Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fancy Beans

Posted by MANDI at 7:45 PM 2 comments
I found this delicious recipe for beans in the current issue of donna hay magazine and immediately decided that we were having that for dinner. The original recipe was for 8 so I fiddled with the measurements a bit to get it to suit us,. I also fiddled with the spices a wee bit, toning it down ever so slightly so as to not shock my poor children into oblivion. With the obvious exception of Miss Fussy, we all LOVED this. It was warm, hearty, full of flavour and pleasingly spicy. That said, the little miss did eat up every little bit of pasta in the bowl so it can't have been too bad. You can ramp up (or down) the measurements to suit yourself, I've included the original recipe and added my measurements next to it.
Chorizo and Beans
from donna hay magazine, autumn 2010 (issue 50)


2 tablespooons olive oil (2 tablespoons)
2 chorizo, sliced (2)
2 red onions, sliced (1 )
4 cloves garlic, sliced (2 )
1 teaspoon chilli flakes (1/8 teaspoon ground chilli)
4 sprigs oregano (2 )
2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes (1 x 400g can)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (1/2 tablespoon)
3 x 400g cans white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained (2 x 400g cans)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (1/2 tablespoon)
crusty bread to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the chorizo, onion and garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden and tender. Add the chilli, paprika, oregano, tomato and sugar. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beans and balsamic vinegar and cook for 2 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

We nixed the bread and went with hot cooked pasta stirred through and grated parmesan cheese sprinkled over. Fantastic!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Merry, Merry King of the Bush Is He

Posted by MANDI at 8:57 PM 5 comments
Here's one of the loud, laughing kookaburras who likes to hang out in our yard. They seem to be having a bit of a territorial war at the moment and there's a whole lot of fairly aggressive laughing going on, a bit of flying at each other, the odd tactical retreat and then they start all over again. If they're not doing that they're very busy taking fly-by dives at the fish pond and stealing the baby gold-fish.

And yes, I do get fed up with the noise because they can be loud. Like seriously bloody LOUD. Like loud enough for people on the other end of the phone to ask what the heck all that noise is. But then I pinch myself and think about how lucky I am to live on an acre block with lots of trees, in the metro area. And how I totally take that for granted. And I think about how so many people never get to hear a kookaburra laugh and I hear it just about every single day. And how that's kind of unreal and spectacular.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I.

Posted by MANDI at 12:02 PM 2 comments
Here's a meme I found floating around ages ago. It's been sitting in my inbox waiting ever since. So for an easy Saturday read, here you go. If you decide to do it, let me know and I'll come check it out.
I am finally getting over this rotten cold.
I think that I should go hang out the washing while it’s sunny.
I want a pair of flat, knee high boots. But I can’t find any I like or can afford.
I have meringues in the oven.I dislike when people cut in line.
I miss my friends from Red Dirt Central.
I fear I will never have a career again. A job, sure. But not the career I crave.
I feel excited and nervous about turning 40. Lucky I still have some time to prepare.
I hear the kids running around outside.
I smell freshly cooked Anzac biscuits.
I crave things that are never in the house when I want them.
I usually say the wrong thing.
I search Google for something at least once every day.
I wonder if we will ever get the reno’s and extensions done on the house.
I regret not doing my Masters when I got in.
I love my family. They are my everything. Even when they annoy the crap out of me.
I care too much about what other people think of me.
I am always worrying.
I worry about pretty much everything.
I remember before I had kids.
I dance to The Wiggles.
I sing only when the music is turned up REALLY loud and no-one can hear me.
I don't always do what I should.
I argue with myself.
I write lists. Lots of lists.
I lose stuff all the time.
I wish on rainbows.
I listen to kookaburras laughing their way round my yard.
I don't understand maths.
I can usually be found at the kitchen bench. It’s where the computer is.
I am scared of the dark.I need quiet to be able to function.
I forget lots of stuff. It’s not always a bad thing.
I am happy, most of the time.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Leftovers, Or Two For One

