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, February 28, 2007

Flip Side

Five things which are irking me today:

1. My ear is threatening to secede from my head. Seriously. I'm suffering some sort of wierd flap-between-my-head-and-my-ear disease (scientific name: FBMHAMED) which must bear a close relation to SMRD. The end result is a painful behind-my-ear cut thingie, which oozes and crusts and is in general pretty feral. I'm just glad it's not visible to the average person. The worst bit (besides it just being utterly gross) is that it HURTS LIKE A BIOTCH when DH swabs it with an alcohol wipe (to be rid of said crustiness.) True love, that is - wiping clean your wife's crusty ear cut.

2. I have now proven that it is quite impossible to leave work, find my car, drive to school, find a parking spot, pay for parking, walk back to school, change uniforms, grab my knife kit and other paraphernalia, and be prepared to start the prep for a night of paying customers in the 30 minutes I have to do all of this. Oh, and then stand there for 6 hours while the morons around you need 3 HOURS to prep for ONE dish, when you need less than 30 minutes. And the morons are making salad.

3. The inefficiency of my workplace. Disclaimer: I love my job and (most) of the people there and etc etc etc. Disclaimer over: I hate the fact that they throw away thousands of dollars of food, have NO standard recipes (or if they do, nobody seems to use them), can't seem to get their ordering right...you get the idea. Makes me want to scream, "You people have NO idea!" Then I remember how much they pay me, and that I almost never start work before 7am, and I think, "Bugger it. Be inefficient. Gives me more work to do."

4. I am a person who likes her own space. I find that a couple of times a day I just need "quiet time" - a few minutes to just decompress. DH is working from home, which means he is always here. While I adore him - with him here it's very hard to get that decompression time. He is GREAT about leaving me to my own (to blog, read, pee, whatever) - but I am finding it hard not having that time to myself, as in TOTALLY ALONE. As a result it's making me less than loving to him - for something which is not his fault - and I feel guilty about that. With the kids coming home earlier (and me often picking them up on the way home from work), alone decompress time is getting harder to come by. As a result I feel like a very wound-up spinning top and sadly DH is bearing the brunt of that.

5. The fact that I went to Google "Top Chef" (see #3 below) and I inadvertently found out who wins this season. I hate that!

Here are five things which are totally making my life worth living:

1. Twice in one week I've eaten at Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder. Once for breakfast, once for brunch which moseyed into lunch and then a cheese platter and then afternoon tea (yes, really). The food was fab, the service brilliant and the company was indulgent - in both cases female chefs I admire and adore and who don't mind my loud incessant talking.

2. My digital camera is back! Photos of food and experiences and kids and life and probably my ugly mug coming soon.

3. The return of Top Chef to cable TV. Season Two is now airing here in Australia. I *heart* this show. Especially since I think I could compete in it....and while I'm not good enough to win, I'm good enough to look cute on TV. Plus I'm glad they got rid of Katie-Lee Joel. We hate her because a) she stole the Piano Man from under my nose, and b) a more wooden TV host you have never seen.

4. The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival is coming. I might not make it to any of the events (I want to, I need to, I should...) but it just reminds me of how much of a foodie city this is.

5. Again on food, a few mornings ago I had the last skerrick of my Mom's Cafe Elite which she left behind. I'm not a coffee drinker, but every once in a while I like a taste of home so I have some of this. Finishing it off put me into a strange, temporary depression so on the way home from school I swung into Alex's - the local Jewish/Israeli supermarket thingie. There I was met with my childhood - products like Achla Hummus, Krembo, Bissli of several varieties, Bamba...a veritable cornucopia of yummy, fattening, wonderful Israeli stuff. It made me feel SO MUCH better, especially since I bought some to bring home. I *heart* Israeli convenience food. Nobody does strange unhealthy snack food as well as they do, with the possible exception of the Japanese.

So what's irking/keeping you alive this week?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Recipes Meme

I read this meme somewhere else and tagged myself. What the heck, right?

Where do you obtain the recipes you prepare?

Anywhere - almost literally. Back of a packet, from friends, from cookbooks, from the magazines in doctor's offices (but I'm a geek so I'll often ask the receptionist to copy it for me rather than rip it out. I do have some morals, people!), from TV, from my various magazine subscriptions, from websites (either professional recipe ones or other blogs)...I'm a recipe whore.

How often do you cook a new recipe?

I wish I did it more often, actually. I'd say on average "some" times a month. Some weeks I go nuts and we have all "experiments" for a week. Other times a week will go by and I've not tried anything new at all.

