Musings of a working Mom

My oldest (Andrea) just turned 5 and the younger one (Arno) is turning 2 at the end of the month. Until recently playing together for them just meant being in the same room, or Andrea irritating Arno by tickling him or him grabbing whatever she’s playing with. Then this weekend they suddenly started playing together and it is wonderful to see it. They were climbing the little hill outside in our garden and probably spend about an hour up there. I took them some oranges and then said when it’s done it’s time for Arno’s bottle. Andrea burst into tears when I said this because she knows that means it is naptime for him. She told me she doesn’t want him to go and sleep she wants to play. Then last night after work I was busy getting laundry from our bedroom when I heard the box with the legos being thrown out onto the floor. Directly after that Arno comes storming into the room shouting ‘ANDREAAAAAAA’. He did a very quick u-turn when he discovered I’m in the room, and not Andrea, but he then found her in her room to go and play blocks with him. Even though they are naughty together I’m loving it. I’m just hoping they don’t get to the same level of naughtiness me and my brother use to get to.

On an unrelated topic. Heston Blumenthal. I just love that man. His cooking shows are my favourite, and eating at one of his restaurants, or a meal cooked by him is on my bucket list. Even though I watch his cooking shows I never thought of cooking any of his dishes until ‘How to cook like Heston’ came on. There are so many good tips in that series. I’ve made his slow cooked scrambled eggs, and it is so creamy and wonderful I could eat it all day long.

Recently we decided to try out his mashed potato recipe, and that is another winner. I don’t think I ever want to eat normal mash again, but unfortunately it takes too long to cook it his way all the time. And I still took some shortcuts, and adapted it a bit. Here is what I did.

I did not measure the number of potatoes, only took the amount I usually make for us as a family, and to have lunch the next day. He also said take waxy potatoes, but I had two different types of potatoes, no idea what kind, so I had no choice but to mix them.

Put unsalted water on the stove, and heat to 72ºC (I used a meat thermometer on the water, because it’s the only one I had). Peel the potatoes, keep the skins, and cut into equal sizes. Rinse the potatoes very well, and put it in the water.

Keep it at 72ºC for 30 minutes. I checked it about every 5 minutes and put either the heat up or down. After 30 minutes rinse them again, and then put them in a pot with boiling salted water. Cook until it is very soft (falling apart stage)

While that is boiling add the potato peelings (I washed those as well) to a cup of milk, and bring that to boiling point. Remove from heat, and let that stand for 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and put it back on the plate to dry out. The recipe said to put the potatoes through a ricer and then a fine sieve, but I put it through our food mill (moulinette) that I got to make baby food, and then added 250g butter and the warm milk and a bit of salt.

That was the most delicious mash I’ve ever had in my entire life, and both kids had seconds. We had it with meat and vegetables, but I could easily have eaten just a plate of that on its own.

Driving Sky

I drive a lot every day, and I like to take a quick picture with my phone while driving. I never even look at how it comes out, just lift up my phone and click. I love clouds and sunrises and sunsets. With sunrises and sunsets it is sometimes pretty for just a very short time. There were times when there was a beautiful sky, and I thought I’ll just pass this vehicle and then take the picture, and then the moment is gone. Here is a collage of some of the photos.

Clouds

I really loved all the interesting blogs (and people I discovered) through this.

And I enjoyed it that it forced me to blog every day, something I thought was impossible to do, so it proved me wrong. I still can’t believe I actually did it.

It also made me think about a lot of things I haven’t thought about in a very long time.

march-blog-challenge-badge

Confession time. I’m not fond of ice cream. I’ll eat it, but there are many desserts I’d rather have. If I choose ice cream I’ll go with plain vanilla or caramel. I’d rather have a sorbet or frozen yoghurt.

31-day-blog-challenge-march-2013-ad

December – our office closes the end of December, it’s summer, wonderful weather, not stuck in traffic every day, Christmas. Love it.

31-day-blog-challenge-march-2013-ad

Watching Giuliana and Bill on TV. I don’t watch reality tv and I don’t watch fashion shows but enjoy G&B. I got hooked while on maternity leave and watched all the seasons so far. My husband hates it so much, and I have to turn it off when I hear husband near, otherwise he complains about it.

I must give an honorable mention to eating condensed milk straight out of the can as well.

31-day-blog-challenge-march-2013-ad

First some other news. My beautiful girl is 5 years old today.

Andrea

On the one hand I can’t believe she is so big but on the other hand I can barely remember life without her. We had a bit of a disaster the morning. I made a lot of Little Mermaid cupcakes last night after work. There are 30 kids in her class, so I had to bake two batches. I’m no baker, so it took me ages to make. Husband dropped the kids and cupcakes and chips off at school…in the case of the cupcakes, literary. The cupcakes were in 3 containers, and then he dropped one of the containers, destroying those. He still took the other 2 containers to school. I’m now just hoping some of the kids are not in today, because otherwise some of them will be without cupcakes. There were extra cupcakes at home, but it was too much for husband to put them on his bike and drop them off. He is now refusing to take anything to school again, so with child 2’s birthday I’m taking leave to take snacks to school.

