I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Corporate Wifedom

In the last 18 months or so, DH has suddenly become a scary overachiever man. Not in personality, but in action. He's joined professional organisations, started his own consultancy, become vice president of our temple, and in general become, well, the male version of me (only his butt is wwwwaaayyy cuter.) A side effect of all this overachieving is EVENTS. As in, DH has to attend important functions and events, and as his wife, I'm expected to go as well. This means I have to get dressed up (blech), smile politely (ick), make small talk (double blech) and in general be the primped, proper, witty, charming and just fucking fabulous wife to the man who is overachieving. Plus our Rabbi advised me that I need to work on my "diplomacy skills." Oy. This is so NOT my scene. There is the added degree of difficulty in that pretty much all of David's work colleagues, plus his fellow temple board members, and a vast majority of people at these events are much older than me. Which means I can't stand in the corner with another wife/arm candy and bitch about what people are wearing - the other wives have the corporate wifedom thing down pat. All the way to the sensible shoes, frumpy clothes, and small talk skills.

Last night was not the first of these events I've attended, but it was one of the more important ones as I was to (finally) meet DH's business partner. Plus DH was involved in the planning and organising of this conference thingy, so he was like, you know, an important person in the room. I, by association, was expected to be - you know, witty, charming, blah blah gorgeous. I pulled it off, spectacularly. Except maybe for the moment when I spilled my drink ALL OVER the table. The geeky engineer to my left was kind about it, though, and just laughed and said, "Well, it makes our table look more interesting. Who likes white tablecloths anyway?!" If I do say so myself, I rocked. Charmed the freakin' pants off the business partner guy (and wife), chatted up the other people on the table, and in general made myself exactly the sort of wife DH needed at one of these soirees. Damn I'm good, even if I later realised my knee highs didn't match (one black, one navy) and the one on the right kept falling down.

As much as I hate this kind of thing (but am secretly proud that I excel at it), I did discover one huge bonus to this kind of crap. It feels really, really great to know you're sitting next to the guy that everyone is applauding, and that that scary overachiever guy is yours. I was so PROUD of DH. He's working so hard to build himself a reputation, to build a secure financial future for our family, and to make himself into a successful, socially responsible member of the community. Stockings and mascara and annoying small talk about painfully boring subjects are all worth it when your SO (significant other) is standing up there, receiving his bit of paper which says THANKS for being Mr Important to this organisation. (Of course, afterwards I felt quite miffed that all DH got for his efforts was a piece of paper. Um, hello, people? Wine? Plaque? Flowers? Gold watch? What's with just the paper? This is MY DH we're talking 'bout! Worth soooo more than a scrap of paper!) It does bear saying, though, that next time I need to get up and get my own bit of paper, I expect DH to wear knee highs and mascara.

Selfish Glutton

I ate all the strawberries. The whole punnet. BEFORE my kids or DH even knew they existed...and I don't feel guilty about it. Once a week we get a delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables. It's a mystery box - we just pay X amount and then we get a box or two filled with gorgeous fresh produce. I just opened this week's box and found, right on top, a punnet of strawberries. I don't normally buy them because they're expensive, and they don't really come into their own until summertime anyway. I do LOVE them though. Seeing that punnet of strawberries just reminded me that summer is coming to Australia, and I LOVE summer here.

I love that it doesn't get dark until late, so you have more time to spend with your family after work, or the sunshine fools you into believing you do. I love that I can justify drinking a Slurpee nearly every day. I love that back-from-the-pool feeling of satisfaction and excitement. I love the sound of flip-flops walking down the street. I love sunny days and sitting on the beach doing nothing at all. I HATE when it gets really really hot, but then I love being able to complain about it while sitting RIGHT in front of a fan. I love eating summer food of salad and BBQ everything. I love that we entertain a lot more in the summer, in the form of spontaneous dinners with friends and their sandy, sun kissed kids. I love wearing my Birkenstocks, no matter how dorky they are. I love grapes and stone fruit and berries, all which come into season in the summertime. I love popsicles (especially cola flavour, with 'red' a close second.) I love my kids wearing flowy summer dresses, or in DS's case, board shorts. I love that I swap mugs of hot tea for glasses of iced tea.

