mutteringhousewife

What does the last of the housewives do?

Month: May, 2013

Back in Black and White

Haven’t done any beading in AGES! I’ve had a few things bubbling away in the back of brain, behind the baking plans and getting my legs working again plans and throwing out half of our possessions in the next cleanup plans. I went to a committee meeting last night that was planning, not a Fair or a Fete, goodness no, we’re a boys’ school, we’re all about the RUGBY! But a day of some description. My subcommittee is in charge of the bit that makes sure the Day is not just a long line of stalls supplying men dressed in black and white with sausages in the afternoon and egg and bacon rolls in the morning. I could go on at some length, but I’ll save for later, shall I? It just made me think of black and white jewellery again.

The week after this Day is a grand and marvellous Black and White Ball and naturally some of us may want some black and white jewellery to go with our black and white frocks. I’ve been meaning to do another Bargello style necklace for ages and the last two I’ve done have been monochrome, so I think it would lend itself to black and white rather nicely. So to the choosing of the beads, and for any of you that have ever attempted to paint a room white, you’ll know that there’s white and there’s white. AmIright?

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I like to include Swarovski crystals wherever I can, and they only actually do two shades of solid white, chalk and alabaster. I only have alabaster, so that makes my white decision simple, stark white it is. The Ball invitation also suggests a touch of silver, so that’s going in too. The Bargello pattern that I use is from a 2006 edition of Bead and Button magazine and I’ve found that the pattern as written is a bit narrow and too short. The first Bargello necklace I made is the only one I’ve kept, here it is.

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I’ve not offered it for sale, partly because I rather like it, partly because it is too short and narrow and partly because it has about fifty bucks worth of kyanite as dangles. I think it’s kyanite. Kind of an olive green gemstone, in leaf shapes. It’s also useful as a reference for starting a new necklace, it’s always a bit discombobulating.

I manage to start it off successfully even with the distraction of having to shoo away a couple of Jehovah’s witnesses. I do wonder if they should have good hard look at themselves, the last few pairs have consisted of one non-English speaker and one very elderly somewhat English speaker. Different pairs. I think they’re losing their base. I haven’t the heart to play with them any more, they’re too pathetic.

I’ve only got a few points in before I run out of 3mm Swarovski alabaster bicones. What a shame, I’ll have to order some more from Fusion. Oh, and they’re having a 20% off sale, and there’s some interesting discontinued stuff. And I’ll need some more black and white beads, this will by no means be the only black and white piece of jewellery I’ll be making. An hour and a hundred bucks later…

Well, here is what I’m up to.

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I think it will work nicely. The question is, do I keep it for my own swanlike neck, or should I put it up for silent auction at the Day That Is Not a Fair? Or should I sell it for filthy lucre? Mmmmm, filthy lucre. My favourite kind.

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Half Yearlies

The Muffet’s school is probably not alone in having the bright idea that they could run their Year 7 half yearly exams at the same time as NAPLAN, which would enable them to say that they didn’t focus on training for NAPLAN, but if you could study English, Maths and Science for your half yearlies, that would be super.

Study is a new concept for the Muffet. She generally does homework spread out on the lounge or the kitchen bench top and it takes her twice as long as it should because of all the singing, eating and fighting with her brothers that this entails. It has taken a phalanx of teachers all giving her the same advice that has finally persuaded her to try studying at a desk. This has been a little problematic.

You see, I don’t think all kids have to have their own rooms. Just my kids. It’s just the way it’s worked out. To achieve this, we had to extract my husband from his study, and believe me, I’m never going to hear the end of it until she’s moved out of home and he’s back in there. Muffet it is in the study because it is the smallest bedroom and she is the messiest child by quite a long way. It makes perfect sense to me. Not to her, obviously. So I have provided her with a desk in what was the dining room when the house had such a thing. And here’s what it looks like.

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I’m sure we could salvage it from underneath all the craft and actual garbage on it, but she really doesn’t like working there. She has got a tiny little desk that pulls out from under her bed, but until two weeks ago that was groaning under even more detritus. Until we decided to put the German billet in there, that required a mammoth cleanup and now it is once again visible.

