Meditating on Meditation

As part of my healthy heart and healthy mind thing this year, I’m giving meditation a whirl.

It’s one of those things I’ve been meaning to do (or should that be talking about doing?) for longer than I care to admit.

I’ve sort of done it before – I did Kundalini yoga for a bit and there was quite a bit of chanting or active meditation in that – and it never failed to make me feel better. It wasn’t something I ever felt comfortable doing outside of a class though.

I’ve mentioned before that there are times when I feel so anxious or worried that my heart feels like it’s beating out of my chest. Sometimes it’s about work, but very often it’s to do with potential outcomes that are beyond my control or other people’s problems that I’ve somehow managed to make my own.

It’s worse at night when the monkey brain really takes over.

I can worry about anything – from what might happen to what people think of me, to creative self-doubt (that’s a huge one), to … well, you get the idea. The thing is, I need to let it go, I need to accept that there are things I can’t change and situations I can’t control, I need to learn to improve my focus, and I need to reduce stress.

And I don’t think that I’m alone in that.

Benefits of meditation…

According to pretty much everything I’ve read, meditation can:

  • reduce stress
  • improves concentration
  • increases happiness
  • increases self-awareness
  • increases acceptance
  • encourages a healthy lifestyle
  • slows aging
  • benefits heart health and immunity

If it can do all this, it has to be worth a go, right?

How to meditate…

I have no flipping idea. What I can tell you is how I’m doing it – or, rather, trying to do it.

I’m starting small – with just five minutes a day to begin to get me into the habit.

I’ve downloaded the app Calm. It plays relaxing birdsong and water trickling types of noises for as long as you need it to, but I’m finding that I’m using it more for the deep breathing and looking at the calming picture during the work day when I get the whole tummy dip thing. As I take ten deep breaths, I feel my shoulders relax almost immediately.

I’ve found a rock down at the beach that I sit on after my morning walks. I set the timer on my iPhone for five minutes, pop my sunglasses over my closed eyes and listen to nothing but the ocean until the timer goes off.

I’ve popped a playlist on my phone with some new-agey sort of music on it that I can use with the timer on my phone, although so far I haven’t managed to get a real habit happening at home.

the view from my rock

I’ve also downloaded the free version of Headspace, but the constant emails are already driving me spare re-upgrading to paid versions – so that won’t be lasting.

Am I feeling the benefits? Nope, not yet anyway. But I will perservere – so many people can’t be wrong…can they?

What about you? Do you meditate? If so, what works for you?

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


Baked Lemon Cheesecake

mine wasn’t styled this nicely…

This baked lemon cheesecake appears in my next book – which, of course, means that it gets tried out on my family first, and you guys second. I can’t tell you who bakes it in the book as that would be a spoiler alert, but feature it does.

The recipe comes originally from Rick Stein’s French Odyssey, with, naturally a few tweaks here and there – not that Rick’s version wasn’t perfect to start with, just that when I was making it, I didn’t have quite enough of a few ingredients so had to improvise. The result was a slightly lighter texture which my husband said he preferred. As an aside, he’s a tough marker when it comes to cheesecake – he doesn’t like anything overly sweet and he doesn’t enjoy a coconutty base.

Likewise the berry compote. I’ll give you the recipe for it, but really I just used some fresh blueberries from the market and the remainder of a punnet of raspberries from the previous week. Later on in the week I melted down some good raspberry jam and drizzled on top – that’s what I’ve used in the photo below.

Anyways, here’s how you make it…

Before you start

  • Line the base of a 20cm springform tin – one of those ones with the clips on them that makes them spring open – with baking paper and grease or butter the tin lightly.
  • Preheat the oven to 150C.

For the base

  • 100g butter, melted
  • 200g plain biscuits. If you can get them plain digestives are good.
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

Pop the biscuits into a large sandwich bag and smash them with a rolling pin – or a tin. You want them crushed, so feel free to bash away a bad week on them.

Once the biscuits are crumbs, mix through the sugar and the melted butter. Tip it into the tin and press firmly into the base. The back of a spoon does this job well.

For the cheesecake

  • 500g cream cheese – don’t even be tempted to consider low fat
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 300ml crème fraiche. (I used 200ml crème fraiche and 100ml natural unsweetened yoghurt)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon and 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Beat together the cream cheese and the sugar until its silky smooth. Add the eggs – one at a time – and beat well between each addition. Add the cornflour, crème fraiche (or crème fraiche and yoghurt), lemon zest and lemon juice and beat well.

