Kitchen Therapy


14 Comments

Jammer Cookies

IMG_5460

IMG_5465

IMG_5431

IMG_5430
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


13 Comments

Neapolitan Cake & My 100th Post!

It’s my 100th post!

Yay!

I’ve always wanted to be consistent and persistent.
I hear they are wonderful qualities.
Unfortunately they have never been qualities used to describe me!
Until now.
And it’s all thanks to this blog.

I guess when you find something you enjoy, you want to keep doing it.

I’m learning to not question (too much) why I enjoy doing this?!
To not try to dissect and understand it.
To just accept that it makes me happy.
And enjoy it.

I made this cake for my son’s 5th birthday.
The recipe is from Heather Baird’s SprinkleBakes book.
The kids loved it!

It’s such a great party cake!

It occurred to me it was also the perfect cake to celebrate my 100th post!
And my venture into the crazy new world of consistency and persistence!


4 Comments

How Do I Find My Meaning and Purpose In Life

I’ve always admired people who know what they want out of life and set out to achieve it. You know the¬†ones, they knew what they wanted¬†from the minute they were born and¬†never wavered or questioned on their path¬†in life.

I’m not one of these folks.

I’ve always wished I was, but I realise I’m not and never have been. I am more like… ¬†Dory, from Finding Nemo. Remember her? The likable, yet frustrating blue fish who would change her mind mid-sentence¬†and¬†struggled to finishing¬†a thought because half way through that thought another bigger, better, brighter thought had come along!

I’ve tried to be like those other folks. I can easily immerse myself in a project. The problem is, part way into the project, something else catches my eye and I go off on a tangent. That tangent leads to more tangents and before I know it I am so far off the mark I’ve totally lost track of what I was doing in the first place.
By the time I get back to my original topic, I’ve completely forgotten what I’ve done and need to start again. So as you can see, I tend to rediscover the wheel again and again (or more appropriately, I discover the same bit of the wheel again and again) and hardly any progress is ever made!

On the up side, I help those around me build patience and tolerance (whether they like it or not)!

Now, while my Dory-esque nature has strengths, I can’t ignore that my flaky side needs reigning in!
So… I have spent some time looking at ways to sustain interest and motivation. Ways to build persistence and consistency so goals are pursued and achieved. It’s been an interesting couple of months.

Here’s what I have learnt…

As a society we are very much focused on goals. Getting to university, getting married, finding a job, buying a house, keeping it spotless, having children, keeping them spotless,¬†buying a bigger house, a boat, a new car and so on. The problem is that when we get these things, they don’t seem to be enough (that’s if we can even sustain the interest and motivation to do what it takes to get them!)

When we equate success with goals, we live in the future, we think when we reach that goal we can finally feel happy and content!

What if we were to take a step back and begin by clarifying what gives our lives meaning and purpose AND THEN use this information to guide us?

Consider how life would be if we decided that success meant living by our values? Living in a way that is meaningful to us each and every day. If we knew what was important to us in life, what we stood for and how we wanted to behave, a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment would be instantly available to us. Our values, our sense of meaning and purpose in life is available to us right now. At any moment we can choose to act in line with our values and when we do, we feel empowered.

Our values inspire us, motivate us and guide our actions. When we use our values to set goals, we are then doing what matters most to us. We are not waiting to reach that goal so we can finally be happy, we live every day feeling satisfied and content because each day we are doing what is important to us.

Our values are available to us right now.
They show us who we are and what is important us.
And most importantly, our values do not need to be justified to anyone. This last point I struggled with for a while, I thought my values had to be worthy as judged by some outside force. I was always drawn to values such as fun, playful, free and easy-going. This is what I wanted to be in life, but then I’d look at words like conscientious, congruent, hard-working and felt embarrassed that my values in life were so… fluffy. I now own my values in life and I realise that when I am living by my values, I work my butt off and I am the best me I can be.

I’ve made a list of values below as a starting point, have a look and see if any jump out to you.
Some words actually make me feel like I’m choking, while others resonate deep within me and make me feel happy, alive and joyful.

If you¬†get stuck, here are some of my favourite exercises…

Who are your role models?
Who inspires you?
What strengths and qualities do they have that you admire?

