Tag Archives: cooking

Soggy Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This weekend, I recommend you find yourself a good pair of gumboots and jump in a few puddles. No one knows you around here. So, it doesn’t really matter if you embarrass yourself. Besides, you’ll probably only get a few death stares from the local duck population wanting to evict you from their “pond”. You could say, that they’ve made a “pond conversions” to the  local potholes. Just call them “duckgineers”.

Well, you’re in luck today because you can try my “Christmas Cake”. In typical fashion, I stumbled across an intriguing recipe just before Christmas but the cake needed to rest for two months. So, this Christmas Cake was never going to be ready in time for Christmas and to compound my stupidity, this recipe made enough cake to feed an entire shearing shed. It contained 3kgs of dried fruit alone. It’s called the Aussie Harvest Cake and has grated apple in it and for the dried fruit, I used included figs, dates in addition to the usual sultanas and raisins and made for an interesting, moist and dense cake.

Anyway, I thought you might like to try a slice.

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The local radio station broadcast from my daughter’s school last week.

Speaking of cooking, last Monday local radio hosts, Rabbit & Julie broadcast live from my daughter’s school. The Julie of this  combo is Julie Goodwin, Australia’s first Masterchef. Knowing JULIE was coming to the school, I was up the freeway in a flash armed with my camera and copy of her cookbook. I was so excited and gushed profusely, embarrassingly so, but I met JULIE!! You can read about it here.

 

This year, I’ve backed off from my blog for a bit to follow up on the wealth of experiences we had on our three week trip to Tasmania. This has not only involved getting the photos printed and sorted. It’s also involved capturing my husband’s personal and family history. Although you can join Ancestry, that gets expensive and I have found a free, alternative source of much of my research…the online newspapers. For better of worse, unless your ancestors were very rich or well-known, most of what you pick up is things like court cases, criminal matters or acts of sheer stupidity. So, these research escapades can be rather intriguing, entertaining…or horrific.

I have been doing this research at a rather intense and rapid pace. So, my head has become something like a story calculator or processor adding up all these details and cross-referencing individuals and being rather surprised to find some very strong trends throughout. One of the interesting ones was that quite a few branches of Geoff’s family were involved with horse breeding, racing, trotting, pacing and even journalism. That really surprised me. I’ve also come out of all this research feeling that life is very random, yet not. Or, perhaps it is your fate that’s random. There are those people who die young and others who pass in their nineties.It made me feel like God was playing around with a couple of dice up there in heaven. Yet, there were strong threads as well such as a strong scientific mind, which spread across the board. I still don’t know quite what to make of it all.

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All this ploughing through the old newspapers has certainly dug up a lot of stories involving the family and local area. There was the sighting of a flying saucer at George Town. There was the guy who had 5-10 whiskies and “no lunch” who then drove his truck home but skidded and flipped it on a turn losing his life. At the inquest, when the coroner asked if he was inebriated after drinking all that whisky, a couple of witnesses said: “no”. Anyone who can walk after that much whiskey, must have a cast iron constitution. Shame, it didn’t carry across into his driving capacity. Of course, these days you’d be taking away his keys and giving him a lift.

This coming week, is going to be very full-on.

Our son turns 13 on Wednesday…the beginning of the “Teenage Years”. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been an American sitcom by that name. Or, perhaps there has and I’ve just missed it. I don’t know whether you’d class it as humour or horror  and how you’d rate it but there’s never be a dull moment.

Thursday…Thursday 9th March…is the Selective High Schools Test. This is being held all around NSW for our selective, academic schools. Our daughter, who is currently in a selective primary school class, along with most of her class mates, will be sitting for the test. It’s been hanging over us for more than a year and as much as you’d like to pretend it’s not hovering in the shadows, it’s there.

