Friday, 30 December 2016

New (to me) Kitchen Toy

I have drooled over microplane graters and baulked at the cost for many, many...many years.  Since Dh was struggling for something buy me for Christmas I suggested this.  And because I had him in House before Christmas, I even pointed them out, and the difference between the two prices.

Unlike me, Dh bought the more expensive one (the one I liked better, and wouldn't have bought for myself), and I used it yesterday afternoon when I was making lemon curd with those pesky four egg yolks left from making pavlova.

The microplane grater?  A true revelation!  It is so smooth and easy to use, compared to every zester I have ever had (the very cheap versions of a zester!).  I find myself trying to come up with ways to zest something, or mince garlic or ginger.  It's like the difference between driving a vintage VW Bug and driving a Rolls Royce.  Not that I've ever driven either, but I imagine the Bug is rough and clunky and the Rolls Royce would be smooth and delightful.  This is now my zesting experience.  Smooth and delightful. get my Kitchen Aide mixer repaired.  The on/off/speed knob is stuck on 1 and can't be turned off, except at the wall switch.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

New Kitchen Questions

We are in the very beginning stages of planning for a new kitchen.  This one is so dark it, sucks all the light out of the room (and it's a very light room!), and it needs quite a bit of work....or replacement.  Since the oven is doing weird stuff, like turning itself on an off at random times, and the door doesn't close, it's time to replace it.  So...we're looking to gut the kitchen and start over.  At this point the microwave, dishwasher and fridge are the only things we plan to keep.

There are some things I know I definitely want in a new kitchen:
  • white vinyl wrap cabinets, instead of dark wood
  • drawers instead of cupboards as much as possible
  • stone bench top (light coloured)
  • sink going the opposite direction
  • 90cm gas cooktop (the 60cm I have is too small for the pots I use all the time)
  • microwave mounted WAY lower than it's current position (the bottom is my head height - so dumb)
  • pyrolytic, self-cleaning oven
Question of the day:  under bench oven, or wall oven?
I am totally uncertain about the oven.  I thought I wanted a larger, under-bench oven.  It would give me a little more bench space, and the kitchen layout would be more flexible.  But when we were looking at appliances the other day the sales girl made a very valid point:  under-bench ovens are harder to get heavy things in and out.  My SIL has recently moved house and gone from wall to under-bench, and she agreed.  Now I'm really not sure what to do.

I need some good advice.  If you have your choice what would you have...and why?

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Best Post-Indulgence Breakfast

Same smoothie, different mug.  Still my favourite:  banana, raspberries (frozen), cinnamon. I prefer almond milk for this (and only this!), but since all we had was regular jersey milk that's what I used.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

'Twas the night before Christmas...

Dh's view of St Kilda Beach this morning

Well, it's not night yet, and there's lots of stirring about the place here, but it IS the day before Christmas.  I have some baby adult people in my house that are very excited!!!

In typical Melbourne fashion it's been a warm morning, and Dh has had rain and hail on his Saturday morning ride with "the boys".  Thank you Melbourne.  What would we do without your confusing weather?

We have organised a Plan B for my family's Christmas Even afternoon tea, which was meant to be at a park.  Miss Mischief tells me she has experienced flies in plague proportions this past week so maybe it's not just the rain we have to contend with this time.

Meanwhile, today holds some present wrapping, some pavlova making and some welcoming my parents in for a few days.  Probably no afternoon napping.  I've become somewhat of a champion, of Olympic proportions, with the afternoon naps.  It won't last forever, but I'm being totally exceptional in that department, for the moment!

And the medical/para-medical appointments continue.  I need to update the prescription for my glasses.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Lazy Day Dinner

Post-nap dinner:  Butter chicken sauce from a jar with a whole pile of veggies, served over rice and accompanied by roti bread.

I used what veggies I had: sweet potato, potato, carrots (all cut into chunks), broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms.  I augmented the jarred sauce with onions, garlic, garam marsala and a can of coconut milk to make the sauce go further.

Mr Busy got his braces tightened yesterday (the boy people didn't think the date of that one through very carefully!) so tonight it's post-braces-potato-and-leek-soup night.  Bread for the rest of us, just soup for Mr Busy.

Considering the approaching excesses of Christmas Eve afternoon tea and Christmas Day meals, the idea of a few veggie dinners is not such a bad idea.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

The Eye of the Busy Storm

Today is my quietest day for the week, and even it has already been marred by a quick jaunt out for a fasting blood test.  Because I haven't had one done since computers, apparently, or more accurately, since my GP got a computer.  This week seems to have become our specialist/orthodontist/other medical appointments week.  And also figuring out why our internet keeps dropping out.  The answer?  The phone plug to which the modem was connected has deteriorated and needs some professional phone-man surgery.  We now have phones and devices hijacking other phone points in highly inconvenient locations, but we have stable internet again.  Whew.

