Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday's Menu

It’s granola season at the hut. I struggle with eating breakfast during the week, I get bored easily, and I was so over porridge. I’d eat a mouthful and then not so subtly put the bowl down for Claudia to finish off (she loved me!) So last weekend I baked up a batch of Nigella’s granola (from Feast). What’s not to love about roasted Almonds, seeds, honey, and raisins? I made another batch yesterday but added some flaked coconut, pumpkin seeds and golden raisins as well. During the week we served it with strawberries, mango and rhubarb. Now I can't wait for breakfast.

As mentioned on Friday we took delivery of a box of goodies from Mount Gnomon farm. So pork dominated the menu all weekend. We’re not complaining though. Rob slow roasted the shoulder for three hours in the Weber on Saturday. Then yesterday we blasted it in our oven under the maxi-grill, that thing is wicked, I could see the skin blister! That crackling, I have to say, was perfectly cooked, shattering as you bit into it. It was then warmed up again in the Weber sitting on some sliced fennel, baby carrots and bay leaves, and served it with roast potatoes, the pork was deliciously juicy. Oh dear I’d better stop otherwise I might start drooling on the keyboard.

Finally, as it rained most of Saturday we were happily stuck inside, after lunch I fell asleep on the window seat with Claudia as a foot warmer, for several hours!
I thought I’d better do something worthwhile, so I measured out and chopped the dried fruit for two Christmas cakes (sultanas, currants, raisins, dried apricots and prunes).

Maybe the menu might have to be a little healthier this week (looking at what you eat all week is a bit of an eye opener) maybe even some salads and green vegetables! 

Top row: Scrambled eggs on Pigeon Hole sourdough toast, Granola with Greek yoghurt and strawberries, Italian sausages on mash with peas (an excuse to eat relish), creamy mushroom, bacon and pea fettuccine, spring vegetable risotto.
Middle row: Mount Gnomon bacon and egg roll, Sweet Envy jam doughnut and pecan sticky bun, Mount Gnomon chorizo, tomato and lentil risotto, dried fruit soaking in brandy for Christmas cakes, the roast pork shoulder (from guess who).
Bottom row: The pork served with roasted fennel and carrots, a pear poached in red wine, cinnamon, vanilla and thyme, our granola fresh out of the oven, this morning with rhubarb, gin and tonic season has started.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Flowers

Not many new flowers in the garden this week. But the Nematolepis squamea (commonly known as lancewood),  is flowering at the top of our driveway next to our front gate. It has very pretty little creamy flowers.  So I thought I'd share one of Rob's macro photos of the flowers.


I'm not quite sure where this whole week has gone. I was hoping to get a lot more done at work. I've started counting down the weeks until my annual holiday, and sadly my to do list is not decreasing.

Yesterday I received a package in the mail from the company Land's End, I was being quite brave in picking a dress from their website. Unfortunately it was huge (I was worried it would be too small) and the style wasn't all that flattering anyway. I was a bit disappointed, I'm still looking for the perfect dress to wear. But maybe I should give up and try and find a skirt and top. I seem to be a bit long in the middle which means that waistlines never sit where they should on me, and I really don't suit an empire line dress!

Anyway as Nigella would say, food shopping is much less fraught with potential disappointment, so I'm looking forward to opening the box of goodies from Mount Gnomon Farm that arrived at work today. We ordered a pork shoulder, some bacon and chorizo. Thanks Guy and Eliza, I can't wait to taste the slow-roasted pork shoulder!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Christmas is coming

I know it’s still October, but I can’t help myself when it comes to getting excited about Christmas. This is our first one at the hut too. So I’ve been thinking, just a little, about how to decorate our hut.

This slight obsession with Christmas decorating is thanks to my Dad. Normally he is quite conservative with his spending and decorating, but come December he changes overnight and no decoration is too kitsch or excessive. On a day early in December he braves their roof cavity to bring down box after box of decorations. Mum’s domain is the tree. Well apart from the lights. Dad always puts on at least 6 different sets of lights on the tree. Over the top? Oh yes. More alarming is when he puts them on the strobe mode, and the 6 sets of lights flick on and off randomly. The tree could cause some sort of fit!

Dad is in charge of decorating the house. Not the outside, the inside. Every surface is Christmasfied. I mean every surface, door handles, light fittings, door and window frames. Foil decorations dangle from every conceivable spot. Christmas ornaments adorn every flat surface. He puts out the main nativity set (yes, every room gets one of it’s own) under the tree. But only the cow gets to hang out there prior to Christmas. The other characters, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the donkey, shepherds and their sheep, and an Angel all turn up on Christmas Eve, whilst the three wise men are late arrivals- they’re allowed in a week later.

