Thursday, June 30, 2011

a trifle late

We are getting a little sweet on Winter of late, Warm desserts of and pear or apple whichever is in my fruitbowl teamed with berries, frozen of course, lashings of wonderful homemade custard.

pear and blueberry crumble

Whimsical wishes of summer were had in a bowl of Trifle we had, every family member watched as the layers  were assembled with jelly, custard,  moist coconut, cream, berries and sponge.

finger in

A twenty five dollar trifle at that, see there is a story behind that. My husband had made a gorgeous trifle one evening, back in February, February 1st to be precise. Layers and layers of yumminess made in our kitchen only to be whisk away the very next day  to work.  Well my son held him to a contract 20 cents a day 'till he made one for us all.

a trifle late

Almost six months later and the wait cost him $25 dollars, and in the end I had actually made the custard, jelly and cream, if I hadn't we'd be owing him a car at twenty one.

awaitingeton mess
After making my own custard one usually ends up with three egg whites, well that means meringues doesn't it?  Meringues with strawberries and cream. Now that's a whole lotta spoilt kids in my house right now having too  much of a good thing.
airy good

Sunday, June 26, 2011


oversized tickets
A few weeks back would-be-organised me said "You must organise a party soon, don't leave it to the last possible minute."

Would-be-organised me even looked at the Bureau of Meteorology website for the weather two weeks ahead of time. Would-be-organized me said ahhh "75% chance of rain. A bike riding party at the local skate park.. well that wouldn't work out what with 75% chance of rain."

Knowing my luck it would be one of those real blanketed in rain days like we've been having, where the light of 1:30 in the afternoon is all but looking like the end of days. I ummed and ahhhd. I imagined possible scenarios, all of which involved wet food, muddy eight year old boys, and everyone ending up in my living room.

All this procrastinating led to the week of the party and still no plan. Then the mother of all ideas hit me: We could have it at night, we could hire a movie projector, and we could all be cosy indoors & dry. Watching a flick in my lounge room, even our littlest baby could be there.

I knew I'd have to rearrange my entire living space... but hey there would be no muddy feet, no wet kids! I was willing to blank out the idea of popcorn I'd forever be finding in my sofa and the melted malteasers I'd latter find squished on my cushions.

I bought the idea to my son whose party it would be, I didn't have to pitch the idea too hard he was happy... no, he was ecstatic. I had avoided an in-home boys party every other year at all costs, and he's quite the homebody so having a party here for once seemed like the best thing ever to him.

Fast forward two days...

I had hoped that it would be pretty good, but I didn't think It was actually going to look like the cinema in my lounge room. It was great!!! Seeing as I had to pick the projector up the morning of the party, I didn't factor into the project plan losing my husband for most of the afternoon. He was mesmerised by the sheer size we could project onto the wall.
(I should tell you that hiring does work out a lot cheaper when you factor in not only admission but popcorn, drinks ice cream. I think I made an entire pack and a half of popcorn that cost about $2, an equivalent amount would set you back a whopping $50 at the cinemas. That is half the cost of projector hire.)

I beavered on alone in the kitchen as the laughs rolled in from the lounge. He and my daughter Beatrix were watching Megamind, the pair of them hadn't seen it, and they both were laughing loud and long. From the lounge room. While I was in the kitchen, cooking, and alone, did I mention that?
it's officially a perty
Lucky for me the menu for the night was fairly simple: homemade pizza, hotdogs, spiders. And the cake, of course, but I'd purposefully picked an easier one.
hey, I've got layers

The spiders in particular were a hit. Cream soda and ice cream, ice cream first soda on top, it's like a science experiment they loved it, and hot buttered popcorn, too easy.
pure joy
Yeah they were loud and silly but it was a lot of fun, we even had time for some photo fun with the lights we had borrowed from a neighbor.
oobi is not amused
My husband had struggled a little with the noise level so he reigned them in with a couple of games of murder... that worked a charm.

I enjoyed seeing him playing with them, Phoenix was beaming, he'd had an awesome at home party. We'd survived.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala with the best carrot salad

Chicken tikka masala.

This is based on Jamie Oliver's Chicken Tikka, but he marinates and grills the chicken first. I am doing this one the fast-and-easy way which is still fantastic. This is my family's favourite curry.

It serves 4-6 people. (I never make enough so you could do 1 1/2 this recipe.)
Someday I will double it and actually have leftovers. Please note if you do double it though you will need two saucepans.

2 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
6 chicken thighs or 3 chicken breasts cut into chunks
1 onion diced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp garam masala
4 cm fresh ginger grated
4 cloves garlic crushed
a handful of ground almonds or cashews.
1 tin of crushed tomatoes
1 tin of water
salt pepper
120 ml cream
fresh coriander
Natural yoghurt.
4 cups of steamed basmati rice.
* if you like it hot add 2 fresh chilli de-seeded whilst cooking.

