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March 2014
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May 2014

Medium Times At Ridgemont High

I paid the price for living life in the medium lane, I can't manage the fast lane. Saturday was a day of enforced sleep and headaches. Twenty hours of almost continuous sleep, I did get up to feed Peri and Gilly, did the trick and I felt much better on Sunday. Of course I didn't do anything on Sunday, which probably helped too. MrsDrWho was flying the Yellow Flag of Quarantine as visitors had been extremely unwell. I was happy to stay away from the house of actual physical sickness.

Enforced rest on the couch has produced a hat and three quarters of a mitten, I can't quite bring myself to sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing all the time. I tried on a hat at Knits Needles & Wool last week and it didn't look half bad. I remembered some Tasmanian handspun emerald green 12 ply at home and so the Hat's The Way, Aha Aha, I like It hat was born. I made stripes with the leftover Azteca from my Cowling Occupants neckwarmer. I had a false start and a false end but it turned out very well: it is warm and water repellent and not unflattering. I've written the basics of the pattern on The Ravelry. I wear it with the naturally rolling cast on edge rolled a little further up.

Hat's The Way, Aha Aha, I like it 2014

And now the third of my almost matching but not quite Winter set: Cowling Occupants, Hat's The Way and now the Transpodsters. Well three quarters of one. In The One With The Embryos the question Monica and Rachel need to answer for the win, and the flat is "What is Chandler Bing's job?" and Rachel answers "A transpod-transpondster!" and while this is patently untrue, it is an excellent name for the Podster mittens. I'm not making individual fingers inside the flip top, just a longer ribbed pieces for all my fingers. I am knitting them in 10ply Naturally Loyal in a warm teal. The thumb has a 'finger' of its own. The colour in my Ipad photo in pearl lightbulb light isn't true, but the hat, neckwarmer and mittens all co-ordinate imperfectly.

Colour in the night doesn't work

MrsDrWho's Girl With A Purl Earring socks were completed and may be adorning her feet as I type. I have no idea, as every person and their dog moved over the Easter/ANZAC Day/School holidays break and she has no phone or internet. She's pretty much moved in and the house is becoming a home, and it is a wondrous house: Cleo and Caramello are semi-happily ensconsed and Muppin comes out of the bedroom to see people she likes. That would not be me, the mean woman who takes her to the cat sitter and the vet.

Girl With A Purl Earring Socks 2014

Peri and Gilly have had a wonderful few days. There was a frost at the dam on Saturday and we walked in the rain today. It has rained all day and I spend fifteen minutes cleaning the gutter outside the gate so we didn't get flooded again.

This is what I was doing

I am getting a cold, or Peri and I have hay fever. In Autumn. And it has been 19*C. That's too warm for Autumn.

Peri's a happy film star

Peri has been very happy, lying in the sun and playing in the freezing cold weather. She's channeling a film star with her cheeky over the shoulder look. When she runs at the dam it is hard to remember she is twelve years old.

Gilly hasn't been close enough to take happy pictures, she's been off running as fast as she can to keep up with Rafa and Sandy. They are much bigger and should be faster, but Lorelai Gilmore is surprisingly fleet of foot. When she is ready for her close up, she looks worried, and I don't know why.

Gilly is very serious

I've been for my two monthly check up with my GP, where I realised that it is ages since I even thought about how long it takes up to drive to the dam. When I was depressed and anxious it HAD to take eight minutes, or else. "Or else what?", my GP asked, and I had no idea what, only that it was going to be terrible if it took nine minutes. I am always happy when my numbers are the same, not up or down, not better or worse, but the same. The same is not good, the same is awful really, but as long as the numbers are not worse, awful is great.

