Turning one is SUCH hard work.
Turning one is SUCH hard work.
Turning one is SUCH hard work.
This is a colour chart. These are little squares of felt, and this is what my Top Secret Project is going to be mostly made of. I just have to decide what colours to use.
(It's blurry because I think the text under the squares might be particular to this supplier and they might not want their clever descriptive names plastered all over the internet)
The design is coming along well - I'm taking the prototype out for a spin this weekend, its first actual public outing, the first real-life test of its usefulness and practical application. Fingers crossed I bump into a multi-millionaire who says "Hey, that's pretty neat, would you like some serious cash to develop your product further?"
I'm also up to my neck in some other work that is far less colourful although admittedly quite interesting. And I've got a couple of photo-shoots on the boil. And I'm still editing/rewriting my novel. And did I mention I have a husband and two kids and a couple of puppies?
I haven't had my eyebrows waxed in seven weeks. THAT'S how busy I've been.
Did I tell you I was going to do the chilli thing again? Well, I did, and in doing so discovered a new recipe for coleslaw that I shall henceforth use in summertime regardless of whether or not I'm making chilli. I'll also use it with fish tacos. This was delicious and everyone was asking me for the recipe so here it is.
The recipe, by the way, was published in delicious. magazine and comes from a restaurant in St Kilda whose name I don't have because I didn't rip enough of the article out of the magazine. I'm also sorry I didn't take any photos. Epic Mexican fail.
100ml lime juice
200ml olive oil (I thought that was a LOT so I used about half)
1/4 small red cabbage
1 small red onion
1/4 green papaya or 1 Granny Smith apple
1/4 small butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed
1 small fennel bulb
3 kale leaves, stalks removed, shredded
1 corn cob, kernels sliced off
4 jalapeno chillies, thinly sliced
1/2 cup each roughly chopped coriander and flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
1/2 bunch oregano, finely chopped
Using a mandolin or a really really sharp knife, thinly slice the cabbage, onion, papaya, pumpkin (I made matchsticks with the pumpkin) and fennel. Mix with kale, corn, chilli, coriander, parsley, tomato and oregano. Toss with oil and lime juice. Serve with your Mexican meats.
Years ago I was a Pilates addict. I loved it so much that I decided to start learning how to teach it, so I signed up to an apprenticeship with my instructor. Unfortunately the time commitment required - not to mention the cost - was too much for me at that time and so I gave it up. Unfortunately I gave it ALL up, my own workouts and the lessons. I went from being in the best shape of my life back to what I was before - slothful.
This evening I went to the first of twice-weekly Pilates/Stretching classes I'll be doing for the next ten weeks. Our instructor, an incredibly fit and strong woman named Kit, put us through some intense stretches that just about killed me but of course I felt fantastic at the end of the session. She could see me struggling, physically and mentally, and she said don't worry, Trish, you'll be a new person in a few months.
I'll be turning 42 in June and as always my birthday looms as a bit of a fork in the road - am I going to be fit and healthy by then, or will I just be what I am at the moment, which is some kind of holding pattern? I hope I'll be fit.
I was standing in a queue at the markets the other day when a lady at the check-out dropped some coins on the floor. She bent over to pick them up and that simple action seemed to be very difficult for her. I have no idea how old she was - I'd guess mid to late fifties - but it was yet another sign to me, from the Universe, that I really need to start taking better care of my one and only body so that it will last me well into my 80's and 90's. Kit was telling us tonight about one of her other clients, a man in his early 80's who is the envy of all his mates because he has flexibility and a bit of muscle strength, which he has achieved after a couple of years of regular Pilates classes. I guess it takes longer to build up that strength when you're a lot older, so I should be doing this now, while I'm still relatively young.
There are some basic stretches that we do at the start of the class to get the spine nice and warmed up, and one of them involves lying on your side, with legs bent and arms extended out along the floor at shoulder height. Then you lift the upper arm up and arc it all the way back, twisting your torso as you go, keeping your hips still, and you watch your hand as it goes up and over and back behind you until you are lying with your shoulders flat to the floor and your arms open wide. Ten years ago, when I was a Pilates addict I could do that effortlessly, and be completely comfortable lying with my upper back flat on the ground while my hips were still on their side. I used to watch new clients in the studio trying to do that stretch, and they'd get their arm to about 110 degrees but then not be able to go all the way to 180. That's me now - well, maybe not quite that dire but that's what it FEELS like as I am trying to flatten myself out. I feel like a rusty old machine that has just been rescued from the top paddock and needs some oil in the joints and hinges in order to get it going again. Sigh.
