Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Crunchy Nut Cornflake Cookies

Every now and then I get in the baking mood. It's not a regular thing so when it happens, I bake a lot. I'd like do it more often because wherever I can I try to reduce the amount of preservatives in the family's diet. So I do things like use organic flours and free-range eggs and real butter and raw, organic sugar. It balances the guilt I feel for then coating them in sugary cereal. Anyway, I was in the mood on the weekend and tweaked an old biscuit recipe to come up with this one. It was a DEADSET winner with the family. 

I present you with....

You will need:

125g butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup self-raising flour
1-2 cups lightly crushed crunchy nut cornflakes

Preheat oven to 180c

Cream butter and sugar and light fluffy. [I never used to do this properly but now I have a mixer and my life has changed I tell you!]. Add egg, beat well. Fold in sifted flour, mix well. Shape teaspoonfuls of the mixture into small balls and roll them in the cornflakes. Flatten slightly on lightly greased oven trays. Allow room for spreading. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes.

It should make between 20 and 30 biscuits, depending on how big you make them.

These are seriously delicious and perfect for an after school snack with some milk for the kids. If there are nut allergies to consider, just use normal cornflakes or even Special K would work too I reckon. 

How simple is that??

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Easy ways to look fantastic

"Wow! You look fantastic!"

Everyone loves to hear that. Everyone loves to feel that they look fantastic. And looking fantastic is different for everyone. For some it is looking fit. For some it is looking healthy. For some it is looking well-dressed. For some it is looking happy. For some it is looking fatter than usual. For some it is looking slimmer than usual. For some it is as simple as not looking tired.

For me, it’s a combination of things. Looking good has always been important to me, but over the years, my definition of looking good has changed quite a bit.

Now that I’m a mum in my 40s, I don’t have the time, energy or money to dedicate to being gorgeous. So I’ve developed a loose regime of tips, tricks and products to make the best of what I’ve got in a time-poor, cash-poor lifestyle. I play to my strengths, don’t sweat the small stuff and always remember that attitude is everything.

I love my shoulder
I was out with my chicks a couple of weeks ago and one of them commented that I always have my shoulder out at parties. It’s true. I love my shoulder. I like to show it off. One of the all-time, greatest pieces of advice any stylist will ever give you is ‘dress to your strengths’. For me, my strength is my shoulder. Either one, it doesn't matter. I don’t like my legs. They’re dimply and one of them has a varicose vein the size of a rope running along the length of it thanks to my second pregnancy so I’m not keen to get the pins out. My arse is tired and my tummy has more hang than pot these days so I wear tights pants and long, loose, off-the-shoulder tops. My particular favourite is a batwing. Peplums can go fuck themselves unless you’re really slim and 25 years old. Which, clearly, I am neither.

Pre Beyonce Blonde

Exercise: What part of your body do you love?  Do your clothes show it off, or hide it?

I’ve got good boobs
If I’m not rockin’ my shoulder, then I’ve got the girls out. Gravity has taken its toll on my boobs, but a good push-up bra creates magic. Magical cleavage. I head to David Jones once a year to be measured properly for a well-fitted and flattering bra.

Exercise: When was the last time you were measured for a bra?

Hands are always on show and, having European heritage, I use mine to talk so I keep them looking good. I keep my nails short so that when I have time to paint them, they don’t chip too easily. One of my pet-hates is chipped nail polish. That goes for toes too. My other pet-hate is different nail lengths on the same hand. You know, when someone has 3 long nails and 2 short ones. Those broken nails aren’t going to catch up lady! Cut them all the same length and start again.

Exercise: Is your nail polish chipped? Are your nails the same length?

Embrace the mid-heel
I walk like a bloke. It’s true. I do. So sky-high stilettos and platforms don’t really feature in my wardrobe. I bought the sexiest, most delicious gold pumps for my 40th birthday party but I’ve never worn them since. Sometimes you just have to make peace with what you know and what I know is the mid-heel is my friend.

Exercise: Be honest – can you walk in heels? If you can, I’m EXTREMELY jealous because they look sensational, but if you have not yet tried the mid-heel... I urge you to.

