Christmas cake. I don’t like Christmas cake myself, but reports from the front line are favourable.

Accidental quiche

I remembered late in the day that I was supposed to bring some food to Monday night’s board meeting – an appetizer or dessert, because it was at 6.30 and some people wouldn’t have had time to eat. There wasn’t much in the fridge, I didn’t even have a lemon handy to make scones or muffins, and I knew someone else had already taken the chocolate option.

So my brain, as it sometimes does, lit upon probably the most complicated thing possible and decided that was the obvious choice. I would use that lone zucchini (courgette) in the salad drawer and the leftover cream from a cake at the weekend, and make mini quiches.

My brain also decided it was too good for recipes, or couldn’t find anything just exactly right, and so thought it would wing it. This could have been disastrous, but by happy chance things came together deliciously and I ended up with some very nice mini quiches.

But then we had nothing for our own dinner, so I decided we should keep the quiches because there weren’t enough for everyone at the meeting, and that I’d make some healthy blueberry muffins (frozen blueberries) instead. I ended up bringing seven quiches and some slightly odd-looking mini muffins (all the blueberries stuck to the pan), and I’m sure everyone thought I was a terrible overachiever.

Apologies for the approximate quantities, but I eyeballed the liquids.

Zucchini (and ham) mini-quiches

Pastry:
1 cup (200g) flour (I used white wholewheat flour)
Pinch salt
4oz (100g) butter (I used some spreadable Dairygold I had in the fridge, which might be what led to the very soft texture of this dough)
1 tablespoon cold water

Filling:
1 zucchini (or any vegetable, probably)
About half a small onion
A slice of deli ham (if you have it, or want it)
Some feta, if you had any, would be a delicious addition
Two eggs
A large splash of heavy cream (if you happen to have some hanging around)
As much milk as it takes to get what looks like the right amount of filling
A good grating of parmesan
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper

Turn your oven to 400F.

I made the pastry in the food processor. Put the flour, salt, and butter in the bowl, and pulse until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the water through the tube, pouring slowly. You might need a little more – I was surprised that the dough came together after just one tablespoon. Remove from the processor, smush into a ball, and chill in the fridge for half an hour, if you can spare it.

Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and cut the zucchini into 1/4-1/2 inch cubes. Saute them in a little olive oil until soft but not mushy – maybe five minutes over medium-low heat. Cut your ham into little squares and mix it in with the vegetables. If you have some feta, put that in too.

Mix the eggs, cream, and parmesan in a measuring jug, and then add as much milk as you think will make enough filling. I had perhaps 16oz (500ml) in the end. Better to have too much than too little. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and knead it a little on a floured surface, before rolling it out as thinly as you can. This dough seemed scarily soft to me as I rolled it out, but it stayed together and turned out deliciously. I don’t know if it was the flour or the butter or the weather that did it, but I can’t swear yours will be just this good.

Use a cookie cutter or a drinking glass to cut circles to fit your well-greased muffin tin or mini-pie pan (I used my mince-pie tin, imported at vast expense from Ireland, but they probably sell something similar here too). Put a circle of dough in each hole, pressing it out to fit the shape, and then prick the base all over with a fork.

(I was afraid at this juncture that I’d made a huge mistake because now my filling would run through the holes, but that didn’t seem to happen.)

Bake the pastry cases blind (that just means with nothing in them) for 10-15 minutes at 400F. Take them out when they’re still pale – don’t wait for them to be golden brown. Take it out and (carefully – remember how hot the tin is) spoon an equal amount of the zucchini mixture into each piecrust. Then pour over the thick and creamy egg mixture to fill each one up.

Bake for about 20 minutes more, turning the oven down a bit to 375F or so, until the top is set and starting to turn brown. Cool before serving, but they’re delicious still a little warm.

I had a bit more filling than pastry, so I made three muffin-sized crustless quiches with the rest.

Zucchini mini-quiches in pan
If I’d known how well they were going to turn out, I’d have taken more photos

The momentous and the mundane

Oh, dinner, how you tease me with your needing to be made, every single damn night, unless I was organized and made lots the night before, which works well with winter dinners like chilli and lasagne but somehow rarely manages to cut it in the summer, when I have all these leaves and tomatoes and things.

I don’t know what we’re eating, don’t bug me. There’s hours yet to dinner time. Well, one hour, maybe. Dash has a baseball game to which his father will take him, and Mabel and I are on track for an early bedtime, seeing as how yesterday was one of those thankfully-not-common nights when I held her for several hours because she has a phlegmy cough (sorry, were you eating?) and was borderline feverish and I felt she needed to be propped up in bed but couldn’t engineer that unless she was actually on me. Which is not so conducive to me sleeping either. It was like old times with a snurfly newborn. Except she didn’t nurse. Which really is quite lovely and amazing, because it would have been a lot more tedious this time last year (or even a few months ago) when she’d have been latched on all night as well.

And you know, the funny thing is that she seems (seems, I say, not counting any chickens) to be dropping the morning nurse as well, the only one we have left, the one she was so adamant to keep. A few non-standard mornings have distracted her from remembering at the point when she normally would, and it’s possible – just possible – that we will have weaned at four-and-a-half after all. Which is nicely matching her brother’s age of weaning, and let me emphasize this may mean that I will soon be no longer lactating for the first time in seven years. Seven straight years. That’s a long time. For all I know, my boobs might schlurrpp themselves into tiny fried eggs when they figure out what’s going on. Or, more probably into the sort of things I could helpfully roll up before stuffing into a bra. Sigh.

This is not what I was going to say, but is it ever? Stream of consciousness, baby.

Oh, I know.

There are only thirteen and a half days left of school before summer. Hold me.

Four-year-old girl in stripey leggings
Gratuitous photo of Mabel, hiding around the corner the more safely to watch a scary part of The Princess Bride.