Sometimes I have been known, on occasion, to overdo it on the food front. I have been known to cater for 4 and add a zero. Yes, yes, I can hear all your gasps (yes I can)…. so stop that if you would please. Perhaps what I should say is that I would like to hear the gasps. Instead, I think I hear a pin drop. I guess most people know by now, that I can overdo it – just a little!
I am asked to bring something sweet for a weekend away and before I know it, I find that I am suddenly stuffing four over sized Tupperware tubs in the back of my boot. I forgot the body soap but really – who needs it when you have nice cake? I should add that I overcame a very justified fear of riding a horse on said weekend away with one of my daughter’s – proud? Yes, thank you… and so was I and so on the dismount, we celebrated with a variety of cakes – hurrah! I‘ll get around to sharing my horror horse riding stories with you all one day and you will appreciate why I am pounding my chest a-la King Kong style right now!
Friends over for dinner? I have been witness to belly clenching waddles as our nearest and dearest leave the table for the long walk up our front hall to the front door. My husband once commented that a close friend was walking like a seal and so yes, I may have overdone it – just a little!
It also has not gone unnoticed that some of our past cooking classes may have run over time a little because at curtain call, I make an executive decision that the class simply will not be the same without including the recipe and enjoyment of say, a salted caramel ice cream. Not the quickest dish to prep for pre-class but if it is in my head at this point, there is really no point fighting it. Our regulars now smirk (a happy smirk) when they see my much loved ice cream machine in pride of place, churning it’s little heart out. There are never any complaints but I am sure there is a touch of ‘yep, she’s done it again’.
With all of this said and shared, I think I am getting wiser to the signs and know when I am stuck on this little treadmill and I do believe that slowly but surely, I am getting better and pulling myself up. I find that I hit a point when all I crave is simplicity (must remember this next time we a kissing seals farewell at our dinner party). When I get like this, I try to de-clutter. I work out where I need and want to spend the little pockets of my spare time and it helps a great deal. I stop shopping daily (yes I do) and I get inspiration instead from walking in to our pantry and garden and using what is at hand for our weeknight meals. Some of our best meals are made this way (it helps to have a good selection of fresh herbs in your garden) and I get more creative, I am sure. I think of the five of us, as a family and what we need to nourish us. I quickly ponder what we might perhaps have indulged in too much of recently and then my arms are up and I am grabbing at the shelves. When I get like this, I am happy to cast meat aside and opt for other healthy proteins instead. I do like having a couple of meat free nights each week. This following meal is a vegetarian one and it is a little gem. I usually have everything I need in stock and can whip it up in ten minutes which leaves me precious time so that I can sit and listen to my baby girl as she learns to read, hear of my middle girl’s recent fascination with symmetrical shapes and hold hands with my biggest girl and feel that she wont be a girl for much longer. They grow so fast, this much I know and so I am forever grateful when I stop acting so grown up and busy and organised and I consciously stop and enjoy all the things about being a kid again – even if just with my eyes and my ears to enjoy my girls before they act ‘all grown up’ too.
This isn’t a gastronomical masterpiece but it is damn good, cleansing, warming, hearty and will give you the extra 20 minutes you might find you need from time to time also. I hope you enjoy. X
Spicy chickpeas with haloumi
Serves 2-3 as a main meal or 4-6 as a side dish
2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
A good pinch of chilli flakes
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
400g chickpeas, rinsed and drained
200g Cypriot style haloumi, cut into 2cm cubes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
400g can of diced tomatoes
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Approx 140g baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
2 tablespoons of full fat Greek yoghurt, to serve (I use and love 5:am organic yoghurt here)
Lightly toasted flaked almonds, to serve
Heat a medium saucepan and add the oil. Cook the onion for a few minutes, to soften. Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, chilli and turmeric for approximately 30 seconds, constantly stirring. Add the chickpeas and haloumi and cook for a few minutes to infuse spice and flavor. Stir in the tomato paste and then add the sugar and tomatoes in their juice. Add zest and lemon juice. Taste and then season with sea salt and pepper and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Add spinach, cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the spinach has wilted. Allow to cool slightly and serve along with yoghurt and flaked almonds.