Posted by MANDI at 9:10 AM 3 comments
I mentioned the other day that I'd bought a new slow cooker recipe book called Slow Cooker, Easy and delicious recipes for all seasons and it's by Sally Wise. I love it, for a whole bunch of reasons that I'm planning to go into another time, and tried another version of corned beef from it earlier in the week. I didn't take photos - seriously, how many photos of corned beef can one blog need? - but thought I'd share the recipe with you. This was totally delicious and had lots of flavour to it. Even the fussiest family member gobbled up her serve. Though not until she'd drowned it, and everything else on her plate, in tomato sauce.
The next night we had lots of leftovers. Lots. We'd all had corned beef sandwiches for lunch and serving up sliced corned beef for dinner seemed a little repetitive so I was searching for a different way to use the leftovers and decided on a recipe I found over at taste.com for Corned Beef Hash Cakes . Delicious! In fact they were so delicious that I forgot to take photos (ok, I was sick as a dog too so I did pretty well getting dinner on at all!). But there are photos over there and yes, that's what mine looked like too. I cooked them in a pan on the stove and served them up with steamed vegies - comfort food at it's best.
Corned Beef
from Slow Cooker by Sally Wise
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1.5 kg piece of corned silverside (I used a 2kg piece)
1 teaspoon mixed spice
8 cloves (I only had ground cloves so used 1 teaspoon)
10 peppercorns
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
Peel and chop the onion. Peel the carrot and cut into chunks. Slice the celery. Place the silverside, vegetables, mixed spices, cloves, peppercorns, brown sugar and vinegar in the slow cooker.
Add enough water to come two thirds up the silverside.
Place lid on cooker and cook for 4-5 hours on High or 8-9 hours on Low (I cooked mine for 5 hours on High).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ah-Ah-Ah.... CHOO!!!!

Posted by MANDI at 10:22 AM 2 comments
Remember the raging sore throat from a few days ago? Well it's turned into the head cold from hell. I am so glad that both kids are at school today and I get to have a bit of a break. After I finish this post the most energetic thing I'm planning to do until pick-up time is use the remote to change the tv channel.

The real bummer is that now I won't be able to make it to the blogger's meetup tonight. I was really looking forward to going and had everything arranged so it could happen but with a totally snotty nose, stuffed up head and next to no voice it's the last thing I feel like doing. Oh, and while I'm reasonably generous I don't think this is something I should be sharing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blogger's Meetup

Posted by MANDI at 8:34 AM 3 comments
I've finally managed to get all my planets aligned and am off to another Perth Blogger's Meetup this week. I've been trying to make it back for, oh.... about 18 months, but generally life has conspired to keep me away - that and I'm secretly a quite shy homebody so the thought of trekking into the city, at night, to talk to people I don't really know is kind of daunting. That said, the few times I have attended everyone has been really friendly and welcoming so I'm just being a big wuss really.
Anyway, if you're in Perth and you're a blogger of any description - new, long-standing, foodblogger, mummyblogger (or daddyblogger!), technoblogger, whatever-your-interest-is blogger, come along. It's a terrific way to make some new friends, ask bloggy-type questions, get some advice and help and of course find new blogs to read.
The meetup is at The Brass Monkey (upstairs on the balcony, but just ask the staff upstairs and they'll point you in the right direction), this Wednesday night - 21st April, at 7pm.
Amanda and Ron - I'm looking at you!!!
I'm also looking at trying to organise a meetup for Perth Mummybloggers - I'm thinking a casual dinner somewhere that we can have a few drinks and no-one will care that a bunch of women are all talking at the same time. If you're interested let me know.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Morning Randomness

