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June 2010
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Driving Miss Hazy

Oh, I just had a slight computer shock when I plugged MrsDrWho's camera into my computer: a blue screen with writing: apparently I had a Stop Error because my computer didn't recognise the driver. I don't really understand computery stuff. I know MrsDrWho puts her fingers in her ears and goes La La La when I talk technically about knitting and I am the same about computers. Truly, they are The Great Unknown. I can turn mine on and off and anything else is really beyond me. I don't understand bits and bytes and drivers at all. Of course I used computers in my classroom and taught the children to be computer 'literate' and to use educational programs, but the rest?? I'm just a little hazy about it all. I know I could decide to educate myself, but really, time is of the essence and I don't really want to waste it doing something I don't care too much about.

Luckily, when I turned the computer back on, it went.

Peri spent a lazy afternoon in the chair, bereft of it's cushion and material. She was sulking earlier because Lorelai Gilmore kept stealing her toy. I don't blame her one bit.

Peri's afternoon nap
After much Frisbee stealing and hole digging, Lorelai Gilmore, too, succumbed to a sleepy afternoon on the couch. I sewed and watched Chuck while The Labradors slept.

Gilly's lazy afternoon
I also knitted and one Puppy Glove is complete. I have started the second and I'm up to the Hand part.

One lonely puppy glove
I also bought the embroidery thread to make my first Garden Patch. The first picture shows the colours, in order, as required by the pattern:

Dirty Blue, Soft Green, Dark Brown, Fawn, Charcoal, Soft Blue and Dirty Pink.

Required colours
And here are the colours I have chosen. I am not subtle or sophisticated, let's face it!! I like my bright colours.

My colours
Two Happy Girls on their walk. It's been wet here. Wet, foggy, sunny and not too cold at all. Perfect walking weather.

Happy wet walks
Now I'm off to Triv. We're being chauffeured tonight so we can partake of a few glasses of our wine winnings.

Monday Munchies #30

This is the third cake in the AWW Top Ten Cakes and is a Raspberry Hazelnut Cake. Of course, it could be an Almond Blueberry cake, and it was almost an Almond Raspberry cake because hazelnut meal is difficult to find. It's a moist cake and though the recipe comes with a mascarpone cream, I didn't coat the cake, because uniced, it can be frozen.

Raspberry Hazelnut Cake  serves 12 Raspberries and hazelnuts
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self raising flour
  • 1 cup hazelnut meal
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 300g fresh or frozen raspberries
Mascarpone Cream
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbspn hazelnut liqueur
  • 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180*C (160* FF) and grease and line a 22cm cake tin, I use a springform because I hate turning out cakes.

Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy and the colour should be paler.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating as little as possible between each addition.

The recipe says the mixture may curdle, mine didn't, but one should not worry if it does.

Here, I like to set aside a little of the flour to coat the raspberries. I believe that they don't drop to the bottom of the cake if I do this. Time, and the cutting of the cake, will tell.

Add the flours, hazelnut meal and sour cream and stir into the batter.Then add the raspberries and gently fold through. Spread in the cake tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until cooked: a skewer poked into the centre will come out clean, the top will spring back when pressed lightly with the fingers and the cake will have come away from the edge of the tin.

NB My cake took 15 minutes longer at the 160*C fan forced temperature.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then place on a rack to cool completely.

Optional Mascarpone cream: combine the mascarpone, icing sugar, liqueur and sour cream, stir till smooth then fold in the nuts.Spread over the top and sides of the cold cake.

Raspberry and Hazelnut cake 

I am not quite used to MrsDrWho's camera (thank you), so the other photos showing the raspberries were evenly spread were all vague and fuzzy.

So Long, And Tax For All The Fish

Tax time is here. I know this is because appliances are carking it left, right and centre. It happens every year and if I was not so lazy I would link to years gone by. So far it has been the hair dryer, the sewing machine and yesterday my camera.

Carked it

I took photos on our walk and then put the camera in my bag and when I was at The Library it was broken. Somehow, somewhere, the screen must have been hit. Hard. I really can't remember it happening. I shall have to buy a new camera. Any recommendations?? Really, I do need some or I will just buy the exact same camera again. Not that I mind, it is good, and takes video as well as stills. Plus, as a bonus, I know how to work it and do the things I want to do.

This means that though I can take pictures, I can't look at the screen to see what I am doing, so all the photos from now on will be Surprise Pictures. MrsDrWho is of the opinion that it will make no difference to the pictures as I am so pants at photography any way!! I have to agree!!

I bought myself some small presents from Esme's shop to cheer myself up, but I am far from a Georgette Heyer Decline!!! First some gorgeous hand dyed embroidery thread. Quite a few lovely variegated greens. I had to choose as they are $6-60, so I could only have one.

