Sunday, November 30, 2008

backyard visitors

we have been in this house for just over a year now and its taken these kookaburras a year before they decided they would pay us a visit. so just out of the blue one day, they lined up, waiting. then they surprised me again. they let me hand feed them.
they don't come around for a feed everyday, but have been more regular visitors lately. i suspect that they have young to feed as some fly off after a couple of mouthfuls of meat, rather than have their fill.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


one morning i woke up unexpectedly early, and for some reason, i went outside and noticed an unusual glow on the wall of the house. i thought this glow was from some light from the neighbours' house. it was the sun. it hadn't quite broken through and i thought that i should snap it before the opportunity no longer existed. it wasn't as if i would have this opportunity again seeing that it wasn't a habit of mine to wake so early.

Friday, November 28, 2008

chocolate ripple cake

i finally had a chance to make this in september for will's birthday. i say finally because we have been meaning to get around to trying out the recipe for years now. sounds silly, doesn't it? you'd think that we would just make it and that would be that. well, it took some time because i didn't want to make it for no reason at all and have to eat it all by myself - in circumstances such as these miss c and miss k are absolutely no help whatsoever. and like i need to eat a whole chocolate ripple cake all by myself and make myself more jiggly than i already am.....ugh....let's get on with the recipe....

1 packet chocolate ripple biscuits (these are a plain chocolate biscuit without a chocolate coating)
600 millilitres thickened cream, whipped, with a little sugar

dip a biscuit into the sherry and spread with some cream. place on plate. repeat with another biscuit and sandwich the two biscuits and stand them on the plate sideways. repeat with all the biscuits and place the biscuits next to each other on the plate until you get a log. cover the entire log with cream and cover with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

i made the one for will's birthday without the sherry and from what i've heard, it was fine. instead of the log, i arranged the biscuits so they resulting cake looked like a round cake with little bits of the biscuits just peeking out from the cream. another way of arranging the biscuits is to curve them around as the log is forming to make a ring cake. the ring cake needs to be made with double quantities of biscuits and cream and looks fabulous with mixed berries overflowing out of the centre.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

sage flowers

these are sage flowers. i like to grow sage, not for its flowers, but for its leaves, because it is after all a herb and i like to use it as such. but this spring, my sage flowered. the photo doesn't do it justice - some of its violet is lost and it looks just pale (i haven't mastered photoshop to enhance a photo yet), but you can see that it is quite delicate and beautiful. whether i get to progress further than this and have the flowers set seed, i don't know. but i love how the plant decided to flower for me. and i'm glad i captured the moment (even though it isn't a kodak moment).

in the background, there are some reddish coloured stalks - that's my rhubarb. last year, i bought two crowns and three seedlings. the crowns produced red stalks and the seedlings produced green stalks. this year, only four of the five plants came up - two red and two green. i'm not too upset, in fact i'm amazed that they have gotten this far. i say this beacuse i put the crowns and seedling in pots and i wasn't sure if they would be okay in pots. the pots require replenishing with potting mix as the soil level has fallen, but i think i have to wait until the plants are dormant again before disturbing them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

lyn's spiced fruit compote

my friend, lyn, and i go back some 22 years now. i met her in april, 1986, so in a way, more than 22 years. when i was first getting to know her, she made this for dessert when i had her over to my place. i've enjoyed it over the years, with lashings of cream. make sure you also eat the orange slices, rind and all. that and cream.....yum.
more recently, in 1996 (march 28, to be precise), i made this, and in an effort to give the impression of being "healthy", i bought yoghurt from harris farm fruit markets. at the time, really thick, heavy yoghurt was new on the scene and the selling point was that it only had 4% fat and it still had a rich and wicked mouthfeel. so there i was flogging this fantastic, low fat, good for you yoghurt to people at the table - "have this with the compote; it's low fat".

1 cup dried apricots
1 cup prunes
1 orange cut in thin slices
1 cooking apple, peeled and sliced
1 stick cinnmon
3 whole cloves
1 cup red wine (not too heavy or dry)(i often use 1/2 cup muscat or port)
2 cups water
1/3 cup honey

microwave on high for 15 minutes and stand for 15 minutes.
remove cloves and cinnamon before serving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

cut pumpkin

this is what my pumpkin looked like when i cut it open. the funny looking stand is just a mug, and yes, the photo was taken when the kitchen was still being renovated. the doorbell cover is in the background and the glass splashback hadn't been fixed in and the walls were stripped.....and i could still take a photo of my pumpkin.

