Kitchen Therapy


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Crumb Topped Apple Bars

It has been a very long while since I cooked with the Tuesdays with Dorie group. I have always enjoyed being a part of the group. However, as I mentioned in my last post, I was working with rape and domestic violence clients, working a 24 hour roster and then I caught every virus going, the last one being glandular fever. I just could not recover. I made attempts to join in with the cooking, however it was always short lived.
I have recently found a functional medicine doctor, not many of those here in Australia! I wasn’t expecting much, considering my experience to date with doctors has been… not great to say the least.
Some genetic testing revealed I have inherited faulty MTHFR genes. Not one, but two faulty copies from each parent! Basically, this gene mutation effects my ability to convert folate I eat into something my body can use. If you are cruising through life, this might not be much of an issue, and for me it was fine for some 40+ years. However once I became very ill, it was hard to recover.
I tried everything! Even going vegan for a while, which I now realise made things worse as my body needs a much larger amount of B12 than the average ‘non mutant’ gene person ūüôā
I am excited that with high doses of B12 and methylfolate (tiny doses) I am already feeling better! And the first thing I wanted to do was cook!

This week’s recipe was interesting for me as part of my healing was cooking green apples, with a handful of raisins, cinnamon and some honey. I love this combination. The crumb topped apple bars are the same combination (minus the cinnamon) on a cookie base!
It was so much fun cooking this. I haven’t used butter and sugar in a while and it was ridiculously enjoyable! I realised my tastes have changed a bit and while I loved the apple filling I did find the whole bar a bit too sweet! Something I did not think I would ever say in my life!
The rest of the family was very excited with the smells that filled the house with this recipe. They have enjoyed the raw desserts I’ve been making however they did say they missed the smell of baking ūüôā
I am looking forward to reading about what the other members of the Tuesdays with Dorie group thought of their recipe of the week.


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Pizza with Onion Confit

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This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was the perfect recipe to kick-start 2013
(after a month of posting nothing!)

I had good intentions…

But we all know where they¬†lead you when there’s no actions to back them up!

December was chaotic.

In addition to the usual holiday madness, I had my older son finishing his last year of primary school.
After 7 years together (in Australia, kids start primary school when they are about 5 and complete a year of kindergarten followed by Years 1-6) my 12-yr-old son has now finished Year 6 and is off to high school where he will do Years 7-12!
School ended December 19th, however those last few weeks were in full party mode.
Surfing lessons, golf, tennis, camps, craft days, graduation ceremonies, concerts, dances and dinners were all arranged by the school.

My son and husband at his Year 6 graduation dinner/dance…

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Then there were all the after school activities that the kids took to arranging for themselves on Skype and Instagram!

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While the primary school was focused on sending their Year 6 kids off with a bunch of great memories, their respective high schools had their own¬†orientation days and activities designed to welcome their new Year 7’s for 2013!

 And all this was just with one child!

My younger son is starting primary school in 2013 so he had a series of orientation days of his own to attend and my daughter is undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh program which meant the last couple of weeks of school were spent getting organised for a kayaking/camping trip.

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So…

Visions of myself baking Buche de Noels, Gingerbread houses, Christmas themed cookies, cakes and cupcakes went out of the window.
This year, it felt like Christmas was eclipsed by… life.
I didn’t even try to fight it.
I just went with it.

The kids return to school January 30th and we usually go away for a couple of weeks at some point over this 6-week break, however this year we decided to stay in Sydney.

And days like the one in the pics below, reminded me of what an awesome place we live in!

My son went to his friend’s 5th birthday, kayaking around Manly harbour…IMG_4502

The kids headed out with their parents…

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Then returned to cool down with a swim and a picnic lunch.

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Today was a crazy 43 degrees celsius in Sydney.
But yesterday was the perfect pizza making day!
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And so we kick start 2013 baking with Dorie and Julia!

We all love olives and goat’s cheese in our family, so this recipe was enjoyed by everyone.
I have been wanting to make this for a while and I love the mix of the sweet onions with the salty olives and cheese. I thought it was perfect!

This¬†Tuesdays with Dorie recipe can be found in the book ‘Baking with Julia’ or by heading over to Paul’s blog ‘The Boy Can Bake’¬†¬†.
After a month away, I am looking forward to catching up on what everyone has been up to!