Pour the mix into the tin and place into the oven. You’ll need to bake it for 50 minutes to an hour. The top will be set, but there should be a slight wobble still in the centre. Turn the oven off, but resist the urge to open the oven door too often. You want it to cool gently as the oven cools – it helps minimise the risk of the cheesecake splitting – but doesn’t guarantee that it won’t! If it does split, don’t worry too much – you can always cover it with berries…and yes, this is not the dessert that you make at the last minute!

For the berry compote

225g raspberries

50g caster sugar

Finely grated zest of ½ and orange

350g mixed berries

We usually have berries of all types in the freezer – I buy up big at the markets when they’re in season and freeze in little bags for Sarah’s smoothies during the week – and it’s ok to use frozen ones.

Put the raspberries, sugar and orange zest into a bowl and crush into a puree with the back of a fork. Push it through a sieve into a clean bowl and mix the other berries in. Chill until you’re ready to serve.

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


Let’s talk about love

Ok, I’ll admit it.

I don’t do Valentines Day.

There, I said it.

In fact, I happen to think it’s the least romantic day of the year. And I call myself a writer of happy endings!

And it’s not just because I’ve never received a card at Valentines – let alone anything else. Ever. Even before I decided I didn’t like the Hallmark sentimentality. I don’t think I’ve ever been that type of girl – the type of girl who is sent flowers or cards at Valentines – although when I was younger, I desperately wanted to be that type of girl. Cue sad violin music.

I remember clearly the Valentines Day before the man who would become my husband and I started dating. We were working together and he received flowers from a soon to be ex-girlfriend. He was mortified. I’m still not sure whether it was the surprise (he doesn’t like surprises), or the fact that she’d blown that much money, or that girls aren’t supposed to buy guys flowers. Whatever. He hated it and they split very soon after. I think they were probably already in the processes of splitting – hence the flowers.

By the time the next Valentines Day came about we’d been together for about 8 months. He asked whether I wanted to do anything, and copped the (first of many over the years) soapbox stance about how the food is worse on Valentines Day, the price of everything goes up, and how there’s no romance or spontaneity in being told that on this day you should show your partner that you love her/him.

To me, it’s like New Year’s Eve: when you’re told that you have to party and have a good time because it’s New Year’s Eve. I don’t like being told what to do, and when.

Now before you go and assume that I’m not romantic, that’s absolutely not the case. I absolutely believe in romance – I have to: I’m in the business of writing happy endings. Nor is it the case that hubby doesn’t do the occasional flower thing – usually though, it’s when I least expect it, and most need it. Like the time when I went in for some nasty girly surgery and he brought me two bunches of flowers: herbs for his wife, and daisies for his lover. Awwwww.

So when I say I don’t do Valentines Day, what I really mean is I don’t do all the card, flowers, expensive set menu brouhaha of it.

But, when you’ve been together for a while when domestic business, as usual, takes over, days like Valentines and anniversaries are little reminders that every so often your relationship needs to be put front and centre.

Sometimes in the whirl of work, bills, mortgages, homework, family stuff, you need a reminder about why you’re together. And Valentines is good for that.

To me, it’s about the sentiment, not the expenditure.

We won’t share cards. But we will share a joke – about the flowers he ordered from that florist in Canberra. It’s the same florist he’s ordered from each year for the last 28 years who never delivers. Somehow I think the delivery will go astray again this year.

10 reasons to exercise in the morning

I’m easing into the whole 2018 intentions thing. So far I’m doing well at:

  • The water thing
  • The workday walking thing
  • The twice a week at the gym thing (although I want to go on record as saying I still dislike it, but in the scale of dislike, I dislike it less this week than I did last week and much less than I did the week before.
  • I’ve also started adding some black-line swimming again

I haven’t yet addressed the portions and alcohol thing…that’s something for this month…maybe…

Although my brain is a steel trap where matters of my corporate gig are concerned, when it comes to personal goals, my focus is positively Dory-like. I truly forget what it is that I’m meant to be doing. For me, the key is getting things done in the morning. In general, if it doesn’t happen before I log into the partition job, it doesn’t happen.

