Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Pumpkin soup

Monday and I was already messing with my meal plan! Normally I love a chunky mixed veg stoup but analysing the remains if my veg box and all I could see was gourd! Butternut squash, an unite tidied refugee from the veg patch, a dense looking green pumpkin and an orange number fit for a fair tale carriage.

To avoid the bland I normally chop and sweat onions and root veg, but running short of time I had to simplify. A few quick chops later and they were all ready to have their flavour bolstered by a thorough roasting!

Into the oven with a few onions scattered on top at around 175' for around 45 mins and they come out packing a punch!

In a large pan I added some cumin seeds then plenty of freshly grated ginger and a little paprika (I could have added chili flakes but keeping mild is a.tad more child friendly). After a few mins I could scoop in the pumpkin flesh, add a can of coconut milk, some stock and salt and pepper and then it is ready to be blitzed with the stick blender.

I am never precise with measurements, but about a cm ginger and 1/4 teaspoon of cumin per cup of pumpkin gives you a good idea. I add as much stock as necessary to make the soup a nice creamy consistency (single cream not whipped cream that is).

Serve with little crime fraiche / goats cheese and chilli sauce and it is delicious!

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Monday, 25 November 2013

Planning Monday - including meal plan

I have loads of odds and ends to achieve this week - advent calendars to post, the first lot of Christmas presents to deliver (scream), evenings out, entertaining and I am still doing my 5:2 diet. I have lost one inch form all my vital measurements (I think that is what they are called), I only know that as I am dress making and I am rather impressed both by the diet and my will power.

The Christmas present delivery is contingent on me making some if the blighters - hessian and organza table runners in natural, green and gold - and wrapping up all the rest. I love wrapping up my presents in Chinese newspaper with raffia bows and a few mini bells, so for that I need a trip to the Chinese supermarket.

Also home made curries take ages, particularly if you grind the spices and opt to have more than one dish, so I need some preparation time earlier in the week.

Monday - Mixed veg soup
I make a vat, chunky soup for me and I blitz is smooth for the little people. It can keep my and the Hubster going for a few lunches too.
Tuesday - pasta bolognese from the freezer.
I am out and this is east, besides it is one of the few things that I am really not so keep on
Wednesday - Chinese supermarket day and one of my fasting 5:2 days so probably some bought dim sum with stir fried greens for me. this is semi pre-prepared so I will have a chance to make spice blends and marinades for a curry on Friday.
Thursday - snack supper. We will have been out do a birthday lunch and pickle will have supper with a child minder (a first).
Friday - curry night. It will involve loads of little people so I will keep it accessible. chicken korma, chicken tikka masala, chana dhal, maybe a potato and mixed veg curry . (For grown ups I tend to do mainly veggy curries - but regardless I will using my very curry stained Rick Stein's far eastern odyssey.)
Saturday - The Hubster is watching rugby at twickenham so we will keep it simple. Maybe a home made frittata.
Sunday - roast. We will go to the farm shop on Saturday and see what they have that looks good.

Phew - and I still have a few ideas in the bag for next week! I feel as it I have done my mental filing having done that.

Ideas, inspiration and lovely blogs, see here
Meal Planning Monday

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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

#oneweek Making time

I have to include this in this #oneweek as I was about to include it last time but since then have procrastinated hence my title!

My step daughter is getting married so I wanted a special outfit to wear. My modest budget will get, let's say, a modest luxury if I go the ready made route. Spend around £100 on fabric and trims and I have the potential for something magical.

My first stop was Linton tweeds, the factory made famous for their creations for Channel. It is no hardship to focus on their affordable range at about £22 a meter, and needing just 3m that is more than half my budget. Having planned so far in advance I had plenty of option to trawl eBay for some cheap silk director from the Far East. I found a navy silk / viscose blend that was the perfect weight. Then came the lace, the first one I fell for was £60 per meter, but I managed to find the exact same one on eBay for a third of that and as I don't need much it just hopped into my basket.

After the passionate hunt progress stalled! A bit of good news / bad news there. The negative is my frame of mind, I am semi persona non grata at the wedding, it is not me but as 'step mum' it is the role - in fact I don't think that my steps really consider me at all other than an impediment and a target for random snubs. I won't be ground down and let the poison take hold, and I will continue to support them regardless. the good news is that when I first measured myself I was a little alarmed at the effects of my mummy grazing and since then have been trying the 5:2 diet. I measured myself last night and I have lost an inch across the three main size measurements. The other good news is last night I finally buckled down and cut it out.

