A Fishy Recipe For My Dear Miranda

Due to popular demand (yeah, it’s that good), I am posting a recipe for a Moroccan-inspired fish stew that is WELL tasty. And so easy!

You will love me forever. Miranda does.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

500g White Fish

1 tin Chickpeas (drained)

1 tin Chopped Tomatoes

1 Large onion, sliced very thinly

250ml water

2tsp Cinnamon

2tsp Turmeric

2tsp Cumin

1 tablespoon (or more) of hot chilli sauce

2 vegetable stock cubes

salt to taste

Handful of chopped parsley

Juice of half a lemon

Method:

Sweat the onions in a bit of oil or water. Once they are soft, add the cinnamon, turmeric and cumin to the pan and make a paste. Then add the tomatoes and the chickpeas and the stock cubes and the water and the chilli sauce, bring to the boil. Once the broth is boiling, add the fish and cover. Once the fish is cooked, remove from heat, add parsley and lemon juice. Et voila!

I normally serve it with rice, which I pre-fry with some garlic, and if you want to make it EVEN nicer you can throw some cardamom pods in too.

Yum.

The Impostor.

My son’s creativity has started to really blossom lately. He keeps on inventing elaborate and often bizarre stories about a variety of real and imaginary characters. I had been finding this hilarious, but I think now he is experiencing some kind of end-of-Summer school holiday fatigue. Maybe he’s getting bored of my face, because the little rascal’s only gone and made up an imaginary mother.

Her name is Steak.

She has red hair and blue eyes.

She can drive and has a red car.

She lives just down the road and has two other kids (Stetch and Daniel, apparently) who he can play with everyday.

She has a dog called Tommy.

She ‘does working’ and goes to a different gym to me.

And yesterday, just to add insult to injury, he said ‘she has more moneys than you’.

Part of me thinks this is really funny, and part of me worries he’s making up for my shortcomings as a mother (and even as a human being).

The blasted woman’s got it good! She didn’t give birth to him for 18 hours, she doesn’t clothe him, feed him, nurse him when he’s sick, pick up his toys, put up with his tantrums, scold him when he’s naughty, endure him when he’s whining. She doesn’t wipe his bottom. I bet she hasn’t even got stretchmarks, THE BITCH!!!!!!

I’ve got one thing on her though. HER NAME IS BLOODY RUBBISH.

The Magician’s Nephew

I seriously don’t understand why everyone gets so stuck on ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. I was quite miffed when the new Narnia film series decided to begin with that one. And then, I was even more miffed when I watched the atrocious piece of junk they called a film and realised they’d managed to rape the magic out of that as well.

But the books start with ‘The Magician’s Nephew’, people!!! It’s probably my favourite in the series, and one that gets badly overlooked. Sort it out, fools! Rant over.

The best bit in the book, in my opinion,  is when  Digory and Polly find themselves in the ruins of the great city of Charn, and come across a mysterious bell and hammer. The haunting inscription on the pillar where they stood has stuck with me ever since I first read it at the age of 10:

Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;

Strike the bell and bide the danger,

Or wonder, till it drives you mad,

What would have followed if you had.’

(C. S. Lewis, 1955)

DEEEEEEEEP!!!!

Mother’s Milk

I’m sure many of you have read about the furore involving Gisele Bundchen’s interview to Harper’s Bazaar where she is quoted as saying ‘I think there should be a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months’. The model has since apologised on her blog, saying that the comment was borne out of her ‘passion for children’ rather than a desire to marginalise mothers. Technically speaking, her advice could save thousands of children’s lives worldwide, but it’s been interpreted as an affront to us, less perfect mere mortals. Whatever.

The thing is, breastfeeding is AWESOME!!!!!! Sometimes I think there are not enough people bringing this point home. I have friends who really struggled with it and had to give it up, and I couldn’t help feeling like they were missing out. The first two weeks, where one is still trying to get to grips with the milky boob mechanics, were really painful for me- bleeding, swollen, sore nipples; rock hard tits the size of a cartoonish Pamela Anderson’s; inadequate milk flow – But once I got over that obstacle I never looked back.

I’ve often struggled with competitive motherhood and it’s been the subject of many posts in this blog. So this is my disclaimer. No criticism is intended here.

But breastfeeding is AWESOME! The health and post-partum slimming benefits are well documented, but for me it was a pretty magical experience.  I didn’t have to carry all sorts of fiddly and expensive feeding and sterilisation paraphernalia everywhere; my milk dispensers were easily portable, healthy and always the right temperature. Maintaining something that resembles normal life after you have a baby is pretty challenging and breastfeeding helps a lot. And also, just relax! If occasionally your baby needs to have a bottle for any given reason, why the hell not? It’s only the one. Don’t lose sleep over it. Your milk supply should be just fine.

Did I mention… BREASTFEEDING IS AWESOME!!!

The absolutely most incredible thing about breastfeeding is how it made me feel. It is a continuation of a physical bond between mother and baby that starts at the moment of conception. It’s a very feral, instinctive thing; a constant reminder of the human being as animal. In a way, it’s a continuation of a sexual bond. Breastfeeding your baby is a unique and intimate ritual in a similar way to sex. I’m going to sound like a right hippie here, but both work on a physical and an emotional level: In sex, the physical objective is procreation. In breastfeeding, once procreation has already happened, the physical objective is nutrition. But in both, the ultimate emotional objective is LOVE!!!

See, I told you I was going to sound like a hippie. But those hippies were onto something. They were usually also on something, but that’s beside the point.

Breastfeeding feels like falling in love.

And that’s fucking AWESOME.