So, before you hit the snooze button, here are my reasons why you should get your arse out of bed and into the gym, on the path, in the pool, whatever:

  • The sunrises. Even if you’re in Queensland and there’s no daylight saving, there’s something very special about starting a new day – it’s a physical and daily reminder that no matter what other chaos is happening, the world continues to turn and the sun comes up with all the promise that it brings with it.
  • You have to get up anyway and besides, are you really likely to go back to sleep? Be honest.
  • I’d put money on the fact that at least 80% (if not more) of the people already training when you get there would rather still be in bed too.
  • Early morning training is not about impressing anyone other than yourself. No one cares whether you are sporting the latest logo singlet or have a full face on – it’s too flipping early. Basic hygiene tasks only need to be completed before early morning training.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but early morning training gets my creative brain going in a way that lying in bed never would. I solve so many plot problems when I’m walking. Alternatively, stick some ear-plugs in and catch up on your favourite podcast. That’s what I call multi-tasking.
  • If you’re a gym-goer, you mightn’t need to queue for equipment in the mornings and can hog the cardio machines for longer.
  • Early morning training frees your mind for the rest of the day – the real hard work is done, so you don’t need to spend other precious hours thinking of all the very valid reasons why you should be blowing off that class/walk/session tonight.
  • The post-exercise high takes you through at least until your first coffee and sets up the brain as well as the body for the day ahead. And yes, doubters, even if all you are feeling is “thank flip that’s over,” it’s still a high of sorts.
  • No matter what sort of downhill slide your day takes, you started it having achieved something. That’s one box ticked.
  • If you make a deal with yourself that you will train after work, do so in the knowledge that there is dinner to be hunted down, homework to be nagged about and an open bottle of wine in the fridge. And you really think you’ll go back out once the heels are off, the bra is off and the wine poured? No, I didn’t think so either.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


Happy Ever After Week 10

One of the things that I’d decided to do this year was to try and work smarter. The key to that was batching – especially in regards to my astro site, the readers of which are hungry for new content.

What I’ve taken to doing is setting aside the first Friday afternoon in the month and getting all the content written for that month – short daily forecasts where there’s something interesting happening in the sky, and slightly longer do it yourself posts for sign changes, full moons, new moons etc.

So, that was last Friday. Then I remembered that I had a deadline on Monday for some (paid) daily forecasts that I’d committed to writing. So I sat down on Saturday and what should have taken me a couple of hours – 2.5 max – took me all day. Those 50-word forecasts were so painful to write this time! I know my stuff (she says without blushing) and these normally just flow, but not this weekend.

By the time I was done I felt as though I’d run the mental equivalent of a marathon. Why was it so hard? I have no idea. I suspect that it’s partly because I wanted to get back to the novel, partly because I’d had such a productive writing day the day before (3000+ words on the novel in the morning and a month worth of blog posts in the afternoon), partly because it had been a busy week in the partition job, partly because my back was killing me, and mostly because I just wasn’t in the mood.

That’s the thing with this gig though – you can’t just say ‘I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling it today’ and faff about. The bum has to be planted on the seat and the words have to be written by the date you said they’d be written – especially when you’re being paid to write them.

Anyways, I have half a day out of the partition job today, next week’s business trip has been cancelled, and both the novel and a guest post for a friend are on the agenda for this afternoon. First, though, it’s a run out to the airport – Ms T is off to Sydney to visit my parents and catch up with some friends.

Until next week…

 

Apple and Cinnamon Scrolls

 

I could almost call this little series of posts “What Kate Cooked,” but that’s a tad restrictive.

This recipe was made by Kate Spence, the protagonist in my current novel (working title) Happy Ever After. She baked a batch of these for an afternoon tea to celebrate the return of a friend who’d been travelling around Europe. More happens – of course, it does – but, you’d need to read the finished product for that.

Anyways, my husband, who loves his pastries – even though he shouldn’t be eating them…which means I shouldn’t be cooking them – gave this the seal of approval. They were perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon tea.

Now, if you’re so inclined you can make your own rough puff pastry – after all, they do it all the time on Masterchef and make it look seriously easy. I’ve never tried and have no burning desire to do so. Life’s too short for complications like that – and my husband is usually too impatient for the end result.

