Trick or Treat Vs Bar Humbug

Butternut Squash risotto

About now you will find a bowl of pumpkin scoopings lurking in the fridge.....patiently waiting. But this year I went one better. I had a whole un-carved pumpkin acting as a trick or treating beacon, that did not receive any love.

In light of my new attitudes and being kind to myself, I didn't feel the need to broadcast my #mummyfail! I managed to rationalise it as I took the kids trick or treating this year, and one can't do everything!

You see I've managed to avoid the whole trick or treating thing for the last 8 years. I'm not meaning to be a killjoy or mean mummy! With 1 very sensitive child with an active imagination ....I've always aired on the side of caution.

On our busiest night, I prepared in military fashion. Out of the pool, we had our scary outfits, face paints and packed tea so we could deploy straight from the car. Our neighbourhood is well organised for reminding partakers to display their pumpkins; So compared to my previous door to door experience, this was fun!

Friedly neighbours playing along, offering small quantities (thankfully!) of sweets. Chatting to people I'd not spoken to in a while or even before, dispatching their kids to our group. For a scenario I felt a bit 'bah humbug' about, this had a great sense of community.

And this is my style going forward. With 3 of our family birthdays within a month, Christmas looming (and all in between), there is the chance for overwhelm, not joy. The need to control what I allow in, and push out the festivities as late as possible. This year as I started Christmas cooking in September, I'm embracing it all!

It may even result in the Christmas feeling I crave, but never quite find. I'm going to do what I can, the best I can, and not beat myself up in the process. So I'm already over Lebkuchen, reading Christmas stories ....wonder how long until we watch the Snowman and the Snowdog!

Please keep sharing your thoughts in the FFF community and don't forget to follow the FFF FB page so you won't miss my Christmas TV debut!

Butternut, Sage and Goats Cheese Risotto

1 medium onion, diced
Small butternut squash (approx 500g) diced
1.5 Liters veg stock, hot
200g risotto rice
2 knobs of butter
2 tbsp sage, chopped
50g Parmesan**, grated
Slug of olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Add 1 knob of butter and oil to a large, high sided pan on a low-medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and saute gently for 5-8 minutes until it is translucent.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the stock so that it's boiling hot.
3. Once the onions are done, add the squash. Stir and fry for 2 minutes. Add half of the sage, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the rice and coat in the oil and butter. Add 3 ladles of stock and stir for a minute. I don't continuously stir a risotto, but give it a stir every 5 mins or so.
5. Once the rice has dried out, add another 2 ladles of stock, stir and leave. Repeat this process for about 20-22 mins.  You know the rice is cooked when you bite a piece and it's firm but not chalky in the middle.
I like my risotto a little runny so it falls off the spoon, rather than thick like porridge.
6. Once your rice is cooked, take it off the heat, add the remaining butter and Parmesan (or alternative), season with a little salt and pepper (remember the Parmesan is salty). Stir, taste and serve. Dot the pieces of goats cheese on the top.
7. I sometimes get to the 15-minute stage and then leave the risotto to sit. Then I come back to it and finish it off later. If you run out of stock at this point, just add hot water to get the consistency you enjoy.

For more risotto ideas click here

**  Vegetarian Parmesan alternatives as recommended by the vegetarian society include Bookhams Vegi Pasta Cheese, Vegusto No Moo Piquant and Brazzales Gran Moravia.