Archive | April, 2012

One Pot Wonder – Fast French Fish Soup

30 Apr

My Mama calls this peasant food. When I think of peasant food, dry, old cabbages and stale bread spring to mind, but I guess in France even the peasants are more gastronomic than the average bear. Either way, this hearty soup is so damn delicious you’ll embrace your inner French peasant. Oui, oui!

I was inspired to make this yesterday for two reasons – the first was it was cold and wintery, the second, I found a delicious loaf of green olive and rosemary bread at the Bourke Street Bakery and needed an excuse to eat large amounts of it. The match was made in heaven. You don’t need fancy bread to complete this, but something fresh and crusty certainly makes a difference. Also, a big, fat bucket of wine would have been a lovely accompaniment. Soon, my sweet, soon.

I favour prawns, white fish and squid in this, but the standard seafood mix from Woolies is fine. My only advice with that is that you separate the components as they have different cooking times and we hate rubbery squid and bouncy prawns.

Perhaps I had a recipe for this once, or perhaps it was just word of mouth from my Ma- but as I do, I’ve bastardised over the years and I make it differently each time. This is how I made it yesterday, and it was really yummy.

Yield : Serves 4

You will need :

  • 500g mixed seafood
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 1 tin diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 large red capsicum, julienned
  • 1 baby fennel, julienned (use celery if you’re not a fan)
  • 2 small potato, cubed
  • rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • a handful of chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of chilli flakes

Into a large soup pot throw your stock, tinned tomatoes, and add one tin of water and put onto medium heat. Add your garlic, and onion, and fennel and tomato paste. When you bring that to the boil, turn it down to a simmer and add your julienned vegetables and your potato. Leave this to bubble away until your potato is cooked. Add your fish first, then a minute later, add your prawns, then a minute later add your squid, mussels or scallops. Grate in your lemon zest and throw in your parsley and you are pretty well ready to go. Season to taste but remember that fish stock is quite salty already so don’t over do it.

I wonder what the rich people are eating?


Real Life Fantasies of a Housewife

28 Apr

As a stay at home mum – just discovered that we have an acronym, a SAHM…..sounds like somewhere warm and inviting in Vietnam, no? – I often find myself pondering the thought of returning to work.

The pondering at times becomes full blown fantasising but none so much as on week like this week…. A week when my toddler is sick with a cold, and I – at fully cooked preggers – am also afflicted with snot, a rancid chest and a deathly tiredness. Of course, I feel for my little person who is poorly, but I also have a distinct level of self-pity going on. I’ve discovered that somehow there is a direct correlation between patience and snot, being as the more I have of one, the less I have of the other. I wonder if Doctor Karl has a name for this phenomenon?

A week like this week saw my fantasy world being filled with a studio office and co-workers who go about their business, perhaps a concerned colleague even brings me a cup of peppermint tea with an Arrowroot for energy? Instead, my reality was a cranky two-year with double caterpillars of snot trailing down his face, who does not know what he wants but figures if he makes a high-pitched, ear splitting squeal every 10 seconds or so, I might come up with something fun. Strangely, this does not inspire me. I have done some serious TV parenting this week, which I really hate.

I dream of photocopiers, and contracts and ordered organisation, instead of trails of clean washing that I’ve half-assedly begun to fold only to be foiled by little hands that love to name whom each piece belongs as he throws it in the air. I witness my lazy creases arc and spread their sleeves and plunge like gulls dying on the lounge floor. I decided early on to simply step over them for the rest of the day (reality check : week) as my monstrous belly and full sinus groan at the thought of bending over. They merely join the remainder of the morning’s vegemite toast (which I may yet nibble on) and many building blocks. It’s almost Pro Hart in its beauty. Almost.