So after my little trip up the street, I compensated with a breakfast of poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, over the most beautiful sourdough toast, from The Artisan Crust.  These people are so dear to me, and their breads and pastries are simply otherworldly.  My goal for next year is to take all three of their bake school classes.

For the rest of my day....diving back in to some stitching, and re-watching "Nigella's Christmas Kitchen".  Because a little Nigella inspiration for getting into the kitchen seems to be required in this household of people who are tired of figuring out what to eat all the time.  Grocery shopping should probably be on my list, although tomorrow seems like a better idea.  In the interests of quietness and rest, you know.  And definitely a little nap in the afternoon.  Because a nap is totally necessary every day, following the end of school.  But most exciting is the diving back in to stitching.  I haven't stitched a thing since about Easter last year, so the other night I went looking for some simple freebie patterns with which to get my feet wet again.

What feeds your creativity when you're busy?

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Family Christmas Gathering

Some of the selections offered

We had our Christmas gathering with Dh's side of the family yesterday.  This year we simplified and pared things way down.  After swapping gift certificates last year, we opted for putting our gift budgets towards lunch.  Yum Cha is the only way this family could possibly go, in order to avoid the massive amounts of work required to feed and clean up after 20-ish people.

The "children", most of whom are now adults, sat at one table and ate like kings and queens.  These children are far too well educated in the ways of international food, particularly when Malaysians number within the clan.  Mr Busy sat next to one of his cousin's wives.  She ensured he was well fed. The kids complained they were being banished, but really I think they had way more fun.  They are a hilarious bunch when all together.

Chinese custard tarts are usually the sought-after dessert following Yum Cha.  My preference is this mango mousse.  Lighter.  Refreshing.  Cool.  In all honesty, however, yesterday I indulged in both.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Christmas Ham

Image Credit
We've finally begun our Christmas preparations.  In our house this begins the day after I finish school.  I'm definitely a one-thing-at-a-time kind of gal; working and Christmas is more than my brain can handle at once.

Miss Sunshine put the tree up on 1 December, and we have been enjoying twinkling lights and strings of gold beads instead of tinsel.  The girls and I went shopping on Thursday and managed the bulk of our shopping.  Mr Busy has planned to do his with some friends (I'm trusting the girls he'll be with to help him out if he gets stuck!).  Miss Mischief has turned her thoughts to our Christmas meal.  She has one thing on her mind.

Christmas ham.

We have our favourite recipe.  We used to use my brother's recipe, and it was delicious.  But our new favourite recipe is even better.  We use Nigella's "fully festive ham" from Nigella Feast.  I've never seen a raw gammon, although I'm sure they're probably available with some effort.  We prefer shoulder ham in any case.  It's smaller, cheaper and more tasty than a leg ham so that's what I go for.  I remove the rind, score the fat layer beneath and stud with cloves and the coat with the glaze (recipe also found here).  I bake that at 130C for about 3 hours, basting every half hour.  Mmmmm.  Yum.

I also use Maggie Beer's "slow roasted pork" recipe for the stuffing (sans hazelnuts) to stuff a whole, de-boned chicken roll.  I don't enjoy turkey, probably because my mother never made one, and neither did my grandmother.  Dh's family always had turkey and I was never impressed.  So we're glazed ham and roast chicken people.  The kids will determine salads they may want and I'll do roast potatoes (with olive oil instead of goose fat).

Our only dilemma?  Pavlova or lemon and raspberry trifle?  And if we choose pav, do we have Granny's pav, a chocolate pav, or a coffee pav?  Oh the choices?

What are your favourite Christmas foods?

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Because they know I love pink

School has finished up for the year, and we are all very excited (and not a little relieved) to be on summer holidays.  You don't know what kids take in until they do something that makes you aware of the little, seemingly insignificant things.

Apparently the two students who brought me these gifts noticed that pink is my favourite colour.  It might have been the new pink phone.  Or the phone cover - also pink.  And flowery.  Perhaps it was the computer with the pink shell-cover.  Could also have been the heart necklace with the pink fake-pearl in it.  Either way two of my students were so observant they chose to bless me with pink gifts on Tuesday.

The macarons were delicious, and tasted pink, if that were even possible.  The lychee hand cream smells divine.  And pink.

I don't think you're meant to have favourite students, but I have a little handful of kids that have certainly touched a soft place in my heart.  Lucky for me I get to keep a couple of them next year.  But the ones leaving my classroom, or leaving the school, are definitely taking a little piece of my heart with them.

And a little bit of pink!