Caught in the minefield

While it terrifies me that my children might leave home soon, there are some things I won’t miss.

For example, negotiating the minefield that is cooking dinner.

You may remember that I said I was making gnocchi bake last night. It was chosen based on its ease because I was working in the city yesterday.

The recipe was inspired by a dish I saw in a Woolies magazine that I amped up.

Sausage, gnocchi & tomato bake

Olive oil

4 yummy thick sausages from your butcher (I used pork & veal – go for something with lots of flavour)

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 large carrot, diced

1 large zucchini, diced

500g supermarket-bought fresh gnocchi

1 large jar of passata with Italian herbs

Fresh thyme

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Grated mozzarella

Baby spinach leaves to serve

METHOD: Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausages and flick the meat into the pan in about 10-12 pieces per sausage. Add onion, garlic and diced veggies and cook for 4 minutes until sausage is browned and onion is translucent. Stir in passata and fresh thyme and cook for a further 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a baking dish, sprinkle with grated mozzarella and bake until cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove from oven and serve with baby spinach leaves.

The reason it says the sausages have to come from the butcher isn’t because I’m fancy. It’s because the youngest won’t eat sugar and virtually every damn sausage sold in supermarkets lists sugar or dextrose in its ingredients.

The youngest reads all labels with a fine tooth comb and refuses to eat items containing the sweet stuff.

Ones from the butcher are allowed because they don’t list the ingredients and she’s prepared to turn a blind eye.

The problem with getting sausages from a butcher is that they all close around my apartment at 6pm.

So I begged off work at 5.15pm last night and dashed to the bus to make the 6pm deadline. But the queue for the bus was literally hundreds of people long.

(I was quite dazzled by the number of folk at Wynyard Station juggling flowers. Florists were raking it in.)

So I didn’t get home until 6.10pm.

What to do?

I contemplated buying some freezer bags and decanting the supermarket sausages from their packaging as a sly attempt to con the youngest.

But I decided that way madness lies.

So I resolved to try mince in the recipe instead.

My hand hovered over the turkey mince because I thought it might bring flavour, but I worried it would be rejected as too weird, so I went for lamb mince instead.

Then I got home and realised the eldest no longer eats red meat.


For a moment I considered making the dish vegetarian, but it tastes much nicer when you get some meaty juices into it. So I asked the eldest if they would agree to eat the dish if the lamb was in meatball form that could be picked out.

The eldest agreed.

And the result was quite tasty!

I can’t say it was a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, but I wasn’t alone in the lack of lurve department.

DD had a business dinner with a brain cancer specialist that was mistaken by the waiters for a romantic assignation, so he received a heart chocolate to celebrate.

My ex spent Valentine’s Day ferrying the youngest’s laptop to my place, which she’d acccidentally left at his place.

He grumbled about losing an hour of his night to the journey and asked if her mother could come and get it.

The youngest didn’t even run that option past me, she flat out declined on my behalf.

Nice work.

Now what the bloody hell am I going to cook tonight? It never ends.

Song of the day: Mental as Anything “Let’s cook”

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