Perhaps on my commute to said fantasy work-place I could read quietly for half an hour – something more akin to ‘The Little Coffee Shop in Kabul’ and less ‘My First 100 Machines’ (although without the latter my knowledge of farm vehicles would be somewhat lacking….ooh, those Combine Harvesters!)…..but I am dragged from my work shaped reverie by a little voice saying ‘Mumumm, poo poo’ and it is back to the true grindstone for me.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m really cut out for this stay at home mum business. I mean, I love the mum bit but the other duties that go along with it I’m not so fond of. I don’t mind doing the washing but I really hate folding it and the vacuum? Man, I would sooner clean 50 toilets with Mister H’s toothbrush than vacuum. I really hate that contraption. In fact, I must admit that I am not a natural housekeeper. Some people really dig it, but I am not one of those people. All jests aside though, Mister H has been awesome this week (neither is he a natural born housekeeper, I might add….how many pairs of shoes need adorn one lounge???) taking a couple of days off so I could rest. I would never really clean 50 toilets with his toothbrush. I don’t even know 50 people.

So, as I cough up a lung and reach for another animated DVD I will admit that I’m probably not going to win SAHM of the Year this year, but hey, I wouldn’t currently fit in anything to wear to the awards anyway.

Today’s images are once again from the divine Kirsten Cox. I keep coming back to them because I love them so much. Looking forward to her coming to Sydney soon to take some pictures of our new baby!

Beat the Winter Blues – Dhal Soup, or Red Lentil Love.

26 Apr

With nasty old Winter peering it’s head around the corner, I’ve had a few requests for my Farmhouse Chicken Soup, and I promise it’s ‘a comin’, but on a recent cold and blustery day, all the nearby shops were closed and I needed to make something out of the contents of my house…….this was it. It’s delicate blend of Indian spices make it warming without being too spicy and if you mess with the liquid ratio you can make it thicker and more dhal like or wetter and more soup like…..either way, thick or thin, it will give you wind. I promise you that, my friends. The gift that keeps on giving. (I know I talk about wind a lot, but I have to point the finger of blame at my family – and they would probably pull it. Wind is deeply ingrained as a thing to be celebrated with us lot.)

This is one of my old favourites. I’ve been making this for about 100 years and I have no idea how I first came up with the recipe. Sometimes I throw in a fresh tomato or two, sometimes I throw in a handful of chopped spinach or two….you have a play with it yourself and see where the mood takes you. D Man loves this too. I’ve been giving it to him since he was about 8 months, so it’s suitable for babes as well. He now loves it over rice with a dollop of natural yoghurt and fresh chopped coriander. I keep it a little thicker so it sticks to the spoon and he doesn’t wear it.

Yeild : a pot of soup for 4

You will need :

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 30g (or the size of index finger to knuckle) ginger, finely chopped or grated (grating is so much easier)
  • 1 level tablespoon cumin (I love cumin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamon seeds
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • small handful of fresh coriander root, save leaves for garnish
  • 1.5 cups red lentils
  • 600ml chicken stock (I happened to have some freshly made in the fridge this day, but feel free to use powder)
  • 400ml water
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large stalks celery, finely chopped
  • natural yoghurt and chopped coriander leaves to serve

In a large soup pot gently sautée your onion in a little oil over a medium heat. When it goes slightly translucent add your garlic, ginger and spices. Stir until fragrant and delicious. Throw in your carrot and celery, give it a stir for a minute or so and then add your lentils. I like to give them a good stir and make sure all is well mixed and then throw in my liquid…..and really, that’s about it, kids. Bring it to the boil, then turn it down to a simmer and pop a lid on.

You will need to keep a little eye on it as the lentils will absorb the water. You can make a call whether you need more liquid or take the lid off and let it reduce if you’d like it thicker. I often play with it, flavour wise, like a total heathen at the last minute. I sometimes add a touch of garam masala, or more cumin, or chili. Start as I’ve written and play with it to your taste. Don’t be scared of spices, they are your friends and contrary to popular belief, kids love flavour.

Ladle into bowls and swirl through(or plop on) some natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of fresh coriander. If I’ve kept it chill free for D Man, I’ll add some dried at this point as I like it to have a little poke.

Enjoy your Red Lentil Love……for hours to come 😉


Love Thy Woodland Creature.

