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September 2013
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November 2013

Decking Ball (now with less twerking)

Not sure I'd strictly describe the decking adventure as a ball, but the results are pretty fabulous. There are a few boards at the end that need to be cut and the kind Next-to-Next-door-neighbour will use his circular saw to do that when Uni has finished. My Next-door-neighbour came every day for three days and did a little decking each time. I helped by keeping The Labradors from being too helpful and making cups of tea and being generally supportive. I spent a day or two in bed sleeping, so there hasn't been much else going on.

Typepad had changed their Insert a Photo and Centre It procedure. I find that when they 'improve' things, it is generally a change for the worse. Sigh.

Before and after
Peri and Gilly are very excited. Peri loves to stand right on the edge and gaze out over the neighbourhood once more. Well she's not on the edge here, but she does stand breathtakingly close usually!!.

Peri on the deck
Gilly hardly ever stood on the old deck, but it is her favourite place: full of good smells. Now she stands on the very edge.

Gilly on the deck

My sister's dog died unexpectedly a little while ago. CJ was a lovely boy and the whole family was very sad. Now they have a new SharPei called Archie. He is keeping them on their toes!!

I have cut out most of a new dress. I can't find the Centre Front piece. I have a sinking feeling that I have recycled it, thinking it was scrap tissue paper. I sewed the circle skirt part.

New dress
In light of realising I am an Inverted Triangle shape, I  bought a new on sale $5 pattern. It has frills. I could make my own frills, but it is so much easier if someone else designs them for me!! I am enamoured of Leanne Marshall's patterns. She has a lot going on in the skirt portions of her dress patterns and I am feeling brave enough to just sewing my own bodice-that-fits onto the different skirts.

New pattern
I cooked the Chocolate Ripple Black Forest Cake for MrsDrWho's morning tea turn at school. This is not the cake, it is a photo from the magazine. I forgot to take a photo. The staff said it was delicious, but I did break the top layer when placing it and so I has to cobble it together with the ganache. The new Family Circle Christmas magazine is out too. I am very happy.

Not my cake


At sewing last night we made Disappearing Nine Patch blocks. I am glad I made mine first, because the instructions I followed were wrong, and so I had to add some extra fabric to the centre. To make a 12 inch finished size block the nine squares need to be 4 3/4 inches.

Three more boms
Woolworths is stocking some Jamie Oliver bits and bobs. Auntie Dutch showed me the two boards and so I was able to buy them. This is the small serving board and it cost $8. I can't find a link to all the products, sorry.

J o board
Now a review of this week's Recipe to Riches- Oxtail stew. OMGCB, it was $10-99 for 500g. From watching the show I thought it would have the mashed potato and broccoli, but no: it was four very, very small pieces of meat. Which tasted OK. I have no issue with eating oxtail, it isn't offal and so I am happy.

I feel I am not being very favourable to the R2R products, but I tell it like it is. I would not buy this again and at $22 a kilo it seems quite expensive, I found oxtail for $8-95 here. The product does not look very appetising either. I ate one piece and handed the rest over the fence.

Oxtail stew
Today I met the Lovely Andrea for a cup of tea!! We bump into each other at the supermarket and The BSODL(tm), but actually made a time to catch up. Lo and behold a new shop opened today, it had only been open for half an hour!! It is called ShopFront and we went to investigate. I bought a shim pail for $5. It is about 15cm tall. I can put some Christmas treats in it and then the recipient can make a festive display with a tea light candle. Lovely Andrea could have bought everything in the shop!!!

So cute
MrsDrWho is beginning to write reports, so I shall find something very delicious to make for tomorrow's Friday Food to see her through the process.

And that is all for today I think. I have a new book from The Library to read, Russian Roulette, the prequel to the Alex Rider series. I made my last Jamie Oliver pizza from the dough in the freezer and I have some new apple cordial (not on the website though) so we are all set for a late tea and an early night.

Friday Food: Spiced Potatoes and Chickpeas

Sometimes you just cook whatever you can find the time for. After walking The Labradors, sewing up a very disappointing cardigan and then supervising decking I needed something that would be quick to cook. Spiced Potatoes and Chickpeas was the perfect thing.

