Cooking With Anna J

We’ve all got one of those friends on Facebook. The one who casually whips up food porn for their meals and then posts photos. I’ve got one and he’s called Mr. P.  Him and his lovely wife Mrs. P ( who always reminds me of a beautiful exotic Asian Helena Bonham Carter) have  been responsible for my screen-licking activities on many occasions. Today I was blessed with a visit from them. Our meet-ups are always far and few between. Work, commitments, life etc. gets in the way, but the time I do get with them is always a joy for which I am grateful. No matter how our conversations begin, they follow a road that always leads back to food – and what a great place to end up! The by-product of this, is me, without fail, being left , after they’ve departed, with cravings that only a telephone call to the local Indian restaurant can cure, especially as my cookery skills don’t stretch out much further than oven chips and fish fingers.

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As I was feeling in such a good mood this evening, the sun was shining in through the French windows, the birds were singing and life felt generally good, I thought I’d be brave and try something new off the menu. It’s so important that we step out of our comfort zones whenever we can. I’m generally not a huge fan of Indian food. If I’m honest it scares me a bit because I don’t know what things are, or what is in them, but after a couple of hours talking about it, it was a bullet that had to be bitten.

I closed my eyes, pointed my finger and trusted in the Goddess of Lovely Food.

Jhinga Satay!

 I made the call. Placed the order. And twenty minutes later – Bish Bash Bosh. ( Don’t you just love living in the 21st century? )

It was with much excitement that I plated up and took my first couple of mouthfuls. Spicy but delicious. So delicious  in fact that I set to on Our Lord God Google to see if I could find the recipe. It took me a few minutes to track it down on a cookery site, mainly because I was also still filling my face … which was starting to feel a tad warmer …

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By the time I got to copying the ingredients down, although still with no regrets, I had officially concluded that this probably wasn’t a ‘novice curry’; but being the brave and courageous soul that I am, I ploughed on.

So if anyone wants to try this recipe at home, here are the ingredients.

I have made some slight adjustments using what little culinary knowledge I have, to ensure that the version I am sharing is as authentic as possible and also accounts for the build up of heat I experienced by the end of eating.

 

Ingredients.

1 lb – tiger prawns. Peeled if desired.

2 cups – Fresh volcanic lava. ( If you can’t get fresh, dried is acceptable however it should be widely available when in season.)

3 cups – Breath of a dragon ( flaming) If you can’t find this in your local store, we recommend checking out your local farmer market.

1/4 lb of the sun. It essential that you use a lump of the core. We’ve tried outer layers and it simply doesn’t burn through your oesophagus

Mixed chopped salad for dressing.

And apparently some sort of Asian plum sauce

Method.

Fry off the tiger prawns and arrange on plate. Don’t worry about presentation too much. In five minutes your sauce will have melted the crockery anyway.

Mix all the ‘spices’ together ( we recommend wearing protective equipment whilst doing so. Safety, Safety, Safety! That’s the motto in the Anna J kitchen.) 

You can either pour the mix directly from the bowl, over your seafood, or simply hold the bowl above the prawns and wait for it to corrode through and drop down anyway.

Arrange salad as desired.

Put the Asian plum sauce back in the cupboard and save for another time because I have no clue when it’s supposed to be used.

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And there we have it. My new favourite Indian dish. Next week I shall be blogging about my visit to the plastic surgeon to have my princess-mouth rebuilt.It seems I have taste buds that are grown from fairy wings and dew drops. And the next time I decide to get all brave with things I have absolutely no knowledge of, I shall ensure I have an expert to hand. And probably a fireman. And a plastic surgeon.

Enjoy xx Anna J xx

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People, We Need To Talk About Balls.

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I’m not talking chocolate salty balls, or the sort we have to grow in pairs to push out of our comfort zone. I’m talking Yoga Balls. Or Balance Balls. Or, as I have already come to name mine, Bastard Ball. 