Where do you store your favourite recipes?

In a very unsatisfactory 3 ring binder. I hate it. I did it this summer in an attempt to be more organised (which it is) but it's awkward and annoying and I WILL change it.

How large is your recipe pile? Is it organized? How?

I culled it when I put it in binders, but it would be several hundred, and for organisation it's in broad topics (Biscuits, Cakes, Mains, Seconds, Misc...).

What is the oldest recipe in your to try pile?

I've got several cheesecake recipes from the 50's which I have actually tried (and they're FAB!)

Are you really ever going to make all those recipes in your to try pile?

No. But I like having them.

Do you follow a recipe exactly or modify as you go?

In our household we have a rule that ALL recipes must be done exactly to the recipe the first time around. After that it's fair game.

What is one new recipe that you're scared to try?

Mole sauce - so many variations out there! One of my faithful readers challenged me to do this over summer, but my research has shown SO many different options that I'm at a loss as to where to start!

I'm not tagging anyone for this one. I just did it because I like it. :)

Friday, February 23, 2007

How Quickly The Tide Turns

I need to get something off my chest.

Kindergarten (Prep) really, really sucks.

I want to go back to pre-school.

There, I've said it.

Disclaimer: Yes, I'm proud of them, yadda yadda, I know we can't go back, yadda yadda. Just listen to me bitch, okay?

I am feeling really overwhelmed by kindergarten. I realize that sounds ridiculous, so let me explain. The kids started school about 3 weeks ago and I am already feeling very snowed under with all the 'responsibility' which comes with formal schooling. Every day we have to check their communication folders - and then either do the homework there, read and action the jillion of announcements/requests that come home, and deal with other school related stuff (like finding x3 a show and tell for letter of the week). Then I need to remember (although the kids mostly do this) which days are sport uniform days and which are formal uniform days. Then one day a week they need to take library bags as well as normal ones. Then we need to practice their letters in 2 languages (English and Yiddish), then we need to make sure they have money (for whatever the cause of the week is), then I need to get uniforms pressed (etc) and make sure they have enough of the right colour socks....then I have to be there exactly at pick up time (previously pick up time was flexible - and while they CAN do aftercare, it's more dinero which I don't have). Anyway, you get the idea. School just seems to have so much more, well, STUFF to do, you know? It's really forcing this slacker Mom out of her comfort zone and into real, proper adulthood. *stamps feet* I DON' WANNA GROW UP!

The homework thing is making me crazy - it's nothing formal (this week was to cut and paste pictures of things starting with 'T') but times three it's a pain. I don't do it for them, but I do have to remind them, help them (like yesterday, I helped to cut and stuff), be involved with it all. I adore my kids but am feeling very overwhelmed by it all. I am also really worried about how to deal with their school vacation time (no such thing as summer camp here, and kids get 2 week vacations every 3 months or so). Where other parents need to get one kid organised, I've got to get three. The whole show and tell thing has become a PAIN in the ass! Will someone please explain to this teacher that doing it EVERY WEEK keeps it from being special? It's like saying "i love you" - do it too often and it begins to sound suspiciously like "go do more laundry." You hear it, but you don't HEAR it, you know?

I know, I know, I need a sharp cheddar with my w(h)ine. Pre-school was so much easier - pack a lunch, pick them up, that's it. *sigh* *complain* (I'm getting good at this, aren't I?)

If only I were not allergic to alcohol, I swear I'd be pouring a margarita every day at 3:45.

I know I'll get used to it, but in the meantime:



The only part of school which doesn't suck? DD getting "Student of the Week" for her "fantastic attitude to her work this week." This is a *BIG DEAL* for her, as it's the DD I refer to in this post.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Maybe She's Born With It

Last night DH and I had to fill out some forms about one of our kids. It asked for information like "at what age did the child sit up independently? At what age could they form 2-3 word sentences?" Needless to say my kids early childhood experience is not one I remember clearly - I was in an endless cycle of diapers, feedings, sleepings or not sleepings, and myriad other baby-related activities which never seemed to stop. Somewhere in that fugue, I knew that one day, my kids would want some detail about their baby and toddlerhood. So every few months or so, I would take the time to write down things about them - what they liked or disliked, how well they played together (or fought together), what words they could say, what new skills they achieved.

