Dinner time usually occurs around 6.30 pm in our house, because that’s when my husband comes home from work. Cooking is my thing — my husband usually takes care of breakfast (I’m worthless in the morning!), but dinner-time cooking is my task and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love to cook, I love the creativity of it! With three little and hungry children it’s not always a relaxing time though, so I often turn on a movie when I start to cook so they can relax a bit and I can focus on what needs to happen in the kitchen. Or, when I have enough patience and time, they like to give me a hand. Six-year-old Sara already makes a fantastic salad Caprese, and Pim (5) is quite proficient at slicing cucumbers and other salad ingredients. I also quite often ask our nanny Katherina to stick around ’til my husband gets home to help me keep little Ava (1) entertained. This is a huge help and it makes this time of day much more pleasant than what it used to look like: me cooking with an upset, crying one-year-old on my arm, and often ending up overly tired, frustrated and angry. Not worth it!
Because I work full-time and often don’t start cooking until 5.30 or 6 pm, I usually cook something within an hour, or even half an hour. But since my work is fairly flexible, on occasions I am able to prepare dinner beforehand and I can make more time-consuming dishes. Sometimes I’ve had such a crazy day and I’m un-inspired to cook, and we order in: usually pizza, Thai food, or sushi (our favourite!). Or we prepare an easy dinner like cheese fondue (exception to the homemade rule: this comes from a package — always handy to keep in the fridge for an easy and quick dinner that we all love). On weekends, we occasionally take the kids to a restaurant, a treat!
Sometimes I cook a bit extra, because once a week my husband and I have date night — we go out for dinner together and Katherina feeds the kids and puts them to bed. To make her job easier I try to have a dish ready in the fridge! My husband and I have been going out for dinner once a week since our first child was born almost 7 years ago. We’ve been religiously doing this, and we both love it. It’s the one night where we are not surrounded by children (or laptops!).
I’m adamant about my kids being good eaters; I teach them to sit at their chairs during dinner, eat properly, finish their plates, etc. I do feel like Anita Renfroe’s ‘the mom song‘, and it’s not at all my favourite part of being a mum (and pretty exhausting), but I think good table manners are important. We usually discuss our day at the table — What did you learn today? Did you have a good laugh? Have you been sad at any point??
We only have one table in the house and it’s in our living room. It’s pretty big, and usually one part of it is taken up by my sewing machine, piles of paperwork, toys from the kids etc. I guess this is a serious ‘clutter zone’ (and it frustrates me majorly but that’s a different story).
My kitchen is tiny. I’m not kidding when I say that the counter space I can work on is limited to about 60 cms wide (2 feet)! To make the most of the space we have, we put a lot of pots and pans on the wall, which I actually like, it’s cosy! (You can see photos of our kitchen here.)
What I cook during the week varies since I’m dependant on what ‘De Krat’ brings me. Every friday, I get a surprise selection of seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables and some meat and/or fish, bread, cheese etc. I tend to make everything myself — I try not to buy prepared / processed food too much.
Last week we had on the menu:
- Wiener schnitzel (breaded veal escalope) with homemade fries and coleslaw.
- Grilled salmon, gnocchi, oven-fried kale chips, steamed broccoli and salade Caprese (made by Sara)
- Hamburgers with toppings to choose from, homemade pickles, and salad
- Penne with an as-many-as-possible-vegetables sauce, covered with courgette and cheese gratin; green salad. (I made loads so the kids and Katherina ate it as well when we were away for date night)
- Moroccan chicken with chickpeas and apple/cranberry sauce
- Mash of potatoes, homemade sauerkraut, bananas, sultanas and minced meat. (Sounds weird but it’s really delicious!)
I rarely make a dessert, or a starter — I try to keep dinner time fairly short as the kids need to be in bed before 8 pm. But I always have yoghurt with fruit for takers.
In summer, we eat in the garden as much as possible, and we use the BBQ a lot. We have a gas BBQ, which I know for a lot of people doesn’t count as ‘the real thing’, but I love that I can just turn it on and use it to grill fish, veggies, and the occasional sausage. Because we eat seasonally, a typical menu for the week would look completely different in summer than the one I just described!
Lastly, I wanted to share the recipe for the coleslaw I made with the Wiener Schnitzel (recipe found here). With all the cabbage I get in my ‘Krat’ these days, this is a recipe that I use all the time!
- 1 small cabbage, shredded or cut in very thin slices (I used a mix of white and red cabbage)
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 grated carrots
- 2 stalks celery, in fine slices
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- black pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine cabbage, onion, carrots, and celery. Sprinkle with 1 cup sugar, and mix well. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, oil, salt, mustard, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Pour hot dressing over cabbage mixture, and mix well. Enjoy when cooled down.