Online shopping is the way of the future. Truly. I hate trying on clothes in a store. I detest it. I also can’t stand returning stuff that doesn’t fit, because I was too lazy to fit it on in the store. I don’t enjoy shopping at all. I prefer to buy something when I see it and I like it and my size is right there in front of my face and I don’t have , to search through the racks or ask yet another disinterested sales person for help. But don’t ask me to go into a shop with the purpose of buying something specific. Firstly, I am indecisive. Secondly, there is nothing worse than eventually finding something you like, and they don’t have your size. Thirdly, the mall is just not my favourite place: from the parking, to the crowds, to the queues. No thanks.
So for all those reasons, I just love online shopping. The only thing I don’t buy online is our food. And that’s just because I like to feel my own fruit, and make sure my cans aren’t dented and pick my own block of cheese and shake the fresh cream to make sure it’s OK. You know, stuff like that.
So last week Thursday, after talking about getting a waffle maker for well over a year, I went online and ordered one from Takealot.com. Including delivery, it cost me under R200. But the part I love the best, is that I got it the very next day. How’s that for good service?
Of course, as soon as I got home, I unpacked that baby and whipped up a quick batch. I wasn’t entirely happy with the recipe I had Googgled, I do prefer my waffle to be slightly sweet and this recipe was more pancake-y. But in my search I also came across other deliciousness such as sweet potato waffles, THOSE I will definitely be trying! A nice change to a roast potato or even potato chips on your plate, right? The first waffle was a complete flop, I put too much batter in and it just oozed out and caused a HUGE mess. But I got the hang of it on the next one. Also, I’d totally half the mixture. With pancakes, you can have two or even three. But with waffles, one is usually enough. The mixture I used made 8, so the kids had waffles with jam as a snack the next day.
We had waffles with ice cream and syrup for dinner. I was told about 237 times that I am THE best mother in the WHOLE world.
So I’m by no means a food blogger, and my husband has now banned me from posting foodie photos on Instagram because he doesn’t understand why the whole world needs to see what we are having for dinner. But sometimes I HAVE to share a really good recipe. Or I HAVE to show off when I prepare a really awesome kiddie dish with tomato wedges for smiles and olives for eyes… you know the kind from Pinterest?
So yesterday after I picked the kids up from school, we had to dash to the shops to find something to cook for dinner. My pantry is empty. It’s these days in between month end-payday-and-actually getting-to-a-shop-to-do-your-monthly-groceries. Does anyone else have that period just after pay day when you need to do a big shop but you don’t have time, so you’re buying a little every night just to take you to the weekend when you can actually do a big shop? I despise this period but here we are again for the 457th month in a row. So the three of us were standing in the veggie aisle, debating about what we should have for dinner. Hannah wanted meatballs and spaghetti as she always does. Liam suggested rice and potatoes, I thought don’t worry boy, those days in the month are coming, but for now we can afford some meat.. ha. And then my eyes fell upon the brussels sprouts and because a friend had brought a brussels sprouts salad for lunch yesterday, I was feeling tender towards the sprouts. So I got a packet of Bits ‘O Bacon, a bag of baby marrows, some fresh cream and the brussels sprouts.
As I always do in the kitchen, I pretty much winged it. Some times it works, some times it doesn’t. But this worked really well.
I sliced (not chopped) my onions and friend them in some olive oil, garlic and ginger – a mix my mother in law makes for me. I threw in some chilli flakes, more garlic flakes and lots of black pepper. Once the onions were starting to stick, I threw in the bacon bits and let that fry up. Then I halved the brussels sprouts, and cut the marrows into biggish chunks and threw those in and put the lid on just to get them to steam through. Added the cream, milk and some Maziena, and I let that cook up for literally five minutes. And voila dinner was ready. I served it with spaghetti.
The kids loved their “baby lettuces,” hubby loved it and I thought it was bloody marvelous. The brussels sprouts were still crunchy, the marrows were garlicky and buttery (I just made those words up) and the bacon… well we just LOVE bacon, you can give me bacon on stale bread and I’ll still love it.
As I said, I am not a food blogger, so this photo is literally my phone in the pot. On second thought I should have plated it and thrown some garnish on the top, and used a really cool filter, but whatever. Here’s how it looked.
It took all of half an hour from start to finish, including chopping time, yelling at kids, directing homework, setting the table, washing hands and finally sitting down. Not bad, hey?
