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March 2011
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May 2011

Transmission Impossible: 2

Oh dear, what can the matter be?*

My computer has a 'thing', and not a good thing. On Good Friday, and I am not using the word good in a good way, a Windows Security XP 2011window popped up on my computer and then it went all weird. That is my technical term for it. Can't connect to the internet. At all. It says I have 47 viruses and malwares, but I know I just have that one. My anti-virus and spyware etc were all up to date and I was just browsing blogs from my Google Reader.

It is apparently Very Bad. The pop up entreated me to click through and register. Do Not Register. I am quite cautious so the first thing I did was unplug the internet conntection from the wall. Stupid Trojan keeps telling me the same thing even when it has no internet access.

So, my computer will be off to the fixer-er this week, to see if it can be fixed. I hope it can.

I am, therefore, bereft of internet. I am making a list of all the things I want to look up when, and if, my computer is fixed.

Here's a picture of Peri Naughty and Lorelai Gilmore at the next door neigbours annual Good Friday party. Which I never quite understand, but still, Peri spent all day at the fence. Gilly spent some time there.

100_3053

*Two old ladies locked in the lavatory,

They were there from Monday to Saturday,

Oh what a calamity!!


Tuesday's Letters Eat On Wednesday 13: 'H' is for Hot Cross Buns

Due to a little Georgette Heyer decline, yesterday's recipe turned into today's.

I decided to try Nigella's Hot Cross Bun recipe. The dough proves in the refrigerator overnight which I think is a bonus. Make the dough at your leisure and then bake the next day. I found a few issues with the recipe. There was no sugar and I am pretty sure yeast needs some sugar to 'work'. I googled but couldn't find any errata so I searched for a similar recipe and added the amount they specified. I added salt too. The butter was unsalted and I added half a teaspoon of salt. The buns don't really seem to rise very much and this might be because it's Autumn here and not Spring. I eventually put them in a slightly warm oven for 5 minutes and that seemed to do the trick. Nigella says she makes 16 little buns, I made 12, and they weren't that big.

On the plus side, the buns were very tasty, nice and spicy and full of fruit. They weren't doughy or heavy at all. I found the proper strong plain flour in the supermarket. It is twice the price of ordinary plain flour, but I think it made a difference. The buns aren't as light and fluffy as the ones in the bakery or shops, but The GardyGardeners and the next-door neighbours all declared them delicious!!

It is also important to remember that the UK and USA use a 15ml tablespon while here in Australia we use 20ml, which I think is much more sensible. It's easier to halve for a start!! I have converted the measurements to Australian tablespoons. The recipe does look to have lots of steps, but they are not very arduous and there's plenty of time between each stage to rest and eat Easter Eggs!!

 

Hot Cross Buns   makes 12 or 16 small

Dough

  • 150ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • zest of an orange (I used a lemon)
  • 1 clove
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 400g strong plain flour (bread flour)
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 7g dried yeast, usually 1 sachet
  • 125g dried fruit of your choosing (raisins and currants eg)
  • 1 tspn cinnamon
  • 1/2 tspn nutmeg
  • 1/4 tspn ginger - optional I think
  • 1 egg

Wash

  • 1 egg
  • a little milk

Crosses

  • 2 tbspn plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tspn caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbspn water

Glaze

  • 1 tbspn boiling water
  • 1 tbspn caster sugar

 

Hey litttle hen
Put the milk, zest, cardamon, clove and butter in a saucepan over a very low heat.  Once the butter has melted, leave to infuse and cool to blood temperature. This means that when you dip your very clean finger into the milk, it feels neither hot nor cold.

Put the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, fruit and spices into a bowl. Remove the cardamom pods and clove from the milk mixture and whisk in the egg.

When when when
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry. At this point, before you start kneading, warm a little extra milk in case the dough, like mine, is too dry.

Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together, adding a little warmed milk or flour as needed, and then continue to knead by hand or with a machine until it is smooth and elastic. This means that the dough doesn't break and has a sheen. I knead by hand, I fold the dough back onto itself and then push forward with the heel of my hand and then give a quarter turn.

