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January 2012
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March 2012

Grace Under Fire Ban

On Thursday when we drove towards the dam, this is what we saw:

Fire fire break
Just when the temperatures are going sky high, 39* in the Southern Capital today (the record is 40 point something) and 34* at our house, they decide to burn off. The Labradors and all the other dogs and their human companions  were flummoxed as we had no warning. We went to The Tail-Race, where Gilly used to walk when she was a puppy.

Lots of pelicans, and when Peri had a moment off her lead, plenty of mud through which to chase the pelicans.

Peri and the smelly mud
Today the area was open again and the burn off complete. The Walking People seem to think they have done a pretty good job. I can see that the gum trees are all still alive and it is just the undergrowth that was burnt. The bush needs careful and controlled burning for some things to regenerate. The Male Walking People talked to the Ranger and found out that it was a slow burn so we could stop worrying about the slow echidna being burned.

Fire fire burn
All the dogs were very happy to be back to their normal routine: Peri, Gilly, Jet and Sandy!!

Peri, Gilly, Jet, Sandy
It's good to keep cool in all the heat and so I have been watering the lemon tree and the rhubarb and they both seem to be doing well. The lemon tree has lots of new buds and the lemons are getting bigger. The rhubarb has more leaves and longer stalks. My patented blue acrylic wool and dowel seems to be keeping it fairly safe!!

Lemon and rhubarb
Peri and Lorelai Gilmore keep cool in the pool as soon as we get home.

Two dogs in a fountain

Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust the pattern: it's not exactly what Guy Clark meant but I should have trusted the pattern and my instincts. I cast off 246 of the 256 stitches of the scarf I am knitting and it was too narrow. Then I has to un-cast off the stitches and now I am knitting on more successfully with the second ball of shiny metallic wool. In the last three or four days I've knitted and watched all last season of new Hawaii Five-0 and I am right up to date on this season. Not sure what i'm going to watch next.

The sewing gods smiled on me and I made a new skirt. The BSODL (tm) brochure showed new Lisette patterns and material, so I bought a pattern and some material and whipped up a skirt.

Pattern, fabric, zip
It is cut on the bias and I was worried it was too short, so instead of a normal hem I used a strip of fabric as binding. I set in the zip by hand. It is ever so easy and if it holds up I might do that every time. I think I might have just got away with it. I really need to clean the verandah mirror, I didn't realise rain could fall that way.

Lisette skirt
There is a Total Fire Ban over the whole island tomorrow as we are expecting very hot weather again. There's one big fire in the South that is inaccessible at the moment, but not threatening any property or life. We're having bushfires and Queensland's having floods. One more very hot day to endure and then mid 20s and rain to come. At last.

I have read both The House of Silk and Death Comes To Pemberley. The House of Silk was OK, I guessed what the silk meant and so it was a case of enjoying the story to the end. There was a lot of buzz about this book, and it I was giving it a score, I'd say 6/10. Death Comes To Pemberley only rates 4/10. It wasn't a gripping murder mystery for me and I also strongly disagreed with PD James' ideas about the characters in P&P. She retrospectively assigned what I believe to be wildly inaccurate and inappropriate emotions, thoughts and actions to the characters. In the end, dear reader, I skimmed. For me it was a disappointing book, and it also had lots of good press. I think I should steer clear of sequels written by writers other than the original author.

It's 30* inside here at the computer and we are not planning to sleep any time soon. The Terminator is on TV and I am a sucker for that film so I'm recording it. Again!! I see more scarf knitting and Arnie in my immediate future!!

Friday Food: Plum Tray Bake

This recipe is from the March 2012 Delicious magazine. Plums are in season and this is a great way to use them. I think any stone fruit, cherries or maybe raspberries, would be a good substitute. But the lovely slightly tart tang of the plums coupled with the cake and cream cheese is perfect. The plums cook down and make an almost plummy sauce in some places. It also makes a whole tray full. In the magazine there is a recipe for white chocolate custard, but cream or plain custard works perfectly well.

The original recipe is written out for all the ingredients at once, but I have broken it up into the different parts. I have been caught before, not reading through the recipe, and making my cake with all the butter and having none left for the streusel topping!!


