Archive | October, 2012

From Mud to Mouth – Silverbeet and Goats Cheese Frittata

31 Oct

Here we go with the inaugural From Mud to Mouth Post. I feel very comfortable talking about food and engaging with other peoples taste buds. I’ve always had a passion for cooking and it has taken me down one or two interesting paths, including my own gourmet soup stall at a farmers market, an audition for UK Masterchef and I’ve teetered on the edge of opening a food business numerous times. Most of all though I just bloody love eating good food!

Who would have thought anyone would risk their culinary credibility straight up with silverbeet, the underdog of the veggie world. I prefer to think of silverbeet as an unsung hero – its ridiculously easy to grow, prolific, healthy and damned tasty when shown a little love. I also stated that From Mud to Mouth was going to be all about offering recipes that are seasonal and grown with my own fair hands (its in the supermarkets and markets at the moment). Don’t inflict your own veggie prejudices on your child, it is possible that they might just like things that you tend to avoid.

Max is a huge fan of this dish and it tends to go from mud to mouth in about one hour, that’s harvesting, prepping, cooking and eating! Frittatas are such easy things to make and you can hide heaps of sneaky veggies in there without anyone cottoning on. Max has acquired a taste for both silverbeet and goats cheese but you can replace those two heroes with spinach and fetta, broccoli and cheddar, zucchini and parmesan – whatever works for you and yours, there aren’t too many rules. The other big frittata bonus is that they score huge non-mess points, they are easy for little ones to pick up and gorge on. They are delicious hot or cold so make great picnic fodder.

Here’s the recipe, I would like you all to read it in the style of Jamie Oliver, full of flamboyant gestures and spittle.

Goats Cheese and Silverbeet Frittata

silverbeet a respectable bunch  

goats cheese 150g

eggs 5

grated nutmeg (delicious but optional)

butter a small knob (ooh matron!)

garlic – 1 crushed

salt and pepper (always)

olive oil – a glugs worth

These are the basic ingredients but there is no reason why you can’t add zucchini, peas, spinach, onion, potato or broccoli to boost the vitamin intake.   

Set about the silverbeet with a knife until it’s been roughly chopped. Throw it into a large saucepan with a couple of glugs of olive oil and the crushed garlic cooking over a low heat, put a lid on it, go and watch a bit of Dr Phil and come back in 5. The silverbeet will have sweated and steamed in its juices and will now be nice and tender. Try and get as much liquid out as possible using the pan lid to stop any of the lovely veg disappearing down the plug hole. Hit it with some salt and pepper.

Break the eggs into a mixing bowl, give them a quick whisk and throw in any additional veg you might want to add. You can get away with not cooking most veggies if they are chopped relatively small, but I would recommend pre-cooking onion or potato. Add the silverbeet, grate in the nutmeg, a touch more salt and pepper, sprinkle in the goats cheese and give it another whisk.

Run some butter round the edge of a non stick pan (20-30cm diamter), pour in the mixture and put it into a pre-heated oven at around 200 degrees. See what the latest is with Dr Phil and by the time you can’t stand to watch anymore (about 10 minutes) your frittata will be looking delectable. Give it a little wobble to make sure it’s not too obliging and stab it with a knife to make sure it comes out clean. Bon appetit people!

Next week I will be harvesting broad beans and making them do exciting things to your childs tatsebuds. Please, please, please if anyone is game enough to give it a go, let me know how it went.

Show Me The Money!

30 Oct

It seems a bit rich for a white, heterosexual, male to start banging the drum for equality but I’m about to give that drum a damned good bang.  I say equality perhaps acknowledgement is a better choice of word. Hands up (a gesture not really suited to Blogs) if you knew that Dads and Partners are finally entitled to financial support aimed at allowing them the opportunity to stay at home and play X-Box bond with the new arrival.

