Tuesday, May 29, 2012

FREEDOM: Houseboating Holiday

We were asked to go on a Houseboat for a short break away with 5 other people - friends and old work mates of my husband. We normally get together 3 or 4 times a year and go to restaurant for dinner for fun and catch-up "goss".

It just so happened that the long weekend we booked this Houseboat - clashed with my brother's weekend away with "the boys" at a holiday house at Port Hughes, York Peninsula. This would mean my mini schnauzer Rubie, would be going to the beach while we drove in the opposite direction to the River Murray - connecting with it at the river town Mannum. At least she would be too busy to miss us!?!

The River Murray's level is nice and high as we are still benefitting from the excess flood waters from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. This river is the focus of much political infighting between the states, as there is much disagreement with regard to water allocations and inappropriate use  - resulting in down stream disaster when Australia was gripped in drought for years on end. This river flows out to sea in our state, and water level had dropped to alarming rates with much ecological damage done. But needless to say - I'm not interested in discussing such serious matters here...... that is not what this blog is for!

We had a wonderful time, and the four women folk made sure we did not run out of food (or wine!) - we over indulged and now must think about detoxing!! I'd like to share some pictures of the great break we had.

We arrived in Mannum and waited for our friends to arrive. This grassed river bank has happy childhood memories for me, where large family gatherings occurred with picnic baskets, folding chairs  and BBQs.

You can pull up here with your houseboat - and have dinner in the pub if you wish!

Looking to the left is the ferry which we took to get to other side and to the marina where we picked up the houseboat.

Driving onto the small ferry.

One of the men (B) on the trip has recently retired and was desperate to commence his fishing hobby. He was so excited to catch this fish shown here - and proceeded to catch one about three times the size, but the line broke while trying to lift it onto the deck. I have photographic evidence of the head as it was beginning to be heaved out of the water. (B) was so happy anyway.

What an enjoyable holiday. We discussed with the owner of the boat whether he would allow three mini schnauzers to holiday on board. He said yes....... so no doubt we will organise my brother, his 2 mini schnauzers, and my Rubie - for the next adventure.

For the group we went away with - the holiday made our bond stronger, and I am hoping we will consider doing this again - maybe every year or 2nd year!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CRAFTS: Mosaic Beginning and First Projects

A couple of years ago my good friend Lynn talked me into going to a mosaics class with her. I figured "why not?" - I'm crafty......let's see if I can do this!

Needless to say that it has been a gift to get into this craft. I always assumed it was going to be tough to cut things like tiles and glass..... and it is unless you know how. Even when you know how it can still go wrong.... but it is nothing you can't fix!

I got along really well with Sally, the lady who owns the Mosaic Shop and runs all the classes. She was looking for someone to look after the shop for her when she is at buying trips or conferences etc., and I offered. So we have an arrangement than she can call on me when she needs help.

Here are some shots of the shop. They are taken a couple of years ago and to see the shop now it is much different. Sally has really stuffed as much stock as she can in there, there is no room on the walls and there are many more shelving units heaving with mosaic items and giftware for sale.

Can you see Kayla..... the shops little mascot?? Look on the floor.

This large table in the middle is where the classes are done.

We loved this pink flamingo made by Sally - it is display only and Sally doesn't want to sell it.

This was my very first project EVER in mosaics. I decided to do a small outdoor table with water lilies.

Sally suggested I dot my table top with mirror. That was a challenge to cut!

Lily pads being done and glued.

Background taking shape. These white tiles were leftover from my brother's bathroom renovation. Waste not, want not in the mosaic world!

I bought three little fish to "swim through" the middle of the table.

All finished and grouted in a light grey colour. The grout is darker in patches as it is still drying but I couldn't wait to take the pics! 

Next to a chair for scale. This is now outside under my gazebo with two outdoor chairs around it.

I was thrilled with the outcome.

My next project was a "random" terracotta pot.

Finished and grouted. Used a terracotta colour grout and that worked well I thought.

I ended up selling this in Sally's shop. Someone else has my work in their backyard!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

COOKING: Key Lime Pie

Since we do not have a huge flat section to our backyard, I needed to take a risk when it came to planting citrus trees. I love cooking Thai and asian inspired food, and found I needed lemon, lime and lime leaves a fair bit. The solution was to buy "dwarf" trees, bred specifically for large pots. They cost way more than normal trees, but I wanted to take the chance that it might be a great thing if it worked. To grow citrus in pots - you have to be super careful to not let the pot dry out.... and they are ravenous feeders - so you need a strict fertilising program.

Anyway - this is a cooking post, not a gardening one (!) but the upshot of the above is that I get home grown lemons, Tahitian limes and a constant supply of kaffir lime leaves (yum!). For a little "tree" there were about 15-20 limes ready to pick about a fortnight ago......so I had an idea!

