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October 2017
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December 2017

There Is A Season (Burn Burn Burn)

We are melting, like The Wicked Witch of the West from OZ. Oh the weather has been so hot, so hot that it has broken all records for high temperatures in November for all time. I checked last year's November statistics at the BOM and the hottest day was 26.5*C, and the rest of the month was in the teens or low twenties. My brain won't work and my illness makes it much harder for me to endure the heat. Tomorrow it will be 31*C, which is really like 36-39*C on The Mainland. Wish us luck, if we can make it to Saturday it will be only 20*C.

Backyard Labrador fun

The Labradors have remained cool. Gilly spends a lot of time in the paddle pool, and Hedy is young, so she copes far better. They went to the Vet because they had conjunctivitis. Lorelai Gilmore hasn't totally recovered. I think because she is immune suppressed, it takes longer for her to fight things off (like me!!) Hedy is fine now, though she hates me if I have a tube of ointment in my hand. We came to a compromise: she would tolerate the ointment in her eyes if it was just before she ate breakfast and dinner. Phew!! She was in denial at the Vet. Gilly's eyes were red and sore. Poor Gilly.

Sore eyes

I caught up with my friend TinkingBell last week. We had a lovely day of chatting, drinking cups of tea and browsing the shops. It is too hot to stop and take a photo of my lovely Dalek necklace. I love it, so wait on tenterhooks for that!!! I sewed a Doctor Who bucket bag and a drawstring bag. I used this pattern for the bucket bag and I can recommend it. It's free and has only a few pages to print out and tape together. It sews up really easily and quickly. I just made up the drawstring bag. I used my Doctor Who fabric. And my photos are worse than usual.

Doctor who bags

My photo of when a woman walked into a bar was so terrible that Onyi took over. Look at her photo: marvellous!!

A woman walks into a bar

The Darksideknitter has a new job and so we went to a "bar" for drinks. I had 0.9 of an alcoholic ginger beer. I ordered a small ginger beer with ice and the bartender filled the glass almost to the top, added ice and then charged me less than the full price for a less than full glass. I have never come across this before. But ask me how many bars I have been in in the last 28 years?: that would be one, this one. I ordered the buttermilk fried chicken with Korean chilli dipping sauce. There was so much chicken I had to take half home. Women let other women have just one chip, and the chips were very good. They were crispy and salty on the outside and fluffy and hot on the inside. Yum.

Almada for Auntie Dutch

I finished The Seamwork Almada robe for Auntie Dutch. I took the world's worst photo and all Hedy's shredded tissue paper from my new shoes was on her cushion. I have covered it up poorly but it looks like clouds of snow, and that is very cooling. I met Uncle and Auntie Dutch on Monday for afternoon tea and then unexpected dinner. The Labradors had to wait till 8-45pm for their dinner. They coped. This is why they never know when they will be fed: guerilla dining!!! The robe would take two hours to sew, but I did French seams and made my own biased binding and then covered the cuff seam with purchased binding too. Auntie Dutch liked it, and wafted about in it when we went home for cups of tea and patting Poppy the dog. They brought me back a few things from Ikea, and refused to take my money, they are kind and lovely friends.

#114 Auntie Dutch

Forest bunting

I sewed a shopping bag, bag #114, and used the off cuts for some bunting instead of a card. I have made tiny bunting before and Auntie Dutch was chuffed. I must make more.

Iced vovo fascinator

Auntie Dutch made a fascinator to wear to a Melbourne Cup lunch, her mum enjoys the occasion and so Auntie Dutch goes with her. This is an Iced Vovo confection. She sprayed the biscuits with clear varnish of some kind, so sadly, you can't snack on a biscuit on the way home!!

Early christmas present

My mum gave me money to buy a new food mixer, but before I could spend it MrsDrWho and MrsSingapore et al bought me this!! I am so lucky and so excited. I haven't opened it yet, but I plan to make something tonight when it is cooler for Friday Food: a raspberry swirl pavlova wreath from Donna Hay. It is very Christmassy. I am going to use the money my mum gave me to buy new prescription sunglasses.

