Sitting down together as a whole family to eat a main meal is something we try to do on a Sunday. I’m sure that as the kids get older it will become a little easier to sync our routines. At present during the week they get in from school ravenous and eat their tea at around 5. Sometimes a bit earlier. Now I’m just not ready for a main meal at that time and husband is not finished work so that rules out mid-week eating all together. I say that I’m not ready for a main meal at that time but I defy anyone out there not to hoover up all the leftovers from a kiddy dinner. Cold half chewed fishfinger? Yep, I’ll have that. Slightly congealed pasta that’s gone cold and may or may not have had a little wander round the kitchen floor? Come to mama. Best eaten standing up over the dishwasher with a furtive look on your face. Every day I think ‘I will NOT eat their leftovers today’ and every day at least a couple of spoonfulls end up in my gob. On a particularly peckish day I will confess to actually some of it ending up in my gob before it’s actually made it onto their plates. Last night they had sausage, mash and veg and I did an extra sausage just for my munching pleasure. My plan backfired a little because husband sniffed out the smell of cooked pork and came a wandering into the kitchen asking if there was a ‘spare’ sausage for him. Clearly at this point I did what any self-respecting wife and mother would do and lied through my sausage grease smeared teeth and quite indignantly accused him of being greedy and wanting to steal the food from the mouths of his darling children. Cooks prerogative. Don’t be feeling sorry for him though as he sat with the kids ‘helping’ them with their tea and I think employed the ‘one for you, one for me’ method of getting them to eat. I employed that technique with my christmas shopping this year. This would explain why church mice are now booking their week in Tenerife for the summer and we are going chez parentals to Dorset. Again. Good job they live somewhere nice because a fortnight in Slough just wouldn’t have the same appeal. No offence to Slough folk.
Anyway, at a weekend we try and eat together where possible. By ‘possible’ I mean when we have the necessary forethought and fortitude. Eating with children isn’t exactly a relaxing and joyful experience. A family roast dinner in my head is a bit like a Bisto advert with smiling children saying ‘thanks mum for this roast dinner it’s fantastic and you’re the best mum ever’.
In reality there’s a couple of stressful hours where I’m in the kitchen, which the boys have decided is actually a scooter rink/car race track, shouting like a banshee ‘don’t touch that it’s HOT’ ‘get off the carrots there won’t be enough for dinner’ ‘no you bloody can’t have a bag of crisps dinner will be ready in half an hour’. At this point I get stuck into the wine.
Then you dish up and they pile up to the table. Cue wails of ‘it’s toooooooo HOT’ *sob sob sob* *frantic blow blow blow*. ‘Can I have some juice in a wine glass to be like you and daddy?’ ‘no, you spill it every time’ ‘pleeeeeeease?’ ‘No’ ‘pleeeeeease?’ ‘Oh go on then’…………. ‘OH FFS THERE’S JUICE IN THE SODDING ROASTIES’. Add to that the chorus of ‘I don’t like carrots’ ‘Well you did yesterday’ ‘I don’t today’ and ‘can I have another yorkshire pudding’ ‘No you’ve eaten six – there isn’t any more’ ‘well there’s one on your plate can I have that’ ‘no’ ‘pleeeeeeease?’ ‘Oh just have it’. Then the crowning glory of ‘what’s for pudding?’ when you haven’t even actually had a mouthful of your yorkshire pud-less, juice soaked, luke warm roast dinner yourself.
Family memories are made of this people.
So – despite all this I am still a fan of the family dinner as otherwise I am concerned that as adults they will be incapable of eating in polite company. I have visions of them in power suits at a corporate dinner lying on the floor having a tantrum because their chicken wrapped in bacon is TOO HOT!!
BUT I am increasingly less willing to slave away for hours in the kitchen to get to the end result of a roast dinner. It’s hours that I’m not spending doing something else (like guilt tripping the husband into looking after them ‘well you work away so much you hardly see them, they love spending Sunday afternoon on a little daddy outing’ whilst I slope of for a snooze) and the work:enjoyment ratio seems stacked unfavourably in the work camp.
Step forward slow cooker roast chicken. I blogged the recipe here on tamsinsworld and, if I do say so myself, it’s a good ‘un. In case you need more inducement to click on the link and read the original post it’s a whole chicken cooked in the slow cooker. Easy peasy – whack it all in in the morning and then it’s done for tea time. It even makes its own gravy with only minimal faffing.
I serve this with steamed veg and then just put the oven on to do some roast potatoes and yorkshires (which I confess I always buy frozen – not quite as nice as homemade but I don’t think that faffing with trays of very hot fat in a kitchen with small children wandering about is particularly safe).
None of this actually makes the eating process smoother but hopefully you’ll be less stressed by the time you get there and at least the work:enjoyment ratio is a bit more stacked to the enjoyment side.
Enjoy and Happy Sunday.