20 January 2014

A fierce mama general

The last thing I think of as I'm falling asleep at night is: what shall we have for dinner tomorrow?  It is the first and last question to assault me each day.  I don't know if it's the same for everyone, but I can't rest until I've settled on a solution.  It doesn't have to be fancy (more often it's not).  It doesn't have to be time consuming (it almost never is).  But it needs a somewhat nutritiously satisfying answer.

I should clarify that I actually don't lose sleep over this.  (Precious little in this world is important enough to make me lose sleep over, and what is enough usually includes some form of a sick/teething child.)  No sir, dinner doesn't qualify.  Here is how it happens.  The thought pops into my head just as I start to zone out.  I struggle for a minute to stay conscious enough to think of a reply.  It usually only takes a minute - long enough to run through an improvised list of possibilities.  I pick one.  I do a mental jig.  Then, I'm out.  Like a light.  Goodnight world.

But let me tell you, when I have my answer, I feel like I've conquered a battle.  I am General Mama and I have vanquished my enemies!  Armed with a menu of sorts, I can loosely plan the day, sally forth into the kitchen and create.  The kids enjoy being part of this creating process too.  I think having M at home to recover a little more has been so good for him.  Besides resting well, he has taken up all kinds of domestic hobbies like peeling carrots and potatoes, vacuuming, mopping floors and turning over the laundry.  (He likes to watch new loads start their sudsy dance in the washer.)  It's as though he feels more connected to home and the rhythm of life here.  And that gives us both an inner peace and contentment.  

I have finished S's hat and gone and started another.  An owl hat.  A delicious blue owly hat.  I suspect it'll be for my little boy.  But, as I keep trying to convince myself, it seems a little silly to make him another hat right now.  He already has 3.  He loves to play pretend though.  We are often a family of lions, or dinosaurs, or rhinos... whatever the prince's fancy dictates.  I am always the mommy animal.  I am a fierce mommy.  A general of my troops.  We sally forth to do battle with numerous foes - crocodiles, bears, or lego trucks.

When they get tired of fighting, we retreat to our den - an elaborately constructed fort under the dining room table.  Here we rest and eat our well-earned snack.  Preferably something crunchy like raw veggies and hummus, or crackers and cheese.  We will also take cashews and apple slices, thank you very much.  The perfect way to end a play.

And the perfect way to end this post would be to share a favourite dinner recipe.  It's a very simple dish - a type of stew I guess.  Whatever.  My kids adore it and that is good enough for me.  We eat it with rice.  It takes only a few minutes to set up and meets my nutritional standards.  You can even substitute lima beans for the peas.  I feed it to little S, pureed up of course.  She loves it.  I hope you do too!


1 bag (750g) frozen sweet peas (or 500g dried lima beans)
1 kg beef tenderloin, cubed
1 large onion
3 Tbsp tomato paste
salt, to taste
3-4 Tbsp sunflower oil
2 cups water

Dice onion roughly.  Fry in sunflower oil until onion is translucent.  Add beef chunks and saute until fully browned.  Add water and peas.  (If using lima beans instead, boil in water until tender before adding to beef.)  Cook on high until boiling.  Turn heat down, cover and cook until peas are tender and beef is cooked through.  (Can add more water if desired.)  Add tomato paste and salt.  Serve hot with rice.

PS - As of this past week, I am working on a book.  Not writing, reading.  It's called The Theology of Illness by Jean-Claude Larchet.  (Yes, I picked it on purpose after this month's convalescence.)  I have found it rather comforting - it really has been such a perfect book.  I highly recommend it.

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