mutteringhousewife

What does the last of the housewives do?

Month: June, 2013

A New Green

When you see the nonnas shoving each other out of the way down at the IGA, you know something’s going on. They could be offering free slices of sorpresa, there could be only one cash register open. Today it was that Mr Lamonica had just got back from the markets with something they really really wanted.

Rapé. It’s an Italian green, possibly related to broccoli, but looks like something that you’d find growing by the railway tracks. The nonnas weren’t even waiting for it to be unpacked, they were grabbing armfuls of it out of the boxes as they came in. Buying it by the trolley full.

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I don’t generally buy my vegetables from Mr Lamonica, he goes for cheap over quality. I go to Frank. I bumped into a few friends at Frank’s who emboldened me to ask what’s the big deal with rapé? “Oh, it’s delicious!” said Frank’s daughter at the cash register. “We cook it with a little oil and chilli, and lots of garlic”. Well, anything tastes good cooked that way, but my friends convinced me to buy a bunch, cook it and blog about it, so here we are.

I think you can cook it in a very similar way to whole bok choy, but I want mine in smaller pieces. So I stripped off the smaller stalks, leaves and flowers, only leaving the large stalks at the bottom, into the Thermomix jug.

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A very quick zap got them into more manageable sized pieces.

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I tipped them out of the jug and into a bowl. I put in the jug a couple of cloves of garlic, three chillies, a slug of olive oil and a couple of local tomatoes I’d also picked up. Zapped those into a purée and cooked them at 100 degrees for four minutes on reverse speed two. I put in the rapé and a sprinkle of salt and cooked it for four minutes on a hundred degrees, also reverse speed two. I could have even got away with three minutes I think. It’s not much to look at.

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It cooks down quite a lot. I think I like it. The stalks are very reminiscent of asparagus. I think the description for the leaves is bitter. It has that aftertaste you get from an expensive beer. Lucky I do like it, it comes in enormous bunches. I might cook it all up and put it in a selection from my new jar collection. I wonder if you could lightly pickle it? I’m a bit scared to Google it. I can tell you this, it’s a whole lot better than kale, that stuff tasted like horse blankets.

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Bathroom Almost Finished

What’s worse than tradesmen in your house? No tradesmen in your house, that’s what.

It’s been a full two weeks since the vanity was attached to the bathroom walls and since then, nothing. Nothing nothing nothing. Except a rising level of complaint from a family who isn’t getting used to having to nip out to the frigid back verandah for ablutions. It’s even less amusing in the middle of the night. And why? Well, that’s an excellent question, I’m glad you used your mind powers to ask it. I thought it was because the tapware hadn’t arrived. The bathroom company thought it was because the tapware hadn’t arrived. The plumber thought it was because the tapware hadn’t arrived. After a series of increasingly irate calls to the bathroom supply company from me, Crystal the site supervisor, and her boss, it turns out we were all mistaken. That series of texts I’d had from them referring to missing tapware was actually referring to missing towel rails, the tapware had been on my back verandah under a pile of tiles this WHOLE TIME. I had to check that the top of my head was still attached after that message. So, that whole thing about not delivering the vanity top until the tapware had arrived? Oh, silly customer, did you want the vanity top at your place? Well why didn’t you say so?

Of course in the mean time the plumber had turned his attention to other things, so he wasn’t able to come until today to instal the tapware and toilet.

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The kids thought this message was a terrible tease, but he told them they could use the toilet for night time emergencies so long as they didn’t sit on it. The Muffet is visiting Nanna and Poppa for a few nights and I don’t have night time emergencies, so we should be right.

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The electrician also came today to put in the first power points this bathroom has ever had. “How do you live like this?” he asked upon his first visit. Tradesmen are very judgemental. And the Scotts finally came back to remove all of the demolition rubbish that has been sitting on our verge for over four weeks now. I’ve been waiting for the council to fine us for it.

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It was almost worth the wait to watch them try to remove it. They were supposed to bring a skip bin, but brought this thing which is basically a double sized green bin, and it’s been filled to the brim with concrete and broken tiles. Can you see the problem? To remove it they brought along what looked like a hire van with a tiny little lift on the back which was in no way capable of lifting that thing. There was much rocking the bin backward and forward, then they got out metres of strapping.

