Monthly Archives

June 2012

Dinner, Dinner, Food for Big People, Food for Little People

50 Shades of Puttanesca….or Whore’s Lasagne

June 29, 2012

Holy Sado-Masochism, Batman……are you guys on the 50 Shades bandwagon????

I’d never heard of it until a girlfriend told me there was a Mills & Boon-on-steroids trilogy afloat and if I fancied some trashy ‘clit lit’ (if you’ll pardon the term) she’d lend it to me if I promised not to stick the pages together. I was shocked at the suggestion.
Initially, 50 Shades of Grey made me giggle. The writing is certainly less than amazing, and it has been panned by critics for having a lame plot. The themes are eye-brow raising, to say the least, but before I knew it, I was over half-way through the first one and I can’t turn the pages fast enough.
I’m not laughing any more.
In fact, it’s making me feel all funny in my tummy…..and other places.

Rumour has it, people reading it on public transport are hiding it in the jacket of another book for fear of being branded a filth-bag. With 10 million copies sold worldwide, selling out so fast it surpassed the Harry Potter series in the UK, it poses the question, are we harbouring secret Bondage and Discipline fantasies? I didn’t think I was until Mr. Grey made a jolly good spanking look as sexy as an erotic massage followed by your husband doing the vacuuming.

With the popularity of shows like True Blood, there’s no doubt that we’re all gagging for a bit of sexy escapism, but what are we escaping to? Domination, being ‘owned’ by another……my inner feminist cringes at the thought, whilst the rest of me rushes to finish this post so I can get back to my book!

Another reason that I think it has such great appeal is that so many women will relate to the fact that our heroine, Miss Anastasia Steele, has found a rather broken specimen and desperately wants to fix him. He’s given due warning that he’s trouble (50 kinds of fucked up – verbatim) and yet she’s like a fat kid to a Tim Tam. I know I’ve fallen down that slippery slope, and I sure as hell didn’t lie at the bottom on my own. In fact, I know countless women doing it right now….but who knows what’s going on behind closed doors? They might even be swinging from a harness, trussed up like a Christmas turkey, getting a paddling as I type. I dare say, after 10 million plus read this little eye-opener the sales of cable ties and caribiners may indeed soar.
Apparently, after many women now exploring their sexuality, husbands and boyfriends around the world are high-fiving author, E.L. James….just as soon as their hands are untied from the bed posts.

Anyhoo, enough of the book revue. After receiving some rather fabulous gifts from her smoking hot, young, generous, billionaire Dominant (don’t find many of those around here), Anastasia’s ‘inner goddess’ has branded her a whore. I thought I’d make a Puttanesca inspired dish as an homage to the filth I’m reading.

There are a few elements to this dish, but if you can’t be arsed, just make the Puttanesca sauce and eat with with spaghetti. Throw a dollop or two of ricotta over it before serving and you’ve got the gist of it for half the work. If you can be arsed, it’s yummy.
Don’t be scared by the anchovy. It’s not used as a monster flavour in here, it’s merely umami. If you can’t get passed the hairy fish, just omit it.

Yield : 4-6 adults

You will need :

For the puttanesca sauce – 

  • 1 spanish onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chili (optional)
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 400g chopped tinned tomatoes
  • 425g good quality tinned tuna
  • 1/2 cup good olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 packed cup of fresh oregano and basil (combined)
  • 1/3 cup white wine (if you can spare it)
  • 1 bunch silver beet, green only, stalks removed
  • 30g cheese, finely grated (I used Colby)
  • 30g parmesan, finely grated
  • fresh lasagne sheets

