Tag Archives: masterchef

Soggy Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This weekend, I recommend you find yourself a good pair of gumboots and jump in a few puddles. No one knows you around here. So, it doesn’t really matter if you embarrass yourself. Besides, you’ll probably only get a few death stares from the local duck population wanting to evict you from their “pond”. You could say, that they’ve made a “pond conversions” to the  local potholes. Just call them “duckgineers”.

Well, you’re in luck today because you can try my “Christmas Cake”. In typical fashion, I stumbled across an intriguing recipe just before Christmas but the cake needed to rest for two months. So, this Christmas Cake was never going to be ready in time for Christmas and to compound my stupidity, this recipe made enough cake to feed an entire shearing shed. It contained 3kgs of dried fruit alone. It’s called the Aussie Harvest Cake and has grated apple in it and for the dried fruit, I used included figs, dates in addition to the usual sultanas and raisins and made for an interesting, moist and dense cake.

Anyway, I thought you might like to try a slice.

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The local radio station broadcast from my daughter’s school last week.

Speaking of cooking, last Monday local radio hosts, Rabbit & Julie broadcast live from my daughter’s school. The Julie of this  combo is Julie Goodwin, Australia’s first Masterchef. Knowing JULIE was coming to the school, I was up the freeway in a flash armed with my camera and copy of her cookbook. I was so excited and gushed profusely, embarrassingly so, but I met JULIE!! You can read about it here.

 

This year, I’ve backed off from my blog for a bit to follow up on the wealth of experiences we had on our three week trip to Tasmania. This has not only involved getting the photos printed and sorted. It’s also involved capturing my husband’s personal and family history. Although you can join Ancestry, that gets expensive and I have found a free, alternative source of much of my research…the online newspapers. For better of worse, unless your ancestors were very rich or well-known, most of what you pick up is things like court cases, criminal matters or acts of sheer stupidity. So, these research escapades can be rather intriguing, entertaining…or horrific.

I have been doing this research at a rather intense and rapid pace. So, my head has become something like a story calculator or processor adding up all these details and cross-referencing individuals and being rather surprised to find some very strong trends throughout. One of the interesting ones was that quite a few branches of Geoff’s family were involved with horse breeding, racing, trotting, pacing and even journalism. That really surprised me. I’ve also come out of all this research feeling that life is very random, yet not. Or, perhaps it is your fate that’s random. There are those people who die young and others who pass in their nineties.It made me feel like God was playing around with a couple of dice up there in heaven. Yet, there were strong threads as well such as a strong scientific mind, which spread across the board. I still don’t know quite what to make of it all.

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All this ploughing through the old newspapers has certainly dug up a lot of stories involving the family and local area. There was the sighting of a flying saucer at George Town. There was the guy who had 5-10 whiskies and “no lunch” who then drove his truck home but skidded and flipped it on a turn losing his life. At the inquest, when the coroner asked if he was inebriated after drinking all that whisky, a couple of witnesses said: “no”. Anyone who can walk after that much whiskey, must have a cast iron constitution. Shame, it didn’t carry across into his driving capacity. Of course, these days you’d be taking away his keys and giving him a lift.

This coming week, is going to be very full-on.

Our son turns 13 on Wednesday…the beginning of the “Teenage Years”. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been an American sitcom by that name. Or, perhaps there has and I’ve just missed it. I don’t know whether you’d class it as humour or horror  and how you’d rate it but there’s never be a dull moment.

Thursday…Thursday 9th March…is the Selective High Schools Test. This is being held all around NSW for our selective, academic schools. Our daughter, who is currently in a selective primary school class, along with most of her class mates, will be sitting for the test. It’s been hanging over us for more than a year and as much as you’d like to pretend it’s not hovering in the shadows, it’s there.

My reasonings for her to attend the selective high school, are quite complex. Naturally, you want the best for your child and ideally every kid gets the opportunity to feel comfortable, be accepted and not be “the outcast”. This can be a real issue for bright students. Yet, I’ve really noticed how well the kids get on in my daughter’s class and a number of them have told me that they struggled to fit in at their old school but feel comfortable now. That’s really important. After all, even if you enjoy time on your own, that should be a choice. All these kids get on really well together  and it would be really great to see them stay together and also meet up with similar, like-minded people. From this perspective, selective schools aren’t just about being elitist but also allow birds of a feather to flock together.