Heat oil or ghee, in a heavy based saucepan or deep skillet, add the diced onion, garlic and ginger cook till onions are transparent. 

Add the cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, garam masala cook till fragrant.

Add the chicken and cook till golden on both sides. Then add the crushed tomatoes and ground almonds or cashews.

Fill the empty tin with water and add also, stir often to ensure it isn't burning and that the amount of liquid is ok, add more water if you need to.

Cook for 45 minutes on a moderate heat, season to taste.

Stir in the cream and cook for another minute, serve with fresh coriander and natural yoghurt.

I am adding a carrot salad which is from one of my favourite cookbooks Falling cloudberries. This salad absolutely rocks. I have added cucumber to mine and sometimes I use spring onion instead of red onion, all in all this is a great side to any Indian curry.

Carrot Salad, with cardamon.

* This is best made an hour or more ahead of time.

2 carrots grated.
1 cucumber (if you like) also grated
1/2 red onion diced finely.
1 cm of ginger grated.
2 tbsp olive oil.
juice of half a lemon.
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
a pinch of white pepper.
a handful of mint leaves torn.
Put the carrots, onion, cucumber into a bowl.
make the dressing by whisking together the oil, lemon, salt, pepper, ginger and cardamon.
You may need to tweak the flavours here, just add more sugar, salt or lemon. It sound be tangy yet slightly sweet.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

sad dot-to-dot

I have been seeing myself lately as a dot on a page. I have been imagining all the other dots around me, all those other people who are in the same world as me. Or the lack thereof.

The dots that flood faintly in a wash but that dissipate and rub off. The semi- permanent ones that wash out in water, they look great for a while but then they're gone. They may leave a mark or a stain, and sometimes they come back.

Then there are the ones you cannot draw cause they are kind of not actually there, the dots that would make you look really good on the page but do not hold any structural integrity. Some of these dots though I wish I actually had on my for real page. I know I may end up with more of these than I can give dot-love back to. Then there are dots that reappear, that form clusters around mine, sometimes they're inconsistent or random, but they're always there. Some of these dots actually stop me from moving onto anther page because I love them so much.

Then there are the ones that I should have drawn in permanent marker, because maybe they'd still be there. Sometimes I knew they were going, sometimes I didn't, but all of them left marks on my page so deep they will seep through every page I will ever fall onto. This week I lost another dot from my page, and so did everybody that shared that same dot, especially the little ones for whom that dot was their biggest.

We whom shared that dot can be sure that this dot seeps through and marks every page we all will ever have.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

cancel ginger.

When I go to the green grocer I always snap ginger off. I have never wanted an entire root of it nor would I use it all in the week, so I snap it off. It occurred to me that I have never seen anybody else do this. I assume it's ok... isn't it? I mean I have never been reprimanded or publicly shamed, so I think it's ok. Right?

A few weeks back when I put ginger on my standing order from my fruit-and-veg farmer I assumed he too would just snap it off, but ohhh no I get an entire root. As soon as I opened the box I thought, "That will last me! Better cancel next week's"

I love ginger. But seeing as I am terribly unorganised and I keep forgetting to cancel my order, every Friday morning it dawns on me when I wake up "Ginger! I forgot to cancel the ginger." It has become a running joke. I have used it everywhere - in my tea, in stir fries, curries, I still only use three thumb sized bits a week.

I have given it away I ate so much of it whilst I was ill, but I still have at least a half a kilo. But I'm finding inspiration in the everyday, thanks Pia!
making something from excess

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In the winter my backyard sees only a glimmer of the morning sun. My neighbour's tree has grown too tall, as the sun traverses east-to-west my yard sees very little of its winter-ly rays.

My clothes dry inside now, the clothes horse gets moved from lounge to tiny bathroom, back to lounge to bathroom, depending on weather... and if it is bath night, or shower night, or shower morning. Which means it gets moved at least twice a day.

I swore I'd never chase the sun or warmth with this clothes horse, after it shut on both my hands and pinched so hard on one finger two years ago. I pried it open with my only free body part, my boot. I cursed Ikea and its dumb clothes horse.

My finger was numb for two months after that, yet still I move the thing from room to room, one corner of the yard to another. How I have hated thee clothes horse, but bloody oath you dries my clothes. During the day I close the door of my bathroom, the dry warm air hits you when you slide open the door. I could dehydrate fruit in there.

When I can have dry clothes in one day, why would I bother changing my ugh boots for crocs to bring in washing at the sight of the one dark cloud that always looks like it is right over my house. Even in the summer I have a bad habit of being unable to leave the washing the heck alone, I move it from prime morning sun spot to blazing burning hot afternoon spot by the rendered wall that radiates a singing heat.

