As unlikely as it might sound, Macaroni Pie is a staple dish of Trinidad (where my parents are from). This is my version of the caribbean classic.
While it can be served as an indulgent main for 4-6, in Trinidad it’s more commonly cooled then chopped into squares as a party/BBQ/beach snack.
While certainly no health food, it’s calcium rich so good for growing kids and breast feeding mums (in both cases, chillies optional).
For a slightly fancier version, use a homemade Béchamel sauce. I suspect evaporated milk was considered more convenient to store at home, in a country with a hot climate and frequent power cuts…
Always a big hit, this is the ONLY way to eat macaroni – in our house at least. ;).
250g cheddar cheese (or similar), grated.
400ml tin evaporated milk (can be doubled for extra rich version)
150g Bacon (about 6 slices)
2-4 Chillies (2 gives little kick, but more the merrier)
There’s a phantom menace lurking within Disney. She’s a princess who’s smart and confident, friendly and loyal, rebellious and brave. She’s a strong leader, from a realm far, far away. She’s a wonderful female role model for our children, but you won’t find any figures, costumes, tops, lunch boxes, or backpacks with her on at the Disney Store. Princess Leia became the property of the House of Mouse following their $4 Billion purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012. Unsurprisingly, given Disney are the masters of merchandise, Star Wars goods are abundant in the Disney Store. However, it’s also abundantly clear that as far as Disney is concerned, Star Wars is a boys only galaxy. The lack of Leia came to my attention earlier in the week, with this exchange on Twitter between Natalie Wreyford and the Disney Store:
@nataliewreyford Currently, there are no plans for Leia products at Disney Store, Natalie. Have a wonderful day! — Disney Store (@DisneyStore) May 20, 2014
So Disney, who paid $4 billion for the Star Wars brand, and who generate billions each year in selling fantasy princesses to little girls, are seemingly ignoring their brand new ‘space fantasy’ princess. What’s up with that? I asked Disney store customer services why they have no Princess Leia products for sale. First I tried the UK store, who politely pleaded ignorance:
“…we don’t have any information on Princess Leia products at this time”.
Not much help. So I went to the source, DisneyStore.com. This was their reply:
“I’m very sorry but the Princess Leia merchandise you are interested in purchasing is no longer available in DisneyStore.com. While we make every effort to anticipate the inventory requirements of our Guests, merchandise may sell out at different rates. Regrettably, this is very difficult to forecast. Due to the popularity of some character families, one item may sell out more quickly than another within the same character family. Specific merchandise may be reordered and is then re-launched on our site as quickly as possible. Some items may sell out due to varied reasons and may no longer be offered in our Store. We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this may cause.”
Felt like a lot of cut & pasted standard response copy there, but essentially they’re inferring that they used to have Princess Leia merchandise but they have run out. Well, it’s a case of Star Wars: The Phantom Merchandise then. While it’s possible there may have been the odd niche or specialist third party item, I don’t recall seeing any significant Leia goods on sale there. But, it’s also not true that nothing is currently available.
What’s in (Disney)store?
There’s a Princess Leia as Mona Lisa tee on sale. Oh wait that’s an adult tee. And it’s also sold out. Perhaps that’s the missing merchandise they’re referring to? Hang on, there is another Leia product on sale. Unfortunately we already own it, but fortunately it’s good, and in fact it was my daughter’s way into Star Wars – Jeffrey Brown’s ‘Vaders Little Princess‘. While obviously written from the skewed perspective of a father of sons (which Jeffrey is) it’s still a fun and witty introduction to Leia in the galaxy far, far away. My daughter frequently implores us to read it (and ‘Darth Vader and Son‘) to her. She particularly enjoys it when I read Vader’s dialogue into a saucepan – to give it that authentic metallic Vader feel.
One day she discovered my old Star Wars toys (I was trying to put them in the loft), and has had them out to play ever since. No prizes for guessing who her favourite figure is. Hint – she has headphone hair. My daughter would love to have more versions of Princess Leia to play with than my tired looking 35 year old Star Wars action figure. I don’t understand why Disney are dropping the ball on this one. Are they really so blind to the idea that there’s a market for Princess Leia merchandise?
The Phantom Menace of Disney Princesses
It appears the main problem is that Disney are defining Star Wars as a boys brand – it is prominently featured under the ‘Boys’ tab in the Disney Store, and nowhere to be seen in the ‘Girls’ section. Perhaps they are worried that the inclusion of female characters will damage what they see as the brand’s gender clarity. But it could also be a matter of vision. Maybe Disney really don’t see the potential in this stylish kick-ass galactic princess? The common wisdom is that Disney created their insanely popular Princess line.
