mutteringhousewife

What does the last of the housewives do?

Month: May, 2013

These bathrooms take time

Do all tradies smoke? Are they given a carton of Winnie Reds at the beginning of their apprenticeship? Are there courses at TAFE on how to suck on a fag while checking your texts? Anyway, all the ones that have been involved in my bathroom so far have been. Even the suave purveyor of fine bathroom products, who used to be in the bathroom building business himself. Actually, I tell a lie. Crystal, the site supervisor, doesn’t appear to. She used to sell bathroom products, but got into bathroom building. Bathrooms seem to be a thing that doesn’t let you go. Can’t understand it myself.

You’ll be pleased to know that the bathroom bits and pieces have arrived. I keep looking at the new bath, perched as it is on a box on the verandah. Is it smaller than the old one? The measurement says I should be able to lie down in it, but it looks small to me. Then again, the Muffet thinks it’s bigger than the last one. All a matter of perspective.

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Jack hammering off all the tiles in the bathroom had its consequences. It’s opened up a Dr Who style crack in the Muffet’s bedroom that she’s trying not to think about.

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The bricks around the shower seem to be in the last stages of collapse.

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Crystal assures me she sees this all the time. She tells me that it’s only the outer lining of bricks in a double brick house that are sturdy, the inner layer are just… She waves her hands about. Not terribly reassuring.

We had the renderers today. It’s not a terribly large bathroom, yet they’d crammed in a work table and two workers in there, wedged in by a wheelbarrow full of cement.

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There was a lot of grunting and puffing and slapping about of cement. I think they’d puff less if they cut back on the fags. Apparently they were able to cobble the brickwork back together again. They did forget to take off the window architrave, as had the demolition crew before them. The unflappable Crystal assures me that the next lot will sort it. I’m guessing they also meant to leave the door off.

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Four days into the job and we’re two days behind schedule. Lucky I’ve got another bathroom to ablute in. Meanwhile I’ve got all the doors and windows open to try to get rid of the fug of smoky, dusty, hardworking tradesmen. Should be fresh again by Monday.

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Thermomix Curry Vegetable Soup

I pay attention to my little blog project, you know, and I get a lot of quiet enjoyment reading the search terms that bring it to people’s attention. Today’s favourite search term was “thick housewife”, so someone’s profiling me. One that comes up surprisingly often is “Thermomix vegetable soup”. It is one of the things the Thermomix does effortlessly, but I find it hard to get excited about vegetable soup and am still working my way through many permutations of it. Here’s today’s one.

One of the first things I made in the Thermomix was a curry paste. It wasn’t anything fancy, just zapped together chillies, lemongrass, ginger and garlic with some fish sauce and cumin and coriander powder. From memory I don’t think I cooked it at all. I later made a much fancier paste for Adam Liaw’s laksa, but that’s nestling in the freezer, waiting for the next laksa to happen along. I chucked a tablespoon of that in the jug, along with three large button mushrooms, a wilted stick of celery, the white bit of a leek and a chunk of garlic butter that I’d whipped up earlier in the week because the Horror from Outer Space has decided that this weeks lunch shall be garlic bread. That makes it non vegan, but you could use a splash of oil instead. I also added some stalks of my new favourite vegetable, fennel. The smell of raw fennel makes me feel a bit nauseous, but I’m finding that it adds a complex, slightly earthy note to my usual mirepoix blend. Zapped it for a few seconds, scraped down the walls then cooked it on Varoma temperature and speed two for four minutes.

I then added in a chopped carrot and about two handfuls of chopped pumpkin, also a tin of chickpeas. I lifted out a teaspoon of the cooked mixture and decided to add a little more oomph with some salt and a tablespoon of black Chinese vinegar. I cooked it at one hundred degrees for eighteen minutes on reverse and speed one. I’m not going to show you a photo because it looks like sick, but I think I’m getting there. You can cook quite a thick mixture in the Thermomix, it doesn’t have to be soupy at all.