For the béchamel sauce – 

  • 30g butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 200g ricotta
  • 30g parmesan
  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
Put a little oil into a deep frypan and throw in your onions. Once they’re translucent, add your garlic, chill if you’re gonna and chopped anchovy fillets and give it a stir. Pop your capsicum into the pan and shimmy it all around together for a few minutes.
Next, add your tinned tomatoes, tuna capers, olives, herbs and wine. Add a slurp of water (200ml or so), and season. Leave to cook while you do your other bits……at this point I had a couple of children to attend to so it probably bubbled away for a good hour. The longer you can simmer, the better for a sauce like this. You want most of the liquid to evaporate.
Wash your trimmed silver beet in a sink of water, then chop without removing too much water. Throw it into a large wok or pot over a medium heat. Stir continually until it’s just wilted. You don’t want to cook the crap out of it.
When done, put it aside in a bowl to cool down.To make your béchamel, place butter into a saucepan and allow to melt. Add flour to butter and whisk it around to allow flour to cook. Add milk, whisking as you go. Add your bay leaf and season.
When it starts to thicken, chuck in your ricotta and parmesan….keep whisking until a nice thick consistency then put aside.Place half of your putta sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish. Lay a layer of fresh lasagne sheets over the top.
Squeeze as much liquid out of your wilted silver beet as you can then lay it on top of your pasta. Spread a ladle full of your béchamel over the spinach.
Top with another layer of lasagne, and then spread the remaining sauce over the top. One more layer of lasagne and then top with the rest of your béchamel. Finish it off by gently sprinkling your finely grated cheese over the top. If you grate your cheese with the fine grater, it’s easier to make a little go a long way thereby keeping down your cheese (fat) intake.
Pop it into a pre-heated oven on 190C. Cook for 40 minutes or until golden and bubbly and delectable.



Are You Getting Any?

June 27, 2012

Holy crap, I’ve never talked about IT as much as I have in the last 2 years.

Hanging out in the park, on any given day you can hear the question being posed – “Are you getting any?” – and if the answer is yes, we all hang with bated breath,

“How much are you getting?”

We become obsessed with what’s happening in other households and we compare them with our own. Of course, anyone that actually has babies will know that I’m talking about sleep, because we can fairly safely say that in the first few months there ain’t that much of the other going on….but I reckon that’s a romping elephant in the room to tackle another day.

There are countless books proclaiming to save your sleep, and give you a contented baby. They all have their own vibe going on and many proclaim that if you start their regime at birth, your bundle of joy can be sleeping through – 10pm-7am – by 4 months. If this isn’t happening for you, then it would be easy to feel as though you are doing something ‘wrong’. The books can be helpful, especially if you only read one and not confuse the issue with conflicting advice, but they don’t allow much leeway for having any kind of life outside your house……also, when they suggest other settling techniques it can be difficult in the cold, dark dead of night when you’re already shattered. A baby’s cry is so much louder when it’s pitch black. It’s often easiest to pop out a nip and hush that crying child. Everyone is back asleep in a matter of minutes. If you don’t mind getting up, if you’re ok with what happening in your house, then power to you.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was from Genevieve Titov, from Sleep Angels.

“If you are happy with what you are doing to get everyone in your family some sleep (night feeds, dummies, co-sleeping) then there is no need to change anything. Do not listen to anyone else that tells you otherwise! It’s only when you are not happy with how things are that you need to make changes. There is nothing that can’t be undone at a later date if needed. Sleep, however you get it, is still sleep”.

Things started ok with D Man, and then by six months when other people were boasting of whole nights of blissful rest, or at the very least, dropped feeds, I realised we are in a funk. I was feeding whenever he woke, and by 11 months old that could be up to 8 times a night. We traveled a lot and I soothed with the breast and in the end I finally flipped my shit and I would have paid anyone anything to make it stop. I faced each evening with dread and seriously thought I may lose my mind. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture. I wore it like a badge of honour for the first few months, but the novelty wears thin quickly and after six, eight, ten unending months of terrible sleep you’re ready to shave your head, put on some combats and go postal in the main street with an easy plea of insanity.
If someone smugly told me their kid was sleeping soundly I seriously wanted to punch them in the face. The worst part is that you can’t imagine that it will ever end. There is no light in your tunnel, and your tunnel seems infinitely infinite.

Sadly, many people wait until they’re at the end of their tether before they ask  for help. I did. I called Keratane but they didn’t get back to me, so I called in a baby whisperer. Sleep Angels offered many services but I had the head honcho, the Arc Angel Genevieve, herself come and chat to me. And that’s all it was. We talked for an hour and a half and in two days D Man was sleeping through until 4am. In another week we were all sleeping until 6.30-7am. It was pretty easy for us, and I hear some people do it tougher, but after a few short days life looks better and those bags the size of an elephants arse on your face can pack up and, finally, go.

I asked Genevieve how a baby whisperer differs from Keratane or Tresillian.