Monday, November 24, 2008

lemon cream cheese slice

this recipe come from the australian women's weekly's simple slices cookbook. this is a handy little A5 sized book which seems to contain alot of the favourites from over the years.

2x150g packets coconut macaroons, crushed
140g butter, melted
2 tablespoons honey

3 teaspoons gelatine
1/4 cup (60ml) water
500g packaged cream cheese softened, chopped
280g jar lemon butter
1/2 cup (125ml) sour cream

grease 20cm x 30cm lamington pan; line base and two long sides with baking paper, extending paper 2cm above edge of pan.
combine macaroons, butter and honey in medium bowl; mix well. press into prepared pan, roughen surface using a fork. pour filling over macaroon base; refrigarate until firm.

sprinkle gelatine over water in cup. stand in small pan of simmering water, stir until dissolved. beat cheese in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth. add gelatine mixture and remaining ingrediants, beat until smooth.

makes about 10

tip this recipe can be made three days ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

quantum of solace

kirsten suggested quantum of solace this weekend and it was an excellent bond. yay for kirsten!
with daniel craig, the broccolis have veered off in another direction, and it certainly gives bond depth. bond doesn't say much, well, he never says much really, but in this one, his dialogue has been pared right down to very few words, and it suits him well. in fact, i don't think i'm mistaken if the impression i got was they were very economical in the dialogue overall. it was succinct and economical. they spent it all on the action scenes. even there, there was none of the in your face expense they spent on the brosnan bonds. even the product placement was subtle.
moneypenny doesn't feature, nor does Q (or R or whatever), but this is a serious bond, and i didn't feel like they were missing; in casino royale, however, i found that i really missed the bond theme music because they only used it in the end. this was addressed right at the beginning where they used the theme enough to satisfy me and make me feel like it we were really watching a james bond movie. it's a bit like the sense of smell or whatever, the theme music ties everything together for me and lets me get into my james bond comfort zone.
homage was paid to the scene in goldfinger where shirley eaton was painted in gold. in solace, miss fields (named in true bond style) is similarly gilded, but this time, in black gold.
i'm glad the broccolis have given each of the actors portraying bond their own niche; daniel craig is quite different to the others who have portrayed him, and that's good. overall, i thought it was a great bond movie, but sean's still my favourite.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

i couldn't agree more

graham sent this to me and i couldn't agree more.

love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this!

bill gates recently gave a speech at a high school about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. he talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

rule 1: life is not fair - get used to it!
rule 2: the world won't care about your self-esteem. the world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
rule 3: you will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. you won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
rule 4: if you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss..
rule 5: flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
rule 6: if you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
rule 7: before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. they got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. so before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
rule 8: your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. in some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. this doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
rule 9: life is not divided into semesters. you don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. do that on your own time.
rule 10: television is NOT real life. in real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
rule 11: be nice to nerds. chances are you'll end up working for one.

Friday, November 21, 2008


last school holidays, miss c went out with a group of new friends to do new things (kareoke) and eat new things (omurice). omurice is a KOREAN concoction. omelette with a rice filling. anyway, she must have told miss k about it because miss k has created her own version based on her own preferences and on what little she may have gleaned from her sister.
miss k firstly prepares the rice and adds some chopped cooked chicken and sesame oil and soy sauce. this is heated in the microwave. she then prepares the pan with a nob of butter and beats the eggs with some cream or milk. the eggs go in the pan followed by the the prepared rice filling. once almost set, the egg is folded around the rice as is a regular omelette.
i don't know what authentic omurice is supposed to be like, but considering miss k hasn't had it before either, her omurice is pretty good...outstandingly delicious, actually.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a pocket monster

this is a pocket monster. pocket monsters were at the height of their popularity in the 90s last century. from japan, they were more commonly known as pokemon. the most well known of the pokemons was a pocket monster called pikachu. let me introduce you to the pocket monster called pikachu:

this plush toy is miss k's, and because of its size, she chose to christen it king pikachu. my nephew, sly, had taken a liking to king pikachu all in time for his birthday, so you can guess what he wanted for his birthday cake. by the way, that's his precious little hand on the right.

