Thursday, May 30, 2013


Pavlova for a Christmas party - in seasonal colors
I have had SO many requests for this recipe... so here it is. Pavlova!

This is a spectacular dessert - but not without some contention. It was created to honor the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The contention lies between Australia and New Zealand... as to which nation can rightfully claim it's invention. Regardless of the origins, Pavlova has become a staple dish for Australian BBQs or parties. My mother makes a brilliant Pavlova - so quite frankly, I never bothered trying. 
When we were asked to our first American 'Pot Luck', Paul and I both decided we needed to take along a Pavlova. We were surprised when one of the guests stated "Oh! A Pavlova" and encouraged the other guests to try it. Apparently the guest had spend many years in Australia and was very accustomed to the dish. Our first attempt turned out quite well. Subsequent attempts were hit and miss. Once we got a 'real' mixer, our results have been consistently successful.  

Since our first attempt, I have made this dessert for countless parties and pot lucks. It has always been very well received - as it is considered somewhat 'unique'. But... do you think I could find photos? This was a hard task. Apparently I have made many but photographed few. 
My go-to recipe is from the most-excellent-of-all-time-cookbook, The Cooks Companion by Stephanie Alexander. The original recipe can be found here, with a step-by-step video on how to make it here

My version is for a slightly larger Pavlova using 6 egg whites. I use this many egg whites as we often have several containers of egg whites in our freezer, all containing three egg-whites left over from Paul making Aioli or Zabaglione. I have increased the ingredients proportionally - but it is still the same recipe/method. I would recommend that first-time Pavlova makers start with the original recipe, until it is perfected. The quantities below will serve around 9 to 12 people. 

6 egg whites (6 fl oz)
pinch salt 
375g (13oz) caster sugar* 
3 tsp corn starch 
1 ½ tsp white-wine vinegar 
few drops pure vanilla
1 pint (450 ml) heavy whipping cream (firmly whipped)
fresh fruit to decorate

Preheat the Oven to 355℉. Line a Cookie Sheet with Baking / Parchment Paper. On the reverse side, draw a 9" (23cm) circle on the paper (so it shows through). 
Beat egg whites with salt until satiny peaks form. 
Beat in sugar, a third at a time until meringue is stiff and shiny. 
Sprinkle over corn starch, vinegar and vanilla and fold through gently. 
Mound mix onto paper-lined baking tray within circle, flattening top and smoothing sides. 
Place in oven. Immediately reduce heat to 300℉ and bake for 30 minutes. 
Reduce oven temperature to 250℉ and bake for a further 45 minutes. 
Turn off oven and leave Pavlova in cooling oven to cool completely. 

Before serving, carefully invert Pavlova onto a serving platter. Inverting the Pavlova gives the crisp 'crust' to the bottom. Top with whipped cream and decorate with the fruit of your choice. 

Egg whites MUST be at room temperature. 
*I use regular white sugar. I find this has a finer texture in the US than in Australia. If I have time, I will pulse the sugar in my blender for a minute or so to ensure it has a finer texture (although as I am typically making this late at night, after the kids are in bed - I don't always bother!) 
This is a recipe to practice. Every oven has it's own foibles, and this can make a significant difference. 
Beware that the Pavlova is likely to implode when inverting it. Sometimes this is a two-person job! 
Fruits I typically use: strawberries, kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, slices of orange, fresh mango, can of crushed pineapple (juice drained), banana, can mandarin segments (drained). Sometimes I decorate using concentric rings of different fruits, other times I randomly scatter fruit across the top. The BEST fruit to use is the pulp from passionfruit - simple, tart and the perfect foil for the sweetness of the meringue. Unfortunately, where we live, we find passionfruit next to impossible to find and/or ridiculously expensive. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Zucchini Slice

Summer vegetables are appearing. YES! Some oversize zucchinis became a dinner last week - in the form of a Zucchini Slice. The recipe given to me is very imprecise - and I am attempting to quantify it. Watching my sister cook it over the weekend has given me a few ideas to experiment with. Stay tuned for a recipe...

I served the Slice with steamed asparagus and tomatoes dressed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I like this slice with something sweet and spicy. A simple salad made with sliced tomato, torn basil, thinly sliced red onion, sprinkled with a little salt and freshly ground pepper (dressed with EVOO and balsamic vinegar) would have been perfect. Otherwise, a spicy ketchup, sweet chili sauce or Sriracha sauce might be good according to taste. It is a perfect picnic food and I have even made it as individual muffins. 

