Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Another UFI almost finished

Leannes House, pattern by Leanne Beasley designs
Last night I sat at my sewing machine until I had finished sewing all nine blocks together, then added the sashing, yah, I have  finished "Leannes House" quilt top.  I think I will hand quilt this one with perle thread, this will become my go anywhere project, I sure hope it doesn't take me another six years to finish the quilting.   It is going to be nice to cuddle under this while quilting, we have been having cold frosty nights for the past couple of days, I cannot complain about the beautiful sunny days though, oh, maybe just one small complaint, we haven't had any rain.  I sure hope we aren't going back into drought again, I've just established my garden.    Now to go shopping for the fabric for the backing, nothing in my stash is pretty enough for this quilt  Sorry I couldn't take a better photo, there was a breeze and I tried to snap between the wind blowing the quilt.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Problem solved, I hope.

After all the worry and hassle with the company that installed my solar panels and inverter, it seems I won't have to deal with them to have the inverter replaced.   The son who does everything made a few phone calls today and because the inverter is still under warranty  it seems I can by pass the company I am having all the problems with, and have another company  install a new unit.   My fingers and toes are crossed that this will will happen.    On a much brighter note I have just finished block nine of  "Leannes House" quilt, now to square up all the other blocks and sew them together, I should have the top finished this week, providing there are no interruptions.

Penang curry

The son who does everything has give his permission for me to give you his recipe for Penang curry.  This curry is full of flavour and has little heat so it is good to serve to children as well as those adults who don't like it hot hehee. We ate this for dinner tonight and everyone wanted more.
Curry paste
 6 large sweet red chillies
6 cloves garlic
1 red onion
1 tbls cumin
1 tsp white pepper
2 lemon grass (white stem)
1 tbls galangal or fresh ginger
6 roots coriander with leaves
2 tsp shrimp paste
2 tbls roasted peanuts
Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz

1 kg chicken thighs ( cubed)
1 tin coconut cream (do not shake the tin)
1 can coconut milk
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 1/2 tbls fish sauce
60 ml lime juice
4 kaffir leaves (shredded)
3 - 4 tbls palm sugar
1 tblsp Peanut oil
Open coconut cream, it is important not to shake the can, pour the oil from the can into the wok and heat with the peanut oil, add 6 heaped tablespoons of the curry past mix to the wok and fry for 5 minutes.  Add the cubed chicken and stir through the paste until coated evenly.  Once chicken is sealed add the rest of the coconut cream, coconut milk, kaffir leaves and peanut butter.  Reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes untill the sauce has reduced and thickend a little. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar.  Serve with steamed rice and roti.  Enjoy, I know we did.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The baking in me!

There is nothing like a cold day to bring out the baking in me.  Yesterday it was cookies and today a chicken vegetable pie.   I had the filling simmering on the stove top when the son who does everything called in with an invitation to dinner, he is cooking one of his curries and I love a good homemade curry,  how could I refuse.  I finished baking the pie, I used a rectangle sized dish to fit in all the filling and then had to join the pastry to fit the dish,  it looks rustic but the filling tastes good, I'm looking forward to tomorrow night, and I will also have leftovers for the freezer.    It is a shame that I won't be eating this tonight but, after all who would turn down an ivitation for dinner,  a meal I didn't have to cook.   With that decided I think it will also be a good idea to take those cookies for the kids to finish off.

Cookies, cookies, cookies

After a late breakfast this morning and having nothing else planned for the day I decided to go to the shopping centre, have a coffee and just wander around, do some window shopping.    As you can imagine I didn't just window shop, I bought a book, a bargain book at just $10 . The title of this book grabbed me before I had even opened it to have a browse, "1 Dough, 100 Cookies" written by Linda Doeser , take 1 basic recipe and make 100 kinds of cookies.  I needed another coffee to be able to sit and look through this before I left the shops.   I would need to stock up on supplies, you see I was already planning what to bake before that coffee was finished.     Something my nana baked often,  Almond and Raspberry jam drops, with everything I needed, it was home to my kitchen.     Let me just say that these are so easy to make, twenty minutes later I had twenty five raspberry and apricot drops.    I thought I had enough raspberry jam, but I was almost out so half of the drops are apricot.     These are buttery, almond, and with a little jam not too sweet little drops of yummy.

