We suddenly had more than expected over for dinner.
Son, partner and their three girls (7, 3 and 6 months) were coming over for our irregular Sunday night roast.
Then we had a mid-afternoon call from sister-in-law (who lives 90 minutes away on the other side of the city). She and husband were making an emergency trip to a hospital close by our suburb to visit a work acquaintance who had had a severe illness relapse - could she drop their children (boy 12, girl 8) by our place while they visited the hospital? Of course, we said - and, naturally, stay for dinner after you return from your hospital visit. They wouldn't be back from the hospital until well after six o'clock.
Dinner was to be roast beef with a tray of baked potatoes, cauliflower baked in a casserole with cheese sauce, a tray of roasted pumpkin sections and of course peas; followed by a baked chocolate pudding. And ice-cream. And cream.
But this wouldn't stretch to six adults (sister-in-law's partner has an enormous appetite!) and five children. After a quick think, we found ourselves at the supermarket where we picked up a good-sized corned brisket which is good buying at the moment. In this way we could easily extend dinner with a one-pot solution. Corned brisket into a large pot with a few cloves, a dozen or so peppercorns, two whole onions, two thickly sliced carrots, four quartered potatoes and a bay leaf. Cover with water, bring to boil and simmer for a length of time according to size of corned brisket.
The children were dropped off and we all went for a walk to the local park, taking the dogs. Back home they chatted about how they were going at school and played Uno.
Both stove-top and oven were switched on around five thirty. Soon, son and crew arrived; and shortly after that, sister-in-law and husband back from the hospital visit.
Dinner was on the table by seven o'clock - a large platter of sliced medium roast beef surrounded by roast potatoes and pumpkin with gravy in a jug on the side; another platter of corned brisket with boiled potatoes, carrots and onions, mustard on the side; golden baked cauliflower with cheese sauce, boiled peas and spinach with garlic and cream - all served buffet style. I had also picked some fresh mint, chopped it, combined it with a quarter cup of malt vinegar and a dash of sugar - instant mint sauce, delicious on peas, and meat of course.
The children had helped T. assemble the chocolate pudding and that went into the oven when everything else came out.
After dinner, the three girls went off to play (we have a stash of books, dolls, paper, pencils and games), 12-year-old Ian sat with us chatting in the lounge with coffee and baby Aria was bounced on various knees, she is the cutest!