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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Autumn is soup time!

Contrary to the recipe below I actually added some carrot to this batch because I had some nice organic ones in the fridge

When I was growing up there always seemed to be a pot of vegetable soup simmering on the stove. It was always the same recipe, a scotch broth-style soup made by boiling a lamb shank with onions, carrots, celery and barley. Although I still like the rib-stickingness of that recipe I tend to make a lighter version of soup for my family. Our current favourite is an Italian-style vegetable soup with beans and pasta. We usually serve it with pesto (or basil leaves) and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and there are often requests for 'seconds'.

Italian bean and pasta soup

1 leek, washed and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1.5 litres reduced salt chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
400g tin of four bean mix, drained and rinsed
90g small soup pasta
200g green vegetables (broccoli florets or beans or peas)

1. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add leek, celery and garlic and cook until softened.

2. Add four bean mix and tomato paste mixed with stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add pasta and simmer for another 10 minutes if you will be eating soup straight away (if not see warning below!)

4. Add green vegetables and cook for another few minutes until vegetables are tender.

5. Garnish with a small spoonful of pesto and a spinkling of parmesan cheese and serve with crusty bread.

Warning: word to the wise, if you think you will have left-over soup then cook pasta separately and add when serving. Why? Because if you leave the soup standing on the stove or in the fridge for any length of time the pasta will absorb the soup leaving you with a lovely bowl of pasta but no soup!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Five Faves - 40s Musicals

I'm playing along with Meet Me At Mikes again this week. Although it pains me to play favourites (it nearly killed me editing my profile) here are five of my favourite movie musicals (but by no means all of them!).

On The Town (1949) Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra dance their way around New York while on shore leave.

An American In Paris (1951) My absolute favourite Gene Kelly movie. I especially love the 'ballet' with Leslie Caron. Oscar Levant is a hoot too.

Band Wagon (1953) Broadway meets ballet meets classical theatre! Fred Astaire is fabulous, Cyd Charisse is beautiful and Jack Buchanan is very funny as the producer.

High Society (1956) Although I really love the original 'Philadelphia Story' starring Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart, I also have a soft spot for this version starring Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly.

West Side Story (1961) With a wonderful score by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and choreography by Jerome Robbins this modern Romeo and Juliet always leaves me breathless.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Security + blanket

I'm knitting Henry a new blanket in his favourite colour - orange. I tried to talk him around to various other colour schemes and patterns but he insisted it all be orange. I did manage to convince him of the need for a contrasting edge so he chose lime green!

I find knitting blankets for little people very satisfying. It takes time so the kids learn that handmade things are not always whipped up in an afternoon. They see the time and effort you put into it and eagerly await its completion. I love the thought that what you are making for them will keep them warm and help them to feel secure. I would be lying if I didn't admit that as babies both my children were very attached to their store-bought microfibre blankies but now that they are getting a bit older it is the handmade blankets and quilts they are reaching for when they feel tired, sick or when they need to feel a bit special and that makes me very happy indeed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Five Faves - Audrey Hepburn movies

This week I'm playing along with Pip over at Meet Me At Mikes. Her new meme is Five Faves so here we go. Below are my five favourite Audrey Hepburn movies.

1. Breakfast At Tiffianys (1961) What's not to love? Cool 60s soundtrack, amazing Givenchy fashions, kooky parties, guests and furniture and even a knitting scene.

2. How To Steal A Million (1966) With the rakish Peter O'Toole. Art forgery, detective work and robbery!

3. Roman Holiday (1953) With the handsome Gregory Peck. Audrey at her innocent best and great sightseeing by Vespa.

4. Funny Face (1957) amazing fashion, books, photography, Paris, Fred Astaire and a beatnik Audrey.

5. Charade (1963) Audrey at her flirty best with the lovely Cary Grant


Saturday, March 20, 2010

The School Fete

Bella in her 60s gear and Henry with the remnants of the magician's moustache he insisted I draw on for him.