But then, many of you might feel a bit grossed out by my explanation. We don’t like to think of sex and babies as somehow linked… But they are. You’re not the Virgin Mary, love.  And a lot of people can feel a bit shy about breastfeeding because of this too. However I was really surprised to hear that Denise Van Outen, no stranger to posing for lads mags, gave up breastfeeding at 3 weeks because she feared being photographed while doing it. Eh? Where’s the logic in that? I’d hate to be followed by photographers everywhere, but still. Furthermore, if you don’t want everyone to see your boobs while you’re trying to feed your baby, just use some kind of shawl or something. The end.

Don’t Pill the Rappers

Yesterday morning I walked into my kitchen to be greeted with a harrowing sight.

I saw the buoyant carcass of my son’s black goldfish, Sharky, being mercilessly devoured by his tankmate, the ever-so-dull Nemo. Sharky had been showing signs of ill health for a while. His erratic and distressed swimming had me tearing out my hair with concern. Once Google explained that this was most likely due to fish constipation I decided the fatty should go on a strict diet; he improved but he wasn’t quite the same vivacious, charismatic goldfish he once was. And now this.

Horrified, I diverted my son’s attention and scooped out the mortal remains, diligently disposing of them in the bin. I made the decision to deceive him in a fraction of an instant. Act now, I thought, and work out some explanation for Sharky’s sudden disappearance later.

I referred to our wet pet’s sad passing and my subsequent pondering on Facebook. One friend encouraged me to tell the truth, retrieve Sharky’s half-eaten rotting cadaver from the bin, and give him a proper burial befitting of how much joy he single-finnedly brought into our lives. I could see her point, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I rather preferred another friend’s suggestion to say that Sharky went on holiday and then replace him with an identical fish later, but the former friend pointed out that I might have to prepare for questions such as ‘How did he carry his luggage? Has he got a passport? Will he need suncream?’. I confess I began to concoct fairly plausible responses in my head.

I have written here before about the lies we inevitably tell children as they grow up.  While I know I can’t avoid the death chat indefinitely, I didn’t feel quite ready to do it just yet, particularly because I am very much grieving at the moment. I can’t make sense of death myself, let alone explain it to a three-year-old. So it’s not just sparing the poor child from a trauma, it’s sparing myself from confronting some difficult facts. I think I’m going to invest in an impostor, buy myself some time and address the matter in a more appropriate way once Sharky the Second kicks his bucket too.

The fact is that this is not actually my son’s first encounter with death. The other day he came back from a weekend in the countryside relating that him and his Daddya had gone to ‘Pill some rappers‘.

What? Pill some what? Pill some rappers? Wtf? Imagine my confusion.

Me and Daddya went to Granny and Papa’s stables. And Daddya had Papa’s gun, and I had my bubble gun, and we pilled some rappers.’


EXCUSE ME?!!

I turned to the ex, or shall we refer to him as the Exterminator, and demanded an  explanation.

As it happens, his parents’ stables are currently infested with rats, and they’d asked him to shoot some to cut down numbers. Now, I am no vegetarian, nor am I averse to culling, but I was pretty darn cheesed off with the idea of him taking our 3-year-old son shooting with him.

Relax! I think it was a nice thing to do, go out shooting with his dad. It will teach him about life and death, and to have respect for guns’


‘But he’s THREE! He doesn’t understand! We live in London, we’re going to struggle to keep him innocent as it is, without you taking him bloody shooting! As far as I’m concerned he doesn’t have to have any contact with guns at all.’


This all eventually descended into an argument, of course. One which we haven’t quite settled yet.

My point is that this exercise hasn’t really taught the kid anything about life and death. He doesn’t understand that once the rats stop moving, they don’t ever start again. He doesn’t have any emotional bond with the rats to be made to rationalise it, or make a connection with his own life. He’s just lost a grandfather and doesn’t really grasp the concept. The cancer was like the bullet; he stopped moving and never will again, just like the rats. The mechanics may be similar but the emotional significance is radically, overwhelmingly, different. The grief is the very reason why I can’t face a death chat at this moment in time.

But I can’t suppress my smile when I think he might go to school and tell his poor teacher that he and his daddy got some guns and went out ‘shooting rappers‘…

The horror, indeed.

Too Pikey for Paris

Last night I found a very eloquent little poem I wrote about my first trip to Paris, which took place in March 2008.

Paris is lovely to look at.

Paris was meant to be romantic.

Paris was a rip off.

Knowing your pint cost you a tenner drains the magic out of drinking it:

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Too Pikey for Paris

too tired to care

L’amour, bonjour

nice to breakfast you

My hotel has a view

of La Tour Eiffel

And each romantic rue

Smells.

But no wine bottle has a screwcap.

I found a rose’, but screw that

I ain’t gonna pay ten quid for that.

There’s Depeche Mode on German MTV.

WRONG.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

A rather charming little billet-doux to a city which, in my experience, rings the death knell to any ailing relationship. Don’t you agree?  Ah, I knew you would.

This is me in Paris:

Well classy.

Wok ‘n’ Roll

I haven’t posted a recipe here for aaaages.  I find that now I’m single and living alone(apart from the sprog, that is), cooking has become a bit of a challenge. I end up eating with my son at ridiculous times (11am and 6pm), and often just make very child-friendly food. I miss having someone around to dine with, especially as I am yet to master the art of cooking for one.

This here is probably my favourite new invention, and it’s dead easy to make it just for myself, or increase the size for more people. I decided I wanted to try and make a Vietnamese-y inspired noodle soup because I miss going up to Kingsland Road and gorging on Far Eastern flavours. I’m sure there’s nothing authentically Vietnamese about it at all, but be easy on me. I am just a single mum in South London, for crying out loud. The quantities below make enough for one very hungry person or two not very hungry people. Don’t you just love my precision?

Continue reading ‘Wok ‘n’ Roll’



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