Same S@*t, Different Year

“Stop flapping about and flinging raw octopus juice everywhere!”Me

“Can I put my hand inside its head?”Ted

Ted stirring fish stockI’m kicking off 2013 with a rebooted devotion to expressing my motherly love through the medium of seafood cuisine. So, I’ve got my hand up an octopus’s arse.

I know, I know – they don’t really have an arse. Actually, I can point you to the beak, funnel, suckers and eyes like a pro. I’ve had to get clued up, as Ted’s brain grows bigger and he thirsts for more knowledge to stuff it with.

After washing the octopus, I wanted to run screaming to a Swiss clinic and decontaminate myself with a raw juice diet, but instead I let Ted do some sharp knife cutting, stock-mixing, garlic-crushing and whacking in of broccoli and pasta. How hands-off, am I?

I like to think I’m a non-smothering, all-round good motherly egg, but – in reality – the sooner he can do this s@*t himself, the sooner I don’t have to hose down a cephalopod.

As he chewed delightedly through a mass of rubbery tentacles – hope I’m not on bog duty when that resurfaces – the table talk focused on hen and stag parties and what they consisted of.

He’s a long way off finding a life partner, but Ted’s decided on a key celebratory element already: “For my stag do, I’m gonna go with my mates to a seafood restaurant and eat all kinds of fish.”

Same Shit, Different Year_2If Ted’s Best Man of the future is perusing this blog for merciless wedding speech jokes, take note of his wishes. (And no poor taste jokes about the groom’s mother and her false teeth…)


The Octopus Cometh


Ever considered becoming a testicular surgeon? Buy and gut an octopus – it’s a wincingly close substitute, I reckon.

After much procrastination – I faced my fears, defrosted that slippery little fucker sucker (see earlier) and wrestled it into a sauté pan. In the interests of being frank, I report that I whimpered and retched pretty much the whole time.

On Rick Stein’s advice, I turned it inside out (gag), pulled out the innards (horror), rinsed it all over, removed the beak (please, make it stop) and was left holding something akin to a discarded scrotal sack.Image

I chopped the head into rings, crying out when I realised I’d sliced through an eye. Then I separated the tentacles – use a seriously sharp knife or you’ll be hacking fruitlessly all day.

And from here on, I improvised, because no recipe I found catered for the bland and bizarre mix that constitutes my son’s dietary delectations.

I fried the octopus in garlic oil, lengthily and gently, so it didn’t burn or stick – tentacle-encrusted cookware is not a good look.

I added spring onions, some broccoli (doesn’t he ever get sick of it?), some fish stock (a cube, natch) and a few noodles. I then simmered ‘til cooked.


I needn’t have worried he might reject the eight-limbed sea monster – Ted was stealing hot tentacle before I could plate up. “Delicious. So delicious,” he repeated many times.

After slurping up tentacles, rings of octopus head and spoons of fish stock, he gnawed on a token bit of broccoli, semi-begrudgingly ate some noodles and told me he, “never wanted spring onions in this recipe again.”

Point taken: I must add even fewer complementary flavours next time.

Now, surely I’ve earned serving up at least one meal of beans-on-toast for all that effort..?

Delaying Tactics

You know when you set a well-meaning reminder on your phone, then repeatedly snooze and reset it for a day hence, because you really can’t face the task at hand?

My ‘octopus’ alert’s been going off for almost three days, but I’m in no way ready to tackle that slippery, little sucker yet.

So, because most days in our house involve some kind of seafood – and Ted would actually eat fish for every non-breakfast repast, if I allowed him to – I would like to introduce you to my most culinarily-daring dish… Tuna Pasta!

I think it’s foul, but it’s the only menu item still standing from Ted’s early toddler days – a time when he ate the nutritionally-balanced pies, stews, risottos and bakes I once slaved over.

Whack olive oil, onions, crushed garlic and a pinch of herbs into a pan. Add frozen peas and a tin of tuna (in spring water – no pissing about draining the oil). Tip in a carton of passata. Simmer it. Add two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, half a teaspoon of sugar, some salt and pepper. Gently cook. Take it off the heat while you cook your pasta – that tuna gets bloody hot.

Serve it up, feeling righteous but not knackered, and (if you hate fish, like me) tuck into your own – rather tame by comparison – tomato and basil sauce. But you don’t need me to tell you how to cook that, right?

This recipe was adapted from a meal my least kitchen-oriented friend once cooked for Ted and her son. She says her Mum used to cook something similar for her. My Mum never did so for me – I would have burst into tears at the mention of it.

In fact, I haven’t eaten tuna since 1989, when I forged a mental link between the tinned variety and skinned Alsatian. At the time, I was listening to a ridiculously tall tale about a Chinese takeaway, while eating a tuna sandwich.

Still, the kids go mad for Tuna P and no one under five has rejected it yet.

Have I killed enough time to get away with not cooking that octopus for another week? Next, I will conquer my squeamish, tearful fears and wrestle it into some kind of cooking utensil. Wish me luck!

Digesting Less

Is there such a thing as a ‘Summer Vomiting Bug’?

Each member of our household’s been hit by the galloping trots and copious upchucking this week. Nice. I’ve felt less like purchasing, gutting and cooking seafood than ever.

But, when Ted – the first to fall victim to the vomits – had completely voided his system at the weekend, he said: “I’m really looking forward to eating that octopus next week.”

“Yee gads, cut me a break”, I thought – sloping out vomit from what used to be our salad bowl. Motherhood!

The boy made a quick recovery and resumed his own unique take on the Atkins diet. I was relieved for a past moment of motherly organisation, when I’d purchased frozen giant prawns and frozen pollock fillets (pollock from the Sainsbury’s Basics range, under two quid, about eight pieces, what a bargain). This meant I’ve only had to chuck stuff in a pan and serve it up. Hurrah! ‘Cos even a potato waffle’s been a food group too far for me since being ill.

Today, I poached a pollock fillet in milk and water for seven minutes and served it up to Ted with plain pasta and peas (you’re getting used to the peas now, right?).

He loved it, asking: “Take a photo of me with the pollock. I want to see what we look like together.” The verdict was a resounding “delicious” on the fish, but a serious maternal f-up on the peas. Oh dear. “These are the peas, I don’t like,” he announced. Weeping and wailing followed rapidly, thereafter.

“Clear your plate, or there’s no pudding, etc, etc” I repeatedly huffed, before a moment of dawning realisation. I cooked the wrong peas! On still-dehydrated autopilot, I’d reached for the cheap stuff the adults in our house have. But Ted only does Bird’s Eye best – such a refined (pampered) palate.

He took my apology well, but held me to my earlier promise of ice cream. I hit him with a knock-off version of a Nobbly Bobbly. He was stoked – cheap peas, pah! But cheap ice cream? That really is da bomb…