Category Archives: food


Something awesome that has happened in the past month is that Otto has discovered cooking.

Well, more that I have had time to discover cooking with her. It’s a little bittersweet, as Bigster had just decided she wanted to learn to cook when she got sick, so now her sister is learning things that she never got the chance to learn. And that sucks for Bigster, but if we are totally honest it is really rather glorious for her little sister.

A year or two ago, I bought a slow cooker with a “sear” setting. It’s perfect for us, because you can sear things and then add all the slow-cookery things and leave it bubbling away in the background. And because I am completely paranoid about Otto using the  gas stove to cook on.

She’s a whizz at bolognese sauce. The good kind, too – she even directs Fraser when they are home together (Now I need the WHITE wine, daddy). And she’s pretty good at salads, and even spent Christmas day regaling the family with the recipe for the (very yummy) vinaigrette dressing she’d made for the potato salad.

Lately, though, she’s expanded her repertoire.

She bought a box of macaron mix and made macarons, virtually all by herself. We’re going to try them from a recipe soon. I do get frustrated that everything takes longer when she’s doing the cooking, but of course it takes less time than ever when I don’t have to stand there cooking. And you don’t nag the child with the sharp knives.

When we went to the beach after Christmas, she cooked dinner. Not once, not twice, but EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. With daddy’s help, which meant that we swapped jobs and I got to do the dishes. Without a dishwasher, boo hoo. It helps that the burger patties were really, REALLY good, so we ate them a lot – but she got right into it (and a bit bossy too).

It’s getting so I can’t use my kitchen any more. Tonight, we defrosted some chicken I’d marinated and she insisted on cooking it for me. And the rice, AND fluffing the rice with a fork, and then she told me which platter I should serve it up on.

Because my kids aren’t a bit bossy.


Posted by on January 18, 2014 in food, parenting


This week in my life

There was a trip to the dentist. Resulting in a bruised jaw and droopy anaesthetised eyelid. Very attractive, me.

Also two trips to the Children’s Hospital, involving four vials of blood and a chest x-ray.

There was a trip to my accountant to do OMGTAX. And, if I manage to squeeze it in, a trip to the local council offices to view and photocopy the plans for our house.

There were traffic lights on Facebook that made it into my blog. And a bad friend who quoted the Traffic Light song and now I have an earworm.

There was a Diagram of Cheese, which did not. Until now. I don’t think it’s very complete.

There was an ill-advised Trip to IKEA (if I count last Sunday as part of this week).

Two gifts were bought for Fraser. He does not know what they are so I cannot tell you, Dear Reader. But they are awesome. And one might be for Sharing. Tragically, though, neither of them is Spy Cufflinks.

There was lots of work, jammed in between driving the Bigster around and hangin’ at the hospital.

And Nigerian Spam, addressed to Dearest One. Which made me feel happy even though it was from the Bad People.

There were no games at all, and only one very mediocre book. (See my slightly ranty review of the latest Pern novel, Todd & Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon’s Time at Goodreads – warning, SPOILERS sweetie!)

But there were TWO purple vegetables. Neither of which is usually purple.

And there was excitement about the upcoming Doctor Who card game by Martin Wallace.

As weeks go, I’d give it a 7.5/10.


The School Lunch Disconnect

Frances sets out her school lunch. This image from

Bread and Jam for Frances is the ultimate School Lunch book.

With the girls headed back to school for Term 2, my thoughts once again are turning to freedom staying in bed all day cleaning their bedrooms school lunches. And all that that entails.

In our family, Fraser makes the school lunches and I criticise provide the constructive support and advice. Or try.

I am, of course, guided by the example of the mother in one of my all-time favourite books, Bread and Jam for Frances. In it, Frances discovers that although bread and jam is her favourite, sometimes it is nice to eat spaghetti and meatballs or a soft-boiled egg or even a string bean.

The next day when the bell rang for lunch, Albert said, “What do you have today?”

