Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sunny Day Pudding

Best thing I love about winter time (besides the fact that I'm not sweating like a horse) is that I enjoy a good pudding. A good old fashioned pudding like my Nanna used to make. I love the self saucing ones the best and I have a few good microwave recipes that will get you a pudding on the table in about 10 minutes flat. This one is baked in the oven but I guess the recipe could be converted to be made in a microwave.

It comes from Lady Florence Bjelke-Petersen's "Classic Country Collection", one of my favourite cookbooks. It's packed full of old fashioned goodness with classics like Ginger Fluff Sponge, Lemon Meringue Pie, Pork Chops in Orange Sauce and her famous Pumpkin Scones. For those of you that don't know, Flo was married to Queensland's longest serving Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Sunny Day Pudding

2 tbs butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 cup raisins/sultanas
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1.1/2 cups Self Raising flour
1 cup brown sugar

Mix melted butter and sugar. Add rest of ingredients, except the brown sugar, mixing well. Pour mixture into a greased ovenproof dish. Dissolve brown sugar in 1.1/2 cups hot water. Pour over mixture and bake in a 180 deg C oven for 30-40 minutes.

Worst thing about loving these puddings is so do my hips. One every now and again won't hurt, I suppose?


Monday, May 30, 2011

Housework Monday & all iced up

Even though it never snows here in Brisbane, it's starting to get cool in the mornings and at night. A good time of the year for hearty stews and soups and warming winter puddings. It's also Monday so time for housework. As you know, I do all my housework on Monday and do 'incidental' cleaning throughout the week. I was taking meat out of the chest freezer on the weekend and noticed the door was open. I thought 'damn kids' not shutting the door until I looked and it was frozen over that badly that it had forced the door open. Yikes! Sorry kids. So today is defrosting the freezer. Note to self: only buy frost free fridges and freezers.

And to get me motivated, here's a classic from the 80's. I was going to post the clip from Foreigner "You're as Cold as Ice" but VI has got more funk. Who would've thought this song would become a classic?


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tutti a tavola a mangiare!

Which means "everyone to the table to eat", or, as we say at our house "hurry up and get to the table and don't talk back" (usually said about 5 times before the kids actually get to the table).

I've been a big fan of Lidia Bastianich, an Italian/American TV chef, and her cooking show "Lidia's Table" for such a long time. I think I might've been an Italian in a previous life. I married one (by name only really) so I'm kinda half way there. I love all things Italian and most of all cooking and eating Italian food. Lidia always starts and finishes her show with "tutti a tavola a mangiare" and it has such a lovely ring to it. Not like the ringing in my ears from the screaming and fighting that usually accompanies any meal at my place.

I love the way 'real' Italian cooks prepare 'peasant' food or food that is seasonal, home grown, nothing wasted and simple flavours. It really is a cheap, wholesome, healthy way to eat.

Some books to check out at your local library, that I've found really great, are:

"The Silver Spoon"

"Jamie's Italy"

"The Food of Italy - A Journey for Food Lovers"

"Cooking with Italian Grandmothers"

There are many more but these are a good start. When you think of the basics to a good Italian meal, most items are found in your pantry. Eggs and flour for pasta, fresh or canned tomatoes plus a few herbs for a basic tomato sauce and some cheese to top and you've got a beautiful meal. Most meat dishes are made with the cheapest cuts of meat. My favourite Italian pasta dish (one of many) is Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, which is basically pasta, olive oil and garlic. Bellissimo!

I wonder if Lidia's kids were a problem for her when they were young?


Friday, May 27, 2011

Zuppa di Fagioli Rossi (Red Bean Soup)

I love my slow cooker and I love the cooler months so I can get the full use out of it. Besides being a great time saving appliance (put everything in in the morning and dinner's done by night time), it's a great way to slow cook things like joints of meat, stews, casseroles and soups.

I love a good soup and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Italian food. If I could eat Italian food three times a day, I would (well, I try to). Instead of calling this soup a "Red Kidney Bean Soup", I'd rather put an Italian name to it and add the Italian flavour.

Zuppa di Fagioli Rossi (Red Bean Soup)

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Italian diced tomatoes
3 cups stock (I used chicken)
1 tbs tomato paste
2 onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced (I always use sweet potato in my stews and soups as a natural thickener)
2 cups cabbage, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tbs dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients. Slow cook on slow for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. (Alternatively, simmer on stove top until carrots are tender, approx 20 mins.)

Serve with grilled ciabatta or sour dough bread, grated parmesan and a spoonful of olive tapenade or pesto, if you have it. To finish, drizzle with a little olive oil.

