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Monthly Munch: January 2016

Wow!  The start of my third year doing Monthly Munches!  Hope you're still enjoying hearing what we've been up to.  Sooo... this month, I feel, has mostly been a sorting out kind of one.  I've been doing some new year house cleaning, Graham and I have been figuring out what to do for some kind of gainful employment.  Toby has been practising on his new bike and scooter, and Theo has been learning to talk and going to bed awfully late.

Toby




- had his first 'Forest School' day at school, and came home happily plastered in mud.

- built a snowman with friends and dubbed it Mr Chillyman Coldhead.


- "I want to draw something.  What shall I draw?" is a constant refrain.

- had a great time at our New Year's Day party, having a "chocolate party" with the other kids up in his bedroom.

- is getting better at dealing with things that scare him.

Theo



- is learning numbers ("free, four, free, four") and colours ("reeaaadd, brue!")

- is losing more blonde every time I take him for a haircut


- does this thing where he lets himself fall straight from vertical to horizontal on our bed.  Aren't you meant to have some instinct where you catch yourself?

- waves cheerfully at the dustbin men every week.  I think they look out for him now!

Thankful for:


- the life of our neighbour Dave, whose funeral we sadly attended this month.  Even in the short time we knew him, we had many reasons to be thankful for his generosity, knowledge, helpfulness and cheerfulness.  He will be missed.

Recipe of the Month: Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Potato



This month I have been trying out some recipes from Nigella's Italian cookbook, Nigellissima.  I can recommend the lasagna with ham and eggs in (Quick Calabrian lasagna), and this is another recipe with ingredients that sound strange but actually work really well.  I like the way that you just boil everything in one pan - no separate frying of onions or anything - and then mix it up in the baking dish.  Her original recipe was to serve eight, so I have reduced the quantities.  I thought some tomato slices on top might be nice too, but when it came to it I forgot to add them.  Maybe next time.

300g brussels sprouts, halved
200g penne or fusilli
1 medium potato, diced
100g Gruyere cheese, in 1 cm cubes
75g ricotta
25g butter
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 small sage leaves, shredded
25-30g Parmesan, grated

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and salt generously.  Add the sprouts, pasta and potato and cook for 8-10 minutes.  Pour some of the cooking water into a mug, then drain the rest off.  Tip the pasta and veg into an ovenproof dish (I used a 20cm x 20cm Pyrex dish).  Add the Gruyere, ricotta and a good splash of the cooking water, and mix well together.  Add a bit more ricotta or water if you think it needs it (mine waited a while before it went in the oven, so I added a splash more water just before I put it in).  Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F.

Using the same pan to save on washing up, melt the butter and add the garlic and sage.  Cook just for 30 seconds or so, then drizzle over the pasta.  Scatter the Parmesan over the top, and put in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden.  We had ours with garlic bread and green beans, and with similar accompaniments this quantity would comfortably serve four.


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