Food Goals When You Work From Home

One of the main benefits to working from home, aside from the greater job security than that currently offered by the FBI, is the 24hr on-site cafeteria. 

I have instigated Google’s food policy in our house. They don’t allow their employees to be further than 200 feet from food at any time – a strategy that ‘inspires innovative thinking’ they believe, as well as a greater appreciation for food, in my experience. Particularly now, as we enter winter, and I’m cold and beginning to miss the luxuries of the modern office, (and in particular, ducted heating), and have turned to food for comfort.

Without the usual office time-wasting distractions of forming scrums around the coffee machine, bitching in the toilets, sending funny emails about the boss, kicking the photocopier and social media, food has become much more significant in my new working environment – perhaps too significant.

And the best part is there is no judgment.

There’s none of that pressure to take in the grossest, sludgiest green smoothies for breakfast; no need to hide my Nachos under my sprout salad sprinkled with caterpillar semen for lunch, which I then used to top up with Maccas when I was ‘doing the mail’. No, you see I can eat what the fuck I want to in my own home, and if suits my very busy schedule to eat ten smaller (hmmm!) meals per day, I have earned that right.

Even so, I have begun to see the potential pitfalls in this new partnership. The fifteen-pound weight gain (on average) of Google employees over their first year of employment, has been termed the Google 15, hence I haven’t got close to the scales in months. But I ask you, with no-one to have hour-long chitchats in the toilets to discuss current events, (the size of Jon Hamm’s penis, for example), how exactly is a girl supposed to fill the gaps in her concentration?

It has been said that the lack of physical contact with the outside world can be a disadvantage to those who work from home – research that I suspect was reported by someone who has either never worked from home or who actually likes people  – and I now see how that sense of isolation could lead to an eating disorder for the lonely writer. Chocolate chip cookies have been my support through several, highly stressful hours to deadline.

I’m lucky that I have been able to learn from the best when it comes to my WFGs (work food goals), my progress in which he will assess in my annual review. Because there has to be some biological reason that my husband, who also works from home, has to run 7ks a day to maintain his current weight.

He works at the other end of our house – the end with heating, (an issue that is escalating and as such has been added to the next team meeting agenda). His office, which doubles as a nap-pod and reading room – in fact, any room name he can invent to avoid me – is even closer to the evil magnetism of the kitchen and I hear him and his furtive rustlings in the pantry; the tell-tale timeout beeps from the fridge door.

The waft of melting butter on crumpets is all it takes to pull me out of my steely focus on work and straight into the cookie jar, a consistency which is certain to score me a 5 at my review, I hope.

.

Versatile Muesli Cookies

Very occasionally, I like to remind myself (and everyone who reads this blog), that I am not perfect and that we can’t all be good at everything. It has been a while since I posted one of my epic cooking fails, but this one is a real gem that provided me with the invaluable life lesson that more free time does not a good cook maketh. 

IMG_5708
After Superglue

 

IMG_5706
Before Superglue

You see, now that I’m working from home full-time and the kids are older – although sadly, not any less demanding – sometimes I get this longing to be a ‘fifties meets modern woman’, who can earn a decent crust at the same time as knocking up a batch of something yummy during her coffee break. I must reiterate that this window of opportunity has only come about since the kids grew up and I can callously refuse to enable their Millennial bleats for help. Which means that aside from my 24hr nagging service (which is reinforced by my ‘when are you leaving home’ ringtone), basically I ignore them. Oh, and the cleaning.

 

Anyway, three factors brought on this strange desire to make my own muesli cookies last week:

 

  1. I am always hungry – a common complaint among those of us who work from home and find themselves within 24hr snacking distance from the kitchen. So when I discovered the recipe online, and the cookies looked kind of healthy, (because oats and fruit…) and I ignored the glaring fact that they are meals between meals with calories you don’t need, it seemed like a good idea.
  2. I got sick of paying $5 for them in cafes.
  3. They looked quick and easy, which meant I could slip them in between Facebook sessions.

