Laissez-Faire Homemaking Will Rock Your (and his] World.

Laissez-faire, to let be, to let things take their own course.

It’s often applied to larger scale orders, like government policies. But it also makes some sense in the context of smaller orders, like family and home order.

In essence, however much the breadwinner is the owner of the house and the captain of the relationship, the homemaker is the manager of the home. And many homemakers become proper little tyrants, more often than not unintentionally. We’ll call them Domestic Dictators.

The characteristic befliefs and behaviours of a Domestic Dictator are:

  • there is a specific way to do everything which is the only valid way
  • perfect order, artistic beauty and spotlessness are requirements to make a home for the family
  • efficiency in maintaining order will make everyong happy
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, it wasn’t worth doing
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, it needs redoing from scratch
  • everyone wants and needs everything to be perfect
  • falling short of the ideal mark is equal to failure
  • if nobody else can do something perfectly, the homemaker must do everything
  • if someone is given a task they have to do it just as the homemaker would
  • disciplining someone for falling short of domestic expectations is appropriate
  • nobody needs praise or reward for meeting domestic expectations

This puts a lot of pressure on the home and the relationships within it, even though the Domestic Dictator does not see the source of the pressure and often believes what they are doing is beneficial to everyone under the roof! In the Domestic Dictator’s eyes, getting angry about the way the laundry was put out is justified because they believe that it needs to be hung a certain way to dry, that this drying method benefits everyone, and therefore that they need to “fix” the job someone else did. They believe that feeling anger is natural because time and energy was wasted and they believe that redoing the task is justified because their way is the only way that works. But what they neglect is that efficiency does not mean harmony, and that doing and redoing tasks is not efficiency either! Fretting over the perfect home can drive a family apart. And the cure to that mentality is laissez-faire homemaking.

Laissez-faire homemaking takes a different mentality. The beliefs and behaviours of a Laissez-Faire Homemaker are:

  • if something works, then it was done well
  • perfect order, artistic beauty and spotlessness are nice, but tidiness, prettiness and cleanliness are good targets
  • efficiency in maintaining order can be stressful
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, at least it was done
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, it can be left for now
  • nobody else wants and needs everything to be perfect
  • falling short of the ideal mark is a far cry from failure
  • if things need to be delegated, the homemaker can let perfection slide
  • if someone is given a task then the homemaker embraces their hard work
  • disciplining someone for falling short of domestic expectations is abusive
  • everyone deserves praise or reward for meeting domestic expectations

The Laissez-Faire Homemaker takes a much more relaxed approach, taking pleasure in order without needing to force perfection on everyone. If the dishes are not properly cleaned the Laissez-Faire Homemaker may need to redo them and explain the situation, but if the laundry is hung out slightly differently to usual there is no need to tell the helper off or to redo the work from scratch. The Laissez-Faire Homemaker doesn’t only act like this, but internalizes the messages and embraces a more relaxed set of beliefs around homemaking, feeling calm and collected at the end of the day and doing their best not to let little annoyances get the better of them.

Some of my favourite laissez-faire homemaking mantras are:

1: “It doesn’t matter.”

Every time I feel annoyed about anything that has happened or been done which interferes with my plans, that’s the first thing I move to tell the other person. Often it’s hard, but fortunately with Jon it comes easily. Only once have I had to tell him “I want to say it doesn’t matter, but it kind of does.” Once in five years has my annoyance ultimately mattered. So remind yourself of it, and say it to your loved ones: “It doesn’t matter.”

2: “You can  have whatever you want.”

Food is a big source of arguments and I really can’t see why. Between women playing 20 questions about dinner venues and men not really being aware of what’s in the fridge, many couples argue over meal planning. What I do is simpler: I look at what we have, suggest two or three meals and Jon picks. And if he wants something else? Then he can have it. As long as we have it in the house or he’s willing to go out and get the ingredients, he can have whatever he wants. Leftovers can be reheated. Meals can be frozen. Ingredients can be repurposed. What matters is that everyone is fed and happy.

3: “There is always tomorrow.”

Some days the setbacks just pile up. My schedule is very tight most days: work, housework and downtime are all calculated into the day methodically. So if something takes too long or gets in the way, I can miss things. On Tuesday I missed several opportunities to write due to endless phone calls. On Friday we were out a lot and I couldn’t do the cleaning. So instead I did the cleaning and my extra work on Saturday. Sometimes things can wait, so prioritize, reschedule and calm down. There’s always tomorrow.

