Tag Archives: Jamie Oliver

Why We Have Birthdays!

What with kids, dogs, activities and more et ceteras than we ever thought possible, at times my husband and I look at each other wondering: who on earth are you?
Far from being alone in all of this, we’re all guilty. Well, perhaps not all of us.
Anyway, this is why celebrating birthdays is so important. For at least one day of the year, each of us is special and we get our moment of glory in the spotlight as we glow in golden candlelight and actually blow out our own candles. That is, if the kids don’t beat us to it!

Happy Birthday Geoff...21 Again! (and again!!)

Happy Birthday Geoff…21 Again! (and again!!)

Last week, it was Geoff’s birthday and it is a sad reflection of my priorities that it’s almost taken me a week to wish him Happy Birthday on my blog. My justification is that I was too busy cooking up a birthday feast on the day and considering it was 40 degrees Celsius that was no mean feat. The chocolate for the cake had already melted before it hit the microwave and me along with it.

Geoff used to drive an Austen Healy Sprite which now in storage. I created this ceramic paint of the Spite seemingly flying along the Yellow Brick Road for his birthday before we got married. You could say the rubber hit the road what with the mortgage, kids and my health issues.

Geoff used to drive an Austen Healy Sprite which now in storage. I created this ceramic painting of the Spite seemingly flying along the Yellow Brick Road for his birthday before we got married. You could say that the rubber has since hit the road what with the mortgage, kids and my health issues.

Since then, I’ve been responding to my Versatile Blogger Award…shameful priorities, I know!
You would think that by the time you’re our age that birthdays wouldn’t matter anymore but for some reason birthdays always seem to be special. While I was having chemo, the very elderly man next to me remarked that it was his birthday and said: “I sure know how to pick ’em”. He was quite upset about being there for his birthday and I guess we all have that idea that birthdays are somehow sacred..no matter how old and supposedly “mature” we are. That we are somehow entitled to a Happy Birthday. That our birthday has to be special and we must be spoiled rotten. Moreover, if our birthday doesn’t go to plan, we somehow feel entitled to a refund or a repeat: “Play it again, Sam”.

Yummy Happy Birthday Lasagna!

Yummy Happy Birthday Lasagna!

In my usual style, I did what I always do for family birthdays. I cooked up a feast. The day before the birthday, had been relatively cool and that’s when I decided to make my variation of Jamie Oliver’s Lasagna. I’ve changed so much about the recipe that it really is my own dish now yet I still like to call it our: Jamie Oliver Lasagna. This is quite a luxurious lasagna dish with a layer of diced pumpkin roasted in “bruised” coriander seeds which I guess is what really gives it Jamie Oliver’s stamp. The point of cooking this fancy lasagne, of course, is to say I love you without words and through actions in a way that reheating a non-name frozen lasagna simply can’t achieve.

This birthday cake wasa a gushing, oozing waterfall of chocolate icing. Not one for the stylist!

This birthday cake was a gushing, oozing waterfall of chocolate icing. Not one for the stylist!

Likewise when it came to the home-made chocolate cake we had for dessert, our daughter sprinkled popping candy over the top and the chocolate icing cascaded over the side a little too enthusiastically creating a gushing waterfall or what my son unceremoniously  called: “a mess”! Although I would have preferred restaurant perfection, our creation was oozing with love and was absolutely scrumdiddillyumptuous!

DSC_6492

Miss made this card for Daddy. It shows the two of them working on our Morris Minor.

There was also a home-made birthday card.

Handwriting to warm up even the coldest of hearts. Happy Birthday Daddy love from Mister!

Handwriting to warm up even the coldest of hearts. Happy Birthday Daddy love from Mister!

Plus handwriting money can’t buy…

And move over Garfield, there were also two greedy dogs trying to ambush Geoff’s lasagna. For some reason, Lady considers the dining table an extension of her domain!

Happy Birthday Daddy xx Bilbo and Lady with Mum.

Happy Birthday Daddy xx Bilbo and Lady with Mum.

