Miss-Da Crabs

Dressed crabIf ever you think you’ve got a kid into a groove – you’re certain to find yourself sadly mistaken (the little buggers really love to keep you on your toes).

Take crabs – the kind you catch and eat, not catch and itch.

Ted’s been bit-champing keen to try crab and I’ve been equally eager not to cook one. My Grandfather was mad for crabs and we always had to bring him back a fresh one if we went within sniffing distance of a seaside.

Grandad was a skilled cook of traditional Yorkshire fayre. Many times, he demonstrated the prepping and cooking of crab. But, as I’ve always been a pussy when it comes eating seafood, I only ever watched – wincing – through one half-open eye.

On a recent trip to Anglesey with friends, Ted and I headed to Stanley Butchers in Beaumaris and bought a dressed crab. “The crab box will be ticked without me having to even touch it,” methought. Methought wrong.

Child eating crab clawWe unwrapped the crab – I saw what was coming, but hoped against hope. The brown meat of a crab is mushy soft – an unacceptable texture on Ted’s list – and there was way more brown meat than white.

God, that boy tried harder than I’ve yet seen him try to like something. Usually one lick of the tongue on a green bean and it’s straight back out. But four or five, hard-fought, mouthfuls in, Ted confessed: “I only like the claws and the meat, not the mush.”

So, poor Mr Crabs languished largely uneaten, though his claws were greatly appreciated.

I’m rueing the day I told Ted that Great Grandad Jack showed me how to cook crab – the pestering’s started already. I’ve just looked up crab-cooking on Delia – frankly, I’m bricking it…

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…