Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bad Mother

This morning as I dropped my sweet 9 year old daughter at school, I got a lecture about healthy eating habits for children.


Today Miss 9's class is making smoothies, with yogurt, berries and milk, and of course all ingredients had to be brought from home. As I helped my child with bags etc another Mum, a very efficient, focused and authorative Mum bailed me up near the classroom. She was there to help the class make smoothies, a noble act because , frankly, I'd rather staple my head to the carpet. 

She was watching all the children as they milled around. Frowned at any child who didn't have fresh fruit to put on their snack table, and down right outraged by any poor sod who didn't even have a box of sultanas.

One little boy's lunchbox fell open as he hung his bag up and basically the entire cookie aisle of Safeways tumbled out. That kid had everything going on, from Chocolate Oreos to Tiny Teddies. His sandwich, snuggled in the corner of the box (fighting for room) was a squished up Jam & White Bread mess.

After the kids had disappeared to play, she came to me and rolled her eyes.

"Can you believe Johnny's lunchbox?? I mean... OMG all that sugar. How hard is it for a mother to pack healthy options for their child? I pack salad rolls every single day for my Timmy. Salad and fruit. There is no excuse for such lazy parenting, Did you see how big that kid is, he doesn't need any extra carbs I can tell you ......."


( I listened as I watched as her little Timmy, her eldest child,  took a swing at one kid, a kick at another, then launched himself over the railing like a kamikaze ninja on speed... looks like little Timmy is a handful.)
"Sugar is evil, my child is a saint, I'm perfect, I know it all" ... or words to that effect.


"Only LAZY mothers just pack jam or Nutella sandwiches. Sugar has no place in a child's diet Blaggggggg Blaaahhhhgggg Blaaaggghhh......... cookies are food of the devil.........................harp harp harp ............. something something............ blah"

I smiled sweetly, nodded thoughtfully, and moved off toward my car.

My 9 year old blessing has fairy bread in her lunch box today.



In the car, I chuckled. I can't wait for her to hit the teenage years and discover that no matter how tightly you lock Little Timmy down, he is going to toss her salad roll and carrot sticks in the bin and buy himself a big bottle of coke and a hotdog.

I look forward to the day when she realises that if you lined up every child in the school, you actually can't tell which ones eat home made bircher muesli at the carefully set dinner table for breakfast and which one snacked on Fruit Loops in front of the TV.

I didn't tell her that once or twice I have actually served Apple Pie and Ice Cream for dinner to my children - (fruit, carbs, dairy protein = winning!)

And just like that, there is a spring in my step, because I know, for certain, that I am a bad, lazy mother. And my kids are thriving on it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A nutty fruitcake

I love my Mum's Christmas cake.

Mostly because it is not so much a cake, rather a great big pile of nuts and fruit that is held together with the merest smidge of cake batter. Buttery pecans snuggle next to juicy chunks of ginger, macadamias slide alongside sweet apricots and toasted almonds make the perfect partner to rich dates.
This cake is always better the longer it rests, so I like to make mine RIGHT ABOUT NOW!

I bake it, then wrap and let it sit in the fridge for a couple weeks before I allow myself the first slice.
It's extremely rich so a thin slice is all you need with a hot cup of coffee for the perfect after dinner indulgence, and it lasts forever. You can seriously impress mother-in-laws and school principals with this baby!

I make mine in a large ceramic Lasagne tray... I know that isn't traditional but I don't have a tin large enough and I'm not going to buy one for a once a year cook-off.

Here's the recipe. If you decide to give it a whirl, don't get too hung up on quantities. 650g nuts is fine, a few extra dates or apricots won't hurt. The original recipe has no ginger but I think everything tastes better with ginger so I add it in. You can use whatever nuts you like... this year I added cooking pistachios and didn't have walnuts.


Mums Nutty Christmas Cake

Heat oven to 300 degrees F ( slightly lower if fan forced). Line an 8" square tin (or your lasagne dish LOL) with several layers of baking paper.