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Then more rocking. Then they tried lifting the top layer of rubble by hand into the truck, with a bit more strapping and rocking. Then the bin fell over completely, which meant I had to retreat into the kitchen so they wouldn’t hear me laughing. Much cursing as they got out a couple of shovels and transferred the lot into the truck that way. I’ll bet they don’t get their deposit back.

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We now have a bathroom we can bath in, clean our teeth in and shower in if we don’t mind getting water all over the toilet. We’re waiting on the shower screen, the towel rails, some little glass shelves, the toilet roll holder and a soap dish. I have to call the bathroom supply place for the shower screen, but I need to spend another few hours breathing deeply first.

Dammit, is there a Knitting Bandwagon now?

Well, then I’m on it. Because today I discovered that you can knit at the movies. Especially if its a kids movie that you’ve already seen and are only going to shut your daughter’s high maintenance friend up from complaining about her sister.

I should first mention that I finished the crocheted beanie and the Muffet only takes it off to go to bed. I’m rather pleased with it.

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The Horror originally wanted an identical beanie, but then picked up a Tardis one at Supanova. So, as we’re going skiing the week after next he requested what is essentially a cowl. He wanted to be able to pull it up over his face, to be able to breathe through it and for it to stay in place once he’d put it there.

The easiest way to do this is to just knit a rectangle and sew the short ends up. But there’s a whole lot of bulk at the back of your neck when you’re skiing, the collar of your jacket, a helmet in the Horror’s case, a ponytail in mine. So I decided to make it narrower at the back. What I did was to start off with twelve stitches on size ten needles. Then a row of purl. Then alternate knit and purl rows and increase every knit row by a stitch either end. When I got to a width the stretched from the bridge of my nose to the bottom of the V neck of my jumper I stopped increasing and just knitted and purled on for a while. By the time the movie had finished I was decreasing and finished the thing before it was time to pick up the Horror from his little friend’s place.

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He said it was far too big for him, so I’ll keep it for myself, thank you very much. Knitting his smaller one only took me about an hour. Here’s what it looked like before sewing the ends together.

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And with the ends sewed together. Yes, his name does start with a K.

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He tested it fairly thoroughly, tried it in different positions, breathed heavily through it and pulled it up over his whole face to discover he could see through it, it’s quite a loose knit. He finally declared himself satisfied, he’s a tough audience. Now we won’t have to put up with any complaints about facial discomfort in the snow.

Also now I can start on a new crochet pattern I have. It’s a round beanie with a wide turned up brim that I’m going to do in black and white for watching the boys play soccer. I may have to go yarn shopping again soon, there’s a place in town that looks rather exciting. After the kids go back to school, after skiing. That is if I can still walk by then, but of course I’ll be able to, what kind of talk is that? Just because last year’s trip resulted in what is now a full year of ankle treatments, that has no bearing on this year’s trip. None at all.

Supanova 2013

Well, I’m nearly recovered from Supanova, the geek spectacular attended by around forty thousand people at Olympic Park over the weekend. Supanova consists of three elements, famous people, cosplay and geek shopping. Oh, and some lectures and displays. Four elements.

We didn’t bother with the famous people. I’m sure they were there, but to access them you had to line up to purchase an autograph or photo ticket, then line up again to meet the presumably haggard looking famous person who you’d never recognise as their movie character because they’re either not covered in prosthetics or they’re forty years older than when they were famous. I’m looking at you, Margot Kidder, who didn’t turn up the second day after looking out the window and deciding to stay in her dumpster. Ooh, that was a little harsh, wasn’t it. I wonder if they should at least put them on a platform or suspend them from the ceiling or something so at least the kiddies can see them.

Many people are clearly there for the cosplay. Cosplay is when you dress up, usually as a movie or game character, although I think you could dress up as anything you like, really, who’s going to know? The Moose dressed in all black with a black hat and sunglasses with a long black velvet coat I picked up in a Table Eight sale some years ago. He was asked if he was Vengeance, to which he just smiled mysteriously. The more impressively costumed get queues of people wanting photos with them. There were many Batmen, the kids spotted a Fatman and a fat Flash, but I didn’t get photos of them. Geek girls are a lot fitter than I remember, I was a little disturbed by the often gorgeous Lycra clad girls being asked to pose by older men with giant cameras and doing so very happily. The Catwomen all seemed to be in great shape, not so the Poison Ivys. Odd. Many people cheated by simply buying a onesie of any description and wearing that, I even sawa woman in a cow onesie. Would have been a lot warmer than the Supergirls. Capes and elven robes were big. Harry Potter was almost non existent except for a couple of Hermione Grangers. Not everyone tried very hard.