Santa Barbara

I had the BEST weekend! It was also bittersweet. I visited my sister Jenni and her family in Santa Barbara as they prepare to start a new life in Shanghai. I will miss them all. 

Despite Jenni having lived in Santa Barbara for about three years, this was my first visit. Some soon-to-expire flight award points were the catalyst. Jenni has managed to visit us twice in Virginia, traveling with children - so this visit was well overdue.

I do miss air travel. My last flight was four years ago when I visited Jenni in the tiny village of Arnesby in the UK. Actually, let's rephrase that... I do miss air-travel, the way it used to be: without all the fuss, scans, crowding, reduced service, additional costs here there and everywhere, paranoia... and children to keep occupied!

Jenni is going to miss Santa Barbara. I LOVED it. The atmosphere was so relaxed, the people friendly, the food sensational, the weather perfect. There was a distinct small-town feel - but not a parochial one. Everyone I met was worldly, intelligent and open. People were walking about, cycling, skateboarding, running and rollerblading. The majority looked fit and healthy. Definitely my type of place.   

I will write some more when I get the chance... 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

I have a couple of recipes for this dish, called either Moroccan Stew or Marrakech Curry. I have no recollection of the origin of these. I found a number of variations for this type of dish when I went in search for my original recipe. This is the perfect dish for a pantry-meal: using longer lasting vegetables, pantry items, and beans and quinoa for protein.
For this particular meal, I added garbanzo beans and served it over couscous, sprinkled with chopped cilantro. 
I found the original spice quantities to be a little bland for adult tastes - these were enhanced with some hot sauce. Harissa would be the perfect addition - as would a few slices of Preserved Lemons.

¼ cup water / vegetable broth for sautéing
1 cup water / vegetable broth for stewing (possibly up to 2 cups)
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 cup cubed sweet potato
1 cup cubed zucchini
1 cup cubed butternut squash
1 cup cubed carrot
1 can diced tomatoes
1 diced green pepper
1 (15oz) can garbanzo beans, drained
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped cilantro (to garnish)

Saute onions, garlic and spices in water / broth.
Add sweet potato, butternut squash and carrots.
Stew for around 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes and juice from can, zucchini, bell pepper and drained and rinsed garbanzo beans.
Stew For a further 15 minutes. Add raisins.
Cook until vegetables are soft and sauce has formed (about 30 minutes).
Season to taste.
Serve over quinoa (or more traditional couscous).

Notes / Variations
Using yellow zucchini and yellow peppers would really enhance the ‘yellowness’ of this dish.
Of course, if you plan ahead, use freshly soaked and prepared garbanzo beans and fresh tomatoes. 
Add water or broth sparingly, particularly if using juice from canned tomatoes. 
For this particular meal, I was all out of onions, so increased the amount of garlic. I used twice the quantity of carrot, butternut squash, sweet potato and zucchini, and doubled the quantities of spice (all except cayenne). 
The kids hadn't eaten this dish in some time - so were somewhat dubious when I served it to them. They ate it all without complaint when the word 'dessert' was mentioned! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013


The peonies are blooming. 

These magnificent flowers just pop out of the ground each spring and reward us with somewhat blowzy-looking but abundant blooms. We. Do. Nothing. Just enjoy what nature offers. 
Of course, we discovered that last year's distinct lack of peony blooms was due to a common pest (in our part of the world), commonly referred to as Lucnicmiettaitis. Apparently, our little darlings wanted to remove the ants attracted to the sugars secreted  by the peony buds... so removed the entire bud. ALL of them!  :-/
Peony bloom... with ants
We are enjoying the Iris and Roses that also 'garden' themselves. Our visiting cicadas appreciate our blooms too.   

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Under the sea...

We attended our last preschool concert last night! 

Despite a meltdown on the way, our little one just shone on stage... a born performer!

The theme for the show was 'Under the Sea' with all songs having an oceanic theme. The whole 'Cow Palace' (multipurpose hall) was decorated with fish and sea creatures made by the preschool students. I love that each class chose a different type of fish to create. 
We had a tense few moments as Paul was caught at work... but managed to slip into the audience just before Mietta made it on stage. One very happy little girl. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

They're baaaaaack...!

