Dot is at home sick today and in time-honoured home-sick-from-school fashion, she is embedded in the sofa, wrapped in her dressing gown, watching kids’ TV on RTE. To be fair, she does have the pale complexion, watery eyes and listless demeanour that justify the day off.
As a worker-from-home, there was a time when a sick child spelled disaster work-wise. Rather inconsiderately, children never give notice about being sick – they simply present themselves on the morning in question, glassy-eyed and sweating. So there is rarely time to re-negotiate deadlines with clients. Previously, to make up work time lost to minding a sick child, I had to work in the evening, usually in the form of a multiple-hour late-night session that left me feeling like I needed a day off, too.
Now that Dot is an independent and competent seven-year-old, she is happy to mooch about the house, help herself to drinks, watch TV, read and rest, while I can work pretty much undisturbed apart from the occasional request for toast (independent or no, a recent close encounter between a knife and the toaster means she has not yet got her Toaster Pass).
In other news, Carmel Somers’ new book, Eat Good Things Every Day, is having positive effects in the Curmumgeon household. Carmel runs the highly-regarded Good Things Cafe in Durrus, West Cork. In this book, she applies her professional chef’s practicality and organisational skills to the domestic sphere. I have always been a fan of leftovers and since having children, I have been allergic to cooking from scratch on a daily basis. Carmel shows how to best create dishes that yield plenty of leftovers and how to use those leftovers to create further meals (real, delicious ones, not simply reheated) on subsequent days. Besides the ample recipe section (many of which feature on the menu in her cafe, apparently, which makes me really want to visit), there are very useful sections on stocking your store cupboard, the “basics” (including a blindingly simple method for cooking a few days’ worth of deliciously-flavoured rice), and some common sense on cooking for children (in a word: don’t!).
The result in this house has been some new dishes that met with great approval (egg-fried rice (made with the rice mentioned above) with roast chicken leftovers and spinach (ready in five minutes) and roast shoulder of pork with divine gravy being particular hits) and a smoother-running kitchen routine that has Curmumgeon a little less frazzled at dinnertimes. Now that’s definitely a good thing.