Monday, May 28, 2007

It's All Go, Go, Go

Posted by MANDI at 9:14 PM 0 comments
It's the start of another crazy week here in the House of Red Dirt. I have something on every day this week, friends visiting from Port Red Dirt over the weekend, soccer training and the game, the last couple of weeks of lecturing and Hubby's off away again. I think I'm just going to grit my teeth and get on with it. I have a feeling that if I try to do anything else I'll end up in a screaming heap on the floor! It doesn't help that I have had my current headache for two-and-a-half weeks and nothing is touching it - I've tried extra sleep, drinking more water, cups of tea, pain killers, heat pack on my neck (not so great when it's still quite warm up here LOL) and wearing my glasses again. I did manage to get my hair cut today so hopefully getting that out of my face/eyes will help a little.

Anyway, enough whining and whinging...

Here's a slice I baked a couple of days ago. Super easy, super yummy and it was demolished with extraordinary ease!. I'll be making this one again. A quick hint: do let the melted butter cool a little otherwise your choc-chips will end up like mine. Melted and all through the slice instead of dotted around it in choc-chippy goodness.

Choc-chip and oat slice
from Good Taste (maybe March or April, 2007)

Melted butter, to grease (I used canola spray)
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup dessicated coconut
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 cup sultanas
125g butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg, lightly whisked

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Brush a 17 x 27cm slab pan with butter. Line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper.

Sift the combined flours into a bowl. Add the oats, coconut, sugar, sultanas and choc bits, and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the melted butter and egg. Use a wooden spoon to stir until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes (I found they took a bit longer, more like 30-35 minutes) or until brown and firm. Set aside to cool completely. Cut into squares to serve.

(Makes about 20 squares)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

We won!

Posted by MANDI at 3:23 PM 2 comments
When I say we, I actually mean an under-6's soccer team, the youngest of whom is my 4year old son AKA Offspring #1. They played a great game this week - their best ever - and they even played like a team for some of it (rather than just a pack of kids all chasing the ball but then not really knowing what to do with it LOL). It did help that the team we played today was on a par with out kids - beginners having fun. And it helped that the parents on the other team were like the parents on our team - parents who clapped, cheered and encouraged everyone on the field and didn't really pay any attention to the score except to cheer extra loud when any of the kids kicked (or stopped) a goal. Our kids came off the field exhausted, but really pleased with themselves too.
This has been a busy week. Hubby has been away and is preparing to go away for a few more days mid-week, Offspring #1 had his first ever school excursion to see a play at the local theatre, Offspring #2 is busy cutting some more teeth and is being a total grump about the whole process and I have had something on just about everyday this week. The coming week is not looking a whole lot better and if I don't get some housework done tomorrow I think I might scream (or just disappear inside a huge pile of ironing, another one of washing or in a cloud of dust!). So, I'll see you all when I have found the floor, given it a quick clean and hopefully cooked something nice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It Has Fruit

Posted by MANDI at 3:24 PM 1 comments
This is a favourite that I don’t make all that often but is one we really love. I kind of console myself that it has fruit so it must be healthy! Of course, I tell myself that about a lot of foods that I know aren’t really all that healthy LOL. I use Granny Smith’s (as suggested by the recipe book) and, honestly, you can’t even tell there is any apple at all in this cake. It just makes it deliciously moist and ever so more-ish.

Apple Chocolate Cake
The Australian Women’s Weekly, Cakes and Slices

185g butter, softened
1¼ cups castor sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/3 cup water
2 apples, peeled and quartered
2 cups self-raising flour
Chocolate Icing
1 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon soft butter
1 tablespoon milk, approximately

Grease a 23cm square slab pan, line base with paper; grease paper
Combine butter, sugar, eggs, blended cocoa, soda and water, apple and flour in food processor, process until mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake in a moderate oven for about 1 hour. Stand 5 minutes before turning on to wire rack to cool. Spread cold cake with icing.
Chocolate Icing
Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a small, stir in butter then add milk, a little at a time, until icing is spreadable.