so several weeks ago, i got a phone call from sly requesting a pikachu cake. an important part of making a novelty cake, for me, is working out what i'm going to base the cake on. at the very least i need a picture. my ideal is to have a line drawing which will translate into a cake easily. in the case of pikachu, i needed a colour picture so i could get his colours as well. this, i left to blutsie, sly's mum and my sister. that's the least she could do as far as i was concerned, since she wasn't making the cake. that sounds fair, eh? i think it's good to be involved even just a little with one's child's birthaday cake - it makes it more personal. anyway, after mucking around trying to get a line drawing of pikachu and getting his colours, i ended up copying the plush toy. plush toys aren't my favourite medium to copy, but in this case, it worked.

sly's pikachu cake

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

cheesy bacon and egg slice

this is from AWW's Best Recipes from the Weekly. i love this cookbook. actually, i love lots of the old cookbooks. they have recipes which are comforting and reflect a slower pace of life. if you look at the cookbook shelves in bookshops these days, a considerable amount of space is devoted to speed - you know - dinner in 30 minutes, fast food at know what i mean - there's even fast eddy on telly. i'm sure i could cook as fast as he does if i had everything at the ready for me too. but do i want to? whatever happened to cooking being relaxing? all this speed just sounds like a stressful finish to a stressful day. surely something slow helps one wind down? this is a slow recipe. the people at the weekly even tell you that it's better if you take your time about it (i copied the introduction to this recipe verbatim from them - not my words), and qualify it by saying that it's even better that way.
instead of making a casserole for a slow meal, try this. it's a different slow, one which you can stick in the fridge and forget until the next day and won't tempt you with cooking smells hours before you can eat it.

this is one of the tastiest and handiest recipes we have created in the kitchen. the whole dish is prepared, covered, refrigerated overnight and baked when you are ready the next day. it can be baked on the same day, but the flavor is not quite as good.

1/2 loaf unsliced white bread
125g grated cheddar cheese
5 rashers bacon
2 shallots
1 small green pepper
6 eggs
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mayonnaise pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 small red pepper

trim crusts from bread, cut bread into 2.5 cm cubes, place bread in single layer in ovenproof dish. sprinkle with cheese. cut bacon in 2.5cm pieces, fry until crisp and brown, drain, place over cheese, top with chopped shallots and chopped green pepper.
whisk eggs with fork, add milk, mustard, worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, pepper and basil. pour over bread mixture, top with chopped red pepper, cover with plastic food wrap, refrigerate overnight. next day bake uncovered in moderate oven for 50 - 60 minutes. serves 6

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


miss k, who has a notoriously bad memory, was reading my post about sponge cake and couldn't believe i could remember the date, let alone the rest of it. well, it's something i don't understand myself. i don't keep a diary (i have tried, but lose interest - i'm sure it has something to do with my boringness)(is that a word? boringness....never mind), and these ramblings are probably as close to a diary as i'll ever get.
but this memory of mine is quite scary, useless, but scary. i can remember people from my childhood. i realise people age, but some people do look like what they did decades ago. i remember once i took miss c to a birthday party and one of the mothers had her best friend with her - jane e. as she was introducing jane e, i blurted out "you're jane e - we went to school together. i don't think we were in the same class, though". jane e told me she was only at that school for a little while, which meant i only knew her for one term. third term. third grade. and here we were, in our mid 30s. i didn't mean to scare her, but she hadn't changed. she has to take that as a compliment.
earlier, i did say my memory was useless too. useless for doing some exams, i say some because some exams were fine - it just depends on how much the subject grabs me. if there's trivia involved, i'm usually not too bad, so i was pretty good at the law subjects at uni and trivial pursuit (i'm sure there's something i'm not going to pursue this any further).
these days, my mind is so occupied with miss c and miss k's comings and goings i don't remember things like i used to - just ask miss c - she has to remind me of her and miss k's daily schedules, even having to go so far as to write everything down on a list. i'm not sure whether this is leading to alzheimer's, but one day when i look at miss c's list and not know what to do with it, i'll know alzheimer's has got me....or will i? i'll stop now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

