Dance Steps

Archie’s stressed.  Apparently, it’s my fault.

He’s tracking how he’s going with his degree and he’s a little underwhelmed.  I’m responsible.

He was in a flap yesterday about an assignment he had to visually present and he fell apart under the pressure.  ‘Mum, you know I’ve got this presentation’.

Roasted Seasoned Chicken Legs

‘What subject?’


‘Oh, that’s great, you’re good at dance’.

‘No, I’m not mum.  I can’t dance’.

‘You can dance, Archie, you’ve got great rhythm’.

‘No, I don’t mum, even the teacher knows I’m useless’.

‘Well, I don’t believe it.  You did all that dancing on stage as The Pirate King’.

‘That’s irrelevant, mum’.

‘Well if you could dance then, you must be able to dance now’.

‘No, I can’t mum, and whatever I did back then doesn’t count.  It’s irrelevant’.

‘But you did so well…’

‘Irrelevant mum’.

‘But you’ve always been able to dance and you’re…’

Chicken Legs with Black Caramel Dipping Sauce

‘Mum, you have no idea.  You’re just my mother, that’s all.  Did you know that when you booked me into this course that you were booking me into a music degree?  And did you know that I’ve had no professional music training?  I didn’t even do music at school.  And so how did you expect me to pass?  Don’t you know that if I finish the course but don’t pass every subject I won’t get my degree and it’s all just been a complete waste of time?’

‘Well who says you’re going to fail?’

‘I’m failing mum.  And it’s because you put me into a course where I’ve got no idea what I’m doing.  I’ve nothing to draw on’.

‘Well you auditioned and they accepted you.  And you’re loving it, right?’

‘Yes, it’s great.  But I’m just telling you.  You shouldn’t expect me to do well’.

‘Well of course I expect you to do well.  If you’re struggling you should ask one of the teachers to help you’.

‘You don’t know anything mum.  This is uni, not high school.  I’ve already been to one of my teachers and he just shrugged and told me to read a book.  That’s not helpful mum.

‘So when’s your next assignment due?’

‘Tomorrow morning?’

‘Can I help you with it?’

‘It’s on the basic steps of choreography mum, you know nothing’.

Wok-Fried Greens

But I did have five years of ballet with Mrs Warwick.  With my limited dance choreography experience I told him how the steps are taught one by one and usually the steps for the feet are taught first and when they are mastered other body part movements are added like the hands, head and torso.  I took him through the assignment question and something happened and he understood what it was he had to do.  He finished the task, presented it today, and can you believe, he thinks he did okay.

And that would be my fault!

Archie was burnt out after his choreography assignment and came home very hungry.  I’d had a busy day with my precious Rosie being diagnosed with a fractured pelvis so dinner was slim pickings.  I had some chicken legs so roasted them tossed in vegetable oil, sea salt, Chinese five-spice powder and freshly ground white pepper.  I cooked them in the oven for 40 minutes and meanwhile made a black vinegar caramel dipping sauce and decided to serve them with some fresh wok fried greens and rice.

And Archie didn’t say, ‘Irrelevant, mum’

Rosie has a fractured pelvis and is on four weeks bed-rest

Seasoned Roasted Chicken Legs with Black Vinegar Caramel and Wok-Fried Greens

Serves: 4

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  Chicken legs are very affordable.  This is a great family meal for less than $20.00 for a family of five.

  • 1 tbspn vegetable oil
  • 12 organic chicken legs
  • 1 tbspn Chinese fives spice powder
  • 2 tbspn sea salt flakes
  • 1 tbspn white peppercorns, freshly ground
  • rice to serve
  • greens to serve – I used 2 leeks, a bunch of shallots and a bunch of coriander, tossed with black sesame seeds

Black Vinegar Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tbspn water
  • 1/2 cup black vinegar
  • 1/2 tbspn light soy sauce

Heat oven to 200C Fan-Forced or 22oC non-fan forced.

In a large shallow baking dish place, pour vegetable oil.  Add chicken legs then toss in oil.  Add Chinese five-spice powder, sea salt and white pepper.  Toss to combine.  Place in oven for 45 minutes, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook rice according to directions on packet.

