Posts tagged parenting

The parenting space/time continuum (and egg foo yung)

Before you have kids, no one tells you that at some stage during those early, murky years of parenting, the switch will flip on your life. Careless days and endless possibilities morph into a sense that you’re running out of time. If you want to change careers, you better get the hell on with it (particularly if you need to study for a while). One day in the supermarket you’re going to switch straight from buying blemish face wash to some cream promising to erase lines and age spots. That you’re going to suddenly walk into a chain store and realise that you don’t any clue about how to wear the current fashion (and really, you maybe look a bit stupid in it, anyway). And then one day, you look over at your kids and rather than seeing them tipping cereal on the floor from their highchair, you realise that they’ve just gotten breakfast by themselves.

My brother had kids several years before me and I remember him saying, “it just goes by so fast.” Looking down at my baby and toddler I had the strong thought, “no, I think this sleepless, constantly sick, financially strapped, crying, difficult time is going to last forever.” But he was right. It does go by so fast.

Hug your kids today. Take a video of them just doing something simple so that you can remember this time. Be mindful at dinner. Listen to what they say. Cuddle them while they still want you to. Love them and be glad.

vegie smugglers egg foo yung

Egg foo yung.


Egg foo yung

Make the chicken mince up ahead and store it in the fridge, then make up an omelette for each family member as they make it home from their various mid-week commitments OR make them up completely, refrigerate them and just reheat in the pan when you’re hungry.

peanut oil
250g chicken mince
5 mushrooms, very finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
Big splash soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
Pepper
1½ cups chinese cabbage, finely shredded
¾ cup peas
8 eggs
4 tsp soy sauce
4 tsp shao hsing wine

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a medium sized frying pan over high heat. Carefully add in the chicken mince and stir it, breaking up lumps as you go.

Once the chicken is nearly all browned, add in the mushrooms and spring onions. Continue to stir everything. Splash over some soy, sprinkle the sugar and season with pepper. Leave it to cook away while you prepare the other ingredients. After 5 minutes or so, once the chicken is totally cooked, tip into a bowl and set aside.

I find it easiest to cook each omelette separately….

Break two eggs into a bowl. Whisk them along with the 1 tsp soy and 1 tsp rice wine. Scatter in ¼ the cabbage and peas. Add ¼ the cooked chicken mixture and combine it all well.

Pop a small frying pan over med/high heat, add 2 tsp oil and once hot, pour in the omelette mixture. After 4-5 minutes the omelette will be setting a little, turn over carefully and cook for another minute on the other side.

Repeat with the rest of the mixture to make 3 more omelettes.

Adults might like to serve this with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce and coriander.

Makes 4 omelettes

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Slow cooker tomato & pasta soup

Is it just me, or has Facebook become increasingly bossy? My feed is inundated with THINGS I MUST DO: 9 photos every mother should have on her phone. 22 things to do with your kids before they move out. 5 essentials for their daily lunchbox. 15 foods to stop eating IMMEDIATELY. 17 tips for a loving marriage. 8 ways to express gratitude to your children. 18 things to do with old socks. 101 tips for a fulfilling life…. etc etc etc etc

All of which leaves me exhausted, harangued and vaguely guilty (since I’ve only got 3 photos, 15 things done, 2 lunchbox essentials, 5 foods I won’t eat, 12 more things needed for my marriage to be a success, all my old socks go straight into the rubbish and I never finished reading about everything needed for fulfillment).

So this post isn’t bossy at all. It’s just one way, which happens to be a really easy way, to make tomato soup that is very kid friendly and easily jazzed up to be delicious for grown ups too. The slow cooker makes it insanely simple.

Make it if you want – or don’t. Totally up to you.

vegie smugglers slow cooker tomato and pasta soup

Only one idea here, but it is a nice easy one.

Slow cooker tomato & pasta soup

1 1/2 litres vegetable stock
800g can crushed tomatoes
1 large tomato (or two roma tomatoes), diced
1 red onion, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
1 clove garlic, peeled, chopped into a few pieces
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup risoni soup pasta (stick to small pasta that cooks in under 8-9 minutes to avoid a starchy mess – the pasta in the picture is the biggest I’d try)

Place everything, except the pasta, into your slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours (it’s actually ready after 6, but cooking it for longer to suit your day’s schedule won’t be a problem).

Use a stick blender to blitz your soup up to a smooth consistency. Toss in the pasta. Stir well and recover. Leave for 25-30 minutes until your pasta is cooked.

Serve with bread, grilled cheese on toast, or adults might like a scattering of parsley, basil, chopped fresh tomato, feta and olives.

Serves 2 adults and 3-4 kids

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Do your kids love each other?

Love is all around, just not easily spoken about.

Love is all around, just not easily spoken about.

Possibly suffering from an overactive fourth (heart) chakra the other night, I decided it was time for the kids to express their love for each other.

Earlier in the day it had occurred to me that while I am effusive in my gushing love for them both, they never tell each other any of their feelings other than “you’re hurting me,” or even the odd “I hate you.”

