Friday, 19 August 2011

What's for dinner?

This week my eldest wanted to have a friend come for a sleepover.

I love the kids getting together with their buddies.

It is one of the greatest benefits of the kids going to the local school.  The friendships they build are with people that live in very close proximity.  It makes playing with friends after school so much easier.

Now my eldest has gone to High school that changes significantly.

The kids come from a bigger area.  Still reasonably local but not just a couple of blocks away.

When any of my kids ask for friends over I love to be able to say yes.

I can't always but it is very important to me that my kids feel good about welcoming their friends into our home.

I pretty much have an open door policy.  I love my home to be a place that others want to be in.

A place that feels warm and inviting.

A place to share.





I have a Mexican tin sign above my door that says "Mi Casa Es tu Casa".

It means "My house is your house".

It is very very important  to me that my house is a HOME not a showpiece.  I have written about it before here.

And I am aware that as my children grow older the feeling that you are welcome to bring your friends around is not so common.  I really really hope my kids continue to want their friends to come here.

It made me laugh when the first thing my son asked about his friend coming over was "Whats for dinner on Saturday?"

I looked at him with a "You SURELY know me better than that" kind of look.

I don't really plan dinner.  In fact I am really really bad- like actually hopeless- at making plans!

Dinner is very rarely planned and is more of a what's in the fridge/freezer and away we go type affair.

It drives my 11yo mad!! 

Virtually on queue every single day as he arrives home from school he asks "Whats for dinner Mum?"

I'm kind of surprised he still asks as the response is always pretty much the same.

It goes something like this....(Ok. it ALWAYS goes like this).

"I don't know yet. I'll have a look what's in the fridge."

But I understood that my eldest wanted to make an occasion of his buddys' sleepover.  I asked if he had a special request.  It's nice to make it special.  I get that.  So I caved in and PLANNED dinner!

We are having my slow cooked Lamb Souvlaki.

I hope that my kids continue to invite their friends over......the more the merrier I say.

We decided on this dinner as it's an everybody loves it kind of meal- unless of course you are a vegetarian!

A friend of mine came around a couple of weeks ago to get advice about cooking Souvlaki at home.  I sent her away with this recipe.  She said it was a huge success.  And it is really easy.  I hope you find the same!

  • 1 lamb shoulder (preferably with the bone for extra flavour, but not necessary)
  • 5 (or more if you are like me!) cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch oregano (if you can get hold of the Dried Greek oregano use that in it's place but use less as it is FULL of flavour)
  • 2 lemons 
  • S & P
  • EVOO
  • 1 pack of Souvlaki wrappers
  • 1 onion sliced finely
  • 1 cucumber, cut into small dice.
  • 1 cos lettuce
  • 3-4 tomatoes, sliced
  • yoghurt (buy the Plain thick Greek style & if you want it to be lovely and thick then drain desired amount in a muslin cloth. This creates a gorgeous thick garlic sauce but is not necessary)
Preheat oven to 140C.

Add 4 cloves of garlic, oregano, rind of 1 & 1/2 lemons and a 1/2 teaspoon salt to a pestle and mortar.  Grind till a paste.  Add some pepper ( I prefer White but black is fine). Reserve 2 tablespoons of this mix for the garlic sauce (Tzatsiki)

Add EVOO and the juice of one lemon and rub really well into the lamb shoulder.

Place into an ovenproof dish and cover well with alfoil.  Place in oven and cook for 3 1/2 hours.

At this point remove alfoil and turn up oven temp to 170C for  a half hour.  This will allow the outside of the lamb to caramelise.

Remove from oven and shred with a fork.  The meat will just fall away from the bone.
Cover and let stand for 10 minutes while you make the Tzastiki.

Add desired amount of yoghurt to a bowl. After you have finely diced the cucumber, squeeze as much of the juice as you can out- this helps retain a thick sauce. Add to yoghurt. Add the reserved spice &garlic mix from earlier and stir through well. Drizzle a little extra EVOO over the top.

Add a little EVOO to a non stick pan and gently fry each souvlaki wrap on one side till just brown before placing on a platter.  this keeps the wrap soft enough to fold without breaking and adds lovely flavour and texture.  Place ingredients onto the browned side.
I serve all ingredients (Lamb, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, tzatsiki and any other ingredients you wish) on platters at the table for everyone to help themselves.

