The Sudocrem Incident

So, the big question is, did the peace of earlier last? We are nearing the end of the day and an amnesty has just been granted to the little ones regarding earlier behaviour! I needed to print something from the P.C. In the bedroom. I can’t have been gone for more that ten minutes. But I was recalled to the living room firstly by Amritsar and then a slightly more frantic Tara. ‘The little ones have the sudocrem’ Tara asserted, ‘you must come back down quickly’. I dropped what I was doing and bolted down the stairs with haste. On entering the living room I spied a naked Caleb, his bottom and back smeared with sudocrem (an oily cream used for nappy rash). There had been a half hearted attempt to clean up the mess as baby wipes were scattered aplenty. But there was a good amount of incriminating sudocrem over Thor’s hands, the floor, their large cushion in front of the television, plus smears over chairs and tables alike. Caleb was immediately placed on ‘the thinking chair’, swiftly followed by Thor. Aaliyah looked as guilty as sin. Tara piped up, ‘it was her, it was her that gave Thor the sudocrem’. As the ignition of such an event, she was immediately expelled to her bed. All three were screaming and the girls continued to tell them that they were so, so naughty. To be honest, I had to walk into the hall to catch my breath. Mrs Snodgrass’s Naughty School was mentioned more than once and all three pleaded ‘no Dadda, please – not Mrs Snodgrass’. The boys remained on the chairs for thirty minutes and Aaliyah was finally asked to rejoin them before I explained that they have until bedtime to prove that they can be good. Well almost bedtime now, a few ups and downs, but overall they have made amends. So I am happy that our nanny Sindy is in tomorrow to ask them if they had been good on her day off. We’ll see what they say shall we?

Self Managment

Coming in from the garden earlier, I had quite a surprise! The children were actually managing themselves. Google was playing them an age appropriate song and Thor was stood over her poised to silence her. The dancing came to a stop and they all stood still and giggled. Thor ‘MC’ started up the music once more and they all started dancing and jumping again. Musical statues with no adult intervention. They are growing up so fast – what a cliche!

Caleb ripped off his nappy earlier, thinking that I wouldn’t notice. But Aaliyah shouted ‘Dadda, Dadda, Caleb took his nappy off’, one of them always reports on the other if they are being naughty.

No Sindy today and so far, no major dramas. We are all at the table doing drawing and stencilling at present. Thor is drawing treasure chests and Aaliyah is screaming for more paper. Amritsar is now screaming at Aaliyah for drawing on her book. I spoke too soon didn’t I?

Moon Bathing

I believe that tomorrow night is the full moon at its peak for this month. However given the cloudless skies in the Shires this evening, I have just spent the last twenty minutes, taking the time to admire its evocative glare. Here in the crystal clarity of the countryside, with the lack of artificial light, the garden is illuminated with a frenzy of sparkles, that is dreamlike in its lustre. The woodland beyond has taken on a magical, almost fairylike feel. Okay, I’ve finished my cigarette now and I am heading back inside for a glass of white wine.

John was home a bit late, we enjoyed yet another Indian meal and the children enjoyed toad in the hole – ‘why is it not called sausage in the hole’ Tara remarked! And dessert was apple strudel with double cream. This they have asserted, would be acceptable every night of the week. Hmmmm – we’ll see about that!

Everyone happy here, as I hope you out there are. But if you are not entrapped by the glare of the city, spend a minute out there and moon bathe for a few moments. It can be very contemplative.

Birthday Boy

Sorry for my absence of four days. No major disturbances or an awful lot to shout about really. Though that being said, we (John and I) went out in London on Friday night – a surprise meal to celebrate my birthday, that is in fact today. We grabbed the number 9 bus and headed for the Aldwych. By the time we stopped on the Strand, I guessed that it had to be ‘The Savoy’ we were dining at. So, thank you John for the special treat, the food was great. We didn’t celebrate Valentines Day on Valentine’s Day! Shame on us for not. But we chose to celebrate it last night with a seafood feast. Please note the picture above. Tara practiced a new word and insisted on me videoing it ‘Langoustines’, she got there in the end. Please note the video below! I am now looking forward to Birthday cake. It’s a hard life. And thank you to anyone who Facebooked me their birthday wishes. I promise to be back tomorrow with another diary update.

The Boys New Haircuts

Now, don’t they look smart? Thor is loving his more manly look and Caleb doesn’t seem too bothered about loosing some of the length at the back. It seemed a shame to cut too much off from his curly locks, but some day I think we will just have to bite the bullet, as I think he still regards himself as a girl. This last week or so he has both been referring to himself as a ‘she’ and asserting how much he likes the colour pink. Thor was telling the teachers at preschool that he likes dressing up as a girl and wearing Tara’s nickers. This might just be the reason that he is continually shedding his nappy, with or without poo inside. This transgression might happen when they are up on their floor without an adult present, but it certainly does not bode well with John or myself downstairs. It’s difficult to know what to think. But thanks to Thor, all of the women at preschool are now well aware of the situation. Maybe those golden, curly locks, days are numbered…

What’s on the Menu Then?

Now if you are a regular indulger in my diary, this will be just a recap. But if you have recently found ‘Diary of a Gay Dad’, then I have this to say! ‘Man can not live by bread alone’ and ‘let them eat cake’! Well, not really as I don’t bake that many cakes, just birthday ones and the occasional collaboration with the children making cupcakes (and very occasionally with chocolate). Let us create a positive spin on ‘Man can not live by bread alone’, of course I should have quoted the politically correct saying of ‘WE can not live by bread alone’.

