Tag Archives: dinner

Vegetarian Fail.

It all came to a head on Friday at 4:15pm.  Annie was crying in the highchair, Christopher Robin and Harry were practising extreme wrestling on the trampoline (“I wasn’t biting him, Mummy, I was hugging him with my teeth!”), I was desperately trying to get dinner together and Matilda was looking grave and pensive.

“Mummy,” she announced solemnly, “I’ve decided I want to be a vegetarian.”

Now, I can’t pretend I didn’t see this coming.  Earlier in the week, a sign at the butcher’s advertising “wild rabbits” sent a tired and tearful Matilda into hysterics (“you mean people KILL cute little bunny rabbits and then they EAT them?  That is just so MEAN!”) and no talk of ‘introduced species’ or ‘feral pests’ or ‘circle of’ bloody ‘life’ would calm her down.  The night before saw Matilda wide awake well past her bed time, wracked with guilt after eating a plateful of roast lamb (It was moist and nice and not at all burnt like last time)

So I knew Matilda had been considering vegetarianism.  I had already laid down the law that she couldn’t only choose to be vegetarian for some meals just to get out of eating them (like beef stew, which she calls “beef spew”),  I just hadn’t anticipated her making this commitment the day before shopping day – an hour before dinnertime – while I was elbow-deep in meatloaf.

So I scratched my head and had a think.  I had half a tin of lentils.  Surely that had to count for something.  Vegetarians are always banging on about lentils.  And I had a muffin tin.  Maybe I could make a mini- lentil loaf?

As I mixed the lentils with all the stuff I usually put in the meatloaf and added plenty of egg to hold it all together, I was struck with a wonderful vision of myself.  I could get really good at this!  I could be That Amazing Mother who whips up delicious vegetarian meals effortlessly for her mature, sensitive and intelligent vegetarian daughter.  I saw myself floating through organic wholefood markets buying bulk packs of tofu whilst hippies and hipsters alike nodded their approval.  What if I’m actually a creative genius in the kitchen, creating small miracles out of chick peas and eggplant?  I imagined myself on the cover of a glossy recipe-and-anecdote book, wearing a mildly ironic 1950s-style apron and smiling benevolently at the camera.  Of all things, I think putting out a recipe-and-anecdote book is a true sign that you’ve made it as a domestic goddess.

I wish I’d taken a photo of the perfect muffin-shaped little lentil loaf after I took it out of the oven.  It was truly a thing of beauty.  Matilda exclaimed at how pretty it was and ate it wordlessly whilst I radiated smug all over the kitchen.

The next day, Matilda was making herself a ham roll with extra ham.  “I’ve decided not be be a vegetarian,” she said, “that lentil loaf you made yesterday was pretty yuck”

Incidentally, I’d be happy to publish the recipe if anyone is looking to turn their child off vegetarianism.

Maybe I could make a book…

Roast Fail.

Once a fortnight, I’ve started this thing where we try to have a Sunday Roast.  Every time I open the freezer, I see the meat ready for roasting and I wink at it and whisper “soon!”.  Today was Roast Day.  I’ve been known in the past to let the day get away from me before getting the roast on and thus have a late dinner with psycho children too tired to eat, but not so today!  At 1:30pm I lovingly salted and oiled the meat, placed it on a bed of onions and surrounded it with garlic.  I chopped and parboiled the veggies and put them in the oven too.  I then turned the oven right down low, put on the exhaust fan and got the kids ready to go see my grandma. When we got home we would have roast!

On the way home from the hospital it was bitter cold and pouring down rain.  As we drove along with headlights on, we all shared one smug thought:  Roast.  Put children in warm pyjamas, fill their bellies with roast beef and they’ll be in bed asleep faster than you can say “Downton Abbey”!

As we pulled into the driveway, I said in my most important voice, “Mr Knightley, you unload the kids.  I must go in and check on The Roast!”

My first sign that something might have gone wrong was the smell of smoke.  It would seem the roast had ‘caught’.  Then I got to the kitchen.

My delightful two-year-old son, who loves to help Mummy in the kitchen, had turned the oven up to maximum before we left the house.  The kitchen was rather smoky (would have been much more so, had the fan not been on).  And the Roast was a blackened crisp.

Many things happened then:  I stormed about the house yelling to no one in particular about how hard my life is;  Matlida burst into very loud, impassioned sobs to which Mr Knightley and I (I’m very ashamed to say) growled in unison “Don’t YOU start!”;  Harry, confused as to why everyone seemed so cross at him, set to destroying the house with a kitchen whisk; Christopher Robin asked “what’s for dinner?” and Annie gurgled and kicked in amusement.

Mr Knightley, with an air of grim determination, retrieved the smoking, shrunken black mass from the oven and tried to carve it.  Beneath the thick black crust there was a little bit of good meat to pick at (Mr Knightley gave me the nicest piece).  It felt like Tiny Tim’s family from A Christmas Carol.

We had tinned soup and toasted muffins for dinner.

Afterwards, as we were cleaning up, Mr Knightley did a bit of wistful poking around the charred remains of what were once vegetables and presented me with a small morsel of onion.  “Taste this” he said in a kind voice “It’s perfectly caramelised”