I had a few sessions with a fabulous trainer a couple of months ago. Circumstances have altered since then, making any more impossible for the foreseeable future at least, but everything he showed me, is logged in the old grey matter. I have to take my hat off to the guy. I can’t believe he gets clients any less fit than me, but he didn’t raise an eyebrow as I puffed and panted walking ten yards on the treadmill. Nor did he flinch as I wailed at the 2kg dumb bells he handed me, and to my horror, couldn’t control in a safe nor lady-like manner. “Not a problem,” he said; and handed me some 1kg weights instead. I wailed again. “Still not a problem,” he reassured me and handed me a couple of peapods instead. The workout went well from that point, once we’d established exactly what my level was.

I probably didn’t burn more than a 100 calories that day, but I walked out of the gym feeling 10 feet tall and empowered, and my mood was elevated for days. One of the other things he introduced me to was the Bastard Ball; and in a bid to recapture that incredible jubilant feeling, I finally purchased one to use at home.

“Simple!” Thinks I.

Buy it, blow it up, work it. Slinky Dinky Rejuvenated Me!

As with many great plans ( especially mine … and I do have many… on an hourly basis), things didn’t quite go as I expected them to.

Blowing it up. Let’s start there! The box said ‘Pump Included’. Hastily I ripped open my new toy, pulled out a flaccid rubber item ( the ball folks!), and then this thing drops out after it. Something akin to what you might find in a Christmas Cracker. A Cheap Christmas Cracker. That was the pump.  After much examining of pointy plastic bits, chin rubbing  and sucking in air, I still hadn’t figured out how to make it work and deftly handed it over to The Captain and The Colonel to deal with. In all fairness, they did well. It only took them an hour, two punch ups and one tantrum / storming and  I had my ball.

“Great!” Thinks I. “I’ll just read the instruction leaflet to make sure I’ve got everything covered.”  In teeny print at the bottom it read ‘leave ball for 24 hours to get used to its new expansion’.

Que?

I was fairly certain they weren’t referring to the balls spiritual progression, but a threat of possible splitage or explosion, that risk I suspect being much greater when about to be plopped on by a female such as me with  ( to steal a phrase from Plenty of Fish) a few *cough* extra pounds. Despite much reassurance from my FaceBook tribe, I decided to err on the side of caution and leave the grand christening until today.

Despite the period of grace I’d given it to adjust, it was still with some trepidation that I leaned across it this morning, fully expecting one almighty bang as the last ounce of my full body weight succumbed to the ‘power of the ball’.

There was no bang!! I have no idea what witchcraft they use to make these things, but it held my weight!! 

I pressed start on the YouTube Yoga Ball for Beginners video I’d found.

“How hard can it be?” says I. Outloud. “It’s only ten minutes long.”

Well, let me tell you, it could be very sodding hard, and it was. I didn’t even know I could travel across my bedroom, horizontally, at that speed. But seemingly, I can. And that was only whilst I tried to get into the correct position for the back stretch.

The whole session swiftly disintegrated into me, playing ‘ball-boy’ for half an hour. How do people DO those positions and movements without the bloody thing shooting out from beneath them like a pinball machine?

And then we need to talk about the issue of boobage. Seriously.

I’ve tried pushing them up, pushing them down … even attempted one either side of the Bastard Ball at one point. I’m only left with two options now. Sucking them in, or tying them up behind the back of my head. It’s really painful!! I’m sure the guys wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about playing football if they had to have their knackers clamped in a vice for the entirety of the match.

I crawled out of the room a sweaty, but triumphant, mess. Not sure how much I’ve actually benefited from it exercise wise, but I smashed the Ghost of Procrastination in the bollox and that will always be a great achievement.

I may try again tomorrow, or I may not. I’m undecided. The last piece of fitness equipment I bought, that stands neatly behind my bedroom door, is near to reaching it’s full capacity of how many clothes it can hold. Additional storage may be required.

I’m never going to love exercise, but I’m working on not hating it.

 

Single Mom Discovers New ‘Strongest Substance Known to Man’.

