Alrighty Then

November 23, 2019 at 9:37 pm (Food, general life)

A few days ago, I decided to give up on NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month, in which writers attempt to write the first 50,000 words of a novel during November each year), which was the right thing to do (the book was under-ripe and I was meant to be editing other books anyway). I love NaNoWriMo in part because I’m slightly manic depressive—enough that I can survive the inevitable depression, and live with the decisions I make when manic.

Anyway, so having left the mania train of NaNoWriMo I’ve spent my days watching TV and eating chocolate. But every so often, more or less accidentally, I did something useful around the house. Which is, you know, good and stuff.

Today, in a wild burst of enthusiasm, I set up what we call our “big pool”. We specifically bought it so I could hop in with the kids, which I did. Then I continued to supervise from a hammock. It was awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flushed with enthusiasm, I decided to attempt the impossible: feeding Louisette a Green Vegetable. To be fair, she has said to me more than once in the last week that she wants to eat more green vegetables “because I hardly eat any vegetables”.

THIS WAS THE MOMENT TO STRIKE.

Zucchini is my safest green vegetable (in terms of food intolerance), and has hardly any taste. I fried slices of zucchini in butter, garlic, and powdered fennel. Fennel, because I had Louisette sniff several herbs and choose her favourite. I had her smell it again as it was cooking (yum), and choose a cheese to go with it. Then I cut tiny squares of said cheese. When the zucchini was cooked perfectly, I turned the fry pan off and placed cheese on each slice, so it would melt juuust enough to be extra delicious.

And it was. Each slice of butter-saturated zucchini was a mouthful of glory. Louisette picked up a piece before declaring it inedible.

 

TJ didn’t get as far as physically touching any of it.

 

 

I also made risotto with roasted sweet potato, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and bacon. TJ had some of the rice, and I managed to convince him to eat some bacon. Chris and I enjoyed the risotto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, all in all, I’m reminded why I don’t generally make an effort.

But I did have a win this week. I bought fish fingers for the first time, and both kids loved them.

Yay.

In other news, John Scalzi mentioned “domestic felicity” in his blog a day or two ago, and I realised that should absolutely be the name of my blog. Oh well.

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A thousand ingredients, and not a bite to eat

November 12, 2019 at 7:12 pm (Food, Fully Sick, general life)

There are four people in my family: Chris, my partner, who is more or less normal food-wise; myself, intolerant of FODMAPS and salicylates (ie most fruit, vegetables, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, processed meats, and nuts); Louisette, age 7, who is intolerant of honey and sulphites, and TJ, who is more or less normal except for being 5 years old.

Standing up to make a peanut butter sandwich is enough to give me a sore back, so dinner is a real challenge. I wouldn’t say I’m succeeding, as such. Unless the bar we’re setting here is “no fatalities, no starvation”.

For example, this is what we’re eating for dinner tonight:

Chris: Literally frozen and reheated airplane food (I get some truly weird meals from a charitable food pantry at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Melba; I feed it to him so he gets a bit of variety). As usual, he doesn’t get served any vegetables because it’s too hard (he usually has a carrot at work, and sometimes adds baby spinach to his sandwich). Sad but true. On very rare occasions, I will find something at St Paul’s that the kids will eat. Usually even if they like it once, they don’t ever eat it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me: Lamb chop roasted with potatoes (and usually sweet potatoes and sometimes carrot, but not today). This is my “safe” meal and I usually eat it about 3 times a week (my doctor said to cut down on starches and red meat, and I just laughed. Then I started taking fish oil tablets). Potatoes, sweet potato, and carrots are all in my top 5 best veggies (potatoes are the only fully safe vegetable for me, which is actually not that awful; potatoes are awesome). The only hazard is the brown flavouring in the gravy. Sometimes I make my own gravy, but not today. Chris will also eat lamb chops, but the kids won’t. (I could have made lamb chops for him today, but I’m on day 3 of the same thing so I thought something else might be good.)

Louisette: Sausages in bread with tomato sauce (a la BBQ sausages). She loves it, and had two full sausages and two slices of bread. Even with no vegetables (does tomato sauce count?) that’s a win: no whining, and a solid meal. Since she’s on Ritalin, she often eats very little and is in danger of losing weight. We worked hard over many months to get her to just sit at the table every night, and even harder to get her to take more than two bites of pretty much anything. And sausages are nice and easy to make. Chris also likes them; Tim has gotten over them; I’m strongly intolerant of sausages.