New wool  gorgeous

I have some gorgeous new wool from Knits Needles & Wool: Rose Hip Knits, a Tasmanian who hand dyes White Gum Wool. The colour is Woods. It is so soft and luxurious and I will be making something warm for my neck next Winter.

Produce box Produce list

This week's produce box makes me very happy. I love broad beans and I have already eaten cucumber and tomato sandwiches and an apple for lunch today. I shall have some kind of stir-fry for tea.

And now we have reached the point where we have been inside here too long. I think a dip in the paddle pool is called for. I may have to stand under a cool shower.....


Friday Food: Candy Cane & Brownie Ice-Cream

Brownie candy cane ice creamOh, we are melting. It is the hottest November ever here, with temperatures at least 10*C above normal. I could not turn on the oven. I was inspired by Gemma from Bigger Bolder Baking and then Donna Hay. I watched Gemma's ice-cream video and it reminded me that I made two-ingredient ice-cream as well. I had candy canes and when I searched I found Donna Hay's recipe. She uses vanilla ice-cream from the supermarket. I felt I had properly made something because I whipped up the ice-cream!! I bought the brownie, well a double choc-chip muffin......

You can add anything to this ice-cream. I chose the brownie and candy cane option, because it is festive and the ice-cream will keep in the freezer and I am a tad prepared for Christmas now!!!

The ice-cream is whipped for 4 minutes and then there is some crushing, crumbing and finally folding: less than 10 minutes in all..

 

 

Candy Cane and Brownie Two Ingredient Ice-Cream     makes 2 litres

 

  • 600ml whipping cream
  • 395g can of sweetened condensed milk, very very very cold

 

  •  Or 2 litres of vanilla ice-cream, softened

 

  • 8 large candy canes, crushed
  • 100g brownie, crumbed
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract, optional

 

Whip

In a large bowl, whip the cream with a mixer until it is thick - about 2 minutes. Pour in the very cold condensed milk and whip until thick again- another 2 minutes.

Candy canes

Remove the plastic from the candy canes and then crush them. I put them in two zip-lock bags and smashed them.

Add embellishments

Add the crushed candy canes and the crumbled brownies. Fold through. Fill a container, I used two 1 litre loaf tins, and freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight.

And freeze

And serve. This will keep for up to 8 weeks in the freezer, well wrapped and airtight!!

Candy cane brownie ice cream


Friday Food: Cherry & Pecan Brownies

Cherry pecan brownieI lost my camera card. It was almost a blogging emergency. It fell under the lip of Hedy's little box. I had to peer about down low with a torch. Crisis averted. December is not far away and I am planning my celebratory baking. I was going to bake something else, but the RB Digital app isn't working properly (again) and I was left browsing The Internet. Jamie Oliver came to the rescue with this brownie. He calls it Cherry Brownie, but I like to alert people to the presence of nuts in a recipe at the outset. Of course you can leave them out. This brownie is melt and mix and bakes so very quickly!!

I used Morello cherries and decided to double the amount as they aren't as cherry-y as fresh cherries, of which I had none. The pecans roasted for 5 minutes as the oven was heating up, and I do believe it makes a difference with the pecans being toasty and fragrant. I also chose to add the extra chocolate in the form of dark choc chips.

I can't find my 20cm square tin and so substituted one of the disposable 20 x 30cm BBQ trays and made it square by chocking up the baking paper with a box cut to fit. It worked quite well.

The brownie baked for 20 minutes and it is Very Squidgy in the centre. It was still warm after only cooling for an hour, and if it is refrigerated it will be less fragile.

This is incredibly quick to make and bake and it smells so delicious: chocolate, cherry and pecan. It is perfect for celebratory occasions in December!! 

I did taste a few crumbs that fell off when I cut it and it is soooo yummy. I am now making some peppermint tea to help ameliorate any I-Ate-Chocolate-Symptoms.....

 

Cherry & Pecan Brownie     serves 16

  • 130g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
  • 55g fresh cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 55g pecans, roasted
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 55g cocoa powder, Dutch processed is good
  • 75g plain flour
  • 3/4 tspn baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g milk or dark chocolate extra, chopped or use choc chips

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C and line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Melt

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave on High for 30 seconds, stir and then heat for another 30 seconds. Stir until smooth.

