Chicken Satay Stir Fry Recipe

A quick and easy deconstructed chicken satay recipe!

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

500g Chicken breast fillets

1 Brown onion

1 Cucumber

1 Pack coriander

1 Head garlic

1 Birdseye chilli

1 Lime

6 Tablespoons Peanut butter

1 Cup water

2 Tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

3 Teaspoons soy sauce

2 Cups brown rice

Directions:

Step 1: Prepare ingredients by dicing chilli into small pieces, chopping onion into small squares, shredding garlic into thin slices, peeling and deseeding cucumber and slicing into wedges, removing coriander leaves from stems, and cutting lime into wedges.

Step 2: Meanwhile, cook rice according to your preferred method.

Step 3: Dice chicken fillets into small bite-sized pieces and stir fry in a wok until they’re 80% cooked through (approx. 5 mins). Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 4: In the wok, stir fry chilli, onion and garlic for 5 minutes, before adding 6 tablespoons of peanut butter. Stir fry for 2 minutes before adding water, let simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 5: Add sweet chilli, lime juice, soya sauce and coriander to satay mixture, and cook for a further 5 minutes, before adding chicken back to wok. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Step 6: Serve chicken satay over brown rice and cucumbers. Enjoy!  

Album Review – Cats: Highlights from the Motion Picture Soundtrack

It may be a flop in cinemas, however ‘Cats: Highlights from the Motion Picture Soundtrack’, is a pretty good album indeed!

My wife and I don’t have many family traditions, but one tradition we do practice each year is to watch a movie in cinema during that period in between Christmas/New Year’s, before going back to work for another year. And this year, with our one movie quota we watched CATS! (Although we’re dog people)…….

The Motion Picture

From all accounts, the motion picture adaptation of the popular stage production ‘Cats’ has been a real flop – as unimpressive as a once nice and fluffy cat, but now wet and all shrunken after a bath. However all the bad reviews still didn’t stop us from handing over hard-earned cash to watch it, and at George Street cinemas, there was actually a reasonably sized audience joining us – made up mostly of retirees and teenagers (you-know, the types of kids you’d expect to be performing at a high school’s production of ‘Cats’).

The film itself? I have to admit I totally fell asleep between minute 8 and minute 20 of the film (largely due to already having been made to sit through 30 minutes of back-to-back pre-screening adverts *Yawn*). While my wife found the middle portion of the film quite slow and hard to endure.

The film itself and the sound quality in our opinion, is best appreciated in a cinema, compared to watching it later on the small screen (ooh, it would be utterly horrible on DVD). And we have to agree with the critics and stack up criticisms on this fact – the CGI was distracting, which took away from the viewing experience, and the scaling of the set was baffling at times. However if you’d previously had the pleasure of watching the live stage production of Cats, you’d probably agree that the motion picture follows the musical numbers and storyline very closely. The only differences between the stage and motion picture productions was the larger role of Victoria (young white cat), her new song ‘Beautiful Ghosts’, a more star-studded cast (in no particular order except from oldest to youngest…… Judi Dench, Ian Mckellen, Rebel Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo, and Taylor Swift), and of course the main difference between the stage and motion picture versions was the distracting CGI used to transform man and woman into cats (in our opinion, echoing the thoughts of other critics, Lycra bodysuits and face paint would have been enough for 2019).

But for those who criticised the film for its storyline, or the lack thereof, if they entered the cinema remotely educated from reading up on the theatre production of Cats – they would’ve already known that Cats in all renditions lacks a storyline. In a nutshell, the storyline sees the new young white cat drop in on the night of the annual Jellicle Ball, where one cat is granted a new life after a competition (like having 9 lives isn’t already enough). The majority of the film is spent showcasing different cats (through song and dance), putting forward their individual arguments of why they should be the chosen one. And after a failed attempt by the villain to undermine the fair selection process, a cat is chosen. And somewhere along the way is the singing of the most iconic song number from Cats (‘Memories’). And after a pro-cat (anti-dog) direct appeal to camera, the film fades to black.

On the whole I walked away satisfied enough, as I’ve always enjoyed musicals, and my expectations when walking in were so low, it was quite easy for the film to meet and then exceed them.

The Soundtrack

As expected, the soundtrack of an onscreen musical was unable to capture all 100+ minutes of music from the film. Thus the soundtrack is titled ‘Cats: Highlights from the Motion Picture’, time limited to 59 mins. But we can only hold our breath and hope, that like Les Mis, in time they’ll release a deluxe 2-disc version that will include all 20+ songs featured in the film!

But if you’re still tossing up whether or not to watch the film, why not first give the soundtrack a go? The soundtrack contains the major tracks like:

Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats; The Rum Tum Tugger; Old Deuteronomy; Macavity; Mr. Mistoffelees; Memory; and Beautiful Ghosts – both Victoria’s and Taylor Swift’s versions.