The thing with vegetable soup is it can taste pretty boring and a lot like diet food. I always think that it would be better with a ham hock in it. But I’m setting myself the test to make it vegetarian and make it flavoursome, and the curry paste helped a lot with that. Actually, fish sauce makes it non vegetarian, I might have to make a vegetarian curry paste. Not that I’m vegetarian, I just think that kind of limit presents an interesting challenge. You need that Thai thing of a balance of sweet, sour, salty and something else that escapes my mind. Bitter? Crunchy? Umami? Hot? You get the sweet from carrots and onions. A bit of salt, herbs and spices and chillies help. I like to keep some texture in the soup, so chickpeas are good for that, barley would also work well. Don’t suggest lentils! Those things are lethal. Maybe I should go searching for Thermomix vegetable soup.

Goodbye Bathroom

I know my limits, sometimes, and I know I don’t do renovations. I’ve lived through my parents’ renovations and my Nanna’s renovations and it’s not for me. My neighbour nearly had a nervous breakdown doing hers and a friend said her renovation was far worse than having cancer – speaking from experience – and had permanently warped her view of mankind.

I only renovate when the house portion in question has actually stopped functioning. A couple of years ago it was time to bid goodbye to the old kitchen and bathroom. I had to send my husband to Afghanistan for six months to get it done with the least discussion. I got in a kitchen and bathroom company and told them to tell me what I wanted. I agreed, with the proviso that whatever they installed had to be extremely hard wearing. I don’t want to have to do it twice.

The inside bathroom had a toilet which had been condemned by the last plumber as being unrepairable, a rotting vanity, a peeling bath and a completely unworkable shower curtain arrangement.

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A couple of chaps turned up this morning to remove it. “Expect them between nine and ten” said the bathroom company. Which, as you all know means that’s the exact time of the day they’re guaranteed not to turn up. They arrived at ten forty eight, with a gripping story of flat tyres and bent axles. “Are you keeping the bath?” they asked. What, the cast iron one with the wobbly feet, the chipped enamel, that sucks all the heat out of the water? No way. “Put it out on the grass, and I reckon someone will come past and take it”. It lasted less than ten minutes before it had a new and grateful owner. Sucker.

One of the practicalities of a renovation is stopping the dogs from escaping. I stayed with them out on the back verandah. Harry’s normal tactic for removing an obstacle in his path is to sit beside it and determinedly lick it. He went one step further with the cardboard box I’d put up to block the dog door.

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To entertain myself, I went on with my black and white necklace. I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped.

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After much jack hammering and smoko breaks and the fire alarm going off and wheelbarrowing, the old bathroom was evicted.

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Apparently the tiles had been simply glued on to the original hexagonal tiles underneath, explaining why the bathroom floor was higher than that of the rest of the house. I was slightly tempted to keep some of the original tiles, but what would I do with them? They’re just octagonal and terracotta coloured. Let them go.

And now I must call the bathroom fitting company who were going to deliver my new bathroom last Friday. Then Monday lunchtime. Then how about Wednesday? No, I said, I really need them Tuesday at the latest. Oh all right, you can have it Tuesday. I called them at lunchtime to check my bathroom was on its way. “Yes, the truck will be there a bit after four”. Here it is dark, the children full of sausages and gone to tennis and nothing to fill the aching void of bathroom. This is why I don’t do renovations. Look out, I’m putting on my terse voice.

Butter

Those of you who are trying to avoid thinking about buying a Thermomix, avert your eyes now. I made butter today. It was a bit more fraught than the simple instructions may have one think.

The simple instructions are as follows. Insert 600 ml of cream in the Thermomix jug. Insert the butterfly attachment, pictured below.

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Beat until it turns into butter, then rinse with cold water. Well, that sounds ridiculously easy. All I need is some cream and receptacle in which to place my creation. The chain store House actually stocks butter dishes, so I purchase on of those. I could hunt down the butter dish my Nanna used to keep her butter in, she never put it in the fridge, but knowing her she probably got it from Copperart, so wouldn’t think it would be worth it. And some cream. I don’t want to use just Dairy Farmers, even though my local IGA sells it in two litre jugs, I feel like I could just buy Allowrie butter instead and save myself the trouble. I also don’t want to use the extra fancy small pots of high fat cream you can get either, because then the price starts getting a bit ridiculous. I found some cream that met my specifications at Harris Farm for three dollars a pot.

