Thursday, November 12, 2009

Interesting Branches

Posted by MANDI at 7:49 PM 6 comments
A few years back I got into genealogy and, using the parts of the family tree I already had, started doing some research using the internet to fill in some of the blanks. I found some bits and pieces in various census releases. Mostly it confirmed what I already knew but I also found things like street addresses, who the unmarried sisters ended up living with and so on. At one stage I went off on a tangent and traced back someone who wasn't really even part of the family. I got really excited because I managed to trace them back to France in the 1640's but, like I said, they weren't actually part of the completely and utterly Scottish and English family I'm descended from. You get that.
The file of info sits in with my cookbooks and today while I was searching for a particular recipe my 'family file' kind of jumped out at me. Offspring #2 was having a nap after swimming lessons and I had some time on my hands so I thought I'd have a quick look. Knowing that two more lots of census information have been released since I'd last searched I was hoping I might find something new and reignite my enthusiasm.
Most of the names on the tree are fairly common, run-of-the-mill, kind of Anglo names. But there are a couple that are just unusual enough to make searching a little less needle-in-the-haystack and a little more might-actually-find-something. I popped one of them into Google and was pleased to have only a few pages come up. Opening one I checked the details I had and verified that, yes, it was the man I was looking for. I decided to try one of the other unusual names and had similar good luck. The first one was a diplomat, author and professor who had a particularly impressive obituary in the UK newspaper The Guardian while the second lot are Barons, Ladies and Honourables.
I guess I found the posh side of the family. They'd be the ones who didn't jump on a ship and head to Australia!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Meet My Boy

Posted by MANDI at 9:00 PM 1 comments
We call him Gappy.

Since we're up to lost tooth number 5 I'm thinking that the Tooth Fairy probably calls him expensive!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pasta La Vista, Baby!

Posted by MANDI at 8:13 PM 3 comments
We had this cannelloni for dinner ages ago but I just haven't got around to blogging it until now. This is one of the easiest cannelloni recipes I've come across and, apart from the brand of pasta sheets I used, it was fabulous. I will definitely be making this one again, just with a better brand of pasta sheets than the ones that were suggested. They were 'half-size' sheets, so if you bought, what I consider to be regular sized, large pasta sheets you'd need to cut them in half before you started. Yes, your fingers get goopy while your mixing and rolling but I think that was part of the fun.

The recipe is from the free magazine that is put out quarterly by the supermarket I generally shop at so lots of brands are specified in the list of ingredients. In the interests of not joining in with their advertising I'm not planning to list the brands. That's me being subversive!

Pumpkin, Ricotta and Spinach Pasta Bake
from Coles Magazine, Spring Issue (2009)

1kg butternut pumpkin, chopped and peeled
250g ricotta cheese (tubs tend to be smoother than fresh ricotta and give a better consistency in this recipe, fresh ricotta may also be too dry)
2 cloves garlic, crushes
1 bunch chives, snipped
400g packet fresh lasagna sheets
100g baby spinach leaves
1 cup cream
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups mozzarella cheese
Salad leaves, to serve

1. Place pumpkin in a medium bowl and microwave until tender Cool
2. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a large baking dish.
3. Add ricotta, garlic and chives to cooled pumpkin and mix well. Lay a lasagna sheet on a flat clean surface. Arrange some spinach leaves along centre of sheet. Top with spoonfuls of pumpkin mixture. Roll up to enclose filling and place in prepared dish, seam side down. Continue making cannelloni with remaining lasagna sheets and filling.
4. Pour cream and stock over filled cannelloni in baking dish. Top with cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Serve pasta bake with salad leaves.
*Freezer tip. You can freeze the cannelloni at the end of step 3. Once thawed, continue the recipe as directed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Posted by MANDI at 7:22 PM 3 comments
We took the boat out today for the first time this summer. Well, I say summer though technically it's still spring. But you know what I mean. We packed up a picnic, the Sunday paper, hats, sunscreen, fishing gear and headed out for the day. We wandered down the river, helped out a grand-dad who was fishing with his grandkids until their boat engine died, did a bit of sight-seeing and stopped at a playground for our picnic lunch. After that we jumped back in the boat and headed back up the river a little way before finding a good fishing spot.