Lucky for me I kept those notes because it enabled me to answer the questions on the form! In looking through those note books, I started to re-read the things I had said about them. It seems like a lifetime ago that I wrote about them at 9 months, 12 months, 19 months, 2 years old, and so on. Reading these snippets of my children's lives, brought me to a very interesting conclusion: they were born with their personalities. Their special quirks, attitudes and likes/dislikes I noted at early babyhood age were no different at 2, 3 4 years old and into now. They were essentially the same people then that they are now - albeit more vocal, and more physical, and much more able to defend themselves. At only a few months old I described one DD as a "drama queeen who loves to dance" ...and she now does ballet and Oscar-worthy drama performances on the unfairness of life. Another DD I described as "a real Houdini and monkey girl" and SHE is now not only doing gymnastics, but adores all forms of hide-and-seek games. DS was "very lovable, ticklish, but moody and overly sensitive"...and it's not great surprise that the very same could be written about him today. It was almost eerie, reading the words I'd written. It made me wonder again about the whole nature vs. nurture argument.

In my goldfish bowl of a household - where everything is observed three times and under (mostly) controlled conditions, it's seems obvious that the answer is NATURE. We've raised them with the same values, the same access to resources, the same love, the same people, the same places. So if the nurture part of their lives is more or less the same, then it must be their nature which has made them so unique.

This then begs the question - are we born with our "nature"? Are we somehow 'hard wired' before birth to like or dislike some things? To behave in a certain way? To react emotionally to things differently? Alternatively, are these things somehow learned or gained after we are born, as a result of external influences? It's an interesting question. I can only say that in reading those babyhood entries, it would seem my three were born with the quirks and nuances which make them so interesting to watch grow up. It also makes me feel foolish - I often say "if I only knew then what I know now" ... the reality of it is, I did know then what I know now- I just didn't realise how useful or telling that information would be.

In some ways it is comforting to know that they won't change much. They are who they are, and that's it. At the same time, when DD has said (for the tenth time today), "But Muuuummmm, it's NOT FAAAAIIIIRRRRRRRRR!!!!" I can't help wishing I could somehow get that drama queen out of her personality and bash her over the head with the Oscar.

In some ways, it is comforting to know that I won't change much either.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Let's Cheat Again...Like We Did Last Summer

Last week was my first week back to culinary school.


For reasons I can't quite explain, I'm wasn't all that excited about going back. I think in part it's just that I'm sick of school - pastry was only meant to be 18 months (which it was) and then commercial cookery was meant to be another year. In late January I was told it would be another 2 (!) years. I don't think I have it in me to keep that up - but I wouldn't be happy with just abandoning it, so I've decided to stick it out to June. In June I can graduate with the lowest level certification for a (general) chef. I'll have already graduated with the highest level certification for a pastry chef, and frankly, that's where I want to be anyway. Anyway - so I go back to school, and was warmly greeted with hugs and kisses and "we missed you!" and the other banter that goes with a bunch of 20-something, Israeli/Singaporean/Japanese/Mauritian wanna-be cheffies.

Those who have followed this blog for a while would know of my exploits with The Cheffie. Fact is, he is both a nice person and an excellent (if somewhat frustrating) chef to work with. Last Friday we got this introduction-slash-lecture all about the second stage of our degree. Basically, all the hand-holding is over now, this is the real deal. So included in the lecture were all the things we are not allowed to do - share work (eg plagarism), share mise en place (eg your bench partner can't chop enough onion for the two of you) and so on and so forth. Also included in the lecture was all the things we are supposed to be able to do now - source recipes on our own, run various restaurant kitchen sections, etc. It was a somewhat daunting lecture, and in all honesty somewhat intimidating.

Needless to say Cheffie (who at the time was sitting across the aisle from me) - was listening to this and smiling a very smug smile. He looked at me, winked a very deliberate wink and said (in Hebrew), "Azz mah ha bayah?" which translated me, "SO? What's the problem?" Clearly, HE wasn't intimidated in the slightest.

This term's lessons include cooking for paying customers in a real restaurant and the various forms of protein (beef, lamb, pork, offal...). It even includes an all-day lesson in the butchery department where we butcher entire cow, pig and lamb.

Me thinks good blog fodder cometh.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Like a *bleeping* sailor

When I got home today DH said to me, "You know your most recent blog? Ahem, the last line?!" ... and then he gave me a look-down-his-nose-stern-Dad look. He's referring to the fact that I used a curse word in that last line. (Don't believe me? Scroll down.) A few days ago someone at work commented that I am very "expressive" - which was a nice way of saying that I curse like a sailor. As in, A LOT. In almost every sentence, usually more than once in a sentence. Lots of s, f, and other alphabetical swear words (but never C) get used when I'm at work. Partially this is because all the kitchens I've worked in tend to be male dominated, fairly aggressive, and stressful. Partially because it's just a bad habit I've picked up from working with people under the age of 25, and partially because I kinda like it. Yes, it's true. I *like* swearing. I mean why say "poop" when you can say "sh*t"? "I've got to cook, like, 40 kilos of freakin' mushrooms in, like, 10 freakin' seconds" sounds wwwaaayyyy better than "So I need to cook a lot of mushrooms very quickly." See what I mean? One way: cool chef, the other way: dorky loser chef.