My reasonings for her to attend the selective high school, are quite complex. Naturally, you want the best for your child and ideally every kid gets the opportunity to feel comfortable, be accepted and not be “the outcast”. This can be a real issue for bright students. Yet, I’ve really noticed how well the kids get on in my daughter’s class and a number of them have told me that they struggled to fit in at their old school but feel comfortable now. That’s really important. After all, even if you enjoy time on your own, that should be a choice. All these kids get on really well together  and it would be really great to see them stay together and also meet up with similar, like-minded people. From this perspective, selective schools aren’t just about being elitist but also allow birds of a feather to flock together.

What I have also noticed, is that many of the kids in my daughter’s class aren’t just academic high achievers, but they’re also high achievers in other fields like chess, dancing, music and sport. This means that when you get these kids together in a class, you create a fertile breeding ground for all sorts of ideas and skills and it’s not necessarily just about academics. That said, moving into high school, academics is going to become more important.

So, I would really appreciate your prayers for my daughter, her friends and our local kids to get into our local selective school. There’s a lot of talk about kids in Sydney opting for our local selective school as it has a lower entry mark. They can catch the train up from Sydney quite easily. Moreover, they’re heavily tutored when many local families can’t afford that. Local kids who are really bright, probably still make it in and I’m not too sure whether the hoards from Sydney are a fabrication but there’s definitely a contingent and they must be taking away local places.

Anyway, that’s me on my soap box for this weekend. Speaking of the weekend, it’s almost over here and Monday’s looming overhead like a bad smell. Wish it would go away!

How has your week been? I’d love to hear from you

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share  now hosted by Nerd in the Brain and you can click here for the linky.

Best wishes,

xx Rowena

 

 

All for a Sozzled Christmas Cake…

Yesterday, being the second day of the school holidays, I was driven to desperate measures. Indeed, pushed straight over the brink, I was merely hanging onto my sanity by the barest of fingertips. The kids were asleep. My husband was there to mind the fort. It was almost 10.00PM and I had to get to the bottle shop. I couldn’t wait!

Of course, it wasn’t for me.

I swear it wasn’t.

It was for my Christmas Cake. I’d found an interesting recipe on the back of my Christmas cards and I had to try it out. With only a few sleeps before Christmas, there wasn’t any time to waste. Not that it would be ready in time. Like all Christmas cakes, it has to rest and this one needs more rest than most.

However, if I was a Christmas Cake and I’d drunk an entire cup of straight brandy, I’d need an extended rest too. Indeed, I’d probably need my stomach pumped. Unlike the Christmas cake, I’m not much of a drinker and a humble cup of tea usually does me.

So, there I was cruising the streets at night, desperately needing my cup of brandy. Yet, much to my horror, all the bottle shops were shut. I mean…where’s the Christmas spirit? Evidently, you needed to go to the pub for that.

Go to the pub? Was I that desperate, that unabashed, that I could front up to the bar with my pink melamine measuring cup and order a cup of brandy?

Yes! I was.

As I said, it wasn’t for me. It was for the Christmas cake. Surely, the pub would have a bit of compassion for someone making a Christmas cake a few days before Christmas?

Still, I could see all those bar flies with their huge, bug eyes are staring at me like rotting flesh.

What the?

Even I have to admit it’s weird…like a scene out of Fawlty Towers, Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em  or some more recent comedy show.

I’ve been known to cause  embarrassment before, but this would have taken the cake (forgive the pun).

We live in a beach side town and while there are plenty of people living here, it’s yet another insular peninsula. Nothing’s private. Everybody knows your business and I can tell you that some old chook turning up at the bar ordering brandy in a measuring cup, would not go unnoticed. I’d be the talk of the town and for all the wrong reasons.

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Yet, hasn’t anyone else ever been caught out trying to make a Christmas cake a few days before Christmas? Surely, after thousands of years of celebrating Christmas, I am not the only one…the very first?!!

By the way, if you’ve never made your own Christmas Cake, you probably don’t know about their heavy drinking habits.

Of course, they have all sorts of excuses. I mean, if I earned a dollar for every time I’ve heard a Christmas cake blame the dried fruit, I’d be a very wealthy woman. But you try giving a thirsty Christmas Cake a few glasses of water, and you’ll soon see their true colours. They’ll be throwing that slice of lemon straight back at you and demanding the hard stuff…whiskey, brandy, rum. If you’re on a budget, you might be lucky. They might settle for a sherry, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. These Christmas cakes hold nothing back and that’s why they’re always at the very top of Santa’s Naughty List.

