Thursday, April 28, 2011

30 Days of Books - Day 12

Courtesy of my unintentional hiatus, I've been slacking off a bit on the whole 30 Days of Books thing. So I think it's about time to get it started again - Part 2 of Kirsti-mas can wait!

Day 12 - A book you use to love but don't any more

When I was a kid and we lived in Canada, I was completely obsessed with this:
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I got the complete box set for a birthday or Christmas - I think I was probably six at the time.
Source

I'm honestly surprised that any of my books have pages left in them the spines are so broken. I remember Farmer Boy put me off cheese for a couple of days because there was something in there about them killing a calf and using its stomach lining to make cheese, and that's not really something you want to know about EVER, let alone at the age of six or seven. But apparently the love affair between me and cheese is far too strong, because I didn't boycott it for too long.

Anyway, I'm not quite sure when it happened, but eventually I got over my infatuation with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I haven't read any of the books in years. And I suspect if I did, Adult Kirsti would be somewhat horrified at the racism and the gross illnesses and the whole rennet for cheese making thing. Sorry childhood obsession. I'm not sure I can deal with you any more...

K xx

Day 01 - The best book you read last year
Day 02 - A book you've read more than 3 times
Day 03 - Your favourite series
Day 04 - Your favourite book of your favourite series
Day 05 - A book that makes you happy
Day 06 - A book that makes you sad
Day 07 - Most underrated book
Day 08 - Most overrated book
Day 09 - A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving
Day 10 - Favourite classic book
Day 11 - A book you hated
Day 12 - A book you used to love but don't any more
Day 13 - Your favourite writer
Day 14 - Favourite book of your favourite writer
Day 15 - Favourite male character
Day 16 - Favourite female character
Day 17 - Favourite quote from your favourite book
Day 18 - A book that disappointed you
Day 19 - Favourite book turned into a movie
Day 20 - Favourite romance book
Day 21 - Favourite book from your childhood
Day 22 - Favourite book you own
Day 23 - A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven't
Day 24 - A book you wish more people would've read
Day 25 - A character you can relate to the most
Day 26 - A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 - The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 - Favourite title
Day 29 - A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 - Your favourite book of all time

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kirsti-mas Part 1!

As I said briefly yesterday, I spent the Easter/ANZAC Day break in Melbourne, running around like a headless chicken. The Kirsti-mas thing I've (apparently Chrome thinks I'm trying to write 'Kirsch' or 'Kiribati' rather than my name...) stolen from my brother and his mates - he has a friend called Kelly, and her birthday falls on December 25th. So Christmas is generally known in their friendship group as Kelly-mas. It seemed only appropriate that I adopt it for the whole six day long birthday that I've just had!

I flew to Melbourne first thing Thursday morning. Thursday featured thrilling things like a trip to the liquor store to buy some delicious Rekorderlig cider, and to the post office to send the lovely Lauren some Tim Tams. Incidentally, Lauren gave me a Stylish Blogger award the other day. Yay! But since I did it not that long ago, I'm going to skip the whole telling you seven things about me part and the passing it on part. Because I'm lazy like that! (Sorry, Lauren. Doesn't mean I'm any less grateful!!)

Thursday night we were supposed to be going to Mamasita, a shiny new (and apparently amazing) Mexican restaurant in the city. But they don't take bookings. We got there at 6.30 (seriously!), and the line was already out the door and into the street. After queuing for 15 minutes or so, we were told that they could put our name on the callback list, but that it would probably be at least 8.30, more like 9.00 before we were seated. Seeing as I was starving (living in Canberra makes you eat at Nanna O'Clock, because there's nothing else to do!) and seeing as the parentals had no intentions of going home and coming back into the city in two hours time, we abandoned that plan in favour of eating somewhere else.

I can't remember the name of the place we wound up going, but apparently I chose a "very manly dessert". It was hazelnut, orange and dark chocolate cannoli with bitter chocolate ice cream. I suspect they were just trying to make my brother feel better about his choice of dessert, but it was still a bit awkward having to say "Urm, I'll have the manly dessert too, thanks!"