 

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Up until today, according to Our Lord God The Google and Michio Kaku, the strongest substance known to man was something called Graphene. In the description is says

“Think of like Saran Wrap made out of one-molecule-thick carbon atoms.  That graphene is so strong in principle you can take an elephant, put the elephant on a pencil, suspend the pencil on graphene and graphene will not break.  That is how strong it is.  It is the strongest material known to science at the present time.”

Now I’m not a woman of science. Nor am I one to blow my own trumpet in particular, however, I think on this occasion I would be excused a moment or two in the limelight. And I think the scientific community would excuse my temporary big headedness when I declare, with confidence, that Graphene bloody well isn’t the strongest substance known to man. It is, in fact, what ever the hell is on the inside of the three-week old bowl that I found in my son’s bedroom today. The ‘what ever the hell it is’ that he ( of course) denied all knowledge of.

<Cue innocent and mildly surprised look from tween>

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#ScientificFact

As well as it’s apparent strength, one has to assume that there is some kind of quantum physics / molecular fusion that has  gone on because quite frankly that is the only explanation to how, what used to be #Kellogs #CrunchyNutCornflakes, could have become quite so well attatched to my porcelain.

We would have attempted the elephant experiment as described by Google however, in the absence of an elephant, we only had Fetish-Dog and she refused to co-operate. She also chewed up most of the pencils we own, many weeks ago. Instead, we devised our own tests. Despite putting it through many process in the ‘Anna J Domestic Laboratory’, including sand blasting, acid erosion, small nucleur bomb, hammer and chisel, swearing at it very loudly etc. I have been unable to break it down either physically or emotionally. Sadly, it appears to have had the reverse effect on me and I’ve now reached Pinot Grigio point of desperation.

I’m praying there will be no regeneration or breeding from what ever it is during the night, but in all honesty, things aren’t looking great. Next stop is NASA Research Dept … followed by Argos. To buy some new bowls.

I’m Declaring Today, International PJ Day

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Today is officially a PJ Day, and, I’m officially making it international so it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, I’ve gotcha back.
Following The Captain’s Nothing Day, yesterday, unsurprisingly, I now need to recharge. I think I’m a fairly typical female when I say that I really don’t function well on not enough sleep and too much daily demand. What usually starts out as a ‘bit of a low mood’ when I wake, speedily runs towards the grand finishing line of ‘Holy mother of all the gods, the sky has fallen down on my life and everything is such a mess’.
If I don’t listen to my body and my energy levels,by tea time I’m entering myself into every ‘worst mother /ugliest woman/ terrrible’est ( yes I made that word up) friend competition’ that I can find; secure in the knowledge that I absolutely will win them all. These days are known in the (female) trade as Fat & Ugly Days, and as I’ve already mentioned, generally pop up when we are tired, or due on (when we aren’t living through a ‘Clumsy Day’ or ‘I’m Just Gonna Cry and Eat Chocolate Day’).
So for today, I’m taking a breather. The kids will have to survive on pasta. The clothes washing will have to wait so we may be wearing dressing gowns and flip-flops tomorrow. The dishes will have to wait, and yes I’m prepared for the fact that we could realistically end up eating out of Tupperware pots and drinking from a measuring jug by this afternoon. And in the absence of having a special someone to hand me a glass of wine and tell me that everything is going to be okay, I shall probably pour myself one; and everything will be okay.

Happy International PJ Day people.

 

Disclaimer: This post does not restrict me to only one PJ Day a year

The Joys of Parenting Aspergers. (cont.) (for’freakin’ever)

So, The Captain ( recently retitled as Captain Fad) has commenced his latest entrepreneurial project. The last one was loom band bracelets and even I have to admit that he did incredibly well selling  ( *cough* fleecing ) to many of his friends. He works on the commonly voiced business practice in #DragonsDen that its better to have a lot of a little and thus made his first step towards being a millionaire at 10p a go. All on the back of a fashion that peaked about 2 years ago (peaked= all the parents got sick of hoovering the little fuckers up 24/7). 
Not bad at all! 

