Monday, 6 July 2009

Homeschooling Bean and Polenta Vegetarian Sausages (Egg free, Dairy free, Gluten free)

Every now and then I think that I might quite enjoy home schooling my children. I fancy that I would adhere to a wide-ranging, liberal curriculum that would take the form of light seminars designed to equip my children for life. The emphasis would be on self-discovery, tolerance and giving Mummy plenty of time to herself.

Last Summer I decided to do a home schooling dry run. First up was a trip to the bakery (‘Life Skills; Buying Provisions‘ and ‘Language Acquisition Module 1; French‘). In the true spirit of home schooling, bucking trends and fostering autonomy, I decided to let the three elder children go in on their own (‘Cutting the Cord; Never Too Young For Independence’). When they reappeared with the baguettes, my eldest was smiling broadly,
‘Look Mum! With the change I’ve got exactly the right money to buy four lollipops at 30 centimes each, that’s a total of 1 euro 20 cents, can I go and get them?’

I beamed. Here was home schooling in action, times tables being used in a real life application. It had meaning and relevance, it was how education should be. I dispatched her to buy the lollipops forthwith. The lesson on ‘Tooth decay; You Can Never Brush Too Much’ would come later.

Next up was a trip to the wood (‘Physical Education Tom Sawyer Style’). It was hot and I’d forgotten all the water bottles and the pram for the 2 year old (‘Humans and Fallibility; What That Means to Me’). Still, we got off to a flying start as all four children watched moorhens (’Nature in Action; Moorhens’), examined animal footprints (’Nature in Action 2; Animal Footprint Detection’) and played Pooh Sticks (‘Random Forces of Nature; Currents and Swirls’).

But the rot set in on the return journey. We were hot and tired, the two year old was demanding the pram, I had lost all enthusiasm for walking four children in the woods, and the thought of home schooling and doing this day in and day out seemed ridiculous. I was very glad to get them all home and park them in front of the telly. (ICT; Why Television is Invaluable‘).

A bit of lunch revived me (‘Medicinal Benefits of Red Wine at Lunchtime; One Woman’s Theory’) and we decided to play Snakes and Ladders (‘Socialisation; An Introduction to Turn-Taking’). I thought I might work in some simple adding and subtracting with the die, and focus on ‘Learning to Win - and Lose - With Grace‘.

Yeah well, that idea didn’t fly. The two year-old drained the last reserves of my patience by taking everyone’s counters, the eldest sulked when she wasn’t winning, and the remaining two bickered incessantly. In the end it was home schooling Mum who threw her toys out of the pram and refused to play (Humans and Fallibility 2; Puerile Behaviour in The Adult’). Within minutes the telly was back on, I was in front of the computer, and we were all enjoying home schooling a lot more. (Life Skills 2; How the Path of Least Resistance Can Work For You’).

I did rally later in the day, by letting the children go in the swimming pool (‘Physical Education 2; Gross Motor Skills’ and ‘Voice Therapy; Shrieking’). The sun shone down on us, the children were happy, and home schooling Mummy thought that if every day were like this she’d be tanned and tranquil. Alas the complacency was short-lived, one of the children assaulted another with a boogie board (Introduction to Crime; GBH and Beyond), and I ordered everyone out (Proverbs and Idioms; Pride Comes Before a Fall’).

I decided that home schooling was for mugs and set about making tea whilst fortifying myself with red wine (‘Stay at Home Mums and Red Wine; Sowing the Seeds of Alcoholism’). I figured that ignoring the children was the best policy and I engrossed myself in trying a sausage recipe that had been wandering around in my head (Pig In The Kitchen; The Inspirational Story of My Life, Vol I‘).

Astoundingly, my idea worked, and during my time in the kitchen, somehow the children had stopped bickering (’Radical Parenting Part 1; Ignoring Your Children Really Works'). We ate outside in the sun, and they ALL wanted more sausages. I was rather ecstatic at this point because it is so rare for all four children to like my trial recipes (Radical Parenting Part 2; Like it Or Lump It - The Food Approach That Really Works’).