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There were also a lot of prosthetic wounds and a very impressive cyborg who kept getting the giggles when he was asked to pose with the plastic arsenal at his stall.

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In fact there were a lot of heavily armed cosplayers, which made me wonder what the security guards at the entrance were actually going to look for. There was a stall, called Fight Club, which were selling real swords and armour. The Horror seriously considered buying himself a very reasonably priced helmet, until he discovered he could hardly lift it.

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He also considered a unit that looked like a shiny tough flick knife, but when you flicked it open it was actually a comb and a handy bottle opener. I think they had that the wrong way around, that’d be confiscated at the airport for sure.

The geek shopping was pretty impressive, especially if you liked T shirts. Apparently no one wears long sleeved shirts, hoodies, singlets or baby doll style shirts. Just T shirts. There was a lot of plastic weaponry. I was excited to see Weta Workshop there, we got two Keys to Erebor from them. They had a very realistic Gollum with them.

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They also had some of the weapons from the Hobbit movie, which you could actually handle.

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Steam punk is still a thing. All of my kids bought fob watches, independent of each other. The Horror also bought a little dooverlackie that looked like a tiny brass flask, but unfolded into a working telescope. Many of the crowd bought and immediately wore Tardis beanies, we now have one in our collection, so that’s one less rainbow one for me to crochet. The clothing for women was a bit limited, unless you like whatever that cutesie Japanese style is called.

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Or corsets. There were plenty of them, but not many under a size twenty.

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I did vaguely think about getting one when I finally found a small size, but the kids said “ew, gross, Mum, why would you want one of those?”, and there wasn’t anywhere even slightly discreet to try one on. You could have got a hat with ears or gloves in whatever animal or character you could think of.

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Of course there were figurines from all movies and games you’ve never heard of. I heard a man say wearily at one of the stalls “I guess you could put it on the shelf with all your other ones”. The Moose got himself a sonic screwdriver that you can use as a remote, you can load a couple of functions from whatever infrared remote you have onto it. He’s had a lovely time today sneaking up behind his brother and turning off the Wii with it. Here are his favourite purchases:

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It is a very impressive sonic screwdriver. His fob watch is a beautiful copy of the Master’s watch, it works and lights up too.

My only gripes were that it was very crowded, and too many T shirts.

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I overheard a woman saying to her friend “and this is where you get the flu”, which made me breathe in a shallow manner for a few minutes. You’d think with the type of crowd this event attracts they’d have chill out areas. I found it a bit overwhelming. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be saving up for next year.

Crochet – Adding to the Nanna Arts

I blame the craft shows. Such beautiful yarn! That’s what we knitters and crocheters call all the various combinations of plastic and fibre that can be spun into thread. Once you buy the yarn, then what? I’ve got my knitting skills up to such a point that I can knit a whole scarf with only a few wonky bits in it. But what then? Knitting actual garments is quite a giant step up and requires commitment and determination and a ton of yarn. I had a look at patterns for knitted beanies, but most of them involve circular needles and it turns out that if you want to make a beanie, you should crochet it.

Why didn’t I get my Nanna to teach me to crochet when she was compos mentis and also alive? I wasn’t even crafting at all then, I was busy getting married and travelling and having kids. It’s a lot easier to have someone teach you to crochet than teaching yourself over the Internet, but it will take your mind off your homicidal thoughts of the bathroom supply shop owner. I guess I could have travelled up to my Grandma’s retirement village to get one of her buddies to teach me (she didn’t knit, crochet, sew or cook, she spent all her time coping with an extremely difficult, but delightful, husband), but I thought I could manage.

Ha. I don’t know if you’ve tried, but to save you the effort here’s how it goes. There’s reams of instructions on starting to crochet. Descriptions of hooks, yarn weights. The most painstaking instructions and diagrams of how to form a crocheted chain. Then, with no warning,
Ch3 (counts as dc), 2dc in same st, skip 2 dc, *FPtr in next dc, ch1, BPtr in next dc, ch1, FPtr in next dc, skip 2 dc **, 3dc in next 2dc, skip 2dc; repeat from * around, ending last repeat at **.
Well, I ask you. The hell?!?