Here's a link to a video that shows what to do. It takes 5-10 minutes to knead by hand.

Will you lay me an egg for my tea
Make the dough into a ball and place in a buttered bowl, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.

One a penny two  apenny
In the morning, take the dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.  Knead a little more until it is smooth again. Divide the dough into 12 (or 16) equal pieces, mine were all 75g, and shape into smooth bun shapes. Grease and line a tray and then arrange the buns so that they are almost touching. mark crosses on top with a knife, cover and leave to rise for 45 minutes. Heat the oven to 220*C while they are proving again.

If you have no daughters give them to your sons
Mix the egg and milk to make the egg wash and brush it over the bus.

Combine the sugar, flour and water to make the paste for the crosses. I put the paste into a zip-lock bag and snipped off the end to make a piping bag. Pipe crosses onto the tops of the buns and then bake for 15-20 minutes. Mine took 20 minutes.

Hot cross
While the are baking make the glaze by stirring the caster sugar into the boiling water until it dissolves. When the buns come out of the oven (!!) brush or spoon the glaze over the hot cross buns and then halve, slather with butter and enjoy.

BUNS
Being afraid of yeast, I was very happy indeed that the hot cross buns turned out so well. Next time I wuld form better bun shapes and take a little more care with my crosses. Left over hot cross buns, if there are any, are delicious toasted or grilled, and also make a nice change in a bread and butter pudding/custard. I do think these are best eaten on the day they are baked.


Tuesday's Letters Eat 12: 'H' is for Honey and Pear Cake

I went to the Honey Shop in town and purchased some honey and then to deli at the corner to buy some local pears. Armed with said ingredients I then went in search of a recipe. I found one I liked from Nigel Slater. One with ingredients that were in my cupboard. Mostly.

I like Leatherwood Honey and it is unique to The Apple Isle. I expect others would use a Wildflower Box or Bluegum, but I like Leatherwood. The pears are Williams or Bartlett and the perfect yellow colour and nicely ripe.

I had no golden caster sugar so instead I mixed a little brown sugar with ordinary caster.

Honey and Pear Cake   serves 4

Pears

  • 3 medium Williams or Bartlett pears
  • 2 tbspn honey (60g)
  • water

Topping for the Base

  • 40g butter
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbspn honey (30g)
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract

Cake

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbspn milk (20ml)
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tspn baking powder

 

Preheat the oven to 160*C and grease and line a 20cm round or square tin.

Pears at the start
Peel, halve and core the pears.

Pears
Place in a saucepan with the honey and enough water to just cover them. Bring to the boil and then simmer until soft so that the point of a knife slips in easily. Set aside in the syrup till needed.

Base and honeyed pears
The topping for the base is made by creaming the butter, sugar, vanilla and honey until light and creamy.  Spread over the base of the tin. Then arrange the drained pears, curved side up, over the base.

Cake batter
For the cake, cream the butter and sugar until it is quite light in colour and fluffy. Add two eggs and beat till combined. Then add the milk and fold in the sifted flour and baking powder. It is a very stiff batter, the spoon could stand upright.

Preparing to bake
Dollop the cake batter over the pears and then spread it out as best as you can. Nigel says it doesn't look as if there will be enough, and he is right, but persevere until it is as even as possible. It will be OK, the cake rises and spreads as it cooks. The top of the cake will be the bottom of the cake when it is turned out, so no need to panic.

Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes. The cake will look cooked early on, but resist the temptation to check it until at least 40 minutes have passed. It will be a very deep caramel colour and come away from the sides when it is ready. A skewer or toothpick piercing the cake in the centre will come out clean.

Honey and Pear cake
Rest for 30 minutes and then turn out onto a plate. Serve warm with cream or custard.


Eee By Gum(boot)

You have to say the title the way  The Goodies do.

