It smells like home

I’ve got company, my daughter Mandy is staying over. She hardly gets a chance nowadays, with her busy life style. We have eaten well and my waist band is complaining.

You feed the kids as they grow and you get into a routine, well at least I did. Chips on Saturday and Wednesday, roast on a Sunday, Bolognese, Lasagne or Chilli on Tuesday and then Monday, left overs and Thursday it was pot luck and Friday they helped themselves. Then I met Mark, who isn’t a fussy eater, in fact he will eat anything, anything except strawberries in balsamic vinegar. It was one of the best, the worse and the funniest times of our courtship. It’s a thing, honestly, strawberries with a touch of vinegar and black pepper, left to macerate over night and served with mascarpone. I love them, but I think maybe I should have warned Mark as he took his usual heaped dessertspoon of strawberries and cream and promptly spat them out like an Automatic Tennis Ball Tosser. (I know that’s not what they are called, but I just couldn’t be bothered to look it up.)

There we were at the table and he heaved, shock, disgust and then roaring laughter, I laughed, he sort of gagged and spat and yurked. Yurked, now that should be a word in the English dictionary: To Yurk – To violently throw up and try to cough at the same time. Needless to say, I haven’t macerated strawberries since.

Mark isn’t a lover of Sunday roasts and he is one of those rare men that when asked, will actually tell you what he wants for dinner. At first it was a difficult thing to take in.


Me: What do you fancy for dinner?

Mark: Beef in Red wine.

Me: FFS, you’re not supposed to answer, you are supposed to say, “I don’t know, what have we got?” I’m then supposed to tell you I don’t know and I’ll look in the freezer. Then we both forget, and a half an hour before dinner, I panic and get out something frozen with chips.

It took a while, but when Mark began to realise what I kept in the freezer on a regular basis and when I went shopping, he began to answer the, “What do you want for dinner” question, something that women ask just to make a man feel as though he has a choice, not to actually give them a choice.

We still have the moments when Mark asks, “What’s for dinner,” and I answer, “Which Take Away am I calling.” Mark does not cook!

So, company, even if it is your own daughter is always a reason to cook. And cook I have, and eaten, and then eaten. I only have myself to blame for the expansion. We are having Duck soup tonight, because on Thursday when Mandy arrive, Roger came over and we had a Chinese, all lovingly prepared by my own delicate hands. All, that is except for the spring rolls, I forgot them and we devoured them on Friday for lunch. I made a Pavlova, lots of cream and meringues and strawberries, no vinegar, cross my heart. (Shhh, you can’t make Pavlova without raspberry vinegar for the meringue, don’t tell Mark)

Friday, I went to Italy, not a Cornetto in sight but the biggest home-made Pizza you could imagine.

Feeling slightly puffed out I made the decision not to go overboard on Saturday so we opted for a Chinese Take Away when we got home. We went to see The World’s Strongest Man and yes, we ate there as well. Giant Hot Dogs anyone.

I was stuffed and breakfast is a far-off dream I once had in the days when diets were a part of my life, now if I can manage a coffee in the morning it’s a miracle as my digestive tract sets about sorting out the intake.


I’ve just had a vision of little men in boiler suits running around in the tunnels of my stomach with wheel barrows. The food intake is separated into categories for digesting. Only there’s a hold up in the junk department as the overflow is taking its time to be redistributed. The foreman is stamping his feet which is giving me cramp and the bowel department has gone on strike because the management won’t allow overtime.

Oh Sunday, and the love of a good Sunday roast, with vegetables. Remember those things, the delicately boiled cabbage, the slight crunch of the cauliflower, the….. nope not for us, we went posh. We went to an Air show and went Full Monty. Exclusive, breakfast pastries, packed lunch, afternoon tea and then home for dinner. I had to eat dinner, I was fit to burst but I just had to. You see, our Mandy made it. She made the same stupid mistake I make, she asked Mark what he would like for dinner.

“Cottage Pie.”

…and then she added a lemon méringue for afters. It was amazing. The cottage pie was perfect. Mandy being her mum’s daughter not being stingy.

I’ll make it, I know I will, slightly heavier, slightly less likely to ever ask Mark what he would like for dinner, and looking into cooking only Super Healthy meals the next time Mandy pays a visit, I will get through the rest of the day and tomorrow.

We are off out in a minute, which no doubt will entail popping into a coffee shop. I’ve solved the problem of left-over cottage pie, I know a man that I can feed that to, and I don’t mean Mark even though he has got some for lunch.

The duck soup will be accompanied by Chinese dumplings and the smell is amazing.

It’s not the home my daughter grew up in, the crock pot is different and Mandy doesn’t have to wear a bib anymore. (She needs to the mucky pup, but if you have ever tried to fit a bib to a 32 year old five foot Tasmanian devil wannabe, you’ll know it’s easier just to offer to do the washing) It does smell like home, nothing fancy, the tumble drier working, the rain falling and the aroma of duck stewing in the pot. Mandy sits on the settee reading her iPad, as though she has lived here all her life. This is my home, for it will always be where my heart is, with my family and good food.

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