Friday, July 22, 2022

Sixty Silver Stylish....wear whatever the heck you want...

I've been on a personal style journey for 7 or 8 years. 

You know how it is.

 Corporate life, Mum life, and other moments in life that deprive you of your own version of Sartorial Splendour, are behind you, and you can find your best self. 

Lord knows I'd been looking for my best self for quite some time. You can read about THAT here and here.

At times, I have been enormously frustrated by what other people said I should be wearing, as is evident in those posts. However, now that I am at a different stage of life, I am finding that listening to other people about what I should or should not wear, is a bit of a fools game.

I have learned that basically, we of-a-certain-age, are pretty much expected to fade into the background so as not to offend, nor steal attention, from anyone younger than ourselves. We are meant to dress simply, preferably in muted colours, and not stand out, in any way, shape or form.

Now...if you read the two posts I've linked above, you will note that I was of this mind myself, a few years back. Neutral and Simple was the order of the day. It was necessarily so, due to the demands of continuing Mum Life.

But there Came A Day, as it's said, when Mum Life was behind me, and it struck me, that I could now afford, and WANTED pretty dresses, heels, eyecatching jewellery....all the things that were out of my reach whilst raising children. 

So off I went....

Movie themed brooches and leopard print as seen at the top of my post...sure.

Diamante boots...why not?

Dolce & Gabbbana inspired dresses...of course!

Cute and colourful accessories? Got 'em by the mile.

Faux fur vests? A boon in chilly weather when a sweater is too warm, but a tshirt is not warm enough.

Wrap dresses in fab pattern mixing arrangements worn with comet pearls...yes please.

White sneakers and cute dresses...all the time.

Metallic brogues...any day of the week...

...and more diamante boots...yay!

Designer French brooches...

...Cute Australian brooches...

...fab statement necklaces... all makes me smile.

Ignore what the media, social media, style gurus and other people who don't know YOU say. 

YOU dictate how you look and what you wear.

Life is short.

Wear ALL the things.


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Budgeting and matters...

It's hard to be frugal and mindful of health sometimes.

When you're on a budget, cheap and easy can seem to be the best way through. 

As an Australian growing up in the 1960s, I narrowly missed a life of manufactured meat sandwiches, sausages horrendously high in fat and salt, and creamy cakes and desserts, that were the fare of the day back then in many Aussie households. 

Thanks to my Mothers European heritage and Euro-specific thrifty ways, we ate pasta and vegetables, meals based on legumes seasoned with herbs and spices, and ate fruit from our own backyard trees. Scoffed at back then, but mainstream thinking now. How things change.

The trouble is, that you get to a certain stage of life, and find that 'cheap and easy', now means 'expensive health issues'. Thankfully that isn't the case here, but I know many folk who now find themselves in this predicament.

Mum taught me how to turn chicken breasts, bought in bulk, into delectable sandwich meat by poaching it in flavoured broth. I still use this method. Alternatively, when a bargain comes along like the chicken mignons pictured below, I will happily roast those, allow them to cool, and slice them up for a flavoursome sandwich filling. The very small number of bacon bits that are left behind, find their way onto the top of home made pizza. SO much healthier than deli meats.

Likewise, when the occasion calls for a roast, we are more likely to season a small fillet of pork or a rolled lamb shoulder of around the same size, and serve that with many, many vegetables, in preference to a big hunk of meat. This is a strategy that Annabel of The Bluebirds are Nesting, often mentions her Nanna employing as well, so it's not a new idea. It is a fact however, that more recent generations have the habit of viewing the meat as the main, and the vegetables as the side. Turn that thinking upside down, and you'll find that you too, will lean towards the lean, when it comes to meat.

A recent family event dictated the appearance everyones old favourite, of a pork roast. I slow roasted a couple of pork bellies, rendering most of the fat away in doing so, crisped the crackling under the grill, and served this with MANY salads. Two pork belly roasts comfortably fed fifteen of us, using the strategy of salads as the main, meat as the side.

When Hubster, who has of late, resumed playing a competitive sport at the ripe old age of 66, craves something more exotic, it's incumbent upon me to find new ways to create old favourites.

A purchase of offcuts of Snapper pieces, sent me scurrying to find a new way to serve fish, and led me to invent these Gingered Snapper Spring Rolls.

