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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Chillin’ Chillin’ Minding My Bizness….

Sorry Salt n Pepa fans…this isn’t a post about the super awesome hip hop trio from the 90’s. It is about however, arguably one of the best seasons of the year – Autumn.

Truth be told, I don’t like the extreme cold or searing heat so my favourite seasons are obviously Spring and Autumn. It’s like a little bit of electricity pulsing in the air…telling your body that a big change is on the way. Lately, the disappointing summer is fading away to crisp, sunshine filled mornings. The leaves are blushing like crazy with their deep ruby redness.

All this sweet action from Mother Nature makes for a grand old-time behind the camera. I was lucky enough to get out last weekend with a friend of mine to have a bit of a play. My good friend Jason (he told me I had to mention him in one of my posts) lent me his extension tube. It turns an ordinary lens into a macro lens. Fun for all the family. So here are a couple of my macro shots.

And I wouldn’t get away without showing you a couple of shots of my husbands much beloved lawn and sprinkler system. He busted his mutton chops digging a trench to lay the pop up sprinklers. So here are some of them in action. Sprinkle that water baby!

Doesn’t make you want to curl up in front of a fire with a big glass of red? Splendid idea me!

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Holly Hobby

 

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Cookie Mania!

Shazam!!! This is a super quick post today because I have 37 minutes before I’m leaving the house for a photo shoot and I still haven’t packed my gear. BUT…there is always time for cookies….and posting about cookies!

Here is my never fail, super quick chocolate chip cookie recipe. Seriously, it’s so quick, its quicker than getting in the car to drive to the shops to buy cookies. So, let’s go! (I only have 35 minutes left).

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 125g softened butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 3/4 chocolate chips (or more if you’re greedy like me)

Pre-heat your oven to 160C degrees. Cream your butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add your egg and vanilla. Stir in your flour until combined and then add your choc chips. I actually let my mixer do both the flour and choc chip part too…I mean, that’s its job right?

Roll out teaspoon size balls onto a greased or lined tray. Bake for 10 mins for softies or 15 mins for hardies. Remember, there is only like 1-2 minutes between the perfect golden cookie and a blackened, cremated cookie. So please, keep an eye on them ok?

Cool on the tray until they can be moved to a wire rack. Make yourself a cup of tea and say “Gee, thanks Jen, these really are awesome cookies!”. You’re welcome kids.

White Choc Chip mouthfuls of heaven. Mmmm.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Don’t tap on the glass, the fish don’t like it.

Recently my work team moved floors in our building. After about 5 years sitting in the one place, I was both excited and weary of the change. We moved from Level 2 down to the Ground Level and, well, we might as well have moved to a different planet.

Level 2 was quiet, isolated and comfortable.

Ground Level is loud, exposed and strange.

We sit in a glass office surrounded by other people. When we arrived everyone told us we had just moved into the fishbowl. Ain’t that the truth. Being the new tropical fish in town brings bemused stares, noses pressed to the glass and a lot of questions.  But now I’ve gotten used to my aquarium, I’m quite fond of it. Besides closing the door and along with it, the air supply, I can play my music without using my headphones and I don’t have to go up two flights of stairs every morning. But there are some surprising differences that moving two floors has revealed:

  • There is no toilet on this level unless you use the disabled toilet in the foyer. You have to travel down to the basement if you want any kind of privacy. However the mere fact that you are going downstairs is like a neon sign saying…”This girl is going to pee!”
  • The kitchens down here service a lot people and for some reason that means that teaspoons are a rare commodity. Where the heck are all the teaspoons?
  • The fridge in one kitchen is so full that there is no room to put your lunch while the other kitchen fridge is empty. Maybe the reason for that is the sign on the inside saying “LABEL IT OR LOSE IT! NAME AND DATE.” Hmmm, trust issues anyone?
  •  The tea tastes funny.

At least the natives are friendly down here. Glug, glug.

