Duck Eggs

duck eggs

Duck eggs are absolutely beautiful.  They have this almost translucent shell which looks so fragile and yet is very tough.  Harder to crack, I think, than a hen’s egg.  Moreover, they have an elegance to them which is captivating.  Rather like the difference between DIY store and Farrow & Ball paint.  And, being that little bit larger than a hen’s egg, they fit into the palm of my hand beautifully.

Not so good on toast though.

The reason why I occasionally buy them is because I love how they transform a run of the mill, everyday victoria sponge cake into something slightly more luxurious.  There is a depth of taste there that you just don’t get when you bake with hen’s eggs.   Which is what I was looking for this weekend as I spent Saturday afternoon hanging out with two fabulous women, discussing very important things.  Well, important to us.  And in my world, it is crucial to have good cake when beginning something that will change yours, and other people’s children’s future.

However, baking with the duck egg is not without it’s hazards.  I have not yet made a victoria sponge where the sponge hasn’t verged on the descent into oblivion, otherwise known as a biscuit.  Moreover, I still seem to be having difficulty with the heat of my not so new to me now, electric oven.  Work in progress I think.

So here we are on Mother’s Day, again.  The speed at which days are flying by is frightening.  It only seems like yesterday that we were bunking down for the festive season and now we are opening up for spring, and the endless conversations about not having enough time to clean.  Or is that just me?

I always try and spend some time on Mother’s Day reflecting on the beauty of both life and death.  Inevitably, the wee boy and I have a conversation about death, my favourite of which was not today, but very recently.

Wee boy:  Mummy, when you die do you want to be buried or cremated?

Me:  I want to be cremated and my ashes planted with a seed which will grow to be a tree

Wee boy:  When I die, I want to buried under your tree

 

 

 

 

 

Mushy Peas on Toast

mushy peas on toast

Before you say anything, try it.  I know it looks decidedly vibrant and slightly unctuous, but you have to trust me when I say that warmed, tinned mushy peas on toast with a sprinkling of black pepper and a drizzle of mint sauce is one of the most comforting foods you could possibly wish to eat.

Obviously this comes with the caveat that you must love all the various ingredients in order to even attempt to put them together.  ‘It’s ok,’ doesn’t cut the mustard in this particular case.

However, if you have ticked all the criteria, then try you must, as there is something absolutely outstanding about this combination which will make you wonder why it hasn’t been in your life earlier.  A perfect lunch, a wonderful afternoon snack, and suppertime just will not be the same again.

The other thing in it’s favour is the speed with which it delivers.  For me, at the moment, this is crucial.  I am, as some of you may be aware, not a fan of the bought sandwich, which flops, unenthusiastically out of it’s packet like a wet dog’s ear, although I understand completely why it is so popular amongst the busy.

That said, barring the odd occasion where needs must, I just cannot bring myself to dine on the mass produced, cold, and unfulfilling.  However, if you sashay to the left, just a little, in your thought process, the light bite medium that the sandwich has dominated for so long can be easily replaced by something much more enjoyable.

Invariably, but not exclusively, on toast.

Meanwhile this week’s shenanigans have flown by.  The highlight?  My wee boy became a knight.  Oh yes.  In the glorious place he attends, along with his two friends, they held a ceremony with a story created just for them, telling about their heroic actions in order to help others, culminating in them all being deigned worthy of being knighted with the wooden swords they had spent months making.  I cannot tell you just how much this makes my heart glow from the inside out.  Every nuance of translation touches my soul, but perhaps it is the mantra they were asked to learn which transcends into everyday life the most.

I have strength and courage

to do what is right,

To protect those in need,

For I am a knight

Quick Tomato Sauce

Quick Tomato Sauce #2

There are some days when it is almost impossible to really function properly.  I find these days usually follow a rather exciting evening where a couple of sweet sherries have been drunk and the long term committed relationship I have with my bed, has been tested.

We have had just one of those weekends thanks to one of our glorious nieces having her prom night and, as a consequence, my sister in law having a ‘bit of a do’.

