Leaf Fall

Yes it certainly is Autumnal. The mornings are dark and it is as dark as Remus’s inky black spots when the children march up the stairs at bedtime . The house has a partial view, out on to woodland. There is even a spill over into the bottom of the garden. One of these trees is a very old oak tree. It is very large, so I guess it is really quite ancient. It’s leaves turn an amazing burnt orange in early to mid September. It really is quite beautiful. It’s leaves have all shed at this point. All of the other trees are just starting their preparations for leaf fall. The vast pallet of greens are yellowing slowly, a few hints of orange, but none look as magnificent as the oak tree at the bottom of the garden…

Just a quickie

Just before the not so famous five marched up to bed I had an altercation with Aaliyah. In recent times, since we arrived home from our summer in Provence, she has become so close to Remus and Gracie our two Dalmatians. I guess she actually missed them an awful lot! A friend of the family Jo came in thrice daily to run, walk, water and love them, so they did not have to go to kennels. Aaliyah did not see them as anything but troublesome before the holiday. Since our return home she only has love for them, insisting on hugging Gracie and Remus as much as she can. Of course, Gracie and Remus love the attention very much and they lick and lick lots. No more kissing we always insist. But Aaliyah and Gracie are the best of friends. I do love nick names and each of our five children have their own ‘baby names’… as do Remus and Gracie.

When Tara and Amritsar were just one year old we had a brilliant au pair in London called Essie. And back then she  lovingly referred to Remus as Remo (something I picked up on) and I often call Gracie ‘Grace Grace’ as I do with ‘Thor Thor’ (it’s a Thai thing)!

Anyhow – the story is that I referred to Remus and Gracie as ‘Remo and Grace Grace’ and Alliyah was not happy. ‘Their names are Remus and Gracie Dadda’ she shouted and started to get very upset. ‘We all have baby names’  don’t we Bee Bee I insisted. She thought for a moment and said ‘Yes we do Andi’ (Thinking Andi was my baby name) and she giggled. Dadda had to smile.


Monday and Tuesday

Firstly I want to roundup my days of the week and their meanings. I completely forgot yesterday as I was so in awe of the fried torn potatoes and a big thumbs up for the deep fat fryer (sorry all). When I do fry, which is no more than once a week, I usually end up patting the excess oil off with countless pieces of kitchen towel. Using the fryer allowed me to drain and shake a few times. I tipped out on to kitchen towel and absolutely no excess oil. There is kitchen science at work here that I won’t go in to, but food absorbs less oil when immersed in very hot fat opposed to cooking in a method such as sauté! Well, back to finishing my summing up of the names of the origins of the days of the week and you probably have figured it out already! Yes, Monday is the day of the Moon, another commodity of time in our lives. Not only do we enjoy it every twenty eight days but we also have a constant reminder of it at the beginning of each and every week. And so now we come to Tuesday, so named after the Nordic god Tiw (also known as Tyr), so Tiwes daag in old English became Tuesday in modern English. Tiw is a pretty cool God and is in fact a brother of Thor and son of Odin.

I am now sat in the kitchen with a full sink of grapes immersed in water. There were a few mouldy bunches that I splatted on the terrace floor, but I think I just about caught them before the last of the crop was doomed. As I said earlier, I will juice tomorrow. The immersion in water is obviously to clean them but also it gets rid of the earwigs who love to make their homes inside these sweet, seeded vine fruits.

My thoughts have returned to the little ones nap time earlier today. Their midday sleep is almost at an end and today is proof of that. Once Sindy went on her lunch, they didn’t settle. I went up three times in the first hour to try and corral them to their beds, but they weren’t having it. On the third visit, I thought it strange that Caleb was holding his duvet completely covering himself. On closer inspection, duvet lowered, he was wearing one of Tara’s out- grown red and white polka dot dresses… it’s not the first time we have caught him in a dress, I think it has something to do with his admiration of big sister Tara (who looks out for him with much care and tenderness) I’m sure he’ll grow out of it. Though it is a worry…

The Grape Harvest

With the two days of constant rain and drizzle now behind us, I am today harvesting the last twenty percent of our ‘Concord’ grape vine. This has been a bumper year due to the phenomenal amount of sunshine and heat. On the other hand, the Apple harvest from the trees in the kitchen garden was appalling. I want to simply juice the remainder of the grapes and then I am planning to freeze it for jamming at another time. If the provisions cupboard could talk, it would say ‘not another Grape Jelly, i’m so full up’!

