Chicken satay

(Dunno, I think there’s satay on the lens.)

Bert went to a friend’s for tea dressed as Spider-Man, made a paper crown and danced in it in the kitchen for ten minutes when we got in. He kept it in sight of the bath then went to bed in just the crown and a pair of pants. (We have much in common.)

I said, ‘look at you, a handsome prince.’

‘No, I the Queen! Call me the Queen. I am the Queen. Goodnight.’ And I was regally dismissed.

He woke up in the crown and came excitedly to our bedroom to show his dad. His dad, who’d been primed, said ‘who are you? The Queen?’

Bert threw him a look of ice-cold incomprehension. ‘No,’ he said, narrowing his eyes as if it was the oddest thing he’d ever heard.

I can’t take credit for any element of this recipe (another one from the National Trust Family Cookbook) but we eat it all the time.

Serves 3-4

Chicken (breast or thigh) in 2cm cubes – we had four thighs and two breasts, but we’re greedy

2 crushed cloves of garlic

Small piece of ginger, grated

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 tin coconut milk

150g unsweetened crunchy peanut (or other nut) butter

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

2 more tablespoons soy sauce

Juice of half a lime (or a tablespoon of bottled lime juice)

Mix together the garlic, ginger, first lot of soy and chicken and marinate for at least a couple of hours.

Put the coconut milk, nut butter, chilli and the rest of the soy into a small sauce pan and heat till combined, stirring a little till smooth. Add the lime juice and season. Leave to cool.

Spread the chicken out on a grill pan and cook under a very hot grill for about 10 minutes.

Serve with cucumber and pepper batons and boiled rice (perfect rice tip – add the uncooked rice to a pan of lots of already boiling water and cook for 11-12 minutes. Drain and run a kettle of boiling water over it in the colander. Return the rice to the hot pan as soon as it stops dripping and put a tight lid on it. Keep it there, steaming, for at least 20 minutes). The boys had flat bread too.


Slow cooked Mongolian beef


Yesterday Bert woke up crying because he wasn’t green enough. He went to nursery in a dinosaur costume, wore it there all day and sat in a shopping trolley wearing in it all the way round Sainsbury’s when I picked him up.

Today he rejected my choice of clothes in favour of the only all green/ non-dinosaur outfit he has – an emerald green polo shirt, bright green trousers and stripy green socks. His dad had to change into green shorts and a luminous green running top. Luckily they left the house before I was emotionally blackmailed into wearing a green tartan winter dress.

Sometimes I think life as an adult is stressful, but, to be fair, I can’t remember the last time I cried because I wasn’t green enough.

Should have served more than three

500g beef shin or other stewing steak, sliced

1 dessert spoon plain flour

1 red pepper, sliced thinly

1 inch fresh ginger, grated

4 cloves garlic, crushed

3/4 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup water

Toss the sliced beef in the flour in a casserole dish, add the remaining ingredients, bring to a fast simmer on the hob and then put in a slow oven (140 or the bottom of the Aga simmering oven) for 4-5 hours. The cups are the American measurements, not mugs, or there’d be about a week’s worth of sugar in there.

Because of the way the Aga cooks, I had to take it out and simmer it on the hob with the lid off for the last 25 minutes to reduce the sauce to the thick, sticky consistency it should have.

We had ours with plain rice in the garden by a campfire, with campfire bananas for pudding.