Later that evening when my poppets were all in bed (Radical Parenting Part 3; It’s OK to Scream At Bedtime') I had a long, hard think about home schooling, could it be for me? I weighed up the pros and cons, and decided that I was quite simply not up to the job
(Life Skills 3; Know When To Stop’). Mainly because I love it when they are at school and I have space in my head for me, me and me (‘Confessions of a Selfish Woman, Part 1’), and also because they are lucky enough to thrive in mainstream schooling (‘Mainstream Schooling; It Worked For Me’).

So anyway, Big Respec’ to you fabulous Home Schoolers, and when you’re not doing Kumon Maths and visiting art galleries, maybe you’d like to try making some Vegetarian Home Schooling Sausages? In fact, whether you home school or not, do have a go at my sausages, they will thrill your heart.
(‘In the Footsteps of a Guru; How Pig In The Kitchen Changed My Life).
Homeschooling Bean and Polenta Sausages (Makes between 15 and 20 sausages and you can freeze them) The mix is best made a couple of hours before you need to use it.

I do so love Polenta. In fact I love any food that you can mould and shape, it’s like using edible play dough.

I’ve made these often since the home schooling débâcle, you can slip in any finely chopped or grated veg you fancy, so branch out and stray from my recipe (Experimental Cooking Part 1), but just don’t blame me if it all goes wrong (‘Bucking Modern Trends; Refusing to Accept a Litigious Culture’).
200g polenta
1 can red kidney beans
1 small courgette
1 small carrot
2 cloves of garlic
2 mushrooms
Olive oil to fry
1 medium potato/ 1 small sweet potato
2 tbsps yeast extract
1 tbsp mixed herbs / thyme/ whatever you like
50-100ml red wine (or a bit more, up to you)
Between 350 and 500ml boiling water
  • Finely chop the carrot and potato and put into a large frying pan or saucepan
  • Roughly chop the courgette, mushrooms, garlic and herbs and add to the pan
  • Douse with olive oil and set to fry over a medium heat
  • Whilst that’s doing its thing, drain the kidney beans and boil the water
  • After about 5 minutes, add the drained kidney beans, red wine, yeast extract and about half the water to the pan. Stir and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes
  • Turn off the heat, and use a hand blender to whiz it all up into a paste. Either put it all into a jug and do it safely, or tilt the saucepan/frying pan this way and that until the blender is submerged and you can blend without spattering hot stuff everywhere (Living on the Edge; Cooking Like a Nutter Part 1)
  • When the vegetables and the beans are blended, turn the heat down low and add the polenta. It will be way too thick and you’ll need to add some liquid pronto. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon until it thickens and the polenta starts coming away from the edge, about 10 minutes (maybe more, taste it, it shouldn‘t be gritty). Add more water as you see fit, but you’ll need quite a stiff mix for the sausages, so do it gradually
  • When the polenta mix is cooked, remove it from the heat. Be warned, during the next part you’ll probably scald your fingers (Living on the Edge; Cooking Like a Nutter (Part 2) and Loving It)
  • Line a couple of baking trays with baking parchment
  • The best way to do the next part is to use a piping bag with a sausage sized nozzle. If you don’t have one, cut a sausage-sized corner off a plastic bag (don’t think of nasty chemicals in plastic reacting with your warm food)
  • Spread a big dollop of your polenta mix onto a cold plate, and brush the surface with olive oil. Then either using your hands (ouch!) or a spoon, scoop the mix into your plastic bag and ‘pipe’ your sausages onto the baking tray. You can also make the sausages by allowing your polenta to cool some more and rolling the mix in your hands to make sausage shapes, that’s the really fun way, but you have to work quickly so that your mix doesn’t set before you’ve used it all up
  • If the mix is a bit warm, the sausages might ‘sag’ a little and not be perfect and cylindrical. Don’t worry too much, as they cool down the mix sets and you can re-shape them a bit
  • When you have used up all the mix, leave your sausages to cool completely. Although at a pinch you can cook them straight away, it has been done before
  • If you want to freeze them, you can do so at this stage, just layer them with baking parchment
  • Cover the base of a frying pan with olive oil and heat it. When it is hot, carefully transfer your sausages to the pan and let them sizzle. They can be a bit fragile and temperamental, so it is best to leave them to fry and go brown rather than keep turning them. When one ‘side’ is done, roll them over and do the other side until they are crispy and brown
  • Remove from the pan and place onto a plate covered with kitchen towel (to drain off excess oil)
  • And there you have it! Sausages! That’s marvellous isn’t it? And all because of home schooling. Sort of.

