Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not So Slack

Posted by MANDI at 9:45 PM 2 comments

Home-style Chicken and Vegetable Pie
Adapted from a recipe in the Ugly Binder

White Sauce
30g butter
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 tablespoons flour
300 ml milk
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 rashers bacon, chopped
500g chicken breasts, cubed
200g pumpkin, cubed
1 cup frozen peas and corn
1 zucchini, sliced
150g broccoli, cut into florets
150g cauliflower, cut into florets
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 220˚C. For the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the mustard and flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until golden. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a large frying pan, Add the onion and bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the chicken and pumpkin, Cook for 10 minutes or until browned. Add the vegetables and thyme and cook for 5 minutes or until tender.
3. Combine the chicken mixture and the white sauce. Set aside to cool. Line the base of a lightly greased 23cm pie dish with a sheet of puff pastry, allowing the excess to hang over the sides. Brush the rim with lightly beaten egg. Spoon the cooled filling into the pastry and top with the other sheet of pastry. Seal the pastry using a lightly floured fork. Trim off any excess and cut a steam hole in the top.
4. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden.

Serves 6

I took chicken out of the freezer for yesterday's dinner then went with leftovers instead so needed to use the chicken breasts for tonight's meal. After my very slack attempts in the kitchen lately I purposely went looking for a chicken recipe that I hadn't made before that also had ingredients readily available in my fridge/pantry. I did pretty well, only had to ask Hubby to stop and pick up a zucchini for me. I did make a few changes to the original version of this recipe, mostly because of what I had, or rather did not have, in my fridge tonight. The end result was delicious. With a bit more seasoning (and maybe a splash of wine!) it would be a really lovely 'grown-up' dinner but as it stands, it was a very tasty and enjoyable family dinner. Offspring #2 scoffed the lot, and then tucked into some gorgeously juicy watermelon. I'm hoping this 'must eat everything in sight' will lead to a developmental spurt that includes walking! Meanwhile, Offspring #1 declared it "a bery nice dinner". I know, I really have to correct him when he mispronounces his v's as b's but it is so darn cute!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Mmmm, Leftovers

Posted by MANDI at 8:16 PM 0 comments
Vegetable Patties (with a little bit of diced roast lamb!)

No recipe today, well not a real recipe anyway! I cooked lots of extra vegies with last nights roast so that we could have vegetable patties for dinner tonight. I used some of the leftover lamb in there too (a way of tricking my non-meat loving Offspring 1 into eating some meat). Basically I mashed up all the leftovers, chucked in some diced lamb, swirled a fork through to mix it all up and then rolled heaped tablespoons of mix in breadcrumbs before cooking it over a medium heat in a fry-pan. YUM! That, along with the leftover Cauliflower/Brocolli Cheese, made a delicious, nutritious and easy dinner. Everyone enjoyed it and the ice-cream cone for dessert finished it off nicely. Aaaahhh, I do enjoy being slack on the odd occasion.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Post Number 50!

Posted by MANDI at 8:33 PM 2 comments

Wow! I know lots of other bloggers have been going for so much longer than I have but I'm pretty chuffed to have hit my 50th post.

We had a yummy lamb roast, with all the extras, for dinner tonight. I was going to take a pic, just for fun, but the temptation to dig in was too great. I made an Apple Sponge Pudding for dessert but it didn't quite work out so I'm planning to do a bit of tweaking and see if I can't make it as good as it looked in the recipe book. When I read the recipe it seemed to have an awful lot of "wet" ingedients and a very small amount of flour and my suspicions proved to be correct upon cooking. The sponge topping just wouldn't cook/set and I ended up having to cook it for an hour to get it to an edible point. So less butter, a bit more flour and we should end up with something light, fluffy and apple-ey. I can almost convince myself it's good for me because it has fruit!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Welcome, baby Samuel

Posted by MANDI at 8:28 PM 0 comments

My friend, Maria, had a baby boy on Thursday night and I got to see him this morning. He is so tiny and so very lovely to cuddle.

Baby Samuel, 2 days old

Maria's husband has been travelling lots with work in the past few weeks and I was the back-up labour partner if he was too far away to get back in time. If he's not here he is generally in a town 6 hours away and her first labour was three weeks early and only lasted 3 hours so she was a little concerned. Luckily her hubby arrived home Wednesday night, she went into labour Thursday morning and baby Samuel arrived Thursday night. The kid's already got his timing organised!
In updates from Red Dirt Central:

Still hot, just getting hotter! No rain yet, although it has looked promising a couple of times this week.

Offspring #1 is doing well with the war on thumb-sucking. His thumb does still creep in from time to time but that taste reminds him and he comes rushing into the kitchen begging for a drink to wash the yukkiness away.

Offspring #2 has more teeth. Last week she got 3 teeth over 4 days and yesterday another one popped through. That makes 4 teeth in 10 days and two of them were molars - OUCH!! She's also had a cold the past few days so has been a right little monster! Thursday night I got 3 hours sleep - but not all at once! Can you say, "Mummy's a wreck"? Hubby didn't do much better then he had meetings all day, poor thing. He came home absolutely destroyed.

