This past week I’ve been enjoying a book Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. A beautiful book about living honestly, confronting our definition of worth, and being truly connected to what is happening here, now.
The book has been a gentle reminder to reassess the way I approach time, messiness, and my perception of self success.
My life is not one filled with a huge number of challenging tasks. I don’t have a full-time job outside the home, but the mum-life can be a ‘busy’ one. Being at home, there’s an endless list of mostly mindless tasks, tasks I find myself wanting to complete to prove I’m someone who can do it all on top of being with the kids.
So too often lately I have been getting caught in those lists of life. Getting the washing sorted, continually cleaning away toys, creating new meals, researching our next home-improvement project, sorting everyone for many weekend trips, ensuring the bench top is always tidy, constantly preparing the next meal, telling my daughter to “just wait while I finish this”.
Our girl eats early evening, mostly starting before my husband gets home from work so too often she has dinner at the table alone while I bustle around the kitchen, tidying, fussing.
A few nights ago I saw it. I saw how the ‘busyness’ was disconnecting me from the time she craved. From the time I craved. From the kind of person I wanted to be together with my daughter.
So I made this meal (a kind of meal she loves). Sat down. Enjoyed it with her as she slowly spooned through the bowl. Chatting. Washing on the floor. Dishes in the sink. Unhurried, untidy, real, enjoying the moment together.
“Sink deeply into the world as it stands. Breathe in the smell of rain and the scuff of leaves as they scrape across driveways on windy nights. This is where life is, not in some imaginary, photo-shopped dreamland. Here. Now. You, just as you are. Me, just as I am. This world, just as it is. This is the good stuff. This is the best stuff there is. Perfect has nothing on truly, completely, wide-eyed, open-souled present.” – Shauna Niequist
Chicken & Vegetable Gratin with Herby Kale Crust (serves 4)
600g chicken (breast or boneless thigh) chopped into approx 3cm cubes
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 handful fresh italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt (less if using salty stock)
2 tbsp preferred cooking oil
1 large leek, finely sliced
2 cups (tightly packed) grated veggies (here I have used carrot & parsnip. Kumara, zucchini, pumpkin etc all work well!)
1 handful diced mushrooms – optional
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup ground almond
1 large handful fresh italian parsley, roughly chopped
1 large handful kale, roughly chopped
2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 180’C/350’F.
Place the chicken, mustard, parsley, coconut milk, stock and salt in a bowl. Mix together until well combined and set aside.
Melt the cooking oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the leek and cook until softened (have patience, it can take about 10mins to soften nicely).
Once soft, add the veggies and mushrooms (if using). Stir through and cook for 2 mins. Tip in the chicken mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10mins (to cook off a bit of the liquid).
Pour the mixture into an oven-proof dish.
To make the crust:
Tip the sunflower seeds and ground almond into the food processor. Pulse until the seeds break up a little. Add the remaining crust ingredients and pulse to well combined. Crumble this over the chicken mixture.
Bake in the oven for 20-30mins, until the crust is turning golden brown.
Serve and enjoy!