Friday featured going to see Thor (which I keep calling Troy. Most unfortunate, given that the latter was quite shit and the former was AWESOME!!) with Jamie. We saw it in 2D, which I was eternally grateful for because 3D gives me a headache that painkillers can't touch and is totally not worth the extra money. I got home from the movies just in time to be handed the task of making our traditional Good Friday feast of No Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. Mmmmmm, roast goodness. Oh, word of advice? Don't eat M&Ms while making Yorkshire pudding. It's only a matter of time before one of them falls in the batter, and then you'll never find the little bastard (it was FIIIIIIIIIIINE, you totally couldn't taste the sugar! And I found it before the chocolate dissolved. It was just the coating that had gone)...

Friday night was spent seeing Eddie Perfect at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Now, if you remember this post, you'll remember that I love Eddie Perfect. So not only did I laugh hysterically through the entire show (I suspect my dad thought I was insane. But his song "Self-Righteous Cyclist" was one of the funniest things I've heard all year!), but I loitered around the Arts Centre afterwards to meet him. And he was lovely, not to mention insanely talented!! I apologise for the slight note of crazy eyes - I believe I was attempting to convey to my brother the importance of him learning to use the camera on his new phone within the next 10 seconds:

Anyway, we went out for drinks after the show (me, my brother and his girlfriend, not me and Eddie Perfect. Although that would have been AMAZEBALLS... *sigh*). And, it being Melbourne, we went to a bar that was under a pedestrian bridge in the middle of the Yarra River. Of COURSE - what else would you do?! It was pretty cool seeing geese swimming past as you sipped your cider (sadly, not Rekorderlig). And to honour the cooler temperatures at night, they had mulled wine. It smelled incredible! Not that I had any...

Saturday featuring catching up with Ness for the first time in a year and a half. And shopping. Complete with burritos and Mexi-crinkle fries from Salsas *drools* And a trip to Koko Black, where I FINALLY used the last $5 of the voucher my parents gave me last Easter! Saturday night was spent out on the town with friends for my birthday. We started out at Cho Gao at Melbourne Central. I ordered a Strawberry Colada. Apparently they'd run out of the glasses they usually used, so they gave it to me in two martini glasses instead.

Yup. Cos I'm classy like that. We started with a ridiculous array of Asian tapas, including something called "Rusty Nails" - deep fried beef strips with honey and chilli and some other things I can't remember. As someone pointed out, it was only appropriate for Easter! #allgoingtohell

About the time I finished my Strawberry Coladas, we discovered that they had Rekorderlig, and the cocktail menu was dead to me. Sad... I'm not entirely certain that cider goes with maple chicken udon noodles, but oh well! After we'd finished dinner, we headed over to San Churros across the road. When we asked for menus, they said they were all out (Urm, what? How do you run out of menus??) but that there was one above the counter. I asked my brother to go and take a picture of the menu so we could all decide what we wanted. But he came back having ordered this:

Yum - the Churros Fiesta! 18 churros with six dipping sauces. Well, more accurately, 9 regular churros, 9 cinnamon churros, four dipping sauces, whipped cream and a bowl of chocolate ice cream. Quite how we were meant to eat the ice cream I still don't know. But whatever! Holy Hell, it was good. The last time I had churros was at the Multicultural Festival, and these ones were a million times nicer than ones from a stall on the side of the road. Although I didn't get to drink the better part of a whole cup of melted chocolate like I did at the Multicultural Festival. You know what? In hindsight, that's probably a good thing...

When the churros had beaten us, we headed to a bar for more drinks. There I encountered the WORST MOJITO EVER. The barman was Irish and cute and called me darlin', so I couldn't bring myself to complain. But it was vile. Apparently mojito to him = use lime cordial in place of actual lime and sugar syrup. Gross... I don't think it helped that we were standing outside on a clear autumn night and I effectively was holding a glass of ice. Eh. I drank it anyway. Given that it cost $17, it's not surprising!

