Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Baking Muffins in an Electric Frying Pan...

Despite only being a few years old, my oven blew up last week. Annoyed? Yes.
Anyway, it's given me an excuse to buy an new one, and the upside is that the old busted oven badly needed a clean, so at least I have been reprieved of that worst chore in the world task.

In between times, though, I have a pile of rapidly browning bananas that the kids want me to turn into choc chip banana muffins.

So, how to bake cakes and muffins without an oven? How to cook muffins or banana bread in an electric fry pan?

I remember my Granny once telling me that when she built her house in the late 1930's, before their kitchen was installed, that she baked cakes in her old Sunbeam.

So I have been experimenting with baking in my electric fry pan.

The recipe I used was this one here - a firm favourite with the kids for lunchboxes -

3 ripe bananas
2 cups Bran flakes or All Bran (or whatever cereal you're trying to use up!)
1½ cups skim milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1½ cups self-raising flour, sifted
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips


1. Take a large mixing bowl and mash up the bananas
2. Add the cereal cereal and the milk and combine and leave to one side for a few minutes
3. In the meantime, find a cooling wire rack that will fit into the electric frying pan
5. Find a muffin tin or a cake tin or a loaf tin (metal or silicone) that fits into your electric fry pan


6. Preheat your electric fry pan to it's highest temperature, with the cooling rack and baking tin in it, with the lid on.
7. In a measuring jug, beat together the eggs, the olive oil and the vanilla. Pour into the muffin mixture, and combine.
8. Add the flour, sugar and choc chips, and stir to combine - but don't over mix.



9. Spoon the muffin mix into the muffin/cake/loaf tin and put the lid on.



10. Bake for one hour.
11. Cool on a wire cooking rack.



The result? They are good! They are heavier than normal, and stickier, but this actually works well for lunchboxes I think!

This post is proudly bought to you by my broken oven and a whole load of chocolate chips.

It is also bought to you by the wonderful crew at Kitchenware Direct who are kindly sponsoring me to attend the Digital Parents Conference at the end of March. Thanks to Brad Russell of Kitchenware Direct who has also organised a great offer for me to take to the conference too!



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Friday, 24 February 2012

Male. Friends. Men.




I am in bed. It's hot. The air con is noisy and the house feels heavy and clogged and I feel achey and stuffy and clogged too.

My iPad is shit for commenting. I am sorry for my lack of connection.

I am grateful this past week for men.

I have been touched, this week, figuratively, by men, males, friends who seem to have collected and clumped together, when I need them. Like there is an invisible but powerful beacon that gives them a sense to be in touch? Virtually, and right here.

They range in age from 30, to as old as my Mum.

I have slept with none of them, nor will I ever.

They are vastly different. I have been blessed, I realise, to attract the kind of kind men who have needed me at times, as much as I now need them.

Some of them know one another, vaguely. Through Darwin connections, where the world is shrunk.

I do not need overt affection or hugs or sympathies right now. I need to be busy, to be filled with action. I need that male ability to not verbalise issues, nor make me cry with comfort kindness. I need to draw them to me, to remind me that I am whole and full and vital. I am not just a mother and a daughter and an intermittent blogger.

These men, and the roles they know me in, know me to be happy. To be driven at work. To be caustic but vibrant. To be gracious but fun. To be female and strong. They know all facets of me.

My lovely husband knows all these things. I take him for granted and it is mutual.

But my male friends - they have the distance to admire these traits without romantic love. They respect and are fond, but are not indulgent.

Lucky for me the lovely husband knows and shares my male friends, and we share a trust.

I have always attracted male friends. I am not butch, nor one of the lads. Nor am I a simperer, or coy. I like men, and I like to flirt. I do not flirt with my male friends. I am just me.

Dan, Tony. Paul, Paul and Rick. Thank you. Just, thank you.

For the messages, for the emails, for the breakfasts. For the thousand conversations in my kitchen over coffee. For the cafes and the red wine and the Scrabble. For the knowledge and the knowing and the trust and the pub. Through the encompassing of my children as you help me. For everything - thank you.

Lucy xx

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The dance...



My gorgeous friend Naomi writes about all sorts of lovely stuff. I adore her, and I adore her blog: Under the Yardarm.

I had a brief two minutes this morning to read her blog. I am so glad I did.

She writes of new normal and new routines and it resonated with me so much.

My world is chaos at the moment. Between my Mum, friends, guests, school and work, I am drowning a little.

And the lovely husband is frenetic too. I can see it in his eyes and in his nervous tension.

The kids are quick to adapt and the lovely husband and I will get there too, eventually.


