It was the night before Christmas…

photo-76The day before Christmas…

Today is the equivalent of going on a complicated overseas holiday, to a destination you are not entirely sure how you should pack for. You get to the immigration gate and you can no longer pack another pair of knickers, or some more sunblock. All the shops are closed, and suddenly it’s too late to post anymore Christmas cards, or buy anymore gifts.

That’s how I feel about Christmas. As for the food situation, I blame all the stupid Christmas specials they put on TV in Australia for the mess in my fridge.

Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson (OMG, what a year she’s had. Love her to bits), Gordon Ramsay and Rick Stein. I’m so confused… We don’t have snow in summer, so why are we roasting a chicken tomorrow, and boiling a pudding in a big pot on the stove?

Well Jane, I hear you say, what’s so hard about that? What’s so bloody hard is that we just went through two days of the hottest temperatures in December ever on record – 43C degrees (110F). Sitting inside a house about to burst into flames from the sheer heat outside, while watching Jamie Oliver cooking in the snow (and everyone else mentioned above), is just wrong. I feel like I should be bounding out my front door, to carol singers, snow, and a hundred things roasting in the oven, while surrounded by loving family members, who never make you so angry you could murder them. Instead, we should all be at the beach, bounding out of the surf in our bikinis (another fantasy which won’t be happening,) drinking martinis and eating prawns with salad.

However, a gal and her Muse can make the best of any situation and we have a lovely Christmas day planned, with some friends, food which won’t need hours in the oven, and some bubbles in a glass (we can’t call it champagne anymore – Australian sparkling!)

On that note, I’m going to give the recipe for a lovely Christmas Day.

1. Forget your diet

2. Drink some nice bubbles

3. Hide when the cleaning up needs to be done

4. Listen to some Celine Dion

Have a great Christmas, and remember… the mince pies, Christmas pudding and brandy cream will all be gone for another year, this time next week, so enjoy.

xxx

 

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Tribal Wives and Husbands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, I was watching Tribal Wives this evening, after making dinner for my Muse. For anyone who hasn’t seen this fab show, it involves plonking women from England, into a tribal setting in places like Africa, to see how they fare. They usually have a nervous breakdown.

I said “I think I should go on this show.” (Even though I’m an Australian, which makes us pretty tribal at the best of times).

“Why?” he asks.

“Because I’m in my forties, I don’t have children, I have issues with my mother, and I would probably cry a lot.” That makes good viewing for this particular show.

“They would send you home the next day. You are too neurotic, and you can’t stand the heat.”

I start thinking about my Muse. “Well, if they had a show for Tribal Husbands, they would send you home the next day, because you don’t do anything. They don’t have computers and sports channels in the tribes. You would be considered useless.”

After ten minutes of me laughing so hard I cried, my Muse stormed off to do the dinner dishes. But seriously. Let’s just get down to business and post a great recipe for the heat, which should descend on us any day now, considering it is summer in Australia. Having said that, it was 32 degrees today, and tomorrow it’s going to be 20 degrees. What the???? And by the way, that photo is of me, in 40 degrees of heat at 9pm on New Year’s Eve at a party, in a hotel where the air conditioning failed. I’m just saying, when it comes to survival in the tribe, I was the last one standing…

Gin and Tonic

Take a really big glass out of the cupboard and put it in the deep freeze.

Put your gin bottle in the deep freeze

Make sure there are ice cubes in the deep freeze

Lemon

Tonic (in the fridge)

Method:  Place four ice cubes in your chilled glass. Pour yourself a sturdy measure of gin into said glass and top up the glass with tonic. Garnish with lemon.

Public Health Disclaimer: Don’t do this at breakfast. This is a strictly over the yard-arm drink.

 

It’s all in the timing…

Her Sister's Wedding Large I was over the moon to see my second book appear as an e-book this week. The lovely ladies at Decadent Publications have done an amazing job, so please check out their website (yes, there is decadence and sweet romance there) at http://www.decadentpublishing.com/. There is some naughty and some nice stuff in there, but they are awesome. If you are thinking of getting a romance e-book published, check them out. They are going to be big.

So I was thinking about this book, and the fact I wrote it three years ago. Sometimes things take a long while to come to fruition. Lots of pieces have to fall into place. If there is one thing I have learnt in the last few years, it’s this: it’s all about the timing. People always talk about you getting your chance. I think you do. I think you have to realise when that chance is sitting in front of you, and then you have to take it. Don’t muck around, don’t make excuses. Go for it. The worst that can happen, is that you fail. Then you can go through your life with your head held high, saying “I gave it my best go.” There could be nothing worse than wanting to try, getting your chance then not grabbing it. So, in honour of fate, the powers that be, and that chance that comes your way, begging for you to say ‘yes’:

LET’S GO OUT TO THE BEST COCKTAIL BAR IN TOWN, THEN ON TO OUR FAVOURITE RESTAURANT!!

Barring that, cook yourself your favourite meal, hold your head high, and just remember; Celine Dion started her singing career on her kitchen table. xxx

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas!

imageIt’s December 2nd, which in Australia mean a few important things in my world.