Indeed, if you drank a cup of straight brandy, I’m sure you’d be at the top of the Naughty List too!

With the bottle shops shut and feeling too intimidated to go to the pub, I did consider Facebooking a few friends. Who could I pop in on at 10.00PM asking for a cup of brandy rather than the usual cup of sugar? I’m sure we all know a few likely characters, but by this stage, I’d finally accepted defeat. I decided to head back to the bottle shop in the morning.

Meanwhile, before I call it a night, I have some advice for Santa.

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Beware of eating too much Christmas Cake. I don’t know if they have random breath testing for sleighs,  but you don’t want to end up at the top of your own naughty list.

I’m not quite sure how many standard drinks are going to be in this Christmas cake by the time it’s done. Although much of the alcohol will be cooked out of the cake, you keep adding it as it ferments. It’s going to be sozzled.

So, my piece of wisdom for this Christmas…

Be careful before you eat and drive!

Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Wishing you a cautious Merry Christmas and some moderated “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

xx Rowena

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I must admit it feel odd walking out of the bottle shop at lunch time with a bottle in a brown paper bag. It’s not mine! I swear it’s not mine!

 

Weekend Coffee Share 24th July, 2016

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If we were having coffee today, you’d be wanting to throw out your slippers and put on your dancing shoes. I spent the afternoon at a my daughter’s somewhat casual mid-year dance concert and we stayed on to the last session to see the teens dance, which totally blew me out of my mind. I didn’t think the human body was capable of such movement without snapping. For someone who lives and breathes inside their head, to see the human body explored and extended in this way was incredible…especially as I battle with a debilitating muscle wasting disease, which has fortunately been in remission for two years and while I’ neither nimble or graceful, I’m walking…and I’m still breathing. These days, I can easily forget how far I’ve come.

How was your week? Hope things went well.

Last Wednesday, I attended a local Authors and Illustrators Forum.  This was the second year it was held and I met a great group of writers and illustrators while taking some valuable tips away from the talk. Probably the most important take home for me, was deciding to get my manuscript for “The Quest: Letters To Dead Poets” professionally critiqued. I decided to put it aside to stew after writing it during the A-Z April Challenge and to be perfectly honest, I had to have a break from  that phenomenal intensity and get back to the “real world” for a bit. Working towards this professional critique gives me an interim, achievable goal rather than shooting straight towards publishing. This still means I have a lot of work ahead.

Meanwhile, just for something chillaxing, my frustrations with my family history and trying to find where John Gardiner came from continues. I’ve hit some brick walls with my research before but nothing like this. Until I find John Gardiner’s death certificate or possibly his arrival details, I have no idea whether our Gardiner family is English, Irish or Scottish. While this might appear semantic, when you have an Irish Australian identity, it could ruffle a few feathers.

However, as frustrating as it’s been, there is a significant upside of NOT being able to pinpoint our John Gardiner out of the plethora of John Gardiners who were living in 18th Century Sydney. It means all bets are off and as I’ve been trawling through the old newspapers online, any one’s a possibility. I’ve also tried to find other family members with a hope of finding him via the side door. So, I’ve been left to ponder whether we’re related to George Gardiner of Albion Street Surry Hills who tragically hanged himself at work for no known particular reason or his daughter, Florence Young whose husband tragically cut her throat having a mental snap or perhaps even mistaking her for a burglar in the dark,  while she was holding their 6 month old daughter, Sadie? There was also John Gardiner, a digger shell shocked during WWI, who stole a coffin and slept rough on Queen Street Brisbane and planned to take it for a sail along the Brisbane River. Apparently, he also stopped off at pubs along Queen Street, placing the coffin on the counter asking: “Where’s the dead man?” He was usually given a few drinks before he moved on. Thank goodness for the Salvos who gave that John Gardiner a home.Terrible to think that we couldn’t look after someone who fought bravely for our country when they returned home.