What I have also noticed, is that many of the kids in my daughter’s class aren’t just academic high achievers, but they’re also high achievers in other fields like chess, dancing, music and sport. This means that when you get these kids together in a class, you create a fertile breeding ground for all sorts of ideas and skills and it’s not necessarily just about academics. That said, moving into high school, academics is going to become more important.

So, I would really appreciate your prayers for my daughter, her friends and our local kids to get into our local selective school. There’s a lot of talk about kids in Sydney opting for our local selective school as it has a lower entry mark. They can catch the train up from Sydney quite easily. Moreover, they’re heavily tutored when many local families can’t afford that. Local kids who are really bright, probably still make it in and I’m not too sure whether the hoards from Sydney are a fabrication but there’s definitely a contingent and they must be taking away local places.

Anyway, that’s me on my soap box for this weekend. Speaking of the weekend, it’s almost over here and Monday’s looming overhead like a bad smell. Wish it would go away!

How has your week been? I’d love to hear from you

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share  now hosted by Nerd in the Brain and you can click here for the linky.

Best wishes,

xx Rowena

 

 

Challenged By My Mini Chef.

Our kids are currently on school holidays and yesterday, my 10 year old daughter issued me with a “Mystery Box Challenge”.

A what?

If you haven’t been watching Masterchef, a Mystery Box Challenge involves mixing what can seem a very erroneous combination of ingredients, into more than a “concoction” or worse still, a “mixture”. Speaking of mixtures, my kids have been very good at wasting swags of ingredients making mixtures over the years so I’m not so keen on mixtures!

Yet, there was that excitement in her voice and before I knew it, she’d lured me in. I have to admit I was more than a little curious about whether we could take any four ingredients and make something worth eating…or not?

Amelia & Lady

Our daughter with our dog, Lady  who is a keen consumer of just about any food-like substance.

At the same time, all that really mattered was her smile, spending time together and knitting memories together into some kind of never-ending spangled scarf.

With all of that at stake, who cares whether ingredients get wasted, frying pans and saucepans BURN or even if the kitchen goes up in flames…just as long as nobody gets hurt?!!

Getting back to the challenge, it appears Miss has the whole thing sorted and I’m told that we each get a mystery box containing four ingredients, an open pantry and we decided to leave our staples in the fridge. By the way, if you’re thinking that “staples” are those  metal things you push through paper, you’d be wrong. These are your cooking staples such as eggs, milk, flour and butter.

So, the adventure begins with selecting the four ingredients for my daughter’s Mystery Box. When it came to choosing these ingredients, I decided to be kind. She is an incredibly picky eater and is the incarnation of the Princess and The Pea. So, I gave her a Granny Smith apple, toasted muesli and honey. I half expected her to mix it with Greek yogurt to make what she calls a parfait, which she’d made a few times before.

However, she had other plans…

She sliced the apple and fried it up in melted butter and brown sugar. This turned out really well and was a real success. She served it up with some fresh basil, which went surprisingly well with it.  From there, however, she went a little overboard and used way too many ingredients and couldn’t seem to decide whether her dish was savory or sweet. She fried up some corn and peas with the muesli, which wasn’t too bad but while she was plating up, she added a few spears of tinned asparagus. These really clashed with the rest of the dish.

While this plate is already sounding rather overloaded, wait! There’s more!

She also served her dish up with a cup with a pouring sauce, which, just let me say wasn’t the best element of her dish. I can’t quite remember what was in it but there was chocolate topping, Mixed Spice and Golden Syrup and I did actually try it on the food. I might not earn full marks as a Mum, but I do try!

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My Daughter’s Dish…loved her presentation with that sprinkling of shredded coconut and her use of colour! I remember hearing something about “rainbow colours”.

Besides, I know just how sensitive cooks can get about their creations and that it’s best not to be too blunt when things don’t work out.

