Why is it that when you are watching the Food Network and get inspired to make something you’ve just seen on Diners. Drive-Ins and Dives that your brain forgets to remind you that in TV Land, everything is prepped and ready ahead of time.  So when the Jamaican lady says she just throws boiling water on her saltfish for two hours and then cooks it up, you think .oO(totally soooooooo much easier than changing the water 342 times throughout the day. Let’s do this!)

Only you put your fish aside to desalt and forget that in that two hours you should perhaps be mincing garlic, slicing onions and peppers and chopping tomatoes.  Or maybe you could be getting everything for your rice and peas together instead of watching Ellen Barkin on Anderson and thinking how much fun she’d be on a night out while you add her to your list of imaginary friends.

And then, when you start the prep and get the rice on its way, you check on the fish and RASS that fish is still salty as shit! So you start some vigorous water changes and shake the hell out of it to try and rinse as much of that salt out because, sure your children have been little ratbags all day, but do you really want to take it out on them by sucking all of the moisture out of their mouths?  Of course not.  Because then you will have to spend the rest of the night making them feel better and you’re already in a panic because it’s XFactor night PLUS the finale of Dancing with the Stars.

Your only option is to do what you can to get that saltfish sorted out and ready for dinner and in the meantime you make a note to tell that Jamaican lady that she is too full of chat when you one day wind up in her restaurant on some road trip because damn her coconut drops looked sooooo tasty.

And then, because you are a superstar you wind up with a meal that reminds you that if your husband ever gets too sick of your constant lazy and crazy, you’d happily marry yourself because YUM.

 

22.11.11 Saltfish and Rice and Peas .. Noice

A lot of memories I have of my childhood seem to have food involved.  Whether it was my mother having her family or my dad’s family over for meals, sitting the the backyard by the pool eating cherries we picked off of our tree or going to my grandmom’s house every Sunday for lunch (or dinner by the time we got there) when we lived in the Caribbean.  Even when I think about the times I spent with my friends, I always remember the food that we had.

In my earlier years I couldn’t decide to made better food; my grandmom, her maid Martha or my momma.  To be fair, I only really remember Martha’s chicken, but that stuff was so damn tasty that she could have made it every day of my life and I still would have thought she was one of the greatest cooks on earth.  My grandmom made traditional Lebanese and West Indian foods and honestly,  I used to wish that Sunday came more than once a week.    My momma, on the other hand, could make almost anything.  Almost anything that wasn’t Lebanese or West Indian.  Rice and peas with garden peas, anyone?

When I would spend my hours and days and weeks daydreaming away my childhood and picturing life as a grown up, I always pictured being able to whip up these dishes that would have my family want to come to my home to eat their meals as well.   I thought that I would somehow learn through osmosis I guess, because I really didn’t make anything until I was WAY older.  Aside from a few gourmet creations (that’s right… I’m talking egg salad pirate ships and fruit in a watermelon basket)  in my cooking classes at the Armour Heights Community Centre, right before my gymnastics class.

When my momma made my daddy mussels, I filed that one in my head as a Must Make When I Grow Up.  I did the same with the stuffed chicken leg she came up with for my dad and uncle’s restaurant.   My Aunty Tressy made too many things that I wished I could make, especially her breadfruit souse.  Yeah, I know, why that?  I don’t know if it is because I seriously love it, or if it just reminds me of being at her house.  Actually, I could totally add her to the list of best food makers in my life; macaroni pie, stewed beef, rice and peas, flying fish, conch.

When I became a teenager and wasn’t so intimidated by the off chance the stove would blow up when I tried to turn it on, it appeared that I had inherited my father’s cooking skills.  Eggs.  I could make an omelet, but anything else that came without instructions was way too advanced for me.  I would visit my daddy in St.Kitts for 3, 4 or 5 weeks at a time and whilst I was there he let me do whatever I wanted in his kitchen.  So long as I kept him supplied with mashed sardine, vienna sausage or corned beef sandwiches.   He’d take off to St.Martin for a day and return with whole Goudas and Edams and wheels of Brie.  I would then commit foodie sins with these food by making macaroni and cheese with mass amounts of melted gourmet cheese, noodles and tins of tuna.   Sometimes I would kick it up a notch and add raw chopped onion.  I loved it, my daddy shrugged his shoulders and laughed at it, and sometimes my friend Alex was kind enough to pretend it was edible and share it with me, sitting on the roof.

