Friday, September 21, 2007

Peachy Perfect!

Okay, for all our dear Northern Hemispheric friends, I thought I would pop up the quickest possible dessert to relish in the oncoming cold months. It is completely decadent and should be indulged in only once in a while. You know the ones. The sticky, sugary, syrupy desserts that you save only for when guests grace your table, only you secretly wish you had the audacity to bake just for you. That’s right. Well this one is a winter winner and is way too good to not share! And it’s too easy.

Caramelised Peaches

Half a dozen peaches
Caster sugar
Chilled Butter
Ice Cream or Cream (whichever floats your boat)

1. Half the peaches and remove the stones.
2. Lay each peach up right on a baking tray. Use baking paper to avoid sticking.
3. Cut butter into small cubes and place in each peach.
4. Sprinkle with caster sugar and don’t be shy.
5. Bake in a moderate to hot oven until cooked and golden brown. Approx 30 minutes. Keep a watch so they don’t burn.

Serve hot with ice cream or cream. Enjoy!

Warning: Don’t expect any conversation throughout dessert, as your guests will be off in another world savouring every mouthful.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Beef & Barley Stew

Again I am thinking of all our bloggers who are soon to embark upon a nice snowy winter (I am secretly jealous). This recipe is truly heaven in a pot. Especially when the weather outside is like a Siberian winter! Do they even have a summer there?

Anyway, Susan has been asking me to share this particular stew for months and I have finally found the courage to share one of my top five family favourites that I have been so precious about. Every winter my mum would cook up a massive pot of beef and barley stew and we’d eat around the outdoor fire going back for seconds…thirds…but who’s counting.

I will do my best in writing down the recipe, however, I must warn you, it is one of those recipes you make without thinking, therefore the measures of ingredients become your own. Experiment to your own taste as mine is merely guideline.

Beef & Barley Stew

2 tablespoons olive oil
1kg of chuck steak or gravy beef, cubed (or leave whole as the meat will fall apart anyway)
2 medium brown onions, diced
2 large garlic cloves, crushed (personally I’d use more)
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 or 3 sticks of celery, sliced (including celery leaves)
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
600mls beef stock
2 cups of water
Half a cup of chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of powdered vegetable stock (trust me)
Half a cup of pearl barley
3 bay leaves
Salt and cracked pepper

1. Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan.
2. Add the beef and brown. Stir quickly to avoid sticking or burning.
3. Add chopped carrot, celery, potatoes and beef stock and stir.
4. Add water (use more or less if necessary) to cover the ingredients completely.
5. Add parsley and barley. Stir well.
6. Pop in the bay leaves and a generous pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
7. Once on the boil, turn down to simmer for an hour or so until meat is tender. Stir occasionally.
8. Sprinkle the powdered vegetable stock into the stew. This is the clincher.
9. Add more water if it’s too thick or more seasoning to taste.

Serve with fresh crusty bread and don’t forget to fish the bay leaves out.
Note: Freeze leftovers (a great instant meal) or refrigerate for lunch the next day. The flavours the next day are much more intense! Enjoy.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chocolate Chip Cookies by Sam!!!!

Whenever I start making cookies my husband says, "It would be cheaper to go the store and buy a packet of biscuits". He doesn't get it! Eating the cookie dough is half the fun. Then, of course, there's the sensational aroma that entices everyone to the kitchen whilst the cookies are baking. It's amazing to watch the kids, and any adults in the house, patiently waiting for them to come out of the oven. How tasty that first, very hot cookie is just off the tray....yum!

If you like baking cookies, or even if you don't these ones are worth the effort. Try stopping at one!


500g butter
400g can sweetened condensed milk
5 cups self raising flour
250g packet white choc bits
2 x 250g packet dark choc bits

1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease and line baking trays.

2. Using an electric mixer and a very large bowl, beat butter, sugar and sweetened condensed milk until light and creamy.

3. Add sifted flour, and all the choc bits and mix until well combined.

4. Using 1 tablespoon of mixture, roll into balls and place on baking trays and flatten slightly with a fork.

5. Bake for 14 - 16 minutes or until golden. Don't overcook! Allow to stand on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

NB. This makes a lot of cookies so you may want to halve the quantities or freeze some of the dough for a later date.

I hope you enjoy and you see smiles on the faces of those in your home.

Sam xoxo

Monday, September 17, 2007

thefamilyroom Lifestyle

Hello all this is my first 'official' post on this blog. I'm really excited because I have been part of thefamilyroom since the beginning. I thought I'd take a quick moment today and share something I've been thinking about regarding thefamilyroom.

This past January I moved back to Canada from Sydney and it was extremely hard for me to say good-bye to everyone especially after being involved with the familyroom from (as I said) the very beginning. I found it really hard to leave something that was (and is) impacting so many people and making such a huge statement in the homes and communities around Australia. Now that I'm home, and have had time to think and reflect on my time in Sydney, I have began to realize that thefamilyroom isn’t simply about meetings and events, or even a blog...thefamilyroom is so much more, thefamilyroom is a LIFESTYLE!

