Daddies Space

The Digital Daddy Club

The Digital Daddy Clubimage

The Digital Daddy Club has opened and is available for all daddies who are looking to up skill and either change to the direction of their career, change jobs to fix that work life balance, get back into work, or you’re just looking for that change. Go to our facebook page and join the group.

I have worked for Daddyjobs.co.uk since the start of September. I am a stay at home dad of two children, and that is a demanding job in itself, but that isn’t the whole of my life. It is just one aspect that enriches the life that I live. I truly believe that the role of ‘Dad’ has changed since my father and grandfather and so on.In fact according to an article in the Guardian there are indications that there are as many as 10 times more stay-at-home dads in the UK than there were a decade ago. This figure is not completely fact – it is an estimation from research completed by the Office for National Statistics. Accurate or not, it still shows that we are a growing breed.

The long established view of the stay-at-home mum is shifting to a more shared approach which has seen more dads reduce the hours of their work in order to share or take some of the responsibility of looking after our children. Hand on heart, I am proud to be part of this growing community of fathers. It is not all sweetness and roses, sometimes as we all know, being a parent can be a difficult job, and whether you’re a stay-at-home dad or mum, isolation, frustration and loneliness can be difficult to manage. That’s even forgetting the other mum/dad jobs we have looking after the house. It’s like running a mini multinational sometimes…I do have a penchant for the melodramatic occasionally.

 

Some of the facts..

 

It is not all gloom and doom though – us dads are supposedly a happy bunch. 75% of us feel lucky to able to look after the children. The study behind the Guardian article also revealed a number of emotive responses from role-reversing parents:

Of women who are the main breadwinner:

  • Four in 10 (37%) feel guilty going out to work and leaving their children
  • One in seven (15%) say they occasionally resent their partner because they have to go out to work
  • Although fewer than one in 10 (9%) say they’d actually want to swap places with their partner to be the stay-at-home parent.

Whereas men who are the stay-at-home parents say:

  • Three quarters (75%) feel lucky to be spending time with their children
  • Around a third (29%) find looking after children more rewarding than going out to work
  • Although one in 10 (10%) say looking after children makes them feel “less of a man”
  • And one in five (17%) wish they earned more so they could go out to work while their partner cared for the children.

Interestingly, I agree! I am lucky to be a stay at home dad. However, figures can also be misleading and not give the real picture. That’s another reason why we have started this. Whether you’re male or female; mum or dad, you own your own story and life – it is unique to you and as individual as your fingerprint. One of the things I have learnt since becoming a dad, a blogger, a work from homer….a grown up! Is that it is important to share knowledge and experience with people in similar situations; to find different ways of tackling situations and ideas. A lot of mums (not all) are good at this, it is one of the crucial skills that I think women are better at than men – communication. It enables them to communicate their emotions, troubles and share knowledge easily. I see it at the school gate: groups of mums gossiping away everything that is going on in their lives. It is not all gossiping though. They are sharing their stories and ideas about their kids, reaffirming their own thoughts and fears about what they’re doing. It may seem trivial, but it really is ‘good to talk’. It’s not all men though.

As I said, we are a growing breed. Like any new adventurers striding into the unknown, we take a few stumbles and go in a couple of wildly fun ‘scenic routes’. We are quick learners and problem solvers. We can be pragmatic and goal driven. These are all skills that we can use in the stay-at-home dad role. I’ve seen so many great dad blogs out there that give great advice and give honest and open stories about being the main caregiver, and what the highs and lows of that life can be. Being a stay-at-home dad does not have to mean you’re less of a man. It means we need to change the perception of what being a man means.

