Tuesday, January 30, 2007

We Love Our Lamb

Posted by MANDI at 1:31 PM 3 comments

Especially when it's on our plate for dinner! We had lamb cutlets for dinner last night and, as I am currently loving Bill Granger and his Every Day cookbook, I decided to try doing something a something a little different with them. I halved this recipe as 6 cutlets feeds my little family very nicely. And, as you can see, my camera is working again - yay!

Coriander-Crumbed Lamb Cutlets
Every Day by Bill Granger

Makes 12

1 cup plain flour
3 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
large handful fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
12 french-trimmed lamb cutlets
olive oil

Put the flour in a flattish bowl. Lightly beat the milk and eggs in another bowl. Mix together the breadcrumbs, parsley, coriander, lemon zest and cumin in a third bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dip the lamb cutlets first in the flour, then in the beaten egg and finally in the breadcrumbs.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Fry the cutlets, in batches so you don't overcrowd the pan, for 2 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Serve with herbed yoghurt (see below).

Herbed Yoghurt
½ cup thick greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablesoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Mix together all the ingredients and serve with the lamb cutlets.

This was delicious. The crumbed cutlets on their own were very tasty but the herbed yoghurt took it a step higher. I left out the lemon zest because of my very inconvenient citrus allergy so I guess we didn't get the full flavour but we were well pleased with the flavour we did get. Hubby was most impressed, and somewhat disappointed that I had no extras hidden away, while #1 declared it to be "delishus". #2 is my meat baby so she was just impressed that she had a hunk of meat to chew her way through LOL. I will definitely be making this again. This is the fifth recipe I've tried from Every Day and apart from some disappointing cookies, I have been delighted with each one.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

An All Day Brunch

Posted by MANDI at 2:08 PM 4 comments

We had a lovely Australia Day brunch - the guests arrived about 9am and the last lot left just before 5 in the afternoon! It all worked out well, with my usual need to overcater we had enough for lunch and still had leftovers to eat for dinner as well. The weather co-operated beautifully, although it did get a bit windy by mid-afternoon, the kids all behaved and mostly played well together and Australia won the cricket. What more could you ask for?

The brunch menu:
Home-made muesli, or Weetbix for the less adventurous
Bacon and Sausages on the bbq (I forgot to put the tomatoes out!)
Scrambled Eggs
Banana Pancakes with ricotta and honey
Berry Yoghurt Muffins
Fruit Plate - Watermelon, Rockmelon and Grapes
Maria's Pavlova

We ate Maria's pav around lunch-time and it went down an absolute treat. I made her take photos of it and convinced her to write down her version of the 'classic pav' recipe to share.
Maria's Pavolva Roll

4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
sprinkle of icing sugar
1 x 300ml thickened cream, whipped
1 small punnet of strawberries, thinly sliced
passionfruit pulp
mint leaves for decoration

Preheat oven to 190˚C. Grease a 25cm x 30cm swiss roll pan, line base with baking paper extending the paper by 5cm above the two long sides. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form, gradually add the caster sugar beating well after each addition until the sugar has dissolved (approx 10 minutes). Stir in the cornflour and vanilla. Spoon the mixture into the pan using a knife to spread into the corners. Cook in a moderately hot oven (190˚C) for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn the meringue out onto another sheet of baking paper which has been sprinkled with icing sugar. Gently peel away the baking paper lining and discard. Stand meringue for 2 minutes. Trim the ends if necessary then spread the cream all over and cover with most of the strawberries, keeping a few for decoration. Using the paper as a guide roll up firmly from the long side of the pan and place onto your serving plate. Remove paper. Decorate with strawberries, passionfruit pulp and mint leaves. Cover and Refrigerate. Can be made the day before.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Posted by MANDI at 9:26 PM 2 comments
I went back to the shops today and had far more luck with the last bits of shopping! I got strawberries (hugely expensive but I really needed them - more on that later) and cumin and pepitas and chicken mince and buttermilk. I was quite overwhelmed!
Tomorrow is Australia Day. We have the little flags to wave, Aussie flag tablecloths and serviettes and Hubby has his flag t-shirt all ready to wear. This year we are celebrating with brunch at our place with a few friends and their assorted offspring. There will be four couples, with a visiting Mum over from Brisbane and seven kids ranging from 6years old down to 12 weeks. We've planned a BBQ with bacon, sausages and tomatoes, scrambled eggs, homemade muesli, weetbix, a fruit platter, muffins and pancakes. My friend Maria is bringing a pavlova - it might be brunch but she didn't think we could celebrate Australia Day without one. As I am the only Mummy present who is not pregnant or breast-feeding I am the only one who gets to enjoy a glass of champagne with my brunch - it's a good think I don't mind drinking alone LOL!
I made the muffins today and they are delicious. I got the recipe from Bill Granger's Every Day - terrific recipe book with lots of lovely pictures and simple to follow recipes. I have no photos, due to the broken camera, which is a real shame as these muffins are bursting with berry goodness and are just gorgeous to look at. As #2 and I undertook the obligatory taste-test this afternoon we can also report that they taste fantastic!
Berry Yoghurt Muffins
Every Day Bill Granger
Makes 12 (but I got 17)

