Tag: lunch

Luxury potato

There is a time in life that all mothers dread. It’s worse than childbirth, because it goes on for longer, it’s worse than breastfeeding, because it comes out of the blue. It’s worse than looming housework, because housework can at least sometimes be soothing in its mindless repetition.

It’s when your toddler drops their afternoon nap. Because right up until they are about two, or even two and a half (or even three if you’re really lucky) the little suckers go to sleep for up to two hours after lunch, allowing you to do whatever the FUCK you want. I mean, you can’t leave the house, but those two hours are yours, yours, yours and no-one can take them away from you.

The minute your child nods off at lunch also pretty much marks the end of the day because mornings are the hardest work with toddlers. As soon as they’re a-bed, you’ve got two hours to do WHATEVER!!!! and then in the afternoon you can both just doss around eating fingerpaint until bedtime.

It’s hardest on the mother if the child has been doing this nap strictly, in its bed, for 2 hours exactly, pretty much since birth. If you’ve been more relaxed about it, letting the child nap in a buggy while you sail off to, I don’t know, Westfield or something on the overland the transition to no nap is less horrific – you are used to being flexible, you are used to just dealing with every day as it comes.

I am not like that. I am not bendy, like a willow – I am rigid, like an oak tree. Or maybe just doomed, like the ash.

It’s not like I didn’t know that Kitty was going to drop her nap. In fact, I’m surprised she’s kept it up for this long. But now we find ourselves in a mid-nap-dropping slippery patch. She still needs to have a little kip but she won’t pass out in front of the telly and won’t go to sleep in her cot. She will only now nod off in the car, or in her buggy.

Which means I have to go out, somewhere, at about 2pm, so that she will sleep between 2ish and 2.30ish.

As the end of the nap loomed, I dreaded this. But in actual fact, it is oddly freeing.

(And I am lucky – some toddlers suddenly do a thing where if they nod off for even 2 minutes after lunch, they won’t go to sleep until 9 or 10pm at night. Though that could well happen to Kitty I suppose.)

A thing that mothers who choose to be very strict about a routine sometimes complain about is that you are confined to the house, you can’t really ever go out for lunch and you have to rush back from whatever you are doing in the morning so that the child doesn’t fall asleep on the way home and thus ruin completely your two hours of peace. You are in a gilded cage. That’s been me for two years.

So today, for example, as it’s nice and sunny I’m quite looking forward to bundling us both up and going for a very relaxed stroll somewhere – because there is no more relaxing walk to have than when you are pushing a sleeping child in a buggy (and that child is supposed to be asleep). Maybe we’ll go to Primrose Hill? Maybe we’ll go to Hampstead? North West London is our oyster.

In other news, my husband is away in Canda until next week, which means that Kitty and I are even more loose, twisting in the wind really, with nowhere much to go and nothing much to do. We can eat our dinner in a fancy restaurant at a moment’s notice. Or just come home and eat crackers in front of the telly in our pants. Not that my husband ever prevents this sort of spontaneity, you understand, just that it is somehow less likely.

I saw my husband off on his chilly cross-Atlantic adventure with a luxury baked potato, which is a baked potato loaded with sour cream, caviar, chopped egg and spring onions. Not expensive caviar, just lumpfish caviar from the deli fridge at Waitrose – although we did once do this with really expenseive stuff and drank champagne with it; possibly one of the best dinners of my life.

I only learnt how to bake potatoes properly in the last two years or so – I’d never really done it before. What you must do is bake them at the absolute highest temperature that your oven will go for 1 hour – not at 180 for 1hr 15 or 200 for 45 min or any such nonsense. FULL HEAT, 1hour.

Then split, butter, sour cream, caviar (one little pot is enough for 2 people) I boiled egg chopped finely, some spring onion. Whether or not you have champagne too is up to you in that moment. Because, sometimes, there’s nothing quite like just winging it.

Kale chips

I am very slightly ashamed of how obsessive I was about weight gain and loss during and after both my pregnancies.

When I say obsessive during my pregnancy, I mean I just fretted in my head a lot about how fat I was – I didn’t NOT eat just exactly whatever the hell I fancied. I mean, there was nothing I wouldn’t eat. The second time round I made concessions to not putting on three stone by switching to Diet Coke and not having pudding with every meal … but I still put on three stone.

