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Tag Archives: cooking

Nigella Lawson and my kitchen

Ah, Nigella, how I love your cooking shows. It’s like cooking in my kitchen, only cleaner, tidier, glossier, and a whole heap more fun. (Dare I say, sexier?) I wish I had your glossy hair and beautiful eyes and your dear way of talking while effortlessly creating delicious dishes. Sigh.

I read a piece from The Telegraph today about her book from 2000 and had to giggle a bit at the idea that it really is a feminist tract.

Speaking of baking (whence the feminist tract comment), Nigella said

There’s something intrinsically misogynistic about decrying a tradition [i.e. baking] because it has always been female.

Good point.

In my family, being able to cook, whether baking, making a roast or stir frying vegies, is an essential life skill. No ‘reclaiming the kitchen from mean chefs who are usually guys’, no ‘worrying about what people will think of your cooking’. No, instead it’s a simple fact that you’ll save money and eat far better by being able to plan a menu from seasonal foods, cook it yourself, and save some in the freezer. You’ll know what’s in your dishes, you can be in control of fat and salt, adapt recipes to what suits you and be in charge of your nutritional health. Better still, you can share what you’ve cooked with your family and friends. Actually, you can make friends through sharing food. Not a bad idea, eh?

Easy scones

2 cups SR flour
1 cup cream
Pinch of salt (optional)

Sift SR flour with salt. Mix flour and cream together in a bowl until it forms a dough. Don’t over-stir it or the scones will go flat. Put the dough onto a floured board and pat it flat – but gently! You don’t want flat scones (How many times can I say that without sounding nuts?). Make the dough as thick or thin as you like. If it’s really thick, you’ll get fewer scones and they’ll take longer to cook and they might end up sticky in the middle and not taste very nice.

Cut scones with a knife or a scone cutter. Place on tray. Glaze with milk. Place in a hot oven, at least 180 degrees Celsius (fan forced oven) or 190 degrees Celsius if not a fan forced oven. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the tops of the scones are a golden brown and use one scone as a tester to open up and see if it’s cooked all the way through.

ETA: Scones are perfect with home-made apricot jam or raspberry jam. Don’t alert kids to the fact that you’re cooking scones or you won’t have enough to share with your friends at afternoon tea. Alternatively, make a double batch and let the little tackers make their own.

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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Food

 

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Housework – Not for Wusses!

That would be my slogan if I had to advertise how good it is to share housework with your spouse or partner or kids.  Many hands make light work, for starters.

But I should add that I’m not advocating that people have to do everything at once. Some things you’re great at, other things you can train your partner to do, oops, I mean encourage your partner. I’m not keen on dusting or vacuum cleaning so those were DH’s jobs. (Yeah, I have to do that all now.)  His extra height and vested interest in a dust-free house because of sinusitis and allergies meant he did a far better job than I did.

Nothing new in the new book Spousanomics, then. I am already cringing at the title. I mean, Freakanomics was pretty awful, Parentonomics slightly better, but Spousanomics turns me off at the cutesy, let’s-jump-on-a-bandwagon title. Ah, the economics side is stressed by using a love heart turned into a pie chart – OMG I can barely bear it.

The authors, Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, cite comparative advantage as a reason to not split chores 50/50 with one’s partner. Basically, you take on the household chores at which you are relatively better than your spouse, rather than taking on all chores that you’re good at. So if you’re both good at emptying the dishwasher, the one with the superlative skill will get the job. The better one while use their time more advantageously while producing a better result.

If you have kids, you’ll need to re-negotiate. Trade-offs, all that sort of thing. And work out which battles are worth it.

OK, go and buy the book, or get it from your local library. If you find a heap of better arguments in it, please post them here.

 

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in House

 

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To honour myself

I ironed pillowcases today. No biggie for many people. After all, why else would manufacturers make pillowcases that crumple like fine notepaper? But you should know that I am not keen on ironing either for myself or for others. I can’t remember the last time I ironed pillowcases.

The only person I did that for was me, and I am slowly remembering that while I honour my guests when they visit, I don’t probably honour myself sometimes. To show myself the same respect. So today’s big efforts were (1) iron pillowcases so that I have something nice to look forward to the next time I change the bed linen, (2) iron the supposedly-non-iron work shirts so I look more professional, (3) scrub the toilets rather than just cleaning them, (4) cook brownies which deserves a paragraph of its own, and (5) have homestyle linguine tricolore con pesto for dinner.

Now, family members would point out that having pasta on its own for an evening meal doesn’t count – after all, it’s a primo, not a secondo, but honestly, I went to the effort of making sure the pesto was carefully blended with some of the water from cooking the pasta, and stirred con moto. Delicious, and DD even ate it. (Hope she likes the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.)

I have to admit that this effort doesn’t come easily to me on a work day when my energy levels have been sapped well before 5 pm and my pain levels are ramping up rapidly. Today was a public holiday and I had spent my 60 minutes decluttering earlier that day while DD had some play time. We also planted some snapdragons which are in my top 10 list of favourite flowers, watered the pot plants on the patio and all the roses, willing the fertiliser to break down into the soil and decrease the lingering pong, and tipped lots of vegie peelings into the compost heap. The rubbish bin is nearly full and there are lots of old papers that have gone into the recycling bin.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2010 in decluttering project, gardening, House, Life Matters

 

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Cooking styles

I love reading Molly’s blog MommyCoddle and read her entries regularly. (Go on, visit her!)

If you go to the post linked above, you’ll see a delicious recipe that DD and I are going to try next time we have the oven on. Why yes, I am making it sound like ‘an occasion’ LOL!

