Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Monthly Munch: April

Is that really the end of another month already? Time flies when you're getting no sleep...

Toby
- relates almost everything in life to a Peppa Pig episode.

Peppa Pig Easter egg. (I should have cropped this photo, shouldn't I?)

- loved hunting for small chocolate eggs so much that we had to do it over and over again, until they started melting from so much handling.

Wearing my boots

- will argue about pretty much anything.
Toby: "I don't like curry."
Graham: "You like chicken tikka masala, don't you?   That's curry."
Toby: "Yes, but I don't like all curry.  I don't like... bird poo curry!"
Since this got a laugh, he followed up with dog poo, cat poo, book poo, DVD poo...

- was worried about his baby teeth falling out.
Me: "Don't worry, yours won't fall out for a long time. When they do, it's fun! You put the tooth under the pillow, and in the morning there's a piece of money there instead."
Toby (gives me incredulous look): "What, in my mouth??"

Theo

- weighed 11 lb 14 oz at his 2-month checkup.


- has started sleeping through at nights - although not yet every night, unfortunately!


- loves his monkey mobile

Thankful for:
- a few full nights' sleep, and the promise of more.

- visiting my parents for Easter.  They seem to have an amazingly calming effect on both boys!

- some lovely warm sunny days.

Bluebells!  Toby said they should be called purplebells, really.

Recipe of the Month
I wanted this to be hot cross scones, which my friend Sally linked to and I thought was a brilliant idea.  But I haven't quite got round to making them yet.  This hasn't been a particularly good month for creative cooking.  So here's a recipe I've made a few times.  It's something like a quiche, but with a drier filling.

Rustic Greek Pie


1 large sheet ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, or pastry made with 150g / 6 oz flour
450g / 1 lb frozen spinach, thawed
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
150g / 6 oz haloumi cheese, grated
120g / 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried
2 eggs
3 tbsp cream or milk

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F.  If you made your own pastry, roll out to a rectangle.  It doesn't have to be too precise, as you can see from the ragged edges on the picture.  Place on a baking sheet.

Squeeze out as much water as you can from the spinach, and spread over the pastry, leaving a 3cm / 1 1/4 inch border.  Scatter over the garlic, cheeses and oregano.  Fold up the edges of the pastry to form a border.

Beat the eggs with the cream or milk.  Carefully pour over the filling.  Bake 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the filling is set.

Serves 4.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Easter that didn't happen

Now on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, and saw that the stone had been rolled away.  She ran to Simon Peter and John, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!"

So Peter and John ran to the tomb; and in the growing light they could see the body of Jesus, exactly where it had been laid.  "Foolish woman," they said.  "Were you not there when they took him down from the cross?  Did you not see the blood and water come from his side?  Tend to the dead with your ointments and spices, and trouble us no longer with stories of missing bodies."

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look in, and saw that Jesus' body was indeed still there.  Then she washed it, and anointed it with perfume and precious spices, and returned home.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples were together with the doors shut, for fear of the Jews.  And they said to one another, "The Rabbi has been crucified, and if we are not careful we shall die next.  Let us therefore return to Galilee, and decide how best to preserve his teachings and honour his memory."  And this seemed good to them all.

So they returned home and lived quietly, gathering once a year to remember their Teacher, and mourning that he died before he could bring in the Kingdom of God, of which he had so eloquently spoken.

If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
1 Corinthians 15:14

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Palm Sundae

I stumbled across the idea of palm sundaes for Palm Sunday on another blog I read, and decided it was something we had to try.

Of course, whenever I think of these things, I somehow picture us all sitting happily at the table enjoying our dessert after a stress-free dinner, and then calmly reading the story of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem and possibly even discussing it a little.

Well.  Maybe in ten years.

What actually happened was Toby insisting that he didn't like any of his dinner and refusing to eat it for about an hour.  Which meant that he didn't get any dessert.  Meanwhile Theo, who was supposedly fast asleep upstairs, started wailing the second I put the plates on the table (which he does every. single. dinnertime.  I wasn't kidding about that extra-sensory device).  After much baby feeding, phone answering, Toby disciplining, toilet taking and even garage tidying, Graham and I finally got our dinner eaten and sat down to our Palm Sunday reading and dessert.

At least we tried.

In case you'd like to try too (and your dinnertimes may not be quite the crazy affair that ours currently are), here's the recipe.

Start by making the leaves.  I made pastry (25g / 1 oz butter and 50g / 2 oz flour will be plenty) but shortbread or cookie dough would be good too.  Roll out, cut leaf shapes and bake 10 minutes or so.

Take two plates.  Slice a banana and arrange half on each plate to form a palm tree trunk.  Put a scoop of ice cream at the top and add the leaves and a couple of dates.

Monday, 7 April 2014

For the love of laundry...