4: “Once done is good enough.”

When Jon does the dishes the stacking is almost always completely different from how I would do it. When he hangs the laundry out it’s wherever. When he makes dinner it is often simple, fast and may not fit my macros. But considering that he only does these things when I am too busy earning money, doing another job or having a minor meltdown, it would be cruel to complain he isn’t me, and stupid to redo it in the time I don’t have. Once done is good enough.

5: “What’s done is done.”

Sometimes your annoyance does matter. Sometimes work is an absolute mess, needs immediately redoing from scratch, never doing like that again, has completely thrown your schedule and the person needs to know. But, again, making it into a massive blow-out has no point. Take them aside, explain the problem, pour your energy into fixing it. But what’s done is done. You can’t undo their mistake with anger. So let it go.

If you are more of a Domestic Dictator, this approach may seem confusing, even lazy. But it works. You may wonder how people can be happy if a stew was made and all everyone wants to eat is eggs and waffles. You may wonder how a homemaker can settle for an improperly loaded dishwasher. You may wonder how a house can run if everything is not exactly to plan. But it still works.

There is happiness in harmony, and laissez-faire homemaking puts harmony first, allowing happiness to bloom.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
Advertisements

12 Treats to Make Before Christmas.

In a month and a half, we will be getting ready for a Christmas dinner. Maybe sooner if you’re holding a few events for friends before the day! And harvest season is coming to an end, with frosts quickly advancing and only a few baskets and boxes of fresh produce left. Soon there will be turnips, parsnips, some berries and that’s about it.

So why not take advantage of the last few batches of harvest and make some amazing food to preserve for our dinner tables over Christmas? Here are twelve of my favourites.

1: Plum pie filling.

The last few batches of plums should be dewey and bursting with flavour round about now, but they won’t last until December. Make the most of them and make a thick plum jam to can and preserve until Christmas.

2: Pumpkin ice cream.

Cook down some pumpkin flesh with a bit of sugar and a lot of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Stir it into cream, drizzle with melted toffee, top with walnuts, freeze and forget about it for a month and a half.

3: Christmas pudding.

If you didn’t feel confident enough to cure your English Christmas pudding for six months, you can always make one now and hang it up in cheesecloth in the pantry to cure just a little bit.

4: Cranberry sauce.

Bring a few bowls of cranberries to a simmer until the juices escape. Strain and keep the liquid. Add a cup of sugar for each cup of cranberry juice. Boil for a few minutes and then can it to save for roast dinners.

5: Mincemeat.

If you want to make your own mince pies, now’s the time to make mincemeat from fresh and dried fruits, to cure and ferment a bit by December. Chop up half fresh, half dried fruits, mash with flour and plenty of brandy, heat, can and leave in the fridge until needed.

6: Pumpkin chutney.

All that remaining pumpkin and pumpkin rind can also be used up efficiently! Chop it roughly and cook it with plenty of sugar, some salt and some vinegar. Maybe a little chili too. Then, bring to a boil and can it. Keep in the fridge until needed.

7: Glacé fruit.

If you have a lot of fruit and time on your hands, you could try and make glacé (candied) fruit ready for cake toppings and snacks. You need 1lb of sugar for every 2lbs of fruit. You boil the fruit in a pan of water several times before adding the sugar to coat it.

8: Marzipan.

From stollen, a traditional German Christmas cake made with a marzipan filling, to your cheeseboard, this rich and tasty almond treat is worth making in advance.

9: Applesauce.

Essentially, apple jam. Boil your apples down with 1/3-1/2 sugar and can for later use.

10: Pear confit.

Bake pears and onions with oil and salt until soft. Bring to a high heat in a saucepan. Can, refrigerate and save.

11: Elderberry wine.

With the last of the elderberries, consider making your own elderberry wine to wow your guests at the dinner table. It is simple and doesn’t take long to ferment.

12: Sloe gin and cherry brandy.

Or, if you’re not that adventurous, get a bottle of gin and place a few sliced sloes in it and a bottle of brandy to fill with cherries.

And those are my top twelve things to make in time for Christmas! What other treats do you like to prepare early?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

WWW. BBQ Chicken and Piernik Brownies.