Those strawberries meant just one thing:

Summer. Is. Coming.

So I ate the entire punnet, by myself, thinking of summer when I'm going to buy these things by the case load. I might share them then. In the meantime I ate my strawberries in blessed peace and with a head full of summer thoughts. Not a bad way to spend a morning.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Quality, not Quantity

Ages and ages ago I told you guys about the falling out I had with XABF. Thet experience has just proven that when it comes to friends, it's all about quality and not quantity. I haven't got gobs and gobs and gobs of friends - but the ones I do have are all keepers, and they are all the kinds of friends you REALLY need in your life. I am fiercely, fiercely loyal - the protective Mama Lion you don't want to piss off - when it comes to my friends. I'll fuckin' walk through a snowstorm in my bare feet, having not eaten for 4 days, and wearing only a "Frankie Says Relax" T-shirt - if a friend needs me to. (Although I should hope none of my friends need me THAT much...not eating for 4 days? OMG.) Recently some friends of mine have done and said things which just make me adore them all the more....

  • Dr J called and wished me a "Happy Anniversary Implantation Day" on Rosh Hashana because he remembered that 6 years ago, it was on RH that I "brought home" the embryos which would become our children
  • Poppet's Mom laughed (and wasn't offended) when I said she and I could get a bulk discount on ADHD drugs, if it turns out our hellian children really are devils in disguise
  • 007 said (and meant) that she was thrilled to get 'good luck' hugs from my girls right before she got up and sang in front of 65 billion people
  • Dani is saving the environment by buying up trees here.
  • Louisa-Lou recently told me that she misses the tradition of Fat Thursday, which in Louisa-Lou speak really means she misses me. :)
  • Little Jessie is driving from BFE to come and babysit the kids for me, in the middle of the week, and she'll refuse to take any money for it. She just does it because "it's fun" and she is in love with DS. She is, clearly, either very generous of heart or very insane of mind. Possibly both.
See what I mean? These are the kinds of people you need in your life. The ones who say and do funny things, the ones you can call and hash over Grey's Anatomy with, the ones you can just call and say a whole lotta nothing to, the ones who are just, well, there. They don't mind if you don't call all that reguarly - you just pick up where you left off. They don't mind if you respond late to emails, get a dodgy haircut, tell stupid jokes, or say you need to lose weight as you eat a giant ice cream cone and then suggest a snack of schnitzel. As I've gotten older I've gone through a process of friend culling - where the ones who annoyed me, weren't there for me, or were really just acquantainces who I didn't like all that much - all got the proverbial flick. What I'm left with is a group of fabulous people who I would do that whole walking-through-snow-while-starving thing for. They are people who are sooooo worth it.

NB: It's a day for birthdays! Happy Birthday to the best DH in the world, the best Uncle in the world (and BIL to me), and the second best pastry chef I know (Louisa Lou)!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Little Pitchers, Big Ears

DS to me at dinner last night:

"Mum, who is this blog guy you keep talking about every night?"

DS to me this morning:

"Are you going to write some more in your blob today?"
(no, that's not a spelling error)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Conversations with a snester

My snester (that's sister to you) and I seem to only have conversations in strange public places. The thing is, between us we have 6 kids, 4 jobs (at least), 2 homes, 5 fish, 1 cat, and a whole lot of shit to do. We probably also have about 150 pounds of excess weight, but that's another post. Since she is so busy and I am so busy, time for phone calls is sadly not something we really have. Our conversations usually are ten minutes of either her or me talking, and then some kid or husband demanding attention. End of conversation. Or she is so busy relaying messages from everyone else ("Mum says to call her") that we don't really talk about anything at all. Sometimes they're even shorter than that, especially if one of us messed up the time zones (again) and woke the other one up, in which case the conversation goes like this: (S = Snester)

DH: Hello? Oh hi, yeah, hang on, she's sleeping.
Me: *groggy* Hello? Whaaa...?
S: *accusing tone* What are you doing asleep? It's like only midnight. Or is it 2 am? I don't know, I always forget about the stupid time zone thing.
Me: It's 4 am. I'm sleeping. What do you want? Who died?
S: No one died, I just wanted to tell you (insert 5-10 minutes of conversation) but you're asleep, so I'll call you later. Don't be cheap, you can call ME later.
Me: Okay. Sure. I'm not cheap. Bye.
Me: *asleep*
This conversation is always the same, only sometimes it's my sister who is asleep, and it's HER poor DH who answers the phone.