I timed Anna’s impregnation and due date (Christmas Day) to absolute perfection to ensure that I would be home for Max’s arrival, but not all Dad’s have that level of skill and the introduction of Dad and Partner Pay will mean more Dad’s can be around for this unique event. I could not have imagined leaving Max and Anna behind, grabbing my briefcase and marching off to work, largely because I am not important enough to own a briefcase but that’s beside the point.

So Mums (and perhaps the odd Dad) I know what you’re thinking “SHOW ME THE MONEY!” how do I get my hands on the goods?  Let me break it down for you, like a rapper without the rhymes, naughty words or preoccupation with guns;

Who is eligible – Working Dads or Partners who care for a child that is born or adopted from 1st January 2013. You must be a fair dinkum Australian Resident, which is why I am yet to receive a single cent, although perhaps this post will see my Residency Application fast tracked or rejected out of hand?

When can you claim – Up to 3 months before the expected due date or date of adoption and it’s open right now folks

What’s on offer – $500,000 and an all inclusive trip to The Maldives, ha had you there didn’t I? That actually reminds me of a time when my sister recorded the previous weeks lottery, went out and purchased those numbers and then played the tape to her gullible ex-boyfriend, genius. The honest truth is that you will receive approx. $1200 before tax – better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (Ms Gillard if you want to use that on any of the advertising you can have it).

There is a bit of fine print that you may want to cast your eyes over and you can find that at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/dad-and-partner-pay?utm_id=32. If ever there was a post that deserves to go viral, I’m talking Charlie Bit My Finger viral here, then this is it. There are Dad’s out there missing out on the opportunity to get acquainted with their sons or daughters because they can’t afford to do so, well now they can.

How to Use Your Child As a Scapegoat

30 Oct

Hi, my name is Matt, I’m a Stay at Home Dad and sometimes I use my two-year-old child as a scapegoat.

Sometimes I do it without even knowing I’m doing it, other times it’s an elaborate sting devised to keep me from the dog house, but mostly I just do it because I can. Max is armed with a 20-word vocabulary and “Daddy is a Big Fat Liar” is not a part of his repertoire … yet.

There are the innocuous little white lies; these are the best type because the reward to guilt ratio is quite high.

Darling Wife “I made an entire batch of savoury muffins this morning why is there only one and a half left”

Me “It must be your baking darling. Max couldn’t get enough of them. I’ve never seen him like that he just kept on going he was like a machine!”

Gullible Wife “They were quite good I suppose. I’ll whip some more up for him tomorrow.”

Me “Superb, he’ll be delighted, he seemed to gesture that they might benefit from a bit more cheese, best keep the boy happy”.

There are the lies that enable you to save face during social gatherings.

Long Suffering Friends “Urgh what is that smell?”

Me “Max has an upset tummy and a little bit of wind I’m afraid. I was up nursing him all night. I hope he gets better soon because that sure does stink!”

Gullible Friends “Poor Max I hope you get better soon. And you are such a great Dad for sitting up with him all night”

Me “I try my best”

Then there are the slightly more serious lies that are teetering on the edge of unethical.

Swept up in the excitement of the park I accidently knocked a toddler over causing them to scream, cry and generally give the impression they had been assaulted. The parent came running over to see what had happened to their little precious.

Me “Sorry about that, my little boy gave her a shove when she pulled his hair and she took a tumble. I am trying to teach him to turn the other cheek but sometimes in the face of such provocation it’s a little bit difficult”.

Slightly Embarrassed Parent “I am very sorry, she does have a bit of a temper on her. Jemima go and say sorry to the little boy”

Me “He’ll be okay. There are some great books out there for dealing with angry children that you might want to have a look at”.

I’m not proud of any of these lies; well actually the one at the park did show very quick thinking. I am working hard to overcome this problem, partly because I know it’s wrong to lie and that I should be setting a good example to my son, but also because his vocabulary is growing by the day and it won’t be long until “Daddy is a Big Fat Liar” is an achievable sentence.

Have you ever porky pied your child into a scapegoat? The first step on your journey to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Stay at Home Dads – Duds or Dudes?

