Friday, 27 July 2012

International shipping. And outside in Melbourne.

Although it's raining today, the weather has been lovely in Melbourne lately and that means that we have had lots of time outside in the garden - me gardening, Darren mowing, and Miss 1 pestering the chickens.

The flowers are putting on quite a show.

Inside the house, I have been painting. Here's a sneak peak at the canvas that will be listing this weekend.

Antique White, Vines

If you've seen my FB, you'll know that I was most excited on Sunday to receive my first international order. Shipping on large notice boards within Australia is expensive enough as it is, so I'm extra pleased that someone loved my work enough to pay for shipping all the way to America.

I spent most of Monday lunchtime in the post office, where I thought that I'd be clever and remember to fill in the shipping form before lining up, only to discover that registered post has a different shipping form, so I had to go and fill that in and line up again. Sigh. My customer purchased 'Brown, Autumn' and I'm hoping that she loves the canvas when it reaches her next week.

In the kitchen - Round-up 20-26 July

I suspect that this doesn't count as cooking, but on Friday 20th I stir-fried some daeji bulgogi (spicy marinated pork) that Darren had made several weeks ago and frozen. We had it with jasmine rice, kim chi, soy bean sprouts, chili marinated tofu and chili marinated bamboo shoots. Delicious. Still one package in the freezer for another day. Yay.

On Saturday 21st, we felt like sushi. Usually when we make sushi, it is a monster affair with all different sorts of fillings and styles and sides and lots of people. But there were only going to be the three of us (although it ended up being five with Mr and Miss 22 as well), so we opted for simple, quick sushi. Darren and I made nori (seaweed) handrolls, with Kewpie mayonnaise, blanched fresh tuna, red capsicum, avocado, cucumber and white egg yolk with mirin filling. In addition, Darren had friends over after dinner to play board games and made them bola de Berlin (Portuguese donuts) from the SBS Feast magazine. The camera's batteries were charging, so I actually have an excuse for failing to take pictures.

A Sunday is always a good day for some slow cooking. This Sunday 22nd I made three-hour baked Southern-style sticky ribs from Joanne Glynn's 'Slow Cooking: Not So Fast Food'. Of course, I didn't have one of the critical ingredients, so the ribs weren't wrapped in bacon. They were lovely, with baked potato and salad.

Baked Southern-style sticky ribs.

As a general rule, I dislike sausages. There are two exceptions: (1) most of the range from Andrew's Choice, who were my next-door neighbours for three years when we lived in Yarraville; (2) Chinese pork sausages from Box Hill market. On Tuesday 24th I grilled Chinese pork sausages, with are sweet and I think have Chinese five spice in them. To go with them, I stir fried rice noodles with broccoli, carrot, soy bean sprouts, mushroom, garlic chives and spring onion, seasoned with garlic, soy sauce and Chinkiang black rice vinegar. Miss 1 finds it confusing the distinguish between noodles (which she is very fond of) and bean shoots (which she is curious about, but not excited by).

Chinese pork sausages on rice noodle stir fry.

Wednesday 25th I made risotto. I don't follow a recipe for risotto, but this is pretty much what I made (the stirring is the important bit):

16 mushrooms, halved
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
300 g seafood marinara mix
2 cups Arborio rice
White wine
Vegetable stock
2 handfuls walnuts
2 handfuls roquet

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Place mushrooms on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven.

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until the onion is soft. Add the seafood marinara mix and saute until just cooked. Remove seafood. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil. Add white wine to just cover the rice. Stir! When wine is adsorbed, add stock to just cover the rice. Stir. When stock is adsorbed, add more. Continue until the rice is al dente. Then add a little more stock and the mushrooms, seafood, walnuts and roquet. Stir through until the stock is adsorbed.

Inspired by last week's 'Epicure' liftout in 'The Age', last night, Thursday 26th, I made mushroom burgers with haloumi and fried onion rings. I added some extra vegetables to the burgers, but although the flavour was great, I felt a bit greasy afterwards. Too much butter. As for the onion rings, they worked out pretty well. I'd made two batches, one without cayenne pepper and Tabasco for Miss 1, and I only ended up cooking that batch. It would be good to make the spicy version of the rings next time.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Toddler cooking

I found this recipe for museli bars on a few months ago and found it to be very flexible (i.e. I can substitute ingredients willy-nilly and it all works out fine) and a big hit. I decided that we needed another batch, so the "twins" and I raided the pantry. We found rolled oats, dessicated coconut, flaked almonds, pepitas, sesame seeds, dried cranberries, sultanas, honey and butter (I never add the sugar) - perfect.

Miss 1 and Miss 1.5 carefully measured out the dry ingredients.

Then they mixed them (and taste tested).

Whilst I did the hot stuff, they continued "cooking" with black beans, rice, rolled oats, pasta and sago.