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All it needed was a chair. She has managed to study there this weekend perched on that tiny IKEA stool, but I want that back, it’s my sewing stool. So I promised her that if she found her school blazer, I would buy her a proper stool. This morning I marched her into the school and, holding her firmly by the ear, dragged her into the school office where we found the blazer by the simple expedient of asking the ladies there to look in lost property for it. A whole week it has been missing, and that never occurred to her. Oy vey. So now to my end of the bargain.

I’m fairly horrified to find that you can buy a gas lift chair for twenty bucks.

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I’d rather like to buy one that’s made in Australia, but such a thing does not appear to exist. A fully reclinable leather executive chair, yes, but not a dinky little stool. Another thing for me to feel guilty about. It slaps together very quickly, even more so because I decide not to put the back on it for space reasons, and because I know she’ll just end up hanging all her clothes on it.

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There. I’ve provided her with seating arrangements, fresh fruit, chocolate chip biscuits and Nutella sandwiches. I have also discussed states of matter, densities and crystallisation with her, somewhat confusing the issue with a tangential discussion on liquid crystals that is never going to come up in her exams. I’ve done what I could. Good luck in your exams, Muffet!

Honest to Goodness

I miss going to the farmers market. I really loved the beautiful eggs you could get there, the organic carrots, the kindly raised meat. And I missed getting my pantry staples from the Honest to Goodness stall there. I haven’t been going because, I may have mentioned, I’ve been on crutches and it’s hard enough sliding through the crowds with an old lady shopping trolley in tow. Now I’m mobile again it’s soccer season, which means my Saturday mornings are now spent trying to get the kids to four different venues across the city at the same time. I have tried to find markets on at times that suit me better, but during school hours the farmers seem to be getting on with farming rather than selling stuff to me, so I’ve been going without. Today I thought I’d seek out the Honest to Goodness factory outlet and get myself stocked up on grains and dried fruits.

The address in Alexandria gave me some hope. Parts of Alexandria have become very hip, with specialty delis, annoying little coffee shops and lots of warehouse conversions. But not Maddox Street. Maddox Street is still full of giant trucks and industrial estates and fastener factories and swarthy men in hi-vis vests squatting on the kerbside smoking. A bit daunting. In one such industrial estate is a little corner full of jute bags and hipsters and I’ve found it. And you can park there.

I’m a bit equivocal about organic food. On the one hand, I don’t mind a bit of being nice to the land. On the other, I don’t actually think conventional farmers are terribly evil and rapacious and are poisoning our food. So basically I buy organic if it tastes better. The sultanas, currants and cranberries from Honest to Goodness do taste noticeably better than the stuff in tubs from Norton Street Grocer, and they in turn are better than the wrinkled husks pressed into rectangles that the major supermarkets purvey. In other words, worth it. I’m also rather fond of their crystallised ginger, hazelnuts and coconut products. Speaking of which, coconut seems to be a thing at the moment. They had coconut oil, coconut syrup, coconut sugar, coconut soap and coconut water. But not the coconut flakes I’d been rather hoping to purchase. Desiccated will have to do.

I also wanted to get a variety of grains for either making flour in the Thermomix or for the rather complex porridge I’m planning to make in the colder months. Oatmeal porridge makes me feel like I’ve foolishly eaten a woollen rug, so I’m going to have to come up with something more exotic. To that end, I got some hulled buckwheat, rolled spelt and whole wheat grains. I reckon if I team that lot with some green apple and hazelnuts and some other bits and pieces I may be onto something. I’ll keep you posted.

Of course I also love looking at the wackier stuff too. Activated brown rice protein powder. Super jam, which looks down its super nose at ordinary jam. I think it has goji berries in it, or whatever the hell is the current ridiculously overhyped fruit of the moment. Acai berries? I can’t keep up. Dried bananas. Why? I’ve had the preservative free dried apricots and they taste as disgusting as they look. And what is it about the organic set that means tiny hats for the men and no personal grooming for the women? Not that I can talk, but I occasionally put on lipstick and wear non-ironic dresses. Also, what would you do with a kilo pack of agar powder?