TJ: “Spicy noodles” ie ramen ie mi goreng ie 2-minute noodles (the kind with several sauces including chili). With grated cheese and ham added. He didn’t eat all that much today (his first time eating beef rendang flavour, which is hotter than the norm and he said it was too spicy but he “don’t feel like a sandwich” so I guess that’s it for him today. Also very easy to make in a single portion (we have a great bowl-and-lid set that has an inner bowl that’s also a strainer, which is perfect for mi goreng), which can be a lifesaver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other meals that we eat:

All of us:

-Eggs… sometimes. Poached, boiled, or eagle eyes. Daddy is usually the chef when it comes to eggs.

-Butter chicken with gnocchi and Greek yogurt. (Somewhat… international, I know.) This is delicious AND I’ve gotten to the point where I can sneak some zucchini (the only green veggie I tolerate well) into the sauce AND TJ will sometimes let me add frozen corn and/or peas to the sauce. Louisette doesn’t eat the butter chicken… but I set aside some of the chicken and add Ayam’s Lemon Chicken sauce, and she loves it. The butter chicken with sauce (but, interestingly, NOT the lemon chicken with sauce) freezes and reheats beautifully, so that can serve TJ or Chris or me again (with a bit of fresh-cooked gnocchi and some yogurt). We’ve been having this 2-3 times a week, so I’m starting to get a bit sick of it (plus spicy probably isn’t great for a sensitive stomach like mine). And I can’t stand chicken breast or tenderloins (unsurprisingly, I’m quite neurotic about food) so I always get boneless thighs and then have to cut them up. Handling raw meat is a lot of work, and gross. Still, for the moment, I can still stomach butter chicken—and it works really well for the whole family. The below photo is a classic scene, with the main pan having butter chicken, the pan on the right having lemon chicken, the bowl on the left cooling down TJ’s gnocchi (removed from boiling water with a slotted spoon so the water and heat isn’t wasted) and the pan at the back right waiting for the second lot of gnocchi to go in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Rice paper rolls. These are unusually healthy for me, including snow peas/cucumber (snow peas for me, cucumber for TJ; Chris is flexible as usual) and carrot. Louisette won’t touch them, but I use a Woolies roast chicken and I give her lemon chicken… ie some of the chicken pieces with the same Ayam lemon chicken sauce. And that works with relatively little effort. But rice paper rolls are a LOT of work and, again, handling the chicken sometimes grosses me out. Even though it’s cooked.

-Mini pizzas. I use English muffins so it’s easy to vary who gets what. The kids both accept basil pesto (tomato paste is anathema even though tomato sauce is ambrosia) and have pineapple and ham. I’m intolerant of pineapple and ham and aware that they’re basically just a sandwich, so I usually make mini pizzas for the kids when Chris and I are eating something completely different. Plus making two instead of 3-4 pizzas means less time spent standing up without a break.

Louisette only: Frozen nuggets and fish (1 meal, with both—but she’s over frozen chips) with tomato sauce, mayo, and lemon juice.

TJ only: Corn on the cob and ham. (Also he apparently eats a wonderful variety and quantity at day care. It will be a real shame to lose that when he starts Kindy in 2020.)

Chris and I only:

Beef stroganoff (although I think it’s awful as leftovers, so I rarely make it—plus I’m highly intolerant of mushrooms, but refuse to leave them out because they’re delicious and sort of a vegetable).

Lasagna/bolognaise (you and I both know they’re the same thing). Great for adding zucchini and carrot (my top veggies), and great for leftovers. Also our thermomix does a good white sauce without needing a human standing and stirring—it stirs and heats at the same time.

Maple marinated salmon with semi-fried rice (I add the leftover marinade to the rice and fry it for a bit). I can deal with frozen corn and peas in this context (mentally, at least). And yes, I know corn is technically a grain. Shut up.

I feel super gourmet sprinkling sesame seeds on top, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that’s where we’re at with meals at the moment. It’s… not great.

I’m about to attempt to get Louisette onto honey carrots (probably made with either golden syrup or maple syrup). Wish me luck.

Oh, there is one bit of good news. Louisette loves to have apple and hommus. She also likes lemon butter and Vegemite.

Parenting is weird, is what I’m saying.

