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September 2010

oPam's Labyrinth

Before OPAM, a quick thank you to my mum, MrsDrWho and all the other kind people who said that my sore, swollen throat was just that, not anything more horrible. I have some antibiotics to take and must keep up my rest and fluid intake. Ordinary healthy people would have been fine, but I need a boost for my poorly immune system. I should start feeling better anon. I have to wait two more hours till I can take my first tablet. So no Trivia for me tonight. Last week I won The Baffler, which is a Bottle of Wine voucher. Here are the four clues, there are two more but I guessed after these:

I am a liquid.

I may have an odour.

If you forget me there may be some damage.

My number is important to you.

I'll put the answer at the very end of the post.

Another One Project a Month post, the eighth!! My goal this month was to draft a pattern and sew a skirt. I achieved my goal. I drafted the pattern on Saturday and sewed my skirt on Sunday.

Crazy Lime Skirt
I always face the top, rather than use a waistband, but after a little while the zipper stop stops working so I added a rouleau loop and I have to find a button with a shank or make a shank for an ordinary one, and that should keep it fastened. My new machine sews beautifully, I had a minor malfunction at the start of the zip, but I am too lazy to fix it right now.

Rouleau loop
My skirt is for Self Stitched September, henceforth known as SSS. I have some more fabric ready to sew, I just have to cut out and whizz it up on the machine. I must also finish The TARDIS scarf, my Ducky Socks and catch up on embroidering dates and sewing my Coin Quilt strips for August.

I am on the look out for new green Summer shoes. It is almost eleven years since I had to leave work and so gradually my shoes have gone to the great shoebox in the sky, with few opportunities for green replacements.

Peri and Lorelai Gilmore have been posing especially for pictures on my blog. Peri is still looking slim, and she hadn't rolled in anything smelly before this picture. For which my nose is grateful!!

Peri Rampant
Lorelai Gilmore is just looking so gorgeous and so lovely!! She's getting to be such a big good girl now, a little less of a puppy. Which I am strangely sad about, because I do prefer Big Dogs!!

Gilly Rampant
My new beaters arrived, courtesy of George, and as soon as I am feeling better I shall email him. 

Just beat it

Oh, I have remembered the thing I wanted to share: Fi at InkberryBlue has designed her own crocheted fingerless mittens. They are called What The Dickens!! Meet them and make them!!

Now I am off to the couch with my hot water bottle and little quilt till 9-10pm when I can take my drugs and then go to bed. I've already been to bed for most of the day. I did take The Labradors for their walk, I trudged along and the gambolled through the bush, and I went to the doctor.

It's raining again, so if The GardyGardeners come tomorrow, I shall send them home with yesterday's cake!! Other than that, I plan to rest and wear things I've stitched in some way, shape or form. I expect I shall be posting every day to share what I have/am/will be wearing. Gird your loins, as I shall be girding mine!!

The Baffler Answer is: Sunscreen.


Monday Munchies #35

Cake Eight and I am almost at the end of my Australian Women's Weekly Top Ten Cakes Bake-a-thon. I am starting to wonder what I should cook next.

This week's cake is a Pistachio Buttercake with orange honey syrup. It is quite an expensive cake to make, with lots of pistachios, and spices you may not have in your cupboard. I can't taste this either because I am allergic to oranges. Maybe I should cook a little series of things I can eat!!

Before you make the cake proper, you have to make the syrup, but it can be cooling while you start the cake. I have put the syrup first, unlike the recipe in the magazine!!


Pistachio Buttercake with Orange Honey Syrup   serves 12

Syrup

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbspn honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 strips of orange rind - (you also need 1tbspn of zest for the cake)
  • 1 tspn cardamom pods
Cake
  • 2 cups unsalted chopped pistachios
  • 185g butter, chopped and softened
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 1 tbspn grated orange zest
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup of the cooled syrup you have made
  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 3/4 cup plain flour

To make the Orange Honey Syrup, place all the ingredients n a saucepan over a low heat and stir till all the sugar is dissolved. Then raise the heat and bring to the boil. Once it boils, set aside and cool for 15 minutes, then strain. You will need 1/3 of a cup for the cake batter and the rest for drizzling.