RIP cupcakes

MermaidCupcakes

Back to the topic. I don’t really want to meet any online friend in real life. I sometimes think it would be nice to meet someone whose tweets or blogs I’ve been reading, but a meeting would probably just be awkward. There is one forum I’ve been a member of for about 10 years. It is a forum that started from Morbid Fact du Jour where people were discussing the daily facts and sharing other interesting news articles. It evolved into just sharing anything. I think it would be nice to get together as a group, but I’m in South Africa and all the other are various places in America and Canada.

You all know that exercise where they ask you who you would invite if you could invite 10 people to dinner. I always put Zelda le Grange as one of the people I would invite. You might not know who she is, but for a long time she was the personal assistant of Nelson Mandela. She must’ve had such an incredible life working with him, and must have amazing stories to tell. I now follow her on Twitter so I’ll add her for today. The problem with this is I know her, but she doesn’t know me at all.

Then another person from Twitter that I follow but they don’t know me at all is Bouwer Bosch. He is a musician, solo artist as well as lead singer of Straatligkinders and in the group Dans Dans Lisa. I love his sense of humour, and he just looks like a nice guy.

31-day-blog-challenge-march-2013-ad

I love food. I enjoy trying new recipes and tasting new and exciting things. I’m lucky (and surprised) that I’m not overweight because I eat more than what a person is ‘supposed’ to eat. I love red meat, especially beef, pork especially bacon, and fish as well. I’m not a big fan of chicken although I’ve had incredible chicken dishes. We’ve had a few bad experiences with chicken where it was off, and every time I was the one that opened the packets and discovered it. That smell put me off chicken.

But if I had to choose one dish that is my favourite of all time it is lasagne. The spiciness of the meat combined with the creaminess of the béchamel sauce topped with cheese and I love it when it has crunchy bits on the edges. So good. Just thinking about it makes me drool.

Here is my lasagne recipe.

Fry a quarter pack of finely cut streaky bacon until crunchy.
Add a finely chopped onion and half a green pepper, fry until soft.
Add 500g mince, brown and add garlic.
Add half a packet of minestrone soup (very important)
If using dried herbs add basil and/or oregano now (if fresh add later)
Pour in a bit of red wine or sherry. If I don’t have either I use a bit of Coke or just water.
Add small tin of tomato paste and two tablespoons of tomato sauce (alternatively a can of chopped tomatoes, but my husband doesn’t eat tomatoes so I go with the paste.
Grind in a bit of pepper
If I feel like it I sometimes add a bit of chutney
Pour some water in to get it nice and saucy.

Taste and decide if it needs some salt (it shouldn’t)

While this is cooking make a white sauce (and preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius)

For my white sauce I use equal amounts of flour and margarine.
Melt 4 tablespoons of margarine.
Stir in 4 tablespoons of cake flour.
Slowly add milk until it’s the consistency you want.
I add a little grated cheese in, but it is not necessary. If the meat is very salty I’ll skip the cheese here and less salt in here.
Add a pinch of salt and paprika/cayenne pepper to the white sauce

If using fresh herbs add it now to the meat sauce. Make sure your meat is quite saucy and the white sauce not too thick, otherwise the lasagne sheets are chewy. Layer a dish with meat, lasagne sheets and sauce and repeat. Put some grated cheese on top, and if you feel like doing something extra mix a bit of breadcrumbs into the grated cheese. For my cheese I usually use Gouda mixed with a small amount of freshly grated Parmesan. Bake for 30-40 minutes

31-day-blog-challenge-march-2013-ad

Firstly, I’m in South Africa. There are lots of problems here, but I really love the country, and can’t imagine living somewhere else.

I’ll describe my home and office locations. My office location is on the outskirts of Pretoria. Our office used to be a house on a plot that was converted into offices. In the office itself I’m surrounded by computers and people who rarely speak, just typing and clicking away. They usually only talk on smoke breaks, and I don’t smoke. What is nice is if I take a break or make a personal call I can go outside and I’m surrounded by trees and birds singing. If I feel like talking to someone I go to one of the other departments (different parts of the house), because they are more talkative than the IT people.

Home is in Johannesburg. Interesting fact about Johannesburg, it is the biggest man made forest in the world and has over 10 million trees, even though it is a big city. Our house is on a big property in a quiet suburb of Johannesburg. Here is an aerial photo of where I stay.

Huis

31-day-blog-challenge-march-2013-ad

I’m very good at putting myself in embarrassing moments, but there is one moment that I still remember so well, even though I was only 5 or 6 years old. I was extremely shy as a kid. My brother and I were watching a magic show at a shopping centre. Then the magician said he needed a volunteer, but nobody went out of their own. He looked around the audience and said: “You look like a good volunteer” while pointing at me. Going onto that stage was bad enough for me, but he asked me if I could make like a chicken. So there I was standing on stage, clucking like a chicken and moving my arms up and down. He then told me to bend down slightly, and held a mesh bag behind me. His magic trick was that I was laying eggs into the bag. Very embarrassing for me.

31-day-blog-challenge-march-2013-ad

Tag Cloud