Cook Couscous Recipes Properly – 5 Tips and Tricks

If you’re asking yourself “what is couscous?”, it is a North African meal that has become quiet popular in various countries. Many have different opinions as to the origin of couscous. Some say that couscous, like pasta, originally came from China. In all actuality, all the evidence still says the it originates from the North African region.

The Couscous Preparation Process

Couscous recipes are normally steamed and fluffed, so the granules can become separated. Boiling and frequent stirring can reduce the quick cooking couscous to a sticky pile of mush. Therefore boiling and frequent stirring is not recommended for couscous. Just like pasta, it doesn’t have much flavor itself. Therefore couscous meals are generally made with flavored herbs, spices, stocks, even vegetables, different sorts of dried fruit, nuts, and in some cases they will include meat or use as a topping.

The majority of packaged couscous is considered to be “instant variety” and will cook quiet quickly on the stove by absorbing all the boiling liquid. On a side note, authentic couscous recipes may require significantly more time and patience as well as a good steaming vessel called a couscoussiére.

5 Tips and Tricks to Cooking Couscous

1. Be sure to note what type of couscous you’ve purchased weather it be instant or traditional, so you can plan your cooking time accordingly.

2. If you don’t have a steamer, then you can use a heat proof colander inside a stockpot, and that should work fine. If the holes are you too big, you can also line the colander with cheesecloth.

3. So you’ve cooked rice? Great, this can also be cooked just like rice. All you do is heat up some butter, add couscous, stir, add stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to absolute lowest setting, cover and let cook until fluids are absorbed. Fluff to separate, and enjoy.

4. When cooking the traditional method (the longer method) of steaming couscous, covering the pot is not recommended due to the fact that the condensation may drip onto the grains and make the consistency of the couscous mushy.

5. Once you’ve cooked your couscous and your ready to store it for leftovers, be sure its eaten within a couple of days. However, it can be frozen and can stay good up to three months.

Become a Master Chef in Your Own Home

Trying to find unique ways to inspire the taste buds and friends with as few dollars as possible is always a challenge. Let alone inspiring our children to eat something that does not come from a fast food joint. Presentation of the dish is of utmost importance.

I always think of how my children would not eat salads and fresh vegetables until I started to present them on a platter! Really made sense as a child could not really see what was in a large salad bowl but given the opportunity to pick food items from a platter that looked fresh and colourful created fun and enjoyment to all senses. We eat with our eyes and sense of smell long before tasting!It then gave me the opportunity to have them trial many different foods and retry ones that had been previously turned down. Therefore ensure firstly it looks great and then follow with aromatic smells.

The same rules really apply to adults. Some people are very hesitant to trial new foods but if presented very attractively it assists in overcoming this obstacle. My greatest compliment I have is when friends and acquaintances alike say to me that they can always be assured that they will try something different at my home.

One of my favourite recipes to enliven a cheese platter is Apricot Relish. (Especially if the budget is only allowing for a mass manufactured camembert or cheddar!)

250 grams of Apricots finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
1 cup of sugar
Cover with white vinegar
Bring to boil and then simmer until it reduces and thickens. If not sweet enough for your taste add a little more sugar and bring to boil again. Bottle in sterilised jar and leave to cool. Will keep for months in the refrigerator (If not found by those “I didn’t take it” monsters!!)

Enjoy.

MasterChef Australia Dazzles on Opening Night

Julie Goodwin was crowned as the first MasterChef of Australia as a record-breaking 4.1 million viewers watched on last year. This year thousands of passionate cooks from all over Australia applied for the second series, hoping to emulate Julie’s win. Back with much more exhilaration and excitement, MasterChef Australia is back to entertain like never before. The challenges this year will be much bigger, with intense competition and higher expectations.

Last night the show aired to nearly 1.7 million viewers. From thousands of applications the first episode began with the top 50. People from all different occupations, from stay-at-home mums, students, lawyers, doctors, accountants and engineers, all making it through because for their love of food. However, amongst all the new faces, the three astounding judges, remain the same, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris – award – winning and respected chefs and restaurateurs, as well as Matt Preston – one of the worlds’ most acclaimed food critics.

The challenge of the second series, episode one began with the challenge of cooking a dish using the BBQ, and any of the available ingredients in the MasterChef pantry. From this challenge, 40 were to make it through to the next episode and the least impressive 10 were to face the pressure test. From the dishes put forward, there were a lot of impressive dishes as well as a lot of strange combinations and some contestants who really needed to pull up their socks if they wanted to stay.

Tweeter users were sending tens & thousands of tweets about MasterChef making the show more interactive for them.