I have come along quite a ways in my mac’n’cheese skills.  I promise. Please do not feel the need to report me to the food police over those youthful indiscretions.  In fact, I made some last night.  It was great.  In fact, it was so near perfect that I thought it might convince Noah to come over to the Pasta Not In Red Sauce side.  My hopes were soaring.  However, after an initial enthusiastic grab for the bowl, one peep of the contents led him to proclaim “note!”.  We let him think about it.  We let him watch us eat two bowls eat (what, you thought we got these sweet physiques through genetics? HAHAHAH) and still, nothing.  Not one flipping noodle.  Not a nibble, a sniff or a lick.  Instead he wolfed down a peanut butter and jam sandwich.

Mac n Cheesy

Seriously, if I can’t get a 3 year old to eat mac’n’cheese, what chance to I have to recreate these memories in the minds of my own children.  Never mind the fact that the thought of cooking for people outside of this house fills me with dread.  We’re talking stomach cramping, sweat beads on the forehead, seriously faint inducing dread.

People seem to be pickier than I remember growing up.  The whole I don’t eat that and we’re on this diet or I’m allergic to this, that and oh this too but I eat everything else melts my brain.   What happened to showing up, enjoying what was on offer and being grateful for a full belly and a great time with good friends and family.   To try and cover all of the bases, I end up over cooking.  That is, on the rare occasions I actually dare feed anyone my cooking.  How is it that this simple childhood dream went so wrong?!

Thing is, I can cook.  At least I think I can cook.  There are often times when we sit down to dinner and I have to hold myself back from sounding like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.  Not saying that happens every time, and certainly there have been nights where I have choked down my dinner or given up all together.  Though I have never got is so wrong like maybe doing baked salmon in red wine.  Thanks Momma .. via Two Fat Ladies.  I’m not a master at cooking in an oven.  I like to see what I am doing.  Though I have turned out some amazing briskets lately.  I don’t give up though.  There are a lot of things I’ve wanted to accomplish in life and abandoned the dream at the first stumble.   Filling Noah and Amy’s memories with amazing food is not going to be one of them.  And I’m not just talking all you can eat peas and Yorkshire puddings from the Toby Carvery buffet.

So mac’n’cheese may not be what Noah takes with him in his Food Memory Bank, but there will be something.  I’ll make sure of it.   Luckily, at this point in time, Amy thinks I AM the greatest cook on earth, so we’ll hold on to fooling her a little longer.  Until I can convince myself of the same thing!

 

…tastes like.. HEAVEN!

Seriously.  In the word’s of Lee’s nan: “That was heavenly!”

So I’ve been here (in England, not in this actual chair) for over 6 years now and since before I even arrived to live, I had been on the search for the perfect fish and chips.   Batter not too doughy, chips not soggy and definitely neither to taste like 3 week old oil.  Or in the case of the closest chippy to us, fries not to taste like spring rolls and fish not to taste like death.

When we were in Uxbridge, there was a place that was oh so close.  Maybe 1 in 10 times it didn’t work out right.  And I can’t even remember what was wrong, so it had to be minor.  But here in the booming metropolis of Milton Keynes, we’ve tried at least 6 places and we settled on one that we liked the most.  Didn’t always love, and in fact sometimes downright didn’t like, but for the most part they did what they said on the door.

Then on the weekend we were going to Stratford for a birthday party and we also had a house viewing so had to leave way before we needed to and due to Noah’s Party Anxiety, we couldn’t go to Lee’s mum’s pre-party for fear of Noah going into EXTREME MELTDOWN mode.  So we thought we’d go to Marks & Sparks and get a few finger foods that the kids could eat in the car.  Only we arrived earlier than we thought, scored a Parent and Child parking spot and thought we’d treat the children to a gourmet dining experience at … Subway.

