A few weeks ago Katie proudly announced she would be making a special meal for Mother’s Day. It would consist of pre-dinner nibbles and drinks along with three delectable courses. Rachel’s mum (who’s in our bubble) would be coming and said it would be a night to remember. She certainly got that right!
Before I continue I’d like to clarify something. It seems that whenever I cook with the girls disaster strikes and there have been previous posts describing the carnage that ensues when we’re together. This is pure co-incidence and nothing to do with me or my lack of culinary abilities. I used to be a chef at a 5 Star hotel, I cooked for tennis royalty, (I made omelettes for Gabriella Sabatini) and I know my way around the kitchen. The fact that my short-lived cooking career had its own share of disasters is completely irrelevant and should be disregarded from your minds. Thank you, now on with the story.
Katie has always loved cooking and is very proficient in the kitchen. In truth, she makes dinner almost as much as Rachel does and more so when we were both really struggling with Covid earlier this year. She’s very well organised but likes to do it all on her own and be in total control. For Mother’s Day she was joined by Jade and myself. Have you got a feeling of impending doom? It’s well placed.
The plan was for Jade to make vegetable soup, me to make wild mushroom risotto and for Katie to make fresh bread, oat and berry pots and pasta with her home made Napoli sauce. Shirley was bringing the apple and blackberry crumble. Rachel went round to Shirley at 4pm so we had 2 ½ hours before they came back and we’d be sitting down to eat at 7, plenty of time to pull everything together.
I started tidying the front room which was where the pre-diner extravaganza was being held. After two minutes however I got distracted by listening to old cassettes from my travels in Australia in 1991. Half an hour later Katie came in and went mad when seeing my lack of progress. “But listen to how young and leary I sound” just didn’t cut it with her.
I’d asked Jade at 4pm to make the soup immediately so she could tidy up and have it ready to re-heat for 7pm. Her answer was the same one she gives to anything we ask from “Can you please wash up,” to “There’s a group of rabid polar bears trying to get in, can you please get upstairs now.” : “In a minute.” I wouldn’t mind if she meant and stuck to that literally but her minute lasts about an hour. At 4.30 Katie started nagging her to do it and by 5.15 I was telling her with great authority, (as I’m the boss in the house) to get off her backside and make the soup.
Her irritated reply was, “It takes ten minutes, I’ll do it in a minute.” I called Rachel and asked them to come back later, we’d now be sitting down at 7.30. I explained about the lack of progress and the bickering between all of us. She suggested a takeaway instead and I was mortally offended. “Do you know how much work Katie’s put into today? No takeaways here thank you”. Katie was freaking out that nothing would be ready and that Rachel and Shirley would be here in 90 mins. Jade finally started making the soup and the bread was proving away nicely. I was helping by listening to my Boyz N The Hood soundtrack on cassette in the front room. There are some proper tunes on that I can tell you.
I came in to start on the risotto only to be faced with the clear after effects of an earthquake. There was mess everywhere with bowls, plate and a plethora of utensils strewn over the entire kitchen. There wasn’t room for me to do anything and Jade had problems with the soup. She described it as “Gloopy” which was actually pretty accurate. I advised that about 3L of stock should do the trick and started clearing up.
Half an hour later I finally had some space to work and asked Jade to write the card for Rachel. We’d ordered them Tuesday and they only arrived Sunday morning. I know, post on a Sunday, what’s going on? As she was writing the card I put the chopping board down which happened to be next to the blender. The same blender that still had the soup in. The same blender that inexplicably hadn’t got the lid on it.
By some freak act of nature my watch strap caught the power button on the blender and half the jug of soup shoots out, covering the ceiling, the walls, the floor and me. It was messy, Jade screamed and Katie looked like she was going to spontaneously combust. I nervously smiled and reassured them both all would be fine. I also blamed Jade and my reasoning was solid. “If you’d made the soup when I asked you to none of this would have happened.”
That didn’t go down well and she went from 17 year old girl to wailing banshee in a heartbeat. Actually, aren’t they the same thing? There was now only enough soup for two small cats but I reiterated the benefits of adding more stock. If you think about it stock is the Savlon of the kitchen and the Windex of the Constantine household. That’s a “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” reference in case you were wondering. It seemed apt so apologies if it felt mis-placed.
More stock was added and I was finally going to start clearing up the soup that was by now soaking into the walls and permanently staining them. Too late, the doorbell went, it was Rachel and Shirley. There was now smoke billowing out of Katie’s ears, nose and eyes. Jade was still blaming me for the soup and I was thinking how Katie would take it if I suggested a takeaway. I kept quiet. The guests seated, I instructed Jade to take their drink orders. She came back and took two wine glasses from the cupboard. The same cupboard that had a large bowl of prepared broccoli florets underneath it. She somehow banged the two glasses together, they smashed and went all over the broccoli. Big pieces, small pieces, miniscule pieces. Broccoli was off the menu. The irony of it all was that they were having vodka so wine glasses weren’t needed after all. You had to laugh, none of us did.
To my credit I was really holding it together. I hadn’t reached for food, I was just accepting the things that were out of my control. I finally started on the risotto and after cutting up the onion and garlic and sauteing the mushrooms I checked my watch. It was 7.30! “Is diner ready?” Rachel and Shirley were starving and to be fair we all were too. When everyone saw with dismay that the risotto would be at least another 30 mins I made an executive decision. “Risotto’s tomorrow, who wants pasta?”
By this stage Katie had decamped to the toilet and wasn’t coming out. I reassured her that all the food was fine and that risotto as well as pasta would have been too much. As the soup was poured, enough after the stock replenishment for 5 hungry adults) Katie came back and we tucked in.
The pasta was delicious. Alongside the lack of broccoli due to glass gate the carrots didn’t make it to the table either due to still being a bit raw. Who knew they took more than 3 minutes to cook?? The green beans and baby corn were fine and the crumble along with the oat and berry cakes were the perfect end to a lovely meal.
It only took about three hours to tidy up and we were thinking of repainting the kitchen anyway. Somehow, cream and lime green streaks doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing. I learnt some valuable lessons on Sunday and I’d like to share them with you now.
That last one wasn’t a lesson, I included it in the list to minimise the dramatic impact of it along with my guilt. Taking everything into consideration I’m glad we went through this together. The end result was delicious, even the vegetable soup which ended up being 1 part soup and 9 parts stock. Quality time with my girls is precious, even if I ended up smelling of spinach, tomato and potato soup for the next few days.
Until Next Time