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Addendum: A Bloody Fantastic Cake

August 26, 2018 at 8:08 pm (Food, Murder in the Mail)

Here’s Cassie’s own pic of the cake she made, next to Shauna’s picture. Artists are so amazing! They never cease to impress and delight me.

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It tasted good too.

 

PS The launch for IRON LIGHTS was pretty cool too. Cat Sparks did the photos and I already have them. They’re so incredible I’m going to have to write a seriously impressive blog entry to go with them.

Here’s a pic to tide y’all over until it’s ready:

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Hilariously, the quote behind me is, “I’ve always loved politics. . .”

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Murder in the Mail Art Exhibition Opening

August 25, 2018 at 10:27 pm (Daily Awesomeness, Food, I get paid for this, Murder in the Mail)

Today is Saturday, August 25, 2018.

Today MURDER IN THE MAIL: A BLOODY BIRTHDAY was officially launched with the beginning of a week-long art installation at The Front cafe & gallery (1 Wattle St, Lyneham, Canberra).

It featured all eight pieces of story art (you can see them here), plus several bonus pieces (three Octopus pics/puns from Annabelle Lee, who designed both the MURDER and MAGIC logos; a Ditmar Award-winning piece by Shauna O’Meara; a second portrait by Jane Virgo—of the famous writer Isobel Carmody; and one sneak preview of the MAGIC IN THE MAIL exhibition which will run at The Front on precisely this weekend in 2019).

And cake, by Cassie’s Custom Creations, based on the cake drawing by Shauna.

All the Canberra MURDER artists attended—Annabelle Lee, Adam Lee (yes, they’re husband and wife as well as being two extremely different visual artists), Jane Virgo, and Shauna O’Meara. (Tash Turgoose lives in Brisbane and Keely Van Order lives in Melbourne.)

I very much enjoyed having several of “my” artists in the same room, and although all the artists are scattered about Australia and the world, I was able to gather all but one of their books (Phil Hore’s book is soon to be published by Odyssey Books) which was awfully enjoyable for me too.

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You can see them all rather more clearly here, of course. It’s rather a respectable bookshelf—and all Odyssey and Obscura authors, naturally.

But of course you want to see the cake, don’t you?

Well… you can’t.

The above (and below) photos were taken on my phone just before I packed up. My good friend (and printer) Jason Tankard was the official photographer, and he took about a billion photos, especially of the cake… so I knew it would be most thoroughly documented… and didn’t take a single pic of it myself.

Here’s the art by Shauna O’Meara, if that’s any comfort:

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And here are some lollies. That’s Lindt on the table, and the mini trifle dish has Kool Mints, dark chocolate Maltesers, and Jaffas.

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But of course it’s the art you really want to see. This is a terrible picture, but it’s better than nothing:

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The art will stay at The Front for at least a week. If you like coffee, art, or cafes in general, go and check it out!

The food is rather good too (I was careful to test it, because I’m a professional in such matters).

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That’s ginger and sweet potato hotcakes on the left, and “AVOCADO” on the right (with sourdough bread, beetroot hummus, etc).

The crucial questions:

Did I sell billions of dollars’ worth of stories, books, and art?

Just hundreds.

Did I have fun?

So, so much yes.

Was the cake good?

Yup.

UPDATED: Here is the cake!

I realised alarmingly recently that everything I know about running an art installation I learned from Ocean’s Eight. So there were certainly some bumps along the road (to this day I don’t know what percentage the cafe gets from my sales… somewhere in the vast gulf between 20% and 60%) but the art is in a great public space, MURDER IN THE MAIL: A BLOODY BIRTHDAY is on sale there, and it was an incredible day.

Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling debrief of the Antipodean Queen 3: Iron Lights book launch at Kings Hall, Old Parliament House (aka the Museum of Australian Democracy) 2:45-3:15pm.

Or, you know, just come 🙂

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Bloody Cake!

August 23, 2018 at 7:41 pm (Food)

So I panicked and ordered a custom-made cake for the MURDER IN THE MAIL: A BLOODY BIRTHDAY opening/launch this Saturday 3:30-5pm at The Front.

Cassie of Cassie’s Custom Creations is the amazing lady whose response to “Canihaveacustom3tiercakebysatudayohplease” was, “YES!”

And this is what she’s working off—the incredibly intricate pic by Shauna O’Meara:

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I can’t wait to see it! And also eat it!

