A (bad) chip off the old block

There was a parenting dilemma this morning as school athletics day dawned at the same time as Miss F developed an acute tummy ache. Complicating things, she and I DID both have a tummy ache earlier in the week after too much tapioca pudding.

Not known for her sporting prowess, and slightly crushed after last year’s last place, it was time to pull out the parenting big guns in order to discover the truth. “So sweetie, is your tummy too sore for a special lunchbox? Usually I would put chips and a couple of lollies in for today, but should I just keep it to plain food?”

But she was onto me, and my tactics. “Yes, just plain food, mummy.” Sniff, sniff. Rub tummy tentatively.

She thought she had a temperature too. The thermometer thought otherwise, which is always a relief – give the decision making over to a third party, I say.

In the end I had to opt for honesty. “I think your tummy is sore because you don’t want to go to the athletics carnival.”

My honesty was rewarded with her honesty. “Maybe a bit.” And then the tears came and she had a good cry. Obviously then it was time for a rousing speech about being a team player, cheering on your friends and housemates who ARE good at running, and having a go. All of these things are really important in primary school, I said.

And the whole time that these clichés were dribbling out of my mouth, my mind was diving back and remembering the horror and hell of the athletics carnival for those of us who weren’t coordinated and couldn’t do better than last place, even when we were trying our hardest. It’s horrible to see your child failing in the same areas that you failed at.

Luckily she has talents in other areas and I think it’s good for her to experience ineptitude. Keeps her modest and ready for the real world. So I fed her an acidophilus capsule, drove her to school and by the time she saw her friends, she’d perked up and looked set for a happy day. But it was hard to push her out into the world knowing that she is likely to experience the same humiliation that I went through as a child.

What she doesn’t know, is that after year 8, I’m likely to follow in my own non-sporting mum’s footprints and let her have the day off each year rather than be subjected to spirit-crushing public teen-humiliation.

So I can't run, but I can arrange my potatoes all fancy smancy.

So I can’t run, but I can arrange my potatoes all fancy smancy.

Speaking of chips (nice segue), this vegetarian cottage pie has a sliced potato topping that avoids the hassle of having to make mash. The trick is though, that they need to be sliced as thinly as possible, laid out in just one or two layers and cooked for a good 40-50 minutes.

You'll never know this cottage pie is meat free - promise!

You’ll never know this cottage pie is meat free – promise!

Vegetarian cottage pie

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled, grated or finely diced
1 zucchini, grated or finely diced
½ red capsicum, diced
1 cup mushrooms, finely diced
1 cloves garlic, minced
400g can brown lentils
400g can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp BBQ sauce
Sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
1 cup frozen peas
125g can corn kernels, drained
2 large waxy potatoes, peeled

Place a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil and once hot toss in the onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. It should be almost cooked before you add in the carrot, zucchini, capsicum and mushrooms. Keep it all moving around for another 5 minutes so until the vegies have softened. Add in the garlic and stir for another minute.

Pour in the lentils, tomatoes, sauces and thyme. Season well, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Stir through the peas and corn then pour the mixture into either one large or several small ovenproof dishes.

Take your time and slice the potatoes as thinly as you can (a mandolin is ideal, but a sharp knife and patience will do a good job).

Place them over your dishes, overlapping so that they look pretty.

Brush the top with either some melted butter or a spray of oil spray. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden and the potatoes are tender.


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Michelle said,

    I guess somewhere inside all parents is the hope / assumption that their kids will be fantastic at EVERYTHING, all the time… but they’re only human, just like their mum and dad!
    PS Love those fancy smancy potatoes!

  2. 3

    Sandra K said,

    Your a good mum.
    Thanks for the dinner inspiration, it was much needed. I had a tin of lentils lurking waiting to shine. I made it tonight but ended up making familiar mash to plop on it instead of the fancy smancy potatoes. Nobody complained about the lack of meat and was all gobbled up. Winner. Thanks.

    • 4

      wendyblume said,

      awesome! mash is obviously delicious – I was just too lazy the day that i was making mine! And yes, it’s interesting isn’t it, how satisfying it is. I actually have made this with eggplant instead of the zucchini too, and that adds to the mince-like texture.

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