I love a rib. I really really love a rib. I love chicken wings as well, especially when they are smothered in blue cheese dip. But they are definitely second to ribs.
My favourite ribs of all time are from Bodeans, in Soho. They are cooked long and low, and the meat just falls off the bone. So this week, when I picked up a packet of pork ribs in Saino’s, I knew exactly what I’d be doing with them.
We ate our sticky barbecue ribs this evening with buttery new potatoes, salad and apple and celeriac coleslaw. There was instagramming. The hashtag #getinmybelly *may* have been used.
Just after Christmas I went a bit doolally. The dark days took their miserable toll and I found myself balled up on the sofa howling because it was too dark, and I couldn’t do anything, and the kids were winding me up and Ross wasn’t around because he was still commuting to London every day, and there was nothing to do, and I wanted to go to the park and the kids wouldn’t put their sodding shoes on, and the pile of laundry was akin to Everest, and the thought of cooking dinner made me want to cry, and everything was just frankly, utterly hideous.
Then I figured that if I switched on every single light in my house, I might feel better.
Well, I didn’t feel any better, and my mum was beginning to worry (as you do, about the mentals). So, she bought me the Lumie Arabica SAD lamp.
At 10,000 lux the Lumie Arabica is the brightest light I have ever owned. It sits on the side in my dining room, and I have it on when I am working, or eating (It also masquerades as a photography light, so if you’ve noticed my food photos are looking brighter and sharper, well you have my SAD to thank for that)
It’s not the most inconspicuous of lamps; it doesn’t, for instance, blend in with the rest of my stuff. There is no denying it’s a light box, and people have asked me what it is, and when I tell them it’s a SAD lamp, without fail the next question is, “does it work?”
And, well, yes it does. Whilst typically, it arrived just as we got a few brighter days, they soon reverted back to the dull, heavy grey skies we’ve become accustomed to, the lamp has been used almost every day, and just sitting in front of it for 45 mins a day has certainly helped a lot. The amount of daylight we get is said to have an effect on our circadian rhythms*, and even though the curtains in my bedroom are flimsy at best, thus waking me up early, when the days are short and dark I really notice a difference in my mood and general wellbeing. Having the lamp on makes me feel generally happier. I don’t feel like like sleeping all the time (partial though I am to a nap), I feel more inclined to get out of the house and do things. Everything that seemed grey and dull and impossible, now feels brighter and lighter and achievable. I feel capable again, and when you have two small children to care for, feeling capable is very important.
(I had to turn the exposure right up on this photo, hence all the noise – but I think it gives you an idea of how bright it really is)
I’m not saying it’s all down to my Lumie Arabica, regular readers will know I’ve started running which eases my stress levels – I never ever come home from the gym feeling low, rather I leave feeling badass. But then I can’t help wondering if I was feeling as rubbish as I was before I got my Lumie Arabica, would I even be motivated enough to go for a run? Knowing myself, I think it’s more likely I’d go and curl up somewhere whilst snarfing down a packet of biscuits.
So if you are considering light therapy for SAD, then I’d wholeheartedly recommend this lamp. It’s certainly not the cheapest on the market, but Lumie give you the VAT off if you are a SAD sufferer. When you feel as low as I did, you have to take the perks where you can get them, am I right?
*Surely I can’t be the only person who thinks of Daysleeper by REM when anyone starts talking about circadian rhythms?
Today is World Book Day, and like thousands of other little girls and boys, Roo got to dress up as a character from a book today. We thought about it and decided on Matilda, from the Roald Dahl book of the same name. It suits little Roo well, she always has her nose in a book, she’s sensitive, inquisitive and very, very bright. No mad telekinesis skills yet though.
She does, however, have nicer parents than Matilda, and as far as I know, there is no chokey to be thrown into at school.
That copy of Matilda is well loved; I used to read that very book when I was a child, and remember loving it. But reading it now gives me a completely different perspective of the story. What was a story about a little girl who had the magical ability to move things with her eyes, and used it to get one over on her horrible family and tyrannical head teacher has become a somewhat darker tale, but one that we still love, nevertheless.
It’s funny how that often happens with children’s books, certainly a lot of Roald Dahl’s novels have fairly sinister undertones, but also books like The Secret Garden (spoilt, bratty child, shipped halfway across the world after the death of her parents, to a place where no one cares about her existence, and ends up practicing voodoo on the Yorkshire moors whilst her invalid cousin slowly falls in love with her) and The Velveteen Rabbit (a full on tear jerker about a toy rabbit who spends most of his life craving the acknowledgement of his thoroughly spoilt owner, only to be saved from certain death at the very last minute by a fairy who turns him into a real bunny after scarlet fever condemns everything to the bonfire). See also, ANYTHING by Maurice Sendak, with the exception of Where the Wild Things Are, which is fabulous. And don’t even get me started on fairytales. So dark, so brilliant.
We love literature, and it’s ability to be different things to different people. Books are amazing, and reading is something I just don’t do enough of, but thankfully, Roo does. I hope she always loves reading the way she does now.