 

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The Banana Bread of Destiny

July 20, 2018 at 2:21 pm (Food, Fully Sick)

The only good thing about banana bread is that is uses up bananas.*

Ingredients

1 and a half c buckwheat flour

1 c coconut sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 c mashed banana

1 egg

1/2 c yogurt

1/4 c grapeseed oil

1/3 c maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method

1. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

2. Add banana, egg, yogurt, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Mix.

3. Pour into a lightly greased 21cm x 10cm loaf tin lined with baking paper.

4. Bake for 1 hour at 160 degrees or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

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Obviously, the kids loved this. Even Louisette.

 

Yum Factor: 0

Health: 2

Easy: 4

Will make again? Nope. Bananas are evil.

*Apologies to the 6 year-old child who lovingly contributed this recipe to her Year 1 class.

Aaaand we’re done!

While in the waiting room today I looked over my last three months of blood sugar readings. It turns out I spoke too soon when I blamed that delicious baklava for my record-breaking blood sugar reading the following morning.

As is utterly obvious to anyone who glances at me in passing, I eat a lot of chocolate. Like, every day. (I’m gonna go analyse that habit sometime soon.)

Despite this, my blood sugar has been remarkably good ever since my stomach operation  last year. (Pause for cheering!)

Except these school holidays.

Was it all these not-usually-healthy recipes?

Actually, nope.

I looked back over the past three months of daily blood sugar readings, and guess what?

There were a total of 10 high blood sugar readings.

1 was due to getting up at stupid o’clock to drive to Sydney.

1 was just random.

2 were due to medical appointments. (Often deeply stressful.)

The other 6—that is, 60%—were ALL on the one day a week that I look after the kids for the full day (that is, from 8am until 6pm, while Chris is at work and there’s no day care or grandparents).

So that’s informative. Unfortunately for everyone, I associate the kids with an increase in physical pain and panic, which of course is a self-fulfilling thing.

So school’s about to start again, which is going to help with my sanity a bunch, but I clearly need to think about this some more. For one thing, I’ll make sure Chris takes more time off work next holidays.

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Sushi Bowl Recipe

July 20, 2018 at 1:50 pm (Food)

Okay, this one made me nervous. It was invented by one of the kids “inspired by the giant packet of seaweed paper he asked his mum to buy at Costco”.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ingredients

Rice

Smoked salmon

Avocado

Seaweed paper

Soy sauce

Method

1. Cook rice.

2. Put rice in a bowl.

3. Scrunch up the seaweed.

4. Put salmon, avocado, and seaweed in the bowl.

5. Drizzle on soy sauce.

6. Soy sauce.

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Obviously, after taking the picture, I shovelled on a whole lot more salmon and avocado and tucked in. It was delicious.

I let the children choose their own toppings, encouraging them to make beautiful designs. Louisette’s is on the left, and TJ’s is on the right.

*long sigh*

Great job kids.

Yum Factor: 4

Health: 4

Easy: 4

Will make again? Maybe. It was pretty great—except for the seaweed 😛

 

I had my diabetes checkup today. It’s over now, which is good. There was a lot of crying (just from me, but with several different medical professionals because why stop at just one?), and then I went and bought a fast food lunch and $20 worth of lollies.

So, today went pretty much as expected.

Now there’s just one more job to do: wait for the vet to call and tell me my cat has cancer.

What a fabulous day.

It is pretty nice, actually. I’m watching “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (terrible title, brilliant show) and stuffing my face. My major decision of the day is whether to lie down while watching TV, stay sitting while watching TV, lie down and read a book, or take a nap.

Who am I kidding? The only decision is which order to do all of the above.

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More More Pancakes

July 19, 2018 at 9:30 pm (Food, Fully Sick)

Ingredients

2 eggs

1 and 3/4c milk

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 c self-raising flour

1/3 c caster sugar

 

Method

  1. In a bowl, sift self raising flour and mix in the caster sugar.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, milk, and vanilla essence.
  3. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix until there are no lumps (a blender, hand mixer, or shaking bottle is helpful).
  4. Heat and grease frypan.
  5. Spoon mixture into frypan and cook until bubbles form and pop.
  6. Flip and cook other side.
  7. Enjoy with your favourite toppings.

 

The kids were thrilled, naturally.

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Surprisingly, this recipe had a lot of similar elements to the other one (I guess not that surprisingly, since they’re both pancake recipes).