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Well now, into the jug and we’ll have butter in no time. I turn it onto speed four and prepare to wait the one to three minutes suggested in the recipe, when at about twenty seconds the machine starts making noises like a mouse being eaten by a not very hungry cat and stops. Err, it says. I have a look in the jug.

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I’m pretty sure that’s not butter. It’s very thick whipped cream, which would be excellent if I were hosting a Devonshire tea. I try ringing my sister, who makes butter regularly. No answer. I breathe deeply and try to gather my thoughts by booking a large amount of weaponry for the Moose’s upcoming fourteenth birthday party. I look back in the jug, it’s still whipped cream that’s almost the consistency of butter, but I can’t kid myself that it is. I heave another sigh and decide to go on to the next step, which is to remove the butterfly and add five hundred grams of cold water and beat for a few seconds and speed four. This gives me a jug full of thin cream.

I’m jolted back to third year inorganic chemistry prac. I’m holding a centrifuge flask while a demonstrator looks at it with a puzzled frown. Everybody else’s flasks are lined with sparkly orange crystals. Mine is empty except for a thin green smudge around the equator of the flask. “I’ve never seen that happen before”, said the demonstrator. “And I’ve been watching what you were doing because I know what you’re like”. That incident did cause me to go on to study a branch of chemistry that didn’t involve handling actual chemicals during the course of which I met the man who later became my husband, but that’s not helping me make butter.

I fetch a third sigh and put the butterfly back in the jug. I crank the speed up to four and peek in the hole in the lid to see the thin cream swirling about. After about a minute the crossed fingers pay off and it starts getting chunky. At about two minutes I can see that I’ve definitely and against the odds made butter.

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I poured off the buttermilk, added another five hundred millilitres of cold water, removed the butterfly and zapped it for a further ten seconds. Poured off that water too, but I don’t think I’ll keep that. Buttermilk on the left.

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I poured it through the basket that comes with the jug. What you do next is gather the butter up as if its dough and start squeezing the water out. It’s rather enjoyable and I’m sure it’s good for the skin. You quickly have a surprisingly yellow log of fresh butter. I weighed mine and it’s 400 grams, so that makes the price of it slightly better than Lurpack and far less air miles.

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I don’t think I’ll use it in biscuit making because I’m not sure of the water content. I did put some of it and some of the buttermilk into a banana cake just now, and that seems to have turned out rather excellently. I finally got on to my sister who said her experience has been rather mixed in the butter making department too, and also that she adds oil and salt to hers and uses it as sandwich butter, which sounds like a very fine idea. This batch I’ll test out in various guises, and if it’s no good for baking it’s still not to late to blend it into something more spreadable. I tell you what I’ve discovered already, she said incredibly smugly, it’s very good on a homemade roll with a slice of cheese.

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Yoghurt

You know when you get a gadget, such as, say, a Thermomix, you have something in mind that you really want to make with it, that really tipped you of in deciding to get it (not that I decided). The demonstrators all push making risotto in the Thermomix as being the thing you’d do with it, so easy, perfect every time. I have no interest in risotto. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that my family don’t eat it, they like something with a bit more texture. What got me is that you can make yoghurt in it.

Of course you don’t need a Thermomix to make yoghurt, but once you have one, why wouldn’t you? Well, as it turns out, because you also need a Thermoserve, and I could only get one by holding a party. They weren’t interested in me sticking skewers in my eyes instead, so a party I duly held and now I have my Thermoserve.

