Friday, June 22, 2012

A new pot and and the break up

This weeks culinary post involves change in our lives. The (now ritual) Sunday night cook up with the youngest son has branched out nicely with such dishes as hand made gnococci with 4 types of mushroom sauce and even a lasagne with 7 types of roasted meat in it. In the search for new dishes, new authors are sought out and this week a Chinese dish was presented for production.

Regardless of how you view me, at heart - I'm Lazy guy.

This means if I can only use one pot then all good. If not I will immediately invoke the " I cooked you have to clean" rule. This is especially true if it was a messy dish that required every pot and pan in the house.

So the idea of a one pot meal has intrigued me greatly. The main problem is I have never had a "one pot"

Its something that has eluded me until now. I was admiring an earthen ware pot in the store near me, the sales lady called out to me from behind the counter " Very good pot, can do everything" then I thought what the assistant then said was "one is in Chinese and one is in English, you need the English one" So I started sorting the boxes in to piles of Chinese marked boxes and English marked boxes. Turns out what she actually said was " one side is in Chinese and the other side is in English just turn the box over"

Now I have to throw out something out because the cupboard is full and because clutter is not good
As per this post you need to be organised you can't keep everything. Problem is I'm chicken.

I don't know which item to move out in the cupboard to make room for my new baby.

So I delegated the task. I left the pot on the bench above the cupboard and waited. And as per standard operating procedure, the beloved cleaned the cupboard and found room for the pot. The mere fact that something did not have a place was just too much for her to bear.

So now I don't have the guilt of having to look at the pot or item that was discarded and say " Thanks but it's time we broke up as I need to use other pots "

Its essentials a win / win situation.

I'm just to soft when it comes to this sort of thing.

Anyway on the the recipe.

2 Brown onions chopped
50g ginger
some coriander stalks chopped
3 cloves of garlic
60ml oil
1.25 kg of shin or brisket cut into 4cm chunks
2 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
6 star anise
1 tsp peppercorns
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup light soy sauce + 2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp tomato paste
700ml beef stock

Jasmine rice to serve.

Preheat the oven to160c
Grind up the ginger, coriander and garlic in to a paste ( I used the mortar and pestle because it's fun )
Heat up the pot on the stove top with the oil, cook the beef for 3-4 mins in batches and set aside.
Lower the heat to about half and cook the paste you made with 1/3 of a cup of water for 3 mins. Add the star anise, five spice and peppercorns, cook for another minute and then add the soy sauces, sugar, tomato paste and the beef. Sir thoroughly and then add the stock so it just covers the beef. Bring to to boil then put on the lid and transfer the pot to the oven for 2.5 hours.
It will look like this - sort of a stew

Remove the beef from the mixture with a slotted spoon and set aside in a warm spot. Boil the remaining sauce on the stove top until it reduces to at least half the volume and thickens up a little.

Put back in the beef  and you're ready to go. Serve with the rice.

Friday, June 8, 2012

I just can't do jail - I'm way too soft

It's decided then.

Jail is just not a place that I can be.

The police are not polite, the guards don't like you, everybody shouts at you all the time and the food is an absolute disaster. Jail is just not a place that a polite middle aged man like me will ever survive.

As I did last year, again this year I have participated in the White Lion Bailout,  to raise much needed funds for disadvantaged youth in trouble and help support the programs that assist them in getting their lives back on track.

As a father of two young men on the way I am keen to help other youngsters find their way in the world without the problems and distractions that come at us  from all directions

Anyway once we had raised the requisite funds through a series of sausage sizzles, lolly sales and raffles we were ready to go.
That's the difference with this event - In order to participate you have to raise the required bail for each team member.

And I have to tell you in this day and age raising funds for charities has become guerrilla warfare. You need to be doing something different to attract donations not only for your charity, but even for your event to raise funds for your charity.
Everyone seems to have " wallet fatigue " for the huge number of charities trying to continue on with the work they do. It's sad that you can't help them all, but you simply have to decide what you are going to do and support and stick to it.

So after being processed (finger printed and photographed) it was off to the holding cells. As you can see they didn't seem to search us too well.

The toilets are not appealing at all, so you just hold on.
After all our time in the slammer we had our day in court.

I know its all light hearted and that they are creating an experience for us to remind us that these are kids in real trouble, but at some of the stations the message is particularly difficult.

When they began to show us how drugs are created and where they are hidden it was very clear that I will never be able to be a drug user.

The hardest stop is the padded cell in which they recreate a troubled girls life who didn't show up to her court appearance - because she is dead. The question left with us is - Who let her down ? The answer just isn't clear and raises many more questions in my mind.

So armed with the little bit of insight on how easy is is for kids to stray on to the wrong path and knowing that the things I do will contribute to how they make those decisions. I will be back next year to continue to help in any way I can whilst I try to raise two boys into two men  - who, like me are completely un-suited to jail.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

As a Dad you're probably going through something simliar

I often sit and wonder why I'm the only Dad with challenges in raising my kids. I understand there's going to be challenges, that's what makes being a parent so great. But why all the other stuff ?

After all, I was a perfect child who never gave my parents a lick of trouble ever, so why  do mine ? *

image coutesy of

Simple things like getting them to clean their rooms through to complex things like putting more effort into school assignments seemed to be a never ending source of debate  and discussion and you start to wonder  - I am even doing this right ?

And after having another heated discussion with The Eldest son about levels of effort in his homework, I was feeling pretty down. Some days just seem like a never evening military campaign to illuminate the locals and set them on the path of economic freedom. Let us win your hearts and minds or we'll burn your damn huts down, sort of thing.

I wasn't the greatest student so I want to ensure my kids don't make the same mistakes I made and I'm keen to not let them suffer through some past misadventures that I should have definitely have been warned about.

Now the Beloved and I are a fearsome team. We are absolutely on the same side when it comes to the minions. But sometimes being a Dad is kinda like being a light house keeper - You know your job is important, but you never really know if you are doing it right because it's just you.

So what to do ? Who do I talk to ? It's been previously discussed on this blog about the difficulties faced when meeting / talking to other Dads. You certainly don't want to go around exposing your issues to all and sundry.

And I can't talk to Grandpa on the Go about it. The issues he faced with me were different. Or is it just me wanting that to be the case - it's all too hard, so don't worry just keep going .

image courtesy of

What an eye opener it was when I accidentally had lunch one day with another Dad and he confessed to me about having an argument with his son. It was exactly the same argument over exactly the same piece of homework with his son that I had had with mine. We ended up chatting for the entire lunch about these challenges and swapping war stories.

And with that small piece of revelation I started asking questions at every opportunity. Listening and realising that we were all going through the same thing.

Too much {insert video game name here} not enough homework.

Arguing over Internet usage.

Getting them to do chores around the house. It went on.

I  like to see myself as a pretty easy going guy and I try not to be an overbearing Dad. But you have to teach (boys especially) that their are boundaries and limits. And now that I know we can't solve every challenge / crisis but at least there are other Dads with some advice or at the very least a sympathetic ear, I'm back on track.

So now I attend the dinners with other Dads. I'm even thinking about setting some up. And I listen and ask questions every time.

So let me give you one task to do this week - Go find another Dad with similar aged kids to yours and talk to them and even more importantly - Listen.

Who knows you might just be surprised.

* May not be accurate statement