Thursday, April 29, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Work took me to Queensland's Sunshine Coast for a few days so I squeezed B and the boys in my bag and we added on a few more days of R&R in Noosa. We had a wonderful time- highlights included the beach and pool, Eumundi Markets, the Ginger Factory (a boat ride, a train ride, icecream and gingerbread man souvenirs: who can complain?), riding the Noosa Ferry and ascending Mt Tinbeerwah to look over the Noosa River and hinterland ("climbing" is a bit of an exaggeration for the degree of difficulty for the adults, but as I said before, it was Big Bro's first unassisted mountain ascent).
Eight days away didn't feel like long (and wasn't) but in that time the garden had a few developmental leaps- infantile capsicums, tomatoes at the end of their season, yet more parsley, and a few too many weeds. The holiday is certainly over!
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Big Bro: look at me! Look at me now!
Mama: look at you, look at you, look at you now! It's fun to have fun but you have to know how! (blush, glance around to check no other parents noticed. Fortunately they were too busy pondering their kids' answer to "what would you do if your mother asked you?"....)
Saturday, April 10, 2010
This is what I threw together tonight:
Quick and easy risotto with pumpkin and zucchini
For my simple risottos, the base is the same but different vegetables or meat can be added. If it's a vegetable like pumpkin that is likely to squish up with too much stirring, pre-cook it and add it at the end (unless you're making it for a baby, in which case squished is good. Did I mention risotto is great baby food?)
Earlier: I roasted 1 cup pumpkin cut in 1cm dice by spreading it on a foil-lined baking sheet, drizzling with olive oil (I used garlic-infused oil) and cooking at 160C for about an hour (until soft through)
1 rasher bacon, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup stock, optionally warmed* (I used my homemade no-added-salt chicken stock as the salt in the bacon and cheese is enough)
~1 cup milk (or a bit more), optionally warmed* (I use milk to increase the calcium in the risotto)
~1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or other) cheese
*the proper way to make risotto is with warm/hot liquids, but it works ok for me with cool liquids). I warm the liquids in the microwave to save washing up; purists would have it steaming in a saucepan on an adjacent hob.
Put a saucepan over medium heat and fry the bacon in the butter for a few minutes, until starting to brown. Add the garlic and zucchini and sautee until soft. Then add the rice and stir. Add about a third of a cup of stock and stir until absorbed (so no wet bits are evident). Repeat twice more, which means the cup of stock has all soaked in. Now do the same with the rmilk, adding thirds of a cup and stirring until absorbed. One one cup of milk is incorporated, taste to determine whether the rice is cooked through. If not, continue stirring in one third cupfuls of milk until cooked through. Now stir in the cheese and the pumpkin, taste for seasoning and serve to the waiting hoards!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
For the topping:
- 6 shallots, thinly sliced (AB uses 2 onions)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Olive oil (AB uses nonstick cooking spray)
For beans and sauce:
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 500g fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and cut into 1cm lengths (my boys seem to prefer small bits of beans)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (AB uses butter)
- 12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup milk (AB uses half-and-half, which is a creamy milk/very thin cream)
Preheat the oven to 245 degrees C.
Combine the shallots, flour, panko, and salt in a large baking dish and toss to combine.Drizzle with oil and place the dish on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss 2 to 3 times during cooking. (There were lots of comments about problems with burning, so I checked every 5 minutes) Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees C.
While the shallots are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring 4 litres of water to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the milk. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. It was an unappetising grey, which fortunately is well diluted by the addition of the beans!)
Remove from the heat and stir into 1/4 of the shallots and add the green beans. Top with the remaining shallots. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Big Bro climbed his first mountain today- Mt Tinbeerwah, near Noosa. Admittedly most of the work was done by a petrol engine- he certainly didn't meet the Colorado definition of having climbed a fourteener, which was ascending over 3000 feet (some sticklers would backtrack from official trailheads to descend enough to the be able to ascend the requisite 3000 feet). But he managed a roughly 500m trail which continuously ascended, without a single complaint. This was much better than I remember being for walks at a similar age, and much better than we often get on city streets!
As well as enjoying the outcome, I really enjoyed the walk with Big Bro. I strolled at his pace, with plenty of time to notice the surrounds- a dainty leaf eater's shelter, dragonflies, butterflies, different cricket calls. For someone who usually seems to prefer the mechanical world to the natural one, Big Bro had a lot to discuss about the surrounds. At the end, B and I said "we really need to do this sort of thing more often"... Along with everything else for which we've said that!! But watch this space!!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
We had a near-crisis a few days ago when we left these sandals at the pool. But hooray for lost property services: never was there a bigger smile for recovered property than when Little Bro was reunited with his beloved shuesSS. And from a sentimental perspective, I was pretty glad to see them too, Velcro straps and all.