When the job don’t fit…

One of the reasons I am a stay at home dad is because the job I was in no longer fitted around the term time hours. It is hard finding a job as a dad that has to look after the kids. When mums have said that looking after the kids was a full time job. They weren’t kidding. I think we knew that already to be honest. Most dads aren’t knuckle dragging troglodytes, in fact most of us knew the lengths to which our mothers went to look after us. It is why we are perfectly capable of doing this job, and why more and more of us are doing it. Like many mums before us, being the stay-at-home dad doesn’t confine us to a life of nappies, cleaning and food. It is important that we look after our own health and mental well being. I went through a period of adjustment the first time I did the stay-at-home dad job with my son and daughter. It took me nine months…and then I went back to work. Doing the stay-at-home job again is much better this time. I know more about what to expect and what to avoid. I now keep myself busy by blogging and working from home; keeping healthy and exercising, and making sure I keep the social life going. It is a juggling act which can be a bit heavy at times, but it is not unmanageable – it just takes a little effort …but for a big pay off.

Community

The Digital Daddy Club is a community connected via the Daddyjobs.co.uk website that we want dads to join because we know it important to connect and share experiences.

We want to make that work/life balance right for parents. Dads and mums deserve to be able to work together and have opportunities that fit around their life, and not have to fit their life around their work.

We want to give you the space to share experiences and advice, not just around jobs, but around every aspect of your lives. As much as you want to. Our ambition is to make it easier for parents to live a full life without having to sacrifice the important parts.

We will give opportunities for flexible/part time/ work from home jobs; training options and CV consultation, but most importantly the feeling of being able to control your life. Yes, queue inspirational music to that last sentence, but we really mean it.

The whole reason we started our sites and digital parent clubs is to try to change the landscape for parents who find it difficult to keep up with demands of modern day life. It shouldn’t be a case of if you can beat them join them. It should be if you can’t beat them, change their viewpoint, change the arena, change their minds.

Join the club…

Please visit the facebook page, twitter or our daddyjobs community. We’d love to hear from you, read your blogs and hear your stories.

If you’re a mum and you’re reading this, we haven’t forgotten about the mums. You can connect with our mums on our facebook page, twitter and www.mummyjobs.co.uk

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Slow Cooker Brisket

Slow Cooker Brisket

I’ve thought about trying out vegetarianism a few times; in fact, I once gave up meat for lent. I lasted about twenty days until I accidentally ate a shepherd’s pie that was put in front of me. I am not exaggerating. It was upon my last mouthful that I realised what I was doing and how I had just ruined my lent challenge. I am a meat eater and can’t really help it. This recipe is just one of those reasons why as well. The photos don’t do it justice on this occasion. Sunday’s, especially at the start of Autumn, demand a roast dinner. That’s one of the things I love about this time of year – there’s something magical about going for a Sunday morning walk, seeing the new colours that we all remember from childhood, having the wind blow the cobwebs from your tired eyes and the cooler wind freshen your soul. Returning home and having that roast dinner aroma fill your nostrils is heavenly. Of course, it is not just the meat that seals the anticipation, but it is definitely the main show.

Rolled Brisket is generally one of the cheaper cuts of cow meat. I bought this one for £5.03 from Lidl. You can obviously buy them at your local butchers, which I do often, and other supermarkets. The prices vary but generally they are cheap cuts wherever you go. Cheap sounds great,yeah? In my book it definitely does. I used to buy the most expensive bits of meat for my cooking, but since becoming a parent and looking after the pennies and pounds a little bit better, cuts like brisket are perfect. If not cooked correctly, this incredible bit of meat will become tough. Cooked low and slow, this meat is absolutely mouth watering.

Cooking it low and slow is the basis of any good brisket. Generally, a brisket is going to need at least 3-4 hours in a slow cooker in order to make it nice and tender. Trying to rush this cut of meat is a major no no! Trust me, I’ve tried and failed and it’s just not worth the disappointment. You can’t just chuck it in the slow cooker without taking care of the cut just a little bit either. Don’t worry though, it’s not a complicated process, and you definitely don’t need much skill. Simply put, all you need to do is brown off your meat in a frying pan (the darker you get it the better) as this will seal in the juices and also colour and flavour the gravy that you will make as you’re cooking. The other task is imparting as much flavour as you can with vegetables, herbs, stocks, and spices. For this recipe I’ve made it simple – some salt and pepper, stock, chunky carrots and some roughly chopped carrots. That’s it!! I cooked mine for a bit longer on the lowest temperature on my slow cooker – 8 hours. It was deliciously soft and tender by the time it was ready. The effort was minimal and the satisfaction was maximum.

