The latest big change to our family mealtimes started last autumn. Graham began his ironman training, C started doing the local Park Run each Saturday morning and O was bought tickets to a matinee at the ballet once a month. Suddenly I found myself on a Saturday getting breakfast ready for everyone at completely different times and yet eating mine by myself, getting started on lunch as soon as the last breakfast was eaten, ferrying children around instead of baking a nice cake, and moaning at certain ironmen when they wolfed down two bananas and the last of the bread after a bike ride, and were then too full to eat supper. I felt like I spent the whole day cooking for three permanently hungry, busy people, and not doing anything nice for myself.
So we started Saturday morning brunch. Brunch is usually eaten at around 10 o'clock - after the early morning runs, but before the bike rides, ballet shows, swims and essential shopping trips to the yarn shop that must all happen during the rest of the day.
I potter around the kitchen peacefully for a couple of hours, with a cup of coffee, Saturday Live on Radio 4 and nobody to disturb me. It has come to be one of my favourite parts of the weekend. Graham and C are usually out running, and O is stretched out full length on the sofa in the front room, like a cat, in sole charge of the remote for once.
I always cook something hot and savoury, some muffins or buns, and something fruity, and make sure there is bread for toast too. This morning we had diced potatoes, onions and sausage, baked in the oven and then liberally seasoned with black pepper and parsley. I also made my favourite bran and buttermilk muffins, and there was granary toast and some gorgeously ripe pears on offer as well.
After all that I don't make any lunch, but there are leftover muffins and pieces of fruit for people to nibble on during the day if they are hungry. I cook us a big, hearty family supper for the evening and we catch up on what we've all been doing during the day.
The table set for brunch
Granary loaf and bran & buttermilk muffins
Diced potatoes and a muffin recipe
O likes muffins
We always need Lurpak and Marmite
Other successful brunch dishes we've had over the last few months have included:
- slow roasted tomatoes with garlic and chilli
- apple spice muffins
- cinnamon rolls
- scrambled eggs with chorizo and coriander
- bacon butties
- diced potatoes and green pepper, roasted in the oven
- stewed rhubarb and yogurt
- banana muffins
- devilled mushrooms on toast
- Welsh rarebit
- baked eggs
- freshly made soda bread
- carrot muffins
I also have plans for kedgeree, kippers, devilled kidneys and cornbread (not altogether). My muffin recipes all come from this brilliant little book, and other recipes are usually from Hugh F-W's River Cottage Everyday, BBC Good Food magazine, various Rachel Allen books or just out of my head.
Then after a chatty, satisfying, filling brunch we are all free to go about our days in our own ways - whether that is reading the Saturday papers and doing a little bit of knitting in a sunny spot in the sitting room, or cleaning mud off your trainers and going on a four hour bike ride.
You know which one's me, right?