1) I am going to have to wear shorts, tee shirts and a bathing suit in the next few weeks as it is getting super hot.

2) Christmas mince pies are on sale in the supermarkets. They are friggin delicious, and will only be around for another month, so I’m giving myself the excuse to go for it, bearing in mind I have to get into shorts, tee shirts and a bathing suit.

3)  The Christmas tree is up, and fully decorated (it’s been up for a month, in fact).

Having said that about my Christmas tree, I feel like every year, Christmas pounces on me out of nowhere. Already, it is impossible to find a park at shopping malls, as they are filled with stampeding people from 9am onwards. People get so stressed before Christmas, and then from Christmas to the New Year, it’s like a ghost town.

At Christmas, I hardly have any family around (in fact I have no family apart from my muse and the ferrets this year), and I have no permanent job, being a writer and a casual nurse. So that cuts out two very important aspects of the lead up to Christmas: family meltdowns and the office Christmas party.

All that aside it’s a magical time of year, and to celebrate the magic I’m going to share an easy to make, tasty and nutritious soup that will get you through any mad herd of crazed shoppers, any family meltdown, and any hangover if you disgrace yourself at the office Christmas party.

It’s also vegan (if you make it with vegetable stock,), gluten free and just about every other label you can stick on a food that sounds good.

EASY CHRISTMAS SURVIVAL SOUP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

2 cups chopped carrots

1-1/2 cups of dried yellow split peas

6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

Method: In a big saucepan, heat up the olive oil, then add the onion and chopped carrot, and cook for about eight minutes until softened. Chuck in the lentils with the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about forty minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils go soft and start to break up. Puree with a blender, adding a bit more water if it is too thick in consistency, then add salt and black pepper to taste. Yum!

An Epic Leap Forward

photo-66 I think there are moments in your life, which equate with giant leaps forward in your personal development, and vision of who you can be. I had such a moment today, in IKEA. I recently got an iPhone. Wow, I hear you say, how cool! I had a really strange phone for the last two years that no one could show me how to work. I don’t know why I got it – I think at the time I liked it’s cute little keyboard thingie, which broke after six months. I digress. So I’m in IKEA, and my muse rings me on Facetime. He’s discovered this little item on his iPhone, so there I am, sprung at IKEA, instead of home cleaning (today is cleaning day).

And by the way, can I say there are three things in life you should never let slip. Your weight, your fitness levels and your housework. The amount of time it takes to get back to normal levels, if you let any of these slide, is appalling.

Back to IKEA. I showed him a little bookcase I had my eye on, for my writing room. After he had showed me the factory he was visiting, we hung up. This is where it gets exciting/dangerous. I realised I could get on the internet, as I sat on a display chair in the bookcase department. I kind of wish my first internet experience on my phone (eva) had been something to do with Celine, but it wasn’t. I transferred some money so I could buy the damn bookcase. What a day!!

I feel like I’m living in Star Trek episode.

We watched Casino Royale last night on DVD. Gosh, could you be any cooler Jane, I hear you thinking. The reason I mention this, is that the movie heavily favours my favourite drink; a Vesper Martini. Daniel Craig isn’t too bad either. So, to celebrate my arrival into the world of the internet via the iPhone, here is the recipe for a Vesper. Yum (and drink in moderation. Don’t have six in one sitting like he does in Quantum of Solace, or you will end up being sick in the loo. I’m just saying).

VESPER MARTINI

  • 3 measures of Gordon’s Gin
  • 1 measure of vodka
  • 1/2 measure Kina Lillet
  • lemon peel for garnish

Preparation:

The Vesper according to Ian Fleming and James Bond: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

What A Show!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, the Show is over for another year and it didn’t disappoint. We had a ball, and quite a few gross things to eat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In fact, I had an epic evening. I ate two meat pies. Not both at the same time, but over the course of the night. I’ve never let myself eat two meat pies before, and let me tell you, it was damn tasty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMind you, it was hard not to have the thought of pies put into your subconscious. They even had a pie baking context at the show.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlong with some gingerbread houses, which seemed a little worse for wear…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are loads of animals at the Show, and lots of people from the country areas. Here I am at the horse stables. I always wanted a horse when I was a kid, but my parents never got me one. How selfish! Now I’m old enough to have my own horse, I don’t want one. I’m scared of heights and scared of being thrown off the horse. I still love them though.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATalking of being scared of heights – I went on this ride with my muse and nearly died of fright. Not too sure what I was thinking when I made that decision (we could all say that at times).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, that’s it for another year, and in honour of the great time which was had by all, here is my meat pie recipe. It’s easy to make your own meat pies, but not quite as much fun as just munching one straight out of a bag.

MEAT PIES

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil

500g beef mince

2 onions finely chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons tomato sauce

1 tablespoon cornflour

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon of Vegemite (for non-Australians, this is a black, thick savoury spread we use so you can omit it)

1/2 cup of boiling water

Black pepper to taste

Beef stock cube

Shortcrust pastry

Puff pastry

Method: Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and onions. Stir until they have softened (usually about ten minutes). Add the beef mince, and break up any lumps with your spoon. I like to stir in the beef stock cube at this point. When the mince has browned, combine the tomato sauce, cornflour, Worcestershire sauce, Vegemite and boiling water, and add it to your mince. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then set aside to cool.

