Thursday, August 26, 2010


So, I have a work deadline tomorrow, a cold, three demanding children, and a house in chaos. When asked to bring something for a school shared lunch tomorrow, do I take the easy route and buy something?

Of course not. I have the bright idea to try making lamingtons for the first time ever.

I followed this recipe. Thank goodness for the Thermomix.

Excuse the poor quality phone photo (you can see the very early stages of my Ill-Fated Socks in the background).

I must say, they're quite tasty. I had to sample one, just in case they were horrible ;)

I am very excited because I have a new toy coming. Nothing to do with cooking or craft. I'm going to keep you in suspense!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Those dangerous sock knitters

We nearly missed our flight to Broome due to a couple of craft-related miscalculations on my part.

Firstly, Emma had some homework to do, so I told her to just throw her school pencilcase in her carry-on bag. Forgetting she had scissors in there. D'oh. Goodbye scissors.

Secondly, being aware of recently relaxed regulations allowing passengers to take knitting needles on board, I thought "Yahoo!" and packed a knitting project bag with some socks I was about to start.

Socks. Knitted on nice, pointy, thin, metal, Addi double-pointed needles. Put bag through security. "Uh, ma'am, what are these?"

"Knitting needles."

"Um. I'm going to have to check with someone."

"Oh. Okay." [thinking: Shit. They've probably never seen these and think of chunky straight needles for knitting basic scarves, when they think knitting needles. Shit. Those are expensive needles. The flight has started boarding!*]

After calling over a couple more people, they finally determined that I wasn't planning to stab someone with these pointy objects and let us through.

Needless to say, I packed them in the checked baggage for the return flight. I should also add that I got horribly tangled when winding a ball from the skein, and it took me so long to untangle, that I never got to start the damn socks anyway.

* I'm not an idiot. We got to the airport in heaps of time considering we checked-in online. Unfortunately the Virgin bag-drop line seemed to take longer than the actual check-in line, so we ended up almost late!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Surprisingly relaxing ...

... a holiday to Broome with three children.

We stayed at Captain's by the Bay, a gorgeous boutique complex of self-contained apartments. It's about halfway between Town Beach (the smaller beach on the Roebuck Bay side of the peninsula, as opposed to the touristy Cable Beach) and the town centre/Chinatown precinct. This meant we could walk to either of those in about 15 minutes.

I've seen a lot of travel reviews saying that one really needs a car to get around Broome. I disagree. As I said, we walked to both Town Beach and to Chinatown. When we wanted to go to Cable Beach, we used the excellent, privately-run Town Bus service. Children travel free with their paying parent/s! The bus comes every 30 minutes, which is very convenient. That said, we did hire a car on our last full day, because the kids really wanted to go to the Malcolm Douglas Wilderness Park, about 20km out of Broome itself. We visited the Mango Place while we were in the 10 Mile/12 Mile district, and drove to Cable Beach again afterwards to do an afternoon camel ride.

Broome is an expensive place for food, probably because of its isolated location. We found we got better value by eating out for lunch, and making a lighter dinner ourselves at the apartment. We did make an exception for a dinner at Matso's Brewery. Their ginger beer is soooo good (from a non-beer-drinker).

I far preferred the smaller Town Beach to Cable Beach. The red-tinged sand is beautiful, and because it's a bay, the water is clear with only very gentle lapping waves. Therefore the children could paddle out further, and we didn't get sand up our bottoms. There is also a nice cafe down there (reasonably priced for Broome - though beware the erratic opening hours), and the jewel in the crown is a free splash park for the kids.

All in all, we had a great time on our first-ever real holiday!*

* We've been to the Gold Coast and Sydney, but Garry's been working.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Carrot almond muffins with creme fraiche topping

I was waiting to add a photo, but I can't find the camera cable. I hope it shows up before we go on holiday! This is today's baking effort. A Facebook friend commented that it sounds almost healthy - I don't know, there's plenty of sugar and fat, but also carrots, nuts, and eggs for protein ;) And two out of three of my kids don't normally eat carrots ...

Melted butter, to grease (I use good quality silicone bakeware, so I didn't grease]
5 large eggs, separated
170g raw sugar [you could use less if you're happy with a less sweet muffin]
2 tsp finely grated orange rind [just one orange, for simplicity's sake]
3 medium carrots, finely grated [I just gave them a scrub and left the skin on, but I buy organic carrots]
200g almond meal
100g self-raising flour, sifted

About 200g creme fraiche [i.e. what was left in the tub after making mushroom stroganoff the other night]
1 tbsp icing sugar
squeeze of fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Prepare muffin trays - this mix made 14 for me, so I used two individual molds as well as a 12-cup muffin tray.