Oh and I am living in The Future, in Star Trek or Stargate SG1. I wondered what the microphone next to the space bar on the pop up Ipad email keyboard was for. It is for speaking to, and then it types your email for you. I press Reply, tap for the keyboard to pop up, press the microphone icon and just chat away to the Ipad, or I imagine it is Siri. I tap Done and my email magically appears. I have to fix a word or two, but I never imagined I would be living in a time when I could do that. It's amazing. Truly mind blowing. Of course in Star Trek they just say "computer" and it responds, but I have to tap my Ipad for Siri or email. I expect soon I won't even need to do that. This week I have also learned to take a screenshot on my Ipad and save PDFs to iBooks.

Now we just need a Back to the Future Hoverboard and a transporter and we're done!! Oh and FTL space ships. Then we're really done.

I have never seen Fast Times At Ridgemont High. I don't expect I will, though Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in on TV this weekend.


Friday Food: Sausage Ragu and Polenta

RaguI need to hone my polenta skills. MrsReno and MrsHouse Of warned me. I followed the instructions to a T, but my polenta went right past creamy to lumpy. I eschewed the already prepared and the instant and went for the old fashioned polenta, the kind where you stir rigorously for 20 minutes. I need to make some more tomorrow and get it right. It still tasted OK, but wasn't creamy and sumptuous.

The ragu, on the other hand, was delicious. I was very pleased and I had some for my tea with rice as well. It would be better with mashed potatoes if you don't want to have polenta, and the potatoes could boil while the ragu cooks. I had to juggle the polenta's continuous stirring with the ragu.

The sausages need to be spicy Italian or the equivalent. This was a Woolworths recipe from their May Fresh magazine* and I bought the sausages they suggested.

 

Sausage Ragu with Polenta   serves 4

  • 1 tbspn olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 420g Beef and Pork Italian sausages, skin removed
  • 700g bottle of passata
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1 cup plain polenta cooked according to packet and add 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 20g butter, or mashed potatoes, or rice

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and saute the carrot, celery and onion for about 10 minutes, keeping an eye on it and stirring frequently. The vegetables should be nicely softened.

Saute vegetables

Prepare the sausages by making a cut lengthwise just through the skin with a sharp knife and then peeling the skin off. Break the sausage meat into small meatball portions, the ones I made were the size of a walnut shell. I made 5 or 6 from each sausage. Add the sausage meat to the pan and continue to cook for a further 8 minutes, again stirring as needed. The meat will brown all over and the vegetables will be tender.

Add sausage meat

Pour in the passata and the water, turn down to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Cook the polenta now, if it is the old-fashioned kind, or set the potatoes or rice to cook.

And passata

Cook the instant polenta closer to serving time.

Cook polenta

When the ragu is ready, chop most of the basil leaves and stir through. Save a few leaves for garnishing if you wish.

Add basil

Serve the ragu with the polenta, basil leaves and some extra grated Parmesan leaves.

Sausage ragu and polenta

* The May issue wasn't there when I made the link. I expect it will be there anon.


The Cats' Meows

Well, The Typepad was down due to a Denial of Service attack for two days. I just thought the rain had flooded the pit with the internet wires again. But no, my internet wasn't slow to load, The Typepad was just not working. I must pay more attention!!!

I have been rather tired today. The Ipad alarm went off at 6-30am, 7am and 7-15am to ensure I was at MrsDrWho's house before 8am. Today was moving day, and my very important job was to take the three cats to their luxury off site accommodation. They meowed, or caterwauled, the entire way. I think they thought it was vaccination time. The Cat Sitter prepared a special inside room for them to share, with a heater, the radio, beanbags and special calming spray. Cleo immediately worked out the exit and proceeded to sit there, waiting for a chance to escape. No chance Cleo. Caramello was instantly ensconced on top of the filing cabinet and Muppin hid behind the beanbags. It was a coup that she came out of her carry case at all really.

Cats away

I visited MrsDrWho's house and contributed absolutely nothing to the unpacking. The movers were very efficient and moved everything today, they don't need tomorrow. I did contribute some chocolate cupcakes and banana muffins. Oh and I made a mushroom and spinach lasagne the other day. It was delicious!!

Cooking

Last Friday Peri, and then Peri and Gilly, went to the annual party at the fence. I took a poor photo, or two, but they show Peri's tail is wagging faster than light. It has been raning on and off for the last four days, so they enjoyed getting endlessly wet.

