Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Painting of a wonky muffin

We had a special day today in the kitchen, as we were joined by two clients of Northwest Disability Services who came to volunteer their time in the kitchen. They helped us package your dinners, wash up a myriad of pots and pans (you should see the mountain of washing-up we create each day) and they also found time to make you some choc chip muffins.

These muffins don't look like our ordinary muffins. And that's because they aren't ordinary. From the outside they look a little wonky. Some of them have a little of the mixture on the outside of the paper case. Some of them are a little bigger than you're used to. Some of them are a little smaller.

But you know what? These muffins have been made with care by people who have gifted us their time. They have been made by people who have a disability and who want to work productively and meaningfully. They are packed full of ingredients you want to eat. And they taste delicious. Gifted, meaningful, full of good quality ingredients, delicious to eat. Beautiful? We think so.

This week we'd love to gift a small pack of these muffins to anyone who orders more than $80, while stocks last. We think you're going to love them. Order your dinners now!

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Sourcing local honey for you

It's estimated that one third of all food produced on the globe is dependent on pollination by bees. One third! One colony, containing around 50,000 bees, can pollinate approximately 4000 square metres of fruit trees. That's a lot of fruit.

Bees are extraordinarily important to the production of food for both humans and animals to eat. And that, of course, is apart from the delicious honey they make!

As you know, we launched our first dinner cart at Thomas Holt Drive Macquarie Park a few weeks ago, partnering with AMP Capital, who own the site. AMP Capital have been investing in sustainability initiatives to increase the productive use of the sites they own around Sydney.

At Thomas Holt Drive, they have bee hives, along with trained staff to maintain them, keep the bees happy, and to collect the honey. They were delighted to give us some of their honey to cook your dinner.

And so this week we're excited to bring you two delicious offerings: our much adored Teriyaki Chicken, and Apple and Cinnamon Muffins made with honey sourced from our second site at Thomas Holt Drive. Local honey indeed, from hives just 15km down the road.

And on Wednesday this week (5 Sept) we'll be back at Thomas Holt Drive serving up our sensational Teriyaki Wings with a crunchy salad for lunch. If you happen to be in the Macquarie Park area from 11.30, do stop in for a nourishing, locally grown lunch.

Come and sit amongst the trees in the beautiful gardens at Thomas Holt Drive, hear about the onsite sustainability initiatives, and the importance of bees to the world food economy, and enjoy a delicious lunch, cooked using the onsite produce. We'd love to see you there.

Garbage trouble

Setting up a new kitchen has taught me many things. It takes longer than you think. It is more complicated than it first appears. Brand new stainless steel panelling comes wrapped in a protective plastic film. The plastic film needs to be removed before you can start cooking.

Plastic film is bulky and creates a lot of rubbish.

Too much for the new bins that just got delivered.

I offered to assist in this situation by taking a large bag of rubbish home from the kitchen to deposit in our bin. It wouldn't fit in my bin either, and so it sat forlornly round the side of my house.

The other day it was garbage truck day. I was just about to walk the junior recipe testers to school when the garbage truck rolled through our street. In that moment, what I assumed to be a brilliant idea struck me. I grabbed the rubbish bag, instructed the juniors to wait at the top of the driveway and dashed across the road in front of the garbage truck.

Once our neighbour's bin was emptied I signalled wildly to the truck driver that I had another bag of rubbish and could he possibly take it. Not realising just how noisy a garbage truck is, I employed my best sign language. Through various arm waving I indicated to the driver that I would hold the rubbish bag out for him to extend the clamping arm things and lift it into the truck.

He shook his head.

On hindsight, this was probably wise. I was not wearing particularly loose sleeves, but I imagine it would be quite a thing to explain at the depot if I had gotten tangled up in the clamping arm things and flung aloft into the truck.

He wound down his window. "Throw it in," he instructed.

I looked up at the truck. "Um..." I responded.

"Just throw it in." He was starting to sound impatient.

I looked up at the truck again. I'm not sure I had ever previously considered the size of a garbage truck. I clutched the bag of rubbish and took a back swing.

I have now learned that I might have had more success had I tried to throw the rubbish bag over our house. Launching a bag of rubbish into the opening of a garbage truck is like trying to throw it onto a balcony.

On the third floor.

The bag did not sail into the rubbish receptacle in the top of the garbage truck. It hooked itself on the side. And tore. And opened, sprinkling rubbish into our neigbour's driveway. There was a particularly awkward moment when I had to reach up to try and disentangle my bag of rubbish from the side of the truck and pull it down.

This is when I learned that the bag didn't just have protective plastic coating in it. Turns out there was a pile of other stuff too. Pulling the bag down served to spread yet more rubbish across the general vicinity.

With some panic that the truck might just drive off, I got down on my knees and started scraping it up with my hands.

By this stage the driver was wondering what he had done to deserve this scenario on his morning run. I am, however, exceedingly grateful to him: he did hop out to help. We loaded the rubbish into the neighbour's, now empty, bin. The driver hopped back in to operate the clamping arm things.