24 Apr

My relationship with my body has been somewhat turbulent. In high school I thought I was fat and looking back I see that really, I had some bad haircuts but I was otherwise ‘normal’. At around 17, my feelings on the matter got quite serious and I began a long and fairly ordinary road of self-esteem issues. Most teenage girls experience it at some stage but sadly, mine spiralled into a ten year long love/hate relationship with bulimia. The severity waxed and waned, depending on what else was going on in my life, but I have to raise my hand and say, yep, I was pretty average to my body, in various ways, in those years. I tried therapy and shrinks and they all wanted to pin responsibility on outer influences – my father not being there, leaving home too early, my Mama getting sick in my early teen years and me being unable to help her but none of if really resonated with me as I really owned it. It was mine. I think it was just something I could control, and that was it. I don’t talk about it in great detail, but it’s not a secret either. It was a part of my life and most of my friends know that I’ve struggled at times and I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed either. I do know that I will endeavour to instil confidence in my daughter from an early age as I hear this kind of stuff starts so much earlier now due to one influence or another.

It’s important I tell you this so you can feel the importance of the next part of my story……I have had an about face on the matter and I now love my body. I have days where I’m not so thrilled about bits of it, of course, but now I have a deep respect for my body that goes far beyond appearances. My body is an amazing machine. I produced a child. I know that animals and humans alike have been doing it for a millennia, but my body did it, too. My skin, my cells, made another human being (with a little help).

It was during this process that I realised the worth of my body. I fell pregnant very easily, by accident in fact, but the best accident that could ever have happened in our lives. My pregnancy was without incident, a little burp here and massive burp there, but really, I had it easy. My labour was text book. It was damn hard work but my baby came out of my body naturally and in the way that I had hoped and dreamed would be possible. I don’t have bad memories of my labour, just a deep sense of gratitude to my body for doing what it was designed to do, with no dramas. I breast fed for a year, with no problems, with milk a’plenty in fact, sometimes way too much in public when I wished it was not spreading like a slow leak across my top, but when some of my friends were struggling and in tears over the process I was finding so beautiful I knew that I was lucky…..and here I am again, with days to go before I hold my new baby in my arms, and I feel like my body is on my side again, and everything is going like clockwork. Of course, I have no control over what kind of labour I’ll have this time, but I know that my body, my machine, can handle whatever is thrown at it.

So, perhaps my kit doesn’t quite sit where it used to and the days of wearing a backless dress with no bra are long gone, but it was worth every little sag or excess fold of skin. We earned them well, my body and I.

I think it’s always great to get some pregnancy photos, and my last ones were fairly standard and normal. They were pretty. This time I had an idea of how I could try to embody the mystical, miracle of pregnancy. I spoke with a photographer friend about my idea and he laughed quite heartily and told me I was hilarious, but he was keen to help. Maybe he just wanted to see my jugs.

My dear friend called them the ‘Woodland Creature’ images, and I kind of like that title. I just wanted to document my pregnancy, and do something a little kooky……….so The Woodland Creature was born.

5 Ingredients, 5 Minutes – Hello, Lime Pie

23 Apr

I had two dinner parties this weekend. There was a moment, naturally, where I thought I was completely insane, but I must admit one of them we all agreed that Thai takeaway was the call of the day. I thought the very least I could do was whip up a little dessert.

Now, I do love me some dessert. I make my own ice-cream when the flavour begs to be created (I do like some wacky ones – liquorice ice-cream anyone? It was awesome!), and I’m also fond of a creme caramel and I dream of whipping up a soufflé, but just at this stage of my pregnancy, I wanted something EASY. Easy peasy, in fact. I called my Mama, my ‘Go-To Gal’, and posed the question. Delicious, fail safe, fast and simple….with not a second’s hesitation she replied ‘Lime Pie. 5 ingredients, 5 minutes. Any idiot can do it’.

Not sure what she meant by that, by I chose to let it slide in my haste for her to get off the phone and text me the necessary ingredients.

Everyone who’s lips this little, no cook, beauty touched this weekend asked if I would be blogging about it, so I figure it’s only fair to share. This is not low fat, no Siree Bob. Not one for the calorifically shy, but it certainly promised everything my Mum said it would. This idiot had no problem at all and done in time to put my feet up and have a cup of tea!

5 minutes, gang. No word of a lie….your time starts now.

Yield : Enough tarty goodness for 8 piggy sized serves (i.e. big enough for me to stretch to both nights – WIN!)