I got onto one of my favourite Cooking Sites (www.taste.com.au) and searched for:

Key Lime Pie

Essentially, I did follow the recipe, mostly, and I will admit my alterations to you. You will find the recipe on the following link: KEY LIME PIE.

Interestingly, this is not a popular pie here in Australia...... I only ever read or hear about it on American influenced TV or inter webbing.

This is how I did it:

First I put my new iPad on my cook book stand! It worked really well!

I got some cookies (these were "butternut snaps" but in hindsight, they needed to be plainer biscuits) 

Used a plastic bag and my pestle to crush them. I didn't feel like dirtying my food processor just for this step.

Weighed out my butter then melted it in the microwave.

MY limes   ;-)

Squeezed out the half cup of juice and used my microplane to get the rind fine. I probably used double the rind, about two teaspoons.

Combine the cookie crumbs with the cooled melted butter.

Press into pie plate. Mine was about 23cm (9 inches) at the widest point. Normal size. I didn't take the base up as high as the pie on the site picture.

Getting ready to teach those yolks a lesson with my mixer.

Once mixed, add the condensed milk and the......

Lime juice and rind in little alternate pours. Mix well.

I've always wanted to make a GREEN PIE - I didn't have green colour so I mixed drops of yellow and blue and made it a green to my liking. But then I am ODD, you know! This was not on the official recipe.

Pour this gorgeousness into the baked and cooled pie base.

This is cooling after coming out of the oven - only took 20 minutes. You don't want to start this pie browning.

OMG! Whip up some cream and make it pretty. Sprinkle with extra lime rind.

THIS WAS GOOD!! Definitely a Keeper. I gave it a  9 / 10 ......it would have scored higher with a plainer biscuit used in the base. The nutty-ness detracted from the lime kick a weeeee bit. But, oh so good anyway!!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FREEDOM: Holiday in Bright - Part 3

I've already told you that our friends, N&I and my husband and I are quite partial to lovely drop of wine, preferably red......

Well - whenever we can manage to get to Bright, we try and make an excuse to get to Milawa, the home of the Brown Brothers Winery. Now - don't get me wrong - in Adelaide we live within a 2 hour drive to the Barossa Valley, a 30 minute drive to the McLaren Vale wine region and about a 3 hour drive to the Clare Valley - all very very fine and famous wine regions. But the wine-matched lunches at the Epicurean Centre (that's the restaurant  of the Brown Brothers Winery) are too die for. Expensive...... and to die for. Let me show you. Oh - and I apologise for those of you who are on diets or will feel the need to eat something by the end of this post. (wink)

After a 45 minute drive, we turn into the Winery and clasped eyes on the Epicurean Centre (the light flash denotes where we sat for lunch).

First we headed to the Cellar Door and Tasting Sales Rooms...... as you do.

An artistic shot of our table.

The table is all set for our 3 course wine matched lunch. Complimentary bubbly to start while we ponder the menu.

This is the view directly behind my chair - showing part of the centre. This is the first time that there were not many patrons at the tables. Normally it is packed.

The view in front..... well between N&I's shoulders!

We were seated next to a stack of original barrels.

I forgot to photograph the dishes we ordered to share before the entree'. Sorry (I was ravenous).
This is my "confit ocean trout, beetroot,snow pea tendrils and white gazpacho sauce". Our friend "I" had this too.  Matched with 2011 Pinot Grigio. 

Husband had the "mustard poached quail, black pudding polpette, pumpkin and apple". Matched with 2008 Pinot Grigio Rose.

Our friend, "N" had the "duck sausage, shaved cuttlefish, cabbage and mint, preserved lemon aioli. Matched with 2011 Chardonnay.

Onto the mains:

The wines arrive just before the dishes.

Friend "I" ordered the "king prawns, salt cod boulangere, celeriac remoulade and butter poached leeks". Matched to 2011 Banksdale Chardonnay.

Husband and I couldn't resist the "eye fillet of beef, braised butter beans, caramelised onion and horseradish butter. Heaven on a plate. Matched with 2009 Ltd Edition petite Sirah and Syrah.

"N" enjoyed the "stuffed loin of rabbit, pork belly, mustard fruits, buckwheat polenta and chestnut puree'. Matched to 2010 Tempranillo.

We couldn't fit in dessert, so we opted for coffee.

Sorry if you have the desire for a good steak right now, but rather than go on and on, let me just say - YUM!

After tearing ourselves away, back to Bright we drove. N and I spent the rest of the day and evening with us in our lovely holiday house. 

One last random picture of the sound-shell on the banks of the Ovens River in the town.

On our last morning, we had packed the car to begin the venture home.

One of the statues outside "our house". Spookily observant.