Sunday, August 16, 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly!!!

Not the most flattering pose on my part but isn't the machine just the star of the show. I couldn't resist showing her off. Its my birthday on Thursday....and yes, this little baby is my birthday present. What more could a girl ask for (she rolls on her back laughing!!!!)

On Thursday night we (the family) will all gather together for dinner at our favourite Greek restaurant in West end. We all love Greek food which is good but what is so special is that every one keeps the day free to celebrate together with whoever is having the birthday. That means more to me than anything.......I hope it never changes. Family is so special and I certainly do love mine. I'm one lucky Gal :-)

This past week I have been sprouting.....not me personally....remember I'm losing weight albeit slowly. I have two batches growing. alfalfa sprouts and mung beans. The alfalfa is growing just fine on a wet paper towel and I have already harvested some for my lunch today. Its the mung beans....beansprouts, that are driving me crazy. Periodically I get out my jar and have "another go"! I am ALWAYS disappointed. I really don't know what I am doing wrong. I rinse them daily, drain them, sit them in a dark cupboard but they just don't look good. I have to say...they almost look as bad as the ones in the supermarket. Old and tired.

When we lived in KL (Malaysia), twice each week a small truck would drive into our apartment forecourt and an old Chinese couple would roll up the canvas sides and display their wares for sale. The freshest fruit and vegetables I have ever seen. Poh Lai and his wife Hua Toh spent the week visiting apartment blocks...their produce was always just perfect, I don't know how they did it but I was just so pleased that they did.

Hua Toh was always ready to share recipes and cooking hints with me but it was the bean sprouts that won me over. They would be in water, in a white plastic pail with the lid on. She would scoop out whatever I needed, drain them and wrap them in newspaper. They would remain fresh for days in the refrigerator. I have experienced perfection.....I want it again....and I am just so darned cross that mine are not anywhere near as good. What am I doing wrong?


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Playing with toys.

We unloaded the Log splitter today. What fun :-) I spent an hour or so splitting logs and we are well set up for the next week or so. I have been trying to upload a photograph of the log splitter but seem to have a problem so will try later. It is an Ozzito and works really well. We are very happy with it. Since we had such a good supply of chopped wood the Gorgeous Boy decided to light the wood fired oven. Roast Pork for dinner. Delicious as usual. Thank you Darling :-)

With the dry weather lately and the wind the gardens are drying out quite quickly. I'm back to watering which I don't really mind as it is very relaxing (unless I think about all the other things I should be doing.

I did take lots of lovely photos of the snow peas and broad beans but I can't seem to upload those either. Must just be my night!!!!! Think I may just call it quits for now and try again tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peoples day at the Ekka.

Yesterday was Peoples day at the Ekka. Apparently, despite the concerns of Swine Flu it was a record day with huge crowds. I guess the good weather has helped this year. I heard this on the radio today....we didn't go there. The Gorgeous Boy and I are not fond of crowds. Which is probably why we are so happy up here at the Farm....miles from anywhere :-) We were however down staying at our city place.

We picked up the Log Splitter on Tuesday night, its still in the back of the car as I need help to lift it out...its sooooo heavy. I hope that once we unwrap it, it will be more "manhandle able". I'm keen to start playing with it :-) Roll on the weekend.

We decided that Wednesday would be a good day to go and visit the "Caboolture Historical Village". I had been there before with Mama and the Princess and was most impressed. I wanted to show the GB around. We decided to take the Princess with us as she had the day off school. It was a great day. We spent nearly four hours wandering around the old buildings and still haven't seen everything.

The Wood turners were there for a morning workshop so we went in to see what they do. I love smells so good and it looks beautiful when its worked. In my early twenties I did a woodworking course at the local college. I made a book shelf and a drawing board stand for my brother (a budding architect). I have often thought about doing more. So many things to little time...sigh. I have brought home the application form to do a course in wood turning. I think it will be great fun. I just have to check to see if I can fit it into my schedule.

We went for a ride on the minature train......

Aren't they a gorgeous couple....The princess and her "Garbie". I, of course, took a back seat. It was a great little ride and the station had all the original ticket office equipment. The Train driver, who is a volunteer, doubles as the conductor and came along and "punched" our tickets.

They have an original school house with the Teachers house next door. A hospital, a Police station with the "lock up" out the back. The Printer was there fixing up an old printer which is still used. We saw the Cooper making a small wine barrel which will be sold when it is finished and many, many more old homes and businesses. The funny thing was, that when I saw many of the "old" household items it was like going back to my past (I didn't think I was THAT old but I guess I must be.) Things like the flat iron....I remember my Father pressing his Police uniform with one when I was young. The mincer which was clamped to the bench in one of the old kitchens was just like my Mothers mincer that we used every Christmas to mince the fruit for the Christmas pudding and the kitchen scales are just like the ones that I brought over with me when I came here to live. They have been sandblaster and repainted but sit on my kitchen bench and are still used whenever I dig out an old recipe calling for pounds and ounces.