Syrup
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180*C(160*FF) and grease and line a 23cm square tin. Extend the paper about 2cm (not two inches, that's what I thought it said!!) above the sides. Sprinkle the nuts evenly over the base of the tin.

Cream the butter, sugar and rind until it is pale and fluffy and then on a low speed add the eggs one at a time. Transfer to a larger bowl.

In two batches, fold in the combined syrup and buttermilk and the sifted flours. Spread over the nuts and then bake for 40 minutes.

The cake
Stand for 10 minutes in the tin and then invert onto a baking paper covered rack. Brush the top of the cake, which is covered with nuts, with half the remaining syrup.

Serve warm, or cold, drizzled with the extra syrup.

Finished Cake


Irony Man 2

Last night MrsDrWho, MrsReno and I went to a Trivia Night run by Speech Pathologists in support of Variety. We were at MrsReno's school table. I won a mobile phone. Me: the person who is most uncomfortable with a mobile, and is most enthused by its ability to be an FM radio when walking The Labradors. I do text, but really, I don't like my mobile. Now I have two. MrsDrWho said I should keep it for when I drop my current phone in the water. She's right!!

Call me
Our team won First Prize too, a whole tub of things. I came away with The Tub for The Labradors, some wine and a petrol voucher. Cups of tea were free and I had four!!

Our prize
If Peri and Gilly do this:

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Then this happens to Peri:

Peri's grubby face

and this to Lorelai Gilmore:

Gilly's grubby face
I think my new camera with its extra mega-pixels takes nice photos.

Today I drafted a pattern for my skirt. As usual, Lorelai Gilmore could not keep from sticking her nose in. I had to use my growly voice to make her stop walking on the pattern. She was a very good girl. Peri was good already!! I have washed my fabric but the sewing machine is still in its box.

Is there a draft. no, one nose
I have a sore throat. It's not actually scratchy sore, but swollen sore, and it is really annoying because I am conscious of it every time I swallow. It has been like it for a few weeks so I think I shall try and see a doctor on Monday. It's not getting worse, but it's not getting better. Sometimes it is OK. I hate that, it makes me vacillate about going to the doctor. Now I have decided, I hope it gets better of its own accord. Not likely though.

Peri has taken a liking to the back of a dressing gown my mother was once going to sew. She's deeply in love with it, and where ever it lies she wants to be snuggled into it. She's a funny girl!!

Peri is funny


A Little Ray Of Sunbeam, Has Come Into My World

A little ray of sunshine, in the shape of a George.

Why, you may ask, is George a ray of sunshine?? Because he managed to bring the saga of the Mixmaster beaters to a very satisfactory conclusion. This was almost a very different post because yesterday when I went to pick up the beaters that had finally arrived they sent two exactly the same. My Mixmaster needs a tapered beater to be at the bowl's edge and then a straight beater for the centre of the bowl. They sent me two straight beaters.

I was in high dudgeon by the time I came home and I sent off a very, very cross email, full of Capital Letters and crossness. I pretty much said that I thought no-one would follow up, and that they didn't care about their customers. Why is it that you have to be Over The Top angry before anyone will listen?*

George is very good at his job. He read my email and rang me, before I has posted about my unhappiness. So now I can say that although Sunbeam may need to tighten up their communication with customers - because I would have been happy to wait if I had known there would be a wait- in the end, my issue was resolved. George is going out to the warehouse, he will find the correct beaters and post them to be. I just think all the palaver could have been avoided if Customer Service was a bit more on their toes.

Still, George directed me to a recipe for Strawberry Puree Cupcakes, and that's not a bad thing. (Maybe George is just his secret work identify : Sunbeam George, and at home he is Oliver or Vivian or Bruce)

I shall be able to put my little hand mixer away and bring out the big mixing guns any day now. Thank you, Sunbeam George.

