Too Late for Regrets

It was probably the most memorable Valentine’s Day in my life and, thinking back now after all those years, I feel quite embarrassed by my behaviour that day. In hindsight one always knows just what should have been said or done, but that doesn’t change things once they have occurred.

Valentine’s Day that year just happened to fall on a Saturday and I had a full agenda which included taking my 4 year old twins to a birthday party in the afternoon. The morning was taken up with grocery shopping as well as choosing a gift for the birthday boy. In fact, as I was taking two children to the party, it was only right that I purchased two gifts for the child. I left my two terrors at home with their father, and headed for the local shopping mall. It was a battle to find a parking spot, but finally I succeeded and made my way, first of all to the supermarket.

It took me ages to get all the items on my shopping list and then it was a case of packing them in the boot of my car before aiming for the toy shop.  I had a good idea of what I was going to buy for  Chad, who was having the party. He loved Lego, so I had already decided to buy two smallish, but very acceptable Lego models for him. I was, and still am, always on a budget so I felt that these toys would fit the bill very well indeed and wouldn’t make me look mean.

I found the items I was looking for and looked around to see where I could pay. I froze. In front of me and staring straight at me was a face I had hoped never to see again. I felt my cheeks burn in embarrassment and didn’t know which way to turn. “Fancy seeing you here, Shelley!”  I looked at the man who I had believed would be my husband one day and mumbled, “Hi John”.  I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me as I had a flashback of our last meeting, 8 years before.

Before I could recover, my ex-lover decided to start a conversation with me. “What are you doing in a toy shop, Shelley? You, who always swore that you couldn’t stand children and wanted nothing to do with them.  Perhaps you are shopping on behalf of your sister?” I was mortified. John knew just how maternal my sister, Lily, had always been and obviously assumed that she had the brood of children that she had always wanted.  I didn’t know what to say to him, and then blurted out, “No, they are for my twins to take to a party this afternoon”.

The look of shock which I got from John is one which I will never forget. We had dated for years and he was longing to settle down and start a family, but I had other plans in those days.  My job as a journalist with a large newspaper was taking off in a big way, and children were certainly not part of my long term plan at all. I will never forget the day he gave me the ultimatum. If I refused to get engaged and to set a date for our wedding, with the proviso that we would think of having children within two years of the wedding, then he was calling an end to our relationship. I had been shattered, but not enough to change my mind about putting my career first.

How foolish can one be when it comes to losing perspective. If only one could see into the future then the decisions one made would be quite different. John was devastated by our breakup, but that didn’t stop him finding a gorgeous blonde architect and getting married within a year of leaving me. I saw the wedding photo in the social section of the newspaper where I worked, and felt very sad at my loss. It was a wake-up call and forced me to look at my life, especially as my job suddenly was no longer as appealing as it had seemed when I had lost John.

 

I managed to pull myself together and forced myself to ask him about his life. He told me that he and his wife were in the process of moving overseas as he had a very good job offer and his wife would have no problem getting a good position as well. They had been unable to have children, sadly, due to his wife having had an infertility problem, but they enjoyed a comfortable life doing a great deal of travelling, a lot of scuba diving as well as hiking.

He asked me who I had married, and was surprised to hear that it was an ex -colleague at the newspaper where I had worked– a man quite a lot older than me, who had been married previously but had no children.  The paper had retrenched many of the staff members before closing down totally, so we were forced to pull in our belts.  Martin had taken a job with a lower salary and I was writing some part-time articles for a women’s magazine, which didn’t pay too generously but we were happy.

I didn’t take up John’s offer to join him for a cup of coffee as I was already later than I had hoped and needed to get home to prepare the twins for the birthday party. I really felt very uncomfortable seeing John again and remembering the way I had treated him. Would things have been more exciting if I had made a different decision at the time, and he had not become the one I always referred as “The One That Got Away”? I would never know and it was better not to dwell on what might have been. I was sad that he had never been able to have the pleasure of being a father, and this in itself made me feel very guilty.

