Sunday, 28 October 2012

Moving House - Week Three

Darren had a particular dislike for the dressing table and mirror in the front room. They are gone. Now we have a bit of missing carpet and some patching to do, but we can work around that.

My wonderful superhero neighbour took four trailer loads of green waste to the tip for me. Better do some more pruning!

And the stumpers are nearly finished, which means that Darren and I are forming a close bond with plaster.

Friday, 26 October 2012

In The Kitchen - Round-up 19-25 October

A very speedy kitchen round-up today, since I spent toddler nap time working on pricing instead.

On Friday 19th, I cooked chicken wingettes, which I had marinated in honey, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic and lemon juice using a recipe from 'Small Food' and then baked. We had them with rice and salad.

Saturday 20th I made Vietnamese rice paper rolls, filled with a stir fry of minced pork, vermicelli noodles and rehydrated mushrooms, flavoured with soy. The other fillings were lettuce, carrot, green beans and Vietnamese mint, with a fish sauce, sugar and chilli dipping sauce from Pauline Nguyen's 'Secrets of the Red Lantern'.

On Sunday 21st we had claypot chicken rice, which I made using a recipe that Darren copied from somewhere or another. The marinade is soy, ginger, sugar, sesame oil and cornflour, as well as stock for cooking. I added lap cheong, asparagus, bamboo shoots and rehydrated mushrooms.

Claypot chicken rice.

I was planning on cooking a curry with some beef chunks for Tuesday 23rd's dinner, but couldn't be bothered. Then I was going to just use some bottled pasta sauce, but decided that it was a waste of money when I could easily make it myself. So on Monday I minced up the beef chunks and cooked them with onion, tomato, eggplant, carrot, tinned tomato, garlic and herbs. We ate the sauce with roasted vegetable and ricotta tortellini.


Darren bought some marinated kangaroo in garlic and herbs, which I grilled on Wednesday 24th. We made wraps filled the the kangaroo strips, some potato slices fried in cashew za'atar and bush tomato from 'Gourmet Morsels', grated cheese and carrot, roquet, tomato and your choice of tzatziki dip, homemade pumpkin chutney or mayonnaise.

Although I traditionally can't make quiche, on Thursday 25th I made two, one for lunch with my sister-in-law and sister and one for dinner. I based both recipes on the one for tuna, leek and pumpkin quiche from, making the base and the sour cream and egg sauce for both, but using tuna, roasted pumpkin and sauteed leek and spinach for one filling, and roasted mushroom, pumpkin and capsicum, sundried tomato and sauteed leek and spinach for the dinner one. The dinner one was less soggy - it actually worked quite well. Salad on the side.

Roasted vegetable quiche.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Toy Boys

Speaking of a crafty family, my father-in-law (Peter) and his brother-in-law (Rod) are The Toy Boys. They make wooden toys, which they sell at markets in Victoria. Miss 1.5 is looked after by Grandpa Peter each Wednesday and she puts a lot of effort into road testing his toys.

When I was pregnant, Peter promised the new baby a name train, but proposed that the baby be named something with three letters, like Amy. We, of course, chose a name with 10 letters. I'm planning something longer, with hyphens and accents, for the next baby because I'm not a nice person.

For her six month birthday, Miss 1.5 got a prototype stacker clown which has stood up to being chewed (by both children and dogs) and is a great educational toy.

Pull-along toys are one of Miss 1.5's favourites, so she got a pull-along dog. I think that it needs ears...

A very spoiled little girl, she also has a pink small car.

... a dog jigsaw...

... and an elephant jigsaw. Thank you, Grandpa!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Moving House - Week Two

Things are happening, albeit slowly because of family events and Around The Bay. Last week, Darren and his father took out the superfluous internal windows.

This week, I started pruning the extensive rose bushes in the front garden and the stumpers started reblocking the house (and discovered live wires everywhere, so the sparky started rewiring the house).

