Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Home Made Chicken Stock

I can't take the credit for this recipe.

I always thought that making your own chicken stock was a complicated affair. But.... I was watching River Cottage Australia when they ran through the recipe and I was happily gob smacked at how simple it really is. 

I then of course changed it. A little!

We buy a bbq chook every so often - which never ceases to thrill the furry pants off our two Tibetan Spaniels who can smell it 5km away! 

Once I've removed the drumsticks and chicken wings, removed and shredded all the meat for us and the bits for the pooches, all I am left with is a carcass filled with stuffing! I used to throw the bones and mankier looking bits out. Now I use them to make super easy stock. 

I put all the bones, stuffing, even skin in a saucepan. I roughly chop a carrot and by roughly I mean it's not peeled and it's cut into chunks. I do the same with a brown onion. If you have celery, cut up one stick and add it to the saucepan, leaves and all. Parsley, same deal. Whatever you have that you think will compliment the taste. Season with salt and pepper and add some mixed herbs. 

Cover all of this with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 1 hour. 

Drain the liquid from the veggies and carcass and discard them, reserving the liquid which is now your stock! 

I pour mine into containers and freeze it. I then will often use it as the base for my chicken and sweet corn soup.

Easy peasy!

From this....

To this!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chicken Korma - Slow Cooker Tuesdays

I am all about short cuts in the kitchen.  

I love making a dish from scratch and used to balk at the idea of using a jar of anything.  

Then I had kids and time constraints hit me in the kitchen.

I still of course love flavour and I love making a variety of dishes.  Heck, you only live once, you might as well try everything on offer!

I also love improvising, much to my husband's dismay.  But in my defense, my improvising works. Mostly!

On this occasion, I came across a jar of simmer sauce when I was doing the groceries and figured it would work in the slow cooker.  Isn't that what a slow cooker does anyway?  Simmers (kind of) throughout the day?  Well, that was how I justified it in my mind.

For this recipe (fancy I can even call it that!), I used:

1 brown onion, roughly chopped
500g chicken tenderloins
1 jar Korma simmer sauce
1/4 - 1/2 cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 zucchini (corvette the courgette) diced
Garlic Naan
Jasmine rice
4 tbsp plain Greek yoghurt
1/2 Lebanese cucumber diced

I don't believe in browning anything before putting it into the slow cooker - that's how much of a short-cutter I am these days.

I tossed the chopped onion in first with the chicken and cauliflower on top.  I poured the simmer sauce over this, then filled the empty simmer sauce jar about halfway with water, put the lid back on, gave it a shake to get ALL the sauce off the sides (I hate waste) and poured that into the slow cooker as well. Gave it a good stir to coat the chicken and cauli in the sauce, put the slow cooker lid on and I set it to LOW.  Low and go slow!  

That was at about 7.30am.  

At about 1pm, I added the zucchini.

Come 5pm I put the rice cooker on (I know.  I used to do it myself on the stove once upon a time....)  It was also at this stage that I threw into the slow cooker some left over cooked pumpkin that I had in the fridge to warm up before serving.

With my spare time (!!) I decided to whip up a 'not quite' Raita. I diced the cucumber and mixed it in with the yoghurt and seasoned with salt to taste.

The plus with the Korma is that it is mild, so the kids enjoyed it immensely.

This is such a simple, effortless (quite literally) yet impressive dinner to make. 

Here's cheers to improvisation!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Vegetable Cous Cous

I still can't leave it alone. A simple packet, meant as a side dish. 

Hubby is out and all I see is a main meal for one waiting to happen.

Here's how it went down:

1 zucchini (courgette) diced
1/4 red capsicum (pepper)
1/4 yellow capsicum (pepper)
1/4 green capsicum (pepper)
1/2 cucumber diced

Cook the cous cous to packet directions. Whilst it is sitting, waiting to be fluff ready, cook the remaining ingredients in a small fry pan. This will take up the 3 minutes cous cous sitting time. Add the veggies to the cous cous and fold in to combine.
Wella!  You have yourself a vegetarian main meal. 

Or, I will often have this with a piece of salmon.

