Oh but the heat, the heat. I had such high hopes for this post, but they’ve all been dashed by the relentless sunshine. Most of the year I spend lamenting my failure to live in a warm and dry country, but when the mercury starts rising and then keeps going, I feel myself wilting like the much-neglected plants at the back of our ‘city garden’. It’s all I can do to pour the wine into the glass and lift it to my parched lips. I manage of course. I’m nothing if not a striver. Anyway, I’m far too hot and sweaty to do much in the way of cooking much less baking. Unfortunately the small people remain as hungry as ever and apparently I can’t just feed them ice-lollies for every meal. This recipe, which makes a good portable safe-for-school-snack or a meal with some cheese, is really quick, vaguely healthy and surprisingly tasty. It’s in no way weather appropriate (hello LBB”s favoured long-sleeves and trousers combination, which led to a 10 minute meltdown when he discovered I had hidden half his wardrobe, forcing him into short sleeved t-shirts and shorts on this, the hottest day of the year, perhaps any year *sigh*), but then I’m struggling to think of anything baked that would be. Baked Alaska maybe?
I was super excited about this recipe, which I made for the new toddler group that Mini BB and I now attend, until I finished writing it, looked down to the related posts section and saw that I had already made and blogged about a Blueberry bundt cake pretty much this time last year. Duh! However, the fact that this bundt cake includes lemons means that as far as I’m concerned it qualifies as an entirely new recipe deserving of a post all to itself. Oh yes.
Perhaps I can attribute this oversight to the twin joys of job-hunting and preparing (myself mainly) for Little BB’s impending immersion into the world of formal education. Come September it will be “bye bye preschool” and “hello big school”. Not a very big school, admittedly, as there is only one class in LBB’s year, and judging by our visit last November it’s still mainly all about playing (phew); although they do attempt to teach them French and (horror of horrors) the violin?!?!? We have a stay and play date this week, which will be LBB’s first visit to big school and my second, and I confess to being a teensy bit trepidatious following last week’s sports day meltdown; precipitated by LBB’s failure to win the shark-based version of musical chairs. Don’t ask.
I was going to write this post about the (many and varied) horrors of holidaying with small people; horrors which are multiplied if one of those small people (the less small one in this case) is also unwell, by which I mean gets a summer cold, – who knew manflu started so young? Anyhow, pretty mcuh everything I want to say on the topic of holidays and children is brilliantly covered by Esther Walker in this post.
I will, however, say that I did spend a lot of time pootling on the internet in sunny Portugal, often whilst Little BB watched Rio (rio rio) for the hundredth time. And it was whilst searching for reassurance that the phenonomen of the threenager is (a) shared by many and (b) does eventually end, I happened upon a revelatory blog. It wasn’t the post about the hideousness of three year olds that caught my attention (although I was relieved to note that (a) and (b) were both answered in the affirmative), but rather this one about moms (bear with me – she is American) and the frequency with which they fail to appear with their children in photographs. I realise that I am completely guilty of this. Of the 300 or so pictures taken on our recent holiday I think I must feature in about 15. And most of those are from a concerted, possibly frenzied, effort after I had read the aforesaid post.
Every so often I attempt to engage my eldest child in the joys of baking. This generally results in abject failure. To up my chances of success, I thought that this time I would try a recipe so simple it barely qualifies as such: chocolate crispy cakes. Little BB was prepared to tear himself away from the ‘tee vee vee’ for long enough to pour the rice krispies all over the kitchen floor (some went in the bowl, more by chance than design), but not for long enough to wait for the chocolate to melt, much less to do anything that could vaguely be classed as baking; in this case the stirring. I feel my inability to interest my children in doing anything in the kitchen other than eating and twirling round and round until they get so dizzy they fall over (aka ‘dancing’) is a poor reflection on my parenting skills given my own love of the metier. In truth, however, there are far poorer reflections on my parenting skills, so I shall not dwell on it.
Ignoring the recent election results, completely, we return to the #firstworldproblems saga of selling our house and buying another one. Before this became something we actually needed to do I spent many a happy hour idly clicking through rightmove et al, and there seemed no end of suitable properties. Now that we have put our house on the market, there are of course no suitable houses. Only a procession of inhabitable hovels priced at ludicrous amounts; present company excepted. Added to which, we have reached the viewings stage, meaning I spend most of the time desperately trying to wipe muddy fingerprints from windows and doors and shoving plastic tat back into the many and varied boxes from whence it came. All the while dreading the prospect of complete randoms passing judgment on your taste and standards of hygiene. Happy days.
It was the bank holiday last weekend, and naturally we spent several hours of it in children’s A&E. This time it was courtesy of Mini BB. Having successfully navigated our stairs on numerous occasions, he decided that early Sunday morning was the ideal time to attempt a new, forwards, method of descent. It had predictable results. The triage nurse was very sweet and confided that her own children had each fallen down the stairs three times. ‘Boys?’ I asked. She nodded. Enough said.
Little BB is going through a growth spurt. At least I hope he is, since he is eating me out of house and home and the prospect of this continuing for the next 14 years is making me consider buying shares in some sort of farming community (other than the community farm, in which I do actually have shares). Having not had brothers I was unaccustomed to the sheer volume it is possible for boys to eat and still declare themselves to be hungry. A typical breakfast (before cereal was declared ‘too waxy’) consisted of weetabix with milk, two rounds of toast and butter, scrambled eggs and possibly more toast. That would keep him going for a good hour or two. Seriously.
Regular readers of this blog may conclude that the appearance of another brownie recipe heralds the arrival of another small person among my circle of friends. And indeed this is the case. Last week my lovely friend B (is there any other kind) welcomed daughter no.2 into the world and in celebration I made these, frankly awesome brownies. Though not as awesome as daughter no.2’s name, which for reasons of proprietary I cannot reveal here. Suffice to say that there has been some furious channelling of 1980s teen movies. In a good way.
Most Saturday mornings I take the mini BB’s to a lovely indoor play café, where I sit, separated from them by a 1.5m high wooden wall, drinking coffee and reading the papers; every now and then looking up to check that they haven’t killed themselves or each other. I recommend it. The likelihood of bodily injury (always high with my children) has recently been ramped up a notch by the discovery of the local bakery and resulting sugar high from the sticky buns (with sprinkles) and doughnut holes purchased therein. Naturally this development did not happen on my watch (I’m looking at you Mr. BB), but it has now become a permanent fixture in our weekend plans.
How better, then, to rain on my children’s parade, than by attempting to recreate the joy of bakery at home? Only, thanks to my mother’s life-long fear of deep-fat fryers (the cause of one fifth of all domestic fires, fact fans), and since passed down to me, without the arguably intrinsic element of a vat of boiling oil. This means that the doughnuts are more cakey than spongey; but then they also lack the artery clogging and heart-attack inducing qualities of regular doughnuts. You pays your money…
It may not be immediately obvious from the contents of this blog, but I have for some time being trying to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet. Yes really. The key word here is trying. Having stuffed my face with (my childrens’ ) easter eggs this past week or so, and with an impending holiday somewhere warm, I am feeling a renewed sense of purpose in the sugar-shunning department. Plus, Mr. BB has been off the white stuff in all its many and various forms since after Christmas and looks all the better for it. Annoyingly.