You will need :

  • 1 cup thickened cream
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 can condensed milk (oink)
  • 150g gingernut biscuits (wizzed in the processor to a fine crumb)
  • 85g melted butter

Stir your butter in with your ginger nut crumb and mix well. Press firmly into a pie dish, or tart dish. I used a ‘pop base’ quiche tin. You could use springform too.

In a bowl, beat condensed milk and lime juice until well combined. Add cream and stir through lime zest. Give it a beat for a minute, but it will not thicken at this stage. Somehow the lime thickens it in the fridge. Pour into prepared base and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. I popped a little extra zest and a lime round on it to pretty it up, but that’s up to you.

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Remember, Don’t Get Old (and Farts Are Funny)

21 Apr

I was chatting to a mummy acquaintance  of mine recently (as in, she’s also a parent, not as in King Tut) and she was telling me that she’s really not a ‘get on the floor and play’ kinda parent. She said she finds it boring.

For a moment, I felt a bit sad for her daughter, but then I realised that my sadness wasn’t actually for her kid, but for her. I was feeling bummed for her inner child.

One of the biggest things I’ve discovered since having someone less mature than me in the house (well, to be fair, first came Mister H, who’s sometime moniker is Captain Sensible Pants but mostly he’s as silly, if not more, so than my fair self, but I’m referring to the small man who looks like me) is that there is a lot of wonder, and simple fun to be had in the world if you’re prepared to take a moment to look properly. Or maybe it’s not looking properly. Maybe that’s what grown ups do and we need to unlearn that.

Take Matchbox cars, for example. I can easily say that until 2 years ago, my knowledge of the Matchbox car was fairly limited. Now, after a crash course, I’ve discovered that Matchbox drag races in the hallway are not just a way to kill time, but kind of exciting. Did you know, that under the right track conditions and optimum wrist action the 1971 Pontiac Firebird (metallic pale blue – because that DOES matter) can actually get ‘air’ over the lip between and hall and the lounge? I kid you not, that puppy pops a Dukes of Hazard, lands on it’s roof and gets a round of applause. No red necks were injured.

I’ve also recently (read : today…’s been a long rainy day here in Sydney) had an epiphany with my control freak. My every instinct is to keep the Play Doh colours separate. I do pull more than one out at once but I try like hell to keep them polarised as much as possible. Today, however, we threw caution to the wind…..yep, it looks like shit, and yep, it’ll end up one brown mass, but man it was liberating to smoosh all of that doughy playey Play Doh together and not care.

I’ve been looking at stuff through the eyes of a two year old boy and I’ve discovered there is so much cool stuff at every turn. Stuff that I didn’t see anymore, or if I did notice it, I didn’t see it with a sense of wonderment, it was just stuff, or hell, maybe even an annoyance (NOT NUMBER 12). I thought I’d jot down a quick list that maybe you can pop in the back of your mind in case anything cool comes your way and you might miss it.

  1.  Fire engines, with lights and sirens blaring. Tres cool
  2.  Water bubblers. Once you get over the fact that you’ll very probably need to strip him and take him home in nought but a nappy.
  3.  Police horses. Technically, mounted police but that makes me giggle because I’m a juvenile.
  4.  Swings. The higher, the cooler.
  5.  Garbage trucks. One with the man at the back is quite cool, but the ones with the automated arm is extra cool. Robotically cool.
  6.  Fruit juice icy poles in the back yard under a tree. Cooling, and cool. Double cool.
  7.  Trains are cool. In fact, most large auto motives – so, buses, trucks, tractors, cement mixers – they all have a little cool spot on the cool chart.
  8.  Little lizards in the garden. Cool blooded too.
  9.  Pants off at the beach. Cool breeze on your bits is very cool. Not really for anyone over four. You can try, don’t hold me responsible for consequences.
  10. Feeding birds. Even skanky pidgeons or demanding seagulls are really cool when you’re giving them food.
  11. Driving under the runway as a plane goes over the M5. Needs no explanation. ‘Wow, Mamaaaaa’.
  12.  Daddy coming home from work. Possibly the coolest thing of all.

Bang Up Lunch – Polenta Chips with Fresh Tomato Salsa

19 Apr

Often lunch time hunger hits around the time D Man goes to bed so it becomes a matter of ‘what goodies do we have in the fridge?’. I get well over eating sandwiches and salads so sometimes I get a little creative. As I’ve mentioned, I love a left over, and polenta is one thing that although, once eaten wet and delicious can never be revived to that state, it takes a whole new form when you cook it again in a little oil – the polenta chip is born!