And so onwards with the next step towards financial freedom he goes.

‘The project has been on the go for approximately 24 hours excluding the fortnight he spent prior, planning it all. Planning, in the world of #Aspergers consists mainly of walking into your mothers bedroom at random / intermittent/ stupid o’clock early hours of the morning ( think 12:30am onwards at least every 90 minutes) to declare that you have “…. Just a few more quick questions…” or to excitedly shove an ipad in said mothers face whilst exclaiming “… I have found THE perfect thing and we HAVE to order it NOW!”
There is no off-switch with an Aspergers Brain once they have found their ( current) ‘special thing’. And as a parent there is a fine balance between supporting and encouraging, whilst also teaching and reminding them about the necessary requirements / boundaries in real, every day life ( i.e the need for us mere mortals to sleeeeeeeep).
It was with joyous relief that I handed the parcels from #Amazon over to The Captain yesterday morning so he could finally commence, on a practical basis,  this new and wonderous project. There was much excitement as he tipped the contents out onto the kitchen table and a sea of colours drowned the vintage paris grey wood beneath. Chatter and banter began as he vocally explored the dream of how he would spend or reinvest all the wads of cash that fate was bringing in his direction….. Oh how we all laughed and smiled with glee.
Then he accidently dropped some of the afore mentioned sea of colour onto the floor …
After picking half of it up, he announced that ‘its all just a bit too much and I need to go for a lay down’…  And promptly left us minions running his sweatshop for him whilst he CEO’d from the comfort ( and darkeness) of his executive boudoir!! 

He’s promised to give the business a 12 hour solid shift today … That was at 10am this morning and its now nearly lunch … There has already been many, many, MANY  “I’ll be down in 10 minutes” … 

I’m considering leaving a trail of #Dorritos from his bedroom to the kitchen but I suspect Fetish-Dog would get to them first and make herself ill, and then I’d have a different kind of Sea of Many Colours to deal with!
It’s not easy being a momma to an Entrepreneurial, Dorrito Loving, Fetish-Dog Owning Teen with Aspergers … But there is rarely a dull moment. Rarely does a day pass without a story thats worthy of being shared: and never is there a day when I am not amazed by the incredible way his brain functions. Wouldn’t have him any other way. 💓💓💓💓

I’ve Got This Dog That Steals Pants …

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(Artwork provided by Kk  Instagram: of_art_and_science/  Aluria Arts ) 

 

To be fair, it’s not the only thing she steals, but pants are her favourite. She’s not fussy whose pants they are (as can be verified by a few guests who have stayed at Chez-Annas). She hasn’t singled mine out due to any dubious or questionable hygiene habits ( or lack of them). She just likes pants. Fresh out of the drawer, or fresh off ya bum. Either / or. She also has a penchant for cucumbers and will steal those too given the opportunity. (I know right? The whole thing is quite questionable). You wouldn’t think it was a circumstance that arose, but in our house it does, because I also have a child (The Colonel) that nicks cucumbers. Whole ones at a time. Because I once said, many moons ago, that I didn’t mind him helping himself to healthy nibbles out of the fridge.

And so he does.

A few nights ago he took one and stashed it somewhere in his bedroom for later. No, I have no clue why. As far as I am aware there was no impending national shortage of cucumbers and nor had we reached such a dire state of financial destitution that we wouldn’t be able to purchase any in the near future either. Whatever his reasoning, the cucumber ended up at eye level. Fetish-Dog eye level (who I should add only weighs 3kg and is not much bigger than the average roasted peanut). Fetish-Dog didn’t waste a second. She promptly whipped it out from its hiding place and scarpered across the landing at a hundred dog-miles an hour. Tail and ears flattened to enhance her aerodynamics. Straight under my bed. Bearing in mind that the cucumber was about the same length as her, it was quite a sight to behold.  I’d like to pretend I was shocked and stunned at the antics, but the reality was that I barely raised an eyebrow. However, it was more entertaining than the writing project I was sat trying to complete at the time.  In traditional fashion, I rolled my eyes and then flipped over the edge of the mattress for a front seat view of the ensuing hoo-har. Just in time to feel the breeze coming off my second born (the victim in this scenario) as he also arrived at the scene. Horizontally. A bit like superman, but with less grace and more spots.

