Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nearly there

We're at the pointy end of the school year here, with an added degree of difficulty because it's Year 12.... The Baby's last year of high school. The kid has had a lot on his plate this year, with his part time job at Macca's and completing a Certificate III in Retail to boot.  I've paused several times along the way to ask: Are we there, yet?

The past couple of months has been a flurry of activity, not just for the student, but for us as well. In August, he still had no idea what he wanted to do next year. Mum to the rescue... I grabbed a copy of the VTAC Guide and spent some time going through it and highlighting all the courses that looked vaguely interesting and that weren't at a campus somewhere in Upper Kumbukta West. I sent him to the careers office at school, took him (and his entourage) to the Uni open days and Hallelujah! He found a course that suits his study path, that really interests him and that has great job prospects. And it's just down the road at La Trobe University. Bonus!

Then we had the online VTAC applications, plus some extra documents that were required to be lodged - for which he almost missed the deadline, but: Mum to the rescue! I drove to the other side of the city in my lunch break and lodged the forms at the VTAC office a few hours before applications closed. Am awesome mother. :)

I nagged encouraged him to attend the extra classes and practice exams that were held during the holidays and drove him to school or to the library, when I really could have used the holidays to get myself to work early and knock down my flex-time debit.

I spent most of last weekend supervising driving practice and making a costume for him to wear to Muck-up Day next week. He had an idea in his head and nothing else would do - it had to be this particular thing and we could not buy or hire an appropriate costume anywhere....

This week is a flurry of revision, more practice exams and pressure, pressure, pressure. There's the formal next week and then exams start for real the following week. Last night was spent helping him write a scholarship application. Fingers crossed for that. It would be nice for the kid to finish uni with a less crippling HECS debt.

I'm just hanging on and praying for October to be OVER. There will be a brief and blessed pause for a week of study leave before they start exams on the 30th. He'll be all finished mid-November, and then we wait for results in December.

Whilst I am really looking forward to no more school drop-offs, school fees, book list nightmares, uniform expenses and so on, I am a bit taken aback by how fast the years have flown by. I stopped for a brief moment the other day and looked at my tall, gangling young man and wondered where on earth the past six years went.

First day of high school, January 2008
Life is about to change once again. Bring on the next stage - I foresee more freedom, more available cash and perhaps one of them might even leave home... I can hope, right?


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Recipe alert! Chicken & yoghurt curry - low-FODMAPs version

I may not be present here very often at the moment, but I AM busy doing stuff in real life - like modifying some old favourite recipes so that they don't upset my over-delicate digestive system.  :)

Delicious curries are kind of tricky when you have to avoid or seriously restrict onion, but I never admit defeat. This chicken curry, based on a Charmaine Solomon recipe has now been revamped and I pronounce it GOOD.

I've managed to seriously reduce the fructan content in it, without losing the flavour. Yay!

It tastes much better than it looks, honest!
This recipe is also really, really easy. Give it a go: Chicken and yoghurt curry.


Thursday, October 03, 2013

Top Ten Treats (a.k.a. Reheated blog leftovers)

CONFESSION: I totally stole the idea for this post from Sara, who did a similar thing last week. They do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? :D

So I give you my top ten recipe posts, in (reverse) order of popularity:

10. Coconut pancakes

These are light, coconutty, contain a decent amount of protein and are utterly delicious. They're perfect for breakfast, dessert or just a snack.

Some home-made coconut butter spread on top would be AMAZING. I just happen to have some in the pantry - must make these again this week.

9. Fresh fruit compote

One of my favourite things in the world - fresh fruit compote with a hint of spice. I'm currently mourning the fact that I will never make this again. At least not with apples, pears, plums and nectarines, which is my all-time favourite combo. Boo, polyols! I shall have to come up with an alternative. Citrus? Berries? Hmm...

Add a good glob of Greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts and you have a great breakfast. Or dessert.

8. Choc-raspberry chia pudding

What can I say? Chia, chocolate, raspberries. What's not to like? Perfect for breakfast or dessert - Are you seeing a theme here...?

This recipe can easily be made lactose-free and vegan too: just use a non-dairy milk alternative and switch the whey powder for soy or another vegetable-based one.

7. Lemon-blueberry individual cheesecakes

Creamy, sweet, lemony-blueberry pots of goodness. Also: super-easy. Only seventh most popular? Sheesh. You people are hard to please.

6. Pina colada shake

This one surprised me. A humble shake in the Top Ten? I guess it's more of a smoothie really... and it is kind of awesome. You could even add a shot of rum to yours to make it more authentic - I promise not to tell.

5. Super-choc brownies

Brownies. Who doesn't love brownies? These were pretty amazing, if I say so myself. I'm not at all surprised this one made it onto the list. They're so good that you won't be able to wait for them to cool down before tucking in. Don't say I didn't warn you. If you burn your mouth, it's not my fault, OK?

4. Pumpkin spice pancakes

Pancakes again. Of course. This is one of my staple breakfasts/snacks. Every time there's leftover pumpkin or sweet potato in the fridge, I seem to end up making a batch of these. The pumpkin, spice, maple syrup and salt are a winning combination, I tell ya.

3. Crustless mini quiches

I'd forgotten all about these. It's like an omelette and a muffin got married and had little eggy babies. Hehe. Great for using up whatever veggies you have in the fridge, plus easy and pretty quick to boot. They're handy for when you're on the go too, because they're small enough to treat as finger food.

2. Chicken meatballs with spicy tomato sauce

Oh yeah. This one is number two for good reason. You can serve it over pasta or steamed shredded veggies, or just slop it in a bowl like in the photo. (Great styling...not.) It's so tasty, they'll ask for second helpings.

You can use turkey, beef, pork or roo mince, by the way. Nothing is ever set in concrete.

And the most popular recipe post is.... drumroll, please....

1. Super chocolate truffles

A well deserved winner. I created this recipe earlier this year during a short period where I was sticking to a very "clean" and unprocessed nutrition plan. No additives, no preservatives, no processed sugar, no this or that. So I set myself a challenge to come up with an Easter treat that fit within the "rules" and yet was completely irresistible.

This little number ticked all those boxes AND is suitable for anyone following a raw, vegan or Paleo diet. It's also gluten-free, but alas... it's not low FODMAPs (dates and avocado). New challenge: to come up with an alternative version that suits my particular food intolerances.

Oh, and the irresistible part? I discovered that you CAN eat these babies straight from the freezer. *ahem* I'd almost say they're BETTER frozen. So much for putting them out of the way of temptation...

Well, this was fun. Apart from being a trip down memory lane, it was interesting to see which recipes have really struck a chord with readers. And I've been prompted to get out of my cooking rut and make a few old favourites that haven't seen the light of day in my kitchen in quite a while.

Have you made any of these recipes? Let me know what you thought. :)