Sunday, February 20, 2011

When I grow up I want to live in Legoland

Yes, sure, it's probably your turn to post now my dear sister, but I just couldn't contain myself!

Back this evening from a weekend in the city with my friend Keren. She is a photojournalist who has been living in Israel and is travelling through the States on her way back to Melbourne.

Prior to meeting up with her I was having anxious fits because I haven't seen her in a while and in that time I was scared she had, like so many of my friends, turned into a real, proper, has her life together grown-up.
I don't get the sense that I am a real grown-up.
And that's not just from exclusively sharing classes with people born in the 90's. Actively pursuing my writing now, in the dusk of my twenties, seems a little bit juvenile when I compare myself to my numerous artist/muso friends back home who are now, and seemingly quite happily, office workers and teachers. They're getting on with their lives and buying houses and getting married and I still feel like those things are so far off, if they are on my horizon at all.

Back to New York and now, I met Keren and I can't even think what it is that had me worried because she is still as much fun as ever. She actually told me she was so glad that I hadn't abandoned my creativity and that I was still pursuing my writing.
And it turns out that she feels no more grown-up than I do! She was lamenting the fact that she's heading home to Melbourne to see her baby sister get married and that for the foreseeable future she will be living with her parents while she works out what she's doing next.

So in the spirit of childlike wonder and in the wonderous shadow of consumerism, we hit the streets of Manhattan and included in our stops the Disney Store, the giant M&M store and the Lego store at Rockefeller Centre.
We also visited the NBC store at Rockefeller Centre because when I was in there the week before, a very handsome young employee there told me I had pretty eyes. And I wanted to go back and check that I wasn't just imagining that he looked like James Franco with glasses. Which looks like this by the by;

He was not there, but I may just keep going back to the NBC store until he is there again. So perhaps expect NBC themed gifts. Central Perk t-shirt for Andy?

The other great thing about hanging out in New York with Keren is that because she's a photographer, she stops and takes amazing photographs with her super-whizz-bang camera.
Now I don't have a super-whizz-bang camera to take photos with, but even with my little point and shoot Canon, the things that Keren sees to photograph with her photographers eye, are really quite speccy!
So anyway, these are some pictures of Lego shapes and colours that I took;

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Worth a thousand words?

So these pictures will perhaps make up for my shocking neglect updating this blog?

Since we last blogged, I made muffins...
Superfood Muffins - see recipe below
Started classes...
Self portrait - first day of school
Saw squirrels on campus...

Made bolognese...

Made lamingtons.... And forgot to take photos.

Drank beer while watching the superbowl...

Made bread...
Whole wheat sourdough - recipe from EcoMILF
Thought about dying my hair red...
Thoughts? Feelings?
Got bogged down in work and made a mess...

How did this happen? I arrived here less than 2 months ago with NOTHING!
Made homemade pizza...
But still craving a really average Capricciosa...
Got homesick...

Found something to take the edge of homesickness...

Coopers Pale Ale - found in a New Zealand restaurant near South Street Seaport, NYC

Super Food Muffins

Blueberries, yoghurt and oats are all commonly listed as Super foods and in a bid to convince myself that eating treats could lead to better health, I decided to make muffins that combined these 3 ingredients. Sometimes I throw in a bit of LSA mix or put walnuts, which are supposed to lower bad cholesterol, on top. Adapted from a million different yoghurt/berry muffin recipes nabbed from the internet and tried and tested until this very easy recipe was settled on.

1 cup oatbran
1 cup yoghurt
1 cup blueberries
2 tbsp oil
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarb soda
pinch salt
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

1.       1. Coat berries in dry ingredients. 
2.       2. Mix together wet ingredients. 
3.     3.   In muffin tins 180 degrees 12 – 16 minutes.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A brand new beginning - hi ho, off to kinder we go ....baking Egg-/Nut-free all the way (Oat Crunch Biscuits, Lemon Chia Biscuits, and Apple/Banana Muffins)

This week is little Owen's first at kinder. We had orientation last week, but this morning, packed up with his bento lunchbox in hand, hat & sunscreen to guard against the 39 degree (that's 102 for you up north) heatwave and a lump in my throat.  The kinder seems just lovely - the staff are friendly and respectful in their interactions with the children and families, the space is light-filled and set-up with wonderful natural play areas.  And there is a sandpit bigger than our backyard - that's the winner for Owen.  His eyes haven't stopped sparkling as he proudly will tell anyone who listens about his kinder.

So the past week has been working towards today - not that it's a super big deal, but I'll admit the organised gene rears up from time to time...
Sheltering from the heat I re-purposed Daddy's torn messenger bag to become Owen's for kinder ...
Pic to be inserted once charge the stuffing camera battery.

I found the cot sheets that we never got to use with our co-sleeping kiddos.  Just the thing for use on a nap mat.
I labeled lunchboxes & food containers that have been slowly collected over the past year - we are plastic-free thanks to some good online stores out there (Biome & AshnJuls particulalry).