1½ cups self raising flour
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup low-fat natural yoghurt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped mixed berries Bill suggested strawberries and raspberries so I went with that

Preheat oven to moderate 180˚C. Line a 12-hole ½ cup capacity muffin tin with paper cases.
Sift the two flours and cinnamon together into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and them make a well in the centre. Pour the buttermilk, yoghurt, eggs and oil into a large bowl and whisk with a fork until just combined. Pur into the well in the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Add the berries and stir until just combined (do not overmix or your muffins will be tough). Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.

According to Bill “these freeze brilliantly and are perfect for the kids lunchboxes – or even mine!”

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Bad Day Shopping

Posted by MANDI at 8:02 PM 3 comments
I did the 'big' food shop this morning. I tootled around the supermarket comparing prices, checking out new products and only buying what was on my list. I was determined to stick to my list and am therefore kicking myself for not giving in to the need to add that block of chocolate to the trolley (although I did just text Hubby and lovingly beg him to stop at the shop on the way home from golf!). I have my menu plan for the fortnight and my shopping list is made up from the ingredients for that. But what, I ask you, do I do when the supermarket doesn't have all the required items? I'm not talking specialty items. I'm not talking gourmet. I recognise that I live in Red Dirt Central and that the supermarket has to cater for the masses while being a really long way from... well, anywhere.
I didn't think it was that outrageous to include strawberries on my shopping list. But, not a strawberry was to be seen. Okay, thought I. Maybe the truck (ie the truck with the fresh produce on it) is due in this afternoon and I'll be able to whiz down and grab some strawbs tomorrow. Not a big deal. And I headed off to the dried herbs and spices.
Cumin? Has anyone seen any cumin? Nope, not on the shelf. It has a little sign thing so I know they have had it at some point. Again maybe the other truck, with all the other stuff, is due in too. Off to the freezer section.
I needed some frozen raspberries (and thought I'd try my luck with frozen strawbs too). Yay, there were two boxes of raspberries and a few boxes of frozen cranberries so I grabbed what I needed and headed off to the dried fruit. I knew it was a big ask, and to be fair I didn't think I had much chance but figured while I was getting dried apricots and dried apples I'd have a look for dried strawbs and dried cherries. Disappointed I headed off to look for sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) - got the sunflower seeds but no pepitas. At that point I crossed home-made muesli off my menu plan.
Also missing from the shopping list was chicken mince, which I know they usually have so I'll check again tomorrow or early next week, and buttermilk, which I've seen but need for tomorrow so now I'm off to find out how to substitute regular milk for buttermilk.
It wasn't all bad. I did get most of my list, the zucchinis looked gorgeous and were super cheap too, I got some nice looking steak, I remembered to buy ice-cream (finally) and the bananas were still on special for $2.98/kg so I bought more. Offspring #1 and I enjoyed banana milkshakes for afternoon tea while #2 happily chomped away on a whole banana with a sprinkling of sultanas - two of her very favourites.
PS: my neck and back are feeling lots better although still "twinge-y". Thankyou to those who left well wishes and also those who emailed me.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Pain In The Neck