Have booked the dog into the kennel for our trip to Perth over Christmas (WOOOHOOOO!!! , yeah I'm kinda excited) Have also bought car DVD players to keep the kids amused for at least some of the very long drive. I wasn't totally for this but after speaking to a few of the other mums up here I changed my mind, somewhat, and gave Hubby the go-ahead. Also got #1 a cheap version of the old 'stable table' so he has something to lean on and he can play cars, draw, etc, a little more easily while travelling.

Now I'm off to watch a DVD with hubby, and I might just have to eat some popcorn and pretend it's a date!

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Vegetable Delight

Posted by MANDI at 10:26 AM 2 comments
Vegetable quiche
from Family Circle's Delicious Quiches and Flans, © 1993

Preparation time: 40 minutes + 20 minutes refrigeration
Total Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves 4-6

I used pre-made sheets of shortcrust pastry for the base of the quiche. Last time I made it I used regular sized pastry sheets and needed 1½ sheets to cover the dish I was using but yesterday I found jumbo sized sheets and they fitted perfectly.

100g broccoli, cut into small florets I added another 100g of cauliflower too
2 small zucchini, cut into 2cm slices
150g pumpkin, cut into 2cm cubes
2 teaspoons oil
1 small red capsicum (red bell pepper) cut into 2cm squares
1 medium onion chopped
50g butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
130g can corn kernels

Preheat oven to 180˚C / 350˚F.Grease a 20cm fluted flan tin with melted butter or oil then line base and sides with pastry. Trim to fit. Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper large enough to cover pastry lined dish. Cover the pastry with the paper and spread a layer of dried beans or rice evenly over the paper. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and discard paper and beans. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

To make filling:
Steam or microwave broccoli, zucchini and pumpkin (and cauliflower) until just tender. Drain. Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan and cook capsicum (red bell pepper) and onion over a medium heat until soft. Set aside. Heat butter in a small pan then add flour and stir over a low heat until flour mixture is just golden. Add milk gradually to the pan, stirring until mixture is smooth. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Beat in egg yolks until mixture is smooth, stir in cheddar cheese.

Place the cooked vegetables in a large bowl. Drain corn and add to vegetables along with pepper is required. Pour hot sauce over and stir to combine. Pour vegetable mixture into pastry shell and bake for 20 minutes, until top is golden. Serve hot.

I have made this before and was pleased with how it turned out. Hubby had put in a request for me to cook it again to I thought I'd see if it turned out as well second time round. It did!

I made two of these last night, one for the pregnant couple from Hubby's work and the other for us. As it turned out we went to a work colleagues of Hubby for dinner so I took it along as our contribution and it was warmly welcomed and heartily enjoyed. It's always nice to have something you cook so appreciated.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Two Christmas Presents Done...

Posted by MANDI at 9:44 PM 3 comments
Umpteen more to go!

I have nearly finished the Christmas shopping but am only just starting on the plethora of home-made gifts that need to be created. As we have a three-day drive to reach the festivities this year, gifts from the kitchen have been ruled out and I have instead turned to my hand to crafty pursuits. Unfortunately I suck at craft! Luckily, as you are aware, I have discovered scrapbooking and while modestly prevents me from boasting (nah, not really!) I am better at this than any other crafts I have tried.

I have finished the Christmas presents for the Great-Grandma's. I made them both the same thing - a mini accordian album with photos of the kids. Basically it's card that is cut and folded, and where needed pasted together, to make an accordian fold then thicker cardboard is used for the front and back covers and then you decorate at will (or random, whatever your prefer!).

The Front Covers

I left the insides fairly plain. I used paint and ink to add character to the 'pages' then just a few bits of ribbon and some small bits and pieces but the main decorations are the photos of the kids (or in this case, the great-grandkids).

One of the albums laid out flat

I'm pleased with the finished result and am fairly confident that Mumma and Great-Grandma will be happy with them too.

The album on display (standing up)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Breaking The Habit

