Anyone who knows me knows that this time of year is crazy and great. I’m working most weekends (for Riverford Organic Farmers). Saturdays and Sundays are at lovely events, meeting people, chatting about the company and trying food from amazing vendors. The days are, mostly, very long. Family life can take a hit, and the strain becomes most visible by about the last week of June.
Here are the recurring themes for summer show season chez Eve:
- My husband and I row about neither one of us having enough time and who’s doing more housework/kid wrangling/dog walking/cooking
- Meals, by the time I’ve stood in front of the fridge, feeling stressed and stress eating cheese, are late in the day for school aged kids, so they end up going to bed late…
- Shouting at the kids for lack of homework and practice, when we’re too busy and tired to keep them on point
- Running to shops because brain too wired to work out what in the AF to cook or eat and the veg look so sad and so unappetising, so there’s less time to for homework and cooking and cleaning…
- Random foods are wasted because I couldn’t think what to do with them before they go off
- I exersize less, and in Ann land that means eat more
- All scheduling goes out of the window in favour of a fire-fighting tactic which takes us neatly back to point 1
As Miss del Rio would say, “Not today Satan”. U-Grow, the Food Bank, my family, my bank balance and sanity declare a need for calm. And for me, calm is planned life.
After the shows, I am lucky enough to bring home a heap of veg, and I’ll try to use as much as I can. I am greedy for good food, so if I can stretch out free veg to mean buying beautiful coffee and wine, them I’m in. However, I’m too tired to plan on a Sunday night, and that’s when my Riverford orders have to be in by. I know, life is so hard.
This year I declare simple, repetitious, slightly boring meals and mildly rigid planning as my saviour against unecessary arguments and stress. We will just eat food: sausages + 3 veg, salad with chorizo wraps and yoghurt, pasta with some veg, toast with pesto and salad. Or random fridge clearing combinations: on Tuesday we had broad bean fritters, asparagus, salad and halloumi. Nice but odd. Too fugly for photos (that’s saying something I realise).
Years ago, I fretted that that sort of a meal wasn’t enough, was too wierd. My lovely husband just said “Not every meal needs to be an event.” With that, the perceived need to produce something ‘special’ was lifted. I love cooking. But not every day. Where’s the time left for friends, kids, exercise, going for an impromptu pint or just being a bit too tired to wash up?
So this week I just wilted all the sad summer greens in their own water, to add to scrambled eggs. In a lidded tupperware, they are ready for adding to any meal. The tomatoes are just great to make sure the kids are getting enough veg. New potatoes for a giant potato salad with spring onions, mustard & hard boiled eggs for my lunches. Nothing that takes too long to cook or is terribly exciting.
But, when there is brain space: PIZZA! Check out the dividends from my preserving jag:
And planning what to do with last week’s greens meant I had a dal in the fridge for lunch. Onion stockpile means onion quiche. I’ve made a variation on this quiche hundreds of times, and it never gets old, and means that there’s something veg packed in the fridge for “I can’t be fucked” times of the week.
Planning, at this time, does help me because I can now see that I’m spared the clanging irritation of a last minute shopping trip or being hangry infront of the fridge (a good friend recently noted I’m a dangerous woman when hungry). I don’t see that everyone has to be as enthusiastic a home cook as me or other ‘foodies’ (bleugh). Food has, in human history, been mostly a means to an end, not a panacea for what ails us. But if you’re looking for ways to make it less stressful, more affordable, less of a brain ache, then we could be on to something.