We’ve been playing the soundtrack on our Google Home almost daily since we watched the film, and at times I’ve caught myself whistling to tracks from the album as they’re super ‘stuck in your brain’ earworms! If after you’ve listened to the album from Spotify, and you’re still left wanting, wondering ‘what am I missing out on?’, ‘which songs didn’t make it into the highlights?’ Then you’ll just have to watch it in cinema! The missing songs from the soundtrack include:

The Naming of Cats; Grizabella: The Glamour Cat; Growltiger’s Last Stand; The Jellicle Ball; The Moments of Happiness; and The Journey to the Heaviside.

So don’t just stand there! Go! Go! If Cats is doing as poorly as people claim it to be at the box-office, then it won’t be in cinemas for much longer- so go! Go! Don’t walk but run and catch it before it’s too late!

Product Recommendations- Lindt Fruit Sensation V Haigh’s Chocolate Berrychocs

Fruit-centred chocolate balls verses fruit-centred chocolate balls!

Ah Christmas! Don’t you love it when people gift you premium chocolates which you otherwise wouldn’t buy for yourself, as you’re too cheap!

This Christmas my sister gave us a hamper, which included a packet of Lindt Fruit Sensations- Mango & Passionfruit.

While my wife’s boss gave her a Haigh’s Christmas chocolate hamper, which included a packet of Berrychocs.

Thus with 2 types of balls in my hands, what better than to facilitate a Chocolate ball V Chocolate ball head-to-head battle!

Lindt Fruit Sensations- Mango & Passionfruit

Out of the blocks, Lindt’s chocolate stands out due to its dark chocolate flavour – the pairing of a bitter dark chocolate with a sweet fruit centre, definitely grabs your attention due to the opposing sweet and bitter flavours. The Lindt balls are a bit on the small side, being almost as small as a large pea? So it’s actually hard to tell if the fruit centre is genuine dried fruit covered in dark chocolate (this was my original expectation), or if it was merely an artificial jelly which happened to be flavoured like mango and passionfruit. Priced at $4.00 (100g), it’s more affordable, but it also tastes more commercial/mass produced. **Note: The fruit centre is a fruit puree incorporated with other binders.

Haigh’s Chocolate Berrychocs

When you pull one out of the pack, it’s obviously larger than the Lindt ball – easily the size of a macadamia nut? Biting into it, the Haigh’s chocolate is definitely creamier and more premium tasting than the Lindt. Whereas if the Berrychocs were coated in a darker, more bitter chocolate? The Berrychocs would have easily won hands down (Haigh’s Berrychocs are a mixture of both milk and dark chocolate). The fruit centre is very soft, and when I was trying to work out what the fruity centre reminded me of, Cadbury’s Cherry Ripe came to mind. According to the Haigh’s web-site, the Berrychocs are:

“Strawberry and raspberry flavoured fruit centres with a white chocolate layer then pan coated in milk or dark chocolate”

With that description alone, it spells out artisan chocolatier! And how it justifies a more premium price of $10.50 for 200g.

So in this chocolate ball head-to-head, I do believe the Haigh’s chocolate Berrychocs has it! My measure? If I could only have one more choc-y ball, I’d reach for the Haighs! But if you’d like to check out either of these tasty chocolate products, click HERE for the Haigh’s Berrychocs, and HERE for the Lindt Fruit Sensations!

Podcast Recommendations- Murder Book

Will Pierre Romain, romain free?

If you’re into true crime pods, then you have to listen to Murder Book Podcast, where bestselling crime fiction author Michael Connelly tries his hand at hosting a true crime pod!

The first season of ‘Murder Book: The Tell-tale Bullet’ is a 14 part deep dive into a case of a 1987 LA carjacking gone wrong, resulting in the death of a 21 year old, and the lingering unresolved justice for over 30 years! The tale and the nature of the crime isn’t unique, i.e. black-on-black killing with gang undertones, but the delays and the lead-time to justice is unique though.

The podcast provides us, the listener, access to interviews and commentary with the police and prosecutors involved in the case; real-life audio recordings from the court; wiretap recordings of the accused; and answers to some listener questions to help you further understand the case – all riveting stuff!

The series might be deemed as being long and somewhat drawn-out, however the 10 hour ordeal is still worthwhile to sit through, when at the end of the day you’re guaranteed closure when the jury hands in its verdict to a case which has been open for more than 30 years.

The highlight of the experience for me was actually hearing Michael Connelly’s voice for the first time. After listening to his Harry Bosch and Micky Haller books across a span of almost 20 years, I was surprised to actually hear the man speak (talk about a gravelly voice?). But after a while Michael’s hoarse tones became a welcome sound in my ears, as he translated the legal and police jargon, and summarised and interpreted the court and wiretap recordings, to ensure that you’re able to follow the case and the sometimes unexpected turns it takes.

