|My late father-in-law...Lloyd George taken the day Randall, his eldest son and I married.|
|Randall and I, on our wedding day...and me with Father's mother|
|Again...on our wedding day...I said in my previous post I wasn't into the "normal white wedding dresses". We got married in denim|
|Father & Mother at our house in Sunshine Beach circa 1981|
|A Christmas lunch with family & friends at our house at Coolum. Father is in the navy & white striped shirt. Circa 1984|
|A Decadently, Delicious Paris-Brest|
|Prawn & Mango Salad|
|Father's Day Down Under....7th September, 2014|
Come around Father’s Day…no…that’s not an invitation! What I mean is – when Father’s Day comes around I’ve rarely, if ever, written about the celebration honouring fathers. Usually, to be honest, nothing is farthermost from my mind. Put simply, I forget. In no way is it my intention to offend.
You see, I never knew my father. I grew up in a fatherless household. When I was still a wee baby my parents were confronted by a number of insurmountable hurdles and a few fathomless potholes; all of which caused them to part. They went their separate ways and, in due course, divorced. As often mentioned, my older brother and I were raised by two good women, our mother and our Nana; therefore, we had no reason to celebrate Father’s Day. Father’s Day came and went without fanfare throughout my childhood and beyond. I never gave it a second thought until I married my ex (who wasn’t my ex when we married).
My father-in-law, Lloyd George, was a wonderful man. That’s correct – his name was Lloyd George. He wasn’t the British Liberal politician and statesman, but he could very well have been. A fine man he was; as fine a man I’ve yet to meet; a gentle man and a gentleman. I never heard a bad word said about him; nor did I ever hear him utter a bad word towards anyone else. I called him “Father”, not “Dad”. Brought up in the era I was I could never have referred to him by his Christian name, even though on the day I married Randall, his eldest son, he asked me to do so. Up until then I’d always called him “Mr. George”. Switching to “Lloyd” wouldn’t have sat comfortably with me. For me to do so would’ve felt disrespectful. When, instead, I christened him “Father”, his eyes twinkled and his face bore a proud smile. He liked it. The title suited him.
Randall and I were married by a Marriage Celebrant in Father and Mother's home...on a Sunday afternoon - 21st March, 1976. It was a very relaxed, leisurely event. After the ceremony a party ensued outside on their back deck and garden, shared with immediate family and a few close friends . It was a fun afternoon.
Father also liked his sweets. No…he loved his sweets!
Every birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day amongst our gifts to him, without fail, we included a box of dark chocolate-covered ginger. To see his face light up in child-like pleasure was thanks enough; include a packet of Licorice Allsorts in his presents on Christmas Day and he out-shone the lights on the Christmas tree!
I’ll never forget one particular Father’s Day lunch we held for him when we lived at Sunshine Beach.
Around the corner from our home was a French patisserie. Father’s special treat that Father’s Day was a delicious Paris-Brest, the celebrated French pastry dessert. The dinner plate-sized circular, wreath-like shape of choux pastry is filled with praline-flavoured cream; sprinkled with icing sugar; sometimes also topped with toasted flaked almonds. If it had been night when his eyes fell upon the decadent dessert, forget the Christmas tree lights, Father’s face would’ve lit up the sky brighter than a floodlight could ever have done.
Many enjoyable lunches and dinners, followed by spirited games of Bolivia or 500, were shared with my father and mother-in-law; either at their home or ours. After a while, Father and I became partners in the card battles, and continued being so - never the twain would be separated thereafter.
Our card games were played more peacefully with he and I partnering we soon discovered. In secret consultation Randall and I decided it was better that way than when Father and Mother partnered against he and me…less the “War of the Roses”. Father, as my card partner and not Mother’s suffered no reprimands when he made a thoughtless move; or didn’t make a move I thought he should have. I kept my thoughts to myself; a smile on my face and took another sip of Bundy rum and Coke.
For years, once a week we’d meet for dinner and cards; one week we’d host the evening at our place; the next week Mother cooked dinner at their home with Father in charge of the bar, and so on, week after week; year after year. The four of us had a lot of fun during those evenings.
And, on days such as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day we’d host a special lunch at our home. Same applied on Christmas Day when Randall and I opened our home for Christmas morning drinks to all and sundry of our friends; morning drinks and canapés were always followed by an expansive hot Christmas lunch for those who remained to share our table. Father and Mother were always our most important Christmas lunch guests. Our lengthy Christmas lunches, with the decorated table sagging beneath the abundant array of hot and cold Christmas fare, always continued throughout the afternoon until after the sun had set in the west.