My sock monsters blank stare says it all...

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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Fo’ Shizzle My Pickle!

I was recently given a beautiful gift of green tomatoes from my precious mother-in-law. Her tomatoes have

The beautiful green tomato.

gone nuts this year and she generously let me have a few kg’s. I knew all along I was going to make green tomato pickles with them. But I also wanted to try fried green tomatoes. I did. And they were yum.

So just to mix things up a little…I’m going to interview myself about the process.

Me: Ok Jen, tell us why you wanted to make green tomato pickles?

Also Me: So glad you asked Jen. Well ever since I can remember my mother has made her own green tomato pickles and they were the bomb. Nothing is sweeter than a corned beef sandwich with fresh bread and pickles.

Me: Sounds delicious. Have you ever made them before?

Also Me: Nope. I’ve always just been lucky enough to been given them from my mum. But…she’s been a little busy lately so I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.

Me: Does she have a secret family recipe?

Also Me: She sure does Jen and it comes in a bottle called Wild’s Ezy Sauce. I don’t know where it originated but I’m pretty sure it’s as old as the hills. You can make all sorts of pickles, chutney’s and sauces from that one little bottle.

Me: Fascinating. Really. Well then…are you going to tell us how to do it or what?

Also Me: Cool your heels little lady…I was just getting to that. Please find below, the always easy, never disappointing recipe. Enjoy pickle fans.

My secret weapon....mwahahhaaaa!

Green Tomato Pickles

  • 5.5kg green tomatoes (up to half can be substituted with cauliflower if you wish. I didn’t)
  • 2kg white onions
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1.5kg sugar
  • 1 370ml bottle Wilds Ezy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric

The day before you want to get into some pickle action you will need to slice your tomatoes and onions and mix with the salt. I used the slicer thing on my food processor. It was super easy. Make sure you have a very large bowl or two bowls to put it in. Mix the onions and tomatoes and sprinkle over the salt and combine. Cover well and leave overnight.

The next day get a big pot and put your mixture in there. Bring to the boil and add the sugar and the Ezy Sauce. Reduce to a simmer and leave for 2.5hrs stirring occasionally to avoid it sticking to the bottom.

Combine the spices and cornflour with enough water to make a paste. Slowly add this to the tomato mixture and combine until it thickens. Spoon into sterilised jars and leave to cool.

Try to hold on to as many bottles of this as you can because you’re going to eat it like crazy. Another favourite of mine is to have it on toast topped with cheese.

So there you go. Oh, just one last thing. When you are cooking this bad boy, your whole house is going to smell like vinegar and onions. Be prepared. That is all….enjoy!

 
18 Comments

Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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It’s time for limes!

It’s lime season!!!

I always think its time for lime but right now, limes are particularly spectacular. Big, fat and juicy. And I’ve been buying up big on them because you don’t have to re-mortgage your house to get a few. So what does one do with a mountain of limes? Make a Key Lime Pie of course.

I’ve always wanted to try making a Key Lime Pie, just the sound of it makes me feel all “sitting in a cabana on the beach” like. Little did I know that the original recipe called for key limes…hence the name. But I guess they are native to Florida so the recipe has been adapted for regular garden variety limes…or persian limes.

What I didn’t figure upon trying this recipe is how easy it is. The story goes…that a reaction occurs between the lime juice and the condensed milk which actually cooks the filling or makes it thicken substantially. Although, you’re still required to cook it for a short time. I used 4 limes for this recipe but think that you could use more. It’s very sweet and I think it needs a bit more acidity from the lime juice. Although if you have a super sweet tooth, 4 limes might suit you. Here we go!