It wasn't a particularly late night - we were home by 1am. I blame my rapidly advancing age. But it was a lot of fun!!

To be continued................

K xx

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter

Wow. So...unintentional hiatus much? Okay, it wasn't especially unintentional. I went to Melbourne for six whole days of Kirsti-mas (Easter coincided with ANZAC Day, which is my birthday), and with the usual running around like a headless chicken catching up with everyone ever that happens whenever I go to Melbourne, I didn't have time for bloggy-ness.

Anyway, the time was AWESOME. Now that I'm back in Canberra, I'm planning a massive post to update you on all of it. But in the meantime? I'm not dead. Just distracted!!

K xx

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Challenge recipe 10: The essential white loaf

Like I said at the weekend, I crossed another challenge recipe off the list on Sunday. If you've got no idea what I'm talking about, you can go here and read about the challenge, the rules I've set and what I've made so far. Anyway, let's get on with the show.

Here's the book:

Now, anyone who's been around me when an advert for Twinings comes on might be a little surprised by this. It's true - I can't stand Nigella Lawson. I don't think anyone really wants to eat food that's been described as 'slutty', and all her cupcakes look like she's forgotten to double the recipe for the cake part, so has filled up the top of the patty pan with icing (see above). Oh, and all her quantities are in weight, because apparently there's no such thing as cup measures in the UK... *sigh* But I was given this book as a birthday present last year, and the rules of the challenge state that I must make use of it.

I've not had a lot of good experiences with celebrity cookbooks in the past. The quantities tend to be completely bizarre, or the cooking times are utter bollocks, or the recipes call for esoteric ingredients that are either disgusting or which cost a fortune. Anyway, I went with bread for the savoury recipe, figuring it was kind of hard to mess that up. Aaaaah, hindsight. What a wonderful thing...

Anyway, here's what you'll need:

Start by weighing out 500g of bread flour:

And clearly I need to get a decent set of kitchen scales. I suspect these are less than accurate...

Add in 7g of yeast (in normal people land, this is 2 teaspoons)...

...and a tablespoon of salt. Yes, you read that right. A TABLESPOON.

Then add in around 300mL of warm water. Nigella recommends that you add 200mL and stir it through, then add a little more if required. I wound up needing at least 250mL, so I'd probably just go with 1 cup in the future!

Mix the water through with a wooden spoon. According to Nigella, you want it to be "a shaggy mess".

Once that's done, add in a tablespoon of softened unsalted butter:

Mix the butter through, and then dump the whole lot out on to the (clean!) bench:

Knead the so-called "shaggy mess" for about 10 minutes, or until it's smooth and stretchy. You may need to add a little more flour - just sprinkle it on the bench and it'll be gradually (ARGH - TWININGS ADVERT FEATURING NIGELLA ON TV...) absorbed into the dough.

Coat the inside of a mixing bowl with a little olive oil, and turn the dough in the oil to coat:

Cover the bowl with Glad Wrap/cling film/Ceran wrap, and put the bowl in a warm place for an hour or two. I put it in the laundry (read: the cupboard in the bathroom that contains the washing machine and the dryer) because the dryer was running and it was the warmest place in the house.

After 1-2 hours (aka all of Prince of Persia and half of Wolverine. I have such quality taste in movies!), the dough should have roughly doubled in size.

Punch it down (which is great anger management!), and then knead it for another minute. When you're done, form it into a loaf shape (or put it into a loaf tin if you own one):

Place it on a baking tray (if you don't have a loaf tin) and cover it with a tea towel to rise again for about half an hour.