Almond and raspberry jam drops:

Makes about 25

225g/8oz butter, softened
140g/5oz caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp almond extract
280g/10oz plain flour
55g/2oz almonds, toasted and chopped
55g/20z chopped mixed peel  (I left this out, and it hasn't affected the finished cookie)
4tblsp raspberry jam (or any jam you have on hand)

Preheat oven to 190C / 375F. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment
Put the butter and sugar into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon ,( I used a hand mixer) then beat in the egg yolk and almond extract.  Sift together the flour and a small pinch of salt into the mixture, add the almond and mix peel if you use it and stir until thoroughly combined.
Scoop tablespoons of the mixture and shape into balls with your hands, then put them onto the trays.  Using the end of a wooden spoon make a hollow in the centre of each one and fill with jam.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. leave to cool on the baking trays, then using an egg lifter slide them onto wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Addictive almonds

We have had the most amazing Autumn day here, the cold, frosty, foggy morning has given way to beautiful sunshine.     Since my daughter and grandson left after having lunch with me, I've been sitting outside reading but had to come inside for a drink, it was becoming too warm, and thats when I remembered the almonds I bought yesterday.  I opened the pack of Tamari roasted almonds, tasted a couple and now I need someone to please help me, these are so addictive I cannot stop eating them.    I've said before I am not a sweet tooth, I love everything savoury and crunchy and these are definately savoury and crunchy, I think I could replace a packet of chips for these.   I'm now trying to convince myself that these are very healthy, ok, maybe not in the amount that I have just eaten.   Closing the lid and hiding them in the pantry, hopefully I will forget about them for a couple of days, maybe.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Little feet

Look what I found on my camera this morning, two little feet in their sneakers, as well as other random photos of things from around the house including his toys and the television program he was looking at on Saturday morning.   He took my camera from my desk while I was busy, some of the photos were quite good, nice and focused but most were just blurry and obviously taken in a rush.  When I came across this one I loved it and had to show you.

Applique update

I thought I would give you an update on the progression of  my needle turn applique, I have to say this has been more difficult than I thought it would be, I am becoming more proficient but it will take more practice to make this perfect.  In the past I have relied on blanket stitch or applique by machine.  I have completed the leaves, all except a few stitches, and now on to the berries, I have left these till last because quite frankly they are scaring me a little,  I did two at the bottom and I unpicked them a few times, perfect little circles, I think not.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A ray of sunshine

After the depressing week I had last week, what with the death of two people I knew and then little Lexi, and feeling like I wanted to hide in a hole somewhere, I've been stressed over having the solar inverter repaired or replaced.  It is only 2 years old and I am having a battle with the company that installed it.  The added stress caused me to be unwell,  I increased the medication I take for Addisons disease but I didn't leave the house, spent most of it lying on the lounge feeling awfull.   The son who does everything is going to work out something this week.    I have always been able to do everything, I raised five kids and handled everything as a single parent so at times I feel completely useless now.    On a much brighter note one of my grandsons had a sleepover last night and we have had a lot of fun, a ray of sunshine for me, I was able to take my mind off everything else.    I took him to McDonalds for dinner,  I know, I can just hear the moans, but it is not something I usually do, it was a treat, we both had chicken, he had nuggets and I had a grilled chicken roll, chips and of course we bought a caramel sundae to bring home and eat while we watched a movie.    After breakfast this morning, to make up for the junk food I fed him last night, he helped me chop vegetables for soup, which we had for lunch and he decided was very yummy.    This afternoon we had afternoon tea with his mum and my youngest daughter while I taught them to make their nanas scone recipe.  We then had scones with jam and whipped cream, very yummy.    This took me back to when mum taught me her little trick to get those light scones that she always made.    Deacon then went home with his mum and I came home alone, I will miss his company, not to sure about the constant chatter though.
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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Chicken meatballs in plum sauce

Late this afternoon I started to think about what  I could take from the freezer for dinner.  I found a single chicken breast, a quick look through my cookbook and I came across chicken meatballs in plum sauce, I love Asian style food and I haven't made these in awhile.  A quick check of the pantry and I found I didn't have Chinese five spice, no worries I can make my own blend in the spice grinder. With that I proceeded to mince the chicken breast in the food processor, I actually prefer chicken thigh fillets for this, it gives a chicken ball that has more moisture than a breast fillet.  I'm working with what I have though, I was also going to have to adjust this recipe down from feeding four to just one.  I love the flavours in this recipe and with the sticky sauce and a little rice and vegetables I have a tasty meal.  I was able to get eleven chicken meatballs from the one chicken breast fillet.  Some for lunch as well.

How to make your own Chinese five spice:
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground cloves
1tsp ground fennel seeds, toasted and ground
1tsp ground star anise
1tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
Store the blended spice mix in a sealed container .

