Tuesday, 19 September 2017

25 Food Questions Tag

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I really enjoyed putting together my Great Aussie Mum Tag last week, so I decided to go looking for other fun tags.  This week, it's 25 Food Questions.  We all like food, so I figured anyone could relate. Here we go...

1. What's your favourite breakfast?
Toast (or a croissant on special occasions) with raspberry jam.  If I'm out for breakfast I often go for something with smoked salmon.

2. How do you drink your coffee?
I don't.  I am a tea girl.  I don't like coffee.  I wish I did...hubby is a roaster and coffee wholesaler.  His coffee is apparently awesome.  But coffee is not my friend.  I find it bitter.  He sells great teas though, so all is not lost.

3. What's on your favourite sandwich?
Ohhhh.... a fresh baguette from The Artisan Crust, with brie, fig jam and salad greens.  Just need to take a moment....

4. Soup or Salad?
Definitely a seasonal answer.  Soup in winter, salad in summer.  Can't have soup in summer cos it's too hot.

5. What's your favourite cookbook?
You want me to choose?  Hmmmmm...anything by Nigella Lawson.

6. No more sweets or not more hearty foods?
No more sweets.  Sugar gives me heartburn and insomnia.  I don't need that kind of help.

7. What's your favourite cuisine (country)?
Asian.  Two Malaysians in the family has trained us well.

8. What's your favourite food movie?
Love a good food movie!  Julie and Julia.  Second favourite is No Reservations.  Third favourite is Chocolat

9. What's your most guilty pleasure?
Tira Misu for dessert.  And then eating the whole pan over the week because someone made it for me, for my birthday.  Not even sorry.

10. What's your greatest inspiration source?
TV cooking shows & Nigella Lawson

11. Cooking at home or going out for dinner?
Going out - even to a friend's home.  It always tastes better when someone else cooks.

12. High end or low profile?
I don't know what that means.  Restaurant quality?  I think some of the best food can be found in little hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

13. What's your favourite restaurant?
Nudle (Knox).  The Cherry Tree (Healesville).  Elevation (Emerald).  Anywhere that does good Yum Cha.

14. I do my grocery shopping at:
Aldi, and then Woolies if I can't get something at Aldi.

15. The tastiest food I've ever eaten was:
A mango, chickpea and feta salad my friend made once.  Oh my goodness, so yummy.

16. What's your favourite cocktail?
I don't drink alcohol past the very rare moscato.  I'm more of a sparkling water kind of gal.

17. Coffee with George Clooney or Heston Blumenthal?
So, it would be a cup of tea, and probably with George.  I was an ER fan way back in the day.

18. What should not be missing in your kitchen?
My oven.  I keel over when the power is out for more than a day!  I use the oven every single day.

19. What's your favourite snack?
At the moment?  Sweet snack is Forresters coconut rolls from Aldi.  This answer changes constantly. Savoury snack, camembert cheese on cranberry & pumpkin seed crackers.
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20. What's on your pizza?
thin crust, homemade tomato sauce, basil, real mozzarella

21. What food do you really dislike?
Stereotypical Aussie stuff:  Vegemite, beetroot, weet-bix.  I've tried beetroot a few different ways, as an adult.  I really don't like it.  And blue cheese.  It just tastes like vomit.  I wanted to like it, but I just don't.

22. What's your favourite food blog?
I don't really follow one.

23. What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
Jellyfish - the texture is nothing to be excited about.  And chicken's feet - they taste OK, but there's so many bones and not much flesh.  It's just not worth it.

24. What's on your food bucket list?
I want to succeed at making a roast beef.  It's the one culinary skill that continues to escape my abilities.

25. I couldn't live without:
Having done a couple of fasts, I have discovered the two things I want most: a cup of tea and crackers with butter.  Who knew?!

What are your food loves and loathes?
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Monday, 18 September 2017

Monday Menu Plan for the Last Week of Term 3

I'm rather inclined to insomniac behaviour.  I don't seem to need a ton of sleep hours each night (six is a good night) and I generally wake between 5-6am.  Miss Mischief, therefore, has declared me a morning person.  I'm not really.  I don't like to be near other people in the morning.  I want silence and solitude and I get grumpy when others are around and requiring things from me.  I hate listening to other people chew loudly in the morning.  See...not so much a morning person.  If I'm left alone I'm quite the happy camper.  My very dear blogging friend, Frances, posted once, about introverts, that said something along the lines of "Hell is people for breakfast".  Amen and amen.  Morning is most introverted moment of the day.