Another busy week with the new puppy. For something that spends so much time asleep, she really does add to the day! 🙂

But we did manage to have some treats and new things mixed up. Not least of all, a BBQ chicken pan roast that was so good we made it twice.

BBQ Roast Chicken.

BBQ Roast  Chicken Recipe

Ingredients:

  • -8 pieces of chicken (thighs or breasts)
  • -300g celeriac
  • -300g potatoes
  • -300g carrots
  • -2tbsp chili garlic
  • -1tbsp soy sauce
  • -1tbsp brown vinegar
  • -1tbsp salt
  • -1tbsp sugar

Utensils:

  • -chopping board and knife
  • -large oven tray

Recipe:

  1. Slice the potatoes and celeriac into thin slices. Arrange them on the bottom of the tray.
  2. Arrange the chicken and carrots on top.
  3. Salt and place in the oven at 200C for around 20 minutes.
  4. Take out and rest a little. Add the sugar to the chicken skins. Leave to soak in.
  5. Add the vinegar and soy sauce to the whole dish. Drizzle with chili garlic.
  6. Roast at 160C until cooked through.

BBQ Roast  Chicken Recipe 2

Piernik Brownies.

Piernik Brownies Recipe

Piernik is one of my favourite things of all time. It’s basically Polish gingerbread and it’s delicious, especially with a bit of dark chocolate or jam. Dark chocolate, jam and piernik is a great indulgent afternoon treat.

This is a combination of two of those flavours: gingerbread and dark chocolate. I made a sugar-butter icing with cinnamon and cocoa powder as Jon likes baked goods to have some sort of icing, cream or custard on them, but they’re really delectable as they are.

Ingredients:

  • -2 cups plain flour
  • -3tbsp cocoa powder
  • -3tbsp sugar
  • -2 eggs
  • -1tbsp grated or chopped ginger
  • -1tsp cinnamon
  • -1/2tsp nutmeg
  • -1/4tsp cloves
  • -water as needed

Utensils:

  • -mixing bowl and fork
  • -greased or nonstick baking tray

Recipe:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together. Add more sugar to taste.
  2. Pour into the pan.
  3. Bake at 160C for 10-20min, or until spongy but cooked through.
  4. Serve with coffee.

And that’s what we liked the most out of our meals this week. What have you enjoyed cooking or eating this week?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

WWW. Orange and Ginger Turkey and Chocolate-Cake-Bread-and-Butter-Pudding.

Yes, it’s all divine. Didn’t actually have it today, but today was busy and yesterday was not. Today we’re having a much easier but just as tasty turkey balti curry, the recipe for which I will include below as a way of using leftover turkey and trimmings.

20141125_124658

Recipe 1: Orange, Honey and Ginger Turkey.

First of all, mine turned out a bit dry, but that was largely because I kept opening and closing the oven and had to turn it off due to a scheduled lesson.

20141125_124651

Ingredients:

-1 whole turkey

-1 orange

-1 bitter apple

-5tbsp ginger

-2tsp honey

-100ml lemon juice

Utensils:

-deep baking tray

-tin foil

Recipe:

1: Cut the apple and orange in half. Place one half of each inside the turkey cavity, along with the lemon juice.

2: Slice the remaining orange and apple. Lift the turkey’s skin and insert underneath it.

3: Tie the turkey back up so the fruit juices won’t escape. Rub with ginger and honey. Leave to marinate a bit.

4: Place in the tray. Roast at 180C for 2h for a 4kg turkey. Cover with foil once brown.

Recipe 2: Giblet Gravy.

Ingredients:

-turkey neck, heart and liver

-100g butter

-1 large onion

-salt and pepper

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-frying pan and spatula

-blender

Recipe:

1:  Chop up the offal and onion.

2: Pan-fry in butter.

3: Strip the meat from the neck, discard the bones.

4: Blend everything with a little water, salt and pepper and turkey fat. Thicken with flour if required.

–The following recipes are for using leftovers as best possible.

Recipe 3: Chocolate Cake Bread and Butter Pudding.

20141126_203653

Ingredients:

-stale cake

-butter icing

-milk

Utensils:

-knife

-deep baking tray

Recipe:

1: Slice the cake into even pieces. 1/2 to 2 inches is good.

2: Either layer across the bottom of the tray (driest side down) or overlap in a spiral.

