1950s Stylin’

Good Afternoon Guys and Dolls,

This week I took my cooking experience to a whole new level. I enjoy the time I spend in the kitchen and I am often quite surprised at my own ability when a recipe on paper ends up being a delicious dish all of my own accord. But sometimes whipping up a plateful of cupcakes can get a bit repetitive, messy, scattered, frustrating, time consuming, stressful and so on and so forth. I am definitely one to get flustered when things become overwhelming and this got me thinking about the ladies of the 1950s whom inspire me so much.

I know they were housewives built into societal roles of mother, wife and homemaker ultimately given the job to spend their days within the home but they were still pretty amazing at maintaining an immaculate home and appearance. Now I’m not in any way trying to glorify the ’50s or compare the women of today to those over 50 years ago. We all know their lives were not perfect. But their sense of style and grace was flawless.

Nobody wants to return to a time of patriarchal prime in which women were restricted to the home but maybe we can take a few tips from their composure or even borrow their beauty tips on the occasion. I don’t know about you but when I’m having a bad day not much helps more than getting dolled up to put a smile on my dial.

Just think about it though. We have to give these women some credit. They were dealing with;

  • the end of World War 2
  • the heating up of the Cold War
  • economic changes
  • advances in technology
  • the threat of rock’n’roll and
  • rebellious teenagers

All of this still with fresh lipstick and not a curl out of place. If only life could be that simple. It’s no wonder that whilst we have advanced in so many ways including gender equality, technology and opportunity we still look to the past for inspiration in today’s fashion. Every day we can see the resurfacing of vintage garb; the coiled up do’s, the perfect pouts, the hourglass figures. It can’t hurt to also seek cooking inspiration from these lovely ladies surprising the family with some sweet treats, trying out some cake decorations for a friend or making a sunday roast to bring the family together.

The 50’s weren’t all bad for the women.  

In case you hadn’t noticed already, I love the 50’s era and I may have a slight obsession with Marilyn Monroe. As such, in true 50’s style, I decided to spice up the usual routine of baking by getting dolled up and making cupcakes with a slight twist. Unlike the vanilla cupcakes with butter cream frosting that are an easy fave I decided to try out the special Red Velvet recipe; one I have never personally tried or made.

I even altered the frosting combination to use Activia Cream Cheese which actually helps lower cholesterol. Always a plus when craving something sweet whilst maintaining that hour glass!

Maybe you can try out some dress ups and baking too. The recipe can be found at;

http://www.thecomfortofcooking.com/search?q=red+velvet+cupcakes&x=0&y=0

Lady Jayy. xo

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The Cocktail Party

Good Morning dolls,

Last Friday night a friend of mine hosted a “Girl’s Night In” to raise money for women’s cancers. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend but they raised an amazing $2650, over $1000 more than their goal. This event got me thinking about the good old fashioned cocktail parties that seem to be so unheard of these days. As much as I love the idea of having a “Girl’s Night In” to support a charity it makes me sad that we need a reason to throw one. We are all so willing to spend a little extra cash and go out to a restaurant rather than spend a little extra time in the kitchen to cook with, and for, friends.

I don’t mean to sound so judgemental because of course I myself am guilty of this crime. I all too willingly go out for dinner with friends for some girl time, regardless of how low my bank account may be, rather than put some time or effort in. I shouldn’t really be surprised though. Once again I am also guilty, along with almost everyone else I know, of another crime.

I never have enough time.

Also known as;

Not enough hours in the day-itis.

Symptoms:

  • Running out of time.
  • Misplacing an hour or two here and there.
  • Having more activities/assignments/plans than the amount of hours within one day.

WARNING! If this sounds familiar you should probably go and get tested.

When you think about it though, the way we eat today is pretty disappointing. As much as I support those who look to ‘Lite’n’Easy’ and the like to lose weight (which I definitely feel is the healthiest way to do it) it just doesn’t seem right that we no longer have the time to make a home cooked meal that is both healthy and delicious. Ultimately, it’s just too hard. 