These days my only backyard repertoire is a mad dash at lunch or dinner time to pick some coriander, which is growing beautifully, may I add. I check my bulbs, which are also looking fine. I sigh at the drifts of fig leaves collecting in my yard.

But then I spy the happy wanderer. I rescued him from my front yard a couple of years back, and now it looks fantastic. Mr Happy Wanderer is wondering where he can wander from his fat bush. Shall I grapple at the tap today, it wonders, or shall I creep up these two beams which used to hold a pergola? I don't know, I think I'll just see how wide around I can get.

Pretty amazing my wanderer, and it gave my winter's first pretty purple blooms. Thanks Mr!

Monday, June 6, 2011

grey afternoon and orange balloons

With my camera in hand and a secret-garden-reading daughter beside me I rode into the city Sunday. We hadn't done this since November of last year.

Stop number one, Markit at Federation Square. Crafters and the likes coming together to sell their wares. The atrium was dimly lit and kind of like you were stepping into a little hub, the heartbeat of Melbourne's craft movement.
ink & spindle
I live in this city I know the place is buzzing with creatives, you can't go ten feet without bumping into an owl or a deer. I love it, for me it was a little outing I hoped would inspire us both.

She, Bea that is, felt we just had to take home a little part of it. We choose an Emily Green necklace, and agreed we'd share it. She even wrote down which days we'd each have when we got home.

After we'd seen it all and seen it again at Fed Square, we ventured a little ways down the banks of the river. Orange balloons lining the way, bright against a grey autumn sky.

We went to Artplay, a great interactive art space with exhibitions as well as work shops for children. On exhibit that afternoon was Ross Brewin's "Play with Cardboard." I took a bunch of photos just to show Aaron, as he always told me "cardboard is a great structural material," and I remembered the sculptures he made when he was trying to get into visual arts many years ago.

He used to make cupboards, penholders, all kinds of mad things from cardboard. Once he made Phoenix a shield and sword where the sword fit snugly into the body of the shield. Why doesn't he do that stuff any more? He never did get into art school, really. Thank goodness he choose to study mathematics, one of us needs an actual income.

Anyhow these small room sized works were like cubbies, little warrens for tiny totts, or just lounging spaces for kicking back. I wanted one of each, fold away of course so I could store it or just build one within the kid's room it would be fantastic.
I want this.
Heading back towards the train, our next stop was again at Federation Square at a busy Japanese restaurant, Chocolate Buddha, The service was terribly slow, we waited 30 minutes to order. Thankfully the food arrived swiftly, I mean within five minutes, and it looked impressive.
still swimmingsalt
My Ramen noodle soup with salmon was just the thing for a cold Melbourne afternoon. I could also have eaten all of Bea's tofu and greens with rice had she not loved it so much, it was actually tastier than mine. The salted young soy beans were also delicious. We had wanted to order the green tea ice cream but gave up waiting.

After the meal minus green tea ice cream, we walked a little with no real plan.

I asked Bea if she'd like to walk into the Cathedral, then I realised she didn't know what one was. She had only been in a church once ever before and couldn't remember it. She had never seen a place as grand as this. We looked at the tiles, the mosaics, she was engrossed in the high ceilings and the quietness of the place.

I was trying to recall year 12 art: flying buttresses, vaults, naves, and rose windows. Yep I couldn't remember enough to sound even remotely like I knew what I was talking about, and on that note we left. Personal project, revise year 12 art.

In stark contrast to the Cathedral, we walked down Hosier Lane to see some graffiti, stencils, and illuminated art boxes, even some tin can art.
It rained blue glitterOh shitMovidaCan you see me up here.
I was glad to have found my favourite stencil ever, this girl and her deck of cards.
Looking up I wondered what it would be like to live up in the apartments there on the lane, with potted garden window sills, the best restaurants on your doorstep. Ok maybe some drunks down below in the stairwells and music from the underground bars would keep you up all night, but it still seems a little parisian, a little romantic.

It was getting a little chilly and dusk bought with it a light fog, we made our way to Flinder's Street Station heading for platform 5 and our train home. Inside though, there are shops and there was taffy.

We'd seen some of it before at Markit, a $20 box of individually wrapped ones, but I passed them up. The box was something special, and I am a sucker for packages like that one, but I was being a little stingy. I mean lunch had cost us $58 dollars! So I'd not gotten them.

But here we were, still with a sugar craving from our no-ice-cream experience, and a second chance at taffy is not to be sneezed at. So we got eight, splitting each one betwixt us - cinnamon, peanut butter, chocolate, strawberries-and-cream. Yum. Darn it I should have skimped on the chai and had taffy for a week, I reckon that was better than any green tea ice cream, however long we'd have waited.
Saltwater taffy

That was our artful afternoon last weekend, I was on a little high all week because of that time, on my day to wear the necklace I felt I had a small part of my daughter with me, something we shared and will continue to share.