Ah, it’s been a busy weekend and I’m writing this while eating a small bowl of left overs, watching Downton Abbey (writing in the ad breaks) and putting my feet up for a few minutes. I still have to clean the kitchen and fold some washing, but I’ve done dinner for tomorrow night, got the kids bathed and in bed (well Mr Good did most of that), got the house into a general state of tidiness ready for my mother-in-law to arrive in the morning in her role of child minder.
Saturday morning saw my sister, Miss One and myself wander around the Fairfield farmer’s market once again and what a glorious, not-too-cold morning it was. While the vegetable selection still spoke of winter, silverbeet, root vegetables, pumpkins and kale, the sun and mild temperatures started us thinking of the warmer months to come and the produce that would soon be adorning the tables and stalls around us. The fruit was certainly light on the ground, with only citrus and kiwi fruit (a stall I hadn’t seen before and sadly not a fruit Miss Three is currently eating, though that could change at any point). In my basket this week was some mandarins, cloudy apple juice, dried apricots, pumpkin and some Otways beef mince (from a staller holder who really knew how to talk!) Unfortunately we missed out on the whole chickens and the Swiss brown mushrooms. On our wander we enjoyed some Mexican hot chocolate and Taiwanese street food (spring onion omelette), both delicious.
I had Saturday evening to myself as Miss Three and Mr Good went to see the Bulldogs lose yet again and Miss One – who had decided to skip the afternoon nap – fell asleep in my arms at 6.30pm. I worked on some granny squares, I’m slowly getting better and have made a start on my project. I try to do at least one a night, but sometimes things conspire against me and I still find starting a square a little tricky. I got a square and a bit done before Miss One woke and proceeded to grizzle and cry for the next two hours.
Today was a special day, my grandfather’s 90th birthday party. His actual birthday was on Tuesday, the same as mine and one of this other granddaughters (as well her partner’s). He lives in a small town in Gippsland where the family name is quite famous (or perhaps infamous?). We had an afternoon tea for him at the local RSL hall, no pokies in sight, just walls filled with photos of young men (and a few women) in military uniform who fought in wars from WWI onwards and a bar selling wine for $2 a glass, cans of beer for $2.50 and soft drink for $1! It felt like another era. This branch part of my family seem to be particularly good a two things, longevity (we celebrated my great-great uncles 100th birthday in the same hall many years ago and my great uncle, the older brother of my grandfather, passed away just a few weeks ago) and story telling. It was inevitable that this second characteristic emerge in these surroundings as various people called out “Tell us about the time…..” and then a dispute of the facts between family members would ensue as the story unfolded. In all honesty, while I’ve heard most of the stories many times, my grandfather has done some quite extraordinary things (like driving cattle down Burke St to a livestock sale) and many of them are hysterically funny. It was lovely to catch up with family, but a little sad to see my grandfather a shadow of his former self in many ways and without my grandfather, his wife of over sixty years.
And here I will switch topics completely and share the slow cooked meal from last week that I promised. I made this one initially for the girls and my sister on Thursday night, but we then enjoyed the left overs on Saturday as an early dinner before the football goers left for the game. I cooked up quite a big batch of chilli con carn, using the same recipe I make on the stove top, but cutting down the liquid a little. Once again I cooked it overnight so it was ready in the morning and just required heating up when ready to eat, this works particularly well when we’re eating at different times. To go with it I also made up another batch of flat breads, the rest of which went into the freezer. The long cooking time did amazing things to the flavours in this dish even though I make it very mild to suit the girls. Topped with a little sour cream, some grated cheese and a few coriander leaves it made for delicious winter comfort food.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chilli powder (or to suit your taste)
600g beef mince
400g tin crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups beef stock (adjust if using a slow cooker)
1 teaspoon sugar
300g tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes or until soft and starting to brown. Add the cumin, chilli powder, stir for a minute until fragrant and then add the mince. Cook, stirring, until the mince has browned, breaking it up as you go. Put the mixture into the slow cooker, adding the rest of the ingredients except the cheese, sour cream and coriander leaves. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Spoon into bowls and top with cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a few coriander leaves. Serve with flat bread or corn chips.