I’m Back

Yes, you read the title correctly. I am back. Butterfly and I arrived back yesterday. And let me just say I am never doing that again! Continue reading

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Our Roast Beef challenge was a pleasure for us all. In the end, I was surprised to get twelve meals from one humble roast. I had no idea that I would be able to stretch my roast to cover so many meals. The best bit about it was that we did not get the least bit bored with our meals. In fact, it felt as though we were actually eating better than we usually do. I had loads of fun coming up with different ways to serve our beef in order to make as many tasty meals as possible and I halved my meat budget.

I highly recommend that everybody try this challenge, especially if you are doing it tough. You will be surprised just how far you can spread a little meat and just how much fun you will have doing so. Feel free to post you experiences as a comment.

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Once again we have had reheated soup for dinner, served with buttered bread soldiers. One again, the reheated soup tasted better than the original batch. Delicious!

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Meal 11 – Soup

Tonight we had reheated soup served with buttered bread soldiers. As usual, it tasted better second time round.

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Having cooked the remaining beef in the slow-cooker yesterday, I decided to use some of the meat in the childrens’ lunch – it sure beats the usual jam or Vegemite! Thus the children are heading off to school with beef, lettuce and cheese sangas, oranges, passion fruit, freddo frogs and cupcakes. Yum!

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Meal 8 – Steaks

We thawed out the other half of the roast and carved off some steaks. These were fried up and served with cold hard-boiled eggs, sliced beetroot and tossed salad. The remaining uncooked beef was returned to the fridge. I haven’t had steak in ages and I thoroughly enjoyed this meal!

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Meal 7 – Soup

There was a small amount of soup leftover, but not enough for dinner, so the kids all had soup for lunch. This was served with buttered bread soldiers, fruit and a snack.

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Meal 6 – Soup

Tonight we ate bowls of reheated soup served with buttered bread soldiers. It was even tastier second time around!

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Meal 5 – Soup

This is another slow-cooker meal. Into our slow-cooker, I placed spuds (cut into quarters), pumpkin (cut into pieces around the same size as the spuds), sliced carrots, the rest of the beef (chopped), the leftovers from the pie and pizza meals (chopped into bite-sized pieces – including the pastry), a couple of handfuls each of rice, pearl barley, red lentils & yellow lentils (all of which are always in my cupboard), a small amount of veges left in over from a bag of frozen mixed veg and the juices from the roast (defrosted). I then topped up the liquid with water until it reached the rim of the slow-cooker. The lid was replaced and the soup cooked on low for around eight hours.

For dinner, we each had a nice filling bowl of the soup served with buttered bread soldiers. The leftover soup was placed in the fridge.

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Meal 4 – Pizza

We used a pre-made pizza base from the bread section of Woolies for this meal. We spread the pizza base with salsa instead of tomato paste, because we already had the salsa in the cupboard. Next we sprinkled a small amount of the beef, carved from the small amount of leftover beef and chopped into bite sized pieces. We then sprinkled the pizza with chopped onion and topped it with tasty cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan. We baked it in a moderate oven for about fifteen minutes then served one slice each with baked spuds and mixed veg.

Once again, we kept aside the leftovers.

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

For this meal, we took all the leftovers from the roast – meat, veg, spuds pumpkin, pumpkin skin and all – and cut them into bite sized pieces. We had enough leftovers to fill our pie, but if you don’t have quite enough, you can top them up with some extra mixed veg or mashed spuds. We don’t have a pie dish, so we used a casserole dish for our pie. We lined the dish with shortcrust pastry, added our leftovers filling and topped it with puff pastry. We baked this for around 20 minutes at around 180°C. We then served the pie with mixed veg and baked spuds.

Once again we kept aside all the leftovers (including the leftover pie) for use in the soup later in the week.

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

While the kids are at school, Earth and I are eating roast beef sandwiches. This is nothing fancy, just a slice of roast beef in between two slices of buttered bread. We have two sandwiches each.

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Meal 1 – Slow-cooker Roast Beef

I went to my local butcher to purchase the roast for my Roast Beef Challenge. The roast I ended up buying weighs just over 5kg (11lbs) and cost me just over $46. When I took the wrapper off this morning, however, the roast looked way bigger than it did at the store. So the first thing I did was to cut the roast in half. I threw half in the freezer and kept the other half for today’s meal.

I began by cutting six large spuds (one each) into quarters and placing them in the base of the slow-cooker. I then browned all sides of the roast in a frypan and placed it on top of the spuds. I poured about half a cup of red wine in the frypan and used it to scrape up the bits of roast that stuck to the pan. I poured this over the roast, replaced the lid and cooked on low for around eight hours.