“Well,” said Frances, laying a paper doily on her desk and setting a tiny vase of violets in the middle of it, “let me see.” She arranged her lunch on the doily.

“I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup,” she said.

“And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread.

I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery.

And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries.

And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with.”

“That’s a good lunch,” said Albert. “I think it’s nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice.”

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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in children, food


BGGcon wrap-up

Well my week and a bit as a lone parent is nearly up. As Fraser and his assorted hats and very full suitcases wing their way home, let’s take a quick look back.

The most challenging part was dealing with Otto, who is not the most self-motivated of children and who needs to be nagged to do anything. Case in point: I don’t think she has showered more than once in the last 10 days. Now I am not a “you must shower every day” person (well, I am, but not where my 8 year old is concerned), but that it stretching it a bit far even for me. I did hit unexpected success with a bribe on Sunday, though.

The best bits were the fun stuff like sneaking off to Cold Rock ice cream (Baileys and Honeycomb ice cream with cookie dough and a strawberry Freddo crushed through it = amazing) and taking the girls out to dinner tonight.

The naughtiest bits were letting the cats cruise around the house overnight. Which was not always a success, as Snowflake gets VERY chatty at around 4:30am. One more night, kitten, then Fraser will put you in your place. Which is shut up the back of the house (living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom – it’s not like they are really deprived).

The most unexpected-but-nice thing was having a friend drop in on Friday afternoon. Even though I was clearing stuff up while we chatted, it was good to have someone to talk to (and keep me working!).

The ickiest bits were having to clean out the kitty litter Every Day. Ugh. And having to detangle Otto’s hair after the aforementioned 10 shower-free days. She is not a calm child when her hair is being deknotted. Oh – and changing my nephew’s nappy when I babysat him and my niece on Saturday night.

The most difficult bit was carrying Otto to the car, after that babysitting session. I had to get my brother to help – fortunately she was awake when we got home so I didn’t have to break my back.

The most exhausting part was juggling my work. I am available to work 23 hours per week. Last week, I worked nearly 40. This week, by 9am Tuesday, I had already worked 15 hours. And was feeling like I was already behind.

The funniest part was the Bigster having friends over to film a brief movie for her English project. Otto had a friend round too, and the two little girls sat at the back door and watched the big kids. “It’s like we’re watching a movie be filmed!”

And the scariest part was finding that the handle is almost off the back door.


The doorknob is almost off

Now for most people, this would probably not be a problem. I really don’t think that someone has tried to break in, however suddenly this seems to have happened. But I am an absolute coward when it comes to being home alone (in fairness, this came after being a victim of a rather persistent peeping tom in my teens and a burglary while I was home alone not long after), and the combination of that and waaaaayyyyyyy too much diet coke while working late meant that very little sleep was got on Sunday. Even though I locked the doors, I kept hearing Noises. Not-Cat noises. Ugh.

And the most procrastinatey part was writing a blog post when OMG I HAVE WORK TO FINISH TONIGHT.

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Posted by on November 22, 2011 in family, food, not your earth logic, work


When dinner is political

We ate Indian food tonight, in support of Vindaloo against Violence.

At a time when Melbourne seems to be suffering a growth in violence of all kinds, but particularly knife attacks/stabbings and racially motivated attacks, it was a small gesture that I hope said a lot. I understand that there has been criticism that it over-simplifies or even trivialises the issues around violence and racial attacks, but to me, it was like going on a march, only in a more convenient way. And with yummy Indian food.

Good to see some pollies and schools taking it on.

I had no idea how popular it would be, when I rang our local Indian takeaway just after 6. While the event really called for people to eat out, it wasn’t an option for us as we had to have a child out by 7pm. Errm, out as in extra-curricular activities, not as in born or anything. Cos ewww.

