At the beginning of the summer I was sure it would never end. The seemingly endless days and weeks stretched out before me, taunting me with my inability to fill my children’s waking hours with productive, creative, pursuits. Fast forward two months and I am still taunted, this time by the speed at which we are hurtling towards the roller-coaster formal education. Once we board the train marked ‘school’ there’s no disembarking until we reach destination ‘adulthood’. Frankly I’m not sure I’m ready. Nor I imagine is LBB; although he at least has the luxury of ignorance as reagrds how the next 14 years are likely to pan out.
Last year I thought would be my final time of a non-fondant icing superhero themed birthday cake for LBB, but he has surprised me by requesting a rainbow cake. I’m not sure if he overheard me mentioning it to Mr. BB, or if he is in fact psychic (clue: he’s not psychic) but I was pleasantly relieved to be escaping the evil of fondant for another year. I am also hoping that he will surprise me with his love of school, which starts in just over two weeks. So far, I have managed to cajole him into his uniform on the grounds that the (frankly hideous) maroon jumper is in fact purple; his favourite colour, and also not at all co-incidentally, the favourite colour of Sarah (and duck).
Half-way through August and already I am starting to suffer from Birthday Fatigue. We have notched up four parties since mid-July, with at least as many to go before the end of September; LBB’s included. Obviously it is an unparalleled joy to spend time with large groups of over-excited pre-schoolers in confined spaces, high on fruit juice, crisps and cake. Nothing brings me greater pleasure than mediating the desire of my off-spring to always be the winner with the reality that he is unable to remain motionless for any longer than two seconds unless asleep, and is thus unlikely to triumph at musical statues; though you should see the speed of him at a sack race. And then of course, just when you think it’s all over, there is the evil that is party bags.
A luminous bouncing ball that lights up and squeaks when you hurl it randomly around the house? Yes please. Horrendous plastic recorder type object that makes a noise used to terrify cats and dissuade teenagers from congregating at night? Bring it on. Tiny little bits of plastic/choking hazards disguised as toys destined to get lost/lodged in orifices within seconds of being removed from the bag? I wouldn’t miss them for the world. Not to mention the very real threat of bankruptcy once you’ve shelled out for 10, 12 or more of everything. I now know how Kate Middleton’s parents became millionaires.
This cake may very well be the Ronseal of baking, because, my friends your eyes do not deceive you. This cake features (an entire jar of) mayonnaise. Apparently putting mayonnaise in cakes instead of butter/oil is or was a ‘thing’ in America; specifically the Deep South. Given that lynching was also a ‘thing’ in that part of the world, I’m not convinced this a whole-hearted endorsement, but hey ho. It rather reminds me of stuff they did in the Second World War (making unusual baking substitutions, not lynching, though I expect that happened too). Also, I should point out that when I say it reminds me, I do not mean this literally. I was not alive in the 1940s, though given my current state of exhaustion it often feels like I was. What I of course mean is that it reminds me of stuff I’ve read about in times of rationing. Phew. Continue reading
This recipe is number four, I think, in an occasional series of nostalgia baking. After Jammy Dodgers, Custard Creams and Chocolate Bourbons, I now give you Iced Party Rings. Granted, the photograph above bears only a passing resemblance to the brightly coloured delights lurking beneath the shiny packaging of Mr. Fox et al. And I accept that the biscuits themselves are considerably less sweet and more crumbly than the mass produced variety. And I am staring down a kitchen which is currently several shades of pink/purple sticky goo, but other than that they’re totally worth it.
The end of term is upon us (been and gone in truth) and I fear it was considerably more emotional for me than for Little BB. How I loved preschool. The toys, the crafts, the endlessly patient and adorable teachers. Sigh. And now the summer holiday (all 10 b****y weeks of it) stretches out before me like an endless savannah. Except instead of lions and antelopes, all that I see on the horizon is an endless vista of nothingness (no preschool, no playgroups, no respite) accompanied by a chorus of ‘what are we doing today mummy?’. It is largely for this reason that 2015 is henceforth to be known as ‘the summer of tee vee vee’.
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.