In between times they serve as a fruit bowl...change tray....general spot for putting all odds and ends. A very useful piece of kitchen equipment :-)

We only left because we were getting tired but I will be going back again...that's for sure.

Dinner was a low priority after our busy day so I rustled up some corned beef fritters using the last of the corned beef that I had cooked over the weekend. Corned beef was something new to me when I came to Australia. My English memories of corned beef was something that came in a tin and was a little mushy/flaky that you mashed up with potatoes and made into a pastie. My Mother in Law regularly served Corned beef for dinner so I found a recipe that I have "tweaked" over the years and every so often cook up a joint. Its good hot, great cold with tomato relish and those last little scraps get chopped up and made into fritters. How versatile is that :-)

I have never read a recipe for corned beef fritters so I really don't know how you are supposed to make them. All I can say is that since the first day that I played around with a simple batter and threw in the meat, they have been a great success with my family. There are NEVER any left on the plate regardless of how many I make. I would love to share my recipe with you but you really have to be game to experiment.....I don't know what quantities of ingredients I use. I just keep adding things until it "feels" right and my first fritter is always a test I need to add more milk or more flour?

Cooking down in the Granny Flat is always limited. The kitchen there is very, very small, one small work top, a single sink and just a couple of cupboards, hence no room for fancy equipment. There is an electric hob...I hate electric hobs...I'm a gas and fast!!!! It suits our needs but any thing more than basic cooking is done up here at the Farm. So....Linda's Corned Beef Fritters......

Self Raising flour...a couple of cups or so....seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. I go for more pepper...less salt! Beat in two eggs and enough milk to make a loose batter.

Add chopped corned beef and a chopped onion. The batter should look something like this....

As I mentioned...I always do a test fritter. The "taste tester" from this batch was a little heavy and took a long time to cook through so I added more milk to lighten it.

These little babies are just ready to flip out of the pan. Not very glamorous, not the most nutritious recipe in my repertoire by a long shot but quick, easy, absolutely yummy and you can feed a troop for a couple of dollars. They are best eaten hot from the pan so when I make them we don't stand on ceremony. A bowl of tossed salad is put on the table along with a good tomato sauce and they are served straight from the pan to table. I keep cooking until I run out of batter and get to eat the last batch...if I am lucky :-) The above quantity serves four hungry eaters.....I adjust it depending on the crowd or how much meat I have left. I do cook them in olive oil...just enough to give them a good golden colour but not enough to make them "greasy".

There you go kids......That's how Mum does it. Isn't it time I stood down and you guys take over ;-)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Nothing much to say !!!!

Can this be me !!!!! Nothing much to say ! Motor mouth at a loss for words ! I don't think so :-)

Its been a busy week but I don't feel that I have done anything "interesting". I did score a couple of points though.

Win No 1.

I have finally made contact with someone at the Malaysian Kennel club who knows what they are talking about. Yes, I know it was silly of me to export Tiggy back here to Aus. when we left Malaysia 4 years ago without getting "exported" typed on his pedigree. Silly me. I should have thought about that !!!! After more $s than I am about to disclose (don't even want to add it up....he's worth it :-) ) we went through all the rigmarole.... blood tests, airfreight, quarantine here in Aus etc and I didn't get that little word typed on his pedigree. No one told me I had to!

We have now decided that the time is right for us to have a "son of Tigs" so we are looking for a girlfriend for him to do the dirty deed with. BUT. We only want one more dog so we are looking for a nice girl who will "play" with Tiggy and let us have the pick of the litter for the pleasure. Not too much to ask for is it?

To advertise his many talents I need to register him here in Aus. Problem...cannot Lah! without that little word on his pedigree. Hmmm. contact the MKC they say at the Canine Council. Well they have obviously never had contact with Malaysian bureaucracy!

I repeatedly sent e mails to the MKC for a month or so asking how to remedy my problem...they all bounced back. I phoned them to check the e mail address was correct. " yes Ma'am but send us an e mail to www......." Look I may not be very computer smart but even I know you can't e mail a web site. (I even tried!)

I phoned two more times ( I have to admit I procrastinated doing this....I knew I had to be emotionally strong or would become impatient and lose it and be seen as just another irrational expat) First time I told them the postmaster had informed me their inbox was full. "Give me 30 minutes Ma'am and I will empty it" I gave them an hour...bouncing e mails!!! Second time "sorry Ma'am . Maybe your e mail is too large" Too large!!!!! Fortunately I persisted , asking if there was anyone there who could help me. I was passed over to Shanti. Ahh Shanti ...God Bless you...yes I know I should have told you I wanted to bring him home, yes I realise it would have saved me this problem...what put his "original pedigree" in the mail with 250 Ringgit plus postage and you would type that word on there for me and send it back...Yeah right. I trust the Malaysian postal system as much as I trust a snake in the grass!

