• Boyfriend in the kitchen: A saucy duck dish

    duck with tomato jusA tad extravagant for a Saturday lunch? Perhaps…

    I’ll be honest: duck doesn’t really do it for me. It was the veggies – mushrooms, onions and basil – that I really wolfed down. And the sauce! Oh, the sauce. After a couple of wildly unsuccessful guesses, T shared with me exactly what went into it:

    • Water
    • Tomato paste
    • Oregano
    • A dash of oyster sauce (yes, really)

    How about you – are you a duck fan?

  • Boyfriend in the kitchen: Beef and mushroom noodles

    asian beef mushroom noodle stirfry nzmuseI’m embarrassed to admit it, but there’s nothing shameful about admitting the truth. RIGHT?

    T outcooks me in every possible way. He even makes better Chinese food than I do.

    All I can really say is: Noodles. Mushrooms. Beef strips. Garlic. Spring onions. Coriander. And some kind of sauce (play around with soy/oyster sauce/fish sauce/vinegar/cornflour?).

    Sorry to those of you who like detailed recipes, but we’re both pretty fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants types, especially T. I don’t understand how he can just conjure up meals out of nowhere. Just like I don’t understand people who can bust out amazing musical solos off the cuff. Maybe it’s a skill that can be learned, but I think I’ll leave it up to him.

    Also, what am I gonna call this series once we’re married? Husband in the kitchen just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Also, I have lingering linguistic issues with the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, so it may take me a while to adjust to them. Then again, I imagine we won’t be doing much impressive cooking on the road, so there’s a while to figure it out.

  • Boyfriend in the kitchen: Lamb rack and raw salad

    lamb rack and raw salad

    The best days of all are the days when you come home to freshly made dinner. All you have to do is sit, chew and swallow. Life’s good.

    You’ve probably noticed a bit of a pattern here. The trend is that of meat + veggies – a classic formula.

    Here, there’s lamb rack cooked to crispiness, with a fresh salad of capsicum (bell pepper for Americans), red onion, feta, coriander and courgettes.

    The courgettes were boiled, and the rest of the veggies rested in some vinegar in lieu of cooking. Mixing through the cooked courgettes = steam for further cooking and an interesting mix of temperatures.

  • Boyfriend in the kitchen: Lamb rack and mashed potatoes

    It’s been awhile since we had an Adventures in the Kitchen post, huh?

    I’ve been in a total food rut; it’s been weeks since I tried a new recipe, months since I last baked (a string of fails shook me badly) and the general winter doldrums took their toll. I’ve been eating too much butter, not enough greens, and finding grocery shopping a real chore.

    In the meantime, enjoy today’s very, very Kiwi dinner from the boy – lamb and mashed taters.

    lamb rack with mashed potatoes

    One lamb rack. Lots of salt. Lots of coriander. Lots of red onion. Lots of crushed garlic. Some quality time in the oven. Fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes on the side.

  • Boyfriend in the kitchen: Butterflied pork and chili coleslaw

    In the first edition of things my boyfriend cooks, I brought you stuffed pork and butternut mash.

    This time around, I present pork butterfly, rolled up around thin prosciutto, butter, garlic and herbs.

    It’s served up with fried caramelised onions, and red cabbage coleslaw with a hint of fresh chili to give it a kick.

    Pork butterfly with fried onion and chili coleslawPork butterfly with fried onion and chili coleslaw

  • Boyfriend in the kitchen: Stuffed pork and butternut mash

    Sometimes T outdoes himself in the kitchen, and it seems a shame not to share.

    Up there is creamy butternut flesh mixed with sour cream and sweet chili sauce.

    There’s pork butterfly, wrapped in slices of streaky bacon, and stuffed with the real star of the show: a moist, delectable vegetable concoction consisting of (to his best recall today) coriander and sliced courgette with some extra virgin olive oil that make the whole meal pop.

    Like me, he’s not big on measurements, so trust your tastebuds and have fun.

