Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Recipe ~ Chickpea and vegetable curry

I'm really pleased with this recipe.  It's the result of trying a couple of different curries and mixing different elements to find  one that suited us.  

I've used cauliflower and spinach this time, but you could add pretty much any vegetable to it. I'm going to try sweet potato and broccoli next time, but I'm sure it would be equally good with green beans, potatoes, carrots or parsnips. 

We don't eat very spicy curries, so this one is aromatic rather than hot - although you can increase the spice content if you fancy a bit more heat - and because we're still on our 6-week vegetarian trial (week 5 and we're still doing ok) it had to be meat-free. Plus, it's packed with goodness and it tastes great too!

Chickpea and vegetable curry


2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground ginger (or grated fresh ginger)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 can  chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can coconut milk
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 medium head cauliflower, broken into small florets
200g of fresh spinach, rinsed or 3-4 nuggets of frozen spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked rice or naan for serving

Heat the oil in a large pan  over medium heat. Add the onion for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir in all the spices and cook until they're fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and their juice, coconut milk and cauliflower. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 minutes more, it should be smelling good by now and the sauce will have slightly thickened. Add the spinach and cook for a further 10  minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with boiled rice and/or naan bread. Delicious and very filling.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

A quiet weekend

We've spent this week readjusting to life without The Teenager.

She has been enjoying Freshers' Week and has got to know her flatmates and those in the flat next door. Both lots of flat mates have already become firm friends, and today she sent me photos of the huge roast dinner they cooked together, enough to feed all ten of them.  It's reassuring to know that she's happy, and that her flatmates are so friendly and they've all gelled so well.

This week she starts university 'proper' as the lectures and studying begins in earnest.

In the meantime, we've been finding life has been a bit odd without her, mainly because it's quieter and the house is tidier. Much tidier. There are no more late-night drives in my pyjamas to pick her up after her shifts at McDonalds, and the amount of laundry and dish washing has more than halved. I miss her.

On Saturday I managed to persuade Tall Daughter to visit a local vintage car event, although there were plenty of other things to do and see.  There was an old-fashioned charm to it all.  We've been in previous years, but I enjoyed it more this year.








I loved Mr Alexander's Travelling Show.  Mr Alexander was an older gentleman who said very little but held his audience of small children captivated with his variety show skills: juggling, sleight of hand magic tricks, unicycling and puppetry, while all the time a crackly gramophone played old-time music in the background.  Lovely.

Apart from that, it was a quiet weekend, although I'm sure it's not just me who seems to cram as many tasks into Sunday evening as possible. Why do we do that?

Did you have a good weekend?

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The one where The Teenager goes to university

Yesterday The Teenager made the big move to start university.  The build up to uni had been going on for months, and once we knew she was going to Sheffield it stepped up a notch. There were lots of things to buy, paperwork to complete, and things to organise and it went by pretty quickly. Her last week at home was spent saying goodbye to family and friends, packing and tidying her bedroom.

The Teenager has a lot of stuff. To say the car was packed is a bit of an understatement. It was so full we couldn't have possibly got anything else into it, and still be able to drive safely, and now, after seeing how much stuff the other students had taken, I'm convinced she took more than anyone else. 

Some of that might be my fault, panicking over what she might need when she's there and I may have gone a little bit over the top with some of the items she ended up taking.  Pizza cutter, check. Garlic press, check. First aid kit, erm, check. Yes, I had a last minute panic and bought one just in case, even though "nobody takes first aid kits to uni" apparently.  But at least when she falls over drunk during freshers' week (and it will happen) she'll have plasters. I'm sure she'll thank me...

The Teenager goes to university
There is a first aid kit in there somewhere...
A couple of tips if you're preparing to move your teenager to uni: don't get back pain, and don't do what we did and go for a curry the night before. Either one of those things is going to make the big move a little bit trickier. Not being able to lift anything heavier than a cushion (as per my GP's instruction) and having a very delicate stomach (details spared for the squeamish) is really not helpful when you have such a busy and hectic day ahead.

So, yesterday we left home just before 9am for the very scenic drive across beautiful Derbyshire and the Pennines, arriving in Sheffield just as the traffic going into the city started to get crazily busy with all the incoming students and their families.  We were very lucky to find a car park space in the grounds of the student halls, and even luckier to get assistance from two absolutely lovely helpers who helped us move everything to her room.

After unpacking the essentials, making the bed and having a bite to eat I realised it was time for me to go. I didn't want to be the parent who stays too long, and I knew she was keen to get chatting to her new flatmates, so I bit the bullet and made my moves to leave.  Considering I'd been blubbing like a baby the day before I think I was reasonably restrained when we said goodbye. In the run up to the big day, she'd said that she didn't want me to be upset so I was trying really hard to keep a handle on my emotions.  

I had a couple of near misses; once when she asked me how I was feeling and I said "OK! IT'S EXCITING!!" a bit too quickly and sounded like a loon, and again when I made the mistake of reading some messages from friends. The dam nearly broke then, but I managed to keep it together. In the end, even although we were both a bit teary-eyed, it wasn't too bad.  There may have been a bit of a mumbled goodbye, and one too many hugs, but we made it. Phew, deep breaths, deep breaths...

The Teenager goes to university
In her room at the student halls 

But as I walked back to the car I happened to glance up to her room and she was standing at the window waving at me. That was it, the dam burst and the tears came, great shuddering sobs of them, but at least at that point I was on my way to the car and she was spared the ugly crying face.

It was the strangest feeling driving home without her, leaving her in a strange city where she doesn't know a soul, and hoping she'd be okay.  It went against all of my protective mum instincts, but I suppose our job as parents is to get them safely to this stage and hope they're prepared, and ready, to take the next steps on their own.  I think I've done a good job, at least I hope I've done a good job and that she's ready for this new chapter in her life. 

I'm sure she'll be okay, she's a very independent girl, very outgoing and she can't wait to get started.  I can't wait to hear all about her new life, her new friends and how she gets on at uni. Hopefully, after all the freshers' week activities and socialising she might do a bit of studying, or is that too optimistic? 

Not only is it an exciting time for her, but it also means a new chapter for the rest of us. The next few weeks should be interesting as we adapt to the changes at home. Her sister is less than impressed that I've promised her my undivided attention (she took it as a threat rather than a good thing...) and I think the dog is already pining for her. Wish us luck, I think we going to need it.

Have you waved a child off to university?  How did it go? Any tips for coping with the next few weeks?