Our 3rd Wedding Anniversary

(Subtitled: Why I Missed a Day of Blogtoberfest!)

Oops. I missed a day of Blogtoberfest! I think my slip is allowed, however, as it was our 3rd Wedding Anniversary yesterday! My husbitect and I have been married for three absolutely blissful years. It feels like so much longer to us, and in that wonderful way of happily married couples. Our gorgeous outfits came from Gallery Serpentine.

Three years ago on October 4th, 2008, we were married in the Blue Mountains. It was a wonderful, misty mountains day. Even though our planned outside ceremony had to be moved inside due to rain, it was magical. A pair of frogs serenaded us from their pond, outside in the garden, underneath the window. It did not matter where our ceremony was held – we only had eyes for each other! The whole day was perfect.

For our anniversary, we went to a local Japanese restaurant, and apart from feasting on looking at each other, we dined on delicious food! We started with Agedashi Tofu & Soft-shell Crab. Followed by the freshest Sashimi and then, Beef Sukiyaki! All washed down with Japanese beers and Green Tea. Nom!

On leaving the restaurant, we took a photo outside, under their gorgeous LED-lit cherry blossoms! I want some for our home, but with two feisty kittens, they would not last long! I am tempted to try by hiding them on top of a cabinet, however. I cannot resist the pink nor sparkly!

After mentioning the delicous Japanese food we enjoyed, I thought I would find some recipes for each course we had, so you can try them at home!

  1. Agedashi Tofu – Recipe from ‘My Delcious Blog’
  2. Soft-Shell Crab – Recipe from ‘Cooking Light’
  3. Sashimi – Tips from ‘About.Com
  4. Sukiyaki – Recipe from ‘Just Hungry

How do you like to celebrate your anniversaries? Not just wedding anniversaries, but any kind of anniversary? I’d love to know!

Pull up a chair and have some cake!

Mother's Day Cake

I hope all the Mothers out there had a lovely Mother’s Day; whether you be Mum to a human or a furbaby! We took advantage of the gorgeous sunshine and had a barbecue in the garden.

Steak (perfectly marinated by my Dad), sausages and salads. For dessert, I made a chocolate cake filled with Chiver’s English strawberry jam and freshly whipped cream! The icing was vanilla butter-cream. I was wonderfully assisted in making the cake by my darling Husbitect. My beautiful Mum had a lovely day filled with sunshine, gifts and yummy food. Not to mention much love! What did you do for Mother’s Day if you celebrated it, if not, how did you spend your Sunday?

Posting my photo of the cake I made, I started thinking about the history of cake. Where did cake first come from? What traditions are there surrounding the partaking of cake? Apparently, the word ‘cake’ traces back to the 13th century. The word ‘cake’ comes from the Norse word ‘kaka’. Food Timeline has these, and many more facts, about cake and other foods.

I wish I could find a course locally, that would enable me to become a food historian. I find food an endlessly fascinating topic. What do people eat and why? How has food influenced the course of history? What customs do the many cultures around the world have with food?

I also love it when authors detail what their fictitious characters eat. One of my favourite authors in that regard is Joanne Harris. Especially her food-titled novels, ‘Chocolat‘, ‘Five Quarters of the Orange‘ and ‘Blackberry Wine‘.

There are many non-fiction books that are on my must-read list too. These include ‘Salt: A World History‘ and ‘Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World” both by Mark Kurlansky. Humm, after visiting Mr. Kurlansky’s website, I now have many, many more books on my want/must-read list!

Do you like reading about food? Do you, like me and many others, read Nigella Lawson’s beautifully descriptive cook books as if they were novels?

My other dream career is one deep within the world of antiques. But that is a story for another time!

Cooking for the Queen!

Okay, not really! But it makes for a fun title, dontcha think?