The roast turned out a little dry, but still tasted great. I served one thick slice each, giving the smaller slices to kid. We served the beef with the spuds, roast pumpkin and mixed veg. Everybody was delighted with the meal and, despite being quite generous with the the slice sizes, we still have half the cooked roast left. This is now in the fridge awaiting further use.

Since we weren’t stingy with the veges, we wound up with a lot of leftovers. These were set aside in the fridge for tomorrow night’s dinner. In addition, we did not discard the juices from the roast or use them for gravy. Instead, we poured them into a container and placed it in the freezer to be used in soup later in the week.

Roast Beef Challenge

Meal 2 – Roast Beef Sandwiches

Meal 3 – Leftovers Pie

Meal 4 – Pizza

Meal 5 – Soup

Meal 6 – Soup

Meal 7 – Soup

Meal 8 – Steaks

Meal 9 – Sandwiches

Meal 10 – Soup

Meal 11 – Soup

Meal 12 – Soup

Roast Beef Challenge Summary

Powerlessness

Powerlessness creeps in as a result of setbacks children experience as they strive to feel confident and self-assured. They can’t do things as well as their older siblings or peers, so they feel frustrated. They are criticized and punished and given grades, so they feel judged. They are flooded with messages about how they are supposed to buy, so they feel inadequate. The combined effect of these feelings leads children to retreat to the fortress of powerlessness, either down to the hidden dungeons (passivity) or up to the battlements (agressive pseudo-power).

— Lawrence J. Cohen in Playful Parenting

The money train never ends

Forex Money for Exchange in Currency Bank

Forex Money for Exchange in Currency Bank (Photo credit: epSos.de)

*Sigh*. Vast amounts of cash have passed through my hands today. Alas, none of it is here to stay. No sooner had the money hit my bank, than it was gone again. Poof! The magical disappearing dollars. First there was the rent (which rose $25 a week last month) and then there was the fines. I had so many bills come in at once that I just totally forgot to register my cats. Big mistake. $200 on the spot fine per cat. Then I had to spend $30 on medication for Annie & Butterfly. And then there was the kids’ pocket money. Finally, after a long, exhausting morning, we splashed out and bought Ichi-Maki for lunch.

So now, I am back to my usual state of being. Broke.

Oh well. Life goes on and there are plenty of folks way worse off than we are.

At least we have a roof over head, clothes on our back, food in our belly and the prospect of a pay-check next week.

I Blend In

At first glance, I blend into the crowd. I have a hubby and four kids. I’m average height. I still have my natural hair colour. I’m a little on the obese side, but that isn’t unusual these days. I eat three meals a day. I live in a four bedroom home which I rent. I have two cats. I pack my kid’s school lunches, serve home-cooked meals and attend parent-teacher interviews. I tweet, I facebook, I blog

Pink nail polish.

Pink nail polish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and vlog. I’m just your average suburban mum.

Like everybody else, however, I am an individual, with my own individual likes, dislikes and opinions. So here are ten facts about me that make stand out from the crowd.

  1. I love anime. I do. Ever since my daughter and her friend introduced me to anime several years ago, I haven’t been able to get enough. And, far from fading over time, my obsession seems to strengthen every year.
  2. I am a yaoi fangirl. Yes, I know I’m a little old to be calling myself a fangirl, but I don’t care. I love yaoi (and sounen-ai) and I am not ashamed to admit it. I even like some pairings that weren’t intended to be couples – I’m a huge Sasu-Naru fan, for example.
  3. I am pagan. Though I am still trying to find my pagan path. At the moment, I am feeling drawn to Ásatrú, but I don’t feel I know enough, yet, to commit.
  4. My politics are eclectic. I am not loyal to any particular party and my political viewpoint varies depending on the issue.
  5. My parenting seems to be the opposite of the norm. Comparing myself to other parents that I know, I seem to be quite conservative in areas where they are liberal, and more liberal in areas where they are conservative.
  6. I believe in the existence of ghosts. And bigfoot, and aliens, mothman, angels, demons, shape-shifters, vampires, werewolves, zombies…the list goes on.
  7. I don’t wear make-up. Never have. Probably never will. Except nail polish. I do wear that.
  8. I can’t drive. But I’m learning.
  9. I don’t follow fashion. I prefer to wear comfortable clothes, fashion be damned. I also don’t wear heels.
  10. I am reclusive. I rarely go out. I would much rather stay at home with a good book than go out with friends.