Penning Down The Names of Top 10 Celebrity Chefs in The World

People say that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. There are some famous chefs who have won the hearts of a lot of people and managed to get the top ten rankings among all the celebrity chefs. Chefs are those grand figures who influence our ways of cooking and eating. They are the rulers of the culinary world. They not only just cook delicacies but they express their level of creativity in the presentation of their dishes.

Nowadays, the chefs do not confine them in the kitchen but expose them to the outer world and hence are regarded as celebrities. Here is a list of the top celebrity chefs in the world. They emanate a great sense of flavour and taste in us.

1. Gordon Ramsay – One of the most popular celebrity chefs of the world, known for his excessively good cooking skills. He has also hosted a number of cooking shows.

2. Jamie Oliver – He is an English chef who is famous for his unique culinary shows on the television. He has also written a book on cooking and natural food production.

3. Wolfgang Puck – He hails from Austria, and he is really a very adorable chef. He was recently inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame also. He has got a lot of talent in the kitchen.

4. Marco Pierre White – A British celebrity chef, Marco has made the greatest contribution in the contemporary International cuisine. He is often referred to as the godfather of the modern cuisine.

5. Sanjeev Kapoor – An Indian chef and entrepreneur, Sanjeev Kapoor is also a restaurant consultant, cookbook writer and a television host. He is one of the most popular chef in India.

6. Thomas Keller – He is an American chef, a restaurateur and a cookbook writer. He has not received any culinary education formally, yet is one of the best chefs in the world.

7. Emeril Lagasse – He is a French-Portuguese-American restaurateur and is also the owner of many celebrity chef restaurants in U.S. He is termed as a multi-tasker because he is a television star, an author and a percussionist.

8. Charlie Trotter – An American chef, Charlie is the founder of the famous show Masterchef. He is also an author, a television celebrity and a restaurateur.

9. Paul Bocuse – He is considered as the father of culinary arts in France. It has been decades when he started cooking and he was also the ambassador of modern French cuisine.

10. Anthony Bourdain – He is the executive chef of Brasserie Les Halles in New York. He is also an author. He has his own style of cooking food.

Summary: Cooking is considered as an art. This article provides you with the names of those people who have mastered in the art of cooking and are considered as the best chefs all over the world. Their culinary skills and creativity have helped them to attain this level of cooking.

A Guide On How To Buy Tableware For Your Dining Room

There are few things more satisfying on a chilly winter’s day than a warming soup served in a chunky bowl. And what is it about drinking tea from delicate china that makes us sit up that little bit straighter? Every day we use tableware to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we rarely consider the huge effect it can have on our enjoyment of the food or drink we’re about to consume. Modern lifestyles have had an influence on the way we eat, and we’re much more casual diners than our grandparents or even our parents were. The slow but steady demise of the dining room has also played a major part in the way we serve our meals, with families and friends more likely to gather round the table in an open-plan kitchen than make time for a formal feast. ‘Social norms have relaxed so much,’ says Australian chef Bill Granger. ‘It’s ironic that in sophisticated urban environments, we’re dining more like French peasants did 300 years ago.’

Fashionable foods

Trends in tableware are influenced by fashionable foods and the way in which we eat them. ‘Restaurants and their menus have a huge bearing on what people buy,’ says Dik Delaney, head of design at Royal Doulton. ‘Often food lovers are keen to see how chefs use tableware before taking the ideas home and recreating them’. Gone are the days when ‘proper’ dining meant dusting off granny’s best china and serving up on a full dinner set. Now we’re more likely to take our cue from a local gastropub and enjoy hearty British recipes from rustic earthenware, or an Asian pick ‘n’ mix banquet from glossy lacquered bowls. Think of jewel-like nigiri or seaweed-wrapped California rolls served on a round dish – somehow not right? Graphic foods like these look best lined up in regimented rows on square plates. ‘They’re still the only appropriate shape on which to serve sushi,’ says chef Bill Granger.

Plain and simple

Tables of chic eateries everywhere have increased the popularity of simple white serving ware in our kitchens (think back – it really wasn’t so long ago that a matching set of patterned plates was everyone’s table staple at home). A favourite with the majority of chefs and restaurants, a plain white plate can provide a ‘frame’ for food, transforming even the most basic beans on toast into a culinary delight, while still proving the perfect foil for more adventurous dinner party dishes. As a result, chefs are increasingly being asked to collaborate with tableware companies when they’re developing new products – take Jamie Oliver’s collection for Royal Worcester and the new Gordon Ramsay range by Royal Doulton. For the latter, a design team visited the TV star’s restaurants to study how both chefs and customers used their plates. The resulting tableware is both glamorous and functional.

