Saturday, January 26, 2013

Oriental Chicken Salad

Oriental Chicken Salad

This looks a little like it's straight out of the pages of a 1970's cook book don't you think?  I grew up with a grandmother and a mum, who only had things like soy sauce and curry powder to turn food 'oriental'.  Given the limited resources available to the home cook in those days, I think they did pretty well.   I have been eating this all in one salad since the 70's and it is a little beauty.  It is easy peasy and very tasty.  With all that dressing, it's not for dieters, but remember, I am into sustainable eating and as today is Australia Day, I'm having a day off. As long as I don't have a day off every day, I figure I'll be OK

Australia is a bring a salad culture.  We are meeting extended family and friends today on a near by beach and this will be the Beach House Family's contribution to the picnic table.  'Cause that's what you do here in OZ. Bring and share.  I really do sometimes wonder what I did in the last life to be lucky enough to be born here.  On so many levels, it is wonderful.  It is a truly democratic, egalitarian multi cultural nation, which is under populated and for all intense and purpose, free.  Except for a few mean people, we embrace every one and love to experience the cultures they bring here.  I found myself tearing up at the citizenship ceremony I was watching this morning. Just thinking what some of these people had been through and now they were being accepted so heartily into Australia,  I even surprised myself.  But it really was a good story.  

Food fusion is big here in Australia.  After European immigration, the next big wave was the Chinese, in search of gold..  There is a Chinese restaurant in every suburb and country town in this country.  Ironically the food served probably resembles little of what Chinese people in their own country eat today.  You won't find this recipe on the menu of a Chinese restaurant either, but it's how home cooks did it in the 70's and I think it's pretty good.

Oriental Chicken Salad
1 store bought BBQ chicken cut into 12 or so pieces ( I use scissors)
1 cup 1000 Island Dressing
1 dessert spoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 sticks of finely diced celery
1 small can chopped water chestnuts drained
20 grapes
1 cos lettuce
1 can of lychees drained 
(I used pears instead of lychees, as the super market didn't have any.... we are a bit too waspish up here on the Northern Beaches for something so radical.)

Place chicken pieces, dressing, curry powder, soy sauce, celery and water chestnuts in a large mixing bowl.  Mix well to combine.
If you don't mind washing up you could mix up the sauce first, but I never do.

You can also do up to here the day before.

To serve, lay out cos leaves on a platter
Decant chicken mixture onto the leaves and garnish with grapes and lychees ( or pears)

See it's that simple.  

For all my other easy family meals go here.

Don't forget to enter my word art giveaway  here.

And of course Happy Australia Day to you all.  And thanks for all the lovely comments on my mum's Flight Attendant story, you really made her laugh.

I'm off on a 2 week holiday and I shall not be blogging it, as it happens.  I need a digital detox.  I may have one more post in me, but maybe not.  For those who follow on twitter and instagram @desireempire all will be revealed on Monday.  It's going to be good.

Today I am linked up here
Sunday Showcase
Table Top Tuesday
Show and Tell Friday
Foodie Friday
Clever Chicks
Wow Us Wednesday
Crafty Soiree
Home Sweet Home
Kitchen Fun
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Word Art Studio Giveaway

Hello Beach Dwellers

Today I have a lovely giveaway from the Word Art Studio to wish you a Happy Australia Day.
Sorry but this giveaway is open to Australian residents only.

These shots are all taken from the suburbs of Sydney and you can use them to make evocative words to grace the walls of your home.  There is a gallery of 500 photos to choose from.

Now for the giveaway.

What is on offer today is a framed piece of word art.  Design your own word art to the value of $214 with a voucher code, I will give the winner.  This is enough for a 6 letter word with a standard mat finish and standard frame.  The shots are available in sepia or black and white. If your word is longer then 6 letters, you can purchase extra letters for $20 each.

I loved the nautical and vintage shots and these are only the "A's"

How to enter

Follow Desire Empire on one or more of the following platforms:
Google Friends Connect (over in my side bar)
Instagram @desireempire

Leave a  separate comment for each follow, even if you have for some time.

Sharing this to each of your social media platforms will constitute another entry.  Leave me a separate comment for each share.  