Then an accidental purchase of one of Lynette Anderson's buttons which comes with a pattern for embroidery and appliqué. It is a Button of the Month and there will be ten I think, all on the garden theme, and at the end it will make something. I know not what. 

Flower button
And then because The BlackSpot of DoomLight had not have enough staff serving and I had to leave, I bought some polar fleece to make a hot water bottle cover for Mrs GardyGardener at Esme's as well. She wanted it to be blue, but I think this might be blue enough.

Cover me
I accidentally bought The Labradors an expensive chew bone. The label on the shelf said $3-99 but they were actually $9-99. Oh well, they enjoyed them!!! They both look really worried. I reckon they thought I was going to take these wonderful bones away from them. Gilly was not quite sure whether to play or eat!!

Peri and her ten dollar chew bone
Gilly and her ten dollar bone
My Puppy Gloves are coming along well. I have one finger, one thumb (one arm, one leg, one nod of the head: Keep moving) completed. I was going to knit whilst I listened to the talk at The Library, but I left one needle at home.

Almost one Puppy Glove
MrsDrWho is momentarily back from the Deep South, and so I am going to tea tonight. I am thinking of cooking a baked cheesecake this afternoon.

Meanwhile, I am waiting for one more piece of paper and then I can go and 'do' my tax return. Peri is helping. I know there is the word 'stress' in the picture, but I think Peri looks so happy and relaxed in the Sun. She's worn out form the excitement of Nineses (we have our Elevenses with The GardyGardeners early now)

Peri is helping with the Tax

Monday Munchies #29

AWW Top Ten Cakes, cake #2 and it's a chocolate cake that I can eat. I know white chocolate may be anathema to dark chocolate lovers, but beggars can't be choosers and there is a dark chocolate mud cake to come.

This is an easy melt and mix cake with a white chocolate ganche topping. It is a dense cake and takes quite a long time to cook.

White Chocolate Mud Cake serves  12White Mud Cake
  • 180g good white chocolate
  • 350g butter, cubed
  • 2 2/3 cups caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2/3 cup self raising flour
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 200g extra white chocolate

Preheat oven to 160*C (140 fan forced) and grease and line a 22 cm round tin.

Put the chocolate, butter, sugar and milk in a saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring. Don't let it boil. I removed it before all the chocolate was melted and just stirred it until it was smooth. Cool for about 15 minutes.

Add the eggs and vanilla and then the flours and whisk till smooth. Pour into the tin and then bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Cool the cake in the tin.

To make the ganache, heat the cream till it is almost boiling and then pour over the chocolate. I stood the bowl in some hot water and left it for a few minutes. Then stir till it is smooth. The ganache must then rest, either at room temperature in Winter or in the fridge or a cool place if it is a warm day, for about 30 minutes. Stir regularly, and it is ready when it is thick. Pour onto the top of the cake and then spread out to the edges.

The recipe actually calls for 540g of chocolate and 3/4 cup of cream, and this will be enough to cover the top and sides of the cake.

White Chocolate Mud Cake

I Said My, My, My, I'm Once Mitten, Twice Shy, Babe!!

Ta Da!!! I have finished the Smittens. I like them so much I am making myself some Smittens for my July OPAM. I used the Bhren's pattern, which is free. I knitted the smallest size with Helix 8ply and 4mm needles. I did make the fingers all longer with ribbing but next time I am going to knit and just have two or three rounds of ribbing at the top.

The Smittens
Here is the start of my first mitten, as yet un-named. I am using  Zara Merino, in green and on 3.75mm because I want them to be more dense and the knitted fabric to be finer. This sounds like a contradiction in terms, but I know what I mean.

My mittens started
It has been so wet recently, that we are inside most of the day. On Sunday we don't walk and so today there has been the unexpected opening and distribution of a box of tissues (guess who??) and a lot of manic leaping about inside. Peri prefers to nap, on the couch, under a blanket. Peri is sensible, she sits outsde in the Sun.

Peri sits in the sun
But Lorelai Gilmore says, in the rain today, "Nothing to see here, move along"....

Look over there says Gilly
"Nothing to see here at all, really...".

Nothing, says Gilly
But when I go up the stairs I can see that my attempt to stop her digging a hole in the mud has failed. Dismally. She's just made a little paddle pool for the lemon and lemon juice to float in. 

Gilly and her puddle of mud
She is slowly, but surely, whittling away the grass and making mud. I will have to plant something there, but I have no idea what. What grows in muddy, lemony puddles??? You may be sure that the inside of the house is muddy too.

I popped into Knits, Needles and Woo (not a typo, their sign at the entrance to the arcade displayed this for so long that the name has stuck) to buy the Zara and I saw this lovely wool:

Oooooh, lovely Wool
It is the same wool I used for MrsDrWho's socks and I am considering the greens on the right, there"s a bright green and one with more teal. A cardigan I think!! Of course first I have to finish my Stargate Cardigan and that's next after my OPAM mittens.