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I’m still a bit conflicted about the flour. I do buy flour in five kilo packs, so that’s not the issue. It was one and a half times as expensive as my normal flour. Would it have been one and a half times as good? There would have been one and a half times as much self satisfied smirk in my baked goods, but would there be any more tangible benefits? I don’t kid myself that white flour is terribly nutritious, but would it have produced a springer bread, a crunchier Anzac biscuit, a more delectable slice base? I don’t know, because I didn’t buy it in the end. If you’ve tried organic flour, let me know if it makes any difference at all. Maybe I should have asked to buy a half kilo sample. Maybe next time. If I bring someone with me who does that kind of thing.

Honey Roll Cake

Back in the Seventies, when I was a nipper, baked goods either came from adding water to the contents of a packet, or from the bakery. In my case, Bertoldo’s Bakery. Our favourite ever cake from there was the inaccurately named Honey Roll. The Women’s Weekly cookbook Sweet Old-fashioned Favourites has a terrific recipe for it, and I made it today for the cake stall at the Great Fair at the Muffet’s school tomorrow.

Except I can’t do a roll. I’ve tried. I’ve failed numerous times, it always breaks. I need someone to actually demonstrate, and don’t direct me to YouTube, I don’t like watching video on the computer, it’s just a thing. So I make this one as a filled cake.

Cream together 60 grams of butter and three quarters of a cup of golden syrup. Mix in one and a quarter cups of plain flour and a teaspoon of baking powder. Also mix in teaspoons of ginger, one teaspoon of cinnamon, three quarters of a teaspoon of ground nutmeg and a quarter of a teaspoon of ground cloves. I keep the cloves and nutmeg whole and grind them as needed. I grate the nutmeg with a Microplane and the cloves in really small quantities in the trusty old coffee grinder. I don’t use cloves much. Stir in two eggs. Mix one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda with a quarter of a cup of boiling water and stir it into the cake batter.

I’ve tried making one large cake and slicing in half and making two thin cakes, and I prefer the latter, especially as I do have twin round cake tins. It will be much neater if you grease the two tins, but I wasn’t in the mood, so lined them rather carelessly with baking paper. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t get it exactly even. Bake them until they’re really quite dark, about twenty minutes at 180 degrees, but do test them with a skewer.

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Meanwhile you do the challenging bit. I don’t know if you’ve had a honey roll, but it’s filled with a delicious confection that isn’t cream. You could whip some cream until it’s very stiff with some icing sugar and sandwich the cake with that, but it wouldn’t be right. You should really make Washed Mock Cream.

Beat together 125 grams of sweet butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence, a tablespoon of honey and half a cup of caster sugar. Beat it good. I have done this with hand held beater, but I am enjoying it more with the KitchenAid. Don’t try it with a fork, seriously. When it’s light and fluffy, cover the mix with cold water.

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Shake it for a minute, then drain the water off. Beat again. Rinse and repeat until you’ve done it six times and the mix is nearly white. In the middle of the process is will look like cottage cheese.

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You need to beat it fairly severely towards the end to get it to coalesce again, it will be about the texture of cream cheese, still spreadable. Squash it onto the bottom cake, it will be a thick layer.

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Snuggle the top cake onto the cream. Dust the top liberally with desiccated coconut, press it down with your hand, it should stick a little.

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It has been boxed and delivered and I’m experiencing that hollow feeling of having sent a cake to a cake stall and never knowing what’s going to happen to it. What will they charge for it? Will it sell quickly? Will its new owner enjoy it? I should have written on the box that it keeps well and like most spice cakes is even better after a couple of days. I’m over thinking it, aren’t I.

Cookbooks

A combination of a balmy day and an impending council cleanup has seen me tuck my skirts into my bloomers and have a bit of a tidy up. I’ve got rid of a bag of clothes, three bags of rubbish, a box of paper recycling and a box of toys. And you still can’t see where I’ve been. But in the process I’ve cleared a shelf that’s close to my cooking space and it’s just perfect for my cookbooks.

