Friday, 28 February 2014

Ticks and Crosses.


It's Friday.

I have had a bit of an up & down week so I am particularly grateful that we are the week's end. Tick

I got some things sorted with some deadlines I had. Tick.

I didn't do as much moving as I would have liked and I really noticed how it made me feel.  Not so good. Cross.

I managed to get some cleaning done that has been bugging me. Tick.

I celebrated with some mates when my littlest independently left me to sit on the mat at school for the very first time. Tick.

I didn't get the laundry sorted. Cross.

I found this film that I really want to see. Tick

I sent some emails with some proposals that were a bit scary to send off & then had really positive responses. Tick.

I woke up with my friend next to me after him being away for a bit. Tick.

I found a way our family can give real help to Asylum seekers in Melbourne via Bike & Bike helmet donations. (click here for more info) Tick.

It's good to give ourselves a bit of time to reflect.  It helps clarify things. It helps to see that there is way more good than bad.

Sometimes it is only giving ourselves time that we really notice that.

There is and has been quite a lot of bad around.  Some in the news, some in government, some with friends. It is easy to let it swallow us really.  It feels really big- all this bad. Really really BIG.

But if we stop to reflect it can help sift out the little things, the daily things, the GOOD things that so often go missing- but they are the things that really do matter.  They are things so close to us that really have an effect on our day to day.

Ticks and Crosses.

Do you give yourself time to reflect?

Have you got cooking plans this weekend or other exciting plans?

I hope your weekend gets a really BIG TICK!

 I am going to give Paola's ITALIAN BAKED RICOTTA CAKE a go.
image via Italy on My mind

Paola is a Melbourne blogger who writes a generous and beautiful blog 'Italy on my Mind' , about her Italian heritage and the food it inspires her to cook.
I have admired her for a long time and her food & general outlook inspire me. Do visit her and see for yourself!

Loving Beck's new Album:

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

My little Secret Project is out!

Today I hit the send button on a very important email.

I felt simultaneously sick & joyous.

I had a request a few weeks back from a reader who was keen to get some private tuition from me.
She is finding the pressure of delivering the family meal to be something that provides a lot of stress in her life & is looking for ways to reduce stress. Smart lady!

It was a lightbulb moment for me!

Well was more of a "Doh" slaps self on head type moment.

You know the ones right?
The ones where you are left wondering "Why oh why did I not think of this before?".
It just seemed so right.

Uh huh!

For so many people the preparation of the family meal is a daily stress- and in amongst all of the other stresses it becomes the single one that seems to top them all.

The one thing that we judge our success as a parent on- unfairly.

I wrote a post about it a LONG time ago- it is still one of my most read posts and one that readers tell me they refer to in times of stress and one that they recommend to their friends.

You can read it here.

If I can help reduce that stress for people then that is ACE.

So.....for the last few weeks I have been designing a course of multi session private tuition sessions.

Here is the way it works......

I will go to the clients home & we cook together in their own kitchen using their own equipment & by doing so I teach strategies to help minimise stress & help them find their kitchen mojo in their very own space- eliminating the need to translate what you learn in a formal cooking class environment back into your own home.  The classes are offered in a multi-session format, unique to each client.

Hopefully this will give them a new confidence to be able to change the focus away from cooking at home from being stressful to fun!

I have had such fun creating this package.  I have learnt lots, got stuck lots, asked for help lots and then ploughed on & on and now I think I can say I am THERE & ready to go!

And I am busily designing other cooking session packages & other goodies too. Lots of hard work but super fun & exciting.

No doubt there will be some hiccups & bumps but that is how I roll-   Lumpy, Bumpy & Real.

I have also made a super special gift for each of my clients to have as a memento at the end of the programme.

So this year I will be not only teaching at cooking schools and other venues (some soon! updates for those will be best found here or  here) but you could have me teach you in your very own home!
Cool huh!

I am super excited.

Now I just have to find a cute name for them........(stay tuned)

UPDATE: I have a name ~ 'GG's Clever Clogs Cooking Classes' 

If you are interested in finding out more please feel free to email me at gourmetgirlfriend (at) me (dot) com.
(Please bear with me as my new website is under construction.) 

Friday, 14 February 2014

A is for Alphabet Journal (and Asplode)

Quite some time ago a lovely lady I am lucky enough to know approached me to be involved in an exciting idea that she wanted to make happen.

A dream of hers.

I fell in love with it immediately.

A project that's basis is finding joy in what we already have.

Our everyday.

It isn't about buying new things, or having a fancy home but instead it's essence is seeing the magic before us every single day in all it's shapes and forms and individual ways.

It is about recognising that sometimes the least shiny things are actually the most sparkly of all.

It is about families of all shapes and sizes.

Using her words- 'It is about the universal language of every home'

I am so thrilled to be a collaborator in this project.

We are now seeking funding to be able to see it in print.

Many many months of planning, 26 writers, 27 photographers, and 3 artists across 4 continents have shared their expertise to create this project.

Today I am sharing the Kickstarter project with you that will enable it to come to life in print.
By clicking on this link you can read more about this beautiful project and maybe even help give it a 'Kickstart'

In the meantime watch this gorgeous film that also gives you a window into this very special project.
My heart ASPLODED when I saw this for the first time.......just as it will when I get to see Alphabet Journal come to life.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Accept the Good

Last week was TOUGH.

My littlest is finding the transition to school pretty hard going.
This comes as no surprise to me- he is a highly anxious child.
Step by step we will get there but for now it is hard yakka & pretty sad.

I also had a car crash on the way to school- my kids were in the car & another car came hurtling around a blind corner at eleventy million miles an hour on my side of the road.
I had to swerve hard & in doing so sideswiped a parked car.  The offending car drove right on away taking no notice of what was happening as a result of his recklessness.