Posted by MANDI at 8:02 PM 4 comments
No, really! I woke up Sunday morning in extreme pain, unable to move my neck or lift my arms above about waist high. It hurt from the "lump" on the back of my head (I can't remember the real name although I know we learnt it in Human Biol) down to the middle of my shoulder blade but only on the right hand side. It has happened before but not to this level of immobility or to this degree of pain. I took some painkillers and moped around for a while then headed back to bed - I figured it was the best place to be at that point. Today I am feeling somewhat better but still have limited movement and it HURTS!!! I didn't see much point in trying to get into the physio as I really couldn't have coped with anyone touching it. I'm hoping that it will continue to improve and feel a heap better tomorrow then I think I'll probably ring and see if I can get a physio appointment for Wednesday.
In more rotten news: my camera broke. I don't know what is wrong with it but it doesn't work. Hubby is going to ring a former colleague and find out who to send it to for repairs but in the meantime photos are out for me. This makes for a really boring blog so please bear with me as I try to find some photos from the holiday and recipes I have made but haven't got around to blogging yet to fill in the time until I have a camera again. And of course being in Red Dirt Central means the camera has to go to Perth, be fixed, and then come back up again.
Okay, sitting here for five minutes has made my neck and back sore so I'm going to throw my heatpack in the microwave and try to find a comfy spot on the couch for a bit. Hmmm, that "lump" might be called the occipital bun (sp??) but that could be a way-off guess - any hints Dr-to-be Claire??

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Meme

Posted by MANDI at 8:58 AM 1 comments
I got tagged by Claire over at Cooking is Medicine for my very fist meme. I'm so excited!
So here is a Three Things Meme:
Three people/things that make me laugh: Hubby, Janet Evanovich, being tickled
Three things that scare me: the dark, borrowing large amounts of money, hospitals
Three things I love: my family, cooking, reading
Three things I hate: rude people, bad grammar, country music
Three things I don’t understand: maths, girls who are smart but act stupid, maths
Three things on my desk: address book, computer, phone
Three things I want to do before I die: see my kids grow up, go overseas, build my dream house
Three things I can do: roll my tongue, procrastinate, teach
Three things I would like to learn: how to make pastry, how to be brave, how to never want another cigarette (even though I haven’t had one for several years)
Three favorite foods: chocolate, bbq’d corn on the cob, strawberries after they’ve been floating in champagne
Three beverages I drink regularly: tea, coke, champagne
Three TV shows/Books I watched/read as a kid: read Anne of Green Gables and all of the Famous Five series, watched The Partridge Family
I'll tag these bloggers(but just ignore it if you don't want to do it):

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Family Photo

Posted by MANDI at 7:46 PM 4 comments

This has now officially become my favourite ever photo of my family. I look decent, Hubby looks good, #1's silly-photo-face doesn't look too silly and #2 is nearly smiling. If I was even remotely considering more children this would be the picture that made me stop and say "NOOO!!!!" I don't think I could cope with trying to get any more children to smile at the same time while being clean, neat and not wriggling too much. It does help that it was taken Christmas Day, after the present opening but before we left for lunch with the family. The kids were still happy with their presents and not all sugar-ed up or crazed by all the strange people (yeah, I'm calling my extended family strange LOL!).

Hope you like it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Most Successful Trip To The Library

Posted by MANDI at 8:56 PM 1 comments
Don't you hate when you go to the library and can't find anything you really want to borrow? You wander around checking out favourite authors but can't find anything you haven't already read. There are no new issues of your favourite foodie magazines, no cookbooks with beautiful pictures to inspire you and not even a video or DVD you'd like to see.
Well, that didn't happen today. #1 and I visited the library and before I even made it to the returns counter I had grabbed (yes, grabbed. There was nothing even remotely polite about it!) three books from the "New Items for Loan" display. To say I was feeling rather chuffed at this point would be an understatement. Then #1 headed off to the kids section and I headed to the adult section where I found a new issue of delicious (I LOVE that mag) and a couple of other books I had been wanting to read. At that point I decided that I had enough material to last the week. Actually I decided that I had millions of things to do and I couldn't really fit anymore reading in without seriously neglecting the offspring so turned around to the kids books to oversee #1's selection and promptly found a cookbook about kids food and nutrition that looks quite interesting and a DVD of The Princess Diaries 2 (I admit my taste in movies is somewhat questionable and I do love a good "teenage" kind of movie. C'mon I grew up in the 80's with Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club and all those movies).
So far I have finished one novel and am halfway through the second. They are all terribley chick-lit-y, a bunch of them are English or Irish and I'm thoroughly enjoying them. It's a shame to let a university degree and a literature background get in the way of a good read! There are also a couple of cookbooks in the now bulging library bag so I'll aim to try out a few new recipes in the very near future.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Posted by MANDI at 8:12 PM 3 comments