So, assuming that you’re not going to be making your own fresh puff – rough or otherwise – here’s what you need:

  • 3 sheets frozen puff pastry
  • Cinnamon sugar made from mixing 2 tablespoons light brown sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon together. Of course, you could just use the pre-mixed cinnamon sugar, but I like doing it this way.
  • 50g melted butter
  • 2 green apples – peeled, cored, and cubed into a tiny dice
  • 1 cup flaked almonds – I used a big handful of slivered almonds because I had some left over from the Christmas cake, but pecans or walnuts would also work well. Your call.

What you do with it

Before you start, hold out a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar. I always forget to do this, but you need this for the top. It’s probably a good idea to pre-heat your oven at this point – to 200C.

Brush one sheet of puff with butter – be generous, this is all about buttery flaky goodness. Scatter with one-third of (what’s left of) the cinnamon sugar.

Lay the next sheet on top of the first and do it all again…and then again with the third sheet.

Scatter the apple pieces and then the almonds over the top of the sugared third sheet of pastry and then roll it up tightly like a swiss roll. Don’t worry about the bits of apple and almond that come out the sides – you can scatter them over the top at the end.

Brush the long open end with some water to seal the pastry, and brush the log with egg wash (1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon milk).

Using a super sharp knife, carefully slice the log into slices about 2.5cm (an inch) thick and even more carefully transfer the slices to a baking tray that you’ve lined with baking paper.  You’ll be laying the spirals flat. Although it’s tempting to lay them against each other so they won’t open up, where they touch each other they won’t crisp up as well. You have been warned.

Brush the tops with more of the egg wash, and poke the leftover appley bits into the scrolls. Now pop the tray into the oven for about 40 minutes.

While they’re doing their thing in the oven, heat a few tablespoons of honey with a half teaspoon of vanilla extract in a small saucepan. Keep an eye on it though – you don’t want it to boil.

When the scrolls are crisply golden, brush them with the honey glaze and scatter over about a tablespoon of caster sugar. Pop them back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes – until the sugar is melted and it’s all quite golden and sticky.

 

 

 

Sentence a day – January 2018

We’ve been doing a lot of this time last year type comparisons of late:

  • this time last year we bought our Queensland house
  • this time last year we put our Sydney house on the market

This time last year…

It doesn’t seem so long ago – but at the same time, it feels like a lifetime.

Anyways, that’s all by the by – the first month of 2018 has flown by. Looking forward to February, it’s a busy one with work trips to Adelaide and Sydney on the schedule and a mini break to Melbourne. In between that, I have some freelance projects that are under deadline and a book that needs to be rewritten. So without further ado, let’s wrap up January so I can get my teeth into February already!

1.Happy New Year…and farewell to Fraser Island…for now.

Dinner at Maroochydore Surf Club…for somewhere different.

view from the Surf Club on a hazy evening

2. Brekky at One Block Back, Nice Kiwis back to NZ – it’s been fabulous having you here.

3. Back to work…enough said.

4. Testing and more testing, but also a big afternoon scheduling posts for January on the astro page.

5. Business plan (and post) completed for the year, Word of The Year post scheduled, Wellness goals and Creative Goals posts scheduled, and astro posts written and batched for the rest of January. That’s a huge tick in the box.

6. Markets, Jimmy’s for brekky, Nigella’s herbed lamb roast and olive oil chocolate mousses for dinner.

7. Another hot one on the coast, but glad we’re not in Western Sydney where it’s 45C! Secrets on the Lake for lunch and some respite from the heat.

Made a batch of corn and ginger soup with the corn I bought yesterday. The recipe is here.

8. Walk this morning, the gym at lunchtime, and the office in between.

9. Cut this morning’s walk short to have a swim as well. It’s hard to imagine that at 6.30am this time last year I would have been on the M2 bus into the city and doing a 90-minute commute to work with no time to exercise and absolutely no walk by the beach.

10. Back into the pool for some black line swimming. I reckon it’s been about 8 years since I did lap swimming, but man, it felt good.

11. Mum and Dad’s 54th wedding anniversary – seriously admirable in this day and age – and Adventure Spaniel gets a clean bill of health from the vet. In other news, my hair is green – I suspect from the chlorine yesterday.

