Guilt induced, inauthentic spag bol

Last night my mother in law visited. Mr B was late home from work meaning the entertainment was left to me. After hearing about the village fete (headlines - dog display not so good though overall a successful day as record breaking year for church fund raising) and the latest on the family tree, I offered my mother in law a cup of tea and a Percy Pig biscuit (M & S' latest addition to the Percy Pig empire of foodstuffs) which she seemed to enjoy. Charlie licked all the raspberry flavoured icing off the PP biscuit rendering it inedible for anyone other than his mother or father. We don't mind his saliva drenched rejects. True love.

My son adores my mother in law even though one of her favourite games is to bounce a football off his head. She's already brought up one boy so I guess knows the 'boy rules' which are, I believe, the rougher the better when it comes to play. He moved on from headers to spinning. Twirling round and round until he stumbled drunkenly across the room, collapsing in a dizzy, giggling heap. Flashes of him as a spotty teenager doing exactly the same post a bottle of 20:20, or whatever the tipple of choice is then, haunted me all evening.

My son decided to end the visit by picking up my Blackberry, pointing at it, looking at my mother in law then saying, 'Mummy?' as if to pronounce he is remotely mothered using a mobile device, which is slightly true at the moment until I go on maternity leave in 2 weeks. All this made me feel rather inadequate and so sparked off a need to produce some homely food. The results of which were my version of spag bol. Completely inauthentic I know, not only from an ingredients point of view but also from a timings perspective. Only takes an hour altogether which I know is wrong from reading various Italian cookbooks. But you know what - I don't have time for slow cooking the bol of the SB on a school night. And I make no apology for using HP sauce and tomato ketchup in my cooking. You can take the girl out of the Midlands and all that...

- 2 x onions, chopped up quite finely
- a little oil (any though I used olive for this recipe)
- 3 x cloves of garlic, crushed
- minced beef (I am quite liking the Sainsbos steak mince at the moment which comes in smallish packs - just enough for two with some leftovers.)
- 2 x 200g tins of chopped tomatoes
- a squeeze of tomato puree
- a squeeze of tomato sauce (As in the stuff you dip chips in, yes, I know, sounds wrong but somehow it works.)
- a squeeze of HP sauce (Or non branded cheapo stuff - I just love the shape of the bottle if I'm honest. If you're posh you could use Lea & Perrins.)
- an Oxo cube, beef flavour
- ground black pepper
- dried oregano

As I said, I know a proper bol sauce should take ages to simmer and develop in flavour but given the fact I don't menu plan or have buckets of time on my hands given the whole full time job + toddler + pregnancy then this will have to do. I feel I have to apologise for it in advance despite the fact it does taste pretty good. Well, that's what Mr B tells me though he could be being kind/have a vested interest in the promotion of harmony.

On to the recipe. This is easy to make. Fry the onions in a little oil until softened though not browned, probably using a medium heat. Add the beef and stir so it doesn't fry into a solid lump. Once all the mince is fried is will look rather unappealing, like the kind of food some people remember from school - grey almost. Worry not, just add the tomato puree and stir until it looks brightly orangey red. Add in the tins of chopped tomatoes, the brown and red sauce, the black pepper and the dried oregano (about a tablespoon - I like the taste though less if you don't of course.) Crumble in the beef flavoured oxo cube, stir and then add the crushed garlic.

Now I know most people prefer to add their garlic when frying the onions but as I love the taste of garlic so much I add it at this stage as it seems to make it stronger. Though could be my imagination. All that's left to do is stir the sauce up, reduce the heat and then leave on a low heat for 1 hour. You can stir every 15 mins if you remember but I often forget until the smell permeates the house. It's never burnt or been any worse the wear for my neglect.

Boil some pasta, then serve, adding shavings of Parmesan or other cheese if you prefer. Worth knowing that this bolognese freezes really well either in adult portions or ice cubes portions for babies/toddlers. You need to use low salt stock cubes if you're giving this to a little one under 12 months. I use the ones from Boots though they don't crumble.

Credits for presentation and photography to Mr B.
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