Friday, 19 October 2012

In the kitchen - Round-up 12-18 October

On Friday 12th, I had a cauliflower out for dinner. Darren had done the shopping and thought that the cauliflower might become cauliflower soup. This would have been a brilliant plan, but we didn't have any onions or milk or stock. I went through my cookbooks for inspiration and thought that cauliflower, tomato and green pea curry from 'The Essential Asian Cookbook' might be nice, but we didn't have any onion, yoghurt or tomatoes. Curried cauliflower from 'Fire and Spice' might be nice, but we didn't have any coconut milk. I entertained the idea of South Indian lentils and vegetables from 'Fire and Spice', but I had a vague feeling that that hadn't worked out fantastically the last time that I tried it and I didn't have any tomatoes anyway. In the end, I made vegetable pakoras, which are kind of like Indian tempura, from 'The Essential Asian Cookbook' and omitted the capsicum, onion, chickpea flour, chilli powder and corn kernels. They ended up being potato, cauliflower, cabbage, flour, garam masala, coriander, bicarbonate of soda, water and lemon juice, all deep-fried. The cabbage was a purple cabbage, which went an odd shade of blue after cooking. On the side, I had rice and dhal, based vaguely on a few recipes from 'Fire and Spice', including lentils, garlic, ginger, turmeric, tomato paste and coriander. It all tasted rather nice, which was good.

Vegetable pakoras.

Saturday 13th we had a big working bee on the new house and got takeaway for dinner.

I bought some lovely flathead fillets at the market and cooked them for dinner on Sunday 14th. I coated them in beer batter (recipe in 'The Cook's Companion': self-raising flour, beer, water and a little turmeric and cumin) and deep-fried them and then baked some chips. There was also a coleslaw salad, with a dressing made of olive oil, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, mustard seeds, based on the Asian coleslaw with sesame dressing recipe from ''. I wanted to use as similar recipe that my friend introduced to me last year, but I wrote it on a random piece of paper which I have since lost.

On Tuesday 16th we had left-over vegetable soup, with some added pasta.

When I got home on Wednesday 17th, I threw some washed potatoes in the oven and made a sauce to go over them. This was onion, minced meat, slices of ham, diced mushrooms, a tin of four beans, a tin of tomatoes, some vegetable stock and a little sumac and coriander powder, all sautéed until the sauce thickened. There was grated cheese and carrot to go with it.

Baked potatoes.

Yesterday, I got some slow cooking in. I combined two recipes from 'A Little Taste of Morocco', so Thursday 18th's dinner was lamb shanks with quince (I froze a whole lot from my grandmother's orchard earlier this year), onion, ginger, saffron, coriander and cinnamon. I also made a salad of carrots and green beans in a dressing of paprika, cumin, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil, and the whole lot was on saffron rice. It's funny that I don't like to eat a big piece of meat, but I do love lamb shanks.

Lamb shank and quince tagine.
Today, after nap time, we are also going to the zoo, so I made a tortilla (Spanish omlette) for lunch. My recipe is the recipe that my mother gave me and might not be very authentic!

6 potatoes, diced
3 onions, diced
Olive oil
Salami, diced
10 eggs, lightly beaten

Microwave the potatoes and onions with olive oil and salt for 20 min, stirring after 10 min. Add in the salami and the peas. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Grease a frying pan and add the egg mixture and spread it out evenly. Fry until the base is well cooked (mine is always slightly burned, Jamaica style!). Then put under a grill until the centre is cooked. Turn out on a plate to cool. Delicious hot and cold.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Toddler Art - Footprint Stamping

This is based a bit on an episode of Play School and is super easy. I cut out animal footprints from a bit of card (a dog, a frog, a dinosaur and a person's shoe) and taped toilet paper rolls onto them for handles.

Put some paint on some ice cream container lids and stamp away!

Toddlers, of course, aren't very consistent with the pressure, but here's a print that worked perfectly!

Lots of fun.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Moving House - Week One

We need to replace the back fence, which is missing panels, so that the escape-artist dogs have to work harder. The fencing people need the brick compost bin removed, as well as some serious pruning to get access.

Day 1: 9.36 am.

Day 1: 10.42 am - good work me - going solo (with "twins"!)

Day 3: 4.15 pm - hello, sledge hammer.

Day 3: 5.27 pm.

Day 4: 4.39 pm - good bye, compost bin.

Might need a trailer...

Friday, 12 October 2012

Operation Christmas Child

I came across Operation Christmas Child at 'One Crafty Mumma' a couple of weeks ago. How have I not come across this before? It's a lovely idea.

If you haven't come across it before, this is a worldwide operation that's been running since 1993 where you fill a shoe box with gifts for a child and drop it off at a collection centre (they're all over the country). In Australia, our gifts then go to South East Asia and the South Pacific. The gifts should be something to love, for school, to wear, to play with, for personal hygiene and something special.