Anyway - after this person made this comment, I started to listen to myself. I realised just how much I was cursing. Know what? It's pretty terrible. I daresay I even shocked myself a bit! Who knew I had such a potty mouth? So I resolved then and there to turn over a new leaf, and to stop the swearing. To be fair, I hardly swear at home - and mostly it's only when DH is around - but at work, wooo-weee, I should wash my OWN mouth out with soap. So it's been three days since my resolution, and I'm faring pretty well. I've only had one or two purely slip-out swear words happen (which I then apologised for) and I'm finding that a kinder, gentler emzee has emerged. I quite like it, this whole holier-than-thou-reformed-curse-girl thing. It's refreshing.

So I understood why DH was somewhat - disapproving - of my blatant use of a curse word. So this brought me to my newest resolution, which is that IRL (in real life) there is no cursing allowed. On my blog, however, I can use it for artistic expression and for making me sound funnier than I am.

I mean, for fuck's sake, how perfect does he expect me to be?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Fortune, Shmortune

At work recently there was a box of fortune cookies. Me being me, I decided to eat one. (Hey, it's something sweet, it was free, and it might reveal something fabulous!) Anyway, so I took one fortune cookie, broke it in half (thus resulting in crumbs everywhere, but never mind.) Secretly I was hoping there would be no idiotic "Help! I'm trapped in a fortune cookie company" message. This could be IT. The key to my future happiness and untold wealth! So you can imagine my delight when the fortune said:

You have a friendly heart and are well admired.

It also had lucky lottery numbers on the back (3 16 14 28 15 17) but the point is, that was a GOOD fortune to get. I started to feel a little bit "yay ME" about it. Obviously, while the cookie itself might be stale and crumbly, clearly the messages inside were as fresh as a daisy! This had to MEAN something, right? You people LIKE me, you really LIKE me!

Now because I am greedy and eat too much, I decided it would be a good idea to have another one. This one might promise me travel, or a money tree, or an instant solution to weight loss which allows all the food I want! I was on a roll here, baby! So in anxious excitement - and just a little bit of smug aren't-I-cleverness - I cracked open fortune cookie numero deux. It said:

It is always the ones who talk loudest who do the least. (24 17 25 32 33 35)

Stupid fortune cookie fuckers. What do they know?

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Annual Bee-Bee-Q

There is no official "point" or "message" to this post - I just want to share one of our (many) family traditions. 10 years ago, DH and I went to Europe on a backpacking honeymoon. About a week before we left we invited a bunch of friends to come over for a summer BBQ. We did the whole thing - hung balloons from the trees in our (then) concrete tiny patch of yard, cooked up a storm in the equivalent of a galley kitchen, and then watched while a) very few people turned up, b) lots arrived late and c) the weather sucked so bad (too cold) we all ended up inside watching a video. It wasn't a great beginning to our reputations as "hostests with the mostests", but it didn't stop us. The second year we decided to do it again, only minus the stupid balloons and this time in our own (rented) house. Plus this time we owned an actual BBQ so we could do some cooking outside. Guess what? The weather sucked (again.) By the third year we had a gang of regular guests who were invited, our recipes were vastly improving (although sadly the weather did not) and we had started a tradition of start-of-summer BBQ's.

Over the course of the next ten years, we honed our summer BBQ technique. We eventually moved from a December date to a January date in the vain hope of improving our weather odds (it didn't work). We used our annual BBQ as a way of announcing major life milestones (guess what? We're pregnant thrice!) and a way of catching up with people who we adore but we just never get to see all that often. As time went on, the scale of this BBQ grew - from 10 or so people in the concrete yard to 70+ people in our (bigger) dead grassy knoll. Being foodies (and now trained foodies to boot) the menu has gone from strength to strength - including now DH's famous homemade bbq sauce and slow-cooked beef ribs, various dessert yummies by me, "those amazing onions" (marinated in apple cider vinegar and brown sugar), and so on and so forth. Our Italian friends are not allowed to come without their own famous potato fritatta - and over the years people have brought along all manner of culinary delight. The main thing is that DH and I provide it ALL - it's our way of sharing with our friends and it gives our egos a stroke when they tell us how good it all is. We've had swimming pools, bouncy castles for kids...we've got it all happening. It's not really a BBQ - it's an EVENT.

