Monday, 31 December 2012

I can see the Glowing Heart of the World

New Years is upon us.

It heralds a time of reflection.

A time where we think about what has been before & about what lays ahead.

I have never really done the New Years Resolution thing.  I guess I like to feel as though I can make changes anytime for myself that might help improve things for me & my family. If I think changes need to be made, I don't want to be waiting a whole year to implement them.
And I like to think I am reflective about those things more than once a year.

Nonetheless it can also provide an opportunity to shut the door on things that may have been upsetting or disappointing & provide an opportunity to look firmly ahead at what can be.

That is my way.

I try really hard not to get stuck on what has been. We have had some truly sad & hard times at Chez GG in the past few years.  But I have always been a 'finding the positive' kind of gal. There were some times in there where finding the positive in amongst all the darkness felt impossible.

Bad & sad stuff happens to lots of people.  Cripplingly bad sometimes.  But something I have learnt to really grab hold of is that LOVE & HOPE are what can drive us on.  People all around the world do the same.
Out there in amongst it all there are truly amazing people who despite adversity make their lives amazing & positive and just keep on keeping on.
These people inspire me every day. They inspire me to be thankful for what I have & give me the hope I need to keep going.

After a fair bit of one foot in front of the other and not feeling as though I could make a plan beyond that I feel as though I may just be there.
I can see further into the future beyond the fog.

I feel as though I am looking into the glowing heart of the world.  And I like it a lot.

It feels good.  It feels freeing.  It feels exciting.

I have made some plans for GG that have been chatted about with Mr Girlfriend.

I am so thankful to be holding hands in life with him.

Hopefully you too will see these plans come to fruition this year.

I am very thankful for all of your support  here or over on my FB page or on Instagram.

The community here is a wonderful positive thing in my life and for that I thank YOU.

May 2013 be full of love & hope for you too.

Every Christmas on our table is Gravlax- or Gravad Lax as the Swedes call it.
It is a Scandinavian method of curing Salmon. 
It is one of the traditions our family brought back from out time living in Sweden.
This year one of my brothers posted a pic of Beetroot cured Gravlax -and so I asled him immediately for his recipe.
This is it!
Super easy, super pretty & SUPER delicious.

  • 1 side of salmon (you can do this with smaller pieces if you wish)
  • 1 fresh beetroot, grated finely
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tblspoon Cumin seeds
Mix together the salt, sugar, beetroot & Cumin & now rub well into the Salmon on both sides.
Place in the fridge for 2 days or at least 30 hours.

Remove the Salmon from the briney solution and rinse.

Pat dry with paper towel and slice very finely.
It goes very well with eggs. YUM

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

I thought it would get easier.... I was wrong we all are trying to play chasy with the end of the year.

Trying madly to get to the finish line.

This year our second child graduates from Primary school & moves to a new High school next year.

I wrote about my first child starting High school and my feelings about that here.

I didn't have problems waving any of mine off to Primary school.

High school feels oh so different.

The emotions I have as I prepare them for high school and for the next biggest step in their lives- the onset of the teen years.

I wrote a post about late last year called 'The conflict of independence' about the teen years.  About the difficulty as a parent with the notion that what we all want as parents is to set our children free into the world.  To be able to give them the gift of independence is what we truly want- yet at the same time we don't really want to let go at all.

You can read that post here.

I thought I would be better at it this time.

I thought I may have reconciled some of those feelings.

I thought it would be a softer landing.

I thought it would get easier....I was wrong.

It isn't a sadness I feel.

I am happy.

Yet I am not smiling.

I'm crying.  A lot.

I feel so heart full that my heart has filled up and is overflowing out of my eyes.

I watched last week as my 12yo boy - a school leader- as he opened the Grade 6 school exhibition.

He was so capable and confident.

My eldest said to me after his speech- 'Wow he is a natural leader'.

I feel so thrilled to see bits of his adult persona.

He led his Uke orchestra that night too.  He set up the Uke orchestra at his school this year, teaching any kids who wanted to how to play the Ukelele- now with 50 members.  He hopes it will continue without him.  I am confident it will.
My eldest got a video of them playing (you can watch it at the end of the post)- I was too busy crying......