You have probably read many posts on this blog that are very practical providing tips and helpful information that everyone can implement into their lives, families and homes. Strangely enough I kind of like the light has just gone on this week as I have been re-reading many of the posts. I have discovered that thefamilyroom is not contained or exclusive to one group of people, it’s US living a life that’s all about enlargement. It’s about being real, being thoughtful and kind, and eventually passing it onto other generations. thefamilyroom isn’t just about mums either (it’d better not be, otherwise I’m definitely in the wrong place ☺) there is something for everyone. thefamilyroom is truly a lifestyle, a daily choice, to not only make my world a better place, but to reach out and make someone else’s a bit better too.

So I guess the challenge for all of us, as we read and are encouraged and inspired by other people’s thoughts and experiences, is to do it within the context and culture of our own lives, wherever and however we can. That's my thought for today I hope you've enjoyed it.

Catherine (or CJ)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Spring is in the Air!!! (In the Southern Hemisphere that is however good reading for our Northern friends as well :)

Having suffered with sever sinus issues and hay fever most of my adult life, as much as I love spring, I would dread it every year. To wake every morning and know that within an hour or so knowing that sinus pain, watery eyes or an epic sneezing match would visit for the day, was unbearable…for me and my friends. Dates were equally fun with me sitting at the table face dripping, eyes puffed up and me with a tissue at the ready, smiling as if nothing was wrong. I looked like I had Bells Palsy half of the time. Attractive! Vocations such as floristry or anything to do with animals was also completely out of the question. Not that I would have chosen to be a zookeeper, but hey, the option would have been nice.

To those who have suffered for years or have children that suffer know exactly what I am talking about. There is nothing worse than having an attack and finding yourself without an industrial size box of Kleenex in your handbag. That or a paper bag to put over your head. When a full blown ‘session’ of hay fever hits, even sunlight can hurt your eyes, so ridiculously oversized sunglasses are essential. (Hmm…I wonder if Jackie O was sufferer too.)

So, yes, this was my life. Not much fun and rather debilitating. That was until I made the decision to get help. Something that busy mum’s often place at the bottom of their daily lists. We have a tendency to truly believe that whatever we suffer with isn’t as serious as being on time for soccer practise or heaven forbid getting the ironing done before school pick up! And I am only talking about hay fever. Some women let serious health conditions cripple their lives on many levels for years before even talking about it.

Visiting a local doctor a few months ago changed my life. After confessing to him of my apparent addiction to antihistamines and undocumented shares in Kleenex, he offered alternatives to choose from. I chose a simple safe nasal spray and within 2 weeks I was cured. Simple. Life changing. Since seeing a doctor I have not once taken an antihistamine and I have saved a fortune on tissues. If only I had done this years ago…(I can almost see you all nodding.)

So this spring I can honestly get excited about all those alfresco dinner parties that I am going to be invited to…hint, hint. But seriously, if you suffer physically from anything that is a constant source of worry or pain, GO SEE A DOCTOR, or an alternative practitioner if that’s your preference. Decide to put your health first, get peace of mind and watch your life change for the better.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Innocence Stolen ~ A story about my beautiful 8 year old daughter

For the past eight years, the age of my eldest daughter; my husband and I have been working hard to protect our girls against the ‘evils of the world’ – we say no to certain movies, music, TV programs and magazines. We don’t’ let them take part in adult conversations and we encourage their love of play and make-believe. Kids definitely grow up too fast, so we have been diligent in helping them to stay innocent and child-like.

A few weeks ago that innocence was shattered. We arrived home after being at a party only to discover that Emily (my eight year old), had been doing a ‘Google’ search’ on horse riding sites and had stumbled across a pornographic website showcasing obscenely graphic and disturbing images of men and women engaged in sexual acts – on the home page I might add.

No, ‘click here to enter this site’ or ‘key in credit card details’ -This stuff was laid out for all, including my 8 year old girl to see. Multiple pictures of disgusting and perverted acts on a website nestled amongst horse riding sites. Fascinated by this unusual array of breasts, penises and vagina’s, my daughter surveyed each picture (apparently), before inviting my 6 year old to have a look at the funny pictures. It wasn’t until Georgia shared this site with the babysitter that this problem was uncovered.

When our babysitter (a responsible middle aged missionary) showed me what had happened, I was absolutely outraged, to say the least. Immediately, I began setting up my security.

I am only sorry I didn’t put all the stopgap measures in place earlier. I guess I figured that Emily’s innocence and lack of knowledge when it came to the computer would safe-guard her. I was wrong. Parents, be vigilant. Know what your kids are doing at all times on the computer. Never for a moment take a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. At thefamilyroom we believe in being proactive. Here are a few suggestions that will benefit your home and children (whatever their ages) from an earlier pod cast on internet pornography.

Install your firewalls – net nannies or whatever else you can do to screen this stuff out
Set up your computer security
Keep the computer in a central location – not in your kid’s bedrooms.
Talk to your kids about what they might find and how they should respond.
‘Supervise’ – don’t leave your kids unattended or expect them to make the right moral choices.
Every now and then do a history check to make sure the wrong sites are not being viewed.

Nicki Partridge.

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