The best part about – there is always leftovers that you can use the day after for a nice stir fry or stunningly sumptuous beef brisket sandwich or wrap. The other bonus, other than my own satisfaction, is that my kids and family love it and always think you’re some amazing cook that has slaved away in the kitchen carefully looking after your roast, when in fact it is far from it. Sit back, relax, go for a Sunday stroll and come back to a awesome Sunday lunch.

Ingredients

Rolled Brisket

2-3 Carrots

4 Shallots or 1-2 Onions

500ml of beef Stock ( I use an Oxo cube dissolved in hot water)

1 Tbsp Cornflour

Method

  1. Unpack your meat and season by rubbing salt and pepper into the brisket. Roughly chop the onions and carrots and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. The slow cooker needs to be on the low setting for 7-8 hours or the high for 3-4 hours. Also, make the stock with 500 ml of hot water and a stock cube. Add any spices or herbs you like. I usually add some garlic and bay leaves (at least 2). Add the a tablespoon of cornflour to thicken the gravy throughout the cooking period.

  1. Sear the brisket in a hot frying pan. Do not add any oil to the pan. Sear all sides of the meat until it’s nice and dark brown. Don’t worry if parts of the meat catch and look too dark. This will add more flavour and give a lovely colour to your gravy.IMAG0131.jpg
  2. Add the meat to the slow cooker for the your chosen time. When ready get the meat out and rest for at least 15-20 minutes. This will help the meat relax and will be all the better for it.
  3. Remove the carrots and blend the liquid in the slow cooker to make a gravy. You can move liquid into a saucepan to reduce down for 5-10 mins if you like a thicker sauce.

We have this served with other veg and Yorkshire puddings. I will post my recipe for Yorkshire puddings soon.

No Chilli Chicken Enchiladas

No Chilli  Chicken Enchiladas

If you can’t have chillis or chilli powder like me, this is a great recipe. I have always loved enchiladas – there’s nothing better than settling down for the night, watching your favourite TV show and then tucking into to a couple of tasty Mexican treats. I used to like mine spicy and cheesy. We used to do it the lazy way and buy the El Paso Enchilada kit, and although I loved it I would always add a few extras to make it spicier or a little bit more cheesy.

As I have mentioned a few times before, I cannot eat a few different things now due to a lot of ingredients triggering LPR. Enchiladas were going to be one of those recipes I was going to have to figure out pretty quickly – I could not live without this for too long. Needless to say I sorted a recipe out and it has gone through a few different changes to get it the way I like it over the past few months. I have tried it out on a few people, including my sister who is another mexican food lover like me. She loved it! I knew I was onto a winner and the litmus test had been passed.

I am a little biased obviously, but I think this recipe is far superior to any enchiladas I have tasted, although I haven’t been to Mexico so this recipe would probably be beaten by a traditional Mexican recipe. Maybe not. Suppose I will never know.

Ingredients (Serves 4 people)

3 Chicken breast fillets – Sliced into thin strips

1 onion or 4 spring onions (milder flavour) – Sliced into strips

Tomato puree

Chopped tomatoes – half can – blended

1 Bell Peppers  – Sliced into strips

1 Beef tomato – roughly diced – chunks are better

2 tbsp cider vinegar

Chopped tomatoes

Corn flour – 1 tsp

1 1/2 tsp Cumin

1 tbsp Paprika

Salt – To taste

2 tsp Chives

1 tsp Tumeric

200ml warm water with veg oxo cube dissolved

1 tbsp Tamarind Sauce

1 1/2 tsp Garlic Granules

100g Cream Cheese – Low fat (-5%)

Flour tortillas – Corn tortillas are better but I tend to have flour more often

Parmesan – 50g (or more if you like a stronger cheesy flavour)