On the way to Subway though, we spotted THE big FISH.  Lee’s mum had told us on our last visit that a chippy had opened up at this block store/strip mall place and we were all “Really? Fish and chips there? How odd.”  So of course when we were standing outside the door and saw that it could be just as cheap to eat there as Subway, we felt we had no choice but to try it.

Right away I was loving it .. and so were the midgets (at least they liked the aquarium on the wall and Noah loved looking at the traffic out of the window). It is British themed, with the seats being red, blue and white and some even has union jacks on them. 

Even the salt and vinegar made us audibly ‘Awww’ when we saw there were on the table in the cutest little fryer baskets.

THE big FISH

It was right after this point that I started to get a bit nervous.  Was this place too gimicky?  Could something this cute produce a quality fish supper?!  Had I torn away the Midgets’ dreams of ham and turkey subs in exchange for something that might just be … gross?!  I looked around and everyone seemed to be enjoying their food.  And with the majority of clientele being under 10 and not complaining I thought it might be safe to relax a little.  And then the food arrived.

Oh the food.  It was so pretty.  (Totally on a tangent here, but when I look at the word ‘pretty’ it doesn’t look like it should sound.  Why isn’t there an ‘i’ in Prit – ee?  Or Pri – tee?)  We had gone with the Big Fish Combo –  A platter of Haddock Goujons,  Scampi,  Kalamari,Whitebait,  Mini Cod & Chips with Coleslaw and Tartare sauce.  We figured we could share it and sample a variety of their offerings in one go.   Sometimes, we are so smart.

The Big Fish Combo

This was definitely one of those times.  Everything was made to order.  Piping hot .. the way Lee likes it.  I had to wait a bit.  After sampling everything, we couldn’t fault it.  Can too hot seriously be a complaint?  I’m thinking, ‘Excuse me, but this food you’ve served me is far too fresh.  Please give me something you’ve got laying around”, really isn’t a valid complaint.  Everything was tasty.  The chips.. exactly how I like them too be.  Not crispy, not soft, not greasy.. just right.  And the Haddock Goujons (bits of Haddock in lemon pepper coating/batter) … I could probably describe it better if the thought alone didn’t elicit  a Pavlov’s dog reaction in me and I wasn’t busy trying to clear my mouth of saliva before I turn into a drooling idiot.   Or more of a drooling idiot.   

Oh wait, it’s coming to me… tastiest morsels of fried fishy deliciousness to grace my tastebuds with their presence in almost forever.  In fact, they were so awesomely awesome, that I had them for dinner!! That’s right.  We had to share this discovery with Lee’s mum and nan and we all had it for dinner.  Not the haddock, just the food in general.  Oh and we discovered on the second experience that all the fish is skinless! HOORAY!

We also ordered a Kid’s Meal of sausage and chips and for the price expected something rather small.  Especially as it came with a drink and a gift.  Okay.. the gift… pretty shit really.  Some Despicable Me activity pack.  Requiring just a bit more skill than a 20 and 35.5 month have.  When it came, we looked at each other in shock:

Kids' Meal

That sausage was 2x the size of the one we get at our chippy and with 2x the amount of chips, for maybe £0.20 more.

Unfortunately, neither midget was interested in eating the food, so we can only assume that it was tasty.

They did however enjoy their orange squashes.

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this place.  Love love loved it.  It is at it said on the wall:

Best of British
Best of British

There is only one negative that I can think of.  We didn’t discover this place earlier our quest to find fish and chip utopia.


Please do not come here thinking that I am going to teach you how to make the best birthday cake ever. Please do not mistake yourself by thinking that I am the new Duff and I will be the Queen of Cakes. In fact, I’m more the Joker.

But as Luca and Noah’s 2nd birthday party creeps up on us, I am determined to make them a cake from scratch. The problem here? I’ve never made a cake from scratch before, let alone shape one or decorate it. I’ve never coloured icing, or rolled it out or attempted to cover said shaped cake with this fragile confectionery product.