While it's rising, preheat your oven to 220 degrees C. Decorate the top of your loaf as you wish - I went with adamantium claw slices (hey, it was only appropriate, given my choice of movie watching! Also, Wolverine attacked it with both hands. OBVIOUSLY...) and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Bake it for 35 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Let it cool for five minutes or so, then transfer to a cooling rack. You can either eat it while it's still warm or leave it until it's cooled completely. I went with the former:

The verdict? It was...okay. Ish. I mean, yes, the recipe works. But it's totally not how *I* would do it.

With my almost five years of history in the brewing industry, I took one look at this recipe and went "BUT WHERE'S THE ADJUNCT????" Yeast needs something to feed on, so most baking recipes that use yeast tend to involve a teaspoon of sugar to get it started, or use milk rather than water (lactose sugars). Sure, the bread rose. But it rose reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally slowly. If I were making it again, I'd start the yeast with a cup of warm water and a teaspoon of sugar, and put it somewhere warm for 10 minutes BEFORE mixing it with the flour.

I know homemade bread is never going to be anything like the store bought stuff or what comes out of a bread machine. But this mostly tasted like yeast. And was really stodgy. The first bite I took gave me the thought "Hmm. This tastes like a brewery farted in the dough." And to be honest? That's not really a thought I want to have about my food. So I wound up throwing out half the loaf.

Needless to say, my opinion of Nigella has not improved... Has anyone had any good experiences with celebrity chef recipes??

K xx

Monday, April 18, 2011

30 Days of Books - Day 11

After watching the season 6 premiere of Supernatural earlier (EPIC let down, let me tell you!), my housemate is now subjecting me to some bollocks called Eastbound & Down. I have never been so bored in my life. Seriously, I'd rather watch Stalker Edward Cullen than this. Aaaand what a surprise, it's produced by Will Ferrell, the least funny man on the planet (besides, obviously, Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey). I hated it within about two minutes of it starting.

Anythisisashitfest, it's rather appropriate given today's theme:

Day 11 - A book you hated

Well, originally I was planning on writing about The Schumann Frequency by Christopher Ride, which I got as the free book in a 3 for 2 promotion at Borders last year. It was so bad that the best thing I ever did with the book was use it to kill a spider that was on my window sill. But then yesterday, Ness reminded me of this:
Source
Good GOD, I hate this book. There's nothing redeeming about any of the main characters, as far as I'm concerned. They're abusive and masochistic, and if the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine is considered love, I'll happily die alone. They all deserve to be miserable. Incidentally, the moment I realised that I was going to hate Twilight? When Bella mentions that Wuthering Heights is her favourite book. Vomit...

(Nessa, did we do this as part of Classic Victorian Novel in first year English? I suspect that's the only reason I own the book, but I can't for the life of me remember studying this piece of crap. If we did, I must have blocked it out...)

K xx

Day 01 - The best book you read last year

Day 02 - A book you've read more than 3 times
Day 03 - Your favourite series
Day 04 - Your favourite book of your favourite series
Day 05 - A book that makes you happy
Day 06 - A book that makes you sad
Day 07 - Most underrated book
Day 08 - Most overrated book
Day 09 - A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving
Day 10 - Favourite classic book
Day 11 - A book you hated
Day 12 - A book you used to love but don't any more
Day 13 - Your favourite writer
Day 14 - Favourite book of your favourite writer
Day 15 - Favourite male character
Day 16 - Favourite female character
Day 17 - Favourite quote from your favourite book
Day 18 - A book that disappointed you
Day 19 - Favourite book turned into a movie
Day 20 - Favourite romance book
Day 21 - Favourite book from your childhood
Day 22 - Favourite book you own
Day 23 - A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven't
Day 24 - A book you wish more people would've read
Day 25 - A character you can relate to the most
Day 26 - A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 - The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 - Favourite title
Day 29 - A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 - Your favourite book of all time

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Saturday of randomness

My weekends at the moment are usually pretty unexciting. I'm generally so shattered from install and all the walking between the office and the gallery that it requires that I seem to mostly spend my weekends on the sofa watching trashy movies. So yesterday was a nice change.