Linking up with Rhonda from Down to Earth - On My Mind.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

It Stinks-a-licious!

Here it is. Our 10 year wedding anniversary and what a way to spend it! The husband is still at work, my daughter is as 'sick as a dog' and stayed home from school and my son has been an absolute terror all day (probably because of the attention his sister was getting). I was stressing so much about the whining, bitching and moaning, I started to tremor! They drove me absolutely crazy. Hubby rang earlier to say he was late and didn't want me to have gone to any trouble with a romantic dinner or anything. HAH!!!!! That'd be the day!

Luckily, on my weekly trip to the library yesterday, I managed to pick up three of Victoria Kann's books in the "Pinkalicious" series. We absolutely adored them, even my son, and it brought a smile to my sick daughter's face. (She is such a drama queen when she's sick. Reminds me a lot of myself.) There's a lovely message to each of the stories. "Pinkalicious", the original in the series, sees the main character "Pinkalicious" eating too many pink cupcakes so she turned pink. If not for a trip to the Doctor to tell her the only way she'd return to normal was to eat heaps and heaps of green food, she wouldn't have got better.

The next one we read was "Goldilicious" which was about "Pink's" pet Unicorn "Goldilicious". I thought it was nice that it taught the kids how to have a good imagination and how much fun you can have if you include your brothers and sisters in your games. The illustrations are lovely and the story is at a level young children can relate to.

"Silverlicious" was the last one we read and it was just as delightful. It talked about "Pink" losing her 'sweet' tooth and her nightly quest to capture the tooth fairy, "Tootheetina". Beautiful, bright pictures with lots to talk about on each page. I'll be looking out for the others in the series now.

And as for our romantic wedding anniversary? We've got a cocktail birthday party to go to on Saturday night and the kids are having a sleepover at my Mum's so hallelujah! The fight will be on as to who will pick them up from Mum's on Sunday when we both will probably have a hangover!


Is it 10 years already? My, how time flies!

We were married at around 3pm (I think) 10 years ago today. I married a guy, who, I had found out, worshipped the ground I walked on, came from a loving family, would do anything for me, at any cost and loved me more than life itself. (Gosh how things change! Just kidding!)

We had planned to have a reasonably lavish (that's 'lavish' not 'lavosh', the unleavened yeast free bread) wedding at an inner city hotel because a lot of guests were travelling from interstate and this hotel would provide the ceremony, reception and accommodation. About 6 months before the wedding, my husband lost his job and although he only took a couple months to find another one, we knew we couldn't afford it.

Instead, we had a beautiful ceremony and reception here at our home for about 40 guests with the wedding catered by a wonderful guy who went above and beyond with the quality and quantity of food. We didn't skimp on the photos or the honeymoon and had a wonderful week soaking up the sun in Bali. The photographer was fantastic as well, photographing my husband getting ready and myself getting ready at the apartment we shared before we bought our house (my sister had conveniently taken over the lease), at the ceremony, about 6 different locations around where we live and later on (around midnight) at our city motel.

It was a lovely wedding and a lovely reception and it's been a wonderful 10 years. We've had our ups and downs but we've got 2 beautiful children, 2 dogs and a pretty wonderful life. I couldn't really imagine it any other way. Love you honey and Happy Anniversary!!!

This was our wedding song:


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Incidental Cleaning

If you have a look at my Housework Routine, you might ask yourself "well, how does she keep the house clean?" I actually don't mind housework but I lack the energy, motivation and endurance it takes to keep in tip top condition. For the past nearly 7 years, I've rathered a home filled with laughter, insanity, playing kids, creativeness, warmth, love and fun over a spotless house. Now that I've got 3 days to myself while my son is at Kindergarten, I'd rather spend a little bit of that time doing housework and the rest of the time doing things I like.

The way I get around the housework is to do 'incidental' cleaning. Cleaning or tidying that doesn't take all day, that you don't need tedious schedules or lists for. Just do it as and when you can. With two young children around, I like to try to keep wet areas pretty germ free so do these more often than not.


Weekend showers, when I have more time, give it a good clean with a simple gel bleach cleanser. Every other day of the week, I give the walls and taps a quick wipe down with a dry cloth when I've finished showering.

Hand basin and bath tub:
Always wipe out the bath tub after kids have finished bathing and every second or third time, add a squirt of an all purpose cleanser. Same with the hand basin; every time I brush my teeth, give the vanity top and basin a quick wipe over with a dry cloth and every second or third time with a squirt of cleanser.

Scrub the bowl on a daily basis with toilet cleaner and spray seat and cistern with an all purpose bleach cleanser every second day, once I've used the toilet.