I got to try out another Christmas present today, my gingerbread men (and women) cookie cutters. I have been wanting to try making gingerbread men for ages but just couldn’t bring myself to make them into star and heart shapes instead of proper people shapes! So I added the cookie cutters to my ever-growing Christmas and birthday wish-list and wa-lah… I had me some waaaay good gingerbread men cookie cutters. I must admit that I found this recipe a little difficult to follow – quite possibly “holiday brain” is lingering, as evidenced by my adding a teaspoon of ginger rather than the required tablespoon and forgetting the self-raising flour until the dough had been rolled (yes, I threw it back in the bowl, added the flour and mixed and rolled again!) but the recipe was also written kind of strangely. I have done my best to clear up the confusing bits. And, yes. I did cook them in my wonderful new microwave LOL. You know I'm not going to shut up about if for ages yet!

Family Style Gingerbread Men
From Family Circle Step-by-Step Biscuits and Slices

Naked gingerbread people

125g unsalted butter
1/3 cup soft brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups plain flour
¼ cup self raising flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger (I put in 1 teaspoon!)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tablespoon currants

1 egg white
½ teaspoon lemon juice (didn’t add any)
1¼ cups icing sugar, sifted
Assorted food colourings

Preheat oven to moderate 180˚C. Line two or three oven trays with baking paper.
Using electric beaters, beat butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small mixing bowl until light and creamy. Add egg gradually, beating well after each addition (I threw the whole lot in at once and then realised what the recipe wanted!). Transfer mixture to large bowl. Sift dry ingredients onto butter mixture. Mix with a knife until just combined. Combine dough with well-floured hand. Turn dough onto well-floured surface and knead 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Line a large chopping board with baking paper. Roll out dough on board to 5mm thickness. Flour rolling pin if necessary to stop it from sticking. Refrigerate, on board, for 15 minutes so dough is firm to cut.
Cut dough into shapes with a 13cm gingerbread man cutter. Press remaining dough together and re-roll. Cut out more shapes. Place currants as eyes and noses on gingerbread men (we used choc-bits for eyes). Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool biscuits on trays.
To make icing. Place egg white in small dry mixing bowl. Using electric beaters eat egg white until foamy. Add lemon juice and icing sugar gradually. Beat until thick and creamy. Divide mixture into several bowls. Tint mixture with desired food colourings. Spoon icing mixture into small paper icing bags, seal open ends. Snip tips off piping bags, pipe faces and clothing onto gingerbread men (and women!!)

Gingerbread people with clothes on!

I think I might need to work on my piping skills and maybe get a proper piping bag - the gingerbread lady on the bottom right should have a collar on her dress rather than looking like she has real perky you-know-whats under her apron (Yes, it's supposed to be an apron!!)

Monday, January 15, 2007

A sleepover

Posted by MANDI at 9:07 PM 3 comments
#1 has a friend sleeping over tonight. This is our first ever sleepover and the boys are still awake at 9pm! I just checked on them and they are in one bed reading books together - very cute although they have been told to hop back in their own beds as soon as the book is finished and then is straight to sleep or #1 will be put into my bed! Hubby is off fishing early in the morning so I get breakfast duty on my own with 2 tired four year olds and #2 who takes after me in the "I'm not really a morning person" stakes! Hmmm... can't say I'm totally looking forward to it LOL.
Nothing exciting happening today. I made herbed crumbed fish for dinner - very yummy - and am about to tackle an enormous basket of ironing. I really want to be scrapbooking but can't bring myself to settle down to a fun activity when I have ironing and other chores to be done. Maybe if I can get all my chores done tonight I can have a reward tomorrow night! Geez, having a work ethic as a stay-at-home-mummy really sucks!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Anyone For Scones?

Posted by MANDI at 1:54 PM 0 comments

I finally got to try out my new microwave this morning. I thought I would start with a tried and true recipe, so that I could get an idea of what the convection side of it does and fiddle future recipes accordingly. And what better place to start than a batch of scones? I must admit that in my haste I forgot to brush milk over the top so they didn't come out quite as nicely as they should have but texture-wise they were perfect and they tasted just fine with some butter and jam spread over them. Both boys heartily approved of the results (#2 was napping so she missed out).