(I'm doing the Barefoot Running workshop in a couple of weeks, too. It would be nice not to be too creaky before then. Meanwhile I'm still stretching my calf muscles which are the cause of my foot pain from running, which is why I haven't been running, despite promising to do a 10km run this year. Geez, sometimes I feel like such a lazy old woman.)
Two months until I turn 42. I can commit to two months of rehab, detox and cardio, right?
I have so many recipes for pies in my recipe file (WINTER : PIES) but this is the only one I've made more than once. The first time I made it, I made one big pie. This time, I made five little ones. I had enough mixture for six little ones but only had five one-cup ramekins.
This recipe was published in an issue of delicious. magazine a few years ago. Here's part of the spiel that Jamie wrote by way of introduction:
"I've cooked my chicken for half the time covered, then half uncovered, to give you the best of both worlds - steaming it keeps it moist and juicy, then roasting if for that beautiful rich flavour and crispness. All your veg are in there, too, so it really is a meal in itself. I've also got into the habit of using parmesan as a seasoning because it's so tasty."
3 King Edward potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 handfuls chestnut mushrooms, quartered (I omitted these)
6 small carrots, peeled, roughly chopped
1 garlic bulb, cloves smashed, unpeeled
2 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme
1/2 bunch rosemary
150ml white wine (I also added half a cup of water)
1.6kg whole chicken (I skinned mine, and removed as much fat as possible)
1 lemon, halved
a few knobs of butter
300-400ml good quality chicken stock
3 heaped tablespoons cream fraiche or sour cream
Handful of freshly grated parmesan
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley
375g packet of puff pastry
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 200C
Place the potato, mushroom, carrot and leek in a roasting pan. Scatter with the garlic, bay leaves and half each of the thyme and rosemary. Pour over the wine, then place the chicken on top. Tuck the lemon halves and remaining thyme and rosemary in the cavity. Score the legs a couple of times on each side, dot the bird with the butter, and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover the pan with foil and roast for 45 minutes or until you've got a good bit of juice in the pan. You can always pop it back in for another 15 minutes if you think it needs it.
Remove the foil from the pan. Drain off most of the juices, reserving the liquid.
(I did this by tipping the pan gently and then using a mini-ladle to scoop out the juices. I collected about 350ml this way.)
Return the pan, uncovered, to the oven and bake for a further 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Insert a knife into the thickets part of the thigh - the juices will run clear when the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the chicken from the pan and rest for 15 minutes, then shred with forks. Get rid of the bones, and pick out any garlic skin or herb sprigs you can see. Add stock and reserved juices to the vegetables in the pan, then bring to the boil over a medium-high heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the creme fraiche and parmesdan. Roughly chop the parsley, including stalks, and add to the pan.
Add the chicken and season, then tip into a 2L oval pie dish and leave to cool (or into ramekins).
When you're ready to cook the pie, preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick. Working quickly, brush the edge of your pie dish with egg and lay pastry over the top. Trim off any huge bits of excess pastry, then fold in the overhang and pinch the edges to seal. Use any scraps to decorate the top. Cut a small cross in the centre of the pie to let the steam escape, then brush the top with egg. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden and puffed up. (I cheated - I used store-bought sheets of pastry).
You can freeze these once they're cooked - just wrap the whole thing up in some foil, allow to cool for a little while, then put them in the fridge overnight before moving them into the freezer the next morning. Best to defrost during the day before reheating in the oven for dinner.
The Top Secret Project... it's happening. We're this close to finalising the prototype. We're this close to finding a supplier of the material and a team of machinists to put it together. We're this close to launching a website and crossing our fingers and hoping that someone places an order, then another, and another...
See that person running so quickly downhill that they look like they're flying but falling but still flying? That's me. The person holding my hand so that I don't stumble? That's Andrea. And the person at the bottom of the hill, arms wide open to catch me when I finally stop - that's PJ. What a team.
I love a good stir-fry, but I don't like plain rice, so if I do a stir-fry to serve with rice there needs to be plenty of sauce to flavour the whole dish. Here's the recipe I've been using for years.
Gai Larn, Bok Choy, Choy Sum etc
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon shredded ginger
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine or sherry
Prepare the veggies - I like to pre-cook the thick stems of some of these leafy greens for a little longer than the leaves themselves, so I cut the stems off.
Put a pot of water on to boil. You probably only need to half-fill it.
Heat sesame oil in a wok or wide pan over high heat. Add the ginger and cook for one minute Add oyster and soy sauces, sugar and wine, and simmer or a few minutes or until thickened.
Meanwhile, toss the stems into the boiling water for a minute or two. Remove and set aside, then cook the leaves in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. When the sauce is ready, add the greens to the sauce, toss them around to coat, then serve.