Posted by MANDI at 7:55 PM 4 comments
My name is Red Dirt Mummy and my child sucks his thumb!
There, I said it! I have admitted that we have a problem and that is the first step to recovery. Can you tell I have watched way too many soap operas in my time?
Offspring #1 is a thumb-sucker. When he was little that was fine, it was even kind of cute. I thought it was better than a dummy (pacifier). At least when he crawled or played his thumb had to come out so he could use it to do other stuff. We knew other kids who had dummies firmly stuck in their gobs 24 hours a day. "No dummies for us!" we gloated, somewhat smugly. But somewhere along the way things changed. #1's thumb sucking took on a life of it's own and, if he sat still for more that 3.2 seconds, the thumb found it's way in. We started gently reminding him. Fat lot of good that did. Then we had a talk about how he was getting to be a big kid and big kids didn't need to suck their thumbs. Hmmpphhh! Next we put a band-aid over his thumb as a reminder not to suck it. It didn't remind him. He just worked the band-aid down so that he could suck the very tip. Finally we pulled out the big guns and bought some of the foul tasting stuff that you paint on fingers to stop thumb-sucking and nail-biting. This had some success but we (that should probably read I) stopped putting it on too soon and he went straight back.
Operation Cease That Filthy Habit (No, we don't really call it that!) has commenced today. #1's thumbs (yep both of them, I'm not taking any chances) will be painted every morning and every evening for three weeks. That is the time that I have set. At the end of three weeks I am hoping that he will have broken the habit of putting his thumb into his mouth. The thumb finds it's way in when he is worried, bored, happy, sad, in trouble, reading a book, any time at all. He does seem able to settle himself just fine so I am convinced it is the action that has become a habit rather than the act itself being comforting.
I am in no way suggesting that he doesn't derive comfort from it but at 4, and heading for pre-primary (full-time school) we need this habit gone. There are a number of reasons I think he should stop (1) I really don't want him to get teased at school because of it, (2) Who know what he has been touching and then sticking his finger in his mouth? and (3) because we know a couple of kids who are several years older and still committed thumb-suckers. It is playing havoc on their teeth and Mum and Dad are already footing the dental bills to correct the damage in one case. It also stops being cute and, to me, looks a little off once they get past a certain age/height/developmental stage.
So wish us luck and, without flaming me please, offer up any suggestions or advice you might have.
PS Yes #2 has a dummy, for bed only. I was adamant that she wouldn't get one and caved the first night home from hospital when she was still awake and screaming at midnight! About 4 minutes of gentle rocking later she was fast asleep and peaceful for the first time that day. No doubt we will have to fight our battles over that later but we have learnt a few things along the way.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Another Fine Mess!

Posted by MANDI at 6:53 PM 4 comments
Anzac Biscuits

½ cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup flour
125g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 level teaspoon bi carbonate soda

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, melt butter and golden syrup over medium heat.
Add soda to boiling water then add mix to the melted butter. (be careful, it froths up)
Pour butter mixture into dry ingredients, mix well.
Drop into small pieces on an oven slide lined with baking paper.

Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. They will be quite soft when they come out of the oven, don’t worry, they’ll crisp up.

I have no idea what I did wrong. I wouldn't normally follow a recipe to make these as I have made them so many times but after yesterday's humiliation I checked and rechecked each ingredient. At the end it all looked good but still wouldn't hold together to make nice biscuits, just crumbly blobs that fell apart on the baking paper. I figured I would do the same as yesterday and turn it into a slice. It turned out fine, I just cooked it for a little bit extra, although it's kind of crumbly. But it was very nice with an afternoon cup of tea and even better with some ice-cream after dinner.

I know this isn't exactly the post to inspire you to rush and make these but I'm going to have another go in a week or so and see what I have been doing wrong so hopefully I'll be able to post pictures of gorgeous golden Anzac biscuits. I'm also going to buy new bi carb because I have a sneaking suspision that what I have is quite old and maybe it's time to get some "fresh" stuff (*Does bi carb go 'off'?).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A "Head-In-The-Clouds" Day!

Posted by MANDI at 8:54 PM 0 comments

Potato Bake
from the back of the soup can!

1kg potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1x420g can Campbell's Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
¾ cup milk
Black pepper, to taste
½ cup fresh or ¼ cup dried breadcumbs
½ cup grated tasty cheese

Preheat ovent to 220˚C. Lightly grease an 8-cup ovenproof, microwave safe dish
Evenly layer potatoes in prepared dish. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 10 minutes or until potatoes are just tender.
Meanwhile, combime soup, milk and pepper. Pour evenly over the potatoes, gently shaking the dish to allow the mixture to run through the potato layers.
Combine cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over potato mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until hot and golden.

We had a BBQ for dinner and I wanted something to pep it up just a little bit. Meat and salad gets a bit boring after a while. I remembered I had a can of soup of in the pantry and .... here we have something a bit tasty for dinner.

I feel like I am cheating badly by blogging this super-easy, straight-off-the-back-of-the-can recipe but what I had planned to blog didn't quite work out. I attempted to make a batch of Anzac biscuits (cookies for the Americans). "What?" I hear you cry. "How can you mess up Anzac biscuits?" Let's just say my head wasn't quite where it should have been. The funniest part is that I couldn't work out what was wrong with the mix. Did I add too many oats? Did I need more butter to bind it all together? There was no way that mixture was going to stick together to make biscuits so I improvised and put it into a baking tray to make an Anzac slice. It came out dripping butter and although quite tasty wasn't quite right. About an hour later it hit me - I forgot to add the flour! How can you forget to add flour to a recipe for biscuits? I don't really know but I'm fully prepared to blame the offspring for lack of any better excuse LOL.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Vegies for dinner

Posted by MANDI at 1:52 PM 1 comments

Vegetable Lasagna
from Healthy Eating for Kids by Anita Bean ©2004

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red capsicum (red bell pepper), chopped
60g mushrooms, chopped
1 zucchini (courgette), chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil I had fresh basil so used that
salt and pepper
1 tin (400g) red kidney beans
400g passata (smooth sieved tomatoes)
85g mature cheddar, grated
9 sheets instant lasagna I used fresh lasagna sheets

Pre-heat oven to 180˚C.