The new essentials

‘We don’t need complete dinner services any more,’ says Wedgwood design and creative consultant Francesca Amfitheatrof. ‘Attitudes have changed and we can be adventurous with a less formal mix-and-match approach.’ Instead, it’s all about customising your crockery, so compile your ultimate wish list before investing in some good-quality basics. Space and storage limitations make today’s kitchen essentials work harder and, as a result, you’re more likely to need flexible items and dishes that can double up. Don’t waste your funds on cups and saucers just because tradition dictates if you know you won’t use them. On the other hand, if you’re a coffee lover, proper espresso cups will be a good investment if they make your morning shot that much more enjoyable. Above all, it’s essential to think about your particular needs and cooking style when choosing crockery.

o Large dinner plates will give food room to breathe. According to John Lewis, the size of tableware has increased over the last few years, and many plates are now 30cm whereas the standard is 27cm. Also think about pieces that can work for starters, sides and desserts.

o The experts agree that multifunctional, medium-sized bowls are an essential. A favourite with foodies everywhere, they can be used to serve anything from soups and salads to pasta and puddings, with deep versions being ideal for casual eating when food is balanced on laps.

o’Go for some supersized serving dishes so that everyone can tuck in,’ suggests Thomasina Miers, Masterchef winner 2005 and author of Cook (Collins, £16.99). ‘Bountiful plates and bowls are becoming an absolute must for people cooking at home’. Choose porcelain serveware that can go straight from oven to tabletop.

Share and share alike

The popularity of foods from around the world means meals are far less likely to be brought ready-plated to the table, as in many countries the act of sharing with your fellow diners is integral to a meal. Instead large platters and bowls allow everyone to help themselves, a trend that translates well into contemporary social settings. ‘Sharing is key in Chinese and oriental cooking, so I usually make an array of small dishes that allow guests to sample a little of everything,’ says Ching-He Huang, author of China Modern (Kyle Cathie, £14.99). ‘It’s a lot less formal, especially when you have groups of friends that are new to each other.

Colour and texture

‘The classic white plate is the white T-shirt of the tabletop world,’ says Donna Hay, Livingetc’s contributing food editor. Donna suggests thinking of your tabletop in the same way you think of fashion. ‘Adding colour or texture is easy to do with dipping bowls, platters and other smaller items. Just as with fashion, these are those inexpensive accessory purchases that are easy to part with after the trend has passed’. Another way to introduce personality is by mixing basics with well-loved, vintage hand-me-downs or flea-market finds. ‘We’re definitely getting more eclectic,’ says Bill Granger. ‘I used to have cupboards full of white plates, but now colour and pattern are creeping back in. I have plates that don’t match for the first time in years.’ This works equally well in reverse if you’ve inherited a traditional dinner service, as by interspersing homely items, you can create a much friendlier atmosphere. Alternatively, Caroline Clifton-Mogg, author of China and Glass (Jacqui Small, £25), suggests going for different textures and tones of white to create a more varied look. ‘Buy dishes that include white in the design, but add one or two new colours or a motif in a different hue.’

Care and cleaning

o The majority of modern tableware is now dishwasher safe. New plates usually have glazing over the decoration, so the pattern will not fade.

o Older or hand-painted items won’t have a protective glaze, so will fade over time even through hand washing. You can tell if an item is not glazed by feeling for a slightly raised pattern. If in doubt, wash by hand.

o Check manufacturers’ instructions to see whether items are suitable for the microwave, oven or freezer. Any gilded pieces will not be safe in a microwave.

Expert essentials – what the pros can’t live without

o ‘Definitely big oval platters. They’re great for piling up food to look generous without being messy.’ – Bill Granger, chef and restaurateur.

o ‘A large pasta bowl that can be used for warming soups in the winter and creative salads in the summer – ideal for alfresco entertaining.’ -Stuart Cullen, Villeroy & Boch.

o ‘A large, wooden, beautiful salad bowl – mine is my grandmother’s, along with her beautiful salad spoon and fork.’ – Thomasina Miers, Masterchef winner 2005.

o ‘My lacquered wooden sushi trays and my oriental ceramic plates and bowls I bought from an oriental store in north London.’ – Ching-He Huang, author and presenter of Ching’s Kitchen.

Please Sir, I Want More, and More, and More

Food appreciation in Australia reached fever pitch this year as Masterchef hit our screens. It seemed everybody, including a bunch of nobodies, wanted a slice of the action. What is interesting is that even the food writers got a cut of the kudos.

No longer the measured realm of gourmet magazines, online foodie sites and weekly newspaper editorials, the food buzz blurb has bubbled over into the lives and homes of mainstream Australia.