Hopefully my the next #oneweek I can have my first ever selfie of my doing a twirl in my new outfit. wish me luck!

one week

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Location:#oneweek Making time

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

#oneweek Autumn mushrooms

I love the way I get a plaintive cry 'mummy! mummy!' Then he quietly puts his hand to his ear and we have to listen for a bird. I love the way he tries to direct our dog walks via blackberry clumps and apple trees. I love the way he is just two but he really loves nature.

This autumn dog walks have been further slowed by mushrooms. the cry goes out and I have to stop the pushchair and take out my phone to snap and record any mushroom that lurks alongside our path.

Can't you just imagine the final snap as a fairy city?

one week

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Monday, 18 November 2013

A lonely tree #oneweek

I seem to live, on the blogosphere, for @older-mum 's #oneweek. So after my season's hiatus I am pleased to link up and off load.

Try and remember the green shoots that promised so much when you look at that barren lonely tree. It was only six months ago, but now all that remains is a silhouette. Leaves, birds and small animals seem to have abandoned it for warmer clims and more inviting nests. What a simplistic, but apt metaphor for life as the mist of depression has stolen my sense of self, sole and purpose again.

Autumn has been spent agonising over my life and the threads of womanhood. Just the other day @sarahditum was attacked for daring to say that she was a better Mum for completing her degree (http://sarahditum.com/2013/11/10/feminism-and-the-mummy-mystique/ ) When a return to work seems to be blocked by the unholy trinity of child care costs, lack of opportunity and rocky self esteem it is easy to grab hold of the only identity that we can - motherhood. I grab onto and almost strangle my role of mother, as my self image as a competent human being has been eradicated by the dual killers of post natal depression and a sexist status quo.

I barely have the energy to get through the day so the idea of 'pulling myself together' after redundancy and a failed business and find a new role outside the home seems hopelessly outside my grasp. In this mental state I invite rejection and feed my sense of worthlessness. If I need extra spice I can add the enmity of my step children - what the fuck, abandonment and rejection seem part of this narrative.

In my teens I remember feeling that we would be part of post feminist generation who would dance along routes opened up to us by inspiration women who had gone before. Now I can see that having a small proportion of amazing women beating men at their own game can not compensate for the brutal realities of everyday sexism. We have comments from mainstream lads mags that are indistinguishable from the justifications of convicted rapists http://jezebel.com/5866602/can-you-tell-the-difference-between-a-mens-magazine-and-a-rapist. No part of a woman's natural body seems to be acceptable: botox, extensions, threading or a vajazzel anyone? For any problem I new knew I had there is now an extreme answer. This autumn the perpetual conundrum how to fulfil the role of wife, mother and independent woman has been taking a major beating!

So in my autumnal mind I seem to look at my life as count down to retirement age, when justification for child care and career evaporate. The energy for life is taken up with self flagellation so I comfort eat to numb my brain.

Ironically this is not a cry for help but a battle cry. I am starting to fight, cautiously and in my own way. My self doubt has a curious bed fellow in self awareness. I can recognise patterns and attribute root causes, even if this is cold comfort when caught in the mist. Hell, most of the time I am even happy. This autumn has been the time to rant and start very slowly to start taking steps. I am putting that self awareness to concrete use, recognising that even if I just start getting more sleep and stop overloading my plate I should be in a much better place by spring. The leaves that fall from that lonely tree are creating a wealth of food and warm for smaller animals from which the tree reaps rewards come spring. I just want to be strong enough to be able to seize those opportunities when that time comes.

I hope that no one else is stuck in this trap - here are some things that have helped me:
- ruby wax's book Sane New World. Rather basic compared with some of the more academic tomes I have read but still I loved it and plan to read it again.
- a fucked up buddy (not to be mistaken with a fuck buddy) see above
- ideas! There are some amazing thinkers and writers out there. When I am not depressed that I am not contributing more eloquently I am fed by their words
- walking and nature (see tomorrow's post)
- being objective about why I am overweight and using a calorie counter (My Fitness Pal) not for self flagellation but as an aid to gain a healthy outlook. Yes, it was 400 calories that I inhaled between the school run and my official dinner!
- starting to have a concept of a few very little steps that I can tackle.
- I always have the chemical route if things get worse - but so far I have eschewed the need to anti depressants.
- as Stephen fry says, I may feel shit today but one day it will be sunny. http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/10/it-will-be-sunny-one-day.html
- remembering my victories. After decades of difficulties I have allowed my mum to be an amazing ally - she will never read this as she is too busy reading the Daily Mail (nobody is perfect) but she did: thank you I think you are amazing!

Now to recover from this how about something uplifting:
one week

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