It started with brunch. Em and Matt (of recently married, me being a bridesmaid fame) are off on their month-long honeymoon tomorrow, so I had brunch with them. The place we went was stupidly busy, and the one free table was covered in dirty crockery. That was fixable, we just moved them all to a bench. But there was a big smear of jam/ketchup/something gross and crusty on the table. So while we were looking at the menus, we asked a passing waiter if he could wipe the table. Apparently he was blind or lazy, because he did a completely half arsed job of it, and just managed to smear the grossness around even further. Thankfully, I had a stash of tissues in my handbag, and we were able to sort it out ourselves. And the pancakes I had for brunch mostly made up for the sucky service, which continued throughout our meal. They could have done with more maple syrup though... *sigh*

A couple of hours later, I headed to the gym with my housemate for a Body Jam class. Sadly, when the instructor turned up, it wasn't the woman who usually takes Body Jam there. And she announced that it was going to be a Body Attack class instead of Body Jam. She was all "It's pretty high impact, so if you feel half way through that it's not for you, I won't be offended if you leave." Which, to be honest, left me slightly terrified. But we stuck around anyway. Boy, was she not kidding when she said it was high impact...

It's mostly running on the spot. With high kicks. And agility work. And about five minutes of straight push ups. And I was nearly dead by the end of it. Only to have the instructor say "Aaaaaaand those were the easy tracks! Oh, and I cut two tracks out to make it a 45 minute class because you guys kind of looked like you weren't going to make it through the full hour..." Course, I don't think it helped that my headband kept falling off, meaning that I couldn't actually see what I was doing for about half the class!

AnyBodyAttackwasinventedbySatan, after the class from hell had finished, we decided that we needed a little sugar hit. So we went to Cold Rock. D had never been there before, and got slightly overwhelmed by all the options. She wound up going with coffee ice cream with Ferrero Rochers mixed in, and began regretting it half way through when she spotted the Cherry Ripes and the Bounty bars. I, on the other hand, took my time deciding.

Every time I go to Cold Rock, I feel the need to play the system. I mean, why would you pay for an Oreo mix-in when you could get Cookies n Cream ice cream? So I tend to get ice cream that effectively has a mix-in through it already.

Here's what I wound up going with:
Source
Cookies n Cream ice cream...


Source
...Mini M&Ms...

Source
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand sour gummy worms. To be honest, I wasn't really certain about how the gummy worms would go with the ice cream. But they were pretty awesome, even if they were slightly more solid than is ideal! Over all, it was pretty damned delicious, and I'd definitely have that combination again.

And then last night was spent watching my boys, the mighty Geelong Cats, beat the Sydney Swans at the SCG. I may have worn my Cats scarf around the house all night... What more could a girl want from a Saturday??

K xx

PS. I made bread this afternoon, so challenge recipe 10 is on the way! As are more posts about books. Cos I'm sure you're not sick of those yet! ;)

Friday, April 15, 2011

30 Days of Books - Days 9 and 10

I had grand plans for going to the gym tonight. I haven't been to Body Pump in about a month, and I'm feeling ridiculously lazy. But then I wound up having to spend about half the day in the gallery doing install stuff. So I had to stay late at work to finish a presentation for Monday, and couldn't get to the gym. In keeping with my ongoing laziness, I'm combining days 9 and 10 into one post. Which is appropriate really. As you'll see shortly!

Day 9 - A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving AND Day 10 - Favourite classic book

The reason that it's appropriate to combine the two of these is simple - the same book applies to both. In year 10, I was horrified when I saw the reading list for English. For the first time, we had to read a classic book (although we'd done Merchant of Venice the previous year). This is not to say that I hadn't read any classic books before - I read a Dickens omnibus (containing A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities) when I was ten. It's just that when I got my school books in January (our school year starts in February), this book looked SO. FUCKING. BORING.

