Friday, June 29, 2012

Hello sweet weekend

I am here, albeit in a snuffly, coughing, husky voiced kinda way. Thank you for your get well wishes on my post on Monday.
I crammed 5 days of work into 3, and whilst I got things done - it was rushed and I don't like to do things like that. Sure there are still things left to do, but they'll keep.
Next week is a big one too- I'm managing a display booth at a major science conference in Hobart, whilst trying to fit my regular work around that.
But for the moment it's finally the weekend. I'm ready for some quality hut time.
I'll leave you with a photo of the Channel, near the little town of Snug, we drive past it everyday on the way to work, and marvel at the way it is slightly different depending on the clouds, weather, and tide.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday's Menu

This will be brief, I've caught Rob's cold, so am not feeling the best.

Our menu over the last week has been a little patchy.

Monday: A rocket salad with croutons, bacon and soft boiled eggs.
Tuesday: Roasted root vegetables (pumpkin, parsnips, carrots, swede) with leeks, onion and garlic.
Wednesday and Thursday: we just snacked as both of us were feeling unwell.
Friday: Left over roast vegetables tossed through couscous.
Saturday: Bratwurst with mash, peas and beer braised onions.
Sunday: Beef Bourguignon with potatoes.
We made a few baked treats too, almond and orange muffins for breakfast and a Tuscan Apple Cake, the jury is out on that one. We found a similar recipe (except that it contains butter) which we would like to try in comparison.
Here's hoping that some rest, lemon tea and panadol does the trick.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Happy birthday hut {one}

Tomorrow is our one year anniversary of moving into the hut.
We were so over building this time last year, it had dragged on. We packed up the big pieces of furniture (we'd moved bits and pieces down over the preceding weeks) with the help of our friends and their trailer and ute and drove the 15 minutes to the hut. We unpacked, and popped a Jackman & McRoss family pie in the oven, to share our first meal at our table.
The rest of the day was spent cleaning the flat (attached to my parents house and our home for the previous 4.5 years), then returning to unpack and put our bed back together.
We spent the next few weeks feeling like two little children playing house. Even now, we will both spontaneously say "we live at the hut" as it hits us that it's what we wanted for so long.
This year has been busy with the installation of the window seat, Rob setting up both gardens (beds and paths), and paving the terrace (all 108m2). Collecting some more mid-century pieces for the rooms, pulling the wardrobe apart and reassembling it in the spare bedroom.
We've hosted parties and lunches. Friends have come to stay.
The hut has seen much laughter and love, a number of spontaneous happy dances, a few tears and disappointments, and the occasional mild disagreement. But on the whole (and I think Rob would agree) we have loved our first year here and it has felt like our home almost immediately.
Happy 1st birthday hut.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Frost and Friday Flowers {camellia}

Hello Friday.
Your arrival is most welcome.
Thank you for your lovely comments on my post about my extended visit to the Hobart airport yesterday (and my Instagram followers) it certainly wasn't the end of the world, but was just one of those days you wish you could have over.

What happened this week in our garden?
Our first big frost for the year. We woke on Wednesday to a blanket of icy white.
Claudia demanded to go outside so she could search out dog icy poles (frozen wallaby poop). Sometimes my dogs are disgusting, they are after all, dogs, but still, eww.

We have some flowers in the garden, so I can do a Friday Flowers post. A white sasanqua camellia, Setsugekka
And a tiny pink cyclamen.
Speaking of flowers. My box of roses arrived on Wednesday. It was huge. Inside, wrapped in a big black plastic bag and wet newspaper, were my 40 bare root roses. I can't wait for tomorrow when we plant them out in the holes Rob dug last weekend.
Happy weekend. Another quiet weekend coming up for us I think.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vignettes from the Hobart airport

