Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Croque Monsieur - warning - possible inflammatory content

If you are French, or have a fear of people fiddling with the classics then you may want to look away now....

This is my version of a Croque Monsieur - I wanted to get a bit of cordon bleu into the small boy. But a traditional Croque is somewhat lacking in vegetables so I tweaked it with the addition of some baby pasta sauce - that mothership of a sauce packed with any veg from the fridge blitzed with a tin of chopped tomatoes. In essence it's just a posh toastie, or perhaps a peasant version of a calzone?? To Rufus it's just yum.

Take two slices of bread - in France they'd probably be white. Butter one side. On the unbuttered side of one of your pieces of bread spread your baby pasta sauce, layer over some ham and then top with white/cheese sauce left over from making a lasagne/canneloni/cauliflower cheese. Squish the other piece of bread (butter side up) on top. Fry in a dry frying pan until lovely and crisp and toasty. Cut into chunks and listen to your baby go mmmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmm until it's all gone. (I cut off the crusts - I pretend this is for Rufus, but really it's just because I want to eat them - I want my hair to be curly).

Some say....

he is turning ginger???

Nine months old

He's been nine months old for a few weeks now - but first there was the sick and then the snot and the sore throats. Then the crawling turned to standing, then cruising and now stomping up and down the landing with his little wooden trolley full of bricks, knocking over cats and anything else that happens to get in the way.

So I haven't really had much time for blogging. Plus the sun has been shining and there has been veg to plant and grass to cut as well as the perpetual round of washing. I thank the sun for shining and sparing me from the continuous drone of the tumble dryer.

I have started to have nightmares about dropping him off at the childminder and then not being able to find my way back. I wake up in the night in a cold sweat because I've dreamt that he's been fed sweets or didn't get his mid morning snack or that he hasn't had his nap on time. And I am painfully aware that my days of 24/7 Rufus are gradually disappearing - and it makes me sad.

Getting back to work will be strange, I can't say I've really missed it. I haven't felt like a chunk of me has been missing without it. Rufus has neatly slipped into the gap and has provided me with more than enough of a challenge to keep me busy.

Yes, somedays I do think it would be nice to lie in bed with Mr Jones without having to hold onto the back of an errant boys babygro, or go for a walk on my own, or even have the luxury of shutting the bathroom door when I go to the loo, but other than that I don't really miss life before Rufus. That said I am looking forward to the wonder of a "lunchbreak" three days a week and lockable loos, of course. But I will miss him. Two and a half months left.....

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

I miss my boy

I have been poorly sick. The sort of poorly sick that means you spend a lot of time sweating and shivering on the bathroom floor in equal proportions. Unfortunately the sickness had nothing whatsoever to do with gin. It may have had something to do with mackerel, or perhaps to do with time spent crawling around on floors that need a good dettoling. It has not been fun. I'm still not quite right.

My little boy was whisked away from the vomiting by his daddy and today by his Nana. I have seen him for a sum total of about an hour in the past two days. I miss him terribly. He is coming home soon. I promise not to breathe on him. I don't want him to be poorly too.

I'm sure this seperation has been good for my control freak tendancies. However it has not been in the least bit fun. Two days off from mummying duties and I've spent most of it in the toilet. And no before you ask - I am NOT pregnant again.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Pancake day

It's tomorrow - or today - depending on when you read this. I do love a good pancake. My nine year old self use to have them for breakfast everyday - about seven of them. I cooked them myself in an old cast iron pan. Mum was having none of that faffing every morning and has never understood why I couldn't just have toast or cereal like any normal child. But then - I've never been normal.

When I was about seven months pregnant I had pancakes for breakfast with sugar and lemon, I could just about keep them down. Master Jones loves a good pancake. He is most partial to the fluffy American version a la Jamie Oliver - see the recipe here, I can't be bothered to copy it today. We have them for breakfast every weekend, with bananas on them usually.

Because Rufus still isn't a fan of meat - no teeth still - which makes it hard to chew - I have to think of other ways to get iron into him. Eggs are a great source, as is green leafy veg. So I whipped up a batch of pancakes (the traditional English style ones - if you need a recipe I hear Delia's is good. I have been making my own version since I was nine - I don't measure anything so I'd be a useless source of pancake recipe)

Pancakes neatly stacked I sauted an onion and a little crushed garlic with a smidgen of grated nutmeg. Then I shoved several large handfuls of spinach into in the frying pan and let it wilt down. Then I chopped it very, very, very finely with a knife.

