February 28, 2011

After school snack

 When three o'clock rolls around, I am guaranteed the same question every day...

"Mum I'm hungry.....can I have something to eat?"

The boys are starving everyday when they arrive home and I've gotta tell you, I almost could give them a big bowl of pasta just to tied them over until dinner time, but I don't want to encourage this type of behaviour until they hit their teens at least!

Looking for a healthy, quick and filling after school snack can be a real chore at times and quite frankly I get a bit sick of raiding the cupboards looking for snacks that are met with 'Is there anything else, that won't fill me'. I can't get mad because I remember feeling exactly the same way as a kid.
 It was only when mum and dad moved to Tassie and opened up the restaurant that I stopped complaining about the lack of food after school ( I also WAS a teenager by then and was quite happy to get my own snack and clean up after myself....something Alex is still trying to achieve), but that's OK as I have found the perfect snack AND I can pop in a few extra healthy bits they don't even know about.

My new banana and berry smoothie is packed with flavour, and fills them until dinnertime which is exactly what I want. I also add a tablespoon of Chia seeds for extra fibre and a bit more of an omega 3 hit. They both refuse to have it sprinkled over their cereal in the morning, so this is the perfect way to get it into their system without all the fuss.

So, if you are looking for a great afternoon pick me up for yourself or your kids then look no further, this is a fabulous one to make. Alex even asked me to take a photo of his finished glass......note the finger marks!

Berry and banana after school smoothie
1 banana, peeled
1/2 cup frozen berries
1/4 cup natural yogurt
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon Chia seeds
3 cups milk

Place everything into blender and blits for 20 seconds.
Pour into glasses and enjoy!

February 27, 2011


My local fruit and vegetable store is great fun to wonder around. The shelves and benches are stacked high with fresh, colourful fruit and vegetables on one side while the opposite has a massive array of local and imported cheeses. Along with theses cheeses are 101 different types of crackers, olive oils, vinegars, sugars, gourmet pastas etc.. And for all of us who love a bit of pickled herring, they have that too! Any of you who have never walked through a Harris Farm, I absolutely recommend it.

A friend of mine recently moved into the Sydney suburb of Manley, which in my opinion is one of the best places in Sydney. On one of my most recent visits I spotted the local Harris Farm and popped in for some fresh veggies for a lunch I was making.
 If I thought my local HF was impressive then this one blew my mind! I think it is one of the largest stores in Sydney. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it out on the same day as I arrived because I'd spotted an open, help yourself cheese fridge.
After trying every cheese on offer at lest three times I managed to peel myself away, stock up on the delicious Tassie Blue I was favouring then walk my way around to the freshly cut flowers and piles of fresh herbs. Whilst picking up some much needed basil I spotted a container of samphire. I have never cooked with this sea vegetable (not sure this is a real title for it?) but I have read about it often enough. I happily grabbed a container and then managed to divert my eyes to the floor until I made my way over to the cash register so I wouldn't add anymore 'extras' to my cart.

When it came to dinner the following night I was quite excited to saute the samphire with some fresh asparagus I had in the fridge. I had a roast pork in the oven and thought the salty sea flavours of the samphire would compliment it beautifully, especially if it was sauteed with a little butter and lemon.

Melting some butter in my wok I tossed in the samphire and cut asparagus. A sea fragrance permeated the air along with a lovely nut butter aroma. Once the asparagus and samphire got a little colour, I then squeezed in half a lemon, added a little cracked pepper then popped a lid on and steamed my greens for a further 5 minutes or so. I then turned the temperature off and left the lid on until I finished carving the pork and had the crisp roast potatoes on the plate.

I absolutely loved the flavour and texture. Some of the samphire was a little stringy and I should of let it steam a little more, but the overall flavour was wonderful and complimented the pork beautifully. The next time I use samphire I will cook it for a little longer and not waste any on the boys. I have to be honest and report that they didn't even try it due to the fact it was touching asparagus and if it is touching asparagus, well then, it couldn't possibly taste any good. Raw carrot and celery sticks kept them happy while Nic and I managed to eat every last bit of our greens.