Today has been wild, windy and wet with a little thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure, so after our walk, we stayed inside. Well, I have, Peri and Lorelai Gilmore love the rain. The wind, not so  much.  Whatever the weather, no puddle or creek is safe from them.

Peri

Peri swirls in the creek 

Gilly

Gilly in the puddle
The TARDIS Scarf is almost complete.

Almost a TARDIS 

At the bottom right you can see Gilly's nose in a plastic cup, she likes to be in the largest percentage of photos possible. The green material is for the skirt I will make when I unpack the sewing machine. The scarf and skirt are put aside while I knit my sock up to the heel. It has to be up to the heel by tomorrow. Luckily I have short legs!!

'm too socksy for my socks
Yesterday people with beeping machines and hard hats were putting up 'installations' near The Library for Junction 2010. I don't really understand 'installations', I didn't understand the 'Happenings' the art students had at College/Uni either. I like old-fashioned paintings and sculptures that look like something: The Turner Prize and I are not in synch (horse dung on a painting??) But, it is an interesting display and a bit of a coup for our Northern Capital. There, I have revealed myself to be far too old with respect to my artistic tastes!!! These are interesting to look at and the creators have based their installations on Big Ideas.

Arty farty
I must have a rest before I venture out to Triv tonight. We came, very happily, third last week. Third is a bottle of wine voucher, second is a hamburger voucher. We prefer the wine!!!

* I am neither endless cross nor unreasonable in the face of most things!!!


Monday Munchies #34

Sadly, there are few photos for this recipe, because I jolly well forgot to take them until the end. I can console myself and you, Dear Reader, with the thought that whipping egg whites is fairly boring and also, a photo would not add any real information. It could be cream or yoghurt being whipped.

The recipe today is for a gateau, but it is really a hazelnut meringue, layered with chocolate, cream and strawberries.  I expect you could substitute almond meal, and any berry that takes your fancy. The chocolate is optional as well. You could manage perfectly with half the amount of cream, and leave the top of the gateau to be dusted with cocoa, or just a little cream and a strawberry slice: there is an awful lot of cream in and on this. Still, I almost followed the recipe and the gateau looks fabulous!!

Ideally you need two 20cm spring-form tins, but I think two ordinary cake tins would be fine, though de-caking would be a bit tricky.

Strawberry Hazelnut Gateau  serves 8
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 1 cup hazelnut meal - ground hazelnuts, you can make your own
  • 1 tspn white vinegar
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 180g good dark chocolate, melted
  • 20g butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups thickened cream, whipped
  • 125g strawberries, washed, hulled and halved or sliced
  • cocoa powder for dusting, if you like

Preheat the oven to 180*C (160*C fan forced). Line the base and sides of the tins with baking paper, grease the paper and sprinkle with cornflour, shaking out the excess.

Beat the egg whites in a clean metal or glass bowl. Make sure the beaters and the bowl and are free from any fatty residue. Beat till soft peaks form, and then gradually add the sugar while beating. This will take about 10 minutes. You add the sugar, a few spoonfuls at a time, until it is all incorporated. The mixture will be thick and glossy. You will know it is ready because when you rub a little of the mixture between your fingers, it will be smooth, and you won't feel any gritty sugar.

Now fold in the vinegar, vanilla and hazelnut meal very gently with a metal spoon. When it is all combined spread half into the base of each tin, smooth the tops and then bake for 35 minutes. The meringue should be crisp. Release the sides of the tins and cool as they are.

Not quite a gateau yet

Combine the melted chocolate and butter  and remove the meringues from the pans. One will be the base, so place that with the flat side down. Spread over half the chocolate and then top with half the cream and the strawberries. Our strawberries are giant, so I sliced them, rather than halving them.