Posted by MANDI at 9:41 AM 5 comments
  • I have a raging sore throat. The kind where it hurts to swallow, feels like your throat may be on fire and while you want to clear your throat constantly doing so will result in instant decimating pain. Buckets of hot tea, along with hot buttered crumpets dripping with honey do seem to have some restorative qualities but only for as long as the tea and crumpets last. Then it's back to firey pain.
  • Along with that I appear to have lost my voice. Well, it comes and goes. Makes life interesting when I go to tell the kids off and nothing comes out. They're still at the stunned wonderment stage of that but I can see it morphing into crazed laughter in the next few hours.
  • Went to an outdoor concert last night - Jack Jones, Tears for Fears and Spandau Ballet. A huge 80's night that I dragged hubby along to for a rather more expensive than usual date night because I LOVED Spandau Ballet way back when. Jack Jones was boring - I admit I didn't like him back then either but he was playing acoustic 'arty' versions of his songs so you couldn't entirely tell what the song was anyway. Tears for Fears were spectacular, Spandau Ballet were less so. Ok, that's not really fair - they were great they just didn't play many of their big hits, which really, is what I paid a heck of a lot of money to see.
  • Have discovered (after last nights concert) why I don't go out very often. People shit me. Especially one man who sat behind us and talked at the top of his lungs the whole way through an outdoor concert so we were forced to listen to his views, opinions and thoughts on every conceivable topic from how Gary Kemp is the greatest song writer to what started the war in Iraq to how to buy the best fish. No I'm not kidding. I came very close, as the encore started, to suggesting that since he talked the whole way through the concert he might consider shutting up so we could listen to just the last two or so songs. I didn't do it but I kinda wish I had.
  • Hubby, the wonderful handy-man that he is, fixed my broken clothes drier earlier in the week. Then my washer died. Then the drier died again. Fun times with pouring rain and two children who insist on filth-i-fying themselves constantly. The repairman was called and arrived yesterday. $200 later both machines work again. Much better than $1000 to replace them.
  • Due to the previous item I rediscovered the laundromat. The local one is actually very nice (in my previous life as a young single in a close-to-the-city suburb they were kind of dodgy and not all that nice). And I discovered a newly opened second hand book exchange that was also very nice. I may rhaphodise further on this in another post.
  • My children are currently playing with their Beado's. Quiet bliss. Until they have a fight over something inane and pointless.
  • I have been giving my slow-cooker a working out this week. It's responding well to the challenges and boy oh boy have we been eating some yummy meals. Even Offspring #2 has conceded that some of them were okay.
  • The backyard is looking somewhat jungle like and is in need of some serious attention. Sadly I am lacking the motivation to provide that attention.
  • School is back this week and I am torn between relief and sadness. I have enjoyed having hubby and the kids around, lazy mornings, getting stuff done around the house and doing things together. But I will enjoy the return to routine and the possibility that the house might stay clean longer than four minutes.

And now I better hang out some of the washing that my newly-repaired machine is churning its way through as I attempt to catch up. Then it's onto the ironing. Fun times here!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Soup Weather

Posted by MANDI at 7:50 PM 2 comments
Well our long, hot, dry summer appears to be well and truly over. This past week has been wet, wet and wet! The temps are dropping, it was only 19C here today - still not actually cold I know but well cooler that we've been used to for some time. No, we haven't lit the fire yet but I can feel it coming! However the urge to eat hearty warming meals has well and truly taken hold and as I had a huge chunk of pumpkin I figured some soup would go down a treat. Well, with everyone except Miss Fussy Bum, aka Offspring #2. Honestly, that child does my head in. Her brother has always been a fantastic eater - as a wee one the only things he really refused to eat were lettuce (odd, I know) broccoli and cabbage. And since he ate everything else and I totally agreed with him on the cabbage I just counted my blessings and got on with feeding him up. #2 is an entirely different story. She'd happily eat the same things every single day - weetbix for breakfast; banana, sultanas and crackers for morning tea; polony and sauce sandwich for lunch; pear or watermelon for afternoon tea; sausages with tomato sauce and a token smattering of raw chopped carrots, cucumber and cheese for dinner. Unless spaghetti bolognaise is on offer. She'll take that over just about anything. I do try to introduce new foods but she turns up her nose and declares them to be 'ewwwwww' without even trying them. I insist she try one bite, get her to try with something else (for example putting a pea with some mashed potato) and still I get the 'ewww'. Doing. My. Head. In.

Anyway, back to the point of the post. Pumpkin soup. Yummy, creamy, warm, filling pumpkin soup. Delicious.

I'd seen a friends facebook status saying that she had pumpkin soup in the slow cooker and I was a little puzzled. I mean, come on. It's not hard to make and it doesn't take long to cook so why on earth would you put it in the slow cooker? Then I bought a new slow cooker book that I'm just a little bit in love with and it had pumpkin soup in it so I thought I'd give it a go. Look, the soup was delicious but so is my usual recipe. I can't really see the advantage to using the slow cooker to make it - I still had to chop everything up for the pot and then get the stab mixer (bamix, whatever you call it) out to puree it but I can see it might be good on a day that you're busy in the garden or, for us at swimming lessons after school, where you can pop it on, go do what needs to be done and then come back to it some hours later. Anyway, if you're interested in trying it out, here it is. And for the record, Hubby #1 and I loved it and #2 had a peanut butter sandwich because I got sick of arguing with her.


