Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lasagne alla Cacciatora (Hunter’s Lasagne)
adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Italy”
600 gms shredded roasted meat we ended up with nearer to 800gm
The original recipe calls for Hen Pheasant, wild rabbit and pigeon

But we substituted
200 gm mined pork
200 gm minced veal
200 gm minced beef
2 x duck breasts shredded
added to roasted lamb noisettes, roasted kangaroo and 2 chicken Maryland's roasted  (all were then shredded)
 We browned the minced meat and added it to the shredded meat before adding to the sauce

2 packs of fresh lasagne sheets
Grated Parmesan cheese
260 gm ball of mozzarella cheese (about 10 oz)
handful of fresh sage leaves
olive oil
Tomato Sauce:2 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 fresh bay leaves
2- cans of diced tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
White Sauce:
1 litre milk
2 large sprigs of parsley
large pinch of nutmeg
1 onion, peeled and sliced
12 whole black peppercorns
80gm butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  1. Heat a deep pan with the oil and slowly fry the garlic over medium heat until it starts to change colour.
  2. Add the rosemary, bay leaves and tomatoes, cook over medium low for 45 minutes with a lid on.
  3. Bring the milk, parsley, nutmeg, onion and peppercorns to a gentle boil in a sauce pan.
  4. Melt the butter in a third large pan over medium heat.
  5. Slowly add the flour to the butter and whisk it in until smooth.
  6. Strain the milk, keeping the milk and discarding the solids.
  7. Add the milk to the flour and butter a ladle at a  time and whisk it in until fully incorporated and continue until all the milk has been added.
  8. Bring the milk mixture to a boil, simmer for a few minutes then remove from the heat.
  9. Add the Parmesan to the milk mixture and season with salt and pepper.
  10. Slice the tofu into small 2cm cubes add to the tomato sauce. If the sauce is very dry add some hot water and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  12. Remove the rosemary and bay leaves.


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degree C
  2. Spray a 9″ x 13″ pan with vegetable spray.
  3. Lay two or three sheets of the pasta on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add 1/2 of the tomato sauce, cover with 1/3 of the white sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Add two or three sheets of pasta and tomato sauce, white sauce and Parmesan cheese.
  6. Repeat until all the tomato sauce is used. Keep some white sauce for the top of the lasagne.
  7. On the final layer add your pasta, white sauce, Parmesan cheese.
  8. Rip up the mozzarella cheese and add that to the top.
  9. Sprinkle with the sage leaves, and drizzle with olive oil.
  10. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

School Holidays are expensive

The school holidays are upon us once again. It's that time of the year that the wallet is used as a public ATM by anyone providing suitable (or not) ways of keeping the minions entertained or a least mildly amused enough to not destroy the house or its surrounds.

Lets face it it's not easy. You can't just say " guys, lets read this book" and hand them War and Peace and hope for the best.

No you have to come up with ideas and places that aren't  going to get - "Dad this is so lame"

This is where the devil is in the detail. The good stuff aint free. Take for example the time we went to a fish farm. Turns out whatever you catch you have to keep and pay for. Not only that, these fish have been waiting for you , in tiny bath tubs size ponds, to show up so they can commit suicide on your child's hook.

Over and Over again.

Couple of tips for all the readers for attending fish farms :
1- Do not hand any child the wooden club used to kill the fish and let them have a go at clubbing the fish they just caught. It just ends as a broken thumb.

2 - Do not let them fish in the salmon pond, those fish are huge (and 30 bucks a kilo)

So $150.00 later we are back in the car and heading home where I will eat baked beans on toast for the next month interspersed with trout and salmon 90 different ways.

Theme parks are another great little money removing system. They not only charge you to get in and ride on the rides, but manage to charge for food at the same rate as Vue de Monde. Not to mention the fact that  I'm pretty sure they add sugar to everything they serve to keep the kids hyped up and going all day.

And as soon as they start to come down from one sugar high you give them more, because we all know nothing is worse than them crashing in a public place surrounded by the disapproving glare of 3000 other parents.

Then you have the movie complex. Where else can you watch the latest film on a screen the size of a house whilst munching on a box popcorn the size of a domestic refrigerator, that cost the same as the GDP of Great Britain and contains enough salt for 6 lifetimes ?

At least they put adult jokes in most kids movies now days and most still contain a fart joke somewhere so it's not a total loss, but I will need to drink my own body weight in water afterwards.

Trouble is if I don't do something they will just sit in front of the TV watching Sponge Bob interspersed with video games ( if they they're really motivated they will sit in front of the TV with their laptop). So I have to come up with something.

So I tried taking them to work. It's fine until they need to go to the toilet in the middle of meetings - every 15 minutes. Not to mention the fact they aren't covered by work insurance so every time someone from HR comes around they have to hide under your desk.

Holiday camps presented themselves as an alternative. They take your kids to movies, parks, aquariums and other such exciting places. Trouble is not only do you pay for the places they take them and anything they eat, you pay an extraordinary amount to actually get them to take them. We have two growing boys so each time we use these camps I have to ring the bank manager and extend the mortgage.