Are you celebrating World Book Day? Have your children dressed up? Reviewed a book and want to share it? Link your posts up here:
We’ve just come back from a little jaunt across to the continent. Ross starts his new job this week, so we decided a European city break with the children would be just the ticket. And so, a couple of weeks ago, feeling enthused over a cup of coffee in bed on a Sunday morning, we found a good deal on the ferry (Dover to Dunkirk) and a nice hotel and whacked a little visit to Bruges on the credit card.
YOLO, as the kids say.
Basically, Ross and I like beer and we all like chocolate. Belgium is famous for both (and more), everyone is a winner.
This year has flown. You were my cuddly toddler this time last year and now you’re my wriggly Big Boy (your words, you’ll always be my baby), who loves playing Angry Birds and gets a face on when it’s time to go to bed.
This year we took you to France in the summer and on a cruise in the Autumn. In France you zoomed everywhere on your scooter, got mysteriously burned on your arm (we think by a barbecue), scared us when you were adamant that “a lady did it”, and ate your body weight in cheese and pastries. On the cruise you had a whale of a time in the kid’s club, marvelled at sea life at Valencia’s Oceanography centre, and fell asleep in your tapas in Barcelona.
In September you started preschool, which you love. Your key worker is Julie, and every sessions begins with a cuddle for her. You don’t even look back when I leave. I never really know what you get up to because all you tell me is that you play with the marble run, and pour your own milk at the snack table. It doesn’t matter, as long as you come out with the occasional painting and a smile on your face, I am happy.
Your speech has come on in leaps and bounds. You have funny words for things: “cubunger” for cucumber, is my favourite, and “loghurt” for yoghurt. You can’t say the “tr” sound, and instead substitute with “f”… amusing when you say “truck”. Your auntie Megan and I have occasionally asked you to say “mother trucker” and “truck off”. I apologise for that, it’s terrible parenting. Your Dad is horrified. So is your Grandma.
That said, I love our funny little conversations. Lets keep having lots of them.
Your favourite books for us to read to you are your Thomas the Tank Engine book, and The Smartest Giant in Town. If you develop a love of literature akin to your sister, you’ll be a very well read boy indeed.
Elliot, we love you so very much. Your cheeky smile and the naughty glint in your eye ensure nothing is ever boring when you’re around, and we can’t wait to see what your fourth year has in store for you!
I know! I can hardly believe it myself, but it’s true, we did indeed have some leftovers after our pulled pork dinner last night. And we had lettuce (a humble round lettuce, nothing fancy required), avocado, creme fraiche and hot sauce, and taco shells.
And so, pulled pork tacos were constructed, and devoured, in a matter of mere moments.
I’ve blogged about pulled pork before (really, hasn’t everyone? It’s rife on Pinterest. That’s not a topic I’m ever going to get high on Google rankings.) but this time I cooked it a little differently as I did it in my slow cooker instead of in the oven on low.
So, here is how to make slow cooker pulled pork:
First things first, make up a fairly standard barbecue sauce:
1/2 cup of tomato ketchup (I use cup measurements for condiments when I am using more than a tablespoon of the stuff. Confusing? Moi?)
1 tbsp of tomato puree
1/4 cup soft brown sugar (packed or not, depending on how sweet you like it). For a sweeter sauce, use light brown sugar, for a more treacly sauce, use dark brown sugar.
1 tsp each of garlic powder or granules, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce and mustard.
Then slice up a nice large onion and pop it into the slow cooker with a splash of water.
On top of the onions goes a boneless pork shoulder joint. Mine weighed just under 2lbs, so not a massive joint by anyone’s standards, but good enough for the four of us. You don’t need to spend a fortune on this since you’ll be cooking it til it falls apart anyway (If I recall, the meat was only about a fiver from Sainsbury’s).
Spread half the barbecue sauce over the meat, and cook on high (or auto) until you can easily shred it with a couple of forks. This does take around 8 hours – there is no getting around that. It’s ok, just go about your day and don’t peek at it too often. By the time it’s ready to pull, the onions will be soft and the whole thing will be swimming in the barbecue sauce and the pork and onion juices.
Discard the flabby fatty skin. No one wants to eat that, and then fork that pork.
Thats what I said. Fork it real good. Make sure you keep it in the slow cooker pan whilst you get your shred on.
Once pulled, mix in the rest of the barbecue sauce, and turn the heat down to low for an hour or so. You don’t HAVE to do this, but it’s much much better if you do.
We had ours in soft white rolls with coleslaw, lettuce and tomato. Standard.
And here is how to make slow cooker pulled pork tacos with the leftovers:
Taco shells, or soft tortillas. I’d usually go for the soft tortillas, but Saino’s were all out, so taco shells it was.
Creme fraiche or soured cream and hot pepper sauce, if you like. We like.
Cheese, if you like. Again, we like.
Tacos are really a do-as-you-like kind of meal. I like to put the meat in first and then a little shredded lettuce, guacamole, a dollop of creme fraiche and hot sauce, and then a sprinkling of cheese. The kids just pile it all on in whatever haphazard fashion they please, and Ross likes a lot of meat, a little salad, and liberal quantities of cheese. Really, anything goes. It’s just a tasty way of using up leftovers that everyone enjoys!