Monday, January 30, 2012

Pie Odyssey #2

I was so tempted to use the word "horny" in the title for this post but refrained in the interests of good taste.  However, you'll know that I thought it anyway so perhaps I should just admit to my gutter brain right here and now.

The pie adventure continues with my choice of the Desperate Bikers Pie.  Kylie, or at least Michael made theirs already.

I was attracted to this pie because of the cow horn decorations which seemed to me like Viking horns. Did Vikings eat pie?

I admit that this recipe was more involved than the last.  First you make the filling which is a casserole of meat, veges, tomatoes and some herbs. So you start with onions and garlic and proceed in a casserole direction.  It's almost a complete meal.  You just need to add some green vegetable to round out the dinner.

It was about now I realised that I wasn't going to finish the pie for that evening's dinner, so had to quickly make a decision about an alternative.  I had read the recipe through and started earlier than normal, but I didn't factor in cooling time for the filling.

It makes a huge amount and I don't have a 2L pie pan (watch this space) so I made 2 pies - one to freeze.  (Hooray for no cooking night down the track)!  I even "knocked up" (it's not what you're thinking) the pastry as per the instructions.

Then for the ..uh.. horns   You wrap pastry around tin foil.  The children found this bit most intriguing.  They get inserted at the end.

Bon appetit!

And here is a hungry Viking ready to eat it.  Mr8 suggested an Obelix costume might be appropriate too!

The verdict - yum!  All participants liked the pie - Mr8 and DH had two pieces. 

They're horns okay?  No really.. they are.

Railway developments: a guest post from Mr8

[DH has progressed with the basement model railway.  He modified his previous plan for a folding up base on table legs, to one attached to the concrete bricks and ceiling so that the trailer can be stored under the table.  Of course, the project hasn't been totally smooth sailing.  He's had issues with trains coming off the rails, switches not working properly and laying the ballast.  Fortunately, there are plenty of people online who post Youtube videos and to forums about potential solutions and some progress has been made.  The following is Mr8's blog post.]

The track is half-ballasted.  Dad has painted the table.  He has made an upper level.

I am moving the carriages along the track.

This is ballast and rail paint by the switch.

This is ballasted track.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A is for apple pie

Kylie and I are having a little fun with the Hairy Biker's pie book Perfect Pies.  We're going to work our way through the book and jointly try the pies we choose to make.

The first one Kylie chose was the Perfect Apple Pie.  I made it today. Obviously it contains apples.  The recipe calls for Bramley apples but I used Grannys because I had them.  I think I've seem Bramley's for sale up at the orchards but it's not apple season yet.

The pastry recipe was a straight forward sweet short crust. I made it in my food processor with the dough cutter blade - it does a good job of cutting in the butter.  Then I turned it out into a bowl to briefly knead together before chilling while I got the apples ready.

The recipe differs from the way I'd normally do the filling in that it mixes sugar, cornflour and cinnamon together, and then tosses the apples in it.  I'd usually just bung in the apples and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top of it.  No matter.

Here's the pies with their pastry all rolled and ready to go.

And voila! The finished product.

Mr8 gave it 10 stars, DH gave it 8-9/10. Miss5 was too full from dinner to try it, she wants it for breakfast. I thought it was pretty good.  It's possible the Bramley apples would have softened more than the Grannys which would have been an improvement.  The pastry was crunchy and light.

We served it slightly warm with cream and vanilla ice cream.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

And so - last week was fine.  Didn't do the Thai beef salad because I'd had salad for lunch - salad overload.  So went for plain old steak, onions, potatoes salad.


Monday - Beef Fajitas (crockpot)
Tuesday - 5 spice duck with noodles (Miss5's request. Actually she requested plain, cooked noodles but I'm not quite into that.  If the duck is too expensive I'll be substituting chicken)
Wednesday - Pasta puttanesca (DH's request)
Thursday - Sticky chicken wings with wedges (another request from Miss5 who saw the picture in the Dish magazine I was looking at)
Friday - home made burgers
Saturday - beef vindaloo (Mr8's request) and some other things to accompany it.
Sunday - Ahmed's lamb tagine with cous cous

The kefta meatball dish from last week is very easy.

Tagine of Kefta meatballs with tomatoes and eggs
from Made in Morocco by Julie le Clerc, (2004), pg 103

Serves 4

700g lamb or beef mince
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp each ground coriander and paprika
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil for frying
tomato sauce (see following)
4 eggs
1 Tablesp chopped fresh marjoram or parsley

1. Combine mince, garlic, spices and fresh coriander in a bowl and knead or pound until smooth in texture.  Season well with salt and pepper.
2. With damp hands, mould walnut sized portions into balls and set on tray.
3, Heat oil in large frying pan and fry meatballs in batches until golden brown all over. Place meatballs in tagine or casserole.
4. Pour tomato sauce over browned meatballs. Bring to boil then simmer on stovetop or bak in oven heated to 180 deg. C for 20 mins, stiring once to prevent sticking. (I prefer the oven method).
5. Break eggs into the sauce and continue to cook for 5 mins until eggs are just set. Scatter herbs over and serve.