“Baby whisperers coach you through personally tailored techniques for your family. My techniques are not only based on current infant literature, but also my work with hundreds of familes. For success in getting on track with sleeping you need to start something you are comfortable with. If you can’t bear to hear your baby cry for even a few minutes then controlled crying is not going to work for you. If your Mum looks after bub 3 days a week and wants to hold your little one the whole time they sleep, then trying to get bub to sleep in their cot the other days is going to be very difficult if Tresillian has told you that’s what you must do! If you are sleep deprived you are already likely to be emotionally vulnerable, relationships can be tense, time to yourself can be non existent and everything can seem too hard. Talking to someone who is going to listen, as well as offer practical (easy to take on through the fog!) advice, that sits comfortably with your personal parenting beliefs can just the help you need.’

If you’re struggling with sleep, and you’re losing your marbles, I have two pieces of advice for you. Firstly, ask for help, and keep asking for help if you need to. It doesn’t have to be costly. There are many community and private but just someone understanding what you’re going through is priceless, and secondly, try to remember that it won’t last forever……but the job lasts forever. In the blink of an eye, you’ll be sitting up in your dressing gown, an hour after curfew, ready to ring their little necks.

Note : This is not a sponsored post. I truly think Sleep Angel saved my bacon and I would like to sing it from the roof tops! If you want to ‘like’ Sleep Angel on Facebook (here) there are weekly tips on sweet, sweet, sleep.

Food for Big People, Snacks and other goodies

Mountain Meet Mohammad – Salt Butter Caramel Ice Cream

June 25, 2012

Once upon a time Mister H and I had a life.
Of course, we still have a life, but in the words of a great philosopher, ‘It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it’.

Our old life was situated in a cool inner city suburb with cracking views. We had friends that we met out a couple of times a week for dinners and cocktails and I’d laugh at my own jokes for hours. We could pop out for dinner any night of the week, and pick up milk (and a hooker or some crack) on a street corner 24 hours a day.

Of all the things that have fallen by the wayside, I don’t miss the bars, not at all. Nor do I miss the restaurants, well, not really. Ok, maybe a little bit. I look back fondly at the people left behind and I feel a hint of nostalgia, but I don’t miss our old neighbourhood……except when it comes to Messina.
Messina is an ice cream shop in Darlinghurst. We used to live a 15 minute walk away, and I used that walk as an excuse to get a big ass double scoop.
My very first experience with Messina was the Pear and Rhubarb Gelato. It really tasted just as the name suggested and I fell head over heels in love with the autumnal flavours of the summery ice cream. It was the beginning of a passionate affair. Initially, I couldn’t go beyond that one flavour but the specials board, changed weekly, enticed me to stray from my first love…. There was ‘Elvis, The Fat Years’ – Banana Cake in a Peanut Butter Ice cream with Strawberry jelly swirl. That shit would give you a heart attack on the toilet fo’ shizz.
Coconut and Pandan, Rose Water and Pistachio, Passionfruit Pavlova, Poached Figs in Marsala, the mouth watering list goes on and on……and then, one day, they made Salt Caramel and White Chocolate Chip.

Anyway, this got me to fantasising about flavours that I would concoct and I decided I needed to get me an ice cream machine. Pronto.
Raspberry White Chocolate was a fail….Lemon and Elderberry Sorbet? Ballsed it….then I cracked it.
Chai was a roaring success, as was Liquorice. Turkish Delight was indeed delightful, Apricot Coconut was a garden party in your mouth….then I put my ice cream machine away on a shelf and forgot about it.

Until now. That Salt Caramel Ice cream has been on my mind, so I thought the only way to get my hands on it, was make it. I thought winter was as good a time as any to get cracking and make some seriously bad-for-you goodness. I based this on a David Lebovitz recipe….. next time I would use only half the praline as it all melted and created a caramel sauce in the bottom that is SERIOUS! Not bad, just SERIOUS!

 Yield (did anyone other than my mum notice I’ve been misspelling yield?)  : 1 litre

Because of the caramel content in this ice cream, it’ll remain softer than usual. To make it firmer, crank up your freezer a bit or store it in a shallow container.

For the caramel praline – 

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, such as Maldon Sea Salt

For the ice cream custard – 

2 cups whole milk, divided
1½ cups sugar
4 tablespoons (60 gr) salted butter
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup  heavy cream
5 large egg yolks, 0r 6 medium
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the caramel praline, put ½ cup of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, heavy duty saucepan.
Put some baking paper on a flat baking tray. Heat the sugar over a medium heat until the edges begin to melt. Gently stir the edges to the middle until it has all dissolved. Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn.
You need to take it a little further than you think to ensure a rich caramel flavour. It won’t take long.
Without hesitation, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring, then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it to get a nice, thin layer.

