Summer has finally arrived in California, and it’s just wonderful. Gone are those long weeks of grey skies and – for this area – freezing temperatures (it’s been snowing in Tahoe the last few weeks). Back are the technicolor sky, the yellow and green hills, the slight breeze in the air. Driving along the most scenic roads in the world, I have to constantly pinch myself to remind myself that I’m actually living in this beautiful part of the world. I want to stop the car every couple of minutes and take photos, but photos just can’t capture the special light and atmosphere of this place. E is doing horseriding camp every day this week, at the most idyllic ranch amidst the scenic countryside of Los Altos Hills. Yesterday, when we drove up there early in the morning, I looked in the rear mirror to find F dreamily looking out of the window, and she said “This is my favourite road in the world”. Aaaahhhh….
Unfortunately the beginning of the Californian summer coincided with another business trip for S (who’s been back to London every few weeks, it seems), and we’ve had to enjoy the beautiful weather without him. It’s only a few more days though until we have him back, and luckily we’re having the busiest week ever, with the girls at summer camp half of the day, and me working and drinking coffee at Starbucks (due to a very sporadic internet connection at home, I just had to make the most of free Wifi).
One thing that always suffers when Daddy’s away is our diet. Cook by name, cook by nature – he is in charge of our culinary delights. Where in our previous life, he’d take over the kitchen only at the weekends, he now cooks pretty much 6 days out of 7. And while I’m perfectly capable of feeding my family and even producing tasty dishes, I’ve happily handed over the wooden spoon. I do cakes and cookies, but when it comes to dinner time, I tend to throw up my arms and wail. Every now and then I pull myself together and create something, but those days are rare, and we usually survive on pizza, pasta and some more pasta (with cheese and not much else). So I feel very smug when I say that not only have I cooked something very healthy from scratch, I have also invented a new dish. And I’m very proud to say that it was a huge success, so much so that I have to share the recipe with you. Ever thought of beetroot spag bol? No? Me neither, until I looked in the fridge, and found a lump of minced beef in need of cooking, and not much else. Except for a couple of splendid looking beetroot from the farmers’ market (we cooked a few of them on the barbecue last weekend, seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, wrapped in silver foil, cooked for 3/4 hours, yum!). I’ve always been the kind of person who – presented with the most gorgeous cookery books and recipes, the best ingredients at hand, panics and messes up everything, but given a choice of random ingredients and no instructions, comes up with something edible. So I figured that beef and beet should go nicely together, fried some garlic and onion, added chopped up beetroot and a couple of carrots, added the beef, seasoning (salt, pepper, oregano), and off we went! As I said, a HUGE success, a wonderful combination of flavours, even though – or maybe because – it looked absolutely disgusting. E took one look, said “looks like vomit, or guts”, got stuck in and her eyes lit up. So I would probably recommend this as a family dish rather than a showy-offy course during a posh dinner party with friends (although – Halloween would probably be an exception, now there’s an idea). It basically looks like something from the inside of your body, and something which should stay there. It will delight little boys, who can pretend to eat blood and gore, and it will entice little girls because it turns the pasta a beautiful shade of magenta pink. A winner all round. But enough of the self-praise! Try it and enjoy!!!