Thursday, August 4, 2011

Llama, Llama, and Duck, the desk chickens

Desk Chicken [desk chik-uhn] noun

Widely mistaken for a domestic fowl, the desk chicken is in fact wildly untamed and will upend your paperclip basket and sticky tape your mouse to your mousepad at the slightest provocation. Their stealthy antics almost always go unseen by the human eye, however it is a strongly held belief that if your stapler ever jams, or your hole-punch empties it's confetti-like innards all over your office space, then the desk chicken is usually to blame.

Despite their spritely antics, the desk chicken warms the heart of anyone who is lucky enough to have them nest on their work desk, and they will quite often trick the hard working office dweller into thinking their day has passed much more quickly than it really has, just by the sheer brutal force of their cuteness.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

H.T.R 4 J.O 4eva

Whilst I was in Brisbane a while back, I bought myself a copy of Jamie Oliver's 30-Minute Meals. I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this book already! The way this book is set up is completely different to every other cook book you've ever owned. Rather than giving you one dish, and the ingredients and method for that one dish and leaving it up to you to put it all together, Jamie has created a book that mirror's his TV show - each 'recipe' is a complete meal plan, and he guides you through each part of each dish step by step, so that everything comes together ready at the same time at the end. I love it!

I decided a few weeks ago that every Sunday night would be 30 minute meal night, but because I was a bit too tired on Sunday, and was making my first ever plasma donation last night, tonight became this week's 30 minute meal night. We decided on pork chops and crispy crackling, crushed potatoes, minty cabbage, and peaches 'n' custard.

Out of the three meals I've made so far (#1 = roast beef, baby yorkies, little carrots, crispy potatoes, and super quick gravy. #2 = piri piri chicken, dressed potatoes, rocket salad, and quick portuguese tarts), this was by far the closest to being made within the 30 minute time frame. I'm not sure if that's because it was easier, or I'm just getting used to the game!

I did want to take photos of each 30-minute meal I've made and post them up here, but I have to admit, my food photography skills leave a lot to be desired (please refer to prime examples of brilliantly terrible photography skills provided above). I'll try harder next time though, promise!

Special mention has to go to our dessert wine of the evening - a delightfully 'datey' muscat by Jones Winery. Delectable.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Past lives

I think in a past life I may have been a man, and the one feature I've retained from that life into this is that the way to my heart is most definitely straight through my stomach!

Last week His Travel Romance and I ventured down to the Yarra Valley for two nights, before a quick trip into Melbourne for a few hours (to pick up Baby Blue), and we quite successfully ate our way there and back!

Chicken and goat's cheese arancini with dukkah - Brown Brothers' Epicurean Centre

Black pepper gnocchi, oyster mushrooms, hazelnuts, brown butter and pecorino - Brown Brothers' Epicurean Centre

Pipsqueak cider at the White Rabbit

Chicken liver pate - Tokar Estate

Bombe Alaska - Tokar Estate

Goats cheese - Yarra Valley Dairy

Fresh cut chips with garlic aioli - Little Creatures

Cheese kransky, sauerkraut, and home made chutney - Little Creatures

Waffle, vanilla bean icecream, and pot of melted Lindt milk chocolate - Lindt Cafe

Champagne, salted caramel, passionfruit, hazelnut, rose water, and pistachio macaroons - Lindt Cafe 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baby Blue

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Baby Blue to my family and my garage...

He likes being zippy, hugging corners, and playing albums by artists such as Seeker Lover Keeper and Hey Marseilles via his clever bluetooth connection.

Apparently, smoke grenades will also fit nicely into his cup-holders, and he'll do just fine if I'm being chased around a shopping complex by baddies in a Corvette. Good to know.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harboring delight

The other week, on my way home from Brisbane, I snagged a day of wandering and shopping in Sydney between flights. As it turns out, it was the most beautiful day to be in our unofficial capital city - the sun was shining, the sky was blue, there were camels at Circular Quay...

