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2012 – A new year, new beginnings & a whole lot more!

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Well it’s another year, and lots to happen I’m sure.

First Day of Kinder

Emma starts kinder this year and had her first day on Tuesday for a few hours so she can be eased into it….not that i think she needs it, but, that’s what they do!  She had a ball, played lots of games, did some reading, made friends and generally enjoyed herself….and brought Mum home a present to deal with…NITS!   Urghhhh, my head just itches saying that word!  I can’t believe one day and she has them!

Dealing with the nits!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grade 4

 

Cayden has started back at school, Grade 4.  Man time is flying!  He is enjoying the new format of his school.  They are in a community of Grade 3 through to Grade 6.  It works a bit like high school where they have different teachers for different subjects and they get split up into groups…I’m assuming it is worked out on their abilities instead of the grade they are in.  I’m not too sure because Cayden really doesn’t tell me much and i don’t think he really understands anyway!

 

 

I’m back at sewing….my goal this term to to go every week.  Last term I think I managed 4 out of the 10 weeks!  This term will be better!  I’m doing a block of the Month called Love, Peace and Appliqué.  It’s very sweet, and hopefully will teach me something too!

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Oops!

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I’ve been very slack haven’t I!?!?!

With a gentle (?) reminder from friends, I thought it was time I resurrected this blog.  So where to go from here?  I think I’ll just start again and won’t bore you with the past months happenings.

Sunday 11th Sept.

It’s a nice quiet day today…we have a little girl that is feeling a little off colour having thrown up a few times this morning (just what I wanted at 6.30 this morning).  Both kids are in watching a movie with Dad and I’m setting up things for the next week.

A meat stew is currently on the stove, cooking itself into tenderness and into waiting pie cases.  I was chatting with Mum this morning and asking her about my Nana’s meat pies.  My Nana use to own a diner in a little place called Willaura and was a great cook, catering for the local area.  Nana’s pies were well regarded!  Asking mum about them this morning I found out that the ingredients were mince meat, gravox and water and cooked together, chilled and then put into a rough puff pastry.  It got me thinking to how our tastes have changed over the generations.  Nana was cooking in the 1950’s, so 60 years on, our tastes and expectations have changed drastically.  my stew this morning that is destined for pies has chunks of meat, carrot, celery, onion and stock, cooked for approx 2hrs.  Not hugely different, but it has more veg and more flavour.  Our main meals have changed too…I was brought up on meat and 3 veg, generally the vegetables were overcooked and we always had potato and it was generally mashed.  I serve my family a bigger variety of food.  We always have a salad. Chicken, beef, pork, fish all make an appearance at our table, at least once a week and we try to have a meat free meal once a week too.  Vegetables are lightly cooked or served raw.  It is interesting to see the changes…simply in the produce that is now available.  Friday night we had Gyoza’s, home-made; who would have thought we would be able to get fresh wonton wrappers from the local Asian store 10 years ago?

Well, I’d better go and finish off the pie mix and get the washing and menu planning done for the week.

Morning Tea for Playgroup – Chocolate and Coconut Cake & Snickerdoodle Blondie

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Thursdays are playgroup days and Emma hangs out the whole week for it!  Today was wet, cold and still loads of fun.  I take morning tea for the Mums and Dads and today we had two – a chocolate and Coconut Cake and a Snickerdoodle Blondie.  I love Snickerdoodle biscuits and have to say this slice was pretty good!

Silly me forgot to take a photo before it went to playgroup…this is what was left …

Snickerdoodle Blondie

Snickerdoodle Blondie ... certainly has Cayden's approval.

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
a pinch nutmeg

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and/or line a 9×13 inch pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside.
2. In large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and beat until smooth.
3. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be somewhat cookiebatter-ish, so it’s best to spread it out with a greased spatula or your hands). Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool before cutting. Makes 20-24 bars.

Tastes similar to Chocolate Rough.