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Cook onion for 3-4 minutes. Add other vegetables and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

Add basil, salt, pepper, kidney beans and passata. Simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly.

Lay a layer of lasagna sheets at the bottom of an oiled baking dish. Cover with one third of the bean mixture. Continue layering finishing with bean mixture.

Sprinkle over with cheddar and bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden.

Serves 4

I fully admit that the photo of today's dish is shockingly bad! I acutally fogot to take photos until I had served dinner and none of the plates looked 'pretty' enough to photograph so I resorted to taking a photo of what was left in the baking dish.
I found this recipe in a cookbook I recently borrowed from the library. While I wasn't particulary impressed with the cookbook I did grab a couple of recipes to try. I'm sure that Italian traditionalists would be horrified by this particular recipe but it was easy to make, reasonably quick and quite tasty.

I made two of these last night. Hubby's work colleague has a wife in the early stages of pregnancy and suffering badly from all-day morning sickness. Having been there myself I have much sympathy for what they are going through. They already have two kids, aged 5 and 2, and poor H is sick all day and all night. B is doing the best he can juggling everything but the emergency troops (his mum, from the US, for a few weeks and then her mum, from 10 hours north of here, for as much longer as is needed) don't arrive until next week. I offered to cook them a few meals but have to admit that them being vegetarian did kind of stump me. I do know (and make) some lovely vegetarian dishes but they tend to be "make and serve" kind of dishes rather than make and deliver for reheating some time later. Then I remembered this one. I was a bit apprehensive because I hadn't made it before but figured it sounded okay and I'd just see how it looked/smelt while I was making it. Anyway, B was so pleased when I dropped it off and then rang after dinner to thank me for it and let me know how much they had all enjoyed it. His kids ate it with no complaints and H even managed a small serving and said to tell me how nice it was. Next week I'm planning to make a vegetable quiche for them (and for us too!).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Just for Jen

Posted by MANDI at 7:55 PM 2 comments
After last night's post Jen requested (okay, demanded LOL!) pics. I attempted to take some nice photos of my 'pretty' girl tonight after dinner but... let's just say I wasn't real successful. But, just for Jen, here are some pics of Offspring #2

An action shot! Not what I intended but she thought it was pretty funny.

She was there a second ago! As I pressed the button #2 sat down in a hurry.

The 'best' shot out of about 20. You can't see the tooth she got Tuesday night (it's next to the front right) but you can see the one that came through today! To be honest, and admit to my poor mothering skills, I just thought she was being a grump because she tired as her morning nap was interrupted. It wasn't till I looked at this photo on the computer that I saw the new tooth. Oops!

And yes, she does have her two bottom teeth, they are just hiding.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Posted by MANDI at 9:38 PM 1 comments
Last night Offspring #2 was having a hard time settling down for the night. She went off to bed as usual: she had her bottle, I changed her nappy(diaper!) , she had both dummies (pacifiers!) -one for mouth and the other for her hand. No problems. But 20 minutes later she was crying and needed re-settling. This went on every half hour or so until about 11pm when I was ready to call it a day and give her some baby Panadol - there was obviously something hurting, I just couldn't work out what it was. As I was reaching this decision whatever was bothering her seemed to stop and she settled into a proper sleep and we didn't hear from her again until 6am this morning - horrifically early but wake up time in the house of Red Dirt. Yay, no medicine needed and we all got some decent sleep. Anyway, I was getting her dressed this morning when she gave me her usual big goofy grin. I grinned back and then realised... there was an extra tooth in that smile!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bland and Boring

Posted by MANDI at 3:41 PM 4 comments

Crunchy CousCous-Coated Chicken
From the Ugly Binder

1¼ cups (250g) couscous
1¼ cups (310ml) boiling water
600g chicken tenderloins
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk

Combine couscous with the water in a large heatproof bowl. Cover; stand 5 minutes or until water is absorbed, fluffing with a fork occasionally.
Toss Chicken in flour; shake away excess. Dip chicken in small bowl containing combined egg and milk. Toss chicken in couscous; place on tray. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes.
Heat oil in large non-stick frypan; cook chicken in batches until browned both sides and cooked through. Serve with salad.

Serves 4

This is another recipe that has been sitting in the Ugly Binder for some time. I have looked at this so many times and thought that it looked good but the reality was.... well, not quite so good. It was bland, it was boring, and the bits that weren't in direct contact with the fry-pan were wet and squooshy - cooked but not pleasant. As Hubby said, "It seems like you went to an awful lot of effort to cook something that tastes the same as if you hadn't done anything to it!". Needless to say, I won't be making this one again but I am glad I tried it.

On the positive side of things, I have an empty space in the Ugly Binder that needs filling so now I have an excuse to read more foodie magazines LOL!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

We Entertained!

