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Sausage and Mushroom Pasta and…The Long Way There

I walk my seven-year old son to school.  It’s a 10-minute walk therefore, according to logic and reason, if we leave the house 10 minutes before the bell rings, Alfie will be at school on time.  But thinking logically is not always sensible.

Alfie is always late.  And it’s not because we cut it too fine, in fact, we’ve been leaving at least 15 minutes before that 9am bell.

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta

What I have worked out is that Alfie can turn a 10-minute walk into a one-hour excursion.  This is what happened yesterday.  We set off and all was good, even the weather.  We passed a jacaranda tree.  We had to double-back to the jacaranda tree.  Alfie wanted to touch the jacaranda tree’s leaves.  He told me how interesting it is that the leaves on a jacaranda tree are so much smaller and lighter in colour than the leaves on a gum tree.  He asked me how many leaves I thought were on that jacaranda tree.  We had now lost five minutes.  I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, on Saturday you can go and stand beside the tree and I’ll let you back into the house when you’ve finished counting the leaves, okay?’  And I dragged him forward by the bag on his back.

We rounded the first corner and took no more than three steps when we had to stop again.  Half squashed on the pavement was a fairly dead black and orange furry caterpillar.  ‘These are the ones that sting you’, said Alfie, ‘If they’re furry they sting so you don’t touch them’.

‘Yes, that’s right, but let’s keep moving’.  And then there were more questions about how many types of furry caterpillars I thought there were and how many colours did they come in because Alfie had also seen furry caterpillars that are green.

And then Alfie noticed the sun in the sky and stopped to tell me how it hurts your eyes if you look at it and ‘How come I have to wear my hat at school even when it’s not sunny?’  And, ‘How close can astronauts get to the sun?’  And, ‘Are there scientists looking for aliens on other planets?’  And, and, and.  And now we’re not even halfway there and I can’t hear the bell but I know it’s been rung.

And then we cross over the main roads and unfortunately he now sees a man walking his dog.  And he asks the man if he can pat the dog and the man tells him he can and then Alfie asks him the dogs name, breed, gender and age and then tells him all about the dogs he has at home and all the while I’m tugging on that bag on his back trying to pull him along.

Next we pass by the War Memorial and Alfie likes to stop and read the inscription carved into the stone and then he asks me why you’re not allowed to climb memorials and why you can’t walk on them and I tell him it’s because it’s disrespectful and he asks ‘Why?’ and I say ‘Because they’re sacred ground and you don’t walk or climb on sacred ground’ and he asks, ‘What does sacred mean?’  And I  pull him along by his bag on his back and say, ‘That’s a very good question for your teacher, come on, let’s go’.

And we take a few more steps and then we pass under the giant fig trees and he sees seed pods on the ground.  He’s now down on the ground scrambling to pick these up and asking me if he pulled the seed pods open and took out the seeds and planted them in our garden, ‘Will they grow?’  And I say, ‘I don’t know but maybe that’s an experiment you can do at school’.

And we hear the bell in the distance that I’m sure is not the first bell of the day and we make our mad dash, running through the school’s gates and then the playground where for some bizarre reason we always come across the Deputy Principal who’s out for his morning stroll.  Doesn’t he have an office to sit in?

We arrive at the area where Alfie has to line up with the rest of his class only to find ‘lines’ is now over and we are the only ones there so it’s another mad dash up the three flights of stairs (could he have a classroom on the ground floor next year please?) where I rip the bag off his back and search for the one remaining hook, hang up the bag and shove him at high speed through the door of the classroom.  A quick wave of apology to the teacher and before she has a chance to ask for an explanation I’m at the bottom of those three flights of stairs.

I must be a slow-learner because it’s only recently occurred to me that just because it’s a 10-minute walk to school that doesn’t mean it only takes 10 minutes to get there.  I’m now allowing 30 minutes, not only so he can be at school on time, but because he’s curious – and curiosity is a good thing.

Walking home can take as long if not longer so mid-week I need meals that can be prepared and on the table within half an hour.  Here’s something I cook when time is short.

My version of ‘Fast-Food’

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta:

Serves:  4-6

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  This is a family meal for around $20.00.

