Chicken noodle soup, homemade bread, and a tantrum

I got home at 6pm today (did I mention I work full-time?) having gone to Morrisons with my son to get parsley for our soup (I forgot to get it on my lunch break as I got distracted by a charity shop, some size 15 knitting needles, and a bunch of fab retro knitting patterns). We also managed to acquire a Monsters Inc. magazine, a packet of Boost bars, and funny looks from a woman as we perched our parsley on the promotional stack of loo roll by the entrance and climbed over the security barrier because M needed the toilet as we were looking at the magazines.

So… yeah… soup. Remember the chicken stock I made a couple of days ago? Well today I used it, I added some chopped onion, fried until brown/see through, carrot and celery chopped up small, the parsley, extra water salt and pepper, and the three nests of tagliatelle that have been sat in our cupboard for about a year and are the reason I was making the soup in the first place (I crushed them up a bit before I threw them in). Then for the chicken: you’d think what with my fantastic adventure with cutting up chicken the other day that I would have used some of that? Well… no. Actually I nabbed leftovers from the roast chicken we had at my mum’s yesterday and threw them in. Then I reheated the bread I made yesterday (I will post the recipe another day – it didn’t turn out great but was ok for a first attempt and was lovely with the soup) and that was dinner.

My husband liked it (with added salt). I liked it (as much as I like any soup). My 3-year-old (M) ate the bread. With chocolate spread on it. After his second lot of chocolate spread on one slice of bread (i.e. when we realized he was just licking the chocolate spread off the bread) we said he couldn’t have any more unless he tried either the chicken or the noodles (we’re not mean, we know it would be too much for him to try both…) He refused. He said he had wanted his dinner on a plate. I said it was soup and soup does not go on plates. My husband put a few noodles on a plate anyway. M said that he didn’t want his noodles wet. So I gave up (but didn’t give in to the chocolate spread tantrum) and went to run his bath. Cue M following me still whining about the chocolate spread. I told him if he was still hungry after his bath he could have some Cheerios or porridge, but not chocolate spread as he didn’t try his soup. He said something about “wet noodles” again, which I ignored.

The bath run, I attempted to undress my recalcitrant pre-schooler (I almost said toddler but I guess he is officially in pre-school now and as he tells me, he’s half-small but not really small). Cue rolling on the floor in a lack-of-chocolate-spread-induced rage. Cue my (stupidly) saying that I was going to count to three and if he did not take his clothes off for the bath I would put him in the bath with his clothes on. And… repeat said threat while holding him over the bath and pretending to put him in bath as really didn’t want to put him in the bath with clothes on, until finally, because I didn’t want to be “that” parent who doesn’t follow through with threats and whose child never listens to a word she says, I put him in the bath with his clothes on. Cue even more pandemonium until we finally have a very tired and very cross little boy to coax into bed.

I cuddled him, I managed to get pajamas on him (though he screamed about wanting “PJs” not pajamas and my head nearly exploded…) and finally ended the tantrum by pointing out that daddy and I were not going to give in to a tantrum about chocolate spread and when had he ever got what he wanted by screaming and shouting? And by suggesting that next time he was given a choice to try his noodles or chicken and have chocolate spread, or not try them and go without chocolate spread, maybe he would choose to try them, even if they were wet.

So, after that eventful evening, with M tucked up asleep in bed with his “snugglies” (elephant and rabbit), I sit down to taste my craft beer of the evening. This one tastes ok too. I think the trick is to just sip and savour the flavor rather than gulp it down like I do with lager. This one is Krombacher Dark: “the full-flavoured beer with a fine and malty taste.” It does taste malty, so does what it says on the tin. Also, like all beer, it takes the edge off a toddler (sorry pre-schooler) meltdown. Cheers.

Welcome (raw chicken and a little about me)

Tonight I did something I have never, ever, done before. I cut up a whole raw chicken into its component parts, cooked some, froze some, and made a chicken stock.

I should point out that I am 29. I have been married for 7 years. I have a 3-year-old son. Cooking is not my thing. Raw chicken is definitely not my thing; I have a salmonella spidey-sense that is like that TV commercial for kitchen cleaner where germs are represented as red dots that cover your entire kitchen. I track the progress of the chicken and remember everything it touched and clean down thoroughly afterwards (or follow my husband around and then have a panic attack when he *gasp* leaves the dirty chicken-covered chopping board in the sink).

Needless to say, I am not the likeliest person to be making anything with chicken. But I am 29, I am a mother, and more importantly, my live-in chef *ahem*, husband, has started working relatively-late nights, so I can either order take-away every night (expensive), eat ready meals (expensive and nasty), or learn to cook.

Anyone who knows me will know that this is a relatively big deal. I am not a great cook. I can cook, obviously, I can make pasta, thai curry, oven food, chilli, and various other things that are edible, if not delicious. But my experience of cooking has been of being in turn, confused, flustered, irritated, and more than once, in tears. So yeah, I cut up a chicken and I am very pleased with myself. [On a side note, I bought a whole chicken a couple of months ago. I think it was for a curry or something and as I wanted free-range, I bought a whole one rather than pay 11 quid or whatever for free-range chicken breasts. I hacked the thing to pieces and threw most of it away. And I jumped around the kitchen shrieking like a lunatic when I realized that the thin rubbery white things that were so difficult to cut through were *shudder* veins].

I have recently taught myself to knit, and to sew (on a hand-crank manual sewing machine I got off Freecycle.org) and I figured it’s high time I taught myself to cook.

This blog is about my (attempts at) cooking and baking. I will list recipes I use (or invent) and whether I, my husband, and/or my son liked it [side note: my son is three; he is a picky eater… a very picky eater. Things he won’t eat: potatoes of any kind: chips, roast, mashed, waffles, smiley potato faces aimed at picky kids, etc.; rice; mince beef; any meat that is not sausages, ham, roast chicken, or lamb korma – yes, this means he will not eat chicken korma, sliced chicken in sandwiches, or roast lamb with gravy; fruit or vegetables of any kind that are in any way recognizable as fruit or vegetables].

I will also share my craft projects and my forays into craft beer. My husband is a home-brewer. He plans to start his own business in the future, and I figured it was about time I tried some of the craft beer he raves about. Apparently it is important to share your partner’s interests… though I went to the Great American Beer Festival last year with him in Denver, Colorado (we used to live in the States) and my favourite beer there was Coors. So yeah… maybe I can train my palette in time to be an active partner in my partner’s brew-pub business.

Tonight’s beer is Innis & Gunn, Oak Aged Beer. I actually like this one. It tastes really nice. [I have got to get better at describing the flavours as yeah, it tastes nice…]

Important facts to know about me if you’re going to read this blog: I am British, married to an American. I lived in the U.S. for 7 years and our son was born in the U.S. but we moved back to the UK when our son was 2 years old. We currently live in a little English seaside town with an (undeserved) bad reputation. I am of the opinion that “modern life is rubbish.” I have a love-hate relationship with modern technology, I wish we could get rid of our TV yet I watch it every night, and Facebook makes me sad inside yet I am a prolific poster. The state of the world in general makes me despair, yet I have decided that I can’t fix it, I can only do my bit.

Welcome.