Posted by MANDI at 8:20 PM 1 comments
At home we often have friends over for a Sunday lunch, a bbq, drinks and nibbles, an early dinner on a school night, etc, but since moving here we haven't really had much opportunity. It's not helped by the fact that we don't know too many people. Anyway, Offspring #1's teacher, J, is an old 'drinking buddy' from when Hubby and I were up this way last time round - she arrived in Red Dirt Central around the same time as us. Her partner was transferred up here and at the same time an extra teacher was needed in town so it all worked out rather nicely. We were both pleasantly surprised when we met at the school's Information Session for the new class that had been created. Anyway, I had promised to catch up with her over the holidays and of course the holidays finish tomorrow... so I rang Friday morning and asked if she and her partner would like to come over for a drink that night.
We decided that rather than cooking dinner I'd do nibblies but make them reasonably substantial. Have I mentioned that I love cooking? It makes me happy. It relaxes me. And it's even better when I get to make a bunch of little bits and pieces. Sorry, no photos today - we ate it all way to fast to stop and take pics LOL. I made herbed meatballs (which we had with sweet chilli sauce), bacon and leek spirals and a focacia to go with the olive tapenade I had in the fridge. I bought some marinated chicken wings and also did a cheese platter. Those of you who know me well know that I don't really need an excuse for dessert, and it's even better if I can work chocolate into it.Since we were only having nibblies rather than a proper meal I had to give this some serious thought but finally came up with... choclate fondue! I found a new recipe so we tried that and it was an absolute winner - 250g block of chocolate, half a bag of marshmellows, half a cup of thickened cream. It was delicious! To top it off we enjoyed some very nice WA wines too.
The kids were angels and went to bed with no arguments, we enjoyed some 'grown-up' company and I felt like a normal person instead of a tired mummy with no social life. Yay for entertaining.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Anyone For Pie?

Posted by MANDI at 7:56 AM 1 comments
Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Pie
From the Ugly Binder
(torn out of
The Australian Women’s Weekly, July 1999)

1 medium leek, sliced
60g butter
¼ cup plain flour
200g button mushrooms
only had about 130g
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley didn’t have any so I left this out
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk, extra
3 sheets of pre-prepared puff pastry I used store bought frozen stuff

To prepare leek, remove dark green top and root end; cut leek in half lengthways. Hold leek under running water, opening leaves to allow water to flow between leaves and rinse away grit. Or swish in a bowl of water until clean.
Heat butter in large pan; cook mushrooms, stirring, until browned lightly. Add leek, cook, stirring, until leek is soft. Stir in flour and stock powder, stirring, one minute. Gradually stir in milk, then mustard; cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat, stir in parsley, chicken and pepper, cool. (I didn’t let mine cool, I just went straight on)
Place chicken mixture in an oiled 1.75 litre (7-cup capacity) ovenproof dish. Brush rim of dish with a little of the combined egg yolk and milk. To make a double edge of pastry for the pie (this gives the pastry a bit more puff) cut a strip about 1.5cm (about ½ and inch) and long enough to fit the top of the ovenproof dish. Gently press pastry strip onto the rim of the dish; brush pastry rim with water.
Place remaining pastry over pie; trim edge with sharp knife. Scallop the edge of the pie, if desired, by pressing an upturned teaspoon into the pastry. Brush pastry top lightly with more egg yolk mixture.
Using a sharp knife, mark the sides of the pastry so it ‘puffs’ more during baking. Place dish on an oven tray, bake in very hot oven (240˚C/500˚F) for 15 minutes; reduce heat to moderate (180˚C/350˚F), bake further 10 minutes or until browned.

Serves 4-6
Suitable to freeze
Not suitable to microwave

I tried a new recipe last night. I had a bunch of chicken mince (ground chicken) that I wanted to use up and had also scored 3 leeks for $1 on the clearance veg trolley at the supermarket so decided to make this pie and serve it with some vegies. I just cooked the chicken mince first and put it aside until the recipe called for it. Despite the huge amount of instructions this was actually easy to make. I was having a bit of a panic because Offspring #1 and I had been out to visit a kindy friend and arrived home a little later than I had planned but this was done inside an hour, from the beginning prep to on the table! I was pretty impressed with that. I have included the leek prep instructions for those of you who said you hadn’t cooked with leeks before – maybe armed with this info you might be willing to tackle them.

This was a hit with the whole family - Hubby was very vocal in his appreciation, Offspring #2 scarfed the lot and Offspring #1 declared that the black bits were yukky but the rest was okay (once I removed the offending mushrooms from his serve all was well with the world).

As a special treat I brushed the leftover pastry with water and sprinkled it with raw sugar then baked it for about 15 minutes. The pastry “wafers” cooled while we ate dinner then we had them with vanilla ice-cream and fresh juicy sweet strawberries. #2 just got strawberries (what a mean Mummy!) but she thought they were pretty darn fine and they quickly disappeared. We know she’s enjoyed something when we can’t find any remains in her highchair LOL.

And no, I don’t generally keep recipes torn from magazines for 7 years before trying them! I found this in an old magazine about a year ago and I have made the recipe on the reverse page (for bacon and egg pie) a few times.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's Getting Hot!