My beautifully sunny view of the Sydney Opera House

Camels at Circular Quay, helping to promote tourism in the Northern Territory

A view of the bridge from the Rocks

Very complimentary sign in Fleur Wood

Tasty, but very overpriced fish and chips from Doyle's

Beautiful vintage light shades in Fleur Wood

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Two blokes called Hume & Hovell

The Hume & Hovell Walking Track is a 440km-ish stretch of track (find it or not!) that stretches from Yass to Albury in New South Wales. I've been feeling a strong itch to get out and do some hiking/walking lately and the other week, His Travel Romance managed to secure the collection of maps that cover the entire track for me. Booya!

On Wednesday last week I took the opportunity to walk a 16km-ish stretch of the track about 80km out of Albury and, after walking 22km through five and half out of six hours of rain, I finally managed to make my way to the car we'd left at the drop point that morning! I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't thoroughly enthralled with the walk whist I was doing it. The weather, even though I knew what I was getting myself in for, was terrible. The lighter I took to start a fire so I could eat my lunch decided it didn't want to play any longer, so I survived on Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a few almonds (because it was too wet to stop and open up my pack for more food). The track requires some maintenance in order to prevent walkers getting lost three or four times and backtracking 3km (twice!) on the off chance that the obvious route wasn't the right one after all (I've provided feedback on that too)... In all honesty, the first two times I lost the track had me mildly panicked - Australian bushland is not the best place to be lost in by yourself, especially in the middle of winter**.

But, having said that, it was a pretty awesome walk. The variety of land was interesting - thick bushland and hills, creek crossings, open farm land, plenty of wildlife and stock to be seen including kangaroo's, wild dogs, beautiful native birds, and sheep, and almost seen (wombats!)... in better weather, with lunch, and minus the whole getting lost thing, the stretch I covered would be quite an enjoyable day out. It's definitely on the 'to repeat' list!

**Not that I was unprepared. I had means to construct a shelter, a thermal blanket, GPS, basic first aid kit, my leatherman equipped with handy wine bottle opener, and my phone. In reality, I could have just pointed myself towards a road found on the GPS and walked in that direction until I reached civilization/a pub. I could also have whistled for Skippy for instant rescue at any point in time, but where's the fun in that?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Weekend to do list

About a month ago I stumbled across Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project on a blog (which I cannot relocate for the life of me!), which I bought not long after, and started reading last week. It wasn't until after it arrived that I realised it fell into the dreaded 'self help' category but, I have to admit that I'm already loving it. It feels like talking to a friend about your own revelations and half revelations, and realising that someone else out there thinks and feels the same way you do and, better yet, has greater insights into some of those thoughts and feelings!

I've already acknowledged to myself that I will have to read through this book again, this time with pen and paper and/or highlighter, in order to capture and remember everything that I want to, but two things that I am already trying to put into action are to not put off little things that will only take a minute or two (de-cluttering life), and planning fun into my days (being more light hearted). As such, this weekend I have a 'to do' list that tackles both of these things.

  1. Write a post on HTR (check!)
  2. Reply to a friend's email.
  3. Go through one of my new cookbooks and plan some future dinners.
  4. Plan a Dutch and Mexican themed dinner for Monday night to honour a friend that recently passed away - I knew her family was from Holland, but only today discovered that she was actually born in Mexico. I can't attend her funeral, so this is my way to say goodbye to, and celebrate, a wonderful young woman.
  5. Import and edit photos from my day spent walking some of the Hume Hovell track (check!)
  6. Upload my GPS data and provide feedback to the coordinator of the Hume Hovell track so that they can make some improvements for future walkers.
  7. Check out the Hume Murray Farmers Markets, then sit in La Maison, read the paper, and drink coffee.
  8. Get a pedicure.
  9. Work out a new work out routine that fits in with my new job.
  10. Buy some stockings and foundation for work.

