Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: French Kids Eat Everything

Author: Karen Le Billon


This was a super fascinating view on the differences in attitude towards food between Western Culture and French culture. At the heart was a family story about the challenges in moving to a new country and adjusting to a new lifestyle. The author's determination shines throughout, and so does the beautiful (and seemingly idyllic) food culture that exists in France.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pecan Melts and Some Blogging Advice (From the Experts)

I am a baker. I love the process from picking a recipe to scouring for ingredients, to placing a tray of sweet batter into the oven. The best part, of course, is to share the end product with my family, people at work, or the never-full always-hungry food monster that is my boyfriend.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes: Yes

When I was a kid, a lot of things terrified me. Roller coasters were a no go, meeting new people broke me out in a cold sweat and the thought of going to youth group every Sunday brought me to tears.  Trying new things (besides food) moving schools and the simple act of saying “yes” was a challenge. At parties, if someone offered me a drink, I’d say "no" simply to end the conversation as quickly as possible to avoid further possible embarrassment.

As I grew older, some of my fears lost their edge. I learnt how to be around new people, I got used to going to youth group, even looked forward to it (when I developed a crush on Ash) and I started accepting drinks from strangers, in safe environments of course. I’m not sure what changed. I guess you just get used to different people, and in my experience most people are too worried about themselves to really care what you do.

I’ve also learnt that saying “yes” leads to new and exciting experiences, while saying “no” doesn’t lead to much at all. I know it’s a really simple lesson but it has taken me a few years to figure it out.

Anyway, Merv and I made these cupcakes the other week and they were delicious. It was Merv’s first attempt at cupcakes and I think they were a really great start because there is no complicated creaming of butter required. If you’ve made muffins before, you’ll be able to make these.

I know it’s different to my usual style, but we made them from the recipe here. I’m off to have dinner with the crew. Will have a proper recipe next week! Promise.

Keep saying yes to new experiences!
From Jen.
PS. Roller coasters still scare the skittles out of me.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jam Drop Cookies: Peppermint Tea

This week it was hard to find motivation to do anything really. I’ve started to exercise more frequently and even though I feel like I’m semi-addicted to hitting the gym every couple of days, it was even a struggle to drag myself out of bed to go. The part where I felt the lack of motivation most was at work.

I just went through a phase where I didn't really know what I was doing or why I was doing it. I was probably just going through one of those “what is the meaning of life” moments but I really just felt a lack of inspiration. Does anyone else have those moments? Even the air felt harder to walk through.

So I’m sitting in this slump at 10am on Thursday morning, usually the most productive time of the day for me, and I decide to make myself some tea. I walk to the kitchen, grab my pink mug and some tea, silently thanking technology for giving me instant boiling water out of a tap and return to my desk. I sit down and take a deep breath. The smell of warm peppermint fills my head and I’m taken back to our road trip to Sorrento.

Before Curtis left for England, we went down to Sorrento for a weekend. This was where Mervin made us all fall in love with peppermint tea. Yes, our groupo is quirky like that. We would put some water in the kettle and make 6 or 7 glasses of the stuff, adding a teaspoon (or a tablespoon) of honey to each. It was in the middle of winter so we’d snuggle in our sleeping bags with the warm cups and just be together. The first night we did this we were watching Star Trek and we all fell asleep because we’re such party animals.

It was such a nice weekend full of laughs and fun and just really, really good feelings of friendship and the smell of peppermint just brought me back. I took a sip of my tea and there was literally a warm and fuzzy feeling in my stomach. That’s when I thought maybe this is why. Maybe this is why I work hard every day and keep going at work. It’s because I know what I’m working for. I’m working so that I can have time with friends. I’m here so that I can make memories like the weekend in Sorrento, or High Tea with the only group of boys at the Grand Hyatt. I’m working so that I have the resources to do the things I want to do in life, to make my contribution in society, so I may as well do it to the best of my abilities.

Just the smell of the minty tea gave me the motivation I needed to keep going, and I’m glad it did.

I made these cookies with my cousins Josh and Sean, so credit goes to most of the photos to Sean, and to plenty of the actual baking to Josh and Sean. Thanks for all your help boys!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Strawberry Mousse Cake: Do What Makes You Happy Today

As you get older, there is one question that gets harder and harder to answer. It gets asked year after year, “What do you want for your birthday?”  When I was a little girl, it was all about the dolls. A new outfit for Barbie and I was happy. A Barbie dream house that could open and close, complete with a handle to carry it around, and I was ecstatic.

After the Barbie stage, I became interested in books in a big way. It was a giant, slimy, squishy, green Bookworm material kind of way. All I wanted was a new book to feast my eyes on. When I found a new series of magic and fantasy books, I’d read for hours on end, revelling in the made up worlds and super powers of people blessed with the amazing ability to chant spells or read minds or travel on a flying chair.

If you asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, it would be a very vague response. Something like “time with friends” or something corny like, “to see that smile on your face more often” (so smooth, Jen). Although there are always a few things on my consumerism driven wish list, I have learnt that the thing that makes me the most happy is having friends that make me feel safe and loved, and friends who I can hug and care about too.

So, to celebrate Ash’s 25th Birthday, I wanted to share with him all those things I love about life and the things we both have a soft spot for. A celebration is never complete without friends, so we went to Red Spice Road for dinner, then in true ice-cream addicted fashion went to Spring St Grocer for dessert in the cold Melbourne twilight. We then wandered around Big W looking for a hot water bottle and tennis balls for Merv. It was a relaxed night, without any frills or decorations, but it had all the elements that we needed; good company, good food and good will for the future.

At the end of the day, you are most influenced by the people you surround yourselves with. Life is not a journey we take alone, and it is not determined by our own actions. It is influenced and changed by everyone we meet and so getting to know your friends, the people you choose to spend your time with, is the best way to learn about yourself.  I am so glad that I get to share my journey with such amazing people, especially Ash.

Whatever things I have, and whatever I achieve in life don’t really mean much unless I have friends to laugh and share them with, and I hope I can always be there for the people I care about too. Sometimes, it’s just nice to know that you’re not alone.