I think the most outrageous decoration is the musical robin. Activated by loud noises (such as clapping) the robotic robin jiggles and flaps it’s wings whilst chirping a selection of Christmas carols!

When I was old enough to help my parents decorate our home, my favourite decorations were two aging honeycomb decorations, a pink ball and a green bell. I loved unfolding them and hanging them up from the window frame. Which may now explain my fondness for honeycomb decorations.

On Monday an exciting box turned up from the states. I’ve mentioned before about finding this company, and their amazing array of decorations. Well, I couldn’t help myself, the red ones looked so enticing, I put in an order a couple of weeks ago.

Aren’t they gorgeous? I don’t think Rob realised that not only do the beams hold the living room roof together they are perfect for hanging things from. We may only have a small tree this year, but I don’t think you’ll miss the Christmas season at the hut with these! I’ve promised Rob I’ll never get as bad as my father. I hope.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday's Menu

We had a great cooking week this week. With the warm weather (even in the evenings) we have been using the Weber BBQ to cook as much as possible.

I think this regular post is helping us raise the bar, we’re thinking about trying new recipes and making the food we eat more presentable. I’m very thankful to have a husband who loves to cook for me, and that it’s a passion we can both share. I have to say that he introduced me to good food, although I was interested in cooking before I met Rob, he made me think about making the most of every meal we eat.  Sorry just a little sentimental moment there; back to the food.

After our lunch party last weekend, we enjoyed the left over cheeses, with a salad for dinner on Monday night.
One of our friends had given us a selection of her chutneys and relishes on Sunday, and I desperately wanted to eat them with some good sausages, sadly by the time we got to the butcher, Rob decided to skip the sausages and buy rib-eye steak. So he cooked it on the Weber, and we ate it with some cubed potatoes and wilted spinach.
Wednesday night we were home quite late (Rob had been up to the Tarn Shelf at Mt Field setting up a transect to measure with his students), so I quickly cooked us puttanesca.
Thursday was our show day holiday, it was a perfectly sunny day, Rob decided to brush cut the orchard, so I stayed inside to keep the dogs away, and with the sea breeze I could feel my hay fever symptoms flare up. So I thought I’d make us a quick Lebanese feast for lunch. I’d made some lavosh for a work lunch the day before, and we already had some labneh balls in oil in the fridge, so I rolled them in za’atar. I made a batch of hummous and our favourite red pepper and walnut dip. Then I put together a green salad with lots of mint and a sprinkling of sumac. That night it was Rob’s turn, our new favourite recipe for the BBQ is chicken wings marinated in lemon (juice and rind), olive oil, garlic, thyme and chilli flakes. We served them with some grilled Asparagus.
We bought a pizza stone a couple of weeks ago (our oven has a pizza setting we were yet to try) so we thought we’d give it a whirl. Rob made up a batch of dough and we used up all the bits and pieces in the fridge, tomato passata, olives, anchovies, grilled red pepper, labneh cheese, and parsley as a topping.  The first one we tried to move from a tray onto the hot stone, which was quite unsuccessful, it just stretched the already thin base out so we rolled up the edges and left it on the tray.
The second one Rob quickly put together on the stone. They were different, I quite liked the one with the bready edge, but the one baked on the stone was super crunchy. Maybe we have a new Friday tradition?
We were slightly indulgent on Saturday morning picking out a selection of cupcakes from Jo and Michelle’s Salamanca stall.  Rob had a lemon curd and berry ricotta crumble cake, whilst I couldn’t go past the vanilla and rhubarb and the chocolate and honey. They are so good, that neither of us really want to share! We have to wait and hope that they’re there next week.
We ate a dinner of couscous, Lebanese green beans (cooked in tomato and onion with allspice), and grilled eggplant, zucchini, fennel, peppers.
Finally Sunday, the trial run of the chicken wings had gone so well we ate them with some roasted kipfler potatoes, watercress, a garlic and rosemary ciabatta. Our friend's children loved the wings (even with the chilli).  Then the cake.

What was on your menu this week?


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Just had to share...