I waited.
I listened to visitors bemoan the service.
I stood in a line for 2.5 hours.
I watched a quarantine dog disgrace himself inside.
They kept promising just another hour.
The engineer needs to fly in from Melbourne, or Sydney.
He needs to flush the fuel system and see if it's still leaking.
The last delay was one too many.
I haven't felt well all day, and now I have a headache.
I just gave up after spending 8 hours in our pokey little domestic airport.
I wanted my husband, my puppies, my bed in my hut.
Goodnight Hobart domestic airport. I hope I don't see you again for awhile.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday's Menu {and beauty}

Last night Rob took the dogs out for what we call "a wee on a wallaby" around 10.30. Don't worry no wallabies are harmed in this procedure.
He came straight back inside to get me. The night sky is spectacular at the hut anyway, as there are no street lights around the stars are so clear and bright. But last night there was an Aurora Australis happening. Our first at the hut.
Despite the cold -- thank goodness I'd grabbed a beanie and polar fleece -- we stood in the dark at the end of the terrace and watched in awe as a shaft of silvery light shot up from the horizon and then became a series of shimmering waves, that slowly moved across the sky. The light was like a translucent curtain moving in a breeze. Beautiful. Stunning. Luminous.

I didn't even bother trying to take a photo. For once I was content to capture the memory in my mind, confident that I could record it in words here.

This morning the mist hung over the hills as the sun started to rise. I don't know why but Rob and I have become so much more aware of the beauty of where we live since moving to the hut. It was hard to tear ourselves away this morning for work.

So the menu this week:

Monday: Massaman curry, I used a paste I admit and the end result wasn't as good as I had hoped, but still tasted pretty good with rice and poppadums.
Tuesday: We fixed the curry, by adding some almond meal to thicken the sauce and some silverbeet. We ate it with poppadums again and some natural yoghurt.
Wednesday: Lemon linguine.
Thursday: Tomato, vegetable and meatball soup.
Friday: same soup with freshly baked bread (Rob stayed home to work!)
Saturday: Egg and Bacon pie with rocket salad.
Sunday: Rocket salad with soft boiled eggs, blood pudding (sorry Sarah), and sourdough croutons.

Yesterday we headed to the Cygnet market (which is held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month, from 10am-2pm). We love Cygnet on market days. Even better they have an atm for our bank now! So we picked up free range eggs, vegetable seeds, almonds, spices, rhubarb, carrots, parsnips, swede, leeks, and silverbeet. We couldn't resist a couple of Eccles cakes from Lotus Eaters, a browse in the second hand clothes shop behind the cafe, a loaf of Steve's sourdough rye and a couple of his jam doughnuts. There was a cute new fruit and vegetable shop in town, and we found some coffee beans (we'd totally run out so we were on the hunt for some) and I spied a beautiful dark grey salad bowl, made by Emile Henry. Rob indulged me and bought it.

I'm thinking of collecting my recipe posts in a separate page as a list, what do you think?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Winter garden {broad beans and shallots}

I could get used to a 4 day week I think!
Just quickly a garden update more for my own benefit, perhaps, than yours.

Despite the cold weather, the optimistic plantings in mid April are growing.

We have a promising crop of golden shallots.

The broad beans are looking happy too.

We have been eating rocket salads for about two weeks now, it's so nice to be able to do that.
The cabbages and broccoli are growing ok, the carrots and parsnips are a little slower though.

We have plans for moving some rhubarb crowns and a fig tree to somewhere which will make them a bit happier, planting out the poor long suffering grape vines, establishing a raspberry patch and when the asparagus crowns arrive, creating an asparagus bed.
We're on the search for some artichoke crowns too, do any locals know of a good source?

In the flower garden the leaves of the ranunculus and anemones are poking through the soil, I've been informed that the roses are on their way from Geelong, and we repotted the gerberas (although one got a bit munched the other night as we had left them up against the hut).