And good luck

Giveaway Terms and Conditions
You MUST enter on this BLOG by leaving a comment here.
This competition is open to entrants living in Australia only.
This competition is open from now until 8 February  2013 12pm Australian EST.
The winner will be announced on this blog, Face Book and Twitter and I will contact you, as long as you have left a valid means.  The winner will have 7 days to respond, otherwise the prize will be redrawn.
I was not paid to run this giveaway.  I was offered the equivalent of this prize.
Today I am linked up here
Great Aussie Giveaway
Great Aussie Giveaway
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

How I Plan to lose 5kg in 2013

I have noticed this month I have had loads of hits on a post I wrote a year ago, about how I lost 10kg in 4 months.  People are obviously looking around the internet in the hope of fulfilling New Years resolutions and some of them are landing on my story.  I have been meaning to update it and thought you might like to know about how I intend to proceed this year.

I should say, that I eventually lost 15kg, dropping from 86kg to 71kg and have maintained that body weight by and large, but have not been able to shift the last 5kg, to put me at my pre baby weight goal.  

I cut out alcohol, butter, coffee,  potatoes,  pasta and all sweets for the first 8 weeks.  I now have alcohol on weekends, drink coffee most days and eat sweet things in social settings, if I feel like it.  The potatoes and pasta are still pretty much off the menu.

So how to shift the final five?  That is the question.

Here's what I am planning.  My mum passed me this brochure last week and said "You may be interested in this." 

Phone 1300 806 258 if you are in NSW, ACT or Tasmania

It's a FREE health initiative conducted by the NSW government.  The ACT and Tasmania have also now joined the program and the phone number listed above, is the same for those states.  The FAQ fact sheet suggests that 80% of a state's health burden is generated by preventable diseases, so you can see why they are throwing money behind the scheme.  The FAQ sheet also suggests there may be similar privately run initiatives in other states.

 I have been watching my weight since I was about 16.  I was a very lean kid and thought I could go on eating what ever I liked for ever.  Puberty taught me otherwise.  Until I had kids, I had always played sport or exercised in an organised way, through things like the gym or jazzercise.  It is an effort of course, but the benefit I get, even just measured in terms of feeling better, makes it very worth it. 

So what does the Get Healthy program offer?  As far as I can see there are 2 main aspects to the program.

1. A great info booklet on healthy eating and lifestyle and a book to chart your progress.

It contains info on waist measurements and  Body Mass Index and here's how I fare.

 My waist measurement has gone down from about 100cm to 87cm.  It's still needs to be 80cm or less to be out of the 'increased risk' of adversely impacting on my health.  But previously I was in the greatly increased risk which was > 88cm for women and > 102 for men.

I worked out my Body Mass index, another great way to tell if you are a healthy weight.

The formula is 

weight (kg)
height (metres) x height (metres) eg 1.73m

So originally I had a BMI of 29, which is just below obese on the chart and now it's just below 24 so I am considered a healthy weight.

2. A free counselor who will call about 10 times over a period of 6 months.  They are all university trained in relevant areas and help you to set goals and motivate healthy exercise and eating.  I feel I'm already doing OK, but just need some help to get over the 5kg hump.  I will be taking my first call on Friday morning.

So now for your viewing entertainment, here's the old me.  I never want to go back to this again, as it made me very very unhappy and feel terrible.

Evidence that kaftans can hide alot. As this shot is not too bad.  I was probs sucking it all in too for the camera. Believe me, I was huge underneath it.

And the new me

I think you've seen this one

Sorry no full body shots, I don't have any.

Wish me luck guys and I will be reporting back.
Today I am linked up here
Transformation Thursday
Feathered Nest Friday
Show and Tell Friday
Sunday Showcase
A Stroll Through Life
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TAA the Friendly Way, A Flight Attendant's Story

 Flight Attendants in the 1950s with TAA the Friendly Way

Lately there has been alot of talk in Aussie blogging circles as to ethics of sponsored posts and getting 'paid' in cash or kind for dealing with brands.  The jury is still out and I choose not to espouse my opinions here, but this topic is my prediction for a hot debate in 2013 and one I think we should have in a civilised and respectful manner. But for today, I thought you might like to be reminded of a time when people did things for corporations gratis and thought nothing of it.  There was such innocence on both sides of the coin, or maybe just one side.