Cosied up on my bed after bathtime, we snuggled away and I listed through my usual love chatter. It goes like this….
“Do you know how much I love you?”
“No” they say in unison.
“I love you more than all the trees in the world.”
“Aaawwww” they say.
“No! Wait! I love you more than all the leaves on all the trees in the world.”
“Awwwww” they say.
“No! Wait! I love you more than all the trees and leaves and bugs on those leaves and bits of dirt that those trees grow in.”
“Awwwww” they say. And it doesn’t matter the area we’re covering (we’ve quantity surveyed most areas of matter over the years), their answer is always the same… “I love you all that PLUS infinity.”
And I say, “I love you all that PLUS infinity PLUS one.”

And then we skew off into a discussion of theoretical mathematics and things descend into general confusion.

But the other night I finished up by saying, “Miss Fruitarian. Do you love Mr Meat & Potatoes?”
Pause.
“Yes” she said.
“Well then, you should tell him.”
Groan.
“I love you sometimes… Mr M&P”.

Mr M&P smirked his way through that exchange, but then it was his turn.

“Mr Meat & Potatoes, do you love Miss Fruitarian?”
“Yes”.
“So you should tell her. It’s important to tell people that you love them.”
He actually giggled before spitting out, “I love you Miss F, when you’re not being annoying.”

Being a MASSIVE tell-people-you-love-them type (don’t come too close after I’ve had a few wines), I was slightly appalled at how difficult they found this simple task.

I’m vowing to enforce more of a love-in so that they can share positive feelings naturally and without me around.

So now I’m curious. Do you tell your siblings that you love them? And do your kids comfortably express love for each other?

Here’s something else they do both love…

Full of love (and tuna, egg & vegies)

Full of love (and tuna, egg & vegies)

Tuna, egg & vegie pastry pockets

180g can tuna in springwater, drained, flaked
2 boiled eggs, peeled, mashed
1 small carrot, grated
Handful green beans, ends removed and finely sliced
1/2 cup spinach leaves (english spinach or silverbeet), very finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh herbs, finely chopped (dill, chives, parsley are all good), optional
1 cup firmly packed grated cheese
5 sheets store-bought puff pastry
1 egg, whisked, for sticking and glazing

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

Separate out your sheets of frozen pastry and leave to thaw.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the tuna, eggs, carrot, beans, spinach, herbs and cheese.

Either cut each of your pastry sheets into four squares, or go all fancy and use a small saucer to help you cut out four circles. Divide the tuna mix between each of the 20 bits of pastry (ends up being about 2 tbsp per piece).

Use a pastry brush to spread some egg mix over half the circle edge. Ease over the pastry. Seal with your fingers then press down on the edges with a fork to secure them. Pop onto your baking trays. Brush with extra egg.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden.

Makes 20

Toddler Recipes: What (and how) to feed fussy eaters

Advice on how to get your toddler eating a wide variety of vegetables with 26 clever recipes that smuggle the healthy ingredients in.

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BBQ chicken to the rescue

No one wants to cook every day. Even when I was working on Vegie Smugglers full time, I would still find myself out of time and searching the supermarket for easy last-minute dinners.

Now I’m back in the workforce part-time, with the added issue of kid’s commitments right on dinnertime. When I’ve got hungry kids and no dinner plans, I find a trusty ol’ BBQ chook can come to the rescue.

And really, it’s one of the better take away options. But just don’t just eat it as is – the greasy mass that stews away in those creepy bags isn’t so enticing, anyway.

Chuck away any stuffing (I think the supermarket ones are nearly inedible). Toss most of the skin – although if you’re end-of-the-day starving, I DARE you to resist it entirely. Shred up the meat and do something creative with it.

When the kids were younger it was meat and salad with mayo in wraps. Then for a while I’d knock up a quick Portuguese-style chicken & rice soup. But these days we make this Asian-style salad. It’s full of the crunchy vegies that my kids enjoy and I put them to work on it, so they learn how to make something and it’s on the table within 15 minutes. Plus, Mr VS & I can pop on a tonne of coriander and chilli and have something adult-tasty.

And before you know it, there's something almost gourmet on the table.

And before you know it, there’s something almost gourmet on the table.

BBQ chicken asian salad

1 BBQ chicken
Handful green beans
Handful snow peas
125g can corn kernels
Bean sprouts
1 carrot, finely shredded or grated

Dressing:
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp oil (grapeseed or avocado)

To serve (all optional): peanuts, coriander, mint & sweet chilli sauce

While you shred the chicken, put the kids to work, washing then top and tailing the beans and snow peas. They can practise their chopping skills – cutting each into 3-4 pieces and tossing them into a salad bowl. They can also tip in the drained corn and play with add in the bean sprouts.

You might want to shred the carrot yourself. Add it and the chicken into a large bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients together well then tip over and mix through.

Serves 2 adults & 2 kids

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Those stinking, overripe bananas are your new best friend

At some stage throughout the week I find myself dashing into the supermarket to ‘grab a few things’.