I have a lot of cookbooks, almost none of which I’ve bought myself. I’m rather fond of my joke cookbooks, many of which are in this picture:

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Some have been given to me, the dog biscuit one belongs to the Muffet, and some came to me from my Nanna. The Flo Bjelke-Petersen one has a lot of recipes she’s clearly lifted from other sources (what Queensland housewife uses dark corn syrup?) and the proportions are often wrong. The Colleen McCullough one is a great read, she devotes a whole page to the evils of dieting and fancy foreign food, but I’m unlikely to be making mutton neck soup or plum duff any time soon. I do read through these cookbooks, and I sometimes get some inspiration from them, but it’s mainly to tell people that there is actually a recipe in print for a pizza topped with tinned mushrooms and tinned spaghetti. Remember tinned spaghetti?

The ones I’ve put on the newly reclaimed shelf are the ones I actually use.

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I do actually have a Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion, but even though I’ve read it cover to cover I just don’t get a lot of inspiration from it. I get a lot more from the imposing Cook’s Book that my dear sisters gave some birthdays ago. There’s a tonne of stuff in there I’m not game to try. Yet.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I bake a lot more than I make exciting dinners, so I keep Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie and the Donna Hay baking book close by. The Women’s Weekly cookbooks I inherited from my Nanna, the purple covered one was published in the year of my birth and I’m particularly fond of the confectionery section. I think Adam Liaw’s book is just terrific, and deals with a cuisine I’m not at all familiar with cooking, so I’ve been browsing through that a lot and gradually accumulating strange smelling ingredients. The Black and White cookbook is a collection of recipes from the parents at my sons’ school and I love looking at what other people cook. Some of these are creeping into the repertoire. The two Pillsbury books are from the early sixties and also from Nanna’s collection. Some recipes are truly hilarious, like the chicken salad nestled in a strawberry jelly moulded in a bowl shape, or the suggestions to elegantly garnish your casserole with slices of salami folded to look like bells. But the Americans know a lot about cakes and cookies and I’ve picked up some terrific ideas in there.

The little battered green one on the end? That’s what I used to use before iPads were invented. Remember when you’d see a recipe in the newspaper, and you’d cut it out and keep it somewhere safe? That’s where mine went. If I made it more than a couple of times, I’d write it out and chuck the clipping.

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Pretty retro, huh. Now I have the Paprika app on my iPad and I can type out my recipes and they won’t get covered in butter and they’re backed up. I have no nostalgia for the written book at all, so spare me your hand wringing. I can even Google a recipe and suck it into the app, where a record of the original website is also kept. I can add photos. I can email recipes to admiring friends and acquaintances. I love living in the future.

A Day in the Life of this Housewife

I know most of you secretly suspect that us housewives do actually spend most of our days reading Mills and Boon and wondering if we should purchase an Elliptical Abiscizer, as advertised on sausage stuffing morning TV. So, for the negative, here’s how my day is going.

Awake at 6.15. Technically it’s the phone that wakes me up, softly playing Galadriel’s theme, but really it’s because the Horror is up and trying to get dressed quietly. He doesn’t have an alarm, he just wakes up that early. I take his lunch order (toasted garlic bread, not herb bread because his friends keep demanding bits of his lunch if it’s herb bread) and wake up the Moose by tripping over his drum set. I make the lunches and have a shower, wake the girls then take the boys to school. I make a detour to pick up the choir mail, then back home to pick up the girls. Muffet can’t find her flute or blazer, so she has to borrow my old flute and put up with being cold. I get them to school by eight.

Back home for some breakfast. I eat this in front of the computer while doing a bit of emailing and spreadsheeting for the three committees I’m on and the one I’m baking for at the moment. Then it’s time to take my newly freed foot for a walk. It’s complaining a lot less this week, so I take it up to the Hungry Grasshopper where I revel in being able to order a takeaway coffee. Ah, the joy of not being on crutches. You should try it some time.