Tomorrow is technically the last day of school holidays, and the kids will both be at the grandparents all day. So we made it? I guess? We HAVE done all the recipes, and I’ll blog about the last two shortly.

Today I spent two hours with an endometriosis nurse. This is one of the steps along the road towards likely surgery (given how much the last surgery helped, and how much hormone treatments have destroyed my brain, this is good news—and since it’s through the public system, I won’t need to run another GoFundMe campaign).

As I drove to the appointment at the Canberra Hospital, I listened to the radio.

So it turns out that, last night, a man under police guard wrestled a GUN off a POLICE OFFICER and fired at least two shots. In Canberra Hospital. (He’s now being charged with two counts of attempted murder, so. . . yay?)

Well, I didn’t get shot and I didn’t quite start full-on bawling while discussing my mental and physical health, or being earnestly told that diet and exercise is strongly recommended (WHAT!?!?! I’m an enormously fat female with depression so that idea has never once occurred to me or any of the dozens of medical professionals I meet every week or so).

So. . . yay.

Tomorrow I have a “diabetes checkup” which is medical speak for having another, unrelated nurse tell me to diet and exercise. She’ll continue suggesting exercises I can’t do and foods I can’t eat until I start sobbing, then she’ll tell me off for giving her attitude, and then I’ll say, “Thank you very much. I’m going now” and walk out while she’s still talking.

Or at least, that’s what the last one was like.

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Oops cookies

July 18, 2018 at 1:48 pm (Food)

I forgot this one: Choc Chip Cookies

Ingredients

125g butter, cubed

3/4c brown sugar

1/4c caster sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 c self raising flour

1 c plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 c choc chips

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Method

1. Melt butter.

2. Add the sugars to the butter and mix well.

3. In a separate bowl whisk an egg, then whisk in the butter and sugar mixture. Add vanilla essence and mix well, until it looks like caramel.

4. Add flour and baking powder. Stir to combine and fold in chocolate chips.

5. Roll into balls and place on a lined tray.

6. Bake at 180 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Okay, so confession time: It was ever so slightly difficult to stir, so I added more melted butter. Don’t blame the recipe. (Also, I was two lazy to use two types of sugar, so I only used brown. So the biscuits are brown.)

 

In the world’s least startling news, the kids loved every crumb, and so did I.

 

Yum Factor: 5

Health: lol

Easy: 5

Will make again? Yup. I might even follow the recipe next time.

Three recipes to go people!

Also, Ana (aka the cat aka Fuzzybutt aka SHADDUP) just had a checkup and she now needs Rather Ominous follow-up tests. We’ll most likely find out on Friday if she’s okay or not. (Although usually when medical types say that, it ends up taking much longer.)

Here she is, looking (as usual) annoyed that I’m taking a picture.

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Sushi

July 18, 2018 at 12:52 pm (Food)

I went through a sushi phase long ago so I was pretty confident going into this. I was also pretty confident the kids would be determined not to give this beautiful-looking food a chance. So… how did it go?

Ingredients

Rice

Seaweed sheet

Cucumber

Japanese mayonnaise

Soy sauce

[I added a small tin of tuna & sun-dried tomato, which was delicious.]

Method

1. Wash and cook rice.

2. Cut cucumber into matchsticks.

3. Put the seaweed sheet on a large chopping board and spread rice on the seaweed sheet.

4. Put the cucumber over the rice.

5. Squeeze the mayonnaise on the cucumber.

6. Roll it up and cut into pieces.

7. Dip into soy sauce and enjoy!

TJ liked it, but even Louisette’s enthusiastic friend wasn’t enough to win her over.

So much for peer pressure.

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You can clearly tell that some slices worked better than others (always!) but I was pretty happy with how most of them looked. (I should admit, you need a good sharp knife for slicing so it’s not generally a good task for kids—but they both loved the rest of the process.)

Yum Factor: 4 (I actually REALLY liked these!)

Health: 5 (low fat, and has 2.5 vegies if you count the words “sun-dried tomato” from the tuna tin. I’m assuming anything as aggressively green as the seaweed must be good for me.)

Easy: 3 (easier than it looks, but also easy to screw up)

Will make again? I think it might be time for another sushi phase! Especially since we have the rest of the pack of seaweed sheets.

I know these are really California rolls, but you get the idea.

I like using almost any small flavoured meat tins for this.

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