What you do next is to teach yourself some simple stitches. Look up double crochet on a site called Crocheting for Dummies, and make a circle of that.

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I don’t do video, I hate waiting for it to download, and I don’t know, it just irks me. I want a diagram. I had a breakthrough realisation that you can crochet a stitch into the stitch underneath more than once, and sometimes you skip stitches. Then I found a pattern for a beanie I wanted to make with some terrific rainbow coloured wool I found at Spotlight, which was unusual, they tend to specialise in cheap plastic imitations of wool, and looked up each individual stitch on the Crocheting for Dummies site. This hat was mainly FPdc and BPdc, so I eventually worked out those. Note, they’re hard to start off, but once you have a round of them it gets much easier.

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Getting that far was tricky, it involved a great deal of mental strength to ignore helpful comments from my offspring such as “that doesn’t look like a hat”, “is that the same as Chinese crochet? I saw a Chinese lady once with a ball of wool and a stick, is this the same?”, “why do some Chinese ladies have bobbed hair?”, “why isn’t six times eight the same as seven times seven?”. Actually that last one’s quite a good question, I’ll have to sit down with some xs and ys some time and work it out. Not now though, I have some schnitzelling to do, and I can’t stop crocheting.

Because now I have this!

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It does look like a hat, you just keep going 3BPdc, 3FPdc until you have it big enough. Now the littler two both want one, and I loved the wool so much I went back to Spotlight and bought the remaining couple of balls of it, so don’t think you can go up to Birkenhead Point and get some of your own, it’s all gone. The fabulous thing is you can do it without too much concentration, so you can do it while listening to tales of woe and joy from school and work, while watching Harry Potter AGAIN, while watching the Muffet climb what looks like a curtain and hang upside down from it,

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And while watching chess, which is what I’ll be doing this afternoon. Being a mum involves quite a lot of hanging around, which will now result in bonus beanies.

When I’ve done two of these, I’m going to do a black and white one to a different pattern for the husband, and who knows what after that. It’s very relaxing, and hard to stop, just one more round! Oh, I’ll still be beading and baking, baking rather more so, don’t worry. But while doing so, I shall have a warm head.

The Source – Balmain

I can take a hint. When every second person who’s read my blog or lives in Balmain tells me I should definitely visit The Source, all that is required is for me to gather a posse and form a foodie excursion.

I’m extremely reluctant to drive in Balmain, almost every time I go there I get lost or can’t find a parking spot anywhere in the suburb and have to retreat back to more car friendly climes. So I’m pleased to have a volunteer from the posse drive while I crochet in the back. Don’t worry, you’ll be hearing about the crochet shortly. It’s down the further end of Darling Street, you go through that bit that looks like it has a lot of shops, the they die off and you worry that you’ve missed it, then they start building up again and it’s just past Zumbo’s. We found a park next to a temperamental parking meter and we were there.

Not to keep you in suspense, I’m going to be coming here a lot. Oh, I have my quibbles. The good stuff is available in three rows of bins, one flat and two on an angle. The angled ones have the rather annoying feature that their lids don’t open very far. You secure your scoop, grab a paper bag and carefully write the product code on it for ease of processing at the checkout, then have to prop the lid open with a spare elbow as you attempt to transfer the stuff from the bin into the bag without spilling it all over your vegan shoes. There doesn’t appear to be a scoop for the spices. There’s a whole row of bins devoted to sweets, and you’d think us buy stuff in paper bags types would be making those ourselves.

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But goodness, it has everything my homespun heart could desire. Nuts, dried fruit, grains, seeds, pulses, spices, oils and syrups. It’s quite a small shop, so it must be a bit hard to take on weekends. I’m getting the feeling that this movement is gaining momentum, does it even have a name? Pure food, clean food (that sounds very gimmicky, like eating paleo which strikes me as a ridiculous description given our limited knowledge of what the paleo diet really was), made from scratch? Real food? I’m going with real food.

