kitchen disasters

I’m a keen cook, I love trying new recipes, watching food programs, looking at mags – I just love spending time in the kitchen. And I reckon I’m pretty good. But I’m not great at desserts. I don’t really enjoy making them either. I’d rather make savoury meals.  Sweet or savoury, there have been a few disasters.
I haven’t taken photos of them,once I’m over the disappointment, I hide them as fast as I can. So today I’m going to fess up!

1. A gorgeous chocolate and vanilla zebra cheesecake was featured on the beautiful ‘Not quite Nigella’ blog some time ago. Ah, I love, love, love baked cheesecakes. Yep, I’m making this baby. A friend was visiting and I was in a bit of a rush to go to the beach but I pulled it together and popped it in the oven. Something didn’t feel right and it didn’t look right. I looked around my kitchen and re-read the recipe, shit, I forgot to put the sugar in! Can you imagine how foul a chocolate and vanilla baked cheese tastes like? Even the dog wasn’t too keen on eating this one. Fail!

2. I had some green prawns and wanted to make a coconutty creamy curry.  I don’t know what went wrong (maybe not following a recipe is where I went wrong) but somehow the spice combination was all wrong It was an indo-thai fusion that did not work – on any level.. Poor prawns, sorry you had to die for such a disaster!!

20130818_211755So recently, I was home alone on a sunday night and decided to make some banana muffins.  And, I thought I wouldn’t use a recipe, I’ll just see how it goes.  All good, the batter looked nice, I popped them in the oven and started to wash up.  I had the mixing bowl in the sink and decided to have a taste of the batter.  Oh oh, thats weird, they taste a bit hot. Another taste and it got hotter.  What the f….. And then I looked around my kitchen.  I love cinnamon so I  put in a really generous amount.  Except it wasn’t cinnamon, it was cayenne pepper.

20130818_213356The next morning I gave some to my neighbours, took some to work and saved some for the gorgeous M.  And guess what, the menfolk loved them.  My neighbour said they were the best banana muffins he’d ever tasted.  Sweet and salty (think salted caramel in desserts) maybe de rigueur at the moment but, if you love a bit of hotness in your food, give the cayenne a go.

Have you got any kitchen disasters you need to fess up?  Or disasters that became hits?

Censoring the selfie

So i woke today looking like the daughter of the elephant man. One eye was reduced to a watery slit encased in a swollen, angry eye socket. So instead of flying to Townsville today, spending the evening at a lovely hotel, going out for dinner with colleagues tonight, I’ve stayed at home all day, except for am emergency dash to my doctor and a pharmacy. Incognito.

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We wake early in these parts so I had plenty of time to take numerous selfies of my disgusting eyeball plus do some self diagnosis. My local GP clinic opens at 8am so I had plenty of time to imagine the worst, look at myself alot and of course utilise the ‘real life’ medical skills I  learnt on House to come up with a cracking diagnosis.  We all know how much our doctors love us when we come in with a mystery illness but have a plethora of possibilities. No Lydia, you were not bitten by a tzetze fly!

I work at a Uni, I know about evidence based practice, health search engines etc.but oh no, in times of personal health crises, there is only Google.  So After searching various words like watery, swollen and eye sockets I spent about half an hour dry wretching and totally grossing myself out looking at images.  Yep, you guessed it, top of the self diagnosis list was ‘pink eye’.  Thanks South Park for bringing this word into my vernacular.  The other fun one was the ‘stye’. There is a medical name for this, but I’ve already forgotten it.  Wasn’t relevant to me, no need to store that in my limited memory bank.

