Sunday Morning

Lou Reid and the Velvet Underground, great track… though I’m sure that his Sunday mornings were never quite the same as mine tend to be!

At present Daddy and Amritsar are engaged in a game of chess on the living room coffee table. Aaliyah is trying to line up dominoes on the bellows for the fire, in an attempt to achieve what Tara has just done! Make them all topple in sequence. Remus is standing besides her, looking on in wonderment! She’s getting agitated now! I have just asked Thor for the tenth time to put a pair of underpants on! He is still refusing. Aaliyah has lost her temper, now screaming, she has flung every domino to the four winds.

Finally Thor is heading upstairs to find some underpants in the draw, Aaliyah now running up behind him screaming.

Gracie is snuggled beside me and Remus now stands at the bay window, eyes closed, pointing his nose into the warm sunlight that is beaming through.

Caleb gets up from the large cushion in front of the television. The one that used to be the dog bed. The dogs never used it however, favouring the comfort of the sofas! He heads upstairs also.

Aaliyah has returned with two of her toy dogs and has snuggled up with Gracie. Thor returns with his underpants and joins Tara, now sat at the television, watching Mr Bean.

The sound of a chainsaw outside! A neighbour is having their overgrown eucalyptus tree trimmed. The chess game over now! Amritsar has won. But did Daddy allow this to happen? She is good mind you, but she shouldn’t let it go to her head now, should she?

When Words and Pictures are Not Enough

A thought came to me this morning after yesterday’s blog, in which I remembered a moment in time. A moment that was part of the story of ‘Eighteen Moons’.

Like the smell and taste of food that transports you back to a place and a time, sound can fill you with a memory also.

Today’s blog is just about that! Sound in the guise of melody.

I had a voice recording app on my phone whilst living in Mumbai, Bangkok and Kathmandu. And these three recordings have this morning, transported me back to these three great city’s.

The first I believe were Hindi Vedic’s blessing the apartment next door to where I was living at that time.

The second melody was a Thai group of musicians with beautiful lady dancers.

And the final melody I recorded in a small restaurant / bar in the area Lazimpat where I lived in Nepal.

A Day or Two Off!

Just a pictorial blog tonight and again, very few words. No real ups and no real downs thus far this week! I did want to mention a few days off however from blogging, Tweeting and Instagram no doubt. I will certainly be back at the weekend with a fun family update. Wishing you all well and hoping happiness finds you in whatever guise that it takes! Be well my friends.

Some Pics of the children as toddlers. And yes, only Caleb is in colour!

Amritsar in the window

Aaliyah eating spaghetti

Tara eating her foot

Caleb sat next to Aaliyah eating spaghetti

Amritsar has such a happy smile

Finger in the mouth, oh Aaliyah

A very smiley Tara

And finally a boy on a mission in Wexford Ireland

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Nitty Nitty Nit Nits, Yep All Gone

Welcome back to the ups and downs of family life. The children back at school now for 2 weeks and guess what Aaliyah, with the longer hair brought back from school with her? You may have guessed what with tonight’s title!

It really upsets me that with our longer than 3 months indoors and other families from the children’s school, locked down nearly as long, how on earth do parents allow nits to linger, untreated for such an extremely long period of time! The offenders house must be completely infested after such a long time! And then to send their children back to infest the whole dratted school!!! It beggars belief really.

Well Aaliyah is now free of the unwanted visitors. I really hope the offending family at school get their act together! Or this will just drag on and on and on!

Anyhow, I did a small video around a year ago for Instagram before I deleted my account. I still have the video in my library however. Maybe I should reload it to my new Instagram account! Well, here it is. I will, like Caleb’s small video a few days ago, record the ‘moment’ 4 times, just for that Instagram effect! Lol

Happy Father’s Day to all You Dad’s Out There

Today I would like to wish all Dad’s a happy Father’s Day.

It is late in the day here in ‘The Shires’ and we are just about to sit down as a family and enjoy a roast leg of lamb in celebration. Accompanied of course by roast potatoes, glazed carrots and petit pois.

Bike riding on the driveway again and Aaliyah pipes up that she would like to start riding a bicycle without stabilisers! Good for her!

Another grey and cloudy day today, though we have had some sunny spells. I believe our 2 week spell of rain is at an end and we should be enjoying super sunny days again tomorrow onwards, with temperatures up to 30 degrees centigrade! Summer has arrived!

