Spaghetti with Paprika Prawns


I’m slightly obsessed with paprika. There I said it. I’m not ashamed though because there is actually so much to love about this Moorish spice. I’m not talking about a jar of Tesco’s own version either; I am a little snobbish when it comes to paprika. Since discovering the world of Moorish cooking in amongst the pages of my first Moro cookbook, I fell head over heels in love with their food that spans regions of Spain to the coast of Africa. Their recommended version of paprika was La Chinata, a smoked Spanish paprika which comes as sweet (dulce) or hot (picante).

I scoured the shops for it, unsuccessfully at first; such a specialised ingredient was not easy to come by in the early noughties. When I found it and then cooked with I felt like I’d discovered a secret ingredient, something that would change the flavour of my cookery world from there on in. I also loved, loved the little tin in which this wonder was and still is packaged, there is style in its red facade and circular tin lid. As you prise it off with the end of a teaspoon, the earthy, smoky, aroma exudes and you are transported to world of lounging cushions, low tables and Moroccan lanterns, well I am, you might have your own Moorish fantasies.

There are lots of wonderful dishes in which you can use this spice, if you delve into the world of Spanish cookery then it is a staple. We use it in Stig’s paella recipe or mashed with butter and rubbed over a chicken maybe add to a lamb casserole for a Moroccan hint. Thankfully my children have taken to paprika too so I am able to spice up our family meals with a dash here and there.

So I got to thinking, I love paprika and I love pasta and I love an easy family meal, so I mixed it all up and came up with this recipe, Spaghetti with Paprika Prawns. I use wholemeal spaghetti, I’m not a big fan of wholemeal pasta shapes, always seem a bit chewy, but I think the nuttiness you get from the spaghetti adds to the texture and flavour of certain dishes , this being one of them. Also I add a teaspoon of sugar because you are not cooking the tomato sauce over a long period which would usually brings sweetness to the sauce, in this quick meal I help it along a little. Look in your local deli for good quality paprika or in the section for posh and exotic ingredients in your local supermarket, there are lots of different ones available now, I use the sweet version here. Enjoy..


Spaghetti with Paprika Prawns


Serves 4

400g wholemeal spaghetti
Olive oil
1 finely chopped clove of garlic/ 1 tsp of lazy garlic
500g of passata
Large heap teaspoon of good quality paprika, add more to taste if you wish.
1 tsp sugar
Optional chilli powder to taste
300g of raw peeled prawns
Salt and pepper to season.
Freshly  grated parmesan for serving.

  1. Place spaghetti into pan of boiling water and allow to cook as instructed on the packet.
  2. Heat oil in large frying pan on hob and gently fry garlic for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the passata and bring to a gentle simmer.
  4. Stir in the paprika and the sugar and optional chilli.
  5. Allow to cook and simmer for 5 minutes and taste, add more paprika or chilli powder if required.
  6. Cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add prawns and cook through for 3 minutes or until opaque. Season as required.
  8. Drain the spaghetti and add to the sauce, mix together.
  9. Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan.


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Digging Deep


Yesterday I ran the London Marathon and I did run all 26.2 miles of it, no walking, even though at times my pace was almost that of a snail. It was an exciting day that turned out to be one of the toughest and most painful of my life; I can say that having never given birth or sustain any major injuries in my life.

In the last 10 miles it was a prolonged agony, which mentally I had to break down into small bits, 5 minute chunks and whittled down the miles to get through. I put my head down under my cap and focused on lots of things to take my mind off my legs, mostly I thought of my family, my boys and my husband and all the things we’ve been through and continue to move through together. I imagined Tink’s warm little body snuggled up against me in bed, I recalled Stig’s beautiful eyes and infectious smile beaming at me and I looked forward to the strong embrace of Mr H.