clean hat selection

it suddenly occurred to me after looking at miss k's speech day invitation that she may have been selected based not upon her looks. i say this after having a good look at the picture. the girls (there were 4 girls in the picture) were wearing hats. i think the girls were selected on the condition of their well as their whiteness. you see, every school holiday, i like to clean miss c and miss k's hats to bring them back to their original colour, white. it's to be expected that the hats get grubby with natural wear and tear through the term, but some girls' hats honestly look like they have been dragged along the dirt and dust. unfortunately for my girls, i like their hats as close to new looking as i can humanly make them, short of buying new hats. i did venture so far as to ask them if their hats were embarrassing to wear. miss k only answered to say that her friends say her hat just looks abnormal.
anyway, every holiday, i put their hats (they have 4, 2 each, one to wear and a spare) in this basin (big enough to contain them), pour in the drive and hot tap water and let them soak a little (until the water cools). when i come back to them, the hats are clean and the water has much to be desired - it's dark and murky. i pour that off and rinse until there aren't any suds left in the rinsing water and leave them to drip dry. when i finish, they look brand spanking new. i love it.
i did ask miss k if she might have been chosen on the basis of her hat and she offered that she didn't think so - "mum, if they wanted white hats, they could've photoshopped".
pity there isn't photoshop for cleaning the house and laundry and doing the garden. the hats i can handle, the rest of the house has to fend for itself - it always looks like a bomb has hit, and hit it bad. my house is chronic.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

three star butter cake

remember the pound cake recipe from 1977? i had misplaced it for a while and was in a wilderness trying to find it. i remembered it was from the SCC, however my attempts to find the recipe were in vain. i scoured second hand book shops for any cookbooks i could find put out by the SCC, but none of the books i found had that pound cake recipe, and it is because of this that i tried this recipe. in 1991.
this was in one of the pamplets the electricity company (by this stage, the sydney county council had gone name changes which i was losing track of) sent out with their bills - kind aren't they? here's your bill, and by the way, here are more ideas on how you can use more elecrticity. now that i think of it, i made the SCC pound cake in a gas oven. ironic, huh?

2¼ cups self raising flour
½ cup custard powder
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup milk
4 eggs
250g butter
2 tspns vanilla

line a 23cm square deep cake tin with baking paper.
combine all ingredients in a large mixer bowl, beat on medium speed 8 minutes.
pour mixture into prepared pan.
bake in a moderately slow oven 160°C for 1-1¼ hours or till cooked when tested.
stand cake 5 minutes in pan before turning out.


coconut cake
heat the 1 cup milk (from the ingredients above), pour onto 1/4 cup coconut, stir well.
stand aside till cold.
follow method as above.

chocolate cake
sift 1/3 cup cocoa with the flour, custard powder and 1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.
follow method as above.

orange/lemon cake
beat 1½ tablespoons grated orange or lemon rind with other ingredients, complete mixing.
follow method as above.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

eggs mollet

i first came across eggs mollet in an elizabeth david cookbook. she described them as a boiled egg with hard boiled whites and a liquid yolk. what facinated me was the way she used them - they were set in an aspic, and when eaten, the fork would slice through the jellied egg and have a liquid yolk sauce in the centre - a bit like a chocolate molten pudding, if you like.

to cook the eggs mollet, water is brought to the boil in a saucepan and the room temperature eggs are lowered into the simmering water gently and simmered for six minutes after which the eggs would be plunged into cold water to arrest the cooking. once cool, the eggs would be peeled carefully, carefully because the yolk would still be soft and it would be a nuisance to puncture an egg.

because a jellied egg, whilst facinating, isn't something i'd bother with, i offer you some words from jane grigson to provide inspiration:

‘There are few nicer lunches’, writes Jane Grigson, ‘than asparagus, the new potatoes that shared their pan, and eggs mollet (soft boiled), with melted butter and home-made bread. Add a glass of white Loire wine...’