Aaliyah has just grabbed Amritsar’s old blue bike from the entrance hall and is wheeling it into the garden to try to cycle on the grass. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! No screaming as yet. Daddy is just making his way to the door as she is now arguing with Amritsar!

Better go wrestle our dinner to the plate!

Thor and Caleb running around with their arms in the air, screaming rather loudly.

Happy days hey, today, tomorrow and into the future. Fingers crossed!

I did get to thinking about when John and I became father’s, so here are a couple of images from that time in India. These are all from Goa except the one of me in a rickshaw. That was definitely Mumbai!

Am I All About Food or Family?

Just looking back the last week of my blog and it looks as if it is all about food, food, food! Okay, I am going to remedy this and put these Instagram pictures on my blog also! So here we go! No explanations, just raw, happy memories…

Oh do excuse the final 3 seconds of video, it kind of works on Instagram with the repetitive playing of a clip! I had to smile.

And because of that I just strung 4 of the video’s together, just to give you a flavour. However, I think you have to walk away from it after 4 plays!!! Haha…

Don’t judge me please! 😉

Happy Summer Solstice

Today, 20th June marks the first day of astronomical summer. Happy Summer Solstice everybody!

Mid to late afternoon here in ‘The Shires’ and thinking about dinner for the children. A home made fish pie for Daddy and Dadda’s dinner.

Remus is opposite me chilling. Gracie is lying with Aaliyah. Caleb looks on as Daddy and Amritsar play a game of chess. Tara and Thor are watching a cartoon on the television intently.

Amritsar is in jubilation as she has just taken daddy’s knight. She has both of them at this point. She’s getting quite good at chess!

I have been tinkering away on my phone for the last couple of hours with instagram. I’m really remembering why I stopped Instagram the last time, as it takes up so much of your time! I know that this is the years longest day and all, but where did the afternoon go?

www.instagram.com/mybigcrazyfamilylife

Daddy has just conceded to Amritsar, his 7 year old daughter. She’s good!

Everyone milling about now as we’re about to go out front and ride our bikes! Maybe not Thor however as he is now running about in just his underwear! I guess I’ll have to sit in with him! Never mind.

Ready for the Weekend

But first a roundup of the week! All started well enough. Thor and Aaliyah are happy to be back at school, though Thor has taken a few steps backwards regarding his focus and general learning. Aaliyah seems to be flourishing. Caleb joined them on Wednesday as his plaster cast was finally removed on Tuesday. I am so very glad all is now well with him! Two broken arms in one year. Mind you his auntie reminded me that her son had a total of nine breaks throughout his childhood. He was certainly a little ballistic, just as Caleb is, so I’d better get into the mindset of dealing with life’s ups and downs as they happen!

Lots of cooking as ever, I’m sure you’ve seen my earlier blog. Favourite dish has to be the long denied ‘doner kebab’, recipe to follow. Lots of jam making too! Though the recipes for these I have earlier covered!

Tara and Amritsar’s home schooling is going just fine. We made a family tree today that went back from them, all the way back to my mother ‘Gramdma Jean’ and John’s mother ‘Granny Hazel’ (haha Mr Chiddicks). John just through the door with the three little ones, all full of smiles. It seems that Aaliyah and Caleb worked extremely hard today and received certificates. Thor in the other hand worked through one of his break times due to messing around and not applying himself. Naughty Thor. Aaliyah now playing with the dogs.

All the children excited now as my reply to ‘what are we having for dinner’ was ‘PIZZA’! It’s been quite a while. Mind you last time was homemade and today is shop brought!

Aaliyah is trying on a new tee shirt and yellow bloomers that arrived in the post today, she’s all smiles. I am reminded of my slightly ‘hippy look’ when I lived in Bangkok. I really must find out some of those photos and publish them for you to see! I have to smile.

Okay Wednesdays Donor Kebab recipe…

500g or 1lb minced lamb was placed in the food processor along with 2 x teaspoons crushed garlic, 2 x teaspoons cumin, 2 x teaspoons coriander, 2 x teaspoons paprika, salt and pepper.

Blitz in the food processor and place in a small to medium loaf tin. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes on around 160 centigrade. A moderate oven.

