I’m on half term this week, which is a strange thing. Despite being a week out of school, I still have 50 exercise books to mark, four medium-term plans to write, two days worth of lessons to do and an essay to finish. So much for a holiday. But anyway, I decided to give myself a whole three days off, and so have been off from Saturday until today before diving into the pile of stuff above tomorrow.
>> FRENCH ONION SOUP
I’ve never been much good at taking holiday, because I never really know what to do with it – I either end up getting hopelessly bored, or watching a whole box set of something, or walking four miles to the nearest Caffe Nero every day just to give myself some routine, none of which are especially relaxing. But I’m getting better, anyway, as today I had a plan – I was going to go and buy some LEGO and build something. Brilliant. Engage my creativity, reclaim my childish joy, etc.
Listen, don’t judge me here. I went to visit my four-year old nephew last weekend (actually, he’s not my nephew yet, not until July, but I don’t know if there’s a technical term for that – nephew-to-be, maybe) and we spent a whole afternoon playing with his LEGO and it was really relaxing. LEGO is used as a therapeutic tool, apparently, and it engages a different part of your brain. Anyway, I built a kind of LEGO lizard thing that even David Attenborough might have been impressed by. It’s a perfect way to switch off from the last term.
But then I went to the toy shop to try and buy some LEGO, and it turns out that it is super expensive. I mean, if I’d wanted to build a LEGO police station (and I did, believe me), I would have had to shell out at least £20, and that was too much for reclaiming my childhood, I’ll have you know. Somewhere at home I have a large treasure chest full of LEGO – actually a literal treasure chest, although it is red and made out of plastic – full of LEGO cowboys and bits of LEGO castles. So I could maybe get my parents to ship it down here, although by the time it arrives term will have started again and I’ll just end up using it to illustrate a lesson on Macbeth, or something.
The upshot is, I didn’t make a LEGO police station today. But I did decide to make French Onion Soup, which is maybe the second-best holiday activity out there, given that it requires lots of time and sweating of onions, and creates something that is warming and comforting at the end. I used Nigel Slater’s recipe, for which you’ll need a large saucepan that you can cover over:
3 large onions, sliced
A decent knob of butter
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp plain flour
250ml white wine
1 litre chicken stock
Salt and black pepper
Some bread and cheese
It’s simple. Basically, melt your butter on a medium heat, put your sliced onions in and then cover them, stirring occasionally and not letting them colour. They need to be sticky and soft, so give them about 30 mins.
Then add your flour, stir, add your wine about a minute later, then the chicken stock. Bring it to the boil, add salt and pepper to taste, and then let it simmer for another half an hour. Toast some bread with cheese on top and then eat.
Not quite as good as LEGO, but pretty darn close.