I'm lying on the window-seat (heavenly) reading one of my favourite Bill Bryson books (have I told you we met him on the Tarn Shelf?) enjoying the golden light coming through the window.
My God-daughter and her family came down for lunch today to celebrate her birthday. I've been keen to decorate a cake with mini bunting, and today we produced a totally oversized Primrose Bakery lemon cake with cream cheese frosting. I have to say that I'm having a moment of quiet pride, the birthday girl was impressed too!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Flowers

Hello, I'm feeling revived after our 1st weekend, today I thought I'd share a bunch of roses my lovely friend gave me last Sunday, the first picked from her garden this year.
She is one of our gardening heroes, I doubt we'll ever achieve her level of garden perfection, but we can live in hope! She has a lovely garden in Sandy Bay full to the brim with roses, flowers, fruit trees, berries and vegetables. Every available space is used. It's just such a beautiful place to visit. I always think as I leave, one day when I grow up I'll have a garden just like that!
These roses smell beautiful, and even though they've started to wilt (forgot to snip the tips off before putting them in the vase), I'm reluctant to put them in the compost.
I'm still waiting to buy my roses from here. I have picked out 40 roses, mainly for use as cut flowers, in red, pink, yellow and white. Every year I get the lovely colour brochure and painstakingly review any new varieties to see if they might bump one off my list. But I just haven't been able to buy them until we have a fence around the garden and some water.
So next winter is the year to finally purchase the plants. We should do our fence in the next few months, and I can't wait to stroll around my picking garden selecting the perfect rose.
(Rob hates growing roses, so I had to promise to keep them separate from any other plant and promise that I would deal with all the pruning etc! I don't mind, I quite like pruning them!)

Our 2nd weekend is looming, we managed to cross a few things off my list yesterday:

1. Sleep in (well a little). Does 8.30am count?
2. Lazy breakfast. Poor Rob was treating me to sourdough toast with cherry jam in bed, unfortunately as he was bringing the plate in to me a piece slipped off the plate, hit my pillow then smeared down the bedhead. Opps. It was very tasty, just a little messy and enforced a bedding washing day!
3. A little stitching of the Maisy birth sampler (I may have accepted defeat about it being for Christmas- I think it might be a 1st birthday gift now). Didn't get to this one.
4. Help Rob clean out the leaf litter from the driveway drains. Or this one.
5. Keep the dogs away from Rob whilst he uses the brush-cutter to tidy up the orchard. Big tick, forgot to take a picture but it looks splendid.
6. Make some cake bunting for a friend's birthday cake we're making on the weekend (this is as crafty as I get I guess!) See below, it was quite fun really!

So we're having a birthday party on Sunday afternoon for my little friend, and I'm going to visit my sister and Maisy. Who apparently is rolling over now and pretending to cough whenever she hears anyone else cough!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

1st weekend

A bit like the Lord of the Rings, I'm having a 1st weekend (rather than a 1st breakfast), tomorrow is a public holiday in southern Tasmania. What do I plan to do?
It depends a bit on the weather. Spring in Tassie is crazy, it rained most of the weekend, there was snow on the mountain on Monday, and then yesterday and today have been perfectly warm, summer days, 28 degrees. I think it is meant to rain tomorrow evening.
But on my to do list tomorrow at the hut:
1. Sleep in (well a little)
2. Lazy breakfast.
3. A little stitching of the Maisy birth sampler (I may have accepted defeat about it being for Christmas- I think it might be a 1st birthday gift now).
4. Help Rob clean out the leaf litter from the driveway drains.
5. Keep the dogs away from Rob whilst he uses the brush-cutter to tidy up the orchard.
6. Make some cake bunting for a friend's birthday cake we're making on the weekend (this is as crafty as I get I guess!)

I think that's enough for my 1st weekend, stay tuned for the 2nd!

I have to share the following picture. This is the two of them waiting before our guests arrived on Sunday. Our two have worked out when we're having people over to the hut- as it usually involves us running around cleaning manically and getting food prepared. No fun for puppies. So they sit and sulk. Up until now it has been on their mat, but now, we have the dog bed, opps I mean our window seat, that is their preferred location for sulking. Claudia was hilarious, whenever one of our visitors went to sit on the window seat on Sunday she would rush up, barge past and take her position (actually where Rob normally sits). I think she just wanted them to know she was the top dog, and that was her space. Dog behaviour totally cracks me up, and these two give us plenty of opportunities to laugh. It doesn't matter how boring/crappy/annoying my work day has been they never fail to make me happier. Photobucket
P.S. The leopard print is only a temporary cover for our window seat, I'm hoping that the upholsterer will arrive on Monday and take away the cushions to cover them properly. Excited about that!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday's Menu