At the end, Miss 1 had consumed a substantial amount of the dried pasta and uncooked rice; they had both beaten each other over the head with a wooden spoon; Miss 1.5 had taken up yelling "hey, hey, hey" (I'm obviously overusing that); and the kitchen looked like a mischief of rats had emptied the pantry onto the floor.

We swept up and sat down to afternoon tea. Anyone for a serve of tasty museli bars, with extra rhinovirus?

Friday, 20 July 2012

In the kitchen - Round-up 13-19 July

Darren thinks that I am confused about whether I'm a craft blogger or a food blogger. He's probably right. I'm a me blogger.

What did we cook this week?

On Friday 13th July (ooooh), I had chicken thigh out, so I made ga xao gung (stir-fried ginger chicken) from Luke Nguyen's 'The Songs of Sapa'. I like vegetables and find that most recipes don't have a large vegetable component, so I always add in at least three different veggies. Tonight I added julienne carrot, Chinese broccoli, sliced bamboo shoots, sliced water chestnuts, and baby sweet corn and served on udon noodles. Miss 1 roused herself enough to eat three baby corns and some noodles - yay!

Saturday 14th we had an excess of fruit, since Miss 1 didn't eat any this week, so I juiced some of the extra pears, nashis, apples, kiwifruits and carrots (mmm) and pureed some more for breakfasts. Darren made banana bread from 'The Essential Baking Cookbook' - he's been hanging out for extra bananas.

Banana bread

For dinner, Darren made hamburgers and got all the girls and took 'em out to dinner and gave 'em all a whirl... His hamburgers are mince meat, with carrot, bread, egg and maybe some herbs (? I'm actually making this up - I make my hamburgers differently to Darren and wasn't paying attention when he did it), and he cooked some onion and eggs and chips and made sweet chili mayo to go with them. I sliced up tomato, cucumber and red capsicum and grated carrot. We had the whole lot in damper. Filling!

On Sunday 15th, Miss 1 had finally decided that food was a good idea after all. She ate breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner! Hurrah! Dinner was swordfish stir-fry from Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer's 'The New Legal Sea Foods Cookbook' (I was in Boston for work in 2009 and went to Legal Sea Foods. It was great and I was happily full of lobster. I bought the cookbook home for Darren as a souvenir). Darren used flake instead of swordfish, omitted the snow peas and cabbage and sambal oelek, and added red capsicum and garlic chives. It was yum.

Flake stir-fry.

On Monday night I made cauliflower soup for Tuesday 17th's dinner. Years ago Darren and I were watching something on TV (Burke's Backyard?) and saw someone make cauliflower soup and thought "that looks nice". A few days later we tried to remember what they did and came up with this.

Whole head of cauliflower, broken into flowers
2 medium sized onions, chopped
Ginger, finely grated
Garlic, crushed
[2 teaspoons curry powder, which I didn't use tonight, because we didn't have any]
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups milk

Melt  butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and saute until soft. Add cauliflower and stock. [Add curry powder.] Boil until cauliflower is soft, stirring occasionally. Put mixture into the blender, then return to the saucepan. Add milk and heat until warm.

Darren also made berry and apple slice (minus the berries) from 'Sweet Food', but the middle didn't cook very well.

On Wednesday 18th I made pizza, using pre-made pizza bases, with a tomato and pesto sauce, grated cheese, ham, salami, mushroom, tomato, red capsicum, capers and roquet. Miss 1 had her appetite back and appeared to be making up for lost time, by eating even more than usual.

Thursday 19th was a roast lamb. It was a pre-marinated butterflied lamb leg in garlic and herbs, and I roasted potatoes, pumpkin, zucchini and mushrooms with it, and then added steamed sweet corn as well. The corn was really sweet, the lamb cooked just right, and the potatoes crispy on the outside. Yum.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Toddler painting

Over the weekend, I listed the female counterpart to 'Blue, Boy', creatively titled 'Pink, Girl' (I'm a genius at naming my canvases). The place holder title 'Eden' is in honour of Miss 1's little friend who just had her birthday on the weekend.

'Pink, Girl'

Whilst I have been painting canvases for 'kaetoo', Miss 1 and Miss 1.5 had been doing their own paintings. Wearing art smocks that I picked up in France when I was pregnant, no less.

What talent!

Toddler painting time came to an abrupt end when Miss 1 decided that Miss 1.5's face was a better canvas than the paper and we ended up with toddler bath time. Also fun!

Friday, 13 July 2012

In the kitchen - Round-up 6-12 July

If you had a choice between a cleaner and a cook, which would you choose? I would certainly choose a cleaner - I absolutely love cooking (and I don't much like cleaning).

This has nothing to do with craft (although maybe cooking is an art form?), but those who know me will know that food is my main purpose in life. So I'm posting a weekly round-up of what we've been cooking up in the kitchen. Beware a long post with not enough photos (must remember to take photos before eating)...

