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!

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.