ACHTUNG!! Be careful – I spilt a wad of it, and tried to catch it. It’s hot and it sticks. Set aside to harden and cool.

To make your ice cream custard, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 1.5 litres) over the ice, pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl to chill.
Spread ½ cup sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method as before. Once it’s started melting, add the rest of the sugar bit by bit. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go.
The caramel may get a bit chunky and sticky, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted.
Stir in 1 cup of the milk.
Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Pour the custard into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Pop into your ice cream machine and churn as per directions.

While the ice cream is churning, break the hardened caramel praline into millions of little bits. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.

Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they’re intended to do – unless you’re me and they all sink to the bottom and create a bed of goo.

 ‘We dare not trust our wit for making our house pleasant to our friend, so we buy ice cream’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ramblings of a Suburban Urbanite

Smacks of Shame

June 23, 2012

When D Man is trying to work something out, sometimes he gets really frustrated and that makes him angry (I’d like to think he gets it from his Dad but this post may lead you believe otherwise). This can result in him throwing whatever he’s playing with, crying or yelling, and sometimes he hits himself in the head (I know, right?). When I see this happening I gently say to him –

Be cool, Bubba. Take a deep breath and work it out. Don’t lose your cool because you can’t think straight.

The other day we were in the parking lot and I was trying to get him strapped into his seat. KiKi was crying in her seat and wanted to be fed. We were only five minutes from home and I was trying to get us all home quickly. D Man didn’t want me to do up his seat belt and he was really pushing my buttons. I asked nicely, but he continued. I spoke firmly, still he pushed my hands and kicked out at me, whining and fussing. I didn’t keep my cool.
Not at all. In fact, I smacked him. I slapped him on the leg hard enough that it would have stung like a bitch. He was first shocked and then confused, and then his little face creased up and he bawled, and bawled.
I felt so bad. Simply awful. How could I, the person who has vowed to protect this little person, wilfully hurt my baby?

I apologised for not keeping my cool, and for smacking him. I kissed his tears and I told him that mummy was trying to get home quickly and he was making it difficult for me and it made me cross.
He cried all the way home.
I felt terrible. I don’t want to be that mum, that cannot reason or keep calm and resorts to lashing out. The guilt and shame I felt was awful.

Before I had kids I was fairly ambivalent on the smacking issue. I generally thought that if a child was being naughty then a little slap was ok. Open hand, on the legs or the back of the hand – it’s not a biggie. I was raised with a slap here and there, on the back of the legs. My brother was raised with considerably more slaps but that’s because he wasn’t as wily as me when it came to being naughty.
Our parents’  generation was raised with serious corporal punishment as it was still ok in schools in those days, and apparently those old nuns and brothers were quite evil and very fast to take out their frustrations on little bottoms or hands. By the time I hit school only the principal could dole out six of the best and that was a pretty rare thing, and from memory, this was abolished by the time I was in high school. Obviously, the cane is a far cry from a slap on the knee, but the concept is the same.
Teaching children right from wrong using force, rather than smarts.
Some people would argue that the ‘system’ has gone too far now and we coddle our children. “I was smacked into submission, and I turned out ok”….but times have changed. Not least because your kid can now set DOCS on you, sue you and divorce you, but because we live in a more emotionally aware age.

I have smacked D Man once or twice before. The first time I did I vowed not to do it again, as it hurt my heart more than it hurt him and I don’t think it truly made that much of a difference. He’s a toddler and he’s pushing boundaries to learn where he fits and what he can get away with.
But I did do it again.
How can I teach my child that violence is not the answer if I myself resort to it in frustration?
How will my child learn that it’s not ok to hit other children in the playground if he get’s smacked at home?

I’m finding my patience is thinner than ever right now, what with the lack of sleep and not enough arms to stay on top of everything, so now is the time that I really need to dig deep, more than ever I need to just say to myself-

Be cool, Mama. Take a deep breath and work it out. Don’t lose your cool because you can’t think straight.

