Missing Out (Memoirs of a Daddy’s Girl)

Ft. Dad’s Slow Cooked Lamb Pie Recipe

The thing about eating disorders is they’re not content with damaging you physically and mentally. They turn your whole life upside down before you know it, and your social life is one of the first things to suffer. I sure wasn’t ready for the devastating effect this illness would have on my relationships with my friends and—more unbearably—my family.

I’ve never been a social butterfly. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and I love spending time with them. But I’ve always been a girl who prefers quality time with a tight-knit group of friends than attending every party or get-together. Even better is spending time with my family.

I’ve been lucky enough to have family who I truly consider friends as well. If we weren’t related I’m sure we would have found each other anyway! It’s rare that a week goes by without a family catch up of some sort at my parents’ house. When I lived at home it was an everyday occurrence.

Back then, when I would get home from school (and later university and work), I’d be welcomed by the smell of dinner—one of mum’s baked dinners or lasagnas already in the oven. Dumping my bag, I’d eagerly begin setting the table, stopping only to sample a taste of the night’s meal when mum wasn’t looking. In summer Dad would always get home after me. He’d walk in, fresh from rowing training, his hair still wet and the smell of salt water on his skin. He’d walk in and greet me by my pet name (“Hey Noobis!”), kiss me on the cheek and ask, “What’s for dinner?”

kate-dad-young

I’ve always loved my Dad. My brothers tease me for being a daddy’s girl but hey, I don’t deny it! Matt’s my husband, and of course he’s the main guy in my life now. But my Dad will always be the man who nursed me through childhood sickness, comforted me when the other kids teased me and took me to Ronnie’s Corner for sneaky bacon and egg brekky dates on school days (I won’t say whether this occurred during school hours or not…).

So every time I think about how much the eating disorder has affected my relationship with him it makes me want to cry.

The thing to know about my family is we really love to celebrate. Any excuse’ll do: Christmas, Easter, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, farewells, welcome homes… you get the idea. But nothing gets us more excited than a family member’s birthday.

For us, family fun means food, and birthdays are no exception. So for me—when my eating disorder started calling the shots—this meant missing out.

At first it was little things. I’d cook my own dinner. I’d eat separately. I’d find ways to excuse myself early or disappear when the treats were served. But eventually there came a time where I had to make a choice between my family and the ED. I chose wrong.

Last year for Dad’s birthday, he chose to go to the Lebanese restaurant Al Aseel for dinner. If you’re at all familiar with Lebanese food you’ll know it usually involves lots of delicious meats and breads. At the time this sounded like torture to me. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it.

I hate what it did to my Dad when I told him I wasn’t going, and I still can’t shake the look of disappointment on his face that night. He’s never held it against me—and he’d never say how much it upset him. But I know. I’m sure a lot of it was because he couldn’t stand what the ED was doing to his little girl, but nevertheless it hurts me to think about it.

kate-dad-wedding

I’m pleased to share, though, that since then things have improved dramatically. In fact, last weekend we had our first daddy-daughter baking day in almost two years! As far back as I can remember Dad and I would get together every couple of weekends to cook up ridiculous amounts of food to feed the family. He had been waiting patiently all this time for me to get well enough to enjoy one of these much loved days again.

All last week we emailed back and forth, planning our menu. We settled on Dad’s slow cooked lamb pie (recipe below) and Annabel Langbein’s silverbeet, feta and pinenut roll. On Sunday we were underway!

We baked. We chatted about life. And we enjoyed a delicious dinner with Matt and Mum. It was perfect.

Last year the eating disorder took these special moments from me. But this year I refuse to let it. No longer will it control how and when I spend time with my family. I’m in charge now, and I can tell you there will be plenty more baking sessions, family feasts and father-daughter bonding time to come.

dad-baking day

Dad’s Slow Cooked Lamb Pie

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1kg of lamb shanks or 750 grams of diced lamb
2 Medium potatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup tomato paste
Small tin of diced tomato
1 cup of stock (beef)
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp paprika
Pepper to taste
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

Method

Step 1: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add lamb, onions, garlic and paprika. Brown the meat.

Step 2: Transfer the contents into a slow cooker. Add potato, carrot, celery, diced tomato, tomato paste, stock, rosemary and pepper. Cook on low heat for 7 hours. (Add additional stock if ingredients dry out.)

Step 3: Lightly mash all ingredients together until they reach a chunky consistency (the mixture shouldn’t be runny).

Step 4: Preheat oven to 200°C.
Place meat into a shallow pie dish. Lay the sheet of puff pastry over the dish and trim off any excess. Beat the egg and brush onto the top of the pastry, push down the edges with a fork. Sprinkle rosemary on top of the pastry.

Step 5: Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden.

Serve with a fresh garden salad or baked vegetables.

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