Saturday, February 27, 2010

Redeeming Features cookery!

Well, life is always full of challenges big and small isn't it!
Sir Talks A lot is displaying "challenging behaviour" at present which can be quite exhausting especially when little brother Master Me too is copying everything.
Poor Little Sir Talks A lot (AKA Beany) has a recurrent middle ear infection and this always results in a burst ear drum- the Dr refuses to take my word for it and little man is on the second course of his strong Antibiotics but I don't think they are working, last time this happened he needed cortico steroids and a different anti B. I have told the Doc this but he doesn't believe me so we have to let him find out
for himself.. in the meantime we have a cranky defiant little man at home whose behaviour is no doubt worsened by having a painful, smelly, gunky ear. At least he loves the outrageously artificially raspberry flavoured medicine!
I have pulled out two of the courgette plants as they weren't producing and they were getting too much powdery mildew.
Working on plantings for Autumn as it is just around the corner- well the day after to
morrow to be precise! Gardening is a humbling experience and I have so much to learn, not just from my voracious research and question asking but just through painful experience and failure too...ahhh I guess that is life in general too!
I have cleared out some of my less loved clothes and they will be picked up by a f
reecycle member tomorrow, so far I have moved on a chair, two tyres and a bread slicing guide.. oooh it is addictive to pass things onto people who really want them!
I have had two culinary victories with my "redeeming features" cookery.
"White Dip Bean Dip" as named by Beany is actually just this recipe here from Andrea Meyers:
but we had ours with home grown cherry tomatoes, beans and toasted fingers of homemade bread which had been collecting in the freezer awaiting being turned into breadcrumbs (they were drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with homegrown garlic)
Beany made it with me when Master Me Too was napping and we had much fun ands e
njoyed eating it with me, Master me too gobbled up the leftovers when he got up

Tonight we had vege rolls which were a (surprising) hit with the little men.
I was making it up a bit as I went along but roughly:

two sheets of puff pastry
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 "portion" frozen spinach (approximately 1/4 cup)
1 small potato diced.
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 small tsp stock powder
(cook the ingredients so far in a microwave proof bowl for about 5 mins until potato is fairly soft)
Add 1/2 cup grated courgette
4 tbsp (ish) cottage cheese(creamed not low fat)
a couple of handfuls of rolled oats

one handful of sultanas
a handful of mung bean sprouts
1 egg
Mix together thoroughly
Cut each pastry sheet in half and place 1/4 filling in centre of each piece of pastry, form into rolls, place seam side down on baking tray and bake at 200c (fan forced) until puffed and golden brown.
I am sure that I have had more blog worthy happenings than a couple of meals and a burst ear drum by proxy but the migraine I have had in response to a surprise thunderstorm has left me little vague and scattered...
Hope I make a modicum of sense!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Introduction to Freecycle...