25 Oct

I was deep in high brow conversation at the park with another Dad recently when he drifted off our debate about the relative merits of swings and slides (swings are better) and into the far more murky waters of whether Dads are attractive to the opposite sex. Disclaimer numero uno – this is a story about a friend, this is not a story about me masquerading as a ‘friend’, got it, disclaimer installed I shall now continue. He claimed, with a slightly smug grin it must be said, that women find him more attractive now that he is a professional pram pusher. He also noted that having a puppy does wonders for his raw pulling powers, as he casually beckoned his pugadoodle pup – this guy had the whole package.

I found his argument a little deluded to be honest with you. I will now lay down my second disclaimer (I must be skating on thin ice to require not one but two disclaimers) and state that being a very, no wait extraordinarily, happily married man I am intrigued by his claim rather than hoping to profit from it. Being a stay at home parent has all the glamour and sex appeal of a pair of sweaty socks, actually some people are partial to a sweaty sock, but I’m talking about normal people. I will now allow you a voyeuristic glimpse into a typical unsexy day in the life of this dad. I wake up for the fifth time, this time it’s light so I know it’s serious. I inspect my growing army of grey hairs in the mirror, try to remember what it was like to have white eyes as opposed to red ones and step into the shower in the hope it will perform energising miracles. I pick up the clothes that were unceremoniously dumped at the side of my bed the previous night and through slightly gritted teeth promise Max that we will have a day of unparalleled fun and excitement. We have a bowl of cereal; Max prefers to let the milk really soak in before ditching bib, spoon and social etiquette in favour of good old hands.

I load up my wheels with everything I can arm myself to avoid a parenting catastrophe and start to push and I push and I push and I push. I look on at the “crisp shirts” lined up at the tram stop in the morning and look down to survey my own attire, wondering why I opted for jeans with dubious milk stains around the crutch. I then wait in line for my caffeine and ear wig the exciting exploits of the crisp shirts, all that talk of bars, restaurants and movies is so glamorous, I then turn to Max and we discuss whether he would like an apple or a banana.

We head for the park the same park we head for most days. Some Mums acknowledge us, some are friendly and some still can’t see the correlation between man and baby. I suppose being a dad in a sea of mums (we’re talking metaphorically again) is what makes the whole thing so unsexy to me. I am basically one of them (or you) I do the same things, I moan about the same things and I, well I am you but with different bits and pieces. The daily grind for stay at home parents of both persuasions is fairly unglamorous and I would imagine does not leave many of us feeling spunky (check out how Australian I am) but I can see that there is a certain empathy that would exist between SAHM and SAHD that could in the wrong hands be confused with attraction. One thing that is for sure The Boy gets all the female attention and thats just fine by me. I will conclude the rambling there and before I have to deliver anymore disclaimers I will sign out and wait with baited breath on the verdict; Stay at Home Dads – Duds or Dudes?

From Mud to Mouth

24 Oct

A wise daddy blogger (Reservoir Dad) once said “reveal a bit more of who you are and don’t limit yourself to posting just about being a Dad”. So like a good burlesque performer I am going to set about revealing a little bit more about me, not too much (the metaphorical nipple tassel will be in tact), just enough.

I’m sure I do lots of things that are both not boy related and totally worthy of sharing. Erm, erm, aah yes there was that time that, no that was someone else. What about when that, no that was a TV show. Hhhmmm it appears that my life has become utterly fatherandsonised. I live, eat (cannibalism post anyone?) and breathe the boy. Whilst I can’t think of too many things I’d rather do than hang out with Max, surely it’s not healthy, for the sparkle in my conversation if nothing else.

One passion I have retained throughout Dad-Hood has been the simple pleasures of growing food and turning it into something delicious for Max to eat. So move over Max my new baby is called From Mud To Mouth, never one to want to work too hard these delicious posts will all appear on Daddownunder.  Fear not, there will still be the usual fatherly observations/confessionals to indulge in, think of this as an extra offering, two for the price of one.  