I’m not sure how much I’ve mentioned that I’m totally addicted to watching Australian Masterchef. We’re now on the homeward strait and we’re down to the last three contestants. You can view past episodes of the show here and if you are much more daring and capable than I, you could even try out the recipes but I’ll wish you good luck. It’s not called Masterchef for nothing and these creations are miracles on a plate. Just spectacular!

While I haven’t even considered trying out the Masterchef recipes myself, the show has definitely helped me lift my gave on the home front. While I might not have crunch, creaminess and acidity in every dish, I’ve definitely been spreading my wings.

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The Waffle.

Last night, I finally found the courage to try making waffles from scratch and was thrilled with the results. I might have left the butter out of the mix, but they were great and also represented a small triumph over my paralyzing perfectionism. It only took me two years to find the courage to actually try making waffles in my waffle machine. You can click here to read how I went and check out my grandmother’s recipe.

Now the countdown’s on until I have another birthday. Next Saturday, I clock up another year. Hip hip hurray…I think!

How has your week been? Hope you’ve had a great one!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the  linky to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

Waffling About Perfection.

How long has it taken me to actually use my waffle machine for its intended purpose and actually make waffles?

I’m not telling. This is a blog, NOT a confessional!

While I’ve crushed, fried and crunchified boiled potatoes in the waffle iron before, I’ve NEVER ever made a waffle. Yet, tonight I finally walked the plank, jumped over the edge and straight into the raging waves only to find absolute calm…still waters!

The waffles worked. Were delicious! I succeeded!

So why have I put it off for so long?

Of course, you know why. You know the crazy reason why. I’ve been too scared. Scared I’d make a mistake and botch them up.

That’s right. I’ve been yet another a paralyzed perfectionist.

How about you? Are you also guilty as charged?

There’s nothing more annoying than a perfectionist who isn’t perfect…especially when it’s yourself!

Perfectionism is a sneaky, cunning beast. It doesn’t knock on your front door and announce its arrival. It doesn’t have flashing neon lights with ringing sirens either. Instead, it silently sneaks in through the back door and creeps up on you from behind and grabs you by the throat.

It also gets you busy. In the case of the waffles, it threw a bamboozling array of recipes at me, followed by a plethora of different waffle irons and that was before we’d even considered toppings. By this stage, there so  many rats going round and round in spinning wheels inside my head, for me to do anything.

Although it might be cliched, paralysis by analysis is real. Too many cogs spinning all at once and your exhausted, over-worked brain is blowing a gasket. Boom! Bang! Crash!

So, as I said, I made waffles for the first time tonight and they were great. Covered in creamy vanilla ice cream and maple syrup dripping off the fork…So yum!

Why on earth did I put it off for so long?

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The Lutheran Church in Wollongong put this recipe book together in the aftermath of WWII. Having members from a multitude of European countries, some being enemies at home, the idea of the cookbook was to bring people together and sharing recipes is a great way to start.

We didn’t have a waffle machine growing up at home. Even though I ended up using my grandmother’s recipe to make our waffles tonight, she’d never made them for me either. I found the recipe in a Church cookbook she’d edited back in the 1950s. Of course, all the measurements were in “ancient” and had to be translated. I also wondered whether I really did have to separate the eggs, or whether I should use a simpler recipe, which just throws the ingredients together? I chose the complicated path, hoping for fluffier waffles and I used my egg beater as well. It’s also ancient.

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As I was saying, we didn’t have a waffle machine growing up and I have to admit that making the waffles, was like magic. The batter looked just like pancake mix and I admit that as I spread it over the waffle iron, I doubted it could actually make a waffle and I had that child-like sense of wonder, when I opened up the machine, and found the sculptured waffles cooking inside.

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Abracadabra!…Waffles!

I’m proud of my waffles. Not just because they were good, but also because in tackling that challenge, I crossed a new frontier…just like an explorer crossing a mountain for the very first time. I did it. I actually extended my wings and allowed myself to leave my cage and truly soar.