It's always a job to get the kids to keep their rooms clean and they have their daily chores and it's something that must be done before they go to bed. Sometimes they've been banished to bed as a punishment so the room doesn't get done. Once every couple of months, I really need to get into their rooms and clear the toy boxes of broken toys. This is when I give the walls a good wipe down, get into the corners with the vacuum cleaner and dust the shelves in the wardrobe. I usually try to incorporate this into my Monday housework routine but on other days (probably once a week), I'll give the bedside tables, desks and other furniture a quick wipe over with a dry cloth and spray furniture polish.

Living Room:

As long as this room is pretty 'tidy' by the end of the day, I'm happy. The kids are used to making sure their shoes and toys are all taken back to their rooms by the end of the day but other items I have a basket or box of some description by the bottom of the internal stairs which I throw things into that don't belong in the living room. Some days you'll find the ironing board out all day and this is just another piece of furniture I use to pile things onto. (Sorry, just kidding. I wish I was some days. If my daughter's school uniform needs ironing and things get out of hand, it has been known to be out all day. Tsk tsk!!!)

As far as dusting goes, I try to incorporate that into my 'once a week' Housework Monday routine. It's never really done spotlessly. Just a bit of a wipe over the TV and other appliances, furniture, books and other knick knacks with a microfibre cloth. I'm nowhere near as fussy as I used to be.


I wash up once a day, that is when I'm preparing dinner. Any dishes used from breakfast, morning tea, lunch or afternoon tea go into a big tub and wait until this time (unless I've had a marathon baking session and I've run out of room). After I've finished washing up, I usually give all kitchen surfaces a good wipe over with a bleach cleanser, that is bench tops, splashbacks, stove, fridge etc etc. My oven is so overdue for a clean, it's not funny, so that's a job I intend adding to my Housework Monday routine, as is giving my Tasmanian Oak kitchen cupboards a good clean. There's so many cleaning jobs to do in my kitchen but I'm not stressing. I'll slowly add them to my Monday clean up. They'll wait.

I vacuum all floors in the house, that is carpeted floors in the living room and bedrooms every Monday, without fail, and wash the toilet, bathroom and kitchen floor (unless it's pouring with rain, I'm sick or there's something that absolutely, positively needs to be done instead).

Until I adopted this routine, I was stressing so much about all the housework that needed to be done. I looked at organising blogs, websites, books etc and became even more overwhelmed and still, nothing got done. By doing it this way, I am less stressed, have a reasonably tidy home but more importantly, a house that's a home filled with laughter, hugs, play, kisses, and a happy Mum, which is most important of all!

Incidentally (pardon the pun), I couldn't include any photos of the rooms in my house because it's still a mess from working nights, sick kids and a weekend away. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!) I'll slowly get it back to the way it needs to be for me to be happy.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nanna's Jam Drops

The bikkie barrel was empty, yet again, and while my daughter was home sick from school today, I quickly rustled up a batch of my Nanna's Jam Drops.

This is another one of my my Nanna's treasured recipes she hand wrote for me in an exercise book many years ago. They bring back terrific memories of her wonderful baking skills. There were always Jam Drops in her bikkie tin, usually filled with a delightful homemade jam like Rosella, Strawberry, Peach, Apricot or whatever else she had made that week. Nothing was ever wasted with her.

I used Strawberry & Rhubarb jam my lovely friend Katrina Higham sent me which she made in her shop, Windsor Deli in Melbourne, Victoria. It's beautiful Katrina.

They're such a quick biscuit to make and delicious. I'm sure they won't last long once the boy comes home from Kindy and the big boy comes home from work.

Nanna's Jam Drops

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 cups Self Raising flour
3 eggs

Mix melted butter and sugar. (I'm on a 'melt and mix' frenzy lately. Any recipe that requires beating butter and sugar together, I just melt the butter and mix with sugar. Never had a problem yet. Saves getting that beater or food processor dirty and saves time.) Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly into butter/sugar mixture. Add flour and mix well.

Take teaspoon size pieces of the mixture, roll into a ball and using the end of a wooden spoon dipped in flour, poke holes into the biscuit. Fill carefully with jam and bake in a 180 deg C oven until golden.

The rose patterned china plate also belonged to my Nanna. It's part of a 3 piece teaset comprising teacup, saucer and plate. What better way to enjoy my Nanna's biscuits than on one of her plates.