I don’t expect people to be spending hours in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove or anything oppressive like that. However, I feel why not follow in the footsteps of ‘Lite’n’Easy’ and make some meals that you can freeze for future you so that when you’re in a rush you can still sit down and appreciate a good meal without staying up all night trying to fit everything in. I made mini arancini over the weekend in light of the cocktail party inspiration and so far they’ve served as lunch and dinner on 2 different days this week alone. I have to say, it wasn’t too hard or time consuming for what it was worth.

I think next time the girl’s and I decide to have a big catch up I’ll definitely be on side for a night in with some homemade finger food and wine. No restaurant can beat that. I know whipping up some glorious tapas and dessert for you and all your friends can seem quite daunting and frankly, quite time consuming, it shouldn’t be! Why not make one dish to share and allocate each one of your friends to do the same. The result is a fun night in with the girls, a various array of goodies to share, no stress and no dint in the bank account. Win win.

If you want to whip up some tapas yourself you try out the Mini Broad Bean and Fetta Arancini recipe from the Coles website.

http://recipes.coles.com.au/recipes/2357/mini-broad-bean-fetta-arancini/

Enjoy.
Lady Jayy. xo

National Dishes

Hey Dolls,

I recently took a 10 day trip with my brother’s girlfriend, Jessie, to a place so close they joke about its short distance, the beautiful New Zealand. This was my first overseas trip without my parents and it can definitely be listed as a success! New Zealand had never been high on my priorities list of travel destinations but after going I realised it should have been. For somewhere so close it is worth seeing. The scenery is breath taking and the people are so down to earth you feel instantly at home.

The tour we took travelled from the top of the North Island down to the bottom of the South Island, but Jessie and I had limited time and had to finish in Nelson the first town in the South Island. As we travelled we came across many souvenir shops and as we perused the many items we could bring home I kept seeing the same thing. A 50s style tea towel in red, white and yellow, the colours of my kitchen at home, with the picture of a housewife and the recipe of New Zealand’s national dessert. This was the ideal gift for my mum but I needed to clarify one thing with my tour guide. After questioning her about the tea towel I was shocked to know the truth.

New Zealand’s national dessert is PAVLOVA! 

We Australian’s have been living a lie!

(Which also begs the question, what actually is our national dessert? But that can wait for another time.)

Apparently, the Pavlova, although advertised as the Australian national dessert, derived from New Zealand and we are just claiming it as our own. Scandal.

I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of the Pavlova, however I feel much better saying that now that I know it is not originally our national dessert, but I decided I’d try this tea towel recipe I found in light of my recent trip. I made friends, memories and had experiences I’ll never forget and this Pavlova just represents a small part of that and it looks pretty damn good if I do say so myself.

Taking this trip and trying out something new, like my cooking, can seem quite scary but going out of one’s comfort zone and taking risks is what life’s all about. I encourage you all to do something daring this week, even if it’s just trying a food you’ve never tasted or saying hi to a stranger. Enjoy!

Lady Jayy. xo

Food for Thought

Good Afternoon Dolls,

As I was reading through last week’s Herald Sun Sunday magazine the other morning whilst eating my usual bowl of Just Right I came across an article from Steven Poole’s, You Aren’t What You Eat: Fed Up with Gastroculture. Expecting to find an interesting insight about food, cooking or the like, I instead read on to surprisingly find criticisms of the current foodie culture we live in and many of us love.

Steven goes on to describe the stereotypical fanatic response of screaming girls usually found at a ‘One Direction’ concert that now seem to be appearing at Jamie Oliver appearances and Masterchef demonstrations. Whilst the overwhelming audience reaction can seem a little unnecessary and girls on the brink of fainting is overly dramatic I cease to understand why this new found love of food and cooking is a negative?