Food for Big People, Food for Little People, Snacks and other goodies, Snacks and other goodies

Boot Camp and DateCocoBana Loaf

June 21, 2012

So, I’ve mentioned that Mister H is all, like, triathlon-tabulous and stuff, and I’ve noticed that there has been some rather positive changes in his physique over the last few months, i.e. he looks quite good, like va-va-va-voom quite good.
He’s lean, he’s ripped and he’s really, ridonkulously, fit, you know, if you like that kind of thing. As I sat on the couch eating my ice-cream the other night, I thought perhaps it was time I got back into some form of exercise regime. Although I was a keen workerer outerer before my pregnancy, hip issues prevented much athleticism during my second and third trimester, not even much walking was allowed, so I think we could safely say I’m a little on the pleasantly soft side. My belly is rivalling my cat’s dangly pouch, however, I did just make a person, so pouchy tummies are totally a go-go. It lies beside me when I lie on my side and I’m considering giving it a name. Perhaps, something cute like Waldo.

Yesterday morning was the morning. After a 5 month hiatus, I fished my trainers from the back of the cupboard, donned an appropriate ensemble (think ‘Flo Jo goes ghetto’) and I went to boot camp. For anyone considering doing the same, let me advise you – don’t……or at least if you do, heed your trainer’s advice when she suggests (multiple times) that you take it easy first day back after creating a human being. Someone we know, who shall remain nameless (but is currently typing this with voice command, like Stephen Hawkings, as she is too sore to support her laptop) disregarded said advice. That same someone may today be having extreme difficulty bending, sitting, lifting, walking or indeed, laughing. Which she would do, at herself, if it wasn’t so painful.

It’s such a double edged sword, isn’t it? I know it’s good for me, and, hell, it even feels great at the time – Blood’s pumping, heart is in gear, face is turning beetroot, and pits are springing a leak. You feel alive! This is how humans felt before we became sedentary, ice-cream-on-couch-loving, non hunters. My once strong arms are decidedly T Rex like in their pathetic-ness, and in the aftermath of boot cramp I’m scarcely able to lift my t-shirt over my head. Luckily, I don’t have to go back until friday, when I get to do it all again.

I was feeling most abstemious (and ravenous) after my workout and decided I deserved a teeny, little reward……what I really wanted was a big, fat gooey something naughty, but I opted for something that would satisfy my craving and not undo my good work. Hence the DateCocoBana loaf was born. I used barely any sugar as the dates and banana provide sweetness, and I used half wholemeal so, really, it’s practically a piece of lettuce and perfect for the regime.
Now I just need to get in there and eat it before the boys finish it off. 

Yield : 1 loaf

You will need :

  • 2 over ripe bananas, smooshed with a fork
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (or whatever you have)
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 50g butter, melted and cooled
  • 125 g dates, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Pre-heat over to 180C. Line your loaf tin.

In a small bowl, add orange juice to your dates and leave to soak for 20 mins. Throw your flours, baking powder and coconut into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and make a little well in the centre. Place your eggs, milk, banana and melted butter into a separate bowl and stir until all is well combined. Add your date mixture. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Give it a good stirring until just combined. Spoon into your loaf tin and pop in the oven. Cook until a skewer comes out clean (do not test in a crack), about 40 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack. Spread a slab with butter and pat yourself on the back.

Ramblings of a Suburban Urbanite

Addicted to iPhone? Sure as Apples.

June 18, 2012

I love my iPhone, I don’t know how I ever lived without it, so please bear that in mind as I type this treasonous, indeed sacrilegious, sentence…..I curse the iPhone revolution. Petewy (that’s me spitting in the dirt all dramatically and stuff).

When Mister H and I first started dating he thought I was really smart. I knew so much about so many subjects. I was dazzling, I was fascinating, I was interesting, but then it happened. He got an iPhone. You see, the problem is I am a shameless embellisher…..more than that, I remember tiny snippets of info from an article I read 100 years ago (or so, you know how it is) and I fill in my own blanks. I know a lot about a few subjects, and I know a bit about many subjects and often, when posed with a question rather than responding ‘I don’t know’, I’ll draw a little on said knowledge, a little on logic, a lot on fairy dust, and I’ll just make something up.

It’s not lying. Most of the time it’s sounds right, to my ears anyway, so it practically is the truth……but now? Now?

Now, Mister H has stinking Google in his pocket. Petewy.