Matt Preston, esteemed food writer and internationally renowned critic, set our screens on fire with his personal largesse and his professional prowess. Looking like a character fresh out of an Oscar Wilde novel, he minced and munched his way from relative obscurity to prevalent personality.

Love him or hate him you gotta give him something for the way he effortlessly engineered his rise from food critic to foodie celebrity with all the aplomb of an Adriano Zumbo croquembouche. And he surely deserves recognition for insinuating old school terminology into the ordained drudgery of water cooler conversation. Cravats may be this years black.

You would not be alone if you wondered whether the obvious marketability of Julie’s cookbook had anything to do with her Masterchef win. Even Donna Hay professed to want a copy, which is a high accolade when bestowed by the Aussie cookbook queen herself.

In fact, this wide scale interest in food writing and cook books has been on the rise like a Jaques Reymond soufflé for a number of years now. It seems people in this country like watching, learning, practicing and reading about the many joys of food production and its myriad counterparts.

Please sir, we’d like some more.

Five Of The Best Free iPad Apps

A brand new iPad that you are so proud about that you can’t stop showing it off? But what is an iPad if it does not have the best of apps. But unfortunately, when you think iPad, you probably think money because all of the cool apps that you have been using for free on your iPhone will perhaps be a paid option in their incarnation for the iPad. But hang in there! What if we told you that you can get a whole host of iPad apps for free? Yes! You heard us right. We have taken the trouble to dig out some spectacular apps for you that come absolutely free of cost. So read on and be amazed!

Kindle

Are you a self professed bookworm who cannot think of life without an e -reader? Well, you no longer need an e-reader device if you have the kindle app on your iPad. In here you will literally find a whole host of books that will suit your palette. You can also get the option to optimise your reading experience via this app.

eBay for iPad

Are you an online shopaholic and find yourself on eBay more than you pop up on Facebook or Twitter? Well, needless to say then that the eBay for iPad will be an absolute delight for you? Not only is this app efficient and fast it displays the most important part of the product in the main results page. It also comes with speedy sorting options. Once you have used the eBay for iPad, you will never feel the need to go back on the full website on your PC or laptop again!

RJ Voyager

Do you always find yourself shuffling tracks for the parties that you throw for your friends and your pals simply groove to your beats? Here’s one app that will really get you going as a DJ. This is an app that lets you choose from hundreds of bundled tracks. You can turn the parts on and off as desired and can go wild with the edit parameters. In all, this is an app that is a must have for music lovers!

Epicurious

Do you often fancy yourself in the MasterChef kitchen and love cooking up a storm for family and friends? Well then, this is an app that is bound to delight you! Not only will you find thousands of recipes at your fingertips, you will also find a shopping list for most recipes that can be super helpful. As long as you have an internet connection, there is no stopping you on Epicurious!

Yell Search

This is an app that will delight the explorers who often find themselves in unfamiliar localities. When you are travelling in some place unknown, you no longer have to rely on just the locals for information. The Yell Search is an app that will help you find all the amenities that you are looking for in the locality and serves as a great guide. It’s fast and efficient and also helps you save favourites for you to access later.

This is a comprehensive list of the best free iPad apps you will find for free. Download them today and your iPad will be your best friend for life!

Cook Your Food Like a Masterchef

Are you interested in cooking masterchef recipes like that cooked in 5 star restaurant. If yes then it can done by becoming a masterchef of your own kitchen and astonish our family members or friends. It is reality that we all can cooked food and some of us cooked food very well. But we don’t have proper knowledge of cooking food like a masterchef to retreat our friends and family members. However we genuinely want to cook similarly they cook.

Cooking is really advised as a creative activity and a talent but fortunately cooking tasty dishes can be learned. Still there are certain secrets used by restaurant chefs that will help you to cook food like masterchef. By using these secrets you can modify your cooking from good to superior and better to mouth-watering. If you are a good cook you should acquire the ideas of professionals used in restaurants to stand out your talent of cooking in front of your family and friends. Learning the secrets of a restaurant chef not only saves you money and time but it also makes it manageable for you to be confident and be natural whenever your skill is needed in the kitchen.

Now the question arises what kind of secrets you needed to know that a restaurant chef know? Here are few secrets by using which you can cooked dishes like masterchef. First tip is using the pickle juice. Use pickle juice mixed with olive oil and spices to make a quick salad dressing or add flavor. Another idea is add a tablespoon of lemon juice each quart of water when cooking rice to keep it soft and decrease sticking. If you are a new cook or you wanted to improve your cooking techniques then some secrets of the chefs will help you to cook right dishes. Not only this it is also helps you to keep the recipes at your fingertips. So that you can make them whenever you want. You can start this anytime using the modern-day techniques and becoming a chef of your own kitchen.