Key Lime Pie

Crust

  • 16 biscuits (I used Anzac biscuits because it’s nearly Anzac day…but any plain biscuit will do)
  • 125g melted butter
  • 45g caster sugar (I used this but I don’t think you really need to)

Filling

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 x 395g tin condensed milk
  • Juice of 4-5 limes
  • 200ml cream

Pre-heat your oven to 175c. Blitz up your biscuits and slowly add melted butter until it comes together.  Press into a 22cm (across the top) greased glass or ceramic pie dish and push up the sides. Bake in the oven for about 10 mins or until lightly brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

In a bowl add egg yolks and whisk a little. Then add condensed milk, cream and lime juice. Grate some lime zest in there too if you like. Whisk lightly until it all comes together. Pour into your pie crust and return to the oven for 15 mins.

Remove from oven, cool and then pop it into the fridge for a while. We had ours with cream but I didn’t think it needed it. If anything, I’d have mine with a big scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

I can tell when my guy likes something…he takes a bite and his eyes go big and round like saucers. This pie…got saucer eyes.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Bang! Bang!

Hello blog world!

As some of you may have noticed, I have been decidedly absent over the past couple of weeks. Never fear…I didn’t suffer from a cinnamon bun overdose. Although it was pretty close there for a while. I’ve actually been suffering from another infliction…work related stress.

Stress is a word that gets bandied around a lot these days… But what happens when that stress starts affecting all areas of your life? Before checking out completely, I was in need of a serious ‘time out’. I was required to take several days off to achieve that time out and it was a long time coming. Here are some things I’ve discovered along the way:

  1. It’s entirely possible to spend a full day in your pyjamas sitting on the couch drinking cups of tea only to get up for bathroom breaks or to make more tea.
  2. Showers are NOT necessary.
  3. Watching hours of tv without really remembering any of it can be achieved quite easily.
  4. Devouring an Easter egg you found in the pantry in approximately 2.6 seconds only makes you feel better for approximately 2.6 seconds.
  5. Listening to the sound of rain on your roof is as good as a hug from your mum.
  6. It’s ok to admit you don’t have ALL the answers.
  7. Crying at the lotto ad where the dad pays off his pregnant daughters mortgage is completely appropriate….that baby shall want for nothing.
  8. Building up your DVD collection over the last several years was really just a pointless exercise because you don’t want to watch any of them, you’ve already seen them at least twice and they take up far too much room.
  9. Re-heated nachos are a completely legitimate lunchtime meal.
  10. Sometimes you need to stop talking to everyone in order to hear what you have to say.

I’m still trying to find that part of me that got lost along the way in between deadlines and pressure and keeping all my balls in the air. What I have realised is that it’s not a one-off deal. It’s a worthy exercise to do for yourself whenever you think you need it. I updated my Facebook status saying “I’m trying to remember what its like to march to the beat of my own drum…” A good friend of mine replied “Try listening less…” Good advice from the dear Mr A.

So here I sit…in the the still and quiet air, not listening for my drum but waiting for it to start beating none-the-less. Bang bang.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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Who puts the ‘it’ in community?

I’ve recently returned from a trip to the Hawkesbury River with my husband and his family. They have a place in a holiday park and have done so for nearly 15 years. Weekends, public holidays and random midweek jaunts have all been spent there.

The first time I was taken there I spent the entire car trip clutching my freshly made caramel slice thinking ‘will they like me?’. See, not only have my in-laws owned a place there for years, so have all the other people in their street. Before I had even packed my overnight bag, I’d heard numerous tales from the good times at the river. I must admit, I was confused as to who was who and who did that funny thing that time etc. And I was anxious wondering if I’d be accepted by them all.

My worry was pointless. As soon as we arrived I was treated like a long-lost friend. I was kissed and hugged and handed a drink. I spent the night sitting around the fire making new friends.

The river owns a special magic. It infects you with it when you arrive. Time slows down and the temperature heats up. But it’s not just those things that have you singing “we’re going to Bonnydoon’ on the way there. (If you’re not an Aussie and/or have not seen the movie The Castle, that reference just went way over your head).

