Thursday, 24 February 2011

Minibreak part 2 Canberra

After lunch at Grazing we drove into Kingston where we were staying. I had booked an apartment right across the road from Silo bakery so we could go there to purchase bread and various other baked goods and have breakfast. Sadly they are not open on Mondays (due to a previous disappointment I already knew they were closed on Sundays.)
We walked to the Kingston bus markets and and purchased some tea and handmade pasta and then decided that we should make the most of our freedom and go to the movies. The choice of movie was a no brainer (True Grit) and so we had an early dinner at Madam Woo (across the road from our apartment, then walked to Manuka for the movies.

our dining companions at Madam Woo

salt and pepper calamari

The next morning after a brief, puzzling excursion to a direct shopping outlet in search of shoes for S, we went to the National Gallery to see the Ballet Russe exhibition. Let's just say that I was a touch more excited than S but he was very patient even while I looked in not one but two of the gallery gift shops (they just have such good stuff).
The exhibition was amazing, the fabrics and colours were so striking. If you want to read about it go here. In the meantime here are some photos. One of the amazing things about the costumes is that the NGA own them. They were purchased at an auction in the 1970's for 3000 pounds and some still have make up marks and signs of wear. Below is my favourite (the Squid!).

The exhibition is on until the 20th March. Definitely worth a trip and make sure you go on any day but Sunday or Monday so you can also go to Silo.

Pancake day!

Every year I seem to remember Pancake day the day after. Which is sad. I still remember my mum cooking pancakes that we ate hot with lemon and sugar. This year I remembered a week early and decided that pancakes or at least pikelets should be on the menu. We arranged that I would bring gingerbread pikelets with caramel sauce to work and Amy brought along buttermilk and gluten free ones with blueberries and coconut cream. In the lead up I thought I should practise so I made some apple and cinnamon pancakes, adapting a recipe from Belinda Jeffery's new cookbook, the Country Cookbook, which is marvellous like all of her books. I have had trouble with pancakes/pikelets before being too rubbery but these were fluffy and delicious, especially when hot from the pan.
I know pancake day has come and gone but any day can be pikelet day!

Belinda Jeffery's Blueberry Pikelets
1 Cup SR flour
1/2 tsp bicarb
1/4 tsp salt
2 T caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
20g unsalted butter melted and cooled plus extra for cooking
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or essence
2/3 cup blueberries fresh or frozen - I replaced this with a grated apple and some cinnamon. You could also use grated pear or whatever takes your fancy.
Tip flour, bicarb, sugar and salt into a medium sized bowl and whisk for 40seconds so they are well mixed.
In a separate bowl or jug, whisk the egg with the buttermilk, vanilla and melted butter. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in liquid ingredients. Whisk into a smoothish batter. Leave to sit for a few minutes then stir in berries or fruit.
Heat a large non stick frying pan over low heat. Melt some butter in the pan and then spread with paper towel.
Drop dessert spoonfuls of mixture into the pan. Cook them gently for about 3 minutes or until bubbles appear on top surface. Flip over and cook for a further 2 minutes.
When cooked place on a plate and cover with foil until ready to eat.

Bruce and Kevin

Anyone reading my Gundaroo post below may wonder who Bruce and Kevin are and why I know what their wee smells like. Bruce and Kevin (they came with the names) are our steers. Cattle are so expensive at the moment, as are sheep, so we thought we'd start with these two. They are becoming quite tame (is this a good idea?) and yesterday licked Jack's hand (everyone was very brave). They also like to stand quite near the house and moo and do smelly wees. Thanks to the dung beetles the 'pats' are not such a problem!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

minibreak part 1 Gundaroo


I am a planner and a maker of lists. In fact if we are going away my favourite thing is to plan eating opportunities and then write them down. On Sunday S and I went to Canberra for the night and I had it all worked out. Lunch at Grazing at Gundaroo, dinner somewhere in Kingston or Manuka, breakfast at Silo bakery then lunch at Chairman and Yip (or as my brother calls it the Ghost and Mrs Mao). If I had a chance to but foods at the Kingston bus markets or chocolate at Koko Black I would be ecstatic.