Note to self (and others) Do not fluff cous cous then tap the fork on the side of the saucepan. Unless you want to see cous cous fly!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Crunchy Salad - For Those Like Me Who Never Really Liked Coleslaw.

Once upon a time when I used to work in an office, I was offered to taste a salad that quite frankly, blew me away.

Being the true to form Taurean that I am, I of course asked what was in it (meaning the dressing because the contents, you will see, were pretty darn obvious) with a view to replicating this at home.

We now have this salad most weekends.  It is healthy, super crunchy, and delicious.  And if you are like me and have some foods you wished you loved but don't - like I do with coleslaw - then this is for you.

This recipe though allows me to improvise like nothing else.  With supermarkets producing packets of already chopped salad ingredients, I just go to town with what looks good on the day.

Here we go:

1/4 red cabbage finely shredded*
1/4 green cabbage finely shredded
1 carrot grated*
4 slices red onion
1/2 avocado, chopped
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tbsp chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)


1 tbsp mayonnaise**

Mix all of these together and you have yourself a healthy and delicious lunch time salad.  Add a tin of tuna for an extra protein hit!

* the cabbage and carrot form the base of the salad. However, rather than chop the ingredients myself, I have also been known to purchase a pre-packed bag of coleslaw and just add to it, or more recently, a pre-packed bag of chopped beetroot, carrot and zucchini.  I will also add avocado, capsicum (peppers), cucumber - whatever you think

** to add a little extra zing to the dressing, I will mix in a teaspoon (or thereabouts) of caesar salad dressing or ranch with the mayo

Tuna Pasta Bake

This recipe is a simple go-to that uses ingredients you already have at home in the pantry and freezer.  I love it for those times I forgot to take something out for dinner or haven't done the groceries as yet.

What started as simply following a recipe from the internet, I couldn't help myself, I had to improvise!

Here's how I put my Tuna Pasta Bake together:

250 g pasta (spirals, penne, whatever you like)
40 g butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 cups milk (full or low fat)
3/4 cup grated cheese
425 g can tuna, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas or half cup finely chopped broccoli if I am smuggling vegies. I've even finely diced a zucchini. (Desperate measures with kids!!)

Pre-heat your oven on 180 deg C.

Boil a medium sized saucepan of water and cook your pasta until al dente. Sounds fancy!  Just cook it until it's done. Drain.

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir until combined.  Remove from the heat.  Add the milk, stirring to combine. Place back on the heat and continue to stir until the sauce boils and thickens. Remove from the heat again and add half of your grated cheese, stirring it in to combine.  Mix in the drained tuna.  Pour all of this mixture into the drained pasta and stir through.

Pour into a prepared oven dish. I use about a 6 cup capacity Pyrex dish. Preparing means I have pulled it out of the cupboard!  Smooth the mixture out so it is even. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top.

Pop the dish into the oven and bake for about 10 - 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

This is great served on its own or with a side salad.

Serves 4 (with lunch leftovers!!)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup

The extent of my winging it in the kitchen goes as far as making a dish based solely upon what I think may be in it.

For my chicken and sweet corn soup that tastes like the real deal,  I use:

2 chicken breasts
420g can creamed chicken
420g can cream of chicken condensed soup
4 cups chicken stock
125g vermicelli (optional)

Serves 4

Place your vermicelli in a bowl and cover with boiling water to soak and soften. 

In a frying pan, cook your chicken. You could use bbq chicken if you wish to save on time (and who doesn't love that!) If using fresh chicken breast, I use a frypan with a lid to cook it quicker. 

In a large saucepan, bring your chicken stock to the boil. Add your condensed soup and creamed corn and stir. 

Shred the chicken and add to the soup, reducing the heat to a simmer.

Drain the vermicelli. Place in the bottom of your serving bowl. 

Pour soup on top and serve.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Chilli Con Carne - Slow Cooker Tuesdays

It is becoming widely known - because I keep reminding you - that I improvise (a lot) in the kitchen.  Turns out, so does my father, and his mother before him. So it is fair to say it is in the genes!