We all do….and Facebook, and iTunes, and Angry Birds, and Fruit Ninja, and eBay, and Pinterest, and Ask The Cheesemonger, and, and, and about 500,000 (not an embellishment) other apps available through the Apple Store, and other leading Smartphones are not far behind, if they’re not ahead (which means I don’t know and I’m making it up). I personally have cut down on my Facebook time. I now only check it about 500 times a day, and don’t even ask about my blog statistics. Since I gave up the bathroom scales, it appears I’ve merely transferred my numbers obsession.

I recently read an article entitled ‘Are you really there for your kids or are you on your iPhone?’. Doesn’t take a genius to work out what it was about, but it really highlighted how in the ‘olden days’ when people were out playing with their kids in the park, they were totally 100% present, and now people seem to be on their phones. I denied it for it second and then realised hells yeah, I’m on that damn phone all the time. It’s practically attached to my hand like some android appendage. Is it habit left over from when I was working, or am I just bored? I certainly don’t have any pressing emails to check daily. I’m hardly going to be getting an invitation to Parliament, or a notification of a lotto win so I probably could do with checking it only once a day. Maybe twice.

I was talking to a young mum I know and do you know what she said to me?
NO PHONE???????
How ever do people contact her at inopportune moments? A phone trilling in the silent room as you try to settle a baby, a distant ring making you speed pee….. she simply isn’t living!!!
It was delightfully refreshing to hear her say ‘right now I’m here talking to you, and I’ll be home soon enough if I’m needed’.
Man, to be honest, it made me want to take my delightfully refreshed self over to my bag and check my phone in case anything important had come in in the half hour.

It doesn’t end there though. I’m not proud to admit this but I have a sneaking suspicion that am I not alone when I say, of an evening, after dinner (probably eaten on the couch in front of the tv), Mister H and I may well be guilty of multiple phones and computers on the go. After a brief discussion about our day (I probably did some washing, went to the park and the supermarket…..yawn. He went to work and did some stuff  and stuff with this program that something something to do something…..I’m usually gone about there) we dive feet first into the sticky world wide web and often, barely talk. That’s terrible! What happened to us??? Were we always so……..boring???

Has it happened to you too? Have you fallen victim to the ‘revolution’ of technology?
This week, and from here on in, I vow to clear a space on the dining table and eat with my husband, music on, tv off, at least twice a week. We will have dinner conversation, no matter how boring, and we will make an effort……hell, who knows what it might lead to?
He might help with the washing up.

Dinner, Dinner, Food for Big People, Food for Little People, Lunch, Lunch

Tragic Love and Chicken Soup Remedy

June 17, 2012

I’ve dated some truly prized dicks in my time. I’m not referring to appendages, but to appalling character. I never purposely intended to date penises, but it would appear that I have shown some rather poor judgment of character in my past. I wish someone had have told 18 year old me that bad boys were a fool’s pastime. Being a know-all, I doubt I would have listened, but that’s by the by.
I reckon the contenders for the Top 3 All Time Most Shithouse Boyfriend would have to be as follows :

Mr Double Jeopardy
Oh, my Lordy, this guy was a great player. He had a whole double life goin’ on. It must have been fairly bloody exhausting for the poor chap, in retrospect, as I know that maintaining one relationship is hard enough work, so cultivating two high maintenance ladies for a year, one of whom (me) he co-habited with, probably entitles him to some kind of award. He was also incredibly industrious with a secret career as a drug dealer. I would have loved the opportunity to agree to be the Bonnie to his Clyde, but alas, I was ‘that woman’ who has no idea what’s going on right under her nose. I dare say that if he did receive an award it should definitely consist of a monstrous pair of brass balls mounted on a plaque, because that’s what he needed to pull off such a feat of duplicity. Anyway, it ended spectacularly with a suicide attempt (his, not mine), and a stint in therapy (mine, not his). The truth of the matter is, he was probably so exhausted from his ruse that he just wanted to sleep the eternal sleep. His family whisked him away and I never saw him again.