These gatherings are always a huge amount of fun, and now that the boys are a little older, not so stressful in terms of getting everyone to bed at an appropriate time.  In fact, the wee one insisted that he curl up on the sofa without us even suggesting it, (with his beloved best friend blanket, obviously) and, as son #1 is 11, we allowed him, with guidance, to make his own decision about when he would retire.

It’s a funny old thing, staying up.  When you’re a child you think it will be so much fun, and, to an extent, it is.  But what is not fun is the next day when you experience your body clock battling with time itself.  However, I am a great believer in trying to understand the various effects lack of sleep can have on you before alcohol is added to the mix.  Therefore, it makes sense to me to equip the boys, whilst in our very protective arms, to get a feel for these things, in the hope that they learn, over time, not only what the lack of sleep does, but how best to look after yourself.

Being gentle with each other and catching up on sleep are two of the three main components to the morning after the night before.  The third one being food.

Ah yes, good old comfort food.

Now here’s the thing.  When you are the one that needs to make the food for the gang who need the food in order to feel comforted, you need something that is nourishing, fulfilling, and quick.

Pasta always fills this role for me, and in recent years I have begun to not just add grated cheese, tomato ketchup and a sprinkling of ground black pepper, but have actually started making my own tomato sauce.

Chop an onion and fry on a low heat in a little olive oil.  I used a red onion, but you can use whichever colour you fancy.

‘That’s not a red onion, it’s purple’, the wee boy said to me.  And he has a point.

Cracking on.  Add two cloves of finely chopped garlic and some salt.  Chop as many different types of fresh tomatoes as you have in the house.  I used cherry tomatoes and salad tomatoes.  Basically the riper they are, the better they will taste.

Add the tomatoes to the onion.  Then add a sprinkling of sugar and black pepper. Pop a lid on and leave on a very low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook some pasta, make some toast, boil some rice.  Whatever takes your fancy.

Add the two together.  Enjoy.

Plain Sailing

Boy

In between the comings and goings of daily life and endless bowls of spaghetti we seem to be devouring at the moment, there is the very occasional moment for reflection.  I absolutely relish these moments, fleeting as they may be, knowing that they will very soon be interjected with a question which I will need to rummage through my densely populated mind files in order to answer.

Not as easy as you may think.  Especially when the request comes with a pre requisite of expectation.

I’m thinking of having a default answer, something along the lines of,

‘I’m sorry, the answer to the question you have asked is not available right now, please try again later’

Recently, I have been thinking about little boats and how wonderful it would be to have one.  There are a few set backs.  Not living by water is one, having nowhere to store it, another.  Minor details and nothing that can’t be overcome.

Meanwhile the wee one has been testing out his creativity.

Wee one: Mummy, come here

Me: Hang on (lacking the 100% enthusiasm expected)

Wee one: Quick, I need to show you something on the car.

Me: Just a minute – assembles swimming bag stuff

Wee boy: This stone is much sharper than I thought it would be

Me: …

Wee boy: Come and look, I’ve been drawing on the car

Me: (internally) Oh buggar.  (Externally) On my way…

It turns out that the stone was indeed quite sharp and the two places which have been etched, are prominent.

Himself’s response?

‘Thank goodness it was our car and not someone else’s’

This parenting thing – we’ve got it covered

*winks*

Eggy Bread

Eggy Bread

This is one of my all time go-to favourite breakfasts.  Or lunches.  Or snacks.  Or suppers.

Why?

Because it is simple and quick to make for anyone of any age or ability, can be made as sweet or savoury and can be eaten in whatever proportion you fancy, either as a full to popping experience, or, as they say round these parts, just enough to ‘put you on’.  Which translated means, keep you going.  It’s one of my favourite phrases which I never tire of hearing.

Now there may be some of you out there who do not refer to this wonderful marriage of egg and bread as Eggy Bread, but instead insist on it’s more formal title of French Toast.  Some believe this name was inspired by the French version of ‘pain perdu’, which in itself means lost bread, or bread that can no longer be used for it’s original purpose.