Get a LARGE bowl. I mean LARGE okay ?
Place in 750g mixed nuts (pecan, macadamia, almond, brazil, walnut...) 
250g roughly chopped dates, 180g chopped dried apricots, 250g glace' cherries (and a handful of chopped crystalized ginger :-)

Over the tops of nuts and fruit sift 1/2 cup sugar and 3/4 cup SR flour.

In a separate bowl whisk 3 eggs til fluffy, and add 1 tablespoon of sherry (or fruit juice if you don't have sherry).

Pour eggs mixture over the nuts and flour and gently tumble mix until all dry ingredients are damp and 'cake-batter-ish'. 

At this point you will probably look in the bowl and think there is nowhere near enough batter for this to work... trust me! The batter is basically just the glue between nuts and fruit. You have enough.

Press firmly into the prepared tin. 
Bake for 1 hr 30 mins, reducing heat slightly in last half hr to prevent burning.

Cool in tin then remove from tin and wrap in foil. Refrigerate for at least 3 days before cutting. 

Soooo good!

What do you bake each year for Christmas? 

( This recipe has been handwritten in my Mum's cookbook folder for years. If it is the same or similar to one you have created, or have seen published please don't be nasty, just gently tell me where credit should be given. I haven't 'stolen the recipe', I just only know it as Mums Nutty Christmas Cake. )

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ten Reasons Teenagers are great

1. They can make you coffee - this is an important milestone for any teen, the love and gratitude that pours out from Mum when they bring a lovely steaming mug of coffee is comparable to the elation you felt the first time your small child successfully wiped their own butt. Extra points for a couple of pieces of peanut butter toast. 

2. They can organise their own playdates. Even better, at those playdates you no longer feel that slightly wary "oh god, please don't hit little Johnny over the head with the Tonka Truck this time" feeling. Teenagers know how to share with their friends, to take turns and to not cry if they don't get the cupcake with the most sprinkles.

3. They sleep in !
   I repeat - They sleep in !

4. They take care of their own personal hygiene. They shower themselves. Your back no longer aches from bending over the bath tub, no tears and tantrums on hair-washing night. You no longer have any information about the consistency of anyone's poo. You don't have to wipe anything .  I know ! Winning!

5. They get your jokes and can hold a real conversation that doesn't involve Barbie or Thomas the Tank Engine. Real genuine discussions with actual multi-syllable words. 

6. They can sit through an entire movie without needing a toilet break. 

7. They can help out. Teenagers are capable of washing a sink of dishes and they can finally reach the clothes line. I'm not saying bribery isn't needed to get them to help out, but it sure is nice to be able to share the workload a little and if it helps, think of it as 'preparing them for when they leave home'.

8. The angst of finding a suitable babysitter with National working with Children certificate and at least three references is no longer needed. Yes my friends, teenagers babysit themselves !! It has been years since I worried if a day carer was secretly a deviant, or felt the need to place hidden cameras in a stuffed teddy bear. 

9. You can start to reclaim some of the space from the acres of Lego, matchbox cars and Barbie dolls. I'm not saying teenagers don't have stuff - my girls have enough makeup and hair product to put on a broadway show of Priscilla Queen of the Desert- but it isn't taking up every centimetre of the floor and cupboard space in the family room. I can now sit on the couch without the unexpected surprise of a stiff Barbie leg venturing where it wasn't invited. A walk to the bathroom can be made without turning on lights and checking for Lego landmines. 

10.  Teenagers are a photograph coming into focus. All your hard work, all the worry and fuss. Every time you guided them through saying 'please' and 'thankyou', each time you sat them on the naughty chair, every parent teacher interview at school, every exhausted phone call to your best friend asking for ideas. This is where you finally start to see the results. It's not perfect yet, there are glitches and stumbling blocks. But ever so slowly, through the teen years, the picture comes into focus and you see the grownup person you have been nurturing.

It's a beautiful thing.

Linking with Jess for  I Blog On Tuesdays xxx