A quick note: I usually mix everything except the flour in the processor first, and then add the flour for the final whiz. It might be that my processor is small-ish but otherwise it’s a tight squeeze to fit it all in the processor bowl in order to whiz it.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Posted by MANDI at 8:02 PM 5 comments

I just finished reading The Time Traveller's Wife by AudreyNiffenegger. I finished it in a day and a half and at the moment all I can say is "WOW". It is an amazing book and I loved it! I'm still turning it over in my mind and I'm still kind of inside the book and living with the characters (if you truly love reading you'll know what I mean by that and if you don't know what I mean... sorry). It's part science fiction, but not really. I hate the science fiction genre, always have and always will but this book? This book I love. It's also part love story but not in a sappy sentimental Mills and Boon kind of way. I just can't describe and tell you how much I loved it - you know when you're loving a book and can't wait to see how it ends but at the same time you're loving it and just don't want it to end? This is that book.

Okay, my head's out of the clouds now and it's back to some cooking. Contrary to what you might think from the lack of blogging about cooking, and indeed lack of blogging in general, I have been busy in the kitchen. I have a bunch of recipes to share so I'm aiming to be a little more regular in my blogging, at least for the next little while!

We were out to a friends for a BBQ on Saturday night and I said I'd take something for dessert. This one's a favourite of ours that I saw on tv a couple of years ago and thought, "well der, I can do that!" and promptly did. Being the generally pathetic photographer I am, I did of course manage to take a photo of the ugly side and not really notice till the next day when the entire thing had been eaten. Oh well!

Dutch Apple Tart

3 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
about 7 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
apricot jam

Line a springform pan with shortcrust pastry (keep the leftover sheet, you'll need it in a minute)
Place a layer of sliced apple on the bottom of the pan, sprinkle sultanas over apples (ummm, half a handful? Not too many) and then sprinkle sugar (about a tablespoon) and cinnamon over.
Keep layering the apples and sultanas and sprinkling with sugar and cinnamon until you hit the top of the pan (probably about 4 or 5 layers).
Cut the extra pastry sheet into thin strips and place in a lattice pattern on the top of the tart. Neaten the edges and then brush the top with warmed jam.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 for about an hour and a half.
Serve warm or cold. It's great on it's own but it's delicious with ice-cream and cream.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I'm Going Out!

Posted by MANDI at 1:26 PM 3 comments
Yep, you read it right. I'm. Going. Out.
And I'm excited! I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be excited about going to a benefit night for a lady in town who has breast cancer. I don't think excited is quite the sentiment I'm supposed to be aiming for but since I hardly ever go out at night, and even less without Hubby and the Offspring in tow I'm going to stick with it. I get to dress up in pretty clothes, wear the heels I love, and go out to an event with heaps of other nicely dressed women and drink champagne and have a lovely evening helping to raise money to help another person, another woman, another mummy.
Because of the distance from Perth (where the chemo treatment is) this lady is supposed to spend 8 weeks away from her family, her friends and her home to receive treatment. She decided that this wasn't the way she wanted to do it and has been flying to Perth every weekend to have her chemo then flying back to Red Dirt Central a couple of days later. Every week. And she'll do it for the whole 8 weeks. She's about halfway through and ,fortunately, her parents are able to help out financially but this is still putting a massive strain on finances, her home (her kids are little) and I can only imagine how much it takes out of her. Tonight has been organised as a kind of private benefit evening by a few of her close friends. They have arranged for items to be donated, which will be auctioned and/or raffled this evening, and for many women in this town to come together and show their support. There are no conditions that apply to the money raised tonight. It is for her and her family to use as they see fit. To help with travel expenses, to have a family holiday, to buy something for the house, to pay medical bills. Whatever they want. And that's kind of the point - that she can do whatever she wants, not what the powers-that-be tell her has to be done simply because of where she lives.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Using My New Recipe Books

Posted by MANDI at 1:37 PM 2 comments
We had this recipe from one of my new Mother's Day cookbooks for dinner last night with some lamb. It was really tasty and a nice change from the boring everyday bowl of salad that we seem to have had an awful lot lately. Fattoush is a Middle Eastern salad that is traditionally garnished with toasted Arab or Lebanese bread. We used split toasted hamburger buns instead - isn't that called fusion? LOL This recipe serves 4, I halved it and we had heaps.

from Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection, Salads

4 ripe tomatoes
1 small cos or romaine lettuce
1 small cucumber
1 green pepper
2 French shallots (didn't have any)
4 spring onions, finely sliced
4 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 pita breads or other similar flat breads


1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon salt

60ml (2 fl oz) lemon juice
125 mil (4 fl oz) olive oil
few drops of Tabasco sauce

1. Bring a small pan of water to the boil. With the point of a small sharp knife, score a small cross in the skin at the base of the tomatoes. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 10 seconds, then plunge into a bowl of cold water. Peel the skin away from the tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes into quarters, remove and discard the seeds and finely dice the flesh. Place in bowl (okay, I admit, I didn't do any of this stuff. I cut them into eight wedges and then diced them up and it turned out fine).