I have been proof reading some reports today, thus far I have read twelve and now I have a slight headache from concentrating on something important!! I'll have a cup of tea and maybe a nap before Little Dorrit tonight. The Labradors have woken up and are in desperate need of pats and cuddles!! I must oblige them immediately!!!!

I said Hello, Lolly, Well Hello, Lolly.

It's so nice to have you back where you belong: that's in my handbag, being taken to The Princess!!! These mixed lollies are from The Hospital Kiosk and they are the best selection. I have arranged them by colour. The mixed lollies were then re-arranged and Mrs Reno's skewed towards the chocolate side and mine, obviously, did not. But Mrs Reno brought Liquorice Allsorts!! Yum!! You have to have lollies at The Theatre. It's The Rule.

Mixed lollies by colour

Bill Bailey was very good. His theme was Doubt. He certainly engaged with the audience and was ready with the quick retort. Very funny. There was not as much musical amusement as I would have liked, but I was not disappointed with the show at all. It was an excellent way to spend two hours and the theatre was packed full with a wide cross section of people. Here, as promised, is my out of focus, badly composed, sneaky photo of the stage at The Princess.

  The Stage The Stage
Peri and Lorelai Gilmore were off doing something nefarious today on our walk.

Peri is a grub

Gilly is a grub
Not even a dip in the creek will wash these puppies clean again. See all the ice on the grass???

Washing Lady MacBeth clean
My email has been having a conniption and any Typepad replies before 24th June were being tagged as Junk when I tried to reply. After two emails the email people have completed a 'back-end' solution and my email works again. I  shall be able to send of my replies tout suite!!!

Tonight we went to Knitting in the Pub (Where I stopped knitting when I got to the first finger of the Smitten number 2. Chatting and tricky knitting don't mix!!) and I had half a very nice pizza with goat's cheese, herbs and tomato but I am desperately thirsty. I have come home and had three cups of tea with lemon and I am still thirsty. I don't eat much salty food and when I do, I really notice the effect!!! I'll need another cup or two, maybe peppermint tea, and then it's bedtime.

Bailey, Don't Be A Hero (Don't Be A Fool With Your Life)

In April last year I won tickets to see Dylan Moran, of Black Books fame. Yesterday I won tickets to see his partner in crime, Bill Bailey, in Bill Bailey Live 2010. I subscribe to the ABC Radio newsletter and last week you just had to click reply and tell the nice lady the show Bill Bailey was in: Black Books. Hurray for me!! Poor MrsDrWho can't come as she has to be elsewhere, so Mrs Reno is coming with me.

I have finished one of the Smittens. MrsGardyGardener has poorly hands so I made the fingers of the Smitten reach the first joint on every digit.

A smitten
I am trying to finish the other one by tomorrow but it doesn't look good. Yes, there are dog hairs. Both Peri and Gilly insist on sitting on Otto II. 

Peri Naughty is such a cute Labrador: she looks up at me (and it's not just because I have a treat for her) with her big eyes and her wet coat!!!

Peri Lovely
Lorelai Gilmore was quite concerned about the noise of the water cascading over the dam face. She kept running along and then standing stock still, all alert, with her legs and tail in that special 'Show' position.

Gilly alert
I am not sleeping at the moment. Last night I went to bed at 11pm and I was still awake at 3-30am, at which point I gave up and took the appropriate drugs. Today I have a headache and I feel so tired, but I am not having a nap and I am off to Trivia tonight, after which I should sleep like a log.

Two bargains today: a new top for $5 and a new Tamora Pierce book for $5 as well.

Melting Stones

Now I must set my DVD to record QI because they are starting from Episode 1 tonight: A for Adam and Eve!!!

Monday Munchies #28

And so it begins, My Australia Women's Weekly Bake-a-thon. I am starting with #2, mainly because I haven't quite got around to making the ganache for #1. I took this cake to afternoon tea at The GardyGardeners'.  It is suggested the cake be served with a dusting of icing sugar and some strawberries.

Lemon Sour Cream Cake   serves 12 Lemon Sour Cream Cake
  • 250g butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup self raising flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 160*C or 140*C fan forced.

Grease and line a 25cm tin.

Cream the butter, zest and sugar until it is light and fluffy and pale in colour. 

Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. I break each into a little jug first. If any eggshell falls in, use another big piece of eggshell to scoop it out. It really works!!

Fold in half the flours and half the sour cream, and then the remaining flours and sour cream until the mixture is smooth.

Spread the cake mixture into the tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. It will also come away from the edges of the tin.

I checked after 40 minutes and rotated the cake.

Stand the cake in the tin for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out, upside down, onto a rack to cool completely.