Sauce:          1/2 cup water
                    1/4 cup Soya sauce
                     3 tbls Chinese plum sauce ( or homemade plum sauce if you have it)
                     1 tbls honey
                     1tsp grated fresh ginger
                     1 tbls  sweet Chilli sauce (optional)

Meatballs:     250gm chicken thigh fillets or breast fillets  (you can use minced chicken)
                     1/4 cup spring onions green stems as well
                     1 egg lightly beaten
                     1tbls Soya sauce
                     1 tsp Chinese five spice
                     1tsp fresh garlic, crushed
                     1tsp fresh ginger, grated
                     1 tbls breadcrumbs
                     1 tbls vegetable oil

Place the sauce ingredients in a small pan and bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer till it thickens
Cut the chicken pieces into chunks and put into the food processor with the other ingredients and blitz till combined.  With damp hands roll into balls the size of golf balls, shallow fry turning to brown all over, pour the sauce over the chicken balls and cook a further 5 mins rolling the chicken balls in the sauce until they are well coated in the sauce. Serve with rice and steamed vegetables.  

Monday, 13 May 2013

Little cardigan

The little cardigan I was knitting has been put away, tiny Lexi who was born ten weeks prematurely was overcome by the many hurdles she had to cross to stay here with her family, early this evening Lexi lost her battle to live.  She had fought to stay alive but her tiny body was tired, and so this evening she joined the angels.  My thoughts go out to her young parents and little brother, at times such as this I know words cannot give comfort, and I also know she will forever have a place in their hearts. R.I.P. LEXI

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Happy Mothers Day

 My youngest daughter arrived early this morning to have breakfast with me, she brought flowers and a small black box, I was very intrigued to know what was in this little box.   Oh, what a wonderful surprise, twelve perfect macarons from "La Belle Miette"  this little box held a selection of their Mothers day high tea flavours.   After breakfast  we shared a couple of these wonderful little treats with a cup of perfumed tea she had purchased from T2,  this business happens to be one of our favourite places to shop.  The cucumber and mint was an unusual but wonderful taste sensation, I also really enjoyed the devonshire tea flavoured macaron.    I will definately have to share the rest of these with someone.     Lunch was with the son who does everything, where he and my second son had prepared lunch for the family, it was a lovely meal and I spent a relaxing day with them      Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my eldest daughter, her partner cooked a lovely meal while I was able to play with my grandson and talk with my daughter.    I love the gifts I received but most of all I loved the time spent with my family.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Egg and vegetable slice

Tonight I took a container of vegetable soup from the freezer for dinner, once thawed and heated it was only a small bowl of soup.  Maybe I had taken one of my lunch soups by mistake because an hour or so later I was hungry.    Now this would normally be dangerous, the time when I would  go searching for something naughty, something along the lines of unhealthy, but tonight as I was reading an article about incorporating more vegetables into our diets I felt guilty.     I still had eggs left from the gift my friends gave me, I had lots of vegetables, yoghurt, feta and mushrooms,  ok it will have to be an egg and vegetable slice.  I have to say that once it was cooked and I added a spoonful of my green tomato chutney on the plate it was delicious.  I'm still thinking of something decadent though, there is nothing in the house so I'll settle down with my knitting and a hot drink instead.
Egg and Vegetable Slice
This makes a small slice, possibly for 4 people with a side, if you need a larger slice add more of everything

5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup of chopped vegetables, ( I used zucchini, roasted pumpkin, broccoli flowerets, spinach)
small handfull mushrooms, sliced
1/4 red or brown onion, chopped
20-30 gm piece of feta (If you don't have feta, just use any cheese, but the feta gives it a nice flavour)
1/4 cup greek yoghurt (optional)
1/4 cup milk ( you can use cream if you have)
Salt and pepper
Add the milk, yoghurt and salt and pepper to the egg mix, stir until combined.
Saute the onion in a little oil until transparent, line and spray a pan of your choice, place all the vegetables, and onion in the pan.  Place the cheese over the vegetables, spreading it out so there is even cover,. Pour the egg mixture over the top, I pushed most of the spinch under the egg mixture, although it still rose to the top.  Place in the oven 180c or 350 fahrenheit for about 30minutes, it will differ with each oven. To check it is cook just insert a knife into the centre where it should be cooked.    Adjust this as you like. Enjoy

