xmas_cake2013Today we unwrapped and cut our Christmas Cake, which we decided would be a New Year’s Cake. And yes I know, it is the 2 January already, but I had a bit much on the 1 January. Tastes absolutely divine – as always. Thanks again Dad and Glenys. The difficulty is going to be portion size given that my rather vague hand-wavey New Year’s resolution is “While it’s fun – keep running. Declutter my mind, body, and stuff.” #RockYourResolution

Item 2 of 365 less things is a plastic grater that I had put away for when the current stainless steel grater wears out. Given that the first stainless steel grater lasted for umpteen years, I decided to put the plastic one into use as I found that it created finely grated parmesan better than the stainless steel grater. However, the plastic grater is not any good for any other type of grating. Also, it is taken up valuable room in my kitchen cupboard having moved it from a storage area in another room.

Rather than discard the plastic grater, I have decided that I will donate it to the local charity shop with a note attached stating that is “good for grating parmesan”. ex_grater

Something that made me laugh ~ Trying out the plastic grater to make absolutely sure, that it only grates parmesan well.

Something Awesome ~ Christmas/New Year Cake – yum.

Something to be grateful for ~ Having a weekly menu plan, so that I could ‘do’ things in my own time.

Something that made me happy ~ Reflecting on 2013, and getting my new calendar and diary ready for 2014.

Something that felt good ~ Still feeling a warm glow from running 5K on New Years Day.


Daily Prompt: Call Me Ishmael

“In the early and uncommitted hours of a bright summer’s morning, shaded by a prim row of poplars.”

This is the beginning of Fast Ed Halmagyi’s The Food Clock. Today’s Daily Prompt says: “Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post.”

You might think this is a strange sentence to begin a cook book, and you’re probably right. But it is a wonderful start to the accompanying novella that is interspersed throughout the book.

I read a lot, and my tastes are somewhat eclectic, so I am not able to pick a favourite book. However, my favourite at the moment is ‘The Food Clock’. My good friend DB gave it to me, he said, to thank me for dinner the previous weekend as he cannot return the favour.

The recipes are organised into 16 chapters following seasons of food availability from “hot o’clock” (summer) through to “warm o’clock” (spring), including ‘quarter past’, ‘half past’, and ‘quarter to’ o’clocks. The photographs are definitely food pornography and these are tempered with graphics and illustrations to give the book a worn albeit glossy feel – complete with red wine glass stains.

So far I have made:

  • Rhubarb Pudding
  • Chocolate Almond Pinwheels
  • Chicken with Black Olives and Oregano

And, I am making the Red Onion & Lentil Soup tonight.

All dishes that I have made have been superb, so much so they have been repeated over and over. Which is funny because the inside fly-leaf reads “Most of us cook the same few dishes over and over again because we′re busy and have lost our connection to the changes of the seasons”. I think it is going to be difficult to try all the recipes, without getting stuck on some of them 🙂

I took the rather heavy book on holiday with me, planning to read the novella from beginning to end. But we ended up having a rather active and full-on time away, that I only read the prologue and first chapter. It is the story of Henri Petit-Pois who is somewhat reflective while working in his garden, shopping for ingredients, and preparing food for himself and guests. Perfect for a holiday read, but it is definitely the wrong format to read in bed, on a plane, or on the beach!

What is great about the book, is that it is about eating seasonally which is what I try to do to keep my food miles down.

in the moment

Today was our wedding anniversary, and we agreed that we could celebrate by having a picnic on the South Perth foreshore.

Being Saturday, we did the usual Saturday things first. H went out early for a bike ride with his group out of Garlands, and I woke up slowly listening to the radio. Then it was making the weekly menu and shopping lists, and off together to the farmer’s market and supermarket.

The weather was humid, so cooking earlier in the day to prepare for our picnic was not much fun. But we had a shower to freshen up, then cycled down to the river to look for a gazebo to sit under for the light.

The foreshore is very ugly at the moment with temporary fencing erected for the Australia Day activities. Just about everywhere you look, there is a fence that made me feel I was in a cage. I decided to sit in the gazebo facing H.

It was very pleasant eating our picnic of chicken sausages poached in champagne with apple and cinnamon sauce, potato fritters, and rocket. I couldn’t fit in our prepared sweets of Morrocan figs, pears and red wine and yoghurt. We drank the rest of the champagne that didn’t poach the chicken sausages, and a very nice bottle of my favourite champagne – Veuve Clicquot, UC’s present to H for his birthday.

What added to the atmosphere was other people that were making use of the BBQ’s and gazeboes. There were many sounds of enjoyment and laughter.

pickled cabbage

H gave me Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion for Christmas. It is similar to the Cook’s Companion (which I already own), except that it has a section at the beginning of each chapter how to plant, grow, and cultivate each of the plant ingredients.

I wanted the book because I saw it as a way of knowing what what was in season, and considering what to grow in the garden, and how many plants.

When Red Cabbage is in season and plentiful, I usually make a couple of batches of pickled red cabbage. In the ‘Kitchen Garden Companion’, it says that you can grow cabbage all year round in hot and temperate climates. But it looks like I will have to sort out the water issue first, as I have read that they need a lot of water.

healthy comparisons

I was fortunate to be able to participate in the CSIRO Online Diet Study and have access to many of the resources available from the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet (TWD). I say fortunate, because after the completion of the study, participants including myself now have continued access to these resources until June 2011.

I chose to participate as I was already a waning member of SparkPeople. I wondered if the CSIRO Online Diet Study would compare favourably with SparkPeople with the extra benefit of including more local (as in Australian) content.

Although the CSIRO Online Diet Study had the usual hiccups of a new website and the user experience is rather awkward, I do prefer the unadorned simple tools. SparkPeople is a very rich or complicated web site, with many tools and resources that sometimes become overwhelming.

I’m sure the study will show that participation online achieves better results in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But how much, how little, or what, I think will be difficult to interpret. It appears, that if you participate, you continue to progress. Whether this is eating healthily, exercising regularly, or writing a blog post.

Participation and interacting with others that share similar goals I think is one part of the answer, and being able to do it online too is an added bonus.

in the ground

The mango pip that I sprouted almost three years ago to the day, is now planted in the ground. It is under an established pomegranate tree, which I hope will protect the tree until it is more established. I will then cut back the pomegranate tree.

Just prior to the tree going in the ground, it did flower but it was not followed up by fruit as we had about three very hot days and the flowers were scorched. Also, many of the bottom leaves have dropped off either due to the stress of planting or the hot summer weather.

I’m happy that it has found its feet (or roots), as there is new growth from the top and it is groiwng upright. Also, it is happily sharing the irrigation with some catmint and a feral pumpkin, zucchini, or cucumber. Not sure how to tell these apart until you see the fruit.

flour and water

Some people are fascinated by how planes stay up in the air, I’m amazed at how the combination of just flour and water with a bit of salt makes beautiful smelling and tasty sourdough bread.

  1. Beginning with the starter, add flour, salt and water.
  2. Mix and rest.
  3. Toss.
  4. Rest.
  5. Bake.