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Its Crunch Time!

So here’s the dealio…my once all-consuming sweet tooth has gone on a vacation. Its been replaced by a savoury doppelgänger! That is to say…I’m craving salty, crunchy things. This addiction has gotten so bad I recently caught myself in the pantry shoving honey ham chips into my face until my lips got little cuts on them from the sharp chip edges. Oh don’t act like you’ve never done it. I know you have.

My shame comes from my repeated declarations that I’m going to turn my diet around and eat more healthy, fresh and non-packaged foods. But that salty, savoury monster just won’t quit. What is a girl to do?

Tonight the monster was at his worst…caressing me with his evil tongue. ‘Eat fried chicken’ it cooed. I briefly considered doing the drive thru option but sense prevailed. I’d make my own crispy, crunchy chicken but…I’d do it the healthy way.

Cue…the Homestyle KFC Extravaganza!

Ingredients

  • 500g chicken breasts
  • Box of cornflake crumbs
  • Tub natural yogurt
  • Spices of your choice

Pre-heat your oven to 200c (fan forced). Roll up your sleeves.

Put about half of your crumbs into a ziplock bag with the spice of your choice. I have no idea what the 11 herbs and spices are so I just put a bit of this and that. I quite like Moroccan spices.

Next cut the chicken into strips, coat them in yoghurt and then shake them in the crumbs. The yoghurt both helps to lock in the moisture and creates crunchy little balls of coating.

Place on a baking tray and spray with oil. Bake for about 15 mins and then check to make sure they’re cooked. And voila! Instant fried (ok baked) chicken!

You can serve it with whatever you like. A salad, some oven chips, mashed potato. But tonight I put it in a tortilla wrap with salad and my ‘special’ sauce. In case you didn’t know, ‘special’ sauce is code for ‘we didn’t have any store-bought sauce, I’ll make it up with whatever I have’. Tonight’s special sauce was a mixture of natural yoghurt, cream and sweet chilli sauce.

This dinner really appeased my salty, crunchy monster. But if you have any other healthy recipes for such things, my monster would get down on his knees and kiss your salty little feet for the favour.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Girl Friday in….Her Need for Balance.

It’s not easy admitting the truth about yourself.

If you signed up to get my posts regularly, you’ll have noticed that they have been pretty irregular lately. In fact almost an entire month has gone by without so much as a peep from me. It’s not that I’ve been deliberately avoiding you, quite the opposite, it seems my life has become so hectic, I honestly haven’t had time for you. That’s the truth – Number 1. My life is too busy to blog about.

In the face of a revelation this week, I’ve had to admit a few other home truths about myself.

Number 2. I feel I have to be the best. At everything.

Being the best at something can be wonderful. Actually, being the best at something is….the best! But it’s when you try to be the best at everything, that’s when you know you have a problem. I could blame it on being a Scorpio…we’re passionate, driven, artistic people. But I think that’s just a cop-out. If I try my hand at something and come up lacking, I feel a huge sense of failure.

Number 3. I am like Vegemite. I spread myself too thin.

Wanting to be the best at everything means you try to do a lot. Too much. So much in fact you suddenly realise that you couldn’t possibly be the best at anything, you just simply don’t have any time left to focus and dedicate your energy to anything. And let’s face it, Vegemite is already lacking in fans.

Number 4. Much like a washed up race-horse, I put myself last.

I know I’m not alone here. But why do I feel a huge sense of guilt if I put myself before others? And why is ‘me-time’ now a dirty word? When it comes to my weekend, the two days off a week that should be for me, I’m lucky if I can find an hour to do something for myself. And if I do, there is a voice in the back of my head saying “but that thing for that person, you’re putting it off, how rude!”. These days it feels like if you’re not helping everyone, you’re helping no-one.

Number 5. My happiness hinges on others being happy.

It’s like not being able to enjoy that double chocolate, coated in chocolate with a chocolate on top ice-cream cone because the kid next you can’t afford to buy one. And you know you’ll just feel better if they ate your ice-cream and you saw the smile on their ice-cream covered face. This isn’t a bad thing, but maybe its ok to eat your own ice-cream every now and then. Why? Because you’ve earn’t it, that’s why.