Neither of us has time for lengthy emails, either, so those are also less than 10 lines. What we DO have, though, is an uncanny ability to have long, detailed, in depth conversations...in strange places. At odd times. When I was MEGA pregnant with the kids, my sister called me while I was in the toilet at KMart. I sat there, peeing, mega pregnant, and just chatted away. Actually I must have spent a lot of time at KMart because she did that more than once. I've had long conversations with her while I'm waiting in line at banks, at shopping malls, waiting for job interviews to start, picking the kids up, etc. You name it, we've chatted there. We somehow never manage to connect when I am at home and she is at home. Thank god for cell phones. Today, for example. I decided I needed to call my sister (who was supposed to call me first, the cheapo, but whatever). I called as I wandered into Toys R' Us. The conversation got so long and drawn out that I walked OUT of Toys R' Us (which should be called Toys Ain't Us because they never have what I want.) I sat down on the nearest bench and then chatted away to my sister for 45 minutes. It's probably one of the best conversations we've had in several months. It's taken several years of growing up (on both our parts) and lots of kids, but my sister and I now get along great. We can make each other laugh and make each other cry tears of hysterics - both of which get me very strange looks in Kmart toilets and shopping malls. That, combined with the rapid-fire English/Hebrew/Pig Latin language we move in and out of during the course of one conversation.

I miss my sister very, very much - but I'm glad we have these crazy conversations, even if they are less frequent then I'd like. Next time I miss her, I'm going to walk out of the house, keys in hand. DH is going to want to know where I'm going and I'm just going to say, "To the mall. I gotta call my snester."
If you're reading this, Olika, just wanted you to know how much I love and miss you. And that fuckin' toy store didn't have the stupid pirate game. ..but the dumbass 12 year old on the customer service counter assured me that 120 of them are on order. Yeah, like that helps. I also had a CB&TL Ice Blended Mocha in your honour. *smooch*

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

RAOS Recipe

Note: I baked these last night and have since altered the temp - reduce it by about 10 deg C to get a stickier topping.

This weekend is Rosh Hashana - Jewish New Year. The below recipe is my famous honey cake recipe - so damn good that my last job 'borrowed' the recipe and now it's a permanent cake on their menu (seriously.) I'd recommend making this for someone even if you're not Jewish - it's a damn good cake, and with the myriad of different honeys avaialble in Australia, well worth making (and eating) for and with friends. Yes, the method is a little strange, but then, so am I and you love ME, right?

Honey Cake
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
3 eggs
5 T oil
500 grams honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground ginger powder
2 cups self raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 cups very strong black tea (several bags steeped), cooled

Mix a small amount of the tea with the bicarb. Beat the sugar, eggs, honey and spices for 5 minutes on high (electric mixer.) Add in the sifted flours and remaining tea alternatively, mixing well. Add in the bicarb liquid and mix well. Cover the bowl with a towel and allow to rest for 1 hour. (Preheat the oven during this time to 160C). Grease and/or line a round tin (26 cm, or make two smaller cakes). Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 1 to 1.5 hours (watch carefully in the last 15 minutes or so to ensure it doesn't burn.) Once done, allow to cool in the tin and then remove.

To freeze: once cold, wrap in glad wrap and freeze.
To decorate: I usually get sesame snaps and chop them up coarsely. Drizzle warmed honey over the top of the cake (not that it needs it) and sprinkle sesame snaps over. However, it's absolutely lovey just plain!