We woke up yesterday to a gumboot on the bed. Which was better than the day before when Gilly unearthed her packet of loose green tea and opened that on the end of the bed. There is, at the moment, a Labrador Puppy Dog Golden Hour left from the Daylight Saving changeover. It is the hour when no-one is awake and outside playing except Lorelai Gilmore. We pay the price.

Last night it rained very hard and Gilly was inside, and so was the gumboot. We were treated to a fun fifteen minutes or so of frantic running in and out and gumboot shaking. Presumably to make sure it was dead. Peri was not amused.

Gilly eee by gum
This morning there were no other people at the dam and so Peri and Gilly could run about and play. And play they did!!

Peri was Queen of the World.

Peri is Queen of the world
And there appear to be teepees, or bonfires pyramids, or some other weird kind of structures built. There are six of them. They are good Labrador cubbies.

Cubbies Labradors in the cubby

The Valley Girl Hat is complete. I had to do tricksy thinks with the decreasing as I had extra stitches but the star pattern still worked. I need a larger circle for proper blocking. It was a nice quick knit and filled in the gap between cardigans.

Valley Girl Hat 2011

Today I chose the buttons for my Freshly Cut Grass cardigan. Although the ones on the left look fine, they were milky and slightly metallic. I didn't like the feel of the one on the right, so I chose the one in the centre. The different colours in the button change when it moves and so it picks up the colour of the wool.

Buttons

I think this button was very upset it wasn't chosen.

Pick me pick me
My Treasure Isle lace is going very nicely thank you. I love that you can 'read' the lace and know what to do twenty-five times across the row by looking at the rows below. You can read about Ann's pattern on her blog if you don't have The Ravelry. There is a link if you do. I am thinking I'd like to make my shawl(ette) narrower than the pattern and so I might make the centre of the short rows used for shaping longer. I am not sure if this is going to work, but I don't mind experimenting after the lace. There was a small over-tightening incident with one wooden needle end and so now I have some metal ones.

Lace
Mrs HouseOf sent me a knitting gift. It is gorgeous!! It will fill another little between cardigans gap.

I'm a teapot
On Monday night I always talk to my mum on the phone for a couple of hours or so. I don't think I will knit Treasure Isle, I will do some embroidery instead. Less danger of a mistake!! I must be feeling slightly better, and those sinus tablets are working as they build up in my system, because I feel like doing things!!! Even the driving rain and gale force winds don't seem to matter!!!


The Truth, The Hole Truth And Nothing But The Truth.

Peri and Gilly were lucky enough to receive a little bag of treats from Elizabeth-Tim Brooke-and-Rod*. When we go for a walk I always put a few little treats in my pocket for when The Labradors are well behaved and do as they are asked. I think I left some treats in my pocket because when I pocketed treats today they fell out near my shoe. This is what had happened. It had happened not long before because the pocket was still damp from being chewed. Yuck.

Dear Liza a hole
It is a good thing that these are the Op Shop $5 dog walking jeans. No-one was admitting their guilt.

I met TinkingBell on Wednesday and we had Ten-ses**, and lunch and a little shop and a very long chat!! It is very considerate of her husband to have a car that must be serviced in the Northern Capital!!! Tinking has been inordinately busy and so it was lovely to catch up.  I sewed an owl Bag for her. I know she likes owls. It was also a nice moment when she said she saw how the material I used made me think of The Owl Service. I, in turn, was the recipient of a pair of fabulous green trousers!!! Now, if it will just be cold. It is raining heavily right now and we have a whole week of rain forecast!!

Owl Service
While I am between cardigans I am knitting MrsValley a hat: The Valley Girl Hat. Naturally Loyal now has a 10ply which is beautifully soft and this is a very old diamond pattern made with purls. I remember my mum knitting herself a jacket in this same pattern. I have almost knitted one ball now and the decreases are anon.

Valley girl starts
When we were walking today a man let four big dogs out of his car, loose, not on their leads, and I was afraid. They didn't look friendly and to me, four is a pack. I picked up a stick and we hurried back to the car and drove back up to another walk on the Fire Trail.  At the bottom there is a murky pond. Peri thought about it a lot.

