Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Burping Bean Rissoles and a recipe for parenting

Our house is in serious need of a declutter.
To be fair, it's been in serious need of a declutter since we moved in 10 years ago.
{whisper} There are still boxes of stuff from the old house that have been in our loft 10 years and have never been unpacked.


When I go to visit other people there are some who apologise for the untidy state of their house. I'm usually horrified at how tidy and how bereft of STUFF their house is by comparison. Is it only people who have tidy houses who apologise for the state of their house? Do I ever apologise for the state of my house? I used to, but not any more, so perhaps that's a sign that my house has become increasingly untidy over the years. Or perhaps I'm just older and wiser: now I've learnt only to let people in if their house is of equal or greater mess than mine. This does mean that with any new acquaintances I make I have to visit their house first, just so I can determine how anxious I need to be when they come and visit me. Thankfully most of my friends belong to the messy house club (sorry guys, we just gotta own up to it) {g} .

Of course the alternative is to try and keep one room at a minimal standard of tidyness for that 'top show'/'parlour' effect when tidy minimalist people come to visit. But they do look at me quite weirdly when I'm splayed across the door in anxious desperation preventing them from seeing the remainder of the house: 'Toilet?! You need the toilet?! Oh no, we don't have one of those. Perhaps you could go home and use your own...'

Anyway, today I went and helped someone else declutter and tidy their house. I wonder if this is some kind of displacement activity.

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines displacement as:
"the performance by an animal of an act inappropriate for the stimulus or stimuli that evoked it. Displacement behaviour usually occurs when an animal is torn between two conflicting drives, such as fear and aggression. Displacement activities often consist of comfort movements, such as grooming, scratching, drinking, or eating. In courtship, for example, an individual afraid of its mate may, instead of fleeing or courting, stand still and feed or groom itself."

So as a response to the conflict between the fear of decluttering my own house and the guilt of avoiding it I choose to go and help a friend declutter hers instead. The only problem is that now as a return favour she has offered to come and help me tackle my clutter and mess in MY house. I can see that I'm going to have to come up with a different displacement activity.

Well, the day wasn't entirely taken up with decluttering - only a tiny fraction of it to be fair - and I'm proud to announce that I actually WILLINGLY did some cooking with the kids today. Well not ALL the kids; cooking with 3 kids has been known to result in PTCWKS - Post Traumatic Cooking With Kids Syndrome. I recently documented a case of this in their aunt who had the courage (or lack of experience) to volunteer to bake with her lovely neice and nephews. I don't think she's ever been the same since. No, the cooking was predominantly performed with ds2, who is generally the most vocal about wanting to be in the kitchen.

Being the organised mother that I am the fridge was shamefully empty of anything that could make anything remotely edible. There was some home made yoghurt that was growing circular cultures of something very furry. It was furry because after years of making home made yoghurt the kids had decided that they didn't like my home made yoghurt anymore and my intentions of having a healthy week of yoghurt for breakfast had been sidelined by a new box of luscious rice crispies. Hmm plain yoghurt...or Rice Crispies...plain yoghurt...or Rice Crispies...Well it's easy to see how the decision was made. Of course if I had been seeking out a perfect educational opportunity I would have rushed to the internet and started looking up what sort of organism it was that had made black furry crop circles across the top of the yoghurt pot, but I wasn't. It was mould or fungi or something neither animal, vegetable or mineral. Whatever it was I didn't want it in my fridge and it went down the sink (only just - with a bit of vigorous poking and a squirt of antibacterial handsoap).

Then of course there was the ever present lettuce. Why is it that there is always some lettuce left in the fridge, but rarely anything else? Is lettuce everlasting? Is it still the same lettuce that was there the last time there was nothing else in the fridge but lettuce? And what can you actually MAKE with lettuce? After some searching - well not much cos it was an empty fridge - we found a couple of bits of sad broccoli and a slightly soggy lonely carrot. I'd fed the rest of the carrots to the rabbit yesterday thinking they weren't fit for human consumption anymore and then felt guilty worrying whether it would kill off the poor creature (it's still alive. Grumpy but alive). So that was it. The initially hopeful-looking runner beans had cemented themselves to the back of the fridge, and were now suffering the vegetable equivalent of frostbite. Another displacement activity to save for later - chiselling off frozen runner beans from the back of the fridge.

Ds2 settled on a recipe for chickpea rissoles. Of course he didn't actually want them to contain chickpeas - the one thing we did have in the kitchen - but thanks to our very helpful corner shop we replaced the essential chickpeas with a tin of kidney beans instead. 'Burping Beans' they are known as in our house. When we got back from the shop we found we hadn't got any parsley, another ingredient required. Instead we bunged some basil in. Well it's green, so near enough.

[I figure my approach to parenting is probably the same as cooking - I know there is a menu that will make my life easy and organised and fulfilled with a tidy house and happy children, but somewhere along the way I get a bit bored and distracted, can't find the ingredients, drop the entire recipe book and start having to make it up as I go along. What comes out the other end is always a surprise and whether it's palatable or not I'm not allowed to get down from life until I've finished experiencing it]

So, back to the cooking. I'm realising now that I didn't take a photo of the finished result and kicking myself because I did think about it earlier and then promptly forgot about it again. I know normal people don't take photos of rissoles, but normality is relative (do I have any normal relatives? Probably not safe or tactful to comment on this publicly {g}). Besides the rissoles were actually rather good and really rather tasty. When I left home this evening there were still a few rissoles intact in the kitchen, but I suspect dh (the human hoover) will have 'tidied' those up by now. I wonder if I could text him and say 'take a photo of the darned rissoles before you eat the last one!' A bit like documenting a child's first bike ride without stabilizers, a successful culinary attempt in this household, particularly anything based on a recipe, needs to be recorded for posterity.

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