I was pretty sure it was an allergic reaction, it happened really quickly, like about 10 seconds after taking my contacts out before bed.  Dur you say,a good non-doctor always considers all possibilities dear Watson.  But what did I react to?  Naturally I have discussed this topic ad nauseaum with every person I have encountered today.  2 people said shellfish – omg we had prawns for dinner last last and I stabbed myself badly in the finger whilst peeling those spiky buggers.  But we eat prawns like all the time!  I caught 2 moths last night (as an aside, have you noticed that moths only nibble on the nicest fabrics?), I do the catch and release method with a quick dash outside, no kissing and one of them was particularly crumbly.  He left alot of moth dust on my fingers. Have you ever heard of a moth reaction?  No jokes please about the butterfly effect, all over that one.  Other than that, the night was normal.  The wine I had had the night before, a strong cuppa and a piece of kitkat before bed, nothing out of the ordinary.

So back to the title, should I share my disgusting selfies?  I always take photos of myself at my worst, I just never publish them. I always show them to the Gorgeous M, he has a razor sharp sense of humour and is merciless – laughing in the face of imminent death is always a good potion. I usually send them to my glamorous sister (accompanied by a death threat if ever she thinks about sharing it) and friends at work, but I just haven’t had the guts to put them on this glorious blog (as read by about 10 peoples).  Last year I cracked a front crown (front tooth) and the day the dentist drilled off the old crown and revealed the little stump of remaining tooth I made him stop so I could get a few selfies.I even brought props with me to the dental clinic.  He thought I was nuts and kindly hoped that I would never need to return.  I revenged him but, I have a new nicer dentist thank you very much, ha I say!  Don’t ever cross me, I will run and hide from you.

So dear readers, do you self diagnose, are you a hypochondriac and what do you think I may have reacted to?

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Easter Eggs

I thought about eggs alot on Easter Sunday.  And not just the chocolate ones.  I’m very passionate about eggs and decided that it was time for a serious post.  A post on why we should never eat cage eggs.  And then last night on a sunday night program the plight of meat chooks was raised and I knew this post had to be written.  This ain’t gonna be a fun post so feel free to log off now.

The program last night focussed on the issues of humanity.  Do you want to eat chickens that were borne solely to be killed so that we can eat them?  A life with no purpose other than fast growth for human consumption.  And a life lived in a stressful, crowded, dirty environment with no sunlight, no fresh air and the odd dead carcass in the room. Now I’m a softie and a bit silly about animals but I’m sure that most humans living in developed nations like Australia have had a meaningful relationship with an animal.  If you’ve ever loved a dog, cat, horse, guinea pig etc. please have a thought about chickens.

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These were my first three hens, bought as day old chicks in 2006.  The top hen was brave, friendly and really funny.  She looked after her little flock, going so far as to peck my dog on the head if he ever got too close.  She’d puff herself up, hold out her wings and charge him.  A quick peck on the head and he’d back off terrified. They were fun to watch from a comfortable spot on the back deck and great company whenever I did some gardening.  I quickly learnt that each bird had her own personality and they expressed a range of reactions (maybe not emotions?).  To see a hen totally blissed out having a dust bath and lying on her side in the sunshine.  Or the squawk of joy when catching a fat worm.  So in return for the beautiful eggs they produced for me I felt that they deserved a life that would be deemed good for a chook.

This is Pineapple, one of my current hens.  She’s the best looker I’ve ever owned and cannot be contained.  I’ve clipped her wings as low as you can go, but still she can fly.  So she often flies over to the neighbours for some nice grass or goes next door to set up a secretive nest. This chook won’t lay eggs in a nesting box, of no, she has a need for secretive spots where hopefully her eggs will remain hidden.  And once you discover her nest (often with over a dozen eggs in it), she will move it to the next secret location.

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So perhaps you don’t give a s..t about the life of a chook, so may we begin a discussion about health.  Cheap chicken is shit chicken.  I’ve said it, thats just my opinion.  Now when humans want to be healthy they eat good food, exercise, sleep enough, get fresh air, learn how to manage stress etc.  And this effort results in a body that hopefully has some lean muscle, strong bones, not too much fat and is disease free.  So  what about the health of birds that are overfed a diet of processed feed, never get to stretch their wings or run around, that live in an artificially lit environment and are constantly stressed?  They are obese and would probably die young of disease if they were allowed to live beyond 6 weeks of age.  I know that I don’t want to eat obese, unhealthy chicken meat.  The risk of meat borne poisoning are so much higher too when animals are crowded, living in their own excrement and their flesh has wounds/skin ulcers etc. on it.  As do these mass produced birds.