Can you name ten things that make you stand out from the crowd?

What Would You Say?

If you had the attention of the entire world for two minutes, what would you say?

microphone

microphone (Photo credit: TOM81115)

Personally, I would do whatever I could to avoid being in this situation. Think about it. Suddenly you are so famous that everybody in the world knows who you are. Unfortunately, you don’t have the money to go with this fame. How do you protect your family from the crackpots whose attention you have also caught? I have three daughters and a small son. Do I really want to put them at risk in this way?

If there was absolutely no way I could get out of the situation, I would probably spend the entire two minutes making small talk or remain silent. Why? Because, no matter what I say, nobody is going to act. And no matter what I say, somebody will be offended. And there are people in this world who you really don’t want to offend.

Many people might think this is a copout, and I suppose, in a way, it is. To be honest, though, I really don’t care. There are few causes I feel strongly enough about to die for, and even fewer that I am willing to risk my family over. These causes do exist, but unless, and until, there are enough others who support them, our deaths would serve little purpose.

The truth is, I do not want fame or fortune. I simply wish to grow old gracefully with my husband and children and future grandchildren, and to be comfortable enough that I don’t have to worry where our next meal will come from. That’s all I ask of life.

Cake Balls

Trifle

Trifle (Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik)

Yesterday I baked a cake. Well, Ok, yesterday I tried to bake a cake. It didn’t turn out very well, though. It tasted great, and it was beautiful and moist, but I guess I didn’t grease the tin properly. When I tried to tip it out of the tin, only half of it came out. The other half stayed put. I guess it didn’t want to be eaten.

In any case, I didn’t have any custard or cream to make trifle and I didn’t want to waste all that food, so I turned to my new best friend – google. I found a really great recipe for something called cake balls. I’m afraid I forgot to note the website but if this is your recipe please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

Anyway, they are very, very easy to make. Simply take your ruined cake (or you can make a cake especially if you want) and crumble it into a bowl. Mix in the frosting that was intended for your cake (I just used icing sugar mixed with milk). Make sure the frosting is thoroughly mixed in with the cake. Refrigerate overnight. It should turn out kind of hard and very sticky. Melt some chocolate chips in a bowl over boiling water. We used two small packs. Form your cake into tablespoon sized balls, coat in the chocolate and place on a lined tray. Refrigerate until set.

Mine did not turn out as beautiful as the ones in the picture on the website, but they were absolutely delicious and my kids just love them. In fact, it is hard to stop at one!

So next time you have a failed cake, don’t despair – it’s just a sign that an even better dessert shall be yours!

My Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

Scan of a Valentine greeting card dated 1909.

Scan of a Valentine greeting card dated 1909. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Valentines Day. You know it’s coming. The stores are scattered with chocolates, jewellery, hearts and roses. Retailers are trying to persuade you to show you care by buying your love the perfect present. Young men are screwing up the courage to ask out a pretty girl, or propose to their love. Relationships are moving to the next level – or falling apart altogether. In the immortal words of Tom Jones ‘Love is in the air…’. But what is Valentines day really? What does it really mean? What does it mean to you?

I can tell you what it means to me. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We don’t celebrate this day – haven’t for a long time. Why?

Well, to begin with, I don’t need Valentines Day to tell how much I am loved. Earth and I have been together a long time – sixteen years this coming March. We live with each other day in day out. We are comfortable in each others company. We have four beautiful children together. I know from the bottom of my heart that my husband loves me – he shows it every single day in a thousand different ways. I don’t demand chocolates or roses or diamonds as proof.

Secondly, it is simply one more expense that we do not need. Even Xmas and Easter are really only celebrated for the children. Tucked in between Xmas/Back to School and Annie’s Birthday/Easter/Butterfly’s Birthday, Valentine’s Day simply doesn’t make it onto the list of what is important to me – we surely have better things to spend our money on.

So, how do I feel about Valentine’s Day? Like many other holidays, it has become just another attempt to satiate corporate greed. Any true meaning is long gone.

What do you think?

The Princess Bitchface Syndrome by Michael Carr-Gregg

The Princess Bitchface Syndrome

Opening Sentence:I think I would call her the stranger who arrived to replace the other person we knew – we now have the both of them living with us in one person happily. Synopsis:In this hard-hitting book, Michael Carr-Gregg focuses … Continue reading

Food

Eigen foto Licentie Categorie:Afbeelding voeds...