I rang and made a booking at Grazing. We could only get in at 12 and we had to sit outside. As storms were forecast I asked if we would be undercover. Yes, we would be but we could not sit inside on any condition. We arrived just before twelve and were guided through a maze of rooms (it reminded me of the layout of our old house) and seated...inside. Hmmm. We looked over the menu. I saw the words assiette and tomatoes (Grazing have their own fruit and veg gardens at the rear of the restaurant) and looked no further. I wish I had because S ordered the raviolo which was delicious.

raviolo with pumpkin and herbs

There was a lot going on on my plate and it was nice but not great.

assiette of tomatoes

I had suggested that we go with the local wine by the glass options with our meals. Mine turned out to be okay but the wine that S got was as he described it (to the waitress) a bit rubbish. It had a breathtaking aroma of steer urine (And thanks to Bruce and Kevin I am all to familiar with that smell). S checked with the waitress if it was supposed to taste like that (a bit rubbish) or if it was off and she confirmed that it was. She luckily had a good sense of humour and later confided that she thought it was a bit rubbish too. I guess the tip off should have been that it was from a Vineyard called Capital Hill whose wines were called the senator, the frontbencher or the whip. What is with canberrans and these names - remember there was that restaurant called Fringe Benefits?
For our mains I ordered the Chicken pie with pancetta and green olives but got meal envy again when S had the sirloin with cafe de paris butter and frites. Le sigh. I had just been reading about steak and frites in book called Hundred Foot Journey but my eyes saw pie and my brain stopped functioning.

the pie
My pie was nice but the dominant flavour was not chicken or pancetta or olives but celery.The salad was very simple and very, very good.

The sirloin (because I got to taste it and stole a frite or two) was delicious though S said it wasn't as good as the one he had at our local restaurant Graze.
We finished the meal with a slice of chocolate tart with ground coriander which was very good. Then we took a stroll down the main street, which was pretty quiet just like the local library and literary institute. I wonder who they get for book readings?

February birthdays

February is a bit lighter on for birthdays. There's Diane, Claire, Nina and Jasper but only one of these required me making a birthday cake or cakes as I decided to do. For Diane's birthday we had Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. I had seen some beautiful ones on Amy's website but my meringue was much more rustic. I somehow managed to have just the right amount of eggs for the cake (I used Garn's lemon cake recipe) and the lemon curd (recipe from CWA preserves cookbook)and the italian meringue on top which was lucky and satisfying. I popped them all on this lovely cake stand that my friend Bly bought us for a wedding present.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Rest and Recuperation

At times I felt guilty when people were texting asking how we were going with the whooping cough. If we hadn't known what it was we would have thought it was a weird cold indeed but not something worth of quarantine. At the time we still seemed to have plenty of energy to try out Jack's new slide (thanks Ganma) which is very fancy indeed. We just have to do something about making the ground softer here. And Jack needs to work on his sliding technique (the bit where he moves rather than me grabbing him by the wrists and flinging him down the slide).
Weeks after I wrote the above, we are still coughing and are less underwhelmed by whooping cough. And it seems that Junee is in the grips of an epidemic of whooping cough. Please make sure that you are vaccinated.

January Birthdays

We had a few birthdays in January but due to recent events they were pretty low key affairs. Of course even a low key birthday must have a cake with candles as far as Jack and his cousin Lily are concerned. My friend Elise made mini bunting ('just like a fete' Jack declared) which looked cute with these cupcakes.

And we had a chocolate cake for Noel's birthday (made fresh that day as the birthday boy prefers). He didn't get much of a chance to blow out the candles.

A local cafe did this when I blurted out it was my birthday. The year before they put alcohol in my juice. And this little fairy had a fourth birthday and a fairy party which we couldn't attend due to our being under house arrest. But then Craig couldn't go either due to a broken ankle. Fairy grottoes are notoriously tricky to negotiate with a walking frame.


One of the consequences of whooping cough quarantine is that you need to find lots of things to entertain yourself or your three year old son. In January we did a serious amount of craft. And too much baking. And a fair amount of fort building too (though really I just wanted to put this pic in because someone took extra cuteness medicine on the day this photo was taken).

Dino painting I

Dino painting I I

gingerbread using our fancy new cutters from Milton near Mollymook

I think the oven may have been to hot - singed mermaid - ick

robot craft

glass hippo (I made one of these when I was little - loved it!)

smartie biscuits - yum

such concentration


rocket craft - not very aerodynamic but lots of panache!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Gung Hei Fat Choy!

As we had a less than fantastic start to the year, we are starting again today with the Chinese New Year. Hope the Year of the Rabbit treats us better than 2011 (which I 'finished' by reversing over a tree stump and getting stuck). Gung Hei Fat Choy! or as they say in Vietnam Chuc Mung Namoi!

And so

life goes on as it inexorably does, even though we have all felt as if we are standing still (and surely being quarantined for whooping cough for two weeks does not help). Grief is a funny thing. It doesn't do this but is more like this or as some might say, you have good days and bad days. As you may have noticed the blog has recently ground to a halt. I haven't had the heart and was also concerned about Andrew's death and my post about him being superseded by our everyday stuff. But then that is life and Andrew really enjoyed the blog (especially when he was in Sydney or Melbourne and wasn't getting his regular dose of family). So very soon I will post lots of photos and stories about what we've been doing (doing craft and eating too much cake - some things never change).