Place the second meringue so the flat side faces uppermost and spread the remaining chocolate. Place this on top of the strawberries and cream, flat chocolatey side down. Top with remaining cream and then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.  You may dust the top with cocoa powder before serving.

Gateau delight


When The Vote Comes In

So, the votes are in but probably won't be finally counted until two weeks from now. There will have to be some kind of deal made between a major party and Independents. No-one has a majority. It will be a long wait to find who will be in charge of our Federal Government. In our Island State 1 in 5 people voted Green, so I am in good company. The Best Company came with me to vote. We parked a way down the road after our walk and then there were all the front yards to peer into and nature strips to smell. Peri and Gilly looked a bit worried that I would disappear into the room and never come out!! They are so cute and Peri is a bit drippy after her dip in the creek. What lovely girls they are!!!

Peri and Gilly vote

Meanwhile, I have been cooking!! Uncle and Auntie Dutch gave me some biscuit cutters.

Biscuit Cutters a go go
I went to MrsRosenberg's house for Morning Tea and I was already making some heart shaped Kiss Biscuits, so I made Uncle and Aunty Dutch some as well, with silvery 100s and 1000s. The Labradors also benefited with some wholemeal carrot and honey biscuits shaped like bones and hydrants and some that snap in two. I cooked some sticky pork ribs, and though they are tasty, I think I like crispy crackling better. 

Cookng time
My first Garden embroidery is still a work in progress but I picked up buttons #2 and #3 on Friday.

Who's got the buttons
And the lovely lady at Esme's made me a green cupcake of Fat Eighths!!

Eighths Cupcake
Uncle Dutch's scarf is coming along nicely, I am half way through the second ball of wool.

Scarf coming along
MrsDrWho and I went to The BlackSpot Of Doomlight (tm) to use their Spend $100, get $40 rebate voucher. I bought some lovely green fabric to make a skirt for OPAM and Self Stitched September. We also purchased zips, Heat'n'Bond, cotton and wool. Tomorrow I am off to spend my voucher on cotton batting for quilts. 

My Frozen shoulder is playing up again today, and my neck as well, so I am planning to take up residence on the couch and watch Tom Hanks' film Big, and then have an early night.  After all, I have Monday Munchies tomorrow.

Special thanks to Leonie who helped me fix my 'ahve' dictionary problem Hurray!!!

I have a mind like a sieve at the moment, I am sure I was going to post about something, I promised I would, and now I have forgotten again. TARDIShcloth I made for Linda at TwoPinkPossums?? (Her photo!! Thanks Linda!!)

TARDIS hcloth


Doctor In My House

I loved the old 'Doctor' series and I do remember the film. They're just like the Carry On films: incredibly inappropriate, yet I remember watching them as a child and never seeing anything rude or naughty.  Ah, childhood!!

There has been quite a lot of Whovian activity in our house lately. Here is what some of it looks like:

Whovian fun
And, left to right, top to bottom they are-

  • A TARDIS pen, the TARDIS floats up and down but doesn't derobe!! MrsDrWho gave it to me as a thank you for reading her reports!!
  • Badges, which she gave me too, I have been wearing them all the time.
  • A mug!! I love it, it is yet to be christened but I think I might take it to a tea party on Sunday.
  • Dalek Money box. If you try to open it before it's full they exterminate you. It comes with its own background for photography purposes!!!
  • Well, what more could one ask for, a mask and a 3D book. It's too nice to tear out the mask so I shall borrow MrsDrWho's book and look through the page in her book and read mine. And vice versa.
  • I sewed MrsDrWho a little Cyberman bag, it's like a zippy purse. It doesn't photograph very well as it is metallic-ally shiny.

Continuing with the Doctor Who theme, I am knitting Uncle Dutch a TARDIS scarf for his birthday a while ago. I'm making it up with a graph and using Patons Jet in quite a TARDISy blue colour. It will need severe blocking.

TARDIS scarf begins
This is as far as I have proceeded with my new sewing machine.