While making waffles might only be a small step for woman and nowhere near actually landing on the moon, all these steps add up and could ultimately build a ladder. You never know.

So, in case you want to follow in my esteemed footsteps, here’s Grandma’s Waffle Recipe:

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My Grandmother’s Waffle Recipe taken from the “Around the World With Cooking” Cookbook.

Grandma’s Waffle Recipe

250g Plain Flour

Pinch salt

1 teas Baking Powder

1 generous cup of milk and a splash (270 mls)

2 eggs, separated.

50g melted butter.

Directions

  1. Start preparing the batter about an hour before required.
  2. Take eggs out of the fridge 30 mins beforehand and at room temperature.
  3. Sift flour & salt into a basin. Make a well in the centre.
  4. Separate eggs and put the whites aside.
  5. Beat egg yolks and add hald the milk. Pour into the flour and mix into a smooth batter, gradually stirring in the rest of the milk.
  6. Beat mixture and allow to stand for an hour.
  7. 15 minutes before the mix is ready to cook, beat egg whites until stiff. Put aside.
  8. Once the hour is up, add the melted butter to the mixture and then stiffly beaten egg whites and baking powder.
  9. Spray waffle iron with oil or butter and have it hot to make the waffles.

Enjoy!

By the way, just to encourage you and humble myself a little further, when I went to reheat my cup of tea in the microwave, I found the melted butter for the waffle mix in there. That’s right. I’d left it out. This could explain why the waffles weren’t quite as crunchy as expected, but I’d instinctively added butter to the machine for the second batch.

Have you ever made waffles? How does your recipe compare to mine and do you have any tips and topping suggestions to share?

I look forward to hearing from you!

xx Rowena

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My Grandparents.

Weekend Coffee Share 9th July, 2016

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I’m offering you a mug of alphabet soup. Not just because it’s Winter here and a mug of soup somehow seems to warm you up inside and out, but also because I’ve been reading Roald Dahl’s English Dictionary. So rather than actually swallowing our soup, I reckon we should fish out the letters and see what we get. I wonder if this counts as “Gobblefunking with words”? Sounds close enough to me!

Dahl Dictionary

The big news here is that the kids are on school holidays, which in some ways means that I’m not on school holidays but on the other hand, I’m not driving them around as much, so at least Mum’s Taxi is having a break. Next week, it’ll be getting the engine back into gear driving the kids to and from final rehearsals and at last performances of the Gang Show…a variety show put on by Scouts, Guides and their leaders. This year, it’s called “Once Upon A Time” and includes songs from Walt Disney, Dr Suess and Monty Python. I’m really looking forward to seeing the show and seeing what it actually is as well as seeing the kids. We’ve never been to a Gang Show before.

I am feeling much better today. I’ve had some trouble with a chest infection, asthma coughing etc and after being on antibiotics and taking all my asthma medications, i finally bit the bullet yesterday and bought a cough syrup with codeine and had a great night’s sleep. I actually feel alive today, which makes me realize I’ve been off for a few weeks. There might even be a spring in my step, even though it’s still Winter.

So, how are things going with you? Well, I hope!

My family history research battles continue. I don’t know how many of you have delved into family history research but I love it. Once you get through the people you know about, that’s when the detective work begins and for better or worse, I show no mercy. I am a detective/journalist at heart pursuing the story like a dog hunting down a bone. Thanks to the Internet, you can unearth so much buried treasure these days, although most of it is either birth, death, marriage notices unless your ancestors got themselves in a spot of trouble or had accidents of some sort. That is unless they actually achieved something.

Anyway, I’m trying to find out where my grandmother’s family, the Gardiners, actually came from. I don’t know whether it bothers you where your ancestors came from or why they moved from one side of the world to the other but it bothers me. I need to know, especially as my grandmother saw herself as Irish Australian but it could well be that she’s mostly English, which changes the story quite considerably. As it stands, our Gardiners could be English, Irish or Scottish and I want to find out.