Listography - Top 5 Albums by Band

Kate from over at Kate Takes 5 has done it again with a fabulous list of "Top 5 Albums by Band". Now, if we're talking albums and not CD's, I have quite a collection. In the midst of my decluttering frenzies over the years, I've wanted to part with my records but just can't. They're such works of art. Besides the record inside, the album cover is (or was) quite a work of art. It's going to be hard to list only 5, but these are my favourites for musical content AND record cover.

1.  "Sticky Fingers" - Rolling Stones, 1971

There's something about this cover that leaves me quite breathless, for obvious reasons. Besides that, it also has two of my favourite Rolling Stones songs, "Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses". Although I didn't get it in 1971 (I was only 7 then), I did get it in my late teens. The photo was conceived by Andy Warhol. According to Wikipedia, "the TV network VH1 named Sticky Fingers the 'No. 1 Greatest Album Cover' of all time".

2.  Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV, 1971

This has to be one of my all time favourite albums, ever. It has nearly all of the 'classic' Led Zepplin hits like "Stairway to Heaven", "Black Dog", "Rock and Roll" (my favourite), "Misty Mountain Hop" and "When the Levee Breaks". I can remember it was the first Led Zepplin album I bought, also in my late teens and remains my favourite. Wikipedia says it is "one of the best selling albums in history". I reckon this album is scratched to the 'shit house' but the CD still gets a good work out.

3.  Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III, 1970

Another one of my all time favourites, this cover has a cardboard disc inside which spins around exposing different pictures through holes in the cover. It also contains more of my all time favourite Zeppelin songs like "Immigrant Song", "Gallows Pole", "Tangerine" and "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp". Another one bought in my late teens and has withstood the test of time and lasted many a party (well maybe). Thank goodness for CD's.

4.  "Rumours" - Fleetwood Mac, 1976

There's no denying, I wanted to be Stevie Nicks in my high school years (and later). I wished my name was Rhiannon and thought I sang like "a white winged dove". NOT! But I love it just the same. I'm a huge Stevie Nicks fan but I think "Rumours" is one of those albums that just had so many hits which are all classics now and really put Fleetwood Mac on the map. Reminds me so much of my high school years.

5. "Bat Out of Hell" - Meatloaf, 1977

I don't know too many people who don't have this record in their collection. It's one of those timeless classics that got played loud in the car when we were heading to the beach, got 'pumped up' for parties and now, when I'm doing the housework. Who could forget "Bat Out of Hell", "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" or "All Revved Up With No Place to Go"? Even better is the making of the album on a show called "Classic Albums". It goes into the stories behind each song. Love it! (Not sure "Meatloaf" is eligible as a band? But he did have a studio band.)

It was so hard to keep it at 5. I must re-visit Kate's "Now That's What I Call Music" because I think I'd have a few 'not so classic' albums to add to that collection!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Thai Marinated Chicken & Warm Wombok Salad

I picked up the most beautiful wombok while shopping last Thursday for a ridiculously low price. It looked so fresh and the green leaves were a darker green and the white stems crisp and crunchy. We love wombok in the summer time in Asian salads but I thought I'd make a warm 'salad' tonight to serve with some Thai marinated chicken thigh fillets. I made a 'pantry' Thai marinade that could be used on chicken, fish, pork, beef or fish. Great for the grill, barbecue, pan or roasting. The whole meal took me about 15 minutes to throw together, except for the marinade which I did earlier today.

The salad could be served cold as well, that is, don't cook any of the ingredients, throw the dressing ingredients together and toss through salad just before serving.

'Pantry' Thai Marinade
(based on a recipe found on http://www.taste.com.au/)

1/3 cup lime juice (bottled variety kept in the fridge)
2 tbs sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp dried coriander
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp brown sugar

Combine ingredients. Place meat in marinade for at least 2 hours. Brush on any remaining marinade during cooking process. Can be placed in a jar and kept in the fridge. (Can be bottled up and given as a gift too.)

Warm Wombok Salad

1/2 wombok, finely shredded
1 small onion, finely sliced
1 carrot, grated
handful of button mushrooms, sliced
1 tbs lime juice
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Add all ingredients to a pan and over high heat, stir fry until wombok has just wilted. Top with a drizzle of Kecap Manis(*) and/or fried shallots(*) to garnish.

(*) Kecap Manis is a thick, sweet soy sauce and fried shallots are both ingredients available in the Asian section of the supermarket.


Housework Monday & being lazy or just plain exhausted?