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 springs rosemary, leaves only, chopped
  • 1 tbspn dried chilli flakes (can be omitted if the kids don’t like chilli)
  • 800g pork and fennel sausages, casings removed (available at delis or quality butchers)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 800g tinned, crushed tomatoes
  • 400g Swiss Brown mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 2 good handfuls of chopped parsley
  • 500g spiral pasta (I used organic spelt)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated.

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for about 3 mins until the onion is starting to soften.  Add the garlic, rosemary and chilli and stir until fragrant.  Add the sausage and stir until cooked through, breaking any clumps as you go.  Add the red wine and allow to simmer until reduced.  Add the tinned tomatoes and mushrooms and simmer gently for about 20 mins.  Add the parsley and stir through.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.  Add a tspn of salt and cook pasta according to directions on the packet.

Divide the pasta between the serving bowls, top with pasta sauce and sprinkle with grated parmesan if desired.

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  1. That’s so nice you let him stop and wonder.  Most parents would drag him along!

    LOVE your version of fast food. 🙂

  2. Niasunset says:

    Nice post, I agrre with you. And delicious recipe… Thank you dear Charlie, have a nice day and HAPPY MOTHER’ s DAY, love, nia 

  3. Good for you …. keep Alfie curious! Meanwhile, sausage-mushrooms-tomatoes is a great combo for a pasta sauce. 🙂

  4. Oh, how I laughed at this post because my boy takes forever to get going in the morning. He’s 18. Unfortunately this is not because he is taking a slow and curious walk to school, but because he is not a morning person and cannot bolster himself out of bed.

    I think Alfie is getting an excellent education every morning on that walk to school. As you stated, curiosity is a good thing. Yes, indeed. Keep embracing and encouraging it.

  5. Curiosity is indeed a wonderful thing.  My girls and I can turn a short walk into a long one any time, and I cannot always blame them.  I’m just as often the one smelling the flowers as they are.

  6. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Alfie sounds like an interested and interesting boy.  Maybe he’ll be a scientist!

  7. Awww what a lovely and curious little boy 🙂 Remember and cherish these moments!

  8. Alfie sounds like a really cool kid. When my nephew was about Alfie’s age, he took my husbands hand and walked around the perimeter of our house and stopped at the gas meter and grilled my husband about it. My nephew is now 27 and is a structural engineer so curiosity is a good thing, as you mentioned.
    When I used to eat pasta, I would always order something with sausage in it, particularly with a little heat! The spelt pasta sounds interesting too, does it have a texture? I know you are now going into winter so this must be a wonderful and comforting meal, and I would definitely have the Parmesan.
    Hope you have a great weekend, Charlie.

  9. I very much enjoyed the walk to school today. Would love to join you for the supper too!

  10. Haha, great little story! Maybe you should get him sunglasses with blinders on them so he’s not so distracted on the walk! 😉 Thanks for sharing.

  11. I love your story, Charlie. It’s so nice of you to take your time and not stifle Alfie’s curiosity 🙂

  12. Deeps NaughtyCurry says:

    how cute! like u said curiosity is a good thing… the pasta looks yummy

  13. Scrumptious comfort meal.  You are a very patient and understanding mommy – so cool that you allow Alfie to ask all these questions under time constraints.
    Have a happy weekend.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  14. Hello Charlie! It’s been a while but I’ve been crazy busy these days..
    You know my son is going to junior kindergarten this September and I was thinking just that. The school is 5 minutes walk, but I know my son so I guess I have to leave the house 15 minutes earlier at least..
    Now about the dish, pasta are always a savior, I love your version..

  15. Choc Chip Uru says:

    Alfie sounds like an adorable curious boy – what a vivid imagination he will have 😀
    On another note, beautiful pasta dish!

    Choc Chip Uru

  16. What a great kid!  He is a perfect example of living in the moment, something most of never even approach despite our efforts.  Beautiful story.  Nice pasta dish as well!

  17. He sounds like a cute curious boy 🙂 A good reminder to enjoy every moment and not rush! 

  18. Hi,
    Curiosity it a wonderful thing to have, we cannot learn anything unless we ask. 🙂
    Love your pasta dish.

  19. A_boleyn says:

    It’s hard cause you want to encourage his questioning mind but it does wear on you, doesn’t it? 🙂

  20. InTolerant Chef says:

    Oh yes, I remember it well! Littlej was and still is the same, she has to explore everything around her. She still manages to come home loaded down with interesting flowers, leaves, feathers, bugs and rocks. I don’t mind as long as they don’t go through the wash in her pockets 🙂
    Great idea to use the flavoured sausages for a wonderful yumminess!