Peri's tail and gilly at the party

On Sunday they had salmon and some soft boiled eggs in the shells. Peri was not keen to eat hers until Gilly gobbled her egg up. Then Peri wanted hers with a desperation heretofore unseen!!

Easter eggs for Labradors

I had one ball of Katia Azteca in all the greens (apart from one patch of grey that appeared from nowhere) I knitted a neckwarmer. Instead of decreasing to make it narrower, I went down a needle size every repeat: 8,7,6,5.5, 5, 4.5 and finally 4mm. The first time I cast off with a larger needle, but it was too frilly: on the left below.The second time I went with the needle I was using and it was fine. It is a tight squeeze to get it over my head, but I knitted it longer so it would cover my nose, bushranger-style, on really icy cold mornings.

Neckwarmer

You can see the cables more clearly in the first picture, though the colours are more accurate in the second.

While I was talking to my mum on the phone last night, this happened:

Labradors rule the bed

That would be the sheet, doona, Peri's quilt, Peri and Gilly - all on the very edge of the bed, and nothing but the woollen underlay everywhere else. They like to make a comfortable nest. Together. As a team. Thank goodness they don't have opposable thumbs!!!

And now, before the bed is reconfigured, we might go to bed and go to sleep early. Tomorrow I shall be measuring MrsHouseOf for her last year's Christmas skirts, now it is cool enough to sew again.


Friday Food: Hot Cross Bun And Butter Pudding

Hcb and butter pudI had two left over Hot Cross Buns, buns I really didn't want to toast or waste. It can be a problem at Easter, the far too enthusiastically purchased Hot Cross Bun, languishing in the cupboard. I saw a recipe for a Hot Cross Bun'n'Butter Pudding, which my holiday-addled mind could simply not cope with. Instead I used a far easier one as inspiration, and it turned out surprisingly well. You don't need to heat anything or turn on an electric appliance, other than the oven!!!

You can add marmalade, chocolate, extra spices, jam or cream to the pudding, but my recipe just uses milk, eggs and sugar. I did sneak in a little vanilla extract. And Bob's your uncle.

I think the secret to any bread and butter pudding is soaking the bread in the custard for a little while before it is baked. I soaked, or rested, mine for about 15 minutes, and I didn't even bake it bain marie. I just put it straight into the oven.

You can eat the pudding hot, warm, or cold. I like it every way. It is easy to double the recipe too, though you may need to increase the baking time. The pudding is cooked when it is set around the edges and there is just a tiny wobble in the centre. I found this could be hard to see through all the buns, so I cut the pudding open with a knife to check.

 

Simple Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding    serves 4

  • 2-4 Hot Cross Buns
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbspn caster sugar
  • 300ml milk, or pouring cream
  • butter

Whisk the milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla together.

Make the custard

Cut the buns into three or four slices. I like to keep the cross on top, so I cut horizontally. Butter all except for the top slice. Place into an ovenproof dish. It should hold at least 6 cups.

Prepare the buns

Gently pour the custard mxture over the buns and then, if you like, cover with some baking paper and gently weigh down for 15 minutes or even longer. The buns will soak up most, if not all, of the liquid.

Custard the buns

Preheat the oven to 180*C and bake for 20-30 minutes. Check it is done by looking for a pudding that is set, with a slight wobble in the centre.

Soak and bake

Let it stand for a few minutes and then spoon into bowls and dust with some icing sugar. Maybe some cream, or ice-cream, as well???

Hcb and butter pudding


There's Many A Split 'Twixt The Cup And The Lip

I would not class myself as accident-prone per se, but I do have quite a few accidents. Once I knelt down to press record on the DVR with a paring knife in my hand and I poked a hole in my leg. It was just below the inside of my knee, where there is a little hollow, and I could see right inside my leg. Once or thrice I have been reading a book walking down the street, and walked into a parking meter: totally not my fault. Last week I was in bed watching iView on my Ipad, it was resting on my ribs, when the lid closed unexpectedly when I breathed deeply and the top of the Ipad split my philtrum horizontally: that's the part between your nose and upper lip. It was about 1.5cm wide and quite deep. I applied an ice compress and then some antiseptic cream. For the last week I have had some excellent Reality TV lip implant action happening with my top lip. And I talked with a 'horrible smell under my nose' accent. Thankfully it is almost healed now.

