Sunday, May 31, 2009

rule number 3

I have a piece of paper pinned to the board in my office. It reads simply:

'Rule number 3: never, ever, ever do a Phd'.

It was given to me by the (soon to be) Dr Brown. Dr Brown's on the verge of submission, so hurrahs go out to him. But it's been a long, hard, torturous road from all accounts.

I'm only at the Masters stage and I know how he feels. I have lived and breathed site interpretation for a particular location in the Adelaide Hills for at least the last two weeks. I have forsaken all others, eaten poorly, slept too little and spent hours upon hours of weekend time away from home and hearth to drive along the freeway and walk about in the rain.

And mid last week I put my research submission into them. Have I heard anything? Have I crap. Not even a 'thanks BHG, we'll have a look as soon as we can and get back to you in the next couple of weeks'. Frankly I think the whole thing's going to go under. And frankly, my dear, I couldnae give a tinkers.

So I'm at home, after another lack-luster weekend finishing off a course work assignment on why guiding at St Peter's Cathedral is absolutely pants.

Thank god I'm having dahl for dinner. Oh yeah, and leave for China on Thursday. Only glimmers in another wise dull and listless life. Well, not at all really my life's pretty good, I'm just bored with this assignment and frustrated about the thesis.

Oh yeah, because I know you're wondering:
Rule number 1: Just answer the question and you'll do fine
Rule number 2: Never, ever, ever do a PhD.

On reading the assignment I'm writing I'm not at all sure I've complied with rule number 1. It could be a long night.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

on offaly good yarn

Offal is not something a lot of people are really into. I'm almost one of them. Kidneys are a bit squishy. There's something that just won't let me eat brains, and tongue makes me think of boys I knew in high school.

Liver, however, I like. It's nice on pasta, or curried. But it's so rich I can only eat small portions before it all makes me a bit swoony in the stomach area.

But pate is another story.

Tonight I'm cooking up a storm, because tomorrow is Wednesday. And every Wednesday someone in my work place brings morning tea. I've been telling everyone since I started how much I love my time in the kitchen, so now it's time to put my money where my mouth is.

I'm making my famous rhubarb-ripple-raspberry-yogurt-ricotta-crumble cake, and a chestnut tart that I made up over the weekend, some cheese savories and my all time famous Italian style pate.

The following photos are a little on the less than glamorous side, but the results are outstanding

Ingredients
500g chicken livers, cleaned
125g mince (I prefer turkey)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 eggs
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon cream
a splash of brandy
bacon
herbs

Firstly brown the liver and the mince in a pan until they're sealed.


Put the onion and the garlic in a food process and finely chop. Add the liver and mince and blend until smooth. Add the brandy, flour and cream and mix, adding the eggs as the processor is turning, so that they don't cook to scrambled eggs. Season and add a pinch of dried herbs. I use Greek rigani, but you can use what ever you have.


Line a loaf tin with bacon rashers. I like to add a couple of bay down first, just for food bling, but I didn't have any this time. The pour the pate mix into the pan.

Cover tightly with foil and bake in a bain marie in a moderately hot oven for 75mins. Remove the foil and cook another 15mins. Then cool the pate completely and allow to set before turning out.

Of course the top when you cook it will be the bottom when you turn it out. Just so that it sat nicely I cut the bacon off with a pair of kitchen scissors. It had nothing to do with it being crispy and delicious. Really.


And this is what it looks like. Actually it's more impressive in the flesh, the light in my kitchen is dreadful during winter, and on the weekend when I made this the outside wasn't much better.


People have sold their souls for this recipe. And I'm giving it to you for nothing. Because I'm just that kind of Boring History Girl.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

ooops

Today is the day of the first Daring Cooks post. Being me, I wrote the post date in my diary for last Thursday. Apologies if that post spoilt the surprise for anyone.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

one of my boys


Seen lots of kid photos on line recently. This is my youngest, Tony. He has a thing for shoe boxes. Only shoe boxes. Not any other type of box. I guess I shall just have to buy more shoes.

Gee..... I love being an animal person!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

All well laid plans



Have had an afternoon at mother's making my first ever souffle. It was surprisingly easy, and wonderfully delicious. My cholesterol count is out da windae, man. Recipe to follow.

Had many plans for this afternoon. They are likewise out da windae.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

apparently i have onions

You may remember, a while I go I made the bold declaration that I was not a daring baker.

Daring Bakers was a great idea, try something new, extend myself, new skills etc etc.

The reality was that I ended up with huge piles of cakes, needed to buy equipment I've never used since and had to compete with blogs full of stay at home mum-days of sunlight photography-gee I'm a little board so I'll bake this great cake posts. Sorry, but you know it so is.

I really can't eat a whole cake on my own. And as I cycle to work it's too hard to transport it there - the refuge of most sad single girl bakers.

But then Daring Cooks came along. Nice stuff that I can have for dinner, and take the left overs to re-heat for lunch, or bung in the freezer and I was sold. This month is actually the first Daring Cooks' challenge. Shelly from Musings from the Fish Bowl hosted this month's challenge, which is ricotta gnocchi from Judy Roger's Zuni Cafe Cookbook. You'll have to excuse me, I'm known for my abbreviated recipes (and I'm on my fourth glass of wine for tonight - hurrah!), but this is how it goes.

