So many amazing things are wasted on young children. Push chairs, for example. Do little children have any idea how lucky they are to be wheeled around all day? At the end of a long day at work it would be nice to just sit down, strap myself in and let someone else negotiate their way through the crowds while I just sat and daydreamed – I can’t believe that any child appreciates the experience as much as I would.
And the way they can express their emotions with such abandon. If only every time I had to share things I could throw a massive tantrum too. But then they bounce back so quickly and the whole episode is forgotten minutes later, whereas I’m fairly sure that if I started screaming and wailing in public over trifling affairs it would be mentioned frequently, accompained with dark, concerned looks and speculation as to my mental state.
Most of all, though, there’s the summer holidays. All my students tell me how boring their 8 week holiday has been, how much they’re looking forward to getting back to school, how they’ve done “nothing” all day, every day this summer. These children clearly do not appreciate their time off, so wouldn’t it make sense for us adults to have it instead? A nice 2 month rest to break up the year, I feel like I could fill that time tolerably well. Young people really don’t know how lucky they are.
So I’m pleased that their summer holidays are almost over, though unfortunately the end of the holidays are not marked with a seasonal change here in Hong Kong as at home. Nevertheless I’m secretly delighted that the rest of the food blogging world is beginning to turn to more autumnal ingredients. Perhaps as a result of growing up in the chilly north east my default cooking mode seems to be autumnal and wintery casseroles and hearty meals. I don’t have that many light, summery dishes in my repertoire, but here is one that did the job this summer – beautiful fresh veg, a light and cheesy sauce, and a beautiful potato topping. You could share it with children if you wanted, but they probably wouldn’t appreciate it.
Garden Veg Pie
Serves 4, from BBC GoodFood
50g plain flour
2 tsp mustard powder
125g cheddar, grated
2 large potatoes, sliced into rounds
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
200g frozen peas
small bunch chives, chopped
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the flour and mustard powder and stir for 1 minute.
2. Gradually add in the milk, stirring constantly, until smooth, then let it bubble gently until thickened and creamy.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in most of the cheese, reserving a handful for the top of the pie.
4. Preheat the oven to 220C and bring a large pan of water to the boil. Cook the potato slices for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.
5. Bring the pan of water back to the boil, and add the broccoli and cauliflower for 3 minutes, followed by the peas for another minute more. Drain and return to the empty pan.
6. Pour in most of the cheese sauce (reserve a little for the top) and all the chives, and mix well so that all the vegetables are coated.
7. Tumble the cheesy vegetables into a large ovenproof dish.
8. Arrange the potato slices on top.
9. Pour over the reserved cheese sauce, and sprinkle on the last of the cheddar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden on top and bubbling inside. Serve immediately.