Sooo Worth It

You know when there is something crappy in your life, which you hate doing/seeing/eating - but you do it anyway, because something/someone/a feeling makes it SOOOOO worth it? Take, for example, going to the gym. You hate it, but the cute guy (eg eye candy) on the treadmill next to you makes it sooo worth it. Or going to work, if you don't like your job. It's boring and it sucks, but the cake they provide for afternoon tea totally rocks, making it soooo worth it. Or throwing up when you're sick. It's smelly, gross, and totally unpleasant, but how good you feel afterwards makes it soooo worth it. You get my drift. I've noticed lately that a lot of people (myself included) use that expression, saying that something is "soooo worth it." I wonder, though - does this mean that things in their lives suck so bad they have to find only ONE thing about everything they do? Is it just a way of making themselves feel better? Exactly how MUCH are we willing to suffer for something in order to get the reward which makes the suffering 'worth it'? Presumably that's different for everyone, right? What is soooo worth it to me, might not be worth anything at all to you. Another man's trash, etc etc. At some point do we decide that there is nothing left which is 'worth it' and so we don't do that thing anymore? Are there people whose tolerance for the 'barely good enough' will last a lifetime, and so they never change? I think those people are the ones who need the courage to move on, stop doing that thing, stop whatever that thing is which no longer has a soooo worth it to hold onto. I think what I'm getting at is, when something/someone/a situation no longer has even the smallest glimmer of a sooo worth it left, it's time to move onwards. I'm getting that way about a certain issue in my life, and so this idea, of something being worth it or else it's not worth doing, is on my mind. Perhaps the bravest part is deciding that something ELSE has a 'soooo worth it' attached - it's just that making the leap from HERE to THERE is hard.

Tell me something about your life which kinda sucks but has a reward which makes it soooo worth it...or a time when you decided to take a leap. Go on, share.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

May they SIP

SIP = Swim In Peace

This blogger notes with some sadness the sudden departure of our dear family members: Googly Eyes, Lippy, Mr Head Bone, Silver & Gold, and Goldy. Googly Eyes died a few days ago, and the rest died today in a mass grave, suctioned around the bottom of the filter thing-a-majig. I'm not exactly sure WHY they died, but I'm guessing it's because I finally got around to cleaning the aquarium out, and the clear water stressed them out. Watching three kids run around (and minus the sound protection which an inch of algae creates) stresses ME out, so I can only imagine what it did to 5 beautiful fish. Clearly it was all too much for them to take.

May they SIP. We loved them for the 3 short months they lived on this earth ... when we remembered to feed them, that is.

(and may the new inhabitants, which I intend to buy later this week, be inscribed in the Book Of Life this Saturday ... or at least, let them last longer than a miserable 3 months.) Sheesh. They don't make goldfish like they used to.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

100 Things Revisited

I've previously discussed the 100 Things phenomenon and how annoying I find it. I also haven't been able to figure out why people do this, until recently when I was told that it's to 'celebrate' your 100th post on a blog. Now that this has a reason, I feel I can be nicer to the whole concept. My 100th post was the joke (which is damn funny) below. Technically this is my 101st post - so to celebrate that, and still hold true to my "I hate these boring 100 things lists," I'm giving you less than 100 things you may not know or realise about emzeegee:

  1. I can be incredibly self-destructive, especially when it comes to food. This is by far my worst personality trait. Even worse than my big mouth and my inability to believe in my skills.
  2. I only ever wear white socks. Coloured socks annoy me, and if I wear them, I'll find them vaguely uncomfortable all day long.
  3. I worry a lot that DH will die before I do, and lately I worry he will die suddenly. I actually think about it in detail - what would I do about my job? My home? Would the kids and I move out of our home, this country? How would I cope without him? If he's 5 minutes late home, I start to feel real anxiety about it, and I have to force myself not to call him and see where he is. Attached to this is my worry that perhaps I love and depend on DH a little too much.
  4. As much as I adore what I do for a living, my favourite foods to eat are bland, simple, and total comfort food. Someday if I get interviewed about this, I'm going to have to lie because the foods I like are bread, rice, and ice cream. Note the complete lack of anything fancy in that list. Very uncool for a chef not to want to be on a desert island with something like foie gras or persimmons or extra virgin olive oil.
  5. I am afraid of my children's teenage years. They are already opinionated, loud, sometimes irritating, and smarter than I am. Another 8 years of time for them to hone these skills? I've got no chance.
  6. I hate admitting that DH and I needed IVF to have our kids and will avoid saying so unless someone asks me directly. I'm grateful beyond words, but it's a reminder that I failed at something.
  7. This list is far darker and honest than I intended it to be. Rather than worry about that, I'm typing this with an overwhelming sense of pride. Not to be worrying about something is nice.
  8. I have actually thrown a party where nobody came - actually two parties. In the first case every single person who was invited couldn't make it (so we cancelled the event) and in the second case we changed the date (and had a smashing time).
  9. This week in the kinder playground a kid came up to be, squeezed my boobs with both his hands, and said, "My mummy's titties are nicer than yours." and walked away. I'm still wondering if I should share that little tit-bit (pun intended) with the mother.
  10. It terrifys me that my children will be fat.
So there you have it. Not so much of a celebration...maybe we needed more balloons?!?!


