Monday, 25 June 2012

The Art of Parenting.

Here are some of the things I know about the Art of Parenting~

  • that you will feel things that you never thought you would
  • that despite all those years of thinking your parents knew nothing they actually knew quite a lot
  • that learning to accept and embrace change is really really helpful
  • equally learning to embrace chaos is vital
  • that plans rarely work out as you intended
  • that sometimes unexpected outcomes are the best outcomes of all
  • or the worst
  • learning to accept that when people are giving you advice they are doing so with good intentions. Understanding that is sometimes better than listening to their advice. 
  • that when that lady in the British Museum who you thought was nuts as she said to you while walking around with your 1 week old first born "You'll be packing his school bag in no time" was actually the most sane & wise person on the planet
  • that not doing things for your children is sometimes the best thing you can do for them 
  • that letting your children know you still make mistakes as a grown up is one of the most valuable lessons.
  • letting them know that you learn from them is even better
  • that sometimes you don't get what you want no matter how hard you try or how much you deserve it
  • that just as you feel you have a grip on things the game changes & the rule book is nowhere in sight
  • that being a parent is often emotionally painful
  • that you never ever stop learning how to be a parent and that most of the time it feels as if you are fumbling in the dark
  • that finding a balance between work & life takes a lifetime to work out
  • that love and the showing of love is the most important part
But do you know what?

I think the most important thing I know is.....

  • that we will never ever know everything there is to know about parenting.
  • that what I don't know is just as important as what I do
  • and that trying to remember we are beginners is probably more beneficial than trying to be an expert

Pho is a soup that originates from Hanoi in Northern Vietnam. It is pronounced as if you were saying FUR. It comes from the French word Feu~ which means Fire.
This is one of my absolute favourite things to eat.
The smoky clean flavours, the zing of the lemon, the chilli and the gorgeous vietnamese herbs.
There are lots of people that wouldn't bother making this at home & enjoy eating it out- especially as it is often very cheap and good!
But as I am at home with my little ones it has become something I cook or I would miss it too much!
It is relatively simple and relies on a really good broth made with quality ingredients with lots of fresh goodies added at the end to really make it great.
There are many variations to this classic Vietnamese soup. 
But most rely on the onion & ginger to be charred before adding to the stock. This is what imparts that unique smoky flavour & colour that makes Pho so special.
my kids adore it- I think they love the interactive nature of this soup, the way you add extra bits at the end according to what you like.
For the soup broth:

  • 1 large marrow bone
  • 3 pieces (~300g) of shin beef (gravy beef)
  • 1 inch knob ginger, skin left on
  • 1 brown onion, skin left on
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 2 large brown cardamom pods (these are completely different to green cardamom and can be found at you Asian or Indian grocer)
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 4 large pieces Cassia bark
  • 1 pack flat rice noodles (bhan pho)
  • 5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic whole
  • 2 litres of water
For topping the soup at the table:
  • lots of bean sprouts
  • a bunch of Vietnamese mint
  • a bunch of fresh coriander
  • lots of lemon wedges
  • lots of fresh red chilli, sliced finely
Using tongs hold onion in a set of tongs over the gas flame of your stove top. Hold it just far enough away so as it charrs but doesn't catch fire.
Turn so the entire surface fo the onion is charred.
Now do the same to the ginger.

In a large stock pot add the whole onion, the ginger, garlic, whole spices, the beef and marrow bone and water.

Bring to the boil and skim any impurities off the surface.

Now turn down and add the fish sauce and sugar and let simmer very gently for 2-3 hours.  Check flavour and add more fish sauce if required.

Strain the soup and remove the beef. Discard the ginger, garlic, whole spices and the bone.
Pull the meat apart into small chunks & place back into the broth.

In a a separate pot cook the rice noodles according to the instructions on the pack.

In each bowl add a little of the rice noodles, beef and pour over stock to cover.

Place the additional ingredients at the tabel for everyone to add as they like.
Add lots and lots of bean sprouts and herbs and squeeze generously with lemon juice. Add chilli as desired.


I was loving this track last week. From a great album of covers that I hadn't listened to for a while. Love it when i revisit ol' faves and love them all over again.......


  1. The lady at the British Museum nailed it. I've been thinking about that so much lately and I'm learning more every day to live life like I REALLY mean it!

    And, as much as that recipe terrifies me, I'm going to have a crack at it very soon :)

  2. Hi Ruth, coming to your blog is like a huge breath of fresh air. Reading this while I eat my lunch and it's so good to know that I'm not the only person out there who has these parenting 'epihpanies'! No one ever told me it was going to be such an incredible journey when I had kids...well, I guess some did (!) but it doesn't really hit you until you go through it.
    Thanks so much for sharing. Have a lovely week ahead! x

  3. Such wisdom wrapped up in awesome deliciousness


  4. Oh Ruth I could do with some of that soup! Wise words indeed. I hope one day when (if) I have a child I'll remember to come back here and re-read them when it all seems a bit hard.

  5. Wow... thankyou. Wise and needed words.

  6. So true it gave me goosebumps! Great post!!

  7. I think you're so spot on with everything. I think having a second baby made me understand so much more about parenting than the first one did so seeing as you have three more than mr I respect you as even more insightful! I hope you're all feeling much better Ruth xxx

  8. so wise ruth! I was nodding and smiling as I read through the list x

  9. Nice Post Bunzi, Always nice to have a bit of your wisdom in my home a few days a week. Love the Pho recipe and the correct pronounciation. We (all 5) are off to Vietnam next March. Very excited! And hope to be eating loads of Pho.

  10. as always, little never cease to amaze me with your honesty and insightfulness...go you and thank you xo

  11. Love pho! Just wondering, where do you usually base your Asian recipes from?

    1. My recipes are based on years of cooking Asian food, reading loads of Asian cookbooks and speaking to other people who cook.

  12. Parenting with the use of food. So so cool.

  13. So wise, dear Ruth. And to me, wise people are the ones who know they don't know it all, embrace that, and adapt as necessary. What a road you've travelled!

    Ps I'm very big on teaching independence... that point rang so very true for me.

    Hope that flu effs off! Poor girl xx

  14. You are so on it, Madama R.
    No-one ever has or ever will know all there is to know about parenting.
    It truly is the most challenging, goal-post shifting job.
    Getting them to 18 fed, watered, housed, educated and loved, as best you can, is some kind of miracle.
    Seeing them become compassionate, independent, articulate, clever, intelligent, caring, hilarious and fun human beings, is the icing on a very complicated baking process.

  15. Oh I really loved reading that!! It is all so true and humbling. Your children are very lucky to have you as a mother . Xo


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