Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quiet but busy and thankful

It's been quiet on this blog.  Life has been busy though. 

Most of you know (from my Facebook) that I'm starting a new job in July - as eLearning librarian over on the Main Campus.  It will be a move up for me though the position is only for 3 semesters.  It will be a secondment position and I'll return to my information librarian job after the 3 semesters.  I will miss the environment I'm currently working in but the job itself is going to be a lot more interesting for me in many ways and I'm excited to start.  In fact, I really need to be there now because things are moving quite quickly so I'm having to travel back and forth between roles and the two campuses which is a bit wearying.  I'm thankful for opportunities to extend my professional skills.

In amongst the applying, interviewing and associated angst that goes with that, DH had a job offer as well.  It wasn't a bad offer but would have meant some major changes for him.  The salary didn't quite compensate for those changes so he turned them down.  His current employers have since acknowledged his dilemma by giving him a bit of a rise so we're grateful for that, especially given the fiscal constraints we're all operating under.  I'm very thankful both of us have employment and employers who do what they can.

The whole family has been struggling with seasonal colds and coughs.  DD ended up with ear infections and I got sinusitus so with the help of antibiotics we are now on the mend.  Unfortunately the sinus problems have put me behind with my running efforts because it hurt my teeth to run! Hoping for better in the coming weeks.  I'm thankful we have reasonable health most of the time.

We've been working with DS on his reading as he is a little challenged by it.  He's getting some help at school, and we're using a kit to help strengthen his eyes.  We think it is helping.  I'm thankful for our local school which noticed he needed help and is trying to give him help even though they have little funding.

Both children are having swimming lessons on Saturdays which reduces my free time but they love it and it is such a necessary life skill in New Zealand.

I've been doing some sewing. These little kimonos are from this book and are for little Samuel Clarke. They aren't perfect (my home sewing rarely is) but hopefully will be nice and light.

Yesterday we ventured down to the Tron to make felted slippers with a scrapbooking friend V.  We had a bit of adventure trying to get them to work but I'm pretty pleased with mine even though they look a bit scabby since I patched a few holes with the inside colour.  I'm going to do a few things to improve them, like bind the edges.  DD is keen for me to make her some - she has asked several times already when we're going to get her wool and I am to make some with butterflies on apparently.  Also they have to be "pearple", her favourite colour.  I'm wondering if there is a better place to get wool from other than Spotlight - if you know, tell me in the comments.  Online is fine.  I'm thankful for friends and for a measure of time and funds to do crafting projects.

V and some of the other girls requested this recipe.

Sweet Corn Chowder *

3 oz butter
2 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
4 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup canned creamed-style corn
2 cups fresh corn kernels (frozen is fine)
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons cream (optional)
2 Tablespoons fresh chives to garnish
Heat butter in large heavy based pan. Add onions and cook over medium heat for 5 mins or until golden. Add garlic and cumin seeds, cook 1 min stirring constantly. Add stock and bring to boil. Add potatoes and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Add creamed corn, corn kernels and parsley. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Stir through cheese, salt and pepper, and cream. Heat gently so the cheese melts. Serve sprinkle with chives. Serves 8. 
* This is a vegetarian soup, but I like to throw in some bacon bones or a bacon hock into the stock as I feel it gives it more flavour depth.
and also this one which is from the magazine Dish, 11, Feb 2007-May 2007, pg 90

Hazelnut, Chocolate & Polenta Cake

325g butter at room temperature
325g caster sugar
1 teasp vanilla
300g hazelnuts, roasted, skinned and finely ground
35g good quality cocoa, sifted
4 eggs
160g fine, quick cook polenta
1 1/2 teasp baking powder
1/4 teasp salt

Raspberry Sauce
500g frozen raspberries, thawed
icing sugar
1 lime

Perheat oven to 160 C. Grease base and sde of 26cm cake tin with melted butter or canola spray and line both with baking paper.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla together until pale and creamy. Mix through the ground hazels and cocoa.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
Combine the polenta, baking powder and salt and fold into the batter.
Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the top.  Bake for about 50 mins or until skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. The top will have formed a good crust.
Transfer to rack and leave to cool.

Raspberry Sauce
Place the thawed raspberries in a food processor with 2 Tablesp of icing sugar and blend until smooth.  Taste and add more icing sugar if needed.  Then add a good squeeze of the lime juice.  Blend again and strain the sauce through a fine sieve, pushing the sauce through with the back of a spoon.  Discard the seeds. Pour sauce into serving jug.

To serve: Dust top of the cake with icing sugar and serve in slices with raspberry sauce and creme fraiche or yoghurt.  The cake will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Serves 10-12.

I'm thankful for cake. ;-P

Speaking of recipes - I rescued this gem from Mum & Dad's last year.  It's one of those fund raising cookbooks that were popular (and may be still are).  This one is from the 80's.

It includes such gourmet delights as:

Check out the sponsor on this page - Rainbow Chinese Restaurant Finest Chinese cuisine.  While I was growing up the only "ethnic" cuisine available was Chinese food.  Indian food we made at home and as for Italian, Turkish or other international foods... well, you were out of luck unless you could cook them yourselves as well.  The Rainbow was popular with us kids.  We got to go there for our birthdays and for a treat.  I'm pretty sure they had the standard fare available in the 80's for such an establishment but we thought it was special particularly when we got to have deep fried ice cream and deep friend banana for dessert!

Then there is this dish - I know you'll be after making it for sure!

Sorry, but possum is unlikely to be on my menu.  It would all be given to the cat.

Oh, remember what I said about international food?  Here's the 80s Kiwi version of pizza.

That's right.  Spaghetti on scones =  pizza.  Actually it's not too bad but lets be honest - it is NOT pizza.  It's scones with spaghetti on top.

It's not all bad this little book.  There are some good old fashioned baking items that I like in it.  The scouting advice is amusing too.  I'm thankful for a family who is adventurous in their eating habits.

The sun is shining so I'm going to hang out some washing!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Creating... in a chef sort of way

No scrapbooking this weekend - but I did make these.

Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli

First make your pasta, but don't put it through the fettucine/spaghetti cutter, just leave the flat bit to dry a bit.  I cheated and kneaded the pasta in the Kitchen Aid because I was in a bit of a hurry.

You will notice that I have the same helper with the pasta machine as I did in my post back in October 2006!

Finely chop half a shallot.

Grate a little fresh nutmeg into the bowl with the onion. (Or use child labour).

Wash a few leaves of spinach and then wilt with some boiling water.

Squeeze out the spinach and finely chop.  Add to the bowl with the nutmeg and onion.  Grab your ricotta and add that.  (I used just under half of this 250g pot).

Mix it all up and season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Take your flattened pasta and make the ravioli.  I don't have one of those special tins to make them so I use my smallest cookie cutter to cut out some shapes.  But you could just cut the pasta with a knife and make squares or triangles. 

Wet the edges of the shapes and stick the topper pieces on them pressing firmly to make them stick.  Mine end up looking like flying saucers :-)

Boil up a big pan of water, salting to taste.  Place the ravioli into the boiling water and cook until al dente.  You may have to do it in batches.

While that is happening you could make this Blue Cheese sauce or this Walnut and Garlic one.  We had it with blue cheese.  I was going to take a photo of the finished product but I was too slow!  They were gobbled down too quick.