Overall, she did really well although she’s gone away to my parents’ for the weekend leaving me with a stack of dirty pots and pans…some of which, are looking rather caramelised!

I might also mention that as Madam was plating up, she burned her fried cheese. Moreover, in her haste as those last seconds were running out, she threw it out of the pan and straight onto the blazing hot plate. Immediately, the cheese started smoking and nearly caught fire. Master Mum to the rescue once again!

Meanwhile, Miss had given me my Mystery Box. She wasn’t so kind with her selection of ingredients. She gave me a tin of sardines, a tin of tuna, a packet of Grain Waves (chips) and salt.

I decided to make a Tuna Mornay and this was going to be dinner. However, my husband can’t stand “cat food” and so rather than trying to make the tuna the “hero of the dish”, I needed to hide it. That’s the opposite of what they do in the Masterchef Kitchen. I guess this could, therefore, mean casting the tuna as “the villain”. I immediately fry an onion and once it’s browned, add the tuna. Added some left over chick peas from the fridge, cream and grated cheese. I’m trying to think of ways of transforming tuna mornay into something inventive, tasty. In other words, how to turn it into something else. I add about a handful of sliced macadamia nuts for some crunch (Masterchef is huge on crunch!!) and would’ve liked to add some lemon juice and thyme but we were out. Added dried Rosemary instead, longing for that very well-stocked Masterchef pantry!! After adding an egg and more cheese somewhere along the way, I coated the patty in the crushed grain waves and grated cheese and turned up the heat. I wanted to turn it crunchy. Broke it up into smaller patty sizes and thinking of sang choy bow, decided to serve in up in lettuce leaves.

Presentation isn’t my strength but I felt compelled to go to some effort to get into the spirit of things, especially as my daughter was making a few comments about it not looking “very Masterchef”. After crunchifying my patties, I served them up on lettuce leaves with a splattering of diced Granny Smith apple for tartness and a few slices of tomato and a drizzling of French dressing.

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Not your average Tuna Mornay…My Dish.

After adding all of that camouflage, I successfully managed to de-heroify the tuna to my husband’s liking and I was pleased with my dish…what ever it was in the end.

Getting back to the sardines…as much as I was tempted to drape a few sardines over the top of my dish and forcing my daughter to eat them, I decided not to buy into her trickery. Instead, I fed them to the dogs. After all, I’d bought them for Bilbo after his coat was moth-eaten and mauled from a severe flea allergy. As much as my daughter might have wanted to disgust me with this addition to the mystery box, eating sardines was just taking things too far!

Of course, no home Mini Chef Challenge is complete without photographic coverage. With my camera out in the boot, dashed out to the car towards the end of the cook, which my daughter decreed “wasn’t very Masterchef”! I don’t think she was very impressed. However, my dish was finished well before the hour was up and I couldn’t possibly have a Minichef Mystery Box Challenge and NOT photograph it! This is one of those Kodak unforgettable moments!

I have always found such meaning in cooking/baking for those I love but there’s also something truly beautiful in cooking with them as well…mixing a good dose of love into whatever your making, which has to be the ultimate secret ingredient!

Have you done any family cooking or baking lately? How did it go? Any mini of Master Chefs?

Hope you’ve had a great week!

xx Rowena

 

Strawberry & Macadamia Nut Muffins

Tonight, I converted a healthy punnet of fresh strawberries into scrumptious Strawberry and Macadamia Muffins with dubious nutritional worth.

Not so long ago, I could well have called these “Healthy” without a second thought. No guilt whatsoever… just like banana cake.

However, thanks to the wowsers, “healthy” has now been redefined. No matter how well you disguise it, anything with refined sugar is now evil! This means, of course, that even though my muffins are overflowing with fresh strawberries and macadamia nuts, they’re now “from the wrong side of the tracks”.

Just like me!

I’m usually not just adding evil sugar to my recipes, but also that evil of evils…chocolate!

Indeed, I was sorely tempted to add white or dark chocolate chips to these muffins but resisted.I wanted the strawberries to be the hero. I didn’t want to sacrifice their flavour to the chocolate and see how the muffins went without it.

