Probably the most idiotic ‘recipes’ you’ll ever read

I find it almost impossible to cook anything when Ada is awake; she’s too heavy to hold in one arm, hates the sling, and is a violent spoon-throwing maniac in the high chair. Meals have been limited to whatever Chris has the energy to make when he gets in, or whatever I can throw in the oven while she bangs her forehead on my clavicle.

Until now! Dinner time has been revolutionised by freezing the raw ingredients for what US mommies seem to call – ugh! – dump meals. Sorry.

I throw together a few freezer bags of ingredients at the weekend while Chris takes Ada for a walk, then each weekday at about 2pm I just drop a giant frozen food boulder into the slow cooker. When it’s cooked, it stays warm until the baby is down for the night and we’re ready to eat. Magic.

Now. NOW. This is the real, slightly shameful secret. If I was a proper person, I’d chop up and assemble all the raw ingredients completely from scratch, but that takes far too long when I have limited solo kitchen time. So I just chuck in jars and cans of stuff and it’s still awesome.

Here’s what we ate this week; you could easily recreate these more cheaply and deliciously from scratch, but for me it’s all about time, time, time…

Salsa chicken wraps

Freeze in a bag:

Chicken thighs

Tub of fresh salsa

Tin of chopped tomatoes

Fajita seasoning to taste

Cook:

Approx 4-5hrs on LOW (not high, or chicken goes stringy, yuk)

Serve with:

Tortillas, sour cream, sliced red pepper, lime to squeeze over

Lamb rogan josh

Freeze in a bag:

Diced lamb

Half a chopped onion

Tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Jar of good rogan josh sauce – add a splash of water if very thick so that the curry doesn’t dry out in the slow cooker

Cook:

Approx 5-6hrs on LOW

Serve with:

Naan, yogurt, rice if you can be arsed

Meatball subs

Freeze in a bag:

Good quality meatballs (I buy them from M&S, FANCY!)

Large jar of passata

Teaspoon of dried Italian herbs

Cook:

Approx 4hrs on HIGH

Serve with:

Submarine rolls, parmesan to grate over

What we call ‘Sausage Dish’ 

Freeze in a bag:

Little thumb-sized lumps of good pork sausagemeat

Your choice of tinned beans, drained and rinsed – kidney, cannellini and borlotti work well

Large jar passata

1tsp Italian herbs

Cook:

Approx 4hrs on HIGH

Serve with:

Toasted wholegrain pitta bread

Pasta pot

Freeze in a bag:

Chicken thighs

Diced onion or other veg

Jar of good tomato pasta sauce plus half-jar of water (pasta will absorb)

Cook:

Approx 4hrs on HIGH

Add during last half-hour:

Orzo pasta

Blob of creme fraiche

Allow leftovers to sit and go mouldy for:

A whole weekend.

That’s it! Check out this website for some basic tips on cooking times and successful veg freezing, plus loads of frankly-much-better meal ideas.

WTFBBQ

One of the worst things about summer is adverts for barbecue food. This M&S ad is this year’s least offensive example, and it still fills me with dread. One of the other worst things about summer is actually going to barbecues.
We never owned a barbecue grill when I was a kid, so when I reached adulthood I spent way too long trying to enjoy what everyone else seems to agree is Really Good Fun before realising that everything about barbecues is utter pants. Here’s how almost every barbecue I’ve ever been to* goes down:

1900: Turn up and hand over specially-chilled-and-ice-packed fancy wine. Will never see nice chilled wine ever again. Accept it and move on.

1905: Note with sadness that barbecue grill not lit yet. Politely eat two Kettle Chips and sit in the sun, basking next to sweaty packages of raw meat.

2025: Other people turn up, but not as many as advertised. Now too awkward to go home and order pizza. Attempt to make small talk while somehow both drunk and hypoglycaemic; warm Pimms only source of sustenance now Kettle Chips all gone.

2030: Barbecue lit. Hooray! Move into carcinogenic smoke plume for warmth. Experience extreme flip-flop regret.

2105: Someone from country with climate and urban terrain more conducive to barbecues smugly mansplains how terrible barbecues are in this country. Not helpful, guy.

2130: Bats.

2200: Receive a single sausage, encased in carbonite like a porcine Han Solo, plus bap and ‘mixed leaves’. Look sadly at paper plate and think about how life might have turned out. Too dispirited to add ketchup.

2230: Receive second sausage; share with wan-looking spouse.

0000: Go home starving, cold and drunk. Scent of scorched carcass clings to hair. Vow never to attend another barbecue.

Next day: Tagged in 392 unflattering Facebook photos.

My suggested alternative to this hell-on-Earth is just to just take your dinner outside. Cook inside, sit outside. It’s fun! And less messy! You can have pasta! You know it makes sense.

*Except your barbecue. It was obviously excellent.