The list of ‘those things’ was clear as day in my head while I was driving to the supermarket. But once inside the frenzied walls, surrounded by 40,000 products and a clock that is reminding me that I’ve only got 10 minutes to shop, pay and get to the school gate, my mind goes amazingly blank. All I’ll remember is that the list had four things on it, and that they were eclectic. So in a panic, I’ll grab milk, bananas, marinated tofu and tampons. Only to get home and find that I actually needed udon noodles, olives, deoderant and cat food.

After a few trips just like this, I end up with a dulux-colour-chart worth of banana bunches in varying states of decay. And despite lunchboxes, icecream and smoothies, I seem to constantly have a bunch of near-mush that is a degrading reminder of the inadequacies of my brain.

Lucky then, that I’ve got four sure-fire recipes that use them up in ways that transform my self image from harried, forgetful, middle-aged-woman to sexy and resourceful domestic goddess.

Click to visit the recipe…

Vegie smugglers banana bread recipe

Basis banana bread. Always delicious.

vegie smugglers choc chip almond and banana muffin

Choc chip, almond & banana muffins.

My kids will hoover this, will yours?

Carrot & muesli muffins

And finally, this piece of recipe gold….

Gluten free, egg free banana cookies

Gluten free, egg free banana cookies

‘2 ingredient’ banana cookies

These are called ‘2 ingredient’ since the only essential elements are the bananas and oats. Beyond that, you can add dried fruit, nuts and flavouring to suit your family.

2 overripe bananas, peeled
1 cup oats (gluten free is fine here)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup choc chunks (I just cut up choc melts)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a tray with baking paper.

Mash the bananas in a mixing bowl.

Add the oats, cinnamon and coconut to a mini food processor and blitz it up a bit to break the oats down a little.

Mix the oat mix into the banana, roll into balls, press onto trays and bake for 15 minutes until set.

Makes 16

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Rude words and a giveaway from some awesome ladies

Mr M&P is worried. He came to me the other day with a brow fully crinkled.

“Mum”. He was obviously nervous about what he had to say. “Mum, do you know that you’ve got a cookbook with a rude word on it?”

“Really?” said I, unsure about where this was all going.

“Yes”. He dropped his voice to a whisper. “It’s called ‘Cut out the c-word’.” His eyes were wide as he conveyed this tidbit.

I tried not to smile, but couldn’t help it. He’d just seen a copy of ‘Cut out the Crap, which is Collette White’s wonderful series of cookbooks which have been following me around the house recently. Collette’s recipes take healthy eating a step further than mine. While I focus on variety and fresh produce, she is creating delicious gluten, dairy & preservative free recipes.

Collette and I have met via social media and it’s connections like this that dispel any worries I have about whether or not so much connectivity is a good thing. There’s a bunch of us ladies online who gather (admittedly, a bit away from public view) and workshop issues we have around hosting pages, running online businesses and wider life and health issues. I adore them all and every now and again I’m going to mention a few and encourage you to visit them. If you’re interested in health/wholefoods & alternative type things then go and check out some of their pages. Visit Collette at Cut out the Crap, Sonia at Natural New Age Mum, Alisha at Naughty Naturopath Mum, Kristin at Mamacino, Kelly Burch, Brenda Janschek, Jo at Quirky Cooking, Iwa at Additive Free Bites, Rebecca at 4myearth and Bek at Cooking with Bek. They’ll keep you entertained and inspired for a while!

I’ve got a giveaway too – a collection of fantastic things from some enterprising Australian women. There’s a copy of Collette’s Cut out the Crap for Kids. Some 4myearth products (including the fantastic bread bag), and Safety Food peelers and knives from the fabulous Jackie. I’ll chuck in a copy of Vegie Smugglers 1, as well.

Win all this!

Win all this!

Enter by liking up Collette’s page, Rebecca’s page and Jackie’s page. Then comment below, paying tribute to a local business you love. Or even promote your own venture. Competition is for Australian Vegie Smuggler subscribers only. Enter before 9pm Thursday March 6, 2014. Thanks everyone – this competition is now over – our lucky winner is Kristy who told us about Splatter Gallery in West Wyalong. Congrats Kristy!

Go you good things!

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Shhh! It’s an apology letter from the tooth fairy!

The Sylvanian dude gives you an idea of the scale.

The Sylvanian dude gives you an idea of the scale.

From time to time I like to chuck a bit of craft or a free printable thingy up on the blog – something that will make the plight of parenting that little bit easier.

And I’m feeling a bit honored today, because I’ve got something extra special to share. You see, I’ve been contacted by the tooth fairy who asked me to pass on this PDF printable.

I don’t know about the tooth fairy in your neighbourhood, but my one is an extremely busy, multi-tasking fairy who sometimes can’t make it to all the houses scheduled in a night. It is devastating, first thing in the morning, to see your upset child as they realise that rather than a shiny coin in the spot where their tooth used to be, there’s just… well… the weird old tooth still sitting there. So this letter can rectify that situation. Invariably, the tooth fairy always remembers to stop by the following night – often with an extra dollar and this little apology letter.

A magnifying glass may be needed to read the text, which says sorry for the delay and encourages them to brush their teeth a little more thoroughly each morning and night.

Download it here!

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