Posted by MANDI at 11:38 AM 0 comments
It is really starting to heat up here in sub-tropical Red Dirt Central. Over the weekend it was in the low 40's (about 108˚F) but has been a bit cooler the last couple of days hovering around 35˚C or 95˚F. The wet season officially begins at the beginning of November and the town Cyclone Clean-up is underway. Rubbish is being laid out on the verge for the street collection, a ncessary part of living here but not terribley attractive! Meanwhile the mercury continues to climb and it just gets hotter and hotter. It's not even really hot yet but I am certainly noticing it.

Last time we lived up this way (pre-offspring) I worked full-time so was in air-conditioning all day at work and then Hubby would flit home to switch the air-con on, thereby cooling the house for my arrival an hour or so later. He would then return to work and arrive home for dinner. All nicely organised and making the most of our ability to keep cool. As a stay-at-home-mummy this time round I am noticing the heat a lot more (please don't say it's because I'm 10 years older and more likely to be affected by heat and other such middle-aged issues!) . Anyway, Hubby decided it was time to bite the bullet and set up the pool. It's one of those cheapie round blow-up things but it is a decent size (about 10' from memory) and has a filter so the water stays good. We are onto our third year with it so the $99 was definitely worth it. We have put it around the side of the house as this section is out of the way and already mostly fenced, we just need to add a gate and will have that done by the weekend (no, the Offspring are not currently allowed out the back unsupervised). We have put up a shade sail so the pool is pretty much shaded and now we just need to pretty-up that section of the yard a bit - pull some weeds and maybe put down some pavers as a pathway as the blue-metal ground cover is HARD and hurts your feet.

Here it is in all it's glory. The clam shells at the base of the pool are a complicated system (devised by Offspring #1 and Hubby) for ensuring that feet are clean upon entry of the pool and allowing for drying off in relative cleanliness upon leaving!

And some pics of the offspring frolicking!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Delicious Start To The Day

Posted by MANDI at 4:01 PM 5 comments
French Toast
recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson's version in delicious, July 2006

A couple of handfuls of stawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
Custard or thickened cream, to serve
French Toast
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons thickened cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 brioche slices
40g unsalted butter

Combine stawberries and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until strawberries are warm and tender and sugar has melted.

For toast, beat eggs, cream and vanilla in a shallow bowl. Melt half the butter in a non-stick frypan over medium heat. Dip half the brioche slices into the egg mixture, allowing excess to drain off. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side until golden, keep warm in oven if needed and then repeat with remaining brioche slices. Divide toast among plates and spoon over the strawberries and serve with custard or cream.

Serves 6

OMG!!! I hadn't come across sweet French Toast before, only the savoury somewhat bland version that kids tend to like but was never high on my list of favourite foods. This is divine. Nigella's recipe has baked rhubarb but since that isn't currently available in Red Dirt Central and as I had a punnet of sweet juice strawbs in the fridge I went with them. I did make this with regular sandwich bread because nowhere in this town could I find brioche. I think it would definitely be better with brioche so next time I make it I will have to be a little more organised and make the brioche the day before so that I can have this spectacular treat for breakfast. #1 and I thoroughly enjoyed this and I think it may even rival our favourite breakfast treat of pancakes with maple syrup and cream! Is this, or a version of it, a regular recipe for some of you out there? Have I just been dozing in dullsville as far as French Toast is concerned? Enquiring minds want to know LOL.

As you might have noticed I have been making some changes to the look and layout of my blog. I quite like this version - let me know what you think. Is it easy to read? Not to hard to find stuff? I have also added a few new finds to my lists of "Who I read" - check them out, some great recipes, lovely pics and a few chuckles too.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

And Some More Pictures From Our Holiday

Posted by MANDI at 8:08 PM 0 comments
This is Nikki's Restaurant on the foreshore at Onslow.

Hubby had dinner here when he attended a regional meeting at Onslow recently and raved about the food. I'm not sure that it wasn't just being in a restaurant, eating food prepared by someone else, without kids, that made it such a pleasant experience LOL. Anyway, he said we had to have dinner there while on our trip. We shared Garlic Prawns and the Dip Trio with Turkish Bread as an entree. I'm not a big fan of seafood but the prawns were delicious - they were in a creamy garlic sauce that was to die for!! The dips were pretty darn good too, especially the sundried tomato one. Offspring #1 was most impressed with both entrees and matched up bite for bite. Offspring #2 had eaten before we left for the restaurant and I had crackers for her but she also snacked on the Turkish bread and made her current favourite sound (beside high-pitched squealing - is that a girl thing??) mmmmm...mmmm to signify her approval.

We both chose the fish and chips for main course, this came with a salad bar type-affair and we ordered just salad bar for #1 knowing that he would eat half of my dinner (all of which was suggested by our very down-to-earth waitress). The fish was freshly caught (as you would expect in a fishing town!) and it was nice but I kind of wished I had chosed the sirloin - if only because nice meat is really hard to get in Red Dirt Central. Offspring #1 ate his body weight in chips, tried some of the salad and then declared he was too full for the fish. Funnily enough when my dessert arrived he suddenly had enough room for "just a leeeeeetle taste". The cheesecake was very obviously made in-house. Good in one way - not one of those boxed cheesecakes that look great but don't taste nearly as nice, but it was very similar to a cheesecake that I make so wasn't quite the treat I was anticipating. Still a nice way to finish a meal though.