Of course I left out the coriander and replaced it with mint, but other than that the dish is true to the recipe. Carisma potatoes are like hens' teeth, so I used Nicola instead, but any waxy or yellow potato will do.

This takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish and is a nice spicy-but-not-too-hot meal. It would be a handy side too.


Spiced Potato and Chickpeas   serves 4

  • 1 kg waxy potatoes, washed or scrubbed, but not peeled
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tspn mustard seeds
  • 1 tspn ground coriander
  • 1/2 tspn turmeric
  • 1/4 tspn chilli flakes (I used fresh)
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • naan bread, Greek yoghurt and fresh coriander to serve

Not being sure of the size of Carisma potatoes, I cut mine into eighths. Put into a saucepan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain well. I put the potatoes back into the hot saucepan to dry out completely, off the heat of course.

Meanwhile, add the oil to a large heavy base frypan over a Medium to High heat and fry the mustard seeds for 30 seconds. Add the ground coriander, turmeric and chilli and cook for 30 seconds more.

Add the well drained potatoes and then cook stirring frequently, until crisp and golden. Finally add the chickpeas and stir for another minute or so.

Serve with heated naan bread, drizzle generously with yoghurt and top with fresh coriander. (or in my case, mint)

Spiced potatoes and chickpeas

Good Will Bunting

It was Auntie Dutch's birthday at the weekend, but with all the things going on in the Dutch's households, I didn't expect to see her. I did, however, make some tiny bunting instead of a card. I was inspired by a Pin.

Tiny bunting
It is not very tiny. I bought the material and fussy cut it. I love that term, it is a quilting one that I have appropriated for other things. Each bunt (Is that what an individual piece of bunting is called??), or flag, is about 4cm high. I applied the biased binding, trimmed and then zig-zagged. I decided I couldn't neatly stitch-in-the-ditch. I made an embroidery bobbin, and wound the bunting around.

Birthday bunting
Then, lo and behold, Auntie Dutch rang on Monday morning and I had lunch with almost all The Dutches and baby Zoe!! Baby Zoe's favourite word is 'No', or its variant 'Nuh'. She is very well and very cute!! Auntie Dutch loved her bunting. I was very pleased.

I wore my new Green Dress, and the belt I made. I looked at Tilly and the Button's tutorial, and then thought perhaps I could change it a little.

Belt toile
I made the belt thinner, and the bow as well. Instead of two sets of hooks and eyes, I used the hook from a Trouser Hook & Bar set. I sewed it under the bow, with the hook facing out so it wouldn't dig in. And then I sewed in some 6mm elastic when I closed the other end of the belt. It works well as a toile. The Belt Proper needs to be well and truly interfaced and shorter. It doesn't stay in the right place, and I fiddle with it all the time. The bodice of my dress is just 2cm too short. More or less. When I sew my New Dress 2.0 I shall adjust the pattern. I am hoping to trace off a cardboard pattern for the bodice just like a proper pattern maker's set.

MrsDrWho requested little galettes for dessert on Sunday so I made some with apple and pear.

Little galettes

Peri and Gilly are very confused by the weather: it is humid, sunny, warm, drizzly, rainy, there is hail, snow down to 300m and then wild windy storms. Repeat ad infinitum. They were very cross when I came home yesterday after lunch and went up to the car  to fetch groceries. They cried and cried at the gate and carried on a treat. There are always lots of smells at the dam. I think rabbits or potoroos and wallabies dig all these holes. The holes are full of smells.

Labradors sniffing together
They Labradors do like A Lot of attention, and I expect I encourage them. I am putty in their paws sometimes.

Labradors are sunny
In gardening news, some more plants have volunteered to come to live (or die) at our house: a large pot of mint and then six other herbs. They look fine now, but just give me a few weeks and they will be pushing up the daisies.