We didn’t miss the chocolate. We ate our muffins hot straight out of the oven. With their lush strawberry flavour and macadamia nut crunch, they were scrumptious.

These muffins would make a delicious treat with a refreshing cup of tea, with enough goodness to escape being what I’d call an “indulgence” and you don’t have to feel too guilty after all.

strawberries

 

After all, strawberries are packed full of goodness. They’re an excellent source of antioxidant-promoting vitamin C and manganese. They are also a very good source of dietary fiber, iodine, and folate. Plus, strawberries are a good source of copper, potassium, biotin, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fatty acids.

All that goodness tells me, it’s time to go and grab seconds before I miss out!

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Strawberries, Macadamias and Sugar…Yum!

Strawberry & Macadamia Nut Muffins

Ingredients

  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) milk
  • 80 grams butter, melted (1/3 cup or 5 1/3 Tbsp.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 475 grams sifted flour (2 cups)
  • 160 grams caster sugar (2/3 cup)
  • 2 teas baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 punnet fresh strawberries
  • 120 grams chopped macadamia nuts
  • Extra castor sugar & chopped macadamia nuts for topping.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C (400°F)
  2. Grease the bottoms only of 12 standard-size muffin cups, or line with paper wrappers; set aside.
  3. Finely chop all but 3 of the strawberries and put aside.
  4. Finely chop roasted Macadamia nuts.
  5. Melt butter in the microwave on high for around a minute.
  6. In a large bowl, beat together the milk, melted butter, and egg.
  7. Stir in the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt just until combined; do not overmix.
  8. Gently fold in the strawberries and macadamia nuts.
  9. Hull and slice through strawberries and place a slice on top of each muffin.
  10. Roughly chop Macadamia nuts and sprinkle around the slice of strawberry.
  11. Sprinkle the top of each muffin finely with castor sugar.
  12. Spoon batter into the prepared tins; sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  13. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until golden and puffed.
  14. Immediately invert onto wire racks.
  15. Serve warm or cool.

Enjoy with Love!

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 22nd May, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share. I apologise for adding two posts to the link up but I added the Chocolate post by mistake and being well past my bedtime, I’ll have to leave it be.

This week I’m asking you to fasten your seat belts for what’s not quite a 1000km drive from the NSW Central Coast to Surfers Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast. We’ve driven up here for the weekend for Geoff’s sister’s 60th Birthday.

So, in addition to offering you the usual choice of tea or coffee, I’m also offering you a glass of bubbly sarsaparilla, a popular Queensland drink (which could well be root beer in the States).

However, before we get too settled on the Queensland side of the border, I thought I’d fill you in on the previous week.

Last Monday, I finally had an ultrasound done on the lump on my arm. While the lump felt noticeable enough, it proved quite difficult to pick up on the ultrasound, which is a good thing. It meant that it showed no sign of being a cyst and is probably a lipodema or bubble of fat. That was naturally quite a relief as I was concerned that a weird lump on the arm could be a secondary for much bigger troubles lurking somewhere else.

What a relief!

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A Cappuccino & A Mookie…What more could I want?

On Wednesday, I caught the train down to Sydney to for an appointment with my neurologist. That was all expected to be pretty routine. However, the appointment is not the story.

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Meeting My Mookie, Koi Dessert Bar.

Rather, it provided the justification for me to check out the Koi Dessert Bar in Kensington Street, Chippendale not far from Central Railway. Of course, I had to change trains at Central and so this provided the perfect justification for what really was quite a detour from my appointment in St Leonards, on the opposite side of Sydney Harbour and there are other, much more efficient stations for changing trains than Central but they didn’t have dessert bars. More to the point, they didn’t have a dessert bar run by last year’s Masterchef Dessert guru, Reynold, to tantalise their taste buds and lead them completely astray.

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Reynold…The King of Desserts.

