me Life and Times of the Fireflies: January 2016

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Recipe - Saucy Prawns and Pasta

So schools started and you haven't quite gotten into the rhythm of things just yet. Juggling household chores and getting to grips with the new school routine and extra murals, while still seeing to the varying needs and demands of all your kids of varying ages can leave you a little frazzled. Add to that, trying to get some blogging in and enjoying a quiet, child free mall and taking advantage of the post Christmas sales; the last thing we want to do is slog over the stove to prepare meals. Well, at least not me anyway ;-)
I love whipping up meals for my family, but during the demanding school period, I like it to be easy, simple and fuss free - while still being tasty and appealing to my family. In other words, something that looks exotic, but takes a short time to prepare!
There was a great demand for this recipe after I posted a pic on Instagram, so I decided to share it here. In the case of this recipe, I incorporated a stand alone dish (leftover Saucy Prawns from the night before) with every child's favourite - PASTA! And voila...this saucy prawn pasta dish was born.
p.s Please excuse the lack of pictures in this post...This wasn't intended to be a post, but I will edit when I make this recipe again.  

Saucy Prawns
  • 1kg prawns with shells still on

  • 3 tsp Robertsons Louisiana Cajun spice

  • 2 tsp 11 in one Barbecue spice ( or any barbecue spice, preferably with a reddish colour to enhance end result of the dish)

  • 1 Tblsp Dhanya Chutney OR Mrs Balls chutney

  • 1 Tblsp Garlic

  • Butter

  • 3 TblspTomato paste OR 1/2 cup Tomato Puree (adjust if needed)

  • 300-500ml fresh cream depending on desired thickness of the sauce

  • Coriander for garnishing

*Spice measurements are estimated.  I normally just sprinkle on and adjust as I go along. Please adjust according to taste preference.

  1. Heat butter in a flat bottom pot (not deep). Add prawns, garlic and spices and lightly grill.
  2. Add chutney and stir.
  3. Add tomato paste/puree. Leave for a minute or 2 and then add fresh cream.
  4. Leave to simmer for about  10 minutes. Adjust any flavours at this point depending on taste preference.
  5. Sprinkle with coriander and serve with roti....or, de-shell the prawns, boil some pasta and add boiled spaghetti/pasta of choice to the sauce for a delicious Prawn Linguine style pasta dish!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Back to School

 I don't remember being quite as sentimental when the bigger kids started school. For me it was just a natural progression - greeted with a sense of relief that the kids (one year apart in age) were finally moving on, becoming more independent, and growing up. God knows how badly I wanted to speed up the whole process. It did seem to take forever though - which, in retrospect, I'm glad for! But you know the old adage "be careful what you wish for" 'cos kid number 3 sure grew up fast and here we are, January 2016 and starting 'BIG school"

I must admit, things went better than I wanted it to. I was hoping he would want to hold my hand, maybe express his concerns, falter a little in his new environment...perhaps even look to me for reassurance. But in the end it was me who faltered when he let go of my hand and hurried forward to soak up his new surroundings. When he confidently spotted his name tag. When he didn't hesitate to find a seat and make a friend. Instead it was me who looked to my mom for support and encouragement, who fought back emotions, who clung to the moment a little too long... I suppose the whole process was made easier knowing the support structures are firmly in place. Siblings are on the same premises. Cousins doubling up as brothers... And just like that, we've transitioned into the new year and are back into the swing of things.

I get asked a lot - and I mean A LOT - about schools and the whole schooling process. As parents, we all want the very best for our kids and many times, parents from my generation base their decision on giving their kids the kind of education we never had. Schooling is very often greeted with anxiety and stress from the parents who often send out applications as soon as the child is born! I too went into a wild panic when my first 2 kids needed to start school, but what I've learnt is that there is no single equation that fits all.

One can go into endless debates over co-ed vs same sex schools, private vs model C, the overcrowded government schools, sporting facilities,  etc. Add to that Madressa (religious studies), the too and fro carting, and the cycle of a working mom...the struggle is endless to find a formula that works. And so even though my kids didn't land up at my initial choice of school, it certainly turned out to be the best choice for us as a unit!

My parting statement and word of advice is that there is no perfect school. In life we are never handed perfect conditions. It is up to us as parents to help create balanced individuals, to mentor and guide and assist our kids in helping them thrive.  

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

How I Survived the Summer Holidays !!


I don't usually look forward to the Summer vacation. For too long, the long, hot, summer days has become synonymous with kitchen duty, children's squabbles, drenched bodies and wet feet stumbling through my already cleaned home...and the thought of 'New Year' meant back to school and an escape from it all!
For years - YEARS, I merely observed my kids from the side lines. Looking for excuses. Looking for ways out. Waiting for better days. The right moment. Promising myself that by next year I'd be in better shape. That if when I lose weight...or at least 5 kilos....or even reached some kind of midway goal weight; that then I'd start participating more. Almost as if having fun was determined by your size.
For years, I merely survived through the holidays. Giving myself a pat on the back when I got through the 6 weeks and for getting the kids through it unscathed. Sure enough, times back then were more rough! Smaller kids are more of a handful. Much more demanding. But if 2015 has taught me anything, it's that change has been a major commodity in all our lives, and perhaps the more overlooked changes have come from the kids!
I wasn't quite prepared for the transformation the teen years would bring, and getting lost in the motions of the demands of the year left me with very little time to process my much needed change in approach to parenting...And as we neared the end of the year, I felt like I was losing out to mood swings, ridiculous arguments, a cellphone, Ipad and some earphones! My kids were getting older and the walls were going up
And so I robbed myself of valuable moments. But as you get older, you realise that time is a commodity you can't get back. And so, I approached this Summer with a very different mind set. I didn't throw in the towel before it started as I usually do. I didn't think of it as a punishment and a prison sentence. I didn't approach it with fear and caution or use my own technological devices as distractions from the present moment, from what was important. But rather, I used it as a chance to reconnect with my children.
I took a much needed time out- from my phone, social media, this blog- and decided to become truly present. To get to know these changing individuals. To participate. To have fun. To just be a part of their world. Instead of moulding them to fit into ours.

I let go of my inhibitions. I scratched out an old swimsuit. I swam, ran, hiked up mountains. I dipped my body in the warm Indian Ocean and my toes curled at the cold Atlantic shores. I soaked up the sun and it didn't bother me when my car got messed with sand. Boat rides and super slide. I did it all!  I got lost in the moments, in long conversation and deep discussions. Laughed - ugly and loud - at wise comments and smart remarks. For a brief time, I was part of their world. It didn't matter that I was a little fat or that my hair is slowly greying. For these few short weeks I threw caution to the wind. I felt young and carefree. I was more than just a ride home or source of the next meal. I was so much more than that. I was the Mom I always wanted to be.  

And just like that the holidays are over and the kids head on into a new academic year. Just last week we were languishing on the shores of Cape Town's best beaches...and I know we have about one week more before we become completely embroiled and entangled in the academic year. It's demands. It's challenges. And for the first time in a long time, I don't rejoice that the holidays are over; but rather that it's happened at all... 

Hope everyone has had an easy transition into the New year.
Thanks for reading.