Last night my heart popped out of my chest.
I kissed all three beautiful daughters goodnight and after 20 minutes I hear “Daaaaaadddd” coming from our youngest bedroom. I pop my head around her door to ask her if I could perhaps help. She calmly says ‘no thanks Mum’ and tells me that she really just needs Dad. In he enters just as I am leaving. I look at him and shrug with a ‘not sure what she’s up to’ kind-a look but he doesn’t seem at all puzzled. I hover outside and I hear her ask him quietly if he will give here a ‘tickle back’ to help get her off to sleep. “Sure thing” he replies. He didn’t even need any thinking music. I had something stir in me and I think I recognised it as a little disappointment. Off I skulked to clean my teeth and get ready for bed myself. I couldn’t work out why I was just that little bit cranky. Was it that I felt she was too old to need a tickle back to get off to sleep or was it that it wasn’t me that she needed?
Just before I slid into bed, I snuck past her room. I saw the most lovely moment of a Dad just loving his daughter and a daughter feeling safe and loved and gently drifting off to sleep. It was a moment of pure love and I hope she remembers it forever but it is likely she may not. I was grateful I hadn’t disturbed them and that this moment could be just theirs.
By the time he comes to bed, I am so close to sleep myself. Despite the love that I saw I couldn’t help but ask him why he gives in to her so much? “It’s not ok for her to rely on you to get her to sleep darling.” He simply replies “I know this, I really do but I know that there will be a day when she doesn’t want a tickle back from her Dad to get her off to sleep.” My heart popped out of my chest and off I drifted feeling safe and loved and knowing with my whole being that I was laying next to one very special man.
The things we remember fondly growing up are such a special part of who we are.
Today is Sunday and I remember so many special Sunday’s from my childhood. Of course a lot of my favourite memories revolve around food and shared meals with my family. Sundays were always roast nights and my Dad’s favourite was lamb roast. I have always loved a roast but I know we would sometimes hold ourselves back a little as we knew if there was left overs, Mum would make her shepherd’s pie with the remaining meat for us to enjoy during the week. I adored it. Shepherd’s pie is still a food of great comfort for me and I know to many others also. I have had the most lovely feedback about Mum’s shepherds pie in the Relish Mama cookbook. People I don’t know have sent me emails saying how much they love this recipe. For me it just goes to show that no matter how far cooking has advanced or how fancy recipes become, what tugs at our heart and what we remember most are the dishes of comfort that are made with thought and love for one another.
Because it is a Sunday and we are thick in the middle of winter, I am making a Shepherd’s pie tonight. I will think of my Mum and my Dad and my siblings. I will be in my happy place. I will look at our daughters, our very old gorgeous hairy dog and I will look at that very special man who gives tickle backs without question and I will be in my even happier place and I never knew that could ever have been possible.
Mum’s shepherd’s pie
Mum’s shepherd’s pie was and still is only ever made with using her left over roast lamb. I love doing this too however I think my growing family must eat more that we did as children and there’s not often any of our roast left over. Either that or the lambs are just getting smaller!
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 celery sticks, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
500g lamb mince
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
100ml dry red wine
400ml beef stock
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Mashed potato to top
Flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin, onion, celery, carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the onions are smelling sweet and have softened.
Add the lamb and cook to brown. Add tomato paste and stir through. Add the thyme, peas, wine and beef stock. Simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Spread the meat mixture into the base of an ovenproof dish. Top with mashed potato and smooth out evenly. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Serve scattered with fresh parsley and a green salad.