SUNDAY ON MY MIND (FOR THE DAD’S)

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SUNDAY ON MY MIND (FOR THE DAD’S)

Sunday on my Mind. For the Dads.

Those who know me; know I’m a bloke’s bloke. Love my sport, a game of golf, going for a surf and camping down the west coast in my swag without showering for a few days. I work; gazing at the keyboard; engaging the recesses of my warped mind searching for content of interest to excite my clients and hopefully brings in enough work to fill the schedule for next week.

I work from home; sit down, get up, make a coffee, surf the web, do a bit of research, make a couple of phone calls and wait for that magical fluid sentence that reads like a classical symphony to emanate from my fingers onto the page. My wife on the other hand; lives in the real world; a highly respected manager; a staff of 70, does clinical work, prepares budgets, navigates government agency politics and is an awesome mum and life partner. She’s up at 6:00am and doesn’t get home before 7:00pm. How she ended up with me is a mystery I’m yet to solve. We have 4 teenage kids; 3 girls and a boy and she runs the home, sorts out the issues, controls their lives and does everything I can’t; which it seems, is allot. Occasionally I get a rush of blood to do something to help the family; well not so much the family but my wife and it generally comes quickly after the sentence “we need to have a chat” It’s not that I’m totally useless; I love to cook and am pretty good at it; I can use the washing machine, the vacuum cleaner, can fix things, lift heavy things, paint, use a drill and I know where the ironing board is kept. When I open my eye’s, I can see the mountains of clothes and washing; the things that need fixing and the state of the house; not the one I’ve conjured in my own imagination that justifies watching a great game or maybe a wave is forming off the break at Crunchy that requires my attention.

 When I’m called to contribute, it doesn’t come lightly and it’s valid. I know this happens to most men; some without justification and just because she likes to see them suffer and some with extreme reasoning; I would put myself in the latter of the two. Anyway, the call came; it was subtle; just like her, went straight to the point, just like her. It was my responsibility to find the opportunity, to find the time; to take the initiative and make it happen.

 Lads I’m not trying to be hero here; but wanted to share a few tips from last Sunday and what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it. I woke with a list in my head and a desire to prove my worth. I surveyed the goings on. Eldest daughter working, starts at 9:30am finishing at 4pm; daughter 2 going into South Yarra to get her hair done, “What?” I ask; yep Nanna is spoiling her again; daughter 3 is at a sleepover and we won’t see her until dinner time; and the lad is playing footy at 2pm in Caulfield against a side they smash by 100points. This was the perfect storm to start my Sunday voyage. I hadn’t said anything to anybody, I just knew I needed to take advantage of the timing and get on with it,.

I’ll get daughter 1 to work by 9:15am, drop daughter 2 at the train station shortly afterwards, daughter 3 is taken care of and the lovely will take the lad to his game. She loves to watch him play; shout a bit of a sledge and heaven forbid he gets whacked; she’ll jump the fence and throw a left hook at the offending opponent. So that leaves me the rest of the day at home by myself. I honestly can’t remember the last time the stars aligned like this; I was determined to put a line through the items on the list and prove my worth.

My job list looked something like this:
Get in the roof
Trim the hedge
Clean out the shed
Do the washing
Do the ironing
Sort out the clothes
Make dinner
Take the dog for a walk
Fix the tap in the main bathroom
Clean the pool
Now that doesn’t seem like such a tough list; but when you have 6 people; your home can begin to resemble the local tip. The washing had piled up; the dining room table, seats 12, covered in odd socks, jocks and an assortment of apparel that resembled the bargain stall at the Bentleigh market. I’d been trying to get into the roof for weeks, needed to check the insulation and I’d heard a few of our fury little friends having a gathering that I didn’t want to turn into a full-on party. The box hedge had developed a Bob Marley dreadlock type style, the pool full of leaves, I don’t think the dog had been outside for a week; she was starting to grow barnacles on her underbelly. I hadn’t been for a sausage at Bunnings in ages and needed my fix, 1 with onions lashing of mustard and bit of tomato sauce; try not to spray it over my jumper whist checking out the tool shop and the gardening isle to see if there was something there that I didn’t already have crammed into my garage. The shed; a mess, the bathroom tap pissing water each time one of the kids went to brush their teeth; so they just didn’t. “Let’s work through this one at a time” I said to myself.

My Tip:
Multi task:
Use the washing machine as a timer between jobs.
The standard daily wash cycle is 57minutes; that’s how much time you give yourself for each job. This is how it all played out; you can do it!!!