On a number of occasions I really thought “I can’t do this” but I would push this thought from my mind and think of all the wonderful words of support I’d received from family and friends, all the encouraging words I had from twitter and Facebook and the desire to make you all proud and not let anyone down kept me going. Seeing my lovely in-laws cheering me on at 25 miles was a massive boost, and even though my name wasn’t on my vest having a common name like Sarah has its advantages when running a marathon, there were plenty of “go Sarah” shouts, I took them all. There is also the massive amount of donations and sponsorship money I’ve received for the charity TACT, people have been so generous and every penny really does count and helped me to put one foot in front of the other yesterday. Seeing the pink TACT cheering groups and hearing lovely Megan shouting my name helped put a smile on my face at quite a low moment.

I knew arriving at the start line yesterday that it was not going to be an easy task. My training had been much hampered by the weather and family events; we’ve been in some dark places in these last few months. A couple of time I set out to train in tears and found even doing a short run really hard work, even though it’s only a year since I last trained it all just felt a lot harder. But I went to run a marathon, not walk it and I was determined to do just that and I did. Even though my time was slower than I would have liked I’m very proud because I didn’t give up. I kept telling myself that walking would be just as painful and it would take twice as long to finish. Today I feel very tired and I ache a lot but I’m happy, happy to know that if I put my mind to something, no matter how hard I really can do it.

My last word of thanks goes to the lovely lady who placed my medal around my neck as I crossed the line, I said to her “Oh I could kiss you” and she replied “you can if you want” so I did and she gave me a lovely hug too.

If you haven’t sponsored me but would like to please click here.
If you have sponsored me thank you, thank you, thank you……

Weekly Adoption Shout Out 19/04/13

Welcome to another Weekly Adoption Shout Out. Last week was another successful link-up with many of you sharing posts about Transition. There are some really interesting posts, so if you haven’t had a chance to read them yet, you can still see them all here.

As usual this week is theme-free, but next week we’re inviting you to write and link posts about Regression

You might have read last week that we now have a Facebook page , do pop over and say hi.

As both The Puffin Diaries and The Boy’s Behaviour are hosting, this linky will appear in both places but you only need to add it once below.

There are no rules to taking part in this link up, but it would be great if you could visit some of the other blogs that take part and let them know how you found them. And why not share your favourites on twitter, or tweet your own post with the hashtag #WASO.

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Prose for Thought
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Marathon Running for TACT


Ok, just a couple of days to go until I’m running 26.2 miles around London, yes that’s right I’m running the London Marathon. Please support me and this amazing Charity TACT ,The Adolescent and Child Trust that I’m raising funds for. All the funds raised will go towards important services that TACT provide for children and adolescents that  are living within the care system. They also provide much required support for families and children post adoption, something I wish I’d had access to at times. Here’s  an idea of some of the services they provide…

  •  Individual counselling sessions –  £20 will pay for an individual counselling session for either a parent or child.


  •   Leaving care mentors – £20 will pay for a session with a mentor. TACT provides mentoring support to young people preparing to leave care by people who have already left care themsleves. TACT mentors are able to provide support, advice and guidance and most importantly life experience as they have previously gone through the process of leaving care and the transition into adulthood.
  • Children’s activities – £65 will pay for a whole day of activities for a child or young person. Our activity days allow children to take part in activities such as raft building, high rope walking, water sports and wall climbing.
  • Post adoption support services – £600 will provide ten specialist therapeutic sessions for a family with adopted children. These sessions involve the entire family, while allowing for consultation with the parent/s and individual workshops for the child/ren.
  • Skills4Life – £2000 will pay for TACT to run our Skills4Life training workshops. This course is aimed at young people aged 14-18 who may require addition support in preparing to leave care and become independent. The five workshops cover Money matters, Social Skills, Health and Well being, the transition to becoming independent, employment skills and managing the home.

So please be generous and help provide these much need services and make a donation here…


snapshotsLike the changing seasons and the ebb and flow of the tide, change and transition are part and parcel of all our lives. We move between phases and stages, people and places and from one activity to another, daily, weekly and on.  At times the transition is an organic evolution of life that happens because it is necessary and there is readiness. At other times we are shunted awkwardly through our changes, causing much discomfort even pain.