It's that time of the week again, "Housework Monday" and what's been saved up for me is about 3 weeks of housework. Things that just haven't been done during my marathon night working sessions, which were 5 hour shifts, 4 nights of the week. Besides that, there was the usual running backwards and forwards to school and kindy, cooking, washing, folding, packing away and I'm afraid to say besides the very basics, not much else has been done. Was I lazy or just plain exhausted? I had a 3 hour nap yesterday afternoon which was a sign of trying to overcome complete exhaustion. I think I'll just give up on the idea of any paid outside work from now and just concentrate on this little slice of heaven I call 'home'. Ha!

No, I'm not lazy. Just getting old, run down, taking on too much and wanting it all done yesterday. Today is another day. I thought this song by Bruno Mars says it all but there's a warning. If you're offended by monkey-mask wearing guys putting their hands down the front of their pants, do not watch.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rough Road Slice

Let me just say, nearly six weeks after Easter and I'm sick of the sight of Easter eggs. Someone gave the kids about a kilo and a half of the damn things and I was sick of looking at them in the fridge plus picking up the foil off the floor all the time. The chocolate wasn't very nice so I didn't even eat them, which is saying something for this chocoholic.

I didn't have marshmallows or peanuts to make a Rocky Road Slice but had a few Snake lollies and a packet of Scotch Finger biscuits so decided to make up a 'pseudo' Rocky Road Slice and called it a "Rough Road Slice". Bit like a Coconut Rough in a slice.

Rough Road Slice

250gm chocolate, melted
1 packet or 250gm biscuits, broken into small pieces
100gm jelly lollies, like Snakes, Jelly Babies, jubes (whatever you have or you can leave out)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tbs butter, melted

Mix all ingredients and put ino a slice in lined with plastic wrap. Sprinkle with extra coconut, if desired. Refrigerate to set. Slice into small pieces to serve.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mini Mates Miniature Horse Farm

This morning, we were off early to a miniature horse farm called "Mini Mates" for a 6 year old girl's birthday party. One of my daughter's friends from school. In all the years we've lived here, we've never been so were looking forward to it.

The horses were really cute and each girl (all 20 of them) had 3 rides each. I'm not sure whether it was because there were so many girls, but the whole experience seemed very 'military' and rushed. They were herded into the stable for a quick feed of the horses, a quick brush, a quick look at the donkey all adorned in red sparkles and then it was quick, quick, quick up to the party food.

By then, all the girls were a bit thirsty and hungry and a bit miserable (well, my daughter was) but once the girls were 'fed and watered', they picked up. A lovely morning out but a little bit too rushed and frantic and not something that the girls could really appreciate and enjoy. What little girl doesn't like minature horses?

Mini Mates Miniature Horse Farm
1222 Mt Cotton Road
Burbank, QLD
P: 07 3349 1910


Friday, May 20, 2011

I resigned!

My part time, paid job that is. No matter how many times I try to resign from being a Mum, it keeps falling on deaf ears so I guess I'm stuck with that job.

After a lot of deliberation and talks with my husband, I finally did it today. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I thought I could have it all. Tidy, organised house; happy, content children; happy, content husband and a part time evening job that fit in with my very hectic schedule that gave us a bit of spending money for those little luxuries in life. Ummmm? No. The house has turned into a shambles, my 6 year old daughter is having hormonal issues, the children are lacking routine because I'm so damn busy trying to get organised to rush out the door at 5:30pm and then I'm too tired the following day to even do the basics around the house.

I really hand it to people who do paid work outside the home. I don't feel any less like a super woman because I couldn't do it. I just feel like I'll be able to channel all my energy back into the things I love doing the most and that's looking after my home and family, even though I don't get paid for it or get any thanks for it.


Breakfast Muffins

Breakfast time at our house is pretty hectic every morning so time to eat is pretty non existent for my husband and I. I like to do up a bunch of Breakfast Muffins, chocked full of goodness. I normally have one after the school run and hubby will have one once he gets to work.

I try to use wholemeal Self Raising flour plus whatever else is lying around in the pantry. Good way to use up leftover fruit starting to turn bad or that little bit of tinned fruit that is lurking in the fridge.

I use my Basic Muffin recipe and just add all the bits and pieces. These, are of course, good at any time of the day, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea or to take on a picnic. Once baked and cool, I whack in the freezer and just take one out at a time, as needed.

Breakfast Muffins

2 cups wholemeal Self Raising flour
1/4 cup oil (I used Canola)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/2  cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut

This time, I used:

crushed peanuts
glace cherries, chopped
choc chips
Add all ingredients, mix lightly and pour into greased Texas muffin pan and bake in a 180 deg C oven for 15 minutes.

Makes approx 12 muffins.

You can use chopped fresh/frozen/canned fruit, fruit/vegie purees, any nuts, dried fruits, leftover breakfast cereal. I also sometimes add LSA (Linseed Sunflower Almond) mix for extra, extra goodness.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

When you just can't go on, but have to!