Meanwhile, the negatives against the podcast experience were the poor audio quality of courtroom recordings (which Michael apologises profusely for), and the unpolished and sometimes hard to follow courtroom arguments….. Not to mention how uneventful much of the courtroom activity actually is? I guess from listening to Michael’s books and when watching fictional courtroom dramas on TV, you’re spoon-fed perfectly delivered and crafted arguments from the lawyers and perfectly clear responses from witnesses. However in reality, what I found was that courtroom proceedings was actually quite boring, that it required quite a bit of concentration to follow and absorb lawyer’s arguments and witness testimonies, and it wasn’t until halfway through the court case did I understand that if an objection was ‘sustained’ by the judge, was the question allowed to be answered or not by the person on the stand. Therefore we greatly welcomed Michael’s interruptions into the court proceedings, to explain what we were listening to, and why the lawyers were presenting elements when they were.

But for one who isn’t really into true crime pods, I enjoyed it; and this was the first podcast series my wife listened to from start to finish, and she really enjoyed it as well! So yeah, check out Murder book if you haven’t already – it’s an intriguing listen.

Sydney Gig Guide Feb – Apr 2020

This is only a very small taste of the live gigs which will be touching down in Sydney in the months of February – April 2020. But we will be uploading new posts on a monthly basis to give you some advance notice in what hot live gigs will be arriving in Ol’ Sydney Town!

Live music

So Pop 2020

Qudos Bank Arena, 19 Edwin Flack Avenue, Sydney Olympic Park

Saturday 25 April 2020, after the successes of ‘So Pop’ 2019, So Pop 2020 returns to Australia and New Zealand with a whole new line-up of 00s Popstars! Acts include the Pussycat Dolls, Steps, Jesse McCartney, Smash Mouth, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Alice DJ, Whigfield, Reel 2 Reel, and Samantha Mumba! One stage! One day! One ticket! Don’t miss-out!

 Sydney-siders will have their turn to groove to these nostalgic beats, for more info and to purchase tickets click HERE!

Musicals

9 to 5 The Musical

Lyric Theatre, 55 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont   

From April 2020, the West End Musical smash hit ‘9 to 5 The Musical’ will be reaching our Sydney shores! Adapted from the film by the same name, 9 to 5 is a musical about 3 work mates  who team up to turn the tables on their sexist and egotistical boss! With a musical score penned by no other than Dolly Parton herself, 9 to 5 promises to be a whole heap of laughs, accompanied by music you’ll love! Live vicariously through these ladies as they rise-up against their crappy boss!

For more information and for tickets, click HERE!

Classical/Contemporary Music

Goldner String Quartet & Piers Lane

City Recital Hall, 2 Angel Place, Sydney

Saturday 4 April – Monday 20 April, Australia’s most recognised Pianist Piers Lane will partner with his old friends the Goldner String Quartet as the quartet celebrates 25 years of making music together! Piers and GSQ will be performing twice per day (2pm and 7pm), with performances differing from night and day (2pm Program 1, 7pm Program 2).

For more information and to purchase tickets, click HERE!

Comedy

Ben Elton Live

City Recital Hall, 2 Angel Place, Sydney

Friday 24 April, Legendary British stand-up comic, author, playwright, actor and director Ben Elton will be making Sydney audiences laugh with his all new stand-up show! See this talented writer and performer live on stage, after 75 sold out shows in the UK in 2009, Sydney audiences will be guaranteed a great night with Ben Elton on stage!

For more details and for tickets, click HERE!

Community Theatre

Beautiful: The Carol King Musical

Hornsby RSL Showroom, 4 High Street, Hornsby  

Thursday 30 April – Saturday 1 May, the Hornsby Musical Society will be performing ‘Beautiful: The Carol King Musical’, where it retells Carol’s life story through her vast library of hit songs. The music will take you back to her early days as a 16 year old song writer; partnership and marriage to the lyricist Gerry Goffin; the successes of their callaburation and prolific song writing; to infidelity and the ultimate break-up of their marriage- while Carol becomes a global success. An emotional journey through Carol King’s life, through her life of song.

For more information and for tickets, click HERE!

Spicy & Cheesy Thick Cut Vegetable Bowl Recipe

A healthy and tasty vegetarian recipe guaranteed to please the whole family!

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 Head cauliflower

2 Carrots

2 Zucchinis

5 Cloves garlic

1 Birdseye chilli

1 Jar lasagne cheese sauce

2 Cups brown rice

Directions:

Step 1: Prepare fresh ingredients by dicing chilli into small pieces, slicing garlic widthways, and separate individual cauliflower florets and cut in half, and chop each carrot and zucchini into equal thirds then slice thinly lengthways.

Step 2: Cook rice with your preferred method.

Step 3: Heat wok and first stir fry chilli and garlic for 2 minutes, before adding cauliflower and carrots- stir fry and add splashes of water to wok, and cover with a lid. Every couple of minutes stir and add a splash of water when required, until cauliflower and carrots start to soften (approx. 15 minutes).

Step 4: Add zucchini to wok and further stir fry/steam for an additional 5 minutes. Then add cheese sauce, stir to coat and allow cook for a further 5 minutes.

Step 5: Divide brown rice among bowls and top off with spicy & cheesy thick cut vegetable mixture. Enjoy!