Pumpkin Soup
From Slow Cooker, Easy and delicious recipes for all seasons by Sally Wise
Serves 4

750g dark fleshed pumpkin, such as Jap or Butternut
1 onion
1 1/2 cups stock, or water with 3 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese (I forgot to add this, but we didn't miss it)

Peel the pumpkin and cut into 2cm squares. Peel and dice the onion. Place in the slow cooker with the stock. Stir to combine
Place the lit on the cooker and cook for 4 hours on High or 8 hours on Low (I did it on High and it took about 3 hours, I also added more water to thin it out at bit at the end).
At the end of the cooking time, puree and stir through the cream and grated cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Post-Easter Traditions

Posted by MANDI at 7:52 PM 7 comments
The first post-Easter tradition is an obvious one. Scoffing lots of chocolate. And hot cross buns.

The second post-Easter tradition is less obvious but just as much fun. After sufficient scoffing time, in the case of my kids a couple of days is generally enough, gather together all the chocolate that's left. Put it into big zip-lock bags, expel the air and zip the bag closed. Then hand each kid a bag and a rolling pin and cover your ears.





When they've finished smashing and bashing find your favourite recipe that calls for choc chips and get baking.

The third part of our post-Easter tradition is the recipe itself. We've made these crunchy, crispy chocolate cookies for the past three or so years and they are always well received. And just so you don't have to go clicking all over the place to find them, I'll put the recipe right here.

Chocolate Crispy Biscuits
from Australian Table magazine, April 2007




125g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups rice bubbles
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup milk chocolate chips
½ cup shredded coconut
1. Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line 3 biscuit trays with baking paper.
2. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add remaining ingredients. Stir well until combined.
3. Place heaped tablespoons of mixture on trays, allowing room to spread. Press down gently. Bake 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Birthday Of Epic Proportions

Posted by MANDI at 11:50 AM 4 comments
Well, not really. Though we did all end up completely exhausted! Hubby's birthday was yesterday and a birthday dinner wasn't really on the cards. We would be at the zoo all day on his actual birthday then had family coming for birthday cake when we arrived home so dinner was more likely to be tasted sandwiches (in reality it turned out to be tinned soup and toast!). So I thought I'd do something a bit nice the night before.

On Saturday we had the following conversation:
Me: (with freezer door open) Hubby, what do you want for dinner tonight?
Him: Marinara.
Me: (pulling a face of extreme distaste, and with a pack of frozen chicken thighs in my hand) So... chicken then?
Him: (pulling a face back at me) Chilli Mussels .
Me: Right. So chicken then.
Him: Why do you even ask me? You never make what I want anyway... rant... rant... rant. (I kinda tuned out at then point)
Me: Well, honey you know I don't like marinara and the kids probably wouldn't so I'm sorry but it doesn't tend to end up on the weekly menu. Also it smells bad and I don't like cooking stuff that smells bad (yeah, the orignal seafood hater is married to the man who likes to catch and eat fish. Wrong on so many levels. But we make it work LOL).

Anyway, then I felt all guilty about never making food that he likes (because apparently all the lovely things I cook? He doesn't like?? I don't think so!) and decided to up the brave and make his damn chilli mussels. Especially since I actually do like chilli mussels. I think because the chilli bit disguises the mussel bit.

And so I did. They worked out okay - I cobbled together a few different recipes I found and despite them not being quite 'chilli' enough he was very happy and we called that his birthday dinner. I am going to make them again and play around with the recipe a bit until I get the end result we're after. Then I'll share it with you. But for now... this is what they looked like when I remembered to grab the camera (after we'd eaten about half of them!).


Offspring #1 lived up to his reputation and happily tried them, declared them to be fabulous and tried to eat the rest of them while Offspring #2 lived up to her reputation and declared them to be "ewwww" just from looking at them. Although I messed up the timing somewhat we treated the mussels as the entree and I made Crunchy Parmesan Crumbed Chicken with steamed vegies for main so everyone was kept happy.

Hubby chose his own birthday present, collected it, assembled it, used it and approved it. Then we wrapped it. I wonder if you can guess what it is?