He says, “We’re living in the Age of Food.”

That might seem a simple statement but the context within the article is dripping with judgement and disapproval. He states, “food festivals are the new rock festivals,” as if he would prefer the youth to be parading around in short shorts and tops that barely cover their breasts, let alone anything else, drinking and doing only God knows what. That’s not to say I have anything against a good music festival, don’t get me wrong I love them, but why is it bad that food festivals are gaining similar popularity?

Before this current foodie obsession begun, and even now, however, I’m sure I could find various different articles that complain about the laziness of Gen Y and how the youth of today no longer help out in the kitchen or around the house like they used to. But as soon as society takes up some of this advice and gets involved in the kitchen again that’s seen as just as bad. We can’t seem to win. Although I personally am not a fan of Junior Masterchef due to the competitive nature thrust upon such young children I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for children to start learning vital skills for the future and experimenting with the different talents they may have.

I was really disappointed in Steven’s perspective because of all the things in the world to complain about, I think the current foodie trend is pretty low on the priority list.

To show him how much his unnecessary complaining affects me, here is another recipe for you to try. This is one of my all time favourite dinners because it’s pretty simple but just by changing an ingredient or flavour it creates a completely new taste sensation. I found this in the Gourmet Garden recipe book for Stir Fry, Rice and Noodles.

The beauty of a stir fry is that you can easily remove certain vegetables that you may not like, such as carrots for me and add those that you do. I’ve linked you to the recipe that I used as a basis but instead of prawns I used chicken, and I also added baby corn, mushrooms and broccoli. But the main thai seasoning remained the same. Never feel scared to add more or less flavouring though to suit your tastes.

Experiment away my friends. 🙂

http://www.gourmetgarden.com/au/recipe/view/Spicy-Prawns-on-Singapore-Noodles

Lady Jayy xo

Happy Birthday Mum!

Hey dolls!

I must sincerely apologise for my recent absence, I had a family commitment that caused my lack of contact. But I’m back with a few recipe posts up my sleeve including this extra special one that goes out to my beautiful mum. It was her birthday on Monday so I decided to use it as an excuse to invade the kitchen and whip her up something special.

There’s 2 things I love most about cooking;

1.  Trying new things
and
2. Cooking for someone else

There is just something so rewarding about making food for someone and seeing them enjoy what you’ve made especially for them. My mum’s birthday was the perfect opportunity to combine both of my favourite things in the kitchen.

As a family we had already gone out for dinner the night before for mum but because of the Brownlow we were housebound on Monday night. There was no way mum was going to be forced to cook on her birthday and I was already planning to make dessert so I thought I might as well throw in dinner as well.

Cheesecake had already been allocated for dessert in my mind, it was just a matter of working out what kind. After perusing A LOT of different kinds and realising how much fridge time can be needed I settled on Mini Oreo Cheesecakes. They were the perfect size and although I’ve only recently acquired the taste for cheesecake I had to admit they looked delicious! The recipe I found made 3 dozen which I didn’t realise until after buying all the ingredients so I halved it and only made 12. 36 mini cheesecakes just seemed crazy for a family of 4. But…..

I have a confession.

In the process of making the cheesecakes, an entirely new endeavour, I may have had a small cooking meltdown. We are currently in between proper electric mixers at my house. The ones we have can’t handle anything too thick or they stop and the temporary one mum bought is more of a whisk. Therefore, when the recipe asked for me to mix the cream cheese until smooth I had a little trouble. Being a perfectionist I couldn’t handle it not working especially because I was trying to do this for my very deserving mum. Let’s just say the first try ended up in the sink after a slight tantrum. What can I say? It happens to the best of us.

Lucky I bought twice the amount of ingredients.

Turned out I didn’t even need the electric beaters (keep that in mind if you’re gonna try it yourself) because a plastic spoon smoothed the cream cheese with the other ingredients perfectly!