When I’m finished with my wet polenta I pop it into a square container so it can shape up into a nice block, then you just slice it to whatever thickness you want, roll it in seasoned polenta and give it a little fry in some oil. I try not to use too much oil, but it does benefit from a little to get that nice golden crunch. I just add a little at a time so it doesn’t get drenched, then I make sure I drain it on kitchen towel. This is a great entree, or lunch and D Man loves these dipped in tzatziki, or anything dipped in anything really. He just likes to dip and lick, murmuring a little ‘dip, dip, dip’ as he goes. The salsa is kinda adapted (read : stolen) from my dear friend, who often gets requested to bring a whoop of the stuff to parties. It’s great on quesadilllas, with corn chips….hell, I even eat it with Corn Thins. Use chilli as you will. I like it hot, but D Man is still a little gun shy when it comes to chilli. A little is ok for toddlers if it’s a part of your diet. They actually love flavour and new sensations, just don’t singe their faces off!

So, let’s bang this lunch together. If you don’t have left over polenta, you’ll need to make it a couple of hours in advance to give it a chance to solidify. It’s especially yummy if you’ve put lemon zest and parmesan through it…..but that’s just me.

Yeild : depends on amount of polenta you have, but makes about 1 cup of salsa.

You will need :

For salsa – 

  • 4 fresh tomatoes, cut into quarters, seeds removed then finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 Spanish onion- finely chopped
  • 2 big handfuls finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 birds eye chilli,finely chopped, if you’re game
  • a big pinch of cumin
  • salt and pepper

For polenta chips – 

  • Sliced, solid polenta
  • Fresh raw polenta for dusting
  • Salt and pepper

Throw all of your salsa ingredients into a bowl and stir. Season to taste. Add more lime, salt, cumin or chilli to your taste. Leave to sit and stew while you cook your polenta. Season your raw polenta on a plate and roll your cops in it, ensuring all sides are covered. Heat a little oil in a pan on the stove, and ensure it’s quite hot before adding chips. Pop them in and turn them regularly ensuring all sides get equally browned. Add a little more oil as required. Make sure you don’t drench them. They are ready when they are golden and crunchy. Leave to cool for a minute or so on kitchen paper to remove excess oil, and serve with salsa. Easy, yummy, fast.


Absolutely, Size Matters!

18 Apr

You know, we go around forever saying size isn’t important. Get your mind out of the gutter, dirt bags, I’m not referring to PeePee’s, I’m referring to that other P word.

I’m talking about presents.

As much as I love a little box full of sparkly things, they are the very rare sort of present that really doesn’t come along very often so we won’t talk about those, (although I am about to push a watermelon out of my nethers and that could certainly deserve a little sparkly something – I will not be holding my breath) but I’m talking about every day, not your birthday, kind of presents. There’s something to be said for a big box arriving at the door with your name on it.

I’ve had a MacBook, the same MacBook now, for 5 or 6 years. As we all know, technology moves so fast that the second you pull your computer out of the box half the crap on it is obsolete and you’re already behind the eight ball and you need to update, so my trusty ol’ steed was really archaic. When I got my new iPhone, Mister H was going through the motions of setting me up. He hooked my glorious new piece of machinery into my dinosaur to load my tunes, and the poor old dear coughed a few times, poo’d on the table, glazed over and began to dribble out the side of it’s disc player. As with an old member of the family I was very sad to see this decline and I was well aware of how much of my history was in the old girl’s head. We decided to upgrade her. We’d clean her up, and run some upgrades and try and turn her into a Sports 2000. My tech support warned me that the shock may well kill her, taking all of my precious info with her. Rock/hard place.

So I decided I’d ignore it. Perhaps a miracle would occur and she would last forever as she was. Who needs tunes on their phone anyway? It’s a silly luxury. I like CDs anyhoo.