Did you hear about the pastry chef who was recently arrested for assault?
He was beating the eggs and whipping the cream!


(Sadly, I find myself laughing hysterically at this joke.)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Perks of the Job

First, a quick brag: I got an A (for both theory and practical) in "Prepare Salads & Appetizers" Yay me (so what else is new, right?) I told my family about this and they said, "Yeah? So?" I told my ABF (Australian Best Friend) about this and she said, "So what else is new? You always get A's." Harumph! See if I share my news again with you unappreciative sods. At least DH had the good grace to give a half-hearted "yay you...but we knew you would."

Secondly, yesterday I went to the Fine Food Show. I got in for free (yay) and it was a 'trade only' event - meaning no people in search of cookbooks autographed by crappy TV chefs (only crappy because I am jealous of them). It was enormous. It took up the entire Exhibition Centre (which is 1 km in length) and it was endless rows of everything culinary. There were food suppliers, packaging suppliers, people with interesting new food products, various state and international tourism/food promoters, people selling all sorts of industrial equipment, cooking demonstrations and competitions - the entire thing, literally, was heaven on a stick for me. I saw some stunning sugar showpieces, tasted some very unusual things (some things just shouldn't be in a meat pie...), drooled over some seriously cool machinery (like this AMAZING dumpling making machine thinga-majig), fitted out my fantasy wedding cake shop (with the amazing refrigerated displays I saw) - in short, had a blissful few hours. I walked my feet off and satisfied my inner hunger with the 7,249 types of free food offers (but I avoided trying the Israeli CousCous on the notion of been there, done that.)

On my way home I realised that this is one of the major perks of my job. It was really, really frickin' cool to be wandering around this enormous space with thousands of other people (about 30% of which had their chef's uniforms on) ....and KNOW what I was talking about and looking at. For so long I've felt like a bit of a sham, a pretender, a fakey-fakey la la at this cheffing biz. I know I'm good at it, but in my heart and soul I've had a hard time convincing myself that I am one of THEM, a GOOD one of them. Wandering around this trade show, I finally felt like I belonged. It validated (again) my choice to change careers. It IS my real job.

Chef emzee, it seems, has arrived.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Future Culinary Leaders

Driving home from kinder today, I sighed and said to the kids, "I've got NO idea what to make for dinner tonight. Any of you have a good idea?" I was fully expecting the "Noooooooooo" or "Can we go out to dinner?" or the five year old food of the gods, "Pizza!" Instead, what I got was this:

DS: "I know! I know! Let's have WOMBAT STEW!"
DD2: "Yeah! With that cous cous that I really like!"

Hmmm. Seems the transformation is complete.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Overheard Today

Walking down the street today I heard a lady say,

"It's crazy! One minute you're dead, the next you're in the ground."

...and this left me wondering, where else, EXACTLY, would this woman want to be once she dies? At the mall?

A Foodie Meme

Mellie over at Tummy Rumbles tagged me for this foodie meme. Basically it's like a challenge list which someone fills out (via a blog post, usually) and then they 'tag' or challenge, other bloggers to answer the same meme. The one she tagged me for is "Five Things to Eat Before You Die." This originally came from The Traveller's Lunchbox, and you can read loads of other blogger's "5 things" lists here.