However, by going out to a restaurant or cooking something really basic, we do actually get more of a chance to talk and catch up instead of me exhausting myself over a very hot stove on a real scorcher of a day and then needing to clean it all up.

But when you show your love through cooking and infuse it into your food, there’s no other way to say Happy birthday…especially when you’re on a budget.

Sometimes all this family stuff can seem a bit sickly sweet and too “Brady Bunch” or “Happy Days”. However, for most families, these birthdays are just a temporary ceasefire on the home front. Time to lick your wounds. Take a deep breath and recuperate. Get fresh ammo. If you’re particularly blessed, you might even get to enjoy some leftover cake in relative peace and quiet the next day although don’t go getting your hopes up. This is real life… not some fantasy novel.

Somehow, birthdays often seem to bring out the worst in people too and it’s more than likely that your perfect birthday is going to descend into the war to end all wars. That instead of eating your cake, you end up feeding it to the dog…or perhaps the dog already beat you to it. You always need to be on the look out for little patch jobs on cakes.

That’s right. No one’s going to tell you that your cake has dog germs…especially not on your birthday!

xx Rowena

PS: In case you are wondering why Marge Simpson in a bikini was on Geoff’s birthday cake, it was left over from my 40th birthday cake. My best friend and I almost share birthdays and we had a Marge each on our cake.

Jamie Oliver…the Unspoken Story.

As much as Jamie Oliver enthuses about the virtues of healthy, home-cooked meals, I don’t recall him ever mentioning the washing up…!!

Takeaway and paper plates are now looking very appealing.

That said, we all enjoyed our Jamie Oliver supposedly simple Lasagna which included such basic ingredients as minced pork belly, pancetta, coriander seeds and creme fraiche.

My version of Jamie Oliver's infamous Lasagna.

My version of Jamie Oliver’s infamous Lasagna.

Given that these days Jamie Oliver has become a quasi Australian given his campaign with Woolworths, don’t you think he needs to update the recipe with a Vegemite version?

That said, thanks to foreign ownership, Vegemite is as Australian as the Australian Women’s Weekly (now German owned) and…(drum roll)…Jamie Oliver!

Enjoy your meal and the washing up!

xx Rowena

PS: By the way, I should point out that we have a dishwasher but I don’t like putting my good pans in there and once I get started, I might as well do the awkward stuff.

PPS: Yes, those kids are about to get a further initiation into the fine art of washing up. It will be good for their souls!

Getting Unstuck…the Greenhouse We Built.

Forget The House that Jack Built. The house our daughter built was stuck together with bits of sticky tape…an absolute engineering marvel! With its flimsy walls teetering precariously, it was one of the great wonders of the modern world before it was condemned and rebuilt.

Although our daughter is only 8, Miss usually shows more of an aptitude for engineering than this. She enjoys things like mechanics and working on the car with her Dad and usually asks me how things work and likes to put things together properly, unlike her “creative” mother. The sticky tape is my bad influence. I’m the sort of person who cuts corners and used to have staples or safety pins holding my school uniform together…even at a “posh” school. I couldn’t give a damn about how something works. Near enough is good enough. I am more interested in people and what makes them tick.

Although I am usually the sticky tape queen, as the greenhouse was designed for kids, I thought we should be able to put it together properly and give the thing at least a reasonable chance of survival. As it stood, or should I say leaned, it would fly over the fence in pieces with the first gust of wind

The house my daughter built was actually Jamie’s Greenhouse, part of Woolworth’s Jamie Oliver’s Garden  promotion. This promotion is based around an informative sticker book for the kids which is literally bursting with all sorts of facts about fruit and veg, games, recipes and is super educational. You pay for $4.00 for the book and then get a pack of stickers for every $20.00 you spend, luring hapless parents and grandparents back into Woollies for fresh supplies. At $4.00 each, this book was an absolute gift and has kept the kids busy for hours doing something other than playing on some electronic life form. These books have spread like wildfire through the schools and the kids are all trading stickers, even if they’re still overlooking the healthy fruit and veg in their lunchboxes.