Harki and her mum, WillowLast week I met Harki-Parki-Parker-Posey's Godmother at the deli at the corner. It was so lovely to bump into her. She has a gorgeous Labrador called Honey. When I was at work The Godmother worked with me in my classroom. It is always nice to accidentally meet friends!! This photo is Harki, and her mother Willow in the background, at her Godmother's house.

In other happy news, today we went to get the letters from the letterbox and my RBF review has come back and it is a positive result. Yay!! I will be able to feed and look after The Labradors for another four years, assuming I live that long, which we are all assuming at this point!! I am very relieved, and very thankful for the support I received. It made my life so much easier. I saw my Specialist today and my results were as expected, nothing up or down too much, so that's good news too.

There has been a lot of sock knitting, I finished two pairs of socks and I am almost at the toes of the third pair. I love the new Patonyle Magic, in Test Pattern/Channel 2 Socks and Kelp Garden/Don't You Know It's Socks here, and the third pair (Girl With A Purl Earring Socks) is in some older Patonlye I bought from The Ravelry ages ago. These two balls are a bit strange. The colours don't quite match, even within the balls, and one was wound inside out. I did the pattern where you purl when you knit certain colours: lights on one sock and darks on the other, I can't really tell the difference. They are for MrsDrWho.

Socks aweigh

I knitted a baby hat for my next door neighbour's friends' baby. Oh, that's convoluted. It's just a simple baby hat, but a good one I think. My next knitting will be a cardigan for me. I think it is almost cool enough to start being swathed in knitting!!! Yesterday I visited Jet'sMum and we did some knitting together and had a very nice chat and a cup of tea. She has knitted a beautiful vest in Sublime Cotton for her granddaughter. Jet was very happy to see me, and I gave him lots of pats.

Baby hat

I caught up with MrsMadcage recently and we had a delicious morning tea and she gave me a lovely little canvas for my wall, and some white chocolate macadamias and a white chocolate heart from the posh Cocobean chocolate shop. As you can see, they didn't last long, there were two packets of macadamias!! Peri and Gilly had one each too. They do leave paw prints everywhere, as well as on my heart.

Goodies

Peri and Gilly have been relishing the cooler mornings, on Tuesday Peri even stole the stick from Rafa and ran away with it. Granted, she didn't bring it back, but it was unprecedented. Gilly just runs as fast as the wind, or a Border Collie. And of course there is always rolling in something smelly.

Rollin'

And they are always up for a treat. The best way to get a good photo, well as good as I get, is to hold two tiny slivers of liver treat. Works a treat!!

Gilly and Peri really want a treat

I am sewing some little bunnies. I saw a picture of bunnies somewhere on the internet and lo, I could buy the pattern from Patchwork Plus, which is further north up the river. MrsDrWho thinks the bunny looks sad, I'm not sure, maybe the bunny is worried?? I think the ears are a little too long and they flop backwards or forwards. I've done some sewing First Aid and I am making the next ears shorter. The pattern is a Creative Card, so it is the size of a birthday card, with the pattern to trace and the instructions inside.

Easter bunny with no legs

Things have been a little hectic here, one day I went out in the car four times  : walking The Labradors, having my fringe cut, having blood tests and taking MrsDrWho a noodle and corn loaf. We have been in bed at 8-30pm for the last three nights. The extra rest and sleep has definitely helped.

I have spent some of my resting time wisely. I read The Lascar's Dagger by the most excellent Glenda Larke. I always buy her books and I have them all, even the hard to find out of print ones. The book was a little slow to start as the fantasy world, and the characters, was set up. After that it was a whirlwind of action, treachery and drama. Now I must wait impatiently for the next two books.