I'm having one of those moments when you think about just curling up in the foetal position, shutting the door to the outside world and never waking up. I have a 'little' part time job where I work 3 nights per week, 4 hours per night, for a bit of pocket money for the family. Last week it was 4 nights, 5 hours per shift and this week is the same. Throw into that a weekend away at Seaworld on the Gold Coast, all the usual running around you have on a daily basis with school drop offs and pick ups, shopping, the usual washing and housework and you just feel like you can't go on anymore.

What keeps me going? The look on my little girl's face when I come up to her school church this afternoon to see her play 'Jesus', having a coffee at a cafe with my 4yo son (he has a Baby Cino - so cute), the fact that I can buy them the latest "Cars II" or Barbie toy as a reward for their good behaviour/chores and the fact that I can sleep when I'm dead! Coffee is my friend!


My version of Assorted Cream biscuits

Coconut Ice, Choc Crackle Caramel & Lemon Delice
As a child, it was a rare treat to have some Arnotts Assorted Creams in the biscuit barrel. It wasn't that we didn't like or prefer Mum's home made biscuits, there was just something so nice about having the choice of so many different flavoured biscuits at once. Favourites like Delta Creams, Shortbread Creams, Monte Carlos, Kingstons and Orange Creams. I could never decide on just 2 or 3 but had to have one of each (while Mum wasn't looking of course).
I had 3 different kinds of leftover icing in my freezer. (Why do I always keep these 'little bits' of icing? So I can make a variety of iced biscuits I guess.) I thought about making a basic biscuit mixture, slightly altering the flavour of it and sandwiching (is that really a word) them with the 3 different icings.

After making the biscuit dough, divide into three (or as many as you have different icing for).

Roll into balls, flatten with the back of a spoon or a fork and bake. For the Coconut Ice, I rolled the balls in coconut before flattening. For the Lemon Delice, I added a small bit of lemon essence to the dough. Grated lemon rind would've been nice too but I didn't want to risk it with my fussy daughter. She would've complained if she saw specks of 'something' sticking out of a biscuit. For the Choc Crackle Caramel, I rolled the balls in cocoa before pressing.

Once cooled, sandwich with icing and enjoy. I flavoured the pink icing with a little coconut essence and the yellow icing with lemon juice. The caramel icing was leftover over from the Caramel Mudcake Cupcakes I made the other week.

Basic Biscuit Dough
(from "Day to Day Cookery" - my high school Home Economics text book)

125gm butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1.3/4 cups Self Raising flour
1 egg

Melt butter and mix well with sugar. (The recipe says to cream butter and sugar together but most often I just melt and mix. Quicker that way and same result.) Add the beaten egg and vanilla. Gradually add sifted flour. Mix into a stiff paste. Roll small pieces of dough into balls and place on baking tray. Flatten with back of a spoon or a fork. Bake in a 180 deg C oven for approx 8-10 mins or until golden brown.

They went like hot cakes and I got asked "why didn't you make more?". Gosh, I'm tied to the kitchen some days!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Holy Bejeezus - Now my daughter has to play Jesus!

Don't you just love it when your child's school springs two day's notice on you and tells you that your 6 year old daughter is playing Jesus at this week's school assembly liturgy and has to wear white! What the? Does this mean I have to give her a beard as well? I wonder if her pink sparkly sandals will do as Jesus' sandals? She only has to say an 8 word sentence for goodness sake!

I might be able to rustle up a plain white t-shirt or looks like a trip to the local op shop might be in order. Wonder what they've got in the line of fake beards?


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bouillinade (Fish & Potato Stew)

"'Bouillinade' is a traditional recipe from Languedoc, a region in France that borders Spain. Therefore olive oil and fresh herbs are the main ingredients to most dishes from this area. It's rare to find sheep or cattle grazing in the fields here, so dairy produce is not in abundance. One of the reasons why the people who live in this area of France tend to have a higher life expectancy than their counterparts in the north." (Excerpt from http://www.traditionalfrenchfood.com/fish-and-potato.html)

I had a couple of frozen fish fillets lurking in the freezer and the last of my potatoes so what better way to use them up for a warm, hearty fish and potato stew. There are many versions of this recipe on the Internet but this is how I did it.