I wished him all the best for the future, and never did find out why he was in the toyshop.  I knew he had always been very generous with his friend’s children and maybe he was buying for nephews and nieces. I have since regretted not even bothering to find out.  His parting comment was to wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day! What a way to make me feel even worse than before.

I paid for the Lego and was relieved when I arrived at my car and was able to try my best to focus on getting home safely and with time to spare.

 

Caramel Sticky Buns

These buns are fantastic accompanied by an espresso.

Ingredients

  • 310 ml buttermilk
  • 55 g sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 640 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 170 g unsalted butter, softened

Caramel

  • 165 g lightly packed brown sugar
  • 55 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 60 ml light corn syrup
  • 30 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Filling

  • 105 g lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Buttermilk, for brushing

Preparation

  1. In a bowl, combine the buttermilk, sugar, yeast and salt. Set aside.
  2. Combine the flour, eggs and buttermilk mixture in a stand mixer using the dough hook or in a bowl using a wooden spoon, until a dough begins to form.
  3. Add the softened butter.
  4. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. It will be soft and slightly sticky. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, humid place for 1 hour.

Caramel

  1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients with a whisk until smooth.
  2. Pour into a buttered 33 x 23 cm glass baking dish. Set aside.

Filling

  1. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. On a generously floured surface, roll out the dough into a 50 x 35 cm rectangle. Brush with the melted butter and cover with the brown sugar mixture. Roll the dough into a log 50 cm long. Cut into 12 slices.
  3. Place the dough slices onto the caramel. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, humid place for 1 hour.
  4. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  5. Brush the buns with buttermilk. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked all the way through.
  6. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Place a large serving platter over the baking dish. Turn out the sticky buns onto the platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Mary

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary
Tell me why your legs are hairy?
Don’t you even stop and think
Or are you always at the sink
Washing dishes, making food
Looking after all your brood?
The man you married
Whom the kids call Dad
Deserves to remember
The wife he once had;
Instead of that he sees a drag-
Moaning and groaning
An untidy old bag.
Now get your act together
Regardless of the weather.
Go look in the mirror and what do you see-
I know you’ll say “is that really me?”

Mary 2 350x233

Now off to the salon to get your hair cut.
No arguments please and don’t say “but”.
Do as you are told and move it Mary,
You can’t carry on with legs so hairy.
So make the time when you get back
To take a hot bath and use a face pack.
Then get those legs groomed before he comes home.
If you don’t make an effort
His eyes are going to roam.
No-one deserves to have a sloppy wife,
And he will start to make comments
Which will cut you like a knife.

children jumping

So you know the kids are playing
At your neighbours for the day,
So take my advice and do not delay.
Make yourself gorgeous before the day is done
And you may be surprised and be the lucky one,
Whose husband is delighted when he comes in through the door.
This is the person he had fun with years before.
The children will be proud to call you their Mum
And you my dear Mary – well the good times they will come!

makeup-2215!! [преобразованный]

Lamb in white wine with green olives.

Ingredients

  • 750g Lamb leg or loin cubes
  • 3 large carrots cut into small cubes
  • 1 large brown onion diced
  • 1 cup green, pitted olives
  • 500 ml lamb stock
  • 500ml dry white wine
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 heaped tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 300ml cream
  • Salt/pepper
  • Olive oil

Method

  • Heat a good splash of olive oil in a heavy based pan and a high
    heat
  • Season the raw meat well with salt and pepper
  • When oil is hot, brown the meat in batches being careful not to
    overcrowd the pan
  • Remove the meat and set aside
  • Turn the heat down to medium and add onions and carrots to
    the pan. Sautee until starting to soften – about 7 minutes
  • Stir through the garlic and herbs and gently fry for about 1 minute
  • Add the wine and stock, cover the pot and gently simmer until the
    meat is very tender – +/- 2 hours – check seasoning half way
    through
  • When the meat is ready, add the olives and simmer for a further
    5 minutes
  • Remove pan from the heat and stir through the cream
  • Serve in a bowl with steamed rice

 Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Caramel and Salted Pretzel Mousse

Ingredients

  • 1 x 380g tin caramel / dulce de Leche
  • 400ml cream
  • 100g egg whites
  • 1 tblsp icing sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • Crushed salted pretzels
  • Cocoa nibs

Method

  • Whip the caramel/dulce de leche until smooth
  • Whip the cream with the icing sugar until soft peaks are formed
  • Whip the egg whites with a pinch of sugar until soft peaks have formed.
  • Fold the cream into the caramel and then fold in the egg whites
  • Pour into glasses to serve topping with crushed salted pretzels and cocoa nibs (optional)

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

Pasta with Anchovies

Spaghetti with Anchovy, Capers, Chilli and Garlic

This is a really easy pasta dish which can literally be made in under 15minutes. An important note however – never, ever underestimate how under salted pasta can impact negatively on the final flavour of a dish. It is often said that the water you cook pasta in should be as salty as the Mediterranean Sea!! I cook my pasta in a pot with approximately 5 litres of water. I use 3 heaped tablespoons of table salt, and this produces pasta with the right amount of saltiness. Alternatively, if you live close enough to the beach, you can always pop across to the water’s edge and fill your pot with sea water!!

Ingredients

  • 1 small tin (or 50g) anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 medium brown onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 – 2 chillies finely chopped (you can use as hot, or as mild as you wish – I prefer hotter for this dish)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large handful Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • Zest of one lemon finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 1 packet spaghetti

Method

  • Heat a pot of well salted water until boiling and cook the spaghetti until done – “Al Dente”.
  • Whilst cooking the pasta you can make the sauce.
  • On a low – medium heat, gently sauté the onion in a good splash of olive oil until softened – about 6 -7 minutes.
  • Add the chillies and gently fry for about another minute or two.
  • Add the garlic and gently fry for about 1 minute.
  • Add the chopped anchovies and stir through.
  • Add the capers and stir through.
  • Gently cook for about another minute adding another splash of olive oil if the sauce seems a little dry.
  • Remove from the heat and stir through the parsley and lemon zest.
  • Drain the pasta.

Serve the sauce over the spaghetti adding some cracked black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris

 

Mushroom, Spinach and Gruyere Tart

This is a great vegetarian dish and incredibly tasty. You can use any wild                                mushrooms.

Ingredients

  •    800g mushrooms thinly sliced
  •    200g gruyere, grated
  •    2 bags baby spinach
  •    3 cloves garlic crushed
  •    2 small shallots finely diced
  •    2-3 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  •    Puff pastry
  •    Olive oil
  •    Salt and pepper
  •    200 g wild mushrooms – enoki, shimeji, chanterelles, oyster

Method

  • Turn the oven on to 180.
  • Butter and line a tart tin.
  • Roll out your pastry and lay into the tart tin, gently pressing into the sides.
  • Prick the base of the pastry and bake blind for about 15 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven.

Filling

  • Blanch the spinach in boiling water until wilted.
  • Remove from the pot, drain and roughly chop.
  • In a pan, sauté the shallots in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until softened – +/- 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and mushrooms and thyme, and gently cook until the mushrooms have softened +/- 5-8 minutes.
  • Add the spinach and stir through.
  • Remove from the heat and stir through the gruyere.
  • Taste and season as required.

Finishing

  • Transfer the filling to the cooked tart base and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
  • Whilst the tart is cooking, sauté the wild mushroom on high heat in 1 tablespoon butter.
  • Remove the tart, scatter the wild mushrooms over the top.
  • Allow to stand for a few minutes, remove from the tart tin and serve.

Nice! and Tasty – Chris