People often amaze as to why their home cooked food does not taste like as hotel food whether they tried to cook food hardly. There is something always missing or something goes wrong which makes it different. In order to add that taste of chef to your food, you can add some level in your current recipes. Study about what the Chefs are doing, learn the trends. Some of these secrets are provided on net, books and even on TV shows like masterchef Australia. All this will help you to prepare food like a restaurant chef. When you cook your usual recipes with the help of some extra or advanced techniques you automatically pick up your cooking skills. Your guests will notice the difference and you will get compliments from them. If you want to impress your family and friends be daring in your cooking and cook things that you have not tried before.

Some of the Best Cooking Books That Need to Be in Your Kitchen

Having just graduated from university, cooking books have a firm place on my kitchen shelf. From disastrous attempts at making barely edible dishes, my time as a student has exposed me to many cooking books. Here are the top ten of the best cooking books that are invaluable to any wannabe Masterchefs out there.

Ready… Steady… Cook!

10. Delia’s Complete Cookery Course by Delia Smith

This mammoth cookery book whips in at number 10. Delia Smith is very much the David Beckham of the cooking world – an institution. Her Complete Cookery Course does exactly what it says on the tin. It provides wannabe chefs with a full, comprehensive guide to creating the best dishes. With fundamental must know recipes like apple pie and yorkshire puddings, Delia shows she is one of the masters. With mouth-watering pictures acting as a rough guide this book is a god send for beginner chefs. No doubt a staple on your mother’s shelf, this book is perfect as a starting point in the basics of pastry making, cake baking and roast making. A genuine triumph in the cookery book world.

9. The New Curry Bible by Pat Chapman

Chapman’s bible does not follow the conventional rules of cookery books, but is a diamond in the rough for curry fanatics out there and the reason it has made this best cooking books list. The New Curry Bible does not simply show you the recipes but teaches you the history of curry making. It is not a book to be bought for people who want a quick fix curry. If you are one of those people I suggest you save yourself time and money and just buy a ready meal. However, if you are interested in the exquisite nature of curries, then this book teaches you all you need to know. Like any specialist cook book, it is a little disheartening at first to encounter all of the strange herbs and spices that you know you don’t own, but the rewards from having knowledge of these is irreplaceable. Although it may take you a while to get to grips with the fine art of balancing the spices, you will most certainly become famous amongst friends and family for the talent you will take from this beautiful book.

8. Rick Stein’s Taste of the Sea: 150 Fabulous Recipes for Every Occasion

As a massive lover of seafood, this book has literally been my magna carta. Rick Stein takes you on a journey around the coast and teaches you to really appreciate fish in all its scaly glory. From skinning methods to filleting, this book teaches you how to prepare and cook fish to perfection. Stein writes in a clear and simple fashion and it is impossible to resist his infectious passion. With a variety of dishes that cater for absolutely every occasion, this book is a must have for beginners and experienced fish mongers alike. The instructions are not condescending or set in stone, and leave freedom for experimentation. A truly great book by a truly great chef and teacher.

7. Simple Chinese Cooking by Kylie Kwong

Following the theme of specialist cooking books, Simple Chinese Cooking is an absolute must have for anyone wanting to start a love affair with chinese cooking. Filled with beautiful photography, this book coaches you through each dish with clear and crisp step-by-step instructions. Usually when faced with a specific cook book, there seems a never-ending list of ingredients that appear to exist in outer space, but this book has essentials that can be bought and found easily in local grocery stores. Not only is this book a great guide, but it is also incredibly exciting as each week you can watch yourself develop and gain confidence with once seemingly difficult dishes. From steamed cod to sweet and sour pork, Kwong’s recipes will have you burning all your chinese takeaway menus from the get go.

6. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver

There can be no such thing as a best cooking books list without Mr Oliver, of course. One of the things I love most about almost all of Jamie Oliver’s cook books are their beautiful and impeccable presentation. They are not endless pages of lines and lines of writing but are instead filled with bright, colourful and delectable pictures, as well as no- nonsense recipes. In his 30 Minute Meals Jaime shows you that once and for all cooking does not have to be a stressful and laborious affair. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals is amazing for working people for whom time is money, and of course students who wish to spend minimum amount of time cooking and maximum amount of time… studying. Not only is it wonderfully organised with a designated section for starters, mains and desserts, but there are numerous vegetarian recipes scattered inside, making this book literally for every type of chef.