So please have a think about 2 things (sorry for being so preachy today, I promise my next post will be light hearted) – don’t support cage eggs, buying those cheap eggs keeps the industry alive and they are probably crappy eggs.  The chickens live a crappy life so their eggs can’t be anything but crappy.  For the sake of a couple of dollars, it just isn’t worth it.  And finally, if you can, please buy less cheap chicken.  I realise that not every one can afford free range or organic chicken, but if you ate less of the cheap shit, producers wouldn’t need to produce so much of it. The stats on tv last night stated that the average person eats 1kg of chicken per week.  Yikes, no wonder so many people have chronic disease.

Happy Easter and enjoy some chocolate xx

A perfect morning

Friday was just one of those perfect mornings.  Most mornings aren’t like this, but this one was great so I’d love to share it with you.

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Woke around 5.30am, the gorgeous M was stirring and the waves were pumping.  We had 3 days of really good swell and there was an air of joy amongst the surfing community.  For days the beach front was  lined with onlookers, surfers full of anticipation and wave by wave stories being told.  He snuck out with board under his arm just as his mini-me woke up. We had breakfast, did his homework reading, made his lunch and went down to get a coffee.  Mini M played in the park whilst I sipped my beautiful coffee and watched the waves with one eye and him with the other.  Not a good look!

We had a chat with Leigh in the newagency, Big Mark stopped by with a coffee for a chat, Stu the surfing yogi was there, friends from bookclub strolled by, it was just one of those lovely mornings when no one was in a hurry.  All this and it was only about 7.30am.  The gorgeous M came out of the surf, all happy and relaxed, I handed him his coffee and we walked home ready for our day to start.  I want to cherish the good ones, try not to forget them and remember to enjoy the simple pleasures of beachside living.  (espec now – it hasn’t stopped raining for days and everything is sodden)

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What the f… is that about?

Are there things in your life that you just don’t understand? Like ‘the workers’? Where I live, pretty much every night around 7.20pm these people come onto my telly – one is holding a teddy bear, one is dressed like a fireman, one talks all muffled fafa fafa fafaa fa, and then someones translated ‘don’t forget to brush your teeth’. And they sing a really bad song ‘time to go  to bed’. Now I watch my fair share of kids tv but I still have no idea.  Who are these people??

Next – what is the go with ‘baby on board’ signs in cars?  Now mums, I’m not having a go, I just don’t get it! Are we supposed to drive differently because of your baby on board?  Like I normally ram cars up the bum.  Or is it just a proud statement – I’m a mum and I have a baby?  Maybe its a warning to us – my driving is crap because I’m sleep deprived, this baby won’t stop crying and I can’t remember where I’m going?  I really don’t get the purpose.  My 80 year old father lost his license last year and he could well have done with an ‘elderly gent driving’ sign on his car.  A community service for all.

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And whats the go with vegetarian sausages.  If you’re a vegetarian, are you supposed to like vegetables, not sausages?

Are there things in your life you just don’t understand?  Do you have any answers for me?  Please, I’d love to read your comments.

Stepping out of the comfort zone

This post is in honour of St Valentines day and it may get a little racy, so if you are likely to take offence, please log off now.  Its all being written in good humour, so hopefully you may have a giggle.

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I’ve been reading a few blogs around the topic of love this week and thankfully, there are many happy, joyful married women in the blogosphere.  But nary a mention of passion have I heard.  In fact, many women have written about the less than passionate married lives they lead, but they are nevertheless happy and thankful.  And this feeling I totally understand. Laundry, dishes, demanding kids, work stress, finances, more dishes, more meals to cook, shopping blah blah blah blah – who’s feeling sexy now – yup not me!