I know I'm not alone on this problem and who hasn't secretly wished the industrial revolution was back so the kids all had to work in the mills ?

So once again we rack our brains for ideas, begging babysitting credits from Grandparents and organizing play dates with other non working parents.

So on we soldier and know in our hearts that one they will be old enough to manage themselves and the holidays. But until the kids turn 30, I am just going to have to continue to search for new and interesting things to get them to do.

That and get a second job....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The challenge of becoming a Husband

I was listening to a conversation about getting married the other day and it made me think of when I was trying desperately to become a husband.

There's no real way to dress it up - It was a long up hill battle. And lets face it, when have I ever made stuff I want to do, easy for myself.

I had met the Future Bride at a party of a friend. Due to the nature of the party we were left as the only two people standing (literally) and just kept on chatting. A few more dates pass and I had decided that this was the woman I wanted to marry (or at least spend as much time with as possible before someone else snagged her)

image courtesy of

We started to get pretty serious, she would stop on the way home from work (night shifts) to see me and we would go to parties and out to dinners together when ever possible.

I once even slept in her car out the front of the house after a party, which was all going unnoticed until I got busted doing a pee on the nature strip.

So time moves by and there we were travelling nicely as a couple, until the Parents in law To Be went away and we decided to spend the week together at my place. The plan was simple, we would go back to her parents house each day or so to water the plants and feed the dog.

The dog gets fed, the plants get watered and I get uninterrupted access to the dream girl.

Easy. No one gets hurt.

The neighbor ratted us out.

Now here's where it gets tough for any potential suitor. Her mother was less than pleased and immediately I was labeled as trouble. To come back from here was going to be tough. The relationship with my mother-in-law to be was not good.

Oh who am I kidding, there was no relationship.

So here's Tip #1 - Build a good relationship with your proposed family in laws.

So as you can guess I did what any husband to be should do. I went to every family function and did what ever I could to be helpful. Dishes, serving food, helping, cooking food. You name it I did it. Because at this point I was on the bottom of the family ladder.

So now I'm working towards the engagement. We were going on a holiday and I had decided to surprise her with a useful travel item (pre Sept -11 days) a Swiss army knife. Somehow I manged to describe this "surprise"  that made it sound exactly like an engagement ring. She was beyond disappointed. I still haven't lived that one down.

So here's Tip #2 Do not try and surprise her with small gifts. Get really big ones until after the engagement. In fact no small gifts until after the wedding as all small gifts may will be misconstrued as diamonds.

image courtesy of

When it's time to ask her father for permission to marry his daughter, take your time and do not rush this meeting. It is full of traps.
Firstly choose the time and place carefully. Also if he points out an attractive woman - For goodness sake DON'T look.

When her father asks you how your job is going he not asking to be polite, Oh no he is ensuring you can look after his daughter and eventually his grand-kids so don't bore him with what a jerk the guy opposite is or how dumb your boss is. Keep it simple and to the point - You have a job and it pays.

If somehow you manage to make it past this point, don't think you are out of the woods just yet.

The proposal itself is for her just as critical as the wedding day. It has to able to be able to be recounted to all her friends and gain the ever sought after "he's soooo romantic, I wish my [insert term for other half here] was more like him !". The Wife To Be will expect you to get down on one knee as well.

And don't be put off by those stupid rom-coms where it all goes wrong and then is suddenly the most romantic thing on earth, that never happens. Just keep it in line with things she likes to do with you (not paintball or go-carting) and work from there.

Tip #3 Remember the proposal is like the diamonds you're going to eventually have to buy her  - Forever.

So think carefully and plan.

The biggest challenge I found was just be yourself. Your Wife To Be is going out with you because of you, nothing else ( unless you are a mining magnate and if you are - get a pre-nup). I got all caught up in trying to be perfect / make everything perfect and usually ended up just making it harder for myself.

And as I always remind people, you have to work at your marriage - it takes patience and persistence and most of all planning ! So you are going to have to work at becoming a husband as well.

So as I sit here typing away, looking back on 13 years of marriage I say to you - get on to it - its a cracker and you won't regret it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Speech.

I have decided that because of the 40th birthday of my beloved that she can have the post this week. So here is my speech to her at the party held in her honor.

"When I first met my wife to be I knew she would be the one to get me straightened out. The first day she moved in the fridge was cleaned out of all the left overs and real food was installed.
Then the Lachlan budgeting system was overhauled. It was pretty simple - the budget was whatever was in the wallet and when the wallet was empty the budget was over. This was just the first day mind you.

And away we went on our new life together, just the two of us in our little weather board shack with the indoor waterfall in the kitchen and the hole in the bathroom floor. Every winter like clock work we would get the flu. But persevere we did and the two children and this beautiful home are the result of our hard work and her organisational prowess.

I know I'm not an easy guy to live with, I regularly hurt my self, do things most people would have probably not contemplated at all and generally go out of my way to have a laugh. Usually all at the same time.