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Grandma at daycare

This afternoon mums, grandmas and nana's were invited to my grandson Deacons day care centre for a Mothers day concert and afternoon tea.    My daughter and I sat on those tiny chairs, I wasn't sure I would fit or be able to get back up when the time came but I did.    The children sang some songs they had  learnt, although for some unknown reason my usually outgoing grandson became all shy and was struck with stage fright.    The children then presented their mums with a small gift and some art work with a poem attached about what their mums mean to them.   We then moved outside where afternoon tea consisting of cakes and biscuits were set out on tables in the sunshine.    The children were allowed to go off and play whereby Deacon became his usual self,  running around and playing.     I guess we won't be seeing him on a stage anytime in the future.    I received my first Mothers day gift in the mail today, a lovely card and book voucher from my son and family who are living interstate.     I'm looking forward to Sunday,  and although I no longer receive breakfast in bed I will enjoy spending the day with my kids and grandsons.  I wish you all a Happy Mothers Day for Sunday.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Fresh eggs for lunch

Last Sunday was market day, it is held on the first Sunday of every month.   I just love this market, all the fresh produce, cakes, breads, vegetables, plants and  the small producers with their own olive oils, olives, jams, chillis etc.   The smell of producers cooking at some of the stalls wafts through the market making me hungry, the first stop is always the coffee van, a skinny chai late is needed to get me through the morning, there is so much to take in here and I always come away with something.    My friends live close by, so as I have done a few times in the past I bought some cake and called into their house for morning tea.  They have a couple of free range chickens that just roam around where they like during the day doing what chickens do, and are then they locked up before nightfall.    Before leaving they asked if I would like to take some eggs, of course the answer was yes, who would turn down that offer.    Today while thinking about what to have for lunch I was also reading a blog that I follow, One Hundred Dollars a Month  I thought a version of this salad with a boiled egg would be just right.   Only one problem,  when searching through the pantry I found did'nt have Cranberries or Almonds, what to do, use what I do have which is sultanas and walnuts.  I also used a yoghurt dressing instead of mayonnaise, it was delicious, free range eggs from a friend are definately better than the shop bought free range eggs. Thankyou Anne for the eggs and thankyou Mavis for my lunch idea.

1 egg, boiled
small amount of fresh spinach
some rocket
sliced celery
1/4 of a tomato
1 spring onion
a few sultanas
a few walnuts
1 slice of Danish feta, crumbled
broccoli flowerets ( blanch or lightly steam if you like)

1 tablespoon greek yoghurt
little of crushed garlic
white wine vinegar to taste

Add everything but the egg and the dressing to a bowl, season with a little salt and pepper and mix together, Lay on a plate,  slice the egg in half or chop, whichever way you like add to the top of the salad mix.  In a small bowl add the youghurt and the garlic, to crush the garlic I mash it with a little salt against the chopping board with the back of the blade of the knife, it gets rid of that raw garlic taste, add the vinegar tasting as you do till it is the way you like it. I also added some finely chopped parsley. Serve for one.  Enjoy

Tiny baby cardigan

I'm really enjoying the weather we are having this late in Autumn, such beautiful warm sunny days and cool nights,  It's predicted to be around the mid twenties for the rest of this week and then some rain.    Last night I put the applique down, I needed some handwork to stitch this morning while at my quilting group and if I had finished I would have just been sitting chatting and drinking coffee.     What to do, then it came to me, knit a little cardigan for a friends baby girl.   This is a very tiny cardigan, little Lexi was born 1.6kg and  ten weeks early, she is in an isolet cot in the premature babies ward.    I am hoping she will be ok, that she will  gain weight and soon be able to go home with her mum, dad and brother, until then I am knitting a couple of things for her.  The pattern is from an old Patons knitting book I bought when I had my little girls, the wool is "Sullivans Baby touch"  in 4ply machine washable,  there are six 25gm balls in a box of wool that  I was given that were my mums, as I've said is the past, my mum knitted baby clothes for the Maternity wing of her local hospital and I have been waiting for a baby girl to knit for so I could use some of this.  The pattern is in pink but I think the white will be lovely.

Monday, 6 May 2013

One of my favourite photos

Last night I was talking to my eldest son, he is currently having a break from his cancer treatment, the next round of chemotherapy will start again in a couple of weeks but in the meantime he, his wife and young boys will be having a short holiday in the sun on the Gold coast.  He is feeling less tired and seems to have more energy now that the radiation and chemotherapy combination has finished.  This has given him some time to relax and do some of the things he enjoys, he is also able to drive again which has been a huge relief for my daughter in law.  During the conversation we were talking about my two gorgeous little grandsons and I remarked that one of my favourite photos was of Isaac and my son taken at my sons wedding.  This photo is just so natural  I thought I would show it you and let you see why I love this particular photo.