Mix

Add the cherries and pecans and fold in. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients together and then add to the chocolate mixture, stirring well to combine.

Mix more

Whisk the eggs together and add to the brownie batter along with the extra chocolate if you are using it. Mix for a final time and then pour into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Jamie Oliver says he wants them to be gooey in the centre: the level of gooiness is up to each individual. After 20 minutes and an hour to cool the centre was quite gooey. Cool in the baking tin and then cut into squares.

The cherry pecan brownie

The brownie was so dark and mysterious it was difficult to photograph. And I am not terribly good when all the stars align photographically!!


Love Is In The Air

I have been a wreck all day, ever since I woke up at 6-30am. The ABS man took a full three minutes to announce the result of the Same Sex Postal Survey: it was a YES!! I have cried happy tears all day, every time it was on the news that almost two-thirds of Australians voted YES. Every time I saw Penny Wong cover her face and cry. Every time I saw the man ask his partner to marry him. Every time. Every time. Every time.

I was so afraid we might end up with a Brexit or a Trump result, but my faith in Australians is restored and bolstered.  Overall, it was 61.6% saying YES, and our state, with a terrible record for many years, had the equal third highest YES vote. 133 out of 150 electorates said YES to civil marriage for a woman and a man, a woman and a woman, and a man and a man.

Now we wait for the Parliament to do the right thing, to pass the bill and not allow discrimination by wedding bakers and florists. I was pleased to see James Paterson's bill has been taken down. I have my fingers crossed again. I didn't think I would ever see the day.

I have been recovering from my eye operation, it has only been three weeks, and I have been extra tired. I have hay fever, and I can only take my 'pretend cold tablets' which also make me drowsy. There has been a lot of sleeping. I had a battery of weird and expensive tests and an ultrasound (I didn't have to pay, yay again for Australia). The good news is that nothing has changed, which could also be the bad news, but I choose to think happy thoughts: if my condition ever changes, it won't be for the better!!

Investigating the new paddle pool

Lorelai Gilmore and Hedy Lamarr have a new paddle pool. It is sooo much smaller then the green one which is 28 years old, but it means Hedy can't monopolise the cool water. Gilly would never push her out and so there's always a spare pool now.

Paris the trainee Guide dog

Sandy's dad and mum don't have a new dog, after Sandy died, but they are Respite care for trainee Guide Dogs. They hosted Paris over the Recreation Day long weekend. Paris is two years old, and she wasn't allowed off her lead as the dam area is not secure. We don't want her running down an almost vertical hill into a gorge of trees like Gilly and Hedy......

Down the dreaded dip

They are good girls and come back when they are called!! Hedy like to roll about, and she especially likes to show you her belly when she has done something wicked, let's say stealing the wraps from the grocery bag, opening the packet and eating them. She loves the grass at the dam.

Hedy rolling in the deep grass

Gilly watches and waits for Sandy or Rafa's dads to arrive.

Gilly looks for Sandy's dad

Rafa is always very popular.

Rafa is very popular

I had planned to sew today as the forecast said it would be cool. It was not. It was 29*C and we always add 5-8 degrees, so if you do the maths it was quite hot. In the end I did cutting out. It will be cooler tomorrow and I plan to sew. I am making the Seamwork Almada Robe in some lovely rayon from Spotlight. This is the photo from the Almada PDF.

Seamwork almada robe

I've also cut out ten Christmas shopping bags, ready to sew up the bodies.

Ten christmas shopping half bags

Although I have The Instagram, and it is so easy to post a photograph, I love my blog. I have found lots of people whose blogs I used to follow, and so I am very pleased to see them again!!

I still haven't knitted with my plastic surgery-ed finger. The weather is warmer now, so I have given up on this year's cardigan. I can sew, so I am making the best of it. I have read four books in the last three days, and found all bar one of my Library books, so I am doing well. I have a week to find it..... One job I want to do is add the 77 books I have read since June to my side bar. I love having a record of the books I read and I am way behind.

I haven't kept up with answering my comments. I want catch up in the next few days. Sometimes they are too far back to appear on my iPad and I am too lazy to turn the computer on!!!!