 

I trust the TASTE online recipes implicitly, nevertheless, once a cheater always a cheater so as soon as I printed the recipe from the Internet I looked for shortcuts. I’m sure you can imagine my hilarity when I discovered that one of the four ingredients listed was ‘homemade muesli’, a requirement that catapulted me to Coles as fast as a two-for-one sale on Tena pads in search of the muesli-fail that looked as close to something I’d knocked up myself. And I found it, by paying a week’s rent for a European version – for which I’ve no doubt some poor migrant scaled the mountains of Switzerland for and was paid the minimum wage.

 

Another minor cheat was that I really couldn’t be arsed to weigh the butter (because then I’d have to wash up the scales) and at this stage in my Masterchef career, I think I know what 100g looks like. In hindsight, it was an interesting decision after flourless cake-gate last week, when somehow I forgot to add the butter completely – one of only four ingredients. Anyway, my generosity with the butter on this occasion was probably what contributed to the versatility of my cookies’, because as soon as they emerged from the oven I sensed they were special and came with a range of extra functions, meaning they could be used as a muesli breakfast cereal, drizzled over salad, used as a sweet version of dukkha (because be honest, no-one really likes the savoury version), drunk as a smoothie or added to houseplants as fertiliser.

 

That’s right, with the consistency of course sand, I needed a trowel to move them from the baking tray to my cake stand, so I can only assume that the egg and flour must have been having an RDO.

 

Perhaps I should have listened more closely to the sage advice of George Colombaris’ to one of the new guinea pigs on Masterchef this week, when he warned her not to go too far off piste in her cooking as she cried into her ice cream soup.

 

So weigh the fucking butter.

 

I’ve given you the recipe below and I’m one hundred percent confident that in the right hands, it will work.

 

Versatile Muesli Cookies 

Calories: Who The Fuck Cares

Ingredients:

3 Cups Supermarket Toasted Muesli (or 3 cups homemade if you’re ‘one of those‘)

100g Butter, melted and cooled

1 Egg lightly beaten

1/2 Cup Plain Flour

1/3 cup honey

Superglue (if necessary)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees

WEIGH butter, then whisk with honey and egg.

Combine muesli and flour together then add butter mixture. Leave to sit for 15 minutes. Roll spoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on lined baking trays.

Bake for ten minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before moving (very important)

 

(Warning: When all the ingredients are combined, the mixture does feel really gross in your hands – kind of like when you find something soft and sticky down the back of the sofa. But the more you compact and flatten these fuckers, the more likely you are to get something hat resembles a cookie.)

 

 

How The Conversation Changes With Middle Age

My pet peeve, aside from slow swimmers and water waders hogging up the fast lane at my local pool, is when I go to a dinner party and no-one asks me about my job… or indeed anything about me. restaurant-690975_1280

 

This has happened throughout my adulthood, since the very first time I was invited to my first grown-up lasagne and garlic bread dinner party back in the eighties.

 

The old man was always asked.

 

Its not that I’m self-obsessed, (well, perhaps a little), or do anything that is spectacularly interesting – although my job, I would argue, is far more appealing than the old man’s profession as a *yawn* accountant prior to his fall to middle-aged layabout, it’s the assumption that either: I don’t work, hence have nothing to offer conversationally unless it’s about my children or my organic veggie patch; that my career is not interesting enough to warrant attention; or that women’s chit chat is less valuable than that of the opposite sex. ie. a gender thing that if men get close to could give them a world of regret.

 

Don’t panic, it’s a little too soon since my last post (here) to climb back onto the feminist soapbox again, but why do I always feel like I have to initiate conversation and pose the questions the keep the conversation going?

 

When will someone ask me about anything other than my children?

 

What, apart from sport and a few comments about the state of the stock market and the horror that is Trump, do men talk about? Nothing wildly interesting in my experience.

 

The majority of them refuse to even pretend to have opinions on the sort of stuff they believe women are interested in, which is fair enough. Dare to mention fashion, cosmetics or interiors, and watch their eyes glaze over. But women can contribute to conversations about politics, honest! We do have the vote now, and some of us even have opinions; if push comes to shove I can even bluff my way through a five minute review of the Olympics or some recent golf tournament without sending myself to sleep.

 

So what other common ground is there for conversation between men and women once they reach middle age? Unsurprisingly, retirement and health are popular topics. Then there’s the question of how much longer we will have to work, what we’re going to do once we retire, where we can afford to downsize and how much longer we can stand working for our bosses? Because it becomes very difficult to work for anyone once you become a know-it-all – a character trait many among us in this age group share.