Meanwhile slice a 1/4 white cabbage as thinly as humanly possible. Set to one side. Slice some cucumber and tomato. Also finely slice half an onion. Big chunks don’t really work, slice very thinly!!!

Now, you will need a couple of condiments, a jar of pickled green chillis, a squeezy bottle of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and a chilly sauce of choice! We love the Thai Sriracha in this house.

As for pitta breads, purchase the super large ones or as I did, 2 regular smallish ones each. Now, toast on a skillet / frying pan lightly and slice alone one of the long ends. Or microwave for 40 seconds turning half way.

Your neat should be drained and left to sit for a few minutes. That fragrant aroma will immediately take you back to your last doner kebab infidelity! Slice your meat and fill your kebab with all the listed ingredients. Enjoy, but you’re gonna get dirty so don’t forget plenty of kitchen roll.

The Doner Kebab

It’s that shameful acknowledgement of ‘A good night out with your mates’, isn’t it? Mostly consumed by the 20 somethings that revel in the entertainments of indulgence!

Now, mostly I’m a stay at home dad. But I do remember this food in my youth and also my later, crazy meet-ups with old friends from childhood!

Turkish kebab shops seem to have always been there for the late night revellers, always a little bit tipsy and also the ones who have completely forgotten their indulgence (the next day) of that very naughty / dirty food that they consumed on their way home from their good night out.

The Donor Kebab has a very bad name. It is almost infamous within its relevance of that ‘good night out’.

What with fast food takeaways being closed these last 3 months! I could not bare it any more.

I was in fact planning on not blogging today. But my absolute and complete enjoyment of tonight’s homemade ‘ Doner Kebab’ insisted that I make this diary entry in complete homage!

Should I give you the recipe? Are you missing this ‘wonder food’ of the ‘good night out’? If so, more than three requests in comments and I will share my recipe with you tomorrow!

Bon appetite or just get home safely if in a parallel universe, you are wandering the streets looking for a doner kebab.

What’s better than a Doner Kebab you might ask? My answer is, two Doner kebabs! Hahahahaha.

A Meal Fit for a Maharajah

Tonight’s blog is a re-blog from last year. You see, we’re doing a curry night tonight and I wanted to tell you how I make my ‘one sauce, several curries’ gravy!

So, what’s in store for us tonight then? Remember, I’ll make my basic sauce and from that make a chicken, lamb or fish curry. Plus a couple of veg curries. I may add extra garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric, tinned tomatoes or purée and extra garam masala or cumin, changing the intensity and the look of the different dishes.

Do not make the mistake of mixing your veg into one curry! Be focussed! Let’s up the game shall we? I’m planning on making a mutter (pea) curry, dahl (lentil) and a Bombay aloo to accompany a salmon curry with basmati rice today. Now starts my re-blog on how I make my basic sauce.

Okay, I love my hob. That was all I had to work with from my time spent in Mumbai, India. And that is where I perfected my ability to cook a damn good curry. I have spoken about cooking various curries throughout my writing of this diary and today I am just going to reiterate on making my gravy.

As ever you need to start with a good, tasty gravy (curry sauce). Blitz onions until pulp and fry in a little oil. Add your spices and cook out. My favourite combo is garlic, ginger, chilli, cumin, coriander leaf, garam masala or Madras mix, turmeric and salt. Add tomato purée, cook out further, then add water or a little stock (Knorr cubes are fine). You want a slightly thickened consistency and this I regulate purely with the volume of onion and tomato purée to the water or stock! Cook for 30 – 40 minutes on a low heat or until the rawness of the spices have morphed into that sweetness and harmony of fragrant spice that is all a good curry should be!

Now come your options! I usually cook at least a litre of sauce and freeze some but yesterday I used the whole lot and made a feast. Pre-soaked yellow lentils were simmered with some of the sauce plus the addition of extra turmeric, chilli and garlic, cooked on the hob for maybe 2 hours. The longer you cook, the more sumptuous the lentils become. I always use a potato masher towards the end of cooking!

Bombay potatoes are just way too simple! I tried a few recipes from the internet way back but settled on just steaming cubes of potatoes, cooling and placing in a freezer bag and covering with some of my curry sauce. Tie the bag, give it a squish and put it in the fridge.