Today's recipe is a play on Taco Tuesdays.  My kids heard that term on a show once and decided to run with it.

Tonight however, it is not taco's as such. We are having Chilli Con Carne. And I decided to do it in the slow cooker.  Here's how it's happening:

1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tin mixed beans (you could use red kidney beans)
500g lean mince
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
1 sachet Chilli Con Carne recipe base powder mix 
(I would also use taco seasoning if I had to. It smelled the same!)

I emptied the tin of tomatoes into the slow cooker first. I then filled the tin to about half way with water, swished it around and poured that in as well.

Rinse the tin of beans under water until the soapy looking bubbles are no more. Pour them in to the slow cooker.  

Add the mince, the contents of the recipe base sachet and the corn.  Give it all a good stir to combine.  Lid on and turn to LOW.

Time on was 7.30am.

Because I am feeling all fancy and Mexican (and mainly because I have today off), I am serving this with corn chips, avocado, sour cream, lettuce, red onion and grated cheese, almost (but not quite) turning this into a Nachos-athon.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

2 Things To Keep In Mind When Dealing With Difficult Customers

More often than not, customers can interact and transact with us on a daily basis and all will be completely fine.

Then there are the times, for one reason or another, we have difficult customers.  

Knowing how to handle these situations can hinder or help our ongoing relationship with that customer and ultimately our business.

When I really stop and think about the best way to deal with difficult customers, I think it comes down to two things:



Communication is paramount.  It is the key driver to all relationships.  

A lack of communication can harm, or worse, destroy a relationship, and great communication can build and strengthen a relationship.  

But first of all, let's look at perspective.  

To do this, let me give you an example of what I mean by perspective.

Many moons ago, I lived with one of my best friends.  She is a nurse that works in operating theatres and at the time was the nurse who assisted the anaesthetist

Answering her question of how my day was, I launched into a (no less than) 20 minute rave about how bad my day had been. I can't even remember why it was apparently so ordinary in order to fill you in! At the end of my rant, I returned the question "so, how was your day?" 

Her reply put everything in perspective.  

"We lost a patient today."

The patient had gone in for what should have been a low risk, routine operation, but he had arrested on the table. She and the anaesthetist had worked on him for 45 minutes but could not bring him back.

It rarely happened so when it did, it never failed to rock her boat. Having a patient die and then having to inform their family never gets easy.

That conversation stopped me in my tracks.

I thought I'd had a bad day, but I had not had anyone die. It gave me perspective and I have never forgotten it.

The reason I tell that story is that when I have a difficult customer, I always shoot to that memory...has someone died? Chances are, the answer is no.

I am not diluting the customer's concern. I am keeping it in perspective.

Of course the customer's issue is important and I treat both the customer and the issue with respect.  

Perspective can help you detach from taking it personally. Unless you have done something yourself to upset a customer, the complaint is often not about you directly.  Keep that in mind when dealing with them.

It also helps to keep in mind that you never truly know the full story of what is going on in someone's life: stuff that can heighten their emotional state and possibly magnify their view of the situation they are taking up with you.


This brings me to communication.

By no means am I condoning or excusing a customers' less than desirable behaviour towards you by blaming it on what they have got going on in their lives that you may not know about.  

There is no excuse for bad manners and that goes for bad behaviour too.

It does help you however to be mindful.  It helps keep things in perspective.  Be respectful towards the customer, but detach yourself from allowing their heightened emotions to have more of an impact on you than they should.  

We have all been customers and we have all been upset with the (lack of) service we have received at one time or another.  Our meal took too long to arrive, it wasn't cooked through, we were overcharged, our flight was late, being attended to took way too long, we did not receive the return phone call we were promised, we were disconnected. The list could literally go on and on forever. Sad but true.

Dealing with difficult customers is not something anyone enjoys.

If you have built a relationship with your customers, dealing with an issue or delivering unpleasant news to them is made all the easier.  It may not alleviate all of their frustration or angst over the situation, but they will be less likely to take it out on you because they KNOW you. Though I am the first to acknowledge it can certainly test the strength of the relationship!