Ok, so far it sounds like all I’m doing is complaining that I have a very busy, rich life, full of people I care about. Heck yes I do. And I’m grateful up the wazoo about that fact. But here’s the thing, every now and then, you have to stop worrying about what people will think of you if you aren’t trying to please them. That if you say no and try to do things that make yourself, and only yourself happy, the world won’t fall apart. And that if you don’t do a favour for someone – you don’t have to beat yourself up for days about it.

That’s all very nice Jen, you’ve realised you’re an obsessive, perfectionist, control freak who wants to make the world happy. But where does that leave you?

It just so happens that this year isn’t just about self-realisations, it’s also about taking action. So for the next five weeks, I’m only going to work four days a week, instead of five (and sometimes six or seven). While it probably sounds like small fry to you, cutting back my working week is HUGE for me. But what’s even bigger is that I’m not trying to fill that extra day. Its blank, it’s for me. If I want to sit in my pyjamas and watch 1980’s movies all day, I will. If I want to climb that mountain behind my house until my legs feel like jelly, oh I will. And if I want to spend some quality time just blogging about it…you better believe I will.

I’m becoming my own Girl Friday. Word.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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The sports that didn’t make it into the olympics.

With the imminent arrival of the 2012 London Olympic games about to grace our screens, I thought it was timely to look back at the sports which did not quite make it onto the olympic world stage…

  1. 80’s Shower Dancing – Passed over for the more popular sport of synchronised swimming, 1980’s shower dancing still possesses every bit of poise, coordination and skill. If you mess up one left elbow to right knee combo whilst blasting Olivia Newton-John’s Physical, you’d not only miss out on a medal but most likely end up getting stitches for a lacerated thigh.
  2. 100m Dash with Full Shopping Trolley to Car in the Rain – If you think the 100m hurdles puts fear into the hearts of men, spare a thought for the athletes which have to brave car parks full of potholes, distracted old lady drivers, heavy rain and the always difficult “where the heck are my keys” struggle at the finish line.
  3. Last Chocolate Biscuit Wrestle – Ok, so this has kinda made it into the olympics, minus the chocolate biscuit (or ‘cookie’ for my international pals). But originally this sport was derived from that moment when two hands collide on the way to reach for the last chocolate biscuit. This then proceeds to a ‘death stare’ show down. To the victor, goes the spoils…or cookie in this case.
  4. Hot Feet Dance – Forget rhythmic gymnastics people. The hot feet dance has been around for centuries. Imagine a beach or pool full of spectators. The sun is high in the sky. You see the water glistening in the distance. You face the judges, put your arms high in the air and begin your routine. A graceful hop, skip and jump over the hot sand or cement will see you triumphant. Lets not speak of the endless competitors who’ve sustained third degree burns on the soles of their feet. Its par for the course in this sport.
  5. Beer Fishing – Alright so technically this could have been a winter olympic sport with its link to sub-zero temperatures. But more often than not, it’s played in the summer months. Once all the ice in an esky has melted beyond 50%, brave competitors must plunge their arms into the freezing icy water to retrieve as many beers as they can. Sounds easy right? Well I know many men who train for years to get this one right. But time and time again, they go back to that esky to perfect their sport. That my friends…is true dedication.
So let us spare a thought for the humble athletes who we see every day, doing their best and training like demons in the hope that one day, these sports may be shared with the world. Just so you know, I’d have won 3 gold medals in 80’s Shower Dancing by now.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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When your chest needs its own postcode.

In 2011, 672 women died as a result of injuries sustained from overly large breasts. That is probably a fictional statistic. Actually I know it is because I just made it up. But surely somewhere, this is the reality. Large breasts can be a hazard.

I can hear at least half of the population saying “So what’s your beef lady? Large mammary glands are the bomb diggity!” And while its true being a Chesty La Roux has its moments, largely they just seem to get in the way.

