Author: OHB

LA… (Part 1)

I’ve been a little distracted from baking recently, thanks to a whirlwind week visit to Los Angeles. My actual job is in the media (I used to be a TV3 news reporter/presenter/producer and was a radio newsreader for many years in the UK/NZ), and still work with my husband in production. This trip combined work, filming, holiday – and a little thing called the flipping OSCARS!!!!

I love to travel but this is the first time in many years that I haven’t been in a wheelchair though the airport, which was a huge personal win. Watching others being wheeled on to board the plane first, I felt extremely grateful that this time I was actually able to walk on and off. Physically, I could do so much more and was in far less pain throughout this trip than usual. Yay!
I absolutely love movies, which you’ll start to notice more about on my social media. In fact my first ever date with my now-husband was to see – no, not a rom com – but the highly disturbing A Clockwork Orange! (My choice – I think I was trying to test how keen he really was). So being an movie lover, what better time to visit Hollywood than during Oscars week…
The Roxy Theatre, Sunset Boulevard
The day we landed in Los Angeles we pretty much dropped off our luggage (we stayed with friends in West Hollywood) then headed straight out. Having a night flight from Auckland direct to LA meant that jet lag wasn’t too bad at all – essentially just sleeping on the plane rather than in bed at home. We headed out for a quick Thai dinner at Night + Market on Sunset Boulevard then walked over to The Roxy Theatre. Everyone who’s anyone has played here – including Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Van Morrison, Guns N’Roses… We were there however for a charity fundraiser, featuring Joel McHale (Community, The Soup) and stars of The Office (US version). The event was raising money for wildlife injured in the Australian bushfires – and yes it did seem a little ironic that we’d flown all the way from New Zealand and were at an Australian fundraiser in Los Angeles! The Roxy holds fewer than 500 people so it was a real close-up, fun experience. Radio LEGEND Howard Stern arrived just as we were waiting in line to go in – no queuing for him!
stand up at the Roxy Theatre
Joel McHale

I was a huge fan of The Office (BBC original) and also the US version – after my latest surgery I bingewatched all nine seasons on Lightbox. (By the way – if you are a fan of The Office then I highly recommend the new podcast Office Ladies!) Appearing on stage that night were stars Rainn Wilson (Dwight Schrute), Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin), Creed Bratton (Creed Bratton!) and Brian Baumgartner (Kevin Malone). Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly) was supposed to be there, but had to stay home to look after her son who was sick with flu. She did a little pre-recorded message instead. Rainn Wilson opened the show by reading some hilarious – and very VERY explicit – fan fiction. Certainly shone a whole new light on Dwight and Angela’s office romance! Joel McHale was incredibly funny doing stand-up, so professional. (A real highlight for my Community-loving husband.) Lots of laughs from everyone in fact, rounded off with several songs from Creed Bratton’s very cool band.

Angela Kinsey and Rainn Wilson

I’ve worked with and met many celebrities but rarely take photos – especially 20 years ago when selfies weren’t even a thing! So when Angela Kinsey (Angela Martin) came into the crowd and was stopping for selfies, I thought why not get one too. I grabbed my husband’s phone (his is newer than mine, and works better in dim light).

I’d forgotten two key things however:
1) My husband had just been filming, so the camera was set on ‘’VIDEO’ not ‘PHOTO’.
2) I’m still recovering from shoulder surgery and can’t raise my right arm properly.

So – rather than a cute snap of Angela Kinsey and myself – I have a blurred highly confusing 3 second video of me YELPING in pain as I raise my arm up without thinking to try and take a selfie, into a position my shoulder can’t possibly go. Then I pretty much stumble and fall on Angela, as the pain hits. She’s asking if I’m okay, and no doubt wondering what the hell just happened. I’m trying to babble out an explanation, but it’s dark and noisy and internally I’m screaming in pain! Not my finest moment. Note to self – I’m just not coordinated enough to take selfies under pressure!