During my last visit, we were all sitting around the communal fire in the middle of the street. All the different families sharing food and wine and general good cheer. There is a pleasant familiarity from spending so much time with people at their most intoxicated relaxed. Everyone looks after each other’s children, we all feed each other and someone is always ready to listen to your latest story/trouble/news. You see, these people have created their own little community. A river community.

I’m convinced we could take aspects of river living back to the real world and be much richer for it. Well, probably not the happy hour at 3pm and in bed by 8pm thing which always seems to happen to me down there. But….just saying.

Here’s to the river! Always so pleasant to visit…always so darn hard to leave.

Can you see the Easter Bunny making a special delivery?

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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Easter Cinnamon Buns

Easter is approaching! My first thought is yay….hot cross buns!! Until I remember I’m deathly opposed to the sultana, my arch-enemy. I love a hot cross bun, all that soft, pillowy, spicy goodness laden with butter. But then I’ll bite into a sultana and feel my sunny world come crashing down. Why dried fruit? Whyyyy?

It also reminds me of the great Christmas Pudding Dilemma of 1992. Christmas pudding…a festive dessert tradition in these parts – I cannot stand it! Not only does it contain the despicable sultana, it is laden with many other dried fruit relatives. Necessity is the mother invention as they say, and my mother was forced into inventing our version of the Christmas Pudding….an ice-cream pudding (in the shape of a traditional pudding) laden with bite sized pieces of chocolate bars and marshmallows, drizzled chocolate on top to resemble custard. She even put a little holly sprig on it. Needless to say it was an instant hit in our house and lived on through many more Christmas’.

So fed up with missing out on a traditional hot cross bun (yeah, I know they come without sultanas and even with choc chips instead of sultanas, but they are just not the same) I decided to create my own hybrid version of the hot cross bun and mix it with a cinnamon roll. I know I know….its way exciting isn’t it?

Here we go!

MY CROWDED BUNS - HEY, MAKE SOME ROOM WILL YA?

Easter Cinnamon Buns

Dough:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 7g (2tsp) dry yeast
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 5 tbsp very soft butter

Filling:

  • 220g brown sugar
  • 2.5 tbsp cinnamon (I actually used 2 tbs mixed spice which has cinnamon anyway and then half a tbs extra of cinnamon)
  • 5tbsp very soft butter

Icing:

  • 125g very soft (almost melting) butter
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Method

  1. Heat cream and milk slowly until warm.
  2. Using a mixer with dough attachment I added all the dry ingredients, mixed then added the milk and cream mixture. Give it a stir to combine then add the eggs and butter. I then gave it a good 10 mins to work the dough.
  3. After 10 mins, oil a large bowl, put in dough, cover and rest 1 hr until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees or 180 fan forced.
  5. Dust a large surface with flour and turn out dough. Roll out to form a large rectangle just less than 1cm thick.
  6. Combine dry filling ingredients in a bowl. Spread rectangle of dough with soft butter and then sprinkle with sugar and spices etc. Makes sure its thick!
  7. Roll up to form a sausage. Then cut slices off about 2cm thick…or to your preference.
  8. Place on lined baking tray.
  9. Cook for approx 10 mins or until light golden brown.
  10. While cooking, combine all icing ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork until combined.
  11. When rolls are done, cool for a few minutes then spread icing on so it melts.
  12. Eat with friends, enjoy with family, spread the love.

Just a couple of things I learnt from making these beauties.

  1. Unlike the traffic in New Delhi, they don’t like being crowded on the tray. Give them room to grow.
  2. If you don’t want monster size rolls, don’t cut such big sizes.
  3. DO NOT take off your apron before you’ve finished cooking, especially if you’re supposed to be leaving for a lunch date in 15 minutes.
  4. Don’t answer the phone while you’re trying to ice them. You will leave a sticky mess from one end of the house to the other.

Have a really super holiday people. Thanks for all the support so far this year! HAPPY EASTER!

