Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And so Goodnight

We're heading out and about on holidays etc and I'm trying to avoid getting on the 'puter because I have so much to do.

I'm wishing everyone a safe, happy Christmas! May you and your family experience much joy together and create some beautiful memories. My very best wishes for a New Year that brings you everything you hope for.

Signing off this blog for the next week.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Random post

Today a red-eared turtle walked across our street. A lady came along and rescued it. I went down to see if I could help but she had it in a bag by then. She was going to take it to Animal Welfare. It was about the size of a bread and butter plate. No idea where it came from! Bizarre!

Here is Miss D modelling the latest in smocked fashion. A pair of rompers. I've had that material since... oh.. probably since I was 17 or so. I finally smocked it just before DS turned 1. I finally sewed up the garment this week! Nobody can accuse me of doing things too quickly.

Gingerbread people. One of them is for DH's lunch box. Can you guess which one? *tongue in cheek*

Strawberry Granita. Recipe below.

Strawberry Granita

Serves 8 (from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection / by Delia Smith. 1993. London: BBC Books. Page 156)

450g (1 lb) ripe strawberries

175g (6oz) caster sugar

570 ml (1 pint) water

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Hull the strawberries and rinse in a colander. Drain well and dry them before transferring them to a food processor or liquidizer. Blend to a smooth puree, then add the sugar and blend again. After that add the water and lemon juice and blend once more.

Place a sieve over a bowl. Pour in the puree and rub through the sieve. This takes a little time but removes the small pips from the fruit making eating more pleasurable. Pour the sieved mixture into a freezer proof container (e.g. an old ice cream container), cover and put in the freezer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours the mixture should have started to freeze around the sides and base of the container. Take a large fork and mix the frozen mixture into the unfrozen, then re-cover and return to the freezer for another hour.

After an hour, repeat with another vigorous mixing with a fork. Cover again, and freeze for another hour. At this stage the mixture should be a completely frozen snow of ice crystals and is ready to serve. Unlike sorbet, a granita is supposed to have large ice crystals.

The granita can remain at serving stage in the freezer for another 3-4 hours, but after that the ice with become too solid to serve immediately. You will need to place it in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes or until it is soft enough to break up with a fork again.

This dessert looks lovely served in wine or parfait glasses garnished with a little fresh chopped mint. A quick slosh of strawberry liqueur wouldn’t go amiss.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

Didn't do too badly last week though I did forget to put on the homemade ciabatta so we lucked out there.

Monday - Baby Mustard Meatloaves (recipe below), salad, strawberries for dessert
Tuesday - Chicken and Chickpea one pot dish (recipe below), salad or something like it
Wednesday - Lamb chops, coleslaw, kumara
Thursday - Pasta Puttanesca aka Tart's Spaghetti, salad
Friday - Christmas party at DS's kindy so it'll be the ubiquitous, pre-cooked, excuse-for-a-banger on bread with tomato sauce. I'll probably do some soup in the crockpot for DH and I for when we come home.
Saturday - doing an early Christmas lunch at Mum's house for my g-ma who is coming on an outing from the home where she lives, and then a BBQ in the evening to exchange gifts with my family. That's if we feel like eating.
Sunday - Leftovers? Or something quick. Probably eggish.

Baby Mustard Meatloaves (from Jo Seagar)
Serves 4-6
800g minced lean beef
1 medium onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 T oil
1 1/2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs (I'll be substituting with brown bread)
2 eggs, beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 T grainy mustard
1 T tomato sauce
2 t sweet chilli sauce
1 T finely chopped parsley
1 T finely sliced chives
8 rashers bacon
Heat oil in small pan and stir fry onion until softened - add garlic and breadcrumbs and cook 2 mins. Mix mince with onion mixture, then add egs, mustard, tomato and chilli sauces, parsley and chives. Season with salt and pepper. With wet hands form into mini loaves and wrap with bacon rashers. Place in oiled roasting dish. bake in a preheated 190 deg. C oven for 30-35 mins until bacon is crisp and meatloaves cooked.
NB: I'll be doing these in my mini-loaf pans. Probably will cut down the bacon too.

Moroccan Baked Chicken with Chickpeas and Rice (from Delia Smith's Winter collection)
Serves 4
1.5-2 kg chicken jointed (I use chicken legs or chicken pieces)
110g dried chickpeas (I will use canned this time)
175g brown basmati rice
2 fresh green chilles halved, deseeded and finely chopped
1 rounded t cumin seeds
1 level T coriander seeds
1/2 t saffron stamens
30g fresh coriander, finely chopped (keep some for sprinkling over the top of the finished dish)
2 small thin-skinned lemons (I'll use some of my preserved lemons)
juice of one lemon
2 large yellow capsicums
2 large onions
3 cloves garlic, chopped
275ml good chicken stock
150ml dry white wine
50g pitted black olives
50g pitted green olives
2 T olive oil

If you are using dried chickpeas, deal with them in the usual way. Which is, soak overnight in cold water and then boil them until tender the next day.

Dry roast cumin and coriander seeds. Crush them coarsely in a mortar and pestle. Crush the saffron stamens to a powder and then add the juice of one lemon to the saffron.

Season the the chicken with salt and pepper. Cut capsicums in half and remove seeds, then cut each half into 4 large pieces. Slice onions roughly the same size as the capsicums.
Heat 1 T of the olive oil and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Remove to a plate.

