Wednesday, November 30, 2011

101 in 1001 #94

And so we come to the last day of NaBloPoMo. I'm sure you're all rather relieved that I won't be clogging your Google Readers every day from now on! And that I didn't resort to entire posts featuring nothing but gifs of David Tennant and Jake Gyllenhaal. WARNING: While I won't be going QUITE that far today, it is going to get a *wee* bit Tennant-y in here. 

For several years now, I've had to put up with listen to my BFF Sara telling me all about how awesome Doctor Who is. And then when I started working on the gallery, I discovered there are an *awful* lot of Whovians working in the museum sector. So it was only a matter of time before I caved. Task #94 was to watch Doctor Who, starting from the 2005 revamp.

So when I moved back to Melbourne in July and signed up for Quickflix (and seriously, if you guys still rent DVDs the conventional way, WHY??? Also, Quickflix don't know I exist. I just think they're awesome!), one of the first things in my queue was Doctor Who. I'd actually seen one or two episodes over the years when there was nothing else on TV, but out of sequence it was never compelling enough for me to add it to my TV schedule.

The Bloggess (and if you don't read her blog, GO AND DO IT NOW BECAUSE SHE'S AWESOME) started watching Doctor Who earlier in the week, and I think she said it best:

I made it through series 1 and part of series 2 before I left for the US. I *may* have flailed with fan girl excitement when Lyndsy was showing me how to use Netflix streaming and Doctor Who was available. I made it through the rest of series 2 and most of series 3 in Denver. An excellent use of the $1300 airfare, I think!!

I haven't QUITE finished series 6 yet (and thank you, Steven Moffat, for the mind fuck that is series 6...), but suffice to say I've added Whovian to my already lengthy list of fandoms (which also includes Scooby, Salt Gunner, Browncoat, and Gleek).

I love it all, from Christopher Eccleston:
"I bring you air from my lungs!" Also, Billie's face is priceless. Also also, source.
To Matt Smith:
Though David Tennant will always be my favourite, hands down:

I love it from the brilliance of the Neil Gaiman episode in series 6:
The look on Matt Smith's face is hilarious. Also, source
To the creepiness of The Weeping Angels:
Sorry if this makes anyone have a seizure/pee their pants. Also, source
And I'm doing a lot of internal fan girl squeeing over the fact that my parents have agreed to buy me this for Christmas:

(Also, if you live in Australia, you can order that from Amazon UK for £45 with free shipping, rather than paying the $287 that it costs here. And the one from Amazon is Region 4 compatible!!)

In short(ish), Doctor Who is best summed up by John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness:

Please tell me I'm not alone in my nerdy Whovian fan girl corner?? Also, thoughts on classic Who - worth it or not?
K xx

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Challenge recipe 17: Arancini

First of all, this is my 300th post! So to celebrate, I've done a little five minute bloggy facelift. Wheeeeeeeee!!

Ahem. Moving rapidly along, I've been wanting to make this recipe for ages but it's always seemed like too much hard work. So I put it on my cookbook challenge list! I've detoured quite a bit from the recipe, but mostly in the technique rather than the ingredients. Here's the book:

And here's what you'll need to make the risotto:

You can actually make this part of it a day ahead. Start by dicing the onion as small as you can:

Smash a clove of garlic with the side of a knife (it's the easiest way to get the skin off. Trust me!):

Then shove it through a garlic press.

If you're me, this is the point where you decide to stop and have lunch, thus guaranteeing that your entire house smells like onion. Don't be me.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a saucepan, and cook the onion and garlic until translucent:

Then add half a cup of arborio rice:

Stir until it's covered in oil, then add in half a cup of dry white wine:

Stir constantly. Once the wine has mostly evaporated, add salt reduced chicken stock, half a cup at a time:

The recipe called for 2.5 cups. I ended up using 2 cups, and found that 1.5 cups probably would have been enough. Just see how it goes and judge for yourself. Anyway, when the last of the stock has almost evaporated, add in half a cup of frozen peas and remove it from the heat:

Also add half a cup of grated parmesan cheese. (The recipe also calls for 40g of diced ham, but as I don't eat pig, I left it out.)

Mix it all together, and then pour it into a medium sized bowl and let it cool for at least fifteen minutes.

Here's what you'll need for the second phase - turning the risotto into arancini:

While the rice is cooling, chop up 100g of mozzarella cheese into chunks. You want them to be about 1cm cubed. Obviously, mine were a little bigger than that. I wound up having to trim the edges later. Don't be like me.