Method

  1. Prepare the vegetables and chicken by slicing them all into strips of roughly equal size.
  2. Soften the onions in a pan for 5 mins. They should be translucent when they are ready.
  3. Add the beef tomatoes and cooked for a 3 mins on a medium heat.
  4. Add the cider vinegar and cook off the liquid until evaporated.
  5. Add the peppers and make sure to stir constantly until softened.
  6. Add the spices and herbs including the garlic but not the tamarind sauce.
  7. Add some corn flour – this will thicken the liquid that we are going to add. Stir for a minute until the cornflour has combined with the ingredients.
  8. Add the water and stir all the ingredients in.
  9. Blend the half can of chopped tomatoes and add to the sauce.
  10. Turn down to a simmer and cook for 20-25 mins until the sauce has reduced to a thick concentrated sauce. Add the tamarind here and simmer for another 5 mins.
  11. Put one half of the sauce aside.
  12. Brown the chicken in a pan. This takes about 5 mins. Add the sauce and cook for a further 5 mins.
  13. Preheat your oven to 220C or 200C for fan assisted.
  14. While this is good grate your parmesan, ready 4 – 6 tortilla by lining them with low fat cream cheese and a little bit of parmesan or low fat mature cheddar.
  15. Add the chicken and sauce and roll your tortillas. If you’re using the flour tortillas you will need to cook them without a topping first in order to get that crispy finish, otherwise it will become soggy and not very tasty. I use a George Foreman Grill, but a panini press with also do the job. It doesn’t take long. You want a nice browning or charring on the tortilla.
  16. Assemble the enchiladas in an oven proof dish.
  17. Then pour the rest of your sauce over the middle of the enchiladas. Do not full cover unless using corn tortillas.
  18. I then dollop cream cheese over the and then grate parmesan over the top.IMG_0264.JPG
  19. Place in the oven for 20-25 mins until the cheese and melted and starting to crisp.
  20. I serve mine with a nice Avocado salad and sweet potato wedges.

If you do try this, tell me what you think. It’s not the usual/traditional way to make enchiladas but it is extremely delicious and is definitely within the realm of mexican flavours I like.

Apple Crumble Cheese Cake

Apple Crumble Cheesecake

I got the basis of this recipe from @Somersetmum on her blog Somersetmum.com. It sounded like something we’d eat in our house. I had to change it a little bit to fit my dietary requirements, but I thought why not give it a try. It is an awesome little dessert – the apple crumble on top is caramelized apple and gives the taste of toffee apples as well as the usual apple crumble loveliness . For those of you who like cheesecake, those of you who like apple crumble, this is a match made in food heaven. My version is still a little bit naughty but it doesn’t really affect my LPR, so I am calling it a win. Plus you don’t need to eat the whole thing to yourself. The best bit about food is sharing it with others. The best thing is that it cost me a fiver!!! For a 12″ cheesecake. Absolute bargain.

Ingredients

Cheesecake Base:
A half pack of digestives (approx. 10 biscuits)

75g of toasted and blended oats

2 tablespoons of honey

Cheesecake Filling
2 packets lightest (5% or less) cream cheese
1 packet light mascarpone
25g sugar

Tsb of Cornflour

2 tsp honey
2 medium eggs

Baked Apples
4 chopped up cooking apples
25g brown sugar

2 tsp of honey
1 tbsp cinnamon
75g sultanas or mixed dried fruit

Crumble
50g brown sugar
100g plain flour
4 tsp of honey
50g oats

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F
  2. In a baking tray mix apples, sugar, cinnamon and sultanas/dried fruit and bake for 25 minutes. Then Turn the oven down to 160°C/320°F. Adjust according to your oven. I have a bake option on mine so I use that instead of the fan setting. The result is always better when I do this.
  3. Toast the oats in a dry frying pan until they start to brown. Be careful not to burn the oats as this doesn’t take long. They should smell a little like popcorn when toasted. Yum! Put the the toasted oats and digestive biscuits in food processor and blend until they are just crumbs. Add the honey and mix. Press into the bottom of a lined, spring loaded, cake tin and refrigerate whilst you get the rest sorted.
  4. Add all the ingredients for the cheesecake filling and pulse until smooth. Use can you a food processor or a hand mixer like I did for this. So this is where I got confused and literally blended everything up together! Now blend half if the apples in the food processor and add to the cheesecake mix. Leave the other half of the apples to layer on top of the chesse cake.
  5. To make your crumble, put all your ingredients in a bowl and work the mixture with your hands. I was always taught to roll the mixture with your thumb over your fingers. Do this until the mixture is fully combinedIMAG0075.jpg
  6. Now pour all your cheesecake topping on top of the biscuit base you have in the fridge and then top with the rest of the apples and your crumble topping, put as much or as little as you want on.