Husband sent me a BBM during the day suggesting we have a mezze platter of sorts for dinner. I cringed inwardly because the last thing I feel like doing after a long day at my day job, is giving myself extra work at my night job. And mezze platters sound like extra work to me. All those many little dishes instead of just one big pot of stew – come on, which tired mother wouldn’t choose the latter?
Anyway, I bit my tongue and Googled a thing or two and I must say so myself… the results were good. Oh so good. Besides the yummy-ness, it was really quick to prepare and something that the whole family enjoyed.
The first thing we made was flatbread. I got this super easy recipe off Jamie Oliver’s website. It took literally 2 minutes to prepare the dough in my phantasmagorical food processor (remember this post, you know I love my food processor – it literally makes cooking like a dream!) and then Hubby grilled them for me. Each one took roughly 3 minutes in the pan. There’s no yeast in these things, so there’s no “leaving to set” or “allowing to rise” time required. You literally mix, knead, roll and toast. Delicious. I will make these over and over again – as a side dish to curries or potjies, as a snack for the kids or as a delicious “dipping tool” when we have dips or spreads on the menu.
Next I made hummus. Why the heck didn’t anyone tell me how simple it is to make your own? No offence Woolies, but I shan’t be buying your delicious hummus any longer. Because as delicious as it is, mine was close up there, hey. Using my food processor again, I blitzed this hummus up in about 5 minutes. Serious! Here’ the simple recipe I used. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it, or maybe it was the novelty of dipping their flatbread into it – but that bowl got empty fast! I love hummus as a snack on its own with a carrot stick or just on my finger a teaspoon, I can eat it like some people eat peanut butter out of the jar. Or I use it as you would margarine on your sandwich and of course it’s a must for wraps or pitas.
I made tzatziki using another simple recipe. Although I don’t know what Kosher Salt is and I didn’t have lemon zest so I just used normal lemon juice – it still tasted delish. I love the freshness of tzatziki and that little bit of tartness just at the end. This took me another 5 minutes to mix together. Had I made stew, I would still have been sitting with a magazine in hand, waiting for the meat to braise, in the time that I had made all three of the above.
I boiled some eggs, fried some samoosas and cut up some cheese sticks for the kids. And that, my friends, was supper. I laid everything out on pretty platters and we all just got stuck in with our hands. I am definitely going to use this menu when I have friends over. It makes a nice change to the usual suspects which find themselves on our dining room tables AND there’s so much you can do with this base… next time I’ll add a guacamole dip, or a sundried tomato relish, or even a pâté or two (store bought unless I can blitz it in my food processor and it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes) – the possibilities are endless!
I am not much of a cook, but I do enjoy trying new things that actually work and that suit my lifestyle – quick, easy and cheap (and I am referring particularly to what I eat over here in case you’re getting any ideas.) This whole meal didn’t cost me more than R60, excluding the samoosas which I always keep handy in my freezer. SERIUUUUS!
Go on and try it and let me know what you think! Happy cooking!
Hannah will be two next month, and I know it isn’t fair or right to compare your children to each other but … when Liam was this age, he was off the bottle and in the process of being potty trained. This has nothing to do with Hannah’s abilities but everything to do with my tardiness. I have been so lax with getting Hannah to do big-girl-things because this time around, there’s no rush. With Liam I refused to have two babies on the bottle, two babies in nappies – two BABIES full stop, I needed Liam to grow up a bit. So I pushed him hard to be a “big boy.” I still have issues of guilt around this subject, issues I will save for a special blog post, but in hindsight I see that Liam didn’t suffer at the hands of his OCD mother who needed him to be a little more independent; in fact I think he flourished and has turned out to be a reasonably stable little boy who enjoys his independence. Fast forward to Hannah.. she is our baby, and still very much a baby-baby! We love to baby her! Not in a spoilt sort of way, but in an adoring way; she just has this thing about her that melts hearts, this thing that makes it very difficult not to be wrapped around her little finger. Her Dad will openly admit that he has fallen so deep under her spell, that there’s no going back. Liam and I, although we like to act macho and as if we are still in charge, also recognise that she turns our hearts to mush and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for her.