Plum Tray Bake  serves 6-8 generously

For the cream cheese mixture:

  • 250g cream cheese (Philly) at room temperature
  • 1 tspn vanilla
  • 55g cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg

For the cake batter:

  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g brown sugar
  • 200g self raising flour, sifted
  • 3 eggs

and also

  • 400g plums, sliced and stones removed- about 5 or 6
  • icing sugar to dust
  • custard or cream for serving


Preheat the oven to 180*C and grease and line an 18 x 28cm pan.

To make the cream cheese mixture: place everything in the bowl and beat for 3 minutes until smooth. Spoon into another container so you can use the same bowl for mixing the next part of the tray bake.

Cream cheese mixture
To make the cake batter: again, place everything in the mixer bowl and beat for 2-3 minutes. This goes against the grain with me, I always add the flour later and gently fold it in, but I trusted the recipe and went ahead.

Cake batter
Then slice the plums. I washed them first and then started slicing on one cheek, and then continued slicing with the flat recently cut side on the board. This seemed quite a good method for getting the most plum and the least flesh left on the stone.

Carefully cover the base of the pan with half the cake batter. Pour on half the cream cheese mixture and swirl together. This was quite tricky, I just did my best. Top with half the sliced plums. Repeat with the cake batter, cream cheese mixture and finally the rest of the plums. The cooking hides a multitude of swirling sins!!

Bake for 45-50 minutes until it is golden and set in the centre. Mine was a tad wobbly but when it cooled it was fine.

Baking and done
It is a combination of a pudding, a cake and a slice. Very delicious indeed. I even had a slice!!

Plum tray bake

To Market, To Market, To Be At The Gig

We went to the new Harvest Farmers' Market and came home again, home again, jiggety-jig with a few bags full of produce.

Farmers' Market Harvest
Dutch Cream potatoes for $1 a kilo, the red onions, baby bok choy, radishes and a bunch of chives all for $8, a kilo of the freshest and most sweetly smelling and tasting strawberries for $8 and 6 medium zucchini for $2. I missed out on the sourdough bread, but because I know the baker's wife I have been promised a loaf at the next knitting outing. I can't stop eating the strawberries.

I have some new wool, it looks like liquid Mercury. In truth is is acrylic and viscose and I want to knit a scarf. I need a pattern with lots of stocking stitch that will show up the liquid silver sheen of the wool.

The roof of the vandalised picnic hut at the dam has been saved and moved to a grassy area. Peri thinks it is the best thing out and likes to run through the roof.

Peri and the roof Peri and the roof A

Miss Lorelai Gilmore is not so sure and though by the second day she was brave enough to go closer, when the wind made the struts sing, she was very wary.

Peri brave, Gilly silly
Gilly has been playing in the paddle pool and then burying a bone. It is not good for the complexion or the eyes, but it is an enormous amount of fun and makes her very happy.

Gilly has a grubby face
In the last nine days MrsDrWho and I have radically improved our patchwork skills. Or maybe we just concentrated and chatted less?? We made the second patches in a little over an hour and there was successful use of the rotary cutter, special ruler and not once incident of sewing the right side to the wrong side. So that's both of January's squares out of the way. We hope to get to February's before we are too far into March.

Craftsy 1a and 1
The GardyGardeners and MrsDrWho have kindly offered to replace Harki's stolen roses. There are lovely people in the world. I may have to chain the roses to the wall.

RN, the newly styled Radio National, has a changed programme this year and I have discovered In Our Time, which explores the history of ideas and I can listen on-line. I'm also enjoying First Bite, which is all about food. I can add these to my usual listening diet of The Science Show, Lingua Franca and  Background Briefing, all available to download or to listen on line.

The Oscars are coming up and so I was interested to watch a short video about The Bechdel Test. It made me think. I had already been thinking about films because it was mooted that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy would not be shown locally. On further investigation and a lot of back pedalling on the part of the cinema, it has been confirmed for late March. The same thing happened with The King's Speech last year, and we saw neither hide nor hair of the Harry Potter Postcard where in the weeks leading up to the last film they showed the whole series on Sunday afternoons. (I am running out of puff and so there are no more film links) I had thought I might try to go more often to see films, but they just make it too hard. As do the TV stations, which is why the DVD of Sherlock season 2 is winging its way to our house!!!