A varied selection this week-
Monday- was a silver beet duck egg omelette
Tuesday- Left over rump steak, was transformed into an open steak sandwich with kipfler potato chips.
Wednesday- we went out on a "date" lunch at  Tricycle. Rob had the most delicious pork, lemon and fennel meatballs on white bean mash, and I had a red lentil soup with mint and sumac. We couldn't resist a lemon curd cupcake with coffee either! Wednesday night we had lemon pasta. A quick no cook sauce (lemon juice, parmesan, yoghurt, egg yolks and parsley).
Thursday- the last of the steak on top of a vegetable soup.
Friday- after tackling a few house maintenance jobs it was quite late so we settled for crackers and cheese!
Saturday - We visited Sweet Envy, next time I'm going to get one of each of these biscuits, I always look at them and end up picking something else. Rob cooked a chicken on the Weber (flattened out) with just lemon, thyme and chilli, with some bbq'd Asparagus.
Sunday - I mentioned that we invited friends down for lunch, the weather was horrendous, but it didn't matter, we snacked on soy baked almonds, baked olives, and wagyu sausages with chutney. Then Rob quickly cooked the rump steak again, we served it on salad leaves and with some roasted kipflers.
We had a selection of incredibly ripe French cheeses and then finished off with a lemon meringue pie. We had a lovely afternoon (and evening!) chatting, eating and drinking.

So glad this week is a short week (Hobart Show day on Thursday). Am looking forward to a quiet day at the hut. How was your weekend?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Flowers

There aren't any new flowers this week in our garden, so I picked one of Rob's photos.

A close up of a Banksia flower.
I'm a bit tired, and so am glad it's the weekend. We're having some friends over for lunch on Sunday, so we've got to get the hut spruced up and cook a few of our favourite entertaining dishes (baked olives, soy roasted almonds, Gougères, rump steak, kipfler potatoes and lemon tart). Hope you have a happy weekend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mid-week pick me up

Thank you for your reassuring and sympathetic comments on my post about the driveway. I’m feeling better about it, our friend doesn’t think it will get much worse, but he won’t be able to fix it until it dries out. So we’re just keeping an eye on it, and driving on the opposite side of the road! It’s our only access onto the block; we have a very strange shaped block of land, a big triangle with a narrow access (only 20m) at the wide end of the triangle. It just so happens that it’s also incredibly steep and goes over a creek! Anyway, we’re being positive and hoping the wet weather stops soon.

So I thought I’d share a few things that have made me happy this week.

This guy is seriously cute with curly black hair and his white tummy. The “Oreo” bull (really a belted Galloway) lives over the back fence, which is about 10m away from the hut. We have a series of long narrow windows that run down the hall and smaller windows on the back wall of the living room, as well as the breezeway French doors. So as I wander down the hut, I often lock eyes with this dude. He seems quite calm. Just happy to munch the grass and watch the crazy antics of our dogs!

More red in the hut. I just had to go back a buy a few more of these candleholders from Spotlight, ahem like seven more!

Finally, we got around to finishing off a project we started in June last year.

Photobucket Photobucket
Do you remember the two unloved Blackwood chairs we found at the tip? Rob had sanded them back and oiled them last year. But with nowhere to put them, recovering them didn’t seem that urgent. When we moved to the hut, we popped them up in the loft and forgot them again. Last weekend we picked up some red fabric and Rob pulled out the many staples and replaced the horrible dirty blue hessian fabric with the new bright red. Now I’m thinking I’d like to recover the four pale blue chairs with red too….watch this space.

Hope your week is going well, mine has certainly picked up!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday's Menu, and taking things to heart

Hello, just a brief Monday's Menu...Stir fry rice, pork belly noodle soup, spaghetti ala puttanesca, rump steak with little garlic and rosemary roasted potatoes and salad, Spanakopitta, and a Friday night cheese platter.

We had a lot of rain at the hut on Saturday afternoon, it pelted down. Rob and I ran inside and felt quite smug in our nice warm hut. On Sunday morning we headed out for a mid-morning perimter. At the end we headed over to our drive way where it crosses the creek (with a culvert underneath) in the gully, and the side of the bank had slumped down by over a metre! Right next to the edge of the driveway. The clay had become a terrible goopy mess that is now bulging untidily. So for the rest of the weekend I obsessively checked the bank for further damage. I know far worse things could happen, that Rob and I are well, the hut is ok etc, but I was kind of hoping that days of stressing over the hut and future expenses were over. My heart has been aching ever since, and I barely slept a wink last night, just tossed and turned envisaging waking to find the driveway impassable! So at 6am this morning I had to go see, dragging Rob and the dogs with me, relieved at least that it hasn't gotten any worse.  Our good friend who built our driveway two years ago is heading down this afternoon for a diagnosis and to suggest a solution. Fingers crossed the repairs are not too extensive or expensive! I feel so silly for worrying, and that I'm going to turn into an obsessive worrier like my mother, and that really it's not a big deal compared to what others have to face (like after Cyclone Yasi or the Victorian bushfires) but still my weekend would have been much better without it! Any suggestions for reducing anxiety?!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Flowers

Just quickly today- no botany lesson!