DO NOT under any circumstance miss the chopping step. I have first hand experience of long stringy bits of spinach. They get caught in the back of your throat when you're out for dinner with Mr Jones and his dad is a very nice Italian restaurant on Regents Park Road. You make loud, attention grabbing, gagging noises, gulp water in vain, and then end up ramming your entire hand down your gullet to remove the offending article while your boyfriend's dad looks on in utter horror at the sweaty retching mess that was moments before the "on her best behaviour and trying to make a good impression" girlfriend of his only son. Mortifying is not the word - no one should have to go through it. Moral of the tale - never order spinach based recipes on important occasions (or in my case - ever) and always, always finely chop it when you're cooking.

Anyway - chop up the spinach and squeeze out any extra juice. You can do this in a colander with the back of a wooden spoon. Then mix together with a tub of ricotta cheese and season with pepper (and salt if you're a grown up).

Spread a a good slathering over your pancakes and roll each one up into a tube. I offered Rufus these at this point and they were rejected outright. So in a "you will have iron in your diet" strop - I poured some homemade pasta sauce (crammed with additional blitzed up veg) into the base of a dish, stuck in the spinach and ricotta filled pancakes, poured over some more pasta sauce (you could use a jarred one) and finally some cheese sauce, then grated cheese on the top and baked it at 180 for 30 minutes. Et voila - Spinach and ricotta pancake bake - just in time for panacke day. He couldn't eat it fast enough and now looks like Popeye.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Spring is springing

The greyness of the sky is starting to get to me - I feel the need for blue and that yellow thing that radiates heat and that is apparently called the sun. I'm sure it was out last week but that seems like a loooooooong time ago. I'm convinced my vitamin D stores are well and truly depleted and even the big freckle that is always on my nose seems to be looking a touch wan.

As if to save me from a phenomenal bout of SAD and to give me enough hope to get through the day - the garden is sprouting things. There are green shoots amid the dead bits, buds on the trees and blubs poking up through soil (along with a whole heap of weeds, but I'm glossing over that). Call me impatient bu I cannot wait for warmer weather, for flip flops, a baby who just wears a nappy (and select items from Mini Boden), and tomatoes that actually taste of something.

In other news Mr Jones came back for a sleepless night and has gone again for a bit of hotel room induced peace - to say I am jealous is an understatement - but then he does have to work as well.

The boy spent an hour and a half awake last night - chatting - not crying, not crawling around in his cot - just chatting. I changed his nappy, I shhhhhh'd, I tutted and tossed and turned and swore and screamed (silently into my pillow). At 4am I gave in and fed him and he went straight back to sleep. This has happened a fair bit of late.

In desperation I have reintroduced the mid morning feed that I axed two weeks ago in a bid to see if he'll sleep through again. The Health Visitor (who isn't worried, no not in the slightest) mentioned that when babies start crawling their sleep patterns go awry - so it could be that. The first problem is that her solution was controlled crying - but how do you do controlled crying when your baby isn't crying?? The second problem is that he started to crawl at the same time as we dropped with mid morning milk feed - and two days later the sleep issues happened - so we don't know the cause. He is eating his solids well and has never demanded the feed back but when I offered it to him this morning he was all for it.

So now I have mother guilt - for messing around with his routine, for taking the feed away in the first place, for possibly starving him for the past two weeks, for not being able to help him to sleep at the night, for swearing and screaming into my pillow, for eating a Galaxy Ripple (you might think this is unconnected but I blame sleep deprivation for my weak will - I don't even like Galaxy I'm a Cadbury's girl - so the guilt is doubled).

I guess in the morning we'll know - if he sleep through then I stand up to be judged for depriving my son of calories (while feeding myself unnecessary bars of chocolate). If he doesn't sleep through then I may need a large gin to wash down a multipack of finger of fudges or a family sized bar of Green and Blacks - do they do family sized bars?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

In awe of single parents

Mr Jones has been stolen by work again - he's in Wales or something. Kent gets him next - lucky Kent. He's been gone for 24 hours. I am very tired. I'm still feeling a mite sick and achey and the wee boy is still practicising his crawling skills in the small hours of the morning, which is not conducive to sleep. He has also decided that 6.30am is the new half past seven so my restorative 12 minute piping hot shower was reduced to a tepid and functional four minute blast this morning.

The toast was substandard, the porridge a bit runny. I had to empty the dishwasher myself while doing everything I usually do at the same time. Last night when I put the boy in the bath he looked at me with a face that said - "er you're not my daddy - your hair is too long and ginger".

Of course if I was on top form this would all be easier - but it would still be hard. I don't know how people do this bringing up of children on their own. There must be some form of inner adrenalin hidden down deep behind the stuff you already have to hoik out as a twosome just to get through a sleep deprived day. So single parents everywhere I salute you - you must be truly superhuman.
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