Bouillinade (Fish & Potato Stew)

3 or 4 fish fillets, cut into small pieces
6 to 8 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 onions, sliced
3 to 4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp dried chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cup chicken or fish stock
grated cheese to finish
salt & pepper
2 tbs butter
Extra virgin olive oil

Fry onion, garlic, herbs and spices in 1 tbs butter until soft. Place onion mixture on the bottom of a baking dish and cover with a layer of sliced potatoes. Continue with a layer of fish, alternating with potato, seasoning with salt and pepper, and finish with a layer of potatoes. Pour over cup of stock and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover with foil and bake in a 180 deg C oven for 30 mins (or until potatoes are soft). Remove foil, sprinkle with grated cheese and remaining tablespoon of butter and return to the oven until cheese has melted.

Serve with a side of green vegies or a salad and crusty bread to mop up the juices. (This could also be done in the slow cooker.)

PS I had my 4 year old son helping me assemble it so it looks like a bit of a 'dog's breakfast' but it tasted pretty good.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Housework Monday & my 'wonder' wall treatment

Don't ask me why I've created a feature out of my Housework Monday routine. I guess that's my life. It's not rocket science. It's not some fantastic plan that needs lists or schedules to get the housework done. It's just clean my floors and a general tidy up PLUS one major thing that needs to be done. I'll usually spot it during the week but save it until Monday.

The rest of the housework is done by 'incidental' cleaning but I'll talk about that another day. (It sounds great in theory but hardly ever goes to plan, but I try.)

This week it'll be trying to clean the pen marks off my kid's walls. The number one rule in our house that has been in place since they could hold a pen is "ONLY WRITE ON PAPER". I don't know why, but as they've got older, they just can't help themselves. Lucky I have a secret weapon. It's not a concoction of lemon juice and baking soda or eucalyptus oil (although they have their place in the home). I love to use a generic brand gel bleach cleanser to get these nasties off the walls. It works fantastically with permanent marker. Ha! Permanent marker my arse! This cleanser can get it all. It's also great for getting off food stains from your kitchen bench tops like beetroot, coffee etc. Give it a try. It's usually only priced at over $1 a bottle.
It's probably not the greatest photo. This was green texta AND glue stick.
Another part of my Housework Monday feature is a Youtube clip of a favourite song of mine and there are a few. Funny how I can find a song for every moment of my life including something as mundane as housework.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

We survived Seaworld, just!

We're home and we feel like we've been away for days. Everyone's exhausted after being on our feet all day. I'm very proud of the kids for their good behaviour in the resort and at Seaworld. I only had to say "ssshhhhh", "quiet" and "just wait" 100 times each! We weren't the only ones. All the Mums and Dads were telling their children to be quiet in the resort.

I did well with the packing too. Saturday morning was such a rush. Our daughter tried out gymnastics for the first time from 9am until 10am, then I had to take the dogs to Mum's, then it was back home to pack. I thought I did pretty well packing in just under 5 minutes. Only forgot my underwear and the memory card for the camera! Great! Didn't forget the camera though. Finished up having to use our mobile phones. We headed to the beach for a bit of a play in the sand before coming back to our hotel room and takeaway fish and chips.

It was a lovely day today at Seaworld. The weather was just gorgeous on the Gold Coast, the kids had heaps of rides and fun. They weren't too interested in seeing the animals. We saw the Sea Lion show, a few dolphins, penguins, sharks etc. Seems the kids were more interested in going on the Monorail. They both fell asleep within minutes in the car on the ride home. It was takeaway pizza for dinner, they're all snug in bed and Mum and Dad won't be far behind them. I think it'll take me all week to get over it.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Listography - Bad Combinations

Kate, from over at Kate Takes 5 always has the best lists and this week's really appealed to me, Bad Combinations. There was probably a time I might've said red wine and white meat or black stockings and white shoes but these days it's all about the kids.

Eating / eating with the kids
Every single time I have taken a mouthful of food in the last 6 years, since my first was born, I’ve nearly choked because I’ve had to answer a question from the kids, yell at them to stop hitting each other, pulling the TV onto themselves, jumping off the top stair or putting a sharp knife into each other’s eyes. I just try not to eat while they’re around now. You can see me scoffing down 6 small meals in one sitting at about 9pm at night!

Paint chipped toe nails / summer
I’m lucky we’re coming into winter here in Australia as I always come unstuck by the time it’s spring/summer. I barely get time to look at my toes let alone paint them and when it’s time for ‘bling’ thongs and summer sandals, there they are. My manky, paint chipped claws suffering from neglect. Don’t even get me started on shorts and unshaved legs!

Food / car
When I had the kids I was adamant that the two would never meet. Once they got a bit older and a mind of their own, I had to do what I had to do and feed them while I was driving just so I didn’t have an accident, or go mad, or both. It’s permanently a dumping ground for all matter of things like fries, lolly wrappers, McDonald’s bags and McDonald’s Happy Meal toys.