Father loved mangoes. When I had my greengrocery-health food store in Noosa gift-giving time was made easy. Along with Father’s chocolate-coated ginger, a tray of Kensington Pride aka Bowen mangoes were a much-appreciated gift. Fortunately for Father mangoes were still in season when his birthday came around in January.
Father also loved fishing. His catch rate wasn’t worth writing home about; but he didn’t care; that was a mere bagatelle; a trivial trifle.
One Saturday afternoon he and I went surf fishing at the northern side of the mouth of the Maroochy River, the spot where I used to pull in bream after bream. For an hour or so he contentedly stood at the water’s edge, lost in his own world of thoughts; casting out, and then pulling in his line to check his bait. He’d barely got a nibble, let alone a bite - when all of a sudden his rod bent and his reel began to spin.
I’ll never forget Father’s face that afternoon. It was a joy to behold. His eyes became invisible as his cheeks crinkled up to meet his eyebrows; a smile spread across his face in childlike excitement and delight.
When he landed his catch, a just legal-sized bream one could swear he’d landed “the big one”. It was such a special moment, the memory of which I’ve cherished to this day.
Sometimes Randall and a mate took Father along with them when they went fishing, by a powered, half-cabin motor boat, to an outer reef off Sunshine Beach. Father would be as sick as a dog throughout the trip, but as soon as they set foot back on land he’d ask if he could go out with them again the next time; and he meant it. He was keen to do it all over again!
I was fortunate to have had such a wonderful substitute father as Lloyd George. He was a lovely man; and I loved him.
Happy Father’s Day on Sunday, 7th September! Be kind to your kids - teach your children well!
Prawn Mango Salad: Slice ½ an unpeeled continental cucumber into thin rounds. Combine with 1 sliced red capsicum, 250g quartered cherry tomatoes, 2 large sliced mangoes, 16 cooked, peeled, deveined king prawns, leave tails intact, and 150g mixed salad greens in bowl. Dressing: Mix together; 1 crushed garlic clove, 1tbs chilli sauce, 2tbls olive oil, 4tbs lime juice and 3tbls chopped fresh mint. Gently stir into salad; pile salad onto individual serving plates; season.
Filet Mignon with Herb Butter: Mash 1tbs butter until soft and creamy; stir in 2tsp olive oil; add finely-chopped chives/shallots, 1tbs chopped capers, 1tsp minced oregano or marjoram, 1/2tsp each lemon zest and juice; season. Place in freezer to chill. Combine 1tsp oil, 2tsp marjoram/oregano, 1/2tsp lemon zest, 1tbs minced rosemary and 2 minced garlic cloves. Rub into both sides of 4x1-1/2-inch thick eye fillets. Rub both sides of 4 thick slices of whole-grain bread with halved garlic cloves. Grill steak 3-5mins per side for med-rare; grill bread until toasted. Divide 4c watercress between 4 plates; top with steaks; top steaks with chilled herb butter.
Baked Herb-Parmesan Potatoes: Preheat oven to 190C. Rinse 2 whole medium-size russet potatoes and 2 whole large red potatoes; don’t peel; dry with a paper towel; slice the potatoes at a slight diagonal. Try to keep the slices at a similar width (1/4 of an inch would be on the thicker side; about 1/8 of an inch is a nice size or even smaller if you like them more crispy) so they cook evenly. Add the potato slices to a large bowl. Add 1/4tsp each onion powder, dry chicken stock powder, garlic powder or crushed garlic, dried oregano, dried thyme, pepper, dried parsley and dried rosemary; add 2tbls olive oil. Mix together well, so the oil and herbs evenly coat both sides of potato slices. Layer slices in shallow ovenproof dish, sprinkling some grated parmesan in between the layers. Pour over ¼ to ½ cup of liquid chicken stock over the layers. Sprinkle grated parmesan over the top. Bake for 20-25mins, or until the potato is cooked and the top golden; serve hot straight from oven as a side dish.
Chocolate-Ginger Trifle: Cook a batch of brownies having added chopped crystallized ginger to the mix. When cool, break brownies into 5cm pieces. Melt 150g dark chocolate; beat cooled chocolate with 500g room-temp mascarpone. Whip 350ml cream. Place half the brownies into glass serving bowl; sprinkle over some chopped crystallized ginger; spread with half choc-mascarpone and half whipped cream; repeat layers. Grate chocolate over top and sprinkle with chopped crystallized ginger, for garnish; chill.