But whilst I have tested her patience and knowledge of nearby hospitals she has very quietly and carefully beeen molding me into the person you see before you today - still alive.

When were going through the photos you will see later it became clear that she loves the outdoors. Kayaking, fishing, tennis and lately golf have all kept her busy and active. In fact let's take a moment to talk about being busy.

Suzanne has an unerring ability to do everything. whether its organizing a school function or kids party or reminding me where my pants are she is literally everywhere. I mean how many husbands have to book in when they are going to see their wife ?

I'm not kidding when I tell you there is literally are spreadsheets to organize everything we do.
So when I look back at the last 16 years that I have had the privilege to know her I am just amazed at all the adventures we have managed to pack in.

Whether it was getting married or moving out of our brand new just completed never been lived in house to live in Malaysia she has been the perfect partner. Always organised and always smiling.

I will confess how ever that not everybody is a fan of her there are people who have quietly asked that she not be present on fishing trips as they are tired of her either catching the first fish or the largest fish. But I digress.

I have a vain hope that maybe one year she will take on less, be on less committees, organize less functions but we all know that's not going to happen any day soon. I seriously think she thrives on the challenge.

As I look around tonight I see all of the people that are special to her and I know that she is special to you all.

So here we are tonight celebrating the passing of a epic milestone for an amazing woman. A wife, a daughter, a mother to 2 special little guys and a helper than none of us can do without. So please raise a glass and toast a woman who we all love".

Next week back to Dads and the challenge of trying to become a husband !

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Being a new Dad - The first years (Pt 2)

When you start going out with someone, your family starts asking when you're getting engaged,

So you get engaged.

The your family start asking when your getting married,

So you get married

Then your family wants to know when your going to have babies,

So you have a baby

Then your family want to know when you going to have another baby,

So you have another child.

And here's where it gets interesting. You've now got two bundles of joy and the whole dynamic changes. I've always thought that the number of  years that separate the two kids will determine how they are going to behave towards each other. I'll let you know when the experiment finishes in 40 years.....

 They all start out cute

The first day we got the new Mr Junior home we decided to bath him, which of course made him cry. Mr Elder then started screaming to "Stop, Stop you're hurting him !!" his natural protective instinct had kicked in. I still laugh when I look back at that one. His little face all screwed up in rage and fear at us.
Come to think of it, he still does this with his face when I take away his computer privileges when I'm punishing him.

I still remember the first time they were in the bath together playing happily and I think it was Mr Junior who did a poo in the bath. Mr Elder jumped out like a scalded cat yelling and pointing which left poor Junior screaming and looking around trying to work out which part of him was broken because he thought he was falling apart.

We thought to ourselves how lucky we were to get two brothers who didn't fight or squabble over things as
for the next 6 months all Mr Junior would have to do was grunt and Mr Elder would come running over, pick something up and hand it to him. It drove us crazy as Mr Junior then refused to learn to crawl because he had his own personal slave to run around after him.

They even seemed to have worked out how to communicate via this grunting as Mr Elder would always know exactly what his brother needed.

 "Hey, I thought you said cartoons were on next ?!"

But it doesn't take long before they decide they are competing for your attention. And so begins the competition. I don't think they set out to antagonise each other - it just happens that way.

"Get out - I was here first !"

This is where your parenting skills along with your patience will be sorely tested. It seems as if every thing/toy/object one picks up immediately becomes the most desirable object in the universe and they both absolutely can not exist without it.

I makes you tear your hair out in frustration watching them fight over a stick one of them found on the ground or a cardboard box that a particularly expensive toy came in !
Anyway, with patience and a take no prisoners (King David style) approach you can get through it. Just as a side note your cupboards will become full of crap you have taken off them because they are fighting over it.

As I discussed in this post there are solutions you just really have to plan out what you're going to do.

Time waits for no man and as the days go by, they are now constantly trying to work out their place in the world whilst still being completely dependent on you. But because there are now two of them it becomes crowded in their world.

So the boys will then constantly push the boundaries of their world and as parents we will be the fence that gently pushes them back, after all we can not have them parading around naked just because they are "too hot" or have a water fight minutes before we leave for a party dressed in our good clothes.

Actually on party behavior - I extensively discuss what will and won't be acceptable at gatherings and functions. I do this because ..... well it's fair to say I may have caused some issues when I was younger. I convinced all the other kids that we should get on the roof because that's what you do at a BBQ. It turned out quite a few of them were scared of heights so it took some time to get them up there and it took a great deal of  time to get them back down.

But I digress. So now I have two boys and the world has changed yet again. Now begins the years that will shape them into the men that they will become.
I just have to remember to stop laughing out loud at fart jokes and sniggering when someone says something remotely mis-construable because I'm supposed to set a good example.

So take what you will from my experiences, as I march on savoring the moments and trying not to break anything on the way !

These precious moments when all the stars are aligned and they are friends for awhile are the ones you truly cherish. (So get a picture while you can!)