Toys / bare feet
Note to self: don’t ever go barefoot inside with young children living in the house. In fact, if you can find some steel toed, metal soled designer shoes, get them! You’ll never cut your feet or kick your toes on toys as much as you will once you have kids. Just when you think they’re all picked up, there’ll be a small, sharp piece of toy sitting up out of the carpet that you won’t see and you’ll need minor surgery to repair the hole left in your foot.

Children / permanent marker
The two should never meet.  It does eventually fade, after about 20 baths and scrubbing your child’s skin till it bleeds. In fact, children and any stationery item are a bad combination. They’ll manage to disassemble a stapler in 10 seconds flat or ‘borrow’ your hole punch/permanent marker (noooooooo)/ruler /you name it, never to be seen again.

Check out what everyone else's bad combinations are at Kate Takes 5.


Look out Seaworld, here we come!

This weekend we're off to Seaworld and staying at the Seaworld Nara Resort for a night as part of my husband's birthday present.  I'm getting a little nervous. Although we've been on a few 'mini' vacations staying at apartments, caravan parks and the in law's house interstate, we've never stayed at a 4.5 star resort and dined in a 'proper' restaurant. Even though, at ages 6 and 4, I 'think' the kids can do it, I'll be worried every step of the way. I think I'll throw in a bribe of buying a souvenier for a bit of extra ammunition.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

What constitutes a good food photo?

[photo source]
Okay, so I'm not a photographer, especially a food photographer. But I am a cook and love to do it. Probably one of the main reasons I started to blog was to capture a lot of what I cook to share with everyone and keep in one place for my kids, when they're older. Bit of a recipe journal I suppose.

I've been a big fan of www.tastespotting.com and www.foodgawker.com for quite a while now. They are an online food magazine full of beautiful recipes submitted by bloggers from around the world. I've got quite a few recipes from these bloggers and I think they're all great.

Jelly Lamingtons - The one John West rejected (or should I say Tastespotting).
Problem was, I thought some of my recipes were worthy of being featured on these web sites so I submitted a couple. Result? REJECTED! Poor photography. Too light. Too dark. I've given up. I've tried reading some of the millions of food photography web sites for advice but it's just too much to take in. I probably thought the recipe content was more important than the actual photo but, no. So, maybe this is a bit of 'sour grapes' but never mind. I'll continue cooking and just give up on my dream to have a recipe featured. Really, who's got time to set up a photography studio in your home, props, light boxes, etc. When you're a Mum with two young kids at you every minute of the day, I'm lucky I can actually get a meal on the table, let alone a gorgeous photo of a chocolate chip cookie!

 By the way, if you do have the time, here's a link to make your own 'macro' photo studio! As if! And, at the last count, Tastespotting has 821 different recipes for a chocolate chip cookie with everyone claiming theirs to be the best. Oh dear! (Sorry, off my soap box now.)


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Are 'Wii' the only family not to have one?

Are we the only family in the world with young children that doesn't own a Nintendo Wii? Sometimes I feel like it. I'm sure there are some families in third world countries that don't have one. Aren't there?

Before I had kids, I used to get on my high horse and say things like "my kids will only play with handmade 'Steiner-Waldorf' type toys", they'll read books, they'll explore nature and the great outdoors, there'll be no TV or DVDs or no 'character' toys like "The Wiggles", "Cars" and "Barbie" etc. Yeah right! That lasted all of 5 minutes. When reality hit like a ton of bricks on their arrival, it was a matter of survival and wondering how you could keep the kids occupied while you hung some washing out or had something to eat.

I've been to quite a few other people's homes with the same aged kids as ours and I truly believe that our kids don't have anywhere near as many toys in comparison.

My daughter started on the "DS" plea for her 6th birthday last November. I'm not sure she even really knows what one is. I think she only heard the other kids talking about getting them for their birthdays. Her plea fell on deaf ears and she decided to 'make' one out of cardboard. It's long gone but it was a pretty good replica.

The kids don't have TVs or DVD players in their rooms or the car nor any other handheld devices or computers.

As much as I've used a computer for most of my working life, I just can't get my head around the enjoyment of computer games, pinball machines or any kind of electronic game. I played sport from a very young age right into my adult years and I loved it.

I'm kind of torn between having the kids following in our sporting foot steps or will I be tempted by the soon-to-be-released mid year Christmas toy sale brochures and feel sorry for my kids that they might be missing out? They play so well together and have terrific imaginations. I guess I'll hang off for as long as I can but it will probably be inevitable.

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