Needless to say, I was completely blown away by my dessert experience which you can read about here: My Affair With Chocolate Mookie

After leaving Koi, I walked around the adjacent streets, photographing crumbling old buildings, posters, graffiti as well as checking out a few of the shops. This used to be the Tooth’s Brewery site and I still remember workers wearing blue singlets and Stubbies (shorts) pouring out onto George Street as I walked past on my way home from work.

The vibe around there is very different now.

It was quite a nostalgic journey and I would have loved more time to head down to Glebe and revisit Sydney University, where I did my degree. So many fabulous memories and seemingly no chance of going back.

Anyway, that was Wednesday done and dusted.

Friday, was spent in the car driving up to Geoff’s other sister’s place in the hinterland behind Byron Bay, which is our base for the weekend and we drive home Monday. We had a wonderful picnic in Surfers Paradise and went back to our niece’s stunning hotel win expansive view across the bright lights of Surfers and out along the beach. Brought back many memories of childhood holidays there.  I’ll be writing more about that during the week and for next weekend’s Coffee Share.

I also wanted to apologise for being a bit off the air of late. The A-Z Challenge took a lot out of me and writing about some difficult times for me, raised many questions and dragged me down further than I’d thought. It is great to be a survivor and overcome your hurdles but I am still human. That so-called process of “moving forward” is actually much more complex than we’d like. It’s great to get an ink pad and stamp “better” on our foreheads,  but perhaps “Work In Progress” would be a more honest and realistic descriptor.

It’s done me a lot of good to get away and have such a change of scenery this week.

Anyway, how was your week? I don’t have Internet access at the moment and am posting this by connecting my  laptop to my husband’s phone. I didn’t want to miss you all, even though I’ve slacked off lately.

Hope you’re all doing well.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share. Please click here for the Linky

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

My Affair With A Chocolate Mookie.

Yesterday, I met my chocolate Adonais and fell deeply in love. Indeed, staring doe-eyed at his lush sensual exquisiteness, it was love at first sight. I was swooning.

Of course, I couldn’t dream of taking a bite and spoiling such untouched perfection straight away. Or, heaven forbid, brutally stab it with my fork.

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Meeting My Mookie.

Oh no! I had to wait.Soak it all up with my eyes.

A flawlessly smooth, dark chocolate dome with a purple pansy on top and a smattering of magic gold dust, I was in love. Not Tim Tam love, which I experience almost every night with my evening cup of decaf tea. No, this was something inter-galactic. A wild, unrestrained passion, which sent all of my senses into overdrive.

Indeed, my passion was so strong, that I even started to question myself. Blown away by feelings so far beyond lust, attraction and soul mates created in the same forge, I felt such a strong vibe between us. Yet, I am a married woman…a married woman with two kids, two dogs and a home. I had a lot at stake.

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So, naturally I had to wonder whether my love for this luscious chocolate creation called a “Mookie”, equated to a betrayal of my sacred marriage vows. Had I committed the ultimate, unforgivable sin? Me who puts such weight on the importance of good character and holds the Golden Rule as my personal holy grail? Would I now be going direct to hell, without so much as a stop at Go to collect my $200?

It was starting to look that way.

Yet, as I said, I still hadn’t taken a bite. I hadn’t actually crossed that line.

Then, my cappuccino arrived.

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It’s a sign….love on a cappuccino.   Photo: Rowena Newton.

That’s when I knew it was love. Not lust, fancy or a momentary lapse of reason but the real thing. There was a heart etched in the foam. It was a sign! We were going to be together forever and ever living happily ever after.

However, if our relationship was really going to kick off, I couldn’t keep sitting there goggle-eyed. I had to make a move, even if it ultimately meant my lover’s death, as we fused together becoming one flesh.

I wasn’t disappointed. Indeed, I could feel myself diving through his lush chocolate sweetness in the same way I’d paddled through that chocolate river as a kid watching Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. It was an out of body experience.

Adonais, who in real life goes by the name Mookie, could well be described as “a work of art”. However, paint never tasted this good. I savoured each delicate mouthful and then, as I’d long suspected, Mookie had a heart…a heart of rich, red tangy raspberry gel.

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Mookie’s Beautiful heart.   Photo: Rowena Newton.

What more could a woman want?

