This week the little guy had his athletics carnival. While the event is a whole lot more than just a lovely day outside of the classroom, and while Alfie is very enthusiastic about it, the events on offer are not his most suited. The athletics carnival is for sprinters and my little guy is at his best when distance is involved. The longer the race, the better his chances.
Alfie competed in every race and did very well. His best event was the 800mtrs where he finished first and will go forward to the next stage of the competition.
Like a good mother I was sitting on the sidelines cheering him on and after five hours of sitting on a cold concrete step I was quite relieved when the last event of the day, the relay, was underway. I needed to go to the bathroom, I was thirsty, and I had a few projects needing my attention on the home front as well.
But just as the little guy was handed the baton and he sprinted the last leg of the relay, they announced over the loud-speaker that there was time for a parents-versus-teachers relay race. They couldn’t be serious.
And the little guy, still full of beans, came running up to me saying, ‘Mum, you have to do this, hurry, they need you in the race, didn’t you hear? And I’ll get points for my house’.
Out of the crowd of parents, there were just four of us pushed forward into the limelight; Rowena the professional runner who goes in marathons for fun, a token bloke, me, and my GP who I didn’t know had any children at the school and who had just done a breast exam on me a few days before. ‘Lovely to see you’, is what I said to her (and grateful this time to be fully clothed).
We eyed off our competition and there was certainly an age discrepancy that wasn’t in our favour. There was also some gender bias as they had three blokes to our single token bloke. They were also slightly better prepared with tracksuits and jogging shoes and we were in jeans and had just one pair of sneakers between us. Never mind, we took our positions around the oval full of enthusiasm.
Because we had a strategy; Rowena the champion/professional was to get us off to a flying start and set us up for a win, the GP was next and the aim was to try and hang on to our anticipated lead, the token bloke was to pick up the pace and then hand me the baton while I sprinted off at top speed to bring us home for a win. Easy.
All went to plan and I was handed the baton with a slight lead. I rounded the bend and had the finish line in sight when a 25-year old male teacher with 110% fitness and a love of sprinting flew past me and raced through the finish line. Robbed!
I congratulated him by saying, ‘Next year we’ll be tying your legs together’.
Anyway, we did our best and there’s no shame in coming second.
Let’s get back to the kitchen. Last weekend we had a dinner party and as I’d made the decision that we’d eat outside on our verandah, I thought we’d need a warming dish.
I cooked beef bourguignon and served it with mash and green beans sprinkled with toasted pine nuts. What’s good about this dish is that it uses an inexpensive cut of meat so is affordable, once it’s in the oven it looks after itself, and it can be made in advance and re-heated just before serving.
Almost too good to be true.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1kg (1lb) chuck steak, cubed
- 300g speck, cut into batons
- 2 leeks, washed and sliced into 1cm rounds
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup beef stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 16 French eschallots, peeled
- 500g swiss brown mushrooms
- chopped parsley to garnish
- Pre-heat oven to 180C (375F)
- Heat oil in a large casserole dish over high heat.
- Brown meat in batches.
- Reduce heat to medium and add speck and leeks. Cook until the leeks have softened then add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Return beef to dish and add red wine. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 1 minute.
- Add beef stock and tomato paste and stir to combine.
- Place a lid on the casserole dish and put in the oven for 1 hr.
- Remove from the oven and add onions and mushrooms. Return to the oven and cook for another 45 minutes or until beef is tender. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
- Serve with mashed potato and green beans if desired.