Job One: Into the roof.
First put the load of whites on. Set the machine to daily wash, 1 scoop of powder and ½ scoop of vanish. Takes 57 minutes plenty of time to get from one end of the house to the other, check for fury friend poo, set a couple of traps, check the insulation and then get back out down the man hole and put the ladder back in the shed. Line through job one in just over an hour. Excellent start

Job Two: Trim the hedges:
Get the hedge trimmer and sort out Bob Marley; but first! Hang out the white and put a load of towels on the wash; fuck how many towels do we go through, each girl has at least 2 per shower; plus 1 on the bathroom floor and another hidden away in their bedroom from the last time. The lad is no different at 15yrs and hair hanging over his eyes he too needs the secondary towel to complete the drying process. They take 2 in and bring 1 out. The A.D.D in me came out; 4 kids, 2 towels per day, equals 48 towels plus the ones on the two-bathroom floors and the lovely and I in our bathroom add another 5; holy shit that’s over 55 towels per week. Okay stop whining, just get the load on you’ve got 57 minutes to trim the hedges. Use the same combination of powders and I like to add a bit of fabric softeners.

I put my headphones in and listened to Midnight Oils 1985 classic; Species Deceases, and went to town on the box hedge. Love the hedge trimmer, you’ll feel like a sculptor without responsibility. An hour later job done and looking good.
Considering; finding the towels, setting up the trimmer, a few smokes, a coffee, a quick check of the AFL app a few wanderings back and forth because I’d forgotten where I put down my coffee and 3 hours had passed in the blink of an eye.

Starting at 11:00AM it was edging to 2pm; the day is starting to get away.

Job Three: Get dinner on the go!!,
First unload the washing machine and hang out the towels and put the next load of towels on. The lines; yep we have 2; were getting full, make a mental note; “Self” I said to myself, “change over the whites on the next load” “All good” I said to myself. Okay dinner. Daughter number 1 working all day, very health conscious young lady but will be ready for a good feed, daughter 2 day at the hairdresser, tends to come home looking for only a salad; daughter 3 will be just plain starving and the lad having played footy will need protein and plenty of it. What’s going to work and what do have in the house? Time to do a reconnaissance mission. The meat fridge; this is in the garage along with the deep freezer. In luck a choice of pulled pork, a leg of lamb and a bag of mince that needs to be used; it’s a no brainer, grab the mince. Another bonus half premium beef, half veal now we can do something. What else do we have? Smoked ham, chorizo sausage and the plan comes together, lasagne with garden salad.

Dads here’s my recipe for chopping out the family on a Sunday dinner, easy to make and can be cooking whilst you’re getting on with the rest of your jobs.

4 meats Italian Lasagne with Garden Salad.
Lemon, maple syrup crepes and ice cream:
What you’ll need:
500grams premium beef mince
250grams veal mince
2 Chorizo sausages
150grams smoked shredded ham of the bone.
2 Brown onions
1 red onion
4 garlic cloves
1 red capsicum
2 Lebanese cucumbers
1 carrot
2 scoops of pitted Kalamata olives
1 red chilli (take out the seeds)
1 Iceberg lettuce
HP sauce
A splash of red wine
6 Bay Leaves
Oregano
6 Roma tomatoes; you can use tin tomatoes but no fun there.
2 red tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar
50grams of fetta
bag of Mozzarella cheese & Shaved parmesan cheese
Milk
Parsley stalks
4 cloves
Good chunk of butter
Plain Flour
Whole peppercorns about 6
Nutmeg (Just a pinch of grated)
Salt and Pepper
6 fresh pasta sheets.
Olive oil
3 eggs
Butter
White sugar
ice cream

You’ll have most of this stuff in the cupboard or fridge; just look around and you’ll find it. You may need to go to the butchers and get the meat; I recommend the butchers club at Centro in Mornington; great guys and their meat is always top shelf.

Now what to do:

 If it’s your first time don’t over complicate things; if you’re a seasoned cook then you can add and subtract your own touches.

Step One:
Get a deep pan; I like to use the one with the glass lid and handle on both sides and you’ll need a fry pan as well. Slice the chorizo into thin wedges, Peel a brown onion and slice thinly, Crush 1 clove of garlic. Drop a good slice of butter into the fry pan on a medium heat and let it slowly melt; Give it a bit of swivel so it goes over the whole surface; Sprinkle a little mixed spice into the butter if you have it; Add half the sliced onion, chopped chilli and garlic and sautee in the melted butter until the onion goes soft and starts to change in translucency; Add in the chorizo and fry it off.