    Who knows – there may well be more future editions of Things My Boyfriend Cooks…

  • Pursuits that make for better hobbies than jobs

    Every so often I get comments asking why T doesn’t become a chef (see: Boyfriend in the kitchen). He also gets the same query in real life from friends once in a while, particularly as one of his distant buddies is in the business himself.

    It’s simple, really: cooking is one of those things that often makes for a better hobby than a career. Obviously, this isn’t a blanket rule, but in this case, it’s true.

    The hours and the pay aren’t great. And progressing to the stage where you actually have real creative control? I suppose you might reach that point quicker if you had, say, your own catering business instead, but again, I don’t think this would be a good choice to fit in with the kind of lives we want to live.

    Occasionally he likes to pontificate about how we should start our own cafe/restaurant after a disappointing experience dining out or a particularly ridiculous episode of Kitchen Nightmares – HOW do some of those incompetents ever get started? But I can’t think of anything worse – long and late hours, huge investment in a brick-and-mortar venture, low margins, stress and a high chance of failure. We are both interested in working to live, not living to work, and that’s especially true on his part.

    Being able to put together amazing meals on the fly is a wonderful talent, but I don’t think it necessarily translates well to the daily bulk grind of a commercial kitchen. I’m almost certain it might even leach out the enjoyment altogether – in many cases turning a hobby into a career ends up killing the magic. Plus, every essay I’ve ever read by a chef or the spouse of a chef reiterates that they never cook at home. Call me selfish, but I want to keep his skillz for myself.

    If cooking was a calling, a burning and all-consuming passion, it might be worth the sacrifices – but it’s not. It’s just one of the many things he’s picked up over the years (including welding, installing car audio, skating, and others) and happens to be outlandishly good at. Now if only he could figure out a direction…

    There are lots of other pursuits of which you could say the same. Writing, while a wonderful hobby, is ostensibly one of them. Sports. Acting. Art. Music (for about five minutes back in high school, I was contemplating doing a degree in contemporary rock music).

    Got any to add to the list? Ever been told “you’re so good at [X], you should do it for a living”? Or flagged a career path for lifestyle reasons?

  • When schedules clash…

    “I’ll take Saturday off if you take Saturday off.”

    That’s what he said to me, after a short discussion on how we don’t have enough time to spend with each other.

    But me taking Saturday off is not the same as him taking Saturday off. Saturday is a regular working day for me, and not for him. Saturday is an 8-hour day for me, and if he chooses to work Saturday, it’s usually a 6-hour day.

    Me taking Saturday off means missing out on a day of double pay; for him, it just means giving up extra “nice to have” cash.

    Here’s a little overview of our usual working schedules and how they mesh:

    (His working hours are 6-2, but they often work til 5. 11-hour days, eek!)

    At least two weekday nights are usually a write off for me due to other commitments. He’s also usually out late one or two nights himself, often on completely different nights. The only blocks of time we really get together for sure are weekend mornings. And that’s why it bugs me when he works Saturdays.

    The job that he nearly got before this job would have seen him working the night shift, and would have actually meant more time together (four mornings a week!) Despite that, and the money, I’m kind of glad he didn’t; it would have been quite disruptive and no doubt terrible for his already irregular eating patterns. Not to mention those four mornings would be a tradeoff for basically no waking hours together on the other three days of the week.

    Yeah, it’s a pain not having any regular days off together. It means rushed Sunday morning grocery shopping. It means sometimes coming home to a snoring boyfriend and a kitchen full of rubbish and dishes. It means no spontaneous weekend trips.

    But it’s a career move, and it means a difference of up to $10k (or more) over a year. I’m going to make the most of it while I can.

    Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one out there working conflicting/opposing schedules to their other half. How do you manage your time effectively?

  • Link love (powered by sand, sundresses and the first burn of summer)

    Oh GST, how I hate you so.