Okay, I love to cook and I always cook in batches, I freeze two thirds of what I prepare in two separate containers and eat the other third on the day that it is produced. So many dishes lend themselves to the ‘table d’hote’ idea (go on, google it). You probably make some of these yourself at home. Bolognese sauce, cooked for at least two hours is a must and easily transformes into a chilli con carne with the addition of red kidney beans and some chilli sauce (I use the Sriracha one from Thailand). If you use Dolmio sauce, the one with extra garlic is acceptable. But do try and make your sauce from scratch, it’s just too simple (try to find the time, it is also a lot cheaper). You might also remember that I only cook with basmati rice (and I only make it in the microwave).

For me, Puttanesca is the royalty of Italian sauces. My personal favorite. The other pasta sauces we eat regularly are home made carbonara (ham, mushroom, Parmesan, garlic, double cream and seasoning), all thinly sliced, or the other option is using smoked salmon instead of ham.  This is one of the most amazing pasta dishes you will ever enjoy. I am presuming you like smoked salmon, that is. You don’t need a lot of salmon, but like carbonara, watch you don’t dry out the sauce once you add it to the cooked pasta! Use a little full fat milk (not cream) to thin it down slightly if you are a little wary of overindulgence.

These things don’t take up a lot of your time. That is with regards physical work. And regarding the length of time to cook a basic bolognaise made with minced beef, just simmer the sauce on the lowest heat, with the lid on and try not to leave the house (lol)! The other option available is to use minced pork. Perfectly cooked within thirty minutes. The final Italian essentials in this house are those meatballs that I make again and again. I have several recipes for them at this point. Don’t buy those factory made pellets from the supermarket, put in some real ingredients and say to people ‘I made this’! With  cooking the sauce yourself, there comes a certain pride. These dishes are very basic, easily made and enjoyed by both the children and us adults alike.

John really loves his meat and two veg, being Irish and all, so there is always a roast dinner on the menu every week, usually on a Sunday with us all participating. Just one tip for the roast potatoes and that is the meat juices and some of the fat. Just make sure you smash the potatoes about a bit for a lighter, fluffier result. It’s only once a week, so indulge yourself.

There is always an Indian meal in our average week. Both for us grown ups and for the children. There are so many recipes I could talk about, but the main advice is to make what you like but cook out those spices long enough to turn the strength of them into pure sweetness, whichever spice combo you use. Don’t forget the holy trinity (fresh garlic, ginger and chilli). Tomato and onions will sweeten your sauce to perfection.

Other Asian based flavors served up on a more or less weekly basis are those from Thailand and China. I love these sweet and sour flavor combinations. I pretty much get creative with Thai food. And as for Chinese food, I backward engineer from those at the Chinese takeaway. I really have to take a deeper look at Vietnamese cuisine. Note to one self!

Lastly, we all deserve moments of elevation. And I love to cook with fish and shellfish. Most weeks I throw together something that both John and I will enjoy as a real treat. Lobster Thermidor or ‘Coquille Saint Jaques Mornay’ sound a little bit too fancy, even the French word ‘mornay’ (with cheese) kind of makes it sound extremely complex. But take a fresh look at these French classics. Just dress a good cheese sauce over your cooked fish or shellfish and voila! It just sounds too simple doesn’t it! Use a whisk whilst making your sauce to avoid lumps and use plenty of mature cheddar cheese, plus a teaspoon of English mustard (I wouldn’t bother using gruyere). Plenty of mature cheddar, both in the sauce and on the top before you blitz in the oven for twenty five minutes. Serve with oven French fries or home made chips. I love to scrape off the dark, crystalised bit around the edge of the dish – wow, so tasty! You can always substitute good quality prawns if Lobster meat or scallops are not available. A small tip – Canadian lobster is always available before Christmas at just six pounds each. I always stock up the freezer when the going is good. Another small tip – whatever your thoughts about shopping at Iceland supermarket. Their frozen fish is definitely worth the trip. The Argentinian red prawn and scallops are certainly worthy… Oh! And invest in a few ‘Au Gratin’ dishes if you want to serve up something that looks like you ordered it in a quality restaurant.

Of course the children eat what just the children eat as well. But this entry in my blog couldn’t possibly showcase baked beans and a jacket potato with grated cheese on top, surely not! Albeit a very tasty, nutritious and cost effective meal!

As I am our family chef, my daily updates will continue to enlighten you regarding what’s on the menu, but please allow me to advise, if it sounds tasty reading about it on this blog, maybe give it a go at home yourself… Bon appetite

Love It or Hate It

I have harked on about food again and again. And do you know what? Eating is a pleasure, not a chore! I firmly believe that allowing children to be picky and awkward at the dinner table is denying that child the true right to choose from life’s bounty of flavours and variety in later life. There are those out there with young children who take the easy option. It is hard not to, I know we lead busy lives and it’s just easier to let little ‘Freddy’ or ‘Freya’ refuse to eat certain items. Our children have all done it with various food stuffs. Cheese, peas, mushrooms, tomatoes have all been refused at some point or another. But I stick to my guns. They have to at least try it and swallow. They have been exposed to pretty much all foods from an early age. Olives are a family favourite, liked as much as the occasional packet of crisps. They just go through cycles of like and dislike. Thor is the worst from our bunch. He loves cheese, he hates cheese. The same can be said with his relationship with ham, even sliced chicken or pate. But as strong as his opposition, he finally voices his love of that item. At present he loves cheese and often tells me ‘I love cheddar Dadda’, but last month he would refuse to eat a cheese sandwich, even with branston pickle. Funny boy is Thor.

I am going to have a think and later today write down exactly what we do eat as a family. Also what John and I enjoy eating. I have mentioned a number of things that we eat on a regular basis. They’ll be at the top of the list for sure.