The cicadas arrived last Wednesday. Of course, they have been living under the ground for the last 17 years... so it was about time! We have been fascinated by these insects - and have finally seen not only the discarded exoskeletons, but also the cicada in the process emerging from its too-small-shell. 
Although we didn't witness it, we were aware of the cicada 'uprising' in Chicago around 5 years ago... as our *suburban* friends bewailed the arrival of these creatures - en masse. Of course, cicadas emerge every spring/summer, but the emergence of particular 'broods' of red-eyed magicicadas are certain and their patterns are known well in advance. The Spring of 2013 is Brood II's year. This is a peculiarity to this part of the world

The talk of Cicada's has coincided with the United Nations recommendation that the consumption of insects could help alleviate a global shortfall in protein sources. Paul played this report to me. Some fascinating discussion has ensued. I heard an interview with Peter Menzal last week. Peter and his wife, Faith D'Aluisio, co-authored (the brilliantly-titled) Man Eating Bugs - describing their insect-eating (entomophagy) experiences in some 13 countries. 

My sister-in-law Naomi was no stranger to insect consumption during the year she spent in Thailand. I was also impressed to see photos of the kid's friends Anahera, Max and Kaia, munching on scorpions in Beijing. 
we had wondered about the proliferation of strange holes in our yard!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Help for urban terrorists...

thermal heat reading - no tree canopy
thermal heat reading - with tree canopy 
images from Sydney Morning Herald 
I really liked Sydney City Council's proactive approach to making urban areas more comfortable spaces in which people can live work and play. The City's Urban Forest Strategy aims to increase tree canopy coverage in city areas. The Council appreciates that trees not only provide visual improvement but ensure many positive environmental impacts. I applaud the initiative's empowerment of residents to have some influence on tree provision and selection. 

I happen to know at least two urban terrorists - people who haven't waited for civic institutions to take action... but who have secretly planted trees in public places, under the cover of night. These trees, many years later have become an intrinsic part of the urban tapestry - the inception of planting unbeknownst, but a personal attachment grown over time and through familiarity.

I  liked the premise for the Neighborwoods program and its understanding that monocultural or native planting need not be the guiding principle, but that a tapestry is made all the richer for its diversity, staggered maturation and appreciation and reflection of trends in time. Bravo. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This is water...

image from You Tube
The viral nature of thoughts and ideas across the ether brought this video to my attention today. The video was released 9 days ago. The words were written some 8 years ago. The presenter, David Foster Wallace died almost 5 years ago. The words were written for a commencement speech delivered to a graduating class of college students by an author and educator.  

As well as being beautifully produced, the video produced by The Glossary struck a chord. It was a reminder for people to look outside their own spheres - and to understand that - you - me - are not the center of the universe... the world does not evolve around us alone. The full speech, as given can be found here

As is often the case with introspective and insightful people, Wallace suffered from bouts of depression - and prematurely ended his own life. 

Fruity Fruit Cake... and Fudge Sauce!

I absolutely LOVE Fruitcake. So does my husband. My mother makes the best fruitcakes. I remember her spending hours preparing, cooking, icing (marzipan and royal icing) and decorating Christmas cakes for both sets of grandparents. I also have memories of mum in tears one year as we woke to the smell of burnt cake. The automatic oven cut-off failed to work and so many expensive ingredients - that mum had to travel far to procure - literally went up in smoke. 

We were somewhat taken aback to find that Fruitcake is looked upon with some scorn in the US. Fruitcake is a seasonal item and it is one of those Christmas gifts supposed to cause some chagrin! We however, miss it. We can't even get a Lions Club cake! Fruitcake has therefore been added to our repertoire of food that we have had to learn to cook ourselves. 

Mum gave me a recipe that she referred to as Diabetic Fruit Cake. It has no added sugar and relies upon the sweetness of the dried fruit... a whole lot of dried fruit! I have made a few alterations to incorporate more whole wheat and have increased the cooking time as it always seemed to come out underdone. I think there is still some scope for revision of ingredients, quantities and cooking time. I will keep experimenting :-) 

Our family enjoys this cake - with a cup of tea or as a lunchbox treat. 