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7. Bake for 1 hour then set for at least three hours in the fridge. I left mine over night and come lunchtime the next day when we tried it, it was perfect! Try Hot or Cold, So many people said it was better hot but ya’ll might like it cold!

 

Thanks to @Somersetmum for the original recipe. I truly enjoyed this dessert today. Sundays are the best for a treat after a roast beef dinner.

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Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread

Apparently, bread is about 30,000 years old!! I love it but have been put off it in recent years in an attempt not to commit carbicide. I do allow myself one slice a day with a poached egg in the morning. It’s my favourite start to the day.

Like many people, I tend to buy my bread from the local supermarket, or as I have done in the past – buy an expensive bread maker in an attempt to get that home baked bread smell in the house that everyone loves. You can’t beat it. When visiting St.Fagans on a school visit, the best part was smelling the baking bread whilst walking by the bakers there. Hopefully, the bakers is still there and if so, it’s worth the trip.

Regardless of your views on the healthiness of bread, you can’t deny that a good bit of bread adds a bit of happiness to your day. It does mine.

I’ve never really made bread from scratch. As I ,mentioned, I’ve always decided to buy it from the shop – it’s easier, more convenient, and ultimately less hassle and consistently the right shape and size. So, why did I decide to start making my own bread. It’s probably cheaper buying it in the shop, but it definitely isn’t as satisfying as making your own loaf. It’s a great activity to help you spend time you can spend cooking with your kids too! This week I made Poppy Seed bread with my four year old and she loved it. It was an awesome way to fill Sunday afternoon. The look of satisfaction and pride on her face was worth the extra bit of effort. Bread Friends Forever!!

The fact of the matter is, like with all cooking, practise makes perfect. I didn’t get it right first time, but after a few attempts my bread is tastier than the ones I buy from the shop. I urge you all to give it a try. What’s the worst that can happen? Here’s one you can try:

Daddy’s Olive and Sun Dried Tomato Homemade Bread

Ingredients

500g Strong White Bread Flour (You can get 1.5kg for less than a £1)

250ml of warm water (I just combine half boiling and half cold water)

25ml Rapeseed Oil (You can use olive oil if you prefer)

15g Sea Salt

6-10 Black, Pitted Olives (Sliced and Diced)

6-10 Sun Dried Tomatoes (Sliced and Diced)

1 Sachet of Fast Acting Yeast

Method

  1. Combine The the flour, yeast and salt. Mix well, but be careful not to put the salt directly onto the yeast. I put the yeast in first, mix and then add the salt.
  2. Add the liquids and mix, then knead until they combine to form a smooth, elastic dough.
  3. Rest in the mixing bowl for 30 mins. Make sure it is covered with food wrap or a tea towel.
  4. Use some flour to dust a clean work surface. Scrap out the dough with a plastic spatula. You can use your hands if you want. You now need to knead your dough for about 15-20 mins. See this video for an example of how to knead bread dough.
  5. You know it is done when it is almost see through when stretched. I usually hold it up to the window or kitchen light.IMAG0032.jpg
  6. Place back into the mixing bowl to rest for 1 hour. It will double in size and smell slightly fermented when it’s done. Preheat your oven to 220C (200 for fan assisted), Gas mark 7 or 425 F. I have a bake setting on my oven so I don’t have to use a fan. I find this gives a better result.
  7. Knock out the dough by flattening hit out with your palms and then use your fingers to poke dimples in the dough.
  8. Now add the olives and sun-dried tomatoes by layering and folding.
  9. Place in a loaf tin or shape into a rectangle on baking paper. Put in the centre of the oven and bake for 30-35 mins.
  10. When baked correctly your bread should sound hollow when tapped. Place your loaf on a cooling rack until cold.