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I just got a few things. I’ve just run out of Honest to Goodness muesli, so I bought some stuff to make my own. Five grain mix, dried pear, currants, dried pawpaw (it has a gingery flavour), raw almonds. Organic couscous! I also got seven vanilla beans so I can start off another giant bottle of vanilla essence.

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It takes about a year to be usable, I should get cracking on the next one.
I got some glass jars to store my ever expanding collection of raw ingredients. I also got a jar of maple syrup, dark and fragrant, and one of rice malt syrup. I was a little disappointed with the flavour, not very malty at all. I’ve put it in a banana smoothie, and it makes me think it’s intended to be used as a sweetener rather than a source of malt flavour. It’s nice enough. I’ll be able to use it instead of honey in baked goods for the Horror, he can pick even a trace of honey. I like that they put the country of origin on the bins, was a bit surprised that the raw sugar was from Brazil. So when I got home I looked at my raw sugar packet and sure enough, Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients! Surely we can make raw sugar here.

I was fascinated by some of the stuff in bins. What on earth would you do with bee pollen? A $90 a kilo, that bin would have been worth thousands of dollars. And the hemp seeds with the instructions “not to be eaten”. I’m surprised they didn’t add a >. emoticon. I’m very keen for some Himalayan bath salts IF I EVER GET A BATH!!!! Ahem.

So it looks like I’m going to have to learn to drive to and in Balmain. Because it’s unlikely I’m going to be able to form a weekly posse, and anyway it gets expensive because you have to have lunch and coffee after. I wish they’d open a branch in my suburb, all the local Chamber of Commerce allows in our main street is hairdressers and pizza shops. Some of which are very good, mind you. But if I could walk up to get my supplies in biodegradable paper bags I’d be so dark green as to be almost pure chlorophyll. Ah well.

The Thermomix – Three Months On

It has a permanent place on my kitchen bench and the two questions people always ask me are “what do you make with it?” and “should I buy one?”. So I’ll start off with what it doesn’t do, so if you’re trying to talk yourself out of it you can push off and make dinner without having to grind through more than the next paragraph.

What doesn’t it do? I wouldn’t make stock in it, the jug is too small. If you want to grind small quantities of spices, I’d get out the trusty old coffee grinder. It does a terrible job of creaming butter. You can’t cook more than two litres of anything in the jug, though you can add things in the steamer to cook above them, so I don’t know if I’d regularly prepare the whole family dinner in it.

Did that put you off? You know, I’d probably use it between once and four times a day. Every week I make yoghurt (I’ve sorted that out now, I’m putting a capsule of Inner Health Plus in with the yoghurt, sets like a jelly, thanks Amalia for that tip!), several times a week I make bread because it does such a fine job of kneading and I’d make butter in it whenever Harris Farm is carrying its Jersey Cream, but not today, must be Devonshire Tea week in the Inner West. I also make Nepalese Porridge in it a couple of times a week. It’s my rice cooker, it’ll do two cups of rice in the steamer basket no problems. Last week I also made an orange cake, made breadcrumbs, ground almonds, ground a block of Parmesan cheese, made pizza dough, made apple sauce, made pine lime coconut iceblocks, made banana smoothies (with homemade yoghurt), caramelised onions, made buckwheat flour which went into pancakes, and steamed vegetables. I usually make myself a vegetable soup a couple of times a week, but didn’t manage it last week. See, you don’t need to make a six litre vat of soup to freeze because you can whip yourself up something delicious in fifteen minutes, do it as you go. I love the mashed potato it makes, but my husband says I can save that for when he’s lost all his teeth. Philistine.

I don’t know what you’d make in it. It’s perfect for curries, but my family haven’t quite advanced that far in adventurous eating. People always carry on about the risotto you can make in it, once again, not in this house. Dips, it’s good for dips. It does a very fine salad. Why don’t you hang out with a friend who has one? Or follow the blog of someone who uses one regularly?

Yes, it’s a lot of money. But if you want to make your family’s food fresh, from scratch, it’s very hard to go past it. It makes everything so easy. I never would have attempted curry pastes without it, there’s no way I’d stand over a saucepan for an hour to properly caramelise onions. I wouldn’t make bread every second day. And I’m not buying yoghurt or butter (except for Pepe Saya) any more. You could also buy one if you’re awash with cash and need something high tech on the kitchen bench. It isn’t for everyone, if you only cook occasionally, or really love the slicing and grating and drawn out food prep, then walk on by. But I couldn’t do without it.