500gm fresh ricotta (I'm not sure what kind of ricotta you would be using if it weren't fresh, but this is just what the recipe says. So put the mouldy ricotta back in the fridge and get some fresh stuff out)
2 large, cold eggs lightly beaten
1 tblspn melted butter
2-3 sage leaves or some grated lemon zest
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
salt
Plain flour for making the gnocchi.

Method
The day before you make the gnocchi you need to drain the ricotta. You can do this in a cheese cloth, or like me in a nice uber-thin tea towel (thank you to the cheapo souvenir salesmen in the Khan a-Kalili markets in Cairo for my Egyptian cotton tea towel), attached over a measuring jug with a rubber band. As you can see, quite a lot of fluid came out, and it stops the gnocchi being too soggy and disintegrating in the pan.



Once the ricotta is drained, mash it up in a bowl to get rid of the lumps, and stir through the eggs (mixing well). Add the sage to the butter if you're using it (I didn't) and once it's cooked for a bit stir it through the ricotta as well. Add the cheese and the salt.

Using two teaspoons form the dumplings and VERY gently coat them in flour, handling them as little as possible. The recipe suggests you refrigerate the dumplings for an hour to firm them up. I highly recommend doing this!!!!



Once you're ready to cook bring a large pot of water to a steady simmer. Then you cook them much like potato gnocchi. Pop them in, let them float to the top and then allow them to bob for about 3-5 minutes, until they're cooked firm. I would have happily bet that mine would fall apart at this stage, but much to my surprise they held together nicely!

I served them with my favourite spicy bacon and tomato sauce, with extra Parmesan.



However, it doesn't stop there. I had a desert version in my head. When making them I put a small spot of raspberry jam in the middle and carefully covered it over. Cooking them the same way, I drizzled over a chocolate sauce.



I was convinced this would be like a raspberry and chocolate cheese cake. It wasn't quite like that, but the sweet ones were better I think.

On the whole these were much easier to do than I had expected, but left a little wanting. Maybe they needed more salt or cheese (oh yeah, no Parmesan in the sweet ones but some sugar instead). They were just a little bland. Probably potato gnocchi and cheese cake will be more satisfying. These are probably healthier, and with some practice probably will have more flavour. They were pretty good re-heated for breakfast this morning.

Give 'em a go, just salt well!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

busy saturday turned lazy saturday

Like most of you, I'm sure, I had a list of things to get through day.

First and foremost was a trip to BikeSA. For the last couple of days my friend Lance has been staying at my house. I met Lance on an organised group bike ride in Victoria a few years ago and he's here to do BikeSA's Outback Odyssey - two weeks riding from Adelaide to Blinman. We were all teasing him because today is a 33km ride to Cudlee Creek. Even if he stops for five pieces of cake along the way he'd probably have been there by 10.30am - the ride started at 9am. But we're all just jealous, because we wanted to be going too. I was made to promise him that my Sunday morning ride would be less than 33km so as not to show him up too much. I could never show Lance up, I'm a pudgy weekend cruiser, he's a lean-mean-cycling-machine.

I then popped into the wonderful Central Markets and got some fresh veg and then moved onto the AWL shelter at Wingfield, where I paid the deposit for Tony and Apollo to board while I'm in China. I made sure I was there before the pound opened, just in case I had to suddenly pay for three cats to board while I was in China.

Wingfield is to the far west of Adelaide, down near the old port. I used to live in the inner western suburbs before my current home, a family property, became available in the snooty eastern suburbs, and I miss the west terribly. I would move back their in a heart beat. Coming back from the AWL I had to pass through what one of my Chinese friends call 'The Ghetto'. So called because there's more signs in Vietnamese than there are in English. This is the neighbourhood where poor Vietnamese refugees settled in the 70s, and unfortunately it's still a poor Vietnamese suburb. Driving through I thought it quite sad that more than 20 years on this neighbourhood is still struggling. On the whole, only now are the family of these people starting to take on successful professions outside of their own communities. I also noticed a lot of Sudanese faces in the area, so this must be the next wave of immigrants who will no doubt struggle to fit into an inherently racist Australian society.

The only good thing about keeping these people in The Ghetto is that you always know which suburbs to drive through when you're hungry. A particular favourite of mine and JC's (JC still lives in the west) is Tay Do. Tay Do does a few hot foods (buns, fried rice etc) but it's main stay is filled rolls.



And driving back home today I suddenly realised I hadn't had breakfast and I was starving! So starving that I bought two. Now Tay Do rolls are a bit like the Stone Roses' first album. Every time I listen to that album I start thinking that I Wanna Be Adored is the best song ever written, and by then I've changed my mind at every track and end up thinking I Am The Resurrection is the best song ever written. The roll I devoured as soon as I got home was a roast pork one. Filled with pickled carrot and cucumber, coriander and chili slices, a well as soft pork with a crispy, salty crust and I was certain that was my favourite flavour. I just ate my lemon grass chicken one and am now sure that is my favourite flavour. If I had another roast pork, I'd move back to that instantly - and so on. If you're ever in the Woodville area, find First Avenue and do yourself a flavour favour!

All going well. However on return to Chez BHG, I lay down on the couch. Three hours later I awoke. So now it's 3pm and the laundry's not done, last night's dishes are still in the sink and I haven't been to the supermarket.

Hurrah! This is what weekends should be like. I will make myself another cup of tea and rest of my laurels a little longer. I wonder where my laurels are? Don't want to rest on them some long I develop a blister or something.

Hope your weekend is just as wonderful and filled with something as delicious as Vietnamese rolls.