Quest time. I don’t have a quest every day, but I do at least once a week. We were eating dinner the other night when the German billet remarked upon our eating implements. We were using Splayds. I keep forgetting that they are an Australian invention, and the German billet decided they were the perfect gift for her mother. She’s quite right, they will be. This quest I’m pretty sure of being fulfilled at David Jones, so I hie me thither.

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While paying for the Splayds I receive a phone call from the Muffet asking if I could bring her pipes and drums uniform in to school by lunchtime. “What time is lunch?” I rather reasonably ask. She’s in her third year at this school. She doesn’t know. After a lot of shouting and giggling in the background we establish that it is at 12.29. I’ll be popping home then.

She’s only been in the pipes and drums band for a week, though she’s been taking drum lessons for a term. It has quite an elaborate uniform which we’ll eventually have to buy, but as they are performing tomorrow night and Saturday she’s having to make do with a cobbled together one. I manage to locate the shirt, the blazer, the kilt, the sash, the badges and the sporran (yes, really), but not the socks or tie. Well, it’s just a rehearsal today, and I make it up to the school with five minutes to spare.

I’m starving when I get home, but the children and husband consumed all the bread this morning. Looks like Thermomix to the rescue. I want to make more bread, so I do a batch of buttermilk and mess up a batch of fruit loaf before making my lunch. Don’t trust the Thermomix scales! Or rather, check that it isn’t sitting on its own cord before weighing your flour. I rescued the fruit loaf by adding more liquid and yeast, so it looks like we’ll have a loaf and a half of that.

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Once they are done I make myself up a batch of hearty vegetable soup, an off piste version of the vegetable patties I made here.

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I blame an interview I was listening to on the radio on the way home about how very very obese everyone is, and why can’t we all eat more vegetables. I’m impressionable.

After lunch I realise the Moose is out of school shirts (the Horror is experimenting with wearing the same shirt every day, reasoning that there’s less washing to put away), so put on a wash. Then I punch down the breads and put them back under the oven light to rise. Then I toss up between writing a blog about the vegetable soup or boring you with what kind of day I’m having, and decide you’ve had enough recipes and nobody’s making you read this.

Next on the list is knocking up a batch of oatmeal choc chip biscuits, as the cupboard is bare yet again and it’s the kids’ current favourite. Then I’ll wash up, then go pick up the Muffet and the billet from band practise and head due east to collect the Horror from his band practise. Once home I’ll be baking the bread and grilling a tray of sausages for the Horror and his father to have for dinner before they go to soccer training. Me and girls are going to go to the Moose’s school for a sausage sizzle before his house chapel service at which, I’m reliably informed, he’ll be singing a solo. That should be interesting, given that he was just dropped from alto to tenor in the choir a couple of weeks ago.

Then home to bed. But before bed I’m going to have to pin up the Muffet’s borrowed kilt which is big enough for two Muffets and do some emergency tacking so no one sees her undies if she does some violent drumming at tomorrow night’s concert. And bring in the washing, of course.

When does anyone find the time to hold down a job?

Nutella in the Thermomix

I foolishly asked the boys if the was anything they fancied that I could buy or make for them as I had a fairly free dance card today. After much discussion, they decided they’d like me to make a vanilla cupcake with caramel swirls that you could stick a sparkler in, light, then it would explode. I don’t know why they bothered deciding on a flavour. The German billet piped up from the back seat “Have you in Australia … Nutella?”

Well how did she know that was on my long list of things to try in the Thermomix? It’s actually horrifyingly easy, and almost as easy with a blender and a saucepan. First place ninety grams of sugar in the Thermomix and zap it into icing sugar. You can vary this with the sweetness of your chocolate. Then add one hundred grams each of chocolate pieces and hazelnuts.