Things are calm here, blackberry and courgette muffins in the oven Stargate Atlantis on the TV but today had pockets of extreme excitement...
I have just joined Freecycle and very excited about redistributing goods to those who would appreciate them. I listed a grey vinyl armchair that has been lurking on the verandah since we moved here. We inherited it with the house and I have cleaned up enough rental properties to know that this was the sort of armchair you don't mess with. It is so solid and dour that I think it must have come from a maternity ward and been used for nursing, I found it good for breastfeeding anyway. But it had done it's time here so I popped it on Freecycle. A very happy man called to say he was collecting it for his wife and we took care to let him know how big and heavy it was...
Some hours later a man in visibility vest and Council hat was examining the gutter out the front very closely... Hurrah! he has come to check the festering stagnant puddle full of mosquito larvae (and adults!) that I reported on Monday (not too bad a delay I thought). I was chatting about how the whole suburb is slowly sinking and the puddle has formed in a low spot when a man appeared and told us it wasn't as bad as in Malaysia.
Council Man: "I have just exchanged a whole lot of Malaysian money"
Suddenly appeared man: "Are you going to Malaysia?"
Council Man: "No I just came back from there."
Suddenly Appeared Man:"You would have gone to Butter Hills (sic?) Caves, I have the cave on the left"
Council Man, "Oh the cave on the left, I didn't go there, too many stairs"
(Suddenly appeared man is hereafter called "Cave Man"); "Yes, there are 208.."
This cave based conversation went on for some time with many interesting facts about cave ecology (this cave has over 300 species and is about 2.5km long apparently), I just hung about as such odd conversations don't normally happen at my gate post.. then it took a turn!
Cave Man ; "perhaps you will be coming to where I live I put in a concern for Johnson Grove (insert long protracted description of driveway entrance problems)"
Council Man: "Are you number 27? I will come over tomorrow- what are you doing here?"
Cave man: "Collecting a chair"
Council man: "I meant Australia"
....I left them to it and the Cave man (now Chair Man?)went to get his Mitsubishi sedan which was clearly inadequate for the mighty armchair...
Then a loud opinionated tow truck driver delivering a car to us pulled up beside the Mitsubishi and decided to get involved.. I watched from afar...
"No bloody way,the hole just isn't big enough, I know holes and that isn't goin' in the hole, no bloody way!" so sayeth the Tow truck driver- a rare occasion of him actually being right.
Eventually the chair was put back on the nature strip whilst Chair Man went to get a more suitable vehicle and reinforcements( I did tell him it was heavy!).
After we finished running errands the chair has gone and there is so much more room on the verandah- not to mention the entertainment factor from the whole happening! Freecycle is great!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I am amazed when you Google about jam making (or even read in a Book!) the amount of complicated shenanigans that seem to be need a canner (!) you need special jars, you need a water bath, you need shop bought is enough to put lazy folk like me off jam making for life.
I picked some more blackberries today (normally 250g every day or so) and made jam. (Please note I totally cocked it up when I decided to measure the capacity of my jars by measuring out cups of water- in the cup I had squeezed my lemon juice into so I threw a half a lemon in to the mix when it was cooking to add some more pectin.. worked a treat!)
The recipe I got from I have tweaked it to be even more Dull Roar Philosophy

Je vous présente

The Dull Roar Jam Making Method
Collect any jars you have from vacuum sealed foods such as jams, pasta sauces etc, wash and store for another day..
Another day pull them out (two will do) and pop them in baby bottle steam steriliser in the usual fashion- set to go.
Bung 500g fruit and 2 cups sugar with 1/4 cup lemon juice in a large microwave proof bowl.
Set to go for 5 mins on high.
Stir when it beeps.
Set to go for 20 mins on high opening the door and looking at it fiercely occasionally to ensure it doesn't boil over in the microwave 'cos that is some sticky sticky mess. Also stir sometimes when you are looking at it fiercely.
I forgot to tell you to put a saucer in the freezer.. do that now.
test a bit of jam on the saucer to see if it will set- it normally sets much better than it does on the saucer.
let jam sit for 5 mins (or not- I don't, I am waaaay to impatient for that!)
Pour into the hot sterilised jars from baby bottle steriliser and slap the lids on, the vacuum seal button will pop itself down and seal it. Jars and jam need to be hot for this to work.
Makes about two cups/ two jars of very nice jam very easily.

I don't know if the jar lids wear out or how long they would keep, mine are in the fridge anyway and two pots of jam don't tend to last around here as the boys love it on bread with tahini.
There you go- no mystery- not much mess and no special equipment- takes me half an hour from go to whoa (a bit longer if I have to pick 500g blackberries first...!)
Go, and have fun and be no longer intimidated by condiments and spreads!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Very Beany Day