The thirtieth of March was Mothering Sunday here in the UK.  To celebrate, our church had put together a little presentation of things the children had said about their mums.  It was pretty cute; you know the kind of thing.  "How would you describe your mum in one word?" got answers like, "Fantastic", "Beautiful", and "Bossy boots".  The next question was, "What is your mum good at?"  I was just giggling at some of the responses, when up on screen flashed:
Hanging the washing out. (Toby, 3)
Now, our church is a large one, but I'm pretty sure we have the only three-year-old Toby in it.  Therefore my son thinks that my lifetime pinnacle of achievement, the one thing I could win awards in, is putting clothes on racks to dry.  Isn't it great to know what you're capable of?

It really is as exciting as it looks.
I have to admit, I have had rather a lot of practice.  In fact, ferrying clothes from washing basket to machine to drying racks to drawers sometimes seems to take up most of my waking hours.  And it's not what you might call an absorbing pastime.  Especially when you turn around and whooomph! that washing basket which was empty five minutes ago has mysteriously filled up to overflowing.  I didn't know we even had that many clothes!

And cloth nappies.  But you never have enough of those.
One of those things that people tell you about is doing everything to the glory of God.  Somehow this gets a special emphasis when your "everything" consists of wiping little noses, picking up endless toy cars and being woken up in the night, while trying to tell yourself that this will produce functioning  adult humans in, um, twenty years or so.  And in amongst the sleep deprivation you wonder how that heap of dirty washing you keep stepping over is supposed to glorify anybody, particularly God.

I don't have the whole answer, but I think one important part is remembering to be thankful.  I can groan as I yank another load of sheets out of the machine, I can yell at Toby as he runs through a puddle in his third pair of trousers that day, I can pull my hair out as Theo calmly dirties a nappy not five minutes after being changed... or I can say thank you.

  • Thank you for the invention of the automatic washing machine - and that we can afford to have one.  (Just imagine having to do all this by hand!)
    O lovely washing machine!  You certainly earn your keep.
  • Thank you for clothes to wear, and the generosity represented by all the friends who gave us babywear as gifts.
  • Thank you for space to hang all this washing, and for the spring weather that makes pegging it out in the sunshine a pleasure.
    Except that all that pegging makes it take twice as long - oops, I'm meant to be being thankful!
  • Thank you for happy, healthy children that enjoy life - even when it's hard on their clothes.
  •  And if nothing else:  Thank you that one day, those children will be able to do their own laundry!
Happy washing!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Monthly Munch: March

Well, you know what it's like: you wait ages for a blog post and then two come along at once!  Time for the regular news slot again.

Graham took this great photo at Rolleston-on-Dove

First, some family portraits:




Toby
Face painting from a birthday party.  He insisted on the blue butterfly.
 - can pick out words which rhyme, and words which start with the same letter.

- likes sticking stickers on everyone.

- loves playing hide and seek, although his idea of hiding is to tuck his head under something and forget that the rest of him is still visible!

- has got very wet helping to wash Dad's car, Mum's car and Mum's bike.


Quotes:
"If I flash my eyes it looks like thunder." (translation:  If I blink my eyes it looks like lightning.)

Describing an encounter with a neighbour's dog: "And she jumped up and she licked me in the face and I got all covered in dog juice!"

Theo
 - still has bright blue eyes - will he keep them?  Unexpected but not impossible.

- is looking at us and smiling, especially at Toby.  He loves his big brother.

- has started swiping at interesting objects within his reach.


 - is still eating as much milk as anyone will give him!


Thankful for:

- a bike ride with Graham in the beautiful spring weather.  (Thanks to Graham's parents for babysitting!)
And a beer stop, of course!
- friends; this has been a very sociable month.

- the clock change, which meant Toby went from waking up at 6am on the Saturday to almost 8am on the Monday.  Yessss!!!

Recipe of the month: Root Vegetable Rösti

This is the kind of thing that's much easier when you have a food processor that will grate for you.  I made lots and cooked some to freeze.  Quantities are fairly approximate.

100g / 4 oz carrots, grated
100g / 4 oz parsnips, grated
150g / 6 oz floury potatoes (eg Maris Piper), grated
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 egg
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Squeeze out the moisture from the grated vegetables in a clean tea towel.  Tip into a bowl and stir in the onion, egg, flour and seasoning.  (If you can think of some more adventurous seasonings, feel free to add them.)

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the rösti mix and press down very well to form one large patty.  Fry gently for about 10 minutes, then find a plate that fits on top.  Place over the rosti and turn the pan upside down so the vegetable cake is on the plate.  Slide back into the pan and cook the other side.

Poach four eggs.  Cut the rösti into quarters and top each with an egg.  Baked beans are an obligatory accompaniment for this kind of thing in our house, but you may have other ideas.  Serves 2.

Not the best photo, but it tastes better than it looks.