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Did you know you can get skinned hazelnuts at the health food shop? Usually when a recipe suggests skinning the hazelnuts, I fetch a small sigh and decide to see how the recipe copes with skins. I don’t think you could do that to Nutella. I’m using 70% cocoa Callebaut chips, which I’m finding a little strong for some uses. This may be one of them, the finished product tastes like a limited edition extra dark Nutella. Jumping ahead of myself. The instructions suggest zapping it for ten seconds, which gives you a powdery substance.

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I taste it and while it’s undeniably delicious, it’s pretty gritty. I decide to zap it five more times for thirty seconds each time, scraping down the sides in between zaps. This turns the hazelnut into a butter rather than a powder.

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Add seventy grams of butter, one hundred grams of milk and fifty grams of cocoa. Cook at fifty degrees for six minutes on speed three (this is the bit you could do in a saucepan if you were using a blender). This gave me a very smooth, shiny mix, which I had to find a container to contain it with. That’s one problem with making everything from scratch, at some point you run out of recycled honey jars.

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After refrigerating it for a couple of hours it stiffened up, but was still easily spreadable. Lucky, because by then the Muffet and the German billet were home and were very pleased to be tasters.

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Not a health food, but I did use Callebaut chocolate, Callebaut cocoa powder, organic milk and organic butter. The hazelnuts weren’t organic, but they were from a health food shop, does that count? So it’s as good as it can get. It made about half a litre, if you’re planning to do it yourself, and I would recommend it, and want to be organised with containers. And if you’re wondering how it went down with the German billet, all I could get out of her was “Mmmmm, mmm, mhmmmhhmm!” Plus a request to have some for lunch tomorrow on a roll.

Mandarin Syrup

I haven’t done a syrup for a while, have I? At least, that’s what the kids tell me. I like to make syrup out of any fruit that’s cheap and plentiful, and at the moment that’s mandarins.

It’s a pretty simple one. I was inspired to try it because the a Thermomix recipe book had a recipe for Mandarinade. I made it. It was just awful. I tossed it in the compost. Don’t bother trying it. Here’s what you do instead.

Boil up two cups of caster sugar with a cup of water. You can do this in the Thermomix, put it on 100 degrees, speed two for about seven minutes. Then take six mandarins and two limes and skin them.

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I put them in the blender and zapped them good. Put the steamer basket in the Thermomix jug and tip the citrus pulp in. Squash it down with a teaspoon to get all the juice out. Or just strain it into a bowl if you’re doing it the old fashioned way. You should get about 250 grams of juice. Zap it on speed four for a few seconds to mix it in. Now you should taste it, because there’s a fair bit of variability in the tartness of the fruit. Mine was a bit sweet, so I stirred in a teaspoon of citrus acid.

I then strained it into a jug, I like my syrup clear. You don’t really have to.

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You add it to soda water, don’t drink it straight unless you’re trying to mess with your blood sugar. The German billet liked it better than bought lemonade. So there.

Phone Rant

We’ve all got at least one phone rant in us. This is mine.

It all started several years ago. A kind relative gave the Muffet a mobile phone, as she’d be travelling to school by train. The problem was the provider. Vodafone. Apparently they’re very good if you happen to be standing under one of their towers, but don’t think you can call your parents from pony camp. Or from inside a building. The other thing about Vodafone is that they lock their phones so you can’t get a different provider. They do provide a method for unlocking the phone, which I followed to the letter. It didn’t work. I went up to a Vodafone shop and explained my dilemma, and you can imagine that they were of no use at all. There was an option that involved posting the phone to Tasmania at my own expense, but that wasn’t for me. As my nostrils started to flare and my voice got softer I noticed the manager sidle into the store cupboard. No, really. The woman trying to help me leaned forward and said “you know, that guy that sells phone cases downstairs hacks phones to unlock them. Your best bet is to go to him”.

The hacker downstairs said his services were too expensive for a basic phone like this, I should just buy a new phone from Telstra. I did just that. The Muffet lost it almost immediately.