Chicken Casserole

I’m very gradually trying to entice my children into eating meals which consist of foods that are a little removed from their natural state. Touching, perhaps. Maybe even cooked. Heavens forfend, covered in a sauce. The Horror is the most resistant to this trend, so as he invited himself to spend the weekend with his grandparents I asked him what was his least favourite meal. “Pie”, he replied without hesitation. He likes the pastry, he just strongly objects to it having any contents. I couldn’t be bothered with a pie, so I thought I’d have a crack at a chicken casserole.

What started me off was a Stephanie Alexander recipe for wild rabbit pie, which would have adapted perfectly to being a casserole just by leaving out the pastry shell bit. But the Muffet objects to eating animals that are cute, that are babies, or that she’s met socially, so no bunnies for us. I moved on to chicken casserole recipes and there’s an amazing variety of them out there that I just wouldn’t bother with. Many involve the use of a Le Creuset casserole dish. I think if you didn’t score one of these babies as a wedding present you’ve missed the boat, there’s no way I’m spending that much on a casserole dish. Another large number involved either a litre of cream or half a bottle of wine, or both. So not them either. I ended up making this up.

Place in any old medium saucepan that you happen to find lying around in your kitchen cupboard a chunk of your delicious homemade butter. Add to it a chopped carrot,a chopped stick of celery, and some slices of my current favourite vegetable, fennel. Take five or six chicken thigh fillets, chop them into thirds and toss them in the pot. Most normal people would also add an onion, but I’ve rather gone off them lately. I would have stuck in half a leek, but I didn’t happen to have any. I was going to put in sliced mushrooms, but I forgot. Add a spot of salt and pepper and a couple of bay leaves and cook uncovered over a medium high heat, stirring whenever you smell burning. When the lot is looking browned, sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of corn flour and stir it it. Dump the lot into a casserole dish. Deglaze (ooh, fancy) the saucepan with half a cup of chicken stock and tip that into the casserole dish too. I happened to have some fresh thyme, so I arranged that over the top.

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Stick it in a 180 degree oven with the lid on for about half an hour. Remove it and cover it with about half a cup of breadcrumbs, possibly made with a left over bread roll inserted into the Thermomix. Bake it uncovered for a further half an hour.

I told the kids that they could just pick out the chicken and eat that. Much to their surprise, they rather liked it. I even managed to cajole them into eating some of the cooked carrot. Progress! I think it will be some time before I can spring it on the Horror, though. I’ve yet to persuade him to try putting butter on his toast.

Orange Cake

It’s fresh, it’s home grown, it’s possibly organic, it’s a bag full of backyard oranges. I do love being gifted raw ingredients, so how could I knock back a bag of oranges. A very large bag, full to the brim of thin skinned, sweet, juicy, I’m guessing Valencias. We have eaten quite a lot of them. Some of them went into an orange and passionfruit syrup. Some of them succumbed to the blue green algae. But I still have a bowl full left, and I’ve always wanted to try an orange and almond cake.

There’s actually a recipe for it in the Thermomix cookbook. I’m deeply suspicious of most of those recipes, even more so as this one claims to be fat free. What a lot of nonsense. It contains 250 grams of almond meal, it isn’t even slightly fat free. So I compare it to the orange cake recipe in the Stephanie Alexander Cooks Companion, and it looks fairly believable despite having only half the eggs. Here’s what I did.

Take two large, or three small oranges and bung them in the Thermomix steamer basket. Stick a litre of water in the jug and cook those babies for forty five minutes at Varoma temperature on speed three. The Stephanie Alexander recipe suggests gently boiling them for two hours, so I’m quite glad I’m not doing that, given my attention span. I’m quite capable of going out to buy cucumbers and returning to find my kitchen a smouldering ruin if I did that. See, I’m saving money with the Thermomix.

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They’re very soft after forty five minutes, I’m happy not to cook them further. You’re supposed to cut the oranges open at this point to hunt for pips, which I dutifully do and don’t find any. Bung them into the emptied jug and add on top 250 grams of almond meal, 250 grams of sugar, a teaspoon of baking powder and some eggs. The Thermomix recipe says three, Stephanie Alexander says six. I compromise on five, as that’s how many I have left in the box. See how full the jug is, yet when you zap it on speed seven for twenty seconds the oranges are pulverised and the whole lot is completely mixed.