5. The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman

After his debut cook book How to Cook Everything became an international sensation, Bittman is back to teach you it is easier than you thought to cook recipes from all around the world. With no unnecessary embellishments Bittman gently leads you on a culinary round the world trip that will leave your taste buds in a state of euphoria. The best aspect of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes In The World whilst you may never get round to cooking everything inside, the dishes you do make will leave you feeling inspired to take dishes you already cook and turn them on their head. Although it can be overwhelming to face so many recipes in one book, I urge you to add this to your collection. It is timeless and will only help to increase your knowledge of food.

4. Gordon Ramsay’s Secrets by Gordon Ramsay

In this incredible and not too badly priced book, Gordon Ramsay lets you in on a few secrets that have made him the world-renowned chef that we have all come to love. With a huge collection of recipes from poultry to fish and desserts to soups, this cookbook lets you in on inside info that will have friends and family thinking you are a bona-fide kitchen guru. The recipes are simple and effective and Ramsay has even added flourishes of his own, such as useful tips on presenting dishes. If you really have a passion for cooking or would love to learn more, this is the book that teaches you not just to cook but how to become a chef. These tips help to make cooking a truly enjoyable experience and will boost your confidence to be adventurous not only in cooking but also in eating as well.

3. The Complete Book of Sushi by Hideo Dekura

As a self-confessed sushi addict this book is incredible – the pages are almost edible. It combines the modern with the traditional and allows you to get to grips with this difficult Japanese style of cooking. Although not to everyone’s taste, this book teaches you the secrets behind making that difficult sticky rice and how to present your sushi in wonderful ways. The most interesting thing about Dekura’s book is they way it advances from simple to expert. This allows you to move gradually at your own pace and also sets little targets within the book. Whilst there are other books on the market such as Yo Sushi’s, it is Dekura’s book that really stands out of the crowd. With gorgeous photography it inspires with a mere flick of the page, and unlike its contemporaries has clear and simple instructions. A must have for any sushi fan and it also makes a great present.

2. Wahaca – Mexican Food At Home by Thomasina Miers

This book comes in at number two of this best cooking books top ten and is a must have for any frequent Wahaca customer. It was only recently published and plunges you straight into the vibrant and tasty world of Mexican street food. One thing that did surprise me was the breakfast section, and I have to admit I have been thoroughly converted to a mexican way of eating in the morning. Full of beautiful pictures and written in an accessible and friendly way, this book does exactly what the title states and brings Mexican food straight into your kitchen. Miers has clearly done the research required for such an exquisite book, and the information about mexican chillies is invaluable. An excellent book for cooking meals for friends and a great equivalent to BBQ parties.

1.Jaime does… by Jaime Oliver

In at number one is Jaime does. In this book Jaime travels through foodie hotspots such as Spain, France and Morocco in order to find innovative recipes. The book is beautifully presented (like all of Jaime’s books) and has wonderful pictures of his travels alongside the amazing pictures of his food. Each country has an introductory paragraph that explains the culture and food he came into contact with, and then in very simple language and an ever friendly tone, Jaime guides you through a range of dishes. From light bites such as patatas bravas to the more complex dishes like the steak tartare, Jaime’s tone never condescends you as the amateur chef. This book not only provides great enjoyment as a teaching tool but is also nice to flip through every now and again to behold the location shots of his food journey. Overall a very deserving winner of this Best Cooking Books list. Absolutely delicious!

This is by no means the only ten cook books I think you should own. There are many other brilliant cookbooks out there for beginners such as The Student Cookbook by Sophie Grigson. This is superb for amateur chefs who simply do not have the time to cook elaborate meals every day and are after recipes for both real cooking and convenience cooking. Then for more adventurous chefs who are willing to getinventive and scientific in the kitchen, there is Heston Bluementhal’s brilliant book The Fat Duck Cookbook, which combines vivid illustrations and wacky recipes for a truly great cooking experience. Overall, the ten books that compose this best cooking books list all offer friendly, easy to follow guidance which enables you to not only enjoy them as books, but also enjoy them as learning tools that will one day make you the king of the kitchen.

Bon appetit ladies and gents.

Stop, Rewind, Let’s Start the Day Again

Some days are like that aren’t they?

I mean you’re out of bed for like a total of five minutes and you already wish it were the end of the day and you were crawling back in.

Buddhism explains that this is wishing our lives away, wishing the moment away. That by wishing our suffering away, we are depriving ourselves of living in the moment. Of living our lives. Of being present.

That immersing ourselves in our suffering, not fighting it, not wishing it to be anything other than what it is, this is where we strengthen our spiritual practice. That by living in the moment, and not trying to make it something else, should part of your daily practice. They say meditation is all fine and all, but life, life is where the real spiritual practice is at.