I also thought about tomorrow's Friday Food. This is very good, as last week Friday Food was on Sunday. And now we are off to bed quite early again. To sleep, perchance to dream........


Friday Food (On Sunday): Flourless Chocolate & Nut Biscuits

BiscuitI have seen these biscuits out and about on The Internet as Kosher, gluten free or flourless biscuits. They are so easy to make and bake, the trickiest part is that they stick to the baking paper and I had to very carefully peel them off when they were cool.

These have pecans, but you can use any nuts, you could leave them out, or substitute dried fruit.

I made half a batch and managed 8 rather large biscuits, and they are beautifully shiny.

 

Flourless Chocolate & Nut Biscuits     makes 12-16

  • 3 cups pure icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa, I used Dutch cocoa
  • 1/2 tspn coarse salt
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 200g pecans, chopped
  • 140g good dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 160*C fan forced and line two trays with baking paper.

Icing sugar cocoa salt

Put the icing sugar, cocoa and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine, dont worry too much about any lumps. Still I could not help it and squashed them anyway.

Add eggwhites

Add the egg whites and stir until thoroughly combined.

Chocolate and nuts

The mixture will be quite stiff, but firmly stir in the nuts and chocolate.

Baking cooling

Using a 1/4 cup measure, place the mixture onto the baking tray, leaving lots of room for the biscuits to spread. Bake for 20-25 minutes and then cool on the tray. When they are cold, carefully peel away the baking paper and store in an airtight container.

Flourless choc biscuits


Friday Food: Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice

This is so easy, and so yummy, that I want to make it again right now!! The only thing I would do is add more curry powder and cayenne. MrsDrWho agreed. Maybe I have worn down my tastebuds, or just become inured to curry heat??

Chicken and coconut curry

I used chicken thigh cutlets with the bone in, rather than cutting up a whole chicken. It worked really well as they are $5-99 per kilo.And the whole thing can be cooked in one fell swoop, with a few steps.

I do fervently believe that you need to serve a green vegetable with the curry. This is another Sarah Carey recipe, and I have noticed often their dinners are bereft of vegetables. MrsDrWho thinks they serve a separate course of salad, but green vegetables are better here.

This recipe is the reason I used my squirreled away Target voucher to buy a new saucepan-like casserole, so I could brown meat on the stove and then put the pot straight into the oven. In this instance I browned and sautéed in a frypan on the stove and then transferred the curry to a casserole: very messy and two things to wash up!!

The curry freezes very well and improves with age!!!

 

Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice   serves 8

  • one 2kg chicken cut into pieces, or 1.5kg of chicken thighs with bone in, or as many pieces as you need
  • 1 tbspn curry powder  (20ml)
  • 1/2 tspn cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 7.5cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped - or grated
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbspn tomato paste
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 400ml coconut milk, light- but I just used ordinary
  • coriander leaves, chopped, for serving. I would use parsley.

Preheat oven to 180*C.

Chicken curry cayenne

Sprinkle the curry powder, cayenne pepper and 1/2 tspn salt over the chicken and coat each piece well.

Brown chicken

Heat a little oil in your frypan or casserole, and fry the chicken skin side down for 5 minutes or until it is golden. Fry in two batches if you need to so that the chicken browns well. Turn and fry on the other side in a similar way. Set aside.

Fry and tomato paste

If there is too much oil in the pan, tip some out (I did) and then fry the onion, garlic and ginger for 1-2 minutes and then add the tomato paste and cook that out for another minute.

Rice stock and coconut milk

Add the basmati rice and fry till the grains are coated with the oil, then add the water and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly.

And bake

Place the chicken pieces back into the casserole, skin side up, place the lid on firmly and bake for 20-25 minutes. The liquid should be absorbed and the chicken cooked through. If necessary, you could add a little more water and cook for a few extra minutes.

Serve with a green vegetable!!! Make it so.....

  Chicken and coconut curry