When the mixture has cooled, instead of lovingly making pastry, I pull out my pre-purchased packets (which I buy at the supermarket) from the deep freeze. I get my pie tins, and cut out the shape to line the bottom of each pie tin from the shortcrust pasty. I use non-stick pie tins. I fill the pastry-lined pot with the cold beef mince mixture, then make a lid out of the puff pastry and seal in the pie filling. When that’s all done, I put them in the oven at 180 C (350 F) and cook them for about 40 minutes. Of course, you can add other things to the mixture, like peas, bacon, and line the top with cheese before putting the pastry lid on. Yummmmmm. Enjoy!

It’s Show Time!

photo-65Here’s a photo of me wondering if Celine Dion would drink three glasses of wine in quick succession on a hot night, when it is her husband’s birthday (and your sister has joined you as a partner in crime). It was my muse’s birthday last night, so we headed to his favourite haunt (Cork Wine Cafe, Adelaide) for a bevvie or four.

Anywhoooo, I’ve got off track because it’s show time! We live right opposite the show grounds of our city, and once a year, we have The Royal Show. What that entails is endless traffic jams, no parking spaces in the hood, the smell of cows in the air, people fighting outside our house (we are just the right distance away), fireworks every night at 9pm which scare the shit out of the ferrets, rubbish everywhere, screaming children, people renting out their front lawns as parking lots, and finally, an excuse to eat disgusting food.

Every year, my muse and I make our way over to see the animals, have a fairground ride, look at the Country Women’s Association Baking Competition, and eat things on a stick that should not be sold for human consumption. Frankly, my favourite is a meat pie (my death row meal, should I ever find myself in that situation), and a hot bucket of chips with loads of chicken salt.

I do have a great recipe for meat pies, but I’ll leave that for my next post (she says, intending to take fascinating photos of the fair for her blog). So instead, here is a fab chips recipe. Easy, cheap and oh so tasty!

HOT CHIPS WITH SALT

Ingredients:

Quite a few large potatoes

Olive oil

Salt

Method: Cut the potatoes into chip shapes. Put them in a saucepan of cold water, which covers them. Bring it to the boil, and when the chips are barely tender, drain from the water. Next, spread them out on a baking tray, pour some olive oil and salt over them, and bake in a really hot oven until they are crisp. So yummy!!

 

A New Day Has Come

It’s actually Monday that has arrived, but with it has come some sun, a final round of edits on my next book, and a plan. From now on, when a little down in the dumps, perplexed or lost, I am simply going to say to myself “what would Celine do in this situation?” I love Celine. I love her so much I did heaps of extra nursing shifts a few years back and went to Las Vgas with my muse to see her in concert. He refused to come with me, sitting in the sports bar at Caesar’s Palace instead. Which is probably a good thing. I bawled my eyes out the whole way through the concert. I still don’t know why, but for ages afterwards I couldn’t even talk about seeing her without crying. Pathetic, I hear you say. Yes, but she is going to be my inspiration for a better year. So on that note, let me share with you a recipe for a cleaning product I use around the house. It’s cheap, easy to make, effective, and is something I’m pretty sure Celine would use, if she did her own cleaning… This week will see a return to the kitchen for me too. My beloved has put his foot down. It was nice while it lasted!!

CLEANING SPRAY

1/3 measure of methylated spirits

2/3 measure of tap water

Bloody good squeeze of dish washing detergent

20 drops of your favourite essential oil

Method: Put it into a spray bottle and fire away.

 

An Epic Fail…

photo-51 I’m just going to be really honest. I bought a tin of condensed milk yesterday to make some lovely recipe to share on the blog. However, there are certain things in life I can’t resist. Condensed milk would be the top of the heap. My muse (husband) said, as he wandered by, “you told me never to bring that stuff into the house.” My reply was “and you can bloody well see why!” The tin is completely empty and in the recycling bin. Sorry (but not really). Back to the drawing board…

The things you wait to say in life…

photo-39Okay, so here are some things I would LOVE to say in my life: I’m off to Paris for my birthday (although, maybe not my actual birthday, as that is in August, which is peak tourist season.) Let’s start again. My book royalties mean I can afford an apartment in Paris, for a month in spring. Then there is: I’ve lost 10kg! Really, and it was super easy. Following from that fantasy is, I performed a pole dance in public!! And I got a standing ovation. I’ve been learning pole dancing for years, and am still useless, compared to the people around me. Any whoooo, the other thing I would say is: I can’t meet you for lunch/can’t do that shift at the hospital/vacuum the house today, cos I’m editing my next book!! And that’s what I am doing. But fear not, my recipes are at the ready, and my husband has primed his workmates to expect a rainfall of food. Well, you can’t eat it yourself if you are going to effortlessly lose 10kg, edit your book, and perform a dance in public on a pole any time soon…