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Pour it into a lined cake tin and bake it at 180 degrees for forty five minutes to an hour. The skewer test doesn’t really work on this type of cake, so when I pull it out after fifty five minutes for a sample it’s still fairly damp inside. Or moist, if you prefer.

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From what Stephanie says, it should be, but I’d rather it wasn’t. I put it back in the oven for another half an hour on 150 degrees and do actually go and buy cucumbers. It’s certainly dryer inside when I get back.

I do like the flavour, but not so sure about the texture. I might try reducing the eggs next time. Or possibly adding some flour and more baking powder. I’d like it lighter. But for there to be a next time, this one needs to be eaten first. Lucky it’s fat free.

Craft and Quilt Show

You’d think with the number of unfinished projects I have going that the last thing I should do is go to a craft show. I’ve got two unfinished handbags, one started immediately after the last Craft and Quilt Show, a knitted strap for one of the handbags, two necklaces on the go and a vintage velvet dress that needs altering. I was very firm with myself yesterday and made myself finish one thing before loading up with more craft. I bought a vintage brocade jacket and last week’s farmers market and I spent twenty minutes yesterday taking it in so it didn’t look so much like a curtain with sleeves. I thought it would take much longer, I’m extremely pleased with it and wore it today. One can never have enough craft.

Also the planets were aligned. The bathroom chaps have decided to have yet another day off before being able to psych themselves up sufficiently to screw the vanity to the wall. I had a doctors’s appointment in the morning very close to the light rail station. I’ve been given instructions on how to make an easy beanie using a gauge of wool and needles that I just don’t have. I need a little more embellishment for my unfinished handbags. It was meant to be. The only thing that slowed me down a little was the doctor surprised my whipping out a horse sized needle and giving me another cortisone injection to the ankle. Of all the enormous variety of needles I’ve had stuck in me, the ones on the bone are my very least favourite. I decided to ignore my whimpering joint and press on.

The Craft and Quilt show has become the biggest of the craft events during the year. I hear that the Bead and Gem show isn’t even going ahead in Sydney this year, it seems that beading is in decline. There was a small selection of beading shops at the show, but I’m pretty happy with my US suppliers and am well stocked up at the moment, so only gave them a cursory glance. Fibres, scrap booking and quilting is what this show’s about, and look at the queue!

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That wasn’t even opening time. Apparently when females retire, they join a choir and take up a craft, then come to these shows. I’m a bit ahead of myself.

Did you know there are craft guilds! They had stalls here today.

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Smockers, machine knitters, calligraphers, spinners (with an actual spinning wheel!), take your pick. I can’t, I’m somewhat promiscuous in my crafting. I have decided that I’d rather like to learn to crochet, so I picked up some books on that. Wow, there are a lot of crafting books. I almost bought a fabulous looking book on how to make handbags, but when the introductory list of what equipment you need went over two pages I put it down, feeling rather inadequate. I think I’ll continue to wing it in that department and cover up imperfections with embellishments. There were books on cake decorating and knitting flowers, and sewing outfits for your dog, most of them very specific. Ideal for the crowd here.

I particularly like the range of fibres on offer at this show. Fat quarters do nothing for me, and my sewing isn’t yet at a stage where I’ll need anything I can’t get at Spotlight. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a lot less haberdashers around the place than there used to be and it’s very difficult to find a shop where you can buy quality wool. At the show there was possum wool, alpaca, merino, silk and cotton, multicoloured, fluffy, that funny one you knit into spirals, metallic crochet thread (next year), imported, homespun and every colour. I got the knitting needles I need for the beanie, a crochet needle from Prudence Mapstone herself, and three kinds of twelve ply wool.

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Now where do I start? Should I be disciplined and at least finish the black and white necklace? Surely crocheting one Afghan square wont hurt. Or doing a test beanie with wool I already have, rather than this fancy new wool. I’ll put off the decision til tomorrow and meanwhile roll one of the skeins into a ball.

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I’ll have plenty of time tomorrow, my ankle tells me we’re not going anywhere for a couple of days.