1 kg Mixed Dried Fruit* 
70 ml Port or Brandy
250 ml Water 
1 tsp Baking Soda 

300 g White Wheat Flour 
2 tsp Baking Powder 
1 tsp Mixed Spice

220 ml Evaporated Milk 

Place the fruit, water port/brandy and Baking Soda in a saucepan. Bring to the boil and boil for 3 minutes. Cool (for at least an hour).
Preheat oven to 150℃/ 300℉. Grease and line a 20cm Springform pan. 
Mix and sift together the Flour, Baking Powder and Mixed Spice. 
When the fruit has cooled, add the Flour mix. Add the Evaporated Milk and mix together. 
Place cake mixture into pan and smooth the top. 
Bake for approximately 1½ to 2 hours. 
Cool in tin. 
* A mix of Raisins, Sultanas/Golden Raisins, Currants, Mixed Glacé Citrus Peel or Fruit. 
I typically use a full box of raisins, then make up the rest of the weight with Golden Raisins and Currants. It is difficult to find glacé citrus peel in the US. Omit if it can't be found. It is also not easy to find Mixed Spice. Note that this is a mix of spices and should not be confused with Allspice (which is a spice in itself). There is a recipe for Mixed Spice here. If I can't find it, I omit the Mace and add a little more nutmeg. 
If you can't find White Wheat Flour - use a mix of half Whole Grain and half All-Purpose/Plain Flour. 

The Fudge Sauce is NOT served with the Fruit cake... it is merely a means of using the leftover Evaporated Milk I have after opening a large can. This recipe has been adapted from the recipe here. We find this quantity more than enough for all of us - warmed and poured over icecream - or to make banana splits.  

3 tbls Salted Butter
1 ½ oz unsweetened cooking chocolate 
1 cup sugar
⅔ cup (4 to 5 oz) Evaporated Milk

Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler (I use a glass bowl over a saucepan of water. Don't let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. 
Once the butter and chocolate have melted, add the sugar ¼ cup at a time, ensuring sugar is incorporated before next addition. The mixture will be thick and grainy at this stage. 
Continue to stir over heat and add the Evaporated Milk - around 1 oz at a time. Stir between additions until well combined. Dependent upon how thick you like sauce, 4oz will probably be ample. 

I use salted butter - and do not add any extra salt. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sweet Creamy Mustard Chicken

Last night, with very little inspiration but the 'right' ingredients, I resorted to making one of the family's favorite meals. For want of a better description, it is 'Sweet Creamy Mustard Chicken'. Sometimes it is Pork. Sometimes it is Veal. Most often it is Mushroom. Sometimes it is less sweet. The 'richness' of this recipe is a great way to make chicken breasts go a little further - 3 were ample for our family of 5. 
Firstly, I cut each chicken breast into approximately three equally sized medallions. I cut the thicker parts in half to make thinner slices. I coat each piece of chicken in some flour seasoned with ground pepper. I then panfry these in some butter and olive oil. Once all the chicken is cooked, I set this aside and I deglaze the pan with some Sherry/Marsala/Verjuice/White Wine. Last night it was Cream Sherry (hence the sweetness). I then add some sliced mushrooms. When these have softened, I add some cream (maybe half a cup) and a good tablespoon (or two) of Wholegrain Mustard. I heat this through and then add the cooked chicken - coating each chicken medallion in the sauce. I plate the chicken pieces, thin the sauce (if needed) with a little milk, make sure this is heated through then pour over the chicken on the plates. I serve with vegetables. 
Last night's vegetables included oven roasted potato and sweet potato and a medley of sautéed red onion, red pepper, zucchini and baby spinach. I really wanted a 'green' vegetable such as asparagus spears - but alas, we were out. 

The range of vegetables reminded me of the times I shared a house with my friend Melissa. We would always try and thwart the old 'meat and three veg' mantra by adding as many vegetables to a meal as we could muster. We'd often serve a 'meat and eight veg' meal! Last night's veg included: mushrooms, red pepper, red onion, zucchini, spinach, potato, sweet potato and a garnish of spring/green onion. 

Monday, May 13, 2013


Our household banana consumption ebbs and flows. The boys won't touch fresh bananas - having had some nightmarish past bad-banana experience. As bananas often pass optimum-eating-conditions, we are frequently left with bananas that are in various stages of blackening and disintegrating into a slovenly mess.

Bananas in this state are perfect for banana cakes and breads as the flavor is much more intense and there is little effort to convert bananas to a mashed form. I had three such bananas today - perfect for a Banana Bread. I like the recipe for Heavenly Healthy Banana Bread. This recipe uses a White Wheat flour - a whole wheat with a lighter texture than a more traditional whole wheat flour. This recipe always produces good results. The site's interface is great as it allows ingredient measurements to be listed in grams or volume - great for switching between as I always like to weigh dry ingredients. 