By the way, while I’m delving into Mookie’s anatomical details, I should also mention that he sits on a biscuit base, known as a chocolate sable (I cheated and had to ask. When it comes to food writing, I am very much a novice and could well have described it as a “whatsy-me-call-it” or “thinga-me-gig”). If you have ever watched Masterchef, then you’ll know that a sensational dessert has to have sweetness, creaminess, tang to cut through as well as that all important “crunch”. So, the biscuit provided the crunch, although I thought I also detected a subtle touch of crunch in the mouse but couldn’t be sure.

Naturally, when you fall so deeply in love, you want to spend the rest of your life together. Say “I do”. Walk down the aisle and head off together on the ultimate chocolate honeymoon.

However, I’m a married woman and there’s the added complication of my kids. How could I possibly run away from home? Leave Geoff and the kids, not to mention the two dogs, behind? Trade all of that in for a Mookie? Or, to to be precise, a succession of Mookies. After all, one Mookie could never be enough.

That was when reality threw quite a spanner in the works and I had to wake up.

So, that was it. I had to leave Mookie behind. Be responsible and call it quits. Of course, our final adieu was filled with such anguish but I took a deep breath and made the break. Toughened up.

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Delectable Delights!         Photo: Rowena Newton.

However, before heading home, I had to atone for my sins. Sorry, Mookie. I didn’t take you with me. Wanting to try more of the selection, I bought a Mango Yuzu (a mango mouse) and a Tiramisu for the family (which, of course, included me!)

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Heaven on Earth.

After all, the family would have killed me once I confessed to going to Koi, a dessert bar in Sydney’s urban Chippendale, not far from Central Station, and didn’t bring anything home.

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                Reynold Poernomo                                                  Photo: Rowena Newton

While you could wonder how my kids know anything about a dessert bar in urban Sydney, Koi is owned by the family of Reynold Poernomo who we all fell in love with on Masterchef 2015. Reynold made the most exquisite desserts, which totally tantalized my tastebuds. Indeed, I found out about Koi when Reynold returned to the show last week and the contestants had to make his dessert: “Moss”.

Indeed, as much as I LOVE watching Masterchef, it can be incredibly cruel watching all those scrumptious dishes on TV and you can’t taste a thing. It’s particularly hard, too, when you’re there eating leftovers and the hero of your dish is a limp carrot, which somehow responded to CPR when it should have been “retired” to the worm farm.

“Such is life”, Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly, said before being hanged at the gallows.

I know what he meant.

So, that is what took me to Koi while I was down in Sydney heading to a medical appointment on the other side of Sydney Harbour. It was to fulfil all of my unadulterated chocolate fantasies and I wasn’t disappointed.

Indeed, I know I’ll be back.

However, before I leave, I have one last wish.

I wish I could be a kid again and lick the plate. While it’s not a good look for a 40 something mother of two (that’s how similar acts of insanity are routinely reported in the news), leaving even those few last remaining crumbs, is such a waste!

I’m sure you’d agree!

xx Rowena

PS I will admit that after I finished my Mookie, I did consider buying a second dessert. I was there alone without anyone watching, pointing the finger or calling me a glutton. I could do whatever I liked. Moreover, it was lunch time and surely God isn’t going to strike me down if I have two desserts for lunch just this once…even if I do have a Vegemite sandwich from home stashed away in my bag. It wouldn’t be the first time that a sandwich has arrived home untouched… Thanks kids!! However, I behaved but only because I know I’ll be back!

Koi is located at 46 Kensington Street, Chippendale, Sydney.

Phone 02 9212-1230.

Mothers’ Day Coffee Share.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share!

It’s Mother’s Day here in Australia. So Happy Mothers’ Day and I hope you’ve all had a great week. To read about our Mother’s Day, here’s Mothers’ Day & The Ghosts of Mothers Past.

Mummy

Cards and flowers from my kids.