The Greek Hitler
I thought this dude was so cool. He had a 1960’s Dodge, and a ’50’s BMW motorbike. He wore cowboy boots and vintage leather jackets, and worked in a nightclub. I moved into his pad within two weeks and strapped in for a fairly fast and furious roller coaster ride of mind bending. Some people just love power play, and this cat could have powered the grid to the whole Eastern Suburbs. He was so damned controlling. If he played guitar like he played me, he would have been a cross between Hendrix and Slash but without the ‘fro.
My mum came to stay and saw the whole embarrassing lot and very subtly left him a note when she departed. It read ‘Do not try to clip the little bird’s wings, as she’s just learning to fly’. Then, she not-so-subtly told me she thought he was a dick.
God bless that woman. I bought a one way ticket to the UK.

Mr Anger Management Fail
Holy guacamole, this dude had a temper! Once he flipped his shit he couldn’t control himself and I stupidly stayed with him for a year and a half. WTF was I thinking? I was young, he was sexy, and he told me I was nothing without him…and I believed him for a minute. The dichotomy about this charming fellow was that he made a cracking farmhouse style chicken soup. Ironic, huh? Chicken soup is hailed as the most nurturing of all liquid meals and this thunderous lad was about as nurturing as Hurricane Katrina. He made this soup by boiling chicken wings and adding some veges and there was something so wholesome about it that even though we broke up with a very loud bang, I still thought about his soup. It was so long ago but over the years I tweaked the formula and now I have a winning recipe.
So much so, that recently a girlfriend of mine said she could eat this soup every day for the rest of her life.
I’d actually like to dedicate today’s post to her. Not only has she known me throughout all of these tumultuous dalliances of my twenties, before I hit the jackpot with my Mister Right, but she has just bought home twin baby miracle girls. Her husband has been away for two weeks, and she has coped magnificently, even coming to visit me in the ‘burbs, two 15-week-olds in tow, and freshly washed and blow dried hair. Ah-may-zing!

Now you have the recipe, my dear friends, go forth and eat this soup every day of your life.

Read the recipe through first as I kind of do the stocky bit first so as to not get soggy vegetables.

Yield : a big pot full

You will need :

  • 1 kilo chicken legs, skin on
  • 2 litres chicken stock
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped, but with the tops and leaves left whole
  • 1 leek, white part only, chopped, the green top part left whole
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • a small handful of fresh thyme (2 teaspoons-ish dried if it’s all you have)
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1 potato, skin on and chopped
  • a handful of beans, cut into 1/3

Throw your onion, celery tops and leek top into a big heavy based pot with a little oil. When they’re all fragrant, add your chicken legs and just start to get them a little browned. You don’t need to brown all of them all over, we’re just starting a little caramelisation process to release the sweetness of the veg and the yumminess of the chicken. Add your stock and your barley, throw in your thyme and bay leaves and pop on a lid for about an hour or until the chicken is coming away from the bone.
Using a slotted spoon, pull out the celery tops and leek and disgard. Put the chicken into a separate bowl and allow to cool.
Pop your potato into the soup and allow to cook for 5 minutes before adding the rest of your vegetables excluding the beans. The beans go in in the final three minutes so they keep a little al dente. Pick your chicken meat and add to pot.
If you want to skim the fat off, you can either refrigerate it until the next day so it;s all on the top, or you can lay a piece of kitchen roll on the top of the soup and it absorbs into the paper……I just eat it. Fat equals flavour…..sorry, Michelle Bridges.
Season to taste. Serve with crusty bread.

I like to add lemon juice and Tabasco to mine.

Dinner, Food for Little People, Lunch

A Chicken Leg? Sesame Drumsticks

June 13, 2012

I’ve got a funny story about drumsticks….it’s pretty crass but cracks me up whenever I think of it. Do not read this if easily offended by bottom humour.

I was telling my girlfriend, who shall remain nameless, the story of how Dirty Sanchez (the butthead guys that do dumb stuff, like Jackass but more revolting and idiotic) did this crazy thing where two of them stuck a drum stick up their butts and then had a ‘sword fight’ and whomever lost their drum stick first, had to lick the other one’s. Gross. Awful.
I was relaying the story and my friend looked confused.
‘A chicken leg?’ she queried.
‘No, babe, a drum stick’ was my reply.
‘Oh, an ice cream.’

I laughed so hard I nearly wet my pants.

Anyway, unlike this M15 rated story, this is a recipe that is purely for the kids, or anyone who rates a drumstick. That said, this marinade is awesome on any cut of chicken and I have even been known to marinate salmon in it, before bbqing it.

