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February 2012

Tea For The Tillerwomen

There's no cooking today. It's too hot to use anything other than the toaster for some English Fruit muffins. I'm feeling a bit poorly and not quite up to par thinking-wise either. I went to lunch at MrsReno's house and lots of friends were there. MrsReno knitted me a scarf. Isn't it lovely?? It is soft and feels very nice against the skin. Lorelai Gilmore thinks it is the best thing since sliced bread and wants to play with it. I have had to put it way up out of reach.

Twirly whirly scarf
At High Noon I shared a cup of tea, virtually, with Janette and Antoinette. We all had some of the new Australian Afternoon tea: a blend of Orange Pekoe, Russian Caravan and Irish Breakfast. I love meeting my friends and having a chat and a cup of tea (or bubbly!!) and so it was fun to email as we had our tea and cake or muffins internetally!! The tea is strong and rich, but not bitter. I drank my plain, and it was delicious. Peri and Gilly shared a biscuit from MrsValley.

Cup of tea
I love my childhood desk. It must be at least Vintage by now!! We chatted for about half and hour on the email, shared some photos and talked about knitting and how some people might think we were strange!!

I knitted a hat for the new Baby Electric 2. She's just arrived and Aunty Dutch rang half an hour ago to let me know. I think it is just lovely. Doing garter stitch in the round is a bit of a horror and I made the ear stalks and bulbs flat and seamed them. It was much easier. It's the I Name This Day Fiona (In It's I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again Tim Brown-Windsor says to Fiona: "Oh Fiona, name the day." Fiona then says in her best QE2 ship launching voice:"I name this day Fiona.") I used a ball of Full o'Sheep left over from my Freshly Cut Grass Cardigan.


If my next door neighbours don't seem to be paying enough attention, or doling out enough seaweed rice crackers as treats, Peri and Gilly have found that this works for them:

Peri and Gilly peepo
I couldn't resist their plaintive gazes either.

A Swim-Win Situation

One hot day The Labradors went swimming with their friend Jet, or Jetty. Peri and Jetty both love retrieving sticks, though Gilly wasn't up for a swim with Peri. But once she saw how Jetty's mum and dad encouraged him, she was all for having a go and she did some good, if brief, dog paddle. I still think it may have been a bit of an accidental swim!!

Gilly swims, eventually
Yesterday we met Jetty and Sandy and there was a Big Dog Party of playing and fun.

All the dogs 1
Sandy, jetty, Peri and Gilly
Gilly and Sandy
Gilly and Sandy love to run far and fast. Peri really just likes to roll in something smelly. I wonder if Jet knows he is playing One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others??

When we went to the dam to walk we found one of the picnic shelters had been vandalised. People had been drinking beer and left the bottles scattered and they lit a fire in the grass and made deep tyre marks as well. It is very disappointing.

Picnic area vandalism

A car was set alight not far up the road. We were asleep in the afternoon so didn't hear the uproar or the fire brigade.This is very unusual for our quiet neighbourhood.

Car vandalism
I am consumed by the hot weather, which is set to continue till Monday when it will drop from 30*C down to 19*C. I cannot wait. The Labradors are so hot they let me mist them with the hose, and Gilly hates that.

The Australia embroidery is complete and drying on the line after a quick wash. I have been watching Mapping the World, and so in tribute I am going to hang Australia the right way up for Southern Hemisphere people!! It means Tasmania really is where it should be, at the top of the world!!

Down under embroidery
I am having a small personal protest against google. I cannot give them a capital letter because I am cross with them. I love making photo collages of The Labradors and other things and Picnik was a fabulous tool. MrsDrWho and I even paid to gain access to the extra features. The google bought Picnik two years ago and now they are shutting it down and moving it to google+. I feel they are blackmailing me, trying to coerce me to join the google+. Instead, I have decided to slowly disengage myself from the google machine. I've changed my search preference to Bing. I am planning to close my gmail account and move from the google reader. I know it will mean nothing to them, but it makes me feel better.