Menu

Dinner

Lamb Cutlets with Mashed Potatoes and Roast Tomatoes on the vine drizzled with olive oil and cracked pepper

Dessert

Mini Individual Oreo Cheesecakes

Even though dinner was served in front of the Brownlow Medal presentation I still felt like I had made mum feel special on her birthday and that’s all that mattered. Kitchen tantrums and all. And the fact that the cheesecakes allowed me to used my piping bag for the whipped cream. 😉

Everyone gets stressed but keep persevering in your own kitchens kids and in everything else you love.

Try it yourself at http://sprinklecharms.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/mini-oreo-cheescakes.html

Lady Jayy
xo

Girls Night In

Good evening dolls,

On Monday both my brother and my dad left our lovely little home not scheduled to return for a few days. Rhett, the brother, was off to school camp (he’s a PE teacher) and my dad was off to Sydney for work. This left my mum and I with a house to ourselves for at least 2 nights. Despite a little sadness for the missing members of our family, mum and I also revelled in the little freedom this week offered because it was just us girls.

Now I don’t know about your relationship with your family or mother but mine is a close one. Especially with my mum. We’ve always been that way. I’ve always told her everything….well mostly and despite our very vocal arguments we’ve always gotten along splendidly. I’ve had many friends who have been part of the “I Hate my Mum” crew but I’ve never even thought of signing up. It’s just never been like that.

When the boys go away, this is when my mother and I play. 🙂 We get to;

  • watch all our girly shows without complaint
  • bring my puppy Ruby in without complaint and,
  • make yummy dinners that we love without complaint

Hmm. I’m sensing a pattern here.

Anyway, first night they are gone mum and I enjoyed big bowls of stroganoff and rice in front of the TV while Ruby sat happily at our feet.

Stroganoff = one of my fave meals.
Boys = hate it.
Rare Meal.

Last night, I decided I’d return the favour. Mum has been cooking for me for about, ummmm, my whole life so I figured I’d let her take the night off and whip her up something yummy. My dinner expertise outside of varying types of pasta is in definite need of improvement and what better person to use as my guinea pig than the mumma.

I decided on Spicy Chicken Breasts with Avocado Sauce, a recipe I found in the free Coles magazine I picked up when I was grocery shopping the other day. What could possibly go wrong? (Well, a few things actually but I’ll save that for later.)

Being able to serve my mum up some dinner without her having to do anything was a great feeling and something I’ll hopefully be able to repeat again soon. Gotta share the love. I must admit, dinner did taste delicious however, I do have some tips if I was going to try the recipe again or for those of you who want to try it.

  1. Make the avocado sauce first
  2. Don’t put the potatoes on too early
  3. Make sure you use really tender chicken so it’s easy to slice
  4. Serve everything as soon as it’s ready and hot!

My dish may have been a little more on the warm side but hey, it was a first try and not everyone’s perfect. As my mum said, “I don’t care, I just like having someone make me dinner for once!” Warm fuzzies all round.

If your mouths watering go and have a look at the website and try it yourself. 🙂

Lady Jayy. xo

PS. Those gals out there enjoying the 1950’s vibe of my blog should deffs check out this website. I just discovered it through a friend today and it has some seriously great vintage items!

Baking the Blues Away

Good evening dolls,

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend and are enjoying a lazy Sunday evening as am I. Unfortunately, my weekend hasn’t been the best focussing mainly on assignments and trying to, though unsuccessfully, avoid the dreaded procrastination monster. I was also struck down with a little bit of the Winter blues yesterday which included;

a) a lack of concentration

b) mood swings and

c) the disorganization of any plans

I was left exhausted and restless reminiscing about my childhood as I enjoyed the gentle comedy of The Princess Diaries with my princess of a puppy Ruby.

However, after a long and much needed sleep I woke this morning in a better place ready to channel my inner fifties housewife and bake my blues away. Being the health conscious person I am, with the self control I have, I wanted something a little bit sweet without the added guilt.