To decorate: lay a doily on top and dust with sifted icing sugar. Carefully remove doily.

They Call Me Lady Jump, Lady Jump, My Oh My, Ahhh!

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. Where did the week go? Now, Unsuspecting Reader, I shall tell you!!!

Lorelai Gilmore nearly gave me a heart attack. I was throwing her toy up the backyard, and I mean up: it's terraced, so I was throwing to the next level. She took off from a standing start just inside the back door and then scaled the retaining wall about three metres away in one single bound. It's 135cm high. She leaped up the wall and found some kind of purchase with her back feet on the way up and suddenly there she was at the top. To her surprise and mine. She hasn't done it again. Thank goodness.

Lady Jump
On Tuesday we won at Trivia: Hooray for us!! We had MrsDrWho's brother (Mr Macau) and her sister (now Mrs Singapore) and our table was complete. We hardly ever have eight people. I gave MrsDrWho her George Cowl-ey and her Mr Spiggott Socks and they were duly admired and the cowl modelled.

We had lots of walks, late walks, because I have been sleeping in. The puddles are covered with thick ice and it has been raining but that doesn't deter Peri and Gilly loves a dip the creek.

The picnic area at the dam is being given a face lift with a new fence. Peri and Gilly were not quite sure about it at first, but Peri has now given it her grin of approval. The grass and even the gravel is all icy.

Not fence sitting
There has been some Doctor Who catching up at MrsDrWho's house, but I still have three episodes to watch and tomorrow's final as well.

I sewed a new cover for my hot water bottle.That's some polar fleece, I think, and some sock wool as the blanket stitch. It's really a big specially shaped envelope!!

HWB Cover
Thursday night was Sewing and I gave MrsDrWho the next in her long and drawn out birthday present parade: Mittens with the Starship Enterprise on them, and it's ID number too. I found a 4ply pattern (Ravelry link), but I was using 8ply Luxury so I had to adjust the chart and MacGyver a pattern to make it fit.Here they are:

Enterprise Mittens
 and also again modelled with Mrs Reno's ever so cute puppy, Jubbly!!!

Lubbly Jubbly
On Friday I cooked, again, and went to The GardyGardener's for afternoon tea. I am knitting Mrs GardyGardener some mittens with fingers. I also made two cakes and some delicious pork and apple sausage rolls, which we ate before I remembered to take a picture!! I made little pizzas with cream cheese. marinated olives and pancetta. Yum!! There's some Amy Johnson and Kiss Biscuits too. I love my oven, the novelty has not worn off yet!!

Mmm oven mmm 
Today we've been for a walk, I popped into the Library and I have been lying on the couch watching TV and sewing my Annus Vestis. I have, not unsurprisingly, put July 1st to the 4th somewhere safe. Where that is I am not exactly sure, but the energy efficient lights make it too dark to photograph July 5th to the 10th anyway.

Peri Naughty and Lorelai Gilmore are fast asleep on the couch, the rain is making that nice sound on the roof and the wind is whistling around outside. Time for another cup of tea and some Doc Martin anon!!

Monday Munchies #27

I saw this recipe recently in a magazine, but I have no idea which one. Indeed, I am just remembering the recipe a bit and checking the photo and general recipes to make sure the proportions are correct!! These were so nice that I ate them in two days: for breakfasts and lunches!!! There was no fresh basil to be had in our town at all last week, so I used parsley and chives instead.

Brunchy Frittata  serves 3 or 6 or 2!!!
  • 6 slices of pancetta
  • 100g feta cheese, cut into tiny cubes
  • fresh herbs- basil, but I used parsley and chives
  • 50-100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream
  • 9 tiny Roma tomatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper
Frittata steps
This recipe calls for a Texas muffin tin, which means each little pan has a 3/4 cup or 180ml capacity. Preheat oven to 180*C.
The six steps start at the top left and then proceed in a clockwise direction to end at the bottom left!!
  1. Place a tiny circle of  baking paper in the bottom of each pan and then place one piece of pancetta on top.
  2. Next put 1/6 of the feta into each.
  3. I put two tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese next.
  4. Then a sprinkle of chopped parsley and chives.
  5. I whisked the eggs (I always use free range from the greengrocer or deli) with the 1/4 cup cream (or milk) and some salt and pepper and then pour it in evenly.
  6. Finally decorate with three of the little Roma halves. And a little extra Parmesan if you like.
Just out of the oven

Bake for about 20 minutes. The frittata should be just set, but still a tiny bit wobbly in the centre. It will continue cooking and set after it leaves the oven. To release them from the pan, let them sit for about 10 minutes then run a knife around the edge. A plastic bendy implement is good and you can scoop it under each individual frittata and ease them out. These are delicious served straight away with a salad, but I can vouch for their tastiness later on!!!