Two imaginary friends are going to have synchronised cup of tea with me: Janette and Taphophile. It is like being in Get Smart: we will have to synchronise your watches and maybe even take a picture. I shall have tea, and a biscuit I think!!

A cup of tea

Friday Food: Lamington Inspired Cup Cakes

It's the time of the year when Australia Day happens. I am weary of all the debate and discussion, let's just say I am glad and grateful to live in Australia. These cup cakes are from a recipe in the newspaper, which is like a magazine really, and they are inspired by The Lamington. The Lamingtons of my childhood were plain sponge, coated with chocolate icing and rolled in desiccated coconut, we never split them and filled them with jam, or jam and cream. Sometimes they were coated with almost set jelly and then rolled in coconut to make jelly cakes.

The recipe says to cut a small part off the top of the cooked cup cake, spoon some jam in and then replace the top. I was taking these to the vet with me and I had no time for niceties, so I folded some of my Mum's raspberry jam through the cake batter. I had no coconut flakes so I just used desiccated coconut which is always on hand.

The doctors and nurses at The Vet said they tasted very yummy!!!


Lamington Cup Cakes   makes 16

  • 180g butter, softened
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam, and traditionally it is raspberry.


  • 3 cups pure icing sugar
  • 2 tbspn good cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup very hot water
  • 1 tbspn butter
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut

NB An Australian tablespoon is 20ml or 4 teaspoons, while a UK and USA tablespoon is only 15ml or 3 teaspoons.

Preheat the oven to 180*C and put 16 muffin papers into the trays. I am lucky to have two trays which are old fashioned with straight sides, rather then the more splayed sides of a muffin tray.

Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy.

Eggs and vanilla
Beat in the eggs, one at a time and finally the vanilla extract.

Fold and jam
Sift the flour and the baking powder together and then fold into the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk, making sure that a little flour is saved for last. Then gently fold through the raspberry jam. If you prefer another flavour of course you can substitute.

I always use a 1/4 cup measure or ice cream scoop to fill the muffin papers. It helps them to cook evenly and they are all the same size. These cup cakes will not rise a lot, and should have a flat top to make them easier to ice. Bake for 20-25 minutes, mine took 25, until they are slightly golden and spring back when lightly pressed on top. If you use a skewer to test, it should come out clean.

Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, sift the cocoa and icing sugar together into a bowl. Pour the very hot water onto the butter and when it is melted, pour it into a well in the centre of the bowl. Mix until the icing is smooth.

Icing the cakes
When the cup cakes are cool, ice them generously and then sprinkle on the coconut. I found the amount of icing to be overly generous, but then I can't eat chcocolate icing. Perhaps it is the perfect amount??

The serve and enjoy next Thursday, or any day, for Morning Tea.

Lamington Cup Cakes

TinTin Cinzano**

Somehow, I never really jumped aboard the TinTin bandwagon, or whatever vehicle he and his friends are riding on. I don't know why, I have vague recollections of a cartoon on TV. I didn't 'get' The Adventures of Asterix either. Maybe it's because they were graphic novels, because I have small 'c' catholic and small 'l' liberal reading habits. I read what I like, regardless of who the book is meant for. I was thinking about this because there have been some articles about feminism about and it was discussed on the ABC today. I was thinking that although I was too young to be involved the first flush of feminism, women my age have really benefited the most. I never thought about whether I could do or be anything I wanted because there was no-one telling me not to. I could enjoy feminine clothes and books and pastimes, but I could also have equal opportunities in education and when I wanted to borrow money eg. So I still don't know why I like Biggles but not TinTin, but I'm definitely not off to watch the new TinTin film any time soon.