I have just made the little ones lunch consisting of chunky bread, cheese and Branston pickle and a chilled glass, rather plastic beaker of black current juice. Sindy is on the pickup from preschool and it’s a quarter to midday. Car pulling up so I will get back to this blog in twenty minutes… well twenty minutes have passed and the little ones are settled in their adjoining rooms at the top of the house, our nanny has just exited and gone home for her lunch break. I’m smiling, remembering Thor pulling away his chair from the table leaving it a metre or so behind him, in preference to standing whilst eating his lunch. I took a couple of photos as it seemed quite funny at the time. I was told by Sindy that he had been a bit naughty at preschool and was made to sit on their ‘Thinking Chair’. Probably the reason he wanted to stand. Well with all the theatricals he wasn’t doing much eating. Talking mostly or posing for his photos. Well Aaliyah and Caleb has finished by this time and Thor was making a joke of something. He spun around and his black current drink splashed all over his sandwich. Thor didn’t seem too bothered, he told us that he didn’t want to eat it anyway. He’s funny with cheese, he likes it one day and hates it the next. But he nearly always eats it with pickle, nearly always…

Off to harvest those grapes now. But I will leave the juicing until tomorrow. And maybe I’ll reminisce on last years ‘Grape Harvest’ them.

All sleeping and a ‘Mock Roasty’ for Daddy and Dadda

Well all the children were a bit sleepy at dinner time. But all finished their lasagne as one house rule is that if you leave good food on your plate there’s no room for dessert. And today whilst Sindy went to pick the girls up from school, the little ones and I made jam tarts using my homemade preserves. Thor filled the raspberry jam ones, Caleb filled the black cherry jam ones and Aaliyah filled the pineapple jam tarts. A great contrast of colour, dark purple, red and yellow. Everyone enjoyed!

The three little ones had a shower tonight and the girls will do tomorrow’s hose down. We forgo showers on Saturdays and everyone baths on a Sunday. Then through the week the girls and the little ones take turns on a nightly cycle. All is quiet now and Sindy has gone home. The dogs are quiet on the sofa as they are on weekdays from 5.30pm until 7pm when John arrives home.

A roast dinner is usually the Sunday finale of the week but my assertion on cooking Indian last night and John loving his roast, I have decided to do a ‘Mock Roast’ tonight. Roast pork in home made pork gravy with steamed/sautéed Savoy cabbage and deep fried ‘torn potatoes’.

I think you get the gist that I love my chest freezer as cooking and portioning in bulk makes big meals easy. The sizeable piece of pork – leftovers from the last roast leg of pork meal was defrosted this morning with a freezer bag containing the pork jus (gravy) made with old fashioned Bisto gravy thickener and all the meat juices that the joint submitted. The cold meat is easily sliced thinly or thickly, whichever is your preference and then after whisking the gravy with a little water to become a velvety smooth texture you can add the sliced meat. Simmer on low heat for maybe an hour, but keep an eye on it.

Savoy cabbage shredded with the omission of the hard veiny bit and place in a frying pan with a good spoonful of butter and a little water, salt and pepper. Place on the lid and steam first for maybe 10 minutes stirring occasionally. When the water has evaporated and the leaf is tender – but still with a slight bite, you’re there – just sauté for a few additional minutes. Now ‘Torn Potatoes’ you may ask! Just microwave Maris Pipers or King Edwards (in their skins) for however long they take to cook and leave to cool a little. Remove the skins and cup both of your hands around then apply slight pressure towards the sides and slowly push until the potato breaks into two halves (practice makes perfect). Then break each half into two or three wedges lengthwise. And there you have it – torn potatoes. You can shallow fry and turn after the down side is Golden brown – but if you dare to deep fry, go for it! After a lifetime of caution on deep fat frying – I remember my fathers dependency on it, we only deep fry or sauté maybe twice a week st very most, ((John and I). I just purchased my first ever deep fat fryer and am using it for the first time ever tonight. The multiple ridges of the torn cooked potatoes give a much larger surface area so cooked at a high temperature – these are the best ever potatoes you are ever likely to eat.