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How a Cheating Kristen Stewart ruined my Blueberry Pie

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Blueberry Nectarine Pie.
It’s winter here in Australia, so there are no nectarines to be found.
I replaced them with strawberries.
What could go wrong…?

Now please indulge me for a second as I digress…
While buying the ingredients for the pie I saw this magazine sitting on the shelves as I sat in the grocery line waiting to pay. The look on Kristen Stewart’s face caught my attention.

I’ve come across that look many times in my career.
Reason and caution go out the window.
You are fully immersed in your drama and all your senses are alive!
Ideally people would be striving to achieving this mental state in a healthy way by identifying what is missing in their lives and setting goals that would satisfy these needs.
Unfortunately, through my work, ¬†I’ve come to understand¬†achieving this in a¬†healthy¬†way ¬†is really hard work!
So the distractions of choice are usually affairs and drugs!
(Or in my case, food!)
So with this all going through my mind, I somehow decided that this pie would be so mind blowingly great I too would lose sense and reason!
Yes, in hindsight I can see it’s bonkers and what was I thinking!
But I wanted the pie to be that good!!!

My husband and kids enjoyed it.
I thought it looked good, but I really didn’t like it at all!
My husband thought I was crazy until I told him of my expectations.
After he stopped laughing, he assured me no pie was going to live up to those expectations and to try it with ice cream! We need someone sane in the family!

To check out the recipe¬†visit Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake or Hilary at Manchego’s Kitchen.


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Gorgonzola Apple Quiche and Hawaii

We spent two magical, glorious, incredible, fun-filled weeks in Hawaii.

We swam…

We surfed…

We went paddle boarding…

We shopped…

And we shopped some more…

We toured Kualoa ranch on the east coast where Jurassic Park, Lost and Pearl Harbour and were filmed…

My husband loved it here on the east coast of Oahu the ¬†most…

Where the mountains met the coast…

We watched scenes being filmed for Hawaii 5-0 at our hotel… (can you tell my daughter loved this the most!)

And we ate…
Buffet breakfasts, freshly made omelettes filled with vegetables and plate after plate of the sweetest pineapple, papaya, cantaloupe and watermelon you can imagine. Duke’s on Waikiki beach was our favourite breakfast hangout! (pic is of buffet at Hilton Hawaiian Village where we stayed)

We ate Haupia pie on the North Shore at Ted’s Bakery…

Garlic Shrimp and grilled corn at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck on the East coast…

And we discovered the Cheesecake Factory!

We looooved the Cheesecake Factory!!!!!

Between us all we snapped about 2000 pics on our iphones and ipods.
Flicking through all the photos to get to the pics of the gorgonzola apple quiche has been another bonus to this week’s French Fridays with Dorie!

Coming back was hard. We had such an amazing family holiday we didn’t want to return.
But I have to admit it was nice to get back to into the routine of normal life and I realised how much French Fridays with Dorie has become a part of my life! I hate blue cheese with a passion! But I missed the group and the baking and there was no way I was going to miss another week! I knew I could try a different filling but hey, when will I ever have the opportunity to try gorgonzola and apple quiche in my life! I knew this was the perfect time! Fresh from my adventures in Hawaii I made the quiche…

Along with a salad I found in a magazine for American Cobb Salad (I replaced the blue cheese with Haloumi though!)

My family ate the quiche and we loved the pastry and the filling (without the gorgonzola bits!) What can I say! We are not blue cheese people!

So thank you French Fridays with Dorie for again introducing me to a new taste and allowing me to reminisce over two of the best weeks in my life!!! Can’t wait to see what every one else thought of the gorgonzola apple quiche!


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Gingerbread Christmas Cookie Tree

I remember someone telling me that the purpose of meditation was to give us a break from our daily lives. While meditating we are focused on other things, our breath, our body, the present moment. Anything but what has been consuming us and occupying our thoughts. At the end of our meditation time we step back into our lives. But we do so refreshed. We’ve had a break from all our worries, duties and roles. And now we return recharged and the time away has, hopefully, given us a new perspective. A more detached and objective way to see our lives, and with fresh eyes, we can tackle our concerns with new ideas that were hidden from us while we were caught up in the story that was our life! I honestly cannot remember where I picked up this broad definition of meditation, but it’s stuck with me.