2. Shred the lettuce into 1cm strips and add to the tomatoes. Peel the cucumber, slice it into quarters lengthways and remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Cut the flesh into cubes and place int he bowl. Cut the capsicum into similar sized cubes. Add to the bowl with the shallots, spring onion, mint and parsley. Stir the salad gently to combine.

3. To make the dressing, crush the garlic and mix with the salt to form a paste. Use a fork to whisk the lemon juice, olive oil and Tabasco into the garlic, then season with black pepper to taste.

4. Finally, toast the pitta bread on both sides until it is golden brown and crisp., Using a sharp knife, cut the bread into 1 cm squares and add to the salad. Pour in the dressing, toss together until evenly combined and serve immediately. This salad is wonderful with grilled meats and kebabs.

We added the dressing individually. I had only the teensiest drop on mine due to my 'issues' with citrus (and I'm only mildly itchy this morning rather than puffy and welt-y! Big yay!!) but it was delicious. Hubby had rather more dressing and declared the whole meal "Fabulous". Offspring #1 was also enthusiastic in his response but #2 was in a "I don't think I'll eat dinner, I might just throw it around a bit" kind of mood so I'm not counting hers!

Aaaarrrgghhh: It appears that the blogger gremlins are at work. The spelling and grammar errors are all mine, the weird layout is not!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy (Belated) Mother's Day

Posted by MANDI at 11:39 AM 1 comments
I had a lovely day yesterday. The kids were angels, I was given wonderful pressies and Hubby arrived back from Perth with Hungry Jack's (mmm..whoppers! - my real weakness) for dinner. What more could a mummy want? An unbroken night's sleep? Got that too! Ahhh, life is good.

Check out these fantastic presents.

We got this off e-bay for under $70. I'm thrilled with it.

Hubby and Offspring #1 chose this selection for me.

Friday, May 11, 2007

He's Growing Up Too Fast

Posted by MANDI at 4:21 PM 5 comments
Offspring #1 was in dire need of a haircut and the decision was made that it was time for a 'big boy' style rather than the bowl cut he's had for the past couple of years. I know lots of people hate/hated the bowl cut but with a mohawk-making double crown at the back and a quirky cow-lick at the front it served it's purpose of keeping his hair under control (sort of!). We trotted off to the barber after school today and, after consultation with one of the girls who works there, #1 had his hair cut in a style rather than just cut. He looks gorgeous (says one very besotted Mummy LOL) and the new 'do' makes him look older somehow. Yeah, he still looks like a little kid, but it's taken some of the baby-ness away from his face.

Here's my little spunk-rat.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

He's So Clever

Posted by MANDI at 7:07 AM 3 comments
I hope this doesn't spoil the surprise but I had to share #1's cleverness with you.

These packages (along with a few more) are heading to Perth with Hubby tonight to be delivered for Mother's Day. Can you tell who the recipients will be?

I'm so proud of how well he has written these. His writing has just come along in the last couple of weeks and he is wanting to write 'real' words. He can't read them yet but he wants to write them. Not bad for a kid who hasn't turned 5 yet!
PS: The numbers/letters in the postcode square? Apparently that's his phone number.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Jam Donuts, With A Twist

Posted by MANDI at 12:05 PM 6 comments

I love jam donuts - you know, the ones with a big splodge of jam in the centre surrounded by donut-y yumminess and then dipped in sugar? Yes, I do know how 'not good' they are for you but I love 'em anyway. I have them only occasionally but every so often the taste and smell creep inside my head and I need to have them. I was rapidly reaching that point when I came across this recipe for Jam Donut Muffins. Serendipity is a grand thing!

I changed the recipe a little as some of the parts didn't work so well and required some on-the-spot-fiddling. The end result? Not quite like a jam donut but not bad. I probably wouldn't make them again simply because when I want a jam donut I only want one, not the batch of nine that I got out of this mix.