I feel like that when I’m drinking vodka. I never wish the moment were something else. I never fight the moment, and I never try and make it something it isn’t. I am a true reflection of Buddhist philosophy when drunk.

I just need to work on it sober.

I reminded myself not to make my suffering more suffering by exacerbating my suffering by focusing on my suffering as I opened the pile of bills that had accumulated on my kitchen table.

And as I peeled open envelope 45, this one from the motor registry office, I did that double take thing. Where your brain reads information but doesn’t understand its content. So, in my case, I opened the letter and noticed that my car registration was up for renewal on May 11.

May?

May?

I stared dumbly at it.

But we were in June. Could I honestly have been driving an unregistered car for over a month?

I called Richard.

No answer.

I put the notice into the BILLS TO BE PAID PILE.

(Now a rather hefty look’n pile).

Richard I knew had been paying bills; I’d get an email from him with a copy of the mortgage payment. Or a foxtel paid email would pop up in my inbox. I had no idea how he’d worked out what needed paying and what didn’t. Perhaps vodaphone sent him emails? Because one of those Vodaphone paid accounts also arrived in my email inbox from him.

And so, naively, I opened most of the bills thinking they had already been paid.

I opened perhaps the tenth AGL Electricity bill..

Bla bla bla.

And I supposed that Richard must have paid that one too. I don’t know why. Perhaps I thought he was working on intuition. Or using The Force?

But as I delicately put the 10th or 11th AGL Electricity notice in my pile the doorbell rang.

I wandered down the hallway and opened the door.

There stood a rather pleasant looking man who handed me an AGL account.

“Could I leave this in your capable hands please Madam? It needs to be paid.”

And I took the piece of paper from him and smiled.

Who knew AGL hand delivered outstanding accounts to be paid?

And what a coincidence I told him, “I have about ten of these that I’ve just opened.”

I gave him a smile and shut the door.

Imagine, AGL hand delivering bills.

Well wonders would never cease.

I picked up my cup of tea and prepared to address the rest of the pile of unopened bills. I glanced at the photocopy of the bill still in my hand.

It was a disconnection notice.

The lovely man had come to disconnect me.

His letter was to tell me, I was disconnected, that I’d need to pay $99 to reconnect and then pay the outstanding bill to boot.

Right.

Nice.

No electricity for me.

I took the Buddhist view. All things pass, the very nature of suffering is that it is fleeting; it moves only to be replaced with a new suffering. Rather than immersing myself in this suffering, I should instead let it float on by, like a cloud, watch it, and let it go.

I put the disconnection notice on the table and resumed my envelope opening safari.

No point getting upset about it I rationalised. After all, getting upset wouldn’t put the electricity back on.

Cuba woke up from his nap.

Whinging.

Hot.

Clingy.

And only after 20 minutes.

Since we’ve had the Baby Whisperer come in and fix his wagon (teach him how to sleep) he always sleeps for two to three hours.

I was not impressed by this 20 minute effort.

Nor was I impressed by whinging, crying baby who was cranky and not letting me finish my pile of letters.

God was it any bloody wonder I never got to open bills when I have a baby that whinges and carries on like a pork chop the minute I put him down to do something for myself.

God.

Honestly.

I took his temp.

Not well.

And that annoyed me too, I mean after all, antibiotics are supposed to fix you. He was almost at the end of these and he seemed worse than ever. And bloody hell, I had work I needed to get done and he’d only slept for 20 minutes.

He refused any food, and shoved all offered morsels off his high chair tray onto the floor.

Which was also bloody annoying because I’d only just swept it and now it was covered with sloppy kid food.

I picked him up and tried to carry him around on my hip.

But look. Cuba is no small fry. This little monkey is 11 kilos.

And carrying a cranky, hot, 11 kilo beef burger around while you try and open envelopes is no fun.

Oh I know.

I should have been nicer to him. I should have been mrs cuddly mummy. But I wasn’t. Ella first got sick a week ago, followed by Cuba, followed by Lola. I have been up to three sick kids every night for over a week, followed by looking after three sick, whinging kids all day. OH MY GOD it’s all I could do not to dig three holes in the back of the garden and stick them in it!

If pick up one, the other one cries because she wants carrying. If

I pick up the three year old, the one year old loses it. Then I find the five year old slumped over on the lounge almost dead and I drop the whingy ones and dash to her aid. I feel like Florence Nightingale meets Egyptian slave. And on top of all the mummy nurse time, mr husband has worked late almost every night. So I’ve had sick kids all day and then had to put them all to bed every night on my tod.

Honestly, at the end of the day I’m ready to book flights to Mozambique and be one of those mummies that just went for a walk one day and they never found her again.

