Three Hundred & Sixty Five: Days at Home / Twelve.

365 / 12Sometimes all you need is a hug and a pizza.

Mushroom, black bean, sundried tomato and parsley.

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Day-Before-Payday Breakfasts: Fun with Polenta.

Get swept up in New Years Resolutions.

Somehow commit to doing only things that will guarantee to bring with them an abundance of stress and washing up. Vow ridiculous things that, perhaps, in the haze of champagne and idealism, actually made sense.

Pledge to get more creative about breakfast! Be resolute; mostly that little good will come from this. That now, instead of flinging toast at the children as they sit, dazzled by whatever electronic entertainment you allow until you are rightly caffienated, you will torture yourself to create an opportunity for Wholesome Family Togetherness. But that’s parenthood for you.

The reality of this lofty goal will see you storming about the kitchen in your undergarments; bleary-eyed as you bang all the pots and pans together, as if trying to cast a spark from the rubbing together of two sticks. You will fall over the cat and shake your fist at the toaster, that haughty bastard. You will yearn for the days when breakfast meant a coffee and a fag.

Then you will brush the hair from your eyes, drink a cold cup of tea with three sugars and smash out something delicious and beautiful, because you adore your children and they deserve the very best. Even though it is taking years off your life.

Enter:

Polenta Three Ways (Hello, freaky google searchers. And welcome.)

Have no idea how to cook polenta. Place a pot of water on the element until at a rolling boil. Then unceremoniously dump a serving of polenta in there too. I went with a 3:1 ratio, water to polenta, because it felt right, you know? It worked out okay, I think. Look, I have no idea. Stir with great vigour over heat for 10 minutes or so, until the polenta has combined and scrapes freely from the side of the pot. It should be like a single substance now, a beautiful combined entity. It will taste like nothing. It’s consistancy should be like that of a very smooth scrambled egg, though, which as a Vegan is exciting (our lives our dull, but our karma is good).

 

ONE:

Polenta with button mushrooms, black beans, tomato and coriander.

Polenta / 1

 

Season the bejesus outta that thing. I added a heaping tablespoon of Olivio and got liberal with the salt and pepper. Listen, polenta is never going to be the star of the show. But it will hold its end up if you treat it right.

Pro-tip: Serve this as brunch to those who mock your Veganism. This shit is delicious. And won’t leave you feeling burdened like porridge.

 

TWO:

Polenta with brown sugar, soy milk and bananas.

Polenta / 2

 

Pro-tip: The children will love this. A great option for gluten-free baby breakfasts.

 

THREE:

Pink Polenta!

Polenta / 3

Pro-tip: Natural pink food colouring can be made by grating a fresh beetroot and the pressing the juice out through a sieve! The taste is undiscernable, but the colour is POW!

Wrangle your disinterested children away from the television. Ignore their bitter cries for Bob the Builder and bloody boring old bloody jam on bloody boring old toast. Lay before them a sumptious feast; prepared with love and minimal expletives, considering the conditions. Stand over them expectantly, awaiting the appreciation you so deserve. Keep waiting. Keep on waiting, sister.

OUTTAKES:

Polenta / 4

Day-Before-Payday Desserts: I Can’t Believe That’s Vegan! Ice Cream.

Buy a bunch of bananas. On returning home, throw them in your freezer with their great many over-ripe brothers, hoping to one day be turned into cake.

Weeks later, yearn for a sweet thing after a tedious day at the coal-face. Stare longingly into your pantry, willing a treat to materialise.

Remember your multitude of frozen bananas. Do a happy little dance.

Into your blender place sliced frozen bananas. You will have to cut off their skins and your hands will freeze into claws, but it will be so deliciously worth it. 2 bananas is equal to one serving. Do maths. Be greedy. Let’s say this recipe for for 2 servings, for continuity. So, what’s that? 4 bananas. Maths, ho!

To the blender add 1/2 a cup of water OR the mock milk of your choosing, if you are fancy like that. Turn blender onto lowest setting. Add 4 heaped tablespoons of cocoa and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. A pinch of cinnamon? A little chilli? Get loose, you know? Make it once before you go buck wild though. We’re very poor this year and there can be no wastage.

Taste test. Be blown away be how delicious that shit is. Add more of anything that may be missing. The trick is to blend it for just long enough to make the bananas a creamy consistancy, but no so long as to melt them into a soup. Of course, you can just refreeze once you have combined all the ingredients, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to. So time is of the essence, my friend! Your stories are about to start and you have been waiting all day to sit in silence and watch various costume dramas. Enjoy.

Day-Before-Payday Baking: No Dairy, No Egg, No Fun Chocolate Cake.

Find a large bowl. This may be a difficult task considering you made a cup of tea in a gravy boat this morning, but press on. Into this bowl place 1 and 1/2 cups of flour. Preferably self-raising because that is one less ingredient for you to forget. Add to this 1 cup of sugar. Let the children sift these ingredients if you must. You can then feel you have done something with them today other than hiding from them in the laundry. Return to the bowl as much of the dry ingredients as the children are now covered in. Tell them they are good helpers. This is called positive affirmation. You no longer recieve this, as you are now a parent. No annual reviews for you, my friend. Welcome to the rest of your life. Now send them away so you can actually bake this bloody thing.