My background is in the freight industry. Over the years I have had my share of customers who have not had their freight arrive on time, their freight arrive damaged, their freight did not arrive at all. I am happy to say this was not a regular occurrence but it has happened.

Not knowing how a client will react to you delivering the 'news' you know they don't want to hear can create a little anxiety to say the least!

Empathise.  And, as best you can, manage their expectations. 

This is all done through communication.

These days emails are often considered the way to go because everything is in writing and cannot be mistaken in the 'he said, she said' game.

When a situation has turned sour however, face to face communication - where applicable - or a phone call, instead of or in addition to an email, can do wonders.

Speak in a calm voice, hear what the customer has to say and by that I mean really listen to them.  What you think is important and what the client thinks is important, could be different.  

You will often find that a disgruntled customer simply wants to vent.  So let them.  If this turns to blatant abuse and outrage, firmly but calmly remind them you will not accept that tone or behaviour.  Do not move to that level with them. It can be difficult, but remain calm and in control.

Often, this is not about you personally.  The worst thing you can do is argue back with the customer.  Dealing with a difficult customer is still a form of customer service and arguing is NOT endearing you to ongoing business.

Be mindful of what you say but more importantly HOW you say it.  As I said earlier, empathise.  Acknowledge how and why the situation is not what the client wanted.

Dependent upon circumstances, ask the client how they would like the matter resolved or let the client know how it will be resolved. I am one for exceeding expectations, however now is not the time to over-promise unless you absolutely know you can deliver.  So know your boundaries.

If you have told the client you will get back to them in an hour, make sure it is in an hour.  If you do not have the answer by then, call them and let them know you are still working on it and offer another timeframe to call them back in.  And stick to that timeframe.

This is all part of managing their expectations.  And re-instating credibility with you and/or your company.

When the client knows you are in their corner, the heightened emotional state softens.

A great place to learn about dealing with difficult customers is at the airport.   

Airports are places of peak emotions: from extreme happiness and excitement to sadness, frustration or even anxiety.  

This can make for an interesting time for the staff who work there.  

From the passenger who has missed their flight, is running late for their flight, wants to change their flight to the "don't you know who I am" passenger.  (Yes, they're out there).

Next time you are at an airport, watch the transactions at the check in counters and you will see how dealing with difficult customers is really handled.  When dealing with customers who are often operating at these peak emotions, the staff must be trained masters at negotiating and delivering information in order to keep the customers happy and the airline rolling.

The absolute bottom line is, it is the customer who is really paying our wages so it pays to know how to handle difficult situations when they arise and to keep the customers as someone who continues to support our business.

Do you have an example of handling a difficult customer?  Do you have a situation you'd like to know how to handle or handle differently?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

This Judging a Parent Thing Is Bullsh!t.

It's a harsh title but it's true.

Image result for judging does not defineWhat's with all the judgement? And for those that do it, who are you to think you have a right to express it?

I chose to write this post because I get sick and tired of the endless judgement that goes on of parents.  I've seen it this week in the news and I hear of it often when speaking with other parents.  And I just don't get it.  

Personally, the most judged I have ever felt has been since becoming a parent. I am sure you feel the same way.  

To me, you just never know a person's entire story.  So making a judgement can be completely unfair.

I am very lucky that I have learned to mentally block judgements that are coming my way.  If what I do doesn't please you, I don't give a right royal toss. Your thoughts are exactly that. Yours. Not mine.  I feel quite secure in what and how I am doing my gig as a parent.  And for the times I don't, I have my husband and family to check in with for honest feedback.

To give you an example, just earlier this week I was challenged on what I pack for my sons school lunches.  I was told it should contain less sugar, that a sprinkle sandwich should be reserved for fairy bread at a party not a school lunch.  

Yes, that is true.  And I agree 100%.   

It is a sandwich people.  Let's not get carried away.  He will not be doing sprinkle sandwiches in high school.  He probably won't do them next term. But for now, when he has refused all other healthier options, my priority is that he eats.  Something.

I know I am not the only parent who feels like this.

