Holiday food: 7th-13th April

posted Apr 17, 2012, 4:00 AM by Dinner Lady   [ updated May 10, 2012, 1:44 AM ]
In my view, holiday food should be easy. It should be delicious. It should involve treats. Carefree and spontaneous.  For the person who usually cooks, it should create minimal effort. And be naughty, definitely naughty. Our week in my parents' cottage in Norfolk provided the perfect place to indulge in holiday food.  

In the week leading up to a holiday, while packing and hunting down buckets, spades and fishing nets, we like to plan what naughty culinary treats we would like.  Mrs Doubtfire always sneaks shop bought muesli into the food bag, while the boys always request those little packets of sweet cereals to start their days. Perfect sizes for them and easy for them to serve themselves.  And how naughty. For who in their right mind would say to a child, "of course you can eat chocolate covered air" (which is pretty much all they are) at 7am? Although ironically, they always end up preferring our shop bought muesli.  And I like fish and chips on the beach. Naughty for too many reasons, although this time Princess Baby let it be known that the wind and rain was too much to cope with. So we sheltered in the fish and chip shop, while I tried to ignore the number of polystyrene boxes that were being thrown in the bin and forget about depleting fish stocks. 
We enjoyed a typical British holiday, involving too much rain, many cups of warming hot chocolates, a lot of accusations of cheating over card games and long games of knights and pirates during windy beach walks.  And I almost felt like I had a rest, despite the early starts the three children treated me to (never knew a day could begin at 2am!) by doing a relay of waking and needing Mum.  I discarded receipts when we shopped, turned a blind eye to what Mrs Doubtfire threw into the bin and indulged in a lot of meat, throwing caution to the wind in terms of the Four and a half bellies challenge.  One particularly torrential afternoon we took refuge in a local cafe and indulged in Earl Grey, hot chocolates and shared scones and large slices of cake, watching the Norfolk countryside fog up through the window. The ultimate in naughtiness. To make culinary life even more simple for me, we ate out a couple of times and I delegated some of the cooking to Mrs Doubtfire. I cooked up a huge beef stew, anticipating that cooking, for most of the week, would involve heating it up on the stove. I forgot that in our family our appetites tend to mirror the size of the casserole dish, and so it was guzzled up within a few meals.  No matter. My parents arrived to spend the last few days with us and they saved the day by treating us to a meal out and cooking a delicious roast chicken.  

On the night of our return, supper consisted of ready made spinach and ricotta tortellini, with a shop bought sauce, having dashed out to the supermarket while Mrs Doubtfire unpacked and entertained the troops.  I felt bad as I thought I should be back in Four and a half bellies mode now we were home.  
"Mum, how do you get the green stuff inside the pasta?" Maths Geek asked, curious as ever.  
I explained how I thought it happened, having seen plenty of pasta made in cookery programmes, never having dared do it myself. I knew what his next question would be.  
"No, I didn't make it. I bought it ready made."  
Maths Geek pondered for a minute or two, eating a couple more tortellini.  "Don't worry, Dinner Lady.  It doesn't matter, you wouldn't have had time because we have been on holiday".  
And I was absolved.  We cannot be virtuous all our lives, indeed this would be stressful, let alone rather dull. But my sinful week has allowed me to recharge. I feel energised again, ready to create new meals, learn new things about our food systems, and attempt, as ever, to be better at sticking within budget, shopping and cooking more sustainably.  

So I have no new recipes to share, have spent far too much on food, and if I had logged all that we threw out, I would be ashamed. But I did get a break, and I hope that you, like Maths Geek, will forgive me. 

Weekly menu

Sat 7th, Sun 8th, Mon 9th - away on holiday 

Tues 10th - lunch: sandwiches with left over cheese and fruit in National Trust property on way back home 

            - supper: ready made tortellini with shop bought sauce 

Weds 11th - lunch: hummus, taramasalata, bread, salad 

            - supper: jacket potatoes, tuna mayo (made from sustainably caught fish, according to the supermarket) and salad 

Thurs 12th - lunch: hummus sandwiches and fruit 

             - supper: (kids) defrosted vegetarian sausage casserole, rice and steamed purple sprouting broccoli 

                 (us) defrosted Mexican bean stew, rice and purple sprouting broccoli  

Fri 13th - lunch: (for all of us and friend) tuna and orange cheese heated wraps 

          - supper: pasta with chard and cream sauce

Pictures: 1. Fishing nets in Norfolk; 2. The view of Wells in Norfolk from the walk to the beach

Copyright: Dinner Lady 2012