Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday digest

Hey, it's only been 3 weeks! Here's the latest news from around here:

Work/school We are deep into Term 2 and everyone is working hard. DP has started teaching his intensive master's program; I'm trying to help launch a major organizational initiative which is taking a little longer than planned; and Miss B is into her second round of Year 7 electives - which involves cooking!

Last weekend I helped her with her first Food Tech assignment - designing a recipe for and making a salad. I managed to capture a few action shots; here's Miss B chopping celery:

And here's the final result:

Miss B's personal tweaks to the standard salad recipe included chopped salami and pickles - surprisingly delicious, since guess who ended up eating this salad for lunch all week?

Recreation Hanging around our local places playing cards and board games; streaming lots of movies now that we've finally figured out how to work our cable system (it only took 18 months); and indulging Miss B's renewed interest (not to say fangirling) in Doctor Who.

Food Two sets of dinner guests in the space of a couple of days this week meant thinking of ways to be efficient in the kitchen. For the first round, I made my favorite slow cooker chicken recipe, served with potatoes and peas; then, for today's guests, I used the leftover chicken, sauce, and peas as the base of a chicken pot pie:

I rounded out the filling with sauteed bacon, red onion, carrots, and celery, plus a few porcini mushrooms, then stuck it in the oven to heat through and combine. I made a variation on my Emergency Scone recipe for the topping (swapped out sugar for rosemary salt, and some of the cream for olive oil to make it more savory), cooked it separately (I don't like a soggy bottom on my pot pie topping), and slipped it on just before serving. It made a great and frugal late-autumn Sunday lunch (with bread and salad and brownies for dessert) for four adults and three children.

Weather As I may have already mentioned, it's late autumn here: fall foliage, warm days and cold nights, flannel sheets and hot water bottles. And my latest discovery about this season in Australia - native flora are back in season:

 Hope you're having a lovely weekend wherever you are.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Autumn shenanigans

One day I will post an update that is not a round-up of pictures since the last time I posted; but today is not that day. So here's what's been happening around here lately:


To Melbourne for a friend's 60th birthday party, where we helped make drinks and lunch for 40, then sat on the lawn (till it started raining) to drink Pimm's and champagne and east roast beef and salads... Hobart with my best friend from Boston, who came to Australia for the first time to attend a conference, then stayed on for a week to goof off with me. We wandered Salamanca Market, visited the Cascades Brewery, did lots of walking and talking and had lots of good food and drink (including these tiny pancakes doused with raspberry sauce from a market stall) - a fabulous weekend.

And an impromptu weekend to my always-favorite destination - the beach - to kick off the April school holiday.

A headline from our travels - no comment.


I finished a craft project! One that's been on my list for a loooong time - I made a doona cover (that's 'duvet' in Australian) for Miss B's bed, using some inherited bed linen and handstitched seams with yarn from my embroidery stash.

Inspired by my success, I have also finally identified and organized a place for my sewing machine, after 3+ years of it languishing in a box.


The usual four-day extravaganza of cooking and eating, plus this year's experiment, at Miss B's request - hot cross buns, modified to her specifications (chocolate chips instead of fruit, buttercream icing crosses on top).

And here's the obligatory photo of the brunch spread - on our new kitchen table, which DP and I assembled together without filing for divorce afterwards!

Also I thought you'd like to see the mixed-message Easter spread on display at my gym to kick off the holiday weekend.


The leaves are changing color in Canberra - I love that I get to have my favorite season here, even if I'm forever disoriented by having it happen in April.

So I even did a little flower arranging to bring the autumn colors indoors.

Back outdoors - Miss B and I took part in our local March for Science last weekend....

...and this weekend a friend gave me a bag full of limes from her overloaded trees. What to do with them? Lime curd? Lime meringue pie? A giant pitcher of margaritas? Ideas welcome!

Hope all is well in your worlds, and that I'll have another, shorter update soon!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Making lemonade

So my long (long looooooong) spell of waiting is over, and not in the way I had hoped - though a number of people in a position to understand it all better than I have just about convinced me that this outcome will be the best one in the long run. I think. In any case, that's really all I'm going to say about it, with apologies for being mysterious. Overall I'm relieved to have the waiting be over, but I've got feelings to process and next steps to ponder. As I do so, I'm continuing to work on practicing meticulous mindfulness - it, along with regular strenous gym workouts, has become a key mechanism for dealing with the 'anger' phase of the process around this drawn-out decision (to say nothing of  my feelings about current events in the wider world).

As I refocus on life here in Canberra, autumn is getting underway. The first of the new season apples are showing up at the markets, so to celebrate earlier in the week I made a personal-sized version of Dinner with Julie's Apple Pie Scones - I still used a whole apple, but it was small, and I halved the scone dough.

I got 3 good-sized scones out of it, and it significantly improved my week.

Since baked goods can improve most people's week, I also asked Miss B what baked good she was in the mood for, and she requested Dark Side cookies - "like the kind they would have to lure you to the Dark Side?" So I dug up this recipe from Nigella Express, and these super-chocolate bombs were just what the doctor ordered - or rather the frazzled new high schooler.

Yes - did I mention that Miss B is now in high school?! To be fair, it starts in Year 7 in Canberra, but still.

In other cooking experiments, I had a sudden hankering for san choy bow the other night, so I decided to whip some up. I didn't bother looking up a recipe, I just winged it (wung it?) with what I had on hand.

My version consists of chopped onions and mushrooms (and a little smoked salmon too) sauteed with oil/ginger/garlic/chili, with a sauce of 2 parts soy to 1 part fish sauce/sugar/lemon juice/sesame oil/sriracha, topped with chopped scallion/spring onion and slivered almonds. Wrap in lettuce leaves and have some rice alongside if you're a carb fiend like me. Proper san choy bow recipe here (turns out I wasn't that far off!).

And last but not least, here's some actual (as opposed to metaphorical) lemonade:

After my weekly farmers' market run this morning, I did some prep cooking - restocking my personal pantry for the week. On the right you see my coldbrew coffed brewing. On the left, my copy of Genius Recipes open to the One-Ingredient Whole Grain Crackers, which I made with a rice-quinoa blend I'm trying to use up. And in the middle, my re-gifted T2 tea infuser* brewing up a concoction of citrus zest and juice and mint and maple syrup to add a twist to my daily Green Tea Fizz.

*Sidebar story: the friend who re-gifted this to me handed it over with the declaration that she couldn't be bothered to use it, but that she was sure I'd figure out something interesting to do with it. I decided to take that as a compliment and a challenge; it took me a few months, but - voila!

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.

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