In an ideal world, I would pack the healthiest of lunches and snacks and my scholastically brilliant, athletically brilliant, perfect-all-round children would eat every last bite.  

In an ideal world, I would have the figure of Heidi Klum and get 8 hours of unbroken sleep a night too. Every night.  

I am just stoked that my children eat!  Is it unhealthy?  No. What 'treats' they have, they have in moderation.  They are a healthy weight, with healthy energy levels and are of good mind, body and spirit.

But, we don't live every day in an ideal world!  Some days can feel like they come close, other days couldn't be further away!

I was chatting to a mum at school today.  I felt for her so much. Regardless of how many children you have, parenting is a tough gig.  And she was really feeling it.

The expectations that are either there or that we believe are there from society can be insurmountable, especially on those tough days.

There is endless housework, school work, work work, spending time, quality time with your kids, and the list goes on and on.  In a perfect world we would be on top of everything ALL THE TIME. 

I believe the hardest thing about parenting is copping the judgement we never asked for. The opinion or advice we are offered because really, a judgement has already been cast upon our efforts.  

The irony is, in parenting we judge ourselves the hardest.

Are we good parents?  Are our children ok?  Are they behaving in public?  Are we behaving in public?  

We can send ourselves around the twist hoping that we are doing a good job as a mother.

These days, social media makes it so easy to cast aspersions on someone.

We all know what happened in the news earlier this week when a person's parenting came into question after a beautiful animal had to lose its life.  Who knows how that situation could have played out differently.  But a lot of people have jumped on the band wagon of attacking the parents for not watching their child more closely.

For those of you with children, you will know that those little tackers can move at the speed of light if they really want to.  Yes, sometimes it can be a case of not watching your child, but it can also often be a case of watching your child and a situation still going pear shaped. For those of you with more than one, you will know too well that whilst attending to one child your other(s) will take advantage of the situation and either get into something they shouldn't or go somewhere they shouldn't.  As a parent, we have to be prepared for these sorts of things but we cannot always be prepared for which option the unattended child will take! So hold off on your judgements if you do not know all the facts or more so, if you weren't there.

By judging, what you are doing is expecting parents to effectively be perfect parents in that situation.  That is like asking a brain surgeon to do his best work ALL THE TIME when he has had months on end of broken sleep.  As much as we'd like to, we cannot have laser focus ALL THE TIME.  

Yes, there are times we drop the ball.  Don't you think we know that? Do you honestly think we need you to remind us?

I am aware we live in a world where the blame is often shifted and accountability for our own actions seems to occur less and less. But we know ourselves when we have not done our best work in a parenting situation so ease up.

Some days we can only give 100% of the 80% we have to give.

Whether in your mind we are doing our best or not, whether we meet your expectations or not, your judgement does not necessarily help the situation. Because you may not truly know the situation.

When my son came third in his race at the athletics carnival today, his response to my congratulations was priceless.  "I tried my best Mum."  

That is all we ever ask of our boys - to try their best.  And if that is what you are doing as a mum, as a parent, trying your very best, then that is all you can ask of yourself.  

Even on the days you can only give 100% of 80%.  It is still 100%.  And I for one, withhold any judgement of your efforts.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Parc Cafe - a haven of food awesomeness AND great customer service!

You know already I am a huge advocate for a high standard of customer service. I am also Taurean which means I am all about food.  When the two come together in the most delicious way, my stars have truly aligned.

Yesterday I caught up with my dear friend Tina who suggested we meet at Parc Cafe.  It's on the corner of Clovelly Rd and Earl St at Randwick, not far from Centennial Park.

I cannot lie. I was starving by the time I arrived.  And stinging for a coffee.

With coffee ordered - and delivered by the time we did the usual and mandatory 10 minute (could have been 15 perhaps?) initial catch up assuring the waitress we only needed two more minutes, um, maybe another two please (we've all done it) - we decided to get serious and peruse the menu.  

Oh the menu!

E V E R Y THING on the menu looks enticing. I'm not just saying it.  Go there. You will see what I mean.