Cooking from magazines is going exceptionally well, and I think by tomorrow afternoon I might have three weeks of Friday Food up my sleeve. I have some chicken baking in the oven and plums and ramekins for two more recipes all ready to go.

The weather is muggy, but cooler and drizzly and I feel a little more able to do normal things. Tomorrow there is no dog walking and so we can all sleep in and then read the paper in bed with a nice cup of tea. The Labradors would like toast as well, but crumbs are anathema. I like that, it means especially dedicated to evil, and crumbs in the bed are definitely evil. I might even read two books I have borrowed from Mrs HouseOf via MrsDrWho: The House of Silk, a new Anthony Horowitz Sherlock Holmes book and Death Comes To Pemberley by PD James, set in Austen's P&P world of course.

Oh and in other TV news, MasterChef is filming here for a week. Last year I was not so enamoured of the show, but I will definitely be watching the episodes set in our state: it was Salamanca Market today I think, so maybe they'll travel North now??? I don't know if I am anoracky enough to actually venture out to see them in person if the come.

Friday Food: Bacon and Vegie Loaf

This is the tastiest thing ever: MrsDrWho road tested it for me and reported that it was delicious. I think you could use any kind of ham, tinned fish or even cold chicken instead of the bacon. I cooked my bacon first while the oven was heating up, because I just think it tastes nicer that way. Other vegetables would be suitable too, maybe sweet potatoes or broccolini. I added some chopped spring onions and parmesan cheese as well.

The recipe is from the February AWW in their Back to School cooking feature.


Bacon and Vegie Loaf   10 serves for children, 5 for grown ups

  • 100g short cut bacon, trimmed and chopped if not cooking it first
  • 2 cups grated zucchini - one medium zucchini
  • 1 cup grated carrot - about two medium carrots
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese
  • 2 or 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil of your choice
  • 5 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180*C (160* fan forced) and line a 12 x 22cm loaf tin.

Place the bacon on a lined tray and cook in the oven till crispy as you prepare the rest of the loaf, about 10 minutes.

Makin' bacon
Mix the vegetables, cheese, bacon and flour together in a large bowl.

Vegetables, cheese and flour
Whisk the eggs and oil together.

Eggs and oil
Pour the egg and oil mixture into the vegetables and mix gently, but thoroughly. Season as necessary.

Mixing together
Pour into the tin and spread out evenly and bake for about 45 minutes, It will be cooked when the loaf has come away from the sides of the tin ever so slightly, it is golden on top and springs back to the touch.

Loafing about
Cool in the tin and then refrigerate in an airtight container or wrap slices in clingwrap or ziplock bags. It can be frozen, if there is any left!!!

Bacon and vegie loaf

Sick: Happy Nights To Happy Days*

With the not-going-back-to-school occupying me I had quite forgotten that at this time last year I was in Emergency and being awfully ill. I have had reason, great reason, this week to count my blessings. To be grateful. To be happy with my lot. Life can be really, really horrid and unfair for some people, and it is being that way at the moment. There's nothing I can do, except think of them and be brave and supportive. It certainly puts things in perspective when people you love face a difficult journey.

The weather is warm again, though we have had a short, loud downpour last night. I had to rush out at 11pm and bring the washing in. I went to Leukaemia Support Group today and then I had air-conditioned lunch with TinkingBell. We catch up on a highly irregular basis and chat non-stop whilst drinking cups of tea and/or coffee and looking at new craft books. We always have a lovely time. I sewed a Cyberman drawstring bag for her. The pattern has a square base and a clever drawstring construction. I put some extra interfacing in the base and doubled the lining fabric too. I sewed the tube for the bag before I sewed it to the base, but other than that I followed the instructions and it worked really well. The fabric is from The Spoonflower and I love the red Cybus logo and used red ribbon and red sewing thread, though the lining is green!! It's Tink's red Poppy sock: serendipity!!

