Monthly Archives

September 2012

Beautiful Things, Food

Muffins, old and new!

September 30, 2012

Posting recipes isn’t really my thing – usually I write about other people’s food – but I’ve been doing a little muffin gloating on Twitter and some folk have asked for the recipe. Ergo, here it is.

Basic muffin recipe

Pop all these ingredients in a bowl and stir. Don’t overwork the flour, or you’ll get chewy muffins, and that’s, you know, gross.

4 cups of self-raising flour, sifted
3 large or extra large eggs
1 cup of caster sugar
A carton of buttermilk (600ml)
1 cup of sour cream
2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
75g butter, melted

Combinations I like

Chocolate and caramelised banana muffin recipe

What you do is make the basic recipe first, then bung heaps of stuff in it. Depending on what you’re putting in, you might want to change the ratios a little. For example, if you whack loads of melted chocolate in your muffin, you can take out most of the sugar. If you pop in some hazelnut meal, take out some of the flour and butter. If you use a liquid like banana, take out some of the buttermilk.

Caramelised banana and chocolate

Chocolate and caramelised banana muffin recipe

You need: three large bananas, half a cup of brown sugar, 50g of good quality butter, milk chocolate chips or melts, dark chocolate chips or melts (according to your particular taste)

Slice the bananas in 1cm thick rounds. Melt the butter and brown sugar together in a fry pan over medium heat. Bung the banana in. Cook for about two minutes, stirring carefully a couple of times. Don’t let it cool, it’s more fun if you melt the chocolate into it. Stir it into the mixture. Put it in the oven at 160C for about 20 minutes.

Bacon, caramelised onion, mushroom and parmesan (not a health food recipe)

Bacon, onion, mushroom and parmesan muffin recipe

You need: bacon (as much as you want), a large brown onion, nice mushrooms (portobello or swiss brown are nice in these), 20g butter, good quality parmesan cheese

Fry up the bacon. Chop the onion roughly, add it to a fry pan with about a tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt, cook it until it gets a good colour on it. Slice the mushrooms, then fry in the butter. Add it all to the muffin mix, shave or grate parmesan into it (as much as you want, so … lots). Spoon it into your muffin tray, then shave further parmesan on top.

Other things that are good

Nuts – chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias
Fruit – hard berries like blueberries, apples, pears
Sweet stuff – any good quality chocolate
Vegetables – tomatoes, mushrooms, potato (boil it first), onion, spinach
Meat – bacon, ham, pork, bacon, bacon, bacon

Things that aren’t so good

Some ingredients change the texture of muffins and make them a little gross. Or end up with a weird texture themselves. Things like raspberries, white chocolate (I know, I know), strawberries, other mushy fruit (that’s why we cook the banana first), lots of liquid (especially too many sugary things together), shitty ingredients like cage eggs and people who are going to eat all the muffins and not let you have any.

 

Family, Parenthood

A proud mother moment

September 22, 2012

I’ve often used this blog to talk about my elder daughter, and how often I worry that I’m not doing the right thing by her. She is clever as hell and beautiful like a painting.

Yesterday, Georgia brought home her NAPLAN results.

NAPLAN results Year 3

I don’t know if you can see them, but the black dots are the individual results. In short, she scored off the charts in 4 out of 5 areas, on both the language and maths sides.

To say I’m proud is a huge understatement, but there is something else that I’m even more pleased with today.

We’re currently in the process of having her assessed for spectrum disorders, but while we do that we’ve been working with her as much as we can on the socialising side of things (I am a terrible socialiser with foot in mouth dysentery, so Michael and Gaz have mostly been doing this).

She’s made a friend at basketball. A friend she made on her own. A friend she whispers secrets to and puts her arm around. A friend who rushes to see her every Saturday morning.

And this afternoon they’re going to the movies together.

That’s my real proud mother moment.

Love, Mentals

This is the next chapter

September 14, 2012

I thought I should keep this in until I was sure I wanted to write it, just in case. You know, history dictates a strong likelihood of pearshapedness.

Back in April, I asked Gaz to leave and then I cried for about a week without even pausing to eat chocolate. Our relationship had a lot of issues and although we had tried to make it work, it didn’t. He was emotionally manipulative and I was full of fuckwittery. He left so that we wouldn’t destroy ourselves by becoming physical manifestations of how much we hated our relationship. He was my motivation for my Pozible project and he was every bit that guy and I was a very bad replica of my former self. I was self-destructing and he was helping me on my way.

