Kitchen Therapy


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Jammer Cookies

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This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is the Jammer Galette. Dorie describes it as “a vanilla sable topped with a spoonful of jam and circled with streusel.” The recipe is for a “thick, chunky galette” however I couldn’t get the idea of small, cookie sized jammer out of my mind. I wanted something I could just pop into my mouth and savour, and these turned out perfect!

As I was making these I was thinking about this blogging thing and the love and effort that we all put into it.
We buy the ingredients, we make the food, we photograph it making it look as pretty as we can and then we write about it. It’s a fair amount of work!

Recently, I have come across people on various social media sites (totally unrelated to any of these groups by the way!) posting photos of food that they have taken from magazines or other sites and claiming it is their own. I’ve read about this on other blogs and in my naivety I always thought no, that doesn’t really happen!¬†However, having witnessed it, it’s been on my mind a lot recently.

My first reaction was “wow! the audacity!”and I laughed it off (that’s often my first reaction to most things). As time has gone by I realise that it actually does bother me. With each recipe we make I’ve become more and more mindful of the time, commitment, love and effort involved. Sometimes the efforts are rewarding and other times nothing goes right from start to finish! Either way we are in this, doing it, and for that I have a huge respect.

These little cookies didn’t have many ingredients however they really were a labour of love.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In hindsight my little slap of reality has been good for me.

We loved these and I can’t wait to see what recipe the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie group cooked!
I found Dorie’s recipe for these on the Epicurious website if anyone is interested in trying them ūüôā


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Beggar’s Linguine

A basic skill every therapist learns early in their career is how to “roll with resistance” that client’s put up when touching on issues they may not want to deal with.

This week I used every trick in the bag to deal with the resistance I felt towards this recipe!

From simple reflection, “So you don’t think you’d like to try this recipe.”

To double-sided reflection, “I can see that you’re not wanting to do this recipe but you’re not willing to give up either.”

From reframing, “So this is an exciting opportunity to try something you would never have tried before!”

To agreeing with a twist, “Yes, trying this recipe will be a waste of time because you know they won’t like it, but they will be excited about trying something authentically ‘French’!”

You get the gist…

I actually decided early in the week I wouldn’t even bother with this one. It was just too weird and I would skip it!
I mean, it’s not like it’s compulsory or any thing… right…?

But, (sighing), I knew the key thing to resistance is to not provoke it and to steer its energy towards creating positive change! So…

As I boiled the pasta…I rolled with the resistance…

As I chopped the walnuts (we are allergic to all other nuts!), figs and raisins… I rolled with the resistance…

But them something interesting happened…
As the butter boiled and bubbled and the colour intensified and changed…
I felt the resistance… melting…

At the last minute, I decided to add only half the pasta to the buttery sauce. The whole packet felt too much.
I fried up the left over pasta with some eggs.

By this point, all my resistance was gone and I felt great!
I had completed this week’s recipe and made a last minute switch that I knew the kids would like and eat!

As the resistance eased, I could feel my energy return and myself open to new possibilities!

I started to feel excited by the flavours in front of me…

I eagerly bit into the linguine and… I liked it!
I couldn’t eat too much as it was far too rich and buttery! But the taste was good.
My husband on the other hand felt a bit disturbed with the combination. He said it tasted like muesli and called it “breakfast” food!
The kids took a few bites each and said it was ok, but they couldn’t eat much more than that either.

(I felt incredibly satisfied!¬†I “rolled” with my resistance and instead of getting stuck, I opened my self to new experiences and possibilities. And that felt fantastic!)

If you’re interested in trying this recipe for yourself, and see where it takes you, you can go straight to Dorie’s website and view the full recipe here.

To get a great cross-section of views on this recipe I encourage you to click here and see what other’s who participated in this week’s French Fridays with Dorie thought!

 

 

 


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Short Ribs In Red Wine and Port

I admit it! I have (until recently) been one of those people who thought creativity meant being able to paint or decorate!
It was something that involved a lot of drawing and knowing which colours went together.
So, given this definition, I routinely described myself as “the least creative person you were to ever meet!”
Then, my 10 year forced me to re-evaluate my beliefs.
I had his future clearly planned for him in my mind. Studying economics at university and then working for one of the major banks! Done!
Then something weird happened. He started to develop a real creative streak!
I started to get nervous.
He enjoyed it and others noticed he had a knack for it.
My banking dreams were being threatened and replaced with visions of him painting portraits at Circular Quay!
How could he do this to me!!!
Just as I was beginning to think I had to do something drastic to save my child from a life of artistic poverty, he said to me “Jack (his friend) and I have been talking and we decided we are going to work for Disney making graphics for their movies!” I wanted to cry! Working for Disney! That was a real job? Right? And he would be making money!