The second instalment came when another kind relative gave the Muffet a Galaxy that had become surplus to requirements. I don’t know what it is about the Muffet, I think it’s the blonde hair. And she’s very charming. I immediately opened up the phone and was relieved to find an Optus SIM nestled in it. All I needed now was a Telstra prepaid pack and we were communicado again. I went up to Woolies and asked for a prepaid SIM pack. “Nah, love, we only do recharges” said the friendly lady. “Would you care to turn around and give me that pack behind you that says “Telstra prepaid SIM card starter pack? No, not the nano SIM. Regular. It’s orange.” We got there in the end.

No, it didn’t work when I inserted it and followed the activation steps. Two phone calls to the help desk resulted in a lot of Indian accented humming and hawing and finally a suggestion that I take it into a Telstra shop. The Telstra shop also did some humming and hawing and finally asked “are you Alexis Henderson of Castle Cove?”. No, I’m not, and neither would I have lent Muffet’s phone to him if I had ever met him. Well, at least I got to deal with the actual manager, and he was kind enough to say he’d never come across this problem before. You know how he fixed it? Just redid the activation. “Ah”, I said. “The help desk effect”. “You’re familiar with it?” “Oh yes, I used to be a help desk”. “We’ll, I don’t know why it worked, but thanks for showing me a new problem”.
Anything I can do to help. I just love spreading sweetness and light.

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Passionfruit Icecream in the Thermomix

I have to go pick up the German billet in half an hour, and instead of trying to disguise the fact that the house looks like it’s been violently burgled I’m telling you about passionfruit ice cream. At least I’ve made her some Anzac biscuits, I’m pretty sure that’s what any German billet would expect upon arrival. Followed closely by a Vegemite sandwich and a ride on a kangaroo.

It wouldn’t have occurred to me to attempt to make ice cream Before the Thermomix. I couldn’t find a passionfruit ice cream recipe that removed my socks either so, as I’m a veteran of one ice cream production, I thought I’d make it up.

I didn’t want one with seeds in it, and I find the act of sieving passionfruit frustrating and disappointing. So I did something I’d worked out when making syrups, you boil the pulp with a bit of water and sugar. I find I extract more passionfruity goodness that way.

Take quite a lot of passionfruit. I had a net full, but then we ate some, so it ended up being eleven. Scrape the pulp into a small saucepan. Add one hundred grams of water and three hundred grams of sugar. After tasting the custard I thought that might be too sweet, but in the finished product it’s fine. You could probably get away with 250 grams.

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Put it over a small burner and bring to the boil, stirring to help dissolve the sugar. This took me about five minutes. Take it off the heat when it looks like it’s trying to escape.

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Insert the steamer basket into the Thermomix jug and tip in the syrup. Squash down the pulp with a teaspoon, you only want seeds left. Discard the pulp. Add to the jug three hundred grams of cream and two hundred grams of full cream milk. You could go all cream if you want it very rich. I also added a pinch of salt. Zap it on speed five for thirty seconds to mix. Reduce the speed to four and crack four eggs through the hole in the lid. A tip here: if you do get a little cocky and manage to drop half an eggshell through the hole too, you can stop the machine and retrieve the unbroken shell if you’re quick. Replace the measuring cup in the lid, set the temperature to ninety degrees and continue on speed four for five minutes. Pour the custard into a metal bowl and shove it in the freezer.

All the recipes I see suggest three to four hours in the freezer will do the trick, but not my freezer. More like overnight. Anyway, once it is frozen, and this could be days later, scoop it out of the bowl and back into the Thermomix. You can see why you need this step if you look carefully at this photo.

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See there’s a creamy lay on top and an icy layer underneath? That needs breaking up.

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General Thermomix icecream instructions now tell you to mix on speed nine for twenty seconds, then speed four for ten. You are going to need to poke it about with the spatula, it’s pretty stiff. I think just zap and poke and zap and poke until it looks entirely broken up. It will be about disgusting McDonalds icecream consistency at this point, so pour it back into the bowl and back it goes into the freezer.

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Should be ready for dessert. I’m going to be serving our billet for dinner that Australian classic, spag bol. Passionfruit ice cream should go nicely with it. I hope the kookaburras are back in the morning, that’s the kind of thing she would have signed up for.