My eyes locked on the Poached Eggs, Quinoa Tabouli with Haloumi, Pistachio and Green Dressing.  I have to put it in bold.  It deserves it.  I did ponder for a moment the Smashed Avocado and Feta with Poached Eggs (I'm a sucker for avocado) but when I asked the waitress for her advice in my decision making, she told me the Haloumi was "pretty good".  With a smile and a nod.  

Her "pretty good" actually translates to a dish I could eat often. Every. Single. Day. Every day. It was without a doubt THAT good.  

The service at Parc Cafe is great.  I love a place that is equipped with enough staff to ensure the ordering and delivering of meals and drinks is not held up (well, except by patrons who keep asking for two more minutes!)  The staff are friendly and very helpful and always just over your shoulder should you need them.

I love a menu that is simple yet has such a diverse range of dishes on offer, not to mention freshly squeezed juices to boot.  All eat in or, wait for it....

I noticed a fridge that stocked pre-made take away dishes from the menu - from salads to soups to yoghurts to curries.  Coupled with the pricing which I thought was very reasonable, I thought the convenience of having those dishes (including the Quinoa Tabouli) there already done for you was hard to resist. 

That did it for me.

I am in complete love with Parc Cafe.

Would I go again?  Of course!  I need to make my way through that menu!

Would I recommend it?  Absolutely!  I am, right now!

The fridge-full-of-take-away-options is such a simple idea, but it extends the customer service of Parc Cafe beyond their venue.  When they can achieve extra sales by offering affordable convenience it is a win / win for both Parc Cafe and their customers.  

Parc Cafe have achieved a winning formula.  The location and atmosphere is awesome.  The food - well, if you don't know by now how I feel.... And the customer service is an all round great experience.  That you get to take home too!

Photo credits go to Parc Cafe Instagram and Facebook sites.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Who Pays Our Wages?

These words by Mahatma Gandhi are logical and true, yet seem to be such a difficult concept for many to grasp.

We can go about our days, starting and finishing work without giving so much as a thought to who actually pays our wages.

For many, we believe it is our employer and in the direct sense, this is true.  However our employer paying our wages weekly, fortnightly, monthly - whatever the case may be - is only one link in a chain of events.  A chain that we as the employee are an integral part of.  And so is the customer.

Why then is the customer often treated with no regard, respect or value?  

After all, a business would not be a business without them.  Indeed, many ideas only become a fully fledged business once customers are on board.  

But is it customers who make or break a business?  Or our treatment of them?

We live in a world where competition is a reality.  It is ignorant to think our customers do not have choice.

By having a product that meets their wants or needs will gain us a customer.  Treating them well will allow us to gain their loyalty.

If you think about it, it all comes down to communication.

Customer service is communication.  And there are countless ways we can communicate with our customers.  I'm not just talking about emails, phone calls or face to face.  I will be going through various ways to up the ante on our customer service levels in upcoming posts.

What truly matters is that the discipline we give to our service levels needs to be as automatic as getting dressed in the morning.  We must always remember how important the customer is and treat them as such.  This even goes for those customers who fail to offer a reciprocated level of respect in return.  More on how to deal with that later.

For now, regardless of our position in the company, even if we own it, we should never forget who really pays our wages.

Photo credit: aubis.com.au

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Autumn - Soup Season!

It's Autumn, which means it becomes Soup Season in our house.  I also revive Slow Cooker Tuesdays and even though it is Tuesday, I have not used the Slow Cooker today so will save that for another post!  Why on earth did I even mention it then?

Back to the soup.

You know that I am all about giving credit where credit is due.  I love this soup and back when Mum was still with us, she would ask for this soup which was a real compliment given she was rapidly reaching the point of not eating much at all.  This little beauty however seemed to always hit the spot.

So without any further ado...

Today's soup is by the lovely Kim McCosker over at 4 Ingredients: the super delicious and ridiculously simple LEEK AND POTATO SOUP.

Here are the 4 ingredients you will need:

45g butter
4 leeks, chopped
350g diced potatoes
1 litre chicken stock
I sauteed my leeks first up in the butter.

The remaining ingredients are added.  Ignore the cheeky bit of leftover cauliflower I snuck in!