It seems that blogs are rife with people gushing about their children so I am warning you now this is a gushy children edition of the dull roar philosophy...
This morning I went to the boys' room and found Sir Talks A Lot (AKA Beany) tidying up all his toys. There was a perilous teetering pile looming from his toy box but he was determinedly tidying up... I was astonished and delighted!It set the tone for a day with a Very Helpful Little Man (and squeaking baby brother).
I managed to walk to the shops to buy free range eggs and blueberries (also coca cola for ailing Daddy Man and newspaper for me) and a toy puppy at the Salvation army shop for the good little man in question ("Mummy I also covered my mouth when I coughed and you didn't even haf ta tell me to!"), collect borage, nasturtium and calendula seeds, make a vegetable slice (with homegrown zucchini(now called courgette by me as it is easier for me to spell), capsicum from the neighbour-over-the back-fence (traded for some blackberries) spring onions and wild amaranth that I have recently identified in my garden...I also made a delicious courgette chocolate cake(next time more cocoa and less sugar) , the boys relished cleaning out the bowl!
Cap'n Beany (AKA Sir Talks A Lot) then asked if he could have his own garden so we found a bit of the front yard long neglected and laid a no-dig garden on top for his pleasure.

First we sprinkled some pelletised fowl manure, then laid a layer of wet paper, then more fowl manure, then a mulch of leaf mold (fallen leaves and alkanet which I am hoping will be nearly as good as Comfrey- which has been attacked by now squished caterpillar) then another sprinkle of manure, a layer of compost , some more manure and finally a good layer of straw. The manure was only a light sprinkle for each layer and each was helpfully watered by a little person ("That's right darling, good job ...whoops! Ok not on mummy's shoes!). Beany was really very helpful and it was a joy to work with him especially as gardening with him can leave me feeling very stressed and then guilty because I feel I have been too short tempered... He will be a great help when we give the same treatment to the rest of the front yard (see the above picture) Then we went inside and they had a finger food meal of vege slice, homegrown cherry tomatoes, whole meal pita bread and cheese whilst we watched their favourite show "Nigella Express" and "Gardening Australia" (What, me influence their viewing habits? Never!). Now they are tucked in bed (including the Daddy Man -AKA my Soul Mate and long suffering husband -who has been terribly knocked around by catching a flu whilst stressed)
I made my first attempt at courgette relish and I am a bit obsessed with it and worried that courgettes are going to have me fatten up considerably as I can't stop eating cheese and relish sandwiches, cheese and relish on crackers... cheese with relish on it and now courgette chocolate cake! I hope all my walking about and lazy gardening along with the odd bout of belly dancing keeps the wobbles at an appropriate level!
I might go watch The Empire Strikes Back for the 93rd (approx.) time or possibly some old episodes of Angel...decisions...decisions...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blackberries and Thunder

Funny hot weather here these days and a lurking sort of menace to the air. We had some much needed rain last night but the clouds and mugginess remains.
I harvested some zucchinis (courgettes... easier to spell for me!) today- some lovely stripy open pollinated ones from The Lost Seed. I am amazed, as many before me have been, at the courgettes capacity to turn positively marrowlike as soon as my back is turned. I am delighted to be facing the age old problems of gardeners all over Australia- "What am I going to do with all these ?"
The tomatoes are rambling all over the place as my dull roar tomato stakes weren't up for the job and so they have feralised throughout the garden. Lovely sweet little tomatoes hidden amongst the plants bursting in my mouth when I potter around.
I am occasionally munching on some brown beauty beans.
Sir Talk A Lot has an amazing ability to eat Blackberries which we are taming over a remaining bit of back fence. There are so many that I pick about 300g a day and there are still plenty for the birds. The brambles seem to like being pruned. The boys love blackberries which can be very messy and a bit scary if they try to get round to the brambles without adult supervision. Although I freely admit the boys are prodigies who are amazingly capable I still don't think a 16 month old and 3 year old should be near so much spikiness (sp!). I let Sir Talk A Lot have as many as he wants on the weekends and squirrel them away for freezing and baking during the week. He can get quite emotional when I tell him he needs to stop eating blackberries- I am fearful of him getting what my mother in law calls euphemistically "a tummy ache". Courgette and blackberry muffins have been in the lunch boxes this week.