Borrowed from

Last week, Miss 1.5 (at the time, Miss 1) and I went off with a $20 budget for each box to find gifts. We decided to pack gifts for a girl and a boy about the same age as Misses 1.5 and 2, since we know quite well what they like. Miss 1.5 did most of the picking - she chose teddys to love, textas for school, t-shirts to wear, rubber ducks to play with, hair ties and combs for personal hygiene, and special sparkly foam stickers. Back at home, I wrapped some shoe boxes and wrote a letter to go inside them and Misses 1.5 and 2 loaded them up with gifts.

What I loved about this was how excited they were to pack up a present for someone else. I was imagining that two toddlers would take the toys themselves and that I would have a fight on my hands getting them back, but they were very receptive to the whole idea.

Do you want to get onboard? Collection is by 25th October to ensure Christmas delivery, so start packing now.

In the kitchen - Round-up 5-11 October

Apologies for the lack of photos this week. Things are less exciting without photos.

We went to a lovely wedding on Friday afternoon, up in the Dandenongs. Miss 1.5 (at the time, Miss 1) stayed at home with my mother and had a lovely evening too.

On Saturday 6th, Darren marinated some chicken in red curry paste, garlic, tumeric, soy and palm sugar, using the recipe for satay marinade and sauce in Stephanie Alexander's 'The Cook's Companion'. I made the accompanying sauce of tamrind, peanut butter (you're meant to use peanuts, but I can't be bothered crushing them), garlic, chillies, palm sugar and coconut milk, as well as rice and salad to go with it. It's a good recipe.

Sunday 7th, Darren cooked a tasty risotto of pumpkin and seafood marinara mix - yum :-)

I had a work teleconference on the evening of Tuesday 9th, so dinner was reheated curry lamb with rice and peas from last week. Most curries work well on reheating and this was no exception. The only problem was that Darren hadn't realised that I had frozen the rice and peas as well, so he cooked up a big pot of rice to go with the curry.

As a result, on Wednesday 10th, I made fried rice with the excess rice (luckily he hadn't added the coconut milk, stock or kidney beans). I used David Thompson's recipe for fried rice with crab from 'Thai Street Food', but with a chicken breast fried in garlic, as well as egg, soy, sugar, white pepper, green beans, baby corn, carrot and coriander. On the side there were chillis and garlic in fish sauce and lime juice, which is the best way to complete this dish.

Fried rice with chicken.

Last night, Thursday 11th, I made laksa. I have a few recipes for laksa, but a lot of them are too oily - the best one that I have is for prawn laksa in 'Bowl Food' (I put a big tick on the page so that I remember that this is the good one), which makes the paste out of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, onion, ginger, garlic, lemon grass (didn't have any), macadamia nuts (didn't have any), chillies (left them out), shrimp paste and stock. The paste is then cooked with coconut milk (it calls for 750 ml, but I only add a tin usually, and in this case I added a tin minus a cup), kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar. I put in fish balls that we get from our fishmonger in Box Hill, as well as cauliflower, mushrooms, capsicum, coriander and Vietnamese mint. The whole lot goes on vermicelli noodles. Is good!

Fish balls from Box Hill.

On a side-fish-ball note, I buy these fairly often and can never remember which are the good ones. So! If I record them here, I'll have a record. Going clockwise, (1) is kind of a fried crab stick, (2) and (3) are just fish/crab cake, (4) has a bit of extra flavour in it and (5) is stuffed with spinach (and is therefore the most exciting).

Thursday, 11 October 2012

I'm going to be one busy lady.

We got the keys to our house last week and now there is a two month flurry of activity to get everything ready before we move in. Stumpers are booked, locksmiths have finished, fence repairs are quoted. The previous owners seemed to be fond of picture hooks...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Toddler Upgrade: Misses 1.5 and 2

Today is Miss 1.5's birthday, where she becomes Miss 2! Happy birthday to you, gorgeous!

As of today, some terminology changes. Miss 1.5 is now Miss 2, and Miss 1 has become Miss 1.5 (at 21 months). Confused???

Friday, 5 October 2012

In the kitchen - Round-up 28 September - 4 October

Oh! So much cooking.

On Friday 28th, I cleared out the fridge and put all of the vegetables that I could find, including those pesky rehydrated mushrooms, into a vegetable soup. I added the mushroom stock, vegetable stock and thyme.