After too many dead ends to mention, I’m hoping I’ve finally found John Gardiner’s death certificate. I thought I’d sensed a convict in the mix when I couldn’t find things easily. If this is our John Gardiner, he ended up changing his name to Gardiner-Garden after becoming a senior figure in the NSW Education Department. Whether he’s our John or not, he’s certainly a character and reminds me of Mrs Bucket from the English comedy show Keeping Up Appearances who called herself “Mrs Bouquet”. Nothing like covering up your tracks!

This weekend, we’re doing a bit of work on the house. We’re replacing our kitchen pantry and also adding new curtains to the lounge room. The pantry was a gift from some friends who are moving and I managed to pick up these New-looking Ikea curtains from the opportunity shop for $10.00 each. So, the lounge room is looking well dressed for $40.00. While it’s been great to pick up Ikea curtains for a bargain, the convenience is even better. We don’t have a big shopping centre close-by and it’s much easier for me to buy from the op shops than travel somewhere. Moreover, Ikea is about 2 hours away. So, my bargain was quite a win!!

These new curtains will really brighten up the lounge room, which has been feeling a bit dark and dull during Winter and this is where we spend most of our time. They’re a rosy burgundy colour with a real sheen in the fabric and they really shine in the light.

Getting back to the school holidays, the kids are currently stayed with my parents. My son went down a bit earlier, which left my daughter and I playing Monopoly and doing some cooking.

When did you last play Monopoly?

I’m not really sure whether I like playing Monopoly or not. However, the trouble is you need time to get through a game and usually our games peter out, rather than reaching THE END.

However, time is what you’re meant to have in the school holidays and you’re not supposed to be “too busy” when your much loved and cherished offspring desire some “Mummy Daughter time”. My daughter is big on this even though that phrase really makes me cringe. Cringing aside, I behaved and we played Monopoly. I am not someone who deliberately lets kids win, but I’m not a sore loser either. However, I am human and am not ashamed to admit I don’t want to bomb out and go broke on my first couple of runs around the board.

Early on, I made some joke about her living it up at Mayfair and Park Lane, while I’m slumming it over at White Chapel and Old Kent Roads. I should’ve kept my trap shut!! Sure enough, that came to pass. Fortunately, the game “ended” before she ventured into hotel management and wiped me out completely.  Phew!

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My daughter’s Dish.

That was Wednesday. Thursday, she decided we were having a Mini Chef Mystery Box Challenge. We each had to choose 4 secret ingredients for each other to use in addition to an open pantry. This was a really fun idea…even if she was trying to throw me by selecting tuna, sardines, salt and Grain Waves for my mystery box. I fed the sardines to the dogs and we had a sexy variation of tuna mornay for dinner. So, here’s Challenged By My Mini Chef.

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My Dish.

If you’re looking for a bit of a laugh, here’s a post I reblogged from Cooking With Whiskers about making hats for your cat. I’ve sent the link to the kids so Grandma’s cat had better beware of the hats! Here’s the link.

After chatting about all of this, I almost forgot to tell you that we still don’t have a result for the Australian Federal Election. It’s looking like the Liberals under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be returned but we’re yet to find out the final numbers. I just hope that the next 3 years doesn’t turn into an excuse for a political nonsense down in Canberra.Much needs to be done and we’re not paying our politicians to fight among themselves, although that might come as a bit of a surprise to them!

What have you been up to this week? I hope you’ve had a great week and I look forward to catching up!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the  linky to read the other posts.

Best wishes,

xx Rowena

 

 

Challenged By My Mini Chef.

Our kids are currently on school holidays and yesterday, my 10 year old daughter issued me with a “Mystery Box Challenge”.

A what?

If you haven’t been watching Masterchef, a Mystery Box Challenge involves mixing what can seem a very erroneous combination of ingredients, into more than a “concoction” or worse still, a “mixture”. Speaking of mixtures, my kids have been very good at wasting swags of ingredients making mixtures over the years so I’m not so keen on mixtures!

Yet, there was that excitement in her voice and before I knew it, she’d lured me in. I have to admit I was more than a little curious about whether we could take any four ingredients and make something worth eating…or not?