He forced me to re-think my ideas on creativity! It was the best gift he could have ever given me!

Today I see creativity everywhere I go.
Take this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe. It took creative genius to pull this baby off!

Juggling work, three kids at three different schools doing three different after school activities, a father coming out of rehab after a massive heart attack and stroke and me deciding to go back to uni, I was sure these ribs were going to fall by the wayside!

But the sadist in me wouldn’t let go of the satisfaction I knew would be waiting for me at the completion of this week’s recipe! So after buying a wheelchair and mobility scooter for my dad, I ducked into the fabric shop nearby and bought the cheesecloth for the bouquet garni.

After driving to uni to pick up my time-table with my 3 year old I realised it was ‘O’ week (orientation week) so I put off my grilling plans and we joined the celebrations!

A few lollipops and some one on one time with my baby was worth the delay!
Back home and the grilling…

…chopping and cooking were finally under way!

Before long the ribs, vegetables and a tonne of booze were all tightly snuggled into the oven for a few hours and we were on our way to pick up the others from school and meet friends for a catch up.
While the kids ran around and the grown ups chatted, the ribs bubbled away at home. We came home to the most amazing smell! Everyone was so excited about dinner till I told them it was for tomorrow night! Ha!
The next day the fat was scooped off and the ribs were ready for the final grilling!

They were pretty amazing!
If I didn’t join French Fridays with Dorie I would never have cooked these!
I would have flicked through the book and came back to it on the odd occasion and maybe even made a handful of recipes I felt comfortable with.
How much I would have missed out on!

The creativity of the other members inspires me, check out their takes on this recipe here.

 

 


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Good Stuff and Gratitude

Wineglass Bay – Tasmania

The 4 hour drive from Launceston to Wineglass Bay on the east coast of Tasmania was long, slow and uneventful (except for the wars being waged in the back seat over, well… everything).
It was during this leg of our Tasmanian Christmas vacation that I had a moment of perfect clarity. An Oprah “aha” moment. It was perfect and fleeting. And I knew I had to grab it and flesh it out before it was¬†drowned and lost forever in the singing and wailing coming from behind me.

Life was short and I was spending too much time on things and people that were not serving me. In fact, they were sucking the life right out of me!

This moment lasted seconds but it felt like existential enlightment flooding every inch of my being! It was a very physical experience, I didn’t just think it, I felt it! And for a few fleeting moments, everything made perfect sense!

I decided right there and then to be picky, really picky, with what I allowed to fill my mind!

I resolved to set my standards high and to do everything in my power to fill my mind with good stuff! Exciting, inspirational, “feel good” stuff!

I made an active choice to fill my mind with beauty and creativity.

I identified what dragged me down (and who) and was clear on what fueled me and always set me back on course.

So these days I spend a lot more time here…

And it never fails to shock that pants off me how clear I am when I leave this place! I walk away feeling strong, focused and clear on what and who is  important.

The other thing that has kept me on track is this blog!
If I’m not immersed in putting together the latest post or cooking the latest Dorie recipe, I lose myself in the¬†amazing blogs you guys have. Blogs that feel like a home. Blogs that are lovingly maintained and radiate warmth and personality. Blogs that I look forward to reading simply because they make me feel good.

And then something amazing happened!

These amazing people, whose blogs I admire, actually throw encouragement and acknowledgement my way and make me feel 10-feet tall!

Allison from French Whisk and Yummy Chunklet dished out a Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award!

This award simply asks that you pass it on. I’m kind of new to this blogging thing, but two blogs that have recently struck a chord with me are:

Jane at 7 Sutras

Gina at¬†Gina Marie’s Kitchen

At the same time, Betsy from A Plate Full of Happiness and Katie from Prof Who Cooks awarded me with the Stylish Blogger Award!

Talk about feeling great! I am conscious of sounding like a gushing Gwyneth at the Oscar’s so I’ll just say¬†thank you for the awards!
(And I am pasting the badges on my sidebar with pride!)