About two weeks later there was a knock at the door and ANOTHER eParcel arrived for Mister H – fond of an internet shop is my man – and about 15 minutes later he called asking if anything had arrived for him today. I answered in the affirmative and he asked if I could please check the contents as this one was an important one for him. Still not twigging, I cracked into the multiple layers of sticky, packing tape to discover (CUE : DANCING BEARS) – Holy crap!, He’s bought me a MacBook Pro. A big one. Not a piddly, squint my eyes to see the screen MacBook, but a sexy big one. Oh, yes, size does matter. I love it. A lot.

Conversely, another place I find size really matters is when I’m out shopping for underwear. Particularly whilst I’m boasting mams of such epic proportions. You see, I spy upon the racks (pardon the pun) a sweet little lacy piece of balconette fluff and I ask to see it in my size….and out they haul a piece of mighty scaffolding that could easily double as my lawn bowls bag (although it’s decidedly prettier than Grandpa’s). My heart sinks as my bosom lifts, it’s just not pretty in this size. Bah humbug. So I slide back into my old faithful, over washed, slightly faded brassiere and leave the shop promising myself I’ll return in 12 months when everything is normal again….if a tad closer to the South Pole.

My neighbour apparently wears a rather hefty control brief (I’m not an undie spotter, her Hills Hoist is right under my kitchen window. She appears to have a designated underwear day these things are so impressive – god bless Suburbia). For the uninitiated that’s a pair of knicks that starts like normal pants and then just doesn’t quit. Team those baby’s with a practical bra and there ain’t a lot of sex appeal going on under your kit. Perhaps some lumps are smoothed from the outside, but we all remember that fateful scene from Bridgette Jone’s Diary where her paramour discovered a whacking great pair of pants under her skirt. Awkward. But aside from appeal, I kind think if whilst on the line your undies can harness enough wind energy to power your home, you’ve let it go a touch. But if it’s saving money on your power bill, power to you. Here’s hoping for little, cute underwear soon as this practical stuff is killing me……..although I do have a cracking computer to browse Victoria’s Secret on.

Zesty Baked Chicken Rissoles with Mozzarella

16 Apr

Recipes fly back and forth in my family. If someone finds something interesting we email each other, and even send photocopies – old fashioned style – through the mail. I have a big pink folder with tried and true recipes handed down from my family and friends. It’s a faithful ‘go to’ when I’m in need of inspiration. This one was an email from my Mama, to my Nana, with me as a cc. I’m still happy being an afterthought.

My Mama is one of those cooks who is as comfortable tackling a three course meal as she is a weeknight quicky. As the aim of this blog is fast and fabulous, at least for the present moment, so I won’t try to dazzle you with any of her doozies just yet (it’ll come, my pretties, we’re just getting to know each other), but this little recipe is super fast, and easy, and again suitable for little and big munchkins alike. It’s not fancy, but it’s tasty, and it’s healthy.

These zesty, cheesy little morsels are paired perfectly with pasta, or rice, but polenta is having a resurgence in my house, so I make a batch of creamy, delicious wet polenta. I always make sure to have left-over polenta because twice cooked polenta (read : polenta chips, mmmmmmmm) are delicious. These rissoles work equally well with turkey mince if you want to extra lean, but they’re also yummy with lamb mince if you want to go in a slightly different direction. You can add dried mixed Italian herbs to the lamb for a more robust herb aroma.

If you don’t have mozzarella just sprinkle with cheddar but the stringy, gooeyness of mozzarella takes this to a different realm for me. Again, I’m a little modest in my cheese usage for fat reasons but you can go nuts with it if you want to. I also struggle not to sneak in a little vegetable here and there, particularly if I’m feeding it to D Man who’s not yet au fait with ensalada (ha, French and Spanish, I’m obviously a linguistical genius. So tempted to remove this but it’s is how my brain works). These work well with a little carrot finely grated or zucchini. They’re both fairly innocuous and undetectable by the naked eye when smothered in tomatoey, cheesy, deliciousness.

Yeild : 10 rissoles

You will need :

  •  500g chicken mince
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbls lemon juice
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1/2 bread crumbs (make your own if you can, it does make a difference, but if you can’t be arsed, it doesn’t make that much difference!)
  •  plain flour for coating
  • 700ml jar passata (If you want to make your own, throw some onion and garlic into a pan and add some crushed tomatoes and Italian herbs – it’s totally worth the effort, but we’re keeping it simple this evening, because we’re tired and our back hurts)
  • mozzarella (1 cup grated, but I used slices)

Preheat oven to 180c.