Today we went to The Vet to see Dr Tim, There are no photos because with Peri and Gilly in the same room this is what happened: Peri is being examined and Gilly sits in the corner crying with happiness and impatience because she wants it to be her turn. Then it is Gilly's turn and Peri sits in the corner crying with excitement because it has just been her turn. Then Gilly tries to eat everyone's worm tablets.

Dr Tim said he was very proud of how much health Peri has gained, and then we all went home and The Labradors cooled down in the paddle pool.

The Labradors cool down
This time of the year is trying for the Labradors. It's a good thing they like it when I gently use the hose too cool them down. We are expecting warm weather until at least next Tuesday. The temperature on the news yesterday was 28*C but outside our back door it was 36*. Nothing if not obsessed with the weather here.

I've noticed lots of Americans embroider their states and/or country and I thought I might too. So I've started Australia and I am embroidering each state and territory in their state/territory colour. Who knew ours was Bottle Green???? I can see I've missed a stitch too.

Aussie aussie aussie
The rhubarb has not died yet. Peri and Gilly are a bit interested when we water, but my exceptionally secure MacGyver-ish barrier of dowel and acrylic wool seems to keep them out!!

Rue barb and dogs
You would think The Labradors loved me:

Look at me
But one squeak of the neighbour's screen door, and the promise of a seaweed rice cracker, and I am persona non grata!!

Totally distracted Labradors
** Cin Cin Cinzano

Happily Ever Afternoon Tea

This afternoon my sewing group (wittily named in our emails 'Sew Chatty' because there is a preponderance of chat and a general lack of sewing when we meet) went to Grand Afternoon Tea. And it was quite good, and a bit grand. There was the option of Champagne Grand Afternoon Tea and we all chose that. It wasn't posh bubbly, but delightful on a hot afternoon all the same. And we had endless cups of tea and coffee as well. It didn't rate as highly as it could for me, because the tea was made from tea bags while the coffee was brewed. Oh, MrsDrWho just emailed me this menu for High Tea in New York. To paraphrase Mick Dundee: That's an afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea
That's our afternoon tea and we all love the tongs. The sandwiches were lovely and fresh, the egg ones being especially delicious and I had two!!! The scones were light and slightly warm. The little pavlovas were yummy and the brownies, I gather, were also rich and moreish. The place setting were very nice and the serviettes were fabric.

I wore The New Dress I sewed out in public to Grand Afternoon Tea. I added sleeves with some pleats and I bound the hem with green biased binding and the neck with the dress fabric. The FBA went well, but the darts are too high. I don't think anyone else would notice, but when I make my next dress I'll move them 5cm lower. Peri is not quite sure about The Dress. I think she's worried it will be Self Stitched September all over again!!! The Dress is quite cool, but I think The Next Dress made from a lighter cotton will be even cooler.

Not sure what Peri thinks of this
In The BlackSpot of Doomlight(tm) their sale fabric was half price so I picked up three metres of this border print to make another version of The Dress for just $7-50. I plan on over-dyeing it. I am thinking lime or chartreuse, rather than a darker green.

The weather had been nicely cool, but from today it started heating up again. Peri and Gilly have been enjoying the cool temperatures on our walks and they have been doing a lot of mad running.

Labradors running
My next door neighbour and I grew our own garlic last year. We bought the bulbs from a local grower and our first attempts have been quite successful. I am hoping to grow a lot more this year after our first experiment. Now if my rhubarb will just settle in and start growing things would be great.

My garlic
I knitted another cardigan for Susan the temporarily one armed doll. I should have called it The Kimble Cardigan. It's the same general pattern as before, but using Ixchel merino/nylon sock wool in the Harry Potter colour.

Doll Named Sue
I took a picture of the moon. I glanced out the window and it looked eerie. I clicked my little camera to the night-time-far-away setting and rested it on the window ledge and voila!!

