Check out one of our newest collabs-on-the-block, the lovely wordsmith Leah aka @clatteringclams, local mama of four, as she shares her musings on World Book Day… with a fabbo recipe added to cheers us all up too!
The first time ‘World Book Day’ really hit my maternal radar was four years ago when Scout, my eldest, was in Reception. A stripy tie and some plaits instantly transformed both Scout and an old Halloween costume into Mildred Hubble, with the comforting ease of something that could have been a lot harder. The following year, after an afternoon of papier-mâché and a dressing-up box raid, she became the Firebird from the beautiful ‘Koshka’s Tales’. I remember thinking the whole thing was wonderful.
Going forward another year and all of a sudden, I had two kids at school, two costumes to prepare and both a three year old and a baby at home. I’m not necessarily proud of this, but I think my reaction went something like this:
“World (expletive) Book Day?! I’ve barely got time to breathe, let alone make two (expletive) costumes!”
So, I got my debit card out and did what I frequently do in times of emergency – ‘tap, tap, tap’ on Amazon and thirty quid later, my problem was solved.
However, in the days that followed, the guilt set in; the environmental impact of those plastic outfits being delivered to my door, the lost fun of the previous two years and the thirty wasted pounds that would have been better spent on, well, just about anything. And yet, a nervous breakdown would have benefited no-one, so I made peace with both that hastily made Amazon purchase and also with the realisation that at times, we just need to give ourselves a break. Family life can be a fragile balance and the line between order and chaos, or even sanity and madness, can be very fine indeed.
So, whether you’re a sewing / homemade kind of mum, an Amazon mum or a throw-it-together-at-the-last-minute kind of mum firstly, I salute you ALL. Secondly, what I believe we all need in times of added pressure is easy food. I started this article thinking about concocting all sorts of recipes; a real life ‘Gruffalo Crumble’, a convoluted pudding that would incorporate each of the pieces of fruit in Handa’s basket or perhaps a pear poached to perfection to tempt even the most stubborn of bears. But it occurred to me that ‘World Book Day’ isn’t about food; not unless you have staff(!) or the constitution of Margaret Thatcher rendering just four hours of sleep a night sufficient. In the wise words of Jordan B. Peterson, ‘Raising young children is demanding and exhausting’, so here’s one of my simplest recipes for you to add to your repertoire for times when you just need life to be a little bit easier.
Salmon fillets (or chicken or tofu) with Soy Sauce and Maple Syrup.
Serves 6. Reduce the protein for fewer diners but keep the marinade quantities the same as a little extra sauce will be no bad thing.
6 x skinned salmon fillets (or seared chicken breasts (increase cooking time by 7 minutes) or 800g firm tofu)
5 tbsp light Soy Sauce
120ml Maple Syrup
Thumb sized piece of ginger, finely grated
2 cloves of garlic, finely grated.
Rice to serve.
Optional: red pepper, sugar snap peas, red chilli and fresh coriander.
Mix your marinade ingredients directly in an oven proof dish that fairly snugly fits your salmon fillets.
Roll your salmon in the marinade then cover and refrigerate until needed. (If you do this in the morning, dinner becomes completely stress-free.)
Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C and bake uncovered for 18 minutes. (If your fish is very tightly packed in the dish or the fillets are large, it may need an extra couple of minutes but take care not to over-cook it.)
Whilst the fish is baking, steam some rice and stir-fry sugar snap peas and pepper strips if you fancy it. Spoon the sauce over the rice and salmon to serve and garnish with coriander leaves and slithers of red chilli for those who want it.
If you’d like to read more recipes from Clattering Clams then head on over to her instagram page!
‘The Worst Witch’ by Jill Murphy
‘Koshka’s Tales. Stories from Russia’ by James Mayhew.
‘The Gruffalo’ by Julia Donaldson
‘Handa’s Surprise’ by Eileen Browne
‘There’s a Bear on my Chair’ by Ross Collins
‘12 Rules for Life’ by Jordan B. Peterson