Not a great start to the day.  No-one was hurt & the damage was superficial. But I couldn't stop thinking about how close it came to being really nasty.

The next day my eyes sprung a leak and I couldn't stop crying.
I felt swallowed whole.  Things had gotten the better of me.
I got on my treadmill ran and ran and ran.
And then meditated.
And then concentrated on all the good in my life.

I don't want to not acknowledge the bad but I am trying really hard to focus on the good.
I have some really exciting things going on and am working hard. This is GOOD.

At the end of last year I had the most wonderful weekend with some beautiful people.
On one of day trips around town with one of my guests I found this print.
I had to have it in my home.
It totally resonated with me.

I think it is so important to acknowledge what is going on around us.
To stop and really notice things.
Stop comparing ourselves & feeling envious of others & instead find joy in other people's happiness & then work at creating our own.
Be grateful for small wonders.
Take notice of shonky & ooky stuff and instead of hanging onto it and letting it burden us, acknowledge it and make changes to turn it into something good for ourselves- even if that means doing some things that feel hard & a bit uncomfortable.
This is a little reminder that it is up to us to find and acknowledge the good.
Accept the Good.

This week I am making 'Accept the Good' my motto.

I really want to work hard at having a positive week.
I posted a picture of this print on Instagram and one of my followers told me a saying her Nanna always told her.

      "Good, Better, Best.
Never let it Rest.
Until your good is gooder, and your better is best"

Nanna's are the best aren't they with their sage words and tea cosies!

Do you want to 'Accept the Good' too?

This week instead of a song I am sharing a video from Emma Dean (winner of Masterchef 2013).
I LOVE it.
It's soooo GOOD!
take a look.....

Monday, 3 February 2014

It is an ending yet a beginning.

This morning the alarm went off at 6am like every other day.

But it was not like every other day.
This morning I hugged my fifth and last baby as he went off to school for his first day.
I have never cried before as any of my children went- but deeply understand why others do.
Today was my turn.  Whilst I held it together until well after we had said goodbye, as I held Mr Girlfriend's hand as we walked to the car silent tears fell.
And then he asked me out for breakfast. The best.

We sat chatting at breakfast.  About changes and what's ahead.  About how ace our five are and how great it is to see them all so happy.  Forging ahead with their lives.
Some heading very close the the end of their school days whilst others are at the very beginning.
They are making the best of the opportunities they have.  Kids are so great at catching the tide of change and letting it take them along. Fearless.

I have been defined by being a stay at home mother for the last fifteen years. A large & very happy part of my life.  I feel ever so grateful to have had this opportunity.
Now I move forward into another part of my life- still and always a mother, albeit a more disguised one. No longer will I always have a child by my side in my everyday.  A large adjustment in anyone's books.

It is an ending yet a beginning.........

I am excited for what is ahead for me and to rediscover some of my creative side once again.  I am excited to get stuck into the book I have started & hopefully will have published by the time the year is out.  And also for my cooking classes that are coming up SOON!  So much good stuff.

I mentioned that I felt very teary but it was not sadness - I felt buoyed by thoughtful & kind messages, texts & phone calls from friends. I found it tricky to reconcile what exactly it was in words.  Feelings are elusive like that aren't they?  Sometimes there really aren't any words that match.
Maybe it's ok to not really understand everything we feel but to instead just embrace it and move along with the tide as it pulls us just as our kids do.

Once again my children are my teacher.

Sometimes discomfort leads to really positive things.
It is momentous.  And that too is ok.

I drove Mr Girlfriend to work. We held hands at the lights and both agreed we have never been happier.

Pasta with Broccoli & Pangrattato.
I made this for lunch a couple of weeks ago when we had ten hungry children to feed for lunch.
It is DELICIOUS and easy & ever so tasty & a great way to use leftover sourdough bread that is too hard to eat. Gotta love no waste!
Pangrattato is a fancy name for panfried breadcrumbs. I added Chorizo to my recipe and then fried the breadcrumbs in the remaining flavoured oil but you can omit them to make this entirely vegetarian.
The Pangrattato adds a lovely crunchy texture as well as a nutty flavour.
You can use the leftovers (if there are any) to make a delicious frittata for school lunches. 
I made this for lots of people but this recipe is for 4.

  • 1 head of broccoli- cut into really fine pieces of about 1-2cm, use ALL of it, stem included! The stem is just as delicious as the florets, no need to waste it.
  • about 4 slices of sourdough bread, whizz it in a food processor till it is coarse crumb.
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced finely.
  • 1 chorizo sausage, slice and then cut into fine batons.
  • 400g pasta
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • chilli (optional)
  • S & P
In a very large pot boil the salted water for the pasta.

Mean while in a large non stick fry pan add the chorizo batons & fry till crunchy. Add garlic & chilli (optional) for a minute or two- until fragrant. Remove & set aside, keeping the flavoured oil.

Return the fry pan to the heat and add the breadcrumbs (add a little more oil if necessary). Fry till crunchy and brown, stirring often. Set aside.

Add pasta to boiling water.  Seven minutes before pasta is ready (so at 5 minutes if your pasta takes 12 minutes to cook) add all of the broccoli into the pot with the pasta.

Drain the pasta when there is two minutes of cooking time left- keeping 2 cups of the cooking water ( I ladle some out before I drain and seta side).

Place drained pasta and broccoli back into the same pot you cooked the pasta in on a medium heat.

Add the reserved cooking water and stir till it has been absorbed into the pasta.

Add the cooked chorizo and flavoured oil and finally stir through the flavoured breadcrumbs.

Season well and add Parmesan cheese and serve.

I'm always excited to see what Damon is up to.
Here is his latest song ~