And here are some pics of the beach and the foreshore itself.

That is pretty much it for the Onslow pics so tomorrow I will actually have to come up with something to write about. Yikes!

Monday, October 9, 2006

More Pics (as promised)

Posted by MANDI at 9:47 PM 1 comments
While we were at Onslow we went to visit "old" Onslow. The original townsite was pretty much destroyed by a cyclone in about 1918 (not too sure on the date as I can't remember and can't find the tourist info sheet) and the whole town was moved to where it is now, right on the coast. The old townsite was quite a way from the new site and was about 4 miles away from the river. It is kind of eerie out there now - there are only a couple of buildings left standing and although there has been some work done signposting points of interest the whole place is just bits of left over stuff in the middle of the scrub. I was really interested to learn that the town was much older than I had thought - most of the north-west towns are quite young because they sprang up around mineral deposit discoveries in the the sixties and seventies. Onslow as a town started in about the 1880's.
These are the building that are left - the police station/court house/accomodation for the police, magistrate (who was also the town's doctor) and their families.

And the old gaol, complete with broken glass embedded into the cement on the roof to stop those inside from getting out. Crude but effective! You can just see it on the closest wall.

This is all that remains of the telegraph station.

And the blacksmith shop...

The cemetery was really sad. There are about 10 or so gravestones that can be easily seen and they are inside an old wire fence in the middle of absolutely nothing. When we were at the cemetery the wind dropped and it was just stinkingly hot and still - really quite spooky.

Sunday, October 8, 2006

I've Been A-Scrappin'

Posted by MANDI at 7:59 PM 1 comments
I know I said I'd share more Onslow photos but I went a-scrappin' today and am well pleased with what I made so have to share pics of these instead.

I have made one Star Album previously, from a kit with some pretty dodgy instructions - I have a hard time following written instructions at the best of times but this time I had to get Hubby to read them and decipher what the heck they meant. Since then I have been meaning to go back and have another go - this time making a couple of changes and generally tweaking things a little to make the album easier to make and a little nicer to look at. I didn't have much time to get organised for today's crop session so decided that rather than rush and be unhappy with the finished pages I would revisit the star album project. I got two albums made and am really pleased with the finished products. I am planning to give them away as gifts so they are embellished (for non-scrappers: they have 'bits' - like buttons and ribbon and shiny things - on them to make them look pretty) but have not photos. The recipients can add photos as they wish.

Here are the two albums closed up. The ribbons on the side tie the album closed.

Then when you open it up...ta da! The ribbons tie the album open in a star shape.The blue-green album is for a friend who is having a baby boy in a couple of weeks.

I haven't decided who the Christmas album is for yet. I'm still deciding what other gifts to make and then will make some decisions about what is for who (hmmm... should that be whom?? I know, it's shockingly bad either way LOL!)

I promise - Onslow photos tomorrow.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

We're back!

Posted by MANDI at 8:31 PM 2 comments
Sorry, I did mean to tell you we were heading off on our break but things got a bit crazy here and we were an hour away before I smacked myself on the forehead and let out a great big Homer Simpson-like "DOH!" But... now we are back. With lots of lovely photos! Does that sort of make up for not letting you know?

We headed off to Onslow for a few days - Hubby is on holidays and we thought it would be nice to get out of town for a while, have a break from the house and the usual hum-drum and have a change of scenery. Onslow is on the coast, about 300km's from Red Dirt Central and has a population of (and I quote the lady from the tourist centre) 600-800, depending on the season and what's happening in town. I found it really interesting that such a tiny town exists on the coast - it has one shop, one pub, one restaurant (it's really really good!) two petrol stations (odd, I thought) and not much else. It is a pearling, prawning and fishing town and has a recent salt mine too. We stayed in a cabin at one of the caravan parks - we were going to take the caravan but decided it was getting too hot and we would book a cabin with air-conditioning instead. A wise move!! It's one of those towns that you kind of look at and just ask "why?" I'm really glad we went and enjoyed the break and getting to see somewhere I hadn't been before but I don't feel a need to go back.

The area around Onslow is apparently quite famous for it's ant hills. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of them and they are really quite fascinating. Here we are parked on the side of the road - you can see the ant hills, red mounds of dirt, all around.

And here is a close up of one that was right next to the road. Offspring #1 is standing next to it to give an indication of the size of these things.

Here are a couple of shots of the landscape driving home today. This is what it looks like for 3 hours! Flat, flat, flat and then a bit of hilly range then flat, flat, flat.

I have never seen it look so green up here - I was amazed by the colour and lushness. My overrriding memories of living up this way 10 years ago are the extreme redness and the sparseness of the landscape. But 6 cyclones at the beginning of the year, and the resulting rain, has turned the great redness of "up North" into something diffferent altogether. For me it isn't really 'beautiful' the way that rolling green hills or thick treed bushland are but it has an amazing splendour that is so hard to describe. It's just huge and open and there is nothing for as far as you can see for hours and hours.