A quick pizza dinner

This afternoon my sister and her husband called in for a drink, they were on their way home from a lovely long weekend break in the Grampians, they had been to a food and wine show.     Sampling wines from the wineries around the district, and of course, cheeses, olives, breads and other artisan foods.    They also interupted the sewing day I had planned, I was going to sit and applique all afternoon, they didn't stay long though, just long enough to have a cup of tea and share the lovely biscuits they brought with them and tell me a little about their weekend.  Worried about driving in peak hour traffic they decided to leave, after I waved them on their way, I sat down to pick up the block I had been working on and the phone rang, it was friend who wanted to have a chat.    I decided to think about an early dinner so I could go back to my applique after dinner.  What to have, I felt like pizza, home made of course, but I wouldn't have time to make a dough and let it prove, so I mixed a pita dough and instead of cooking the pita I  rolled it out, placed some of my passata sauce, a little cheese then onion, capsicum and mushroom on the dough and baked in the oven.  Guess what, I like it, a thin crunchy base with cooked vegetables on the top.   Now back to my applique.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Needle turn applique

This year I made the decision to finish all the UFI's in my cupboard, I'm slowly getting through them and while I have four quilt tops waiting to be sent off to be quilted I'm feeling happy to see this pile diminishing.    I have some sewing on the machine to do but tonight I'd rather sit on the lounge wrapped in a quilt and hand stitch.    With this in mind I searched for the blocks I started in a workshop quite awhile ago and only finished one of the four blocks in this set before packing them away.    This afternoon I have cut out the leaves and will sit and finish block two I hope, I may well fall asleep instead, but will make a head start on it.     The blocks are from Bon Bon designs and the set is called Endearments, the first block is "Juliette", block two is "Beatrice",block three is "Ophelia", block four is "Portia" these are my first attempt at needle turn, silk thread and number eleven needles, as you can see I have a lot of practice ahead of me.   These blocks will never be entered in a competition, only ever displayed in my home so I'm happy to stitch along and hopefully become more proficient.     I have framed the first block and it hangs in the passage of my home,  I'm not sure if I will do the same with the other three or stitch all four of  them into a quilt.     I've taken my stitchery keeper out of hiding, this is a post pac I covered in fabric and use to store my work, to keep my work clean and safe.    I have left one end unsealed so I can store cottons, needles and applique pins inside the pac.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Tuna patties

Last week I realised I haven't been eating enough fish, our local fresh fish supply was closed late last year and there is no where to buy fresh fish locally anymore.  Determined to eat more fish, to increase my omega levels I decided to make some tuna patties for dinner tonight, I'm using canned fish  because that's all I have, however these are so much nicer with fresh fish.        I'm using a basic recipe tonight, sometimes I also make Thai fish cakes but tonight I just felt like these.  I made a small salad and some brown rice to have with them, very nice.   I have to tell you though that my very favourite way to have them is between two slices of toast with shredded lettuce and lemon juice, usually for lunch.   

Fish patties

1 large potato peeled and chopped
185 gm can tuna ( you can use a flavoured tuna, lemon or lime)
2-3 spring onions
2 tsps lemon rind
1 egg lightly beaten
1 tbls chopped parsley
Oil,  (I used safflower oil )

Boil potatoes in salted water till cooked, drain and cool.  Mash the potato, add finely sliced spring onions, lemon rind, egg, parsley, tuna and salt and pepper.   Mix till well combined,  form into patties and roll in the breadcrumbs till covered.  Place on a plate, then put into the fridge for about an hour (this stops them from losing their shape as they cook)   Pour enough oil into a pan,  just to cover the bottom of the pan, cook turning when golden brown, place onto some paper towel to drain.   Serve with a salad or some potato wedges.  This gave me six medium patties, some for the freezer. Enjoy.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

A little sad today

Yesterday while cleaning the house and changing a few things around, I've moved my teapots from a small open cabinet to the hutch,  I found one of my grandmothers tea cups broken.  I have cared for these for over twenty five years and to find one broken is a little sad.  It did have a small hairline crack down one side so I was  expecting this to happen but it doesn't change the way I feel.    This tea set has been used a lot for afternoon teas with friends and my daughters, as a matter of fact it has encouraged my beautiful girls to appreciate the beauty in setting a table with a cloth, making tea in a pot instead of a tea bag, serving some home baked goodies and just sitting and relaxing with friends and family.    My daughters and I get together every few months just for this reason, its good to catch up with each other and discuss the things that have been happening in our busy lives.