Offspring #1 continued to astound us with his fishing skills as he caught three bream in fairly quick succession...

And Offspring #2 was thrilled to catch her first ever fish...

And yes, the fish were on the small side and were carefully released back into the river by the Dad of the family.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An Artiste

Posted by MANDI at 8:21 PM 4 comments
Offspring #2 and I had a rare day at home today. I say rare because, although I only work a couple of days a week and we spend heaps of time together, it's not often we stay at home all day long. Sure we still did the school run but that's an everyday kind of thing so it doesn't really count.

We washed dishes, made beds, tidied the house, hung laundry and even managed a spot of gardening.

We also watched #2's favourite tv show and danced and sang along. And danced and sang. And danced. And sang.

And we played "Cinda-brella". Apparently you pop on your noisiest dress-up shoes,run up and down the hallway a bunch of times and on the last lap you drop one shoe before running into the living room and exclaiming in a completely pathetic and tragic whimper that you've lost your shoe and don't know what will happen now. On the one hand I'm kind of horrified that she's play-acting at being helpless and waiting for the Prince to come and on the other hand I'm actually pretty impressed with her comprehension skills as she's only been interested in listening to the story the whole way through for the past couple of weeks.

I was enjoying our day so much that when she very sweetly asked if she could 'do painting' I totally weakened and gave in. Which was lucky. Because that was my chance to take some more photos of my lovely girl. The Artiste.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday Night Dinner

Posted by MANDI at 7:53 PM 1 comments
I've been trying to cut some costs in the food-shopping area of late. Food prices here have just gone up and up and up - I suppose it's the same everywhere - but, of course our pay hasn't. So at some point, after paying for the kids' activities like swimming lessons, guitar lessons and school excursions and the unexciting things like the power bill, phone bill, gas bottles and day-care I'm noticing there's less money to pay for the groceries which are costing more! Monday is shopping day and one of the ways I'm cutting costs is to actually buy less. I know, it's a novel approach! I'm also putting more effort into using what I have rather than buy a new jar of this or packet of that simply to try a new recipe. Yep, another novel idea.
Sunday night rolled around this week and we were all tired and, the grown-ups at least, were wanting something simple and not-too-heavy. I asked for suggestions from the other members of the family and was greeted with ideas ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous and most of them involved a trip to the corner deli. And I was not dressed appropriately to even walk to the front gate. Saggy trackpants - not a good look. Ever.

I finally remembered this recipe for a potato omelette and, with all the ingredients readily to hand, we were away. This was just right for an easy Sunday night dinner when you're in the mood for something warm but light and everyone else in the house has vetoed tinned baked-beans on toast. It didn't have a huge burst of flavour but I was very sparing on the chilli powder. I'd probably have a go at using something like rosemary to flavour it next time. We had it with a fresh garden salad and it was declared a resounding success by all. Yay for the Mummy!

Tortilla de Patata
from The Australian Women's Weekly, Cooking from the Pantry

20g butter
1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium potatoes (600g), chopped finely
1 medium brown onion (150g), chopped finely
8 eggs
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Melt butter with oil in 22cm-base ovenproof frying pan; cook potato and onion, stirring occasionally, until potato is tender.
3. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and chilli powder in medium jug.
4. Add egg mixture to pan. Cook, uncovered, over low heat, about 5 minutes or until just set.
5. Place pan in oven; cook, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until browned slightly. Carefully turn tortilla onto plate. Cut into wedges; serve with a side salad. (No, mine didn't slide out easily. I literally dug it out of the pan.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A rose by any other name...

Posted by MANDI at 7:55 PM 3 comments
Look what my lovely Dad sent me home with on Friday.

We dropped in for a cuppa and a quick visit on the way home for work/school/day-care and after the grown-ups had caught up on the news and Poppy and the kids had played in the front yard my Dad (aka Poppy) cut some gorgeous roses and sent us on home. I've got the roses on the dining table and the window open a crack. Each time there's a breeze the scent of roses wafts through the living area. Lovely.

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