There was initially a bit of a standoff. Fetish-Dog buried her salad-treasure under the nest of stolen pants (that’s where they’ve all been disappearing to!!) in a bid to frighten the enemy, and for a moment or two, it worked. The Colonel looked at the pants, looked back at the dog, looked at the cucumber and weighed up the odds of survival. He gave me a fleeting glance, a thumbs up and told me he was going in.

I gave him a thumbs up back … because I’m a supportive parent like that …

What happened next was a little more than a heated debate. He argued his case well. She argued hers better, and in typical female fashion, chose to ignore him completely and do whatever the hell she wanted anyway; dragging the cucumber and the pants even further back into No Mans Land. I think it would be a just assessment to say that The Colonel lost … both the cucumber and his dignity. And I also think it would be fair to say that I shall be needing to take a trip to M & S very soon in order to stock up on supplies. Of pants. Not cucumbers.

We are going to stick to purchasing lettuce for a wee while.

 

 

 

 

 

Bacon Butty. Red? Brown? Discuss.

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It’s a debate that has been going on since the beginning of time, or at least since the invention of red sauce and brown sauce. The core of the campaign ( I think it would be fair to say), sits in the UK. I’m yet to discover another place that is so passionate about its bacon butty. Nor am I yet to discover another place that does them quite so well. And yet even with this accolade, as a nation, we are unable to agree on what actually creates and defines the perfect butty.

This isn’t just a battle of two sides.

The camps are many. Mass-produced white bread or rugged fresh artisan? Sliced bread or rolls? Butter or no butter? Toasted or not toasted? Additions ( egg / cheese etc) or no additions. Smoked bacon or unsmoked? Fried or grilled? Red sauce or brown sauce or no sauce? And then, of course, there are all the combinations in between.

So why am I bringing this age-old issue up? You may well ask.

Because. I. Changed. Camps!!

I have no clue what happened! Or why it happened! Little did I know, as I was preparing breakfast yesterday, that by the end of that first mouthful, life would never be the same again! A red girl for my entire 45 years, I took that bite and something was wrong. I checked the bread.The bacon. The butter. All was as it should be, and yet my taste buds were disagreeing. I looked on with horror as my youngest, The Colonel, grabbed the brown sauce from the cupboard and suggested I give it a whirl instead. I was still mentally scarred from previous occasions in years gone by when I’d picked up the wrong butty by accident, and copped a mouthful of the stuff. It had been vile, and yet there I was. Contemplating shifting my flag from one loyalty to another.

My spot was hit. 

It was with pure self-disapproval and reluctance that I remade the sandwich, replacing the ketchup with some of ‘that stuff’. But I can not tell a lie. I don’t know what had happened to my brain during the night; what witchcraft took place; what alien probing went on, but something did. And I’m a convert. I saw the light / became a traitor ( depending on the stance you are reading this from).

I’m a brown sauce girl!

Apologies to the red team. You had me for a long while, but now I must spread my love elsewhere. The perfect bacon butty is now officially made with the brown stuff. With fried bacon. Buttered bread. Which must be griddled in the remains of the bacon juices in the pan. And the bread has to be good ol’ fashioned bought, white, sliced – cotton wool bread as we call it in our house because that’s the closest thing to its taste, texture and nutritional value. And there must never be any other ‘additions’. Never. Ever.

The only other requirement, the piece de resistance, is a mug of Yorkshire tea that’s big enough to swim across.

Breakfast Heaven.

All other combinations and offerings of this great tradition are, or course, wrong.

Next week’s debate: Daddies or HP?