That’s what I love about cooking and in particular, baking. My way of being in the world can be very much in my mind and not much happening in the body! My mind can be a hive of activity, sometimes it feels like it’s home to a loud, chaotic, formula 1 race track. You’d never know what’s going in there by watching me, my body goes through the day doing it’s thing and not getting in the mind’s way. Actually it’s learnt to stay out of the mind’s way! And that’s where baking and cooking come into play.

Doing something that is physical and new¬†requires me to focus fully on the activity at hand. My mind tries to gloss over instructions so it can get back to solving the latest drama, but I’ve learnt the more active my mind, the more complex the recipe I need to pick needs to be. I have to concentrate on what I am doing and force myself to take a break from the tapes playing in my head. And when the business and dramas are big, like at Christmas time, doing anything complex is the last thing I want to do! That’s how I new it was time to undertake a challenge. I have been wanting to make a Gingerbread House, but I have been sick with the latest bug the boys brought home and when I saw Gingerbread Christmas Trees I was sold! They looked amazing and somehow not as daunting as the houses, to me.

I made the dough using the recipe below from Gourmet Traveller. I also had five 11-year old boys in the house having a sleepover, friends dropping in and still feeling weak from the bug. The combination wasn’t great. After many hiccups, I took my first batch out of the oven and then dropped them!
At this point my 14-year old decided to step in. My goal was to spend some mother daughter time while the boys were destroying the house. She was reluctant to begin with, but I stepped back fully and other than making the dough and destroying the first batch of stars, she did everything. 

She is also an “in her head” sort of person.¬†
So it was great to sit back and watch the meditative process of baking in action.
She was in “flow”.
She had purpose and an incredible sense of achievement at the end of it all.
And while she took pics of her creation to post on facebook and tumblr, I took pics of her to post here.

Remember to take a break from the busy-ness of the season, whatever form your ‘meditation’ takes, take time to do it and you will be rewarded with a renewed sense of perspective, love and joy!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Gingerbread Recipe (as it appears in Gourmet Traveller for their gingerbread house recipe)

700g plain flour
190g each light brown sugar and dark muscovado sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
220g cold butter, cubed
180g golden syrup
2 eggs

1. Process half of each of the flour, sugars, baking powder and spices in a food processor to combine well. Add half the butter, process to combine, then add half the golden syrup and 1 egg and process until mixture comes together (3-4 minutes). Turn onto a work surface, knead until mixture comes together, wrap in plastic wrap and repeat with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate to rest for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Roll our each piece of gingerbread on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thick. Cut decorative shapes out and place on trays lined with baking paper and bake in batches until darkened around the edges. About 10 minutes. Cool on trays for 5 minutes then cool on wire racks.

Royal Icing Recipe (as it appears in Gourmet Traveller for their gingerbread house recipe)

2 egg whites
450g pure icing sugar

Whisk egg-whites in a bowl, gradually adding icing sugar to the mixture until it is smooth holds a stiff peak. Leave white or colour what ever shade your desire the spoon into piping bags fitted with desired piping tubes.

To assemble:
Pipe icing onto each star in whatever pattern you fancy and we dabbed icing in the middle of each star to stick the tree together.


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Potato Chip Tortilla

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a perfect fit for the week we’ve had!

In Sydney, it is the last week of school for 2011!

It’s a week of school concerts, presentation nights and christmas get togethers at friend’s houses…

There’s a lot of food, a lot of kids and a LOT of driving everyone around!

It’s not just the end of school for 2011…

And saying goodbye to friends going off to high school…

It is also the end of all the extra curricular lessons & activities for the year.

Music lessons…

Sports…

And oh so many parties!!!

 As everything winds up for the year, things get incredibly hectic!

So, for us, this week’s recipe was perfect!
It was easy and delicious.


And as everyone came and went throughout the day, we snacked on the tortilla wedges!

I am looking forward to reading how the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie group went with this recipe!


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W H Auden – Miss Gee

You know that feeling you get when something resonates within you?
When it strikes a chord and touches your core?
Poems, songs, paintings and words connect us with our heart and the essence of who we are.
They help us find our true selves.