I think that what makes me feel overwhelmed is the feeling that before me is the young man who is fast becoming a young adult.

One I feel very very lucky to have in my life.

I am in awe of him.

GOURMET GIRLFRIEND'S Slow cooked all in the pot Lamb Roast with mixed Beans & POLENTA CHIPS:
I use soft Polenta a bit like people would use rice or pasta or mashed potato.  A yummy side dish to catch all the sauce of a yummy braise.
And I usually always make too much- a fear of mine is having people left hungry at the table!
This is the BEST way to use your leftover soft polenta.

  • 200g polenta
  • 50g butter
  • light olive oil for frying
  • 100g parmesan 
  • 2 litres chicken stock (substitute Veg if you wish)
  • 1 Lamb forequarter
  • 2 x cans four bean mix
  • 2 x cans of tomatoes
  • lots of fresh oregano
  • 1 head of garlic (unpeeled)
  • 1 spanish onion, sliced into wedges
  • 100g Puy lentils
  • 2 lemons
Bring the stock to the boil and slowly (This is important) pour the dried polenta into the pot all the while stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps.

The cooking instructions will vary depending on whether you are using instant polenta or not- follow the instruction on the packet for best results.

Once the polenta is cooked, add the butter and the cheese, stir through well.

Now pour your wet polenta into a large rectangular dish and spread evenly across the dish.
 Pop in the fridge overnight.

The next day cut the polenta into even size chips of your choice- i like them to fairly large- you can cut triangles, circles, whatever you like!

In a non stick pan heat up some light olive oil to a medium heat and pop a few of the polenta slices into the pan and fry gently till brown .

Turn and let each side brown.

Set aside on paper towel until you have cooked all your chips.

Serve with whatever dish you like!

I served mine with a whole Lamb Forequarter that I slow roasted at 150C for 6 hours (well covered) in a pan with  a variety of beans (cannellini beans, chick peas, kidney beans & white beans)  a couple of cans of good tomatoes, about 100g dried Puy lentils, spanish onion, a whole head of garlic, a few quarters of lemon & lots of fresh oregano. 

Just put everything into the roasting pan and cover well with foil.  Put it in the oven and take out half way to stir the goodies around but otherwise leave it alone! 

YAY so easy!

The crunchy Polenta chips were a perfect accompaniment for the soft melt in your mouth meat dish.

Here is my lad's Uke orchestra playing 'The Killers- All these things I have done'. He is on the very far right. 
Of course I cry every time I watch it........

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The big bad Internet....or not.

So often we malign things without learning ways to make them work for us.

It is not possible with all things.

But sometimes there is good to be found in the most unexpected places.

The internet is often seen as negative thing for children.

And yes, sometimes it is.

It is the openness, the vast never-ending unrestrained nature of it that can leave us feeling frightened of it as parents.

In our house it is managed by only having computers in common areas, easily visible to all- but especially ME.
Can you see the computer under the vintage Coke sign? That is where this all happens! Right in amongst it all- the heart of the home. In my kitchen/dining/family room. 

No electronic devices are in any of the bedrooms in our house.

Phones placed on the kitchen bench before bedtime...that kind of thing.

I have talked about having balance with old & new before - my most recent post about that was here.

We are a technology rich house.

I am an early adopter.

Mr Girlfriend and I had email in 1995- way back when it was first invented....only none of our friends had it so we could only email each other- in the same house.  Hilarious.

But seriously I love technology and the big bad internet.

I love the freedom it gives me.

I love the way I have created this space with it.

I love the people I have met because of it.

I love how I can have my fave people in my home with me- even though some of them are across the other side of the world.

I want my kids to be able to use it & understand it too.

I am not keen on gaming and we have super strict limits on content & time.

We normally do watch TV - but as with gaming we are strict with content & viewing time with this too.

But for the last two weeks we have not turned on the TV once.

I know right?!

B I G.

It wasn't really even a conscious thing.