If we were having coffee tonight, I’d invite you to join me watching Masterchef Australia. The contestants are doing an invention test using meat and three veg with English Master chef Marco Pierre White. No lamb chops with peas and mashed potato and diced carrot here. Two minutes to go and the tension’s intense. Go! Go! Go! The music’s accelerating as the plating up begins. Oops…under cooked…DISASTER!!!!…30 seconds to go! 10, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1…Time’s Up!

Masterchef

This is cruel. Watching Masterchef when we’ve had an express meal. It’s Mother’s Day…not Mummy Masterchef Night. Mummy does nothing night! Nothing at all!

The stars just twinkled at me and said, who are you kidding?

By the way, the new Australian season of Masterchef kicked off last Sunday. To celebrate, I chucked all the limp carrots out and wrote this post.

Sunday night is a precursor to Monday and the start of another week. However, at least I’ve had a pajama  day and been able to take it easy. No breakfast in bed but I did receive hand made cards and flowers from the garden from the kids and a tulip from Geoff and bought flowers. I also had a surprise for Geoff. His mother passed away 16 years ago and on Saturday I found some Willow pattern china at the opportunity shop. Geoff’s Mum also collected elephants and I found a Mothers’ Day card with an elephant on it. I don’t also remember my MIL on Mothers’ Day but I did this year.

Geoff as baby slide

Geoff as a baby.

Tonight, I wrote about how we celebrate an Australian Mothers’ Day, while making a tribute to mothers past. More than a history, buff, I did honours in history at university and I am mindful that women haven’t always had choice. That even an education, is a relatively recent leap forward…not only for women but the general population. Indeed, an education is still beyond the reach of much of the world’s population. So, we need to be thankful. Not take what we have for granted.

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A family photo with Bilbo as a pup Mother’s Day, 2007.

I also want to be thankful for my kids, my family and wallow in that today, without looking over my shoulder, which I must say I’m doing less and less now they’re getting older. To be perfectly honest, I am probably better suited to older kids and I am in much better health now too, which certainly lifts my outlook.

Happy Family Golden Book

The Happy Family

This week, both my kids are doing the NAPLAN tests. How do I begin to explain our Australian NAPLAN tests? Parents stare at each other blankly and I’m not even sure that my kids even know what NAPLAN is and they’re about to sit the !@#@# thing. All I know is that while the teachers downplay it and say it tests them more than the kids, I know NAPLAN will definitely be counting towards my daughter’s high school applications, even though high school is 2 years away. At the moment, she’s focused on applying for our local selective high school. Try explaining that to a ten year old who has changed schools this year and is fighting a rare digestive condition, gastroparesis. She might only be 10 years old but this year has been quite stressful. She’s also learning dancing, violin, Baritone Horn and performing in the Scout Gang Show. I haven’t turned her into a performing seal doing grueling hours of tutoring. Will she regret it? Or, can she pull this entire thing off whatever it is? Sometimes, it feels like we’re collectively passing through into some other dimension and it really is full on. Naturally, we need to aim high and not settle without going for it, which like it or not, brings the whole family into the dynamic. It’s hard for a ten year old to see the bigger, longer term picture and not get caught up in the now.

Meanwhile, I’m still recovering from the A-Z Challenge. I’m now in the process of cutting and pasting my posts back into Word and print off the DRAFT. Can’t believe I wrote so much! Thank you very much for those who have checked out my posts. Tomorrow, we all post our survival posts.

I’m so sorry. I just realised that I’ve reached the end of our coffee share and I realised that I forgot to offer you tea or coffee. My apologies. I was so focused on all that Masterchef food that I wasn’t thinking about drinks. I’m a lousy host but I’ll make it up to you with a few Tim Tams. These ones are dark chocolate so the kids haven’t devoured them all.

Hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catching up!

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster.  You can join this week’s Coffee Share on her blog or by clicking on the “Linkup Linky“.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

No More Limp Carrot… Masterchef Australia Returns!

If you know anything at all about cooking, then you’ll already know that fresh produce is the secret to cooking like a master chef. After all, a meal is only as good as its ingredients.

However, if you’re cooking at home, you’ll also know that “fresh” can be open to interpretation. As long as that limp carrot hasn’t gone moldy, she’ll be right. Indeed, that very same limp carrot provides its own unique sense of “theatre”. It might not be Masterchef, but once it’s in the mince, it’s an unsung “hero”.