Now here's my catch up review for Recipe to Riches. Last week's winner was a box of almond meringue biscuits, gluten free. It cost $5-99 for a  112g box of 8. The biscuits were nice, they were actually nicer when I accidentally left one on a plate overnight and it crisped up. I think all macaroon type meringues are gluten free. A typical recipe has almond meal, egg-whites and sugar. That's pretty much it. If you didn't want to bake a batch, then these would be a suitable substitute, though $6 seems a tad over priced to me.

As usual, books on Hold are starting to arrive at the Library en masse. Long, thick, closely typeset books. I shall have to dedicate some time to reading. If the weather is as rainy as forecast, I'm looking forward to a few afternoons of reading and maybe some potato crisps too. We hardly ever have crisps or bought biscuits, I might just lash out!!!

Friday Food: Easy BBQ Sauce

I'm off to MrsSherlock's husband's birthday barbecue tomorrow evening. MrsDrWho and I are making him a hamper: wine, cheese, tea, choc-chip biscuits, truffles, BBQ sauce, etc.

This is such an easy recipe: mix everything together in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Ta da!! It's from the Super Food Ideas magazine, September 2013.

I sterilised the jars while it was cooking. I soaked them in boiling water for 10 minutes and then into a 200*C oven for 10 minutes.

This makes 2 cups or 500ml. It will keep for 3 months unopened, and 2 weeks in the fridge once you pop the top. I used two jars so that the sauce will potentially last for 4 weeks over all. I'll make some labels and dress the jars up with some ribbon when they are cool.


Barbecue Sauce    make 2 cups

  • 2 cups (500ml) tomato sauce, the condiment
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbspn treacle
  • 1 tbspn (20ml) Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbspn brown sugar
  • 1 tbspn yellow mustard powder
  • 2 tspn smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tspn garlic powder
  • 1/2 tspn ground allspice

Preheat your oven to 200*C and boil the kettle if you are sterilising jars.

Use a medium size saucepan over a medium-low heat.

Add the tomato sauce, treacle, vinegar, and Worcestershire Sauce.

Runny ingredients
Then the brown sugar, mustard powder, paprika, garlic powder and allspice in one fell swoop. Stir to combine and then simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients
This is when I put the jars in the oven.

Stir, simmer
Taste the sauce to make sure it is right for you and adjust of if is not, then pour into your jar/s. I am a poor pourer. I used a clean 1/2 cup measure, but on reflection a funnel would have been a big help.

Keep for 3 months and use within 2 weeks after opening.

BBQ sauce

New Dress, New Dress, So Good I Named It Twice.

Even though I have, according to MrsDrWho, an Illusion of a Waist, I went ahead and sewed a dress with a waist. Lovely RoseRed encouraged me, and honestly without her sage advice I would have stopped and changed my mind. But I am unsecretly in love with my new dress. So in love that I photographed it twice. It isn't a New York dress, though I shall have an Hawaiian dress. Be still my beating heart.

I love my new dress
This is the bodice of Simplicity Amazing Fit 1652, and a circle skirt that I drafted. I used up every skerrick of my material's length. I threw caution to the wind and bound the neck and armholes instead of using facings. More than once to get it right, but there is not a hint of upper nether garment peeking out at the under arms. Yay!! RoseRed suggested a belt and so I tied some selvage around my Illusion of a Waist and I think it does look better with, rather than without. I shall make a narrow green belt.

I learned new skills in my Craftsy Adjust the Bust course and now I have a bodice that fits, I can whip up a few more dresses. I should have worn it with my new Emerald Shoes.

Emerald slippers
Yes, I now have Emerald shoes. Whilst idly searching I found these, and rang the shop, SheShoes in Queensland. The lady could not have been more helpful. As we took the same shoe size she even tried on sizes 37 and 38 to see which fitted best and posted the shoes to me the next day. It was wonderful service!!

MrsDrWho and MrsHouseOf chose this beautiful fabric for me in Hawaii.

Hawaiian fabric
There is another different  length as well, but it is too dark to photograph now. It is in lieu of wool. They didn't manage to get to a wool shop in New York: sometimes when you are away with a group, you have to just go with the flow!!! It is serendipitous that I found a pattern for a dress that uses two metres of material. I have two yards, but since I am shorter than the average pattern height, it should be plenty.