Once the rice is cool, lightly beat an egg and add it into the risotto:

Now comes the slightly tricky part, which will be unaccompanied by pictures because it was too damned messy. Take a tablespoon of risotto in your hand, press a piece of mozzarella into the middle, and put another tablespoon of risotto on the top. Roll it around to make a ball, then toss it in plain flour. I actually found the easiest way to do it was to use a cookie scoop. It meant the size was consistent and you could dump it into your hand easily. (The recipe actually says to take two tablespoons of mixture, roll into a ball, push the cheese into the middle, then form the ball around it again. I tried this way. IT'S DUMB AND OVERLY COMPLICATED AND REALLY DOESN'T WORK.)

When you've done that, put an egg in a bowl with a tablespoon of milk:

Beat it together, then grab at least 1 cup of breadcrumbs. Again, there will be no pictures of the process because it's really messy. Take a rice ball, coat it in the egg/milk mixture, then toss it in the breadcrumbs. Repeat until you have so many breadcrumbs on your fingers that you could deep fry your hands and not feel a thing (aka until you're finished).

At this stage, you can either push on with cooking them, or stick them in the fridge until you're ready to roll.

Now, cooking them is a little complicated. The book says to deep fry them for several minutes until the mozzarella melts. I tried that, and they ended up burnt and gross on the outside with a solid piece of cheese in the middle. So here's MY method, which was far more successful (and probably a *little* healthier). Dump an entire bottle of canola oil into a saucepan. Heat it up until it's ready (I tested it by sprinkling in a few breadcrumbs. If they bubble when you add them, it's hot enough). Then deep fry the arancini one at a time until golden brown (this took about a minute each):

Put them on kitchen paper when you take them out of the oil. Once all the arancini have been fried, put them on a baking tray and stick them in the oven at 150 degrees C for 15-20 minutes.

That sad looking pale one on the far right was an experiment to see what happened if you skipped the deep frying part and put it in the oven smothered in spray oil. Answer: it cooks, but doesn't even remotely brown.

ANYWAY. Serve them as finger food or with a salad as a main course.

The verdict? They were a lot of work, but they're pretty awesome. In the future, I'd probably try making them with a more flavourful (but equally melty) cheese than mozzarella. And possibly dip them in some kind of tomato sauce-y stuff. (By which I do not mean ketchup!) I'd probably also add more pepper to the risotto to give it some bite. (Oh. AND. I used gluten free flour and gluten free breadcrumbs, and they worked fine. So they're gluten intolerance friendly!!)

So thanks for sticking by me through 300 posts. Here's to 300 more!

Has anyone else made arancini from scratch? And what do you think of the new design??
K xx

Monday, November 28, 2011

Movie Mondays: The Count of Monte Cristo

Wheeeeeeeeee, it's that time of the week again! I first saw this week's offering when I was studying in the UK in 2002. A friend in our dorm/college/block went away for the weekend, and gifted Megan and I with her TV while she was gone, which had a built in VCR. (YES, I SAID VCR. It was the olden days. Shut up.)

Anyway, we promptly marched ourselves up the street to the video store to rent something fun. After submitting 100 points of ID to join (seriously. It was INSANE), we came out with this:

And it's freaking epic.

Reasons why The Count of Monte Cristo is awesome:
1. Richard Harris. Seriously, the man could do no wrong. (And as a bonus, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets came out at the movies at around the same time we first watched this!)
2. Buried treasure.
3. Jim Caviezel being generally awesome.
4. The entrance by hot air balloon. It rivals a Captain Jack Sparrow entrance.
5. There's pirates.
6. Jacopo. Best character ever, hands down.
7. Sword fights.
8. A very young Henry Cavill.
9. Napoleon Bonaparte.
10. Guy Pearce being evil.
11. The party invitations. They're pretty epic.
12. Billowy cloaks of doom. You really can't go wrong with a billowy cloak of doom (*cough* Snape *cough), can you?

Plus, of course, the following quotes:
- "King's to you, Fernand."
- "I'm a priest, not a saint."
- "Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes."
- "I swear on my dead relatives, even on the ones who are not feeling so good, I am your man for life."
- "The stronger swordsman does not necessarily win. It is speed! Speed of hand. Speed of mind."
- "How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure."
- "Why not just kill them? I'll do it! I'll run up to Paris, bam, bam, bam, bam, I'm back before week's end, we spend the treasure. How is this a bad plan??" <-- favourite line EVER

Does anyone else love this as much as I do? (And yes, I know it totally mangled the crap out of the book. I like it better this way...)