Moon over where ever
Twinings are heavily advertising their new Australian Afternoon Tea. There was a blending competition and it is highlighted in this month's Delicious and in other media. No-one in either of our two supermarket chains knew anything about it and I was looking forward to a cup next week. I emailed Twinings to ask where I could buy it and they said: We are unable to provide store ranging on this particular product at this time and then urged me to ask at the stores. I don't think they actually read my email and they weren't helpful at all. Now I think I shall just drink some of the swish leaf tea I received for Christmas instead. I have a selection of about twenty to choose from. I am so lucky!!

On Thursday Peri and Gilly are off to The Vet, together, to be vaccinated, generally checked out and weighed. It shouldn't be so hot by then and we are going in the morning before 11am. The Vets are very kind and let them go in together and it only costs us for one appointment and no-one has to stay home alone howling like a banshee.

Friday Food: Quinoa and Zucchini Salad

It's another salad, and not a puree in sight today!!! I am cooking from the February 2012 Delicious magazine in the Tuesday Night Cooking section. Quinoa is a grain from South America and it is gluten free and very healthy. When cooked it has a nutty texture and tastes interesting in a good way. I bought mine in the health food section of the supermarket and it is organic.

Today I used zucchini from my neighbour's garden, lemons from another friend and local tiny tomatoes. The recipe uses chicken, but I used pork and made just half the recipe. The serving does not look big, but it is surprising filling and you can add more zucchini and tomato at will.

I have banned myself from using a mandolin slicer, so I made my zucchini ribbons with a vegetable peeler very successfully. You will not notice the feta, because I forgot to add it. It is still languishing in the fridge. You could leave out the meat and I think it still makes a delicious meal.

If you get the timing right, this can be ready in about 20-25 minutes, which is relatively speedy.


Quinoa and Zucchini Salad   serves 4

  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 500-600ml water
  • one lemon, zest and juice
  • 80ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 4 chicken breasts or whatever meat you choose. I used pork steaks.
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 250g of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100g feta, crumbled

Mix the lemon zest, 40ml of the oil and half the chilli in a bowl and then coat the meat. Set aside for a few minutes.

Marinating the meat
Put the quinoa and the water into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Then simmer for about 10 minutes until almost all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Cook the quinoa
While the quinoa is cooking, place the meat in a pan, and cook for 6-8 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the pieces. Remove and then rest wrapped in foil, or in my case baking paper as I have no foil, for 2 minutes.

Cooking the meat
Mix the rest of the oil, the lemon juice and the chilli in a bowl to make the dressing.

Wash, top and tail and then make ribbons from the zucchini.

Zucchinis in bikinis
Put the cooled quinoa, zucchini ribbons and halved tomatoes in a bowl and then mix in the dressing and crumble in the feta cheese. Slice the meat and then pile the quinoa salad onto the plate or bowl and top with the meat.

Salad's up 

And then serve, checking you used all the ingredients!!

Quinoa and zucchini salad

The Cauli Of The Wild

Once again, I strayed to the Dark Side and watched some Christmas episodes of Martha. Jessica Seinfeld, she of the cook books which hide vegetables, demonstrated some recipes. I borrowed her Double Delicious book from the Library and made her Chicken Cannelloni this afternoon.

Her first book, Deceptively Delicious is all about surreptitiously adding extra vegetables to the food that children eat. This second book continues the theme, but with family meals.

First I had to make cauliflower puree. I bought a nice fresh local cauli and steamed if for about fifteen minutes. She said ten, but the cauli was still quite hard. Then I pureed it with a little extra water and it turned out perfectly. It is quite mild. So mild, that two Labradors will gladly eat it up when offered a portion. 

Labradors 2 Cauliflower Nil

You know it must be good. My cauli yielded almost four cups of puree and I froze the leftovers in half cup batches.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly: I used some local ricotta which was not low fat, I eschewed the low fat mozzarella cheese for extra Parmesan and I added quickly sauteed onion, garlic and tomato paste to the passata ( tomato puree in a bottle) I did use wholemeal lasagne sheets and I poached the chicken breasts earlier. I served it with MrsValley's silverbeet sauteed in a tiny bit of olive oil with garlic and pepper. Yum. I could have eaten it twice!!!

