Thursday, September 11, 2014

Menu Plan Week 2 and a general round-up

An action-packed week over here and I've still managed to find time to write this! Feeling rather proud of myself :-)

For the first time in ages we've had a busy week that has been almost entirely social rather than working. I'm hoping we can have more of those, as it's not fair on Daniel for him to be constantly playing second fiddle to my various jobs. 

On Saturday the three of us went to Crealy as we had a free adult pass that expired that day. It was the first time I'd been in years, and definitely the last. The place is my idea of hell! Plastic, crowded, noisy, over-stimulating, artificial... yuk. It's moved a long way since my childhood when they had a play park with great slides (you had to sit in hessian sacks to go down them!), a few animals and the opportunity to have a go at milking a cow. I don't think it's an improvement.

Sunday was a vast improvement as Daniel requested a trip to Escot, which is everything Crealy isn't! Sadly, I couldn't go because I needed to spend the day working, but DH took him and they came back knackered, happy and smelling faintly of woodsmoke from the Anglo-Saxon village :)

On Monday we had our very first Not Back To School Picnic in a tiny (and very nice) park I didn't know existed! There were lots of families, including several we knew, and Daniel tired himself out nicely on the climbing frames in the sun. 

We had spent the morning cooking together for the first time in months and I managed to butt out and let Daniel get on with things, which I think is where I went wrong before. We had a chat the day before about things we could make for the picnic and I made a list with pictures so he could see what was coming next. We made hummous, cucumber and sweet pepper batons for dunking, spicy popcorn, fishcakes and carrot cake. I've been inspired by reading a friend's blog to try some different things when I cook, as I feel like I've got into a rut. We see her at Forest School and are friends with another vegan family who were at the picnic, so I had a go at vegan carrot cake. It was seriously yummy - moist and spicy! Very easy and tasted virtually indistinguishable from my usual non-vegan version. I didn't do any frosting as I tend to feel that's too much of a good thing on carrot cake.

Tuesday was Forest School, and then teaching a bar mitzvah student in the afternoon (Daniel loves going there because they have three younger kids, a massive dog and a big garden!). In the evening we went to the first Homebirth Group of this pregnancy and saw at least 3 couples who we used to see there when we were pregnant with Daniel! Lovely to be back and meeting people who don't gasp in horror at the thought of a home VBAC. I think the baby enjoyed it too as I really felt it on Tuesday evening - very active this week!

Wednesday we had our very first Monkey Music class. Daniel was a little bemused at first - he's not really used to organised groups where you copy everyone else - but soon got into it and is clearly going to absolutely love it. He also fell desperately in love with the plush pink monkeys that are part of the merchandise, so we bought one (more expensive than I like but virtually all the other kids had them and he was getting upset that he didn't have one to cuddle too). I'm glad I did, actually - he's besotted with it! 

Today was the usual round of Farmers' Market followed by lunch with my mum. She usually looks after Dan the afternoon so I can go to an appointment; today the appointment was cancelled but she had him anyway and I had an almost-unheard-of opportunity to go maternity clothes shopping on my own! The Tour of Britain bike race was going through town this afternoon so I had a bit of time in a cafe on the route sipping a drink and giggling at the man who was supposed to be stopping pedestrians crossing the road in the path of the bikes. Someone had given him a whistle and he was clearly working out some deep, unresolved issues with a former P.E. teacher as he blew the thing to say people could cross the road, to say they couldn't, and sometimes, seemingly, just because he had it. I imagine it was pretty irritating if you were standing next to him, but from the distance of the cafe it was actually quite funny. 

Tomorrow we're meeting friends in a nearby park for a play, fitting in a supermarket shop and then having a leisurely afternoon getting ready for Shabbat. I'm trying to put more time into preparing so the evening/day itself can be more restful and it's gone well the last two weeks. I'm also trying to plan meals for Friday night that can be finished before we do kiddush; that way, I can sit down and enjoy the challah and the company without worrying about still having to cook. Last week we even managed havdalah on Saturday evening, though the mood was broken slightly by the smoke alarm going off (set off by the havdalah candle) and having to decamp to the kitchen halfway through! The week before I had shown Daniel the havdalah things and talked a bit about them, and last week he was very proudly showing DH what to do with the spice box, so it's clearly going in. Hope we can keep this up when the university term starts next week and a lot of our Fridays are taken up with chaplaincy.

I haven't done this coming week's menu yet (will do it over breakfast tomorrow, I expect!) but here's the one we've just had:

Friday: Ghormeh sabzi with rice and salad-e Shirazi; ripe figs for dessert. This is an Iranian stew my mother-in-law taught me to cook years ago. I haven't made it in forever but it's definitely worth the effort!

Saturday: Pumpkin & feta risotto with kale and asparagus. Came out a bit sloppy but still edible.

Sunday: Leftover ghormeh sabzi for lunch for me while the boys were out. Dinner at my parents' (curry night!)

Monday: Squash curry with chickpeas & rainbow chard and couscous. We didn't feel like curry two nights in a row so I did Wednesday's quiche instead. It wasn't particularly nice, surprisingly (I don't think I've ever found a Mary Berry recipe we didn't like before) so won't be repeating it.

Tuesday: Mushroom soup with savoury wholemeal scones and cheese. We were late back from tutoring and had to go back out to the homebirth group so scrapped this and got fish and chips.

Wednesday: Salmon & leek quiche with asparagus. See Monday. On Wednesday I started making the mushroom soup planned for Tuesday only to find that the mushrooms had gone furry! Threw in a baking potato and some thyme and nutmeg and produced a very acceptable leek and potato soup :-)

So that's our week! Next week's menu will no doubt appear at some point :-)


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