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.
Happy belated Birthday. I know just how you feel watching your grandfather get older. My grandfather seemed to be able to do anything and everything. Until he got older, fortunately, he still had his mind when he passed away, but physically he couldn’t do many of the things he used to. Towards the end, he allowed my boys to mow the grass and carry things up the stairs. My being born with a physical disability, he rarely ever allowed me to do for him. Here’s a funny story for you: One day I stopped to visit, without my boys, he was disappointed because he needed the grass cut. I argued with him that I could do it for him, finally he gave in and allowed me to mow the grass but kept insisting I couldn’t possibly do it all. Sure enough, as I was about to finish and only had a small patch behind the garage to finish, he grabbed the mower, turning it off and proceeded to tell me he knew it was too much for me and that I wouldn’t be able to finish. 🙂 I understood his frustration at seeing me being able to do what he could no longer do and didn’t argue any further.
Enjoy your grandfather while you still have him with you.
Thanks for the birthday wishes. It’s hard to adjust our expectations of parents and grandparents as they get older isn’t it. I will make sure I appreciate the time we have with Pa and hope that he finds some enjoyment in his days too. I
Happy birthday for Tuesday! I’m constantly impressed by how much you fit in.
Singplylivingfree – you’re an astute person to know when to hold your tongue! What a grand granddaughter!
I can sympathise about the encroaching elderly-ness of loved ones – my Dad’s starting to show it. He’s about to get hearing aids I think, which are long overdue but it’s jarring to newly experience the conversations with “eh?” “what’s that?” and loud repetitions. We used to get our Christmas tree on Christmas eve; they were always a branch off one of the big pine trees down the back paddocks and the summer would dry them out too quickly if we were early about it. I remember, in my late teens one year, having to remind Dad at about 5:30 that we hadn’t got the tree yet and he seemed suddenly so much older and tired as he put his boots back on. It was an acute moment. He’s only 81 now (fairly young for his side of the family) but I dread being not-yet-40 and dealing with this. But that’s the deal when your folks have you in their forties I suppose; my kids won’t know them very well and I’ll see them off early. I’m lucky to have had them this long in a lot of ways. I thank goodness both parents have their minds still (their stories have never been any less repetitious that I can recall!)
That must be really difficult Alison. I’m thankful I won’t have to face those issues for a while yet, all going well I guess. It must be a little saddening to know that your kids won’t have that wonderful relationship of grandparent/grandchild that can develop. My Mum still occasionally mentions that she’s an ‘old’ grandmother because she had her children later than most (though it would be perfectly normal now), she’s not really and she can certainly hold her own when it comes to horsey rides!
Hi Barb, am going to make your Chilling Con Carn in the slow cooker, you say ‘adjust’ stock levels, what quantity do you use?
I think I cut it down by half a cup, but also used a bit more mince and beans than this recipe. My rule of thumb for slow cooker recipes is to add enough liquid to get it to the consistency you want to serve it as, it will have the same amount of liquid at the end as it did when you start. if you do end up with too much liquid at the end, just use a splotted spoon to serve it up so some of the liquid drains off before you put it in the bowl. Hope it turns out.