© Pig in the Kitchen 2009


Mimi said...

What an entertaining story! I'll say it again, in case you didn't hear me first time- SO PLEASED YOU'RE BACK!!
I teach secondary school, but would never consider home-schooling my children, for precisely the same reasons as yourself, and because we couldn't afford to have me at home and not getting paid to teach other people's children!
Do you think it would be ok to add a little tofu to the sausage mixture?
Ps "swarled" is my word verif- I think that would be a good description for how you'd feel at the end of a home-schooling day!

Iota said...

My word verification is 'vensioni' - is this a prophetic word to you, that you should do a venison recipe next?

('Rhetorical Questions: do they have a place in blog comments?')

Homeschooling. I can think of so many many reasons why homeschooling is not for me. And I can't think of one, not one I tell you, why it would be. But as you say, Respec' to those who do.

Have you heard of Home Unschooling, by the way? Only in America...

glutenfree4goofs said...

I've never cooked with polenta (I know shame on me) but this post makes me want to try. I'll get right on that after the art gallery and vocal lessons- I am a HS mom (american but non an un-schooler thank you-haha) but I am so with you on the radical parenting. Things get nutty and I say "Out, out, out...!"

Okay, it must be the day for verif words, mine is cootoi- fitting for how you feel about homeschooling, gives you the "cooties"

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hi Mimi, thank you, i'm pleased I'm back. I think adding tofu would be a grand plan, now you get that sorted after your day at work, ok?!
'leatomyt' is my word verif...can't think of anything witty about that.

Iota, venisoni??! it would fit in a sausage wouldn't it? oh, was that a rhetorical question?
Not home schooling is also an easy decision for me. Home Unschooling?! Does that mean letting them run wile? Yep, I could do that.

GF4G, wow, a proper home schooler! i'm relieved that you also shout, 'out! out! out!', i hope you make a shooing motion with your hands at the same time and on really bad days lock the door firmly. i've heard some people do that.
I can't top your word verif. I might type it in wrong so it gives me another one.

Ha! This time i got 'shroway', there is 'shro way' i could home school ;-)

Potty Mummy said...

Since we're on word verification, mine is 'gading' which frankly sounds like something you could do with polenta and which would probably also burn your hands.

Fab post Pig, as ever. A triumph. But I still want meat in my sausages - sorry...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

PottyM, it's ok, I understand your primeval carniverous urge, everyone is welcome here.

word verif is:, no inspiration

Akelamalu said...

You seem to be doing a great job at the home schooling but I can understand why you wouldn't want to do it full time.

Mummy Fat Club said...

What an unbelievably clever, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining post. I think anyone who home-schools is totally bonkers, i would go INSANE.
I love the word Polenta! And love eating it naturally.

Grit said...

well you are a fabulous pig, because you are HONEST - many people justify their choice of school with malarky about it being a place of educational attainment when really, honestly, truly and they won't admit it, their decision is made because of that ME ME ME time. home educators sacrifice a lot and quite frankly i think we deserve a bit of a high five instead of the current wave of persecution!

i blow kisses to your sausages.

Marianne said...

How absolutely amazingly wonderful to find you quietly blogging away again, albeit sporadically.

Some habits just shouldn't be broken! Delighted about the puppy by the way and home schooling can be a lot of fun, as long as you don't do it for too long.