Transition is much discussed in the life of an adopted child and rightly so, no greater change could be considered for a child than to be removed from their birth family and placed in the care of another. For myself I see the transition Mr H and I have made from care free high school sweethearts to adults, parents bathed in the warmth of our family yet weighted by the responsibilities of our life. Too much has occurred for all of us to start to discuss the single most important, influential or necessary transition in our lives, so I propose to tack a snapshot. Click, done, captured. Mr and Mrs H, Stig and Tink, frozen in the midst of their own current transition, where are we all up to right now?


I’m imagining his smiling face, captured in this moment and my eyes wander over the contours of his chin, nose and jaw line. I find wonder everyday in his physicality because although I feel his being is mine to love and hold as all mothers do, I don’t know his face. I don’t know where it’s going and how it’s going to change; I’ve not seen it before. In Tink, his resemblance to birth mum for some reason anchors me, I have seen some of what will be. As I breathe in the beauty of my oldest boy, in this moment, I see the planes of his face moving towards manhood. I see the transition we find ourselves currently in, boy to adolescent and I marvel at the possibilities.

It’s early I know, not quite 10, but it’s there in his physicality and demeanour. It’s the public demeanour that’s changed no hand holding or kisses, no “mummy”, I’m now mum. I do forget though and the poor soul has to repeatedly screech “MUM” before I realise the alien word is from the recognisable voice of my son. There is “attitude” for public display too, the sarcastic tones in reply to your inquiries, the answering back, the pushing the point. He’s exploring his boundaries, again, asserting himself up against and sometimes across the lines we have drawn.

This transition is fuelling the ferocity of his anger, and whilst at school his greatest desire to fit in seems to contain most outbursts, the safety of home brings brutal destructive rage previously unseen. The extent of this rage I fear we have not yet fully encountered and as hormones begin to throb I again wonder where we are heading.


Poor Tink, I’ve caught him mid tantrum, eyes wild and damp around the edges, body defiantly twisted against the world. His open mouth is stretch wide to make room for the great anger it dispels, he veermently protests with unwavering belief that he is right and you are wrong.  This boy is changing greatly, moving from the child who showed no emotion and said little of how he feels, to one who is exploring all corners of his feelings. These emotional outbursts are similar to those you may see in a child half his age, exploring the extent of his parent’s patience and acceptance. There is great drama in these moments and I can see they are in the most him playing out to see how far it can go, moving through the next transition in his emotional development.

Then we have day to day transitions, from being in your pyjamas to being in clothes, to moving thorough breakfast to leaving the house, leaving the place we are visiting, going to bed. Moving through these activities is on a daily bases met with resistance and hardship, “It’s too hard, I can’t, I don’t want to”. Each day renewed patience, understanding and stamina are required to move through and beyond each stage, and each transition is a huge obstacle in the day. Planning and talking about plans helps but often the breaks go on and there is little to be done but cajole, wait and again be patient.

As I gaze into this snapshot I know less for this one’s future, his emotional development is still in such early stages and it remains to be seen how far along the emotional transitions ladder he will climb, considering his ASD. But I see smiles and laughter ahead no matter what, his wit and charm will carry him through.

Mr and Mrs H

I can’t fully see the faces in our shot so emotions are concealed and hidden from the world and each other. We move with the transitions of our children hoping to support and help them through but often forget to see our own transitions that require our own, each other’s supports. Physically we move to being older, I have more grey hairs; Mr H is growing a beard, for the first time, ever. I ache more when I run and Mr H coughs more and more when he gets a cold, I need more sleep, sometime we talk less other days we talk more.

I can see we are transitional but where we’ve come from compared to where we are going is sometimes hard to distinguish. I hope to be moving into happier lighter times but we have weathered too many storms to consider plain sailing. This week maybe the elbow of spring has nudged us gently forward and the path we are travelling is moving to more light, more open sky and open hearts. It’s been tough but we continue to be transitional together.