Whoa! It’s been a while. Big apologies my friends for the radio silence, I’ve been a little distracted over the past few weeks. Why? Well…
we’re saying GOODBYE TO MY LITTLE LARDER!
Sorry, I’m being dramatic and a tease. The blog isn’t going anyway, in actual fact I’m hoping it will only get better because we’ve bought a new house with a Little bit larger Larder!
My husband and I have been looking for, oh almost, three years for a new house. The Auckland housing market, like many around the world has been utterly crazy over the past few years. Every week we would scour the real estate websites looking for houses and spending our weekends dragging our kids around open homes. The feeling of missing out at auctions and on tenders became all to familiar to us as the housing market sky rocketed.
Fortunately for us we had a little 2.5 bedroom semi-detached house in a great area. It is a beautiful house but we had outgrown it with two rambunctious boys. So just over a month ago we had all but given up hope of a bigger house when a great four bedroom bungalow came on the market. We looked at it for less than 10 minutes, put an offer in later that day and by that night we had ourselves a new house.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to be moving to a bigger house and how grateful I am, but whoa the last month has been a whirlwind of emotions. Starting off with buying so quickly, I think it took me a good week for it to sink in that we had bought a house (it was such a quick viewing that I can’t quite remember what it was like). Then getting our current house ready for sale in only one week with two toddlers was full of stress and anxiety – tradespeople all over the house and two boys who are not allowed to touch anything and keep to just one small room is just a recipe for stress and disaster! Then there were the open homes.
Open homes and toddlers were never made to mix. It’s been four weeks now of open homes (11 in total) and I never want to see another mop, vacuum or cleaning cloth in my life. The boys tried to keep it interesting for me this week by throwing milk all over the floor, adding breakfast cereal, dirt and cat’s food because they were making ‘dinner’. While poor mummy (a.k.a. me) was cleaning it up and they were banished outside, they decided to do the same to the laundry whilst destroying some of the landscaping we had done to sell the house and pulling up pavers. I give up.
Then there is the emotion of selling my house. I know we have outgrown it, I know it’s no longer suitable for us and I know all the space of the new house will be so good for us but I am still rather sad about letting my little house go. It was our first house, the house we had when we were married, the house we bought our two baby boys home to and a house full of memories of their first steps, their first solids (albeit rather messy) and their first words. My husband, friends and family remind me that you will always have the memories and that once the boys are settled in the new house that will feel like home but I still find it a little sad.
We move just before Christmas. EEEEKK!! What a great Christmas present though. I promise once we are settled in there will be lots of photos up on the blog for you to peruse during your holidays.
Although it’s spring and I normally feel like salads and lots of asparagus, the stress of selling our house has meant that I have been soothing myself with lots of comfort food. Mac and cheese has been a regular popping up at least once a week in our house. I love it, my husband loves it but the biggest fan in our house is by far Harry who at two years old actually eats more than me or my husband. I love your classic mac and cheese but can sometimes find it a little boring and well, yellow. I like to add a bit more flavour with some smoky bacon and paprika and some a little nutrition and flavour with some sweet potato and peas. Don’t worry, the sweet potato doesn’t make it taste all healthy, it’s still seriously comforting and kids love it, but it adds a lovely creaminess, earthiness and background sweetness to the dish. I love adding peas to my mac and cheese, but if you’re a purist feel free to leave them out. What is essential though? Smothering your whole plate in hot sauce before you eat it (or in the case of kids, loadsa tomato ketchup).
Can’t wait to show you the new house when we move in. I am so grateful to have such a lovely house, heck I am just grateful to have a house to live in at all because not everyone can say that sadly.
Smoky Sweet Potato and Bacon Mac and Cheese
- 500 g/1.1lb sweet potato or orange kumara
- 250 g/9oz free range bacon chopped roughly 1cm/ 1/2in pieces
- 450 g/1lb macaroni elbows or pasta shape of your choice
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 60 g/2.1oz/ 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 plain all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups full fat milk
- 300 g/11oz grated cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Set aside a large baking dish or two smaller ones.
Place a large pot of water with a lid on the stove to boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil peel the sweet potato (orange kumara) and cut into roughly 2.5cm/1in pieces.
When the pot of water is boiling add a pinch of salt and the sweet potato. Cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft (test by inserting a sharp knife into the centre of a piece). Gently remove sweet potato from the water using a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Do not discard the water, you’ll use this to cook the pasta soon.
Using a potato masher (or fork, or stick blender) mash the potato until it is a smooth puree. Set aside.
Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bacon and saute until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel. Discard bacon fat.
Return saucepan to a low heat and add butter. Once the butter is melted add the flour and stir to form what is called a roux. Cook the roux for 1-2 minutes to cook the flour.
Take a whisk and while you’re whisking the roux slowly add 1 1/2 cups of milk. Continue whisking slowly until the sauce has thickened. Add remaining 1 cup of milk and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until sauce has thickened again.
While the sauce is thickening return your pot of water to a boil and add about 1 Tbsp of salt. Add pasta and cook it for 1 minute less than the instructions on the side of the packet state. Drain and add to your baking dish/es.
Once your white sauce has thickened add grated cheese and stir until melted and combined. Add mashed potato, paprika and sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
Mix bacon and peas (if using) through pasta then stir though sauce.
Sprinkle over panko bread crumbs then bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and breadcrumbs are turning golden. Remove from oven and serve immediately covered in hot sauce (or tomato ketchup if you’re a kid).