This Award has a few more requirements:

1. Thank the Person – thanks again guys!

2. Share 7 things about yourself – I think I’ve shared enough above and don’t want to risk boring anyone anymore!

3. Share 15 blogs you enjoy – again, being kinda new to this I don’t know that many blogs to nominate! But here’s a few that I’ve come across that stood out to me:

Effie at¬†Effie’s Food Corner

Brian at Ottertude

4. Let the Bloggers Know! As it’s after midnight in Sydney, Australia I will do this first thing tomorrow!!!

Good Night!


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Why We Love Nigella – Madeleines and Mirror Neurons

 

Have you ever wondered why some people leave you cold while others leave you wanting (or in the case of Nigella Lawson), begging for more?!

Backtrack to Italy in¬†the early 1990’s¬†where Italian researchers made an unexpected discovery (don’t you just love the way most of our greatest discoveries were made by accident?) Anyway…

One day, sitting in the lab, surrounded by macaque monkeys with electrodes implanted in their brains, one of the researchers noticed something interesting as they reached for their own food. The monkeys watching him began to show neural activity in the same area of the brain that fired when they themselves made similar hand movements! The discovery of mirror neurons was made!

These brain cells fire not only when we do something, but also, when we watch someone else do the same thing.

Scientists used to think our brains used logical thought processes to understand and predict other people’s actions.

Now they believe we understand other people by feeling, not by thinking.

These little neurons help us to not only mirror other people’s actions but also the intentions and feelings behind those actions.

For example, when you see someone smile, your own smiling neurons fire up, creating a sensation in your own mind of the feelings that go with smiling.
Or you watch an athlete on television and feel your own heart racing and the exhiliaration of winning.
Or you watch Nigella taking almost erotic pleasure and delight¬†in her cooking, you can feel her rapture and joy in what she is doing (no wonder we can’t get enough of her!).
In all of¬†the above examples, our mirror neurons fire away, creating in us, the same experience and emotion being observed, so in a sense we enter another person’s reality for a moment.

Now this is all fantastic when we are around people who make us feel as fabulous as Nigella does, but consider the effects of those who aren’t so positive in their take on life. People who are anxious, nasty, fearful, depressed, manipulative or just plain whiny! We all have them in our lives (and if we are really honest we’ve all been one of them at some point in our lives!) People who we walk away from feeling drained, empty, anxious and depressed. If we understand how mirror neurons work, we can identify who these people are and prepare ourselves or even choose to avoid them.

And just as importantly, we can ask ourselves, “how do we want others to experience us?”

So… what in the world does this have to do with Madeleine’s???

All this started with a decision to catch up with some really great women one Friday afternoon. Intelligent and supportive women that approach life with a sense of humour, so there’s always a lot of laughter. And there are no hidden agendas or power plays, so there’s a wonderful lightness¬†and a¬†simplicity in being with them. As I flicked through Nigella’s “How To Be a Domestic Goddess” book, I took one look at the simple yet elegant madeleine’s and they seemed to embody the essence of what these women are about and how they make others feel!

Rosebud Madeleines

(Nigella Lawson’s “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” book)

50g unsalted butter (plus 1 tablespoon for greasing tin)

1 large egg

40g caster sugar

pinch of salt

45g plain flour

1 tbsp rosewater

icing sugar for dusting


Steps (abbreviated by me)

1. Melt butter then leave to cool.

2. Beat egg, sugar and salt with electric mixer for 5 mins, until “thick as mayonnaise.”

3. Sieve flour over egg and sugar mixture, then fold with a wooden spoon.

4. Fold in butter (minus one tablespoon for greasing tin).

5. Fold in rosewater.

6. Mix gently, then leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

7. Take out of fridge and rest a further 30 mins.

8. Preheat oven to 22o degrees Celsius.

9. Brush insides of tin with melted butter and fill with mixture.

10. Bake for about 5 minutes, turn out and cool on a rack before dusting with icing sugar.

(Nigella says her recipe will fill two x 24 bun mini-madeleine tin. I used 1 x12 bun tin and only filled 10 of the holes).


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Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream – Valentine’s Day

I came across the “Nigella Forever” at Maison Cupcake and I it was the perfect excuse to cook something totally indulgent!
(I seem to need a good reason to do things just for the fun and pleasure of it, contradictory I know!
However I’ve noticed that something as simple as having a deadline legitimises all my worries away!)

Nigella’s Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream really struck a chord with me!
Margarita cream! Really! How flamboyant!
And in addition to a very real deadline I had an even better excuse… Valentine’s Day!
I couldn’t wait!