February 18, 2011

Brunch for my sister

A couple of weeks ago (before I decided to break my ankle), my sister rang and asked if we'd be interested in going out for brunch to meet her new man. Of course I jumped at the offer and was bursting to finally get a geezer, but I had to insist they came to us.
"Phew!" said Tarsh, I was hoping you'd say that. After all, I knew the history here and wanted to pull out all the stops for this brunch.
She told me they will be arriving around 11am so all was fine.

The week before I made cinnamon muffins for our Sunday breakfast which we hadn't had for quite a while. Nic thought they would be great for brunch and I agreed but thought I should do waffles to begin seeing as they are not something you'd find that often in an Aussie home. Because it was brunch I needed a savoury element to the meal and I was a little stuck on what way to go. I tossed around the idea of a heartily Caesar salad with poached egg, Nic thought that was a little....odd.


I couldn't understand why he thought it was odd and that bothered me. I don't know about you, but when I plan a brunch, lunch or dinner in my head it always sounds fabulous and when someone throws the word odd into the equation, I kinda get a bit defensive.
It took a couple of days of me twisting ideas before turning to Nic and saying 'I don't care if you think it is odd, I have an idea in my head and from all my angles it rocks, so I'm doing it!'
The look on Nic's face was priceless- I think he had actually forgotten the previous conversation, and when I blurted all of this out he had to scramble in his mind as to what the heck I was talking about. Poor man, having to live with someone so food obsessed.

Actually on a total side note. Max was going off to sleep last night when Nic heard him calling out. Nic went in and told him to go to sleep but then Max asked him about tuna fish and can he have that on his sandwich tomorrow? Nic came out totally amazed that his son was thinking about tuna sandwiches before sleeping. From where I was sitting, it sounded like a pretty normal thought before bed...you have to get these things straight before having a restful nights sleep, after all he is my son.

So, day of brunch I decided to go for a quick run around the park before starting on the meal. I was feeling good and had energy so went a bit further than I intended (I'm telling you this so you understand my outburst later on).
Nic cleaned the house until it was spotless while I whipped up some lemon curd that I was going to fold through cream for a little sweet treat after our main feast. The waffle mix was made, I'd plated up a beautiful fruit plate for everyone to pick from while piling their waffles with passion fruit yogurt and maple syrup. I then started to char some bacon for my Caesar salad. By this stage my tummy was rumbling and I was starting to feel hungry along with the boys. Of course we all had a little bowl of cereal while we waited until 11am to rock around (you know these guys don't have kids when they expect you to wait until 11am to eat!)
By 10.45am I was close to gnawing my arm off and the boys were whimpering for more food.
NO, was my answer, we can just wait a few more minutes and then go nuts.
11.05am rolled around and my doorbell wasn't ringing- where the heck were they, what was my sister thinking, bringing a new sweet, lovely person to meet part of her family when she knows I turn into a crazy woman when hungry??? Why did I go for a long run?

Now I didn't do all this complaining on the inside people, no I was spitting out these complaints while watching the clock tick further and further away from 11am. Nic being totally practical said I should just eat something, where I answered NO, I MADE ALL THIS FOOD.......WHERE ARE THEY!
I got a text from my sister at 11.10am saying they are close (I think she was getting nervous in the back of the taxi, wondering what state I'd be in because she KNOWS what I'm like when I'm hungry).

She was not close people, 11.25 and I was deranged- this was when they rang my door bell. This poor, delightful young man was greeted by his new girlfriends sister by me opening the front door and giving them both a tongue lashing of huge proportions saying to hell with niceties, your late now let's eat and talk later!
By 11.45 I polished off a waffle, half the plattered fruit and the biggest dollop of yogurt you have ever seem. Because of my distressed start I had no time for photographs of this course which I realised AFTER we had finished so poor D-man had to put up with more of my crazy antics. It was only when I was half way through my Caesar salad that I remembered the camera (to which Nic then welcomed D-man to the family and said this is what usually happens.....no eating until the picture is taken).

Your probably all thinking thank god she made the lemon curd for the sweet treat because it sounds like she needed to offer something without drama.....and you'd be correct. We were all stuffed to the gills at this point but who could refuse these?

Long, long story short, we loved the D-man and especially love how happy my big sister is. Despite Nic's thoughts, everyone loved my big brekky Caesar salad (especially Nic) and I'll be doing that one again for sure.

