Recipe Challenge - Book #4

Tuesday, 2 June 2020


I was pretty sure this book would be a keeper. After all it's a self declared essential vegetarian classic.  And although we only regularly use one recipe from it (Spinach Rice),  I always felt that its pages were packed with undiscovered deliciousness.

So it was a surprise that when we HAD to find something else in this book to make, everything savoury seemed a bit.. weird. Or maybe old fashioned. Or something.  The book was published in 1996 and the first 30 pages are devoted to explaining how to be vegetarian and what the food pyramid is.   Recipes that should have been delicious (like Thai Red Curry) were made a bit weird by containing ill fitting ingredients - like potatoes in the case of the red thai curry. Other recipes looked a bit odd from the get go -  for example Pumpkin with Chilli and Avocado. Others just looked incredibly boring such as Potato Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce. Yawn.

Jett was the designated chef for this book and he eventually chose Pasta with Sundried Tomato Pesto.  


It seemed weird that the recipe would include both cherry tomatoes and sundried tomatoes, and the pesto itself used a surprisingly small amount of basil so it wasn't all that strong.  And of course the addition of steamed asparagus at the end was certainly odd.  But all up it was quite tasty.

But overall this book is on very shaky ground.  In scouring the chapters for tempting recipes I did notice it had a much better dessert section than most vegetarian cookbooks (which are usually overly healthy and boring), but vegetarian desserts are really just desserts so it wasn't breaking new ground there*. It also has a dedicated mushroom section, which quite frankly is a big mark against it.

So I think it's going onto the maybe pile.  Maybe I'll keep it, maybe I won't. 

* Having said that I notice that MasterChef is featuring a challenge where the contestants had to make a dessert out of some form of meat.  **shudder** 



Saturday, 30 May 2020

Last week Zali went back to college. Which was great as she's been missing it, and her friends, and although she's done pretty well at home some of her subjects don't really lend themselves to online teaching.

While she has missed school, I think Zali has enjoyed the extra time available to crafts and other non-school pursuits.  Amongst other more physical projects she's also learnt 62 tik-tok dances off by heart which is pretty impressive given she comes from a family of very unmusical people. Actually Zali is full of surprises - today while listening to a song on JJJ that listed a couple of american states, Zali casually mentioned that she knew the names of quite a few states.   I immediately scoffed and suggested that there's no way she would know more than I would - I mean seriously why would she have cause to know more than the few that are mentioned in songs or the latest netflix drama that her and Jett are binging?  This lead to a 10 minute challenge to write out the names of as many states as we could.   I knew I wouldn't get all of them but I did exceed my prediction of 35 and ended up with 39 (although South Virginia was subsequently ruled out). Jon got about the same.  And Zali?  She got 48. Sheesh.

 Anyway - the reason for this post is so that we all remember the lovely curated and colour co-ordinated area behind Zali's school desk.  This is the part of her room that is visible during the zoom meetings:


While this is actually Zali's desk:

That looks a lot more like my entire room did when I was growing up.  

Recipe Challenge - Book #3

Saturday, 30 May 2020


This recipe book was never in danger of being left off the shelf.  Amongst many delicious cake recipes it also contains the chocolate mud cake recipe that I used for about 200 wedding cakes.  But in keeping with the challenge we had to make something new - so Zali combined 3 different and previously untried ones to concoct this cake:



Recipe Challenge - Book #2

Thursday, 28 May 2020

It's safe to say that the resident most excited by the recipes in the next book on the shelf was Pinto:


Yep - Ben O'Donoghue's - Outdoor "Grill your way 'round the world".  God help me.  I really have no idea how we would have come to own this book but it's been sitting on the shelf unread for a very long time. 


And I'm pretty sure when Ben imagined us grilling our way around the world, he didn't imagine this:


Jon bravely took this challenge on and stood outside in the freezing darkness barbequeing the veges and steaks.  I don't remember the exact recipes he was using but they all looked the same to me when I flicked through the book anyway.

Now I have to admit that Zali and Jett were very happy with the finished steaks, and I liked the bbqed and roasted vegetables too  - but really, Jon can roast vegetables and cook steak to perfection without the book. So sorry Ben,  'Outdoor' is the first book that is not going to return to the shelf.  Pinto is outraged.




Challenge Accepted - Book #1

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

I think I have the normal amount of recipe books.  Not heaps and heaps, but enough to fill the top shelf of the pantry.  Please note this doesn't include my specialty Cake Decorating books which are mostly kept elsewhere.


