Recently we took a little break and travelled home to be with my gorgeous sisters and to visit our beautiful mum. I say home, because that is still what we call it, it is the home that we all grew up in, and love so very much.
After a five plus hour road trip, we arrived at home to find Sonnie and Jan working hard in the garden, they had arrived earlier in the day and had done some amazing work tidying things up.
We busied ourselves unpacking the car, making the bed and packing the food we had brought with us into the fridges and cupboard. Each of us had agreed to take on one main meal for the weekend and bring other bits and pieces to contribute to the other meals. Tonight I was to prepare sausage rolls and bits and pieces for a leisurely meal to be eaten as we all sat and relaxed in the lounge room and chatted and watched TV. I had picked up sausage mince from our local butcher here in Maffra as we were leaving town, had packed my gluten free pastry and had the recipe on hand for a vegetarian version. This is where the fun started. Jan set to work rolling out the pastry, and the meat rolls were ready, having a little onion, some homemade relish and a sprinkling of mixed herbs added. We knew that there was a food processor at home, but when I went to get it, I found some of the components were missing! We searched, but to no avail. Plan B, with the filling to be minced, we found an old mincer in the cupboard, it turned out that it is only useful for decoration! It took Sonnie and Jan working together a frustrating amount of time and effort, just to get the carrot through it, so the remaining ingredients were either grated or finely chopped and the chick peas were mashed with a potato masher! Finally all the rolls were made and we got to sit down and relax for the evening. (We found the other components for the food processor in another room, later during our stay!)
The next day we all worked together tidying and sorting, rearranging, chatting and laughing together. With a little persistence we managed to get a fire going out the back, in our make-shift barbeque, and with a little searching, found the old disc that was to be our hot plate hidden in the grass. Sonnie made rissoles and a delicious salad, and even with the weather being less than favourable, we managed to get our lunch cooked.
We continued working through the afternoon and, again, Sonnie prepared a delicious evening meal of oven baked chicken with wombok salad, she had found the recipe on the back of pack of noodles, and while it was supposed to have noodles in it, she served them on the side, as I am unable to eat them. Jan and I had made sweet treats that we enjoyed as we relaxed during the evening.
Saturday dawned, and we were all looking forward to spending time with our mum. Sonnie put together a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the garden, and we were on our way. Our mum now lives in a beautiful nursing home where she is well cared for and the meals are wonderful. They allow family to make bookings for meals also, so we had booked in for lunch. The meal was set up in the chapel and it was, as usual, delicious – roast pork with fresh vegetables.
Back in the room, I was in for a beautiful surprise. As we all settled in to spend the afternoon with mum, Jan presented me with a bag. Inside was the most stunning quilt I have ever seen, and it was for me! Along with the quilt was a beautiful letter, written by Jan. She asked me to read it out loud for all to hear, so I started… I managed to keep it together until almost the end, when the tears started falling, I could not finish. Jan finished for me and there was barely a dry eye in the room. I have included a copy of the letter for you to read should you wish, but will copy the final page here…
Julie your quilt. A gift from Family
This quilt is made with love, representing all of your family whether related through direct kinship or the people you meet who ‘just become family’, whether living in Australia, France or other places, all those people you call family – past, present and future. The people you hold dear and the people who hold you and your family dear.
From reading this letter, it was clear that the story began before I met one of the most precious friends a person could wish for, my friend, Véronique, who lives in France. Véronique has become another sister to me, not by blood, but by love, compassion, friendship, caring and understanding. When I looked at the quilt, the embroidered section reminded me of Véronique’s home, a serene place in the French countryside, I wonder if Sonnie and Jan can see this to. It is clear that this quilt has a wonderful story stitched into it and will always remind me of my beautiful family and my amazing sisters. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful, caring and loving family.
Back at home we all set to work outside again. Cousin Chris arrived and got his tractor out to do some mowing in the paddock, Gary got onto the ride on mower, and my sisters and I got to work in the garden, actually, truth be known, we were looking for bits and pieces to bring home to our own garden.
All of a sudden I heard the ride-on stop. There was silence, and then I could hear Gary groaning. I started running and at the same time, screaming to my sisters. When I got down the paddock, I found Gary on the ground. The ride-on had become stuck and he had tried to free it, fell badly and had hurt his back. Sonnie, Jan and Chris came running and Gary was helped back up to the house. The work ceased for the day. Gary had badly strained his back, so it was nothing terribly serious, though very painful for him. Earlier that day, Jan had put a piece of organic beef into the slow cooker, so dinner was ready in no time – Beef Pot Roast with Root Veg (I don’t have Jan’s recipe, but have included one of mine that you might like to try).
A family favourite and comfort food at its best.
- 1.2 kg beef blade roast
- 40 ml 2 tbsp olive oil
- 350 g carrots peeled and cut into large pieces
- 150 g parsnips peeled and cut into large pieces
- 250 g small white turnips trimmed, washed and cut into quarters
- 200 g brown onion peeled and thinly sliced
- Bouquet garni include rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, parsley (see notes)
- 100 g bacon cut into batons (see notes)
- 400 g canned diced tomatoes
- 750 ml beef stock
- 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- Sea Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium/high heat.
Add the beef and brown on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.
Add the carrots, parsnips and white turnips to the pan and sauté until the vegetables are golden. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.
Add the onion, bouquet garni and bacon and saute until the onions until they are transparent.
Add the tomatoes, stock and worcestershire sauce, and season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
Return the meat to the pan, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.
Cover with a cartouche, put the lid on and cook for 1.5 hours.
Add the sauteed vegetables and simmer for a further hour.
Remove the meat and vegetables and keep warm.
Bring the sauce to a boil and boil uncovered for 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
If necessary, return the meat and vegetables to the pan to warm through.
Carve the meat and serve hot with the root veg, mash and steamed greens.
As you can probably gather, when we are together we eat very well! We grew up in a family were food was lovingly prepared and shared together and we all carry on that tradition. The memories created when preparing and sharing food together are precious.
Family is precious, love your family and treasure every minute that you have together.
Until next time…