Monday, 20 October 2014

Offal burgers




Very soon my adventures in single parenting will be over. For this year at least. My husband returns on Wednesday and won't leave again until an unconfirmed date in 2015, by which point my new Spanish, live-in granny/auntie substitute will be safely installed in our spare room and my life will be transformed.

What I have learnt is that single parenting is just awful. Awful, awful, awful, lonely and terrifying. And that's when everyone is well and happy and it's not raining. If anyone is ill or not sleeping well, then - fuck. You simply go insane with anxiety and exhaustion.

I'm sure there are people who boss it. I know women who are on their own with one or more children from 7am to 8 or 9pm every day and seem to stay sane - but even that I think would send me round the twist.

But strangely enough the women I know who do the most intensive parenting - their husbands work hard, are away a lot - are also the ones with the pristine houses and sunny, positive outlooks. Maybe it's because they're like that anyway that they seek out this arrangement - I don't know. But they always seem superhuman to me.

I am, already, not the parent I would like to be - even when things are good - and when I am on my own I fail even my own very basic tests of okay parenting. I once vowed that my children would never eat their dinner in front of the telly. Ha ha! Except for every meal they have any weekend I am on my own. And some weeknights, too.  I once vowed that I would never let a child take a bottle to bed and suck itself to sleep with it. Ha ha! Except for every night that I was on my own in the Spring, concluding in Sam's raging sleep/bottle association.

For two weeks before his most recent trip away, my husband was at home, with nothing much to do - and it was like paradise. Really, it was like the Garden of Eden before the Fall. He took Kitty to nursery every morning, he threw Sam dangerously high in the air, making him scream with joy, walked him about the kitchen holding him by the hand and toted him the five flights of stairs to his bed for his lunchtime nap. He was there, first thing, if I just wanted to go and have a quick shower. He was there, at bath time, if I wanted to skip the start and do a few things downstairs.

Anyone with a husband (or wife) who travels a lot will know all about the exit row and re-entry row. They are the rows you have in the 24-48 hours before a spouse leaves and the row you have when they come back. There's always one. The longer they're away the worse they are. Anyway, I tell you this: it will be worth all the exit and re-entry rows I've had this year (lots) in order to have my husband back again for a good long while.

If only that Sam eats more in front of Giles in order, I think, to impress him. And Giles does not suffer from the manic anxiety that I do when it comes to feeding our children. He returned 3 weeks ago from investigating the "Paleo" or "Caveman" diet and decided that our children must have offal in their diet. I sniggered into my 11am Ferrero Rocher and said quietly "Gooooooood luck!!" but sent him anyway up to Meat NW5, our local butcher, where he purchased a lamb's heart, some bacon, calves' liver and two top-quality beef burgers and turned them into "offal burgers".

I insisted that these were trialled at lunchtime, when a flat-out refusal of food doesn't have the disastrous consequences that it has at bedtime. Kitty was circumspect but Sam poked it down, with an enthusiasm that I haven't seen since he first tasted Pret's Carrot Cake, and then licked the plate. I was stunned and humbled and ashamed.

Offal burgers, or "Dad's burgers" are now a new, exciting and permanent fixture on our strict seven-day rotating meal planner.

Please do not feel that you have to attempt these. Giles thinks that children eating a high-fat, high-protein, high-offal diet will make them geniuses and live forever, but there are plenty of people who think this is perfectly nuts.

Offal burgers

2 best high-quality beef burgers
weigh them and then take equal weights
streaky bacon
lamb's heart
calves' liver
a small handful of soft herbs - parsley and sage for e.g.
2 small handfuls of medium Matzoh meal

1 Mush up the burger meat in a bowl
2 finely chop or whizz the heart and liver and add to the burger meat
3 add the herbs and matzoh meal
4 form into patties and fry gently for about 8 mins each side


24 comments:

  1. I'm about to have my first baby- 7 weeks to go (not that I'm counting!). And I'm going to be a semi single parent right from the word go, my boyfriend works away from home and best case scenario he'll get home every weekend but not probably not every weekend. I'm terrified about this. I'm not a sunny, organised person. I suffer from anxiety and hated being on my own when he was away even before pregnancy and babies. I have no idea why I sought out this lifestyle, but its the one I have. And we wanted children, so I'm having a baby and I'm just hoping it will all work out. Elaine x

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    1. Elaine - you will be okay. I have got two children and they are both pretty difficult. One is manageable. But if your boyfriend continues to work away from home a lot you'll be needing an au pair... xxx

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  2. I can't tell you how reassuring I found this. My husband is halfway through an 8-week stint away and I'm amazed at how hard it is (sorry Elaine, but again I've got two).

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  3. Strict seven-day rotating meal planner,,, do you really have one? That's one of the things I always thought I'd do, if I was to be the perfect parent I imagined I'd be. But in reality I rotate between the three things they'll eat without complaining - spag bol, roast chicken, fish fingers. Would love to know more about what you make them, always looking for ideas!

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    1. Chicken pie, Spanish Omelette, Dad's burgers, fish fingers, sausages, egg fried rice, macaroni cheese...