 

Then there’s the age-old question of when the kids are going to finally fuck off, I mean …become self-sufficient enough to leave home so that we can actually consider retirement? Our own parents health? Whether our knees can withstand another ski season and where our future holidays will be? The general consensus being closer to home because even though we all expected to travel the world once we retired, many of us have become a tad anxious about flying, and then there’s the whole leg-room issue.

 

Compare this to what we we used to talk about in our twenties and thirties, when we’d brag about our drinking prowess, whereas now we moan about how much our tolerance to alcohol has slipped and how much drinking so much water affects our bladders at night. We’d recount stories such as the one about how much we drank that night we got so pissed we ended up playing dead in the middle of the motorway while we waited for the petrol station to open to get some fags.We discussed work and who was banging who in the office, which band was playing where and where the cool new shops and hip new restaurants had opened.

 

The problem is, we don’t have the energy to do much more than watch Netflix series these days after a day at work, we’re too fat for cool clothes, far too comfortable on the sofa and we can’t eat out much due to bloating, anyway.

 

Remember how we used to get excited about where we’d be in twenty years?

 

Hey, wasn’t that because we were supposed to be retired now?

 

And how we’d talk about what we’d name our children – although I’m sure ‘critter’ and ‘waste of space’ didn’t cross our minds back then.

 

I suppose we don’t talk about our career aspirations anymore because we have the wisdom to know now that they don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, because in reality many of us are working to live now whilst fervently praying that some day we’ll discover the secret to get out of the rat race early.

 

But then that involves the kids leaving home, doesn’t it?

 

And so we pour ourselves another glass of sparkling water and get back to joint pain.

 

 

 

The Healing Power of Barbra

I had a spectacularly AWFUL day at work yesterday. It was one of those days where relief only came from curling up in a ball under the doona with the heating on, chocolate, the dog and several bottles of wine.

 

English: Screenshot of Barbra Streisand from t...
English: Screenshot of Barbra Streisand from the trailer for the film Hello, Dolly! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

It didn’t help that I’d run out of my anxiety meds and so was ill-equipped to deal with Kurt, who was already drawing on all my inner strength not to lose the fucking parenting plot well before 7.30am. And as the day progressed, so the problems compounded until my blood pressure began to seriously escalate.

 

 

 

Sometimes I think I’m too old to deal with this shit.

 

 

 

Around 3pm, about the same time I decided I was on the verge of a stress-induced heart attack and had seriously considered turning my car towards the airport, Smooth FM pulled out its magic and played some Barbra.

 

 

 

And for three life-saving minutes, all was suddenly forgotten and forgiven.

 

 

 

I realize that it ages me horribly to admit to being a Barbra Streisand fan – but if it helps my cause, I’m also quite partial to a bit of Greenday when I’ve had a drink or two.

 

 

 

I’ve loved Barbra Streisand since I was a teenager. While all my mates were going through their eighties Brit Pop phase and pretending to be super-cool, I was slow-dancing with my hairbrush to “Memories” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, surreptitiously in my bedroom.

 

 

 

‘Guilty’, the album that Babs made with the Bee Gees, holds so many mixed memories for me of the period just after my mum passed when I was a crazy, mixed-up and seriously emotionally retarded teenager, in search of the answers to life and love.

 

 

 

As soon as my dad went out in the evening, I’d crank Barb up on the stereo and swan around the sitting room using the tv remote as my microphone and pretend I could identify with the emotions Barbra crooned about so beautifully, even though I hadn’t experienced anything yet.

 

 

 

When Barbra came on in my car yesterday, my body relaxed instinctively, and I was transported back to a better place, when I didn’t have to work and help pay for bills and nothing mattered because I was young, naïve, immortal and still desperate to fall in love.

 

 

 

Music has the power to heal. To this day I have a very eclectic taste in music and different tunes transport me to different places in my life, but bizarrely sad songs resonate and uplift me.

 

On a truly shit day like yesterday, those tunes remind me that things aren’t really that bad, that life is short, tomorrow is another day and all those other inspirational cliches, but most importantly, that it won’t be my work colleagues around my death bed.