You also need milk, an existing yoghurt, and powdered milk, something I wasn’t even sure how to get. The only person I’ve ever seen use powdered milk is my grandma who manages to make a box of Diploma skim milk powder last a year and prefers her milk see through to go with her equally weak tea. I don’t know why she doesn’t just drink hot water while thinking of England. Our local IGA does carry one brand of full cream milk powder and it looks disturbingly like a formula tin.

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Measuring it out I have flashbacks to preparing formula for my baby sister, scooping it out, smoothing across the top of the spoon. I could only have been seven or eight, my kids all insisted on only Mum in their babyhoods. You measure fifty grams of the milk powder into the Thermomix jug, along with 800 grams of full cream milk. You blend it on speed 7 for ten seconds to mix it all up. Then you cook it for thirty minutes on 90 degrees at speed 1.

You then allow it to cool down to body temperature. You could wait for twenty minutes, then stick the jug back into the machine where it will take a temperature reading. Or you could stick a sweets thermometer in there and watch as an unattractive skin forms across the surface.

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Once it has cooled to thirty seven degrees Celsius you add three tablespoons of plain yoghurt, one that you like the taste of. I like both Jalna and Bornhoffen, but Coles has stopped stocking the lower fat Jalna yoghurt for reasons best known to their evil souls, so Bornhoffen it is. Blend it in for four seconds on speed four. Then cook for ten minutes at temperature 37 degrees on speed 1.

Meanwhile you pour boiling water into the Thermoserve to remove the dust and to heat it up. Tip the water out. Once the yoghurt is cooked, pour it into the warmed Thermoserve, or you can dick around with a yoghurt maker if you happen to have one.

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I’m not naming my Thermomix, but I have named the Thermoserve. It’s the Magic Hat. You can’t tell me it isn’t.

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You then wait for the bugs to work their magic on your cooked milk. The instructions also admonish one not to disturb the nascent yoghurt before eight hours is up. I wasn’t game to ignore those instructions, but I wonder what could possibly happen? I did check it after eight hours and it was still as runny as milk. So I left it overnight.

In the morning I had a peek at it. Still looked like milk. I tasted a bit with a spoon. Hmm. Tasted like milk that had been left on the heater overnight, and not in a good way. I stirred it a bit and hit a much thicker layer on the bottom. Here we go. I stirred the layers together, gingerly tasted it again and was relieved to find it tasted exactly like Bornhoffen plain yoghurt. Only a bit runnier.

Well, now to find a container to keep it in. I had saved a Jalna pot, but it smelled a bit funny, and I rather wanted my new creation to live in glass. I knew the Moose had one of my preserving jars in his bedroom, so I hurried thither, tipped out his collection of peach seeds onto his desk and filled the thing with boiling water. I guess it wasn’t a preserving jar after all, it cracked fairly comprehensively.

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I managed to find another couple of jars, decanted the stuff and bunged it in the fridge. It’s still pretty runny, but should be just fine on my breakfast with a passionfruit or two. One does have the option of turning it into Greek yoghurt by pouring it into some muslin suspended over a bowl and leaving it for twenty four hours. It may come to that. But what do you do with the stuff left over? I know, you give it to whoever you can find sitting on a tuffet, eating curds and wishing she had something to go with them. Problem solved.

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Porridge Weather

It is porridge weather in the good old Ney of Syd. I know I’ve told you about Nepalese porridge before, but the Thermomix has taken it to new heights. It may be the perfect breakfast.

Cut a small Granny Smith apple in half and remove the seedy bit. Toss in the Thermomix jug. Add a handful of coconut flakes and a handful of hazelnuts. I do love hazelnuts. Zap very briefly. My Thermomix was so surprised that it threw the little plastic cup that goes in the lid into the toaster, but stand firm. You want it to go from this

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To this. It should only take a couple of second, you don’t want to pulverise it.

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Add in half a teaspoon of cinnamon, thirty grams of rolled oats and thirty grams of rolled spelt flakes, or all oats if you haven’t popped into the health food shop lately. Add three hundred grams of water and cook at 90 degrees on reverse speed two for about eight minutes. It looks a bit watery at first but firms up almost immediately. Sling it into a bowl and drizzle over a suspicion of maple syrup.

