Every now and then I develop a "theory" about something. I'm a Virgo. I like to analyse. Can't help it - it's what I do. And after a trip to the Emergency department with the 3yr old (again) last night, I was forced to put the theory out there that perhaps my recent purchase of chermoula paste had something to do with it.
About 7.25pm last night, I was brushing the 3yr old's teeth after his bath. All was going well. Everything was on track for all 3 boys to be in bed by no later than 7.45pm - right when my Moroccan chicken tagine (that I had lovingly prepared from Jane Kennedy's new book Fabulous food, minus the boombah) would be ready to eat.
You could say I'm doing a sort of mini version of Julia & Julia, but instead it's called Jane & Jodie. So far, I've made 3 dishes from the book, with plans to make more. But my plans became thwarted this week.
This particular dish had been three days in the making. You see, on Tuesday, I went on the "great hunt" for the chermoula paste (a mix of yummy spices). I searched half of Sydney for chermoula paste - visiting no less than 6 stores and calling two others before I found it. It was like searching for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but I was determined to succeed. (In fact, in one delicatessen, I almost had it. They had just sold their last jar five minutes before I got there. No doubt another Jane Kennedy fan planning to make the same dish I am, I thought.)
Anyway, when I got home that night, and opened up my paste ready to make my chicken, there, right on top, was a big, fat chunk of mould. Dammit! No Moroccan chicken tagine that night.
The next night was the 6yr old's birthday, so we all went out to dinner, and then the following day (yesterday) I finally returned my chermoula paste and was given a replacement (the last available jar), only to find (after checking in the store) that this jar also had mould forming inside. Sigh.
Just when I thought my Moroccan chicken tagine would not be made (or I'd have to make my own chermoula paste), the store presented a chermoula spice mix, that I could just add water to, to make my paste. Done. I vowed my Moroccan chicken tagine would be made that night.
And so last night, the chicken was on the stove, almost cooked to perfection, when disaster struck.
I heard the 6yr old calling from his room, "MUM! [The 3yr old] is vomiting on my mat!" I raced to the bedroom to find, indeed, the 3yr old throwing up all over the 7yr old and 6yr old's rug. (Side note: why is that when kids vomit, they always choose a rug or couch or the like to do it on? Our house has barely any carpet. The study has carpet, there's a hall rug, a couple of rugs in the family room and the rug in the big boys room which, of course, was where the 3yr old was throwing up. Why not the bathroom? Why not the wooden floors in the bedroom? Why not the tiled family room floors? Sheesh.)
The 3yr old couldn't seem to stop. It just kept coming. I noticed him chewing, and when I looked around, I found broken pieces of a burst orange balloon (from the previous day's birthday celebrations). "Have you put something in your mouth?" I asked him frantically. God. Could he have swallowed some balloon? Could it be stuck? "Yeaaaaah," he cried, before throwing up again. Shite.
I carried him to the bathroom (at arms' length) where Hubby took over helping him to throw up in to the bath (nice - fortunately it had been emptied moments earlier) where we quizzed him about what he had eaten. The frustrating thing was, that every time we'd ask him a question like, "What did you put in your mouth?" or "What colour was the balloon?" (to test if he had actually put something in his mouth or not - surely he would know the colour?) the 6yr old or the 7yr old would pipe up the answer before the 3yr old got a chance to: "a balloon!" "orange!" That's all a 3yr old needs, a little prompting and then they run with whatever has been said. Agh!
Eventually, the vomiting stopped, and the 3yr old was his usual, bouncy self. But he still insisted he had swallowed some balloon.
After a phone call to our GP, we decided it best to take him to the hospital. As she said, "It will probably be nothing, but you don't want to regret not having him checked out." 'Nuff said. I packed to go.
And it was then I remembered my Moroccan chicken tagine.
By now, it had been cooking about 20 minutes more than what it should have been. I asked Hubby to serve it up. I knew that if I didn't eat now, I'd be the one throwing up (with hunger), and for God's sake...this dish had been 3 days in the making! I was going to eat it, dammit! I hurried it down. This was no sit down, wine in hand, kids in bed type meal as I anticipated it would be. No siree. I stood at the kitchen bench shovelling it in, mentally doing a check list of all I should take to the hospital with me.
But more about the chicken later.
We were off. The 3yr old was quite chirpy. He seemed fine. And recalling our last trip there in December (read about that here) and knowing the length of time we may wait, admittedly, I may have coached the 3yr old a little bit. I said, "Honey, when we're there, can you, you know, act a bit 'sick' for Mummy?"
"What do you mean, Mum?" he asked.
"Well, you know, when you were being sick at home, you were coughing a little. Can you cough a little? Oh, and don't act too happy. Be a little sad and quiet. Ok?"
"Ok Mum." Good little puppet. I mean, boy.
We'd been standing in line about 10 minutes to see the Triage nurse, when Hubby called. "How's the little guy?" he asked. "Fine. I mean, (*raising my voice slightly*) I hope the BALLOON he may have SWALLOWED isn't STUCK or anything."
"Well, I have a problem here too," Hubby said. "The dog has just started throwing up everywhere." I gritted my teeth, and preparing myself for what I knew would be the answer, asked tentatively "Where?"
"On the rug in the family room." Great. It just keeps getting better. I told Hubby where to find the good old Martha Gardner wool mix, and he went off to clean yet another rug. Sigh.
Finally, the triage nurse saw us. We filled out the forms, during which, the 3yr old vomited up the water he'd been drinking in the car. Fortunately, I had a couple of cloth nappies hanging over the stroller that I'd placed over him in the car to catch any rogue vomits, and was able to "catch" most of it. A nurse finally brought one of those little plastic sick bags, and he finished off a tiny bit in there. And then decided it would make a nice hat. You get the picture.
Turns out, after seeing the doctor, the 3yr old may have a bug. After 6 sips of apple juice, just after some anti-nausea type medication, he threw it up. We waited for 10 minutes, and then did 3 sips every five minutes through two cups of apple juice, with the 3yr old entertaining the paediatric ward with his rendition of Hi-5's "High 5 baaaaand, Hi-5 baaaand", banging a toy hammer on a table as he did so.
Finally, at midnight, we left the hospital, and after getting the 3yr old to bed, and then locating the big boys' school shirts to throw in the wash, and having a shower myself, I was in bed by 1am.
Today is my "day off" when the 3yr old is usually at daycare, but today he's here, and we're playing the waiting game. It's possible once this medication wears off (around 10am), he may start again. Fingers crossed that won't happen. I am SO not keen to make another trip to the hospital today.
And now to my theory. Was the chermoula paste responsible in some way for these turn of events? Was I just not supposed to make this Moroccan chicken tagine after all?
After much analysing, I believe the answer is "no". Because even though it was a little dry after my over-cooking, the Moroccan chicken tagine was bloody delicious. And even though I wasn't able to enjoy the eating experience, due to the aforementioned circumstances, I still bloody enjoyed it. And I'm planning to tempt fate again. Next time I make Jane's dish, I WILL eat it with the kids in bed and glass of wine in hand. I WILL enjoy it. I know it.
Until next time...