Anyway, in no specific order, here are the five things I think people should eat before they die (and I already have!) :

  1. A mango on a stick at La Bufadora in Ensenada, Mexico, like this guy is eating. This isn't a restaurant, it's a famous ocean blow hole. To get there you need to sit for a long time in a cramped car with your family, down twisty, spew-inducing roads (not all of which are sealed roads). Once you get there it's a long walk down a hill to see it. Along the path of the hill are people selling all sorts of random shit you don't want. What you DO want, though, is to buy a GIANT mango, speared on a stick and with 'fans' carved out of it - to eat on your way down the hill. I promise it will be the juiciest, scrummiest, most fabulous mango you will ever eat. You will not even notice the long walk down - and when you get to the blow hole, you'll say to yourself, "Bugger the hole, this freakin' mango ROCKS."
  2. A grilled cheese sandwich - made with: cheap white bread, tons of butter, and crappy American cheese. The catch? It needs to be made in a frying pan. Not in a fancy cheese press, not under a grill, but literally fried in butter in a frying pan, on both sides. You must also eat it while it's hot and gooey and melting.
  3. S'mores - Take one or two BIG, decent quality marshmallows. Spear them on the end of a stick (or in my house, an untwined coathanger) and burn your 'shmallows until they are covered in carcinogens (eg pretty damn black) and pure toffee in the middle. Stick them on top of 4 squares of Hershey's (or any decent milk chocolate, really) and sandwich between 2 squares of graham crackers. Smoosh it all together. I picked this one because it's an amalgamation of my 3 favourite sweet flavours - chocolate, 'shmallows, and sweet biscuits.
  4. Pickles in Germany - Several markets in Germany have a 'pickle man' who sells enormous pickles from giant barrels. All kinds of flavours, shapes and sizes -from spicy to sweet, tiny to giant. The ones I'm thinking of were in Nuremburg, but any decent pickle from the country (and sold as described above) will do.
  5. A 'distance' meal - one of my 'hobbies' is travelling a long distance/time just to eat a meal. It makes no difference if the meal is any good, just that you had to go a long way to eat it, ON PURPOSE. So for example - I've been to Milan only for dinner, Tasmania only for lunch, Wyoming only for dinner...etc. In all these cases I was coming from a reasonable distance, and just thought, "Hey, we should go to far away place for lunch!" It always, always makes for a memorable meal and an even better story.
Thanks for the tagging, Mel! Compiling this list was loads of fun (and took a few days!). Since I only know one other 'foodie' who hasn't done this yet, I'm only tagging:
Anyone want to add their list but not have a blog? Hit the comment button on the bottom right of this post.

Say What?

My family (as in, my parents and siblings) have a very strange language all our own. It's a mixture of Hinglish (Hebrew/English), Spanglish (Spanish/English), Yinglish (Yiddish/English) and then just random family words which are entirely made up. We have so MANY words and expressions - you could literally carry on an entire conversation without using any 'plain English' words. Many of the words are bastardisations of existing words - and thus would probably make sense to the general public - but many are not. I LOVE the fact that my family shares this crazy language. About a month before DH and I got married, my family got shlepped to this very boring Rotary event. Rather than pretend to look interested, we spent the majority of the night writing on napkins and the tablecloth, coming up with a dictionary of family words for my soon-to-be DH. We giggled, we cried tears of laughter, we swore a lot, and that night is one of my most fond memories. The Dictionary which my sister produced for s-t-b DH was useful for him - or at least, I think it was, because he has been known now to use a lot of my family's expressions. It is rather funny to hear this private-school-accent Australian self use nonsense words.

I recently discovered that my family (DH and my own kids) are gradually building up our own language - a rich tapestry made mostly of nonsense words. I'm sure as the kids Hebrew and Yiddish skills improve, we'll get some derived from there too. Everyone told me that twins and triplets have their own 'language' that they use to communicate with one another. Mine never developed that - although they will still often laugh at something, and I've got no idea what was funny. (and of course, at this age, they say "it was NOTHING, Mummy!") In the meantime, though, they come up with their own funnies, and I add some. DH, being on the more conservative side, gets vaguely annoyed at our collective butchering of the English language. He tries, in vain, to correct us. We just laugh...and keep eating our samwadges*.