There will always be new industries and there will always be discussions about the way things should be done and that is a good thing.

I recently found this shot of Sydney Airport at my mum's, sitting in a pile of papers on her desk.  I asked her what it was about.  I thought I had already heard all her stories about her flying days but no, there was at least one she had forgotten about, until recently.

The promotional shot was already set up when she came in on a TAA flight to Sydney in about 1957.  The hosties, as they were fondly referred to in those days, were asked to participate in this ad for Avis Rent a Car, a fledgling company which was starting up at the time.  Mum believes the aircraft featured is a DC4. (Edit: Thanks to all the aircraft buffs who have emailed to ID the plane as a Vickers Viscount)  She said that after the shot was taken, she walked off and never thought another thing about it, until it appeared in the Australian Newspaper about 3 years ago.  She phoned them up, told them she was 6th from the left and they kindly sent her a copy FOC, a rarity in the dog eat dog of media these days, but a very much appreciated gesture none the less. 

 I love my nearly 80 year old mum so very much and to know she had such a glamorous past makes me love her even more.  To have heard the stories of travel and romance and to know she then gave it all up to retreat to the suburbs, to be a wife and mother must have been difficult.  I wonder!!!!!!

Now 10 things you may not know about Flight attendants and the airlines in the 1940's, 50's and 60's and some interesting facts about my mum's flying experience in particular.

1. One of the main reasons TAA was begun in 1946, was to create jobs for returned pilots from WW2

2. Flight Attendants were not permitted to remove their caps during a flight, so they wore their hair rollers underneath to avoid serious 'hat hair' during a flight.  It was important they were ready to go to a party in whatever destination they found themselves that night.  Apparently there were loads of parties, but no hair dryers in those days.

3.  There were different sets of cutlery, glassware and china for aboriginal and other passengers. The indigenous people had blue plastic plates and cups.  Everyone else had white china or plastic depending on seating class.

4. You had to leave the airline once you got married, because TAA was considered the public service being government owed. In those days, women in the public service had to leave their employment to get married.

5. Sir Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister once got on my mum's flight and told her the aircraft was like "a sardine can.". She replied, "It is an airline owned by your government".

6.  My mum gained free entry to the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.  The guy on the gate said she was OK to go in, because she was in 'uniform'.  This was really only supposed to apply to emergency and armed services personnel. 

7.  TAA began flying to New Guinea in July 1960.  As my mum was a senior flight attendant at this time, she was chosen to make the inaugural flight.  They flew to many outposts delivering cargo, using runways constructed during the war.  As a gesture of good will, they invited the tribes people to walk through the aircraft.  My mum was standing up the back of the aircraft next to a ground staff engineer  as the locals walked through.  A native tribes woman, complete with bone through her nose, grass skirt and red mud smeared all over her chest, came along and vigorously felt up mum all over her body, boobs and all.  Remember it was 1960 and mum said she just about freaked and almost jumped out of the back door.  The engineer joked that the woman was measuring mum up for the pot.  Infact some time later, mum found out this act was part of a traditional welcome.

8.  My mum is a very bad flyer and hates it these days.  She says she knows too much of what goes on.

9.  On 10 June 1960 a TAA Fokker Friendship was on approach for a night landing at Mackay Airport Queensland Australia.  The aircraft crashed into the sea, killing all 29 passengers and crew on board, including 9 school boys returning home from a Rockhampton boarding school, for the Queen's birthday weekend holiday.

 One of the boys was celebrating his 9th birthday and instead of his parents driving down to pick him up, as a birthday treat, he was allowed to fly 'home'.

The crash remains Australia's worst peace time civil aviation disaster and the exact cause was never established conclusively.  It led to the introduction of flight recorders into Australian aircraft, which at the time were still under development.  Source   Accordingly, the aircraft Black Box is actually an Australian invention. Although my mum was not rostered to be on this particular flight, she was due to pick up this particular Fokker Friendship the following day for the inaugural flight to New Guinea. Interestingly, that first flight to New Guinea, would have had all the big wigs of TAA on it, as the flight was a reconnaissance flight to determine the itinerary and other logistics of flying there.  