With my Logic Advisor by my side, however, I managed to pull off something alright. The cake itself – AWESOME. Even after the panic that the batter looked like scrambled eggs or dough. Even after the panic that the dough smelled of bacon. Even after my serious lacking in scissor skills showed itself and the Logic Advisor was called in to rescue my pathetic attempt at a circle. The cakes – that’s right .. PLURAL – made their way into the oven and came out tasting like someone who knew what they were doing had been at the helm.

Baked Cakes

Bakes Cakes

While the cakes baked, I have the also completely foreign task of kneading icing and then colouring it – we were going for Numberjack 2 Orange. Let me start by saying that I attempted to “colour” some of the cookies I made at Christmas. Instead of being red or even pink, they came out looking like they were simply overcooked. So to turn something orange was a feat I took on with little hope and great fear. For a while there I thought that I was going to end up with a tie-dye iced cake. But perseverance and encouragement from the Logic Advisor led to a suitably orange product. Not the blinding orange I was after, but something I was content with.

Orange Icing - not Velveeta

Orange Icing - not Velveeta

From a honking ball of dough, I somehow needed a nice and thin sheet to drape over the cakes. This took me a while to master as I didn’t have the perfect surface space to work with and my rolling pin was a £1 Tesco special that would stick to Teflon. However, I rolled and rolled and scrunched it all up and rerolled and it came out looking quite alright, if I do say so myself.

The thinnification of icing

The thinnification of icing

Unfortunately at this juncture, the Logic Advisor and myself were faced with two unexpected and unhelpful obstacles in the shape of midgets. It should have been obvious that things were running too smoothly and something had to happen to throw us off piste.

So as we settled the littlest midget and got her back to sleep, we decided to allow the larger to sit in the kitchen while we attempted to finish the practice cake. With the assistance of the stencil the Logic Advisor roughly sketched, it came time to shape the cakes. Now I don’t even like cutting the cake at a birthday party and didn’t enjoy the cutting of the cake at our wedding because when it comes to precision hand eye coordination, I am not ashamed to say, I completely lack this skill. But with the guidance of the stencil and the Logic Advisor easing my fears, I managed to produce a rough 2 shape (in the photo it is ‘painted’ with jam to help adhere icing).

Two into 2

Two into 2

With the time delay, the icing was no longer a willing participant in this project and my once pliable friend was starting to stick and tear and crack. So I just threw it over to see if without my obstacles, might I be able to pull this off.

At very least...its a two and tasty!

At very least...it's a two and tasty!

Yes, it looks messy and some horrible patch jobs show, but it was 20 past 12 on a school night and I just wanted my bed. I do believe that I could do it nicely on the real go round, however I cannot wrap my head around how sweet the icing is, so am debating doing more of a buttercream frosting instead.

Now, I feel I must go and eat some cake scraps. Holy tasty cake!

A few years ago, my Momma and Randy were over here visiting and took me out for dinner to celebrate my birthday. We didn’t really know anywhere in the area, so we took to the Internet to find somewhere “nice” (not a chain.. not weird food.. not a carvery type joint) and stumbled upon The Birch at Woburn and decided to give it a go.

Having never ventured even as far as Woburn Sands, we were shocked to find such nice little villages so close to the booming metropolis that we were calling home. It was like Real England had been hiding in the shadows the whole time when I thought we were nowhere near it. Because of not knowing where we were, we actually passed the restaurant and ended up in Woburn itself and stumbled upon the Abbey and all.

After eventually finding out way back, we made it to the restaurant, got seated and quite enjoyed our meal there. Success!!

Lee and I then returned again a few months later and although some things were tasty, over all it was a let down and I was in fact sick by the time we hit the parking lot.

Due to this, we hadn’t been back in a couple of years!