Tomato Sauce
400g can tomatoes, chopped
1 Tablesp tomato paste
1 Tablesp liquid honey
1/2 cup hot water
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mercy me! Ah've finished ma dress!

You may remember this post.

Butterick 5606 is not a pattern for the faint hearted.  In fact, if it weren't for the power of the internets, I may have chucked it all in.

I opened up the pattern and read through the instructions.  All looked easy enough on paper.  "Yep, yep, yep", my mental dialogue was going, "Not a problem".

#dailyimage2011 30 Dec Sewing plans

Cutting out was okay - a bit tricksy to get all the skirt in but I'm pretty good at getting the most out of fabric.

I adjusted the back so it wasn't so low - do these people not wear bras or something?  Managed to piece the bodice together and then came across the sleeve gussets.  That is where things became unstuck.

Butterick 5606

Firstly, the pattern pictures didn't make sense to me.  When I attempted to follow the instructions I couldn't get the seam to lie flat... it was all puckeroo.  I consulted with my MIL who was staying and she also couldn't work it out.

I had several tries but each time the seam ripper had to be applied. Again and again.  My temper was disintegrating in inverse proportion to the amount of cotton landing on the floor.  I put it up in disgust because I had to make dinner, but while I cooked I decided to turn to Mr Google, and found this post.  Well, hallelujah it finally made sense!  After dinner I tried it out and it worked first time.  By this stage my fabric was looking a bit worse for wear, but fortunately I could use it for the lining.

The rest of the pattern went ok.  I managed to muck up the pockets a bit and they gaped open, but I've fixed that I think.  MIL kindly did the handsewing on the lining for me while I was at work which saved me some time.

I didn't make the belt as per the pattern - couldn't be bothered.  

Would I make it again?  Yeee-ees, but I'd do some things a bit differently.


Firstly, I'd probably find a cotton with a bit of stretch in it - the bodice is quite a tight fit for a busty wench like me - and I'm not proficient enough to fit it properly to me.  I don't have a mannequin, and it's impossible to do it on ones self.  I like the fitted look, it's just a tad on the tight side.

I would probably make the version without the bow at the back because I can't tie it myself, which means I have to ask DH to do it.  I fear DH is not the most expert in tieing dress bows.  Perhaps he'll get better the more frequently I wear it?  But yes, the button back strap option is possibly better.

Imitating great white shark 50's style?
(this is my "Great White Shark with Fruit" look)

I'd also remember to factor in a longer zip having adjusted the back hole to be higher. (I mean duh, I didn't think of it at the time but it means it's slightly harder to get the dress on by stepping in).

I like the pleats at the back of the skirt, it fits well over my butt without adding bulk.  The skirt is almost a circle skirt and swishes beautifully.  In fact I'm considering cutting out a skirt from this pattern and attaching it to a waist band because I like the style and length.

And just to get the vintage look, here's one with a Lightroom retro treatment...

Just need some white gloves and a matching hand bag and you can call me Joan.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Last week went pretty well.  Changed the plan for Saturday and had takeaways instead after Miss 5's party.  Too tired to cook.

On to Menu Plan Monday - the only problem with doing this is that I'm always a day ahead of the post from Orgjunkie, so have to remember to go and link up on Tuesday.  Oh well.

Monday - homemade pizza (Miss5's request and karate starts again, need something easy)
Tuesday - Sticky Thai chick (see below), rice, stir fry veg
Wednesday - Tortellini bake with salad
Thursday - Thai beef salad (mine is similar to this one, but I use sirloin steak not fillet)
Friday - crockpot lasagne (Mr8's request), salad
Saturday - Chicken curry, chickpea curry... probably raita, rice and a vegetable
Sunday - Kefta meatball tagine with eggs, couscous (DH's request)

Sticky Thai Chicken (can be done in the slow cooker or conventional oven)

This is one of the easiest dishes ever.  Haven't put  amounts because it depends on how much chicken you have - you'll need enough to fairly coat the chicken.  The idea is to get a balance between sweet, salty, sour, hot though.

Mix together:
  • apricot jam
  • Sweet Thai chilli sauce
  • soy sauce or fish sauce
  • tomato sauce
  • crushed garlic
  • lemon or lime juice

Pour onto chicken (I'll be using chicken pieces with bone in).  Bake until cooked.

(I'll be adding some grated lemon grass and finely chopped kaffir lime leaves to the mixture too.)

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Party, party, party

Missy Moo turned 5 today.  She had some friends from daycare over for a party.  Too bad about the rain though!  I'd planned a painting activity for outside but it was just too wet and cold so I had to improvise inside.  The kids were so good though.  They played so nicely and didn't make a huge mess.