*samwadge: -noun- SAM-woh-dge; a sandwich, use: "Mummy I didn't like the samwadge in my lunch today. Did Daddy make lunches?!"

Friday, September 8, 2006

Australian Culinary Oddities

After being here for ten years, I've come to realise that Australian cuisine is really a mish-mash of a whole lot of other cultures - English, Turkish, Thai, etc. This is one of the place's great strengths (especially in Melbourne, where the food is just brilliant.) Now while most Australian food is pretty good, there are some things which, really, I just don't understand. Here is a short list of the ones which annoy me the most.

  1. Butter: Butter is the national spread. Forget Vegemite, butter has taken over this country. They put it on everything - even under peanut butter or jam. *shudder* It's used in savoury things, like on almost all sandwiches as an addition to the other condiments you've got. It's used in sweet things, as a moistener, like on chocolate muffins or fruit scrolls. They put it on things which don't really need it, and often you can't taste it anyway. So why is it there in the first place?! Is butter the glue which holds this country together? Is it some evil plot by the dairy farmers?
  2. Milkshakes: Milkshakes in Australia are, well, just that - milk, all shook up (a huh huh!) They take vanilla ice cream, litres and litres of milk, a couple squirts of totally sickly sweet and wrongly coloured flavoured syrups, and shake it up. Then they have the gall to serve it to you and call it a milkshake. Straws do not stand up in it. Chocolate shakes should not be so pale as to be mistaken for vanilla - and on that note, chocolate milkshakes should be made with CHOCOLATE ice cream. Milkshakes in Australia are just a bleeding travesty...maybe it's yet another dairy farmer trick?!
  3. Chicken Flavouring: This one just makes me shake my head. There is chicken flavoured everything here. The catch? It tastes nothing like chicken, unless there are mutant flourescent yellow high sodium content chickens running around the countryside. Maybe they import the chickens from Chernobyl? Rice crackers, potato chips, Twisties, Ritz crackers, the salt ON french fries...you name it, they've chickened it.
  4. Soggy Cereal On Purpose: These ones I can actually eat and not gag, but I think they are strange to look at and wierd in general. I'm talking about Vita-Brits. They are a bit hard to describe. It's like reeeaaallly thin wheat or bran flakes, all squashed up into a sort of brick - a bit longer than a cigarette package and the same width. You put milk on them, and within SECONDS the brick disintegrates into a lumpy, wet, mushy....well, either it's breakfast cereal or it's handy for weekend grouting.
  5. Mayonnaise: Here it's often referred to as a ' salad dressing' ...and the scary thing is, it's really, really sweet. As in sickly sweet, and kinda vingar-y, and just kind of disgusting. The kind of mayonnaise that, when put on potatoes, automatically looks like it's going to give you salmonella or something (even without being outside on a hot day.) They even flavour it. It's just so horrid that even writing this is making me feel like I ate a chicken salad sandwich outside, at the height of summer, which was made the night before and they forgot to refrigerate since then....oh, and it was also made by someone who never washes their hands.
I'm sure there are loads of American foods which Australians find horrid (peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter flavoured everything, corn dogs, whatever) but the thing is, this is my blog. They can complain about those things on their blogs. Nah nah nah nah!

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Visual Verbal Representation

This is my "word cloud," which was made here. They generate an alphabetical wordcloud based on the most used words in your blog. It's funny to look at this - those words really do represent my life, and the things I like to blog about most. It makes my 'byline' above seem even more fitting - my blog really is about food, kids, and my sugar-laden, chaos-fuelled life. Some of the words are totally ridiculous (ummm..."previous"?!) but it was a fun toy to play with and I'm being nice and sharing it with you.

...and on the topic of fun things, this website is so cheesy it's funny. You need to leave the browser window open to receive bottles, but it's not like you have anything better to do with your time (after all, you're reading this blog instead of working, right?!)