I actually put all of my curries in a freezer bag once cooled and lay them alongside each other in the fridge until service. It makes cooking multiple curries a real doddle to serve up. Just heat one after the other in a microwave before serving up! There’s usually a bit of squishing of the bags to regulate heat and some re-microwaving to get everything to the same temperature – but that’s half the fun of ‘curry night’.

I also microwave the dry poppadoms for 20 seconds, turn, then a further 20 seconds. Perfection and so much healthier than shallow frying. But if you much prefer the taste of the fried, just use a pastry brush and lightly brush the dry poppadom with cooking oil on either side before microwaving.

Britain’s favourite dish ‘Tikka Masala’ simple! Just add ground almonds and a little double cream to the basic sauce! Bliss. My favourite ever would be ‘King Prawn Tikka Masala’. The bigger, the better. Just marinade the prawns for an hour with the basic combination of lemon juice, garlic, ginger, chilli, tandoori spice mix, salt and pepper! I use a freezer bag for my marinade.

Okay, the other dish’s were tandoori boned and skinned chicken thighs and mutter (pea curry). The thighs were 3 hours marinated in the same marinade just mentioned. No red food colouring like your local Indian takeaway might use! The chicken was cooked in an oven dish covered in foil for 20 minutes, then dry heat for a further 15. Moist and tender was the result. The last main dish of mutter had a variation to it last night as I added green beans to the peas – cooked with some of Dadda’s curry sauce, a tin of tomatoes and a little extra salt – divine ‘Amrit’ (manna) indeed.

My rice was of course cooked in the microwave – see earlier entry for 100% perfect basmati rice and our nibbles on the side were homemade onion bhaji’s and pakoras. I’m pretty sure I have covered those in an earlier diary entry, but if not, do let me know – they’re so simple to make and so tasty. The children love them!

A meal fit for a Maharajah!

Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner

Okay, it is late in the day here in ‘The Shires’. So, no rundown of the days antics, rather a nostalgic look at Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner! The final picture is tonight’s rare roast rib of beef with Jersey Royal Potatoes and garlic butter green beans! Yummy…

Sausage bacon and stuffing terrine with braised Savoy cabbage and garlic and herb tomato sauce.

Dadda’s Thai red curry, yellow curry.

Another slice of JJ’s penne puttanesca lasagna!

Roast pork, new potatoes, broccoli, cracklings and Dadda’s apple jelly.

Pulled pork, JP and Caesar Bliss.

My homemade pork and turkey meatballs! Legendary family food!

Tonight’s Delight!

Thank you for sharing your time with me today! Be well…

Thank You for Being There

Dear Diary… Haha, I have not started a single diary entry within the last Eighteen Months so informally formal! But rather than talk about my family life today, I thought that I would thank all of the people that I often speak to through my blog.

People, that I would regard as friends at this point. You possibly can guess who you are, but I hope that you don’t mind me mentioning you by name as I really want to send out my sincerest thanks for bringing my diary to life through your interactions.

So, today I thank Margie, JJ, Anna and Ingrid. Tre, Paul and Greg too! I thank Macey and Jaya, all of you people of words. I really dig that! And thank you to Ab, Josef, Grace and Grace, I say that with Grace, also Nadia, John and Nadia, thank you so much. I appreciate your comments and often advice. Thank you to Kristie and Sindy too, always words well appreciated!

I thank you all so much for both your support and you candour. To all others I talk to, I again, thank you as much. Every like on my blog really does mean a lot to me. Friendships through Worldpress were an unexpected surprise and with that, I thank you all for being you. The amazing people that you are…

Daddy And The Tooth Fairy

Sussed Out! Oh dear. Okay, daddy is the one that usually heads upstairs to leave the golden coin! And a few minutes ago his 9pm alarm went off and up he crept… you see, Tara has just lost another tooth!

A minute or two later he runs through the living room hissing, ‘I’ve been sussed, I’ve been sussed’! He then exited for the terrace and there he remains.

Moments later Amritsar strolls in ‘where is daddy’ she asked me, ‘he came up asking ‘are you all asleep’? ‘He was just checking in on you all’ I replied, ‘go back to sleep’. She returned upstairs. Mind you it’s still light outside and going to sleep early in the summer months is always a problem.

Daddy had indeed been sussed out! He is planning on trying again later when the sun has gone down and hopefully the not so famous five are all asleep! I had to smile!