With time our annual summer bbq has also gained it's own social cachet - if you haven't gotten your invite by the second week of January, chances are you're no longer in our good books. People who have been invited for one year but not the next will often CALL and ask what happened to their invite ... and are none to happy to find that our lack of an annual BBQ invite is also a way of saying, "Hey, you've been a crap friend this year." It's not unusual to hear from wayward friends in early December - and it's no great surprise why they are calling to just "catch up" right around then.

This year was a little different - for various reasons we moved the BBQ back a week, and scaled down the guest list dramatically. Not for reasons of crap friendships but just because we were a little late in getting organised! I wonder now if there are people out there (who I dearly love, and would have gladly invited) who are wondering what the status of our friendship is! That, I suppose, is the only downside to the annual BBQ event: it carries a certain...well...resposnsibility.

Oh - and the weather? In the entire history of the BBQ (regardless of date, menu, number of guests, the phases of the moon and the drought/flood conditions of Melbourne) there has only been TWO incidents of good weather. Usually we're either suffering through a freak wind/hail/rain storm, or melting on the spot in 40+C (110F+) weather.

I guess some traditions just shouldn't be messed with.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Midnight Madness

DH and I have a lot in common, but we also have some very marked differences. One of these is sleep - I like a lot of sleep, and he doesn't really need much. I can sleep while a large freight train goes through my bedroom and is then followed by several police cars and ambulances with sirens wailing and lights flashing. He, on the other hand, wakes up when he hears the conductor in the next country say "tickets, please." One of the more unfortunate side effects of my sleeping "habit" is that I can have full, apparently "conscious" conversations with people - while I am asleep. My eyes can be open, I can be talking at length (of course) and at volume (of course) and in complete sentences (of course) - and yet, not remember a single thing about it the next morning. I can in fact do several activities like changing into pajamas, setting my alarm, putting away dishes and other sundry 'stuff' and yet have no recall beyond getting up off the couch the night before. It's not unusual for me to wake up and say to DH, "What happened last night?" In my defense, I'm glad I married someone who I am (mostly) sure would not take advantage of me in the this sleep/wake state of mine. Actually, maybe he did - I wouldn't remember anyway! Damn, wonder if I'm missing out on something good?!? Must.Stay.Awake. (Next.Time.)

So this whole sleep/awake thing is a well known fact in my family and my sister has previously used it to her advantage. Ergo, she'd come home late after being out, come into my room and ask to borrow something. I'd answer her, ask her how her night was, etc and then fall blissfully asleep. The next morning she would have or be wearing said item, and I'd say, "HEY! WHO SAID YOU COULD BORROW THAT?" and she, opportunist that she is, would smile and say, "YOU did. Last night." Given that I couldn't remember last night, I couldn't really argue, could I? So - see? This sleeping and talking thing gets me in trouble. A few nights ago, however, was a PRIME example of how actually BEING awake while others think you are asleep (and therefore will be affected with amnesia) can work to one's advantage.

For reasons which totally escape me now, we started to talk about The Wiggles. I don't know why - another example of how parenthood addles the brain. Anyways, so we talk about Jeff, the Purple Wiggle. DH claims he's "over 60" and I claim he's "50 something." We discuss this for a while, and eventually decide a bet is the best way to solve this complex moral quandary. The reward, if I won, was a whole week of a) picking what to watch on TV and b) dictating what time DH gets to bed. The reward if DH won was only part A, since he didn't much care about dictating my sleeping time. Now you should know that TV in general is an "issue" in this household - because DH watches (endless) (boring) (inane) (bad makeup) (wierd creepy space thingies) (no storyline beyond either getting home or trying to get home and not making it) (shows with numbers in the title) (did I mention boring and endless?) Sci-Fi shows. I, on the other hand, have several genres I like. But I digress. So the stakes were high - for him at least.

I think DH thought I forgot about the bet, as per my usual "I'm in bed and therefore non compos mentis" behaviour.

He was wrong.

I win.

Whose sleeping NOW, baby?!?!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

We Made It

This morning DH and I sent three clever, gorgeous, amazing, funny, witty and totally brilliant children off to school for their first day. My babies are now officially "big school kids." *happy and sad smile all at once*