Sewing machine almost
I was very tired this morning and so we didn't go for a walk, but later on I felt so sad for The Labradors that I summoned up my strength and off we went. Coldest. Day. Ever. This Winter. And I mean it. It was 8*C but the wind chill factor must have made it -272*C, not quite Absolute Zero. Peri and Gilly loved their walk, they love cold and wet and wind. Here is Peri yesterday, looking so happy. The water is running down the track in rivulets.

Peri loves Winter
And here is Miss Lorelai Gilmore, doing her best sitting, waiting to be let off the lead into the Bush Proper. She is modelling 'Rolling In Something Smelly' Eau de Toilette. And there was never a better name for a generic perfume!!

Gilly Smelly
Tomorrow is Election Day. I love to vote. I joke that I like to vote early and often, but I do not do that. It is a joke. I especially love voting below the line in The Senate. We are used to voting this way, all our elections are 'below the line' and I like to put the people I consider most inappropriate very last. I do not waste my vote by handing in  blank form, nor do I Donkey vote. I did write No Dams. But that was a special case. I shall vote Green. No surprise there, but in our state especially, and in my city, the Environment is at the forefront of my mind. We are still under threat of a polluting and poisonous pulp mill from Gunns and the State Government. On the whole I agree with the ad from The Gruen Nation.

Last night at Sewing MrsDrWho took some photos of the Black Forest Cheesecake which I will add to the Monday Munchies post when I have edited them, and she also said that the Moist Coconut Cake was very nice and that it was still moist and tasty after three days. Good to know.

This afternoon I am going to buy a new printer, and pay the Vet bill and maybe buy some fabric to make a skirt for Self Stitched September. I need to get a wriggle on.


Water Day For A Daydream....

When it's wet, our yard is always damp because water runs down the hill and through our property. It has been Very Wet, still, I was a tad surprised to come home and see water bucketing down the back steps.

Watery steps
After several phone calls to the water people, oh, turning the water Off, and then a three hour wait, it was pronounced: a burst pipe somewhere in my yard. Oh No, I thought. I resigned myself to a giant bill and a few days of no washing or proper showering. I bought The Labradors a nice big container of clean water for their drink.

Then, this morning, Mr Reno rang and said he'd come and have a bit of a look for me, just in case he could help. He had a lot of help from Miss You Know Who and Miss Peri. Mr Reno is Jubbly's dad.

Water Babies and Mr Reno

Mr Reno dug a trench following the water pipe from the meter to the hose tap stand, which is like an upside down 'U'. Then he found the big water reservoir in the centre of the garage foundations. When he scooped out water and mud he found a drain. If I turned the water on the drain was full of running water. In the garage was a hidden tap, and so he deduced very cleverly that it was an unused line otherwise and he disconnected it from the hose tap stand and then, there was no running water and it was fixed!!

I am so lucky, to have good friends. MrsDrWho was very kind and listened while I told her about the burst pipe and then she emailed me today and rang me after school!!

I spent a long time with a horrible feeling the pit of my stomach, but now I am happy, and I didn't even need a Bex and/or a good lie down. I also have a renewed appreciation for being able to turn on a tap, and have clean, fresh water.

Peri and Lorelai Gilmore were wet and muddy!!! They had a lovely time.

Peri with a twig on her head
Gilly Muddy Paws
I am hoping that Labrador Bella's mum, who reads every Monday, will send me a picture of Labrador Bella for my blog. Hi Bella and Bella's mum!!!

Tomorrow I plan to pick up my new sewing machine from  The Lay-by. I have a Whovian collection to share and I am starting a TARDIS scarf for Uncle Dutch (I have to make up a pattern yet!!) and a purple beret for Mr Reno. Does anyone know any good knitted beret patterns for men?? Any suggestions would be gratefully accepted.

Now I am off to the couch with my quilt and a hot water bottle for comfort, and Lorelai Gilmore, to watch Lewis.

Water Relief!!!!