10. Not long after this tragedy, mum was on a flight which hit a big air pocket.  She was in the aisle at the time and said the plane just fell away from underneath her.  She grabbed the luggage racks, which were open in those days, but when the plane hit air again, she crashed to the floor and badly hurt her knees.  She was also hit by flying hand luggage.  Her knees are still bad today, but workers' compensation was not even considered in those days.  They limped back to port with lots of injured passengers that day.  

After Mackay, the air pocket incident, and another in which a bird smashed the flight deck window and the captain was forced to land with his cap pulled hard over his face, due to the air rushing at high pressure into the cockpit..  And yet another incident with a fire in the radio, which meant they were flying in outback Australia without comms or radar and were basically lost.  The captain, as white as a sheet according to mum, put out the fire.   They then had to be navigate by way of  station names painted on the top of homesteads. 

 By now, mum had a feeling her flying days were numbered. She felt it was time to put her wings away.  She says she was ready to let it go by this stage, get married and head for the burbs.  That's were I come into the picture, but had mum been on an earlier leg of that Fokker Friendship's itinerary, I may not be here sharing all this.

For anyone in Melbourne who wants to know more, there is a Trans Australian Airlines museum now sponsored by Qantas, which purchased the airline in 1996.  The museum holds 130,000 aviation artefacts. It's located in
Qantas GT building
7 York Street 
Airport West

Today I am linked up here
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Whale Beach, Her Beach House Decor and My Key to Happiness

Whale Beach and Her Beach House Decor

It has become a bit of a pattern these holidays.  My kids are complete water babies and the beast has to be fed.  They want to swim, rain, hail or shine so we find ourselves at the beach or pool every single day. I love  Sundays the best, because Mr Beach House swims with the kids and I excuse myself for some time alone. The routine is that I use the time, not to swim, but to pound the pavements of whatever beach I find myself.  Discovering new bush tracks, new/old cafes and of course there is the real estate.  I find it fascinating to see how other people live.  The houses all cling to the hill facing the ocean in varying degrees, so most have pretty amazing views.

I often head off on a long walk when it's overcast, because I hate getting sunburnt and it's just more pleasant when it's cooler.  I thought the entrance to Carona was lovely.  Her northerly view of the beach is even more gorgeous.

I also appreciate the under capitalised abodes.  This old P&O style home has seen better days, but oh the potential.

I am becoming a big fan of black in decorating.  It is uber smart and I love it juxtaposed against all the stone. I love the pavilion to the right of the house too.

This mod 60's beach house would be the kind of thing my parents would have loved.  It's not for me, but I do love the way the walls come to a peak on the front elevation.

This is where Mr Beach House and I had our wedding reception.  It's now called Moby Dicks.  I'm not keen on the name change from the Beach House, but the owners are still the same and the food is superb.

It is above the surf club (top floor) and has panoramic views of Whale Beach.  This is  Moby Dicks eastern elevation. When we were teenagers it was a night club, but gen X and the baby boomers are all grown up, so now it is a fabulous restaurant.  Mr Beach House once saw David Bowie play there in the 1980's.  You can see the lower two floors (the surf club) are being upgraded.  I made enquires and it will still only be open to members and their guests, but they intend on conducting sausage sizzles for hungry surfers, when it's completed.

Whaleys cafe is another class act and is just down the road from Moby Dicks on Whale Beach Road.  They do breakfast and lunch 7 days and dinner with live music Thursday to Sunday.  The menu looks really fresh, with a Mexican bent and we plan to try it this week for dinner.

Love the way they have styled their outdoor seating area with colour, succulents and a repurposed pallet as a coffee table.

Here is her inside vista.  She has a small sea view, but only from select tables.

Ripples is right across the road from the beach and is fantastic for lunch, but in the medium to high price range.  The food is excellent though.

The kiosk next door, was more us today with the kiddos in toe. They do great toasties, coffee, fish and chips and burgers.

So back to my walk.

There is no accounting for taste and this boxy style of house is something I just can't warm to.

Give me a rustic beach cottage any day

Even the garages have beautiful views in this part of the world.  Love the stone work here.

I think a lawyer must own this place, in view of the signage.

And when the houses on the beach front start to look like office blocks it's time to pull the pin, despite the fact that this area really is stunning and totally worth a day trip if you are in Sydney.