The Long and The Short of it

Until I was old enough to make my own decisions about these things, my Mom forced me to have short hair. Primarily because she likes short hair - it's neater, nicer, cleaner, whatever. Presumably it was also because it would (theoretically) be easier for me to take care of it. So I had short hair for my entire childhood - everything from the fabulous 70's bowl haircut to the short at the back, longer on the top style popular in the 80's, to just plain embarassingly short. I hated having short hair. (I also hated that she made me put giant pink bows in it, but that's another post.) It was particularly embarassing when my Mom and I would go out and she would get complimented on "what a beautiful boy" she had. (At that stage the artists known as my big boobies were not born yet.) However, my attempts to grow my own hair out were spectacular failures - you know that horrible 'growing it out' stage? Well, I never got there because I would be dragged to the hairdresser to cut it short again.

Then I grew up, and made my own choices. By the time I was in college I had hair down to the middle of my back. Since then, I've grown it super long, cut it super short (a la Gwyneth Paltrow in 'Sliding Doors'), and am now growing it out again and so on and so forth. It's been every colour in the rainbow (except maybe blue), and the BEST part about being both female and hormonal is just how often you can change your hair to suit yourself.

Last week DD2 decided (rightly so) that she needed a haircut. Given my history, I've pretty much encouraged the girls to have long hair. Imagine my horror when she said she wanted a "SUPER short" haircut. The very thing I fought against for years and years- my child wants desperately. Now, this may be because brushing her gorgeous long hair is sheer torture for us, her, and the neighbours enduring her screaming....but then maybe it's her first act of rebellion. In any case I couldn't really face this, so DH took her to get it done. I spent the day a little worried about what I might come home to - a Number 1 all over? A mullet? A pint-sized Gwyneth Paltrow? She came home...looking so goddamn adorable, I haven't stopped lovin' all over her since. It suits her very well, it's easy to brush, and it's still long enough to tuck behind her ears. Nobody could ever mistake her for a boy (even though her boobies are years away, too.)

End of the story? The neighbours have dropped their noise complaints against us, and the 'save the cats from torture' people have stopped picketing in our front yard. Hallelujah!

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Things I Wonder About

Thing #4,798: Is there a library book recycle cycle?

I read a LOT of books. Seriously, way more than you would think I have time for. In an average week, I can finish maybe 3-5 books (and I don't mean leaflets, I mean novels.) In a bad week, maybe only 1-2, and in a good week 5+. I read quickly, and I read total crap. I don't read anything "heavy," "thought provoking," "moving," and definetly nothing historical or non-fiction. I read total fluff. I know, I know, I'm one of the smartest people you know, ergo, I should be reading really clever stuff. Nup. My literary vices of choice fit into two basic categories: chick lit, or crime fiction. In one, the guy always gets the girl (and vice versa) and in the other, the guy always kills the girl (and vice versa.) Reading is total escapism for me. I don't have to think hard, I don't have to make lists, I don't have to do ANYTHING but get to the next page, where hopefully Lauren will start to regret sleeping with Tarquin after that night at the nightclub, who is actually her brother's best friend or Detective Jones will suddenly regret sleeping with Celeste, who is now the number one suspect.

I love reading, and I love reading totally crappy novels. I never stoop so low as romance, bodice-ripper novels - nah, those are just not worth my time. The downside to being famous one day (and I will be) is that they might interview me for "what are you reading now?" columns, and I'll have to make something else because my real choices are so terribly, terribly low brow.

So - back to the recycle cycle. At our local library there is a trolley at the end of each row. I have assumed that it's filled with books people have returned which the librarians have not had time to put back. On that assumption, I tend to pick books out of there for my own weekly book shopping. I tend to assume that if others have picked it to read, it must be halfway decent, right? Most of the time I'm right, and I end up with some halfway decent books. However in recent weeks, I've noticed several books I have picked on those trolleys! So this makes me wonder - is there some sort of cycle to this? Am I not alone in my 'trolley surfing'? If everyone only takes books off of the trolley, are the books on the shelves there forever, gathering dust? If we take stuff from the trolley, return it and it goes on the trolley, and so on and so forth - there will be no new books on there, right? (Is this making sense?) In effect we have created a recycle cycle!

...clearly, I have too much time on my hands.

P.S. I treat library books a little like M n' M's: I only pick an even number of them in any one library visit, and I sort them by order of most to least want to read. I'm insane (but you knew that.)