But, I’d like to challenge this idea. Do you enjoy a bodice ripping period drama?  Does Colin Firth as Mr Darcy get you all steamy?  Have you watched the BBC six episode Pride and Prejudice more than once and want to watch it again? Yes I hear- then ladies, I think your erogenous zones are strongly aroused by your grey matter and I’d like to share some ideas with you.  I have a lovely girlfriend who is categorically and undeniably a raunch bag.  And she’s proud of it.  So when I was recovering from my ‘raunch-less’ marriage and met the Gorgeous M, she gave me ideas aplenty.  Some I have tried, some are in the bag for another day, but we are 3 years in (and I realise this still represents early days) and I’m thrilled to say that the man still floats my boat big-time.  But the endorphin crazy, madly in lust stage is over and keeping the embers burning now requires a bit more effort.  But, the effort is worth it, its fun and helps to keep us really close.

Many of these suggestions require considerable planning, especially if you have children in the house.  They need to be worn out, fed and put to bed early.  And you need to choose a day/time when you’re not exhausted.  Okay so now its getting tricky!  And, you need to enter into this with a sense of adventure so you need to be brave and be prepared to feel a little silly.

I think that for women, mental titillation is perhaps the best foreplay.  So planning something fun/crazy/special becomes part of the foreplay, planning the outfit, getting your special man interested, all these elements become part of the fun.  And the  anticipation!  And alcohol to settle the nerves.  Having a willing man is also a big part of the plan and personally, I fully recommend the sending of a titillating text.  Let him know in advance that you have something special planned, be a little suggestive, a little mysterious.

Okay okay, I hear you, enough with the blathering, lets get on with it shall we.  So here are some ideas to rekindle the passion between you and your man.

Today I visited a shop called Honey Birdette (research dear reader, research).  There are a few in Brisbane and they are classy, saucy and relatively discreet.  Today was their version of christmas eve, the day before valentines day being their best day of the year.  And whilst I was perusing, the main customers were dudes buying presents for their ladies.  Lingerie and sex toys were sheepishly requested and the sexy sales team were happy to help.  Sexy lingerie is a no brainer but can be a bit awkward.  If you’re a bit shy, get the kids down, disappear to your boudoir and take your time getting ready.  But let you man know what you’re doing.  Leave him with a kiss and a drink ( a nip of vodka is fun) (have a nip yourself) and go get yourself ready.

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If thats not your thing, there are games you can buy.  There is a game that has been voted best adult game called Monogamy.  Its based on communication, takes a long time (the box says 90min) but finishes with the winner getting to choose their desired happy ending.  The sexy shop girl said that you need champagne and strawberries to play it.  There was another game at Honey Birdette based on fantasy (a bit more challenging) and one that was outright, no mucking about, straight to the action game.  I may have bought monogamy and I may review it another day ;-)

So how about some dress ups and role playing.  I will warn you, this takes guts and you may both laugh so hard that you wet your pants.  And not in the good way.  But you should have lots of fun, especially if your man takes his role seriously. You can buy sexy outfits online discreetly or from shops.  I’ve seen quite a range at a large bra shop (I think it was Bra’s n things) (explains what the things may mean) and they looked fun.

This idea sounds awesome to me but I haven’t found the right place (or time).  I think its from a movie.  Ask you man to meet you at a bar and to take a seat at the bar.  Come in a bit late but don’t sit with him and pretend you don’t know him.  Send him a drink via a waiter.  Tell the waiter you’d like the man to join you. Flirt outrageously with him.  Either wear something clingy, or no knickers or just wear a trench coat.  You know what I  mean!  You may find the whole bar watching you and its up to you to take it as far as you wish.  If you’re feeling really wild, sex in the car park is an option.