I was chuffed to receive this photo of one of the bags I made for The Overseas Travellers. MrsDrWho said that they used them for shopping in NY, but in Hawaii, they were swimming bags.

Swimming bag now
The decking that was installed upside down twenty-four years ago has finally given up the ghost. The rest of the decking in the garden has been done away with, but Peri especially loves to stand Monarch of the Glen-like right here and gaze out. The wood is rotten, broken and dangerous. The flash of white in the bottom left corner is Gilly. She's ever so helpful.

Damn decking
Today my neighbours volunteered their station-wagon and then the kind man at the shop cut wood for new decking. Peri and Gilly are very excited. I can see their excitement in their very waggy tails, so fast the camera can't capture them!!! The wood needs to be pre-drilled and then screwed to the old bearers. Right way up, with the lines underneath.

Labrador tails
I used the Herman The German Friendship cake to make bread. Kate Knight gave it to me and I am enjoying looking after it. You add less sugar on Day 9 to make bread. It is moist and improves with age.

Herman bread
There may also have been a chocolate cake for Morning Tea with The GardyGardeners. Sadly, no cake for The Labradors.

Poor starving labradors
Peri has recovered so well from her operation, which was two months ago. One day she was still shaved and scarred, and then it seemed the next she was growing her fur back. I am so glad. She is as happy as can be and gives Miss Lorelai Gilmore a run for her money.

Two months after for Peri
The winning Recipe to Riches a few weeks ago was the poorly named Chocorn: popcorn covered with chocolate. A box cost $7-99 for 225g. I ate the white chocolate caramel popcorn and thought "Meh." I took the milk and dark chocolate portions along to Knitting Dining Out and it was fallen upon and pronounced to be delicious. In fact it went off with two knitters to cheer them up for the next few days. So there you go, I thought it was expensive for what it was, as Cadbury has a chocolate popcorn that is cheaper and just as nice I believe, but as a treat my friends really liked it.

Chocorn r2r
I have knitted another Milo: Mint Akta-Vite. This time I did the Giant Cable version. It needs a good wash. I have no idea what dirt ridden activities went on to make it so grubby!!!

Mint Akta-vite
One of the symptoms of anaemia, which is just one exciting facet of the weird illness I have, is mouth ulcers. Today I have two ulcers in my mouth and one on the side of my tongue. Just in case I was too tired and run down I made some restorative soup for tea tonight. I poached a chicken breast with chilli, garlic, ginger, onion and lemon zest. Then I added rice noodles and pak choy and pulled the chicken breast apart. When the noodles were cooked I put the chicken back in and added a slosh of soy sauce and a large squeeze of lemon juice. I do believe I feel better, even if it is the placebo soup effect, I feel happier!!!

And now something that made me feel quite, quite old: this day, fifty years ago, The Beatles recorded I Wanna Hold Your Hand. How can it be so long ago?? I think it stands up well to the test of time.

Friday Food: Couscous Fritters

Once or twice a week I like a meat free dinner. Today I chose the Couscous Fritters from the free Coles magazine. I can't make a link because it is a PDF. Every time I type PDF I say Personal Flotation Device in my head, so I don't type the wrong thing.

I just needed to buy a bunch of parsley and I was ready to go. If only I had a greener thumb I would have had some in the garden.

The magazine suggests a salad, but I think you can have whatever kind of salad you like. I did make the yoghurt dressing, but with parsley and not dill. I am not in a dill mood.

I made half the recipe, but it would be a nice lunch or dinner with a hearty salad. It takes about 20 minutes to prepare, including cooling time and then 6 minutes per batch of four to cook: 12 minutes in all. There is just the right amount of time to whip up a salad in between cooking spurts.