My little beauties dripping with their golden cream cheese icing.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Ultra Mega Tantalising Hits Post!

Every single day I’m amazed at how many people are searching the big web-o-sphere for specific things. Many of those people end up at my blog because their search terms match something in my posts. So just for fun, lets look at the TOP FIVE search term hits:-

1. She-Ra

I really don’t need to say anything else. Obviously She-Ra is rad to the max. She rocks it, Princess of Power style. She is considered The Most Powerful Woman in the Universe. Boo ya! Did you know that before she transforms into She-Ra she is just really Adora? Yep, true story.

2. Care Bears

It seems many of us have super fond memories of the little cuddly, caring creatures. I never owned a Care Bear myself but have vague memories of watching the tv show.

3. Jelly

This one baffles me. Why are so many people searching for jelly? And not jelly recipes, just jelly. I’ve already voiced my disdain for jelly as a dessert option but as it’s bringing so many visitors to my blog, I may have discovered a new-found respect for the gelatine based wobbly food.

4. Anthony Michael Hall

I’ve already confessed to having a crush on this dude. He was the ‘it’ guy during the 80’s and starred in so many awesome movies. He turned from an awkward skinny nerd into a pretty hot man. Go Tony!!! (I have no idea if anyone calls him Tony but I am going to).

5. Evil Cheese

I wrote an entire post about cheese trying to kill me. It’s clear to be now that many of you have also experienced near death at the villanous hands of cheese. When will this horror stop??

I thought it was also worth mentioning some of the weirder, random search terms people use to end up at my site. So here are my top five picks:-

1. Mark Green from Choc Fever

This makes absolutely no sense to me. I searched on this myself and really didn’t get much of a result. If anyone can help me out, I’d be most appreciative.

2. Skating Nanna

LOL! I didn’t write about a skating Nanna…rather rollers skates and my Nanna. But I’d love to see a roller skating nanna fo’ shiz!

3. No-one is fooled by your addiction

I did write about being addicted to chocolate. And yeah, thanks. I know I’m not fooling anyone. But…I…just…can’t…stop!

4. Doodles of milk

I did do a doodle of milk…short milk in fact. Poor poor short milk. Right Lauren? They can’t even go on roller coaster rides. 🙂

5. Lady Photo Cows

Were they searching for lady cow photos? Or photos of a ladies on cows? Either way, I haven’t gone there and nor shall I!!

 
9 Comments

Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Charmed, I'm Sure

 

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Meal Time Yahtzee

One of the best things about being a grown up human person with no dependant responsibilities is that normal meal time conventions do not exist.

Yesterday was Sunday, which is fast becoming my favourite day of the week. Sunday in and of itself seems to have little to no rules about it. I love that. So what happened yesterday that was so different to every other day? Well it goes something like this…

  • Had a fantastical sleep in due to daylight saving finishing…clocks went back an hour.
  • Received cup of tea in bed whilst I watched breakfast television – Andrew O’Keefe, you’re outrageous!
  • Husband cooked scrambled eggs with chorizo sausage on toast for breakfast.
  • Mum dropped in with homemade pecan pie. Stayed for coffee.
  • Decided to eat Grain Wave chips for lunch and wrote a blog post.
  • Big storm arrived at 3pm by which time I was hungry again – ate a chicken and salad sandwich in my beanbag accompanied by a glass of white wine and read the new Donna Hay magazine.
  • Watched a movie with husband as the rain continued to hammer down.
  • At 7pm we ate pecan pie for dinner with vanilla ice-cream.
  • By 8.30pm I was feeling peckish so we had tea and toast for supper.

I adored that all the usual meal times were put in a bag, shaken up furiously and then pulled out at random. It wasn’t probably the most nutritious day in terms of meals but meh, it was fun. So why not roll the dice on your next meal time?

Late night supper - tea and toast with vegemite!

 
16 Comments

Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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