And then we spent his actual birthday at the zoo. Normally we hire a buggy to cart the kids and all our stuff but we decided that #1 probably wouldn't fit in the buggy anymore and #2 was big enough to walk it. Great decision as there were no buggies left when we arrived. We didn't cover the whole zoo but we saw all our favourites - from the giraffes for #2, to the crocodile for Hubby and we found the new-since-we-were-there-last penguin area where the penguins were busy racing up and down their tank which had the kids enthralled and in fits of laughter. We took a few pics of our fave's but didn't go overboard.


And then, on the walk back to the car at about the point both kids were too tired to take one more step we found a playground. The rejuvenating powers of a playground should never be underestimated!


For a low-key kind of birthday I think he did okay!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

We're Back

Posted by MANDI at 9:20 PM 1 comments
We had a ball on our brief getaway. We caught up with lots of friends, played with the kids and did fun stuff and have come home absolutely exhausted.
There's lots going on at the moment with Hubby's birthday tomorrow and a trip to the zoo, another week of school holidays to navigate and negotiate, promised sleepovers for one child and playdates for the other to follow up on. As well as new recipes I'm wanting to try, more yard work than I want to even think about and some pretty new wool I bought so I can get back to doing some knitting.
For now though my bed is calling to me. LOUDLY.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Around The Corner

Posted by MANDI at 1:17 PM 0 comments
We ran into a slight problem with the engineering of the retaining wall and its construction ground to a screaming halt. But it's all sorted now and Hubby is back to work, mixing, measuring, building and hooking up string lines all over the place.

Here are the latest pics of his progress so far. He's rounded the front corner and started on the three separate walls that will create tiered garden beds.


I'm so lucky to be married to the kind of bloke who not only knows what he wants to do but also has the know-how and ability to make it happen. I might be whinging about the amount of sand being dragged through my house but I know how good I have it really.


In other news, we'll be away for the next few days so I'll see you sometime over the weekend. Cheers!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Not Quite According To Plan

Posted by MANDI at 7:14 PM 6 comments
We have been having the most glorious weather here. It's the beginning of April and we're still enjoying temps in the high 20's for crying out loud. Yes, we desperately need rain and yes, I'm kind of sick of salads and am looking forward to the kinds of foods that cooler weather brings but we've been determined to enjoy every last minute of sunshine and warmth while it lasts. With that in mind we thought we'd head out for a picnic on the river and take the boat out for a run.

All went well until we hit this point. See there, where the boats are moored?



That's where the boat stopped. Yes, stopped. Dead in the middle of the river. Phhttt. And, despite Hubby's best attempts (and possibly some not terribly polite language) it wouldn't go again. I think every person in Perth who has a boat was away for the Easter weekend. The river was the most quiet we've ever seen it. We sat there for ages and no-one went past. Finally Hubby decided he'd pull out the oars and row. He made it to the markers (on the edge of the pic) before the wind picked up and, regardless of his valiant attempts, we were being blown backwards and into seriously shallow water.

And finally someone came to our rescue. They were in a boat that, by rights, shouldn't have towed ours. It was a gorgeous little thing that reminded me of the kind of groovy speedboats you'd find in old-fashioned Elvis movies. They dragged us over to the boat-ramp and, after we had given them our heartfelt thanks, we waited for Poppy to come to our rescue. He collected Hubby, drove him to the boat ramp where the car and trailer were parked, several km's away, and then back Hubby came to collect the boat, the wife and the kids.


And then we went home again. Don't say we don't have adventures!

Friday, April 2, 2010

One A Penny, Two A Penny...

Posted by MANDI at 6:52 PM 5 comments
Yep! We've been baking Hot Cross Buns. The first recipe was a bit of a fizzer. They tasted okay but they were quite stodgy and turned stale super quickly - like within a matter of hours - and didn't exactly look like the regular kind of hot cross buns we're all used to. The second version was much better; fluffy, light and they look the part too. I got the recipe for these ones from one of my new favourite blogs, Destitute Gourmet. I halved it to end up with an even dozen buns and the only thing I'd change is to add in some sugar as we all prefer ours a little bit sweeter. I wouldn't add too much though, a couple of tablespoons would do the job. Just enough to sweeten them up a little bit and give them a bit more oomph.


 

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