So we spent a couple of weeks apart, during which time we talked a bit but mostly didn’t. Then at the end of that time we reconvened and talked about what we should do moving forward – should we be apart, should we try to make it work, should we make some kind of pact, should we go to the shops?

To his credit, Gaz is a strong advocate of getting help with mental health issues. And I have lots. And so does he. I probably have slightly greater numbers of them, whilst he has meaner ones. You’re right, this isn’t a good combination. But it does mean that when there are issues that seem insurmountable, Gaz points himself in the direction of doctors and people who know things.

That’s what we decided to do. First, we sat down and talked frankly to each other. We had pretty much abandoned our relationship, so this was easy. We talked about the things we didn’t like about ourselves and each other and often we agreed on them. When we had a list, we took it to my counsellor (who I have been seeing for a couple of years now, both with Gaz and without) and asked her what to do.

“YOU GUYS ARE SO SHIT AT THIS!” she bellowed, which was fair. “But go on, show me what’s on your list.”

“Gaz never talks to me about stuff – he just gets angry and walks out,” I said. “We never resolve anything.”

“Anna talks to me about fucking everything,” Gaz said. “She gets so worked up she can hardly breathe and thinks that is a good time to work through problems?”

The counsellor nodded because it was obvious to everyone what our problem was, besides the fact that we both, and especially Gaz, really sucked a lot of the time. At the core of our relationship issues was our total inability to communicate.

What she did – and this is the reason I keep going back to her – was give us some actual practical things to try out. We decided to at least do them and see what happened. We kept doing them. We kept talking. Our counsellor was like, “Hooray, my processes are legitimate and proven!”

So five months has passed, and that is enough time for me to feel comfortable coming to you fine people and saying, “This is what my life was like, and this is what I did and now it’s like this instead.” A lot has changed in those five months, both with Gaz and in other areas of my life. We’ve got help together and we’ve got help apart, which is probably the most important thing of all.

The change in his behaviour is so marked that my sister asked me whether he had had a stroke (and you know, maybe he has). It’s strange to post this and actually be reflecting on the true situation instead of making excuses for him, but he is considerate and kind and does things with generosity of spirit. I have moved to working freelance 50% of the time, and he is supportive in ways I didn’t expect, like when I have deadlines and he makes me cups of tea and takes the kids to the pool, or when he sneaks out and gets me an ice-cream while I’m still at my computer at 11pm.

Obviously those kinds of things aren’t the opposite of “being an abusive fuckhead”, but they are indications of the way his attitude toward me and our relationship has changed. He considers me in his decision making, and is thoughtful when he disagrees with me. He makes an effort to spend time with me and asks me how I am.

And for my part, I approach things with less crazy and more empathy. I have been pretty bad at thinking about the way people around me feel, and that’s something I’ve been bad at since I was a little kid. Instead of being like, “Hey, you seem tired, why don’t you take a load off?” I’d be like “WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME OH GOD THIS IS FUCKED!” So owning that has been a big part of this process.

Last night we went to Chadstone and ate Schnitz in the food court and then sat in the rich part in thongs and hoodies and laughed for three hours.

I just thought you should know, so I can write things about him again without people saying, “I thought you left him because he is a massive asshole!” which they do surprisingly often.

I am really happy. Not even pretend happy. Proper happy. Five months in a row of actual happy with no fighting.

If it turns out he has had a stroke, I will let you know and we can all laugh.

Mentals

R U OK?

September 10, 2012

It is almost R U OK? Day again.

Hm.

Go on, ask me if I’m okay. Let’s roleplay.

YOU:
Anna, R U OK?

ME:
No, I was diagnosed with depression when I was 14 and exhaust myself every day just trying not to let the anxiety overwhelm me.

YOU:
Oh.

ME:
Now what happens?

YOU:
Call Lifeline?

ME:

I appreciate the sentiment of R U OK? Day, I really do. For those people who are looking for a reason to open up and talk about their mental health, it’s great. But what is the next step? How are we resourcing the friends and family who are asking the question? How are we making sure we are getting those people who are not okay in to their doctor’s office for a mental health plan, or to a grief counsellor, or even just participating in a conversation about what to do next?

R U OK? Day needs a follow up day – “What have you done about it since R U OK? Day? Day” (the name could use some work). For one day we put it out there that we care enough to find out whether the people we know are coping with whatever is going on in their lives and then after that we have no further compelling reason to ask again. Until next year, obviously.

So what I’d like to know is this: if you ask the question, and you don’t get the answer you want, what will you do next?