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Gosh it was nice. And it didn’t turn into a cannon ball in my stomach, which is a first for porridge. It may have been the spelt, which is why I was using it. Or it may have been because I was dicing with the unknown and using Unstabilised Rolled Oats.

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Unstabilised! Anything could happen! Look out, she’s gonna blow!

Also, clean up your jug quickly, that stuff sets like concrete.

Another Banana Recipe

It turned out fine in the end, though it was touch and go for a while. There does seem to be an infinite amount of permutations to the banana cake recipe, but this one was a bit further out than most and I lost concentration half way through, as you do. It’s another one from the Black and White cookbook. I can sell you one if you’d like.

The Muffet only likes to eat bananas in company, so we have a surfeit of them from when the German girl came to stay. This morning I had six small spotty bananas, each with a halo of vinegar flies, begging to be put in a cake. I thought to myself, I thought, I’ll do a nice healthy banana loaf with half of those and something fancy with the other half.

The something fancy is a banana, raspberry and almond cake. The recipe suggest a bundt tin, but honestly, who has one of those? Well, I do actually, but I’m going to be making these in muffin form. Stuff gets a lot more eaten in muffin form.

You start off by creaming 200 grams of butter with a cup of caster sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add a couple of eggs, beating after each addition. Stir in a large banana, or two small bananas in this case, and a half a cup of sour cream. Or some leftover creme fraiche from last week’s Thermomix demonstration and some accidental light sour cream. Stir in two and a half cups of flour and half a cup of almond meal. What you should do at this point is also stir in five teaspoons of baking powder to make up for the fact that you don’t use self raising flour. Or you could just proceed to folding in a cup and a half of frozen raspberries. You have quite a stiff dough at this point. And I would recommend folding them in, don’t try using the KitchenAid.

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I got to the point of spooning them into the paper lined muffin tin before realising I’d left out the baking powder. So I heaved a deep sigh. And spooned in the baking powder. Of course with the raspberries already in there, you start breaking them up a fair bit when you mix that in. You could try cursing a bit. I didn’t find it helped, but it relieved the tension a little. Not as much as eating a handful of chocolate bits did.

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Spoon the mixture into lined muffin tins, I got eighteen out of it. Bake for about half an hour at 180 degrees. Notice halfway through that black spots are appearing on your muffins. Google fruitlessly for a bit. Decide to make sure they brown quite a lot. I’m guessing it was due to improperly mixed in baking powder, but I’ll never know for sure. The browning certainly helped, but they weren’t the most attractive things.

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I thought about icing them, but they were fairly strongly flavoured already. A dusting of icing sugar while still hot covers a multitude of sins. I do this by getting a chunk of icing sugar and rubbing it on a sieve over the muffins.

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I thought seriously about firing them from the event I’ll be taking them to tomorrow, but then I tasted one. The least attractive one. Rich, moist, delicious, what a flavour combination. The icing sugar on top had formed a crunchy crust. The Muffet ate two before I could wrestle them away from her. That’s going on my deadly sixty. Hang on, wrong show.

Passionfruit Slice

Another in my series of things I wouldn’t normally make for the purposes of testing out the Black and White cookbook. It’s not that I have anything against condensed milk, especially not in ice blocks, but it just doesn’t seem right in a slice. We shall see.

For the base, mix together 125 grams of melted butter, a cup of desiccated coconut, a cup of flour, a third of a cup of caster sugar and two teaspoons of baking powder. Of course, I did the shredding of the coconut and the melting and mixing in the Thermomix, but suit yourself. Press it into a lined roasting pan and bake for fifteen minutes at 180 degrees. It will just start to go golden.

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Then get on and make the topping. Mix together the contents of a tin of condensed milk (an almost four hundred gram tin), the contents of three passionfruit and a quarter of a cup of lemon juice or, in this case, lime juice because I have some and I like it. Once again, avail yourselves of the services of the Thermomix or any other mixing device you have handy. Like a wooden spoon.