12. Hairdressers – to get rid of the grey…and the green! She sent me home with some gunk that will protect my hair from future green episodes – although sadly not future grey ones. Back into the surf this arvo, so the fresh hair thing didn’t last long.

 

13. Winnie at Woombye for brekky, followed by a day of swimming, floating, reading…and some more swimming. Saturday done well.

14. Sunshine Coast Collective Markets this morning – scored some great earrings for $8. Pitaya bowls at Little Boat Espresso afterwards.

15. Walk, work, laps – all under a blue sky.

16. Dragged myself to the gym again at lunchtime – poked my bicep to see if it has grown yet…disappointment sets in.

17. Wednesday is usually a writing day, but sadly not today – I had to log into the office instead. Managed a walk in the morning and a swim at lunchtime in between. Big dumping waves down at Mooloolaba thanks to tidal surges and southerly winds.

18. A catch-up call after work with the friend in France I’ll be road-tripping with in April – love planning roadies.

19. My one day of the week to get some words done and boy the writing was a struggle this morning.

20. Went to buy a tart pan and bought a madeleine one instead – which meant I had to make some. The recipe is here.

21. Noosa Farmer’s Market for a change.

22. Friends from Sydney for dinner after work. Barbecue, potato salad and an apple and berry crumble.

23. Happy 76th birthday to my Mum – so grateful for how fit and vital she is and proud she still rocks a bikini.

24. Finally nailed the France road-trip itinerary…watch this space…

25. So humid at 5.30am on this morning’s walk. Train disruptions in Sydney so had to be at my desk early.

26. Australia Day – sun, pool, repeat.

27. Markets, writing and coq au vin and some little almond and apple cakey things (from the Rick Stein French Escapes cookbook) on the menu for diner a la maison. (See how I’m practising my French?)

28. Sunday lunch at Woombye – a real Queensland pub.

29. Walk work gym work walk.

30. Dinner and movie date with my daughter – The Greatest Showman. Spectacular.

Fabulous wave action at Mooloolaba Beach

31. Stupendous surf this morning, laps at lunchtime (with a visiting AFL team on pre-season training as a distraction) and work in between.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.

Happy Ever After – Week 9

I’m not long back from my morning walk. The surf has been spectacular over the last couple of days. It’s because of the Super Moon bringing super high tides, and a tropical low off somewhere in the Coral Sea.

I could have stayed down there and watched it for hours. Plenty were. I don’t think I’ve seen so many people (outside of whale season) just standing and watching the ocean – or quite as many surfers in the water at one time. There is, however, work to be done. And, as I have to log on later this afternoon into a teleconference for the partition job, a limited number of hours to do it in.

So, progress on the novel. I’m nearly done – with the first draft anyway. A couple of chapters will have it finished – hopefully by the weekend. I’ll be going straight into re-write mode with this – it has an appointment with my editor mid-March.

I also pulled out I Want You Back over the weekend and did another proof-read. It feels as though I’m missing something, but I don’t know what. Perhaps it’s because I intended releasing this as part of a three-book mini-series that I’ve managed to interrupt with Happy Ever After, I don’t know. At just 73,000 words it’s also much smaller than anything I’ve written previously – again because I intended it to be the first in a three-book mini-series. It’s not much longer than a genre romance. At that length, there’s very little room for sub-plots.

Anyways, I’ll write the blurb this week and send it off for formatting, but I’m still undecided as to whether I release as a stand-alone. The alternative is waiting until I’ve completed Tiff and Alice’s stories. I’ll need to think about that, but if anyone has ideas, please let me know!

Until next week…

 

How to make honey madeleines…

Two things are consuming most of my thoughts at the moment – planning my upcoming road trip in France (I’ll tell you about that another time) and finishing the first draft of my current manuscript (working title Happy Ever After). As an aside, if you’ve ever wanted to know the mechanics behind writing and publishing a book, I’m blogging this one week-by-week on a Wednesday. The series is here.

As things tend to do with me, the two have combined a little with my protagonist Kate Spence making a batch of the honey madeleines I baked last weekend.

These happened quite accidentally and coincidentally. You see we’d been watching the first episode of Bake-Off on telly earlier in the week and I happened to mention that madeleines (the subject of that week’s technical challenge) were something I’d always wanted to have a go at, but couldn’t because I didn’t have a madeleine pan.  Then I forgot all about it – as I tend to do.

