Kitchen Myths

photo-151One of the benefits of being currently underemployed is I get to watch morning TV as I go about my household chores. Lately, I’ve decided to stop watching the morning news shows (too scary), and have been watching Jamie Oliver’s Thirty Minute Meals instead. The trouble with this sort of TV show is you get to thinking that you too can create something fabulous, in half an hour, in one pot for dinner… With lots of spare time on my hands, I started going through my folder of recipes I rip out from magazines, which I’ve been meaning to try for ages. Last night, it was time to try something new.

Chicken Pasta Bake. It looked so simple, and implied in the instructions were that it would take twenty minutes to make, was easy to prepare and was perfect for busy, time poor people. That’s not me at the moment, but pushing through the social guilt of not being a stressed-out, high flying career woman, I gave it a go. The above photo is the end result of this bloody recipe. Jamie Oliver would be disgusted. It took me forever to make – at least one and a half hours. The kitchen resembled a war zone, as I filled the dishwasher up entirely with pots and pans. I got so hot and flustered, I completely lost the plot and ended up screaming at my muse, as my ‘ready for 7pm dinner dish’ ended up being served at 8pm.

The dish was entirely ordinary.

Which brings me to the conclusion that a lot of those untried recipes, which promise to be ready in half an hour, should just stay in that recipe folder. Much like the perfect career, the perfect marriage or perfect children, these images we are sold by the likes of Jamie Oliver, Nigella and Rick Stein, are like episodes of The Bold and The Beautiful. They exist in a world of fantasy, far beyond the reach of an everyday woman… (The Bold and the Beautiful is on before Jamie Oliver in the mornings, so I know what I’m talking about).

However, there are exceptions to all rules and in the true spirit of a true one pot dinner, I am going to share a wonderful chorizo sausage stew I make. You can cook it in one big pot. It tastes awesome. It’s easy to make. It only takes half an hour. I think there is a lesson in all of this. Probably that I should leave the TV turned off in the mornings, and instead concentrate on my studying my Chinese lessons from YouTube (yup, that’s something else you can do when you are underemployed. Learn a new language). Hmm, I wonder if they do cooking tutorials too?




4 chorizo sausages, sliced

1 brown onion, chopped

2 crushed cloves of garlic

1 red capsicum, chopped

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp smoked paprika

400g can chopped tomatoes

2 cups beef stock

420g can corn kernels, drained

400g can cannellini beans, drained

1 bay leaf

2 tsps chopped fresh thyme (I use dried if I don’t have fresh)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Put the cut up sausages into a large pot and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until brown. Add the onion, garlic and capsicum. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft. Throw in the spices and stir around for about 30 seconds before adding everything else. I sometimes put tomato paste in as well, if I want the stew to be thicker. Simmer for about 20 minutes and serve with garlic bread. You can also top the stew with a dollop of sour cream, so take that Jamie Oliver!

What A Week…

photo 1-13Firstly, a big apology for the lack of posts in May. ‘Jane, we’ve really missed you. Where have you been?’ I hear you say. Well, I’ve been a bit down. Not getting any work at the hospital where you’re employed as a casual nurse, sending off your manuscript to publishers who don’t get back to you, realising you haven’t lost those ten kilos yet, and nearly ripping your thumb off while dismounting from your aerial hoop at circus class can take it’s toll on a gal’s joie de vie. However, as always, there is one person I look to for guidance and courage.

My Celine.

‘Celeine, what would you do if you were me?’ And invariably, I feel her reaching out to me to say ‘Jane, dust yourself off, hold your head high, and get back out there.’

It was also an extremely busy week in this usually quiet town. I got interviewed by a TV station about my writing, attended a healthcare protest on the steps of parliament, and then we had an armed siege not far from my house which closed off the centre of the city.

My friend Lauren also made me this totally delicious recipe which probably won’t help me lose 10kgs, but is so tasty and easy to make, I’m going to share it.

Boursin Stuffed Mushrooms In Chilli Garlic Butter


3 large Swiss mushrooms, or 6 smaller button mushrooms (but not the tiny ones)

50g garlic and herb Boursin cheese

20g butter

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 red chilli, finely chopped (add more if you love chilli)

Cracked black pepper


Heath the oven to 190 C/376F. Pull the stems out of the mushrooms and discard. Next open the packet of cheese and try not to eat it all before you use it. Squish the cheese into the mushroom caps, then place the mushrooms into a baking dish.

Heat the butter to melt, and add the crushed garlic and chilli. Spoon the mixture onto the cheese-filled mushrooms, sprinkle with black pepper and put in the oven to bake for around 20 minutes.