K xx

Sunday, November 27, 2011

30 Days of Photography - Day 10

Today's theme is 'a childhood memory'. As luck would have it, my mum and Little Miss A put the Christmas tree up this morning, so you get this:

I made Lamey McSad Star (as I christened him this morning) when I was five and we lived in Canada. And he's adorned our Christmas tree every year since. This poor little cardboard and tin foil bastard is 23 years old. He's lost half the sequins from his smile (but the dried out glue is still there), and the (paper!) twist ties that hold him to the tree are pretty much tetanus waiting to happen. And I'm still as annoyed as I was on the day I made it about the fact that my teacher spelled my name wrong on my star. Possibly more so, because I've had to put up with 23 Christmases of my name being spelled wrong on top of the tree... *sigh*

Does anyone else still have their insanely old Lamey McSad Star on the top of their family Christmas tree?? (We've been trying to persuade Little Miss A to make us a new one for about three years now. She won't...)

K xx

Saturday, November 26, 2011

101 in 1001 #44

Last night, I managed to cross another task off my list. One of the perks of unemployment - nothing but time to cross things off your Day Zero list!

Anyway, task #44 was to see a musical that I hadn't seen before. Last night, I went to see Love Never Dies. Now, if you've never heard of it, I'm not particularly surprised. It's Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to Phantom of the Opera. It premiered in London last year, and didn't do particularly well. The rumour goes that it was meant to open on Broadway after it finished in London, but instead they shipped it out to the colonies Melbourne as a test run. Whether or not that's accurate remains to be seen...

The music was, by and large, pretty good. I wasn't a huge fan of the main song that Christine sings. (Yes, Christine and Raoul are back, as are the Phantom, Meg and Madame Giry) It seemed a little repetitive to me. That said, it's still stuck in my head 24 hours later!! Other than that, the story was pretty good (other than a couple of bits that were just plain weird), the costumes were stunning, and the set is incredible.

I'm kind of intrigued as to how differently it would have been received if it had been set in Paris again rather than setting it on Coney Island...

Anyway, if you get the chance it's worth seeing for the set alone. (Especially as it's finishing in Melbourne soon and all A Reserve tickets are $69!)

Has anyone else seen it? What did you think?

K xx

Friday, November 25, 2011

30 Days of Photography - Day 9

The theme for today's photo is 'someone you love'. Obviously, if I had my way the post would be filled with pictures of Jake Gyllenhaal and David Tennant. But that would be cheating, because I haven't actually taken any photos of them. YET. *evil grin* (I'm sorry, was that creepy? My bad.)

Ahem. Anyway, you get this instead:

I took it two days before he died. And I miss him every day.

K xx

Thursday, November 24, 2011

101 in 1001 #54

Task #54 was to get my photos printed. This one's technically still in progress because not all the photos have arrived in the post yet. But hey - they've been ordered and the first batch have arrived, so I'm counting that as completed!

The last time I printed any photos was in July 2008, after I got back from nine weeks in South and Central America. And I printed about a hundred photos so that I had something to decorate my bedroom walls with in Canberra. So needless to say, I had quite a bit of catching up to do. Three years worth of birthdays, Thailand in 2009, Tasmania, Sydney and Central Australia in 2010, and America this year, along with all the rest of it.

Thankfully, a couple of weeks ago, Big W had a one day sale with 4x6 prints for 8c each. I wasn't able to get all my photos uploaded in time, but I still got about 400 of them done.

And here they are:

Not bad for less than $40 including delivery, huh?!

K xx

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

30 Days of Photography - Day 8

I went to a Pump class this morning for the first time in about a millionty years ages. By the end of the squat track, my legs hurt so much that I thought I was going to die. Needless to say, I foresee tomorrow and Friday being filled with me acting like it would be less painful to have surgery without anaesthesia than stand up/lift my arms above shoulder height...

Anyway, today's topic was "a bad habit". My brother and I are equally guilty on this one - leaving our shoes all over the house.

Seriously, I have absolutely no idea when I last wore my red heels (possibly to drinks with Ness and Kat like two weeks ago??), but they're still sitting around in my room. They're at least NEXT to the cupboard, so they're ahead of my sneakers (which Dad's just moved from the middle of the kitchen to the back porch in frustration) and my thongs/jandals/flip flops, which pretty much live at the bottom of the stairs during summer.

Um. Whoops?

Okay, confession time y'all - does anyone else leave their shoes all over the house??

K xx

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Colorado - the "she wants to go right!" edition

*WARNING* This one is going to be even more picture heavy than usual. Sorry...

And so we come, as we inevitably must, to the conclusion of my (ridiculously longwinded) series of posts about my trip to the US. It's only taken me, what, four months to write about my six week trip. #GENIUS

(Incidentally, I was convinced that "and so we come, as we inevitably must" was a quote from something, so I Googled it. Apparently it's only nerds like me who use that. And people who write fan fiction about WRESTLING. *head explodes*)

ANYWAY. My last full day in Colorado, Lyndsy and I headed up to the mountains to look at the leaves. We started out by heading to Guanella Pass. The trees on the drive up were pretty spectacular up close. I *may* have almost fallen down a hill because I was looking at the trees while trying to change the lens on my camera, with the other lens clasped between my knees. #classy 

And the view from the top of Guanella Pass wasn't too shabby either! It WAS rather chilly though, so we didn't stay too long.