I don't know if anyone else has the same experience but I tend to only use the same 1 or 2 recipes from 70% the books I own and I never even open the other 30%. 

So I have challenged myself (and thus the rest of our household), to move through the shelf of books, from left to right, and make 1 new recipe from each.   We have to get through at least 2 books a week, and as we do them, I will decide whether the book is worth keeping on the shelf, or letting go.

Please note that as soon as I declared this challenge Zali and Jett speedily and tactically organised the shelf so the good stuff (cakes, desserts and chocolate recipes) were spread nice and evenly from left to right. 

So today I pulled from the shelf the first book .. Hello Veganomicon...


I bought this (highly rated) book to give to Denny when she became vegan, but then I decided it was probably better if I kept it myself to prepare vegan family dinners.  Despite my intentions I don't think I actually made one single thing from it - instead I just adapted my existing suite of recipes to be more vegan friendly. And now Denny isn't a vegan anymore.

I remembered why I haven't used it as soon as I opened it up  - it contains tonnes and tonnes of recipes, but no photos.   I really need photos!  Still I wasn't going to fall at the first hurdle, so I selected something that looked workable and tonight we had Curried Udon Noodle Stir Fry. It was a bit weird to make  as I had to make a roux for the sauce then mix it in at the very end, but after a longish time (for stirfry) we ended up with something quite good:


So a success! I'm not sure I'd return to that particular recipe, but I've since discovered that not only has someone made a YouTube channel of himself making heaps of the recipes, but someone else has a pinterest collection of lots of them. Cool!  So that book is a keeper - back to the shelf it goes.  

Back to Peter Murrell Reserve

Saturday, 16 May 2020

The parks and reserves are open again so it's been nice to get out for a few runs in Peter Murrell Reserve. Yay. 




How to catch a cat

Saturday, 16 May 2020

First you lay your trap.. 


Then you wait..



Here's one I caught earlier..



Small Amusements

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Last Sunday (Mothers Day) I amused myself by imposing a challenge to run all of the taped orienteering courses which are part of a 4 event Corona Cup. I'd already run the long versions (all on different days of course), so my challenge was to run all the medium ones on the one day.  


As the days are pretty short and I had some jobs to do along the way,  I left home early and I was out running through the Geilston Bay streets in the chilly air by 8.30. I was thinking each of the first three courses would only take me about 30 minutes so it was pretty frustrating to lose 10 minutes on the 4th control of the very first one! Especially since I found it easy when I did the long course. It wasn't hard, I was just being dumb.


Luckily the rest of the course went ok.  Not surprisingly Natone Hill was the hilliest of the four courses but it also had the best views.


 I was back at the car after about 50 minutes and I headed straight back over the river to Knocklofty Reserve. This one was a bit shorter and slightly flatter so it only took 29 minutes to zip around it.


From there I drove home for a quick break and to pick up the rest of of the crew.   We all drove back to Mt Nelson and Jon and Zali did some driving practise while Jett and I ran around the 4k course in just over 30 minutes.


After that it was the extra stop I'd been looking forward to since breakfast - Banjos!  The only sad thing was that we couldn't eat inside the nice warm store, but my cauliflower and cheese pie was delicious anyway.  I did also buy a vanilla slice but in my defence I didn't eat it until after the last run and I gave half of it to Jon.  


Anyway our next extra stop was a trip to Amart Furniture to look for some new couches. We didn't have much success but I welcomed all the sitting down that was required to test them out.

From there we headed out to Seven Mile Beach for the final run.   Pittwater Dunes is always a fun area but I was not really looking forward to the 900m run to the start then back to the car from the finish.  It turned out to be ok and was probably the most fun of all the races as I ran with Zali shadowing me and as a bonus it was almost completely flat.

And that was that ! 


By then it was 3.30 and I'd covered 19k so I totally deserved the long bath I had when we got home and the delicious dinner Jon made us all afterwards.   What a fun day!


Home Things - Zali

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Much like Pinto, if she's not home-schooling herserf, Zali is equally predicatable.  She's can generally be found baking something yummy (and bad for us) in the kitchen, working on a craft project, or watching tv.  All of these things are normally done in her pyjamas.






Home Things - Pinto

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Now we are at home most of the time, it has been interesting observing what Pinto does all day.