In fact Eggy Bread is one of those fascinating foodstuffs which has a plethora of potential originality, and therefore, to those of us who are curious about that kind of thing, extremely interesting.  I do concede though, that most people don’t really give that much of Chaucer’s toot about such things. *

Meanwhile, there may be someone who has never dabbled in the making of Eggy Bread, so this is what you’ll need to do.

Whisk eggs and splash of milk together and add your seasoning.  This could be either salt and pepper, cinnamon and vanilla, chilli, etc.  The choice is yours.  I tend to opt for salt and pepper.  Also, the ratio of egg is proportionate to the amount of bread you are hoping to make.  I follow the ratio of 3 eggs to 5 slices of white bread.  You could do one egg per slice and just add the tiniest splash of milk, or indeed no milk at all.  It’s totally up to you.

Cut the bread into quarters and pour over the eggy mixture.  Leave to soak for ten minutes.

Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and put as many of the quarters as you can into the pan.  Fry until golden brown, turn, repeat.

This is the wee boy’s favourite part of the process.  Well, actually, it’s his second favourite part.  His favourite favourite is the melting of the butter in the pan.  He stands on his chef’s chair, swirling around the butter, looking completely and utterly in control of the situation.  Similarly when the bread is placed in the pan, he delights in giving it a shake.  And I empathise completely.

Anyway, once both sides are cooked to a glorious golden brown, they are ready to serve and for some, that is it.  Others enjoy embellishing with vinegar, Tommy K, HP, sugar, syrup…  the list is endless.

But one thing is for certain, you’ll always, eventually, make more.  It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but eventually, everyone who has Eggy Bread in their repertoire, revisits.

*Just in case you do, check out this link

Apple Crumble for One

photo (8)

It can be tricky being the only person in the house who is eating sugar, hence a request from the wee boy for apple crumble a few days ago, has not really had the attention paid to it that usually, it would.

However, I have rectified the situation today and whipped up a lovely little crumble, just for him.  In fact, I have a feeling I may have gone slightly overboard on the sweetness.  I cut up an apple and mixed it into a small glass jar that already had some syrup in it.  In my mind I was tidying the place up.  I can only stand small bowls of this, that and the other, around for so long.  So on reflection, it may be slightly over sweet.  Not to worry though, I have counterbalanced this possibility by making rather a large amount of a flour, butter, sugar and oats, crumble topping.

The thing is, as I’m still not eating anything with sugar in it, I’ll never know.  Anything the wee one doesn’t eat will either be hoovered up by son #1 on his return tomorrow, or left in the fridge to go slightly mouldy before being thrown out.

Meanwhile, the gloriousness of being five continues.

Wee boy, looking out of the window:  Mummy, I can see a bird with a white head

Pause

Wee boy, still looking:  And a grey round

Me: A what?

WB: A grey round

Me: You mean a grey body?

WB: Yes

Me: I prefer grey round, shall we call it that?

WB: Ok

I never want these conversations to end

Love Buns

love buns

Today the wee boy declared he would like to bake.  Very specifically, he would like to bake a chocolate cake.  That is, until I produced from the cupboard that houses all cooking and baking vessels, a silicone mold for baking love buns.

At this point, the wee one whelped with delight and, although having been adamant he wished to bake a cake, changed his allegiance with great haste and plumped for the love bun option.

An excellent choice, I might add.

So we measured and tasted, tasted and measured, then tasted a little more whilst scooping varying amounts into each allotted compartment, tasting for one last time before eventually managing to get a tray of them into the oven.  Remembering to slip a baking tray underneath the love bun mold, as I have made that mistake before.

*awards self ‘good memory’ medal*

Twenty minutes later, the little wonders came out of the oven and the wee one sat and watched with pride, as they cooled.

Well, to be fair, he probably watched them for a good minute before flying off to defeat something or other, regularly coming back to check whether they had, indeed, cooled enough.  To quality control one final time, before allowing me the honour of icing them.

There’s nothing like the taste of a home made bun.  Especially one made with so much love.