As well as buying the microwave on our trip I also managed to fit in lots of other shopping - clothes for the kids, last minute Christmas gifts, a bunch of birthday presents for those celebrating in the near future and of course clothes and shoes for me. Here's a sample of some of the loot! Yes, as well as cooking, scrapbooking and reading I love shoes! It is an addiction but one I'm willing to run with (although Hubby may think differently when the credit card bill arrives!).

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Some Holiday Pictures

Posted by MANDI at 8:27 PM 2 comments
I thought I'd start with a few of my favourites from Christmas Day.

Here are a series of 3 photos of #2 opening a present (with some assistance from Daddy) from her Aunty Julie. It was a gorgeous fluffy white teddy bear that plays Brahm's Lullaby when you press his paw and, as the music is playing, he lights up and changes colours - okay, hard to describe but just beatiful to watch. I just loved the expression on her face as this 'thing' was being unwrapped and she was trapped on Daddy's lap.

"Hmmm... so how does this present thing work?"

"I don't think I like this very much."

"Oh! It's for me? And it plays pretty music! And lights up too! I love it!!!"

Friday, January 12, 2007

We're back!

Posted by MANDI at 9:58 PM 1 comments
Back in Red Dirt Central that is! We got in around 2 this afternoon and have never been so pleased to see our own beds and just general stuff. #1 forgot all about his many new toys and had a joyous reunion with the many toys already residing in his bedroom while #2 seemed to take delight in exploring every inch of the house and bringing us everything she could find - so helpful while trying to unpack after a month away... NOT!

We had a good trip back and enjoyed the trip for what it was - our last bit of holiday - rather than a three day road trip with two small kids! The kids were fabulous with all the travelling and coped really well, although I think the car DVD player may have helped there.

Anyway, we are nearly unpacked, the first couple of loads of washing have been done, and the new microwave has moved to it's rightful place on the frighteningly small kitchen bench. I'm absolutely exhausted and heading off to bed but had to share a pic first.

Here is #1 at a friends place earlier this week. He was playing volleyball with his "Uncle Wobbie" AKA Uncle Rob, who told him that if he wore his Dad's hat backwards he would look scary and that if he grunted really loud when he hit the ball he would be able to play better. #1 took him at his word and had a great time flinging himself about and grunting like a wild animal.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

And Disaster Strikes

Posted by MANDI at 9:38 PM 1 comments
Well, more really rotten luck I suppose. We were heading down south to visit friends in Capel and Busselton on Wednesday when the car started overheating. We limped along a little further but each time the car cooled down and we started off again the temperature would rise and we would have to stop. After many phone calls, a rescue mission by Hubby's parents (with some very much appreciated assistance from SIL) and replacing the thermostat on the side of the road it was decided that the head had blown (I knew it was bad but being a non-tech head and a non-car jargon chick didn't really have a clue what that meant) and would need replacing thus ending our brief holiday within a holiday and totally blowing any holiday budget we might have been trying to stick to. A few thousand dollars later - yes, really!! - we are hoping to keep with our original plan and begin the trip home to Red Dirt Central on Wednesday. It has put a dampener on what has been a wonderful holiday but we are very grateful that it happened an hour and half south of the in-laws on a busy road with a phone signal rather than on a hot isolated road with no phone signal hundred of miles from anyone or anywhere. As a friend we were on our way to see texted us, "of all the possible places this could happen this is the best place you could be."
In brighter news:
We picked up my new microwave yesterday. I. Am. So. Excited.!!!!
#2 has learnt a heap of new words as well as how to do a bunch of new stuff. Very fun and super-cute. Many photos to share when we're home.
#1 has been complimented left, right and centre on his lovely manners - makes a certain Mummy very proud!
I bought some new scrapbooking stuff and can't wait to get home to play with it all.
This time next week I will be at home in Red Dirt Central. Hopefully we will be pretty much unpacked and working our way through the washing as well as cleaning our house after it sitting empty for a month. Shortly after that I will be back to making regular posts. I'll probably be cooking up a storm playing with the new microwave as well as attempting to mask the homesickness I'm sure I will feel for a couple of weeks, so I'm pretty sure that there will be lots of sugary treats to share. See you in a week or so.

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