We don't have the TV on during the day at all during the school week anyway but after the 3 little kids were in bed Mr Girlfriend and I would often kick back with the big 2 and a few eps of Modern Family or some cooking shows.

But the other week Mr Girlfriend was away and the big 2 (12 & 14) and I just ended up chatting on the couch- about music- what we were listening to and loving, or about school stuff or other 'big' life stuff.

Then one tonight I was reading on the couch and the other two were on my computer that is smack bang in the middle of the heart of our home.

They had invented a new game to play.

So very cool.

Kids are awesome like that.

They just invent stuff out of nothing.


On that night they invented this game.

And I wanted to share it with you as I think it is super ace & I love to share super ace things with you!

See the big bad internet really can be super dooper ace for our kids!

The challenge is to go from one thing to another seemingly COMPLETELY unrelated thing only using the hyperlinks in Wikipedia.
You have to choose things that you think have no relationship to each other at all.

No-one is a winner of this game- it is not about winning.
It creates really interesting discussion and some really amazing learning.
My kids spent about an hour or so on it that night & have revisited it since a few times.
It is probably for older kids but it is SOOOO interesting to find out the ways that things that seem to have no connection to each other, really do.
It's kind of like a 'six degrees of separation game'.

Give it a whirl & let me know how you find it?

PS. It has now been TWO full weeks with ZERO TV & I  am LOVING IT SICK.
Let it be known there will not be a TV in the reno at all.  
No siree.  Music speakers YES but TV no way. And don't you hate the way living area designs are determine by the TV? Pet hate of mine..........

I LOVE watching cooking shows- as I mentioned above- but one of my all time faves is The Two Greedy italians.
For so many reasons......I have always seen Antonio Carluccio as a kind of hero. Doesn't everyone want him in their life? His joie de vivre is infectious and inspiring.  His cooking is amazing. His broken English just perfect in it's uniqueness & charm.  His love of the simple is so refined. 
A beautiful human being.
But this programme was so real in the way it portrayed their gorgeous and ever playful friendship & their love of real food.  Honest simple and totally achievable in any kitchen.
It is their absolute passion for produce that I love.
We have a LOT to learn in Australia about the way we see vegetables and use them in our cooking.
In MANY other cultures they are the treated with the reverence they deserve. 
Whole meals are served as vegetarian feast-not because the people eating are vegetarian or because it is 'Meat Free Monday' but because the produce deserves to stand alone.
We eat way too much meat to be sustainable and I for one would be super happy to see us eating less meat and more veg in our day to day lives.
I served this dish for dinner after seeing Antonio Carluccio cook it- and I had just bought 3 kilos of Red Caps at the market at closing time for $1 (!!!!!!!!) so I needed to use them up.
I served with with a simple green salad- and we were all very very happy. so so tasty.
SO few ingredients. 
Food can be so very simple and so very amazing. 
I hope you make it over & over again and love it as much as we did. x

  • 5 large RED capsicums, cut into long strips
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 12 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin Olive oil)
  • fresh oregano (not in Antonio's recipe but my garden is full of it and it was a delicious addition)
  • S & P
 Heat oil in a non- stick fry pan to a medium heat.
Add the capsicum and fry until starting to brown- about 5 minutes or so. 
Turn over and caramelise the other side too.
Now add the garlic (and oregano if you wish) and gently fry for a minute so the garlic is cooked but not brown.

Now add the vinegar and fry gently until evaporated. 

Take off the heat.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl with S & P.

Return the pan to the heat & add the eggs.  Stir in & leave to sit for about 5 minutes or until there is a crust on the underside.

Now place a large plate over the top of the frypan (it must go over the edges) and flip the frittat onto the plate.

Turn over and slide back into pan to cook the other side.

Cook for another  5 minutes or so.

Turn onto plate, cut into wedges and serve either hot or cold.

Another reason to love the internet is good ol' YouTube and all the music love it has on it.
Like wikipedia, lots of the stuff on it is thanks to people sharing. 
I LOVE that someone shares this.......... le sigh.