Friday, November 14, 2008


simon is my nephew. and being someone i love, he has a nickname, sly. he is thus named not because he is sly - that would be too obvious, not to mention boring. as a baby, he was a dribbler and as such was a little slimey - get it? sly.
little sly has given me much joy over the course of his life. when he was a little over a year old, rather than read him a story book before going to bed, i introduced him to the joys of looking at a cookbook. we'd sit in bed together and flip throught the pages and enjoy the food porn together. we'd see pictures of vegetables and pick it up off the page to have little "tastes". then we would naturally get to the dessert section and pick berries off the page and "eat" those as well. we would have a fabulous time together.
at that time, sly was also learning to talk, and anyone familiar with children learning to talk, that, too, is a great source of amusement.
"isn't that yummy?" i'd ask.
"mummy" he'd say.
"no, yummy"
another time, i looked after sly so blutsie and the golden one could go out. when it got closer to them coming home, sly started running around calling out "daddy". i thought how cute, he wants his dad. so when bluts and golden one got home, golden one asked if sly was okay.
"yeah, he just started asking for you a short time ago. he was running around calling out "daddy"."
golden one smiled and that was that.
until, sly ran up to his mum, cuddled her and patted her on the back, saying over and over again, "daddy...daddy..".
i love sly.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

am i lazy or just trying to save water?

we are currently coming to the end of the navel orange season and in order to prolong our enjoyment of these favourites of ours, i did what any self respecting fruit lover would do and bought 3 cases (20 kg each) of the golden orbs over the last 2 weeks.
as they are at the end of their run, the oranges are kept in cold rooms by the fruiterers and thus become sweaty with condensation when we get them. ever since those salmonella scares with tomatoes in the US and ecoli with rockmelons locally, i've become even more diligent with washing my fruit and vegetables, and the oranges are no exception. with such a mind boggling number of oranges to wash (each case holds 80-100 pieces of fruit), i also contemplated the amount of water i would be using....alot. enter the dishwasher. there's a cycle on the dishwasher called prewash (well, there is on mine). and it only uses cold water without heat. and we all know dishwashers use less water than handwashing - yes, they do. so that's what i did. i fiddled around with the racks a little so i would be able to fit the maximum number of oranges, set the machine to prewash - a whole 12 minutes! and let it do its thing. i have considered the electricity the machine uses, but i also considered the time i saved - i'm certain i would have taken longer than 12 minutes to wash the same number of oranges and definitely tons more water. i didn't wash all 3 cases of fruit, but enough for us to use for a couple of days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

soft boiled eggs

people often use the expression "xx can't even boil an egg" to describe someone who can't cook. or, anyone can boil an egg, meaning that boiling an egg is easy. is it easy to boil an egg? a perfect egg?
i don't think so. i actually think there's an art to it; it isn't so simple. i remember having a soft boiled egg at my auntie peggy's house when i was little. the albumen was creamy and the yolk still runny. it was perfect. until then, my mother had always hard boiled my eggs, but from then on, i wanted eggs the way aunty peggy cooked them. i don't know whether i've mentioned this before, but my mother was never interested in cooking, so when she first cooked a soft boiled egg for me, it was too hard. the yolk was still liquid, but the albumen was hard. next time she did it, the albumen had a very thin layer of cooked hard white albumen and the rest of the albumen was clear and liquid. it wasn't very nice, and i'm being polite (cos this is a family friendly site). i think i had a few more of my mother's eggs, then that was it. a little girl could only take that much......actually, now that i think about my mum's cooking....actually, i don't want to think about it, she could even cook an egg.
as i said before, with boiled eggs, i like the albumen to be opaque and creamy, and the yolk still runny and liquid. to achieve this, i find it easier to start with the eggs at room temperature. then i like to pierce a small hole in the broad end of the egg. i do this with a pin. having tried to stick the pin into the shell in the past, i know this is close to impossible. what i do these days is hold the pin to the broad end of the egg and use the kitchen bench to tap the pin into the egg. usually one tap is all that is required.
bring a sauce pan of water to the boil, take it off the heat and gently lower the egg into the water. the length of time you leave the egg in the water depends on how you like your egg soft boiled.

if you want the thin albumen (the albumen closest to the shell) set, and the thick albumen (the albumen closest to the yolk) clear and liquid, your egg should be ready after 2 minutes.