  21. ChgoJohn says:

    Your story had me grinning from beginning to end. It’s great to get a peak at the world from an innocent’s perspective. I must admit, though, when I was 7, if I knew that your pasta dish was going to be served for dinner, I surely would have made that 10 minute trip home from school in 5 minutes. Who am I kidding? I do it now.  🙂

  22. FiSh SzeHui says:

    it’s okay because kids walk slower. if they understand whats the punishment of being late, then perhaps they’d go faster?

    Latest: Crown of Pork Experience 

  23. Denisetyrrell1 says:

    How wonderful! Soak it up it goes too fast.  Good idea starting out earlier now you will have time to enjoy the curiosities together. Good pasta too, just what hungry kids need at the end of a hard day at school.

  24. I love that you let him indulge his curiosity – as you say, it is a good thing! Probably more important than what he’d get in the first 15 minutes of school in fact 🙂 

    I like the look of this pasta, too; I can imagine us having it with veggie sausages.

  25. Moments to treasure I would think…………….

  26. Juliet Batten says:

    What a fantastically enquiring mind he has! Yes, it’s more than a 10 minute walk for a mind like that. He’s in school from the moment he starts the walk – his own school of inquiry. It’s a challenge for a parent though, bound to adult constraints and timetables. I wonder what he will become when he grows up? Such curiosity will take him far, I’m sure.

  27. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    A lovely, easy weeknight dinner Charlie! 🙂

  28. Words Of Deliciousness says:

    I love your story about your son Alfie, sounds like my kids when they were small. I love this pasta dish. Sounds like it is full of flavor, yummy.

  29. Oh, I wish I could allow myself the time to dawdle, wander, ask questions, and not always be hurrying from place to place with anxiety in my heart. I need an Alfie 🙂

  30. Beautiful story, he has a very inquisitive mind…and that is good!

  31. Sausage and mushroom pasta sounds excellent! 

  32. Your kid is the cutest!!!

  33. What a gift of time you have with your son as you walk together–I love your idea to allow for more time! Not only is curiosity a good thing, but establishing your role as the one who will listen to every question, give thoughtful answers, teach him how to process and experience the world around him, and take the time for him is priceless. All that and there is still a delicious family meal to gather around at the end of the day–pretty amazing.

  34. Gretchen says:

    Yes, curiosity is a great thing!  How lovely that you can walk that journey together each day.  We’re too far to walk, but we drive in and pick up our kids – it’s a nice chance to face the day together and then unwind at the day’s end!  I’m going to print off this recipe – it would be perfect on Monday when I need FAST FOOD!

  35. Great looking pasta there!

  36. Alfie is just a wonderful boy, Charlie! I love his curiosity and I’m so delighted that you are taking the slow path with him! What memories you’ll both share. I like his questions and his interest in things that others just pass by.  I’m just loving this post! I love the way a brilliant little mind works! Your fast food recipe is a great reminder that tasty doesn’t need to cook all day! Debra (breathelighter)

  37. Nevertoosweet Daisy says:

    OHHH Alfie’s so sweet 🙂 And Happy Mother’s Day Charlie 🙂 i wish my mum was so patient with me when I was growing up lol i was a curious kid too but mum just didn’t answer my questions hehe

  38. Oh lovely, how I wish I could have done this with my little fellow, but it was all about getting to work for me. They really do ask the best questions darling little boys!

  39. He sounds like an absolute joy, Charlie.  We have one like that, and I’m still getting questions from him at 16. This morning it was “mum, did you know they re-released ET for a 20 year memorial edition and they’ve added some CGI scenes…” and I said, “that’s interesting darling, please put on your tie..” 🙂

  40. We were all that curious at one stage or another. Even my 4 and 2 year old nephews always side track and ask questions about anything and everything. They even listen in on any conversations I have… Haha.

  41. That looks so flavorful! Yummy!!!

  42. Justasmidgen says:

    I remember once walking my niece (3 years old) to the park.. only a few blocks. I think we made it about two houses down.. and that was it. Time was spent crouching down studying the tiniest of little bugs and sidewalk cracks. Such precious times those were!

  43. I want a hefty serving of that wonderful pasta please!

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