This week’s dinner files features Elizabeth from Life on Hushabye Farm. I’ve known Elizabeth for a few years now and when I’m not pausing her instagram stories to look at her beautiful house I’m threatening to get in the car and to drive to Offaly for her to feed me. Her food always looks fresh and comforting and oh so tasty, her four kids are lucky out to get to eat it every day.
Tell us about dinner time in your house- what time is it, where do you sit, who is there?
When I’m at work the children have their dinner at 5pm, I would have left a dinner prepared and our childminder will give it to them. When I am home we have dinner at 5.30pm, usually all together but that varies with my husband’s work schedule. All meals are eaten in the dining room whether we are there or not.
How do you get dinner on the table in the evening (who cooks/helps, is it precooked and reheated etc).
I’m a fan of batch cooking and tend to do it at the weekends, usually on a Sunday morning or Monday which is my day off. I love cooking but sometimes resent having to cook! I try use only one freezer dinner a week and then the rest of the week I will do the prep the night before and our childminder will put it in for us. When I’m at home I get everything ready in the morning so I’m not hassled when the children come home from school.
Do you meal plan or do you decide on the day what’s for dinner?
I meal plan, it helps keep us organised and I think it leads to less waste as I only buy what I need for the week. Also ,it means that you spend a short amount of time working out your plan and then it’s done.
What dishes regularly appear on your dinner table?
Roast chicken, beef stew, chicken and chorizo with pasta, spaghetti carbonara, pasta with pesto, lamb or beef curry and chilli con carne are all regulars on the menu.
What dish is guaranteed clean plates all around?
Roast chicken with ‘ice cream’ (mashed ) potatoes, veg and gravy is loved by everyone
Do you tend to cook the same thing a lot or do you try to mix it up? Where do you get inspiration for different dishes?
In theory I try to mix it up, the reality is that when we are busy it can be the same tried and trusted dishes appearing frequently. I will cook one new dish at least once a fortnight and I look back over meal plans to try ensure we aren’t repeating them too often but it’s not always possible. I love reading about food and spend far too many hours reading recipes and food blogs so that’s where I get my inspiration from.
What’s your favourite quick dinner solution?
Pasta with pesto, the quickest and tastiest last minute dinner solution.
What’s your favourite junk-food dinner?
For the kids it’s waffles, fish fingers and beans….all the beige!! We live too far from town to make take always a dinner option but occasionally we get a take out pizza ( that has to be collected, the joy of rural living! )
Do you eat the same as your kids?
Most of the time we do. On a Friday my husband and I will often have dinner together late and would have something different, when I don’t have to care whether the children will eat it, although invariably when we sit down to it we have constant requests for ‘just one taste’. In fact it is one of the best ways to get them to try new food/dishes. Once the pressure of it being their meal is removed then they tend to be far more adventurous about trying new things.
Are there ingredients or dishes that face complete refusals at your dinner table?
Parsnips are universally hated by my children, and shepherd’s pie is met with very glum faces.
Are there any adventurous meals everyone at your table will eat?
They all love crab claws, I don’t cook them often at home as they never taste as good as when you have them by the sea, but they love them. Three of my four love green salad, which I guess is unusual, and would eat a full plate of it on its own if left. Thankfully they are good to try things, once they know that it’s okay not to like everything they are happy to try anything.
What is your own, all time favourite dinner?
I love rice based dishes and I especially love risotto but my very favourite meal is rare cooked fillet steak with bearnaise sauce and homemade chips.
Have you any tips to share on getting the family fed?
For me being organised is a must, it makes life so much easier. A freezer full of dinners is like a security blanket especially when life gets busy. It’s really helps to make double batches of food for ‘eat one freeze one’ dinners. That said, once you have pesto, chorizo, eggs and pasta in the house there are any number of options available for a quick,nutritious dinner.
Who’s washing up?
The children are finally old enough to stack their dishes in the dishwasher ( there may be some behind the scenes rearranging done by me!) but most of the time it’s a joint effort, and by ‘joint’ I mean all family members take one item off the table, feel they have participated and scarper and then I do the rest!!!
Thanks a million for taking part Elizabeth, your sweet and sour pork recipe is a favourite in our house and I plan to try your chicken and chorizo pasta too.You’ve a lot of the same regulars on your table as we do, and your favourite beige dinner is ours too. Now, what day did you say we’re to come over for dinner?