Wednesday, 3 July 2013


It's been hard to summon up the strength to write for a few days, and to find something interesting to write about. I was completely taken up with the school summer fair last week; I averaged around five and a half hours' sleep a night because the details kept waking me up. Everything else just had to wait. On the day the rain held off and actually everything went pretty much swimmingly. It's weird how a lot of effort in the build up to an event can make your eyes well up when it actually happens. I thought I could be clever and count the cash in the evening, filling out a spreadsheet as I went along - bad move. I'm sure I knew the golden rule of never messing about with excel when you are really tired, or in a hurry, or after alcohol, but I thought I was invincible after such a good day. So I carried on, despairing of how long it took to break even and then getting really badly upset at the final result, oblivious to the fact that I'd put the tombola profits into the expenses column and messed up the bar row altogether. How could the total be so low? Where did it all go wrong (as if £1359 was so wrong)? During that long night I was in the Apprentice; I had several people hauled into the boardroom but I was really wishing to be sacked myself. On Sunday it all came good and I could announce a much healthier profit. It has been an emotional journey and when a couple of people suggested that the fact that everyone had had a great time was more important than the money (after my third idiotic email announcing a new total), it felt like a knife turning in the big open wound that I now think all PTA chairs must have on their shoulders after a few months. How can just organising a school fete turn into such pain? In the process I have found myself questioning aspects of my existence: what was I doing this for? Is it that I am just trying to give something back to the school that has done so many good things for my children, or am I trying to carve myself a niche somewhere, trying to belong somewhere I can never belong? Am I trying to get approval from some unknown body? Attention-seeking? Is it really that people can't help because of their jobs, or is it my management technique? Do I need to get a proper job so that I too can say it in the future when someone asks me? Could I use my qualifications and get the linguistic part of my brain working properly for the first time in years? Would that bring me happiness? What do I want to do with my life? And down to the more mundane - do emails really work, or am I just typing requests for help out into a void, only to echo back to me like a voice in a bucket? Why would anyone want to put themselves through all that? I am carrying mental scars that will take a while to heal. I need to toughen up or get out.

Anyway I notice that I have more people coming to read this since I wrote my pad Thai recipe so it makes me think I need to do more recipes. Let's face it, more people need to eat dinner than want to see my feltings. I have been back to the felt a bit this week; more to come on one piece soon as I can't show you it yet, but also I have finally sorted out the commission for my friend:-
And I have been cooking. It has been good therapy after the traumas of the last couple of weeks. I had a difficult time deciding which recipe to tell you about today. It could have been a lemon drizzle layer cake that I made for the teachers who helped out at the school fair but that's already on the net here; suffice it to say that on the second day the empty tin came home with not a crumb left, and just a post-it note inside saying (in very teachery joined-up writing) "Thank you! It was delicious xxxx" so it can't have been bad. Or it could have been an amazing middle-eastern aubergine thing a bit like Imam Bayildi that I made to have with grilled halloumi, some fantastic smoked hummus I got from Waitrose and a tin of those weirdly named Greek "Giant Beans" in tomato sauce, with hot pittas. But no, this morning I have made a rather good salad to take round to my Arts Week friends for lunch. I hate beetroot and am not too good with broad beans, but both appeared in my veg box that was delivered yesterday. And it tastes great:-

Beetroot and Broad Bean Salad
4 beetroots, peeled and chopped into 8 pieces each
About 20 pods of broad beans, peeled and outer skins removed
A few handfuls of lettuce
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Juice of 1/3 lemon
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper
Pinch of mustard powder
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
75g feta
A few mint leaves
A few parsley leaves
Boil the beetroot for about 20 minutes or until it is tender, drain. Boil the broad beans until cooked - I had some big and some small so I did the big ones for 5 then put the small ones in and boiled them for another 10 minutes. Drain and add to the beetroot. Meanwhile heat a heavy frying pan with the pine nuts in until they start to brown. Add the cumin seeds to the pan and when you get a big puff of beautiful toasted cumin flavour, tip the pine nuts and seeds into a ramekin to stop them burning. Make a dressing with the lemon, vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and olive oil and pour over the beetroot and beans, and stir. Chop the mint and parsley and stir that in too. Get a serving bowl and put your lettuce in it, then top with the beetroot and beans. Crumble the feta over the top and finally top with your pine nuts and cumin seeds. Accompany it with a quiche and some other mystery items that you know your friends will be bringing. Dig in with said friends, while you are getting a lot of painful things off your chests together.

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