I made the cake…

It turned out absolutely perfect!

I made the Margarita Cream…

 

And since I was on a roll and loving it I decided to make Margaritas!

And I remembered a few things in the process…
It’s perfectly okay to have fun for the sake of fun!
And when you relax and enjoy yourself, everyone else around you relaxes and has fun.
Isn’t that what life’s about?

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!


You can read the recipe for yourself by clicking on Flourless Chocolate Lime Cake with Margarita Cream or by visiting Nigella.com

 

 


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“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The last few weeks have been emotionally and physically draining. My father had a heart attack that he was not expected to recover from. Luckily he has recovered and even though he has lost the use of his right leg, we are overjoyed with the progress he has made.

As we have progressed through the wards of the hospital, I have cut down my daily visits from 12 hour bedside vigils to a two to three hour visit. My days are very full and very tiring and as I drive to and from the hospital I find my mind drifting, questioning theories about grief. Running through exercises and passages I have read, asking myself what is useful and even possible when clients come in during times of stress. I have never wanted to be one of those psychologists that just talks at you, telling clients what they should be doing without making the effort to understand or respect what they are telling me. I have also never had the patience to be one of those therapists that sees clients endlessly, listening to them carry on about the same issue and not challenging them (may sound cold but there are clients who do just want to come in and have a bitch or a whinge without any interest or intention to change their lives!)

My dad’s heart attack meant I was now facing one of my biggest¬†keeps you up at night fears.
Most of the time¬†I felt¬†I couldn’t breathe from the pain that seemed to crush my ribs and block my airways!
And then out of nowhere there were moments of perfect clarity that allowed me to step back and observe the process I was going through with objective interest.
Moments where I felt complete acceptance with the cycle of life and I knew that we would all be okay.

So here’s what I learnt from my dad’s heart attack…

1. All the stuff that books tell you doesn’t matter,¬†really doesn’t!
Who cares about the gossip and who said what about who! You have no time or energy or interest¬†in such rubbish!¬†It was like a breath of fresh¬†air. I had perspective and I wanted to make sure that¬†I rememebered what really mattered and more importantly what didn’t matter for the rest of my life. I¬†knew that at some point things would have to return to normal and I didn’t want to waste this experience.

2. You can choose how to respond.
I always felt that I would be one of those women you see on television, you know the one’s that wail, scream and¬†try to throw¬†themselves at the coffin.¬†The thought of losing a family member¬†has always filled me with such anxiety and despair¬†that I never doubted that would be me! Recently I went to¬†a friend’s father’s funeral and this friend of mine conducted herself with so much dignity¬†that I took strength from her.¬†Another friend’s 5 year old has been battling a brain tumor¬†and again I witnessed¬†a woman handle a terrible situation with incredible strength and grace.
I started to build other ways of being in my mind. Seeing these women helped me realise that you can choose how you conduct yourself no matter what is happening. I taught it, but I must confess¬†I had my doubts, the pain with some clients at the loss of a loved one or the loss of a marriage is so intense¬†and¬†debilitating that you can easily¬†be dragged into their worlds and feel as¬†incapacitatingly helpless and hopeless as they feel.¬†If you meet them all the way you will find it hard to see a way out yourself, if you don’t meet them at all, you will¬†never really have an empathic understanding of¬†what they are going through and will not be able to establish that necessary relationship and connection you need to be of use to them. So just like in counselling, in real life it’s finding that balance for yourself where you¬†can grieve but you have the door open to the rest of your life and you can come and go freely.

3.You can only play victim for so long.
I find this hard to say without sounding insulting. I have clients who come in and spend so much time and energy waiting for the world to acknowledge the unfairness of their situation and then fix it. The world does acknowledge it, but then it expects you to move on. I felt surely everyone could see how much I was going through and I felt justified in my grief, until I returned to work and there was a stack of forms and files that needed addressing immediately. I had to work hard at not feeling resentful and sorry for myself! I have seen clients waste so much time and energy refusing the move on. Losing their jobs, their relationships as they cling desperately to the perceived unfairness and injustice of a situation. I’ve seen enough to know there comes a time when you need to accept and move on with your life. The alternative is truly terrifiying! Losing everything and everyone and then realising that it was all for nothing, carrying on will not take away the pain, it just creates more. Nothing will take away the pain, it’s about building a life around it.