They told me the usual 15-20 minutes, so I was there just before 6.30. The shop was completely packed – I counted 15 people in the small area – and more kept arriving. It was 5 minutes before I could tell anyone I had phone ordered, and they were still preparing our food – I finally left at 6.45 with our Indian food of choice (Butter chicken, garlic naan, raita, pappadums, 1/2 tandoori chicken, rice). Yeah, I know – but Butter Chicken Against Bashings doesn’t sound as good as Vindaloo against Violence.

It will be interesting to see what sort of follow-on press this event gets.

One criticism though: the choice of hashtag – #vagainstv – was beyond unfortunate … just move the second a back a few spots and you get a quite different sort of event – every time I see that character string, my mind goes to the Naughty Place.

Meanwhile, I had an encounter with yobbery – arrived at school to collect Otto from after-school care and got inside the school to hear squealing brakes and watch as a small car barrelling down the (suburban side) street beside school squealed its breaks and dropped a 180 degree turn before parking in the centre of the road. I watched the driver’s door open and the driver almost fall out, VB in hand, while another VB can fell out of the car. The driver and his passenger then staggered off into the flats across from school.

Now here’s the question: when something like that happens, what do you do?

A: Ignore it because it’s none of your business?

B: Mention it to the Powers That Be at school, and suggest that maybe there should be a reminder about safe road behaviour in the next newsletter?

C: Take down the number plate and call the police

I suspect I will B, because I still hope to save the world, one day.


Posted by on February 24, 2010 in food, school


Lessons Learned from Baking

Before baking biscuits that you cut with cutters?

1. Do not assume that your local supermarket will sell cookie cutters.

2. Cups always make good cutters. It is good for children to learn to improvise.

3. A rolling pin is often useful.

4. In the absence of a rolling pin, an empty bottle or a cylindrical container makes an acceptable substitute.

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Posted by on July 17, 2009 in food



The horror that was March 10th

I know that Jon at least hates this type of post, but I can’t think of any other way to express the fairly unutterable horror that was March 10th.

It went a bit like this:

1am: Bed. Oops. I can’t even claim that I was working – I was chatting with friends. Haven’t done that for ages – at least, not till that late.

7am: Wake up. Groan. Pretend to go back to sleep

8am: Finally give in and get up. Get kids ready for school, etc etc etc. Otto mucks around so we are late for school and arrive at …

9:04am: tell kids to just sneak in to whole-school Assembly as Rolls are marked afterwards and not before. Biggie disappears into the Year 5-6 building to put her bag down while I head for Assembly with Otto, who really does not want to be there. Oops – mea culpa. Important to get them there on time.

9:20am: Wonder where Biggie is. School psychologist person pops up at my elbow and asks if I have a minute. She has Biggie in her office, very unhappy. She went to sign herself in because it’s a Rule. Looooong discussion where Biggie asserts that she thinks I love Otto more than I love her. And so does dad. And so does Otto. Terribly terribly sad but why do I get the feeling she is pushing buttons? Note that she didn’t actually say she thought that, school psychologist asked her whether she thought that and she agreed. This seems to me to be a Subtle Yet Relevant Difference. Agree to meet with school psychologist in a couple of weeks. What a mess – if the Bigster really does think that, there is major damage repair to be done. If she doesn’t, grrrr.

9:55am: call the salon to cancel 10am appointment. My eyebrows will have a life of their own by the end of the week.

11:10am finally leave school psychologist’s office. Realise I still have Otto’s bag. Realise lunchtime has started. Bolt for Year 1 classroom to find Otto and teacher, puzzled. Phew.

11:25am do the quickest makeup ever, grab bag for work. Realise I will have to drive in to make 12 noon meeting. Realise client has rung this morning. Hope it was to cancel 12 noon meeting. 

11:26am Realise I am out of luck. She was confirming the meeting. Decide to drive.

11:47am Outside client’s work. See guy get into car ready to drive off. See guy talk on mobile phone. Decide to wait.

11:50am Still waiting

11:52am Decide to move round to the other side of the road so guy can see me, waiting for his parking space.