Obviously, it's rather more mangled than it was when I got it...
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I took one look at the cover and decided that this was going to be the suckiest book of all time. Oh, fourteen year old Kirsti. How foolish you were... Anyway, I always read my English books during the summer holidays, so one day when the parentals decided we were going on a family drive, I grabbed this to keep me occupied. It only took about 20 pages before I was completely hooked. We were on a drive through the Dandenongs, which means lots of twisty, turny roads. It took Mum 20 minutes and me turning rather green to get her to convince me to actually put the book down.

I adore Jane Eyre, from "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day" to "Reader, I married him". And no, I didn't have to look up either of those. I'm rather excited about the new movie version of Jane Eyre that's due out soon. Although I'm not sure that I can cope with anyone other than Toby Stephens playing Mr Rochester, even if he does wear a truly vile hat!!
Mmmm, Toby Stephens... Also, source
K xx

Day 01 - The best book you read last year
Day 02 - A book you've read more than 3 times
Day 03 - Your favourite series
Day 04 - Your favourite book of your favourite series
Day 05 - A book that makes you happy
Day 06 - A book that makes you sad
Day 07 - Most underrated book
Day 08 - Most overrated book
Day 09 - A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving
Day 10 - Favourite classic book
Day 11 - A book you hated
Day 12 - A book you used to love but don't any more
Day 13 - Your favourite writer
Day 14 - Favourite book of your favourite writer
Day 15 - Favourite male character
Day 16 - Favourite female character
Day 17 - Favourite quote from your favourite book
Day 18 - A book that disappointed you
Day 19 - Favourite book turned into a movie
Day 20 - Favourite romance book
Day 21 - Favourite book from your childhood
Day 22 - Favourite book you own
Day 23 - A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven't
Day 24 - A book you wish more people would've read
Day 25 - A character you can relate to the most
Day 26 - A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 - The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 - Favourite title
Day 29 - A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 - Your favourite book of all time

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

30 Days of Books - Day 8

It's been absolutely freaking arctic in Canberra for the past couple of days. Yesterday, it was NINE DEGREES at 5pm. But there was a wind chill, so the apparent temperature was 4 degrees. Jeebus... Anyway, on with the books!!

Day 8 - Most overrated book

As with the last one (which I decided meant "a book everyone should read"), I'm choosing to interpret this as "a book no one should read". I've read an awful lot of crap books over the years, most of which came from the library, thankfully. But most of those were too obscure to be considered overrated. So I decided to go with the most obviously overrated book I could think of (as far as I'm concerned, anyway):
Source

Twishite and its sequels of doom. (Sorry, Gina. I know you love it!)The writing is awful, the characters are annoying, and comparing someone to marble is generally not considered a compliment... I know some people adore it (my sister-in-law is about to turn 40 and is all "OMG, EDWARD CULLEN IS THE PERFECT MAN!!" *shudder*), but I just don't see the appeal. I mean, Edward Cullen is a creepy, mopey stalker.

And let's be honest - Buffy and Angel did angsty teen vampire-human love WAY before and WAY better than Edward and Bella... (Oh, and for the record? I read all four of the books, and thought they were all universally appalling. I also read them well before the movies came out, so my opinion of the characters isn't because of the terrible acting courtesy of RPatz, KStew and Taylor Lautner. I thought they were crap WELL before that!)

K xx

Day 01 - The best book you read last year
Day 02 - A book you've read more than 3 times
Day 03 - Your favourite series
Day 04 - Your favourite book of your favourite series
Day 05 - A book that makes you happy
Day 06 - A book that makes you sad
Day 07 - Most underrated book
Day 08 - Most overrated book
Day 09 - A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving
Day 10 - Favourite classic book
Day 11 - A book you hated
Day 12 - A book you used to love but don't any more
Day 13 - Your favourite writer
Day 14 - Favourite book of your favourite writer
Day 15 - Favourite male character
Day 16 - Favourite female character
Day 17 - Favourite quote from your favourite book
Day 18 - A book that disappointed you
Day 19 - Favourite book turned into a movie
Day 20 - Favourite romance book
Day 21 - Favourite book from your childhood
Day 22 - Favourite book you own
Day 23 - A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven't
Day 24 - A book you wish more people would've read
Day 25 - A character you can relate to the most
Day 26 - A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 - The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 - Favourite title
Day 29 - A book everyone hated but you liked
Day 30 - Your favourite book of all time

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lasagne time!