While I did not actually cook for any members of the Royal family, I did cook a British meal for MY family for us to enjoy as we watched the Royal Wedding. We had Coronation Chicken & Potato Salad, Eton Mess and to follow, Lemon (and Lime) Squares Cake with Matcha/Green Tea Frosting. I wanted to choose classic British recipes and was excited to try Coronation Chicken for the first time! Very delicious and I shall make it again. I was very naughty in taking the photo below; I did not notice that I had inadvertently messed up the lovely table setting that my Mum made! Very bad Lysh! ;)

Baking & Coronation Chicken Salad and our pretty table!

Thank you to those who sent messages after my last post; your warmth is muchly appreciated. I am still very much missing my lovely Max, and I always will. I am emerging from my cave though, and trying to get back into things – including this much neglected blog! Cooking has been one of my mercies (as well as craft) and has helped me to return to my old self. I really enjoyed making my Royal menu, even with it taking most of the day! It was quite fun. If you’d like the recipes, see below the photograph of my yummy cake; which just had to have hearts!

Citrus Matcha Cake

  • Coronation Chicken & Potato Salad
  • Eton Mess
  • Lemon Squares Cake. I used lime zest & did not use their icing. I found that the cake did not rise as high as expected, but was very tasty. The lack of rising could be due to my using an oven that is quite old and in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius, so could be my error in getting used to the oven.
  • Matcha Icing. Icing recipe near the bottom.


So, those of you who watched and enjoyed the Royal Wedding, what did you think? Didn’t Catherine and Prince William look wonderful? I watched the whole thing wearing my tiara. A common girl gets so few chances to wear a tiara – why not grab the chance when one can?!

Although, I am sorry to report that when I put on my lovely tiara (from my Husbitect and I’s combined Hen’s Bucks night) I found that one stone had fallen out. *sob*. I’m hoping it is safe within a draw or bag and I shall find it soon. It may only be glass, but I love it all the same!

Nigella Lawson

I came across this article about Nigella Lawson tonight on the Sydney Morning Herald’s site, and it prompted the following musings.

I have to admit that my first interest in watching Nigella’s show was exactly that she wasn’t thin. I was happy to see a woman who was outside of the media’s idea of beautiful. And she is truly beautiful.

But after watching Nigella, what I love, and what keeps me watching, is how she is so unashamedly herself. She isn’t scared to share her love of eating crispy pigs ears or to enjoy food that is seen by some as ‘uncool’.

She inspires me to be me, to enjoy the things I like unashamedly, to enjoy being a curvy girl who has a big bum and big boobs. You can be and do all that, and still be liked.

I think one of her messages is to just enjoy food, enjoy cooking, enjoy your life and your family and friends. There is no right or wrong, no perfect ideal. It is all perfect, as are all of us! Exotic food, cheap food, homemade food, big bums, small bums – everything is good! :)

Retro Recipe: He-Man Salad (Blogtoberfest Day 8)

I have a very large collection of retro cookbooks and recipe pamphlets. I am fascinated by the era of the late 40s to mid 60s. I love the design of the clothes of those times, the illustrations, the hairstyles, culture, the music, the architecture, the cars and of course, the food.

I started playing with one of my recipe pamphlets this afternoon and wanted to share a recipe from my copy of ‘Tasty Salad Recipes’ by Lora Lee Parrott. Isn’t that a fabulous name? Anyhoo, flipping through the pamphlet my eyes caught the title of He-Man Salad; how could I not use that one?! I haven’t tried this recipe, although I have tried many of those from my collection.

One day I want to host an authentic retro dinner party. All foods from recipes of the time, music of the time and guests must dress in period. Ah, one day!

The image above is the result of my playing. The two illustrations come from the cover of the booklet and the rest is from my own little hands. I had so much fun making the image that I think I shall do more! I hope you enjoy these images, too.

* Soundtrack: I Don’t Want to Set the World On Fire by The Inkspots.

Sifting; better when making biscuits

This week saw yet another problem with the house. Some history: First we had the oven fan breaking down and almost a week with no oven. Next the water heater failed so no hot showers for about a week. The latest problem was a plumbing blockage, meaning problems with the loos! Good grief Charlie Brown, what next?! Hopefully nothing else will break or otherwise fail, touch wood *touches own head*.