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Our daughter with our dog, Lady  who is a keen consumer of just about any food-like substance.

At the same time, all that really mattered was her smile, spending time together and knitting memories together into some kind of never-ending spangled scarf.

With all of that at stake, who cares whether ingredients get wasted, frying pans and saucepans BURN or even if the kitchen goes up in flames…just as long as nobody gets hurt?!!

Getting back to the challenge, it appears Miss has the whole thing sorted and I’m told that we each get a mystery box containing four ingredients, an open pantry and we decided to leave our staples in the fridge. By the way, if you’re thinking that “staples” are those  metal things you push through paper, you’d be wrong. These are your cooking staples such as eggs, milk, flour and butter.

So, the adventure begins with selecting the four ingredients for my daughter’s Mystery Box. When it came to choosing these ingredients, I decided to be kind. She is an incredibly picky eater and is the incarnation of the Princess and The Pea. So, I gave her a Granny Smith apple, toasted muesli and honey. I half expected her to mix it with Greek yogurt to make what she calls a parfait, which she’d made a few times before.

However, she had other plans…

She sliced the apple and fried it up in melted butter and brown sugar. This turned out really well and was a real success. She served it up with some fresh basil, which went surprisingly well with it.  From there, however, she went a little overboard and used way too many ingredients and couldn’t seem to decide whether her dish was savory or sweet. She fried up some corn and peas with the muesli, which wasn’t too bad but while she was plating up, she added a few spears of tinned asparagus. These really clashed with the rest of the dish.

While this plate is already sounding rather overloaded, wait! There’s more!

She also served her dish up with a cup with a pouring sauce, which, just let me say wasn’t the best element of her dish. I can’t quite remember what was in it but there was chocolate topping, Mixed Spice and Golden Syrup and I did actually try it on the food. I might not earn full marks as a Mum, but I do try!

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My Daughter’s Dish…loved her presentation with that sprinkling of shredded coconut and her use of colour! I remember hearing something about “rainbow colours”.

Besides, I know just how sensitive cooks can get about their creations and that it’s best not to be too blunt when things don’t work out.

Overall, she did really well although she’s gone away to my parents’ for the weekend leaving me with a stack of dirty pots and pans…some of which, are looking rather caramelised!

I might also mention that as Madam was plating up, she burned her fried cheese. Moreover, in her haste as those last seconds were running out, she threw it out of the pan and straight onto the blazing hot plate. Immediately, the cheese started smoking and nearly caught fire. Master Mum to the rescue once again!

Meanwhile, Miss had given me my Mystery Box. She wasn’t so kind with her selection of ingredients. She gave me a tin of sardines, a tin of tuna, a packet of Grain Waves (chips) and salt.

I decided to make a Tuna Mornay and this was going to be dinner. However, my husband can’t stand “cat food” and so rather than trying to make the tuna the “hero of the dish”, I needed to hide it. That’s the opposite of what they do in the Masterchef Kitchen. I guess this could, therefore, mean casting the tuna as “the villain”. I immediately fry an onion and once it’s browned, add the tuna. Added some left over chick peas from the fridge, cream and grated cheese. I’m trying to think of ways of transforming tuna mornay into something inventive, tasty. In other words, how to turn it into something else. I add about a handful of sliced macadamia nuts for some crunch (Masterchef is huge on crunch!!) and would’ve liked to add some lemon juice and thyme but we were out. Added dried Rosemary instead, longing for that very well-stocked Masterchef pantry!! After adding an egg and more cheese somewhere along the way, I coated the patty in the crushed grain waves and grated cheese and turned up the heat. I wanted to turn it crunchy. Broke it up into smaller patty sizes and thinking of sang choy bow, decided to serve in up in lettuce leaves.

Presentation isn’t my strength but I felt compelled to go to some effort to get into the spirit of things, especially as my daughter was making a few comments about it not looking “very Masterchef”. After crunchifying my patties, I served them up on lettuce leaves with a splattering of diced Granny Smith apple for tartness and a few slices of tomato and a drizzling of French dressing.