Happy weekend to you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Snap it {everyday}

I have fallen off the Snap It bandwagon, and I miss it.
So I'm back this week. This week's theme is everyday.
Sometimes everyday chores are made easier, or more enjoyable by something useful or beautiful.
Yesterday one of my online purchases arrived in the mail. Actually a few online purchases arrived, but I'll save those for later! Drying glassware, as we don't yet have a dishwasher, can be quite disappointing with a cloth that smudges and makes streaks on the glass. I've been lusting after one of these 100% linen glass clothes from here for awhile. It is both useful and beautiful.
I love the feel of natural fibres, linen, cotton and wool.

Playing along here.

Can't wait to go and visit your Snap It post.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

a belated Monday's Menu

It was quite a grey old weekend in the end. I was hoping for some more sunshine, but it was still nice to relax at home. We felt quite good about the cleaning and tidying both at my parent's shed and ours (Rob gathered up another trailer load of rubbish and recycling from behind our shed).

Menu wise this week:

Monday: Chicken cacciatore with boiled potatoes.
Tuesday: Chicken and vegetable soup.
Wednesday: Pappardelle with some chicken cacciatore.
Thursday: Ziggy's hot dogs! An excuse to eat our home-made tomato sauce. I added some hot english mustard quite liberally, which cause a wasabi rush right down to the tip of my nose. But I love that feeling and kept eating anyway.
Friday: Cheese night was back, a hard, French goat cheese, called Chebris Brebis, a soft French cheese, Picolin and Gorgonozola Dolce. All delicious in their own way, served with a little fig and walnut baguette and a rocket salad.
Saturday: Pasta and meatballs.
Sunday: Dry-cured, then hickory smoked slow roasted in the Weber beef short ribs, with potato stacks and rocket salad.

Other treats this week included; speckled bread (fruit loaf), a lamb, potato and pea parcel at Jackman & McRoss, figs grilled in prosciutto and stuffed with fetta, pancakes with maple syrup, boiled eggs on toast, left over pasta and meatballs on toast, and that chocolate caramel peanut slice.

What's been on the menu at your place?


Monday, June 11, 2012

Chocolate caramel peanut squares {Nigella and Women's Weekly}

I am feeling much more relaxed. An afternoon in the kitchen yesterday did wonders. I cranked up some 80's dance music on the Tivoli, made a list and worked my way down.
Caramel slice, Massaman curry and Speckled (fruit bread).
As we had a packet of peanuts I decided to roast some and inspired by Nigella add them to the caramel. So here's my caramel slice, I see I noted in Nigella's Forever Summer last time I made this, dangerously addictive.

For the base:
1/3 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup plain flour
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar
225g in salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180degC. Grease 20x30cm rectangular pan, line base and sides with baking paper extending over the long sides.

Combine sifted flours, coconut and sugar, add melted butter and mix. Press firmly into the base of pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

For caramel filling:
395g can of sweetened condensed milk
30g butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup
250g salted dry roasted peanuts

Combine condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until caramel is light golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. (I may have pushed it a bit far, very firm caramel!)
You can either stir the peanuts into the caramel now, or as I did sprinkle them over after you've spread it onto the base. Bake 10 minutes, then cool.

For chocolate topping:
375g chocolate (i like a thick chocolate topping, original just has 185g)
3 teaspoons vegetable oil

Melt the chocolate with the oil in a microwave, stir until smooth. Pour over cold caramel. Refrigerate at least 3 hours then slice.

Happy Queen's birthday holiday to you.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I am here

This week was a long one. This is entirely about work, deadlines, multiple projects to focus on, too many phone calls and emails. I even found myself checking my emails in the car trip into work and scribbling to do lists on the back of envelopes. At 6pm on Friday I'd had enough, closed the computer down (my hand was actually sore from typing and using the mouse!)
We headed home for a long weekend. We ate a simple supper (after skipping lunch) of cheese (2 French and 1 Italian), with a rocket salad.
But I didn't sleep well (haven't all week) I think the work stuff has been making my mind run like crazy, I've been waking up from vivid nightmares most nights.
Last night was no different.
Today we got up and headed to my parents home. It's been nearly a year since we moved into the hut, from the flat in their backyard. But we left a whole heap of stuff in their shed. So today we tidied, sorted, and took stuff to the op shop, the recycling and the tip. We even dug up a few plants to bring to the hut. A few more boxes went up in the loft, but they were some of my childhood books, toys, photos etc.
The dogs were very patient, and had to be squished into the back seat. On our last drive home I caught them snuggling!
I feel better for having done it though.
I think it's bed time. Sorry I haven't had the chance to comment this week, I hope to catch up with that tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Apple and fruit mince crumble