Eigen foto Licentie Categorie:Afbeelding voedsel Categorie:Afbeelding cacao (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is my fourth speech from the Competent Communicator Manual. I gave this speech on 25 May 2010. The exercise is ‘How to Say It’. The title is ‘Food’ and the time is meant to be 5-7 minutes. I came it at 5 minutes exactly.

**********************************************************************

Madam Toastmaster, Fellow members (and guests). Food is fuel. This is the message that is constantly drummed into us. At school, at home, on tele – food is fuel. In countries like America and Australia, this is the message we hear. Food is the enemy – tasty and necessary, it’s true, but something to be tolerated, even feared. Food is fuel. And to a certain extent, this is true. Food is fuel. But, as most cultures around the world will tell us, food is not just fuel. Food is connection. Food is community. Food is celebration. Food is love. Food is loss. Food is memory.

Picture this. It is a warm Sunday afternoon. It is late spring and you have decided to go barefoot. You feel the soft grass beneath your feet. The sun warms your back, not yet hot enough to be unpleasant. A gentle breeze cools your face, carrying with it the sweet scent of flowers. The distant hum of traffic is punctuated by the occasional call of a whipbird. But there is another sound close by. A soft sizzle which brings with it the smell of cooked meat, coleslaw and almost burnt onion. You turn to your family, ready to fill your rumbling tummy. You can taste it, can’t you?

Think about your five best childhood memories. Do any of them involve food? A hot Christmas lunch at your Great Grandmother’s house, followed by a full Christmas dinner with your Nanna and Pa, so delicious that you force down bite after bite, though you are already stuffed full. An ice cream tub full of toffees, cooked especially for you. The sound of greensleeves moving down the street as you rush to catch the drips from your cone. Licking the cake batter from the mixing bowl. Your very first sip of wine.

No, think about your five favourite smells in the whole wide world. I’m willing to bet that at least one of them is food. The smell of a cake cooking in the oven. The smell of chicken soup bubbling away on the stove. The smell of hot chocolate as you wrap your chilled hands around the mug. The smell of basil as you gently bruise the leaves. The smell of freshly baked bread.

The taste and smell of food have the ability to bring instant recall. We don’t just remember the past, we are transported there. We hear. We taste. We smell. We feel. Food reflects our emotions. Food affects our emotions. In most cultures, food is the glue that binds. Families come together and bond over the evening meal. Villages gather around the feast to celebrate a birth or marriage. Communities express condolences and shared grief over a meal, also a celebration of sorts. Food is woven into the fabric of our society.

The history of humanity is the history of food – how we acquire it, how we prepare it, what we can eat, what we can’t, who can eat, who can’t. The three scariest words in the human language are plague, war and famine. Food is so important in the development of our society, that many food words have filtered into everyday language. Beef, bowl, caper, grain, jam, stalk, stem – these are all words that originally related to food but now have other meanings as well.

Food is not an enemy to be feared. It is not a wild beast to be tamed. Food is our past. Food is our present. Food is our future. Most importantly, food is our connection to each other. Give the coming generation the gift of memories that you currently hold dear. Love your food, cherish your food and it will nourish you, not just in body, but in soul.

Francis Baker in ‘Essays’, 1597

“The joys of parents are secret; and so are their griefs and fears; they cannot utter the one; nor they will not utter the other. Children sweeten labors; but they make misfortunes more bitter.”

—Francis Baker in ‘Essays’, 1597

Stefania Siedlecky in ‘Teenage Sexuality and Pregnancy in Australia’ from ‘Children Having Children: Global Perspectives on Teenage Pregnancy’

“Society generally has had punitive and judgmental attitudes towards teenage sexuality and pregnancy – directed mainly at girls. There is reluctance to provide adequate sex education for fear of encouraging promiscuity, a reluctance to make contraception more easily available – lest it remove the risk of pregnancy and make sex too easy; if a girl gets pregnant she should not have an abortion but should continue the pregnancy as the price for her transgressions; if she has the baby she should have it adopted to give the child a better chance in life and to help some other woman more deserving than herself; if she keeps the baby she is selfish and irresponsible; if she cannot cope and is forced to later give up the baby she really only wanted a toy to play with – the ‘baby doll’ syndrome. She ‘goes out and gets herself pregnant’ because she is depressed or otherwise disturbed or she wants to draw the supporting parents benefit and be a burden on the taxpayer…It takes two people to produce a pregnancy but only one has the baby and bears the weight of society’s disapproval.”

[Emphasis is mine]

—Stefania Siedlecky in ‘Teenage Sexuality and Pregnancy in Australia’ from ‘Children Having Children: Global Perspectives on Teenage Pregnancy’