Chocolate Coconut Cake

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Healthy Baker self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup milk
  • double cream, to serve

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 200g butter, chopped
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 6.5cm-deep, 20cm (base) round cake pan. Line with baking paper. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and coconut essence until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  2. Sift half the flour and half the cocoa over butter mixture. Add half the coconut. Stir to combine. Add half the milk. Stir to combine. Repeat with remaining flour, cocoa, coconut and milk. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  3. Make Chocolate buttercream: Place butter and chocolate in a glass or ceramic bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Beat mixture with a wooden spoon until thick and spreadable.
  4. Using a serrated knife, cut cake in half crossways. Place bottom of cake on a plate. Spread with one-third of buttercream. Sandwich with cake top. Spread remaining buttercream over top and side of cake. Serve with cream.

    Notes:  I didn’t use the buttercream, just a normal icing.  I also just used normal SR Flour.





Lamb Curry

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I took out some lamb loin chops today and felt like doing something a bit different, so went online and found a lamb curry dish that I could substitute my chops for the normal lamb.  For those that know me well, they would know that I’m not a hot spicy food fan, so when I say this was good, this was GOOD!  Mind you I racketed down the spice heat considerably otherwise I would never had been able to taste it!

Lamb Curry - quite mild!

Lamb & Spinach Curry

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tblsp oil or ghee
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2″ piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground fenugreek
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1 kg lean diced lamb
  • 2 x 400ml coconut cream
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 pkt frozen ‘Finessa’ fine chopped spinach

Method

  1. Heat oil in heavy pan.
  2. Add onions and fry until golden brown.
  3. Add garlic, ginger and all spices except salt.
  4. Fry for 5 minutes until fragrant.
  5. If mixture is too dry add a little water.
  6. Stir regularly to prevent burning.
  7. Add lamb and toss through to coat with onion/spices.
  8. Fry further 10 minutes, stirring to prevent burning/sticking.
  9. Add thawed spinach and mix thoroughly.
  10. Add coconut cream and salt. Stir well.
  11. Add curry leaves, bring to a rapid boil.
  12. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for at least _1.5_ hours covered.
  13. Remove lid and simmer till sauce reduces, usually 15-30 minutes.
  14. This is an exceptionally hot curry, if you prefer a milder curry reduce by half the chilli powder and hot paprika quantities.
  15. This recipe also lends itself to substituting chicken for the lamb.

Notes

  • I used one onion
  • 1 teaspoon mild chilli
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (smoked as that was what I had on hand)
  • I used 6 chops
  • only used 1 can coconut milk.
  • For the spinach I used about 80 gms of fresh spinach…worked just fine!
  • Cooked for about 1 hr and then for 10min with the lid off.
  • Served it with rice.

School Holidays … Last day!

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Well it’s been a full on couple of weeks with Cayden home on holidays.  It has been nice being able to sleep in and be lazy about getting going in the morning instead of the normal morning bolt!  We’ve kept pretty busy, spent an overnight at my Mum’s so the kids got to see Grandma & Pa, Grandma came back down with us and stayed a couple of nights looked after Emma for a couple of hours whilst I took Cayden to a Cupcake cooking class at the Queen Vic Market in the city.  It was great, we both seemed to enjoy it.

Mmmm, yummy

Good enough to eat!

Our creations

Cayden also had a couple of friends around for a playdate…lots of guitar hero, Wii and tampoline fun had by all.  I served up Sausage Rolls on one such playdate and you would think that they would go down a treat…nope, it had green stuff in it!  (I generally put grated zucchini in my sausage rolls)  Oh well you can’t win them all! It was pleasing to see Cayden reaction to that … “he didn’t even try it Mum, how did he know he didn’t like it?”  That’s my boy!

Pa celebrated his 60th birthday in the middle of the holidays so we went up and celebrated with the rest of the family … I supplied the cake.

White Chocolate Mudcake with truffles ... cake I made, truffles I bought!

Darren was able to get a few days off during the holidays so we made the best of it.  Wednesday we all went iceskating, I should clarify, Darren and the kids went skating, I sat on the sidelines.  It would only take one bum plant from me and my back would be stuffed for a month!  Em was probably a bit young, but if she hadn’t had a go she would not have been happy.  Cayden had a ball.