Often times, when you talk, people look at your mouth. So I wear lip balm to bed every night to keep my lips from drying or cracking. I also hate too much colour on my lips. Oh and I’ve tried because I love colour on OTHER people’s lip, especially red lipstick but it looks horrendous on me. I don’t bother anymore. Instead I buy variations of the same colour time and time again. Don’t believe me? Check out some of my current collection...

Exercise: Do you have a favourite lip colour? When was the last time you bought yourself a new lipstick/gloss?

Addicted to Accessories
I’m an accessory addict. I love necklaces and handbags and scarves and big earrings and bangle arm parties. I like to jingle. It’s the gypsy in me. A pair of hoop of earrings can make an outfit. Honestly.

Exercise: Do you like to accessorise? Be brave and start with a bangle or two, maybe even a statement earring. It’s fun and a really cheap way to lift an outfit.

I am INCREDIBLY grey. True.Story. I’ve been dying my hair for 21 years. In the lead up to turning 40 I had a ‘hair plan’. I would go Beyonce blonde for 10 years to help with my maintenance. Grey hairs aren’t so noticeable when your hair is lighter and when I turn 50 I’ll go short and grey. There. I’ve put in writing. If I’m still blogging in 9 years you can hold me to it. In the meantime, I’m at the hairdresser every 6 weeks getting my roots done. But I really should be going every 4 weeks. To extend the time in between, I have a secret weapon. If you have grey issues, you must purchase one of these. $10 from Priceline.

The miracle stick


The RIGHT SIDE [as you're looking at it] done - see the difference?

Exercise: If you struggle with keeping up with the grey hair regime, then get one of these sticks.

Make up with make-up
I was HOPELESS at applying make-up, so I took a course and now I’m really confident. I buy the right shades for me and know how to bring out my best features. Because I don’t wear it often, I invest in the good stuff and a tube of foundation can last up to a year for me.

Exercise: Is your foundation the right colour for you? Do you know how to apply your make-up properly? If not, why not book a session at a professional make-up counter [like MAC] and have them show you how to apply and then purchase the product they choose for you. You won’t regret it, I promise.

I spent a small fortune on braces in my 20s. It was the best money I ever spent. I don’t wear make-up every day. I don’t have the time or the energy and my hair is usually in the same twirled up bun I’ve put it in the moment I drag my tired arse out of the bed in the morning all day. So sometimes, all I’ve got for you to look at is glossed lips around a big smile. I reckon that’s what growing up is about. Realising that life is about feeling awesome, finding happiness is every day things and wearing your best smile.

Exercise: SMILE

So there you have it. If you see a jingling chick with tight pants and an off the shoulder bat-wing top in a mid-heel with glossy lips, short painted nails with a smile from ear to ear – be sure to say hi :)

What are YOUR cheap and cheerful look fantastic tips?

Thursday, 22 August 2013

On pulling pork

Everywhere I turn these days someone's talking about pulled pork and I have had NO IDEA about what they speak of. 

Pulled pork?? Almost sounds rude, doesn't it? Rude and tasty. Then this week, a friend told me they were having for it dinner. They were cooking it themselves. At home. In a slowcooker. And I thought - I can do that. 

So I did and if I can do it, YOU can too.

You'll need a piece of pork shoulder. I got mine from the supermarket, vacuum sealed and ready to go. You'll also need a slowcooker/crockpot, at least 8 hours to cook it, brown sugar, onion, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, cinnamon and barbecue sauce.

I turned to Google for tips on cooking the best pulled pork and nearly fainted from the amount of content on offer, so I'm going to save you the fainting and break it down like this - anything goes. There are some that swear you should brown it off in a fry pan first, others that say to use an oven, some say keep the fat off, some practically demand you cut it off, some use stock, some don't use seasoning at all. It's a 'whatever floats your boat' kind of dish.