I know the end of the school term is nigh, because I am sleeping.  A lot.  This past week I've racked up a 10 hour night, an 8 hour night (albeit with a 2 hour break in the middle!) and I had a lovely long nap this afternoon.  I'm tired, you guys.  Bone weary, falling-over-the-line tired.  I am just hanging on to reach the finish line on Friday, when Term 3 ends in Victoria and I get to work in my PJ's and sit in bed with my computer, instead of racing out the door by 7.15am.  I have to be very deliberate about the time I spend working and the time I spend resting during school holidays.  I need to rest.  I am compelled to work, because a whole bunch of term planning needs to be completed before I head back to school in Term 4.

My menu plan for this week probably reflects my exhaustion.  I'm really hoping the kids will step up and step into the kitchen so we make to the end!

Monday: quick quiche, veggies (someone?  anyone?)
Tuesday: oven fried chicken, veggies (Miss Mischief could handle this one)
Wednesday: minestrone & bread rolls (I'm home and finished study, so this one is mine)
Thursday: tuna and rice (Miss Sunshine will be the hero of the dinner table)
Friday:  fend for yourself Friday
Saturday: mushroom risotto (I use any recipe that looks good, but I dump in all the liquid at once and put the lid on, after that sautéing of the rice step - it's lazy, but it works)
Sunday: sweet & sour chicken meatballs (I make mini chicken meatballs using my wonton recipe, and then do a ton of stir fried veggies with a sweet and sour sauce (p190) from my iconic "Cookery the Australian Way" book.

How are you going with the end of the term looming?

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Great Aussie Mum Tag


Today I'm borrowing an idea that I saw pop up on YouTube recently. I figured there was no reason it couldn't translate to a blog, just as well as a video, right? Right! So here we go - the Great Aussie Mum Tag!

Vegemite or promite?Neither. YUK. Dad tells me I'm a really bad Aussie kid, cos I don't like weet-bix or beetroot either. I buy Vegemite for the one child who eats it. Does that count?

Neighbours or Home and Away?
I wasn't allowed to watch Neighbours, but we were allowed to watch Home and Away (I was about 14 or 15 when it began). In its early days it was more family friendly. I gave it away when my kids were teeny tiny, because it just wasn't appropriate for them.

Woolies or Coles?
If I had a choice it would be Coles. But Woolies is the only one within half an hour of me. Luckily we have an Aldi in Our Town, so I go there first, before I decide if I need to go to Woolies.

What's one thing about raising kids in Australia that you love? 
I love that we laugh at ourselves, and don't take ourselves too seriously. Humour covers a multitude of sins, and diffuses a bunch of potentially sticky situations.

Is there anything you would want to change about Australia for your childrens future?
I would love us to be able to discuss tricky things without one side yelling at the other because they don't agree. It's so important to ask questions that help us understand others, rather than fling attacking words around. I would be appalled of my kids or my students behaved the way lots of adults are behaving at the moment.

What do you wish Australia had that other countries do?
Hmmmm...totally random thing: bison burgers. We had them in the States and they were sooooo good!

Whats your favourite city, town or holiday spot?
Tassie. Hands down, every time. I first went there as a 5yo, when my Dad flew us down there to visit his family. I have been love ever since. I would take a trip to Tassie over Queensland any day of the week.

If you had a choice, would you continue to live in Australia? (or we could ask, what is your heritage?)
I'm ridiculously Australian (my kids are 7th generation Aussies). I love Australia, it's home to me, but if I needed to live somewhere else that would be OK with me too. I lived overseas as a kid, so there is a whole bunch about my identity that is at odds with Aussie culture.

You're not Australian unless……? You head to the coast for a camping holiday in your caravan or tent.

How do you like to spend Australia Day?!
Having a bbq with friends, with homemade lamingtons for dessert (and hence we are a no-jam-lamington family, because jam just doesn't work when you make 'em yourself).

What sport do your kids play?
None. We had zero money when they were at an age to play sport, and they've never raised the issue.

Fave Aussie movie? It used to be The Castle. Now, I think it's The Dressmaker.

Fave Aussie Celebrity/Musician and why? Olivia Newton-John and John Farnham, especially when they perform together. Showing my age, huh.

