Ossobuco and Spaghetti.

A simple way to enjoy your beef ossobuco. I like this dish as it has its own flavour and whichever spices or flavourings you use, are really just to enhance its richness.

The trick is to cook it low, slow and with love.

Ingredients:-

  • 4 beef shanks.
  • 1 large sliced onion.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
  • I green pepper.
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste.
  • A pinch of sugar.
  • 1 tablespoon spice blend of equal parts ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • 2 tbsp of all purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • A splash of Worcestershire sauce.
  • A splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • 2 chopped tomatoes.
  • Cooking oil.
  • 1 small bunch of coriander chopped and some lemon zest.

Method.

Mix the flour, spice blend and salt and pepper on a wide plate.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan.

Dry the ossobucco pieces and dredge them in the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and fry in the oil till brown all round then set aside.

In the same pan, fry your onion and mix well till soft, before adding the garlic and green pepper. Add the tomato paste and the sauce and vinegar as well as the sugar, stir well.

Add the ossobuco pieces to the pan…

…and some water to just cover them.. then add the chopped tomato on top.

Cover and simmer on low for 2 hours, till the meat is ready and tender. Once ready, sprinkle with the coriander and lemon.

Cook your spaghetti as per the pack instructions and plate.

The sauce is thick, the meat is tender, succulent and full of flavour.

Worth a try right?

You can also check out these other tasty beef ossobuco recipes already on the blog:-

. Instant Pot Ossobuco.

.Curried Beef Shank.

. Naan and Ossobuco.

Puppy Love.

My daughter has a lot of affection for one of the dogs. Both kids love all the dogs but there seems to be an extra special bond when it comes to this specific dog. Anatalina is her name and she is a playful and delightful dog that loves human attention.

This girl knows all there is to know about this specific dog. She knows its age, what it likes and is able to tell whether it is feeling good or a bit low. What the different barks and whines mean, even how to calm the dog down sometimes. I have never seen such an intense bond between a child and an animal up close. It is something special to watch.

Growing up, not many people kept indoor pets where we lived. Even now, many people keep dogs as a security measure so they are usually built for kennels outside, and let out at night to deter intruders. Getting the kids indoor pets was not anything we took seriously. Back in Nairobi we lived in a homestead with cows, pigs, rabbits and chickens and they helped out in feeding and caring for them, but we do not have deep emotional attachments as compared to keeping a little chihuahua or pet parrot, nope.

We did have a pair of love birds once some years ago…for a day or two, then they disappeared and no, it was not my fault. LOL! Even cats are out of the question for us. Animals live outside, we live inside, that is my rule and I like it that way.

When we found out we would live with the dogs here, I was obviously apprehensive but the kids and the dogs get along just fine.

Anatalina always barks happily when she senses the kids leaving for school or when they are getting in back later in the day. She has this special whine she lets out that can be really insistent and only calms down when my daughter goes to her side of the garden and pats her down.

My daughter always checks to know when the Vet is coming to check on the dogs and watches him treat the dogs as she asks why they are being given specific meds or vitamins. There is a time she cried when Anatalina was not feeling well, and could not bear to see the dog being injected.

Seeing her interact with the dog has made me learn a few things too, and made me understand a bit on why kids love animals, in this case dogs, so much.

Dogs are known to be loyal, affectionate creatures. Probably why they are known as ‘man’s best friend.’ Dogs offer companionship, loyalty and understanding. No matter how lousy you are feeling, the sight of your dog’s delight to see you will lift your spirits. Dogs are no longer just helping us to keep safe, their presence in our lives has health benefits too. Playing with them, walking with them, stroking them helps keep us active and happy. Dog owners are actually more physically active than people who do not own dogs. If the kids are sad or had a bad day, they will sense it and try to cheer them up.

Dogs are great protectors, they will alert you when something is not right in or around your home. Their behaviour and the sounds they make will let you know of anything suspicious.