Well time to eat. Still quiet upstairs and John and the hounds are perched on the opposite sofa. I am pretty hungry now! So Bon Appetite…

Just back from School

The girls are just in and have changed out of their uniforms. Sindy had just lead all five upstairs to sort out their beds. There was also a mass emptying of their draws last night that they were supposed to clear up after school but Sindy decided to clear up that mess earlier today as even Tara and Amritsar would not have tidied up the clothing with any sense of order. Each and every one of them has amassed a collection of soft toys, books, plastic toys and bits in their beds! There has to be a culling every now and then as all this stuff – enveloped within their bedding must make it awkward to sleep. I think the outcome will be just two soft toys and a book each. Thor tends to be the worst hoarder as he likes to covet things, even scraps of paper and tissue. There’s no hope I despair.

This morning went smoothly. I won’t do a repeat on the average weekday breakfast but they were all out on the school run just after eight o’clock as the preschool starts at eight thirty. It’s just so quiet after they leave, so unlike the the early days when we had five children of three and under. I had to smile when you would hear a comment from a mum stressed out about having three under fives. At this time even the dogs settle for two hours, that is unless there is a car driving past along the driveway. Dalmatians, or at least ours start wining or barking at the slightest sound. I turn on the television to mask some of the external sounds, either the news, music TV or if I’m a bit annoyed with them I leave on children’s television. Both dogs are in the habit of following me from room to room. I used to refer to them as ‘The Shadows’ as I seem to have two of them. Even now I have just left the children with Sindy in the living room to finish writing this as Tara, Caleb and Thor were starting to climb all over me. But yes, I am now in the kitchen and low and behold! Remus and Gracie are standing here staring right up at me. In the past they ignored a few commands so there is a generic one now for ‘settle down’ or ‘go away’ and that is simply ‘on your bed’ said with a certain strength of voice. On hearing this they will generally go back to the living room and get onto the sofa. I have to smile.

Just serving up dinner – home made lasagna made with three hour slow cooked minced pork with masses of garlic. More from me later.

A few comments from our son Thor and something about the Sun and our Sunday

Yes it’s late now and to be honest I’m pretty shattered after a very long day of the onslaught. I certainly don’t want to sugar coat this blog – it is an uphill struggle a lot of the time and today much like many Sundays started with the screams of the little ones and indeed finished with the screams of the little ones.

John passed on a conversation he had with Thor today and this I will share with you!

Thor, have you been playing with my wallet, where are my credit cards? Daddy, I put them away, safe from the little ones! Thor, you are one of the little ones. Daddy, I am big now. So Thor, where did you put them? Daddy, I can’t remember, but they are safe.

Yes Thor has his little ways and we love him all the more for it. Our son certainly entertains us.and the Sun, you know where I’m going – Sunday is clearly named after the Sun.

I cooked an Indian dinner tonight for john and I! Did I tell you I love to cook international cuisine? I got quite good at the flavours of the sub continent when I lived there for eight months. The curry sauce is at the heart of the meal and of course the marinade. I always make the gravy (curry sauce) in bulk and freeze in useable portions. The same is to be said for both ‘channa’ (chickpea curry) and Dal (Yellow lentil curry). I make a very mean chapati (flat bread). Very thin and light, but to be honest paratha is our preference and honestly, you wouldn’t bother to make from scratch as to buy in frozen, pre rolled dough makes so much sense. One defrosted channa made light work and the other defrosted gravy (curry sauce) halved, made a mutter (pea) curry and large red prawns made the other. The real taste of India, very unlike the usual Indian eateries here in the U.K. that fill their standard menu of sauces with vegetable oil to ‘bulk then out’. I actually stopped ordering in Indian food a few years ago as I was sick of being up half the night with indignation.

it is the reaction of the oil with the spice that creates indigestion, not the spice alone, so just omit the vegetable oil.

Knowing the entire meal was made with two teaspoons of oil – duh! Rest assured, healthy and so much tastier too.

Thinking about bed now – so that’s all folks!