That said, last month I decided that we HAD to start weaning Hannah off her botty. I don’t think there’s a prescribed age for weaning your child off the bottle, but I had always said that my children would be off the bottle by age two. This was easy with Liam – at 15 months I took him off a day bottle because he had started school, and he would only have a night bottle and at 18 months I said to him that the botties must go in the bin, he agreed and that was that. No questions asked, no complaints – he just accepted it. I remember that first night, he was rather sad because he missed the comfort of his botty, but he was ok. He didn’t need a “replacement” cup, he just stopped. I assumed that it would be as easy with Hannah. Not. Firstly, Hannah drinks at least three milk bottles a day. She is happy to drink water or juice from a sippy cup, but she will only drink milk from her bottle. I started by telling Zoleka that she was to replace the day time bottles with cups of milk, but Hannah refused to drink milk out of anything else. She kicked up a huge fuss over not being able to get a bottle and basically went on a milk strike. At night she cried so bitterly for her botty that I just didn’t have the heart to go through with it and caved in. The thing is, Hannah’s bottle is like her security item. Sometimes she doesn’t even drink it, but she plays with the teat and falls asleep by rubbing it between her fingers, or covering it with her pyjama top – I think she is just tactile like that! I’ve tried to give her another item to attach herself to, like a taglet, but she didn’t take to it. Anyway, that was last month and our failed attempt saw Hannah winning and getting her botty back.
This weekend she bit through the last of her Avent teats, and that was it. I simply refuse to buy anymore. Unlike Liam, I
realise that she needs a transitional item, so I went to Baby City yesterday and scoured the shelves for something that was like a botty, but not a botty. Yes, I know what you’re thinking… why don’t we just go cold turkey. But I am just not ready for the trauma that comes with cold turkey… ask a smoker how difficult it is! I eventually found a Winnie the Pooh sippy cup from NUK, which still has the soft spout, still shaped like a bottle but it’s more like a cup, than a bottle. I bought ONE. Which I plan to use ONLY at night and when she needs to nap in the day. She was very excited with her Pooh cup (we going through a serious Winnie the Pooh and Friends stage in our house) and we made a huge affair of saying good bye to her bottles – a whole shopping bag full – and let her throw them in the bin herself. Last night, she refused to drink from Winnie the Pooh and cried a few sorrowful tears, but she was eventually happy to hold it and play with the teat as she fell asleep. At some point during the night, she and Winnie the Pooh (still full of milk) crept into bed with us and I heard her finally start to drink in the early hours of the morning. Again this morning, we made a fanfare about the bottles that were, and about the new fabulous Winnie the Pooh cup. I think she’s getting the drift. My plan is to eliminate Winnie from the day and bring him out just at night.. and by her birthday at the end of next month, I want her to be off a soft teat altogether. I want her to understand that last round is at 6h30pm and that’s it for the night baby! I can’t say that her one night bottle affects her sleep, because Hannah sleeps really well and even if she does get up for that bottle, it’s right next to her and she helps herself without disturbing the rest of us. BUT I do believe that taking the bottle away is a natural progression and she is ripe and ready for it now.
She still has her beloved dummies which I will not even attempt to take away from her; I know that battle will be a long and arduous one, but this particular bottle battle will be won… by me. Because I am the boss, and I say so (and also because I cannot bear to wash another bottle, and I need the space that the big bloody steriliser takes up on my kitchen counter).
Am I the only mom who feels like they work in a school cafeteria, churning out the same boring ‘ol meals, day in and day out? I guess the sad looks on my children’s faces when I say that it’s spaghetti bolognaise AGAIN, should have alerted me to the fact that they find my culinary skills slightly lacking. But the real knife in my back was when I found them feeding their food to the dog next door last week. I’m hoping that it was more the fun of feeding a dog (who LOVED my bolognaise let me tell you), than the excitement of getting rid of my food, that had them yelping in excitement. Regardless of this sad and shameful incident, I have decided that our menu does need some sprucing up.
I dislike the word menu, and I dislike having one, I prefer those days when I’d spontaneously decide on the day, what we’d be having for dinner, depending on what the hubby and I were WISHING for. Fast forward to two kids later – it just makes life easier when I plan our meals at least a day in advance so that I don’t waste time ooh-ing and aah-ing over what to cook and just get stuck into the pots as soon as I get home from work, so that I can feed my hungry family as quickly as possible, with as little effort as possible. Gone are the days of eating what you were “wishing” for, these days it’s more a case of eating whatever is quick to prepare with at least one nutritious ingredient… even if it is the one real tomato in the bolognaise sauce. Our meals seem to be very basic and boring: we have lots of pastas, we love chicken so we incorporate that into a lot of our meals, we have a curry at least once a week and we have a fry day.. on FRIDAY.. get it? 🙂 On the weekends, we usually eat out and if I am feeling particularly generous, I will make a full on Sunday lunch every now and again. I must also mention that I am slightly spoilt in that Zoleka will start my cooking for me, and I really just need to add the finishing touches, depending on what we are eating. Like she’ll braise the onions and meat if we’re having stew so that all I need to do is add some frozen veg and create a nice gravy. Or she’ll chop all my ingredients so that I can behave like a tv chef and just add everything into the pot. Or she’ll roast the chicken and potatoes and make a salad – it does make things easier. But still, I am so bored of chicken stew, bolognaise, roast chicken, steamed vegetables and the like, I want to create something more exciting for my family to enjoy. I am blessed in that they aren’t fussy eaters and will gratefully accept whatever I dish up for them, but I do think my kids have had enough bolognaise to put them off it for life.