Black Vinegar Caramel (adapted from the Spirit House cookbook)

In a small saucepan over high heat add sugar and water.  Stir occasionally.  Bring to the boil and continue to boil until it turns deep brown.  About 5 mins.  (Don’t stir during this process as sugar can re-crystallise).  Stir in vinegar and soy sauce but be careful because it can splatter.  Bring back to the boil and stir until it thicken slightly.

Wok-Fried Greens

Meanwhile, heat a wok with 1 tbspn vegetable oil and heat until shimmering.  Add 2 finely chopped leeks and stir-fry until softened, add a bunch of chopped shallots and stir-fry until just wilted.  Add 1 tspn sesame oil and 1 tspn black sesame seeds.  Remove from heat, stir through some coriander leaves and serve with chicken legs and rice and pour over black caramel vinegar.

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  1. Beautiful photo……
    Your the best mum. X

  2. My brother also gets himself to this kind of a state when he’s studying. It’s so frustrating! But good food always helps. That black vinegar caramel sounds amazing.

  3. I love these convos you post between you and your son 🙂 So funny. Also, that is the cutest dog! My parents have a long-haired dachsund too! (At least I think that’s what Rosie is…)

  4. A_Boleyn says:

    Isn’t it nice when clueless mum can draw from her irrelevant background to help the kid. 🙂 Poor Rosie.

  5. I always thought I was patient, but can now see I would have made a terrible mother! You, on the other hand, are a great mom and seem to have boundless energy for it. So happy you got Archie sorted out, and what a cute dog Rosie is…is that Archie with her?

  6. niasunset says:

    you are so nice mother… I love to read you dear Charlie… I am so glad everything went fine for Archie… But sorry for lovely Rosie… I wish her to get well soon… it is not easy to keep them on bed-rest… Thank you, by the way the meal seems so delicious… Love, nia

  7. Victoria of Flavors of the Sun says:

    One thing is universal: It’s always the mother’s fault. My sister-in-law taught me that early on. The good thing is that kids get over that stage in time. But for now, I am in awe of your patience in all situations.

    I hope Rosie is better soon.

  8. Oh Charlie, I can’t wait to make the caramel sauce! I don’t think I’ve had anything quite like it! I could probably live quite comfortably on that lovely assortment of greens, too. Great recipes! I think you have a talented son, so I’m sure he will end well with the choreography challenge! And poor Rosie! I’m so sorry! Healing hugs! Debra

  9. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Oh no, poor Rosie! How did that happen? How does a dog on bed rest go outside (if you get my meaning)? I’m thinking a long four weeks for you.

    Glad that Archie did well. I also hear a lot of how poorly things are going at uni. In our case, there is the implication that someone was somehow pressured into studying engineering.

  10. Poor Rosie! I hope she’s ok…

    Archie is lucky to have you, Charlie, and if I ever get to talk to him again, I’m going to let him know in no uncertain terms… 🙂

    Those chicken legs look divine! xx

  11. hahahha that’s funny!!!! I’m glad he did ok at the end!

  12. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Poor pup – hope little Rosie is okay!
    Seems you are on a hiding to nothing some days – I commend you!
    Scrumptious chicken.
    🙂 Mandy

  13. Hi,

    Sounds like Archie just needed a bit of encouragement, it’s great that it all worked out. 🙂
    I am so sorry to hear about Rosie, I hope she heals well, she most likely will sleep most of the time.
    I love your recipe, you can’t beat the chicken legs always good.

  14. Poor dear Rosie my friend!!! I hope she is ok!
    Though am glad Archie did well 🙂

    Stunning chicken my friend, my brother I think, needs it 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  15. Glamorous Glutton says:

    As a mother it’s always your fault. I’ve learnt that the hard way. I’m glad it worked for Archie. I hope Rosie is better. $ weeks of bed rest will be hard! GG

  16. InTolerantChef says:

    Delicious meal, I made a sauce black vinegar last night as well 🙂
    Oh poor Rosie! Actually my hubby smashed his pelvis when he was younger and it was months of treatment and hydro, and entailed learning to walk all over again. How can you explain that to a doggie? At least you can reason with Archie while you teach him to dance, but maybe dogs are more obedient than teenage boys 🙂

  17. Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious says:

    Yum, I bet that black vinegar caramel makes a tasty sauce on this chicken dish!! Yum yum!!