3 minutes will give you an egg with a soft outer albumen with the thick albumen starting to turn white while still being liquid.

a 4 minute egg will have opaque albumen which is still soft.

the whites will be more solid after 5 minutes

it depends on how softly boiled one wants the egg.

you'll have to take into consideration the size of the eggs, the number of eggs being cooked and the amount of water you use as to how the the eggs turn out as well. alot of variables, aren't there?

even hard boiled eggs don't just happen - can't over boil them otherwise you get the dark circle around the yolk, but that's another story for another day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


miss c and miss k have read this book called twilight and are understandably quite excited about its upcoming movie premier, miss c in particular. fellow fans of the book organised an early preview of the movie. unfortunately, this was cancelled due to hoyts and greater union being unable to come to some agreement about its release.
then came news of another attempt at a preview of the movie, this time at bankstown. so excitement continued....until....miss c found out that we had to get the money for the movie out to wetherill park, or as my niece so eloquently puts it, where-the-hell-park. now, for those who live near wetherill park, that doesn't present a problem, but we don't and on the few occassions that i have had to go out there with miss c and miss k in tow, they know the only attraction for them out there is red rooster (we live in an area sadly devoid of many fast food outlets). yes, poor miss c and miss k are deprived - they don't know that there are places in the world which are veritable fast food meccas. fast food is something they only eat once in a blue moon.
thankfully, miss c doesn't want to make the trip out there, no matter how tempting red rooster beckons, and no mater how tempting the twilight movie is. otherwise, i might have to not only endure a long car trip and red rooster.

Monday, November 10, 2008

damage control

we were in the aisle which sold crockery in woollies when we walked past at lady holding 2 packages of 4 glasses. she was telling her daughter that they needed to get new glasses because they had broken some over the last 2 weeks. that was fair enough. her daughter queried her and she replied "we need them because you threw a glass at me the other day" to which her daughter replied "that's because you threw a glass at me."
we continued walking, each wondering whether the other had heard the exchange. when we were out of the aisle, we glanced at each other, miss c incredulous that anyone would throw a glass.
i can't bear when any of my things break accidentally; i can't believe when people break things intentionally.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


in true supermodel style (not), miss k has been featured in her school's speech day invitation. miss c advised me by phone of this exciting news, which follows hot on the heels of miss k being snapped for the newspapers (twice, on different occasions).
this is not to say that miss c has not provided her fair share of excitement in this arena. she, too, had been selected on prior occasions; once when she was in day care, she was a feature of a video they made, and another time she was snapped for a newspaper article, well, three times, if you include the time when all three of us were in the papers together.
as a parent, this is exciting as they both have a nice souvenir, however, we don't go courting this attention. now they have their souvenirs, i think it would be nice if everyone else had their souvenir opportunity as well.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

kitchen disasters

i belong to a forum which discusses food and other issues. one of the topics of discussion which came up was kitchen disasters.
i tried really hard to think of a kitchen disaster and didn't come up with anything. i'm sure there was something, there always has to be something. then as i read the offerings of others, i remember my nephew, kevin, did bake a pizza with the plastic wrap still on it, but that wasn't my disaster. i wanted my own. i can't believe i just said that. scrap that - no i don't want any disaster(s).
i don't know if this qualifies as a bona fide disaster, but i have always loved reading cookbooks, and one cookbook i read had a section on how to remedy disasters. i was so desperate to try one of their remedies out that i created my own disaster. i deliberately underbaked a chocolate cake so it would sink in the middle and have to have the centre cut out and become a ring cake. even one of my friends reminds me of it these days.

Friday, November 7, 2008


last night, we went to the belvoir st theatre to see the importance of being earnest. boy, i don't know what oscar wilde had in mind when he wrote the play, but i don't think this interpretation was what he had in mind somehow. the last time i saw this play, it was nothing like it was last night. last night was really different and really funny. the importance of being earnest, the way oscar wilde intended, is a funny play anyway, but last night, it was taken one step further.
i've seen more plays this year than i ever have done in the past, and one thing i've noticed is that plays tend to be on the light side with the number of actors - nothing like the full chorus one finds in an opera or musical. very economical - a couple of actors carry the story line and there's no padding, no unnecessary bit parts, no extras to do their rhubarb thing.
last night was no exception - economical, no bit parts to accommodate a benefactor's aspiring offspring; none of that. in fact, two actors play jack and algernon - and all the other characters as well. how's that for economy? so not only does one get oscar wilde's funny play, but one also gets the added bonus/distraction of 2 guys doing a sybil thing. it starts off with them doing the costume changes quite smoothly, and ends with the costume changes getting quite bizarre, all on stage. i'm sure this is all intentional - the storyline also starts to reflect a sense of chaos at the same time, so i'm not only laughing at the story, but also at the guys sorting out their characters through the use of costume props, which when you consider it, is quite clever. have i lost you?
i'm sure there's someone out there who can express this all more eloquently and put me, and definitely you, out of our misery.
oh, if you do get a chance to see it, look out for some "interesting" incorrectly vintaged props - i'm not spoiling thing by telling you what they are - part of the fun is spotting them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