Imagine your 80th birthday party. When it’s time for family and friends to toast you and make a speech¬†about you and your life, what would you like¬†to hear them¬†say about you?

Imagine you are looking over your own funeral, see who is there and listen to what they are saying about you and how you will be remembered. If you lived your life as your are now, what would they say about you?
What would you like them to say about you?
What does that reveal to you about the person you want to be?

What words would you like written about you on your tombstone, just a few words that would capture the essence of who you were and how you lived your life?

Values are our heart’s deepest desires, they give us direction in life and by staying in touch with our values we make our brief time on Earth meaningful!

Let your values shape your goals and your life.

LIST OF VALUES
1.  Adventurous
2.  Affectionate
3.  Authentic
4.  Blissful
5.  Brave
6.  Bold
7.  Calm
8.  Careful
9.  Compassionate
10. Confident
11. Courageous
12. Creative
13. Curious
14. Daring
15. Decisive
16.  Determined
17. Dynamic
18. Elegant
19. Empathic
20. Energetic
21. Enthusiastic
22. Fair
23. Faithful
24. Fearless
25. Flexible
26. Focused
27. Free
28. Fun
29. Generous
30. Giving
31. Gracious
32. Grateful
33. Healthy
34. Helpful
35. Honest
36. Humor
37. Imaginative
38. Industrious
39. Inquisitive
40. Intuitive
41. Joyful
42. Kind
43. Leader
44. Learning
45. Lively
46. Loving
47. Loyal
48. Mature
49. Mindful
50. Mysterious
51. Modest
52. Neat
53. Open-minded
54. Optimistic
55. Organised
56. Original
57. Passionate
58. Persistent
59. Philanthropist
60. Playful
61. Pleasure
62. Powerful
63. Present
64. Proactive
65. Reasonable
66. Refined
67. Relaxed
68. Reliable
69. Resilient
70. Resourceful
71. Respectful
72. Self-control
73. Sensual
74. Service
75. Silly
76. Sincere
77. Spiritual
78. Strong
79. Thankful
80. Thoughtful
81. Thorough
82. Tidy
83. Tranquil
84. Trust
85. Truth
86. Understanding
87. Unique
88. Vision
89. Virtue
90. Vitality
91. Vivacious
92. Warm
93. Wise
94. Witty
95. Wonder
96. Youthful
97. Zeal

 


14 Comments

Fig & Goat’s Cheese Fritters Salad with Balsamic Syrup

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

I love this quote.
It reminds that motivation doesn’t just happen, it’s something we have to work at.
Along with my Short Ribs in Red Wine and Port recipe post, I discussed being forced to challenge my rather limited beliefs I held about creativity.
I honestly thought creativity was about the ability to paint and¬†decorate, and therefore confidently declared myself ‘creatively challenged’!
On my journey to redifine my thoughts on creativity, I stumbled across another deeply held yet totally ignorant assumption I had.

I thought if you were creative, your creative ability oozed out of you.

Seriously, I pictured creative people standing in front of an empty canvas and their art just flowing out of them.

Then I read this quote by Michaelangelo:

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”

It started to dawn on me that I had made many half-assed assumptions about what creativity meant!
(Yes, I am hanging my head in shame as I admit this!)
But I am sharing this because this relevation was a huge turning point for me.
I not only realised that creativity took many shapes and forms, I finally understood that creative people worked hard at their art!
I kinda figured, ¬†“If I was meant to be a fitness and figure competitor, I would live and breathe the gym!”
“If I was meant to be a writer, words would just pour out of me.”
You get the gist…

Now I realise that these people are good at what they do because they make themselves do it.
They don’t live in a constant state of motivation,¬†they’re just persistent and consistent at their art.
Whatever it may be.
That’s why I like¬†Zig Ziglar’s quote. It sums up perfectly what I’m trying to say, creativity requires motivation to produce art! Whatever your art may be!

I saw this recipe for Fig & Fried Goat’s Cheese Salad with Balsamic Syrup and honestly, while I wanted to eat it, after another hectic weekend, it was the last thing I wanted to make!
But these days I’ve learnt to focus on how I’m going to feel after the work is done!
So in no time I was cutting, whisking, dipping and frying!

And boy was it worth it!