Chicken canneloni
I could not taste the cauliflower at all, and in a taste test neither could my neighbour. I will definitely be making this again. And I am eager to try other recipes. It's not that I don't eat lots of vegetables already, but the idea of extra secret vegetables is too good to pass by.

Susan's bespoke cardigan is complete. It just needs a button. I am very pleased and I hope Susan the Doll and her human like it.

Lazy susan 2012
Peri and Gilly like the new squeaky football, but a rice cracker is a much better thing.

Peri and Gilly and Gilly's toy
The weather is lovely: cold and cloudy. We had breakfast and then slept till 12-30pm. I am banking sleep for when it is next hot. The new Delicious magazine arrived and I found lots of things I want to cook for Friday Food this month.

And Love Is The Ten-Dog Trap

Good old Frank, and Debbie too.

And who is the Ten dog?? That would be Peri Naughty, who is now a big ten year old and had trapped us with her big brown eyes and happy smile. She has grown to be the most faithful, loyal and loving Labrador and is rarely naughty so she's Peri Pumpkin most of the time, or Peri Darling!!! She's is named after Perpugilliam Brown, one of the Fifth Doctor's companions. There are two collages for Peri, not so many baby photos because in the olden days I had a camera with film and out of 24 photos, 25 of them could be awful.

Happy Birthday Peri 1
Peri birthday 2
It seems Peri is happy, grubby, weird or sleepy. Or Adam Ant!!

Peri doesn't really play with toys, though she loves to try and steal Gilly's toys in a most excellent game. So for her birthday there was chicken for breakfast and then, as pictured, sardines for tea.There are no sardines to be seen as in the short time between putting their bowls down and then taking the camera on my wrist to my eye, they were eaten.

Birthday dinner #2
It is quite difficult to take a photo of Peri by herself. Gilly races in and sits down beside her and won't be pushed or cajoled to move, so here's Peri's birthday snap for this year:

Happy Birthday Peri, and gilly is there too
After much thought about the dress, I have decided I will have two dresses: one with sleeves, and one without. I expect the dress with the sleeves will be for wearing out in public and the sleeveless dress for wafting about at home on Very Hot Days. There has been no progress on the dress.

If you are out and about in the Island State you won't have to worry about sleeves, or no sleeves, if you take this tour.

The last few days have been lovely and cool, even cold. Snow is forecast for the mountains, and I have been seriously catching up on all the sleep I missed when the weather was too hot. Every day I have had a nice nap in the afternoon. It does cut into your day though. And then right about now, we're ready for bed again.

A kind friend sent me news that there was a shoe sale in a small shop in town, and voila, I have new shoes. At $35 they were 76% off the normal price of $145. I am especially pleased. There were lots of green shoes but by the time I eliminated those with no heels, or too high heels, round toes or pointy toes and then not in my size, I ended up with two. The other pair was pretty much exactly the same but without the sling back strap. I chose the ones with the strap:

Shoes new

MrsDrWho and I have purchased our material for our Craftsy quilts. MrsDrWho already has some so she is making a start. Mine has to come by post so I shall have to wait a while. Tomorrow I am knitting a cardigan for Susan, MrsDrWho's niece's much loved doll. Susan is only 15cm tall, if that so it shouldn't take long at all. There's no walk either, so we can sleep in!!!

Happy Birthday Sweet Miss Three!!!

Happy Birthday Lorelai Gilmore. Miss Gilly is three years old and here is a collage with one photo for every month. She has grown to be such a lovely girl, and what a wonderful sister she has in Peri.

Lorelai Gilmore is 3
Gilly received a new green collar and a squeaky football for her birthday. And there was some fresh chicken breast for their breakfast. Isn't Peri such a tidy eater??