Today, we made a return visit when Lee and Noah took me out to lunch for my birthday. The sun was shining and although we were tired from a late night out on Friday, we were all in pretty good spirits especially when once again realising that Real England is almost so close we can touch it .. without ever getting on or crossing a major highway/motorway.

We sat in “the bar” area which is more rustic looking than the tables located in the proper restaurant bit, but it was all the same menu so it didn’t really matter. Plus, with Noah, the less tables around for him to flirt with/demand attention from.. the better.

When the waiter came around to tell us about the menu I almost tuned him out straight away. I rarely ever order Specials of the Day because I normally forget halfway through what they were talking about. When he rattled off the soup and started with “tomato” I instantly thought.. .oO(ah here we go again), but he followed it with red pepper and horseradish cream. Okay, so there was no way I was going to order it seeing as I hate tomato soup, but I liked the interesting twist. He got to the special starter and it was grabbing me until I heard “stilton”, but it was alright since I’d already been busy debating myself over which of two that jumped out of me that I was going to have. And then I heard “veal”. Oh my.

Right after Noah was born I read an article about rose veal in the UK and how they were promoting it rather than perpetuating that it was a really bad thing to eat. I couldn’t help but cry when I read that veal comes from baby boy cows. Here my own baby boy was laying across my lap having a nap and I was reading about eating some cow’s baby boy. I cried. A lot.

Noah’s over a year now and I’m pregnant and sometimes I can understand why in some species of animal, the mother eats their young. My tears over veal are long gone and in fact I’ve been craving it like crazy.

So back to the man.. “fillet of veal with a mustard potato cake, served with asparagus wrapped in parma ham and topped of with seared fois gras”. DAMNIT! You had to throw in the fois gras. Instantly I knew that Lee had found his main course and I was left fearing I’d be there for hours trying to choose a main. But before I knew it I heard “salmon fillet on a bed of tagliatelle with crab and shrimp in a garlic cream sauce”. SOLD!

We asked for a moment to decided on the starters and when he .. or actually a totally different waiter… came back to take our order we were ready to go.

Lee’s menu: Terrine of Local Venison served with mustard aioli, roasted pear and rocket salad, the Veal Special (and to be added later, the Hazelnut Brulee served with Brandy and Orange Ice Cream and Shortbread)

My menu: Smoked Salmon with Potato and Horseradish Salad served with baby leaves and sauce vierge, the Salmon Special (and to be added later, the Glazed Lime Tart served with Coconut Ice Cream and fragrant lemongrass syrup)

Noah’s menu: A bit of everything with emphasis on the smoked salmon starter, the potato from Lee’s main and the Salmon and Crab from mine .. Lee’s brulee and my ice cream.

I went there not feeling like pasta at all. I was hoping for something more potato-y and with vegetable. I left completely happy with what I ordered and just wishing that fois gras was something that I didn’t find too rich and was pregancy friendly, because Lee’s meal looked AMAZING and the veal melted in the mouth. He even said that the fois gras there was better than the stuff he had at Boxwood Cafe.

The service slipped a bit toward the end, but it afforded Noah some running around time, diaper change time and time for me to be emotionally retarded and full on cry at the table when a song came on and I couldn’t stop thinking of my Daddy and how he was missing yet another one of my birthdays and how I never got to show him anything of England … where I live… and how he is so missing out on Noah.

But other than my hormonally charged self being unable to rein my tears in, it was a perfect lunch out to celebrate my favourite day of the year .. a day early.

And afterwards we drove through Woburn and then found this village that we were told we would love to live in and agreed.. we would love to live there. However, when I got home and looked up the houses for sale there we agreed that it might take a while to get there seeing as of the two possibilities (the third was too small) the cheaper one was just over £500,000.

But we got to discover a little more of what is around us and see more of what kind of place we want to go to when we leave here. We also got to drive through the deer park by Woburn Abbey and then come home and all have a nap… with Noah napping in his own room!!

What a Happy Day Before Birthday. Looks like the fates took their heads out of their bums and remembered how important my birthday weekend is after all!

And of course… I couldn’t let this lunch go by without taking photos!