It is not long until Christmas and I am not panicking or worrying. I even found edible rose petals for my Turkish coconut ice at the deli at the corner. I have been slowly shopping for presents and making baking lists. I love Christmas!!

 


Friday Food: Smashed Potatoes

Smashed potatoesA few months ago there was a show on Our ABC called Short Cuts to Glory, hosted by Matt Okine. It was a beginner's guide to baking, with recipes, tips and hints from famous Australian chefs and bakers. I watched most of the show and borrowed the book from The Library. I have only cooked one thing, and it was spectacularly simple and successful: the Smashed Potatoes. The recipe comes from The Monday Morning Cooking Club, and they are indeed the crispiest potatoes I have ever baked or roasted.

You do need the right kind of potatoes. The recipe specifies chats, which I found out are baby Colibans, but basically any small-ish floury potato. And this is a 3 ingredient recipe, so super easy. I think the trick is to boil and then bake the potatoes. I did half with skin on and half peeled, just to see what happened. The recipe suggests adding chilli flakes, lemon zest, herbs or even bacon to up the flavour ante.

That is all there is to say: gorgeously crisp and tasty smashed potatoes. Yum!!

 

Smashed Potatoes         serves 6-8 as a side

  • 1 kg baby chat potatoes, or other small floury potato
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • sea salt flakes

 

Prepare a tray by covering it with baking paper. It says to preheat the oven to 180*C now, but it takes about 25 minutes to boil and cook the potatoes, so I usually turn the oven on 10 minutes before I need it.

Boil potatoes

Put the potatoes, peeled or unpeeled as you like, into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and the boil gently for 15-20 minutes or until they are tender. If you poke them with a thin sharp knife and it pierces the potatoes easily, they are done.

Smash  oil  salt  roast

Cool slightly, and place on the tray. Press down with the heel of your hand, or any other flat pressy thing, and gently smash the potatoes. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast for an hour, or until the potatoes are a dark golden brown and crispy. My potatoes took 70 minutes tonight.

Rest on some paper towel if they are a tad oily, and then serve, in all their crispy glory!!!

Best smashed potatoes

 


Friday Food: Creamy Chicken & Risoni Tray Bake

Creamy chicken risoni bakeI think this recipe is from the September Taste magazine, but I also found it on their site here. I made this in September and today when I was feeling tired and not up to any proper baking, I remembered this and how easy it was to make. I even found actual sage on sale in the supermarket, but if you can't find fresh, use dried. I swapped out the chicken drumsticks for thighs as I don't really like drumsticks.

Other than that, I made the recipe as written, though I halved it. The risoni is lovely, pillowy and rich and this is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day. Make sure your baking dish is a deep one, as there is a lot of liquid and I think it needs a large surface area so it can bubble away and reduce. I was too lazy to fry the sage leaves for serving at the end. I know it is cheffy to fry them, but I just tore the leaves, frying was too much of an effort tonight.

Really, that's all there is to say this week: great recipe, all made in the one tray, ready in less than an hour and tastes delicious.

 

Creamy Chicken & Risoni Tray Bake    serves 4

  • 30ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 drumsticks or about 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 6 large sage leaves, torn
  • 300ml pouring cream
  • 750ml (3 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Optional extras to serve:

  • lemon zest
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • fried sage leaves

 

 

Preheat the oven to 200*C or 180*C fan-forced. Put the baking dish in and leave for 5 minutes or until it is very hot. Pour half the oil over the base and add the chicken, leek, mushrooms and torn sage leaves. Drizzle the remaining oil over the top and bake for 20 minutes.

Prepare and bake

Turn the chicken and sprinkle the risoni in between. Pour over the cream and stock and bake for a further 30 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked through and the risoni  has absorbed almost all the liquid. If not, bake a little longer.

Add risoni liquid and bake

Remove the chicken and keep warm. Add the frozen peas and stir well. Set aside for 5 minutes for the peas to warm, through.

Add peas

Return the chicken to the dish and sprinkle with the lemon zest, Parmesan and sage leaves and serve straight away. This does improve on keeping, so a day or two in the fridge won't hurt!!

Creamy chicken risoni traybake