"...the dance of me doing more than him,  then him doing more than me.  No set rules, just each of us doing what needs to be done and supporting each other..."


If we aim for this, we will get there? Won't we? Eventually?


I will try...

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Unfaithful...



If I was ever going to be unfaithful, it would be for a French accent. And a French attitude to love, life and food. And a French chef...

I have a "thing" for chefs. Lovely husband is not one, but all of my previous relationships and pretty much all my fantasy relationships involve chefs.

I even flirt online with one - asking him all sorts of questions. And the below is a little clip of the lovely Manu answering one of my questions personally! Swoon!

video

You can too. You can  win dinner with Manu here.. And you can ask Manu anything you want to here.


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Thursday, 16 February 2012

She's my best friend and I hate her...



My daughter is cool. She is composed, capable and kind.  She is happy and strong and brave.

She is a softy. Her calmness leads, I suspect, to others taking slight advantage of her.

She has had a wonderful start to her new school year. She loves school and is keen and interested academically and quite passionate about ball sports - we have moved on from handball, to lacrosse and netball.

She is loved by her teachers and her friends - she has many - from all  years - people grin when they see her. She has boys as friends too - the cheeky mischievous freckle faced lad in the year above her is one of her closest allies.

But her "best friend" is, dare I say it, not someone I can warm too. She is too bossy. Too manipulative. Too mean. Too insecure - and her subsequent behaviour is unpleasant. Spoilt, perhaps.

It is only just now that my little daughter realises this.

We talked it over last night, she and I.

The best friend is an annoying brag, apparently. Who is mean to her at times.

I am so rubbish at giving advice. If it were me, and my "best friend" was being mean, I would ignore her, or tell her to fuck off and cut lose. Not, I realise, the kind of suggestion that will appeal to my girl.

It's a small class in a small school. They have years ahead of them. Repercussions are possibly rife.

What to do? I wish wish wish I could step in and sort it all out for her.

All I can say to her is "A friend is someone who likes you, who cares about you,  and who is not mean."





What would YOU do?

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PS This post has been brewing in my head all day - I am fretting - and then I go here to one of my favourite blogs and Kirsty has it all sorted. See? That is the connection blogging creates. xx

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Week Two Diet Road Test Result...and a meal plan...



Here we go for week number three on the Tony Ferguson Weight Management Plan.

When I tell you it's really easy and convenient, you have to believe me, it is.

I have been to and fro the hospital a lot, as well as studying, alongside all the usual driving around in circles with the kids. The humdrum of life. NOT having to think about food is easy.

That said, I have been really enjoying the planning, the shopping for, the cooking of, and the eating of fresh whole foods for the evening meal.

I shopped at the start of the week off a meal plan. When we get home (late), I get the kids to have their baths and showers, whilst I put some chilled music on, get my apron on, and cook.

The chopping and the preparing is therapy.

The meals I have picked from the Tony Ferguson cookbooks are from scratch, but are all quick and easy. Perfect.

Monday - Asian Beef Stew
Tuesday - Turkey Keema Curry
Wednesday - Chicken Schnitzel
Thursday - Mini Meatloaves
Friday - Thai Fishcake Salad
Saturday - Eggplant Lasagna
Sunday - Corned Beef with "Mash"

Notatoes - Fauxtatoes - a substitute for mash, made from cauliflower - perfect for low carb recipes!



Ingredients

  • 1 Medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 75g low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chives, chopped

Method

  1. Steam cauliflower until soft and very tender.
  2. Place in a blender or food processor with the ricotta cheese, garlic and salt and pepper.
  3. Process until really smooth.
  4. Garnish with chopped chives and cracked pepper.
Use as a replacement for mashed potatoes either as a side dish or this is really good as a topping on cottage pie...Olivia and Charlie and Lexie didn't notice the difference at all.....

And weight loss wise? I am pleased to report that I lost...only 0.7kg this week, but I am still very happy.

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Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sunday Evenings...vino and my own body weight...


The kids hair has all been washed.

The lunchboxes are all made up and school bags packed. Readers and library books have been retrieved.

My gym clothes are ready and all laid out for the morning. (I do a personal training session at 6am...)
The weeks calendar is printed out and I am all organised.

And whilst I would love love love to curl up on the couch with my iPad and a little bit of Twitter and some cheesy trash on the telly, my final chore still needs to be done.

The ironing...

Before you all start shouting "What's an iron" or "Who irons" or "I do not even own an iron", I'll refer you back here to this post, where I "came out" about my slightly obsessive ironing habits. I iron, and I am proud!

Sunday evenings are my ironing night.

