Everyday rituals: picnic your cares away
At the end of ‘one of those days’, when everything goes wrong and the children insist on telling you about it over and over with that special whine they reserve just for parents, a little break is in order.
Now, it’s tempting to cook a simple meal for the kids to eat, rinse them through the bath and shovel them into bed for an early night. Ah, the bliss of a quiet house sans active children. But after that initial relief wears off, I guarantee you will be feeling restless and not one bit happy. They say that to keep a happy marriage you should ‘never go to bed on an argument’ and I think that is even more true of our relationship with our children.
So, here’s my advice – cook that simple meal but pack it in a hamper instead. Rinse those kids through the bath, dress them in comfy clothes and then cart your cares outside for a dinner picnic.
Keep it as low-key as you please. The backyard is a comfy venue, or take a walk or a drive to a favourite spot. Lay down a rug, pour some homemade lemon cordial and dish out a golden pie or quiche. Maybe just some crusty baguettes served up with a potato salad. Or leftovers. You’re not serving the masses, just your suddenly-lovely again family, love rekindled by the ritual of sharing a meal together in the easy, breezy outdoors.
Chicken and leek pies
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 20g butter
- 4 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 2 medium leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup 60% less fat Philly Cream for Cooking
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Pepper to taste
- 2 sheets frozen ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, partially thawed, halved diagonally
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 sheet frozen ready-rolled puff pastry, partially thawed, quartered
Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Heat oil and butter in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and gently cook, for about 5 minutes or until white; take care not to brown. Add onion, garlic and leek. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until onion and leek has softened. Bring to the boil and add flour, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until chicken is tender.
Add stock and Philly Cream for Cooking. Bring to the boil and then remove immediately from heat. Stir through a squeeze of lemon and season with pepper.
Line four 7.5cm (base) ramekins with shortcrust pastry. Trim excess. Top with chicken and leek filling. Brush edges of pastry with egg. Top with puff pastry. Trim excess from edges and press down with a fork to seal. Use left over pastry to decorate the tops of the pies – initials are nice, or maybe use a cookie cutter to add a little flair. Brush with egg. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.
Pack into a hamper, covering with a clean tea towel. Depart for happier places and eat your cares for dinner.
Breaking up the daily routine by twilight picnicking together is my family’s surefire tonic for those itchy, rumbling days. Breaking bread together in the most informal, relaxed kind of way reminds us of the bonds we share and the laughs that are always ready to bubble out, if only we’d stop fighting the day and just let it be.
I guarantee that creating a family picnicking ritual will blow away your own troubles, whenever you need the help. It’s like a reset button for a happy family. Put it in a hamper and start fresh, no matter what time of day it is.
When nothing goes right, go outside.
This article was written by Maxabella for kidspot.com.au and was adapted for kidspot.co.nz