Another way we like to use overripe (but not yet mushy) bananas, is to rub peeled bananas with a little butter, place them in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over some soft brown sugar and a generous splash of dark rum (Bundaberg is perfect). We then bake these in the oven for around 20 to 30 minutes at approx 180℃ / 360℉. The rum, butter and sugar combine to make a rich rummy caramel sauce - perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Yum. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Vegetable Kebabs

Vegetable Kebabs or Kebobs are an excellent dish for a full-on veggie onslaught for our kids (and us too). These are a perfect summer dish when there are abundant vegetables and cooking on the grill/BBQ becomes the norm. Kebabs are easy enough to prepare - even by the kids - and this dish can be a constructed by several people at once. 

I make a simple marinade of light olive oil, crushed fresh garlic, ground pepper and fresh chopped herbs from the garden. Tonight's herbs were thyme, parsley and oregano. I soak wooden skewers for approximately 45 minutes, lightly salt a thickly-sliced eggplant (for around half an hour - to draw out any bitter juices) - then rinse and pat dry before cutting into chunks. I toss all vegetable chunks with the marinade, before threading onto skewers. 

Vegetables tonight included: red pepper, eggplant, zucchini, yellow zucchini, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Other vegetables can include onion slices, green pepper, slices of corn on the cob, chunks of thick asparagus (when available), summer squash, pineapple, etc. 

Tonight we included chunks of 'Bread Cheese'. The kids will eat any dish if it includes this yummy gooey 'hot cheese'. We became accustomed to this cheese at the Green City Markets in Chicago.  The cheese is similar to Halloumi but I find it to be less salty and more affordable in our part of the world. 

We sometimes include chunks of andouille or chorizo sausage or even chunks of chicken or marinated lamb. Take care to ensure all meats are cooked adequately. 

Tonights kebabs were cooked inside under our broiler as the weather was a little chilly outside. As we had a late lunch, the Kebabs were our whole meal - no sides. If we are hungrier, I might serve a side salad such as a green salad or a tabbouleh made with garbanzo beans instead of bulgar. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Corn Cakes

Corn is becoming abundant at this time of year. Time to try out some more of Amanda's Corn Cakes. Today I added a small, diced red pepper after blending the ingredients. 
I served the corn cakes with fresh steamed asparagus and a version of pico de gallo made with some additional diced avocado. Paul had made some aioli and mixed this with some Tabasco sauce - a brilliant accompaniment! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Violence and Silence

image from You Tube
As the mother of two boys, it is largely up to my husband and I to empower our boys with the courage and skills to be good men. Men who have the confidence and enlightenment to stand-up for themselves and to challenge and lead others to do the right thing. 

With so many recent stories about the abuse of others and the continuance of that abuse through social media... with assaults being perpetrated in institutionalized settings and then 'legitimized' through silence and inaction... I hope we have finally reached a tipping point. Several recent items have given me hope. 

I recently read this letter from a mother to her sons. I love how well and clearly this mother tells her boys real and unadulterated life facts, and provides guidance and good sense while empowering them to be, if not a hero, a decent and functioning human being.  

Paul showed me this video about what to do with a drunk girl passed out. Simple. 

Then this morning, I was referred to a TEDxFiDiWomen talk by Jackson Katz. I love listening to the TED talks. Such a diverse range of points of view - some truly inspiring, enlightening, thought-provoking and humorous. This talk too was inspirational. Katz works within the field of gender violence prevention and is an anti-sexist activist. His work attempts to shift the paradigm from violence being 'women's issues' to laying the blame fair and square on not only the perpetrators but their peers. Working within male-dominated cultures such as the United States Marine Corps and professional and college athletics, Katz attempts to remove victim-blaming from the conversation and to redefine manhood. He wishes to enable the 'by-stander', whoever they may be, to step up and speak up against anyone making sexist, racist, degrading or harassing comments or enactments. Katz emphasizes the need for peers to speak up and not remain silent where that silence would be seen by the perpetrator to be a form of consent or complicity. 
He has some very salient points about need for men (and women) in seats of power to take (true) leadership and to be held accountable for forming the thinking and encouraging the responses of younger impressionable people. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Chickens go in... pies come out

After many a mediocre attempt, I think I have just about mastered cooking a roast chook. I use Ina Garten's recipe for Perfect Roast Chicken as the basis (without the carrots and fennel), roasting a chicken atop sliced onions. As the chicken is resting, I puree the onions (infused with chicken juices) and either add this to a gravy I have made from a simple stock (simmered giblets, carrot, parsley, celery, peppercorns) and pan drippings or I add a roux and some milk to make an 'oniony' white sauce. I usually serve the chicken with roasted vegetables (potatoes, pumpkin, parsnip, sweet potato, turnip, carrots) and green peas. I cook enough so I have leftovers. 