3: Add the butter icing to the very top. Pour milk over all of it. Soak.

4: Bake until the cake is moist and sticky.

Recipe 4: Leftovers Balti Curry.

20141126_202953

Ingredients:

-leftover turkey, potatoes, assorted vegetables (peas, swede, cabbage, carrots, anything) and gravy

-250g chicken livers

-1 large onion

-Balti curry mix, paste or sauce

Utensils:

-chopping board and heavy knife

-frying pan and spatula

Recipe:

1: Chop up the leftovers, onion and liver.

2: Add to the pan with the gravy.

3: Simmer until the liver and onion is cooked-through.

4: Add the curry  and, if needed, some water.

Ours had potatoes, cabbage and peas.

Meat Feast III.

The first two were with our friend C____. This one was with our friends G____ and A____.

C____ is usually here for the meat, the beer and the conversation, so I had to adjust the usual plan this time. We needed background entertainment, more interesting alcohol and a bit more flair to the cooking than relying on the magic of steak, fried eggs and a whole salted and peppered roast chicken.

Checklist:

-Tidy, well-decorated house.

-Good food, including a nice pudding.

-A reasonable, fairly gory film.

-Music or a show for backup entertainment.

-Alcohol of various forms.

-Last-minute dog-accommodation.

Step 1: Sorting the house.

Jon did most of this, as he tidied the living-room, made space on the table for the food and put away anything we’d left out on the furniture. On the other hand I had washed his bike earlier, so I guess he felt we needed to get square. Fair and efficient. 🙂

I had to make sure I was cleaning up as I went, to avoid excessive buildup of dishes and surfaces to wash after the night. Basically, the kitchen was kept in as much of a semblance of order as is possible when you have guests.

Step 2: The cooking.

The food list and recipes were as follow.

Roast Ginger Chicken

We put some bacon on ours, to keep the juices in.

We put some bacon on ours, to keep the juices in.

Ingredients:

-1 chicken

-50g raw peeled ginger

-3tsp lemon juice

-2tsp powdered ginger

-1tsp chinese five spice

-1tsp paprika

-1tsp pepper

-1tsp cinnamon

Utensils:

-small cup and a spoon

-oven tray

Recipe:

1: Mix the ginger, pepper, five spice and paprika together with the lemon juice in the cup.

2: Once the paste is formed, spread it over the chicken. Make sure to get it over the back, under the skin of the breast and in the fold between the thigh and the body.

3: Dust the chicken with cinnamon and a little more pepper.

4: Dice the ginger and place it in the cavity.

5: Place in a preheated oven at 200C for 1h, or until the juices flow clear.

Roast Ginger Potatoes

Ingredients:

-600g potatoes

-the drippings and ginger from the chicken

-mixed herbs

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-the baking tray from the chicken

Recipe:

1: Slice the potatoes into chunks.

2: Roll them in the drippings and herbs.

3: Roast in the oven at 160C for 90min.

And remember to remove the ginger pieces! They look very much like the potato pieces and A____ got a mouthful of ginger. Hilarious though it was at the time, heed my warning.

Roast Leg of Lamb

20140412_142110

Ingredients:

-1 leg of lamb

-2tsp mint sauce (for home-made, mix 1tbsp mint with 1/2tbsp vinegar, 1/4tbsp salt and 1/4tbsp sugar)

-1tsp pepper

-1tsp salt

-1/2tsp ground cloves

Utensils:

-paring knife

-oven tray

Recipe:

1: Score any fat and the first 5mm of the flesh. Ours was pretty lean, so not much to score.

2: Rub in the pepper, salt and cloves.

3: Spread the mint sauce over the lamb, filling the slices.

4: Roast in a preheated oven at 200 for 90min.

Roast Carrots and Parsnips

Ingredients:

-1 large parsnip

-2 large carrots

-lamb fat from the leg of lamb

Utensils:

-potato peeler

-chopping board and knife

-tray from the lamb

Recipe:

1: Peel and top the vegetables.

2: Slice them into chip-sized pieces.

3: Roll them in the lamb fat.

4: Roast at 160C for 20min.

5: Roll or baste them again now they’re softer.

6: Roast for a further 35min, until done.

Lamb and Chicken Gravy

This is really good for making a soup or stew with the leftovers, too!