I opted to dry rub it with a mix of brown sugar, paprika, cumin and salt. When I do it again [which I definitely will] I'll replace the cumin with cinnamon and add black pepper. I lay it on a bed of sliced raw onion and garlic on the bottom of the slowcooker and added maybe half a cup of water. Put the lid on, turned it on low and went back to Facebook did the housework.

About 8 hours later I gingerly took it out of the cooker, which was harder than I thought it would be due to it being so tender. I cut the fat off and discarded it and then, using two forks, pulled the pork apart. 

AHA - pulled pork! 

I drained the juices from the cooker into a bowl and returned the onion and garlic back into the cooker. I followed one of my Google tips and mixed some of the juices with barbecue sauce [I had the basic hotdog Fountain type, but it would be nice with something more fancy] and returned the shredded meat to the cooker with the sauce and mixed it all up with the onions and garlic.

It was amazing. So tender and tasty and SO MUCH OF IT [had some on a sandwich with shredded lettuce and mayo today for lunch] I served it with steamed greens and crusty bread but to be honest I think it needs something salady with it. My friend served it with coleslaw which is probably perfect.

So there you are. That's how you pull pork.

Are you a pork puller? Do you have a better recipe than my hotch potch and, if so, will you share?

Friday, 2 August 2013

Memory Melee

Sometimes I have so much to say that it all rushes forward at the same time and bottle-necks at the exit. And nothing can get out and all my thoughts begin to panic. There is an uprising and then my thoughts are rioting, in their bid for freedom and this internal mêlée paralyses me. So I sit and try to calm the panic. I sit and try to restore order. I sit and stare. I sit and breathe. I sit and sit. And nothing comes out but there’s so much. Years of memories and theories and anecdotes and opinions. But they’re all fighting to be heard. To be told. They all want their day in the sun.

“Pick me!” they say “I’m a great story.”

But sometimes it’s the quiet little memory in the corner, hoping to go unnoticed that, in fact, gets your attention. Sometimes you are drawn to the one making the least noise because sometimes, they need the sun the most. So I motion to that sweet little moment in time and gently nudge them forward.

“Go on” I say gently “tell me.”

And they do. And it is beautiful.

It’s very early in the morning. My mum and dad and baby brother are all sleeping. But I’m not. I’m awake and reading in bed. I read whenever I can but I’ve been reading for a while and I think it’s time to start the day. I head down the hall to the kitchen in my nightie. I don’t make much noise because I’m small and my feet are bare. I am four.

My dad likes to start his day with coffee. I know this because I see my mum make it for him every morning. Today I am going to make his coffee. Because I love him and it will be nice for my mum to have a rest. I get his favourite cup. I’m very proud of myself because mum keeps the cups in the high cupboards but I’m clever. I pull out the drawers and use them as steps to reach the high cupboards. I get the tin of coffee and put some in the cup. 2 big spoonfuls looks about right and I’m very pleased that I remember Dad has sugar too. I put in 4. One for each of my years. All good instant coffee is made with water from the kettle. I’m not allowed to turn it on so I don’t. I pour the cold water from the kettle into Dad’s favourite cup but only half way. I haven’t forgotten the milk! I fill the rest of the cup to ALMOST the top and stir up that morning coffee.

It takes me the longest time ever to get back down the hallway to my mum and dad’s bedroom because I can’t move too fast or I will spill the coffee. So with two hands I gingerly make my way across the house in my nightie and bare feet and slip into their darkened room. They are STILL asleep so I put the coffee next to my dad and climb into bed with him to wake him up. Which he does, almost immediately. His moustache tickles me when he kisses me good morning. But I don’t care. I love it.

“I made you a coffee Daddy”

My mum sits up bolt upright. “Tania! You KNOW you’re not allowed to use the kettle!” She’s mad at me and she looks scared so I tell her that I know. And I didn’t. And she calms down. Until she sees the cup. “How did you get that cup down?!”

I explain everything and everyone is calm again and then I wait, expectantly for my dad to try his coffee. He exchanges [possibly pained] looks with my mum and sits up in bed, with me tucked under his arm and starts his day with my cup of coffee. Every. Last. Drop.

The memory of that cold cup of coffee keeps my soul warm.