11:52:30am While I am moving, guy drives off and Other Driver takes spot. Gaaaaah.

11:57am See someone get into car parked outside client’s office. Do u-turn across tram bumps to get to spot.

12:00noon Walk into office.

blah blah meetings blah blah move car to nearer my office blah blah feed meter, leave.

15:10 arrive at school for 15:30 finish. Decide to go buy Otto a Doll.

15:24 in shop, listen to owner screaming at husband to get off the damn phone so she can process my credit card transaction for doll and dolls’ clothes. Fair Trade Organic Cotton dolls’ clothes, no less. Yikes!

15:28 back to school. Yay!

Then the girls and I bought donuts (for them and Fraser, not for me) and I went to the dentist for stage 3 of my root canal that began in Hungary. This time, I have ended up with a metal band that looks like Alfoil around my tooth (Jack Sparrow, eat your heart out). My dentist kindly cleans up my “panda eyes” after there was weeping. Stupid dental anaesthetic. Stupid pathetic mouth pain threshold.

Hmm, what next. Fraser took Otto to swimming and dropped the Bigster at home for some quiet time (at her request). Then they came back to collect me after my Exciting Tooth Experience.

Home and Biggie cooked dinner (put pre-made by me meatballs on a tray in the oven). Then the girls and I made the first batch of yummy cupcakes to take to school tomorrow for Otto’s 6th birthday. Yum!

I had a late doctor’s appointment – which was not great. I don’t have weird side-effects from the tablets I am on, I have gastroenteritis.

Home again to throw out the cupcakes I had made with Otto. Doctor’s orders.

And this brings me to the point of this post.

Because Fraser, who has never done this, EVER, for any of the girls’ birthdays, rose wonderfully to the occasion. He is now the proud baker of 35 perfectly pink vanilla cupcakes, with pink icing and pink and purple sprinkles. I may have been supplanted.

And I? Did work work work, chatted with Biggie’s friend’s mother, wrapped presents, tidied and generally supervised.

And now, it is 1am once again and I have a little girl who will be completely and utterly 6 in around 20 hours. And a little bit 6 before that, even.

Her gifts are all lined up on her new daisy beanbag.

I just wonder which of us will be last out of bed.


Posted by on March 11, 2009 in children, family, food, health, to-do


Slowly slowly, a new game, and history repeats itself

This is my ‘interim week’ where I slowly ease us back into our busy life.

So far, I have:

  • cleaned the kitchen (again) – this was the last of the OMGURGENT things from  the Christmas-New Year break.
  • visited friends – very important. And we had a fantastic view of the Australia Day fireworks, too.
  • taught the Bigster to bake a basic cake (well, cupcakes)
  • taught Biggie and Otto to ice cakes (it’s a start – and one day they will learn that they don’t have to have 5 different colours of icing)
  • prepared meal plans for the next 4 weeks (these keep me on track, cooking meals instead of resorting to take-away. By looking at our schedules, I can see that I will want to cook real food Friday to Monday, with Tuesday to Thursday being pasta or something quick out of the freezer. That helps my planning and also shows that we need to shop on Fridays.)
  • tried 2 new family dinner recipes that will be ‘stayers’ – delicious and (relatively) inexpensive. (A chicken pasta bake thingy that the Bigster wants to have for school lunches as well, and an organic butterflied roast lamb that tasted OMGFABULOUS and was probably cheaper than a leg roast anyway).
  • booked myself back into French classes for the year (yay!) and done some revision (double yay!). I am feeling fairly sure that repeating the 2nd half of the last class I did (the busy term where I missed a few classes) is the best way forward from here, then I will plan to do another intensive class next semester.
  • Moved the Bigster’s swimming lesson. OMGYAY! I nearly kissed the woman at the pool. See, last year, Otto’s lesson was at 5 and Biggie’s at 6 – meaning that we were at the pool from about 4.45 to 6.45 every week *shudder*. Nice Pool Woman found a spot for the Bigster at 5 as well – so we’ll be in and out in around an hour, and home before 6. Honestly, I want to buy her flowers and chocolates.
  • Organised some regular meetings for work – aiming to have a similar schedule to last year, where Tuesdays and Fridays are part work-from-home, part own time. With 2 big and one small projects lined up already, that may be more work-from-home than own time, or I might need to take one more day of after-school care for the girls. Hoping to avoid that, though.
  • Napped for 3 hours this afternoon (it was hot … eek …)