Ingredients:

-the fat from the lamb and chicken

-2tsp salt

-2tsp pepper

-5tbsp flour

-1 cup boiling water

Utensils:

-small cup and whisk that fits inside it

-gravy boat

Recipe:

1: Mix some boiling water and flour into a thick paste. Add to the fat.

2: Repeat until the flour has run out.

3: Add the remaining boiling water and stir in the salt and pepper.

4: Pour into the gravy boat.

Oyster Mushroom Salad

Ingredients:

-250g baked oyster mushrooms (should be crispy on one side and soft on the other, but not burnt)

-1/2 head of lettuce

-1/2 cucumber

-1/4 onion

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-serving bowl

Recipe:

1: Tear the lettuce leaves and form a bed.

2: Thinly slice the onion.

3: Roughly slice the cucumber and mushrooms.

4: Serve with an oil and vinegar dressing.

Deviled Eggs

20140412_135020

Ingredients:

-10 hard-boiled eggs

-5tsp chilli oil

-1/2tsp salt

-1tbsp thick cream

-1 pinch mixed herbs

-25g cheddar

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-2 mixing pots and forks

-teaspoon

Recipe:

1: Halve five of the eggs.

2: Spoon the yolks into one pot. Mash them with the fork.

3: Mix in the chilli oil and salt.

4: Spoon the mix back into the egg halves

5: Halve the other five eggs.

6: Spoon the yolks into the other pot and mash with a fork.

7: Dice the cheese into 10 small cubes. Place one in each egg.

8: Mix the herbs and cream with the yolks.

9: Spoon the mix back into the egg halves.

Banana-Custard Pudding

20140413_104755

20140413_104314

Ingredients:

-4 ripe or overripe bananas

-50g raisins

For the custard:

-5 eggs

-300ml milk

-50ml double cream

-5tbsp sugar

For the pastry:

-200g butter

-300g flour

-1tsp salt

Utensils:

-mixing bowl and spoon

-chopping board and rolling pin (optional, I rolled mine by stretching it with my hands)

-small saucepan

-baking tray

Recipe:

1: Mix the flour and salt. Mash in the butter with cold water and stir until the dough is firm.

2: Roll it out, then into a ball and put it in the fridge. It should be ever so slightly streaky with butter.

3: Place 3 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs into a cup.

4: Stir in the sugar.

5: Warm the milk in a pan with the cream. Don’t let it boil.

6: Slowly mix the milk and the eggs.

7: Break/slice up the bananas and place them in the baking tray. Sprinkle raisins on top.

8: Pour the custard over the bananas.

9: Take the dough out and knead it.

10: Roll it or stretch it into just the right size and shape and place it over the banana custard.

11: Bake in a preheated oven at 150C for 90-120min.

12: Serve with plum and brandy ice-cream.

Leftovers abounded. It isn't a feast if your guests can finish everything, though. :p

Leftovers abounded. It isn’t a feast if your guests can finish everything, though. :p

Step 3: The film.

[WARNING: None of the entertainment is SFW or for kids.]

Seeing as we’d talked about it so much, Jon dug out “Frankenstein’s Army”, which is probably one of the bleakest films with the coolest monsters imaginable. This guy’s my favourite:

 

Step 4: Back-up entertainment.

Nearing the end we watched some anime clips. Namely this video from One Piece

And episode 12 of Bobobo-Bo-bo-Bobo.

http://www.watchcartoononline.com/bobobo-bo-bo-bobo-episode-12-english-dubbed

Jon seems to have this knack regarding keeping a conversation going. Then again, he has more empathy than everyone else in the room put together, so maybe that was it. However it was, he managed to avoid comfortable-but-boring silence overtake the evening on several occasions.

G____ and A____ also brought their dog with them, so that was fun.

Step 5: Drinks.

Served alongside pudding were the drinks. Jon had his usual warm brandy with orange and a vodka, A____ and I had a few G&Ts and rum and cokes.

Thankfully the gin was good, the rum was reasonable, the vodka was strong and nobody but Jon touched his favourite brandy, so all was well.

Step 6: Tidying up.

After a nice afternoon, we had quite a bit of tidying to do. Jon let us have the boiler on full even though it was night and did a lot of the washing-up.

Most of the dishes were done that night and everything else was tidied the next day. The lamb was made into a simple stew for me and the chicken was made into a Celt-food, oat-filled stew for Jon.

All in all, it was good. 🙂