Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Social media (and bolognese)

The Net at its Best

At a recent family wedding I had a lovely conversation with the girlfriend of my cousins' cousin.  I always worry at weddings about ending up sitting near people to who I have nothing to say, but this one worked well.  My dear beloved big brother, Daniel,  was on my left, and since he is the member of my immediate family I see least of, I was exceptionally grateful for this.  On my right was the cousin family of my cousin.  My brother and I were overheard by the lady (whose name has left me) who was working on a TV programme about social media.   Daniel and I were discussing the way Facebook has enabled very isolated farmers to finally network and be encouraged by shared experiences and support.  Our chat also included the amazing benefits to our home education journey because using Facebook I can find out about curricula which I never could have known about, and I have found a whole network of local home educators for the children and I to hang out with and mutually encourage.  

Overhearing this conversation, our fellow guest joined us because in her research for the telly, she has only found negative stories.  Infidelity and Divorce caused (in part) by Facebook.   And worse.

I added in the fact that Nick and I met on the internet (although in the days before social media!), to say that social media is brilliant.  


During the last few months, our maths home education has been dominated by my lack of ability to explain a concept which I felt eldest could probably grasp.   We tried and tried and tried, and then gave up and turned to Khan Academy to fill the gap.

Returning in September began miserably.  Exactly the same problem, but it was very clear to me that the issue was mine.  I didn't know how to explain this concept in a way which worked with her brain.  And it was frustrating.  The happy ending to the story comes from the very large, american Facebook group I am a member of which follows a particular guide to home education.  I stated my question.  I had 20 answers within a couple of hours.  I checked them all, looked at the different ways of explaining the concept in one evening, spent a few minutes digging through my craft pile in the loft the next day, half an hour colouring balls and cutting up egg boxes.  2 maths lessons later and BOOM.  Cracked it.  

And without Facebook, I would still be sitting here sobbing, my relationship with eldest strained by my inability.  Social media has transformed our world, and I imagine it has transformed mums' abilities to educate their kids at home.  For which I am grateful.


Bolognese sauce

Some recipes develop over years and this is one of them.  It has evolved from the one my mum frequently cooked for us as children, and is one I make frequently.  It is much complemented when I feed it to others, especially when it ends up in a (very cheesy) lasagne.


1 onion, chopped
Optional extra veg: mushrooms, sliced; courgettes, peppers, in 1cm cubes ish!
500g beef mince (full-fat!)
Optional extra meat: chopped pancetta or bacon; chopped chorizo
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1/2 the tomato tin filled with water
2 Tbs tomato puree
2 Tbs sun-dried Tomato puree
1 tsp herbes de provence

Heat your oil in a large saucepan, then add the onions.  Very gently fry for 10 mins or so, with the lid on, stirring from time to time. Add in any other veg.  This makes the sauce go much further.  Fry til everything is soft.  I keep the lid on.

Add all the meat and stir obsessively to break up the mince into tiny pieces.  I cant bear lumps of mince!

once it is all broken and no longer looks raw, chuck in the rest of the ingredients, stir and leave on a very low heat to gently bubble for 30mins-1 hour.  It does get better with a good bubble.

Serve on pasta, with lots of cheese, or make lasagne (particularly yummy with chorizo).  Buen apetito.  Or something!


  1. When I was at university (the first time) we had Italian cleaning ladies in my college and one of them gave me instructions on how to make bolognese sauce which I have always followed. Basically, you can put in almost anything you want (lots of extra veg), but cook it for at least three hours. That really makes all the difference. It becomes a sauce rather than just a pan full of ingredients.

  2. perhaps I should try that one day. I do try to cook it for a long time, but am often not that organised!

  3. perhaps I should try that one day. I do try to cook it for a long time, but am often not that organised!