So on Saturday night, in the middle of the great wardrobe dismantling session, we realised we should get some dinner on. Rob put a couple of chooks to roast in the Weber, and some vegetables in the oven to roast. I wanted something for dessert, but wasn't feeling like making anything fussy or too heavy.

I looked at what was at hand, some apples, and decided on a crumble. In the middle of peeling and slicing the apples (made easier by one of those coring machine thingys) and mixing up the crumble topping, I remembered that we had several jars of matured fruit mince in the fridge, so decided to add that too.

It took probably 10 minutes to prepare, cooked for 30-40 mins, and according to Rob was "the best dessert I've eaten ever". This is quite a big call, as he's certainly tried a few desserts in his time, but he does have an inordinate fondness for fruit mince (which is normally quite seasonally inappropriate at Christmas). It certainly has won me brownie points over the last few days, and the best bit was that we ate it cold for breakfast the next day.

So here's my "recipe"

Fruit Mince {based on Nigella's recipe in How to be a Domestic Goddess, as an aside I love that book}

250g soft dark brown sugar
250ml medium dry cider (I used Muscat instead)
1kg cooking apples, peeled, halved and quartered
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
500g dried mixed fruit (I used currants, raisins and sultanas)
75g glace cherries, roughly chopped (we use the dark red sort, not the fake bright red ones)
100g blanched almonds (I used hazelnuts)
zest and juice of ½ lemon
3 tablespoons of quince jelly (my variation)
6 tablespoons brandy

In a large saucepan dissolve the brown sugar in the cider/muscat over a gentle heat. Add the roughly chopped apples to the saucepan. Add all the ingredients, apart from brandy and simmer for around 30 minutes until everything has a pulpy consistency. Take off the heat and when it has cooled slightly stir in brandy. Store in sterilised glass jars, we keep ours in the fridge.

Crumble {Annabel Langbein's recipe}
250g flour
125g ground almonds (or use a total of 375g flour)
375g brown sugar
200g rolled oats
100g almonds, chopped or flaked
2 tsp mixed spice
250g butter, melted
Mix the dried ingredients together and add the melted butter, and mix with a wooden spoon until evenly combined.

5 apples (I used granny smiths)
3 tablespoons caster sugar

Butter an oven proof dish. Peel, core and slice apples and arrange on the bottom of the dish.
Spread about 2 cups of fruit mince over the top, or more to taste.
Top with about half the crumble mix (freeze the rest for later use).
Cook in an oven at about 180 degC for 40 minutes or until the crumble is browned and crispy.

Serve with cream or even sour cream.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday's Menu

Winter food is certainly the go at the hut at the moment.

Monday: Beef and mushroom pie with peas.
Tuesday: Ham hock and vegetable soup.
Wednesday: Beef stew on tagliatelle.
Thursday: Beef stew with mash and silverbeet.
Friday: A bowl of mashed potato! (I missed out on the food at the Crib championship as I arrived late. So found some leftover mash in the fridge).
Saturday: Roast chicken with potato, fennel, pumpkin and silverbeet. With an apple and mincemeat crumble for dessert (will post the recipe tomorrow).
Sunday: Chicken and pumpkin risotto with rocket salad (from our garden).

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Before & After

So sadly, there was no need to celebrate all weekend, although faltering at the semi- finals is not to be ashamed of, ensuring we'll have a high ranking next year!

Our first winter weekend was another lovely quiet one. I spent 3 hours cleaning, sorting & tidying the loft storage space.