Another night we had dinner at the highly exclusive private members’ club Soho House. So swanky and cool, you can’t reveal if you’re a member or who other members may be. (Think A-list movie stars, chat show hosts, Oprah etc etc.

Maya, Soho House (not my photo!)

Funnily enough the Kardashians and stars of the Real Housewives shows are apparently not allowed membership!). I’m most certainly not a member, but we were having dinner with two TV stars who are. We ate in Maya (one of several restaurants and bars in the club) which serves the most delicious Mexican food I’ve ever eaten. Photos are strictly banned at Soho House, so you’ll just have to take my word that the food was AMAZING! So so good. They have a little trolley which they wheel around to make the guacamole right in front of you at the table, with all the little bowls of chopped up ingredients, and nacho chips served in cute little paper bags. Plus we enjoyed spicy tuna tostadas, jidori chicken with salsa verde, steak (for the men – I don’t like steak), salads, black beans and brown rice. I’d love to share who else was there that night – but can’t. There was a multiple-Grammy award winner also eating dinner though! Soho House was every bit as fabulous and glamorous as you might expect, with a private entrance to avoid paparazzi, different restaurants, pool tables, staggering views of LA, private screening room, photo booth – we got a little tour of everything!

I can see how people get caught up in the tv and film bubble that is LA, it’s all consuming. On day five we headed to a ridiculously fancy address in Bel Air (zip code 90210) – where Adele, Katy Perry and Nicole Kidman all have properties. We were there to film in a phenomenal $20 Million mansion (!!!!). (It was unbelievable – more on that in the next blog!)
The security guard at the top of the street asks “You’re there for the filming?”.
“Yes” we reply.
“You’re here for filming?” exclaims our uber driver without missing a beat. “Damn I should have given you my script!”.

Earlier that day I was standing outside a store while my husband was inside messaging our son back home in NZ over which t-shirt he wanted us to buy him (belated birthday present). Suddenly a blacked-out car drops off Billie Eilish and a minder, right next to me. My husband mentions to the shop assistant what just happened. “Oh yeah” they replied, bored. “It’s LA, that happens every day…”.

 

Still to come… Oscars night in Hollywood, the red carpet glam, celebs and attending an Academy Awards dinner!

Follow me @onehandedbaker on Facebook and Instagram!

Lucky Charm

During winter my kids always have a hot chocolate or Milo when they come home from school. My son likes hot chocolate, my daughter prefers Milo – of course they can’t both like the same thing!! Today I grabbed this old Lucky Charms mug from the back of the cupboard. It’s something I used myself when I was a young girl.. a loooonnnnng time ago!

Growing up, it was always a special cup to use. When you add a hot drink the black background changes colour to reveal the colourful Lucky Charms cereal! My kids thought this was pretty interesting and asked me to explain how that happens. Urm?! Yeah, not something I was readily able to do! They were also quite hopeful it could be worth something as clearly looks SO old (haha!!). A quick Google search however shows it’s a Magic Mug from 1992, so hardly antique. I would have been 15. Pretty surprising then that it’s survived in one piece, with no chips or knocks. I wish the same could be same about me…

I remember the mug came free with tokens from the back of the cereal packet. I can’t honestly remember ever eating Lucky Charms cereal (we were more the homebrand-type of family), so expect we probably bought it solely to get the mug!

Do you have any old childhood pieces still in use?

© www.cerealoffers.com

Baking Me Happy

MRI, One Handed BakerI’m SOOooo glad it’s the weekend! I hope everyone’s had a good week, for me it’s been (another) week of medical appointments, x-rays and MRI’s. I started up One Handed Baker in the months leading up to spine surgery when I could no longer work or walk very well, but have some other stuff going on (from minor things like broken bones, to a rare bone disease, and a serious condition that hasn’t yet managed to kill me off!).