Couscous Fritters   makes 8

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup couscous
  • 4 spring onions, sliced - or 1/2 a red onion
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 75g Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbspn plain flour ( 20ml in a tablespoon)
  • salt and pepper to season
  • olive oil for cooking

For the dressing

  • 1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 1/4 bunch dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 - 1 tspn lemon zest
  • 2 tspn lemon juice
  • salt

Stir the couscous into the boiling water, cover and stand for 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork and leave for 15 minutes to cool.

Make the dressing by mixing the yoghurt, dill, lemon zest and juice together. Add salt if you like.

Meanwhile assemble the onion, feta cheese, parsley, egg and flour. Mix these ingredients into the cooled couscous. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Extra ingredients
Use a wet 1/3 cup measure and damp hands to form 8 fritter shapes. Heat the oil over a medium heat in a heavy based pan and cook the fritters for 3 minutes on each side.

Making, baking
Serve with a salad and the dressing on the side. Delicious. Is it wrong to say these are kind of meaty?? They are filling, but still light.

Couscous fritters

The Blue Panther*

I am unAustralian, I admit it, whatever that means- and here I'm channelling Charles Windsor. I just can't like anything written by Tim Winton. He is awarded and lauded, and he is having a special interview on the ABC, but I just don't like his writing. At all.

Neither am I a fan of this week's Recipe to Riches winner, Golden Greek Pizza. During the show one of the selling points was that you didn't need to buy a pizza base and a sauce, then wander about the supermarket buying toppings. Yes, you do. In the box there are two packs of frozen dough and two of frozen sauce. Nothing else.

R2r pizza
The presenters made much of the fact that this would be convenient and consumers would feel they had made it themselves. You do not. You have to wait three to four hours for the dough to thaw, so there's no nipping to the shop after work and then whipping up the pizza. And you then have to wander about aimlessly choosing the toppings. I chose some olives, pork chipolatas, spring onions, chilli, mozzarella cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

Golden greek pizza
I followed the instructions, and found the pizza to be doughy, and stodgy and nothing out of the ordinary. It looks better than it tastes. I would recommend buying a pizza base and going from there, or I would REALLY recommend making Jamie's Pizza. The Golden Greek Pizza dough and sauce cost $7-49, and you can make four pizzas with toppings for about $12 using Jamie's recipe. And it is not hard at all. Believe me, I am afraid of cooking with yeast and I thought it was fun.

I will have to review last week's winning recipe next week: I'm all out of synch.

Daylight Saving is here and I am having a little trouble adjusting. We try to go to sleep, but I am still awake after midnight. The mornings are crisp and foggy, so we have a lovely walk. The days have been sunny or the rain has pelted down so hard that the drains in the gutters above our house blocked and then water cascaded down the stairs and we had a little flood outside the back door. My neighbour and I were out in the storm poking sticks down the drains and shovelling leaves. The Council and the Water people point the finger at each other. This happens all the time. Still rain is better than our Weather bete noir: wind!!!

Build an ark
Someone at our house is an evil genius and has put on a kilo in weight. Is it Peri or is it Gilly???

At the vet being weighed
It is Gilly. Who would have guessed??? I was sitting quietly in the lounge room and I caught a flash of gold out of the corner of my eye. Gilly was standing up on her hind legs and using her front paws to drag the shopping bags off the table. I used my Exorcist voice and scared the willies out of her. When we went to the vet they stood on the scales and Peri has lost a kilo and Gilly has gained one. Poor Gilly, extra cabbage and celery for her. Goodness knows what she has stolen.

MrsDrWho is in Hawaii, snorkelling and/or walking in a carefree manner along the beach in a straw hat and a be-flowered cool dress. I have been making an ant costume for her nephew.

Anthill ant
He wants to be the Blue Ant from the Anthill game for Halloween, which is big in Singapore. The ant reference picture is teeny tiny, so I have done my best to make a costume for him. That's the abdomen at the bottom!!!

Armies and leggies
It has to be adjustable so it will fit him, so the extra legs are safety pinned on. The antennae are springs that had red tridents on them, covered in black bias binding. The mandibles are soft lavender horns painted black. I hope it all goes well.

Antennae and mandibles
Gilly wanted to wear the headband.