Setting up a new kitchen has taught me that the best way to get rubbish into a garbage truck is via a rubbish bin.

We launched... with a few blow outs

We have been desperate to get back into the kitchen and start cooking for you again. And this week we have finally done it! We have cooked in our new premises in Carrington Road, Castle Hill (32/7... do stop in and say hello!)

You all know that our kitchen renovations took much longer than we anticipated. But the result was worth it: what we have to work in is so much more than we anticipated. And we couldn't be more excited.

If I'm being really honest, it has been a week of highs and lows. In any move there are bound to be teething problems. ...Yep.

Our oven cooked itself when it was being plugged in. We hadn't even had the chance to break it yet. The repair required a part. The part was in Melbourne, and no we couldn't have it in the next half hour. In the days waiting for the part we cooked teeny tiny quantities in our second, but teeny tiny, oven. A lot of times. And hoped we'd laugh about it one day.

When the part finally did arrive the oven required the expertise of Dean. It was Dean who conducted open heart surgery to fix it. By the time we had finished all the cooking, the oven was working again. Excellent.

Our dishwasher carked it entirely. The defibrillators were hollered for. They were employed on several occasions. In the end Dean had to call it. We held a memorial service in the expansive wash up area of our new premises. The burial will be held at the Castle Hill metal recyclers, its soul laid to rest without a single wash cycle completed.

The staff were distraught. We are still weeping tears into the large sink in which we have hand washed every pot, pan and stirring implement this week. We're expecting a replacement next week. In the meantime we're spending the weekend purchasing more rubber gloves.

Yesterday afternoon, the front of our bratt pan inexplicably fell off. By itself. Without provocation. One team member was heard to cry out in religious fervour, "Jesus, this place is falling apart!"

Again, we called on the ever patient Dean for assistance. Fortunately, he was still on site from the last disaster. He begged us not to cause any more trouble. We're trying our hardest.

But the place isn't falling apart. It's fantastic. And we're so excited about our new home.

For me, this week has highlighted how much the Dinner on the Table team love to cook for you, how they love to be working together, and how adaptable (and cheery!) they are in the face of big challenges. I am so grateful for them, and I know you are too.

I'm grateful for Theresa and Dylan from Nuance Food, whose kitchen we share. You couldn't ask for a better set of 'flat mates', and to have someone to help shoulder the trials and celebrate the triumphs has been invaluable.

We're just getting started. And next week we'll be a little more familiar. But we can't wait to welcome you to our new home.

I shouldn't be surprised... but I always am

I know I shouldn’t be surprised. But I always am. Despite my significant experience, I never ceased to be amazed.  And then I never cease to be irritated. I sometimes cease from shouting, but never cease from gritting my teeth and speaking. Simultaneously.

Things always take longer than you think.

Always.

It is currently school holidays. And I am someone whose life needs to be arranged around such peculiarities. These holidays the junior recipe testers and I have had some spectacular adventures. One day included a plane watching tour, starting from Mascot train station. On foot.

That took much longer than I thought. Mascot train station is nowhere near the plane watching platform. I can, however, highly recommend taking your juniors to the airport to watch planes. But take the car, for preference.

But I digress.

Once upon a time, in our house, we had a study. Then we had a junior recipe tester. And then a couple more. And then we didn't have a study. We have more juniors than bedrooms, and so some are required to share. Over the past few weeks the juniors have been debating whether there should be a realignment of bedrooms and who shares with whom.

This week they finally decided, and so our task was to rearrange furniture. It is incumbent upon me as a parent, I believe, to ensure that the clothes of the junior residing in a bedroom, also reside in that bedroom. I rallied the troops and revved them up for the task: we move these clothes from here to here, these from here to there and rejig a few books and toys. 

No problem.

The chest of drawers two juniors have shared are extraordinarily large and extraordinarily heavy. I picked up a clothing-laden drawer and headed from here to there. After scraping the skin of my knuckles on both sides of the doorway I wavered under the weight. The drawer slid from my now skinned hands.

There wasn't a very big noise to accompany the fall. Just a great deal of daylight between the sides, the bottom and now the drawer front. Clothes tumbled out through the daylight.

I stood in the hall and contemplated the position. I considered the clothes now tumbled about the place. I weighed up the short trip down the hall from here to there, from one bedroom to another. I realised these few small steps could now only be completed via a trip to Ikea.

I gritted my teeth and started to speak...

The Dinner on the Table kitchen has made a small trip from here to there. Baulkham Hills to Castle Hill isn't very far. But sometimes that small trip can take far longer than you ever imagined possible. But we're making progress: we have a freezer room built and an enormous extractor hood.

The equipment is being rearranged and reinstalled (we haven't dropped any yet). And soon we will be, once again, cooking and delivering your dinners. Our new kitchen is shared with our good friends at Nuance Food. We're excited about our role as flat-mate. We're going to have a busy and vibrant kitchen, and that extends everyone's creativity.

