Friday, July 31, 2009
Grandpa and Exhaustion
How tired can a tired mum get? Well, a lot of us know the answer to that and it's to infinity and beyond. I am at the point whereby my head occasionally falls on to the keyboard and vomits letters at you all. I suffer from insomnia from time to time but I've realised there is a fate equal to this: not suffering from insomnia and yet still getting little or no sleep.
The last few days have involved bad dreams, singing, crying, suffocation and wandering...times that by four (including me) and it lends itself to tired, strange nights. I was so determined to sleep last night but Lucy having had a bad dream crawled in and clung to me like a limpet, cutting off my air supply and barring my exit from the bed. I'm sure I've complained before that I suffer from some kind of weird claustrophobia at being stuck in the middle of a bed; it's enough to make me come out in cold sweats and start to hyperventilate. Sometimes the tiredness wins and what a horrible sleep that turns out to be...the nightmares stay with me for some days afterwards so I always try and make sure to drag my weary body to an edge...any edge, however small.
As I began to drop off again, I was aware of a face an inch away from mine stage whispering "MUMMMYY!!"all to ask if he could go on the computer. Then cries of "hungry...hungggrrryyy". Aargh.
So, after a few days of this, exhaustion has taken over the asylum and I'm in a different zone. I think it may be akin to taking an illegal substance (because I have no idea what that is really like.......) and living for the moment because you know that when you crash, baby, you are going to BURN.
I look back on my days as a mum of three children under two, in particular the week that Brian went to a conference when the twins were 2 weeks old. I told him to go, I'd be fine. I compare everything back to that awful, sad, heartbreaking but manageable-after-all week and if it doesn't compare, it's not worth moaning about. So, despite my moaning, it does not compare.
Grandpa is here to stay for the weekend so it's on with the pinny and out with the pastry bowl, the rolling pin and the marinaded beef to make a good old fashioned steak pie with mashed potatoes and buttered boiled carrots, peas and broccoli. We'll no doubt follow it with a bread and butter pudding or a piece of fruit cake with lashings of butter.Steak Pie Dinner
2 lbs min stewing beef, dipped in seasoned flour-marinade in red wine if you prefer beforehand
1 onion, chopped
Beef stock, around 1 pint plus cupful beer or red wine
Optional: diced carrot, mushrooms, mini sausages, kidney...the kids prefer it simple!
Heat the oil over medium to high heat and when sizzling, brown the beef. Don't crowd the pan and remove browned meat to be replaced with raw meat, if necessary. Once browned, add the onion and fry for a few minutes. If using any other ingredient, add at this stage. If some beef was taken out of the pan then add it back in along with any juices that have gathered.
Pour over red wine or beer and let it sizzle and boil quite vigorously for a minute or three. Add stock, enough to cover and let it boil. Turn way down to a low simmer and put a lid on. Leave for a minimum of 1.5 hours, longer if possible. I like my beef really tender.
I sometimes make shortcrust pastry, sometimes puff; shortcrust, I'd make myself but puff I would always buy. You can line the pie tin with both pastry types if you wish or simply top off the pie with a pastry lid.
I drain the remaining stock from the beef as you don't want a 'wet' pie....! Keep this stock to serve at the table as extra gravy. Put the beef into pie dish and top with pastry lid, cooking as per instructions for pastry recipe or until pastry rises (if puff) and goes brown. Always brush with a little milk...I hate to waste an egg....and make a small hole in the pastry to let the steam out.
I won't insult you with how to make mashed potatoes but my tips would be to always salt the water, make sure the potato is really soft before draining and once drained, dry the potatoes over a minimum heat for a minute before adding butter, sea salt and a little drop of milk...always add the milk, or cream if you're feeling like you just don't care...as this will affect the consistency. Mash with a potato masher and then go back over it with a fork. Taste and add some more salt or pepper if you like. I always add a little drop more butter as it looks wonderful melting across the peaked mass of white, fluffy tattieness. Maris Piper potatoes are my favourite; cheap potatoes just don't work.
Steam, boil or juggle your vegetables as you see fit and serve with a dod of butter and a sprinkling of the eponymous sea salt.