To cut a long and frustrating story short, I have a very Dear Friend in Victoria who also lived in KL at the same time as us and understands my dilemma, who is flying up there next Tuesday on business and has kindly agreed to take the pedigree in to the MKC office personally, pay the fee and wait for it to be returned to her with the all important word (exported) typed on it...while she waits! She is such a Darling :-) I sent the Pedigree down to her express certified mail...yes I almost trust Australia Post! Now I just have to take the little fellow in for a short back and sides, a shampoo and set and take a sexy photo of him and set him up on a Doggie Lonely Hearts site. Persevere I say....all that banging you head against a brick wall does pay off with perseverance!

Win No 2

The Gorgeous Boy has finally admitted that we need a "log splitter". Our latest delivery of firewood is beautiful hard wood and burns really well but is soooo hard to split. I was here by myself the other night and went out to split some wood for the fire. I couldn't even get the axe to make a mark on it let alone split it. We have been talking about buying one ever since a trip down south to visit friends and I was allowed to play with their electric hydraulic log splitter. Ooooh. I loooved it. I know...most girls would love diamonds or perfumes etc. Me, I want a log sit yourself on a little stool at the end of it....load up the log....push the button and the log slowly moves forward, splits and falls to the floor....the push of a button I say....oh, the power !!!!!! ;-) After much Gooogling (I love Google!) and many phone calls I have found one at Bunnings. Right on my own doorstep. There was I thinking I wouldn't find one in Queensland....too warm for log fires!!!! They are holding it for me until I can get down there...I am so excited :-) Wood splitting will definitely be easier in our house from now on. Its my birthday this month and I am more than happy to accept it as my birthday present.

Actually, I think the GB is secretly happy as he does get a little worried when I wield the axe.....or the brush cutter with the steel blade on......come to think about it he's not real happy when I get the carving knife out to carve the meat. Me...clumsy...nooooo....I know what I'm doing...I'm in control ;-)

Enough waffling...time for bed....I plan to do some more brush cutting tomorrow morning...OK. I will use the plastic blades, even though they wear down too fast when I hit the rocks ;-)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A new garden visualised.

This afternoon, after the Gorgeous Boy and I had finished all the chores, we set to mapping out the new garden beds for the vegetable garden. This will be a major exercise as it involves seventy two metres of retaining walls creating raised garden beds. Since we live on the side of a hill at the beginning of a beautiful valley there are very few true flat areas. A vast slab was cut before the shed was built to accommodate the shed and the house. The shed was erected and then, yours truly changed her mind (lets not go there!!!) and the house was built in a different area. I have to say, everyone agrees that it was the right decision but it did leave us with a very large flat area. We have utilised this, building our vegetable garden there and the "chook hilton". This had of course left us with a fairly significant bank behind. To ease maintenance of this area, we have decided to build an 800cm retaining wall along the base which will enable us to plant potatoes, melons etc which can sprawl to their hearts delight and slow down the never ending weeds. It will also slow down the flow of water in heavy rains, which tends to temporarily flood the vegetable garden.

So, armed with star pickets, a tape measure and some tape we have mapped out the area involved. I needed to "see" it! I can visualise how it will look but I wanted to be sure that everything would fit and there were not going to be any little "surprises" once the work began. A girl can only change her mind so many times!!!!

We are very happy with the results of our afternoons work and we both now have a clear idea of how it will look. The next move will involve the Gorgeous Boy and his tractor leveling off the area and drilling holes for the support posts. We are not kidding ourselves that this will be a simple task as we have MANY submerged rocks, which I have no doubt will be just where we want to sink a post! I am hoping that we can get most of the work done before the hot weather comes. A) we need to get the melon seeds in before spring and B) it gets awful hot out there some days. :-)

We had a load of wood delivered a few days ago, it should last us through what is left of winter. Hopefully there will be enough left to keep the wood fired oven going for a while.

Isn't it lovely.

Last night I made two more jars of preserved lemons. The lemons were on "special" at the supermarket when I went grocery shopping. $1.99 per kilo. At that price I couldn't walk past...they all whispered to me " preserve me, preserve me" who am I to ignore their call ;-) They look beautiful, so bright and fresh looking. I also pickled a jar of radishes.

I have read a few "random" foodie blogs recently written by American ladies who espoused the simple radish as delicious when pickled. I have never seen or tasted these before but since we love radishes here at Bellavista and we have a few growing a little large I decided to have a go.

I brewed up a pickling vinegar. 500ml cider vinegar, 500ml good quality white vinegar and 130g of sugar (courtesy of The Great Dane) and poured it over. Aren't they pretty? They are now in the fridge. I think we may need to taste test then next weekend. You never, never know if you never, never go!!!! That's my motto ;-)

I am off to bed for an early night tonight. We are heading down to Brisbane early tomorrow morning for a "De-gustation Lunch" at the Restaurant Manx with our wine tasting friends. I have looked at the menu and will definately be juggling my diet plan to accomodate it ;-) So sorry Gemini and the Great Dane will not be there to join us. They certainly seem to be enjoying their cruise.

S'all for now.