On Friday 6th it was my turn to host Parent's Group. I'd found a bittersweet chocolate tart in 'The Age - Good Weekend' on Saturday and it turned out to be fantastic! Dinner was plaa meuk pat gui chai (stir-fried squid with flowering garlic chives) (actually, with pak choy, round beans, spring onion and cauliflower - those who know me will also know that I don't follow recipes very well) on jasmine rice from David Thompson's 'Thai Street Food' which also turned out well. Most of David Thompson's recipes turn out well.

Stir-fried squid with pak choy, round beans, spring onion and cauliflower.

We were invited out on Saturday 7th for dinner at a friend's house, so Darren used his favourite tarte au citron (lemon tart) recipe from 'Sweet Food' and turned it into individual lemon tarts for dessert. It worked and the tarts were lovely and sweet and tart, as tarts should be.

Darren cooked up pat thai (fried Thai style), again from David Thompson's 'Thai Street Food', on Sunday 8th. He used fresh prawns and since he can't follow a recipe either, omitted the bean curd and salted radish and instead added mushrooms and it turned out to be a lighter, fresher version than some of the pat thais that we've made before. I liked it both then and for lunch the next day.

A new work week. On Mondays, Mr 22 cooks and on Tuesdays I work in Notting Hill, then pick up Miss 1 from Bayswater North, and then drive home. That doesn't leave much time for cooking before Miss 1 is hungry. On Monday night I put together a tuna bake for dinner on Tuesday 10th with tinned tuna, pasta, peas, red capsicum, mushrooms and bread crumbs, using the cheese sauce recipe from 'Home Food' with added dijon mustard. I got home late on Tuesday and Darren had the tuna bake in the oven - it's nice to come home and find dinner ready. 

Wednesday 11th, I got out 'Cool Food' and made grilled lamb pittas with fresh mint salad (minus the red onion, plus grated carrot, sliced gherkin and roquet) and yoghurt on Lebanese bread. The pittas were really tasty and it was a good way to use lamb chunks that I'd worried might be a bit tough if they weren't slow cooked - I'd make the pittas again.

Grilled lamb pittas with fresh mint salad.

Last night, Thursday 12th, was Indian. I made a vegetarian korma with potato, pumpkin, carrot and mushroom and teamed it with dhal based on the recipe from 'The Essential Asian Cookbook' and basmati rice. As sides, I made yoghurt and mint raita, and coconut bananas, and added mango chutney and hot lime pickle. Miss 1 has been sick since Tuesday and this was the first real food she's eaten since then - she downed the rice and raita, and had a go at the dahl - not great, but progress...

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Black and white art on madeit

My husband, Darren seems to be under the impression that he can work full-time and watch Le Tour De France. As far as I can see, this doesn't leave much time for sleeping. Since I love sleeping and am not that interested in sport, it's unlikely that I'm going to be staying up with Darren to support Cadel Evans (although I do do strange things sometimes).

Anyway, instead this week I was browsing madeit for some hand-made bicycle finds and there was this canvas drawing. I'm an instant fan of Inked by Michanne!

Girl chasing her bike, black and white canvas by Inked by Michanne.

I wandered off on a tangent into black pen drawings and found Katherine Devine, whose swirls remind me of what I drew in my team meeting on Tuesday night, except with actual planning and direction, and skill.

River and Tree by Katherine Devine.

From there, I started looking at other black and white art and in the printmaking section found Bass Bower and got all inspired by her woodblock print to take Darren to Port Arthur (where he hasn't been before).

Tasmania Landscape ('Port Arthur Peace') by Bass Bower.

And finally, also hidden in the printmaking section was Amelia Herbertson, who makes linocut print stationary. I like stationary and Amelia's' work is gorgeous.

Happy Birthday Linocut Block Print Card by Amelia Herbertson.

There's a lot of talent out there!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Planning canvases

I've been working on a new canvas over the last week, which was just finished on Wednesday night. It's a personalised notice board for a little boy, a bit stylised and, dare I use the word (?), whimsical. I like the way it's turned out; it's rather cute.

'Blue, Boy'

Yesterday I started the female counterpart to this canvas, which is going to be very similar, but in pink.

I have another blank canvas under the desk in my bedroom and I'm wondering what to do next. Perhaps continue the animal theme that I started with 'Green, Elephants'? I think that a fox could be nice, or maybe a family of ducks...

Or perhaps move on to a nursery rhyme theme? My husband is quite in favour of Hey, Diddle Diddle... What do you think?

In other news, my cousin Jessie McLennan has an exhibition at the Meeniyan Art Gallery that starts today, with the opening this Sunday. She's a figurative sculptor who works with clay, plaster and a bit of bronze.