I’ve been using the oven a whole lot less over the past year. I’d like to say that it’s because I am careful with the electricity bill (which has veered into the OMG section in the past thanks to all items being electric rather than gas-powered in our house). Also part of it is me knowing that I am too darn tired when I get home to do anything that involves baking or roasting, hence stir fries and steamed rice are dishes fit for a queen. The third reason is that at the moment it’s so darn hot, the last thing I want to do is run the oven and swelter over trays of goodies, no matter how much I want rock cakes or a tea cake.

Now I plan ahead for oven use. I want to make home-made meat pies tonight. I prepared the meat last night – slow cooking, soft and tasty, and it drove the cats mad in anticipation. While the oven is on, I was thinking I could drag out another tray and make the scones that Molly tried. Given that the trays of pies and scones wouldn’t take up much height, I can put in all 4 metal trays in the oven and therefore cut down on baking time.

Oh boy, I am in danger of turning into a Scrooge.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Mother and housewife

Honestly, if you looked at the duty statement, salary, benefits and key performance indicators and then conducted a full cost benefit analysis, you wouldn’t take on the job. See how my mind works when I’m being snarky? 🙂

I read this article by Kylie Orr.

So while we debate what level of qualifications our country’s childcare workers should possess and scorn anyone who chooses “Mother and Housewife” as a career, perhaps we should analyse the masses. Put your hand up if you are a Mum and you clean your home? My bet is the numbers will be huge. Now raise your hand if this was your chosen occupation, your destiny realised? Mother: maybe. Housewife: I’d love to meet you and pick your brain. I predict there is a whole population of women floating in the sea of parenthood with little idea about how to get through. It is simply on-the-job training but the price we pay if we fluff it up is huge. And so will be the therapist’s bill.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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Why I hate cooking

It’s not that I can’t cook. I’m a darned good cook. I can bake cakes and biscuits, I make a fantastic roast complete with tasty vegetables. My stir fries are OK (not superlative, I admit, but definitely edible). I make a delicious quiche and my risottos are time-consuming to make and all too quickly consumed by my family!

Given all that, why do I hate cooking? Thanks to Andrea’s post about hated chores, I realise what I hate is the darned cleaning up. Those greasy pots and pans that don’t fit in the dishwasher, the baking trays that should never be put in the dishwasher, the plastics that go peculiar even in the top drawer of the dishwasher. Do you see a theme here?

I think the only way out of it is to buy a new set of dishwasher-proof, very expensive pots, pans, and plastics.

Or maybe hire a nice young man as a kitchen hand. (Hey, a girl can dream!) OK, just kidding with that. I could never afford that.

So in the meantime, baking and difficult cooking is a rare weekend treat when DH is around to help clean up. I figure that since he enjoys the fruits of my labours, he may as well enjoy the hard work afterwards and maybe even bring the perspiring cook a fresh cup of Earl Grey tea.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2009 in Food, House

 

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Like eating money

I have been thinking about how to use my food budget better. I know that we’re spending less on food when there are only two of us in the house. I put that down to making fewer trips to the supermarket or the fresh food markets for starters. DH seems to make a trip to the supermarket nearly every day after work and there goes $20 or so, not necessarily on food that we need, but food that we’d like.

Andrea Frazer has written about how much per week and month she spends on food. I know that my grocery bills go up on those weeks when toilet paper, cleaning sprays, paper towel or kitchen sponges are on special. I tend to have a siege mentality when it comes to toilet paper. 12 rolls hiding in the linen cupboard are OK, 18 rolls are better, 24 means I don’t have to buy for quite a while, even with visitors. Also, when I have to buy nappies for Mimi, the grocery total is enough to make my eyeballs rotate in horror! Hurry up and use the toilet, gal!

I buy essentials from a cheaper supermarket now. The flour, oil, tea, coffee and so on are the same quality and taste the same but it’s considerably cheaper. I’d buy their nappies, too, but it seems that they’ve got problems with their supplier. Baby wipes are almost as good as the expensive ones, the facial tissues are equally good as the branded ones, and the tuna is nearly as good as Sirena.

Vegetables and fruit come from the markets, where Mimi has a great time taste-testing apples, pears, oranges, pineapple, and more from the special plates out the front of the stalls. (Saves me giving her afternoon tea sometimes!) If we go at 5 pm on a Sunday when they’re closing up, we get bargain bags for $1. However, and it’s a big however, I refuse to buy something on the basis of it being cheap. Sure, three bundles of spinach for $1 is cheap, but if I don’t use it, or don’t have time to blanch and freeze it that very night before it turns, then I am wasting a dollar and refusing its use by someone who might actually want it. There is a fine line between being thrifty and foolish, sometimes.

I cook in bulk and freeze meals in portions if I have time on Sunday afternoons. That was my task yesterday. While Mimi played with her ride-on tractor, I made 24 spinach and cheese parcels (ready-made puff pastry is a time-saver). Mimi had two for dinner and the rest are in the freezer. I also made a large quiche with the eggs that a friend gave me. Delicious – eggs from happy chooks who live in a big backyard have more flavour and cook better. That quiche should have about 6 serves. There’s enough salad ingredients to last until Thursday. Still in the freezer, waiting to be cooked, is a chicken breast that I got for $3 per kilogram less than advertised because it was bought late on a Sunday afternoon. The butcher also threw in a load of wing tips for the cats. I was one very popular Meowmie when I gave them the wings.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2008 in Food

 

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