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Recently I have been reminded about the interconnections of life. I don't know if my life is especially full of them or maybe just that I am especially aware of them.

Whichever it is, Alfie just got new shoes and they were his first pair of non velcro shoes. In fact if you listen to Keith they are also his first pair of girl's shoes but the fact remains he chose them so they are now boy's shoes - very shiny turquoise boy's shoes.

I'm reading one of my haul of Montessori books which makes reference to watching children using large scale replicas of clothes fastenings to improve dexterity and learn new skills. In fact, I was reading about exactly that when my attention was dragged kicking and screaming back to reality by the anguished wailing of my beloved first born son.

Apparently his ability to join in some exciting new adventure was being thwarted by his ability to put his shoes on.

Somewhere between the thought that started "will you shut up so I can read about children acquiring new skills" and the one that started "how will I get my son to learn to deal with his new buckle shoes" a small brain fart erupted and I realised how I could buy myself some more reading time.

Thirty seconds later I had retrieved a belt from Keith's stash and a cushion from the sofa and I was was watching his deft little hands pulling that buckle open and closed like a pro. 

Suddenly the book didn't seem as interesting as what was happening right in front of me.

I wish I could show you a photo of quite how proud he looked when he first got that buckle done up. 

In fairness it was quite similar to how proud he looks every other time he achieves an everyday miracle and his little hand hit mine in a high 5, chest puffed out, self worth notched up just a tiny bit more. 

Perhaps his biggest recent step has been to take over production of an entire meal for the family. Turns out our little man loves his albondigas, and I mean LOVES them. In the last week we have had them in the traditional tomato sauce and pasta configuration and also in a green curry and mash variation as well.

It has also spawned a trip so frickin epic I am actually welling up thinking about it. I won't tell you about it though, because it wasn't my idea and I'm not there to witness it but if ever anyone claims men can't be the best primary carers of young children, they need to check out the FTC blog soon to see what Keith and Alfie have been up to. Something made possible by the amazing city we live in and the creative thinking of my husband.

This is also a rare chance to post a recipe that I created the other day and which will bring joy to the heart of anyone with too many carrots, or a child who hates vegetables. Not a problem in our house, especially where carrots and broccoli are concerned, but useful nonetheless. Of course if your children don't like vegetables, chances are they will also be suspicious of strong spices, but hey, this isn't a cookery blog.

Esme's Bitty Carrit Cake

Filling - Based on Anjum Anand's recipe

1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
5 whole black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 (1/2-inch) piece cinnamon stick
2 mild dried red chiles
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
200g cubed stewing steak

Batter - Based on this recipe from Eatori

125 ml extra virgin olive oil
125 ml vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups carrots (about 4 medium carrots) washed and grated
1.25 cups self raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup polenta (I used the course variety for more texture)
40g fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin

The method is pretty simple really.
  1. Take the onion and whole spices for the filling and cook them off on a low heat until mellow.
  2. Add the other filling ingredients (except the water) and bring to a sizzle.
  3. Add enough water to just cover the meat and put onto the lowest bubble your stove will allow for about 2 hours. Keep an eye on it and make sure you add a little more water as you go so it doesn't dry out. If you time it perfectly you will have just a little thick gravy with fall apart meat.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 C/350F. Line a 23 cm spring-form tin.
  5. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl.
  6. Trickle in the two oils, bit by bit and whisk together until they emulsify.
  7. ​Fold in the carrots, ground almonds and all the spices.
  8. Gently fold in the sifted flour.
  9. Spoon half the cake batter into the tin. Add all the filling and then top it with the remaining batter
  10. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top has browned and a skewer comes out clean of batter (you may have a little residue on there from the filling)

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