Except they didn’t. We did.
As Peggy Orenstein tells it in ‘Cinderella Ate My Daughter‘, the idea of the Disney Princess line came to an exec when he noticed kids dressing up as (non-licensed) Disney princesses, and realised they weren’t making a cent from it. The rest is history, and our current Princess dominated reality. But the lesson here is that if Disney spot a potential buck to be made, they will respond with product. So perhaps, if we create enough chatter and feedback, they will do something about it. Tweet them at @DisneyStore, email them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, share photos of your little ones dressing up as Leia, or playing with Leia dolls – especially anything unlicensed that Disney won’t make a cent from. Because, like Woodward & Bernstein, Mickey Mouse will follow the money.
(FYI: If singing really is the key to being a good Disney Princess, then Leia has that covered :S)
At some point in the at-home parent’s life, they may likely reflect on whether their partner would do a better job of it than they currently are.
This thought occurred to me whilst rushing my daughter to the hospital emergency room.
We had recently arrived home after a trip to the supermarket. I left her strapped in her buggy while I put the shopping away. I figured it was the safest place to leave her. Ha!
As is the way of the little one, she discovered a flaw in my plan, which involved her mouthing, choking on, and then swallowing her metal hair clip.
The realisation of what was happening remains the most horrifying experience of my life – and I’ve been run over by a lorry.
So in the haze of frantically calling for medical assistance, rushing her to hospital, amidst it all, I also had an overwhelming feeling of guilt.
I think we can all agree that a key aspect of the at-home parent’s role, is to keep their child safe. Well, this was a big fail, with potentially catastrophic results.
I was especially apologetic to my wife. We had swapped at-home roles some months previously. I felt like the embodiment of the hopeless ‘Mr. Mom’ cliché.
But our attending doctor told me a story that was weirdly reassuring, about changing their daughter’s nappy and discovering 4 metal screws in it, amongst the other ‘contents’.
Of my many childhood injuries I could detail for you, the most stupid was when I decided that my mini-golf club looked like a pole vault pole, as well as a snorkel. So I combined the two. Ouch. I can still remember the flap it created in the roof of my mouth (Ugh…).
I recall another childhood story a friend told me: You know the way you suck pen tops to create a vacuum, and then stick it to your tongue? As a child, she decided power leads had similarly enticing cavities in them. So she did the same thing with one. That was plugged into the wall. She regained consciousness on the other side of the room.
As parents we can only go so far in ensuring our children’s safety. Bumps and bruises are all part of growing up. Sometimes our children will stray too far from the frontier of curiosity into reckless stupidity. But they’ll never learn the line unless we let them discover it themselves, hopefully without too much damage.
The fact is I have never tried to pole vault with a golf club in my mouth ever since childhood. And fingers crossed, my daughter’s days of swallowing hair clips are over too…
This Haggis Pie with neeps and tatties top is the end result of a quest to find the perfect way to eat haggis.
While scouting around for other ways to eat it, I thought about combining the neeps and tatties element with the Haggis, into a Haggis Neeps and Tatties pie. Delia had the same idea too, so I used her recipe as an inspiration, with a bit of added Nigel Slater, and a dash of me…
Haggis Pie with Neeps and Tatties top
1 x 450g Haggis
400g Floury potatoes
Knob of butter
30 ml olive oil
Cook Haggis as per instructions (usually about 1hr 15 mins in oven). Slice open and allow to cool.
Chop swede into chunks, and boil until tender (about 15-20 mins). Then mash with an added knob of butter (this might be best done in a small food processor). Set aside.
Peel potatoes (reserve the peelings) and chop into chunks. Boil potatoes with peelings (adds loads of flavour) either loose or in a muslin – until tender (about 20 mins). Drain, discard peelings, and dry the potatoes – either by leaving in pan covered with tea towel and lid, or in an oven at low heat for about 10 mins. Mash with a potato ricer and add butter or oil. Beat with a wooden spoon till light and fluffy.
Tear spinach leaves, and stir into the potato mash. Set aside.
In a buttered baking dish, smoothly layer with the haggis, then swede, then potato. Top with the grated cheese, and then bake in oven at 200°c (180°c fan ovens) for about 40 mins, or until top is a lovely golden brown colour.
Allow to rest for 5-10 mins, then serve with extra veg of choice, such as steamed carrots.