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Not your average Tuna Mornay…My Dish.

After adding all of that camouflage, I successfully managed to de-heroify the tuna to my husband’s liking and I was pleased with my dish…what ever it was in the end.

Getting back to the sardines…as much as I was tempted to drape a few sardines over the top of my dish and forcing my daughter to eat them, I decided not to buy into her trickery. Instead, I fed them to the dogs. After all, I’d bought them for Bilbo after his coat was moth-eaten and mauled from a severe flea allergy. As much as my daughter might have wanted to disgust me with this addition to the mystery box, eating sardines was just taking things too far!

Of course, no home Mini Chef Challenge is complete without photographic coverage. With my camera out in the boot, dashed out to the car towards the end of the cook, which my daughter decreed “wasn’t very Masterchef”! I don’t think she was very impressed. However, my dish was finished well before the hour was up and I couldn’t possibly have a Minichef Mystery Box Challenge and NOT photograph it! This is one of those Kodak unforgettable moments!

I have always found such meaning in cooking/baking for those I love but there’s also something truly beautiful in cooking with them as well…mixing a good dose of love into whatever your making, which has to be the ultimate secret ingredient!

Have you done any family cooking or baking lately? How did it go? Any mini of Master Chefs?

Hope you’ve had a great week!

xx Rowena

 

Making “Curleys”…The Cornish Pasty.

You’ve got to wonder whether we procrastinating writers with our elaborate pieces outlining our “gunna do’s”, ever get anything DONE!

Well, occasionally we actually do get to ring the brass bell and shout: “I did it!” Better still, this time I can also cheer “and it worked!”

That is, as long as you don’t mind dinner at 10.00 PM!

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Better late than never!

If you’re going to make Cornish Pasties, you probably need to start making the dough about 5 hours before serving, as the dough needs to rest in the fridge for 3 hours and they take almost an hour to bake in the oven because the filling is raw and needs to cook.

 

After reading my preamble in my previous post, you’d know that I was making the Cornish Pasties for my husband. He grew up in Scottsdale in NE Tasmania where they were “curleys” at the school canteen, contrasting to the standard meat pies. He moved to the mainland in his 20s as “an economic refugee” and has never found Cornish Pasties anywhere near as good as Poole’s.

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So, wanting to treat my husband, I set out in my usual intrepid manner barging in where angels fear to tread, to recreate a Poole’s Cornish Pasty, even though I only tried one once 10 years ago.

Well, the verdict was “pretty good”. My Cornish Pasty has a crunchy pastry, where the Poole’s Curley was soft. The filing was spot on, although he recommended a bit more pepper. I was wary of overdoing the pepper and being a raw meat mix, I wasn’t able to taste it.

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A look inside our “Curley” Aussie Cornish Pasty.

Moreover, chatting to a friend this morning while dropping our daughters off at the station at the ungodly hour of 7.45AM, she also recommended a dob of butter and a sprinkling of flour to get a gravy. That would be a great addition because I couldn’t find skirt steak and it seems rump steak wasn’t quite as juicy. Our pasties weren’t dry but a bit of gravy would take it up a notch.

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My Daughter enjoys rolling out the pastry.

While the kids went to bed before the pasties were ready, my daughter helped put them together and of course, loved rolled out the pastry and assembling the pasties. While she was doing this, she kept asking me about the “corn” and said something about “Ah! The corn goes on the plate”. Finally, the penny dropped. She thought Cornish Pasties had corn in them. Yay! Another opportunity for geography and history lessons although the map had to wait for tonight. Our daughter is a master of extending and extending bedtime and my husband appeared and she was off.

Somehow, we ended up with only four pasties from our recommended six from the pastry and enough filling left over to make another 4 I reckon. So, at 2.45PM, I’m quickly heading off to make my pastry and get it into the fridge to rest.

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My Assistant Pastry Cook.

As they endlessly repeat in the Masterchef Kitchen, “Time is not your friend”.

I will be back with my revised recipe.

xx Rowena