Friday, April 29, 2011

William & Kate...

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I won't be able to watch the Royal Wedding today but am taping it for later.
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... and I want one!
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Joolz

Grampians Grape Escape...

(Click on the logo for details)
We are off to Halls Gap for the Grape Escape!
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We have booked to see some cooking demonstrations with "My Kitchen Rules" and acclaimed chef Manu Feildel so it should be good fun. Weather is not meant to be that crash hot but hopefully it won't rain too much!
Cheers - Joolz

Monday, April 25, 2011

Anzac Day

Honouring our fallen servicemen and those who serve us everyday to keep us free.
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Cheers to our diggers,

Joolz

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wishing everyone a happy, holy Easter. Please stay safe on the roads if you are traveling, lets keep the road toll to zero.
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Enjoy the weekend with your families,

Cheers - Joolz

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cooler days....

My cat, Bonnie, is the sweetest little puss but she always looks like she has 'cattitude'! I just can't seem to capture a good picture of her.
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I ventured out to take pictures just before it started to drizzle and before long it was bucketing down and continued for most of the day. I love a good soaking rain.
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These pics were taken early on Tuesday morning and I was going to do a whole different post but that went by the wayside...
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This is my back garden, the carpet roses are still blooming even though we are getting very chilly mornings and nights, but the agapanthus are all spent. It will soon be time to cut them all back again.
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I have moved into my 'cool weather' clothes, actually layering up a bit (thin long sleeved T-shirt and thin knit vest over it)- I am known for being a 'hot' person, I usually can get away by wearing only one layer during our winters, unless it dips below about 8C and there is a wind chill factor and even then I don't wear a coat! Lol! I don't know - since I have had my babies, I just have an inner heat and cannot stand warm rooms or the heaters on in cars. I have been known to have a desk fan going on a winters day, just so I have air circulating around me. Call me weird (my male work colleagues do!) and probably pre-menopausal, but that's me!
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Cheers - Joolz

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A bit of this and that...

I spent most of yesterday scrap booking our 2008 trip to Bora Bora, Tahiti
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I'm not very good at it but it is a good way to get pictures into an album that would otherwise just sit in their photo pouch.
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The pictures aren't very clear as there is plastic on the pages
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I still have quite a way to go...
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Brianna (and her school mate, Maddie) have been contructing an
interactive wall hanging/activity mat for their Child Studies assignment. It is aimed at a child with learning disabilities, aged 5-8 years). The laminated cards can be stuck onto the hanging, with velcro dots. The chart comes with a CD which has sounds of all the things on the mat.
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The child and teacher can play the CD and then when they hear the noise, choose the correct card and attach it to the mat.
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The animal cards are really cute because they have a 'feel' to them as well.
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The bird is covered in bright colourful feathers and...
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... the sheep is woolly, the dog is fluffy and the pig has skin made out of a pink balloon. Very ingenious! I think they will get really good marks for it.
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Wednesday night we had Crunchy Chicken pieces... all you need is chicken breasts, a small tub of natural (or greek) yoghurt, crushed corn flakes and salt and pepper for seasoning. Chop breasts into small chunks, coat with yoghurt then roll in the seasoned corn flake crumbs. Bake for about 30 minutes in a 180C oven.
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Much better for you than chicken nuggets.
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Last night, I did slow cooked Lamb Shanks.
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Season lamb shanks with salt, pepper and fresh rosemary. Fry them off in a heavy based pan until just browned. Remove from pan.
Add olive oil and sautee off :
1 large onion
4 sticks celery
2 large carrots, cut into small chunks - for about 2 minutes
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Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup white wine (or red) then add the shanks back in, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of ground coriander seeds and a tblspn of fresh rosemary. Add in 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 tblspn sugar, 2 tblspns balsalmic vinegar, 6 anchovy fillets and 1 tspn beef stock powder and 1 tblspn of plain flour. Stir this amongst the shanks and cover them well. Place in a 180C oven an cook one hour then reduce heat to about 120C and cook a further hour or so. Shanks are done when the meat falls away from the bone.
~Serve on a bed of mashed potato with green beans and some crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.
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Today I have had a lazy day so far. It's quite warm out so I am waiting for it to cool off a bit then I have some seedlings to plant in my patio pots. They have been sadly neglected so some fresh life will have them looking good again.
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Cheers - Joolz

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce...

Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Pudding ingredients:
1 1/4 cups pitted dates, chopped
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 tspn baking soda
60gms butter, cubed
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup SR flour
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Preheat the over to 180C. I used a casserole dish or you could use a deep 20cm lined, cake tin/springform pan.
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Combine the dates, boiling water and soda in a bowl. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then add butter and sugar. You can blend it at this stage but I left it so the dates were chunky. Add the eggs and flour and stir well until all combined. Pour into the prepared tin/casserole (quite a sloppy mix).
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Bake 45-50 minutes or until cooked through (cover with foil if it looks like it's browning too much on top if needed).
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Butterscotch Sauce ingredients:
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup of cream
50gms butter
1/3 cup golden syrup
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Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and stir over low heat until all dissolved and the sauce has thickened slightly.
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When the pudding is cooked, poke holes in the top with a knife and pour on some of the hot sauce to coat the pudding.
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Serve the pudding warm with more butterscotch sauce and cream.
... then don't weigh yourself for a few days! :)
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Kirby and Brianna headed back to Adelaide yesterday so we are empty nesters for the next week! Brianna is doing a Biology Yr 12 Revision Seminar for 3 days next week. I don't think we have ever had school holidays with no children before - it's going to be a little weird! This means that the main bathroom will stay clean for more than 7 days, beds will be made up with fresh linen today and won't need making for 7 days, the laundry loads will be less and things like Lamb shanks, Apricot Chicken and Stir fries will be on the menu. It will be good to catch up with them again on Good Friday when we head to Adelaide. We plan on catching up with friends, have a few meals out and maybe even a trip to the Zoo to see the Pandas.
Cheers - Joolz

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thai Green Chicken Curry ...

Kirby is home until Friday and she put in a request for Thai Green Chicken Curry (Angus recently went to Noosa and went to Wok Masters and learned how to make this curry). He is very organised in the kitche, chopping and preparing everything beforehand.
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THAI GREEN CHICKEN CURRY
1 kg chicken breast fillet, sliced thickly
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tblspn fresh ginger, finely chopped
4 Tblspns Green Curry Paste (we used Medium, perhaps Mild would be best for us)
2 Tblspn palm sugar, grated
1 Tblspn Fish sauce
6 basil leaves
2 kaffir lime leaves (we used lime zest instead)
1 Tblspn olive oil
100mls vegetable stock
400 mls coconut cream
300 gms bamboo shoots, drained
300 gms fresh green beans, topped, tailed and halved
1 carrot, sliced
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large zucchini, sliced
(bean sprouts and broccoli would be nice too)
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Method - mix together chicken breast and curry past in medium bowl. Set aside to marinate.
Combine onion, garlic and ginger in a bowl.
Heat oil in a heavy based pot or wok, add onion, garlic & ginger, stir-fry until it is just browned. Add 1/2 tin of coconut milk to wok and mix for 1 minute.
^^^
Add chicken mixture to the wok, mix with the coconut mixture on high for 2 minutes. Toss in carrot, beans, bamboo shoots & zucchini, stir fry, add stock and cook 2 minutes.
^^^

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Add remaining coconut milk, reduce heat and simmer and cook gently uncovered for approx. 10 minutes until mixture thickens slightly and chicken is cooked through. Stir regularly.
^^^
Add in kaffir lime leaves and basil. Add palm sugar and fish sauce. Simmer 2 minutes longer.
Serve the curry with steamed fragrant Jasmine or Basmati rice.
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A very warming dish for a cold night.
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Then to be extra naughty, I made a Sticky Date pudding with butterscotch sauce.
Recipe will follow a bit later this afternoon when I get home from work.

Cheers - Joolz

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wickedly way too chocolately cookies...

As promised, I made these very decadent Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies today. Oh wow, they are so very rich! Marie, you naughty girl!
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You need to have some steps ready to go to get these right.

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Step 1 - Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl
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Step 2 - Melt the 8oz of chocolate and the butter gently in the microwave, stir until smooth and creamy
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Step 3 - Chop the other 12oz of chocolate (I used dark, milk and white because we like it all) roughly into chunks
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Step 4 - Beat the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a bowl
~Yummy, gooey chocolate butter mixture...
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Now Step 5 - as per the recipe, fold the chocolate mixture into the butter/egg mixture until smooth then fold in the flour mixture to this. You end up with a gooey, molten glop of yumminess.
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I found it is best to let the mixture cool for say 10 minutes to firm up a bit. It is easier to spoon the mixture out onto the lined trays then - you will get a better shape.
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Here they are again. I had one this afternoon but I honestly couldn't finish all of it, it was so rich. Might make them smaller next time. Enjoy them while they are still warm and the chocolate inside is still soft. Heaven!
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Cheers - Joolz

Saturday, April 9, 2011

On the menu at our house...