This is the first ride (other than really baby ones) that the kids have even been on. I wasn't sure how they would react but they seemed to enjoy it.

Some of the rejects from the batch of cupcakes we made for the cake stall. We at them ourselves anyway!

Today we went to Isabella's 60s-themed school fete. It was some school fete. Craft, cakes and books were the first things on the agenda, of course, but there were also rides, short movies, face painting, tattoos, lucky dips, Pennies From Heaven, silent auctions and an amazing array of food from fresh cinnamon donuts to biriani and strawberries and cream. We were there for three hours and didn't really see everything!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tale of a teacup

I love everyday objects and the power they have to acquire meaning over time based on how, when, where and by whom they have been used. Over the years I have been continually drawn to them whether it has been in my studies in archaeology or in my work with contemporary objects in the museum where I work. Recently I have been exploring the history of everyday objects a little closer to home as we sort through the contents of Mum and Dad's house. At times this has been a fairly emotional journey but there have been some lovely memories and surprises along the way.

Before Christmas, while carefully packing up my parents 'special' crockery and cutlery I came across this teacup and saucer (one of a set of four matching cups, saucers and side-plates) produced by the Japanese company Noritake. According to the Noritake Australia website 'by the late 1960s Noritake had become a household name and such was its popularity almost every Australian couple married during this period received a Noritake dinnerset as a wedding present'. I'm not sure how Mum acquired this set but it may well have been as a wedding a gift as she was married in 1966. The pattern was produced between 1964 and 1982 and has a very 60s feel to it with its geometric stripes in white, grey and gold complimented by a platinum rim.

Mum was very fond of this set which she always referred to as her 'Noritake', never the stripey cups or the 60s set, so when I came to wrapping it I took extra care. I was by myself in the half empty house waiting for my sister and feeling a little sorry for myself. As I held the cup in my hand I turned it over to see the famous Noritake backstamp then caught my breath - the pattern was called 'Isabella'. Now every morning as I sip my tea from this cup I feel a restored connection between grandmother and grand-daughter.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Apricot Power Balls

Uploaded on February 6, 2005by Max xx

Yesterday I made these fantastic apricot balls. I call them 'power balls' because they are full of goodness (that's the scientific term). According to the recipe they give you a boost in 'iron, maganese, zinc, phosphorus, copper, potassium and Vitamins A & C'. I have also added some chia seeds so that gives you omega-3s, calcium and potassium too - wow!

Have I convinced you? Here is the recipe based on a recipe I found in a magazine extracted from this book but with a few of my own changes.

Apricot Power Balls

1 cup (150g) dried apricots
2 tablespoons boiling water
1/4 cup (30g) almond meal
1 cup (90g) dessicated coconut
1 tablespoon cold water (or juice)
2 tablespoons wheatgerm
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup (25g) skim milk powder

1. Place dried apricots in food processor and pulse until finally chopped. Add boiling water and soak for 10 minutes.

2. Add almond meal, half the coconut, cold water, wheatgerm, chia seeds and skim milk powder and process until a firm paste forms. It will look quite thick but once you start scrunching it into balls it should come together nicely.

3. Roll teaspoons full of mixture into small balls and roll in remaining coconut.

4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (if you can resist them!)

Happy snacking.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

The sun'll come out, tomorrow...

Originally uploaded to Flickr on April 14, 2009by truds09

Well, it's blue sky and sunshine all the way today! Last night I had a terrible misadventure with html coding and thought I had lost half my blog. It all started with a little experiment in making my photos bigger and my text area wider. How hard could it be? Usually the phrase 'edit html' is something I keep well clear of but for some reason when I should have been heading off to bed I decided to do a bit of tinkering. Big Mistake.

