500g beef mince (although you possibly picked up pork or lamb by accident – also fine)
2 small onions
2 sticks of celery
4 mushrooms (hidden under a tea towel)
1 jar of sauce (yes, seriously)
1 packet of spaghetti, or fusilli, or penne dependent on the will of the toddler)
A truck full of cheese
5 pairs of hands
3 sets of eyes
More patience than most normal people have
glass – no, bottle – BOX of wine.
Preparation time: 3 hours of self motivation to actually get the ingredients out of the fridge, 1 hour preparation, 2 hours cooking time, remove from hob at the sound of the sauce hissing as it’s stuck to the pan.
Try to sneak into the kitchen after distracting children with a cartoon. Fail.
Spend 15 minutes making the children wash their hands then cleaning up the reservoir they leave behind on the bathroom floor.
Separate fighting children about whose chair goes where next to the counter and who will be responsible for which job.
Peel vegetables then throw in the blender – as all ingredients have to be exactly the same size. Allow each child to turn on the blender once. Clean kitchen ceiling of diced vegetables after it becomes clear the lid wasn’t secured properly.
Brown the mince in a pan with your elbows stuck out at 90 degree angles to avoid either of the small children ‘helping’ get too close to the pan. Distract children with a biscuit, throw in the onions when they are not looking.
Quickly add the jar of sauce to hide further vegetable additions. Hide them – especially the mushrooms.
Allow sauce to bubble whilst setting up a game of matching cards on the table for the children. Prepare grating the truck full of cheese. Prepare second truck load after the children eat the first truck load.
Remove stray matching cards from the blender, dishwasher and eventually after a particularly good aim – the cooking pot.
Prepare a pan of water for the spaghetti. Enquire about the type of preferred pasta with the toddler. Spend the next 15 minutes arguing that ‘they are all the same’ give up, throw all 3 types in the water.
Chase the baby out of the cat food.
Stir sauce, realise it’s now stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add water.
Drain pasta, separate 3 different types of pasta and categorise to each child’s preference.
Seat children. Re-seat children after argument about first seating arrangement. Remove second truck full of cheese after children begin eating it.
Serve children. Lie about vegetables. Concede – allow them to leave the mushrooms if they agree to eat the carrots. Continue to lie about the onions. Never admit the onions.
Remove baby’s dish from the floor. Apply more cheese – give back to baby.
Spoon feed toddler who now has her head on the table in despair.
Congratulate the boy on catching the baby’s dish on its second exit to the floor and for eating his food semi-sensibly. Chastise him for showing his toddler sister every chewed mouthful and growling at her.
Get cat off the table.
Eat remaining cheese. Realise most of the ‘eaten’ dinner is on the floor, and now being eaten by the cat.
Go to fridge. Pour glass of wine. Drink.
Will this recipe work even if I don’t have a Cat?
Brilliant, could be the next Nigela
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This is so, so funny!
Thanks Yvette! The recipe has taken a few years to ‘perfect’ and the drink of choice changes according to season (mulled, chilled, bottle…box!) but you know – we like to mix* it up.
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