Friday, 30 January 2009

A patch of blue

And yes - the kitchen has reopened!

I have a VERY good husband.

Who will doubtlessly be showered in baked goods.

As soon as it cools down enough to turn on the oven.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Dang that's hot!

Courtesy of Dept. of Earth Sciences, Melbourne Uni.

PS. Third hottest Melbourne temperature on record. Beaten only by 44.7 degrees C on the 10th January 1939, and 45.6 degrees C on 13th January 1939. Otherwise known as Black Friday.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Don't worry... it says HELF

Shamelessly lifted from

Hey - to all you good folks out there in the interwebs - I need some help!

Does anyone know where I can pick up a Nigella Lawson Black Milk jug like the one pictured for my friend Whirly-girl?

Amazon .com and .uk do stock them - but won't ship them to us antipodean Downunder dwellers.

They probably assume us uncultured scurvy convicts don't take our tea with milk - just straight out of the billy*.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated - drop me a comment if you have any ideas!

P.S. I could arrange a trade for some vegimite! Though I'll admit that this might be a deterrent for some rather than an inducement :P

*My sifty memories of Grade 6 camp recall that boiled eucalyptus leaves (Billy tea for the uninitiated) served with a side of charred damper was surprisingly good - but I think I was delirious from a 16km hike (not to mention partially malnourished from the "quality" school camp food)

Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Pecan Sandies

I discovered a jar of pecans whilst I was cleaning out the pantry last week, so I decided to try out a recent recipe from my favourite gastro porn site.

(I'll spare you the details of my other pantry clean out cooking foray - though I remain unconvinced that quinoa, beetroot and pomegranate can't be friends)

Knowing that shortbread is finikity and having learnt my lesson from cooking blunders past, I followed the instructions TO THE LETTER. Or to the millimeter as it was in this case.

I'm not sure if my metal ruler is technically food safe, but I can attest that my biscuits were 1 inch square (+ or - 1/16th of an inch).

Obviously my keen quality assurance team (jms) found this tolerance suitable for taste testing purposes, and declared them a success.

I even managed to refrain from rerolling the scraps (god forbid the structural integrity of one's shortbread be compromised). I'm glad I did, because the texture of these biscuits was so light I swear a host of angels could be heard singing with each mouthful.

This did leave some less than photographic odds and ends that after yours truly was rendered too ill to cram any more dough into her mouth, were cooked and the QA department promptly devoured them in the name of Total Quality Management.

I'm not a huge fan of pecans - but I am a sucker for recipes that require toasted nuts. Like freshly ground coffee or baked bread, the smell of roasted nuts is one of those smells that I think makes a house feel like a home. And in this case, it really does turn a wee biscuit in to something not just nice, but delicious.

The simple act of enriching the oils with a slight caramelisation seems to take recipes to another level. That little extra step makes me feel like I am becoming an accomplished cook, and not just someone who throws stuff together when hunger dictates. Try toasting your pine nuts lightly next time you make pesto. Or add some gently toasted slivered almonds to a simple salad. Brownies (not that heaven needs improvement) do taste a little more special if you roast your hazelnuts or whatever first I am told. And I promise, the next time I make banana bread, to wave those walnut suckers near an open flame, just to see what happens.

For the sake of quality control purposes of course.

However, as I have informed my best beloved, this cook is on biscuit and cake hiatus until the delivery of a new mixer. So there.

I'm sorry folks, but an ultimatum has become necessary.

I am completely sick of wrangling my delapidated and partially melted mixer into submission. Sick of the splattering of crap all over the kitchen and the delectable smell of burning motor grease wafting throughout the house. And no, I don't want a replacement. I want one of those over priced and over blown ones that that sit along side Nigella's boobs and Jamie's "cor blimeys".

Shiny. Expensive. Cobalt Blue.

Kitchen closed 'till further notice.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

To B or not to B

Whilst hanging out recently with my 3 yr old BF, she brought to my attention that I didn't have a Barbie doll of my own. She further suggested that if I got a my own Barbie doll, I could come over to her house and play. I was immediately smitten with the idea. Why can't a 30 something have her own Barbie?