... If there was an item #11, it might be to waste many, many minutes playing Cut The Rope, which my good friend Yak recently put me onto...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Time in the sun

I just got back from just over a week in Brisbane, where I spent time with my folks and my big bro and his family. It was a fabulous break, filled with great food, fun excursions, and many, many cups of hot water infused with dirty sock (so called by my brother... I generally refer to them as cups of peppermint tea personally).

I didn't take a camera - deciding that my iphone would be sufficient for a few happy snaps. Such as these ones, from a brilliant farmer's market we went to on Sunday morning, where we saw giant lammingtons, delicious French delights, and kids in rabbit hats.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Old Hollywood

Our finale to the fabulous Rutherglen Winery Walkabout a few weeks ago was a delectable six course dinner at Tuileries, hosted by the lovely Campbell family and featuring their magnificent wines, including their 40th vintage of their delicious Bobbie Burns Shiraz. The Bobbie Burns Shiraz was the first Rutherglen wine I ever tasted, and it immediately shot up to be one of my all time favourite wines. We feasted on duck gyoza and freshly shucked oysters, prawn and dill ravioli served with king prawns and a citrus butter sauce, and crisp Eurobin chestnut dumplings with vanilla mascarpone sabayon and honey caramel... Just to name a few items! I was even lucky (some might say greedy!) enough to score a second plate of the chestnut dumplings, as our new friend Ben, sitting opposite me, wasn't as big a fan as I was! Aww yeah!

The theme for the night was 'Old Hollywood' which, to be honest, was the main reason I wanted to attend in the first place! I got to bring out my fabulous beaded dress, drape my decolletage in jewels, curl and pin my hair, wear red lipstick and seamed stockings and, most importantly, I got to wear my Nanna's beautiful faux fur coat that never gets to see the light of day because it is just too fabulous! His Travel Romance obliged by slicking down his hair, pulling out a pin tucked shirt and bow tie, and draping a grey scarf around his neck in a very smart and austere fashion. For all of our efforts, we were rewarded by being announced the best dressed couple for the evening! Complete with a complimentary three course meal for two back at Tuileries before the end of the year. Huzzah!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Today, there was no better way to spend the rainy, cloudy morning, than by sitting all toasty-like by the crackling fire in a cosy cafe, with a copy of The Weekend Australian, and some orange pekoe tea. It was so good, we sat there for hours and had a delicious lunch whilst I nutted out 38 of the 45 'quick' crossword clues. Me: ricotta and spinach ravioli with burnt butter and homemade sesame dukkah. Him: chorizo and chicken salad with a honey mustard dressing and an affogato. Folks... I think I may have just discovered my Saturday morning winter ritual.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Winery walkabout

This weekend was the Rutherglen Winery Walkabout, which we had heard was quite the festival! We decided to go racing head first into it and had an absolutely fabulous Saturday quaffing amazing wines, eating delicious foods, and wishing we lived on a vineyard!

We started off in the morning with a three course breakfast with matching wines at Cofield's, which was quickly followed by an amazing Muscat Masterclass run by winemaker Dan Crane at All Saints Estate. Dan was a pleasure to listen to as he showed us around the winery, built in the 1800's, and he did a fine job of educating us in the differences between a few-years-old muscat, and one the exceeds sixty years! Surely there are not many better ways to spend your Saturday than in a lovely refurbished old stable, listening to a lovely Englishman talk about wines, whilst you quaff something that's almost as old as your parents!

The wineries and wines continued after lunch, including a delicious selection of chocolates to match sweet durif's at Scion, and good times wearing parrot hats and feather boa's in the vintage photo booth at Campbells Wines.

Plonk, the resident cat and box inspector at Cofield Wines

The lead up to All Saints Estate

All Saints Estate

The gorgeous old stables at All Saints Estate

Pre Muscat pouring... Oh the anticipation!

Having fun in the vintage photo booth at Campbells Wines

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