You know your breasts need their own postcode if you have every experienced any of the following:-

  • Clothes fit you everywhere else, except your chest;
  • You go to great pains to cover them up but they still bust out of your top with more determination than an inmate of Shawshank Redemption;
  • You can lose an entire course of a meal in your cleavage “Oh I’m sure that chicken Maryland was just on my plate…no, wait, here it is!”;
  • When you lie down, you feel like you may choke to death;
  • Going for a jog is an exercise in physics…weight + velocity x gravity = a reinforced sports bra; and
  • People become hypnotised with that space between your belly button and your face. Men, women, children….everyone. Even you. It has this power that humans are unable to resist.

In no way am I trying to give the illusion that my chest is the biggest (it ain’t) or the best (it certainly ain’t). But its been ample enough to cause a few problems along the way. So while I continue to find last nights dessert nestled sweetly my townships, I think its timely to celebrate women of all shapes and sizes. We never seem to be happy with what we’ve got…but I’m just happy I’ve got them at all.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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Now, what have we learned from this young lady?

I’m not too proud to admit that for every glorious success I have in the kitchen, I have as many disastrous failures. Once trying desperately to impress my husband’s family with my cooking skills, I tried making profiteroles three times and each time they failed miserably. Almost in tears and definitely out of eggs, I gave up. It just wasn’t my day to make choux pastry.

So today I awoke with bright-eyed enthusiasm at the thought of cooking…macaroons! Let me just preface this whole story by saying I’d already tried making these babies a few times…once with success…twice with failure.  But today I was determined to make these work. I did everything the little pink book told me to and worked that kitchen like a boss. By the time I got to letting them set, I was feeling good. They looked just right.

Waiting patiently for my ‘macs’ to get a nice crust.

Then into the oven with them. I was being overly cocky and yelled out to my husband “They look perfect! They’re going to work!” But then everything started to go horribly wrong. They were cooking too quickly and colouring up more than they should. I escalated this situation to code red and pulled those soldiers from the hot zone. Sustaining one heck of a burnt hand injury in the process. So…they didn’t cook and deflated more quickly than my spirit.

Who are you trying to kid?? Those are just failure cookies with chocolate on top.

I still made the chocolate ganache which is supposed to sandwich each half together but most of them were not coming off the paper. So I just dumped the chocolate on top with a ‘whatever’ shrug of my shoulders. I sat there despondent, with a distant stare and ate about five broken cookies. They still tasted ok. But I was making them as a gift for a friend and there was no way these passed quality control. So they got dumped into a container to make a ‘macaroon mess’. A few berries and ice-cream…and voila!

So, what have I learned from this experience?

  • That macaroons are more fickle than a five-year old;
  • Leftover chocolate ganache is easily turned into a lunchtime snack of chocolate milk by your husband;
  • Don’t choose difficult baking items as a gift for friends;
  • Even the most unappealing things can still taste delicious; and
  • Never count your macaroons before they hatch!

And to show you what they should look in all their perfection…here is a picture of the one and only time they worked for me. If you have a macaroon secret….I would love to know it. I will not let these little almond delights beat me!

Tower of perfection.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Jen Versus the Volcano

It’s 1990 and Tom Hanks agrees to make a quirky movie called…Joe Versus the Volcano. As an 11 year old, I happily emersed myself in this movie and loved the montage where he was stranded on his four watertight, all purpose trunks in the middle of the ocean. But it wasn’t until I watched it recently, that it struck an entirely different chord with me.

As a kid, I used to fast forward the opening sequence where Joe Banks and the rest of the workers trudge slowly into work, looking depressed and as grey as the sidewalk. It was boring, it was bland. And I guess that’s exactly the point. Joe was living this ghastly conformist life that made him sick. He didn’t even know why he did things…he didn’t question them. He just went to work every day, half asleep. Gah.

Besides the excellent rectal probe references, which I obviously hadn’t picked up before, his arrival at work made me draw some comparisons to my own morning ritual. Ok, so I don’t have it as bad as poor Joe (and I don’t work with rectal probes), but I often feel blotchy and drained sitting under the fluorescent lights. And I swear to you that my glands go up and my throat feels scratchy when I arrived there and turn on my computer. (Maybe its just because its flu season?)