In the larger pan; sprinkle the base with olive oil; and let it heat up. Add in the remaining onion and another crushed garlic clove and let it cook for a few minutes until soft. Break the mince into pan, beef first and then add the veal and using a wooden spoon, break the mix down until it’s formed a consistent texture and is nicely browning. Let it simmer for a few minutes whilst you roughly dice up the Roma tomatoes keep the juices and add to the meat, stirring it all through; combing the meat and tomatoes plus juices together. Add in the fried off chorizo, Quickly fry off the ham in the same fry pan, adding to the main meat pan. When all the meat and tomatoes are simmering together and you’ve taken few minutes to combine add half a glass of water. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat right down on the smallest setting you have available. Add bay leaves, a good squirt of HP sauce, Salt and Pepper, a good splash of red wine and sprinkle in the oregano leaves. Cover with the glass lid and let in simmer for about 3-4 hours stirring occasionally.

Clean away the fry pan; wipe down the benches and get onto the next job whilst the sauce is cooking.

Load number 3 was finishing. I had enough line space when I take down half the whites; mainly socks, jocks and school shirts. All good, socks and jocks can go into the basket for the dryer when I’m ready for that. Use the clothes horse and hang the school shirts and other bits and bobs. It was cold outside but windy, after a couple of hours on the line; the whites were dry enough to come off. This will free up room for the rest of towels; all done where making progress; now put a load of woollens on.

After shrinking many pure wool jumpers; I was switched on to the different setting on the washing machine. Using the wool mix detergent; nice one I applauded myself I set the wash on; it’s only a short one; tackle the shed whilst this is going.

½ an hour later I’d reorganised the shed, hung up the tools, fixed the broken starter button on one of the mowers and generally tidied up. Check the lasagne sauce; bubbling away beautifully, grind a bit of pepper in; give it a quick stir and replace the lid.

What’s next on the list? Hang out the woollens and yep I’ve got just enough hanging line for them. Next load, undies, socks, t shirts and mostly my stuff that doesn’t really matter; just chuck it in; daily wash and let it rip; that’s 4 loads and you’re on track. Time for a trip to Bunnings and a snag.

Ahh Bunnings the carpark as full as a fat ladies sock. You need be careful on a Sunday going to any destination that draws big crowds. Most folks are generally hungover, tired and little shitted off that Sunday is not much fun day. Nerves are frayed, concentration short and patience is thin. Find a park, not near the trolley return area. Only a short line at the sausage tent and in the console, I find $2.50 in 50c and 20c pieces; you beauty; don’t need to crack the tenner in my wallet. I’m like a kid in a candy store; rabbit hair v possum hair paint brushes, floor mats for the garage; storage shelving systems, chainsaws, drills, levels, wall plugs, outdoor open fire places; boy I want one of them, plants, fertiliser, light fittings and timber; what a place; just amazing, but with just a tenner in my pocket I was tyre kicking. All I needed was a rubber O ring for the bathroom tap; $3 and that’s it. Have you ever noticed how little kids stink; have grubby clothes on, haven’t been bathed and are always feral at Bunnings on a Sunday whilst mum sits in the café head in hands and dad wanders aimlessly around the outdoor furniture looking for somewhere to have a quick nap? Maybe it’s just me. My fix over and a few photos of outdoor open fireplaces on my phone, snag finished, fingers smelling of mustard and the white paper napkin stuffed in my back pocket it was time to head back home; load 4 would be nearly finished.

Timing is perfect; the washing machine playing that delightful jingle to let you know the cycle is finished; washing machine advancement is something special. Another check of the sauce; still plenty of liquid excellent it’s not drying out; add a little more red wine (just for taste);

Job Four The Dog:

I feel like she’s been sleeping in her basket for days; a bit like the lad; just gets up for food and then back to the horizontal position; she looks at me; eyes watering I need to go out but it’s so cold. Come on girl lets go; but before I grab my dryasbone coat, I need to sort out the washing line. Checking the far hanging; that went up an hour before the last one; it was still damp but not soaking wet, into the dryer for that load and I can hang out the last load and put on the final darks. Its 3:30pm now and not more than 5degrees outside with the wind cutting through you like a mother in laws criticisms.