Look forward to more x

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Akelamalu, one day of homeschooling was enough for me!

MFC (ooo, the M.F. is making me think of another abbreviation...You are the Mo Fo Club!!! ;-)) sorry, got distracted. thank-you for your comment, polenta is uber low in fat, so should definitely be worked into your regime...

Sweet Grit, when homeschooling is done as diligently as you do it, there should most definitely be high fives and people prostrated in awe before you, and not idiots accusing homeschoolers of child abuse...
My sausages accept your kisses. And only 9 more weeks until i get my ME ME ME time back ;-)

Aww Marianne, you're sweet! Thanks!

Vegetation said...

It's so wonderful to have your stories back again!!! I missed them terribly! I'm very much in awe of the Mum who home schools. I know for certain I could never do it! And I love your tale of playing a board game. It sounds so much like my family. We'll decide to play a game and inevitable chaos erupts before we've even got it all out of the box!

Love the polenta idea for the sausages too. Yum!

Lisa said...

Oh, these do sound good. A must try recipe and they include red wine too! I can never resist red wine :)

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

You are ofcourse bloody hilarious!!! Having researched beyond belief and restled with the ideal of home schooling ... ah I've had too much wine to comment tonight.. Haven't logged on for ages. Glad it wasn't a one off - you being back!! xx

Around My Kitchen Table said...

Love this post! My word verification is medmino - sounds like a personal prescription.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Went to Coeliac Society annual conference day at Derby Uni. Boy has the coeliac world come on. You would have loved it.

Absolutely Write said...

Gasp, Pig, that you even contemplated it is a marvel to me. I think home-schooling mums are amazing, but personally I would rather stick pins in my eyes. Another awesome post - thank you!

Christina said...

Hi! Wonder if you remember us from Paris? Izzy still talks about your eldest and would so love to hear from her. Was disappointed to see you'd stopped blogging and like so many am delighted to see you back! This post is utterly hilarious, love the way you write, and although none of us have food allergies would definitely buy your book! Christina

Elsie Button said...

I am going to cook a romantic meal for tom - candles, champagne, white table clothes, roses, and incorporate these sausages - i think he will be rather impressed. (it's our wedding anniversary soon)

Lucy said...


*drinks deeply of red wine*... just joking - it does all get more relaxed once you're into the swing of things, a flow develops and other home ed cliches :)

sausages look good... loving having your writing back.

Mimi said...

I've mentioned your Chocolate Truffles for the Girls on my blog.

elizabethm said...

Yes! Ages ago you said you weren't going to carry on blogging and I took you sadly off my regular list and now I have found you blogging again, via powderroomgraffiti! wonderful. a rather belated welcome back and love this post as you can tell.

Lunar said...

Ah, I so love reading your posts, it takes ages and I have to be on a good day, but it's always worth it! You'd make even the coldest day warm with giggles!
I must try those sausages, we have two with food intolerances, one non veg aeting veggie, one general fuss pot and one of the 'I'll eat anything but sprouts and cauli' gang!
Oh, and we home ed too, although human biology is being shunned just now;))

IrishMaltaMama said...

Welcome back Pig. I was so worried you wouldn't change your mind. Thanks for your u-turn.

My wheat dairy egg allergic first baby, egg allergic second baby, I with my own wheat dairy alls, and all my intolerant pals ... all thank you.

We missed you and are thrilled to see you back in the saddle.


m a m a :: m i l i e u said...

Oh my goodness, I simply love your beautiful food photographs and all of the incredible recipes.

My little guy luckily hasn't show any food allergies, at least yet, but I have a baby food making blog and will definitely link to you from my blog for all of my mom readers who do have children with gluten allergies--I have a few of them.

Thank you for writing this wonderful and resourceful blog.

Happy Cooking,
Joni :)

thenewstead6 said...

So good to have you back!
As an autonomous/unschooling home ed mum of 4 I really enjoyed this post - especially the "lesson" headings! Now I'm off to try the recipe (well, maybe in the morning...)