A good winter day in Australia isn’t too bad, is it? Even I concede that a sunny day of 18 degrees isn’t worth a rumble of dissatisfaction. And there’s been a stretch of them lately. Just beautiful cool clear days that magically lift me off the couch, away from carbs and float me off into the neighbourhood walking about and realising just how unfit I am.
It appears I’m not alone. The other day there were people out EVERYWHERE. Walking. With dogs. With friends. Laughing even. The joy of vitamin D! And of course people were flocking to their gardens – raking, weeding, smiling and just ‘being’ with nature.
The spell was broken though, by the cranky sounds of a mum screeching at her children. Let’s just say I’m familiar with the tone. As I got closer I realised that the words were in French and I couldn’t understand any of it. It was unmistakable though – the (well dressed) kids were giving the (well dressed) mum the shits.
Perhaps it was the general blissful tone of the day, but it did occur to me how much better pestering and nagging the kids sounded in another language. Lifting the everyday nasty into a realm of sophistication.
So with that in mind I’ve compiled a little phrase book with all sorts of useful sentences that you can whip out when your own English phrases are getting a bit well worn.
(French) Ne vous asseyez pas sur votre sœur.
(English) Don’t sit on your sister.
(Italian) Tirare su i pantaloni.
(English) Pull your pants up.
(Dutch) Leg de slak
(English) Put down the snail.
(Afrikaans) Raak nie.
(English) Don’t touch it!
(Russian) То, что вода или Ви?
(English) Is that water or wee?
With the discipline done, feed the kids this dish for dinner. It’s a ‘casserole’, which is much fancier than a ‘stew’, and technically it is different. A stew is cooked on the stovetop, a casserole in the oven. My kids like the flavor of this one, but not the texture of the butter beans, so when I serve theirs, I hack away with scissors until it’s all a jumble, then tidily plop a few dumplings on top. They eat it. Suckers.
Best ever dumpling-topped, beef casserole
600g chuck steak, cubed
1 onion, diced
1 leek, tough green bits removed, diced
2 carrots, peeled, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large parsnip, peeled, diced
3 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine (the better the wine, the better the casserole!)
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 cup peas
1 can butter beans, rinsed, drained
1 cup self-raising flour
60g butter, chopped into little cubes
2 tbsp parsley (I like the flavour of curly parsley in this)
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
3-4 tbsp milk to bind
Use a large stove to oven dish (with a lid) for this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Heat the dish over medium/high heat. Toss the meat in flour & shake off excess. Add the oil and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Lower to heat to medium, add more oil if necessary and saute the onion , leek, carrot and celery. Stir frequently for several minutes until the vegies start to soften. Add the parsnip for a minute or two more, then return the meat, add in the stock, wine and Worcester sauce.
Give it a good stir, removing any stuck bits to the bottom. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 1 hour.
While that’s cooking, make the dumplings: In a large mixing bowl, rub the butter into the flour (no need to sift). Mix in the parsley, cheese and egg. Add enough milk to bind it all into a sticky dough. Wear gloves or use spoons to roll or shape the mixture into about 18 bite-sized balls and set aside.
After an hour, remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Stir in the peas and beans. Season to taste. Pop the dumplings over the top and return, uncovered to the oven for another 30 minutes or until the dumplings are golden and cooked through.
Serves 2 adults and 2 kids.