Here's the method for that recipe in a few sentences:

Gingered Snapper Spring Rolls

To make 10-12 medium sized spring rolls, you need store bought spring roll wrappers, 400gms of fish, 1/8th of a small cabbage shredded, 4 spring onions sliced thinly, minced ginger, minced garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a bit of chilli paste if you like it.

Pan fry the fish with two tablespoons of minced ginger, a heaped teaspoon of minced garlic, and a splash each of soy sauce and sesame oil, seasoning well with salt and pepper and the chilli paste, if required, and mince this by using an electric mixer, or by shredding with your fingers once cooled.

Wilt the cabbage and spring onions in a hot pan or wok, and add to the fish, mixing well.

Place the spring roll wrapper on your bench or cutting board, with one of the points facing you, spoon a tablespoon of the mixture onto the wrapper, and tuck the point under the filling, fold the outer corners in, and roll, forming a tight neat cigar shape, sandwiching your completed rolls between two damp cloths to keep them from drying out.

Note that you could easily double or triple the number of spring rolls you make, simply by adding soaked vermicelli or bean thread noodles to your spring rolls, or by increasing the amount of cabbage or other vegetables in the mixture.

Once upon a time, and certainly in restaurants, these would now be deep fried. I prefer to spray them liberally with olive oil spray, and bake them in a hot oven. Remember, the filling is already cooked. You're really looking to brown and crisp them. I do not have an Air Fryer, as I have an absolutely brilliant Falcon oven that precludes the need for one. However I believe these are an ideal option. 

Likewise, the 'fried' rice, that I serve these with, is really more like 'steamed' rice with stuff added to make it look authentic.

Mimis' Healthier 'fried' rice

For 4 serves, precook one cup of rice using your preferred method. Allow to dry overnight or for several hours. You can't successfully make fried rice with freshly cooked stuff. Alternatively, scoff if you will, but now that there are only two of us here, a sachet of cooked rice 'sometimes' finds it's way into my pantry, and I'll use that.

Spray your wok or pan lightly with olive oil spray, and add the rice. Add 2-3 cups of frozen of fresh vegetables and a couple of tablespoons of water, cover with a lid and allow to steam for a few minutes. Add oyster sauce, a crumbled chicken stock cube, sesame oil, and a drizzle of soy sauce, and toss well for several minutes more. Make a hollow in the middle of the rice and veges, and crack in two eggs. Replace the lid and allow to steam for a bit longer, then mix the partially cooked egg through the rice mixture. Done!

I made a dipping sauce for our spring rolls, by mixing bought Sweet Chilli sauce, with a little fresh lime juice (limes from our tree....grow something...anything...remember?), a drizzle of rice wine vinegar, a drop or three of sesame oil, and a bit of minced ginger. Delish.

We'll get a generous dinner AND a lunch from our 400gms of fish, so this is a super frugal recipe too.

These days, coloured milk (note...not flavoured) topped with whipped cream and confectionery toppings, are reserved for grandchildren.

Adult folk content themselves with fruit and cheese or yoghurt.

You can buy a dozen really tiny mini fish spring rolls (usually barramundi) where I live for $16.50.

If I had made mine that size, and added the vermicelli noodles, I would have easily had a yield of 50 spring rolls, not 12. At that rate, for my $11 worth of snapper, $3 spring roll wrappers and a few cents worth of vegetables and seasonings, my spring rolls would be worth $55. I call that a win!

Fried rice? Well we have, when excruciatingly busy, bought fried rice for $13 for 4 serves. Mine was worth at least that.

Healthier, better for the bank account. I know which I choose.

How do you manage the fine line between frugality and fitness?


Monday, July 18, 2022

Staying sane in insane times....

Okay, version of sanity, may not be yours. 

But I tell you what, sane is what I am, despite the Universe conspiring to make me otherwise. And I'm not talking about international events, because, well...I can't do anything about that, other than stay sane at my end. It's a truth often ignored.

My sanity is in retreating to creativity. My creativity may not be yours either, but I can highly recommend a spot of beading, baking, stitching, or outside of home, wandering through an art gallery, such as the National Gallery of Victoria, where daughter and I visited a little moment ago, to admire Chanel garments up close. Yes, I love a good thrift store as much as the next gal, but you don't stumble upon this sort of craftsmanship there. Another truth.

