I’m not getting anything done. And it’s entirely because of Arabella.
She’s not at school so she wanders around the house looking for me. There’s not a minute’s peace. I was typing an email to my sister this morning (very important epistle) and she came in with wet hair and said she was going off for her mani and pedi with the Vietnamese. I had to put down my laptop (mid sentence) and say, ‘Arabella, you cannot be serious. It’s 14 degrees outside. Go and dry your hair.’
Arabella continued to scuff in her ugh boots towards the front door. ‘I can’t be bothered’.
‘That’s the fastest way to catch a cold, get back here and plug in your hair dryer.’
‘I’ve got two layers on.’
‘If you catch a cold how do you think you’ll feel tomorrow night at your formal?’
‘As if I’m going to catch a cold. I’ll take a Vitamin C’.
‘Then at least put on my scarf, it will keep your neck warm.’
And that did it. She hates my cashmere scarf and wouldn’t be seen dead in it. So she scuffed her way to the bathroom and turned on the dryer. I picked up my lap top and resumed my email. But she was back in the room within minutes. All she’d bothered to do was dry the roots. ‘Can you give me a lift?’
‘It’s a two minute walk. It takes longer to drive.’
‘Okay, then I’ll drive myself.’
‘You don’t have a licence.’
‘It’s only up the road.’
‘That’s illegal Arabella’.
‘What could happen.’
‘You can’t drive without a licence.’
‘I’ve done it before.’
And we’ll leave that conversation right there. I put down the lap top, again, and drove her to the Vietnamese nail bar where she decided to have a French manicure on her fingers and a soft pink on her toes.
Back home, I’d barely finished dealing with the laundry when she was back. ‘What happened?’ I asked in horror because I was hoping for a longer reprieve.
‘Why are you back so soon? I told you to stay there until your nails were completely dry.’
‘I didn’t want to. Is there anything to eat? I’m so bored. There’s a geography excursion on Monday. Do you think I could go? Could you email my teacher about it? Can we have pasta for dinner? And Fred will be here soon. Can we pick him up from Hornsby?’
‘There’s last night’s leftovers in the fridge.’
‘What is it?’
‘It’s chicken with barley and vegetables. You’ll love it. Your father had two helpings.’
‘Sounds a bit healthy. Is there anything else?’
Like I’ve had so much time to whip up a banquet. ‘No, Arabella, there’s nothing else unless you want to cook yourself some toast. Eat the stew.’
‘What about the geography teacher. Can you send him an email?’
‘I don’t have his email address. I’ll email your mentor and she can pass it on’.
‘Fred will be at Hornsby soon. Can we go and get him?’
‘Hornsby is an hour away. I just don’t have time for it. Can’t he get on another train and we can pick him up from around here.’
‘That’s a bit mean, mum. They picked me up from Tamworth airport and that was about two hours away.’
‘They picked you up from the closest port Arabella and that’s what I’ll be doing for Fred. He won’t mind catching another train.’
‘Well can you cook him a pasta? And he doesn’t like the tomato ones, he likes the creamy ones.’
I retreated to my ‘office’ to try and complete a short email to my sister. But she found me. ‘Mum, the tailor’s on the phone. He wants to know what time tonight we can get there for a fitting?’
I was shocked. Stunned even. ‘You can’t be serious. He said he was delivering the finished dress here, tonight. What does he mean a fitting? Hasn’t he finished it? Is it all still in pieces on the floor?’
‘I don’t know mum, he just says I have to have a fitting and he’ll stay up all night tonight and finish it.’
‘Well how’s he getting it here tomorrow?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Do I have to go and get it?’
Something’s been lost in translation. I distinctly remember discussing with the tailor (when I drove out to Liverpool to hand-deliver the fabric and have Arabella fitted) that he said it would be finished Wednesday and that he would deliver it to us Wednesday night. What has gone wrong?
That’s my day (and night) sorted. Nothing achieved. Excellent.
And as for tomorrow, Arabella’s told me to ‘block out the day’. ‘I’ll need you mum’, she said.
So will Arabella have a dress to wear to her formal tomorrow night? We’ll all have to stay tuned.
Here’s Fred’s creamy pasta. You’ll understand that I didn’t have time to make my own pasta or create my own recipe. This one is straight from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Dinners.
Farfalle with Carbonara and Spring Peas
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: I think cooking pasta for your family is one of the least expensive meals you can create. I love to be able to put great food on the table that feeds the family for less than $20.00 and this is another of those meals.
- 455g/1 lb farfalle
- 1 egg
- 100ml/3 1/2 fl oz double cream
- 12 rashers of pancetta or bacon, roughly sliced (I used bacon)
- 3 handfuls of fresh podded or frozen peas (I used frozen – no time to shell peas!)
- 2 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves picked
- 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
First of all, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the farfalle, and cook according to the packet instructions. Whisk the egg in a bowl with the cream, salt and pepper. Put your pancetta or bacon into a second pan and cook until crispy and golden.
When the farfalle is nearly cooked, add the peas for the last minute and a half. This way they will burst in your mouth and be lovely and sweet. When cooked, drain in a colander, saving a little of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pancetta and stir in most of the mint, finely sliced – if the pan isn’t big enough, mix it all together in a large warmed bowl.
Now you need to add the egg and cream mix to the pasta. What’s important here is that you add it while the pasta is still hot. This way, the residual heat of the pasta will cook the eggs, but not so that they resemble scrambled eggs. The pastas will actually cook the egg enough to give you a silky smooth sauce. Toss together and loosen with a little of the reserved cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the Parmesan and the rest of the mint leaves, and serve as soon as possible.
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Footnote: Arabella interrupted me yet again and said, ‘Mum, I put a white singlet top in the wash. Do you know where it is?’ And, ‘Mum, I’m putting on fake tan. Can you help me?’
I’ll be back soon!