I hope you enjoy the food!!!

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year In Review

New years eve is the time to look back and reflect on the year that was!

This year has been a year of incredible highs and lows for me.

I got to do my ultimate trip to Italy. I got to experience all that I had dreamed about for so long. The trip was everything I had hoped for and more. It also gave me a chance to be "me" again, and not be Mum for 2 weeks! 

Looking back though that was to be sum total of "highs" for me for the year!

The morning I landed back home, I landed with a thud! Within 3 hours of arriving home I was at the vet's having the family dog put to sleep. I guess they wanted me to be the one to do the dastardly deed. Putting this dog to sleep was so much more than putting the family pet to sleep. This dog was my son who has special needs' best and probably only friend. He was distraught, and it led him into a downward spiral of behavioral problems.

After 6 weeks, I succumbed and got the family a new dog! A rescue dog, I'm not sure exactly why he was surrendered, but he was a very emotional young "teenager" when he joined our family.
Looking back on Milo's entry into our home, I can see this is where the year went all pear shaped. Jack loved this dog, sure not as much as the other one, but it was still early days. He took him for walks, and that is when the bottom fell out of our world!

Those of you that have been followers for a while will know that Jack has Prader Willi Syndrome. This syndrome is a cruel one, and has many unfortunate characteristics, one of which is a high pain threshold. While out walking Milo (who happens to be an incredibly strong dog for such a medium sized animal) Jack managed to slip his femur out of the socket! A normal person would be screaming in agony, he simply complained of a pain in his hamstring. We rubbed, and went to doctors and physios, but there didn't seem to anything glaringly obvious wrong. Three weeks later, after my savior of many occasions in the months to come saw Jack, and pondered this strange set of symptoms, he suggested we should get a hip x ray done.

A six hour Emergency surgery followed, the blood supply was dead, and Jack was to be in a wheelchair for 12 months!

The worst however, was still yet to come. As I have said Prader Willi Syndrome has many issues, most we learn about along the way as we travel the journey. Four days post surgery, Jack slipped into a psychotic/delerium state. My seemingly "normal" 14 year old was little more than a baby again. I have since learnt that people with PWS can slip into these psychotic states, Jack was the youngest to have ever done this. The prognosis was not great - this state could last anyway from days, to weeks, to months!

Fortunately, we only visited "la-la land"for 35 days.

After 3 months in hospital, it was time to face the next hurdle - how to care for this child who already was more than I could handle, but now had all these new issues to deal with?

After much soul searching and tears, a decision was made to place him in "out of home" care. This is by no means an easy decision to make. I always wanted to take care of him, and to find a suitable place in the future, so that he could lead a relatively happy, normal, independent lifestyle. This was all so much more earlier than we had anticipated. Unfortunately services and facilities for adolescents with special needs are few and far between.

So while I used to write a daily blog, I now started putting all those words to good use. I started to writing to anybody who I thought would listen to me. I think nearly every politician in the state knows about Jack now!

It seems though that my words found listening ears. I now have a real chance to try and make a difference to the lives of young people with PWS. I am stepping into the new year fighting a battle that is for me a personal battle , but I am fighting not only for me, and my child. I aim to raise the level of awareness about PWS, and I am determined to get housing built so that our young adults with PWS can live meaningful, productive lives.

So Dear Readers, while I might not have been blogging, I have certainly been busy. I have often wondered if anyone has even missed me? We have still eaten, for many months though it was certainly not up to our usual calibre, but it was sustenance (and often times it was provided by good hearted samaritans!)

So I leave you here, at the end of a year I would sooner rather forget with a beautiful roasted pork belly.
I'm not going to give you the recipe, other than to say - it's all about simplicity.

8 Hour Slow Roasted Pork Belly

Score your pork belly rind. Place it on a rack in the sink, and pour over a kettle of boiling water. Dry well with paper towels. Rub oil and salt into the rind.

Turn the oven onto 100 degrees C.

Place the rack in a roasting pan. Carefully pour in a cup of cold water into the base of the roasting pan. Roast for 8 hours, checking that there is still water in the pan every couple of hours.

After 8 hours, turn the oven up to 220 degrees, roast for 20-25 minutes, or until you have perfectly crispy crackling!

Serve with whatever sauce you desire - port and cherry sauce, or as I did a caramelized peanut salsa.
Is there anything better than the crunch of pork crackling? I think not!

So Dear Readers I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year. I hope that 2013 holds good things for everyone (someone told me that its the years with the even numbers that are the bad ones) - so let's hope 13 is good because it's odd!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Exceptional Jasmine Thai Salmon

"That smells disgusting" says one, "That smells really bad" mutters another.

Not great words to hear, as you are rushing to prepare dinner, two hours later than normal, after the day from hell.  The mood that I was in this late in the evening, and before the first glass of wine had had a chance to mellow me out - well my response was - "that's too bad, it's dinner - eat it or not!!!!"

Silently I am hoping that it wasn't going to be as bad as they thought it would be, that it was just the underlying smell (the one that they all dislike) of fish sauce, and that once they got over the smell, and tasted the dish, everything would be fine.

Saying that though, this recipe did have a rather unusual element to it - jasmine tea leaves!!  Now this is when I began doubting myself, and thinking that the way that this day had unfolded, the meal would probably be a disaster too!!!

Calm down, take another sip / gulp of wine, and keep on cooking......

Given that I was running so late getting this dinner underway, the saving grace of this meal was how incredibly simple, and quick it was to make.

I found the recipe in a little supplemental cook book that came with a Delicious magazine several months ago.  In it was an advertisement for Dilmah Teas - entitled Tea Gastronomy.  The picture below shows the tea bags used in the recipe.

I did make a couple of changes - I will highlight what I have done.

Exception Jasmine Thai Salmon
From an advertisement for Dilmah Teas in a Cookbook called Seasonal Flavours - from Delicious Magazine

Serves 4

2 x Dilmah Fragrant Jasmine Green Real Leaf Tea bags
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbs lime juice
2 tbs sweet chilli sauce
2 tbs oil
1 tbs brown sugar
4 x salmon fillets
1/3 cup roughly chopped cashews

snow peas, finely shredded
english spinach leaves
lebanese cucumber slices

Sesame oil drizzled over the salad.

Coconut rice to serve

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Tear the teabags open and sprinkle the tea leaves into a frying pan.  Stir in the water, fish sauce, sweet chilli sauce, lime juice, oil and brown sugar.  Bring to the boil over medium high heat.  Simmer for 1 minute. *

Add the salmon and cook each side for 30 seconds.  Transfer the salmon and liquid to a baking dish and bake for 5 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. **

Combine the salad ingredients, drizzle with sesame oil.  Serve with the salmon.  Sprinkle with the chopped cashews.

* I actually simmered the liquid for several minutes - I did wonder if I was in fact stewing the tea, but it worked out OK.  I wanted to get the sauce to a little thicker consistency.

I didn't put the liquid with the salmon in the oven - basically because I wasn't reading the recipe correctly.  Cooking for 5 minutes still left the middle of the salmon quite raw, so if you like it cooked through - cook for a few (say 3) minutes longer.  While the salmon was in the oven I left the sauce simmering on the stove top.  When I served the meal, I poured a little of the sauce over the top of the salmon, and served the rest alongside the dish in a little jug.

The end result, after all those exclamations of disgust at the beginning of the cooking???

This was a beautiful, light, refreshing, healthy meal!!!  Loved by all who ate it!!!

Definitely one to make again - perhaps I will plug their noses next time!!!

So Dear Readers is there a particular ingredient that you use that people dislike the smell of, but once in the meal all complaints are gone?