Throw into a bowl your mince, breadcrumbs, parmesan and basil. Add lemon juice and zest, crack your egg in and get your hands in there to give it a good ol’ mix. Take your wedding rings off as rissoles in your filigree ain’t pretty. Shape into about 10 rissoles and coat very lightly with your flour. Heat oil in a large frypan and over a moderate heat and lightly sear rissoles on both sides before transferring to over proof dish. Pour over your passata, top with mozzarella and bake in the over until golden and bubbly and yummy. Serve with your pasta or polenta and a big salad.

‘Wow, what do you call these, love?’


Never gets old.




To Day Care or Not To Day Care, Is That The Question?

15 Apr

My names is Danielle and I did not go to Day Care.

My socialisation skills are relatively well developed, I do not hump legs, sniff crotches or steal food from the family table. Hang on, wrong manual. I do not shy from crowds, public speaking does not phase me and dancing on tables was once my forte, sometimes with lampshade on head, sometime not. Not bothered.

I did go to pre-school, however, a couple of mornings a week at 4 before I was thrown into the jungle that is primary school, and I did spend my first day of school under a table with a smelly boy with a streaming nose named Clarence. I’m not sure what his day care status was.

In this day of people living so far from family, and us raising our children virtually solo (as opposed to ‘it takes a village’ style), not to mention the cost of living and the necessity (or indeed, choice) for many mum’s to go back to work, day care is a fabulous option of child care. Is it the optimum place for your baby or toddler? I guess it’s open to opinion, but what I’m wondering is why I feel compelled to defend my choice to keep my child with me until he’s three? In this urban society I almost feel as if I’m committing child abuse by not sending him to others to be looked after, be it one, two or three days a week. I am in a very fortunate position that I can work from home (and let’s face it my work has take a serious backseat……if my career were a bus, I think we’d be located around the luggage hold. I’d say toilet but that would be putting out very negative vibes for my current project) and we can live comfortably on Mister H’s salary, although there are sacrifices. I really, really miss the cleaners. If something were to change with my career, then of course, I’d have to look into my options, of which, daycare would probably have to be at the top of the list. I’m not anti it, it’s just not what I choose for now.

Although I do not base my parenting solely on things I’ve read, Steve Biddulph’s book, Raising Boys (yes, there are big differences in the sexes even from a young age) best sums it up for me, and his findings are deeply steeped in psychological research. He says –

If at all possible, a boy should be cared for by his parents, or a close relative (except for the occasional trusted sitter) until about three. Group care of the institutional kind does not suit a boys nature below this age.

He goes on to explain that although all boys in daycare will not become psychopaths (his words), they will be more at risk of having harmed their development and therefore suffer from behavioural issues including aggression, disobedience and anxiety. Boys are much more prone to abandonment issues, that can lead to attachment issues in later life…… If I’m not working, and I have the option of hanging out with my child and preventing any of these nasties, why wouldn’t I? The thing I need to remember is it’s not actually ‘early learning’, it’s glorified babysitting, and it don’t come cheap. I do.

I’m not suggesting for one minute that if you choose day care as an option for your child you are making a bad decision, I’m just saying, I choose not to. I ensure D Man gets a lot of socialisation. He’s still learning conflict resolution with other children, (AKA ‘give me my freakin’ bucket back’), he’s still learning sharing (AKA ‘here’s your freakin’ bucket back’). We get our equal share of The Lord Of The Flies action.

We do stuff. I engage with my child. Between playgroups, Junior Jivers and dates in the park, our social life is banging……if you dig that kind of thing. At home, I don’t just turn on the TV. We get paint all over our faces, and the furniture and we stick play dough in our hair and on the cat. We kick the ball around the garden and we cook together (I cook, he eats raw flour, rolls eggs off the counter and stick’s his grubby mitts in everything) but we explore the world together…..

In the blink of an eye my little man will be flipping me the bird and stealing my car keys, so I reckon I should make the most of him while he still thinks I’m cool.

Today’s feature image was taken by the fabulous photographer Kirsten Cox. Take a minute to check out her beautiful work.

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