After all, fresh produce isn’t something you can always pull out of a hat. It can mean running back and forth to the shops like a yoyo and quite frankly, I have better things to do.

That leaves growing your own.

Of course, we have our own veggie patch and a corresponding worm farm.

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The Veggie Graveyard: Thyme has become grass & the corn has died.

However, while friends have flourishing veggie patches which could feed an army, ours is sad. The beans died. The peas died. Quite frankly, I’m totally mystified how the tomato plant has not only survived, but metamorphosed into a veritable triffid about to take over the world. Yet, while this monster plant has produced a multitude of green, cherry tomatoes, we are yet to see one RED tomato. We don’t know where they’re going, but even covering them in wire mesh hasn’t produced a yield.

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Tomatoes: At least something is growing!

Sorry, spuds. I almost forgot. We’re also growing potatoes. My daughter just seized my laptop to ensure I didn’t leave them out.

So, despite my best efforts, two somethings are still growing in the veggie patch. All is not dead…yet!

Anyway, last Sunday night, Masterchef returned to Australian TV screens. Much to my deep shame and embarrassment, we weren’t feasting on a sumptuous Sunday roast. Rather, we were eating re-heated chicken and mashed potato without dessert. I remember making Jamie Oliver’s Lasagne during last year’s series but during the intervening months, I’ve lost my mojo. Summer was so hot that I tried not to cook anything. After all, you could fry an egg on the footpath and melt chocolate on the bench. Being a particularly long and hot Summer, it’s only just getting cool enough for me to think “cook”. We’re been eating quite a lot of salad.

So, after this rather long sojourn, the return of Masterchef was an awakening…the call of the wild. It’s only been two days and tonight I was already starting to cook with Matt Preston’s voice talking in my ear. “Flavour…where’s the flavour? Where are you taking this?” I swear I’m toiling away in the Masterchef kitchen…a thousand miles away from home!

Definitely, no more limp carrots around here!

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Shepherd’s Pie.

Tonight, we had Shepherd’s Pie and I can assure you this was no ordinary shepherd. While it wasn’t quite Masterchef, it was well on the way. At least, it would have been if I’d had a bottle of crusty red wine. However, with Dijon mustard, garlic and fresh Basil from the garden (another resilient survivor), the mince was stewing with flavour.

However, I must confess there were also other elements, which weren’t very “Masterchef”. That includes boiling the potatoes in their skins in the microwave and using grated tasty cheese straight from the bag instead of your authentic Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano. However, the cheese melted beautifully in the oven and the smell was divine.

However, what really mattered…I had no complaints. That’s quite a rarity around here. My kids have extremely discerning palates.

That could be one of the downsides of my love of cooking and watching Masterchef. That when I cook ordinary meals in between my more memorable creations, they know it. Aside from a few limp carrots, they’ve never had spaghetti on toast and I have my own peculiar fussiness myself.  Prefer to make things from scratch.

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Baking with Mister back in 2007, aged 3.

While I’m not on the show, I’m operating against our own clock here. We’re needing to bolt dinner down and bail into Mum’s Taxi and our son is off to Scouts.

Indeed, every night seems to come with its own inbuilt pressure test.

With that type of pressure, why on earth am I watching Masterchef when I should just get a BBQ chook  and have an instant meal?

Personally, despite trying to juggle a multitude of competing pressures, I value and believe in good, nutritious food. While I might not be wanting to cook like a master chef every night, I do want to produce meals which taste sensational, are nutritionally balanced and teach my kids how to put a meal together. Show them how to produce a symphony of flavours bursting with vitamins, imagination and creativity. That food doesn’t necessarily come in a box. That food is so much more, than something to shovel in your mouth to satisfy your hunger.

family at Yoda

Indeed, that food is an experience, producing memories by the mouthful…especially when it’s made with love.

At least, it will be as long as Masterchef is on the screen.

Then, slowly but surely we’ll inevitably return back to that stick of limp carrot.

xx Rowena