The last of the daffodils we bought last year.
The pear tree is still flowering. Rob was telling me the other day he has orchard plans. More orchard. He'd like some more pears and quinces! We currently have three pears and eight quinces.
Finally the Michelia yunnanensis "Scented Pearl" has started to flower. Another poor plant we have tortured for years in a pot. We planted a row of these about 3m from our bedroom window, once they have stopped flowering, we'll prune them back hard so that they form a nice hedge. They have lovely creamy flowers and cute brown furry sepals.
Photobucket Photobucket

Hope you have a lovely weekend, more stitching for me!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spring hut

The trees in the orchard are flowering, the grass has started to grow, we've got a family of ducklings in the dam, the swallows are trying to come inside the hut to make a nest, it must be spring!
A couple of shots of the hut as we walk around the block.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday’s Menu

The weather really dictated what we felt like eating this week.
Monday was a stunning spring day so we opted for a spring risotto of peas, broad beans, asparagus and the essential scattering of mint.

Tuesday saw us home a little later than intended so we had pasta with Rob’s “Aristos” sauce (find whatever’s in the fridge and pantry and make something up!), which was tomato-based with sliced chorizo and green beans.

Despite the soft rain that started falling as soon as we got home on Wednesday evening Rob dressed up in polar fleece and a beanie (my personal BBQ gnome!) and cooked up some sliced fennel, red onion, eggplant, asparagus and zucchini, we served it with some couscous, a tomato sauce and feta.

The rainy grey weather continued so we felt like comfort food, Shepherd’s pie (although it was beef mince so I guess it should be Cottage pie) did the trick! Which meant that at the end of the week we could just reheat the pie and serve it with some spinach!

Saturday of course was the AFL Grand Final Day, and we always pretend to be avid followers of the game just to eat the football food. After picking up vegetables, bread and meat at Salamanca we dropped into Jackman & McRoss, and saw they had a special “footy” pizza. We took it home to warm up for lunch, covered in sliced beef, caramelized onions, cherry tomatoes and cheese. It was delicious, and sadly we ate too much of it! That night after the big game was over, Rob cooked the frankfurters on the BBQ, with some onions in beer! They didn’t taste too bad in squishy white buns with mustard and of course tomato sauce!

For lunch on Sunday I made some guacamole with enough Tabasco sauce to make my lips tingle (no fresh chilies in the house) to eat with corn chips in the sun. Making the most of our extra hour of light in the evening, Rob cooked rib-eye steaks and baked potatoes in the BBQ (are we picking up on a recurring theme yet), and a piece of pork belly for dinner tonight. I think the Weber is going to get a serious workout over the next 6 months!

What has been on the menu at your place this week?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Into the light

One of my favourite songs by Sara Bareilles, but it seems appropriate for this first day of daylight savings. We've had another quiet weekend, apart from heading to the gym, Salamanca market and the hardware store yesterday morning we've spent the whole time here.
Neither of us really follow the football, but once a year we use it as an excuse to eat frankfurters in squishy white rolls. Not having a tv kind of put a dampener on the actual game, but we listened to it on the radio. Only problem for me is I have no idea who the players are so it's a bit pointless. While he listened Rob worked on the final touches of the bank in front of the hut. Over the last month he has painstakingly dug over each clod, breaking up the clay with a hoe, adding gypsum, and yesterday he raked the whole thing, getting the slope just right.
I'm afraid I was nowhere near as energetic, I sat on the window-seat and stitched. I bought a baby sampler for Maisy, but it's been stashed away for ahem, months. I've got to get my act together pronto if I'm to have it finished by Christmas!
Today we sat outside in the sun for a breakfast of toast and coffee. A quick perimeter to keep the dogs happy. Rob spread some grass seed out, so hopefully we have a grassy bank soon. Then Rob and I did a hut clean up, which left the rest of the day for marking papers in the sun (Rob) and more stitching in the sun (me). Another late afternoon perimeter. It's still light enough for BBQ steak and potatoes. Hurry up summer!
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