Dryer rotating, clothes still in the wind, indoor cloth horses set up for when we get back, Dog “you need a change of scene” the streets of Mount Eliza are great but a good run, a sniff and a scruff or two with some other bow wows is the medicine. Into the car; across the highway through the Quinns Estate and over Humphries road to the park in Overport Road Frankston. Let’s go and immediately she’s off, stealing a few flying tennis balls, chasing a few birds, heading down the dirt tracks sniffing everything in sight; a quick poo stop looking over her shoulder at me as if I was invading her privacy as I pulled out the plastic shopping bag to collect her droppings and shes off again. Up to the oval to watch a bit of junior footy back through the bush and another full lap. Checking my health monitor app we’d done a bit over 3km’s, let’s get to the 4km mark and I’ll feel better.

As we get home the dark clouds were setting in; the light fading and the air much colder. The crew will be getting home soon and I haven’t started on the mountain range of clothes stockpiled on the dining table. What do I need? A glass of red. I’m a bit of an advocate for the wine merchant in Mount Eliza; just near Ritches. Most of their stock is too rich for my blood, but they do have some ripper quaffers. The Elephant in the Room; a rich shiraz for $15 a bottle is a perfect Sunday night anaesthetic.

Home again and time to get the washing off the line; put the woollens on the the clothes horse and throw what I can in the dryer, fold the dry towels and put them in the linen cupboard; it’s full and looking very cool. I can hear the family all arriving at the same time as if by organised magic; here we go!!

In comes daughter 1; having just completed a 6.5hour shift, she’s tired and a bit cranky, the lad is cold, sore and covered in mud. The lovely is frozen to the bone, she eyes off the Elephant in Room bottle and wonders if I’ve been sitting on Foxtel sipping reds and watching footy; which is a fair assumption considering my past; daughter 2 and 3 go straight to their rooms. The best thing to do now is get them all fed, into their freshly laundered PJs and relaxed. The clothes on the table can wait until after dinner and I can get that sorted during 60minutes.

Time to make the Béchamel sauce:
Pour 4 cups of milk into a saucepan. Add roughly chopped brown onion parsley stalks Peppercorns cloves Bay leaves Nutmeg Bring to the boil and let it simmer; stand aside for between 10-15minutes so the flavours and fragrances infuse together then using a strainer pour the liquid into a jug so the solids separate.

While the liquid is infusing melt a good chunk of butter in a saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to bubble. Add in the flour and let it cook for 1-2minutes until it starts to come away from the pan. Take it off the heat and begin gradually pouring the milk mixture into the pan, whisking as much as possible to ensure the mixture is smooth. Continue until the all the milk mixture has been added. Put the saucepan onto a medium heat and begin to stir with a wooden spoon; after a bit of time you’ll notice the mixture thicken. When its thickened so it coats the back of the wooden spoon; add in the shaved parmesan and let it melt. You can add salt and pepper to taste at this stage.

Turn on the oven to 220degrees. In a large oven proof dish, layer the bottom with meat and add a layer of the cheese sauce; add a layer of pasta sheets to cover. Repeat again applying another layer the same. Cover with mozzarella cheese and some more parmesan, pop into the oven and let it cook for 30-45mins until the cheese has all melted and gone a bit brown on top; you can pull it out as you like the top to be.

While the lasagne is cooking it’s a good idea to check in on the lovely. How ya feeling? How was the game? would you like a red or a cuppa tea? This will leave you about 20minutes to check on the status of the drying clothes and fold a few socks up and prepare for the evening.

When the lasagne is nearly ready, make a quick green salad, just chuck all the good stuff in and splash some balsamic vinegar and olive oil through it and top with crumbled feta cheese. Carve into 6 good sized squares and serve with the garden salad. Sensational comfort meal, fills them up, put a smile on the dial and you’ll be star.

Offer desert; crepes easy to make and they’re a hit with all the cohorts:
Sift 1 Cup of plain flour into a mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of white sugar Pinch of salt 3 eggs 2 cups of milk 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Mix using the electric mixer until all the ingredients are nicely combined.

Use the frypan; wipe melted butter over the surface with paper towel. Spoon the mixture onto the fry pan and ensure it reaches the edges for consistency of cooking. Once cooked; flip the crepe and cook the other side. Serve with maple syrup, squeezed lemon, sifted icing sugar and scoop of ice cream.

Your night is nearly done. Ask the kids to do the washing up. Ask in such a way that if they give you any lip, you’ll make their life a total misery.

Sort the lovely into her favourite chair; give her the Foxtel or Netflix remote and slowly disappear back to the dining room and finish off the clothes sorting. Once done you can grab a glass of red, set up the ironing board in the other room; turn on 60 minutes and finish the ironing watching TV and having a glass of wine.

Its worth at least 3 months of downtime. Give it a crack.

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