A while ago, I described how my youngest son got his nickname This Dog Bruce (Bruce for short).
I haven’t been able to find that book again. Imagine then, the moment when Bruce pulls a book out of his library bag to show me, saying he chose it because he likes the funny dog on the cover, and it is – ta-dah – This Dog Bruce. I was truly gobsmacked. And thrilled. Him too – can’t you tell?
Wednesday 21st March is Harmony Day in Australia. It’s a day to celebrate our culturally diverse society.
It’s a day when our Primary School asks – what’s your heritage and can you bring a plate of food to reflect that?
My heritage is multi-generational Australian, descended from the English, Scottish and Irish with a Dane thrown in for good measure. It’s never, ever occured to me to send in a plate that reflects this ancestory. What would I contribute? Pavlova, ANZAC biscuits, home-made vegemite scroll? I’ve never made a pavlova before – perhaps that’s what I’ll do next year.
We typically rely on DB’s heritage because his parents are both immigrants and therefore his heritage is more recent. His parents are Polish and over the years “I’ve” contributed a cake that DB’s mum makes – a Polish tea cake. This year however I decided to branch out and make something myself.
A quick Google search led me to a recipe for an apple cake. Placek z Jablka in Polish – it literally means flat cake with apples. Finding a cake I could make easily was a relief. I can’t imagine many of Bruce’s class-mates tucking into cabbage rolls (as delicious as I think they are).
I thought it worked out well – DB has just taken it to his parents for the Polish taste test. I wonder how it will fair??? I followed a suggestion on the website and included vanilla and cinnamon. Best served with cream – lots of thick cream.
So, come Wednesday we’ll be taking Placek z Jablka to school for Harmony Day. What favourite recipes do you have that reflect your heritage? And can I have some ideas for next year please?
Thanks to a wonderful idea of Kate’s from picklebums and following a ‘stroll’ through my albums I’ve discovered a great deal of things I need to remember. Here’s just a few…
I need to remember:
- This week of interrupted sleep due to kids with colds is nothing compared the complete and utter exhaustion of having a new-born
- That my 5-year-old can’t walk through a shopping centre. He has to skip or jump from one pattern to another in the floor and invariably will fall flat on his face at least twice during a 20 minute visit – but he always bounces back up. And while I’m growling at him, often people are smiling at him and his happy, life-giving energy
- Squidge getting a book out of the school library because he liked it and he thought his little brother would too. And then he sat down and read him the story – twice
- DB going to a parenting seminar wanting to make a big difference in the life of his boys – and then encouraging his peers to do the same
Thanks Kate. After a hectic tiring week, it’s good to take stock.
What do you need to remember?
This weekend was kinda crazy. Our weekends of late have involved the ordinary – washing, cooking, cleaning. Not this weekend. Karate family fun day and a swim & dinner with good friends on Saturday, swimming lessons and a family lunch on Sunday.
Squidge’s karate academy was celebrating their 10th anniversary and as part of the fun day were holding a cake stall. I love cake stalls. A few years ago I helped at a friend’s school fete. I was amazed at the number of people who wanted to buy from the cake stall and who would interrogate us to ensure that the fodder on offer was, in fact, home-made.
For this cake stall I decided to make Karate Bread Men, using ninjabread men cutters that my good friend Jo gave me for Christmas last year and chocolate brownies. I got the recipes for both from the primary school our boys go to.
Bruce made gingerbread men in kindy last year and brought home the recipe (thanks Mrs Lake!). It’s delish:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons golden syrup
75g butter, melted
Combine flour, baking powder, brown sugar and spices mix together. Add beaten egg, melted butter and golden syrup. Stir until combined. Turn on to a lightly floured board, knead lightly. Roll out until thickness required. Cut with cutter. Cook at 180 C – 200 C for 12 minutes or until golden.
There’s something about a 10th anniversary that makes people think cooking. This recipe comes from a cookbook produced to celebrate this anniversary of our primary school. Warning – it’s heart attack material. Warning – it’s easy to make. Therefore tempting to make often. See first warning.
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g 70% dark chocolate
300g white sugar
125g plain flour
Pre-heat oven to 180 C and line a lamington tray. Melt butter and choc together in a microwave. Whisk eggs, sugar & vanilla until the consistency of whipped cream. Fold in chocolate mix to the egg mix with a large metal spoon. Sift & fold in flour. The mixture will still look runny – this is fine. Pour into tin and bake in oven for 30 minutes. The top will crack and the skewer will come out with some mix on it when you check – this is correct. Cut in to squares and serve warm with ice cream (to really ensure you have a heart attack) or cold. Or straight out of the tray. STOP, this is for a fundraising event. Don’t eat it!!
Soup. Minestrone. Of course.
I had a hankering for vegies. Lots of vegies. And this is just about my favourite soup recipe.
