Some things are more important than cakes

Seeing as I am Mistress of the Phlegm this week, you will not be surprised to hear that not a lot of cooking has been going on this week (not since Tuesday anyway) – despite the fact that it is the first anniversary of these pages.

However there are minor celebrations here at BunTowers (yes I know its only¬† a Victorian end terrace house but to me, Spider and Husband it’s a castle, turrets and all) and we are celebrating with a bottle of el cheapo cab sav and our favourite meal of sausage and mash.

Part of the celebration is due to it being the end of the week, but partly due to some wonderful developments relating to the world of reading. You see we like books here, we really like books, in fact a love of books reading and scotch whisky is partly what drew me and Husband together (we met online on a climbing site UKC) and Raw Spirit (Iain Banks) is probably the cause of Spider ( it was the final chapter, we had managed to acquire all 10 of the top 10 and we read the final chapter aloud accompanied by a whisky tasting…).

So development number 1 is the fact that you can now use your library ticket in libraries outside of your local area, this is fantastic news to a girl who works 67 miles away from home and doesn’t have time to visit a library. I haven’t done much reading since Spider was born, mainly because I have been refusing to buy books and can’t get to a library regularly, partly because my brain can’t concentrate for long on anything more taxing than a recipe book.

The more interesting development concerns Spider. Now I don’t talk much about how he is developing compared to his peers, part of this is because I don’t know how he compares (work means I am a bit of a “hands off “mummy), partly because I can’t imagine anyone outside of the immediate family is interested, but mainly because he is a stubborn (yes Mum, I know, takes after his Mummy) control freak who refuses to let anyone tell him what to do. If he thinks someone wants him to do anything he puts up a resistance to it, which means that when it comes to reading we have had to back off a lot on the usual encouragement you might want to do, because the more we try to persuade him to learn the alphabet the more he refuses to do so.

Anyway, this week has been a sort of epiphany for him…he is finally connecting the phonics with the marks on the page and he is feeling “clever” because he has worked it out and realised how proud his parents are of him – he is now trying to read everything in sight and we have had to rein him back to trying slightly smaller words, although he did make a decent fist of trying to read “Imagine”

I will accept that the playmobil reward system has played an important part in persuading him to try, but I also think that we were right to back off and let him find letters in his own time, as has the constant assurance that we will still read to him even when he knows how to do it himself.

So short of cake in the house we may be but we are very happy here today – it is definitely an orange coloured day.

Rick Stein’s Food Heroes

I spent most of saturday morning feeling anxious and I don’t know why, Payday has come and gone for both of us, the bills are paid and there is food in the cupboard, no one is ill, work is quiet, in fact everything is going swimmingly and I’ve even started planting a few things for the garden – but still I had this nervous, worried feeling chewing up my insides…

We tried a cheap distraction technique that all 3 of us would enjoy. We went to the local library. Husband and I floated around the shelves and Spider made a den under the table in the children’s section. I don’t know why, but having been an avid reader from the age of 4.5 until 33 (drivers in Crowthorne frequently used to stare on their way to work at the scruffy teenager walking along with her nose in a book !) I appear to have stopped reading fiction since my son was born…anyway Spider’s ticket was at his Grandma’s so he stole most of my allocation.

I came out with Minus 9-1:Jools Oliver – now don’t get the idea that I take my interest in cookery so seriously that I’m even reading books by the wives of chef’s, its just this book came out the year Spider was born when I was going through a lot of what the book is about, and I’d put it on the mental tick list, and since it was in a prominent place I took it out…it’s pretty light and fluffy so I’d managed to demolish it by bedtime anyway.

Currently ploughing through Wife in the North:Judith O’Reilly recommended by Husband as he’d heard it on Radio 4…I think he secretly harbours thoughts that someone will offer me a book deal because I’m doing a blog – think not, she was a trained journalist before she started her blog, I’m a lawyer. Nobody is interested in what lawyers think as they are too scared it might cost them !

The other book I’m reading at the moment is Rick Stein’s Food Heroes…now Rick is a slightly strange addition to my Food Heroes list. You see I do not own any of his books and I doubt whether I will ever cook any of his recipes as they are far too cheffy for me…and I’m the only person in the house that eats fish, but he has had an influence in my life and I like what he’s doing now.

In a previous life, I used to go to Padstow every new year. There was a lovely tradition that on new years day the boys would cook and the girls would go to the pub. One year we were sent out to get some last minute ingredients and came back, via a couple of pubs and in the last one we went in there was a right old sing song going on and I swear that right in the thick of it was Mr Stein – the boys scoffed at this saying “don’t be silly, he goes to australia every christmas”. Anyway as a result of our frequent Padstow visits and the fact I liked fish, my boyfriend at the time, realising that a man who can cook is by my standards impressive virtually cooked his way through 2 of Rick’s books.

After the relationship ended, I sort of regarded Rick Stein as the boyfriend’s territory and steered clear…and then some time ago I accidently came across the food heroes series on TV, and was impressed – I liked what he was doing, and having grown up in Worcestershire, home of PYO fruit thought it was about time that someone started celebrating what we have to offer, especially if its local…

So yes Rick Stein is one of my food heroes, but not for his cooking or his recipe books or for the fact he grows his own whatever, but that he’s out there, quietly singing the praises of the producers – and it is quiet and so very very english, but he keeps on plugging away at it…yay, go Rick !