For me, baking is something I’ve always LOVED to do, and can manage in between flare- ups and ill-health. Who isn’t happy baking cupcakes?! 😊 (I have a frozen shoulder at the moment so won’t be kneading dough anytime soon, but that won’t stop me baking cookies and cakes for my family!). I know scientists have found baking to have therapeutic value which eases stress and anxiety. Does anyone else find baking helps them? Apparently any activity which takes your attention – like weighing and measuring – can have a calming, meditative quality. (And personally I’d rather bake a lemon drizzle loaf then do yoga!!! 😅).

Sending love out there to everyone who lives with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, depression, serious conditions, or anything that makes life extra hard. Have a lovely weekend  xxx

Sizzling Singapore

W Hotel, Sentosa Cove

I’ve just come back from a few days in Singapore, as my husband’s ‘+1’ on a work trip. (I mean, he’d have been in trouble if he’d taken someone else!) We met at work 20 years ago and have worked for the same companies ever since. This was his side of the business though, so purely a fun trip for me and zero business talk. Hurrah!

Giant bon-bon at the W Hotel

Not the BEST timing as three months ago I fell down a flight of stairs and broke my knee. Although to be fair, I have such a bad health history that most months I have a broken bone, illness or hospital stay so the odds weren’t exactly in my favour! The 10-hour flight was a struggle but crutches/wheelchair aside, it was a wonderful trip away. And great timing too with winter well and truly settling in here. The temperature in Singapore was about 32 degrees on average (one day it reached 35!), with the odd sudden burst of rain to keep everyone on their toes.

Seah Im Food Centre

We stayed at the VERY hip and trendy W Hotel on Sentosa Island, which I liked from the moment I spotted the complementary macarons in our room! Plenty of other delicious food to mention too. I loved exploring Chinatown (great for cheap souvenirs for our kids), and eating like a local at hawker centres. The most authentic we went too was Seah Im food centre (if you’ve been to Singapore, it’s kind of opposite Vivo City over the highway) – which was well worth the trek on crutches. The centre was PACKED with workers having their lunch, no other tourists in sight. $4 got me a huge plate of delicious Mee Goreng noodles.

Mee Goreng

We were treated to a work dinner at Monti on the waterfront, with gorgeous views of Singapore’s nightly light show. Disappointing crispy chicken for the main (soggy not crispy!) but delicious molten chocolate lava cake. A wonderful Chinese meal too at Blue Lotus on Sentosa.

Heading home, we were lucky to see the fabulous Jewell (world’s largest indoor waterfall) at Changi Airport. Even more astonishing than either a) the giant waterfall or b) the hordes of Instagrammers posing for endless photos… was the queues outside American burger joint Shake Shack! Our tour guide told us the wait time for food is often THREE HOURS! My brain can’t even comprehend that – three hours??!!! You’d have to start queuing BEFORE you were even hungry! Or take a packed snack for the queue?!

Glad to be home now though, despite the ominous laundry mountain lurking in the corner…

 

                            

 

 

Behind the scenes…

There was a time last year when I couldn’t bake for weeks on end. And boy did I HATE it! There’s just something about baking that relaxes me… whether it’s quickly whipping up an old family recipe that I know inside out, or trying a new creative idea that make or may not work!

Me, cooking on camera

I’ve had a few serious health issues in my life (major spine surgery, and life-saving bowel surgery are just a couple). During these times, I’ve been unable to bake, sometimes for many weeks on end. (I guess on the upside I also avoided cleaning the bathrooms and cooking dinners …). Being able to get back on my feet and back to baking for my kids, was a wonderful feeling each time.

This latest baking drought however was nothing to do with ill-health, but something far more exciting! My husband Alex and I had dreamt about doing major renovations to our home for many years. While we loved our cute little house, we wanted to transform it into a large family home. Which is exactly what we did…  while being filmed every step of the way for a new TV show! Yep, start to finish with cameras in our faces!