So I have decided to add some flavour to our kitchen by making exotic dishes to wow the socks off my family. Ok there will be no wowing off of socks, but I would like to expose my kids to different tastes and textures, because I wouldn’t want them to think that food means chicken. Chicken nuggets in particular. There is so much more to life than CHICKEN. I don’t have the time or the patience (or the finesse) to make fancy little characters and Hello Kitty faces with bits of carrots for whiskers and olives for eyes and spaghetti for hair; I have no intention of being the next Big Cook, they can watch that stuff on Cbeebies, what I mean is making a variety of dishes with a variety of different ingredients. Like lasagne instead of mac and cheese, a chicken pie with thick crusty puffy pastry (served with a side salad to counteract the calories!) instead of grilled chicken strips, seafood stir fry instead of boxed fish, Spanish omelette instead of a fried egg. Do you know where I’m going with this? Taking the same boring meals we are used to, and jazzing them up somewhat.
Let me just say, that unless I am in the mood, I do not particularly enjoy cooking, I see it more as a means to an end. But I do love to eat – which is the end. So I am hoping that my desire to eat yummy things will inspire me to go forth with this plan to up my ratings on the kitchen front. Other than when Liam goes through a growth spurt where he demolishes everything we put in front of him, they NEVER EVER say they want some more. No one asks for seconds, surely that is an insult to the cook? I don’t want to overfeed my family, and I most certainly do not want them to think that eating until you feel the need to pop your top button is cool, because it isnt, but I just want someone to say to me, “Please sir (mam), can I have some more!” Surely that is the greatest compliment a chef can receive? So from tomorrow (because tonight we are having chicken curry, sigh) I will be putting my plan into action, I will be delighting my family with my culinary genius, I will be creating masterpieces in my kitchen, I.WILL.BE.STUFFING.BELLIES.WITH.GOOD.FOOD.
I am not even sure that it’s called a deep freezer. Some call it a chest freezer, others say it’s a deep-freeze. Whatever you want to call it, we just bought a 200 litre freezer thing-a-ma-bob and I love it!
To give you a bit of background… when we got married, the hubby promised me that one day, I too could get a double door stainless steel fridge like the one in the Defy TV advertisement, but seeing as we stayed in a tiny two bedroom flat at the time, I had to settle for a normal fridge with the three drawer freezer at the bottom. And this was fine for us. One whole drawer used to be dedicated to ice trays… that’s how little we used to freeze. My pre-baby memory is a bit rusty but I think we had a chicken and some burger patties and perhaps a packet or two of frozen vegetables in the other drawers and on occasion, a two litre vanilla ice cream. Oh, and of course those blue freezer blocks that you put in your cooler box when you go camping, because a freezer just wouldn’t be a freezer without the blue blocks, right. Then we had Liam and the freezer was still pretty empty, except for those few months when I attempted to freeze my breast milk in those fancy (and darn expensive) little Avent cups. I dedicated the whole top drawer to my precious breast milk and every time I opened that drawer it was as if a luminous light shone out at me, like when a kid opens a treasure chest in the movies, revealing the magic liquid that would nourish my child. Then I got over the whole breast is best mantra, and moved onto I’m-a-mother-of-two-and-I-do-what-is-easier-not-better. But this happened at about the same time that Liam started eating “real” food and Hannah started eating pureed food. So I needed more space for Hannah’s precious ice trays of specially pureed fresh fruit and vegetables, and for Liam’s chicken nuggets, smiley face frozen potatoes, fish fingers, frikadels (meat balls), and MORE frozen veggies. And it was around about this time that my whining for an additional freezer began. This was about a year ago.