We have around around 100 items a week that land in the ironing basket. (I am fully aware that it's extremely tragic that I count the items.)

And those 100 items used to take me around three hours. Or, when I had a "lady" who did the ironing for us, I would pay her for three hours worth of ironing.

Three hours a week. Nightmare.

So, when I was asked to trial the new Philips Perfect Care Pressurised steam generator ironing system, and I read that it delivered"ultra fast results" I jumped at the chance, with certain amount of disbelief that it would or could actually do the ironing faster.

It does. It is faster and easier and more effective than any other iron I have ever owned.

Pure and simple. It works by holding enough water to continually steam iron for over two hours. No need to refill. No leaking. No erratic splattering. No need to have an additional steam burst. No need for starching.

I do not iron underwear or sheets, but I do iron linen tea towels, jeans and silks and everything in between. Loads of the kids t-shirts have transfers on them. Some of my work clothes are synthetics and the lovely husbands cricket kit is made of some weird breathable man made fabric...

But with the the new Philips Perfect Care Pressurised steam generator ironing system, I do not need to ever adjust the temperature. Don't ask me how that works without melting fabrics or needing my own body weight to get the creases out of bone dry jeans. But it works. Really really well.

The ladies in the image above look like they are battling with the ironing and they are indeed resorting to copious amounts of vino in order to drive away the mundane nature of the chore.

Not me.

Tonight I did the whole lot, tea towels included, in an hour. I timed it for YOU, so that this review was accurate. It took me one hour and 2 minutes to iron 103 items. A great many of these items were the 100% cotton business shirts that the lovely husband wears. A great many other items were the fairy floss frocks that Lexie insists upon changing into after school.

I love the Philips Perfect Care. My old iron has been chucked in the bin.

The only downside is that it is a little nosier than my old iron - all that pressure and all that steam. But, as Olivia says, "Just turn the volume up on the telly Mum. All that ironing steam smells nice."  She is a wise one, that nearly 8 year old of mine...

So, if you're in the market for a new iron, go for the Philips Perfect Care. I am in ♥

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Disclosure - I was sent the Philips Perfect Care to trial. However, Philips have not nagged me to write this review. The above is entirely my own loved up opinion, and the truth. (If I hated the product, I would not write about it. Enough said.)

Friday, 10 February 2012

Vacillations...

Linking with the lovely Eden, on the subject of funerals....



It was 1986 and I should have been working for my final year at school. But I was reading novels instead. I would "study" at home.

The TV show Neighbours had just debuted, and I was hooked.

My Dad was ill - really really poorly. He would watch the soaps with me as I pretended to be on a break from my studies. He would pick up my novels as I finished them and left them around the house. He would peer at me over the top of his specs. I loved him so much.

He read the Vacillations of Poppy Carew by Mary Wesley the day after I did, way back when, in 1986. And told me how amusing he found it that the word funeral started with the word "fun". And that a funeral SHOULD be fun. I sat at his feet and we talked about what a funeral should be like. That it should be fun. A candle snuffed, and then a fun celebration.

He did not die for another few years. The grief was too raw to remember that he wanted a fun funeral.

His funeral was standard.

No songs, aside from the requisite hymns. He was not a religious man, but nor was he agnostic. The tunes fitted.

His wake was held at our house, and against all odds, it WAS fun. I remember someone playing the soundtrack from Salad Days, and as I passed round vol-au-vents and cups of tea, the atmosphere was jovial. Really fun.

I flick flack myself.

A quiet unassuming let's get it over with service in an almost institutionalised branded funeral home? Get it over with quickly. I do not want to inconvenience anyone. People pleaser me wants to make it easy. I do not want my children to bicker over choices or decisions, nor raise their eyes at any specific requests that they will no doubt perceive as weird or inappropriate.

But then I remember that novel and how much I loved it at the time, and how I loved the conversations I had with my Dad over fun funerals.

Horses with plumes and flame throwers. Bright bright flowers and a candy floss machine. No black frocks, nor graveside gloom. Loud music and friends and family from near and far. Huge hugs and kisses and laughter and delight. A spit roast and a piano. A face painter perhaps. Shit, I'd love a marching band too. A carnival.

I want my nearest and dearest to cry happy tears as they remember really really good times.

I do not want to die too soon - I do not want to miss out on anything. But when I do go - when my candle is snuffed...I want my funeral to be loving and so much fun.

And the song? As those happy tears fall?

The song I always associate with well spent grief -


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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Diet Meal Plan...(and diet road test result!)


Last week saw me road test the Tony Ferguson Weight Management Program

We ate very well, becasue I took advantage of the Tony Ferguson recipe book to inspire me to a whole load of new low carb evening meals.