Presenter Hamish Dodd

You know those renovation shows where the (foolish) family insists they’ll stay on-budget, and are dead-set on living on site no matter HOW disruptive the building work… Yep, that’s US! Without giving too much away, it was stressful, exciting, chaotic, full-on, hard-work, fun and unforgettable. Fortunately our good friend Hamish Dodd (My House My Castle, The Cafe) helped guide us through the process, and was a huge help. Although he may get a big head if he reads this!

I did manage to do SOME baking before the kitchen became a total no-go-zone… you may spot a few One Handed Baker recipes pop up throughout the series. I’d love you to follow our journey – the 100 Day Renovation starts Saturday 9 March at 6pm on Prime TV in NZ.

Gizmos and Gadget

Watching ‘Sweet Week’ on Masterchef Australia this week has got me drooling. Caramels, chocolate, berries – what’s not to love! In particular the gelato episode got me thinking. My kids eat a lot of ice cream and it seems to be a constant feature on our shopping list.

I’ve often watched contestants on cooking shows use ice cream makers, and while I don’t use a lot of gadgets I thought this could be a useful addition at home. What could be better – delicious, home-made ice cream, with no preservatives or unknown ingredients? Plus, my son and daughter could even help make their own flavours. So, I jump online to check out options – and find a Kenwood Chef ice cream maker is $899.99. What the…?! $900! I can’t afford that! That’s roughly the cost of 180 two litre tubs of ice cream (plus the cost of ingredients of course). Or a two litre tub every week for 6 months!

So, unless we win Lotto (doubtful considering I don’t even buy a ticket…), or Briscoes have a 90% off sale, I think that’s a firm ‘no’ on the ice cream maker front.

I guess I’m a little old-fashioned in the kitchen. My two most-used items are a wooden spoon, and a good ol’ regular hand mixer. That’s it! I did own a food processor but the last time I rescued it from a dusty top shelf in my kitchen I discovered it had stopped working. Possibly from neglect. Whenever I spot a gorgeous stand mixer in a friend’s house though I’m always secretly envious. Actually – not even secretly – I’m openly jealous!

Growing up I remember my mum used a hand cranked meat grinder for her baking. Yes, meat grinder. Screw it to the side of the benchtop, choose your disc, and crank the handle round. I often used to help crush up biscuit crumbs for cheesecakes this way. In fact, she still uses it to this day! It was pretty funny when I took my parents to a local historical village once and we saw the exact model displayed behind glass in the ‘olden days’ section…

So while I may daydream of an ice cream maker, or a beautiful Smeg stand mixer (so pretty!) right now I’m doing it old skool style with a wooden spoon and bowl. Either way, my recipes will always be simple and delicious.

 

Here we go!

It’s funny a first blog post. You feel it should be pretty damn significant in some way – so much so, it’s taken me a week of procrastinating to get to this point! But really, I’m all about keeping things simple so that’s how this will be.

To begin with then, a little about me. I’m a New Zealand mum living in Auckland with my husband, two kids, rescue dog, rescue cat, and rescue rabbit. (My son is keen to rescue a turtle too – but after learning they live for 40 years that isn’t happening!). Oh, and I LOVE to bake!

Like many mums, I’m constantly juggling work – housework – playing with the kids – social life (huh?). The nickname One Handed Baker came about after I pretty much baked a cake with one hand while helping with homework with the other.

I love creating new recipes and playing with old favourites. Baking in the kitchen really is my happy place. I’ve suffered a range of serious health problems for many years, and was having difficulty doing my ‘proper’ job. I underwent major spine surgery in June 2018 (more on that another time) and knew I’d face months unable to work. I’m not very good at keeping still and relaxing and knew I’d need something to keep me focused and busy during the long recovery. So I decided to film lots of recipe videos beforehand which I could then edit from bed.

I had no idea whether anyone would like my recipes or watch the videos – so was pretty chuffed when they did! After 12 months I’d reached 11,000 followers on social media, which continues to grow.

The One Handed theme continued as every recipe is made with one hand, while filming with my iPhone in the other. No tripods, no fancy equipment, no helpers. That’s why all my recipes are simple!