Big Cook Little Cook

The nature of being a mother, as all mothers know, is that when the unthinkable happens and we actually do not feel well, we lack the ability to pull off “man flu”, or sit around the house moping as if we didn’t want to be there; whereas, in point of fact, we are lapping up the attention.   With mothers, it doesn’t happen like that and despite all ailments life throws at us we still have no choice but to carry on.

Schools are a breeding ground for bugs and viruses whose parasitic life cycles evolve and feed on the wonderful close proximity of children.  Parents sending in their ‘under the weather’ children when maybe they shouldn’t; scared to keep them at home for too long lest the school chases them up.   Time off sick now will go against them if later during the term they wish to take a holiday.   As the children grow older the work they miss never really gets repeated and they do struggle to catch up, but the biggest reason for returning the child to school too soon is that mums these days have to get back to work before her boss creates a fuss, and childcare for poorly children is not always readily accessible.

The worst people for returning early to school before they are ready are staff themselves, who lack children’s rapidly repairing ability to get over things quickly.  Staff struggle back to work determined not to let their colleagues or the children down, some with lack of voices, some struggling for breath and some just not sure what they are doing.   Inadvertently they exhale still festering germs over their friends and charges reintroducing the mutating bacteria and triggering yet another cycle of illness and poor health.

I have been attacked from all sides at work: colleagues, children and even their stricken parents as they coughed their apologies over me.  At home I have struggled to keep us virus free but tell tale coughs and sneezes tell me that we are not quite succeeding.  Dosed up with Echinacea and Vitamin C I have managed to reach half term, albeit with my voice 2 octaves lower; some might say sexier, I say struggling, sneezing fits that render me completely useless where ever I can collapse, a train thundering through my brain passing through every station without braking and my eyes and nose crying without cessation.

I don’t need sympathy, I am a mother and no matter how bad I feel the house still needs to function with me at the helm.    It was with trepidation I mentioned to Middle Son that, it would be great if he could finally use his GCSE cookery skills and create a meal for us on Saturday evening, allowing me to wallow in self pampering and medication.

“Take away Pizza” came the eager reply.

Not quite what I had in mind.

A little coercion was required I admit, on my part.  He was permitted to work through my new cook book bible: Indian Superfood by Gurpareet Bains.  In consultation with Sexy Sporty Dad he settled on ‘Best Ever Chicken Tikka Masala’.     As I cook from this hallowed book at least once a week many of the spices and condiments are already in the cupboard but we needed chicken, more ginger along with coconut milk that I seem to have run out of.   An ingredient that no-one in the house except me likes: coconut.  They would be horrified to learn how often the creamy texture of Indian or Thai food has resulted from the dreaded coconut milk.  The cats had also dug up my coriander from my herb garden; I am not sure if that means they liked it or they hated it but it did mean I needed to buy more.

I was unimpressed when Sexy Sporty Dad handed him a jar of tikka mix at the shop, time saving was not the idea; creativity and taste were what we were going for.   Thankfully I had gone with them, lousy as I felt, but able to steer them in the right direction we bought all the outstanding ingredients and unloaded them ready for use around the kitchen.

Middle Son then carefully peeled and chopped onions, peeled and grated ginger, finely chopped garlic, chilli and skilfully crushed the cardamom pods releasing their pungent aroma into the room, which he was not as enamoured by, as I was.  He slowly cooked off the spices, filling the house with the warm heady perfume of true Indian cooking.  Sealing the chicken pieces and adding water he placed it all except the coconut milk and coriander in the slow cooker where unhurriedly, leisurely and deliberately the spices and herbs infused the tiny tendons of melting meat.  Shortly before serving he threw in the can of coconut milk and chopped coriander leaves.  Unable to cope with the trauma of homemade naan on this occasion I had relented and he warmed the shop bought naan bread serving it alongside the curry and rice with a flourish.

Middle Son complained that it didn’t taste like the curry he gets from the take away.   I would agree with him on that point.   The chicken melted in the mouth, tantalizing the taste buds with hints of the strong spices, never too hot or too overpowering to detract from the creamy rich indulgence of this most definitely best ever tikka masala.   Fantastic, out of this world and absolutely delicious probably do not accolade enough, and I hadn’t cooked it, that in itself was a treat I will savour along with the memory of that superb dish.

Last night I joined him as he watched ‘Jamie at Home’, preparing yet more delicacies, with the promise that we could look up the recipe for carrot and avocado salad and even, dare I hold my breath, cook it sometime this week.

As long as this may last, I will enjoy and appreciate each delicate meal prepared lovingly or under duress, but if he can produce meals like this at home I trust the same can be expected at school for his course.

Sausages for Tea

Tonight, in the absence of his brother Mini Son joined me in the kitchen where he set about cooking sausages, jacket potatoes and baked beans for his Home Help badge at cubs, different but equally delicious.  I could easily become accustomed to this wonderful state of affairs with all the family offering their cooking skills, long may it last.


Following last year’s attempts The Readers Digest are asking for this year’s entries to their 100 word story competition.   I hope to find some inspiration and send in at least a few entries, I will also persuade Middle Son to try and emulate or better his endeavours from last year.

NANOWRIMO month is upon us in November and despite the comments of insanity, madness and lost your mind, I do intend to try and complete ‘write a novel in a month’.  I am much more prepared this year than I was last, to begin with I have an idea of what I might try and produce: a mystery aimed at teenage boys……   best read up on some Michael Morpurgo or Antony Horrowitz novels this week.


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