Chicken in Barbecue Sauce
1 kg chicken pieces (wings & drumsticks)
1/3 cup tomato sauce
2 tblspns honey
2 tblspns soy sauce
1 tblspn brown sugar
2 tblspn cider vinegar
1 tspn grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup hot water
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Place chicken pieces in a lasagne/baking dish. Combine all ingredients and pour over chicken. Bake uncovered in moderate oven for 45-50 minutes until chicken is tender. Baste with the sauce 2-3 times during cooking. Serve with salad or on a bed of savoury rice.
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Friday night burgers - Ainsley Harriott's Monzarelli Mediterranean Burgers, which I have featured before - here.
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We have finally had some rain today and it's a bit chilly so I decided to try some Thick Pea Soup from Marie's blog A Year at Oak Cottage, via her cooking blog The English Kitchen - she has some seriously beautiful food on this blog!
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This is the bacon bones and ham hock after they'd boiled away for about one hour. I stripped all the nice meat off them and returned it to the pot.
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After a whiz with the Bamix, I have a lovely smooth, hearty soup. I have frozen five big serves for later but have already enjoyed 2 bowls today - yum!
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Just bumming around this afternoon. I took Mum to Mt.G this morning to pick up some shoes she had on order and did a few other jobs. Might settle in with some cross-stitch now.
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We had another huntsman spider incident last night (three this week!!!!). Brianna and I were outside, cleaning out her school bag (she spilled sugar in it! - she takes teabags, sugar and milk to made a cuppa at school in her free lessons, bless her!). As we came back in through the screen door, she turned around and noticed a huge (as in side plate sized) huntsman spider on the door. She yelled for me to move and I did! The hairs stand up on the back of my neck just thinking about it! Erk!
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Oh, how I hate them so! I just tried to put up a link to a photo of one for you, but couldn't go through with it! Just Google Huntsman spider and view the images... if you DARE! I can't!
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Enjoy your weekend. Kirby comes home for 5 days tomorrow so that will be good then we will see her again over the Easter break. Time for some chocolate therapy - I'm going to make these Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies (scroll down the post to see) - wicked!
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Cheers - Joolz

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beef & Potato Curry...

This recipe comes from a local business man who grew up in Fiji, at a time when Indian migrants bought many foods to Fiji. Fiery curries from Madras and those which contained a subtle blend of spices to tempt the palate. A friend of mine tried his curry that he was selling serves of at a local church fete and I just had to get the recipe and try it for myself...
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BEEF & POTATO CURRY
1 kg stewing steak (chuck/round), diced
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons ginger, grated
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tspn Garam Masala
1 red chilli - as hot as you like - I like mild ones, chopped finely, seeds removed
1 400gm can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6 curry leaves (I used bay leaves)
1 cup of water or stock
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced into largish chunks
Quantity of Basmati rice, cooked and kept hot
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Heat oil in a large pan or stove top casserole until very hot. Add mustard seeds and stir until they begin to pop (be careful, they fly everywhere). Add the onion and sautee until tender. Add ginger and garlic and cook off for 2 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
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Add curry powder and garam masala and bay leaves and fry for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
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Add the salt and vinegar
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Add the beef in and stir until it is coated with spice mixture. Cook for 5 minutes to brown the meat. Take care that is doesn't stick to the pot.
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Add in the tomatoes and chilli and sugar, cover and cook for 30-45 minutes until the beef is tender. Add in small quantities of water if it looks dry. Now add in the potatoes and cook further until the potatoes are tender (another 20 minutes?)
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Serve on a bed of Basmati rice... it's got just a good kick of heat without blowing your head off. It makes you go back for another spoonful! Adjust the spice up and down next time you make it.
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I bought an Sunbeam Rice Perfect 5 electric rice cooker like this one but I got mine for $17.00! It cooked the basmati rice perfectly in about 18 minutes - and then it keeps it warm until you need it. I hope you'll try this curry in the coming winter months - there is no reason why you couldn't do it in a slow cooker for a weekday dinner or weekender for that matter.
Enjoy,
Joolz

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