I like to serve this bread with LPR Friendly Bruschetta. I will put the recipe up soon. Promise.

On A Side Note.

I love YouTube for cooking tutorials. Here’s one I like about kneading dough. There are many chefs and videos out there. I like Chef Eric Arrouzé, his videos are simple and easy to follow and I love French cuisine. He’s got loads of other recipes you might like on his YouTube channel. It’s worth checking out.

My Summer As A Stay At Home Dad

My Summer As A ‘Stay At Home Dad’ – Blog 003

It’s been awhile since I wrote my first two blogs. A couple of months. It’s not that I have been lazy – just too busy. The summer was a crazy mess of holidays and keeping the kids entertained. I have got to say it was the best summer yet. We had two holidays. Yes, I feel very blessed to say that we had two holidays. One was an ill-fated, rained out caravan holiday and the other was a 30 degree stunner in Crete. It was brilliant!!!

I ‘accidentally’ bid on a caravan holiday in a charity auction back last year. It was our first caravan holiday, and probably our last. The location was spectacular and the caravan wasn’t too bad. It’s just that caravanning is just not for us. It rained for 90% of the time and the kids couldn’t cope with being stuck in a tin can. Needless to say, we won’t be doing that again anytime soon. Unless nostalgia bites and we think it will be okay next time. I think my main issue is that I am a little bit larger and a little bit taller than most people than caravan. My feet hung about two feet off the end of the bed, meaning that I didn’t get hardly any sleep. For some strange reason the lack of year round heating in the tin can meant that there was a slight dampness in the air, resulting in my asthma playing up and me feeling like I was breathing through a damp cloth for three days. Fun! Looking on the bright side, we now know not to do that again. To be totally honest, we were grateful that we had this holiday and that the money we paid went to a really worthy charity who helped us for many years with our son, and we know that if we more caravan goers we would have enjoyed it far more as the setting was brilliant and it was a good caravan that had been donated by a very kind and generous family. My hat goes off to them. 

Thankfully, we had booked a week away in Crete, Greece. This is our last holiday away for a while. Due to giving up the day job, money is going to be a little more sparse than in previous years, so our usual week away in the ‘Med’ is going to be more of pipe dream for a little while. This holiday was our last big getaway before our son goes through his assessment for a pot

ential brain surgery. A lot was riding on this one. It didn’t disappoint. It was honestly amazing. The weather was perfect, the food was unbelievable, and more importantly, the memories we created as a family were unforgettable. My two children finally got over their fear of the swimming pool and I enjoyed

dunking them in the water more than what’s acceptable. Payback at last! Without giving you every last detail, it was absolutely incredible.

Not one to have a moan, I must talk about one aspect of the holiday that was gobsmackingly awful. Gatwick was awful on the way back. Their special assistance service resulted in me having to carry my heavy, sleeping, nearly 6 year old son from the plane to passport control and on to baggage in order to collect his wheelchair, which coincidentally came through last. To use a ‘Welshism’ – I was tamping. We have flown to several airports and never had a problem. When flying back to Cardiff from Spain last year the service we had was excellent. We were even allowed to meet the pilots and my son got to sit in the Pilot’s chair while we waited for our escort through to baggage collection. The wheelchair was delivered to the plane so I didn’t have to carry my son and our every need was taken care of. It could not be faulted. We thought thought that the Uk’s No 1 airport would give us something similar. It clearly fell well beneath expectations. Needless to say we shall avoid Gatwick when travelling abroad again.

I have to say that being a stay at home dad this summer has been amazing. It’s gone far too quick and I was ready for the children to go back to school – basically so I can get some energy back. I am pretty sure that this year’s summer will be one I will remember clearly and will be one of the best. If not, I have some great summers to come.