Okay, thats enough for one Valentines day, please let me know any great ideas you may have.  Or let me know how your valentines day/night went.

The good, the bad and the ugly

Hello 2013, so much for trying to post more often.  That’s one resolution out the window.

I’ve wanted to share so many things about my Christmas break (I had 10 days off work) but too much time has passed, too much wine was drunk and now I can’t remember all those things.  Perhaps editing via wine drinking is a good technique to spare you the boring details.  So I’m giving you a summary of some of the happenings of the last month.

The good:

The weather -thank you mother nature – although its been hot its been fantastic to have a non-raining summer. My little part of the world has come to life, the beaches are swarming with happy people, the BBQ’s have been getting a work out and its been so much fun.

Thank you santa for my new bike (yes I do sound like a child but my new bike is making me very happy)

my beautiful papillionaire bicycle

my beautiful papillionaire bicycle

The interesting

This year I got my Christmas ham in a somewhat unusual way.  No supermarket or butchers shop for me, I met with some fabulous organic pig farmers in the carpark of a train station – don’t believe me, check out this photo.  Faces were not shown, just bums (sorry Meg).  These are people who are passionate about food quality and animal welfare.  Their pigs get to spend alot of time foraging for food, eating the excess from their harvests, snuffling aorund in the dirt and simply enjoying life as a pig.  Time to maturity depends on many things – the quality of the crops, the natural cycle of growth of the animals, the weather etc.  Last year they didn’t have any hams for christmas as the pigs did not grow fast enough.  Not to worry, they sold easter hams.  This year the piggies were huge, much bigger than expected and the butchers had to get creative when cutting up sellable pieces of ham.  Thats nature and I love it.  The ham was amazing, beautiful texture, great flavour and I feel really lucky to enjoy such a special product.

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As we were driving off, the gorgeous M’s mini me asked ‘was that lady a real cowgirl?’

So now onto the The Bad

Food waste – sorry, close down now if you find this boring.  Last week new data indicated that half of the food produced in the world is thrown away!   Alot of produce simply doesn’t leave the farm because our multi national food companies have forced prices so low, the cost to the farmer is greater to get it to market than to trash it.  Just last year on the Sunshine coast hinterland my students visited a strawberry farm whilst in the process of trashing tonnes of strawberries.  It was a bumper crop year and the prices were so low that the farmers couldn’t make a profit by selling to large markets.  I remember one large multinational company selling strawberries last year  3 punnets for $5.  Okay so its great that a fruit is so affordable but its not great if its putting farmers out of business.  So what can we do – we can try to buy local and buy from farmers markets, roadside stalls or join a co-op that buys straight from farms.  Do some searching on the internet, there are so many ways to buy food and cut out the middle man. I got 10kg of grass fed beef delivered to my door over christmas from a mob called Bonnie Beef.These types of sellers are popping up all over the country.

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The second bad to this equation is food waste in the home.  2 out of every 6 bags of groceries bought is thrown away.  Thats your precious hard earned money going in the bin. So what can you do – try meal planning and maybe doing your shopping list at the same time.  Don’t impulsively buy a perishable (because its on sale ;-)) without considering if you will actually cook it or eat it.  Go through your vegetable crisper and make some meals to use up the vegetables that are starting to look sad.  Or juice them or make a big vegetable coup.  Or buy some chooks or learn how to compost properly or get a worm farm. I have a wise young friend who collects her childrens half eaten fruit (especially apples – you know what I’m talking about don’t you), cut off the bits they haven touched and freezes these scraps to use later.  You can stew the apples to put on porridge or through yoghurt etc.  I know, this is all boring and hard work but do you want to keep throwing your money away?  Think of all the pairs of shoes you could buy if you didn’t chuck 2 bags of food away each week/fortnight.

Sorry for being preachy, but its the big stuff that I care about.  Do you throw away alot of food or do you have some tricks that you use?

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