While I know there is a raging discussion (that well intended feminists started before I was even born) about the appropriateness of Ms. B as a toy for impressionable minds. To the extent that she had a fairly extensive makeover (if going from a Dolly Parton to a Dita Von Teese bust size counts).

Unfortunately, I think the doll's demerits have been completely eclipsed by real life Barbie doll role models such as Ms. Hilton, Lohan et. al. and their questionable behaviour that is splattered all over the show.

My little friend's mother was denied a Barbie when she was growing up by her staunchly feminist mother (that should possibly have a capital F). And she in turn, intended to maintain a Barbie free zone – but eventually cracked after a protracted and difficult toilet training 'negotiation'.

However, after much discussion, we the adults have concluded (post purchase justification aside) that Barbie is OK. Not great, but also not psychologically damaging to a worrying extent.

Indeed, I survived a childhood beset with Barbie. Apart from my Lego (which I still have) Barbie proved to be the toy that got the most play longevity of all my toys. Furthermore, as a 16 year old I was markedly upset when the olds gave away my collection (without consultation) to a smaller relative. Jms and his brothers all turned out pretty good and they had (by all reports) a better collection than I (they had the spa AND the convertible).

In retrospect, I personally only developed body image issues after being given a (well intended) Dolly magazine subscription in my tweens. Jms, as far as I know, doesn't have any Barbie body issue problems (apart from a strange fixation with blue eye shadow). I admit that it is a bit of a merchandising flood gate – with matching outfits and vacuous DVDs by the truckload, but at least it gives you a moments break from the Wiggles.

But as the story predictably goes, I found myself wandering a large toy shop (looking for cheap Lego as it happens) when I found myself caught in the vortex of the pink isle. So pink it is visceral - your teeth ache with its artificial sweetness and you feel kinda claustrophobic. It is like crack for little girls and it makes parents wish they were colour blind.

The nearly bare, post-Christmas shelves showed a smattering of what I guess was second or even third tier dolls – with the exception of a handful of an "exclusive" design. A long haired temptress replete with butterfly wings and a layered blue and lilac ball gown. If I could have specified the kind of doll I'd be in to, they couldn't have done a better job (unless the dress was actually designed by Vivienne Westwood). But ultimately I walked away (read: dragged by husband).

I know I should really just wait until the op-shop down the road reopens and get a pre loved doll. It would certainly help my savings - and fly under the radar of Jms' House Deposit Plan of Ultimate Fiscal Restraint. But there was a certain something about that doll that I can't get off my mind.

I was trawling though my inspiration folder yesterday and found the following picture:

(Many apologies, but I can't find a source for this)

So far I have fought the Blythe phenomenon tooth and nail, but as a crazy cat lady in the making, a Nikki doll is DEFINITELY on my wish list.

Obviously at its going rate on ebay (and the current list of useful items around the house that badly need replacing) it is an understatement to call it an extravagance. Simply out of the question. Not to mention that whole economic downturn thingy.

God knows why I feel I need it, but it does make a new Barbie seem a lot less over the top. Unfortunately I'd be getting a lot less aesthetic bang for my buck. A quick google image search reveals that the Barbie Mariposa Queen is just a little more 'gauche' than the 'haute' couture of my rose coloured recollection.

Dare I say garish?

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Perhaps it was an overload of "fairy princess" games over the holidays. But then again, didn't Dolce & Gabbana do a range of over the top butterfly dresses a few years back? And Galliano and Lacroix can't seem to help vomiting lurid silk organza at every turn...

I actually have no idea what my point is here.

But I do think it might involve wanting to brush synthetic hair with a teeny comb and co-ordinate a small wardrobe. The pure escapism of matching shoes and handbags, ball gowns and up-dos without an unflattering mirror or fake tan booth in sight.

Dressing up is fun, but as an adult it seems to require so much more of a production (and hollywood tape). Barbie doesn't have to stress about underarm hair or a VPL.

And she doesn't get offended when ditched for a different game or lunch.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009