Swap Your Stickers

You can check out the campaign by clicking through here:http://www2.woolworthsonline.com.au/Shop/Seasonal/Jamie-Oliver?hubID=11#url=/Shop/Seasonal/Jamie-Oliver-Jamies-Garden

 

Well, we were frolicking around in fruit and veg sticker heaven until…

Our daughter asked me to buy Jamie’s Greenhouse, a seemingly innocuous sidekick to the whole campaign. I love gardening and when I saw the package, I was reminded of my previous intentions to start a veggie patch with the kids. This is more of a herb garden but it’s certainly a step in the right direction and preferable to buying yet another soft toy. You see, the campaign also includes a range of stuffed toy fruit and veg and yes I know I could have said no and bought our daughter nothing at all but we all know that’s not how it works.

Anyway, while Jamie’s Greenhouse came disguised in cute cardboard packaging covered with child-like drawings, it is what it is. It’s an Ikea flatpack in kiddies’ clothing…only this time it is your child who is supposed to do battle with the bits and pieces building an entire house…not just a bookshelf or a desk.

That’s right. They get to build an entire house out of a few flimsy bits of plastic.

Yeah…right!!

Actually, constructing this Greenhouse is making an Ikea project look very Simple Simon . After all, when you go to Ikea, you don’t buy an entire house in their trademark flat packs and have to put it together before you can get a good night’s sleep. Of course not! You just buy “bits”.

The only piece of furniture which I’ve ever been game enough to buy from Ikea was a humble desk. In other words, a single piece of furniture. My Dad was much more adventurous. He actually bought a table and 6 chairs and almost gave up his day job to put them all together. So much for running his business!

Ikea’s approach is so win-win. They reduce production costs and increase profits while we get to prove ourselves. Show that we mere mortals can slay the Ikea beast and actually build something. There’s real kudos in being able to put a few bits of wood together and turn an Allen key. It’s almost as good as being able to boast: “I made it myself!”

Of course, no one ever expects us to be a linguist and actually pronounce all those luxurious Swedish product names, which is where my skill set naturally lies. I find it much easier to speak convoluted Swedish than work out how A slots into B. I have no spacial skills or engineering capabilities whatsoever and still can’t find A or B when I bought that desk back in high school.

While Jamie Oliver’s Greenhouse doesn’t come with an Allen key or any other kind of doobywacker tool, as I said, it does come in a flatpack. There are plastic sheets, an instruction booklet, dirt and seeds and stickers to cover up your mistakes. While I did mention something about constructing a “house”, I must confess that we’re talking about a small greenhouse. Indeed, you could say it is the doll’s house of greenhouses. Indeed, it reminds me of the Fisher Price Doll’s house my daughter had as a two year old before her dolls moved into their grand 2 storey mansion along with a considerable amount of accumulated flotsam and jetsam. Those dolls can barely breathe in there, let alone stretch their legs.

Well, my daughter has never been to Ikea and she certainly knows nothing about Allen keys or impressing your friends with your impressive DIY prowess. She was being pragmatic and stuck it together with sticky tape instead of putting the slots together. It was now up to me, or should I say Geoff to save the day. I did have a go but I’m more of a sower than a builder. He had it knocked up in no time. This greenhouse was going to weather life’s storms.

Now, it was time to sow the seeds and once again our daughter took charge of HER project.

This was where Jamie’s Greenhouse really impressed me. It had this special dirt. She added water and the dirt swelled up to double, even quadruple its size. There were little packets of seeds with all those garden herbs we’ve always intended to plant but had always put off. Everything we needed to start a garden was in the box. We planted the seeds. Added water. Remembered to water them and experienced almost instant gratification.

Cress

Cress

Two days later, we have cress. Cress is the perfect seed to plant for kids who need instant gratification.

I’m impressed!

Cress

Cress

Last night we had some very strong winds and although the roof blew off, the house is still standing and it has made it through today’s winds unscathed. I’ve got to say that Jamie Oliver has more than just a pretty face and when he’s finished at Woollies, he should give Ikea a call. I’d love to get a real live chef thrown in with my next desk.

XX Rowena