What better way to spend a cloudy, cold, winter’s day than indoors baking up a storm and shaking some action to Nova’s daytime tunes in some bangin’ leg warmers? 

I had the kitchen to myself and after finding a delectable recipe for zucchini bread on foodgawker, I was sold. Cakes, slices, muffins and breads that use vegetables are always the underdog; tasting far better than they sound or one expects. It’s also the loophole to getting a daily dose of veggies in. Win win.I’ve done banana bread before but this was a first meeting for zucchini and I in the baking sense but I like a challenge. Bring it on. 

Baking is one of the best ways to zone out and stress less, especially when there’s no deadline or expectations weighing down on the concoctions. Add some tea and tunes and I’m in heaven. The recipe came from the app ‘foodgawker’ on my iPhone which linked me to a food blog where someone else had already tried it out. It got me thinking about how social having a blog can be and how easy it is to stumble upon a common interest with the click of a button.

I know I’m only an amateur and I’m not planning on becoming anything more to be honest. But I think that’s the appeal. It’s what I like about other food blogs when I get my stalk on. They;

  • talk to me on my own level
  • include success and failures and
  • give simple steps

If you want to try out your own baking skills I recommend giving zucchini bread a go. Easy, tasty and healthy! 🙂

Here’s a link to the blog I stole it from but I just used normal salt, not kosher, on the ingredients list.

Better start cleaning up my mess. -.-

Have a good week kids!

Lady Jayy. xo

The Competition

Hey dolls,

Surprise, surprise!

There is about 20 (not exact number) google pages filled with various different blogs that have the same goal as I do; to showcase different recipes and anecdotes that revolve around food. They ultimately pool together to become both my competition and my resources. This everlasting list of references begs one to think about the process of blogging in itself. When one can be inundated with a register of copious web pages with the click of a button that have stability, an avid following and much more relevant posts to one’s interests it get’s one thinking,

“Why would any one choose mine?”

In light of this question I decided to have a look at what I’m up against and to ignite some inspiration as a new entrant to the blogosphere. Here are the pros of a few foodie blogs I found.

http://bittersweetblog.wordpress.com/

One of the first blog’s I stumbled across was ‘bittersweet,’ created by an 18 year old young vegan woman. The pros;

  • Relatable
  • Recipe creator
  • Photographer
  • Recipe book author
  • Vegan. It appeals to a niche market

Hannah Kaminsky knows what she’s talking about being a vegan herself and she is clearly popular with a few of her own cookbooks having been published. Another of her definite appeals would have to be her age. It shows that you don’t have to be a mum or a chef to create your own food style and recipes.

“I don’t use egg replacer for most things just because I see it as a whole new craft, I’m not replacing things, I’m not taking them out, I’m just creating something from scratch.”
– Hannah Kaminsky

http://www.bakeorbreak.com/

‘Bake or break’ was another blog that stood out. Established for a few years it’s byline describes itself as, “the adventures of an amateur baker.” The pros;

  • Demonstrates trial and error
  • Well established with an avid following
  • Inspiration comes from family
  • Sentimental connection to cooking
  • Focusses on baking (niche market)

Once again, ‘bake or break,’ has a specific target market focussing only on baking. Her relation between family and cooking is especially evident with her blog posts which I think creates a special connection with her audience.

http://www.101cookbooks.com/

The premise of ‘101 cookbooks’ is an ideal example of the digital age we live in. Heidi Swanson, the author, describes what started her blog saying, “When you own over 100 cookbooks, it is time to stop buying, and start cooking. This site chronicles a cookbook collection, one recipe at a time.”

  • Established in 2003
  • Open journal
  • Easy to read
  • Various recipes
  • Reads like an unlimited recipe book

It encapsulates the ideal that in today’s age when you no longer have room for the physical written word, there is always room in the cyber world.