I labeled clothes. 

And then somehow found myself ironing his sleep sheet.I kid you not. And then I freaked out. I've become our mother (well no, that's not true she had a mountain of ironing that never got done til outsourcing long after I'd left home). Maybe channeling my MIL whom I'm reliably informed ironed underwear. Whereas our iron is currently exclusively used for interfacing & pressing seams, only if & when I'm being thorough. Andy & I bonded over the shared understanding of ironing just the collar & sleeves if wearing a vest or collar only if wearing a jumper that wouldn't be removed. 

There has also been some serious baking (yes, in the heat, and yes in our tiny grill oven which does not fit a biscuit tray).  
Most of the efforts are egg and nut free (kinder policy) and the result of some serious web surfing of allergen-free and vegan cooking sites.  Which there are some kick-arse ones around (more later)
Ingredients and helping hands at the ready

The first out of the oven (Oat Crunch Biscuits) sung Anzac to me, however they are softer than my usual chewy Anzac biscuit forays, and there is none of that satisfying fizz when you add the bicarb to the butter/syrup mix. That said they taste  pretty amazing and were lucky to last the 5 days from cooking to lunchbox, even hidden on the top shelf. Andy reckons they are better without the chocolate (??? I know - WTF?!)

Channelling Kingston - Oat Crunch Biscuits: originally from Melanger to mix
180 g butter (or if you want dairy-free, then substitute with oil spread/marg)
60g rolled oats
90 g golden syrup
120g Demerara sugar (though I substituted brown sugar)
1 tsp bicarb soda
150g plain flour
60g dessicated coconut
150 g chocolate to melt (we used a sad wilted Santa “bunny” egg with some Lindt nubs left from last Easter– both were nut free, but could go dark dairy-free chocolate if that way inclined)
  1. Cream butter, sugar and golden syrup in mixer (or by hand) until pale and fluffy
  2. Add dry ingredients and combine (I did this by hand)
  3. Drop teaspoon (and I mean teaspoon - keep them small) mixture onto lined tray.
  4. Bake in pre-heated oven, 160C degrees for 12-15 minutes, until golden (they tend to keep cooking, and are too bendy to move off the tray immediately, so adjust cooking time accordingly).
  5. Remove to cooling rack using spatula (I actually used the Barbie-Mate to prevent dark brown bottoms).  
  6. Once cooled, sandwich two biscuits together using the melted chocolate.
I can't make the picture work - I'm giving up tonight and will return tomorrow. I bastardized the recipe this time, adding extra oat-bran, chia seeds and more oats ...

The second cab of the rank was cracking open a pack of Chia Seeds - brand new addition to my kitchen, and this recipe from a lovely blogger, with just about the best name going ... Darling Lemon Thyme ... go have a browse for the recipe for her delicious Lemon Chia Biscuits (which having both nuts and eggs are destined for my mouth only ... mwahahahaha). I did manage to take a couple of happy snaps of them and will warn you to err on the side of caution with heat, as the bottoms got burnt (admittedly in a toaster oven, sitting atop an upside down roasting pan) and they are quite firm by the end anyway.
Lemon Chia Biscuit
Egg-free, Nut-free Banana & Apple Muffins
And finally, this recipe, again I must attribute origins, and then admit to not following the recipe very closely - I made this second batch with half measures (resulting in perfect 6+1 large muffins into silicon trays, sans paper, thus meeting the waste-free lunch principle.  I substituted half wholemeal flour, used less sugar (about 100g or so), kept the same quantity of bananas, but halved the apples.  
This was the only dish to escape chia seed additions today.  Though we did decorate with dried fruit faces (which then burnt to buggery, but live and learn heh?)

280g self-raising flour
125g caster sugar
½ tspn salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups milk
2 large ripe mashed bananas
2 apples, peeled, cored and grated (though apple puree would probably be fine too)
1 tbsp orange rind zest
1 tsp vanilla essence

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Grease muffin tin, or line with muffin paper cups
  2. Stir together flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon
  3. Separately combine milk, banana, apples, orange rind and vanilla extract
  4. Mix lightly and spoon mixture into tin
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown and cooked through when skewer test
Apple & Banana Muffin

And that is more than enough baking for anyone.  I think the next week's lunch-fillers will be these, using chia seed gel, rather than traditional egg-replacer

Aside from that, we have been staying indoors because of the heat.  A visit here and there for swims.  A first movie in err 7 months for Andy and I (True Grit) leaving Augustus for the first time at home with grandparents for 2 hours.  
And of course we've loved learning to skype my dear sister, who has made her nephew's day by taking her laptop into subzero outdoors to show off the snow.  And even writing his name in it ...He has a few times this week answered the phone, and mistaken friends for you, and told them (you) that we are saving our money to visit (he gave me a 50 cent piece the other day for the trip, rather than stashing it in his moneybox!)

The disaster zone after cooking