After much frantic googling I finally found out how to retrieve my previous version and all was restored. Having lost the lot momentarily I realised just how much I have come to love this little fella. I have always loved writing and I like the thought that you are out there somewhere reading along with me. I like the fact that writing helps you to reflect on and make a little more sense of your life. I love the sharing aspect of it and am enjoying reading your blogs too so thanks for dropping by and don't forget to leave me a comment from time to time.



Fixed it. My heart is beating again!


Hi guys. I've just done a very stupid thing and lost all the customisations on my blog. I'm heartbroken! I think I'll have to fix it all manually so may take some time. Sorry.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

Lately I have been obsessing a bit about how to organise myself and the kids in the mornings to ensure that we all get a good breakfast. Cereal or toast with a glass of milk just doesn't seem like enough to keep us all going until lunch time so we have started getting up a bit earlier and cooking our favourite brekkies. These include Green Eggs and Ham (eggs scrambled with pesto or basil oil and served with bacon); boiled eggs with little soldiers; french toast with fresh strawberry sauce and buttermilk pancakes with blueberries.

I know that I am not alone in trying to pull off this magic trick and I recently found some good tips here. I've also found some inspiration in this Epicure article about breakfast in Melbourne. Some of the dishes I'm hoping to add to my repertoire are:

  • Brekky Buritto from Las Chicas

  • Corn fritters with bacon, tomato relish and sour cream from Mart 130

  • Roasted roma tomatoes seasoned with chilli, garlic, cinnamon, brown sugar and white vinegar from Birdman Eating

  • Baklava french toast from Demitri's Feast

I might even try my hand at the semolina pancakes with rose jam, pistachios and a sprinkling of edible Persian rose petals!

What's your favourite breakfast dish?

Toys for tots

Over the weekend we went to a barbeque at a neighbour's house to celebrate their little girl's 1st birthday so I made this bunny as a gift. I have made a number of these little fellas now using an online pattern that seems to have disappeared. I always knit them in cream Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran for some reason even though my friend Manuela has made them in many colours to great effect. Unfortunately this little one turned out a bit cross looking and I ran out of both embroidery thread and time so she had to go as is.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Big Storm

Yesterday we had the most incredible storm in Melbourne - 26mm of rain in one hour, 100km an hour winds and enormous hail-stones. It all happened so quickly. The weather forecast had said 'chance of a thunderstorm' but no-one was prepared for such wild weather. Isabella and I were sitting at the kitchen table colouring (as you do) and watching as the sky darkened. It was about 2.30pm. I've been trying to convince Isabella that you don't need to use lights inside during the day but by the time the storm hit at 2.40pm it was almost like night! As we looked out the window we saw the wind just suddenly gust up and the next thing we knew hail the size of golfballs was smashing into and bouncing off the windows. As you can see from the photos above they just came straight through our verandah leaving several holes.

Henry had been sleeping and came tearing out of the bedroom and Tom raced to make sure that our cars were undercover. Although it was tempting to stand looking out the windows at the weather I was screaming at everyone to move away from them as I really thought they would break at any moment. I wish that I'd taken some photos at the time but it was all over so quickly and while it was happening it was both too scary and too mesmerising.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Enchanted Forest

Recently I had the most vivid sense memory. Do you ever have those? To get to Isabella's school each day we walk across a park. It is your typical Australian public park with a barbeque and tables and chairs, play equipment and lots of gum trees just like those in the nature reserve behind the school. In one corner of the park, however, there is a very different atmosphere and when we walk that way we say we are going through the enchanted forest. The enchanted forest is a stand of very old pine trees with massive trunks and ropey roots.

On the day in question, we were walking through the 'forest' when something about the quality of the light and the smell of dried pine needles crushed underfoot took me straight back to primary school. I remembered all those recesses spent building little cubbie houses with fallen branches thatched with pine needles. I remembered how proud I was of some of those cubbies and how we used to go around admiring each others before returning to our own convinced that ours was the best of all. I'm glad kids still build cubbie houses like we did.