Birthday breakfast
MrsDrWho's niece and nephew gave them rawhide candy canes for Christmas. They both ate the twirly red and green stripe first so it must have tasted delicious. MrsDrWho read the back-of-the-packet information and raw hide is fine as a sometimes treat.

Peri and Gilly and candy canes
The weather has been very hot and humid and I have been poorly for almost a week: a few days in bed, lots of air cooled with ice, cool flannels on my forehead and a weirdly painful neck. Yesterday the weather cooled and this morning we had rain and the breeze blowing in the window now is positively cold. We all went back to bed after breakfast and slept till after noon.

The Labradors have had to walk on their leads and avoid the evil grass seeds. Gilly's eye is fine now and we want to keep it that way. There has even been some swimming. Peri is such a good swimmer: she launches into the water with a diving splash and retrieves like all get out. On the way back she has to keep coughing because she is low in the water and keeps swallowing some. Gilly just prances about next the edge. In case. You have to be nimble to avoid being soaked when Peri shakes herself. I can see how slim she really is when she is wet.


The horrid hot weather encouraged me to sew a cool dress. It is a very simple A-line with ties at the side and I am still undecided about the sleeve(s): to sleeve or not to sleeve? That is the question. This is some material I dyed a while ago. I am very happy with the colour. I shall make a small hem with biased binding. Maybe it will even peep out.

Cool perhaps dress
There has been a tiny amount of knitting too. Tiny amount of tiny knitting.

First knitting 2012

I've caught up with friends for After-Christmas Christmases and there are still a few to go. Christmas can last till Australia Day. At The Gorge we were entertained by the peahens, chicks and a cheeky peacock. I hope they clean the tables well.

Peahens, chicks and a peacock

I have joined a Quilting Block of the Month course on Craftsy. It is free, which is why I joined. Now there is an ongoing email discussion with MrsDrWho while we each decide which fabric we will choose. There are twenty blocks, so two a month in spite of the course name, and then the last two months are for piecing together, quilting and binding. I have watched the first two lessons and I feel I could whip up two blocks in a week if I was feeling poorly for the other three weeks. So it looks a good bet that there could be a quilt, or two, by the end of the year.

We are celebrating the arrival of lemons on the lemon tree, and they have grown larger and look healthy. Now all I have to do is leave them alone. Maybe I will water them. I wonder if I should add some smelly seaweed liquid fertiliser?? I have no idea!! Gilly is providing a nice background even though the lemon is totally out of focus: starting the year off as I mean to go on with poor photography.

And now I am going back to my tiny knitting, a series about the history of Ancient Britain and the promise of three more cool days to come.

Friday Food: Spinach, Pea and Goat's Cheese Salad

Welcome to Friday Food where I cook from my magazines. Today it's the Coles Summer 2012. The weather has been hot, it is Summer, but hotter than normal. It's too hot to cook really, so this week I made a Spinach, Pea and Goat's Cheese Salad. There is a feature on barbecues and several side salads. This is very easy and very tasty. The recipe says it serves 8, but this is as part of their menu, so I really think it would serve 4. I made half the recipe.

Spinach, Pea and Goat's Cheese Salad   serves 4 as a side salad

  • 500g frozen peas, or fresh if you have them
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 100g goat's cheese, crumbled
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 40ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed

Wash the cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and then cut the cucumber into little slices. Add to a bowl with the spinach.

Queue cumber
Cook the peas in boiling water as directed on the packet ( 3-5 minutes) drain well and then run under, or immerse, in cold water until they are cooled. Drain well and combine with the peas and spinach.

Please peas me
Make the dressing by combining the garlic, olive oil and red wine vinegar and then whisking to emulsify.

Crumble the goat's cheese over the salad and add the dressing just before serving.

Salad and dressed

And here is the salad, on the side of my kind-of-barbecued potatoes and a pork steak. In deference to the occasion I served it up on a plastic plate and ate outside on the decking!!!

Salad on the side