Brunch Caesar salad
2 eggs
1 mini coz lettuce bunch
2 rashes of bacon
1/4 cup of Caesar dressing
2 slices of Turkish bread
shaved parmesan
salt and pepper

In a frying pan or BBQ, cook rashers of bacon until crispy, place on paper towel to drain excess fat and then cut into chunky pieces.
Rip coz lettuce into small pieces, add salad dressing and lightly toss to coat the leaves.
Just before serving, poach two eggs and while they are poaching toast bread.
when bread is toasted, rub toast with a little raw garlic then place the coz lettuce on top.
Sprinkle on bacon pieces and half the parmesan.
Place a poached egg on top of each salad, sprinkle with more parmesan and then finish with cracked pepper.
Serve asap.

February 14, 2011

Stanley came to dinner

I have been keeping my eye on the post for the past week,  I was expecting a letter that hadn't arrived yet. Of course I blamed it on the crazy weather we have been having all over the world lately (so if you sent it late Bryan then I haven't blamed you!).
 My dear friend Bryan asked if I'd entertain the idea of having his daughters flat Stanley come for a trip to Australia. I of course was happy to help and looking forward to showing off the Sydney opera house and Harbour bridge.
It was Friday afternoon when Nic tossed a letter onto the counter addressed to me. I looked at the envelope and couldn't quite register- District 54, where do I know that from? I looked at it again and then wondered if it was something random from our council?
When I finally got around to opening the letter, out flew Stanley and it all fell into place! The reason I was having so much trouble remembering was Max started his school years at District 54!

Stanley was just in time for dinner- nice work!
We have had hot days here the past few weeks and I've been in the habit of low fuss, quick meals. My favourite of this variety is some sort of roast meat with salad roast potatoes or couscous........ polenta and the list goes on. I had a rolled pork shoulder in the fridge and decided to get it in the oven asap so I could remove myself from the kitchen (see, why wouldn't you learn how to cook a roast?)

To give it a bit of added flavour and to kill two birds with the one stone I sat the pork on a roughly cut array of veggies (onion, carrot, garlic cloves, celery and leeks) and then coated the pork in olive oil fennel seeds and lemon. Once the outside skin is covered in a light drizzle of oil I mix fennel seeds, cracked black pepper and sea salt together then use my hands to rub it all over the pork skin and meat. I poked the pork roll with a sharp knife to send some of the seasoning in a little deeper under the skin for added flavour.
Just before I placed the pork shoulder onto my veggie layer I cut two chunky pieces of lemon and attached them to the bottom of the pork so it infused both the meat and the vegetables giving me a wonderful pan sauce to drizzle over the meat once it is cooked and ready to serve.

Stanley arrived just as I pulled this baby out of the oven.
 I was so excited he finally arrived on Friday because it meant I could show him the sights this weekend and then have him back in the post for a speedy return......but then I kinda got myself into a bit of a situation......

I broke my ankle!
I know, I know, what the? Well I was as surprised as you. Here I am ready for a great weekend. I was off to a good start with Saturday morning exercise, except I happened to fall a freakish way in pilates (cardiolates, which is pilates on a trampoline) and managed to snap a part of my ankle bone.
 I heard a crack, fell to the floor and just thought '..hm mm that's not good' before using a few bad words and calling for my mummy.

So instead of spending my day around the harbour with the family, I managed to drive them all nuts with visits to the doctors office, x-ray places and then to top off the day a quick trip to ER for the cast. If I wasn't so selfish and thinking about me I should of bought Stanley along for a photographic journey of Sydney hospitals, however, I was in shock and Stanley stayed on the lounge room coffee table.

Bryan I will get him out of the house and seeing a few cool things it just might take a little bit longer, I am sorry.
As for me, I'll be one legged or is that 3 legged for the next 6 weeks trying to keep it all together in the kitchen and at home. Thank god I am surrounded by great people who can help me out- Nic your the best BTW xx You never know I might even get more time to blog!
Stay safe dear readers and watch your step :0)

February 10, 2011

Martini-induced dinner

Friday afternoon is a time I really enjoy. It doesn't matter if I have to work the weekend because Friday night is all mine.  I get to sit back, relax and let my darling hubby make me one of his fabulous dry martinis -if I wasn't such a guzzler I'd have taken a photo of it beforehand.....maybe next time, or the time after that?

