I have a confession to make. I don’t know how many other mothers feel this. But when my first grade son is ill I suddenly feel lighter, freeer and just that much more happy.

Firstly before you all think I’m starkers let me clarify. When I say ill I mean a little bit sick. That under the weather, little bit of temp, nothing that needs antibiotics or is too sore. I’m not that crazy. Of course I want my kids to be healthy. I blame my rather strange predisposition on the school system. When my 6-year-old is ill as he was this week with the slightest temperature – not enough to go to the doctor, enough to stay home from school –  my Mummy taxi rounds for the day are halved. There’s no soccer for the evening, no homework to do (because he can’t) and here’s the real trump card – I get to sleep in till 7:00 am, even 7:30, which I managed this week. Big treat! Usually I’m up at 6:00 for a good day, 6:30am if I want to rush like mad and wear yesterday’s clothes (as long as they’re clean).

I never thought I’d be like that about my kids going to school, but all the structure is driving me nuts. I love holidays, I think the only reason I survived this school year is because of the extra month off we had with the world cup. I kinda dread next year. (Am gunning for the Olympics just for that lovely school siesta.)

The scariest thing of all is that I’m the one who has to teach my children structure and discipline. So I guess I’m back at school for the next 15 years by my calculations (My 2-year-old has a way to go). I thought I did my time, the moment I graduated school was one of the best days of my life. Now I’m back in the system – what happened?

When it comes to having children everyone speaks about labour, teething, night awakenings, extra weight to lose, even speech therapy and physio. No one speaks about having to go back to school again.

True the big, Big, BIG bonus is those few hours of having my own time. Not to be underrated. How to use that time is a whole nother blog. But lets put it this way since my 2-year-old went to school this year it’s the first time in 6 years I’ve had my mornings completely to myself. Scary fact. I still can’t wait for holidays though. And all those of you with children still at nursery school do yourselves a favour, relax and enjoy the mornings, don’t rush, don’t stress it’s going to come anyway so why do it sooner than you have to?

Speaking of holidays I thought I’d add an Australian Pavlova recipe which I have perfected (After many, many years). It’s quick and easy to make and very yummy – light and fluffy on the inside and hard meringue on the outside. Just follow the oven instructions carefully. You see Australians are great imports!

Pavlova

Ingredients

8 Large Egg Whites

2 Cups Castor Sugar

1 Tablespoon White Vinegar (or for an extra kick use White Balsamic Vinegar a trick I learnt from Nigella Lawson)

1 Heaped, BIG, Tablespoon of Cornstarch (also known as Maize flour in SA. I learnt that the hard way at Pick n’Pay)

2 250ml Punnets of Full Whipping Cream (love Woolies ones)

Berries to go on top as in season. Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries. etc. (All three together look beautiful.)

Method

  •  Preheat oven at 130 C. Make sure the rack is at the centre of the oven. (should be electric oven)
  • Whisk the Egg whites and add the Sugar SLOWLY  and beat until thick and glossy. (Careful not to overbeat or underbeat. Try and get the full meringue from the egg whites.)
  • Add the Vinegar.
  • Stop whisking and slowly fold in the Corn Flour.
  •  Put baking paper on a tray or use a round oven proof plate (I prefer round plate) and scoop the meringue onto the play or tray in a circle (you can draw a circle on the paper if you want. I never have.) You can use a spatula to smooth the sides upwards stroke by stroke so that it looks a bit mushroomy. But whatever you do it’ll be fine.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it’s dry and has a light creamy colour.
  • Turn the oven off and leave the Pavlova inside with the oven door slightly ajar and let it cool completely.
  • Whip the cream until nice and thick. (WATCH THE CREAM – can easily overbeat and curdle.) You can sweeten with sugar – I don’t I find the Pavlova meringue has enough sugar. (And don’t make the mistake I made of trying to reduce the Pavlova sugar. Meringue needs the sugar.) I’ve been told you can add lemon curd to the cream to give it a different taste and feel. I don’t do that either but have fun and try new things.
  • Put berries on top. Can make a  pretty design or just chuck on top – my preferred way – so it looks natural and just plain delicious.

Voila – ready to serve asap!!!

Sorry I haven’t added a photo. I don’t have one on hand. But next time I make one I’ll make sure to take a photo.

NB. Pavlova can be stored in an airtight container.