I made Miss5 a castle cake and some cupcakes with Tinkerbell toppers.

I also made cake pops for the first time ever.  It took me two attempts because the first lot I tried to dip in the melts were too soft and wouldn't coat nicely.  So I froze them completely and tried again the next day with partially thawed cake balls.  This worked a lot better.  What also helped was the addition of Kremelta (vegetable shortening) in the candy melts because it made the dipping mixture slightly thinner and easier to coat.  They still weren't as perfect as Bakerella's but I was pretty pleased with the way they turned out.

cake pops

I'd make them again.  I used a packet cake mix this time because I didn't want to waste my time on a home baked cake if they turned out to be a disaster.  Next time I'll use a home baked cake - one with a fine crumb would be good I think.  I think next time I'll get the longer lollipop sticks too.  I got the supplies for the cake pops from Kiwi Cakes, an online seller who is extremely quick in delivery!  She seems to have expanded her stock a lot this past 12 months, and has all you need for cake pops and any sort of cake decorating supply.  I like to support local (as in New Zealand) sellers.  I see she has fruit powders now which would be great for macaron making if I can bring myself to make an attempt at those again.

I had grand plans for my menu tonight but I'm tired from dealing with par-tays so we had takeaways instead.  :-)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

#blog12daysxmas #dailydinner Delayed Menu plan for the week

Thinking of starting menu planning again thanks to @jobeaz reminding me...
Plus I find it helpful for organisational purposes.  And looking at other  people's plans gives me some inspiration, so maybe other people will find it useful too.

Monday - Roast pork plus veges

Tuesday - Thai beef satay, fresh spring rolls, salad, rice, corn on the cob

Back to work on Wednesday so something simple - corned beef, potatoes, carrots and beans

Thursday - Lamb sausages and ?
Friday - chicken tagine with lemon and olives, couscous, veges
Saturday - Medfouna (on the Cob) and something suitable like raita or the like <-- new thing I want to try, plus it's Miss4's birthday party so I'm not sure how hungry we'll be. 
Sunday - pizza :-)

Might make kids and hubster choose something each to help with the decision making each week.. let's see how it goes.

#blog12daysxmas Summary of reading in 2010

Total books read: 57

Historical: 14
Scifi/fantasy: 1
Crime: 14
Romance: 3
Literature/novels: 9
Humour: 1

Books per month
January: 8
February: 7
March-April: 14
June-July: 10
August - September - October - November - December: 18

This year has been a miserable year for reading.  Compared with 2010, 2009, and 2008 I really haven't been my normal self.

Monday, January 02, 2012

#blog12daysxmas Books and Dinners

My attempt at photographing the library books I borrowed this year failed sadly.  I did manage to some of the books I planned to from my list:
  1. Water for elephants / Sarah Gruen
  2. The Thirteenth Tale / Diane Setterfield
  3. Three Cups of Tea / Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin 
  4. The Secret Life of Bees / Sue Monk Kidd
  5. Outliers / Malcolm Gladwell 
  6. And then there's this : how stories live and die in viral culture / Bill Wasik. 
  7. Strength in What Remains / Tracy Kidder 
  8. The 10pm Question / Kate De Goldi
  9. Year of magical thinking / Joan Didion
  10. Her fearful symmetry / Audrey Niffenegger  
  11. Atonement : a novel / Ian McEwan.
  12. Blindsight / Maurice Gee
I think I'll not make a list of "must read this year", but I'd love to hear any recommendations you have all the same.

I've decided to do a 365 photo project again - this time I'm doing dinners, i.e. what I eat for dinner for a year.  It could be rather revealing - not in a good way perhaps - I know I eat too much, but it also could be interesting from a seasonal point of view.  I imagine there will be some constant appearances of particular dishes!  I know some people will think I'm nuts... but that's nothing new.

Herewith is dinner for January 2nd 2012.

While downloading my photos I see that the kids have been busy with the camera too.  Check out their choice shots!

Grandad having a snooze by the Christmas tree...

Focus on the minifigs... or not focussed as the case might be.

Miss4 portrait with cheesy grin.

I quite like this one in a blurry sort of way.

Gran left holding all Miss4's babies.

So - onward with 2012.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

#blog12daysxmas A year of self portraiture

Goodbye 2011, hello 2012!
Do I have any resolutions?  No, I've made plenty of vows that I need to keep up with so don't need any new ones. 

Looking back over the year - it's been quite a good one for me though I have to say it's been so full on in places that I didn't cope that well.  Thanks to those who've made it easier, who've stood by me and encouraged me.

One project that has been fun, revealing and challenging has been the Daily Image project I joined.  My  photos are indicative of my year.

Here are a few.
So what next... another daily project?  I quite like the idea of 365 photos of something in my day so maybe that one will work.