Besides the kids’ nutritional needs that urged me to get a freezer, I also started to become very thrifty after I witnessed firsthand, the cost of having a family. I realized the value in buying half a sheep, as compared to three or four lamb chops at a time. Buying in bulk is just generally cheaper. The other bane of my existence has got to be buying bread and milk every three seconds. It annoys me no end to have to stop at a garage on my way home from work almost every day, when all I want to do is get home as quickly as possible to remove my high heels that I squished my already bunion infested toes into, ten hours prior (traffic time included). And every second day, poor Zoleka has to send me an sms, like clockwork, to please get bread and milk on my way home. Now with my fantabulous freezer, I can buy and freeze bread and milk to my heart’s content, and I already have. But of course JUST because I have bread and milk on hand for months, the kids have taken to eating more fruit and drinking more water in this summer heat, than eating bread or drinking milk. Anyway, I used all these and many lamer excuses to convince the Hubby that I needed a freezer, I even said I’d take it as my Christmas present, that’s how much I wanted it. But I swear if I don’t have a present under that Christmas tree, I will put the TV remote in my freezer.
I was sad to let him stand in the garage all on his own, alongside power tools and other useless junk that we seem to collect, but we don’t have space for a fly in the house. Yesterday I went out to buy many things that can be frozen, just because I can! And also, I figure it’s better to fill him up now while I can afford to, so that there is stock on hand when Jeopardy-January comes around and we’re scrounging around until pay day. He is beautiful and shiny and cool! He will store all sorts of yummy things that we didn’t have space for before, like ice lollies and frozen grapes for the kids (have you tried that?) and delicious rump steaks and lamb shanks for Mommy and Daddy. He’ll save me time by storing convenience foods for quick suppers like readymade frozen chips and Mama’s Pies. He will be a hero to the household – a friend to melting jelly and a shelter to frozen peas. He shall be called Dexter the Deep Freezer.
I love how cuddly and soft you are, with your delectable baby fat deposits behind your knees and the back of your neck…sooooo good for nuzzling!
I love how you pat my back rhythmically when I am putting you to sleep – which technically means you put ME to sleep, but that’s ok.
I love how you love to eat! Anything and everything! The minute the fridge door opens, you mosey on over with your mouth open and you say “hummmm” to indicate that you’d like some. So when you don’t eat, I know that you are feeling out of sorts.
I love how you smell. Even when you’re dirty from playing in the sand, and rolling in the grass, and even when you have a stinky diaper, you still smell amazingly and wonderfully delicious. How do you do that?
I love how you wonder around the house alone. And when I come and find you, you’ll be looking out the window at the traffic passing by, with your chin resting on the window ledge. Or you’ll be in your brother’s shoe cupboard, trying to put his shoes on. Sometimes I find you in the bathroom, wrapped in toilet paper and I want to smack your bottom because 2 ply toilet paper is expensive, but you look so cute, that I can’t help but laugh.
Mommy’s Big Boy, Liam
I love how smart you are! I know every mom thinks their kid is smart.. but really boy, you are SOOOOO smart. You know your colours, even the hard ones like silver and grey. You know the days of the week and the alphabet, and you can identify letters like T for Tommy Tall and M for Magic Melon and C for Curly Clown.
I love how I am your favourite – even when I shout and give you a smack – I’m still your favourite! And I love how you tell Dad that Mama is your best BEst BEST, and Dad is just your best.
I love how you want me to tell you the same story over and over again and you always laugh like it’s the first time you’ve heard it. Ok, I must admit that sometimes this endearing quality does annoy me, because it’s the same old story of Ellie the Elephant who wants a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk which I made up months ago to keep you quiet. And if I forget one line of MY story, which I made up, you make a point of correcting ME, the author of the story.
I love how you correct us when we make mistakes. If Dad and I are having a tiff, you remind us to TALK NICELY to each other. If we don’t say please and thank you and bless you, you reprimand us immediately. If we don’t say our prayers and kiss good night, you make sure that we do. You tell Hannah not to pick her nose, or eat from the floor and quite recently, not to pee in her diaper (it has been difficult to explain to you that while Hannah CAN wee and poo in her diaper because she is still a baby, you are now a big boy and you need to go potty).
I love how you remember people and places, and how you place value on people, even complete strangers. You always smile and say HELLO or HI and you ask how they are. You remember all your aunties and uncles names – even the hard ones like aunty Adele, who you call aunty Tinkerbell. And when you haven’t seen a particular person for a long time, you ask me where and how they are.
You two are the best BEst BESTEST! I love you forever, I love you for always, as long as I’m living, my babies you’ll be.