Which Aussie Celeb are you sick of hearing about in the media? I don't know that any of them get an oversupply of air time, do they? Maybe I just don't listen to enough media to hear about them.

Favourite typically Australian past time? That camping holiday by the sea.

Favourite Aussie slang word/phrase? I'm gonna go with "Fair Dinkum".

Favourite Aussie animal? Echidna. They are the cutest little prickle balls on the face of the planet. Up close and personal they are even cuter. Just make sure you pet them going with the quills, instead of against!!

Favourite Australian Childrens book? 
Anything by the amazing Mem Fox

Favourite brand of nappies? We're well beyond this phase of life in our house. Back in the day it was Huggies at night, and I bought day nappies in bulk from a place in Ferntree Gully.

Favourite family meal? Anything I cook, apparently. Tuna & Rice, Bacon-wrapped chicken, lasagne, chicken casserole, bbq's in summer when it's too hot to cook inside...my lot eat anything.

If you decide to take on this tag, please be sure to let me know. I'd love to read your answers.

Monday, 11 September 2017

End of Term Monday Menu Planning

The end of Term 3 is just barely around the corner, and around here we are tired.  This week I've tried to include some "cook smarter" meals, where we cook extra and plan for leftovers to be another whole meal.  Hopefully it works - it means making sure everyone knows what not to eat during the day!

The plan for this week...
Monday:  Thai chicken curry (Mr Busy has been instructed to cook extra)
Tuesday:  Chicken Kiev's, frozen veggies, potato wedges
Wednesday:  leftover curry & leftover casserole from Sunday
Thursday:  Veggie Plate
Friday:  Fend for Yourself
Saturday:  Chicken wonton soup
Sunday:  Minestrone & bread rolls

As I type this I realise I will be out of home for dinner three nights in a row.  Dh & I have an event to attend, and then I have parent-teacher meetings at the end of the week.  I feel a bit sad about that.  Towards the end of the term, and the tireder I become the more I hibernate as much as possible.

How is the end of your term progressing?  Or, if you live somewhere where school has just begun, how is the transition to routines going for you?

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Frugal in the Supermarket - 5 Things I (Almost) Never Buy


Many years ago, now, my husband left a very well paying management job to become self-employed.  In those early years it came with a lot of struggles and challenges, when things took a lot longer to get off the ground than he had planned.  Thus began a journey, for me, in managing our household budget in an extremely frugal manner.  I'm a natural saver, so I already leaned in this direction, but things became quite hard there for a while.  Many years later, and with a more stable, sustainable income base I am still inclined to saving money, especially in the supermarket.  If you've been here for any length of time you know I hate shopping, so that saves us a ton.  But the supermarket must be entered every single week, darn it.  Here's some tips to keep costs down in the supermarket, with a list of things I (almost) never buy.

Ice cream
I buy ice cream very, very rarely as a special occasion item.  It is not something that enters our house on a regular weekly basis.  In the early days of Dh's business it was an item that cost money, for no nutritional benefit, so it got axed from the grocery list.  As it turns out, I don't prefer it anyway.  It's too sweet, so if I'm going to have something with that rare dessert, I'd rather have cream.  And cream is cheaper.

Snacky Packets
We leave all snackety packety things right where they are, in the supermarket.  Cheese sticks, chips, flavoured crackers, cheese & dip packs, muesli bars.  Anything you might be inclined to pop in a lunch box; these things don't enter our house.  I know, I hear you asking "what do you send for your kids' lunches?"  When they were in school they got a sandwich, a piece of fruit and something home baked for recess.  If I bought crackers, we bought them in larger boxes and the kids just took a smaller container.  I hear, all these years later, the kids had severe lunch box envy.  You know what?  They got fed and other kids wished their Mum's baked for them.  You can never win on this one!

Pre-Packaged Meals
Never is probably too strong of a word here.  Every so often I buy a frozen meal for a lunch here and there for me, if I'm desperate.  Towards the end of the term I am inclined to buy pre-prepared things like meat pies or chicken Kievs to go with veggies we cook at home.  What I am not in the habit of doing, is buying things like filled pasta and pasta sauce, or lasagne that is already made, or pre-made soups, or Mexican dinner kits, or salad kits, for example.  We're really just not heat-and-eat kind of people.  We lived on the same property as some friends for a little while and something we noticed was that their bins were FULL of meals that came in boxes, already made. It was quite the eye-opener for me!

