Long term followers of my blog will remember the time I visited a quaint little kitchen overlooking a toy scattered lounge room in country Victoria. I have since taken the time to revisit this kitchen and boy oh boy how it has changed in the short space of a year. The lounge is now scattered with what seems to be three times as many toys, legos, small animals and crayons, small hazards for bare feet if you dare walk across the carpet to catch the regular diner.
The said regular diner has grown from a small and tottery bundle to a strong, quick and dare I say it, defiant little boy.
The head chef, now heavily pregnant and yes, still working to an open all hours schedule, now moves slightly slower and with a slight waddle, stopping sporadically for short and sharp “practice” contractions.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all now carefully picked over. Where the main patron used to devour every skerrick of food regardless of the menu, now examines every dish and sometimes, much to the chef’s disgust, deemed not good enough.
Most days, a free range breakfast is offered at about 8.00 (a slightly later breakfast offering than when we originally visited) the Weet Bix box is taken out from the pantry and usually protested with the request for a “tooey” the local language for smoothie. Banana, yoghurt, sometimes strawberries and milk are blended to perfection and the crucial decision of which colour straw to use is determined and the pint-sized customer then teeters on the line between where he is allowed (the floor boards) and where he is not (the carpet).
Toast on the table is then requested by the darling customer, the chef obliges, knowing very well that this will most likely not be eaten or saved until cold and stale for a scrumptious mid morning snack.
The kitchen still does its regular, closing shortly after breakfast for a clean up. The chef and her apprentice usually head out for their morning errands around this time, making sure to take some form of takeaway in the shape of dried fruit or a muesli bar. On odd occasions when it has been a particularly rough night for the chef, a cappuccino and of course a babychino is in order, with the marshmallow being by far the most important ingredient when serving up this treat.
Lunch rolls around at about midday, it is fast becoming the hardest meal of the day to digest. Discovery Plates still a hot favourite in this small and humble kitchen. Fruit and sandwiches mostly filled with ham, peanut butter or chicken make regular appearances. On the difficult days, hastily, the chef serves up a sprinkle sandwich, much to the delight of the high chair commander.
Lunch is still followed by a relaxing nap, now by both the pregnant boss and her number one. A hard-earned nap deserves a hard-earned snack, so upon waking yoghurt, fruit and maybe even some dry biscuits are always on offer.
Dinner, one thing that has not changed since our last visit, generally determined by what the adults in the house are having. Spice, still rarely in order is now unable to be tolerated by two of the residents. Potatoes, unless served in the form of a hot chip, are a great play toy rather than a form of nutrition and trees (a.k.a. broccoli) are still a well-loved favourite. The discovery of tomato sauce has somewhat tainted the menu when a course of meat and three veg is served, sauce faces test both the artistic skills and the pride of the head chef. Pasta in any way, shape or form is still the meal of choice, although lasagne has been known to trick the eyes of the demanding pasta aficionado.
As per our last visit the drinks list is limited, mainly offering water, with the request for a drink of milk being filled when asked for nicely.
So, as you can see, a few things have changed in the kitchen at Leo’s. Where once no lollies slipped past the lips of the busy customer, now, the occasional sweet is blatantly overlooked by the chef, even if only to provide a moment’s peace and quiet while the happy child runs off to show his loot to his toys so she can finish off something in the kitchen.
The floors are still on the messy side, if not slightly messier as the common sign of a finished meal has now become throwing every last scrap that is still on your plate, proving that the fluffy-haired man; now the curly-haired main, who eats there daily has still not learned any table manners.
It is still warm and inviting, there is a sense of love and sometimes even chaos. The days, filled with plenty of imagination and laughter, still make you want to put on your PJ’s and sleep all night long, not before begging for a drink from every single drink bottle you can find in the house.