Thursday, April 29, 2010

Birthday weekend!

It was my birthday last weekend. And here's what I did with it:
  • I drove 1,300 kilometres from Canberra to Melbourne and back. Well, okay. I didn't *actually* do any driving. But I performed essential candy distribution and iPod playing/fast forwarding functions!
  • I ate way too much. Including this:
It's upside down apple tart with butterscotch sauce and cream. And it was sooooooooooooooooo good. I swear, if I thought I had half a chance of replicating it, I'd be baking apple tarts every weekend. But there was something about the pastry that I could never recreate. It was like a cross between choux pastry and mille feuille pastry. And it was delicious.
  • I got presented with this. It had far too many candles on it for my liking... And I forgot to bring a slab of it back to Canberra with me. Tear...

  • I cleaned out my closets, now that I'm switching bedrooms with my brother in Melbourne. God, was that a horrifying experience... Bags and bags and BAGS of junk. My entire collection of Dan Brown books has gone on the scrap heap, as have five years worth of dancing costumes. Why I thought I'd ever need a gold spandex leotard with sequins that I wore for a tap routine of 'New York, New York' again, I have absolutely no idea. And yet, I kept it for ten years...
  • I got attacked by a giant moth in Glenrowan. The whole town was FILLED with giant creepy moths. I've been told that they might have been these. Whatever they were, they were terrifying as hell.
  • I made macaroni and cheese for a certain four year old who's been telling her mother for weeks that HER macaroni and cheese isn't up to scratch compared to mine. It probably has something to do with her mother regulating the amounts of cheese she uses...
  • I got crowned the 'Birthday Macaroni and Cheese Hero' by the same four year old, and got to wear the pink plastic princess tiara all night. Shame it's designed for a small child with a tiny head and gave me a killer headache...
  • I took my usual photos of dead trees out the window of the car. Don't worry - I won't subject you to them!!
  • I got some seriously awesome measuring cups, which will feature in my baking for my Canberra birthday celebrations this weekend. Watch this space to see the awesomeness!!
  • I got to watch my poor (mostly blind) puppy walk into furniture, courtesy of the house being painted and furniture being stacked in completely bizarre places
  • I realised that I completely suck at navigating from the Hume to my parents' house in Melbourne in the dark and the rain without a street directory. Not really surprising, considering I've only really done that trip once before when I had to pay attention to where we were going!
So all in all, it was a good weekend. Although the paint smell and the dust from cleaning out the closets played havoc with the dregs of my lovely cold, which was less than fun. Oh, and I got to plan out aaaaaaaaaall the things I'm going to bake this weekend. So you can expect far more exciting posts shortly!!
K :) xx

Monday, April 19, 2010

The dreaded lurgy...

On Friday morning, I woke up with a sore throat. This may not seem like a disaster, but considering two of my colleagues had just taken entire weeks off work with the dreaded lurgy, my first thought was "Ohhhhhhhhh crap...". See, I hate being sick. And courtesy of catching public transport everywhere, it doesn't happen very often. So when it does, I turn into a total boy and sit around sulking about the fact that I'm sick and demanding that my toast be cut into soldiers. (Okay, I don't really do that, but only because I'm the one who'd have to cut the toast into soldiers, so I don't need to make demands about it...)

As colds go, this one hasn't been particularly horrific - although I did have a delightful moment at the supermarket yesterday where my blood pressure went funky and I thought I was going to relive a particularly memorable experience from Guatemala when I nearly blacked out at an ATM - except without the AK-47, obviously...

Aaaaaaanyway, this morning led to something of a first for me. As I went to phone my boss and let her know that I'd be keeping my germs at home today, I realised that I've never actually phoned in sick before. I'm not quite sure how I've managed over five years in the workforce without phoning in sick. That's not to say I haven't taken sick days. I have - four of them. Three were my first week in the work force - a nice dose of fresher's flu. And the fourth was when I turned up to work with a hacking cough and a box of tissues, and my boss told me that she couldn't concentrate with all the noise I was making, so could I please go home.