round things

when i was about 7, my dad brought me to his colleague's housewarming party. mr and mrs little's house, at the time was something special - it was round and had a greenhouse in the middle. at the same time, mr little designed a building in hornsby hospital, and it was round too - he must have been going through his round phase. maybe it was a time for round buildings - i'm thinking harry's iconic round australia square in the city. i recall that the building's name was a bit of a joke at the time - a cylindrical building called a square....haw haw haw - you have to appreciate that at the time there were no jokes flying around the world at cyberspeed, thus people had to find humour in the most mundane of things, even buildings.
this housewarming party was my first introduction to fingerfood and need i say a round fingerfood item? meatballs. i remember the meatballs - they were so tasty. now i'm more familiar with herbs (one would hope so after so many decades), i realise they were seasoned with thyme. and the more i think about them the more i realise that at that time, they were probably made with a packet of stuffing mixed through the mince. nothing wrong with that - it was a time of culinary discovery and we wouldn't be where we are today without them. so i present this recipe for meatballs which is kitschy, but very comforting. take note that i've added fresh herbs to the mix to redeem it and that i've added a modern touch by suggesting that the microwave can be used to simplify the cooking process.

500 grams mince beef
500 grams sausage mince
1 cup stuffing mix (or bread crumbs, if you prefer)
1 egg
1 onion, finely diced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stock cube

mix all the ingredients together well - i like to use my electric handheld mixer to do this - my hands stay clean and odourless and everything is mixed more thoroughly than i could ever hope to do with my hands.
form the mixture into walnut sized balls and place 10 balls on a plate and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until cooked through. the meatballs can be served as is, but can also be finished off either by deepfrying or in a hot oven to give them a little colour.
i don't remember any sauce being served with the meatballs at the housewarming, but as a modern touch, a greek yoghurt dip can be served alongside.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

sponge cake

the first time i remembered having a freshly made sponge cake was back in september 1971 and i think it was a sunday. if it wasn't, then it was a saturday, but in my mind it was a sunday. my parents and i were at echo point park and we bumped into one of dad's architect friends, tony, and his wife, megan.
from echo point park, you could see this piece of land we had in castle cove. all we ever did when we first bought the land was just look at it. then the years passed and the novelty of looking at it wained. but i digress....
one thing led to another and we ended up at tony and megan's place and we had afternoon tea there. megan (who is jeff wiggle's sister....i know, small world...i also know jeff wiggle's mother) whipped up a sponge cake and dressed it with strawberries and cream.....can't remember if there was jam, but there definitely were strawberries.
i remember being so impressed that someone could just whip up a cake just like that while guests were there. i knew then and there i wanted to be as clever as that when i grew up. i thought i wanted to be able to just whip anything up at short notice. more recently, i did bump into megan, and she's still the very beautiful, tall, stylish and slender lady she was then. amazing how she hasn't changed. i did tell her about how inspirational she was; she didn't remember the occasion, but i'm glad i did.
this isn't megan's recipe, it's actually a recipe for a sponge roll which i use, and it's very quick and easy. the thiness of the cake really speeds things up so it's quick to bake, quick to cool and fill and ultimately quick to get onto the table.