I also recommend, as it says in my bio, where I mention that I simply can NOT ignore a bit of bling, play with LOTS of bling, fashioning a Dolce & Gabbana-esque shift dress, pictured above. I've been meaning to finish this one for, well, ashamedly, yeeeeaaars. Life got in the way. Even Covid lockdowns did not see me beating a path to sparkledom. There were other fish to fry...figuratively and literally.

Chanel being out of my price range, garment-wise, I content myself with locally manufactured type pretties, and embellish with vintage inspired accessories. 

Aforementioned beading below. This was a pretty necklace, that I didn't wear because it was too wide for my chest. I pulled it apart, refashioned it, and behold! Wearable art. This is the tattoo I would get if I was the tattoo type....which I most certainly am NOT. know....

A bit of fun and frippery happening on my style account on Instagram. That one is @elderstylish if you're inclined to follow. No baking and budgeting on that one. Sheer fluff and nonsense abounds, I promise.

This outfit was for a Twinning Challenge with a fellow individually stylish person. We were channelling a bit of Rockabilly and Grease. Life's honestly, truly, too short, to be serious all the time. It was fun! Having FUN is just what the doctor ordered to stay sane in insane times.

Mostly though, you know me, it's dresses with cute bags and scarves that feature in day-to-day life. Goodness if life is short, I'm going out in all my finery and frou-frou, thanks very much!

But fear not! I'm not just maintaining sanity by piling on the frippery. Non!

Lasagna by the yard, still features regularly... do wee cake-lets made up out of my brain. 

I tell you, it's my mind, and my brain, and my thoughts (as mentioned by Jack Black in the film School of!), that supports my mission of sanity in insane times. Yours too?

And sometimes, just occasionally, if I want to sup on something other than homemade, yet lack the means for silver service, I don't mind a humongous bowl of Apple Cinnamon porridge, with lashings of brown sugar, cream, and a side of frothy coffee. Yes, I could do that at home. For mere cents. But sometimes I like to be served. Better breakfast than dinner in terms of dollars!

What are you doing to stay sane?

Waving and blowing a kiss to you all.


Monday, March 14, 2022

Living well in challenging times #6....home is your Covid-cocoon....

Hubster and I are recovering from a case of Covid. Note that we are triple vaccinated and so very thankful for being so. We could have easily been very much more severely impacted without the vaccine.

He brought it home first, becoming unwell two weeks ago, and subsequently testing positive. I remained supportive and upbeat for a whole 48 hours, before likewise, testing positive. For us, this meant lots of lounging around, sleeping for  up to 16 hours a day, and being eternally grateful for our well-stocked pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Home was our cocoon, literally.

We didn't feel much like eating anything but home made chicken soup, which we had in abundance in the freezer, and my homemade Le Rice copycat. Here's that recipe in a few sentences...

Le Rice copycat (luxurious creamed rice)

In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup arborio rice, with 1 1/2 cups full cream milk powder, 4 cups of water, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. 

Bring to a simmer, stir to separate the rice grains, pop on the lid, and switch off the heat.

 If you have an electric cooktop, the stored heat will continue to cook this, so long as you don't peek and release the stored heat from the saucepan. 

Leave for several hours, to allow the rice to cook, swell and become tender. If after a couple of hours (or if you have a gas cooktop like I do), the rice is still al dente, give it another blast to bring it up to heat, and leave it for another hour or two.

If it still looks liquid-ish, you need to let it sit for longer. The rice should be tender and plump, with very little liquid remaining. It will continue to swell when refrigerated, believe me. Scoop into dishes and chill before eating.

Once we started to feel better, this salmon and pasta dish came together magically one night, giving us some relief from chicken soup.

One pot Salmon and Kale Cream Pasta

One serve

Throw a handful of gluten-free penne pasta into a cup of vegetable stock, in the bottom of your wok or saucepan. Add three handfuls of shredded kale. Put the lid of the wok on, and let that simmer for about five minutes. Stir, add half a teaspoon of minced garlic, and rest a defrosted piece of pre-seasoned salmon on top of it all, adding a little more water.
Put the lid back on, and let that simmer for another 6 to 7 minutes. Check the salmon for doneness, and remove it to your plate.
Turn the heat up to allow most of the remaining liquid to evaporate, and added a drizzle of pouring cream, stirring well. Let that reduce a little, then transfer that to your serving bowl, breaking the salmon up over the top.