It comes from Alison Holst’s “Meals without Meat”.
It’s super easy.
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 litre vegie stock (I use the tetra pack stuff)
- 1 medium potato, peeled, cut into small cubes
- 1/4 cup or a handful of macaroni (or whatever you have on hand)
- 1 zucchini chopped
- 1/2 – 1 cup green beans chopped
- 1 cup chopped cabbage
- 2 tins of diced tomatoes
- 1 tin red kidney beans
- Heat some olive oil in a pan and saute the onion & garlic
- Add the stock
- Add the potatoes & macaroni and simmer while you prepare the green vegies
- Add the other vegies
- Crack open your tins of tomatoes and beans and add them – bean juice and all (adds to the flavour)
- Simmer gently until the potato and macaroni are cooked
- Serve with cracked pepper and parmesan cheese
Alison suggests adding sugar and salt to taste. I don’t bother.
It freezes like a charm.
Here it is bubbling away on the stove:
Do you have a favourite soup recipe?
Some days I’m reminded somewhat of the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch. In this sketch, many euphemisms are employed to describe the dead parrot, rather than stating outright the parrot is dead.
When am I reminded of this? When I hear palaver that is wrapped up in management speak. For example, the other day I overheard someone describe a post-meeting chat as a “touch point”. They then went on to organise a meeting but called it a “hang-out”. How old are we? 15???
I tweeted about this (@neane26) on the day it happened and my comment was picked up by @HideousPalaver. I found it interesting that we both thought of management speak in the same way.
Palaver is defined as idle chatter, or talk intended to charm or beguile. I subscribe to the beguile definition. I also believe it’s idle. It just fills up space with words that don’t DO anything, don’t add anything. Another example, being asked to put together a ”package”. It’s a bloody powerpoint presentation people. Let’s not dress it up to be something it’s not.
Some days I like to play Palaver Bingo just to see how many times these words can be used in a meeting (sorry hang-out). My record was 41 in a 50 minute meeting. But I think that’s an underestimation as I had to be careful how I counted. The lines I drew in my notebook, like this |||||||, occasionally I had to dress up to make it look like I was doodling picket fences.
So, to whom can I address my complaint? And do you have any you’d like me to add to mine? I’m happy to collate them in a package, although there might be a certain amount of push back that prevents us from moving forward. In fact, they might contain ideas that we have to park until we can gain buy-in. But I’m willing to give it a go if you are.
Things I found in the garden.
On Saturday, I took Bruce and Squidge to one of our Council’s libraries. The librarian charged with engaging youth in our area has started a lego club.
It gives the boys a chance to play with more of their favourite toy, be challenged into trying new things, and be inspired by what other kids are doing with lego. It also gives them, post the lego club, an opportunity to nag me about new lego they would like to own (aaarrrghh!).
For me, it’s an opportunity to browse the library ailses and choose a couple of books I might like to read. Invariably though, I’m frozen by indecision and more often than not turn to an author I’ve read before. This week I came home with a P.D. James and a Maeve Binchy. Hardly hard literature.
So this is what I now have on my bedside table:
Aside from P.D. James and Maeve Binchy I’m reading Muddle Earth which was a book given to Squidge for his birthday last year. He seemed to enjoy it, so being a fan of Lord of the Rings I thought I’d give the spoof version for kids a go. I don’t mind it, except for the characters constantly telling each other to Shut Up. That’s getting on my nerves.
The rather large wadge of paper is a children’s book my DB has finished writing. I find it laugh out loud funny and I’ll be sure to post when it’s published. He’s given previous drafts to friends with kids and they in turn have passed it on to their friends. He’s got good feedback on it and people have asked when the next one is coming.
I’ve not yet started on Maeve. I read one of her books over Christmas and enjoyed it for an easy, Christmas read.
I find P.D. James comforting. I know what to expect. Sometimes that’s what I want in my bedtime reading.
The notebook at the bottom of the pile has been usurped somewhat by this blog. I think it looks rather forlorn and neglected. I’ll have to rectify that.
What’s on your bedside table? I need inspiration for when these books are due back in a couple of weeks!
I should clarify a couple of things.
I don’t often look like my Gravatar image on wordpress. I looked like that on the 5th of November in 2011 when I went to a wedding and spent 50 bucks to get someone to do my make-up so I’d look okay in the family photos.
Most days I look like this:
And not like this:
I know. 50 bucks can really buy back 10 years.
The other thing I should make clear is that these are my memories, my thoughts, as I remember them. For instance, DB remembers that we called Squidge Squidge because his face was all squashed up when he was born. Sometimes I’ll be right, others wrong, and mostly somewhere in-between.
Oh and the post about swimming. I should clarify – we’re swimming in a 25 metre pool. It might make our 20 laps in less than 20 minutes seem less significant but I still feel pretty happy to be doing them