So I headed back to the beach to find the family.

But not before I appreciated the neighbouring house to those soulless 'office blocks'.  I wonder how long 'til someone knocks this one down and replaces it with a concrete box.

I took this final shot below because I felt very happy at the time, having had an hour or so to myself and I wanted to capture it and remember how it felt.  It has come to my attention lately that friends are asking themselves "Is this all there is in life? They confess things like "I've got everything I planned on having and I still don't feel happy. Is this my lot? "  I worked out long ago that the answer to that is a big yes.....yes it is...It's what you make it and appreciating what you are surrounded by in the moment, is a good start to reaching someway to nirvana.  Life is not always rosy, but it is simple little moments like these, sitting under a pine tree in the light drizzle on a cool Summer day in Sydney, knowing that your family are having fun out there together in the surf somewhere, rain, hail or shine. It is a good moment to be savoured and thankful for.  I am pretty low maintenance and this did it for me today.

Today I am linke up here
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Australia Day Flag Cake

Australia Day Flag Cake

Here's a post from the archive.  I made this cake last year for Australia day.  She's a bit wonky, but you may like to whip her up for the big day of National Celebrations.

Or for an alternative how about lamingtons on the table like this?  Run a few bowls of these down the table for your centrepiece

Anyhoo here's the post from last year.

Wanna rock your Australia Day BBQ with the cutest Aussie Flag cake?  Well come on in and I'll show you how!!!!  If I was to say this wasn't fiddly, I'd be telling lies, but I've done all the hard work here and figured out how to do it (almost), so the second time should be alot easier!!!!!

The Union Jack bit was the fiddliest, but since when did the Brits stop giving their Aussie cousins a bit of jip anyway?  I'll tell ya...... they didn't!!!!    Isn't that why we are all here in our new island home, rubbing shoulders and celebrating Australia Day so heartily together.  Cause the mother country, which ever one that be, gave our ancestors or us a rougher deal than we get here. The Brits and the Aussies have a friendly rivalry, which is usually played out on the sporting field.  Lots of Aussies want the Union Jack out of our flag for what it means symbolically, but I like it!!!  It's our history.  Seinfield once described the Australian flag as, Britain at night time and you have to laugh.

Most of my friends down here on the Northern Beaches of Sydney are from England.  Don't know if it's sheer numbers.  There's lots here, cause I guess if you're going to immigrate to Australia, why not live next to what Australia is famous for?  Her gorgeous beaches. The Brits and I seem to have a similar sense of humour and lots of laughs.  Quite often I am the token Aussie at the table.....funny!!!!!!

Anyhoo once you get past the Union Jack fiddle, an icon I think is uber stylish by the way,  the cake is quite easy to assemble.  I hung a flag over my lounge chairs so I could follow the design!!!!! But clearly that didn't work!!!! I've just walked out into the living room to have another look at the flag and realised I didn't get it right.  I forgot the horizontal red stripe of St Georges Cross.  But you get the idea and to be honest anymore strawberries in there would have just about done my head in.  

So to put it together, I bought lots of navy and red fruit

Made sure I had some stiff cream cheese frosting, that meant I didn't need any white fruit and that it was easy to work with.

So once you've made a half decent, if a little wonky looking Union Jack, border it with blue berries

Next make the six stars.  I made them too small and ended up having to add more berries to the circumference so they looked bigger.  I eventually settled on six berries, but I think they could even be bigger, looking at the final result.

Then fill in the cake with blue berries.  This is Stephanie Alexander's Simple Carrot Cake and it's fabulous and quick to make.  I made a double quantity here and cooked it for an hour instead of 40 minutes and it worked fine.  Go here for the recipe

The frosting I made for this one was a little different, as I wanted it real stiff.  I used
250g cream cheese at room tamp
150 g butter at room temp
125 g sifted icing sugar
Beat until smooth

The Beach House Boys are doing another regatta this week and today is the lay day.  Guess what they are getting for morning tea!!!!!!!

Even if you don't decorate this cake as an Australian Flag, it is a fabulous one to entertain with.  It's super moist, easy and goes a long way.  And most of all it tastes great!!!!
For my other simple baking ideas have a look here.
Today I am linked up here

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