While she does pay a little bit of attention to what we are up to (particularly if it involves cheese or salmon) :



Her usual activites are normally just variations of this:


and this:



and more of this:



with just a tiny bit of this:


As a result the garden is teaming with both bird life and native marsupials. The local pademelons don't even wait until sunset to come out and eat the grass anymore. This one was just making his way over to shake the apple tree in the middle of the day. 


Home Things - Table Soccer

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Over the last 6 weeks or so, I've played about a million games of table soccer against both Zai and Jett.  I've lost every single one of them. Sometimes it's close but it's usually a thrashing.


But I'm not giving up.  My goal is to beat each of them at least once before they go back to school, so I've got just over a week left to beat Zali and 3 weeks for Jett.

In better news, I'm probably beating Jon 75% of the time, so that's something to console myself with. 

Zali's Hair Boutique

Saturday, 25 April 2020

The first time Zali cut Jett's hair was in June 2010. This was the result  (we found the hair hidden under a rug):


Then Jett got another haircut that Christmas Eve. This time we found his hair hidden under his bed:


This time was less of a surprise haircut. In fact Jett had to make an appointment:


I think the low prices and free-drink provided some incentive:


Jett bravely chose the Cut & Perm option, so after a pretty impressive cut with the clippers, Zali twisted and tied his hair up, and he had to got to bed with his hair like this:


The next morning she took out the hair bands and the effect was complete. And we all quickly decided that perhaps a perm didn't suit Jett after all:


So he smoothed it down and is now rocking quite a nice surfie look.


BTW Zali's free-drink offer also attracted another customer. This time opting for the perm only option. But we didn't get to see the results of that.



Before & After #47 : Deck Projects - Part 2

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Last summer I spent a lot of time cleaning and restaining our deck and generally making it look a lot better.   I think you'll agree that it looks quite nice now:


But one thing that has always let it down is the view of my work area from the relaxing area of deck. It normally looks much worse than this:


So I've been thinking about making some sort of screen for quite a while.  So over easter I joined the queues of people definitely only making essential purchases at Bunnings and got the supplies I needed. Then I built this:


It looks a bit like it's floating there,  but it's actually on wheels and in a track that's attached to the ceiling, so if we ever need to move big things across the deck, it can be rolled back a bit:


The back side of it looks a bit plain, I'll probably paint that at some stage, but for now I'm happy with the result.


Pittwater Dunes

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

One of the other places we can still run is at Pittwater Dunes - a fantastic orienteering area about 35 minutes away from home.  We went out there last week and it was such a pleasure to be out there:



Tuesday, 21 April 2020



Although I appreciate that people and organisations are just trying to do the best they can, there are lots decisions that have been made in the last few weeks that I think are just dumb (beyond the stupid hairdressing thing).

The main one is the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Department closing all their national parks and managed reserves.  So annoying and counter productive when you are trying to keep people away from each other.  The Sandy Bay Road pavement is jam packed with runners and walkers at the moment - many of whom would have been running or walking somewhere else if they could.  

The other things are the illogical stages and arrangements the supermarkets and shops have gone through. Very early on Woolworths had a dumb queuing thing where you could only be near the checkout one at a time. Forcing cramped queues down the aisles.  Illogical. Then they introduced all their floor Xs for better spacing on all the queues, but they still weren't cleaning the touch screens - where every single person self-checking out touches their finger in the same spot to press the 'Pay Now' button. They've since been doing that although I notice that Bunnings have big screens up to protect their staff, but they aren't cleaning the touch screens at all so they aren't protecting the customers. When I get back in the car I clean my hands so that's fine.

I'm glad Coles have now done away with their airport security style zig-zag trolley obstacle course - I think they forgot that they were in Kingston and not in Chatswood, so unlikely to need to enact the one-in one-out rule until Christmas Eve. 

Of course it's been a matter of accepting everything with a smile (even when I was pounced on the other day for committing the henious crime of starting to unpack my trolley at the far end of the conveyer belt while someone was still paying for their transaction - 3 metres away!), but yesterday at Coles I saw the perfect example of a lack of thinking things through.

This sign.


Not a big deal right. They just wanted people to exit via the other doorway. Fine.  Except that this sign was stuck on the OUTSIDE of the store, so I was reading it when I was already outside.  


So it was super confusing. Why would you stick that sign on the outside so that approaching shoppers immediately think they have done something wrong by approaching the wrong door. Only to stop and figure out that the sign is referring to exiting not entering. So DUMB.  


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