There is a scene where Joe’s Manager – Mr Waturi is on the phone repeating himself…”But can he do the job. I know he can get the job but can he DO the job? I’m NOT arguing that with you. I’m not arguing that with YOU. I’m not ARGUING that with you. I’m not ARGUING that with you Harry! Harry… Harry… Yeah Harry… but can he DO the job. I know he can GET the job but can he do the job?” I’m pretty sure I’ve said the exact same thing. Well….almost.

A terrible hypochondriac, Joe is told he has a “brain cloud”. An incurable disease with no symptoms. In fact, you don’t even realise there’s a problem until you’re dead. So after an offer he can’t refuse, he is given the option to live out his remaining days like a hero…and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. He sets sail to the island of Waponi Woo where he will jump into a live volcano to appease the volcano god.

The best quote of the whole movie is when Patricia says to Joe:

“My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake, and they live in a state of constant, total amazement.”

So the question remains…when do I book myself on the first yacht to Waponi Woo? When do I wake up and start living in a state of constant, total amazement?

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Tune In...

 

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Did you hear something? Yeah, like a swoosh.

I think there are two types of people in the world when it comes to ‘clothes management’.

  1. The type who carefully sort their washing by lights, darks, colours, delicates, heavy-duty and woollens (huh?). Always select the correct cycle and water temperature. Pegs on the line with care.  Folds the clothes when getting them off the line. Then irons and hangs them immediately; OR
  2. The type who sorts by light or dark only. Chooses the regular cycle every time.  Pegs on the line with abandon. Then throws everything in the washing basket to remain until needed.

I’ll  give you one guess which type I am. Yeah…Number 2 with a bullet. I try to be a Number 1 laundry person. But there always seems to be far too many clothes and not enough time. I do not know how mothers of tiny little people manage. Seriously, all those little socks and jumpsuits and singlets. It’s too much to think about!

Boltanski’s No Man’s Land

I try to complete all my washing on the weekend…sometimes its ok to hang outside on the line. Sometimes I have to use the clothes airer inside. If it’s an inside job, the clothes can ‘air’ for many days. I just forget they’re there, waiting to be pulled off and dumped haphazardly into a basket.

Then every Monday I’m faced with the same problem. What….do….I….wear? I truly long for my school uniform days. One look, no thinking, just whip it on and away you go. But I have clothing freedom and with that comes responsibility. And ironing. I do iron you know. Every morning when I rifle through that basket looking for something that won’t make me look like I got dressed in the dark in the 1980’s. I just iron what I need for that day. Usually after I’ve showered and standing in a towel. I will confess to also burning my stomach several times from ironing in the nude. NOT RECOMMENDED. I once burned my stomach so badly, I had a long red scar that looked like I’d had some organ removed.

Photo cred: Wikipedia

I also do not own a full length mirror…so some days, whilst the top half matches well, covers well and makes me look like a real life adult worker, the bottom half could be a complete lucky dip. Lately I’ve found myself saying to my husband as I run out the door “Does this look ok? Do these shoes go with this skirt?” He always replies with “I don’t know these things”.  Last week after one of his responses I was so desperate I found myself on top of a dining room chair, trying to look at the my outfit in the dining room mirror. Lucky save, those shoes did NOT go with that skirt. Or the other day, I put on a lovely bone shirt dress only to see myself in the mirror looking like a safari hunter. All I needed was a hat and gun and I could be on the set of Out of Africa. Disgraceful.

Which all leads me to today’s outfit. It was cold this morning and I had the urge to wear pants. I can’t actually remember the last time I wore pants to work so finding a pair that fit, had a working zipper and no holes in them was a challenge. I selected what looked like a perfectly fine pair that met all the criteria. Until I started walking. They make the exact sound that George Costanza’s pants made from Seinfeld. A swoosh, swoosh, swoosh sound. By the time I discovered this, I was well and truly over the ordeal and decided to go with the George pants anyway.

So here’s to free styling your laundry and swooshy pants. Can you hear something?

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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