Jam Donut Muffins
Adapted slightly from Everyday Cooking
by Allan Campion and Michele Curtis

1 2/3 cups self-raising flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 180˚C.
Lightly grease a muffin tray (1/2 cup capacity pans).
Sift the flour, salt and cinnamon together into a large bowl. Ina separate bowl, mix the oil, caster sugar, egg and milk together. Add to the flour and stir until just combined
Half fill the prepared muffin tins with the batter, add 1/2 teaspoon jam to each muffin then cover with more batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until risen and golden. Remove from oven.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. In a small bowl mix together 3 tablespoons caster sugar and 1/2 a teaspoon cinnamon. While the muffins are still hot dip their tops into the melted butter and then into the sugar and cinnamon mix. Place on a rack to cool.

Monday, May 7, 2007

How To Neglect Your Blog

Posted by MANDI at 10:32 PM 9 comments

without really trying!

Step one: take on another kid for tutoring;

Step two: let your own kid take up a sporting activity;

Step three: all while your other own kid is not sleeping particularly well, thus you are not sleeping particularly well either;

Step four: be sad because your visitor went home and now you're very lonely and can't be bothered trying to make things sound good for the blog-reading world.


Just: stop bloody making excuses, get off your butt and post something!

We had this marinated bbq'd steak a couple of weeks ago and it was really good. I'm not a big red wine fan but this was delicious. I served it with smashed potatoes. Not mashed, smashed - you boil 'em up til they are cooked but not soggy, drain them then stick them in a frypan with some olive oil and just crush them once, gently, with a potato masher. They end up a lovely golden brown and are all fluffy and yummy and soft. I usually use 3 small-ish potatoes for the four of us and always wish I'd made more. They are even better with lots of salt and the best yet with this marinade poured over them.

Barbecued Red Wine Beef
from Meals From The Freezer

1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely shredded fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, crushed
8 beef steaks (I used blade, you can use whatever you want or can afford!)

Combine all the ingredients with your steak in a large bowl. Leave to marinade in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight if you can. This is enough marinade for 8 steaks so you can put some of the steaks into freezer bags with a little marinade and freeze them at this stage if you wanted to.

When they are done marinating, drain the steaks and reserve the marinade. Cook the steaks on the bbq (or grill them if you prefer). While you're doing that, put the reserved marinade in a small saucepan and bring it to the boil. Simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Pour the sauce over steak (and potatoes if you wish!). Serve with crusty bread and a salad.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Healthy And Tasty

Posted by MANDI at 9:49 PM 3 comments

I was searching for an easy slice to make today. I couldn't be bothered rolling or scooping cookie dough and wanted something without a heap of steps. I found this one in a cookbook from the library that I'm quietly impressed with - I think I'll be renewing it rather than returning it tomorrow as I have a few more recipes I want to try yet. This one was a big hit - it tastes great and I got to use up some of the polenta I'd bought for another recipe. The slice itself is rather more cake-like than I had been expecting and I wasn't too sure about the texture at first. The polenta makes it kind of gritty, but it's not unpleasant. I'll be making this one again.

Fruity Polenta Slice
Everday Cooking by Allan Campion and Michele Curtis

1 tablespoon honey
1 cup hot tea
2 cups dried fruit (I had sultanas, apricots and apple so used them)
1 cup polenta
1 2/3 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
200g butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon (left it out)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (used water instead)
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 180˚C.
Dissolve the honey in hot tea, add the dried fruit and set aside to soak. Allow to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Butter a lamington tin, line the sides and bottom with greaseproof paper and butter lightly.
Combine the polenta, flour, sugars, butter and cinnamon. Rub together until the mixture has a fine breadcrumb texture. Add the lemon zest, juice and eggs, and mix well. Drain the dried fruit thoroughly and add it to the mix. Stir well.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared lamington tray and smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until set and golden brown. Slice into wedges to serve.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A Funny Conversation

Posted by MANDI at 3:48 PM 3 comments
Scene: the car, on the way home from school.

Offspring #1: (with some urgency and excitement) Mum, guess what?
Red Dirt Mummy: Ummmm.... what?
#1: I can't tell you!
RDM: What can't you tell me?
#1: I can't tell you a secret about something I made that I can't tell you about.
RDM: Did you make something for Mother's Day at school? So you can't tell me because it's a surprise?
#1: Yeah, it's a surprise for you, for Mother's Day, and I can't tell you because it's a secret. Um... did I tell you?

He cracks me up!

On The Sunny Side Copyright © 2010 Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template Sponsored by Emocutez