At least there was one olive left when I remembered

At least there was one olive left when I remembered

Raisins while we wait

Raisins while we wait

My Salmon Starter

My Salmon Starter

Lees Starter

Lee's Starter

Where did it go?

Where did it go?

Finger Lickin Good

Finger Lickin' Good

My Main

My Main

Lees Main

Lee's Main

My Dessert

My Dessert

Lees Dessert

Lee's Dessert

Ahhhhh All Done

Ahhhhh All Done

Okay, so I’m behind the times. We’re talking decades here.

3 years ago we bought a crockpot. 3 years ago I used the crockpot to make a massive fondue most of which was eaten by Sally and me at the post wedding gathering thing at that shady place we rented.

When we returned from the weekend it went into the garage and stayed there for .. 3 years.

That is, until about a month ago. I cannot remember what I was attempting to make, but I decided that I should try the crockpot out. Noah often gets very upset when I make dinner because he believes food is edible no matter the state and doesn’t understand waiting. So I decided to make something that I could put on while he was having a morning nap and just serve up when it came time.

I made a couple of things including my first ever pot roast and realised that I had been missing out. A crockpot makes life so much easier. But then I got stumped and couldn’t think of anything to make other that dishes that come out like beef stew or something similar. While I was in Toronto, Lee got in on the slow cooker action and made himself a chilli to last a few days and then the ideas ran totally dry.

Sure, there are a million sites out there with recipes, but I’m always nervous that what Mary-Sue in West Virginia thinks is tasty may resemble road kill stew. We are a house that loves spices and flavour and things that are filling, not just a 7 hour meatloaf.

Well lo and behold I was reading my Canadian ex-pat forum as usual and I saw a recipe for slow cooker lamb shanks. Let me state for the record that I never make the lamb in this house unless it is meatballs made from minced lamb. It looked interesting, but I was scared. I called Lee at work to ask what a lamb shank was (good thing I did because I thought they were just rough chops) and decided that I’d give this thing a go. I popped out to Sainsburys where the man behind the meat counter was rude when I asked how many people one shank served. Remember, only an hour ago I had no idea what a shank was!!

Seeing as they only had one, I went to the lamb aisle and decided to look there. There was a pack with two and I figured that Noah and I could share one .. especially as I was not sure that I’d be liking what I made. Then I got nervous because the recipe called for soy sauce and I couldn’t imagine a teriyaki lamb shank.

This morning I quickly looked up alternate lamb shanks in the crockpot recipes and saw one that called for ingredients I actually had. I gave it a quick read over and decided that I’d go with the ingredients and figure out the measurements and prep myself.

Oh my. Oh my oh my oh my. Why wasn’t I made aware of the existence of lamb shanks before?! A red meat that Lee will eat well done, that just falls off the bone and is cheap! It is heaven in a meat! Something that I just needed to brown, make the braise for and toss it all into a crockpot and leave it for the entire day. It was all in there and doing its thing by 8.30am and Noah and I then sat down to breakfast.

By the time dinner came, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Even Noah kept looking at me as if to say “are you kidding me?! you could make this all along and you gave me that gross stir fry last night?”. It was one of the first times I was eating my own cooking and thought .oO(if I was served this in a restaurant, I’d totally pay £15 for it and not think I was being scammed).

Not that my food is normally crap, just that lately I’ve been trying things I’ve never made before and shocking myself that within me lives someone who can actually cook .. well.

Now if only I could regain some of my brain back so that I could think of other things to make!

Here is the recipe that I took the idea from: Honey Lamb Shanks

And here is what I produced!!!

My Dinner:
Lamb Shankopotamus

Noah’s Dinner:
Kid's Fancy Pants Grub

Last week it was Shrimp Alfredo, Chicken in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce and a third meal we cannot recall. This week it has been Corned Beef with Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots, Chicken Stroganoff, Cannelloni stuffed with Salmon, Sunblushed Tomatoes and Spinach and tonight we had Slow Cooker Pot Roast.