Tip the topping onto the base and spread it evenly over. Bake it for a further ten to twelve minutes at one hundred and TWENTY degrees. A slow oven. Don’t let it even start to brown! Let it cool in the tin before cutting it up.

The verdict is that I really like the base. It would make a good cheesecake base, firm, crunchy, a little bit crumbly. And I think the topping would have been better, but a lot more fiddly as a cheesecake. It is reminiscent of cheesecake. I like it, the Muffet likes it, the Horror thinks it is too passiony. As if there is such a thing. And then he went on to eat the remaining three fresh passionfruit.

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It firms right up, but I wouldn’t make it in summer. If you transported it, it would have to have layers of baking paper separating the slices. I’m going to have to get over my completely understandable prejudice against condensed milk as a slice ingredient.

Meat Pie

Now don’t go reading this as a recipe. I did make a meat pie. It was very good. But it wasn’t what I’d hoped and dreamed it would be.

I’ve been asked by a member of the audience about making pastry in the Thermomix. I haven’t had so much a rocky relationship with pastry as a uniformly rotten one. I suck at making pastry. So when my parents in law were coming for dinner yesterday I thought I’d make a meat pie to try out two different types of pastry in the Thermomix. I’m sorry, Christina, it was far and away the best best pastry I’ve ever made. My problem was with the insides.

First the pastry. I like a shortcrust on the bottom of a meat pie and a puff on top. To make the shortcrust you place in the Thermomix jug one hundred grams of cold butter cut into pieces with two hundred grams of plain flour and a pinch of salt. This is an ideal situation in which to use Pepe Saya butter. Zap it on speed six for ten seconds. Add fifty to sixty grams of cold water and knead on interval speed for ten to twenty seconds. Peek in through the lid, stop it when it has formed a dough mass. Haul it out and put it on your cold, floured Caesarstone bench top and gently squash it into a disk shape. I then put it in the pie dish and stuck it in the fridge for twenty minutes. And this is where my experience deviated significantly from every other time I’ve made pastry. I put the pastry back on the bench top and rolled it out and it looked like pastry! It usually cracks and breaks and is generally a pain in the neck. But this lot stayed in circle shape and even held together as I gingerly transferred it back into the by now greased and floured pie dish.

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That got baked for twenty minutes, and even though I didn’t bother blind baking it held its shape.

Then I made the meat filling and wasn’t that learning experience. Normally I’d brown the meat in a saucepan and stew it in some chicken stock with two tablespoons of corn flour mixed into it. This is because my dear children don’t like their meat too flavoursome and they certainly don’t like bits of onion or carrot in it. The Horror goes so far as to say that he doesn’t like gravy either, and why can’t I just make an empty pie and stick some bits of roasted meat in there? We’ve got a long way to go with him. But now I can chop up the flavoursome vegetables into microscopic bits! So I put I the Thermomix jug a halved onion, a clove of garlic, a thick slice of fennel root, a roughly chopped stick of celery and a roughly chopped carrot. I zapped that lot, then cooked it at a hundred degrees for seven minutes with a slice of butter. I then put in five hundred grams of diced chuck beef, half a cup of chicken stock and two tablespoons of corn flour. What I should have done was brown the meat first. And possibly used red wine instead of stock. I cooked that at ninety degrees on speed slow with the blades in reverse for fifty minutes. The result was delicious but extremely visually unappealing. Also way too much gravy. I drained off most of the gravy and have it in the fridge until I can work out what to do with it. Just look at that colour.

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No good at all. The specks on it aren’t mould, it’s leftover flour, really it is.

Emboldened by my success at the shortcrust pastry I made half a recipe of rough puff pastry. I put in 125 grams of plain flour and zapped it with the turbo button a couple of times to aerate it. I added in 90 grams of cold chopped Pepe Saya butter, a pinch of salt, fifty grams of cold water and a good squeeze of lemon juice. The recipe suggests using half lard, but I don’t happen to have any. I wonder if there are different grades of lard, like there are for butter? From the stuff scraped off the abattoir floor all the way up to the results of Kim Cowdashian’s latest liposuction? Something to investigate. Anyway, set the dial to the closed lid position and knead for ten to twenty seconds on Interval speed, once again peeking to see when it forms a dough.