I had that feeling when I was introduced to the works of W.H. Auden.
As I read his poems, I felt something inside me stir.
They touched something within me.
Almost 20 years later, I still think about them on a regular basis.

From what I can remember, Auden’s predecessors such as Yeats, Lawrence and Eliot, wanted to turn away from the imperfect world we live in and write about an ideal promised land.
Auden on the other hand was interested in capturing the present moment with all it’s faults and flaws. By understanding what created the present, he hoped it might help us act better in the future.

Maybe, if I hadn’t followed a career in psychology I wouldn’t have thought of Auden’s poem, Miss Gee ever again. But as I sit and listen to lives lost to so many fears, images of Miss Gee fill my thoughts.
For me, the mismatch between the rhythm of this poem and the grimness of the topic capture the essence of these lives lost to repression and control.

Miss Gee

Let me tell you a little story
About Miss Edith Gee;
She lived in Clevedon Terrace
At number 83.

She’d a slight squint in her left eye,
Her lips they were thin and small,
She had narrow sloping shoulders
And she had no bust at all.

She’d a velvet hat with trimmings,
And a dark grey serge costume;
She lived in Clevedon Terrace
In a small bed-sitting room.

She’d a purple mac for wet days,
A green umbrella too to take,
She’d a bicycle with shopping basket
And a harsh back-pedal break.

The Church of Saint Aloysius
Was not so very far;
She did a lot of knitting,
Knitting for the Church Bazaar.

Miss Gee looked up at the starlight
And said, ‘Does anyone care
That I live on Clevedon Terrace
On one hundred pounds a year?’

She dreamed a dream one evening
That she was the Queen of France
And the Vicar of Saint Aloysius
Asked Her Majesty to dance.

But a storm blew down the palace,
She was biking through a field of corn,
And a bull with the face of the Vicar
Was charging with lowered horn.

She could feel his hot breath behind her,
He was going to overtake;
And the bicycle went slower and slower
Because of that back-pedal break.

Summer made the trees a picture,
Winter made them a wreck;
She bicycled to the evening service
With her clothes buttoned up to her neck.

She passed by the loving couples,
She turned her head away;
She passed by the loving couples,
And they didn’t ask her to stay.

Miss Gee sat in the side-aisle,
She heard the organ play;
And the choir sang so sweetly
At the ending of the day,

Miss Gee knelt down in the side-aisle,
She knelt down on her knees;
‘Lead me not into temptation
But make me a good girl, please.’

The days and nights went by her
Like waves round a Cornish wreck;
She bicycled down to the doctor
With her clothes buttoned up to her neck.

She bicycled down to the doctor,
And rang the surgery bell;
‘O, doctor, I’ve a pain inside me,
And I don’t feel very well.’

Doctor Thomas looked her over,
And then he looked some more;
Walked over to his wash-basin,
Said,’Why didn’t you come before?’

Doctor Thomas sat over his dinner,
Though his wife was waiting to ring,
Rolling his bread into pellets;
Said, ‘Cancer’s a funny thing.

‘Nobody knows what the cause is,
Though some pretend they do;
It’s like some hidden assassin
Waiting to strike at you.

‘Childless women get it.
And men when they retire;
It’s as if there had to be some outlet
For their foiled creative fire.’

His wife she rang for the servent,
Said, ‘Dont be so morbid, dear’;
He said: ‘I saw Miss Gee this evening
And she’s a goner, I fear.’

They took Miss Gee to the hospital,
She lay there a total wreck,
Lay in the ward for women
With her bedclothes right up to her neck.

They lay her on the table,
The students began to laugh;
And Mr. Rose the surgeon
He cut Miss Gee in half.

Mr. Rose he turned to his students,
Said, ‘Gentlemen if you please,
We seldom see a sarcoma
As far advanced as this.’

They took her off the table,
They wheeled away Miss Gee
Down to another department
Where they study Anatomy.

They hung her from the ceiling
Yes, they hung up Miss Gee;
And a couple of Oxford Groupers
Carefully dissected her knee.

Auden believed that repressed emotions caused cancer.
Miss Gee suppressed her feelings, her desires, her longings, her true self.
And it killed her.

Pay attention to what resonates within you and follow it with all your heart!