Gilly is a little imp
Peri did not, but she is very accommodating and did it because I wanted her to. I think she looks like My Favourite Martian!!

Peri, my favourite martian
Before the holidays I caught up with Kate Knight and her family, did I say that already?? She gave me a HermanTheGerman Friendship cake starter and I looked after it and I made a very lemony bar cake for MrsDrWho's dad. I am thinking of making some sourdough bread with my next batch. Thanks Kate!!!

I have chosen the material for my new dress and petticoat. The dress is the dark green and lime ferny one, and the petticoat is the lime spotted tulle. I have some satin bias binding for the raw petticoat edges.

Dress and petticoat

I've also knitted one 5ply ball's worth of my CustomFit Wizard cardigan: it's Oz emerald green you see!!!

My customfit cardi
Well, that's an info dump if I ever wrote one.

I really enjoyed Todd Sampson's ReDesign My Brain on TV tonight and I tried two of the brain training activities. If you click through there is a link for now, at least. I am better than he was at Tool/Writing Instrument choosing and worse at the Spot the Number one. I am tired though. (Poor excuse) I am thinking of learning to juggle. I might also try the 'Remember a pack of cards' thing. I have nothing else to do!!!!

I can't believe it is Friday tomorrow. I haven't given a moment's thought to Friday Food this week. I shall have to get my act into gear tomorrow. I am now going to push the Publish Button, and be damned........

* What did the Pink Panther say when he stepped on an ant??
Dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead ant dead a-a-a-a-a-a-ant.

(To the Pink Panther Tune)

Friday Food: Raspberry Coconut Meringue Slice

While I have road tested the Chocorn from this week's Recipe to Riches with the help of my knitting friends, it was Patsie's slice that I fancied. I am sure it tasted delicious, but it wasn't really a new or innovative idea. In searching The Internet I discovered that in New Zealand it is called a Louise Cake and as a little girl I just called it Raspberry Jam Slice.

Well, it is a lovely slice and I thought I would bake some and take it to the vet tomorrow. Peri is recovering so well, and I want to thank them again with cake!!

I cheated and separated two eggs, using the yolks in the base and the whites for the topping. It worked perfectly well. I added some frozen raspberries to the jam, and I only added 1/4 of the coconut to the topping, to try and reproduce what I saw on TV.

This really is a slice you can bake on short notice, and because it needs trimming before you serve it, you can eat the edges: they're delicious!!!


Raspberry Coconut Meringue Slice   makes 16 pieces

  • 90g softened butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks ( save the whites)
  • 50g self raising flour
  • 100g plain flour

For the topping:

  • 160g raspberry jam
  • 2 egg whites
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 40g (1/2 a cup) desiccated coconut


Preheat the oven to 180*C and line a 20 x 30cm slice tin.

Cream the butter and sugar until it is pale and light,

Add egg yolks
add the egg yolks and beat well.

Dough a deer
Add the sifted flours and form a dough with your hands.

Base and jam
Press the dough evenly into the slice tin. It doesn't matter what the top looks like as it will be covered. Warm the jam in a saucepan or in the microwave: this is where I added 1/2 a cup of frozen raspberries. Spread the jam over the base and set aside.

Coconut meringue topping
To make the meringue topping, whisk the egg whites until they are white and bubbly, add all the sugar at once. ( I know, this goes against all the rules of meringue and pavlova, but it works - trust me) Beat on high for about 5 minutes until soft peaks form or the meringue holds its shape when you lift out the beaters. Fold in the coconut.

Spread on the topping
Smooth the meringue mixture over the jam. You need to be gentle , otherwise the jam pokes through.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. My slice took 40 minutes, and I turned the tray half way through.

Bake, trim, cut up
Cool in the tin, trim the edges and cut into 16 pieces. Keep in an airtight container. This slice doesn't keep well, so you need to eat it within a day or two: you should have no difficulty.

Somewhere between the slice and the camera I managed to put a large greasy fingerprint in the middle of the lens. Let's just think of it as a special effect shall we??? Some J J Abrams style lens flare.

Raspberry coconut meringue slice