D Man loves a drumstick, a chicken leg that is, not to be confused with anything else. This is one of those easy ‘go to’ meals that I know he’ll eat. I pick most of the meat off for him, but let him gnaw on the bone like some mini-caveboy.
I learned recently that if you marinate your meat in a zip lock back (with air removed) it only takes a fraction of the time. Handy, hey? If you have zip lock bags it is, otherwise, just do it the normal way and leave it for a bit longer.

Yield : 4 drumsticks

You will need :

  • 4 chicken drumsticks (or whatever cut of chicken you like)
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 heaped tablespoon honey
  • juice and rind of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1cm ginger, finely chopped (not pictured)
  • sesame seeds to sprinkle

Combine soy, honey, juice, sesame oil and ginger in a zip-lock bag with the drumsticks and marinate for 20 minutes.
Put chicken onto a tray lined with baking paper and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Place tray in a medium oven (180Cish) for 30-35mins or until chicken is cooked.

So easy……..

Parenting, Ramblings of a Suburban Urbanite

The Paternal Short Stick.

June 11, 2012

I seem to be writing a lot of baby related stuff lately….I hope to God I don’t become one of those people that always talks about their babies but I really haven’t been doing that much to fuel the inspiration. Mister H and I had gastro in the week and I really must draw the line at blogging about diarrhoea. So, if you’re thinking ‘oh crap, she’s about to bang on about her kids again’ then perhaps every time I use the words baby, offspring or any other child related word then just replace it with something like gorilla, or chinchilla. Should spice it up for you.

Has anyone noticed what an endless, thankless task it is looking after a newborn (gorilla/chinchilla)? It can’t just be me. Surely.

I would liken it to having a rock band come and stay in your boutique hotel. There’s all night raging that disturbs the other guests (management gets plenty of complaints but our hands are tied!). Piles of washing for housekeeping, all of it with incredibly suspect looking stains and no word of apology. You have out of hours ordering of room service with not one single tip, hell, I haven’t even got a smile for my troubles yet. This goes on for seemingly endless days, that turn into weeks that meld into months.

Once your offspring begins to smile, it definitely gets a bit better. There’s an acknowledgment that they remember that you’re that safe, warm lady with the yummy jubblies stuffed in your top. By the time you hear a giggle, you’re so grateful for some interaction it feels like you’ve had a revelatory discussion about quantum physics. All I can say, really, is that Mother Nature had a smashing idea when she gave us oxytocin. That sweet, sweet, mild stone that comes over me as my baby (don’t use gorilla here, too weird) suckles at my breast makes everything go soft focus and I forget about all the poo smeared onesies glaring at me from the laundry floor. Thankfully, it lasts for a little while, too, so 10 minutes later when that same milk projectiles a la The Exorcist, I can coo and purr at my little one rather than gag as I wipe the yoghurt mess from my hair.

I think the first 6 months is really tough gig on the Dad side of things. They aren’t blessed with boobs (man boobs do not count for anything in this equation, or any equation, except perhaps The Biggest Loser), they don’t get the gushy hormone rush, so when there’s a red faced, toothless, shit monster screaming in their face, it’s a little daunting to say the least. As the Mama Bear, if all our shooshing, rocking and patting fails, we can pull out a nork and everything is calm again (we pray), but Dad’s don’t have a fail safe fall back plan. In those early stages of eat/sleep/poo and do it all again, it would be understandable if Dad’s felt a little left out because the baby is really not that interested in that old, flat chested dude. I mentioned I was thinking of popping out for a couple of hours and leaving the sproglets behind. His eyes filled with terror, and I could smell his fear. I took the little one and left the boys to do Big Boy Things in the garden. The sigh was audible two suburbs away.

I can’t speak for all fathers, of course, but I see Mister H’s big man hands trying to wrangle this floppy, squalling creature and I think perhaps it doesn’t look quite as natural as when he’s wrestling D Man on the grass, carrying him upside down by one leg or pinning him down to blow raspberries on his wriggling tummy (pfff, I just envisaged him wrestling and raspberry-ing a gorilla belly). I think the mere fact that the woman grows the little person and expels it from her body creates an instant bond, whereas fathers have to grow the actual bond. It can take time to form a relationship, especially with someone demanding who just lays around and craps their pants.

It does grow, though, into a beautiful thing to behold. In the meantime, I’ll just top of my oxytocin with a glass of wine and get a double buzz on. Chin chin, and all that!