I was introduced to this song by a special friend who GETS the whole idea of having a house that other people want to be in. A HOME. My lovely friend visited today for coffee. It was always.
This song makes me cry. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. 
I'm so grateful she shared it with me.  I actually can't believe I didn't know it before.
It's my turn to share it with you. Listen very carefully to the words........& then pass me a tissue. thanks.


  1. We differ in this way my lovely. I am a planner. Can't help myself. Tis the control freak in me I know. ;) I'd love to fly by the seat of my pants a lot more but I just, well, can't! How we do not differ is the mi casa su casa thing though. Since the Mr & I have loved & lived in the same house we always wanted to share our home & hospitality with those we love & it's something that brings us both a great deal of joy. My boys would love this recipe, can't wait to give it a try for them. Xxxx

  2. Who are these people with their dusted shelves? I checked before replying and can safely say I have a duster, but it's very clean... the same can't be said for the shelves. I am the same with the 'mi casa su casa' belief and would never want to feel like my home is being maintained for any reason other than to be comfortable for my family and friends. It's funny that you posted a pic of that sign over your door because it was the first thing I noticed when we came to visit and I was very close to pulling out my iphone to take a pic.

    If I was as fabulous a cook as you are, I'd love to open the pantry and fridge doors at the end of the day and cook on a whim. But as much as I love cooking, I'm not in that league. If I don't plan, we end up with a handful of meals over and over so I love having a few nights a week where I plan ahead. Love this recipe and can't wait to give it a try. It's going on the recipe planner :)

  3. A home, not a showpiece - YES. That is the perfect way to express my preference too!

  4. That song is soooooo beautiful, I was tearing up listening to it too! Thanks for the heads up on this group, I'm going to check out what other stuff they've made that I've never heard!
    Your lamb recipe sounds delicious, I do something similar with a leg of lamb that always goes down a treat, must give the shoulder a go next time.
    We have an open door policy at our place too, and generally have extra kids popping in and out over the weekends, it does become a bit more organised at high school level with the further distances to travel, but my teenagers still have their friends over often, and I find it is a good way to stay in touch with what they are up to, with out being too much of a busy body!
    Oh joy that I am not the only one who has a house of unmade beds and dishes in the sink! And washing is an ongoing saga, My boys know to look for things in the laundry as clothes rarely make it to drawers and cupboards before they want to wear them again. My husband has been known to buy a 10 pack of socks because my laundry turn around is so slow!! Haha... There is just so many more interesting things to do with my time, housework gets put pretty low on the priority list. Shame on me! Have a great weekend, I enjoy reading you're posts! Julie:)

  5. Ahh, yes. I'm a sporadic planner. It definitely works better for me, and when I do we eat far better! But I can never sustain it. I admit to being AMAZED that you don't! How do you end up with such incredible meals? :-)

    Even though most days our house is like a railway station with a continuous stream of people and children coming through (amazing considering we live out of the way!) when our eldest went to secondary school he went through a phase of hating where we lived, until his friends did come to stay and they all LOVED it! He's happy now too as we regularly have extras over, in spite of living a considerable distance away. Some of their friends even have their own toothbrushes here! It's great when teenagers discover public transport. :-)

  6. Oh!My!Heart! That song....!! *wails* Yes, I am crying. In the best way possible.

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing it. xxx

  7. Oh My dearest Ruth...heart is swelling.
    It has been 5 years since Paddy first introduced me to this song and I STILL can not listen to it without sobbing.
    It IS about our home and us.
    All anyone needs to make a house a home is an open door, fab arty bits, colour, candles, music, a communal table and great company.
    And you have it just right.
    Pristineness and anyone who notices that your home isn't.....not welcome.

  8. On countdown for my next visit to your welcoming casa. xxxxxxx Joma

  9. "Mi casa es tu casa" is such a wonderful sentiment. It's something I struggle with. I want my home to be a place of rest and hospitality. But I often despair at the mess/dirt/chaos. I will fight that. I will defiantly invite and include and feed people!

    The recipe looks amazing, Ruth. Can't wait to try it.

  10. Well it's two years later, but I just had to comment... I'm going through your recipe archives as I've tried a few of your recipes already and they're always amazing. Think this might be a winner for tonight's dinner. But the main reason for commenting is that this song was the song that my hubby (to be) and I walked in to together at our wedding under massive river red gums nearly 4 years ago. Needless to say, there were not many dry eyes in the garden!


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