Fig & Fried Goat’s Cheese Salad with Balsamic Syrup

(More or less as it appears in MasterChef Magazine)

2 x 150g logs soft goat’s cheese
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 lemon zested
150g baby rocket
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
6 purple figs, stems trimmed, torn into quarters
vegetable oil to deep fry

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbs sugar


Method

1. Wrap logs of cheese in plastic wrap roll into even log shapes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Place flour in  one bowl, the beaten eggs in another and the breadcrumbs with lemon zest and 1 tsp salt in a third bowl.

3. Unwrap cheese and cut each log into 12 slices. The recipe recommends greasing your knife (and so do I!).

4. Dip each slice into the flour, eggs and finally the breadcrumbs.

5. Place on a tray and refrigerate for 20 mins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. In the meantime put balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and cool over low heat for about 3 mins or until sugar dissolves.
Then leave to cool.

7. Toss rocket with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and top with the figs.

8. Fill a saucepan or deep fryer about 1/3 full with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds.

9. Lower crumbed cheese into oil and fry until golden. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

10. Top salad with fried cheese and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

 

I really loved this salad!
I meant what I said about being totally exhausted!
My husband took our 13 year-old with a bunch of friends to watch Rhianna on Friday night.|
Saturday she went camping with her friends (and some of the parents) while we went to a 40th.
The 10 year-old had a sleep over at a friend’s and our 3 year-old spent the night with grandparents!
By Sunday night we were all exhausted so we ordered some woodfired pizza for dinner and I made this as the side salad.

When my husband arrived with our pizza, I took one look at the garlic pizza crust and loaded it with the salad.

I didn’t even taste the other pizzas!
It really was amazing!

 

 

 


12 Comments

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!


6 Comments

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).


1 Comment

Counselling 101 – Skills we should be taught at school!

¬†Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Rudyard Kipling

As a psychologist I get to witness  the power of words first hand. I see the effects of words that evoke fear, powerlessness and helplessness. I also see the flip side to this, words that empower, motivate and create joy, love and happiness.

Understanding and fully appreciating the power of words has been one of the most amazing things about my line of work. People are able to shift from depression, anxiety and fear to a state of peace and happiness through words.

The words we use to describe what we experience will in turn become our experience.

If one of my children is feeling sad, angry, happy, or playing victim I ask them what they are thinking. I can guarantee you the response is usually “I don’t know” followed by a scowl!
And it’s true, they have no idea what thoughts lead them to this emotion. They just know they feel good or bad!
And same goes for any of us, we don’t really pay attention to the constant chatter in our minds. But it’s there and it’s creating our reality!

As a psychologist, I have come to the conclusion that this is one of the most important lessons I need to teach my children.
To build in them the awareness and understanding that they are not victims to random emotions that take over their bodies.

(I know I am referring to children here however this is something most of us as adults have never really been taught. I passionately believe that this is crucial information about living that all kids need to be taught in school so they have the resources to become functional and contributing adults. Unfortunately it isn’t taught in school and it is what I teach my adult clients. Imagine how far we would all be if we were given this information at a young age?)

Most of us don’t really pay attention to what we are thinking, but we are pretty aware of how we are feeling at any given moment. So¬†start with your emotions. Ask yourself¬† how you¬†feel which also helps to build¬†emotional awareness and identify and verbalise feelings better.¬†
Once you¬†establish how you feel,¬†take a step back and try to identify¬†what you¬†were thinking and as I said,¬†people find it very difficult to pin down their thoughts. So¬†take it slowly. How you feel and how you behave is determined by what thoughts are going around in your head. So if you’re feeling sad, you’ve been thinking sad thoughts and you may be crying or isolating yourself. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself, you’ve probably¬†been telling yourself that something is not fair and you may be sulking or stomping around! If you’re feeling happy, you’ve been having happy thoughts and your behaviour may be to whistle, play or be easy-going.

Your thoughts will determine how you feel and act. 
You cannot have happy thoughts and feel angry.
You cannot have angry thoughts and feel happy.
If you are thinking happy thoughts, you will be feeling happy and acting happy.
If you are thinking angry thoughts you will feel angry and act angry.
And so on…

 It sounds incredibly simple and yet it is one of the hardest things to master!
Choosing your thoughts and ultimately choosing the life you have.

Please feel free to leave me any questions or comments you have!