    Since the increase (12.5 to 15 per cent) I have most definitely noticed prices creeping up. 1kg cheese – $11 on special (instead of $10). A can of tomatoes – $1.49 on special (instead of $1.29 or even 99c). Cornflakes are now $2.99 instead of $2.79. 2 litres of milk – $3.53 instead of $3.45.  They really are taking every opportunity to milk us, figuratively!

    And even though it’s practically November and hence, officially summer, capsicums are still $2.50 EACH. Cucumbers $2.99 EACH. Tomatoes, $6.99/kg. Ridiculous; we really must buy a plant of our own asap.

    So that’s my bitch and moan out of the way. If we have to increase our budget to maintain our eating decently, so be it.


    Here’s a survival guide for freelance journos. A realistic take – I love that it’s not all sunshine and roses about crazy earning potential and no more working for the man. Really, whether you work for a media corp or yourself, you won’t get rich either way.

    Do librarians have a future, and what will it look like? Thoughts from an insider.

    A great guest post at Design Sponge on how to brand your business on a budget.

    J Money interviews Clare of Never Niche on her side hustle, waitressing.

    Red writes about the perks of her job (many and varied) and her reluctance to give it up.

    Is your weight affecting how much you make? Fabulously Broke looks at the research and shares a rundown of businesses she’s run in the past.

    Paying Myself blogs about the fallacy that all lawyers are loaded.

    Neurotic Workaholic offers some advice on surviving grad school (lord knows I wouldn’t; I was itching to finish my three-year degree like you wouldn’t believe).

    At You Have More Than You Think, a discussion on whether poor people should have emergency funds.

    Small Steps for Big Change is in a new relationship, but can’t help thinking she wants him for his paycheck (not as gold-digging as that might sound, promise).

    First Gen American explains why gorillas don’t have retirement funds.

    At Bundle, Kate Ashford asks if you can afford a second child – and whether it actually matters.

    Stacking Pennies on carelessness, procrastination and how it can cost you.


    I made my first carrot cake not too long ago, and while it was awesome it was also a tad wet. I might try Jules’ recipe next.

    At Dinner, A Love Story, a simple baked sausage recipe for those days you want to keep the stovetop clean.

    Being Ruth shares her Indian chicken and potato recipe.

    Poor Girl makes a quinoa, apple and cranberry cake. Maybe I’ll hunt down quinoa at a bulk foods store, or try adapting it to a wholly flour version. (Don’t suppose couscous is an acceptable substitute?)

    Kevin of Closet Cooking whips up a luxurious grilled mushroom in porcini sauce.

    I was also intrigued by this salmon and cauliflower casserole, via Not Eating Out in NY.

    And Asian Pear pens a lament on foods she craves that ain’t no good for her.

    Finally, Iowa Girl Eats shares the kitchen tools she can’t live without


    Geek in Heels has a guest blog on TV boyfriends. Gotta say Booth is my number one, no contest!

    Suburban Sweetheart on hilarious misheard song lyrics.

    StacFace blogs about marriage, respect and boundaries.

    The Backpacking Journalist on the five unusual essential items for travellers.

    At Yes and Yes, Sarah writes about the mundane and miserable side of travel.

    Karen of Living Well on Less on the things you should never say to pregnant women.

    Ashley at Writing to Reach You ponders why and how her blog has changed over the years.

    Revanche wonders what kind of policy to adopt on drop-in visitors – who don’t always arrive at convenient times.

  • Yes. I’m spoiled

    I just realised something: I haven’t made dinner for as long as I can remember. How lucky am I?

    T gets home before me everyday (including, obviously on days he doesn’t work). And for weeks now, he’s had dinner ready or in the works by the time I get home. All I have to do is eat it and then clean up the kitchen. It’s a far cry from two years ago when I would be in class all day, get home at 9 and find that I had to make food because he hadn’t bothered to – or worse, was out with his friends. Not that I’m saying that he shouldn’t have a life, or anything, but couldn’t he have hung out with them on the days that I didn’t work late instead?!

    Honestly, I also get kind of a strange kick out of having a boyfriend who kicks my ass at cooking. Is that weird?