Extract the dough and slap it onto the floured bench top. Pat it into a rectangle shape. Possibly refrigerate it for twenty minutes at this point, but I didn’t. Roll it out until it’s about 40 by 12 cm. That does seem a bit specific, doesn’t it, so maybe just long and thin. Fold the bottom third into the middle and the top third over that. Rotate it through ninety degrees and roll it out again. Repeat the folding and rolling three more times. Refrigerate it again before rolling it out into circle shape. I didn’t, as it was still fairly cold and I had a pie to get in the oven. I spooned the gravy less beef into the shortcrust base and lifted the rough puff circle onto the top where it settled nicely. I poked some holes in it and baked it for about twenty five minutes.

I forgot to photograph it in the excitement of grandparents, but here’s the last scraps of the Muffet’s bit if you’d like to see how great the pastry looked.

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There was none left at the end of dinner, so it can’t have been too bad. Definitely needs work, but. That pastry needs an amazing filling to do it justice.

Somewhat Familiar Chocolate Slice

I know the Great Day that Isn’t a Fair at the boys’ school isn’t for months, but I’m all inspired. You see, there was a cookbook produced. With very high production values. It looked so good that everyone got very excited and ordered enough copies to be printed for about ten per family. And what do you know, they didn’t all sell. So to encourage a bit of movement we’re going to bake some recipes from the book and sell them at the cake stall alongside the book.

Of course the recipes were all tested at production time, but us cake stall mavens would like to know how they taste and if they’d be better in muffin form, if they’d travel, if they’d be better at the coffee stall and if half of them really do require a tin of condensed milk. I do love this kind of challenge, so I’m starting with a chocolate slice.

I’m making it in the Thermomix. It isn’t difficult to convert recipes to the Thermomix. The first thing you do is look through the ingredients to see which ones need to be processed now that you’re buying everything in a less processed state. It’s only coconut, so I weigh 90 grams of coconut flakes into the jug and process them until they’re approaching crumb level, way before they turn into flour.

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Tip out the coconut and put 150 grams of butter in the jug. Melt it by setting it to 100 degrees and put it on for two minutes at speed three. Slide in a tablespoon of golden syrup. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Put in the coconut, a tablespoon of cocoa, half a cup of sugar, a cup of flour and two teaspoons of baking powder. AND a cup of lightly crushed cornflakes. Yes, that’s a little off putting, isn’t it. Mix it all together by a quick zap in the Thermomix. It’s all a bit crumbly.

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Press it into a lined baking dish and bake at 180 degrees for about twenty minutes. The recipe suggests waiting until the base is cool until icing it, but I didn’t. Make the icing by putting 180 grams of caster sugar in the freshly washed and dried Thermomix jug and zap it on speed nine for about twenty seconds to turn it into icing sugar. Add in two tablespoons of cocoa powder, thirty grams of softened butter and a tablespoon and a half of boiling water. Zap it at about speed four for about ten seconds until it’s all combined, then spread it on the slice base. It’s quite a thin layer of icing. While the icing is still soft sprinkle it with desiccated coconut.

It will crunchify over an hour or so, so hold off cutting it up until then.

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I had to try a piece for testing purposes and you know what? I’ve had it before. It’s one of those vaguely chocolate slices that turn up when you bring a plate to school morning tea for new parents. I can see why you’d make it, it’s easy, it holds together well enough to go in a lunchbox, it has a good texture, nobody’s going to accuse you of using cornflakes. I guess it’s just never really made me go “wow, I really need to find out how to make this!” like lemon slices do. Muffet said she’d prefer it with a softer base before asking for another piece. I’ll wait to see how the boys like it before adding it to the personal repertoire, but it could definitely be assigned to the coffee stall. Or I could take it to a school morning tea.