For Thermomix users, I grated the carrots first, 10 seconds or so on speed 7, rinsed and dried the bowl, and then grated the orange rind. If you're also making your own almond meal, be sure and do that before you start.

Place yolks, sugar & rind in a bowl or mixer and beat until thick & creamy (Thermomix: about 30 seconds on speed 4/5 with butterfly). Add carrot, flour and almond meal, and stir (Thermomix: about 40 seconds on speed 2, reverse).

Place egg whites in a bowl and beat until soft peaks form. If you're doing this in the Thermomix, you'll need to put the mix in another bowl, clean the TMX bowl and make sure it's dry before whipping the egg whites. I was lazy and didn't dry very carefully, so my whites didn't really whip - the recipe still worked.

Fold the egg white into the carrot mixture in two batches. Pour into muffin pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean (this is a moist muffin, though, so it won't be completely dry).

To make the creme fraiche topping, whip all ingredients together until soft peaks form. I didn't whip mine thick enough to be an icing as such, I only intended to dollop it over the top like whipped cream.

Based on this recipe.

Meal planning again

Last week I stuck to the plan pretty well, except on Tuesday I left it too late to make the pizza base and ended up ordering pizza instead. Bah. This week I need to get that done in the morning and chuck it in the fridge - and make two extras for the freezer.

Next Sunday morning we are going to Broome - a town up in the north of Western Australia, which enjoys lovely winter temperatures of about 30 degrees Celsius. Bliss. That does mean that I need to use up fresh vegies this week.

Tonight: beef & vegie stir-fry with noodles
Monday: home-made pizza
Tuesday: Roast chicken pieces, roast potatoes, vegies
Wednesday: Leftover chicken with rice and salad
Thursday: osso bucco with pasta and vegies
Friday: vegetable & chickpea curry with rice
Saturday: leftovers or baked beans on toast

Monday, August 2, 2010

What's for dinner?

I am not one of those super-organised supermums. I struggle a lot with feeding my family, as I'm the only one who cooks and my partner often isn't home until after dinner is served; he's certainly rarely home to wrangle the children while I prepare it in peace. For the past few weeks I was really jaded with cooking dinner, and thus didn't plan - big mistake. When will I learn? We ate loads of crap and I was even more jaded because I would have to think of something at five o'clock!

So, I jumped back on the meal planning bandwagon.

This week's dinners will be ...

Sunday: steak and mushroom pie, salad, broccoli, cauliflower
Monday: grilled fish, chips, salad
Tuesday: home-made pizza, garlic bread, carrots, peas
Wednesday: leftovers (there's soup & dhal in the freezer)
Thursday: lamb koftas, couscous, cucumber & red onion salad
Friday: mushroom stroganoff, mashed potato, cauliflower, broccoli
Saturday: Moroccan sweet potato, carrot & chickpea soup, with some sort of bread

And last week's were ...

Monday: pork meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta.
Tuesday: roast chicken, roast potatoes, vegies
Wednesday: chicken fried rice w' leftover roast chicken
Thursday: Evie's birthday, got takeaway
Friday: Moroccan lentil soup, fresh focaccia
Saturday: leftover soup (we had lunch out so ate lots)

Now, the secret to meal planning for me is to be flexible. For instance, I'm thinking tonight (Monday) I might crumb the fish instead of just grilling it, because I have some breadcrumbs in the freezer and, well, I just feel like it. Similarly, I'll often cook different vegies than what I write in the plan. And sometimes I'll swap the days around, especially if we're late home on a day when I'd planned to do something that takes a while to cook. But having the rough plan means that I know what meat to get out of the freezer in the morning (if any); it also means I waste fewer ingredients, like the packet of salad mix I got in my organic box on Friday. I opened it last night and it only lasts a couple of days so I planned it into tonight's meal as well, and had some with the leftover pie for lunch today. Most of all, it means my brain doesn't have to think on the run. It's not so good at that these days.

For those reading who don't know my children - sadly they don't eat most of this multicultural and varied assortment of foods. We're working on it. Evie liked the pastry of the pie last night, and Alastair liked the chunks of meat. Sigh.

What's for dinner at your house this week?