Dadda Gets Jammin’

What couldn’t be more seasonal at the moment than apricots? As golden as those sunny days that we had throughout April and May, with the reddish hue of sundown. The weather, a little greyer now that meteorological summer has arrived, so today I thought that we needed something to brighten us all up!

Golden Apricot Jam

Ingredients:

1.5kg Apricots

100ml Lemon Juice

1.5kg Sugar

Method:

Halve and de-seed your apricots, then quarter and place in a large saucepan.

Add your lemon juice and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Your pulp is now ready for you to get Jammin’!

Add your sugar and stir in. Bring back to the boil. This may take several minutes.

You may have noted that I do not use apple pulp in this recipe! The truth is that apricots contain tons of pectin, the stuff that makes jam gel. You simply don’t need any booster.

Boil for 10 minutes. Once again, stirring occasionally. The stirring motion will help dissipate some of the bubbles. You could add a little butter also to help, but I don’t think it is necessary. If you keep the froth at bay, I just do the skimming at the end of the cooking. You do not want micro bubbles in your jam jars, do you? If you want a smoother jam, use a potato masher (very carefully) at this point to break up those larger pieces.

This jam does not need a lot of cooking. All that pectin makes this jam gel quickly. You will notice the drips from your spoon look thick and gelatinous. Perfect!

Sterilise your jars, ladle and jam funnel in your dishwasher. And carefully fill to the obligatory 8mm below the lid. Seal tightly and return jars to a large saucepan or steamer. Cover completely with hot water (if boiling) and boil for 20 minutes. Cool and dry off. I noted that 3kg (ish) of ingredients yielded 2.3kg of jam.

As a child and into my adulthood I did not like apricot jam at all. But then again, that was the shop brought stuff, so I’m not so surprised! However, these jars of homemade amber sunshine really could turn the humble apricots harshest critic into a lover. It certainly did with me! Amazing on heavily buttered, freshly baked bread.

Just Mulling It Over

The weekend over in a flash and another day has passed us by. Children now upstairs with daddy, getting ready for bed and here I sit thinking of what I should be writing about!

Gloomy weather has curtailed any crazy shenanigans in the garden of late. Thor and Aaliyah are of course back at school, so their presence was absent today. Amritsar and Tara are really very well behaved girls mostly, so nothing to comment on there today. Caleb has been by and large very good in both his homeschooling and playtime today, always a little more sedate without Thor and Aaliyah in his company. Just one more week and his plaster cast should be off! We will have our little guy back to normal. Looking forward to that – Hooray!

I’m a little apprehensive about this show we’re going to be on, airing this week on Thursday at 8pm on Channel 4. John and I are talking to the show’s psychologist tonight on the telephone. Should I be worried, what should I be thinking? I certainly hope there is not any negativity thrown our way after people watch it, just a small glance into ‘my big crazy family life’! But then again, I give that almost daily within the pages of my diary, don’t I. But one can’t help but mull things over!

I’m sure to mention the ‘Show’ again in the next couple of days. There’s no turning back, there’s no escaping the inevitability, is there?

Sorry, better cut this short as there is shouting drifting down from the top floor. Our phone call is about to happen and the children were asked expressly to keep a lid on it tonight given our phone call! Okay, up to get them settled.

A very good evening, night, morning and afternoon to you all.

Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner

I haven’t done one of these in a short while, so here is a selection of some of our evening meals from this last week. Sunday tonight, so a family roast chicken meal with the children. Roast meals used to be so trying. Every week I would tell myself that this meal would be the last one! All that work repaid with screams, ‘I’m not eating that’ and peas being tossed around! But perseverance paid off. The children voted a roast dinner their favourite family meal ever yesterday, replacing last years favourite of broccoli (red) pesto pasta!

Filet of Lamb Steak, mashed potatoes, asparagus and mushrooms.

Chicken (thigh) curry with basmati rice.

Easy Mock Roasty. Roast pork leg, deep fried potatoes, peas and cracklings.

Boiled gammon joint, mash and broccoli.

Filet steak, dauphinois potatoes and mangtout

Lobster bisque, peppered trout filet and prawns with mashed potato and samfire.

A tasty menu this week and enjoyed very much! Bon appetite everyone!