Add the second T of oil to the pan and heat to its highest setting. Add capsicums, onions and cook them in the hot oil, moving them around until their edges are slightly blackened. Turn the heat down and add the fresh coriander, garlic, chillies, spices, chickpeas, and rice giving everything a good stir. I now transfer it to a clay casserole pot I have that goes in my oven. If you are fortunate to have a pan that goes from stove top to oven, then use that. Season well with salt and pepper, then add saffron and lemon mixture with the stock and wine. Scatter over the olives. Add the preserved lemon. Place in pre-heated 180 deg. C oven for 1 hour until rice and chickpeas are done. Garnish with a little fresh coriander.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Flaunt it Friday: Guilty Pleasures

Okay.. these are the guilty pleasures I am prepared to reveal in such a place!

Firstly - coffee. It's got to be proper coffee. Preferably Atomic's Veloce blend.
Must. Have. It.
I know I'm an addict. Do I feel guilty? no.

Next - chocolate. Should be at least 70%. Must. Have. It. Don't feel guilty about this one either!

And thirdly - romance novels. Especially with sufficient rumpy-pumpy (tasteful of course) in them. Okay - I do fell a bit bad about this one. I mean, I'm a librarian. I should read improving literature for my mind. I should read complex plots with intricately twisted deeper meanings. Heroines who spend a whole chapter in eloquent self-absorbed navel gazing.

But I don't. Not usually. I like popular fiction and I like happy endings. And I like a bit of heart-racing, lip-licking nookie.

So there!

Monday, December 03, 2007


Finally some scrapbooking got done around here!

A simple canvas for the ILs Christmas present. Challenge from SBO's Christmas Gala, working with Trina's sketch.

Some finished UFO's for the challenge at SBO which was to finish them! Enjoyed working with this size. The one on the left uses mostly items from the Paper Pesto kit I won. Speaking of PP... their Christmas kit looks scrumptious.

The artist and his work

It's taken a while but DS's drawings are finally taking a form that is recognisable.

This is Mummy in her car.

It has wheels, a steering wheel and (I'm told) a boot*.

*Boot = trunk for the hemispheric-challenged folks.

Another eco-bag

Another eco-bag
See - they don't have to be plain calico :-)

Spotlight has these bolts of cool canvas prints for $15.00 a metre. Veeeeery tempted to go back and get some more.

This one is a slightly different design to the others.

Menu Plan Monday

Didn't make it last week - too much on to think about it. This week is much the same but will attempt a bit of one.

Mon - roast chook + veges of some sort
Tues - smoked chicken + blue cheese in spinach crepes, asparagus, home made ciabatta
Wed - Cheese Kranskys on buns with sauerkraut (brats on buns = bratwurst in a roll ;-) ) + salad
Thurs - Grilled Lamb, lemon risotto, broccoli
Fri - Lasagne
Sat - Stir fry chicken & veges
Sun - Bacon, salad, maybe a quiche (something quick)

The vege garden is coming along and I have had to breeze an enormous head of broccoli. My lettuces are huge too, hence the frequency of salads.

Home grown broccoli has one drawback. Caterpillars. Despite generous dusting of organic Derris dust, they still seem to be about in great quantities. I do my best to get them off prior to cooking but even so... I inspect each floret I eat. It's difficult to enjoy home grown produce when you are trying to avoid eating home grown caterpillars.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Flaunt it Friday: Significant Others

themommykelly's, theme this week is the story of your meeting with your SO :-) I've enjoyed reading other participants stories... here is ours.

I met DH when I was 25. I've blogged about our first date earlier this year . I'd been working for 3-4 years, and had been single for 4 of them. My previous relationship had burnt me a bit (as they usually do) and I was almost resigned to being a singleton. I wasn't opposed to meeting people, but it was difficult because I really wanted to marry within my faith... and that restricted the pool quite a bit! So after praying rather desperately I decided to just get on with life and not dwell on it. It was hard, because we live in a world that is oriented to coupledom. I didn't always succeed in having a serenity about it. But I tried to make some plans to give myself goals that kept my mind off it.

I knew DH sort of. He originally lived in Whangarei (2 hours away for overseas readers) but had moved to Auckland to study. Once he found a job he moved to our side of town and boarded with some close friends of ours in their small flat. So I knew who he was but didn't have much to do with him. He was and still is a shy person, and found it hard to socialise.

One day (after stewing about it for several weeks) he called and asked me out. You can read about that here! After our first date I invited him back in to meet the folks but he declined. Too shy! Things progressed slowly. I was afraid to commit to a relationship because of my fear of being hurt again and because I wanted to be sure that he was the "right" one. Asking him out was a big step for me, as opposed to accepting invitations to go out from him. I spent quite a few weeks in denial that I was having any sort of relationship.

Eventually I realised that I enjoyed his company and things started to advance more rapidly. We ended up spending our lunch hours together, our evenings together and weekends too. Western Springs was a favourite place to have a lunchtime pash. LOL!

In fact, having to be apart got harder and harder as our feelings for each other grew. I was still living at home so DH often would arrive back at his flat at midnight much to the amusement of our mutual friends! He got breath tested several times on his many trips back home on Friday/Saturday nights but the only thing he would've scored positive for would've been "well kissed". :-)

Taking the risk to commit to marriage was a big step for both of us for reasons not appropriate to discuss on this blog. But suffice it to say we had several months of very stressful days before DH popped the question and I accepted. And so, the big day came, we got married and here we are now with 2 kids and yes, we're still in love.

We have had our moments of course! Both of us are excellent at sulking. We sometimes don't communicate very well. Neither of us is perfect and some of our foibles irritate the other. But over all our relationship has become stronger for which I am extremely grateful and feel very blessed. But that doesn't happen by chance and both of us are aware that this marriage thing requires attention. I don't want to take it for granted.

NB: Photo taken yesterday... we had some family photos taken for the Christmas cards, so expect a few more in the next few days.