I don't make lasagne very often, because the way I make it uses my usual bolognaise sauce recipe cooked down for a couple of hours, so it's pretty time consuming, and this is accordingly going to be kind of a long post. But if you've got a Sunday at home with nothing to do, make this for dinner - it's pretty awesome, even if I do say so myself!! And even if you don't want to make lasagne, you can use the sauce recipe for spaghetti or penne or macaroni or whatever the hell you want! Here's what you'll need for the sauce (including the lasagne sheets):

Start by chopping the veggies roughly. I put them all through the food processor (it's the way Mum's always done it - an easy way to get a ton of veggies into fussy small children!), but if you don't have one/don't want to do that, just chop them smaller!

Stick the onion through the food processor:

Then brown it in a pan, and add the lean beef mince and a couple of spoonfuls of garlic:

Once all of that has cooked through, add some tomato paste:

And some ketchup (technically, you don't have to add ketchup. I just like it):

Then put the chopped carrot through the food processor and add it in:

Do the same with the zucchini:

And the capsicum:

Mix all the veggies through, then add in a tin of diced tomatoes:

Then add in a jar of ready-made spaghetti sauce - you know, the stuff that's just tomato and some herbs:

Add some water - I usually just put some water in the tin and the jar, swirl it around, and add it in, then add some salt and a ton of pepper:

Some Italian herbs:

And some cinnamon:

Then reduce the heat and let the whole thing simmer away on low for a couple of hours. You can see how much it's reduced. At this point, feel free to just cook some spaghetti or whatever, and cover it with sauce and cheese:

When you're ready to assemble the lasagne, whip up a batch of cheese sauce. Here's what you'll need:

Start by melting a chunk of butter (God, I'm so awesome with my measurements, aren't I!):

Once it's melted, add in some plain flour:

Mix it through, and add in some mustard powder:

Let it cook for a couple of minutes to allow the starch grains to burst, then add in some milk:

Eyeball the amount of milk so that it makes enough sauce to spread over the size of the baking dish you're planning on using. Stir it slowly until the milk is absorbed and the sauce is smooth.

Bring it to a boil and then add a handful of grated cheese (technically, you can leave the cheese out and just use white sauce. But I don't really like white sauce, so I add cheese into the mix!):

Mix it through until the cheese has melted. Once the sauce is done, you can start assembling the lasagne! Start with a layer of lasagne sheets (I use the ones that don't require precooking. Screw THAT for a joke!):

Then add a layer of bolognaise sauce:

And another layer of lasagne sheets:

And a second layer of bolognaise, along with a sprinkling of grated cheese:

Keep going until you run out of room in the dish - I had room for three layers of bolognaise and four layers of lasagne sheets. Then add the cheese sauce to the top:

Spread it across the top, and then cover the top in grated cheese:

Bake it for about an hour at 180 degrees. If it starts to get too brown, cover it with tin foil. I always test it with a skewer before I turn the oven off, just to make sure the noodles have cooked all the way through. Here's the finished product:

Sorry it's kind of a rubbish photo. I was on the phone to my mum and was wielding my SLR with one hand... And here it is ready for me to eat it:

OM NOM NOM NOM NOM. And because it's full of veggies, you don't have to bother with having salad on the side! It's pretty damned filling, so I don't usually have garlic bread with it, but feel free to go crazy. Similarly, you can put cheese between every layer if you want. And you can probably put cheese sauce between every layer if you want, too.

It's pretty versatile and pretty delicious, even if it does take a while to prepare!

Enjoy :)

K xx
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