  18. Gosh Charlie I hope she’s ok!
    Easy and tasty recipe, I love chinese five spice I will try to make it!

  19. I bet he saw this dinner as highly *relevant* in fact 🙂
    Good effort on the choreography memories! I relate so much to those sorts of conversations as my sister seems to enter a similarly panicked state with her uni. study, and tells us all she’s going to fail, and it’s all our fault for making her go to uni. in the first place. Sigh.
    I’m so sorry to hear about Rosie too – how horrible. How on earth does such a small dog fracture her pelvis?

  20. How could he say irrelevant to the chicken legs with some fresh veggies? 😛
    I understand how school could get stressful, and parents can’t always help.. But we could cook them a yummy dish right? 🙂
    I hope rosie recovers smoothly..

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Jojo. And I would love to follow your blog. Are you able to message my your URL as I wasn’t able to find you on google xx

  21. Isn’t he lucky to have a mum to help him with his dance assignments!

  22. Great outcome for Mother and Son and it does seem to me that judging by the photo at least you have had some relief from stubble stranded at high tide in the bathroom. Love the recipe!

  23. ChgoJohn says:

    Archie is very lucky to have a Mum who’s so irrelevant. Ha! Great recipe, Charlie, and I’ll be looking for black vinegar so that I can make that caramel sauce. It sounds delicious! Poor Rosie! I hate it when one of my animals is injured or not well. I feel so helpless while nature takes its course.

  24. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    It is always the mom’s fault, so I’ve learned from raising three children.

  25. How does a dog get a fractured pelvis? Please don’t say she jumped off the bed. Poor Rosie!! She’s such a cutie.

    Charlie, surely you know by now that EVERYTHING that goes wrong in our childrens’ lives are our fault. Never their father’s fault.. always the mother.

    They change their tune at about 25 which is a good thing. They say thank you for things you taught them and values they have. It takes a while to get there.

    The chicken legs look yum!

  26. Oh that’s not fair for Archie to blame it on you…but i guess it’s normal for children to do that and I probably did the same thing when i was growing up lol

    Poor Rosie 🙁 what happened? That sounds really painful for that cute little doggy!

  27. Juliet Batten says:

    What a great mum you are, the way you helped him and didn’t get demolished by his blaming. Part of growing up is learning to take responsibility for our decisions. I wish Alfie much growing up (and relief for you)

  28. Poor Rosie! I hope she gets better soon. I much prefer slim pickings in your house to mine. Last week I decided I really couldn’t be bothered making dinner. Our slim pickings were toast!

  29. SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) says:

    Oh, poor pup! You’re such a good mum…. I hope I manage to be 1/2 as patient as you are when I have kiddies.

  30. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    You are so patient! Are you a patient person naturally or does having kids bring that out? I only ask because I am very impatient but sort of hoping to become more patient. Love the idea of this black caramel dipping sauce too. I have one by Flying Fish and it’s heavenly!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Ahhh Lorraine, I’m actually an incredibly impatient person. If I appear patient it must be a smoke-screen. But yes, kids have a knack of bringing out the best and worst in you. I agree re the black vinegar caramel – could eat it by the spoonful! xx

  31. Mum to the rescue – again! Not irrelevant at all. Nice work fried greens.

  32. Poor puppy, that must be difficult to keep her still while the bone heals. I’ve said it before, your kids are very lucky to have such a supportive mum. And a good cook to boot! I love the dipping sauce!

  33. Oh poor Rosie! I hope she is better soon. And I love the “irrelevant mum!” what I love most is how your kids share with you. That’s awesome!

  34. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) says:

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen black vinegar before Charlie, but I’m going to look for it now to make that sauce!

  35. What a truly magnificent & tasty recipe! i love that black caramel sauce a lot! Yummm! What moms go through, hey??

  36. Oh, how awful for Rosie … Hope she’s better soon! Great job on teaching dance, girl 🙂

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