I've only just leanrt to walk ... give me a break!

Not happy Jan!

Going .... Going ...

Gone!

Balance ... starting to get it!

Cayden and Darren went a saw Toy Story 3, we were going to go as a family, but Emma was in a pretty bad mood that day, so it wasn’t worth trying!  Apparently it’s a pretty good movie.  Darren told me I would have cried a pool, maybe it was best I didn’t go!

We were going to go and visit Dad up at the farm, but I woke up Friday morning with little to no voice, so had to cancel.  Saturday dawns and Emma has also come down with a cold … nasty one too.  It was a pretty intense day yesterday with being at Em’s beck and call!

Emma; not a well little girl.

So it’s Sunday now and the boys are at Auskick, 3rd last for the year.  I think it will be a nice quiet day today.  Might attempt to make Pasties for lunch.

Lamb Cassoulet

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I had taken out some lamb forequarter chops from the freezer yesterday and wasn’t really sure what I was going to cook.  So I checked taste and this recipe came up … looked good, so thought I’d try it.

Lamb Cassoulet

Photo from Taste website ... forgot to take my own photo!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 lamb forequarter chops, trimmed
  • 2 brown onions, roughly chopped
  • 400g can canellini beans, drained, rinsed
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 400g can peeled tomatoes
  • mashed potato and steamed vegetables, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C. Heat oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over high heat. Cook chops, in batches, for 2 to 3 minutes each side or until just browned. Transfer to a large, ovenproof, casserole dish. Add onion, beans, garlic and rosemary to lamb.
  2. Mix tomato paste, wine and tomatoes in a bowl. Pour over lamb. Season with pepper.
  3. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 2 1/2 hours or until lamb is tender. Remove foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or until sauce has reduced slightly. Serve with mashed potato and steamed vegetables.

Notes

  • I cooked this in a large frying pan and used the lid instead of foil
  • I also upped the heat to 175C and only cooked it for 1 1/2 hrs
  • I added baked beans instead of canellini beans as that was all I had.
  • I also added 1/2 and 1/2 of red and white wine as I only had a small amount of white wine!
  • Added to this to bulk up the veggies was 1 carrot and 1 zucchini … much to the disgust of the kids!
  • I also cut back of the garlic cloves … only 4 and only used 1 onion
  • Cayden took one look at this meal and decided he didn’t like it from the start (before even a morsel had touched his delicate tongue)…so Emma also didn’t like it!  oh the joys of cooking for a family!!!!
  • We liked it!

Fried Chicken & other things!

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It’s been a busy weekend, we had my folks down for the weekend, with lots of cooking happening!  Sausage Rolls for lunch, Roast Beef (or Roast Beast as Cayden use to call it!) and Roasted Veg for Saturday and  Minestrone Soup and Apricot Chicken for yesterday.  Plus we had White Chocolate Panna Cottta and I also made George’s Creme Brulee from Masterchef’s masterclass last Friday.  MMMM, that was GOOD!!!  You can get the recipe here.

Creme Brulee

Last week we had good old finger lickin’ Fried Chicken.  This is good stuff!

Finger Lickin' Chicken

This is pretty simple and doesn’t really need a recipe.  I soak the chicken pieces (enough for the family) in 500ml of buttermilk overnight.  I then place each piece into seasoned (salt and pepper and some paprika) into dried breadcrumbs and cover the chicken.  It’s a good idea to then put this in the fridge uncovered for an hour or so if you have the time as it helps set the crumb.  Heat some oil in a large frypan or wok or is you have a deep fryer use that, and then carefully place chicken into oil cooking approx 8-9 minutes each side until cooked.  I then tend to place it in the oven for about 15minutes just to make sure the chicken is cooked.  Drain on paper towel and serve with sauce or mayo.  Mmmmm, yum!

It’s Emma’s Birthday tomorrow and my folks gave her a present yesterday of some clothes…oh man this girl is going to be a clothes horse as she gets older, she already is bad!  She pulled out a vest and her comment … Oh wow, it’s my favourite … now!

Emma's new Vest