Thinking outside the toy box

We bought a new toaster in the sales, nothing fancy, just a thing to toast bread. The last one was unreliable. Sometimes the toast was peely-wally, other times it was burned but always you had to pop it halfway and turn the bread round or it would only toast on one side. So how is the new toaster? Exactly the same as the old one we threw out. We still have to flip the bread halfway which kind of defeats the purpose of a toaster. I mentioned to HimIndoors that he should design a toaster that actually works and then we’d make a mint and he could retire. His answer was that he’s not a toaster manufacturer so where would he start. My answer was that if it’s beyond the toaster manufacturers to design a decent toaster then what the industry needs is someone who knows nothing about toasters to disrupt their thoughts and processes. In fact, that’s what all stale, stuck-in-a-rut processes need – a human spanner in the works that can look at things laterally, who has no loyalty to the way things have always been done. It’s also what employers and personnel departments need to do when recruiting – stop looking for the best fit to the job specifications and actually interview the left-of-field candidates who have no practical experience but who have the flair to think creatively about just about anything.

After I’d had my burnt-one-one-side, bread-on-the-other-side toast I did the school run and caught this beautiful sunrise on the way into the building.


I then dumped my bag at the office then headed to one of our partnership nurseries for background for a feature on our new literacy strategy. I love nurseries because they’re full of little people thinking outside the box who aren’t afraid to say exactly what they think. It’s a shame we gradually unlearn that as we get older but I suppose we regain the saying what we think when we get old and start to wear purple.


Anyway, the nursery was a joy and the whole point of the pre-school strand of the literacy strategy is to give the kids opportunities to write, make marks on paper and associate the written word with daily activities – if they are playing shops they’ll be encouraged to ‘write’ aĀ  shopping list. The children have written labels for all the things around the nursery room.


While we were there they showed us their planning mat which is where they do mind maps on some of the subjects they learn about. Mind maps at age four! When I was four I didn’t even know my colours. Kids’ telly was only on for an hour a day. Before 10 in the morning STV played Johnny is My Darling over a static picture before the programmes came on and there was a testcard with a scary clown in the afternoon!


As we were leaving the nursery I spotted the ‘Fantastic at’ board in reception. Most were I am fantastic at helping or looking after my brother or writing but my favourite was I am fantastic at hiding. I wonder how many times he/she has got into trouble for that talent. Mind you, it’s a pretty fantastic talent to have and I hope they never grow out of it šŸ™‚


MiniMe has her first guitar lesson booked for next Monday. It’s a guy at work who’s coming to the house and rather than the theory, learning scales and starting playing nursery rhymes, Roy gets them engaged from day one by teaching them a couple of chords from the tune of their choice so that they get instant results. So, what has MiniMe chosen – Katy Perry, One Direction or Olly Murs? No chance! She’s gone for Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones. I’ll let you know how it goes next week. Needless to say MiniHim now wants to learn how to play the drums so we have half a band in the making.

Today I have learned:

  • using the grill is probably as efficient as using a toaster
  • creative thinkers can do anything
  • we should never forget how to think like a pre-schooler

Today’s recipe:

Chicken, bacon and mushroom pie


Serves 4

There are three ways of cooking and serving this. You can make one big pie. You can make four individual pies or you can make the filling and a separate sheet of pastry to top it with which halves the cooking time but you don’t get that nice soggy layer of pastry where it touched the filling while cooking.


olive oil for frying

3 chicken breasts, diced

1 onion, peeled and sliced

4 slices of bacon, chopped

2 handfuls of mushrooms, sliced

whatever herbs you have in the fridge (I used a few sprigs of thyme leaves)

a slug of white wine

2 dollops of creme fraiche

1 packet of puff pastry

1 egg, beaten


If you are doing the pastry as a separate sheet you should roll this out, put it on a baking sheet and glaze with the egg. Put in the oven at 180C/Gas 5. If you are making pies you can prepare the pastry as the filling is cooking.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown off the chicken, add the onion and bacon then as the onion softens add the mushrooms, seasoning and herbs. Once everything is cooked add the white wine and let it bubble until it is reduced by half. Add the creme fraiche and heat through. At this point it is ready to serve if you’re doing the fast version. Simply divide between four plates then cut the pastry to size and place on top of the filling.

If you are making pies put the filling in your dish or four mini pie dishes. Top with the prepared pastry and pinch round edges of the dish(es) with your fingers to seal. Cut a couple of small vents on the top(s) with a knife so the steam can escape and glaze with the egg. Put in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden brown.

Serve with potatoes and/or veg. Just watch your first mouthful doesn’t take the roof of your mouth off because the filling gets super hot.




  1. Andy Mabbett · January 18, 2013

    I was really hoping that the recipe on this post would be for toast.

    • carolynemitchell · January 18, 2013

      But I’m still looking for the perfect recipe – maybe you can share yours šŸ˜‰

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