I’ve also tried one new game already this week – Cranium Whoonu, which was recommended by a friend. It was fun as party games go – still not my thing, and maybe more an activity than a game? (but that tends to be my criticism of most party games). You each have 4 cards and have to select the one that another player most likes — then they rate them, and then the next player has a turn. Good with people you know well – we knew one couple well, the other not so well, which was apparent. The wives did better than the husbands at predicting what their spouses would like. 

I guess the other 2 women didn’t know me well though. At the end of the game, one of them said, “I had The Colour Pink as one of my cards!” and the otther said, “I had Valentine’s Day!” — Fraser and I snickered. I just am not quite sure which I would have given the maximum score to. Probably birthdays win over colours.

I have also been being avoidy over the last few days. With it being 3-4 weeks since I have spent any time on bgg, I know I will have lots of mail messages. So instead of being a grown up and logging in and dealing with them, I have been fretting about it and doing other stuff. I have given myself a big slap and told myself to get over it: Tomorrow is crunch time. Will there be over 1000?

The bad news? I think there might be a Smell in the living room. And as I *know* it is clean, that means we might be back to the old cause. Like last time, I have been able to smell it for 3 or 4 days – almost since we got home – whereas Fraser and the kids only noticed it late yesterday.

For those who are not familiar with The Smell:

OMG. What if it is the Other Half of the possum that was in our back yard when we got back?

It is going to be over 40 degrees every day for the rest of the week. This does not bear thinking about.


Posted by on January 27, 2009 in family, food, games, house, to-do


Australian Cooking 101: Chocolate Ripple Cake

Made this old favourite for dessert tonight. The kids OMGLOVEIT! (so does Fraser).


1 pack Chocolate Ripple Biscuits (Chocolate biscuits/cookies – not cream ones, just plain chocolate)

Cream, whipped with vanilla and caster sugar.


Take 1 chocolate ripple biscuit and coat it generously with the whipped cream. 

Take another, coat 1 side of it with the whipped cream, and attach it to biscuit #1.

Repeat until you run out of biscuits or space on your plate, creating a long snake/log of biscuits that are sandwiched together with sweetened vanilla cream.

Coat the outside of the log with the cream.

Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Cut diagonally for maximum (stripy) effect when serving.

basically, the cream soaks into the biccies making them soft and cake-like. With stripes of cream between them. And you can serve it with more cream if you want to. Or grate chocolate to put on top.

This is very popular with pre-cooking children (they can make it themselves) and at teenage parties. I hadn’t had chocky ripple cake for years but it seems to be making a comeback.


Posted by on November 6, 2008 in food



Bigster’s birthday is Wednesday, and this is the last time I will have to do any baking before then. Let me therefore go drown my sorrows in cake batter and icing. Several times.

I just did a late dash to the supermarket and found myself flummoxed by my politics – I got the flour, the baking powder, the fancy butter, the sugar and milk – but there were NO FREE RANGE EGGS to be had. There weren’t even barn laid eggs. The ones I have say CAGE EGGS in big letters on the front of the box – as in, practiacally a big neon sign exclaiming that THE PERSON WHO BUYS THESE EGGS IS OMG SUPPORTING INSIDIOUS CRUELTY TO POOR INNOCENT CHICKENS.

Fortunately, I do not like chickens. I am still able to sleep at night.

Unless I am busy baking OMGSQUILLIONSOFCUPCAKES, that is.

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Posted by on August 4, 2008 in food