With blue cheese and crackers on the balcony, martini and scotch in hand, Nic and I unwind from the week. The pure luxury of having the evening to ourselves without sporting events to drop the kids at, teaching nights or last minute catering deliveries to attend to is fabulous.  Friday is, 99% of the time, our night.
I'm not to sure if it's a sign of age or I'm just not able to drink the way I use to but I have to admit I get a little warm and fuzzy on the tail end of my martini. My mind and body let go of the week and I kinda get a little chatty and silly and all I can say to that is THANK GOD. Because for the rest of the week it's GO, GO- run here there and everywhere and the fun is totally sucked from my week, so, I enjoy my 'letting go' served with two green olives!

We'd made dinner early for the boys as they were starving and wanted to go off and play Harry Potter for the early evening, so we made the most of it and relaxed. In fact we relaxed so much we didn't realise how late it was. Nic rushed the boys into bed while I started dinner.

Something yummy and fast was in order as I was starving and feeling a bit tipsy. I think this meal took me about 15 minutes to pull together (just about as long as potatoes take to boil). While the steaks were cooking I really needed a sauce and I happened to be in luck. A few days earlier I'd roasted a chicken for another meal and for some reason I decided to save the juices and fat of the chicken and store it in the fridge. This is VERY unusual for me. I am always trying to find healthy alternatives to fat....not this time!
I scooped off a little of the lard and sauteed some onions in it before adding sliced mushrooms and garlic. The smell was intoxicating and I could help myself so I added a little more lard then quickly tossed the rest in the bin so I wouldn't be tempted any more (note to self- martini is evil to my butt). Anyway BEFORE  I threw the fat away I pulled out the chicken jelly that had formed under the fat and added this to my mushroom sauce. Best idea ever!!! In about 5 minutes I had a divine, rich and succulent mushroom sauce that just oozed flavour (and fat). Quick as a flash I chopped up some parsley to throw in to stop the guilt creeping in, I guess I could of had another martini but then I would of be on the floor and faster than Nic could say 'goodnight and sleep tight' to the boys!

For someone in a relaxed state of mind I was mightily impressed with this quick and totally delicious dinner. Fat is bad, fat is evil but chicken lard in a mushroom sauce is nothing but pure heaven!
I think my thighs are telling me Nic needs to cook this Friday night however.

February 5, 2011

Sushi for two

I have to say it.....it's HOT people! When the temperature climbs over 40 degrees (100 something) in Sydney, you know about it. I'd love to say I'm used to it and all is hunky dory but that would be lying. I HATE the heat. I go red, get itchy lumps on my feet, sweat more than any girl I know and am irritable all the time- a joy to be around I know.....I even annoy myself!

Nic was out, Max was at a sleepover and I'd just royally screwed up an order at work where by I ordered 40 pieces of sushi instead of 10 pieces of sushi cut into 40 rounds!! (all I can say is the heat must have got to me).
Anyway, Alex and I were fending for ourselves and we both have a love of sushi (thank god- Max on the other hand really isn't impressed by the stuff at all). When it is hot as can be, and you have no interest in stepping into the kitchen because the surrounding room feels like an oven anyway, I think my mistake was the best thing that could have happened to me.
Luckily I had a lovely bottle of sauvignon blanc  in the fridge and ice cubes in the freezer, because this is what saved me from going completely mad!
I cut the sushi into manageable bites for Alex and I. Iced water for him and a cool glass of vino bianco for me while we plopped ourselves in front of the a/c and telly, and ate a delicious selection of sushi for dinner. My favourite was the tempura prawn while Alex ate his weight in the tuna and corn sushi. We both tucked into way too many chicken tepenyaki but still managed to find room for the crab and avocado rolls.
So if you are ever in the predicament of having to cook dinner on a bloody hot evening I recommend that you leave the oven off, hop in the car and pick up a big order of sushi. You'll be ecstatic, your 5 year old will be ecstatic and you'll have more time for another glass of sav blanc instead of doing the dishes.... Right about now, I'm loving my mistake.