An After Thought- I have accidentally taught my Firefox Dictionary to recognise 'ahve' as a correct spelling, so if I type 'ahve' and miss it, I mean have!! I don't know how to 'unteach' it.


Monday Munchies #33

Now, with all new pictures, specially crafted for recipe enhancement!!! I am up to Australian Women's Weekly Top Ten Cakes Number 6.

This week I baked a coconut cake with coconut frosting.The trick is to make sure you cream the butter and sugar extremely well, so it is extra light and fluffy. The frosting is optional, but I can't resist the soft pink coconut icy topping. I also found natural pink food colouring so I was quite chuffed: it is really pink too.

Moist Coconut Cake with Coconut Ice Frosting  serves 10

Cake

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tspn coconut essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 250g extra light sour cream (I could only find light)
  • 1/3 cup milk
Coconut Ice Frosting
  • 2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/3 cups desiccated coconut
  • 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
  • 1 tbspn cold water
  • pink food colouring
Coconut start
Preheat the oven to 180*C (160* ff) and grease and line a 22cm tin.

Cream the butter, sugar and essence until very light and fluffy. It should be pale, and then beat in the eggs, one at a time. It helps if they are at room temperature.

Sift the flour and coconut together and mix the sour cream and milk in a bowl. You are going to add them in halves to the mixture.

Coconut middle
Add half the flour and coconut and half the sour cream and milk and gently fold it in, then add the other halves and fold gently once more. Then spoon into the tin and smooth the top.

I always turn the cake at the half way mark, and this cooked for the exact amount of time specified: 50 minutes.

Cool 10 minutes in the tin and then place on a rack until cold. Ice the cake when it is totally cold.

Topping
To make the topping, put the icing sugar and coconut in the bow, make a well in the centre and add the wet ingredients. The pink was a few drops and looked quite dramatic before I whisked it in with a fork. Then spread onto the cold cake. I left a little gap, because I was sure it would keep spreading as it set. It didn't, so do ice to the very edge. I fixed mine with a bread and butter knife dipped in some boiling water. It will set to a harder consistency, almost like coconut ice. Of course, you can leave the colouring out, but why not use it, if it is a natural one!!!

Coconut cake, coconut ice topping


Click Goes The Shears, Boys, Click, Click, Quick!

I have a new camera!!! Look: pictures!!!

Dinner
Prawn dumplings, Imperial lamb pancakes and then lemon chicken, crispy pork in plum sauce, Shanghai beef and special fried rice. Uncle and Auntie Dutch, MrsDrWho and I went out to dinner. I am so lucky to have kind friends. (ie friends who are willing to put up with my foibles, unquestioningly) Thank you!!

Thank you MrsDrWho for my new camera!!! In the end I didn't have to make any decisions, which suits me. I am happiest with what I already know, and this is an upgrade on my old camera. It has extra features, but I am not a photographer, I love taking pictures of Peri and Gilly and food and knitting and things that amuse me. I love it!! It has a self-timer feature which I may use for Self Stitched September. May, not definitely, may.

Camera I have lots of picture to take now, I shall be snapping away with such glee.

We have The Faster Broadband at our house now. Wow!! It is so much faster than the old slow broadband. I can watch things on the iView, with no buffering or loading or waiting. It's very exciting. Everything happens so much faster that I have less time to read or knit or pat dogs while I wait.

I went and had my hair cut and coloured. I had some of those nice foils in my hair. I like it because it looks like there might not actually be any colours, that my hair is just golden red from the Sun!!

And now I am so tired, we had a seminar on Coping With Uncertainty today at Leukaemia Support Group, so I had to concentrate and participate. Last night I couldn't fall asleep and I was still awake at 3-30am and since Lorelai Gilmore has decreed that we all wake up at 7am, I am feeling weary. My eyes are watery and itchy. A cup of peppermint tea and then we are off to bed.

Gilly likes waking up early

Peri would prefer to sleep in. That's when she's not wickedly rolling in something smelly.

Peri is wicked