We can't wait. Some of us are considering gritting our teeth; but we're not shouting. There are also some exciting new things we can't wait to share with you, like extended pickup hours, no need to preorder for pickup (and you'll be able to swing past and get a great cup of coffee too - more about that soon!), and a brand new venture bringing dinners to busy working people (yep, we're coming to you!)

When we're finally in you'll hear the shouting at your place. We're so grateful for your patience and we can't wait to cook for you again soon. We'll keep you posted!

Our new kitchen being renovatedNew freezer room in our new kitchen premises

The week that is...

This week has almost got me beaten. Almost. That I'm here typing is evidence. That I wince from time to time as I type is just a symptom of this week. This afternoon I dropped my big kitchen grill plate on my finger. Setting up a new big kitchen, I am discovering, requires the moving of equipment from here to there and then back again.

The grill plate is very heavy. My finger is not. My finger is slightly flatter than it was when I woke up this morning. My fingernail is purpling up nicely.

This week the senior recipe tester is in China. When, on Sunday night, I considered the activity of this week I thought China was an excellent choice. When he kissed me goodbye on Monday morning he did not offer to take me or the junior recipe testers with him.

Pity.

Yesterday was the much anticipated day when the cast that went on the broken arm about six weeks ago could finally be doffed. As would be expected, the appointment at the clinic coincided with school photo day. I arrived at the junior's classroom to collect him and found his room empty. Of course, the junior would be having his photo taken right then.

I legged it across the playground, located the class, begged the photographer and shoved the junior in front of the blue merle school-photo screen for a mug shot. At some point, and not unusually for me, I removed my sunglasses and placed them on top of my head.

Photo complete, I grabbed the junior's good arm, and we ran across the playground. I attempted to put my sunglasses back over my eyes and found that the nose supports were well knotted into my hair. Without the time or patience to stop and sort it out, I sprinted across the playground with my sunnies and lengthy fringe slapping me in the chin. Like the purple nail, the bald patch will no doubt grow over soon.

We arrived at the hospital and waited in the queue at the administration counter. Announcing our arrival we were bid to present to the X-ray department. X-ray has a ticketing system, much like the deli. We took a ticket and waited. When our ticket was called we announced our arrival at the X-ray administration desk. We were then bid to wait until our name was called.

We waited.

The junior's name was called and he had an X-ray. We went back to the original clinic. This time there was a significant queue at the administration desk. 

We waited.

We got to the top of the registration queue and announced our return from X-ray. We were bid to wait until our name was called.

We waited.

Eventually the junior's name was called and we saw the physio. The cast was removed and a scrawny, somewhat grotty looking arm emerged. We found the blob of jam that inexplicably disappeared into the cast last week. It should also be noted that an arm that emerges from a cast after very many weeks smells like a foot.

We were then bid to return to the waiting area, where a doctor would at some point in the near, or not so near, future, call the junior's name.

We waited.

By the time the doctor called us we had waited such a time that the junior required a haircut. We went in to see the doctor. Mercifully, given the pong we had endured for the past few hours, she offered us a sink and a large quantity of soap.

"It's a little tricky to see what's going on through the cast," she said. "I'd like you to have another x-ray."

I may have given her a disparaging look. In my defence, when the cast was put on in the first place, perhaps by now some ten weeks earlier, we were informed that its great benefit was that an X-ray could be taken through it.

We headed back to X-ray and took a ticket.

We waited.

I wondered if, when the junior's hair was cut, there would be enough to cover my bald patch...

Is it really working mothers' fault... again?

Overweight and obesity is a significant public health concern. More than 60% of Australian adults are obese along with at least 25% of our children. So where do we apportion blame? Well, working mothers apparently.

We’re spending around 32% of our weekly budgets on takeaway food and eating out, according to a recent report by Deakin University. For Hungry Jacks owner and Domino’s Chairman Jack Cowin, this figure is directly attributable to women working more. Not his fault that the dinners he dishes up contribute to the national epidemic; it’s your fault for working.

Whacking working mothers yet again is boring. It particularly smarts when it comes from the head of a fast food chain with the worst scores on commitment to healthy eating in the country. The convenience food industry can do a better job of providing real, healthy food choices. We do. Every week. We’re also working closely with some forward thinking managers to provide meaningful support to their employees in the everyday juggle between work and home. Stay tuned… we can’t wait to tell you about it!

We know you struggle to cook a perfectly balanced dinner for your people every single night of the week. Because we do too. That’s why we appreciate it when someone cooks for us. We just demand convenient food that doesn’t make us or our kids feel miserable. And doesn’t contribute to the obesity epidemic.

Women's Agenda :
https://womensagenda.com.au/…/women-are-working-so-were-ea…/

If you'd like to see the interview #abcthebusiness:
http://www.abc.net.au/…/extended-interview-with-jac…/9809328