Cyberman bag and a sock
MrsDrWho and I had our first and only brunch for the entire school holidays on Saturday. We also went shopping and I bought The Labradors some new toys: a half price TeddyPiggy and TeddyCow. Peri likes to run about madly with the TeddyPiggy when it is time to go for a walk. She likes to tease Gilly. But Gilly loves TeddyPiggy and spends quite a lot of time lugging it about and generally having a bit of a chew.

Gilly and PiggyBunny
Gilly and the PiggyBunny 3
Peri has so enjoyed the cooler weather and is very happy to be running about and rolling in invisible smelly things: all smell, no evidence.

Peri, very happy
The grassy area is very yellow and dry. Still, there is greenery to explore under the big trees.

Which way will we go
And in the Why Oh Why??? section of my blog: A person, or persons, unknown has dug up and stolen Harki's roses from the front garden. Both of them. They didn't take Vundy or Tori's roses, as they are older and larger. Poor Harki-Parki-Parker-Posey, it is some little comfort that the roses won't survive the enforced transplantation and will die.

I am rather beihind in my Comment Answering. I like answering my Comments and it is not a chore or an onerous task. The heat is just, well, hot and bothersome but I will get there eventually..

*It is St Valentine's Day. Of late it has gained in commercial popularity, but I don't ever remember it being mentioned other that as a martyr's day at school. Still, here's a quote from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet!! It's the very last line of Act I Scene III.

Friday Food: Banoffee Cup Cakes

Today I am cooking Banoffee Cup Cakes from the March 2012 Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They have the flavours of banana and caramel or toffee. My first dilemma was finding Columbine caramels. They were nowhere to be found so I substituted Jerseys instead and they worked perfectly well.

Caramel conundrum
I eschewed the lolly banana on top, and the uncrushability of frozen Jersey caramels meant that I sliced them thinly and used those as decorations instead. Feel free to hammer the frozen caramels to a fine crush: if you can!!

Top'n'Fill is a condensed milk caramel in a tin. You can make your own caramel but this is easier.

The amount given for the full basic cup cake mixture is 24, but I halved the recipe and using my trusty ice-cream scoop to fill the papers I made 16. So it could make quite a big batch of 32.


Banoffee Cup Cakes   makes 24-32

For the cup cakes:

  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 3/4 cups self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 3/4 cup Caramel Top'n'Fill

For the icing:

  • 150g caramels
  • 1/4 cup thickened cream
  • 3/4 (or the rest of the tin) of Top'n'Fill
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar mixture
  • PLUS another 50g caramels frozen to be crushed (If you can)


Preheat the oven to 180*C and line muffin tins with papers.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and light and then add the vanilla and eggs and beat well to combine.

Fold in the mashed banana. Then gently mix in 1/3 of the sifted flour, 1/2 the sour cream, a further 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the cream and finally fold in the last of the flour.

Banana mixing
At this point in the recipe it talks about half filling all the paper cases, beating the Top'n'Fill till smooth, adding a spoonful to the centre of each cake and then filling the paper cases to the top. Ha! I laugh in the face of their instructions: I just added the Top'n'Fill and then gently folded it through.

I use an ice-cream scoop to fill my cup cake papers. It makes them uniform in size and they cook evenly. I measured, and my scoop is 1/4 of a cup. I dip my ice-cream scoop in some hot water between each scoop as I fill the cup cake papers. Bake for 15-18 minutes, swapping and turning the trays half way through. Mine took 20 minutes to cook. Cool on a cake rack.

Scooping the cups
Meanwhile, make the icing. Start by putting 150g of the caramel lollies, 1/4 cup of cream and the remaining Top'n'Fill into a saucepan over a medium heat. You could chop the caramel lollies to speed up the melting process. Stir until smooth, bring to the boil and then remove from the heat.

Melty icing
Pour into the mixer bowl and beat till it reaches room temperature. Add the butter and beat till well combined. With the mixer speed on a very low speed gradually add the icing sugar mixture and then beat on high for 3 minutes. It will be pale and smooth.

Whippy icing
Finely crush the frozen caramel lollies, or thinly slice some straight from the packet. You can clearly see where I failed to crush mine, all my efforts just tore the ziplock bag. Ice the cupcakes and top with the caramels.

Caramel topping
If you like banana lollies then use one of those as well. And then you are done. These should be kept in the refrigerator. I think un-iced cakes could be frozen and the icing could  be kept separately in a container in the fridge.