My family doesn't seem to much like eating leftovers. If however, I incorporate leftovers into another dish, then this is perfectly acceptable. I use leftover roast chicken, onion gravy / sauce and roast vegetables and peas to make a chicken pie. Without a doubt, the line "Chickens go in and pies come out..." line from Chicken Run is quoted on every occasion I serve Chicken Pie to the family. We are big fans of Aardman animations and the gorgeous and subtle sense of humor they adopt in everything they create. Our family regularly quotes Aardman characters - particularly Wallace and Gromit

As the emphasis on this meal is ease, I use a pre-made pie base and frozen puff pastry to top. I really like the Wholly Wholesome Whole Wheat pie shells for this purpose. Dependent upon my tastes and quantities, I might add spinach, diced carrots onions and peppers (steamed or slightly cooked in a little olive oil), canned or fresh corn, mushrooms, etc. 
A couple of nights ago, I found myself with some leftover rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. I pondered making either a chicken pie or salad. Pie won. I made a white sauce, added some Keen's curry powder, chopped chicken, a packet of thawed frozen spinach and a couple of rough chopped potatoes (quickly steamed in the microwave). I served the pie with some green peas. This dish was liked by all. I thought of serving it with a little mango chutney and had considered adding a few raisins to the chicken filling. Paul was grateful that I hadn't. As the curry aroma reminded all the kids of curried egg sandwiches, we thought some chopped hard-boiled egg might be a good addition too. 

Intelligence, Creativity, Einstein and Tang Yau Hoong

artwork by Tang Yau Hoong
I saw this image and quote on this site and was immediately attracted to it. 
After some searching online, I found and ordered a print from the artist Tang Yau Hoong as a birthday gift to myself. 
A signed print arrived from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia last week. I love it. I have yet to have it framed and put up on the wall. I love any print that can help explain our 'creatively' messy house. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Great Train Race

I'm proud of the kids. They completed their third Great Train Race! ...well, third year as Nic and Mietta ran the Caboose (400m) race for the first year. This race is one mile in length and is for children only. It is very well organized, punctual with an emphasis on fun and participation. There are separate heats for each age group and for each gender. There are some very fast kids - the fastest this year was a local 16yo, completing the mile in 4:41! In fact there were five boys completing the race in under 5 minutes. 
All children bettered their times from last year. Luc beat his last year's time by 23 seconds, Mietta by 1min 8 sec and Nic by 1min 54 seconds!
After finishing the race, we went to Carl's for an ice-cream or shake... as this seems to have become our GTR day tradition! 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

May the forth... be with you!

still waiting on some photos of the happy couple... this one stolen from Facebook!
Woohoo! I have another sister (in-law)!
Paul's youngest brother Matthew married the love-of-his-life Jody in Brisbane today.
We were SO very disappointed to have to miss this momentous event... particularly as all the rest of Paul's family were able to make it from near and far. 
Blasted recession issues, immigration hassles and severe lack of funds. We haven't had a chance to visit Australia's far horizons for over four years now. Way too long. GRRRRR! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Char Siu Pork - BBQ Pork Chinese Style

Pork fillets always seem to be packaged as a pair. For our family, one is usually consumed and the second saved or frozen for another meal. While preparing one fillet, I left the other in a Char Siu marinade for a couple of days. 
It had been some time since I had made Char Siu - so thought I would give it another try. I often ate this dish when I spent time house-sharing with my cousin Julian and his (future) wife Barbara. I consulted my comprehensive Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon for the recipe, also found here. I also added a small amount of red food dye to give an authentic look to the pork. This marinade quantity is enough for two fillets. I use Charmaine's method 2 for cooking - on a rack over water. 
I found the cooking time of 45 minutes to be a little too long. I heated some of the water from the cooking pan, mixed with leftover marinade and added some cornflour (cornstarch) to thicken. I added a little more hoi sin and soy sauce to taste and used this for a gravy over the pork. I served the pork with brown basmati rice and boiled baby bok choy, drained and then quickly panfried in a little peanut oil and soy sauce.