On Saturday I was all set to make a ginger and pear frangipane style tart, so decided that I absolutely needed a long fluted tart tin. I couldn’t find one, but I did come home with a Madeline tin – and we had madeleines instead.

Although madeleines look simple, they’re actually not. You really do need the tin and you really do need to take the butter to just this side of burnt – it needs to be nutty brown.

Speaking of the butter, rather than creaming it with the sugar and then adding the eggs and finally the flour as you do with most batters, with madeleines the butter is added last.

Finally, the batter needs to sit in the fridge for at least an hour but preferably longer. Some people would say to pop it in the fridge overnight. Kate, my character, made hers in the morning so that when her friend dropped by in the afternoon she could simply pour the batter into the trays and pop them in the oven. I allowed it to rest just a few hours.

Why does the batter need to rest? At the risk of making your eyes glaze over, it’s about allowing time for the gluten to relax and the flour to be hydrated – it makes the batter thicker and gives the madeleines their distinctive little hump. Some people say that chilling your buttered (and floured) tin also helps with this. I’m not sure about that.

Anyways, this recipe is for honey madeleines. It’s a touch of sweetness that works perfectly with the lemony syrup that you spoon or brush over the top of them. For the pic I dusted a couple with icing sugar.

And the recipe? You’ll find it here. It’s from Darren Purchese’s book “Lamingtons and Lemon Tarts.”

Ambrosia Salad

It’s Australia Day tomorrow and these days the concept of Australia Day is – to me and many other Australians – a complicated and conflicted one…so we’re not going to talk about that.

Anyways, given that this is a politics-free site, and given that it was my Mother’s birthday just 2 days ago, I want to chat about a classic Aussie dessert. I use the term “classic” in its loosest possible reference – in that it’s been around for a while. I also use the term “Aussie” loosely as (ahem) extensive research on the subject has taught me that this particular recipe probably has its origins in the southern states of the US. I like to imagine it was picked up by the Australian Woman’s Weekly in the 60’s as being seriously exotic and a dessert that could proudly take its place on the buffet table of the hostess with the mostest – right beside the punchbowl.

I know what you’re thinking: not another variation on the lamington, the iced vovo or the pavlova – or even the iced vovo lamington. No, this is pure Aussie 60s/70s kitsch – and it was the height of hostessing fashion for a time. From the same decades that brought us devon slices filled with potato salad and skewered with a toothpick, little toast boats filled with creamed corn, vanilla slice made with sao biscuits, and tablecloths decorated with hobbytex, I bring you…ambrosia salad – a sickeningly sweet pina colada in dessert form.

I can still see Mum preparing this dessert at our red brick house in Carlingford in suburban Sydney when I was a kid. At one point she had four of us under seven (I was the eldest), so I imagine anything that was quick and easy would have been at the top of her list. Ambrosia salad requires no cooking (so no need to turn the oven on and heat the house up), has no fiddly icing or fancy ingredients, no complicated processes, and can be served in the same bowl it’s prepared in – so no extra washing up. It’s no wonder that it was Mum’s go-to dessert for so many years.

a pic of Mum and me – when I was at my most photogenic

Of course, Mum didn’t call it ambrosia salad. To her, it was (and still is) Five Cup Salad – because that’s what the recipe was:

  • 1 cup marshmallows
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup (canned) pineapple pieces
  • 1 cup (canned) mandarin pieces
  • 1 cup sour cream

It’s all then mixed together and popped on the table as is.

I remember thinking that it looked a little bit like…well, let’s not go there. The pic below will give you an idea – although Mum doesn’t put glace cherries on or in hers (thank goodness for small mercies).

A random pic I found of someone else’s ambrosia salad

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t enjoy it – it’s way too sweet for me and I really dislike the texture – but kids love it and it still brings a smile to my face when I see it. It’s as much a part of my childhood as Mum rocking a bikini with a book in hand (which she still does at 76), Dad watching the cricket (and listening to it on the radio at the same time), and sao biscuits for afternoon tea. (Thanks to my sister for those words…)

Although I wasn’t there for her birthday dinner on Tuesday evening, Mum put together a five cup salad for the occasion. In deference to the season, she used mango instead of mandarin. Very enterprising of her.

Have you ever had (or heard of) ambrosia salad?

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.