I shall be doing the same kind of menu planning this week - using the cook book to ensure a whole range of variety.

Monday - Sirloin steaks with chargrilled spanish onion and tomato salsa
Tuesday - Balsamic Chicken and mushrooms
Wednesday - Lemon and Garlic Lamb
Thursday - Asian Pork Salad
Friday - Prawns with bok choy
Saturday - Spicy Meatballs
Sunday - Roast Chicken

This means I have to be organised, and obviouly I do add additional carbs for the kids in the form of pasta or rice or baked potatoes etc, But the lovely husband and I are avoiding carbs after lunch and I feel so much more energetic as a result.

I have also avoided any late evening snacking. Totally. This is one of my most tempting times. But by eating more protein, it's been easy to avoid habitual picking.

And the actual result from last weeks efforts? I weighed in at the pharmacy with a consultant. Maybe the fact that I am accountable to someone else helps too? Last week I lost...2.2kg

Needless to say, I shall be continuing on with Tony Ferguson for as long as he is working for me...

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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Despite or because of?



Despite, or maybe because of the chaos that is reigning in my world at the moment, I am eating really really well and cleanly.

The chaos is same old same old but a level more intense - my Mum's severe ill health and negotiating the aged care system as well as doctors and hospitals.

I realise that when I am really stressed and upset, food is the one thing I can control in my world.

When I am stressed and worried and sad, as I am, the control, luckily, tends to be of a beneficial nature.

It's almost as if I am so heavy of heart and mind that my subconscious dictates I must be light of stomach and body.

When my Dad was very sick - twenty years ago now - before he died, and for a long while afterwards, I lost a lot of weight. Dieting was easy. Weight fell off me. I ate only to get through to the next day.  I was totally and calmly in control. I was able to dictate my eating in order to make up for the fact that I could not manipulate my grief.

More recently, back in 2006, when I got over the shock of my brother passing away, I found that not eating was and losing weight was a slight salve to my utterly out of control emotions. With a newborn baby and three children under three, I ate enough to sustain breastfeeding and not much else.

And here I am again. Finding it all so hard, and so sad, but finding food easy.

When I am happy, I eat. When I am sad, I diet perfectly.

Good grief. Tragic really.

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Saturday, 4 February 2012

Love letters...





The reason for my love letter to my kids? Because I believe the best love letters need to be hand written.

I always write love letters and thank you notes and postcards in my own handwriting, if I can.

I stash handwritten stuff around the place too. For my kids to find.

They don't really care.

They might care, one day.

I have handwritten stuff from my Dad that appears. Appears when I need it.  An old letter that he wrote to me when I first left home to go to uni will drop out of a book. I know every word - it is etched on my memory; but my heart swells as I stop and sit, and read that letter again.

I do not expect that my kids will have the need to find my handwriting for a great many many years. But when they do; when they need a link, a thread, a golden thread to their Mum, to me, they will discover my words, in my hand. I hope it brings them some calm, and some peace in their hearts.

Go over to see Eden? I am linking up with her today. She is a legend. And a blogging legend. I love her and I love the idea of her meme linky thingo...

Do you love your handwriting? What do you still hand write these days?


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Thursday, 2 February 2012

That Thursday Feeling...


This post title has been suggested to me by my lovely husband, as a result of me having a melt down - a tantrum, over everything that seems to NOT be getting done in my world at the moment.
I have not -
- even started any of the five assignments due in within the fortnight
- completed any of the paperwork required for my Mum's pension application
- managed to get to any ironing at all. I have two weeks worth lurking.
- announced winners to my previous two giveaways *
- found time to do any vacuuming at all, let alone dusting or mopping of floors
- written a pitch that was due nearly a week ago
- followed up anything on my "to do list"
- blogged enough or been anywhere near Twitter
- visited any blogs for ages or left any comments

The list could go on and on and on, to be honest, but I cannot write anymore - it's making me cringe and it's bringing on that awful out of control feeling.

After my tantrum, I realised, thanks to the lovely husband, that I have managed to -

- not be late to anything all week
- cuddled my children a lot in their first week back at school
- dealt with all of the issues that get thrown up me as a result of my Mum being in and out of respite care and hospital
- do about 63 loads of laundry
- cooked and prepared breakfast lunch and dinner for all of us each day
- gone to a school meeting
- texted a couple of friends to let them know I have not fallen off the planet.

I have also stuck to the my new eating plan and done a bit of exercise. Phew.

So, all is not lost. It just feels like it a bit.

Needless to say, if I am not around much at the moment, you know why...

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* I shall draw and email the winners tomorrow - promise! xx