3 eggs separated
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup wheaten cornflour
2 tablespoons hot milk
1/2 cup jam
300 millitres thickened cream
fresh berries

preheat oven to 180°C. line a 20 x 30cm swiss roll pan with baking paper.
using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until pale and thick.
sift self raising flour and cornflour over egg mixture.
drizzle boiling water around edge of bowl.
use a large metal spoon to gently fold ingredients together (don't over-mix).
pour mixture into prepared pan.
bake for 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.
sprinkle an extra 1/4 cup of sugar onto a sheet of baking paper.
turn sponge straight from oven onto baking paper.
gently roll up sponge in paper. wrap in a tea towel.
set aside to cool.
whip the cream.
unroll sponge and remove paper.
spread jam, cream and berries on sponge.
reroll and slice to serve.

alternatively, slice the sponge in half lengthways and fill with berries, cream and jam and sprinkle with icing sugar. this is my favourite way of serving this cake - since you don't have to roll it, there can be lots of filling with not too thick layers of cake. yum.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


some movies i like because they're different:

the bank - david wenham, anthony lapaglia
the castle - michael caton, eric banana (before he became a mega star)
bootmen - adam garcia
proof - hugo weaving, russell crowe (before he became a mega star)
priscilla, queen of the desert - terence stamp (have to confess that we were nuts about him when we were in our early teens...and now look at what happened....)
looking for alibrandi - pia miranda, anthony lapaglia

Monday, November 3, 2008


i'm not an expert turkey cook, but recently i saw a really easy way to prepare turkey. i'd eaten the turkey on previous occasions and thought that it was absolutely delicious, but it didn't occur to me how simple it was.
i believe the portion of the turkey used was called a turkey buffe - i will try and clarify that on my next trip to the supermarket or deli. this turkey buffe was an already cooked breast, so it was all meat, no bones and no waste.
remove the turkey buffe from its packaging and place on a suitably sized baking tray lined with baking paper.
get a jar of redcurrant jelly and spoon it over - about half a jar should do it. there is no need to spread it too evenly, just do the best you can.
put it in a oven preheated to 150 degrees celcius for 30 minutes, baste and turn, and return to baste and thurn every 10-15 minutes for 45 minutes. because it is precooked, if you don't require the turkey hot, you don't have to baste and turn for the 45 minutes. just take it out to enjoy when you require it.
the basting and turning in the redcurrant jelly makes the turkey, i think. the turkey is fine as is when it comes from the shop, the redcuarrant jelly adds some succulence and flavour to it and provides some juice for gravy if you so desire, otherwise, serve with more redcurrant jelly to carry the theme through.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

maggie's harvest

i bought this book when it first came out because it was just irresistible - it was the whole packaging thing. the cover is just gorgeous.
that said, i didn't need a new cookbook because i have so many i don't even dare to count them. also in this day and age of instant gratification, it's all too easy to buy whatever takes one's fancy, which is why i now so careful with my purchases. but this one is different. its cover is embroidered; the text is interesting and readable; you can tell maggie put her heart into it. i felt it was worth more than on a monetary level. out of all the books i have so far, this has been the most special, so i'm glad i have it.
maggie's recipes are nice too - homey and she shows a genuine love of food. the book has lots of stories, something i adore in a cookbook reading about food as well as being given directions on how to prepare it.
i guess whether maggie's harvest is a book you want will depend on what you are looking for, but i find that these days recipes are so easy to find on the net (and that i have so many cookbooks), i want something different, and this book fit the bill for me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

and now for dessert - something smooth and crunchy and hot and cold...all at the same time...

got your attention?

that's how i like to introduce this dessert and all it is is glorified ice cream. not fried ice cream, although now that i think about it, it is hot and cold etc, but i like to think my version might be a bit more sophisticated. yeah...that's and sophisticated go hand in can stop laughing....NOW.....

sophisticated or not, i like this dessert and whether you do or don't doesn't matter - just take your cursor to the little "x" at the top right hand corner of this window and click....

remember the brandy snaps? well, make a couple in the shape of baskets.

remember the hot chocolate fudge sauce? well, make some of that.

rememeber sara lee or connoisseur ice cream? well, go get some.

put a couple of scoops of your favourite connoisseur or sara lee ice cream in a brandy snap basket, top with a healthy dollop of hot chocolate fudge sauce and if you really want to be tres sophisticatated, garnish with berries.

there you go - smooth (ice cream) and crunchy (brandy snap basket) and hot (hot chocolate fudge sauce) and cold (berries...okay, cream).

everyone i've served this to has loved it (or loved me so much they pretended to like it so as not hurt my feelings.....). i hope you love it too (you don't have to pretend anything though).