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!

Almost forgot

I believe it was the Romans’ that gave us a seven day week! Hence the conquered heathens gods were incorporated as well as something of their own. Saturday is indeed in homage to the Roman God And planet Saturn.

Yes of course you could all just google this information – but as our son has his very own day – I thought it would just be a bit of fun. Just had to do a potty run as Thor just left a little bolt of thunder and one needs to be quick as Gracie was sniffing around the said potty – naughty Gracie!!!

The weekend so far in single words

06.00 sleeping 06.02 open door invasion bed jumping screaming me escape coffee followed breakfast juice bagels Bedlam settled dogs wining TV talk party spaghetti bolognese screaming drawing Tara Amritsar Daddy party me home little ones dogs feed Caleb scream naughty chair scream bed peace Thor Aaliyah treats chocolate grapes milkshakes me pear peach jam make milk shake Caleb up draw dinner home girls daddy balloons lots pop sweets balloon pop Thor scream balloon pop dogs wining sun set neighbours mowing lawn crazy!!! Bedtime soon everyone running ‘hey google’ (lol) music ‘shake baby shake’ Lush dancing crazy balloons dancing laughing screaming Thor balloon pop laughing laughing screaming Thor flower smiles ‘shake baby shake, again…

Almost bedtime – Phew

Goodnight hugs

Well to my surprise I was informed on my arrival home that our babysitter Nikki was coming tonight! Due to the three nights in Devon next weekend, it seems that her night was brought a week forward to tonight!

Lots of hugs today. Firstly on my arrival home and secondly just before bedtime. I do miss each and every one of them when we are apart, but I do realise that some ‘me’ time is necessary. The contents of the fridge were looking rather slim, so I decided to warm some baguettes from the freezer and fry as much bacon as I could lay my hands on. A huge smearing of Heinz tomato ketchup and we had lift off. Five full tummies and thirty minutes of children’s BBC and they all followed Sindy upstairs for showers and bed.

Johns arrival coincided with Nikki’s. I had been pre warned about it but with nothing booked we thought we would try a local gastro pub and were rewarded with a table, a meal of lamb shanks and a rather nice French Chardonnay. An unexpected night out and for that I am grateful. I am also very thankful for having a TV that works tonight. John just informed me that he eventually found the remote control last night (after 36 hours without) at 10pm at the bottom of the log basket. The usual suspect Thor, post interrogation broke and pointed at Caleb, though the remote was nowhere to be seen. John in his wisdom, later decided to forensically search a few of Caleb’s known hiding places and voila! There it was, hiding in the bottom corner of the basket.

Roll on the weekend… Goodnight