Fortunately the plumbing problem was dealt with in under 48 hours. A week without toilets would be…very bad. I know many like to be close to nature and all that, but I like my modern amenities! No squatting au natural here, thankyouverymuch! I had no idea that the old style electric eels are rarely used now. The plumbers had a new fangled jet hose which blasted its way down the drains. At one point the water erupted on the other side of the garden, causing the short appearance of Mt. Smelly Water. The air was quite fragrant, to put it delicately. Ah well, all’s well that ends well.

Today I have been carefully sifting through the policies of the major political parties, deciding where to cast my vote. By the end of it, my brain was melting from reading so much political guff, but at least I have decided who to vote for.

This morning, the Husbitect and I were discussing where to vote, and he very wisely suggested that we decide by considering which school would sell the best sausage sandwiches. A winner!

The photo above was taken by me when my Husbitect was making his delicious, Pfeffernüsse biscuits with top secret ingredients. Nom! Speaking of food, I thought I would share a few links to some delicious recipes that I have come across lately. Enjoy!

Rhubarb & Apple Pie

I did some baking over the weekend. I had some rhubarb in the freezer that I had previously blanched to keep its colour and some granny smith apples that needed using. Pie time! I will admit that I did use the quick option of using pre-made pastry. I can make pastry and have done many times. Sometimes you need a quick option for a yummy treat. My husbitect also did some cooking and made a delish chilli jam. I shall take a photo of the jam being enjoyed and add a recipe soon.

For the pie filling, I cored and thinly sliced four granny smith apples and heated them with the rhubarb (about two cups; chopped + blanched), a tablespoon of butter, a little caster sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and cinnamon. Once the apple and rhubarb were softened, I added about half a small packet of blanched almonds for a little crunchiness. I greased the pie plate with butter, lined it with pastry, added the filling and topped with more pastry. The top layer split a little so I pressed it back together and used some little hearts cut from leftover pastry to stick it together. Then added even more hearts. I like to glaze pie pastry with milk for a crisp, brown finish. It took about 45mins to bake at 180C. Served with vanilla ice cream. Nom!

Do you decorate your pies with leftover pastry?

Recipe: Lysh's "Really Good Noodles"

What I cooked for dinner tonight. The vote all around was “delicious!” Yay! So I thought I would share the recipe. Now, keep in mind that I rarely measure things or follow recipes when I cook, so this is a rough estimation of how much of the ingredients I used; adjust to your own taste.

Lysh’s “Really Good Noodles”.
500g minced beef
1 large brown onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4-6 garlic scapes, chopped finely
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1/4 cabbage, sliced finely
Cumin – 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, according to taste
Ground coriander seeds – a good shake
1 sachet chicken noodle soup, dissolved in 1 cup hot water
handful of basmati rice
rice noodles
olive oil
1/2 cup white wine

Add enough oil to coat frying pan. Once oil is hot, add rice, carrots, onion and garlic scapes. Stirring frequently, simmer until onions and carrots are soft. Add mince, cumin and ground coriander seeds. Once mince starts to brown, add chicken noodle soup mixture. Simmer for ten minutes. Keep an eye on moisture level, you may need to add a little more hot water (or stock) if the mixture dries out. Stir frequently. Add fresh coriander. Stir.
Add wine. Gently separate noodles with your fingers & add to the pan. Simmer for five minutes, stirring frequently. Spread sliced cabbage evenly over mixture in pan. Gradually stir in so the cabbage begins to soften but retains colour. Once the cabbage is soft to your liking, serve.
*Serves 4 adults.

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Yay! I’m not a chef or recipe writer, so use the recipe as a guide only. Experiment – add your favorite seasonings. Try adding some zucchini or maybe some corn kernels. Keep stirring throughout – you want to make sure the mince and noodles don’t stick to the pan. Stirring allows you to keep an eye on whether you need to add more liquid.