From my competition it is easy to deduce that for me to create a food blog of success I need a few basic things:

  • A love for food and recipes
  • A possible niche
  • A desire to write
  • An exploration of something new

Hopefully I can be just as good as these guys!

Lady Jayy. xo

Breakfast of Memories

Hey Dolls!

I decided for my first recipe trial I’d go with something simple and new. Now pancakes are the usual all American classic smothered in maple syrup, ice cream and whatever other concoction your willing to throw in there. However, I felt this was a little over done. Instead, following an invigorating run in the slice of sunshine Melbourne decided to share yesterday, I decided to whip up Pancakes’ French rival, Crepes!

Aware of how thin crepes are intended to be and despite their seeming simplicity my fear of screwing them up and having nothing to write about but a failed recipe started to kick in. However, before I was able to curl up into a ball in the corner of the kitchen, hugging a spatula to my body a good song came on the radio and the good vibes started flowing. Motivation arrived ready to try something different.

The recipe was simple enough;

  • Plain Flour                                   
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Banana (topping)
  • Honey (topping)

How hard could it be?

I started to get into the swing of things in no time; pour batter, swirl it in fry pan, wait, flip, wait, place in oven to keep warm. The smell was enough to take me back to my trip to Europe last year.

Location: Paris, France.

Encountering crepe stalls WHEREVER you walked. Eiffel Tower. Crepe Stand. Outside the Louvre. Crepe Stand. Strolling down the Champs-Elysees. 20 Crepe Stands. You get the picture. Though I’m not complaining. The temptation was overwhelming and it wasn’t long before I caved. I will never forget standing outside the Notre Dame Cathedral, Nutella and banana crepe in hand. Absolute bliss and a winning photo op. 

This can hands down be one of my favourite things about food. In just seconds the smell of something cooking, it’s taste or appearance can transport you back in time. It can bring back memories that usually sit in the dusty corners of your mind usually covered in spider webs. Special memories that you hope you never forget. I don’t think I will ever eat a crepe without thinking back to my first European trip. My mum, my travel partner, even asked if I had Nutella and banana in the ones I made the other morning.

Lady Jayy. xo

Hello and Welcome!

Hey hey dolls!

I issue a warm welcome to you who has ventured the limits of the Internet to explore my little blog.

I have to admit I am a blogging virgin, in terms of writing about something I enjoy and aside from the short “blog” responses that we are required to do for uni in relation to subject content. This can be considered the official loss of my “B Plates,” if you will and I appreciate your presence in this matter.

Over the coming weeks I will be utilising this space as an exploration of my own into the magnificent world of cooking, baking and food in general. Over the significant 7 week holiday break I have just encountered between semesters (yes, I am an arts student who is lucky enough not to have any exams) I found myself with a little bit of spare time here and there as a recent life change seemingly opened my calendar right up.

I think my obsession officially started when I decided to make cupcakes for an upcoming friends birthday. Personally, I’m not the biggest sweet tooth and can often be described as a bit of a health freak when it comes to food, however I love it in every form. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. I revel in the ability to create something delicious from just a few ingredients. I can’t help enjoying the happiness that comes from a gesture such as making cupcakes for a friend or letting mum take the night off from being head chef.

Now my mum is no masterchef but she always amazes me with her ability to make a meal with no recipe and no measurements. I don’t know if it’s my personality or my fear of making a mistake but when I cook, I follow the recipe to the T!

This blog is ultimately my desire to learn how to cook more than just cupcakes. I want to try to recreate recipes for every meal of the day, even the sneaky treats, with the help of my iPhone app, ‘FoodGawker.’ I’m not looking to be the next chef anywhere, I just want to try something new and if it tastes good in the process that’s just an added bonus.

I hope when you read my blog you can try to understand some of the fun and enjoyment I’ve had and who knows, it might give you the motivation to try it yourself. 🙂

Lady Jayy. xo