First thing, it had been lovely and sunny. I had a load of bedding that I had washed yesterday, sitting, damp, in the laundry basket. I went outside. I looked to all points of the compass. Not one single menacing dark cloud. Anywhere. I hung the washing out.
Later on, I had a hilarious conversation with a South African friend as we walked our dogs through the fields - hers taking every opportunity to sit in the muddiest of muddy puddles, mine buggering off into the wheat as soon as I stopped concentrating.
By the time we were half way across the fields, the clouds were gathering in again. I started my "Typical, just when I'd got the washing out" speech and she creased up. "You know, you are just so BRITISH" she roared with laughter. "I have sworn never to fall into this WAR with the weather that you have going on here. hang it up, take it in, always watching for the rain. Did you know my mother in law RINGS ME UP to tell me she got the washing dry outside?!?" I had to laugh, but there it is. That's me all over.
It's not just the washing - although that has been a particular issue recently. I mean, I don't want to go on about the weather, but it has been foul and we don't have a tumble dryer. So a day when it might not rain just galvanises me into action. "What can I wash?" I think. And on the touch and go days, I suffer angst about whether to put the washing out or not. Lucky that is all I have to suffer angst about these days, I know...
Anyway, I digress. I was talking about being at war - on the domestic front. May be 'war' is a strong word, but as the end of term approaches, I feel like every morning, I have to arm myself more carefully to face the day and the various challenges it is likely to offer.
I was feeling very pleased with myself last week having sorted out a mega-meal plan to get me through the rest of the month, part of my armour. It covers the end of term, and through to when we get back from Scout Camp. I finished it, posted it up on a linky, and felt organised. So short sighted.
|check out the veg - all from the garden|
and needing something to eat before heading off to Scouts
- at around 7. The timing was not looking good.
The Ultimate Slow Cooker which is a book I bought on the off chance through one of those Book People type things when Pink was at Playgroup. I'd been flicking through it the other day to work out how to do some gammon in the slow cooker, and I remembered that I'd seen a meatball recipe in there. Just the job. One of the things I love about slow cooking is that 'Everything is done" feeling, and today was a day where I needed that. That's not to say that you don't have to do all the prep etc, but it's done far enough away from the time you eat it that when you finally sit down to eat, you can forget that you were trying to make meatballs and packed lunches at the same time as listen to reading, take on board the Husband's schedule for the day and worry about whether anyone needed swimming kit....
Anyway, I made the meatballs up themselves this morning, and left them in the fridge while I took reckless pleasure in hanging out washing, putting a second load on (I know how to live dangerously), getting the kids to school, walking the dog and finally getting down to work. Then while I was grabbing a sandwich at lunchtime, I fried off the meatballs, made the sauce and put everything in the slow cooker to do their thang. Once we got in, it was a moment's work to cook some pasta, and bingo. Dinner.
I was particularly pleased with this meatball recipe that I made up (I used the book for sauce volume and cooking times). When I was chopping up the spring onions from the garden yesterday, I decided, on the back of the success of my garlic scape risotto, that I would use the spring onion tops instead of onion in the meatball recipe.
They took a bit of chopping up because they are kind of 'hollow', so when you slice you get a little green circle, and it needs to be quite small to go in the meatballs, but I treated them a little like herbs and used a mezza luna (one of those semi circular knives with a handles at each end that Nigella uses).
Sort of Summery Meatballs
For the meatballs - 400g lamb mince, a handful of spring onion tops - or a red onion, finely chopped, 1 clove of garlic, crushed, a slice of bread - a day or 2 old is good, a medium egg, salt and pepper, finely grated zest of a lemon
For the sauce - olive oil, 1 onion, finely chopped, 2 cloves of garlic, crushed, 1 can of chopped tomatoes, 200ml veg stock, salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar.
Method: to make the meatballs, put all the ingredients in a bowl, mash together with a fork until well combined and the bread is broken into crumbs throughout the mixture. You could make the bread into crumbs first in a food processor but I was short on time. Make into between 16 and 20 meatballs depending on the size you like them. I divided the mixture into 4 then into 4 again, then rolled each portion into a ball (with apologies for stating the obvious).
Set the slow cooker to heat up, splash some oil into a frying pan (I used a dessert spoon's worth), and brown the meatballs on quite a high heat. Set aside on kitchen paper, and then in the same pan, fry the onion & garlic till it is starting to soften, pour in the stock and tomatoes, scraping up all the good stuff from the bottom of the pan, add freshly ground salt and pepper and the sugar. Bring to the boil. While the sauce is coming to the boil, pop the meatballs in the slow cooker, then once the sauce is bubbling, pour it on top and replace the lid of the cooker. Cook on 'low' for 6-8 hours, and then serve with pasta - or rice or couscous...