So when Cuba woke up, sicker, and even more whingy. Well I wasn’t impressed. And his whinge. Well it’s like a buzz saw. It’s at that exact pitch, eeeeeee, eeeeeee, eeeeeeee. Drills into your brain…. eeeee, eeeee, eeee.

I tried to give him Baby Panadol and he threw it across the room.

Don’t get me wrong, I really dig that my kids are spirited. I like spunky kids. I like kids with personality. But I do not dig kids who throw stuff all over my CLEAN kitchen floor.

And before you know it, I was suffering in my suffering.

I was wallowing in my suffering.

Why me, as I looked down and the little snot monster grabbed my leg, “eeeee. eeee. eeeee.”

I picked him up.

I ditched opening the rest of the letters and decided to go for a walk.

After all, the sun was shining for the first time in weeks.

Why not get some fresh air, and I wiped the fresh snot from my jumper where Cuba had rubbed his face into my chest.

Yes fresh air.

Perfect.

I took a deep, long, slow breath.

Must remember not to wish my life away. Must remember not to wish he was 18 and moving out. Must remember to enjoy the moment, or at least to accept it. Must not try to make it something it isn’t.

I was going to have to walk to pick up Lola from Pre-school and walk to get Ella from school. Which meant leaving over an hour earlier to do the round trip. Damn bloody car for not being registered.

Tried Richard on the phone again.

No answer.

I bundled Cuba into pram.

He screamed his head off in protest. (Cuba not a fan of the pram.)

I took deep breath, don’t wish life away.

And I walked past our car, lifeless, unusable.

What I wouldn’t give to strap QB into a car seat and drive around the block til he fell asleep and then pull up in the sunshine and read a book.

Instead I looked down at my little man, face scrunched up letting out his Tyrannosaurus Rex scream.

Must not wish moment is anything other than what it is.

I glanced at car rego sticker.

Expiry date: 30 DEC 2009.

December 2009????? I had been driving the car unregistered since December last year? Holy Farkamoly! Almost 6 months!

I could drag you thro the rest of that day. But why torture you as well. And frankly, I’ve already lived that day, why torture me as well.

I called my friend up and explained that I was going to have to ditch meditation class tonight as I really needed red wine.

I decided I needed a moment (well several hours if truth be told) of participating in an event where I would genuinely not be wishing it away. And consumption of red wine fitted that description well.

After all, it is easy to be Buddhist and spiritual and not wish moment away when one is actually enjoying moment.

I informed her I would be on her doorstep at 7PM with wine and packet of cheese and onion chips (nice to bring dinner as well I thought).

I cheered immeasurably as I prepared dinner for the three sick urchins.

I even took it in my stride when Cuba dumped the entire scrambled egged contents of his bowl on the floor.

I even smiled when Ella pushed her plate away and said “I hate scrambled eggs.”

And I even hugged Lola when she knocked over her glass of water, soaked the table, the floor, all of her eggs and half of her dress (I note hugged as opposed to strangled).

Because you see, I was going to be enjoying bottle of red (I had just mentally upped one bottle to two bottles) with girlfriend in just over an hour. I could do it. I could make it thro horror day and get out the other side.

And then Richard called to say he was working late.

LATE?

On my wine and cheese and onion chips night?

On my disconnection of electricity night. My car is unregistered for 6 months night. My children are sick going on 7 days night. My I’m about to have a nervous God damn break down night?

I mean how nice for him.

Working late.

Here I was surrounded by screaming kids all demanding my attention, food all over the floor, water spilt from one end of the kitchen to the other, trying to administer antibiotics and baby Panadol, trying to get Cuba in a clean nappy as he tried diligently to grab his own poo. And where was husband? Richard, Richard, why he got to sit at work in a nice quiet office, doing nice graphic, design, artistic stuff, whist I was in the fucking trenches. I was in World War Two and he was quaffing champagne aboard the Love Boat.

Where was my LOVE???

And so I digged deep.

Well you have to don’t you.

You have to dig deep to find strength, compassion, spare change to buy bottle of Absolute.

And I gathered my snotty, whingy little clan and dumped them in the bath.

Took chai tea out of overhead cup’d and brewed self a cup with two teaspoons of sugar (let’s face it, I needed sweetening up).

And I must say I felt far better after sending nervous breakdown style text to husband. I figure why suffer alone? (Think this needs to be added to Buddhists texts.)

And soon, all three were in bed. And I was happily ensconced in front of tele watching MasterChef. Ignoring incoming phone calls from Husband (obviously worried about my repeated references to digging holes in garden), I felt myself cheer immeasurably. The day was finally over.

I have however decided, next time I wake up like that, I’m skipping Buddhist philosophy, and getting straight back into bed.