And when I say obsessive about my weight after pregnancy I mean obsessed with regaining some approximation of my pre-pregnancy state. And if possible, beyond that, plummeting to under nine stone in weight (this is an impossible dream). Obsessed, I ought to say, up to the point of actually doing any exercise.

Having said that, it’s an easy trap to fall into, once you reckon you are done with babies, to go a bit scrawny. To go Full Thin. So traumatising is it being so fat and ungainly that you almost attempt to scrub out the very memory of the fatness by getting far too thin, only for your husband to leave you for a chubby barmaid just at the point that you look genuinely terrific in a pair of leather trousers. (Which by now you must wear all the time, even in June, because you are stick-like and freezing.)

I say I feel ashamed because it all basically comes off in the end – unless you are really bloody unlucky, or just really not trying at all – but I feel like rather than obsessing about getting back into a – any! – pair of jeans I ought to have been bonding like crazy with  my babies. We did bond, I think. Kitty vaguely knows who I am and Sam says “Mumum” when he sees me. Fine. But still, my impatience is a bit embarrassing. It’s just a bit vain.

Anyway I can relax now and spend the next forever getting even thinner being totally focused on my children because I am back within a whisker of my pre-baby weight, although not quite my pre-baby shape.

There is a ghastly thing that happens when you have a baby where your hips widen – literally the bones actually widen – and take a while to settle back to their normal circumference, so you can be back to your old weight but still not fit into your old jeans.

But I have achieved a sudden accelerated weight loss by hitting on the importance of lunch in my day. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have had to eat in order to lose weight.

I hate lunch. I always have. I find it tedious and boring and I don’t like lunch options. So normally I skip it, but then come 3.30pm I am so starving I can’t concentrate and then I start snacking heavily on very sugary stuff, which isn’t going to make anyone a supermodel, you feel me?

But lunch is a bore. And it makes a bloody great mess, which I always want to avoid as it feels like I cook and clear up about 15 meals a day as it is. I have all this food and this enormous, stacked kitchen, and yet I’m just not eating lunch. It wasn’t happening.

So I thought to myself “What would Anna Bateson do?” Anna Bateson is a very successful friend, initially of my husband’s but I suppose also of mine, now – how do those things work? – who does something important at YouTube and has two children very close in age and everyone goes round going “OMG Anna Bateson”.

When she is in this country, (which isn’t often), I openly mine her for information and go “What kind of handbag do you have? Who is your nanny? Where are you going on holiday this year? How did you potty-train D-? Which internet shopping outlet do you favour? Where are those jeans from?” just because I think she has the answers. She quite often does, it’s totally apt that she works at an internet company. She’s a one-woman search engine.

Anyway so I thought to myself “What would Anna Bateson do?” and the answer was: OUTSOURCE. Anna would outsource lunch. She would go “Yes, buying a healthy, delicious lunch every day is more expensive than making it at home, but if it will persuade you to eat lunch, which in turn will make you thinner, it is cheaper than a gym membership.” She would calmly show you a brief PowerPoint presentation about it and then leave to catch a plane.

So now I either go early to fetch Kitty from nursery and stop at a Vietnamese cafe on the way for some grilled chicken and cous cous or I buy myself a salad from Pret in the morning if running errands. Failing that I FORCE myself to eat baked beans on sourdough. Then I have a cup of tea and 1 (one) biscuit and that’s it until dinner.

It still being winter-ish and both my husband and I on our eternal, possibly terminal, quest to weigh 3 stone apiece, we are always looking for new things to do with wretched kale and someone suggested kale chips, which turn out to be very easy and very delicious (when covered with a lot of salt and brown sugar). They taste a lot like what we always used to call crispy seaweed in Chinese restaurants and it is basically the only thing approaching “tasty” that you can do with kale.

It’s very simple, what you do is pre-heat your oven to 180C and shake out some kale on a large baking sheet. Snip up the bigger pieces with scissors and then sprinkle with brown soft sugar and some sea salt. Bake for about 25 mins checking occasionally to make sure they’re not burnt.

Eat as a pre-dinner snack with, err, sherry? Or a Diet Coke if you really mean this.

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