I made it all. Seriously. Me. The one who normally goes for the Tired and Pregnancy Sympathy Vote and gets a Happy Meal or more often than not has the Most Understanding Husband in the Universe who works all day long and then comes home and cooks.

But it would appear that this Maternal stuff that was supposed to kick in last year when I had Noah is finally kicking in now and I am liking cooking. Even if I have to constantly drop scraps to the floor for my son who will not allow food to be prepared unless he is getting fed.

We have even eaten all of our meals at the table for the past few weeks. US! King and Queen and Prince of the Sofa Eaters. Noah and I do breakfast and lunch together at the table and Lee joins us for dinner.

It is scary. We are becoming civilised .. almost normal even…

…must be the hormones.

I have always wanted to be able to bake. If you scroll back through posts of mine you will see that every once in a while I get the urge to create food from scratch. Pasta, cookies, dessert bars. That sort of thing. And while I was quite successful at the pasta, the baking has always been … not quite there. I am afraid of the oven. It always seems too hot or not hot enough .. even when I’m following directions. But as Noah’s birthday is coming up, I felt like I had to be able to make something myself. Sure I could go to Costco and buy cupcakes for £14.99 or buy a cake that would be wasted as it would be too big and we are not really a house of cake eaters (until this week when this baby has me wanting cake constantly). So with two weeks left, I thought I’d give it a go.

And a go I gave it.

I made the batter from scratch, the icing and even the lemon sugar to sprinkle on top.

Sure, to those of you who know to cover both hands when getting something out of the oven or that turning the oven a little higher won’t cook the middle any faster, it may seem funny that I am so excited by such small achievements, but I am. So shh.

At first I thought that the batter was too thick and was convinced that it was going to bubble over and I’d either have monster sized cupcakes or they’d end up on the bottom of the oven. But look! They came out like perfect little cupcakes!

Fresh from the oven

The icing didn’t look as nice and I was pretty worried about whether I was doing it right. The dry to wet ratio was so not working according to the recipe, so I went off piste and decided to do it myself and threw in some lemon zest for an added lemon zing!

Icing on the cupcakes

The first thing I actually did was make the lemon sugar. Now it smells great and tastes great, but I have no idea why I had to make so much of it and have yet to figure out what else I can put it on. Looks like I’ll be making a lemon cake this week!

Lemon Sugar

When I put the three parts to the puzzle together, the results were mindblowing. Well, they blew my mind anyway. And my constant patting myself on the back has started to not quite blow Lee’s mind, but wear out the bit when you smile and nod to be polite. But look at these babies!!!

Lemon Cupcake

Mmm Cake

Friends in Cake

And they really do taste as yummy as they look. Even Noah agrees. Actually, scratch that endorsement as we found out tonight that the guy loves coriander. Blech.

Guess what?

I am eating lunch alone.

Before you get all “aww” on me, I have to confess something. I am THRILLED about this. So what if it is barely 11.15am! So what if I didn’t have breakfast this morning because I was too busy showering, making Noah’s breakfast, changing him, dressing him, taking him to the doctor and going to the grocery store?! It matters not, because I am eating lunch alone.

It is so hard to time meals around Noah. Even when I have my lunch ready to eat whilst he has his, I always feel guilty as he pauses mid chew to look at what I have and then he uses those big brown eyes and just gives me a look like “don’t you love me enough to let me have that for lunch too?”. Before long you realise that whatever you’d made for lunch, you’ve made the baby friendly version .. just in case. Although there is no such thing as just in case when it comes to Noah. Whatever you have .. he wants. Even if he’s just had tons to eat of his own food.

Just another thing he’s inherited from me: no matter what you’ve got to eat, the other person’s always looks and tastes better (except for when my Momma, Randy, Adam, Noah and I went to Boxwood.. where I just kept winning and winning).

So right now, I am enjoying listening to the echoes of crouton crunches bounce around inside my head as I sit in silence. No tv, no toy suggesting “Let’s sing a song” or saying “Hello Baby”. Just me, my salad and my Capri-Sun.

Life is good.