Truly scrumptious.

Let's also talk about my gluten free scones (biscuits) pictured at the top of the page.

I have never baked scones. Instead I've baked a series of rocks which the family refused to consume, and which could have easily been used as brick edging in the garden. Especially once we became Gluten Free. Whilst Covid-ised, I had time to research, and research I did.

And behold...success at last! AND gluten free!

Here's what I did:

Best ever Gluten Free Scones

Having conducted my highly scientific research, I determined that the Lemonade Cream Scone method, was the best solution, and decided to use my very expensive gluten-free flour, which I hoard, like gold, for those recipes that require a high proportion of flour to other ingredients. I think I’ve had this bag of Caputo gluten-free flour, since Mother’s Day 2020, when we were briefly released from Covid-captivity, to celebrate Mothers Day at a local notable park. There is also a notable delicatessen nearby, where I pounced upon this flour when I saw it, having heard about it previously. At $24 for a one kilo (2.2lbs) bag, it’s worth hoarding!
So, duly armed with quality weight-for-weight-may-as-well-be-gold gluten free flour, a can of Sprite (lemonade), a bottle of thickened cream, and a few teaspoons of baking powder, I went to work.
Here is my (note the proprietary nature of that pronoun 😁) method:
Chill everything and by everything, I mean bowl, utensils and ingredients.
Heat oven to 210C fan forced.
Prepare a smallish tray or cake tin with baking paper, as one secret I learned via my research, was to nestle the scones close to one another, to aid rising.
Choose a scone cutting implement. I used a stainless steel cup, which I regretted as I didn’t register that the sides sloped inwards. A straight sided glass or proper scone cutter would have yielded a more authentic scone shape.
Dust bench liberally with GF flour.
Sift 3 cups flour and 5 teaspoons of baking powder into the chilled bowl.
Stir with a chilled knife to combine.
Add 1 cup of well chilled thickened cream.
Add 1 cup of equally well chilled lemonade, observing with satisfaction the fizzing (it’s the little things right?).
Stir quickly with the cold knife to barely combine. It will be a sticky dough, but that’s what you’re after.

Tip the sticky dough onto the floured bench, dust your hands well with flour, and pat it down a little. You want the dough thick, because the nature of the scones is that they don’t actually rise that much in the baking. Mine was about 3 to 4 cm thick.
Cut each scone, being careful not to twist your cutting implement, as this impedes the rising, due to twisting of the edges of the dough. You probably already know this. I kind of did too. But now that I am scientifically informed, I’m going to present it to you as a new fact (LOL). Lift each scone onto your prepared baking tray with a chilled spatula.
NOTE: I chose to do large scones, in preference to small ones, as I believed there was less potential for them to turn into slabs of concrete. My own small tip.
Gather the dough together, pat into a thick slab, and continue cutting, until you run out of dough. I just formed a scone shape with the last piece of dough, and nicked the sides vertically with a sharp knife in several spots, (yes another trick I learned in my Covid induced research), and to be honest it rose just as much as the ones I’d cut with the cup, so go figure.
Brush the tops with a little more of the cream to encourage browning.
Bake for 12-18 minutes until golden and sounding hollow when tapped.
Eat them hot, with the traditional jam and cream, or condiments as per your preferences, or chill/freeze for later. I successfully reheated one from chilled, for five minutes in a hot oven this morning, for breakfast.
I’m ridiculously chuffed. The French chef, who works as a support worker with disabled son, declared the scones absolutely delicious, ate two and a half, and commented that he could not believe that I had accomplished them with gluten-free flour.

Meanwhile, you know me. I didn't let a little case of Covid deter me from dressing nicely.

And given the success of my scones, having conducted extensive research, I will now apply my research efforts to rose growing, and see if I can improve my success there!

We survived Covid well. 

We were triple vaccinated, had good stores, a comfortable home, and streaming services to keep us occupied. 

We laid low, slept when we needed to, made no rush to return to normal routines until we improved, and kept to ourselves. 

We did not 'enjoy' the experience, but we now know, that if we should become unwell again, we can be cocooned at home quite pleasantly.

I trust that should you become unwell, that you will fare equally comfortably.

Try the scones! You'll like them, I promise!