From Mud – With an impressive track record in killing plants, I seem an unlikely candidate to have a bountiful allotment. It never ceases to amaze me how much food that finds its way into Max’s eager mouth has been grown in my very own humble veggie patch with my not particularly green fingers. All of my recipes will therefore feature a core ingredient grown by my own fair hands as the star of a delicious show. This means big ticks for the seasonal, healthy, sustainable and tasty boxes, them there are some good boxes to have ticks in.

To Mouth –Good food never lets you down. Jump on board as I celebrate my love of all things food and showcase some of the delicious, healthy meals that I provide for my son.  I am proud of the varied and imaginative diet that Max enjoys and want to show how easy it can be, eating your child’s leftovers has never tasted so good. With this in mind I will post a culinary tale each week, it may be a recipe, a food trend, a review or a foodie day out. Recipes will offer two or three alternative ingredient combinations to suit your child and plenty of room for manoeuvre, half the fun of cooking is bastardising perfectly good recipes to suit your own tastes.

As I type this there is a Silverbeet (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it) and goats cheese frittata crisping up in the oven doing funny things to my salivary glands. It went from Mud to Mouth in less than an hour, look at how Max has dislocated his jaw just to get a good healthy mouthful and notice how much green stuff is in it – how good is that?

A Dwindling Contact List

22 Oct

I was flicking through my phone contacts recently and noticed that in recent times quite a few of them have been conspicuous by their absence. I am about to attempt to suggest that this is a trend that new parents experience rather than the far more crushing reality that my own friends are simply disowning me. When was the last time you saw that colleague that you used to meet for post work drinks on a Friday, or that couple that you would have lunch with every now and then. The brutal truth is that they’ve ditched you. They tried to be pleased for you and show an interest in your parental prattle but it became too much for them and they decided to sever all ties. They did this of course in a very discrete way and if you bumped into them in the street they would probably do their best to show an interest in little Jonny and perhaps even suggest “catching up soon”. If someone suggests “catching up soon” this in fact means that they are gently telling you to keep your stories about burping, sleeping, teething, tantruming, toilet training, and certainly breast feeding to yourself.

Accepting that offer of a drink or brunch in your new life as a unpaid butler parent is not easy and comes with a host of baby barriers that make it all too easy to say no. Peeling yourself from the loving embrace of the sofa, putting on your glad rags and your party face after a day of being sicked on and screamed at has its challenges. Combining a day of parenting with a thirty something hangover is not an appealing option. Holding down your end of a decent conversation after spending your day talking ga-ga and reading Spot the Dog books is an uphill struggle. Two hours in a dark cinema after several sleepless nights is an invitation to expose your snoring habit to a room full of popcorn munching strangers. So after declining a few offers that would normally be snapped up the peripheral friend takes his/her business elsewhere and you can’t really blame them, don’t worry peripheral friends this is an observation rather than a bitter rant. 

The peripheral friend role is happily snapped up by peripheral parent friends, eager to have someone to bore relate to with tales of burping, sleeping, teething, tantruming, toilet training and breast feeding. These friends know they can engage in parental prattle without fear of reprisal; there is an unspoken etiquette that both parties can bore one another relentlessly and that no one party can dominate proceedings. As much as I tried to convince myself that I wouldn’t become ‘one of those parents’ that only talked about their children, it seems to have crept up on me and I hold my hands up and admit to being ‘one of them’.  It is after all what I know about, it’s what I do day in day out, I don’t know about the latest poncy cocktail bar (do you realise how many nappies I could buy for the cost of an Old Fashioned!) or hip eatery; I know babies and all that they encompass and I’m okay with that.

Wordless Wednesday – The Element of Surprise

16 Oct

I call this piece – The Surprise Peek-A-Boo Ambush Attack

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Aaaaaah Dad your such a hoot

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the illiterate infant

An Aussie Daddy blogger that's figured out the kids haven't read the books either

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