Banoffee Cupcake

A Week Is A Long Time In Blogitics

A week is quite a long time, but thankfully since Sunday is has been cooler: 19, 21, 22 and 23 so far. Everyone is happy, in fact there has been some jumping for joy:

Go ahead and jump
And sitting in the restaurant, looking out the window at the almost horizontal rain on Sunday evening, there might have been one of these: pink Moscato.


To enhance the coolness MrsDrWho gave me the most wonderful present, and I have test driven it this evening for a 150 minutes and it is fantastic!!! Basically you lie on it, and it is cold. And stays cold for three hours. It was still cold when I woke up. There will be some more cool sleep tonight!!

Thank you MrsDrWho
There has been some finishing off and gifting by me too. Not all this week, but in the brief cool days between the heat wave too. Here are two skirts for Mrs HouseOf. It is hard to see but they both have curved flouncy panels in real life and dippy hems.

Sewed skirts

Then a patchwork wreath inspired by one on the Purl Bee and also a Santa.

Wreath and santa
A LOL Scarf for my next door neighbour. Her eyes lit up when she saw my green scarf. It is a Labour Of Love to knit one, and I really appreciate all the work Mrs Reno put into making mine!! Thankfully there are only 80 metres and I knitted it in an afternoon and a morning.

LOL scarf
I made another Nativity for MrsDrWho. This is not it, it is the photo in the magazine. I have had it since 2001 and always meant to make it. Last year I started but the heat got the better of me. There will probably be a photo of mine in December this year when it comes out of the bag.

This is not mine

Another small quilt that needs a border, backing and some kind of quilting. The colours have been changed to protect the innocent.

Little quilt
Today MrsDrWho and I made our first blocks for The Craftsy Quilt. Hers is lovely. Mine has a wonky right leg, but I lost the will to sew. I shall have to fix it for the third time later on. We planned to make the second square but we dithered and faffed about so long that we were too tired!!!

Craftsy 1
Peri looked so cute when she popped her head through the dog door tonight. She is a beautiful girl.

Peri comes in the dog door

Lorelai Gilmore is happy to sit for a photo, but then her interest is taken by something over there, and she's off before I know it.

Giily looks yonder
It's evident in their reaction to a treat. Peri will stand politely, albeit impatiently, for a photo and then potter off to her mat. Gilly on the other hand, says thankx,bai and she's off at the speed of light. I think it is because she is always second and fears someone (Peri? ) will commandeer her treat!!

Ways of saying thank you
Tomorrow is Friday Food and I am baking from the Better Homes and Gardens magazine for MrsDrWho. School goes back next week so it's something for her lunch box!! I have already been to see the Lovely Psychologist to help me prepare for The Going Back To School event. I am feeling OK. For the first time I was able to discuss it without breaking down into gales of tears. Still, I will make myself busy next week so I don't have time to dwell.

Back tomorrow with Friday Food!!!

Friday Food: Speedy Spiced Lemon Chicken

Today I am cooking from the new Feb/Mar 2012 Donna Hay magazine. This is definitely a speedy, though I think not a big, dinner. We don't have a barbecue, so I just used a very hot electric fry pan. There was a nice amount of charring, so it's a good alternative. I poshed mine up with some jasmine rice and I would squeeze the lemon over the spinach, rice and the chicken at the table. I like lemon!!!


Spiced Lemon Chicken  serves 4

  • 1 tbspn olive oil (extra virgin) that's 40ml
  • 1 tbspn lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tspn paprika (I used sweet as it was in the cupboard)
  • 2 tspn ground cumin
  • 2 tspn ground coriander 
  • 8 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed if necessary
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • spinach leaves and natural yoghurt
  • jasmine rice, if desired

Preheat the barbecue or grill pan to a high heat. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, spices and garlic.

Then coat the chicken fillets on each side.

Chicken and spices
Place in the pan or on the barbecue and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, turning once. 3 minutes before the chicken is cooked, add the lemon halves, cut side down.

Cooking the chicken
Serve with the baby spinach and a spoonful of yoghurt as a dressing and some rice if you like.

 Spiced lemon chicken