Once the soup has boiled, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the potatoes are tender - about 40 minutes.  Zhoosh with a stick blender or blend in a blender (funny that) until smooth.  Your soup is now ready to serve.  The photo below is Kim's from her
4 Ingredients One Pot One Bowl book.  The link I have included will take you straight to purchase a copy should you wish.

This is not a sponsored post, just simply giving credit where credit is due and sharing the good secrets I happen to come across.  In this case, I happen to have the whole book of them!

Do yourself a 'flavour' and follow 4 Ingredients on FacebookInstagram and lose yourself in their Pinterest page.  Or head straight to their website http://www.4ingredients.com.au/

Bon appetit!  I'm off to serve dinner!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Customer Service Is a Win / Win Situation

For my entire working life, customer service has been at the core of my focus. It has been what has helped me increase business, smash budgets, build and manage teams, expand departments, earn promotions and succession plan.  It is easy and the domino effect within your business is profound.

What exactly is it about customer service that has enabled me to successfully do this?

First of all lets look at the definition.  
What is it I mean by customer service?  My interpretation is pretty close to the Wikipedia definition:-

"Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.  The perception of success of such interactions is dependent on employees who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest."

For me, I put myself in the customers shoes.  I make my role about understanding the customer - what they want, why they want it, why it is important to them to achieve it.  And then I deliver.  Beyond their expectations. I anticipate what else they may want before they ask for it.  And I see everyone as the customer, even if indeed I am theirs.

Purely because of the results I achieve, it has been suggested to me time and time again over the years that I should think about doing sales.  My response is always the same:  I am not a sales person.  I do not see myself as a sales person.  What grows the business I work on is not my sales skills but my customer service skills.

Customer service is not hard.  Customer service is as easy as spending money. Yet it continually baffles me in this day and age why a good customer service experience seems so rare.  Mediocre is the current trend. To the point where when I receive good customer service, I have mixed emotions.  I am happy to have had the experience yet sad it was so noticeable.  Great customer service on the other hand just about blows my mind.  I am not hard to please.  I just believe that delivering customer service is not difficult.  And why, as a boss or business owner, would you not expect this from yourself or your staff when it means growth in your business and therefore your bottom line.

Customer service is a win / win situation.

I will be covering more on this in the coming weeks, providing examples and giving you ideas of how you can improve your level of customer service.  You will be amazed at the positive effect this has on your role and your business.

After all, as the image says, 'Nobody raves about average.'

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Herb or Dukkah Yoghurt - Healthy Snack Option

I love the benefits of eating yoghurt, I just never seem to eat enough of it.

Enhancing my yoghurt with herbs or Dukkah has solved this issue.  I spread it on my morning toast in place of butter and it is DELICIOUS.  And healthy!

Yoghurt on toast I hear you say?  Trust me, I would have said the same thing until I tried it.  Still balking at the idea?  Try the yoghurt spread on to some crackers or use as a dip with crudites instead.

Here is how I make it:-

I take one 1kg tub of Greek Yoghurt and stir through about 2 teaspoons Salt.

Take a piece of muslin and lay it in a sieve that is sitting over a bowl.  Fill the muslin with the yoghurt.  You can tie the muslin if you like, to cover the yoghurt. 

Place the yoghurt, sieve and bowl in the fridge for the next 1 - 3 days.  This drains all of the liquid from the yoghurt.

Once your 1 - 3 days are up, it is time to add your herbs or your Dukkah.  Or you can split the quantity of yoghurt in two and make both!

For my herb yoghurt, I used Rosemary, Mixed Herbs, Oregano and Garlic Salt.  You can use whatever dried or fresh herbs you like.  I took half of the drained yoghurt mixture and stirred the herbs through.  Place this into a container and keep refrigerated.

For the Dukkah yoghurt, I made my own Dukkah.  You can use store bought or make your own as well.  For mine I used Sesame Seeds, Coriander, Cumin, Moroccan Seasoning, Salt and Pepper.  Once again, I stirred this through the plain, drained yoghurt, then placed it into a container to store in the fridge.

Try it - let me know what you think!