So as I phoned my boss this morning, I had a small panic attack of the "Oh God, what if she doesn't believe me, and demands that I get to work immediately?????" sort. Not to mention the fact that I already felt guilty about calling in sick. I'm not quite sure how this works. I suspect it has something to do with seeing Dad work for the one company his entire life, and only ever take sick leave when he broke his leg, had to have surgery, and was on crutches with a full length cast for eight weeks. Or the fact that as a kid, I can remember going "I'm siiiiiiiiiiick, I can't go to school today", and Mum going "Eh, you look fine to me. You're going." No Ferris Bueller moments for this little black duck!!

My brother seems to have no such guilt feeling problems - I know because I emailed him several times last year only to get a phone call back hours later saying that he was chucking a sickie to play Wii... WHY COULDN'T I GET THAT GENE, DAMMIT??????

Ahem. What was my point? Oh yeah - that I'm off sick today. And that I shall revel in my one sick day, because it's likely to be the only one I can bring myself to take all year...

K :) xx

Friday, April 2, 2010

A delicious alternative to fish

So I grew up in a non-seafood eating household. Dad, for some bizarre reason of his own, loves the stuff. I have a vague memory of him going fishing when we lived in Canada and coming home with a massive salmon which was kept on ice in an Esky in the porch for what seemed like a month, because he was the only one who would eat it. Anyway, the whole anti-seafood sentiment means that Good Friday presents problems. Not that we're religious in any way (well, apart from 8 years of Anglican education for me and 11 years for Cam), it just seems like the right thing to do somehow.

Anyway, not eating fish presented a problem. Until Mum came up with a genius idea - No Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. Okay, so you could just call it roast veggies and Yorkshire pudding, but it doesn't have nearly the same ring to it when you're a kid. And sure, you could argue that Yorkshire pud is full of stuff you're not meant to use until Lent is over. But meh. So here we have Yorkshire pudding, as per the Australian Women's Weekly's 1970s recipe. They've changed it very slightly since, but this one works, so I'm sticking with it!

Here's the cast of characters. Pretty simple, huh?:

Start with half a teaspoon of salt:

Dump it into a mixing bowl:

Then measure out a cup of self raising flour:

And sift it into the bowl:

Then, make a well in the middle of the flour and salt mixture:

Crack two eggs and dump them into the centre of the well:

Beat the eggs, incorporating a little of the flour from the sides:

Then mix half a cup of warm water with half a cup of milk:

Slowly add the milk and water mixture into the bowl, a little at a time.

Stir it into the egg, adding more of the flour from the sides with each milk addition.

When all the liquid has been added and all the flour has been incorporated, beat the mixture for about two minutes.

Then leave it to sit for half an hour. Go and have one of these (it's a Malibu and pineapple juice, in case you were wondering):

After half an hour, it will have magically thickened.

Take an ovenproof dish (or a greased muffin tray, if you want to make individual Yorkshire puddings):

I use Pyrex. I love Pyrex. It's awesome - stackable and dishwasher proof. What more can you ask for!!

Drizzle a little olive oil into the dish:

And place it in the oven for about 5 minutes to heat up. The oven needs to be hot - between 200 and 230 degrees Centigrade.

Once the oil has heated, pull the dish out (with oven mitts - glass gets rather warm after five minutes in a hot oven. Surprising, I know!), and pour the batter in.

Stick it back in the oven and let the magic begin! And no complaints about how filthy my oven door is. I only realised when I went to take the photos...:

This is after about six or seven minutes:

And this was about the point I went "Holy crap, it's a giant mutant pudding!! Move it to a lower shelf!!!!" Trust me - if you cook Yorkshire pudding on the top shelf of the oven, at some point you WILL need to move it to a lower shelf... Who knows what lofty heights it would have reached if I hadn't...

And here it is, after 20 minutes in a hot oven. Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum...

And here we have a delicious Good Friday feast of No Beef and Yorkshire pudding. I could have made gravy, I suppose. But I hate the stuff, so I made others suffer through without it. Mwahaha!! Frankly, considering I'd only ever done roast veggies twice before, I think I did a pretty damned good job! I suppose I could have added roasted tomatoes in there too, but they strike me as a breakfast food, and therefore have no place here.
So there you have it - if you're vegetarian, hate seafood, or are just sick of your food staring at you while you eat it, try the roast veggies and Yorkshire pudding route next Easter. You won't regret it!!
K :) xx
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