#2 teenage son is convinced that his bedroom is the house dumping ground. Maybe it’s the six foot artificial Christmas tree in his wardrobe and the collection of camping gear that we have accumulated over 10 years – even though we’ve only ever been twice. It could be the two (enormous) memory boxes stashed in there – filled with mementoes that I treasure, but, to be honest, are of little interest to him. Then there’s the ‘fold down table’ which just doesn’t really work anywhere else in the house, but is too useful to get rid of. Oh and let’s not forget the two gigantic sombreros – don’t ask.
Maybe he has a point.
So, in an attempt to get him off my case and to help him to love his room a bit more, I decided that a coat of paint would be a good plan + a bit of a de-clutter.
When your children are little … and even when they’re medium sized, they seem to want to be wherever you are. Even if you have a reasonable sized house with plenty of rooms, they’ll be where you are – on top of you. But nobody tells you that with teenage years it’s all change and their bedroom becomes their place of choice – I guess because it’s where you’re not.
It’s the venue for homework, for hanging out, for screen time, for sleeping (lots of) …. So, as a teenager, you need to love the room you have – because you see a lot of it.
After narrowly missing a paint catastrophe where the decorator thought my colour of choice was a dark, sludgy brown (when in fact it was a stylish, subtle pale grey), ‘we’ were off.
I am the slowest painter in the world, so I’m always astonished at how quickly other people can make it happen. It doesn’t help that my weapon of choice tends to be a 1 inch brush – so best to leave me with woodwork and edges. And even then, don’t be in any kind of hurry. But get me onto decluttering and I’m SPEEDY. Really SPEEDY. A couple of bin bags filled on the first run through and then I moved onto the books, finding a few that Hella might enjoy, particularly a pile of Enid Blyton mysteries. You know that a book is dated when the opening sentence introduces characters called Larry and Fatty and the second sentence reads, “Golly, that was a wizard one that we had in the Christmas hols, wasn’t it?” Mmmm, maybe language has moved on a bit since Enid put pen to paper?
Anyway, after the painting and the decluttering came re-building the room (chucking out a few more bits along the way) and this seemed to be the part that took the time. So, having a handy slow cooker dinner doing its thing in the kitchen while I was doing my thing in the teenage cave felt like a plan. A ‘wizard’ one, even.
You know about my track record with slow cookers. Hit and miss to say the least, but this time I feel I made a huge leap forward and here’s what made the difference –
Cutting the vegetables really thinly and throwing them into the slow cooker just before you serve = VIBRANT colours, great FLAVOUR + a bit of CRUNCHClick to tweet
Why have I never done this before?
This Slow Cooker Ginger and Coconut Chicken is adapted from Simple Bites and was quite honestly a big hit. The chicken is tender (but not disintegrating), the spice can be adjusted to your taste (the levels I’ve included in the recipe suited the whole family – even our 10 year old daughter), the creamy coconut got a big thumbs up and those last minute vegetables really sealed the deal.
You still get all the benefits of being able to do the prep earlier in the day and reap the rewards later when you’ve lost the will, but dinner doesn’t taste like a compromise.
And even if your day doesn’t involve a teenager room makeover, put this dish on your TO DO list – it’s a good one. Golly it is …
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 10cm (4 inch) ginger, peeled and roughly chopped - about 60 grammes (2½oz)
- 1 onion, peeled and cut into rough chunks
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- a good grind of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1½ teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1kg (2½ lbs) chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1-2 tablespoons cornflour, depending on how thick you like it (I used 1 tablespoon)
- 125g (4½oz) pack baby sweetcorn, sliced in two lengthways
- 200g (7oz) sugar snaps
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
- 150g (1 cup) frozen peas, thawed
- To garnish -
- handful of chopped spring onions
- a small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
- 1 red chilli, sliced
- In a mini food processor, combine garlic, ginger, onion and olive oil and pulse to get a paste.
- Tip the paste into a heavy frying pan and cook for around 5 minutes until the mixture is beginning to cook. Now add the black pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and chilli flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring well.
- Add the chicken to the pan and stir thoroughly, ensuring that the chicken is fully coated with the spice mixture - there is no need to cook the chicken at this stage.
- Tip the contents of the frying pan into the slow cooker and add the coconut milk, stirring well.
- Cook on LOW for 4 hours - by which time the chicken should be cooked through.
- Mix the cornflour with a little water, until smooth and the consistency of milk, and stir this into the slow cooker mixture with the baby sweetcorn, sugar snaps, red pepper and peas.
- Cook on HIGH for 30 minutes and serve garnished with spring onions, coriander and a few slices of red chilli.