Peri is thinking
I think she was thinking about diving in.

Peri might dive in
Lorelai Gilmore was more interested in being spooked by the squawking birds. I can see Peri lunging, ever so slightly.

Gilly hears The Birds
Yay For Yarn had a free postage offer and so I indulged in some of this: Dream in Colo(u)r Smooshy Spring Tickle.

Indulged in Spring Tickle
And it arrived on the same day I bought a lacy scarf/shawl (I dare not say shawlette, but there you go, I said it. And I don't care!!!) pattern from the lovely Ann of 1 More Row, Treasure Lace. I don't know where there is another Not Ravelry link.

Our original Museum and Art Gallery the QVMAG (say Q V Mag) has been undergoing restoration and renovation. About five years ago The Council wanted to close it, but there was community outrage, I asked all my friends fill out the forms to save it. The Council rapidly backed down and today there was an Open Day for a sneak peek at the empty Museum. MrsDrWho and I went along, as did so many other people. MrsDrWho took a photo from the ground floor, through the new opening on the First Floor, right up to the old ceiling. They seem to have retained and revealed the best of the old, and incorporated just enough of the new so as not to spoil it.

QVMAG
Now if they would just organise the Botanical Gardens we saw on the original plans, that would be fantastic!! Here in The Island State we have Botanical Gardens. On The Mainland I think they are Botanic??

I've been to see the Compounding Chemist. She spoke to our group last year and as I wasn't feeling 100% I though she could recommend something. I can't take Echinacea, so she gave me some minerals to take and some homeopathic sinus tablets. Which seem to work.

Spooks is on TV tonight, so I am going to make a fresh pot of tea and settle down to watch the news with my knitting while I wait. I might even finish the hat tonight!!

*Think about the surnames.....

**Like Elevenses, but an hour earlier


Tuesday's Letters Eat 11: 'G' is for Gratin Dauphinois

I have just finished eating a bowl of this tasty garlicky potato dish, layered with milk and cream. It is so moreish I actually had a little more. On its own. There seems to be a good deal of debate about what a gratin actually entails, but once again I consulted Stephanie's striped tome and Delia agrees with her too. Jamie embellished his with herbs and cheese and bacon, but in the end it is the simplicity of just a few ingredients that makes this so delicious.

Waxy potatoes are vital and must be sought out. There is a list here as a guide for waxy potatoes.

Gratin Dauphinois   serves 8 as a side

  • 1 kg waxy potatoes, peeled
  • 40g butter
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg, freshly grated: optional
  • 1 tspn plain flour
  • 200ml cream
  • 400ml boiling milk

Preheat the oven to 200*C (180 FF)

Une
Slice the potatoes thinly, not too thinly, and put them into a bowl of cold water. I put my colander in and then the sliced potatoes so they would be easy to drain. You can see in the picture that the soaking helps draw out the excess starch.

Deux
Grease a rectangular dish with 20g of the butter. The one I used has a 2.5 litre capacity. Drain the sliced potatoes and then lay them out on kitchen towel, or new cloths, to dry a little. By the time the last ones are done, the first will be dry enough.

Trois
Arrange the potato slices so they slightly overlap and cover the base of the dish. Season with salt and pepper and garlic. Repeat. I made four layers.

Quatre
Sprinkle the plain flour over the cream and whisk. Then gradually whisk in the boiling milk. Carefully. Trying not to disturb the layers, gently pour the milk and cream mixture over the potatoes, and then dot with the rest of the butter.

Cinq
Bake in the oven on the top shelf for an hour. Mine took about 15 minutes longer. If it is browning too much, cover with foil, or move to a lower shelf. Rest for a few minutes before serving.

Fin
I think this is best eaten straight away, and while I would not mind eating it later on, others may not!! I just ground some pepper on top. Others add some cheese in the layers and on top. Any root vegetable, or combination, could be substituted.