Salad Dressing
This is an absolutely never.  I make my own, usually using lemon juice or wine vinegars, olive oil and salt.  A fancy one might have honey and dijon mustard.  Every time I pick up salad dressings in the supermarket I am appalled at the "ingredients" and put the bottle right back.  The only thing in this category I buy is mayonnaise, and these days it is the whole-egg kind that has real stuff in it, now that I have the income to support that choice.

Tinned Soups
Again, I can't get passed the pseudo ingredients listed on the can.  Cannot do it.  If I have a recipe that calls for a tinned soup I make the rest of the recipe, add the actual ingredient of the "cream of..." soup required, and thicken it with cornflour.  The only tinned ingredients I really keep are tomatoes, corn, champignons, pineapple, coconut milk and pie apples.  The tinned section of my pantry is pretty small.

Frozen Stuff
I won't say never, but it is certainly rare that I buy things out of the freezers in the supermarket.  It's certainly not a habit, but it might happen a little towards the end of the term, when our food life is falling over.  I probably buy a bag of frozen veggies a handful of times a year, and about the same in a dessert.  I pretty much skip this whole section of the supermarket 99% of the time.

And a bonus (almost) never is yoghurt.  I've bought yoghurt a little bit in the last few weeks, but mostly it doesn't make it into the supermarket trolley either.  Mostly yoghurt is full of sugar, so the benefits seem to be outweighed there.

Now that you know what we don't buy very often, if at all, you must be wondering how on earth we manage to eat!  We eat real food.  Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, home-baked items and basic ingredients, from which we make meals at home.  I'm posting my weekly menus on a Monday again, so you'll see that we eat pretty well.  We mostly eat toast for breakfast, although Mr Busy often has microwave porridge (a huge concession on my part, but at least he eats breaky this way).  I have leftovers for lunch and the girls make stuff at home.  Again, Mr Busy is my compromise here, because he doesn't eat lunch very often, if I make it.  I send cup-a-soup's and tinned spaghetti with him so they won't go off and he can eat (or not) as he desires.  That boy will be the very end of me!  Just as well he's the last.

Including the money I would spend in Costco every 3 or 6 months or so, our grocery budget does not exceed $150/week, for the five of us, who are all pretty much adults.

What things do you never buy in the supermarket?  Or, what things would you like to scale back on?

Monday, 4 September 2017

Teacher Plan with Me Series....

On my Tracy's Primary Pandemonium blog I've begun a Teacher "Plan with Me" series.


I'm discussing how I use my "Reminder" App to create to-do lists.  This is working really well for keeping me on track and powering through all the things I need to get done.

Do you need to run assemblies at your school?  Today, I'm discussing how I prepare and the kinds of things my Year 3/4's love to include.  It's almost no work on my part because 9 and 10 yo's are so enthusiastic and fairly independent.

Monday's Menu Plan

I am taking a study day, today.  I have this killer assignment that will most certainly be the death of me, and I am determined that after today I will be done with it.  Over the course of this year I have come to the conclusion that I am no theological academic.  I get it, in my head, but writing Masters-level essays on theology stuff is just not my jam.  Also this week, I'm at school for dinner one night, when our Primary families will be coming back to school for a Maths Games Night.  And this is my second challenge for the week.  It's meant to be a sports themed night.  My issues with this are two-fold.  Firstly, I am not a sporty kind of gal, and secondly I am not a dress-up kind of gal.  Because I'm not sporty, and don't enjoy dressing up I have very little in the way of sports clothes.  How am I going to solve this problem?  I have no idea.

I have, however, solved the problem of what to eat for the week.  Now there's a challenge I can overcome with my eyes closed.

Monday:  Chicken parmigiana & veggies (using the tenderloins I crumbed & froze last week - yay me).
Tuesday: Pasta Bolognese (Mr Busy cooking)
Wednesday: Chinese simmering chicken, rice, veggies (again, prepared & frozen, ready to cook, last week)
Thursday:  Veggie plate (Miss Sunshine cooking - roast potatoes, cauli/brocc au gratin, carrots, corn on the cob)
Friday:  Fend for Yourself
Saturday: Chicken casserole with leftover roast from the weekend
Sunday:  Minestrone & bread rolls

By the time I get to Wednesday I might actually get a real day off.  One of the ones where you actually do no work, for which you have obligations to your employer.

Bring it on!