Yesterday afternoon we tackled something we'd been putting off for 3 months. Pulling apart and reassembling the myrtle wardrobe. It has sat accusingly in the breezeway. While we got up the bravery to do it. The guy at lifestyle furniture doubted it could be done. He said it would be glued. It would crack if we tried to pull it apart. He recommended a furniture maker tackle it.
But I couldn't sell it. Or even give it away. We debated it. But neither of us were very enthusiastic. Until yesterday. We started unscrewing. Removed the doors. Then pulled the boards off the back. Then prised the frame off the bottom then sliced through the glue holding the top on. We actually cut through several dowels before we realized so then went more carefully. We removed the top (not without a few what are we doing moments). We then tried to move the U shaped frame in. But nope. Then I accidentally flexed my end the wrong way and it came off cleanly with all the dowels in tact. A miracle. So we took the other end off. It took us just over 4 hours to pull it apart.
This morning we put it back together in the spare room, in just a little over 2 hours. It looks magnificent. We do feel a little guilty for ruining the original workmanship, but I desperately wanted to keep it. The spare room looks very posh now. Best of all the breezeway has returned to it's original spartan state. A good weekend after all.

Friday, June 1, 2012

As a previous world champion... is a big day. Bigger than the Olympics. The excitement and tension has been building steadily over the last few weeks. The training schedule has been crushing. Team politics have been fought out, secret strategy meetings have been made. The rankings and draw has been debated and questioned. Training has been tapered. Carbohydrate loading has started. Today is the biggest day of the year for my fellow competitors and I.

Today is the:


This renowned event is hosted annually by the School of Plant Science. To win the ultimate prize, a team must work their way through the draw, playing four sudden death games of crib, to win the honour of being crowned the World Champions.

This is not a competition for the light hearted, it is fierce, spectators hackle, adjudicators watch over you to ensure no point is missed or pegged incorrectly. The adrenaline rush is real.

Rob and I have had the luck talent to make the final three times together. Twice we failed at the final hurdle. Watching as our competitors celebrate their win, the cheers from the crowd, the trophy ceremony, with the sickening feeling of total desolation as you realise nobody remembers who came second.

But 2009, was a year to remember, we made our way through the draw quietly, even played a game over because of some dubious backward pegging on the part of our opposition. I can remember it like yesterday.

Finally the big final game. The room is quiet, the atmosphere close, as the crowd leans in closely to examine every card, every throw out, every play. In true Australian tradition, the under dogs are the crowd favourite. We have never been considered the under dogs. We battle not only our opposition but a whole room of competitors, who embittered by their earlier exits, are keen to watch the top dogs lose. My mouth is dry, Rob plays crazy daring pegging cards, making me writhe with almost physical pain. This is not the time to take risks. But I can read his face, I know when he has got the turn up of the century, turning his hand from a meagre six to the coveted dozen or better. We took lady luck along for the ride, pegged like demons (where the skill lies) and still the game was so close.

Heart thudding it comes down to quite literally a matter of a few points between us.
It won't be won on what we hold, rather the pegging. 

We are actually a little further behind, we turn up a jack and get a point, edging closer. Now is not the time for radical pegging, I don't think I'm actually breathing any more. 

Rob has an opportunity to make it 15 and win the game. I look at his face. I think he has it, I'm almost sure. But he's delaying the play. Surely this means he has it?

Then he puts his card down. Time appears to slow down as I see it and realise he's just pegged us the two points. The cheering starts. We have won. We are the world champions. After 10 years of trying our names will be forever immortalised on the trophy.


I must admit since achieving the lofty heights of champion, I thought I should retire at the top. But the addiction to the adrenaline rush is too strong. Despite not regularly playing anymore, as soon as I walk into the hallowed room, I want to win again.

So today is it. Another shot at glory. The dress up theme this year is Las Vegas, so in true botanical style we have created cactus hats. Wish us luck, cause just quietly, really that's all you need to win crib!


DISCLAIMER: I apologise for the excessive use of sporting clichés; I just couldn't help myself!
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