      Kitty would eat spag bol but Sam absolutely refuses to, which is a shame as you can just have a big thing of bol in the freezer

      I think having only three things is absolutely fine, especially when you have 2 of different ages & you have to winkle out things they'll both eat. a scary situation is when they'll ONLY eat pesto pasta or they'll ONLY eat chicken nuggets and chips.

      don't hate me but Annabel Karmel has got some good ideas in her toddler meal cookbook thingy.

      I always try new things at lunchtime (as stated above) when the pressure is off a bit - you've got the rest of the day to fill them up if they point-blank refuse something and they might surprise you by really loving it

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  4. I'm based at home all day, I foster so this both increases the number of children I have (currently 5 - eek) but also means I am at home. I mainly obsess about how people manage to get out of the house and go to work as well as the school/nursery routine but this has made me realise that one of my friends is both a single parent and has a full time (fairly responsible) job - how is that even possible?

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  5. I love this blog. It's the only one I subscribe to and I fall on every email when it arrives.

    I was a single parent of two very young, "lively" boys for 5 years after my twattish husband stalked out... And yes, it was hard. I only got £85/month Maintenance from him too. But... it wasn't THIS hard.

    Maybe it's easier when the husband has left, rather than just gone away for a while. When they've left forever, you don't have as much resentment - you've just got to get ON with it. And you can have the house the way YOU want, make all the decisions yourself, and spend your evenings doing exactly what you want.

    I'm about to move in with my fiancé, this Friday. I'm actually more worried about that than I was at being on my own!

    Thanks for this recipe. I'll definitely try it. x

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    1. Kate no I'm sorry to break it to you but you are just one of "those" women who is good at it! If Giles left me the house would crumble to dust and we'd all be eaten by stray cats within weeks. Respect to you x

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  6. I think your insight about the women with the sunny dispositions and 4 kids and a husband who is always away is so good! Never thought about it like that. That must be the reason they're so good at it. (And I'm not.)

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  7. It is exhausting and difficult and such a relief when they return. My husband is recovering at home after emergency surgery and has not been at work/ away for a few weeks now yet it's almost worse as he's not able to do much so I'm solo parenting and a carer and plagued with worry about his recovery. It's so bad that a visiting friend tidied my daughter's playroom whilst I was out. She couldn't bear the disarray. To be fair to her there were abandoned crusts in their and maybe a chewed apple. I'm just so shagged at the end of the day I just close the door and swear I will address it the next day. These burgers sound delicious, I wonder if they'd work without bacon??? Living in a pork free country...

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    1. I opened a jigsaw box the other day and half an old cheese sandwich fell out. You're not alone x

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    2. ... and yes leave out the bacon, makes no difference

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  8. Ahh I have 3 under 5, my husband often away and quite frequently have the tv on to get through supper despite this being totally against everything I stand for and, until today, have been berating myself for this behaviour as you once referenced this being below you and I like to ensure I am aligned with your standards....so hurrah! Now I feel inordinately better about my parenting abilities. Many thanks. X

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    1. 3 under 5? it's a miracle you don't call the police, let alone have the telly on. keep it on. you have my permission.

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  9. Crikey. Not sure about offal. I don't mind the occasional chicken heart though. Thank goodness you will have hubby around for a while to help out!

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  10. I am on my own. Only 1 child (who I am hoping might countenance offal burgers). I am absolutely one of those organised, sunny people but it's largely because I don't want to be on my own with a child AND no one wanting to be my friend - that would be pretty much worst case scenario!

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    1. ha ha! said like a true sunny and organised person. most of us in the depths of single-parenting trauma don't give a shit if people want to be friends. who's got time for friends anyway??? you're just a nice person - your kid is lucky x

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  11. Hi Esther, sounds a bit strange but I'm trying to email you but your contact page isn't working... I promise i'm not a weird internet stalker, just a girl from Hampstead with an idea I wanted to talk to you about. Is there anyway I can contact you directly?

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    1. Hi Charlie you can email me at esther dot walker at gmail dot com

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  12. So, how do these taste? Sam likes them and Kitty must too since they are now a standard menu item at Chez Coren. But do you like them? I do like that they are now called Dad's Burgers. lol

    Judith

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    1. heart doesn't taste of much and liver tastes like liver, so there's a traditional beef burger element, some bacon top notes and a livery tang. I think they're pretty delicious, but I am an adventurous eater

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  13. A live in Spanish nanny? You're right, the parallels between you and the Duchess of Cambridge's lives are uncanny :) Good for you.

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  14. I just wiped away a little tear. My husband (from now on referred to only as The Absentee Landlord) has been away for eight weeks, returning home briefly for the bloody Scottish referendum and our toddler's birthday. My eldest has been on October break, my toddler hasn't slept since August, and my husband was supposed to come home today. Except he's not. There's going to be the mofo of all rows when he does get home. I've never been so near to smashing things.

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  15. God, what is it about exit and re entry rows? Just had them both. Again. Sorry, you are on to another post now but had to share.

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