Kitchen Therapy


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Quiches and Tarts – and everything in between!

It has been another busy week.
At home there’s school, soccer, band, karate, dancing, netball, get togethers, parties, homework, assignments, fights, tears… mostly mine!

Netball Gala Day to raise money for Cancer Research

Band Workshop

Helping out at school

At work there’s more tears, lots of them, but at least there the tears are from clients trying to cope with their own lives.

In all the madness I tried to foster a sense of control so I went on a cleaning and purging binge!
I cleaned everything! Including my iphone… and all the photos… including the one’s of this week’s recipe.

Probably how I looked when I realised I wiped the photos!
(Don’t you love the pics the kids think are hilarious to take!)

Anyway…

I can tell you Dorie’s Spinach and Bacon Quiche was amazing.
Everyone loved it, from the 3 year old to my 70 year old dad.
Absolutely amazing!
To see actual photos of Dorie’s Spinach and Bacon Quiche from the talented French Fridays with Dorie cooks, click here. 

I made this quiche on the weekend, so I was going to be really good (after missing last week’s recipe) and get my post ready nice and early.
When I discovered I’d wiped my photos I was bummed but ready to make another quiche.
Everyone loved it after all…
But then, as I was flicking through my copy of Around My French Table, I noticed the recipe for Gerard’s Mustard Tart.
I joined after the group made this and I happen to love mustard so I thought I’d make this instead.

Dorie uses the same tart dough recipe for both recipes and I had my trusty sidekick helping…

The dough is so easy to make…

The filling for both quiches was even easier to prepare…

As I said I love mustard.
I also love leeks and pasty.
The taste was unusual and unfamiliar, but in a good way.
It left us with a quizzical but appreciative look on our faces.
I definitely recommend stepping out of the familiar and giving this tart a go.
And the spinach and bacon quiche will definitely be made again and again!

A very comprehensive and detailed recipe of Dorie Greenspan’s mustard tart can be found here. 


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School Holidays and Vanilla Eclairs!

It’s school holidays in Australia! Yay!
I missed the last two challenges of French Fridays with Dorie. The first week I was sick with the flu and the next we were in Melbourne.
I was determined I was not going to miss another week!
So I decided, despite having 6 of my 10-year-old son’s friends over for the day, I would make this week’s recipe!

The Vanilla Pastry Cream came together perfectly over arguments discussions about why they can’t watch Sucker Punch or Red Riding Hood at the cinemas.
It chilled in the fridge as I stood out in the middle of the street directing traffic so the boys could scooter and skateboard out of our steep driveway at full speed.
It was all good! I was in control and feeling pretty chilled!

Next, the Cream Puff Dough!
I went through a phase some years back when I made profiteroles on a regular basis so I was feeling pretty confident.
Now somewhere between chasing running after the angels as they moved like lightning between our house and the oval at the end of our street
and more ummm… ‘debates’ as to why they can’t play knock and run or go into the National Park surrounding the oval by themselves,
my Cream Puff Dough didn’t… puff!

Hard as I tried, there was no way these babies were going to be filled. They tasted pretty good, but were flat as pancakes!
I learnt something from my house full of tenacious and relentless boys, don’t give up, cos you’ll eventually get what you want if you keep pestering trying!
The second time around I cut a hole at the end of a sandwich bag, filled it with the dough and squeezed out the eclairs!
Yes! This time it worked!

I was pumped! I managed to complete the recipe!
I piled the boys in the car and met a friend who had the rest of their friends waiting for us at the cinemas.
We settled on ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2’.
We sat them all into their seats and just as we started to think okay! They are in a contained space and we can relax for the next 90 minutes or so, we realised we had taken boys, that already had the resources and stealth of seasoned ninjas, to watch a movie that turned out to be an instruction manual on how to get away with absolutely anything!
We sat and watched in helpless terror!

To see more versions of this week’s recipe and read more stories visit French Fridays with Dorie!


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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!


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Are you a tad bit overprotective when it comes to your kids?

 

As a parent, first and foremost I want to protect my children.

My instincts are to protect them from any harm that may come their way. So while I understand the following concept intellectually, I really struggle implementing it.

Depression has been on the rise since the late 1950’s, it is not only increasing, the victims are getting younger and younger.

Dr Martin Seligman claims that “our society has changed from an achieving society to a feel-good society. Up until the early 1960’s, achievement was the most important goal to instill in our children. This goal was then overtaken by the twin goals of happiness and high self-esteem.”

The focus today is very much about feeling good, I know how intense the urge to rush in and protect my children from any negative feelings is. The argument however is that negative feeelings are there for a reason. They carry messages about how we are fairing in life and galvanise us into action when things are going wrong by making it very hard to ignore the pain and discomfort they inflict upon us.

Another thing to consider is the concept of “flow” that I wrote about in an earlier post by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Being in flow is when you lose yourself in what you are doing. It’s when the best of your abilities are matched with the challenge before you. If the challenge is to easy, then you get bored, however if it is too hard you feel hopeless and want to give up. Flow is about feeling challenged and frustrated as you try to achieve your goals. It is about failing and trying again. Seligman says, “rewards alone, high self-esteem, confidence and ebullience do not produce flow… A life without anxiety, frustration, competition and challenge is not the good life; it is a life devoid of flow.” When we consider that research indicates flow is what makes us happy and gives our lives meaning, we can then can grasp the importance of negative feelings in our overall happiness. 

The last point I want to make is about how bad feelings can be used to stop us from feeling helpless and depressed. Feeling helpless, feeling immobilised, feeling like nothing you do will make any difference, is how many of my clients who are depressed feel. When we protect our children from failure, from feeling sad, anxious, or angry, we deprive them from learning persistence. When we are faced with a problem, we can try to change how we approach the problem until we find a way that works. Or we can give up. If we protect our children from feeling bad and failing, then we are teaching them to give up, we are depriving them of the skills to perservere when the going gets tough. We are teaching them to avoid anything that feels bad, making it difficult in the long term for them to experience flow in their lives. When they come up against any difficulties, or negative feelings, they may easily give up, placing them at high risk for developing depression.

My own goal is to try very hard to resist the urge to jump in and “rescue” my children from anything and everything. This includes too much homework, a mean comment by a friend, being overlooked for an activity, etc. Yes, I know I sound a bit nutty but I can’t help it! I want to “fix” it so they don’t feel bad. However the prospect of creating helplessness and depression is sobering enough to make me stop and think. I want to help them build resilience and resources to cope with life. Bailing them out will make me feel good, but it won’t be doing them any favours!