Anyone get the movie reference hidden in this post? Virtual cookies to you, if you do! hehe

Retro Recipe: Lamb Curry

Time for another retro recipe. This time we visit the land of curries with Marguerite Patten’s ‘Book of Fish, Meat, Poultry and Game’. Published in 1962 by Paul Hamlyn Ltd.

Lamb Curry.
1 pound lamb cut from leg
1 oz. butter
1 gill yoghourt
2 tablespoons curry powder
3 onions
1 clove garlic
2 sticks of celery
1/2 pint stock
salt
1 banana
2 tablespoons of chutney

Cut the lamb into cubes and fry these in the butter for a few minutes then remove from the pan. Mix the meat with the yoghourt and curry powder. Slice and fry the onions, garlic and celery. Add the meat mixture and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the stock, add salt, bring to the boil, them simmer for about 45 minutes.
Add the sliced banana and chutney. Continue cooking slowly for a further 15 minutes. Serve in border of rice, garnished with banana and gherkins, and accompanied by chutney, pineapple and ginger.

*You may find this cooking unit converter handy to convert from imperial measurements to metric.

I love the presentation. Truly I do! I’m not one for modern fancy towers of food with ickle dribbles of sauce, sorry, jus. I love me some kitsch presentation. I fancy a few gherkins and some curry now. Nom.

Retro Recipe: French Egg Casserole

One of the retro cook books from my collection is ‘The Nancy Spain All Colour Cookery Book’. I like the little anecdotes that Nancy shared along with her recipes:

“Well, Stirling Moss and I once argued passionately about Welsh rarebits all one evening. Stirling (like the late Charles Dickens) adores toasted cheese and swears it isn’t indigestible…”

I wonder if ol’ Stirling would like the recipe of Nancy’s that I decided to share? Maybe not, as it doesn’t have cheese in it.

French Egg Casserole.
1/2 pound medium sized onions, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 level tablespoons cornflower
1 pint milk
salt & pepper
dash of grated nutmeg
4 hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoons white wine

Sauté the sliced onions gently in the butter, until tender but not browned. Add the cornflower and mix well. Gradually add the milk and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Season and add white wine. Cut each hard-boiled egg into 4 pieces lengthwise. Reserving some for decoration, mix remainder into sauce. Pour gently into a small casserole and top with egg, chopped parsley or browned onion rings.

Did you know: Nancy Spain’s Great Aunt was Mrs Beeton.

Cooking Time!

The collage above shows some of the things I’ve been cooking lately. The first four are from when I cooked Chinese Barbecue Chicken & Pork. I didn’t follow a recipe, as is typical for me most of the time. In this dish I used some pork rashers (spare ribs without the bone), broccoli, beans, chinese vegies and some chinese barbecue sauce. Very tasty!

*The photo with me taking a water chestnut from the tin is because I like eating them straight from the tin (as well as the baby corn). Nom. I also nibble frozen peas, frozen chips and raw vegies while cooking. Yes, I can be strange. woo!

The next four photos are from my cooking of a treat for my Husband’s Birthday.  He requested Shadrani Fish from Consuming Passions (Book II) which has white fish fillets, eggplant and tomatoes with seasonings. To serve with it, I made a Potatoe & Pea curry. I did follow the recipe for the fish but the potatoe & pea curry was my own.

The last photo is of the cake my darling Husbitect wanted; The Cherpumple! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the same pies or cake mixes as used in the recipe. I baked an apple pie in a vanilla cake mix which turned out lovely. The only non-apple pie I could find was a berry crumble. I baked that in a butter cake mix. Crumbles don’t like to be Cherpumples. They go all gooey. Oh well, it’ll make a nice crumble on its own. I frosted the apple pie cake with vanilla frosting and it was all good. Yay for making tasty cakes! I will however, be attempting the Cherpumple again! I must make the whole thing.

The video for The Cherpumple, by Charles Phoenix is a must see. Trust me, you will love this. I know!