Only disConnect

It is official, I am addicted to the internet. Yesterday I had no connection for over twelve hours. My ISP was down all over the state, but my internet wouldn't reconnect when the problem was fixed. I had to ring and ask for help. The help desk was great and I was soon up and running again. I couldn't check to see who the actors were in Morse, as the TV station cuts off the credits. Couldn't access my Amy Johnson recipe, luckily I found one I had printed out earlier. (note to self, print out recipes from Monday Munchies and save them, or better still, print out the MM blog as a book!!) No checking of emails,  no proudly proclaiming on The Ravelry that Freshly Cut Grass was freshly finished. Blogs all over the world remained unseen, and newspapers and the ABC must have missed my attention. The internet is not a toy, it is a part of my everyday life, like the phone, TV, oven or car. It's a big book, waiting to be explored. Welcome back internet, I missed you!!!

Freshly Cut Grass, AKA Shiraz, is complete. Apart from buttons and that is a tricky task, so it doesn't count.  And best of all, my new cardigan fits. It is so warm and I feel like I am wearing something lush and luxurious. It is too hot to have a proper test wear, but as soon as the weather cools down, it will come into its own.

FCG needs buttons
I used almost ten balls of Debbie Stoller's Full o'Sheep, and knitted the body on 5mm Knitpicks/Pro circular needle and the sleeves on double points, because I like them best of all. Amazingly I had the correct tension with the needles specified. I was a little confused by some parts of the pattern: there weren't stitch counts for all the stages and I was not sure if I was on track at times. I also managed to make the buttonholes at the end of the row instead of the beginning. I made the hems with picot edging and although they are doubled over, they  give a nice firm stability to the edges. I am having little paroxysms of delight every time I think of my lovely new cardigan!!!

Now I am at a loose end as I must decide what to knit next.

Peri and Lorelai Gilmore have been enjoying the delights of the garden. Peri has been on the alert and chasing away the birdies that are scrabbling about in the Autumn leaves. Do not worry, she is not agile enough to catch any. She keeps an eagle eye out and likes having a job to do. Apart from sleeping and eating and playing rough and rowdy rebel games inside with Gilly.

Peri keeps an eagle eye out
Gilly likes to choose a different toy each day and at the moment she likes the squeaky soft bone. She hasn't quite mastered the bringing it back to me part of the game. If I go inside she runs in and sits at my feet and gives me the toy, but if I am outside she stays at the top of the steps. Taunting me.

Gilly has a toy

MrsDrWho gave me a lovely gift. It is a birthday calendar book, with a page for each month where you write names and dates and two Labrador/Golden Retriever cards for each page. It is so lovely and I am under orders to use it. So I shall.

Birthday book

Today I took Miss Muppin, MrsDrWho's kitten, to the vet to see Dr Marion. She was a very good kitten and had her vaccinations and behaved very well. She doesn't always behave well at home, but I think she will be happier when she can go out the door on her lead. There is a video of Muppin here. On Thursday I am going to fetch Cleo and Caramello. It is their turn. I am not expecting they will enjoy their outing.

I bought myself a fat quarter of fabric at Esme's. It looks like little cross-stitched nesting dolls. A fat quarter is like sock wool: they don't cost very much but give hours of pleasure!!

New fabric
It has been just a tad over a year since Harki-Parki-Parker-Posey died. I have been thinking about her these last few weeks, and marvelling at how time flies and how Peri and Gilly are now a little family on their own. I did have a tiny little cry but they were happy remembering tears for a lovely girl.

Harki-Parki-Parker-Posey
I am catching up with friends this week and feeling OK, even though I am rationing outings. Daylight Saving ended at the weekend, so Gilly wakes us up and hour early and I have to remember to feed them tea an hour early too. The days are noticeably shorter, Winter is on her way.

I shall now be spending a little time putting the 47 episodes of Xena Warrior Princess saved on my HDD back into a Group after I accidentally ungrouped them. Ah, the fickle finger of Fate..........