I’ve developed a new habit, it’s not good for me, in fact it’s bordering on some kind of weird, cruel and self-inflicted torture.

One night a couple of months ago, mind wandering, hoping that the rest of my body could follow,  I started browsing a job site and found some really cool jobs.  In America.  Jobs I could actually do. One in Portland, Oregon and another in Austin, Texas.  I may have applied.  OK, I applied. You know I don’t sleep, right? So this, and chasing owls wrapped in a blanket, is what you do when you don’t sleep.  I don’t know why I applied because although I am free to fly my darling girls are definitely not.  But I spent that night planning and plotting and wondering if there was any way that I could make a double life work for them, looking at salaries, air fares, school terms and even, I kid you not, houses to rent.  What could I afford?  Could I do it?  Take off, us three to another country – I’ve never even bloody well been to Portland!?  Well the answer is yes, and no.  Yes, I could, tomorrow, and break my mama’s heart – I’ve done that so many times in my life, making a run for it across the world.  And no, I can’t.  I am not sailing a solo ship here, my crew is precious and can’t be uprooted from home soil.  Not now.

This pipe dream, don’t knock pipe dreams by the way, they are the seeds of things we make reality, if we can be arsed, may have been exacerbated by the fact that Lil and I are deep into Gilmore Girls at the moment.  I’m not a telly lover but we get a fire going, get on that sofa and get GG on.  And it’s so heart-warmingly gorgeous.  So I spend very large amounts of my life imagining this new life in, let’s say, a small town in the US. We’d rent a cool house, a bit decrepit maybe, with a wrap-around porch where I’d read books and drink wine, of course.  A beautiful, but slightly wild, garden, that I’d spend a lot of time in wearing cut-offs and dungarees.  School’s great (there are no Mean Girls in my daydream), girls are happy and thriving – that English accent is so appealing… the double life between the US and the UK is working. The neighbours would think I was odd but they’d grow to love me because I’d bake them scones. Naturally, I’d have a thing with the ridiculously hot/sensitive/funny/all round good guy who runs the coffee shop who I’d think was wholly unsuitable and too cool for me but of course is actually completely perfect for me, obviously.  Reader, this is the inside of my head a good 80% of the time.

We’ve just watched the episode where Sookie St. James’ Magic Risotto is called ‘fine’ by a critic.  “Ree-zoh-toe”, as it’s pronounced, and as it will forever now be pronounced in our house.  So I’ve been hankering for ree-zoh-toe for about a week now, and I got around to making it tonight.  I love risotto, easier than anyone ever thinks; all that time for stirring and thinking and plotting and planning and dreaming.  Always dreaming.

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So, every morning I wake up to a US job alert, with jobs I can do, in places with cool names, in Arizona, California, Texas.  And before I’m out of bed, still half asleep, I lay there and scroll through them all, torturing myself because I know in my heart that this is one time in my life when running away is simply not an option.



So I want it all the more.  Ain’t that always the way?

Mushroom and Leek Risotto

Serves 2
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 35 minutes
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish

What you will need

  • 1 cup arborio (risotto) rice
  • 1 leek (or onion if you prefer) (chopped)
  • Half a punnet mushrooms (I like chestnut) (sliced)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons stock (I like Marigold boullion powder)
  • Matchbox sized piece Parmesan or Cheddar cheese (plus extra for serving)
  • handful fresh parsley (chopped)
  • pepper
  • olive oil


Step 1 Warm some olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the leek (or onion) for about two minutes. Followed by the mushroom slices. Until both are soft but not yet brown.
Step 2 Add the rice and stir well. Add two cups(the one you measured the rice in) of water. Spoon in the stock powder, turn down the heat so it's gently bubbling. You don't need to continually stir but don't leave it too long. Add another cup full of water and give it a good stir. The rice should be cooked in about 20 minutes, taste it to check, just keep cooking if it's not. Adding a little more water if necessary.
Step 3 When the rice is cooked take off the heat. Stir in the parsley and cheese. Season. Drizzle with some additional olive oil and serve.

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