Which reminds me, I have a bit of a mystery I have been unable to solve in the neighbour hood. Almost everyone around us keeps dogs and these guys (the dogs, that is), always bark and howl insistently when one of our neighbours drives back in the evening. I do not understand why it is always that specific neighbour. At first it was a bit amusing but it has never stopped, and it has been over a year now since we moved in here. Every night this guy comes home just before 9.00 pm, ALL the dogs in our immediate area howl and bark like crazy for 3-5 minutes. I wonder why?

Anyway, back to why kids love dogs. I have also read that playing with dogs can calm down hyperactive kids, helps kids with special needs, and also teach kids a few skills. By caring for the dogs, the children learn responsibility and commitment. Knowing that there is another living being they care for will also boost their self confidence, teach them kindness and to be trustworthy.

I may have not liked dogs in the past, but I am definitely developing puppy love vibes recently. Watching my kids play with the dogs so gleefully and interact with them so freely, has taught me to also loosen up a bit, let go of my inhibitions a bit and have some fun too. What’s a little dog fur on my clothes in return for doleful eyes watching me, tail wagging crazily as I rub Anatalina behind her ears?

She is also an amazing listener. I can rave and rant and she will lie down and watch me as I vent out all my frustrations. With a few whines thrown in here and there, that I am pretty sure mean she agrees with me. She will watch me exercise or jog in the garden even dance with no judgment at all. And she keeps me company when I cook. Always at the kitchen window trying to keep up with whatever is going on with me. She is obviously begging for some kitchen scrapes but i will go with my delightful company as the reason she is always there. She is such a delightful dog.

George Graham Vest said, “The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world—the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous—is his dog.” Every time I watch how my daughter bonds and plays with Anatalina, I am reminded of how special dogs are. In this crazy world, who would not want a loyal, non judgement and playful companion by their side? Will we get a dog when we leave here? You bet we will.

(You can read on the other dogs’ escapades here and here. )

I will also be back soon with an update once I solve the mystery of the dogs’ reactions to our neighbour. Keep it locked.

Love,

Wanjoro.

Practical Skills To Teach Your Kids.

As a parent, what practical lessons would you like to impart to your children? Every moment spent with our young ones is a teachable moment. Keeping in mind kids learn more by doing and watching.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We are privileged to be living in an era where information is at our fingertips; there are lots of resources on how we can parent which is invaluable at this time when the world seems to be a very confusing place. However, we must acknowledge that when it comes to parenting, experience is best. There is no perfect manual to doing this right.

I came across a list on the parents. com website on practical life skills we can teach our kids, and thought I could share my interpretation of the same.

1. How to do laundry. If you have a washing machine, depending on their age, they can learn how to load it. I haven’t done this with my kids yet (both under 10 years), but at their ages they can wash their handkerchiefs, inner wear and a few small clothing items by hand. They can also learn how to sort their laundry, fold and put it away.

Do not leave them alone at the laundry area and make sure the machine’s child lock is always on.


Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

2. Plant a seedling. A lot of times this is done in school as part of learning, but now that the kids are home, it is a great time to do this with them. Best thing is you do not even need a garden, a small pot will do and it is a great lesson to teach them how to care for a living thing and how things grow.

Photo by Richa Sharma on Pexels.com

3. Wrapping a gift. This is a lesson in patience for parents (read me) who prefer doing this fast, and noting that these days we often get our gifts wrapped at the store. But it is a fun activity to get those little fingers busy and see their creativity in wrapping. The festive season is here, let’s make the best of it with the extra pair of hands to help his wrap the gifts.

4. Hammering a nail. Will it hurt? Yes. Some tears will flow and maybe two or three drops of blood. And speaking from experience, the kids may get a little bit carried away when the tool box is within reach. Getting a smaller sized hammer is good for them as well as designated zones and materials (smaller planks of wood) to be hammered. There are lots of crafts videos online that one can choose to do with them and they can practice hammering away.

5. Writing a letter. This is an invaluable skill for anyone to have. As much as technology has made it a bit too easy to communicate, there is something about a handwritten letter that conveys much more depth and emotion than a text or email. When I was younger we had penpals from all over the world. Writing the letter, slipping in photos, adding the stamps and posting the letter and waiting weeks/ months for a response was so much fun. So do not wait till they learn how to write letters in their grammar class, teach them earlier and they will learn to appreciate the beauty in written words.


Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

6. Preparing a Simple Meal. Fruits and sandwiches qualify. And making an egg. With supervision of course. Let them be your little sous chefs, let them touch, stir, mix, sniff and taste. It is a great way to teach them how their senses work too. How food comes together is art, science, a love language, and so much more. It is also a relaxed way to communicate with them. And what could be possibly wrong about knowing how to feed yourself?


Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

7. Navigating. Thanks to Google maps, and other satnav apps it is not easy to get lost and worry about having to ask strangers for help these days. It is however important for our children to know how to get home from the nearest shop, or street without these apps. We all don’t live in areas with physical address numbers on our gates, but there are landmarks that can help the kids identify their way home. A police post, a communication mast, a coloured gate or roof, a funny shaped tree or post. If the street where you live has a name, let them know it. Also let the kids know where they can go for help if lost. When in a new area, it is important to know where the nearest police post is or local authority office and emergency services.

8. Treating a Wound. This is dependent on age, but let the kids at least know where the first aid box in the house is. Also what to do when they get a bump, a cut or graze, that they can clean it under running water if possible, and use some disinfectant. Let them also know what to do in case of nosebleeds.


Photo by Roger Brown on Pexels.com

9. Cleaning the bathroom. Please DO NOT let your kids use the cleaning supplies. They should be always out of reach. But they should know how to rinse the sink when done, clean the toilet seat before and after use. Rinse out the tub or shower area and mop up. If they can brush their teeth and wash themselves, this is not hard for them to do.

10. Finances. The website called this ‘comparison shopping’ but with young kids they may not understand this. This is also an interesting one as we do not usually talk to our kids about finances. It doesn’t have to be a complicated lecture. Let us talk to our kids about what money is, and how it is used. There are so many resources online on how to talk to kids about money. On comparison shopping, if you shop with the kids, they will be sure to note what is on sale (the placards are pretty big and colourful), you can explain to them what it means.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

This is by no means an exhaustive list of practical skills to impart to our children. There is so much we teach them on a daily basis and they are always learning even when we or they are not aware of those teachable moments.

These things may be also obvious to some of us, and enlightening to others. Let us not take things for granted as parents.

What other practical skills do you think should be included in this list?

Coming out of lockdown…

Would you believe it has been two months of living in lockdown here?

The country is opening up albeit slowly with partial allowances for movement. Personal vehicles are now allowed on the road, but no more than three people in the vehicle, and the public transport vehicles are yet to get back. Masks to be worn at all times when out. Schools are still closed too.

I took a short drive the other day just around our neighbourhood. Well, lots of people were not wearing masks and there were some motorbike taxis out too. Was I shocked? A bit. I know not all folks can access the masks or stay indoors and also the fact that there is no community transmission that we know of YET, could be why some folks seem to be taking it easy.

A lot of people from other places seem to think the approach taken here is working. Time will tell though. The thing about Corona is nobody can be fully prepared or be able to predict its actuality. To say this virus sucks is an understatement. It is taking lives, halting livelihoods, crushing economies as we watch and the health, social and economic implications will be felt for a long time.

One of my major worries is kids and school. What will happen to the kids? Teachers? other staff? Keeping in mind close physical interaction is a big nope; how will our kids play with each other? What if one kid or a teacher falls sick? What happens then?

How are our kids taking all this in? I was surprised the other day when my seven year old daughter used the word pandemic when playing with her six year old brother. We don’t watch news avidly but they are already catching up with the lingo. When they ask about visiting friends or places its always “after Covid, can we….?” My son keeps asking when Corona will end and if it will ever go away ? They also ask if they will be wearing masks forever ? Sigh, so many questions we don’t have answers to.

My kids have been making masks for their toys too- Sad.

It is not easy to talk to our children about it but we have to. And we have to do it in a way that does not scare them. Having a schedule has been working to keep their mind and bodies busy. Not too rigid but something to give this time at home some semblance of normalcy.

Now to talk to them about the changes; that yes, we can move around a bit but still cannot access some places or have people over. Still can’t give hugs and handshakes, keep masks on when out etc.

What kind of a life is this though?