Saturday, September 2, 2017

Cooking with my little Grandson, Grandmothering and Discovering the Rhythm and Music of the Kitchen

Happy Father's Day tomorrow to all the great Dads in the world. We are home and almost recovered from what I am calling the Western Australian Super Virus which I came down with in the second week after I arrived in Perth four weeks ago, and which Mr. HRK succumbed to after he arrived, a week later than me. The house was already infected with the nasty bug when I arrived and Myrtille was struggling with it by that stage. However there wasn't much time to rest as they were just settling into a new townhouse in Perth, unpacking needed to be done, and I was to be helping to look after little Hugo, our adorable 13 month old Grandson over the next three weeks. Of course his Mum and Dad did the parenting through the night.

Grandma to the rescue. The first week was great as I felt really well and so was Hugo, and then after that we all just coped as we could as Hugo also was below par at times. When he slept during the day, I rested as well. It didn't help though that most days were really cold for me, and often wet at times. However I have some wonderful memories to sustain me until I see him again. We laughed together, we walked the streets of Victoria Park together  (he was in his pram), we napped during the day sometimes together, we shopped together, we played together, we explored together, and we cooked and chatted together.

A truck is always great entertainment for children, and there were plenty of them out working on this particular day in Temple Street cleaning the streets.
 Temple Street in Victoria Park is lined with beautiful, red flowering trees. I haven't been able to find out the name of them so if you know their name, can you please let me know. It was my favourite street to explore.

Temple Street

I tried to include Hugo in one cooking session most days when I was preparing for dinner that night and tried to coincide it with his morning or afternoon tea time, generally after a nap, when he was happy to sit in his high chair beside me whilst I chopped and  grated vegetables and chatted to him about what I was doing. Of course he nibbled on little bits of cheese and vegetables or fruit at the same time but what absolutely delighted me was how he made some of the activities into a game and found the rhythm and music in the simplest of tasks. At 13 1/2 months, he loves to move and dance to music as a lot of little ones do. When I was grating zucchini one day by hand to make
Zucchini and Bacon Slice a family favourite, Hugo started to move his shoulders and bob his head in time to the sound of the vegetables being grated on the metal grater. We both started laughing, it was fabulous. Such a spontaneous and musical response to such a simple activity. He also ate two  pieces of the Zucchini Slice that night for his dinner so it was a winner all round.

Then a couple of  times I was stirring a sauce or a mince dish  in a pot on the stove with Hugo on my hip and telling him what I was doing step by step and he loved it, and was totally engaged and rapt in the activity, saying Yes in his toddler way at the end of each sentence. I kid you not, we were having a very important conversation about cooking and ingredients. They were very memorable moments for me and reminded me how young children love to be involved in everything you  are doing if it is safe, clean, interesting and fun.

The whole experience reminded me again though how time consuming and tiring good parenting can be and how young parents need support, understanding and encouragement.

At home I try to cook most meals from scratch, however in a busy working family with a small child to be looked after, I think that some shortcuts need to be made with cooking. I found a good Australian Women's Weekly recipe book in a newsagent over there called the Clever Kids cookbook.

It's never too early to start cooking with kids

I bought it not only because the recipes looked delicious but they included taking some sensible shortcuts as well. Matthew does all of the cooking at home, I taught him well (ha, ha), although realistically I think I taught him more about the love of food and when he went away to University he really needed to start cooking to survive.  I thought this book could be useful for him as well. And who knows, maybe in eight years or so Hugo might enjoy cooking with his Daddy. I made a few dishes from this book, and the Broccoli Chicken Pasta Bake, and a self saucing Banana and Butterscotch Pudding were particularly delicious. I left the copy over there for Matthew,  and for next time I visit, however I will try and buy another copy here although it seems to be out of print now.  Perhaps the recipes are available on line somewhere. Of course I also cooked a lot of my favourite recipes from my blog.

Having fun with Granddad in the courtyard
A week before we left, Hugo decided to take off and walk on his own from the lounge room to the kitchen, with no warning. This is always exciting for parents, and we were thrilled that this important milestone happened while we were still there. He was so cute and excited about it as well and after that he was pushing chairs around and walking everywhere with a lot of encouragement from the adults.

It's great to be back home now to enjoy the warmth and beauty of Spring in the Queensland subtropics, and to hopefully completely recover from the highly infectious and debilitating W.A. virus. We flew back from Perth last Saturday, stayed a few days in beautiful Cairns with our daughter for some much needed R&R and then drove home last Wednesday.

Enjoy your weekend everyone and try to do something nice for someone.

Best wishes



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