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Last thing I kneed: Sophie White suffers some lockdown lunacy

Not even a pandemic will cure Himself's malingering; Sophie White wonders will anyone's marriage survive the year?


Risotto cod, charred broccolini

Risotto cod, charred broccolini

Risotto cod, charred broccolini

Himself has an incredible knack for timing his ailments. A head cold will invariably hit right before some annoying household activity and then miraculously clear in time to play a quick 18 holes of golf, before resettling on him later that evening when the bins need taking out.

Surely not even Himself has the audacity to pull a sickie in the time of a global pandemic? I had presumed - stupidly, it turned out - that I would be free from his moaning during lockdown. However, Himself moves in mysterious ways and despite never particularly showing any inclination to run before, he decided lockdown was the perfect time to begin a running career with little to no research or advance preparation.

I am a keen if completely unambitious runner. I've always enjoyed my little 5k jaunts at a pace verging on glacial, and I'm fine with that; it's actually taken me a long time to build up to my slow jog. I sensed pity from Himself on this front right away. "Five kilometres is nothing," he, the non-runner, said.

"You need to build up, that's why people do the couch-to-5k thing," I explained.

Moments later, Himself breezed out the door to join the hoards of joggers terrorising us nightly with their laissez-faire attitude to social distancing and occasional spitting. Exactly 25 minutes later, he returned in a haze of smugness, high on his first 5k.

Two weeks later and he is in a knee brace, hobbling from room to room and in a haze of martyrdom. The Bad Knee has become like our fourth child, requiring more minding and cosseting than all the other children put together.

If I suggest a trip to the park or even, to make a change from our yard, to hang out on the street in front of our house, Bad Knee must be consulted and is usually found to be not up to it. And so I lumber across to the park solo, grappling with three children while Himself stays behind cooing to and cradling Bad Knee.

It's tempting to violently attack him and give him a real problem, but that's just lockdown lunacy talking. I know I need him too much to render him even more useless, but honestly, he really picks his moments. It reminds me of the time I had literally just given birth and he scheduled himself a minor procedure and had to rest up for four days while I minded two children and a newborn. If anyone's marriage survives 2020, frankly, it'll be a goddamn miracle. At least he and Bad Knee can stir the risotto, I guess.


Risotto, Cod, Charred broccolini

Serves 2

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You will need:

1½ tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

150g basmati rice

Approximately 1litre stock

2 cod fillets

Juice of ½ a lemon

4 slices prosciutto

About 150g broccolini

6-8 cherry tomatoes

8 Kalamata olives, pitted

1 Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick pan and sweat the finely diced onions and the finely sliced garlic gently, then add the basmati rice, and stir over the heat. Gradually add the stock — add about 200mls at a time, allowing it to mostly absorb before adding the next lot. Keep stirring frequently until the rice is creamy but still retains a little bite.

2 Preheat the oven to 200°C, 395°F, Gas 6. Place the cod fillets in tinfoil and squeeze over the lemon juice. Bake them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until they are firm.

3 Crisp the prosciutto slices in a hot pan (I use a griddle pan) and then set them aside. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, along with the broccolini and the cherry tomatoes, and griddle them over a high heat until they are charred and tender, then add the pitted olives. Spoon the risotto on to plates, top with the baked fish and the charred vegetables, then crumble over the crispy prosciutto you set aside earlier.

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