To the bowl add a generous heaping of cocoa powder. By now the children will have returned from the 30 seconds they were not under your feet or at your elbow. Try your best to keep them from the Quintessential Childhood Mistake of shovelling great helpings of the stuff into their gobs; thinking they have discovered endless chocolate riches. Half a cup should do. Throw half a teaspoon of salt in for good measure.

Stir. Remember that the secret ingredient is not actually love; it’s butter. But as this is a Vegan cake, love will have to do. Think about something nice. The fictional Vampire of your choosing; paying off your credit card; not being spoken to for an hour.

Make 3 wells in the dry ingredients. To these wells add 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence; 1 tablespoon of vinegar (I use Raspberry) and 5 generous tablespoons of olive oil. Throw 1 cup of tepid water over the whole shebang and get out all your passive agression mixing that shit together. Once combined cook in a greased cake tin of some description in a preheated oven at 190 degrees on fan bake. Half an hour should do it. Enough time to dump another load of washing on your couch and will it to fold itself. Maybe half-ass the hoovering. Or until a knife comes out clean.

Once cooked turn out on a wire rack and leave to cool. Or don’t. But you know the icing won’t set and you’ll wish you had waited. And yes, I know you could just put it in the fridge, but come on. Just do it bloody properly, will you? Or simply dust with icing sugar. I am not here to limit you.

Should you choose to make an icing; mix equal parts ‘yeah, nah, that looks about right’ of cocoa powder and icing sugar and a trickle of water. More dry ingredients if it is too thin, more water if it is too thick. You will end up with far too much either way. But then you can let the children lick the bowl. And they will be quiet. Take a picture.

Time the serving with Sesame Street and you just brought yourself an hours nap. Or, an hours uninterrupted worrying. Which ever is most pressing on your agenda. You’re welcome.

Day-Before-Payday Dinners: Poverty Fried Rice.

Directions:

Send your children outside. Take a deep breath and remember that this portion of the evening means that you are on the downward slide towards bed. Or, if your children do not sleep, remember that you are on the downward slide towards them moving out.

Find the pot that was previously being used as a hat. Give it a rinse in the sink. Remember that heats kills germs. Place on element. Put cup of rice in pot. Put cup and a half of boling water over rice. Or cold water that has sat in the jug for 10 minutes because you were too tired to notice it wasn’t boiling.

Check outside to see if the children are playing nicely with something dangerous or playing dangerously with something nice. Remember what I said about them moving out.

Dice your onion small enough that it cannot be discernable from the rice and therefore cannot be complained about. It’s inclusion in this meal gives the old ‘but you do like it. darling. You eat it in ____’ argument, legs. Throw that in whatever pan is clean enough to not make you think briefly about food poisoning with a little oil and cook until onion softens. Stir the rice because your ability to cook it and pay your bills almost on time are pretty much the only things discerning you from your teenage self.

Find the least limp carrot in the bottom of your fridge and slice lengthways. Now do that again. Is your carrot in four long strips? Good. You may have only slept for 4 hours last night, but you are still able to follow the most simple of instructions. This is a good day. Now slice your carrot sticks in to teeny tiny pieces. Because they will cook faster and you are very tired. Throw those and a ‘yeah, nah, that looks about right’ of frozen peas in with the onions and absent-mindedly stir everything you are currently cooking. Remember when you had the time and money to actually Make Dinner. Think briefly about that restaurant in Paris you went to 10 years ago and how the Chef came out of the kitchen to kiss you. Break up whatever cracker-related argument the children are currently involved in.

Now at this stage all the water over your rice should have vanished via a magical process called You’re Doing It Right. Take off the heat. Have a rummage in the pantry and crumble whichever flavour Oxo cube you unearth over the rice. I use the Vegetable one. No Oxo cube? Any powdered instant packet sodium mix will no doubt suffice. Results may vary. Stir in and leave to stand with a lid on the pot. No pot lid? A plate will do; but that sucker will get hot, so mind your mits. You do not want the children to learn anymore profanity than they already know.

How is that other shit looking? Pretty good? Yeah, I reckon. Turn down the heat and clear the lunch dishes off the table. Find whichever very specific dishware the children are currently favouring. Shut all pets out of doors, lest the dinner you have just spent 15 minutes slaving over become theirs. Remember to let children in to actually eat the bloody thing. Make them wash. I certianly will not judge you for excluding this portion of the excercise, but mine live in the garden, so scrubbing is necessary. Sling your rice in with the cooked vegetables and fry while the children make a sodden mess of your bathroom.

Get everyone to sit down nicely, sit down nicely, darling. Yes, you both have the same amount. Yes, I will get you a glass of water. No, I don’t know where that very specific cup is. Sit down, darling. Sit down and eat your dinner please. BLOODY SIT DOWN, WILL YOU? And serve.