Well, that's it for today. I'm off for a cup of tea and a piece of cake then it's time for bed. Holidaying is very tiring LOL. I have lots more photos so guess what you'll be getting this week?

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Busy, busy, busy

Posted by MANDI at 10:54 AM 1 comments
Sorry, I didn't post last night. I have my first workshop for my home business tonight (not an advertisement - I won't tell you about it LOL) and have been busy getting organised for that. I'm a little bit nervous, not about the workshop itself - I have enough experience as a teacher and in adult education to not worry about that and I know what I'm doing for the workshop so that's fine too. I just really want it to be successful. Ideally this will become our second income and I can keep staying home with the kids and do a couple of workshops a week and make money from that and the sales that the workshops/demonstrations generate. Fingers crossed!! I did take an hour off from getting organised - Grey's was on!
So, only a quick post today. Here are some pics of the kids to keep those who have been asking happy.
Offspring #1 modelling his new "Cars" pj's. So sad, he has dumped his former favourites - Woody and Buzz - for Lightening McQueen. The "Toy Story" pj's were pushed aside to get to the "Cars" stuff.

Offspring #2 showing her standing up skills LOL.

And the two of them being silly together! Not at all unusual in this house.

In other news, Hubby's wrist is feeling much better and it looks as though our holiday will go ahead as planned. Yay!!!!

In more news, Blogger has switched to a different version-type-thingy so I went ahead and did the conversion stuff and now I really hate it but can't switch back. I'm hoping they are working on the bugs. It doesn't matter how many times I press enter to get a new paragraph it still won't let me! Aaaarrrggghhh - many of you will know how much this is hurting me. Please accept that (most of) the errors are not mine!

Sunday, October 1, 2006

A Sporting Injury?

Posted by MANDI at 8:04 PM 2 comments
Ok, so yesterday was the AFL grand final.
Those of you in Australia please skip the next paragraph and rejoin me at *
For my non-Australian friends AFL is Australian Rules Football, the main football code for this country. I can't really explain the rules as I don't really understand them but basically each team has 18 men on the field and they all chase after an oval shaped ball and try to kick goals. There are 4 goal posts - if you kick the ball through the middle two your team gets 6 points, if you get it between the outside 2 on either side your team gets one point. Basically it's lots of sweaty men in little shorts and pretty coloured jumpers running around like idiots, usually in the rain and mud as it is a winter sport. There are lots of rules about tackling and running with the ball and stuff. It is kind of crazy to watch but lots of fun too. Yesterday was the grand final - a day when most of the country stops to watch a football game for about 3 hours, even people who don't care, whose team came last on the ladder - yes that would be our family! - and it turns grown men into teenagers (well in their dreams).
* Hubby went to a work friend's house to watch the game. There were a number of people going, mostly from work, and he was looking forward to watching the game with people who get equally as stupid and loud (sorry, excited and passionate) rather than a wife who tells him to be quiet because the baby is asleep. I was happy enough for him to go. Offspring #1 and I watched the first half - we sang the national anthem (#1 made #2 stand up for it too and explained how important the song is and why we have to sing it - very cute), cheered the teams on and clapped for goals - then I had to go do chores and #1 asked if he could watch Cars instead LOL. We did turn it back for the final nailbiting 10 minutes (For non-followers there was 1 point difference, very exciting to watch even for "non-believers" like me!). Hubby arrived home some time later gingerly nursing his wrist. Had he fallen while playing a bit of half-time footy? Had he strained it doing some hand-balls? Had he... nah, can't think of any more! His explanation? He was playing kick-to-kick with a couple of little kids who had dropped in when the ball went over the fence into the neighbouring park. Being the manly man he is he decided that rather than walk around he would jump the fence. The fence that is about 6 feet tall. So he hoisted himself up, twisted around and.... aaaggghhhhh! Pain! But could he let on? Oh no!!! So he stayed, watched the rest of the game, cheered and jeered, drank more beer and eventually wandered home for nursing and sympathy. Those who know me well will know they are in short supply at any time but when it is from doing something blatantly stupid, well... you can draw your own conclusion.
After much icing of the injured site, several painkillers and a not very comfortable night he decided that he would go to the emergency room this morning and get it checked out. The doctor doesn't think he has broken anything but wants it x-rayed to be sure. Because it is a long weekend that can't be done until tomorrow at the hospital but Hubby will probably have to wait several hours (Like 8-10 hours) and not be able to get the results till Thursday (when we were supposed to be going on a little holiday!) or wait till Tuesday, have it done at the local radiology clinic and get the results immediately. He has opted to wait until Tuesday and is hoping that it will have improved somewhat by then. Our holiday is looking iffy at best - he has limited movement of his wrist and cannot weight bear at all so towing the caravan, hitching up, unhitching and setting up the annexe look somewhat dubious. Yes, I could do most of it but not by myself and since he is unable to do much as far as helping with the kids at the moment it wouldn't be much of a break. We will wait and see over the next couple of days but I'm not very hopeful.
So is an injury that occured during a sporting event, but not a sporting event he was physically involved in, still a sporting injury? As Al from Home Improvement would say, "I don't think so, Tim!"

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