When I grow up, I will be soup.

We were going to a Grand Final party on Saturday (once I'd discovered what day Grand Final Day was), so I also made some gingerbread cars, using the recipe in 'Celebration', and iced them in red and white, and yellow and brown (after checking what colour the teams who were playing were).

Gingerbread cars.

On the Saturday 29th, Darren also marinated lamb chops in garlic, ginger, olive oil, coriander, cumin, soy sauce, sesame oil, sweet chilli and lemon juice, using the recipe from 'Hot Food', and I made a Polish potato salad, using the recipe from a friend (I halved this recipe, it's still a ridiculous amount of salad):

12 potatoes, cubed, boiled
6 carrots, cubed
8-10 eggs, boiled, cubed
1 can peas
1 can Polish cucumbers, cubed
2-3 green apples, peeled, cubed
1 onion, chopped
olive oil
mustard (I used Dijon)
Thomy mayonnaise

Mix it all together!

At the party, Miss 1 ate two sausages, dried biscuits and dip, potato salad, coleslaw salad, bread, a lot of olives, pasta salad and two gingerbread men. What a gutz!

For dinner, Darren made nori handrolls with prawns, tuna, carrot, avocado, cucumber, mushroom, Kewpie mayonnaise, omlette, spring onion and dried seaweed seasoning for fillings. For the first time when making sushi, he was flying solo (I had a nap) and the results were fantastic, although there were some issues with seasoning the rice.

Nori handrolls.

We were trying to get goat at the market this week, but they didn't have any. Oh well. On Sunday 30th, I made a Jamaican curried goat with lamb instead. I used the recipe from Fleetwood and Filippelli's 'The Caribbean Central & South American Cookbook', which is lamb, curry powder, garlic, onion, thyme (of course), bay leaves, allspice and stock, and added in potatoes, carrots and peas. The curry in the book was meant to be dry, but this turned out very wet - it actually looked and tasted a lot like my grandmother's curries, so I figure that I must have done something right. The curry was served with my mother's recipe for easy rice and peas. It goes like this:

2 cups basmati rice
400 g can red kidney beans
400 ml can coconut milk
Vegetable stock

Place the rice in the rice cooker. Drain the kidney beans and place the liquid in the rice cooker. Add the coconut milk. Add stock to make up 4 cups of liquid total. Cook. Stir in the kidney beans at the end.

Curry lamb with rice and peas.

Because my neighbour is a wonderful man who mowed my lawn again, I also made some blueberry muffins, based on the recipe from '', but modified based on the comments and the want of a crumble topping:

2 1/4 cups self raising flour
90 g chopped butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
200 g frozen blueberries
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pureed apples (just under two apples, peeled, boiled and mushed)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
slurp of vanilla essence

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
60 g chopped butter
75 g flour
2 tablespoons rolled oats

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Sift flour, rub in butter. Stir in sugar. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Add blueberries, milk, apples, eggs and vanilla. Combine. Spoon into muffin pans. Top with crumble mix (Mix sugar, baking powder, cinnamon. Rub butter into flour and oats. Combine with sugar mixture.). Bake for 25 min and cool on a wire rack.

Blueberry cupcakes.

Bunny chow was in order on Tuesday 2nd - this is a bean (I used tinned four bean mix) and tomato curry with a grated carrot and tomato salad, all served in a loaf of bread. I found the recipe in the SBS 'Feast' magazine and this must be the third time that I've made it. Very nice!

Bunny chow.

On Wednesday 3rd we made a steam boat, which was super fun. There were Udon noodles, mushroom, choy sum, carrot, baby sweet corn, sliced pork and green beans, in a soup of pork stock that I had frozen, Japanese sake (I meant to add Chinese rice wine, but grabbed the wrong bottle), ginger and garlic. The dipping sauce was fish sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, sugar, garlic and chilli using the recipe in Lister & Pohl's 'Koto'.

Last night, on Thursday 4th, we had pork chops. I marinated them in oyster sauce, fish sauce, honey, sugar, spring onions, garlic and a little oil for a few hours (inspired by the recipe in the SBS 'Feast' magazine' and then grilled them. I used the left over marinade as a sauce for a stir fry of bean shoots, bamboo shoots, choy sum and Thai noodles. Sweet and tasty.