From there, we headed for the Peak to Peak Highway via Central City. With no GPS to rely on, our navigation was courtesy of print outs from Google Maps. Needless to say, things got slightly confusing when we took an incorrect turn in Central City. Especially as Central City has a ton of one way streets. But it worked out pretty well in the end, because we came across this random old cemetery that's filled with aspen trees. 

It was quite fun to wander through the trees and find graves hidden amongst them. Or it was, until we came across this propped against a tree:
Karen Warner. 'Til death do us part?
It's like the creepiest marriage proposal of all time. I mean, seriously. Why the hell is there a question mark?!?! O.o

We then came across this, which made us both laugh a little harder than it should have. Mostly because at first, I thought it was the middle finger that was raised. And then because they felt the need to clarify that "home" meant UP.

We eventually made it to the Peak to Peak Highway, and - along with half the population of Colorado - came across this patch of trees. We nearly got hit by a people mover from Kansas being driven by people who were either incredibly blind or just didn't care that there were pedestrians standing where they wanted to park their car. But it was worth it, don't you think?

From there, we went past another couple of 14,000 foot mountains before arriving in Estes Park. Upon arrival, we almost had an accident courtesy of a shit ton of elk (that's the collective noun for elk, right??) on the golf course, which people were stopping in the middle of the road to take photos of. We, being sensible individuals, drove over to the parking lot of the tourist information centre and walked back over to the golf course. At one point, we had to walk across a bridge and stopped to look at the salmon (?) that were trying to jump up the weir to get upstream. IDIOTS. After being amused by the doomed-to-failure salmon for a while, we turned to keep walking towards the golf course, and were met with this:
Cop standing nearby: Just stay where you are, ladies. She wants to make a right.
Lyndsy: How does he know??
Me: Maybe elk have indicators?

The cop was right - apparently this particular elk was too lazy to jump the fence, and so was wandering up through the crowd to a gap in the fence. We stood around taking pictures of the elk for a while. There were a couple of males there, so there was some bugling going on, which was pretty cool. Sadly, I didn't think to use the video mode on my point and shoot because I'm a moron and left it in the car.  
Check out those insane antlers
Dawwwww, baby!!
This just made me laugh

There's only so much elk butt you can look at without getting bored. So after a while, we headed up to the Stanley Hotel, which was the inspiration for The Shining

The miniseries that was made in 1997 was actually filmed there. We were too cheap to actually do a tour (partly because one had just started, so we would have had to wait a millionty years for the next one), so we wandered around the foyer, peered up the staircase, bought a tacky postcard for my brother and headed off in search of ice cream. On the way to find ice cream, we found more elk. These ones used a zebra crossing rather than just walking into the road. That was weird. (NO ONE MAKE JOKES ABOUT HOW ELK AREN'T ZEBRAS. I'LL HURT YOU IF YOU DO.)

Anyway. We ended up in one of the many ice cream stores in town, and decided that milkshakes would be easier to drink on the trip back to Denver. They were delicious, but good GOD they were expensive! (Correct me if I'm wrong, but over $7 seems excessive, yes???) Upon arriving back in Denver, we picked up Lyndsy's husband from work, and headed out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant near their house. The next morning, which I foolishly assumed was my last day in America, I realised that I hadn't ONCE eaten mozzarella sticks. On mentioning this to Lyndsy, we decided that it needed to be rectified. So we went out to lunch at a pub near her house.

OH. AND. On the way in, there was a bus stop. At the bus stop, a lady was sitting with her toddler. Her toddler was rolling his large toy truck down a ramp and into the road, then walking out between parked cars to get it. #parentingfail

Waitress: What can I get you guys?
Lyndsy: I'll have [insert food here. I know it involved deep fried pickle bits].
Me: And I'll have the mozzarella sticks, and a side of mac and cheese.
Waitress: Anything else?
Me: *joking* Yeah, I don't think there'll be quite enough cheese involved in my lunch, so if you could sprinkle a little extra over the top...
Waitress: Sure thing! *walks off*
Lyndsy: I don't think she got that you were joking...
Me: Crap...

My mac and cheese was certainly very cheesy. On the plus side, it didn't taste like bonfire.

What an appropriate way to finish my trip to America - with a nice dose of heart disease ;)

K xx

PS. If you've missed any of this ridiculously drawn out series, you can check them out here:
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