Thursday, January 29, 2009

Someone had his first day at preschool today

My little boy is now a preschooler (well, preschool within a long daycare centre, because who in gainful employment can leave work at 2.30pm? Not me!).

He did really well today. He accepted that I would stay with him a while and that I would then be going to work. I dropped him a bit before 10 and stayed an hour, then picked him up at 3.

The staff reported that he did have a cry at lunchtime, but he was OK. I think once he settles he will love all the activities they can offer there.

Heck, he may even deign to eat one of the hot lunches too. Eventually...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The gluten-free challenge

I love a good challenge as much as the next person and the one I've taken on is rather interesting: the art of making a half decent loaf of gluten-free bread.

In a bread maker, I might add (I'm not much into doing it all by hand).

It's not for me; I can and do happily eat all forms of bread at least 2-3 times a day. Shaun gets dreadful mouth ulcers though, and so far no doctor has pinned down a cause. The best they can advise him is to 'eat a wheat- and dairy-free diet'. Which he does ... very half-heartedly. I mean, that includes beer and what red-blooded Aussie male wants to be living without beer!?!

When the ulcers get bad (they never actually go right away), he reverts to stricter dietary measures. The thing is the gluten-free bread in the supermarket is about $6 a loaf and frequently very stale (there's not enough interest in GF foods to shift them any quicker, I assume).

So he bought a bread maker on the weekend. And here begins my challenge to bake a good loaf of GF bread in it. First attempt, with a supermarket GF bread mix: dismal. Barely edible. Second attempt is about to come out of the bread maker in the next few minutes. It looks better ... but still not that great. And it'll be interesting to see how it tastes. It's an Orgran ready mix, so it'd be great if it worked because you can get that brand pretty much anywhere.

What I really want to do is make my own bread from scratch though, so I have been looking around for recipes. Hopefully I'll spot one that sounds good soon.

I went to a product launch for a new Breville bread maker very recently and media were offered the opportunity to buy the model at half price. Oh, I wish I had, because it had an impressive GF setting. And of course the cheaper model we have now bought does not.

Anyhow, I am sure we will have many disasters before we actually come up with something edible...

Update: the bread is now done. And it's actually not too bad... (she says in amazement).

It looks like this:

And ... importantly, it tastes OK. A bit saltless, but a vast improvement on yesterday's attempt. Which looked like this:


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rockin' melons

It's been sweltering here in Sydney and, quite frankly, I'm counting down to autumn. There have been some pluses to the hot weather though. My fridge is currently half full of zucchinis. We've been feasting on zucchini bake, zucchini slice, zucchini frittata, zucchini cakes ... you get the idea.
The one thing we have been scratching our chins about is the rockmelons. I have two plants that clearly did a fantastic job of extracting all the bokashi goodness out of the soil - they have spread out for a good 3-4 square metres. Full of little yellow flowers too. It looks like this:

But no melons.

So I did what any modern-day amateur gardener would do. I Googled it. And I found out the yellow flowers are male and female and need bees to pollinate the plant.


We do get bees around the garden but not that many, after all, this is the inner west of Sydney. So this week Shaun and I were looking at the rockmelon plants, lamenting their fruitlessness when suddenly ... something caught my eye. It was this:

Whoa, that was well hidden. A rather well-formed rockmelon, tucked away under the mass of foliage. We searched some more and there were four or so big ones. And even a couple of these little beauties:

Now that we've discovered them, we figure we'd better, like, actually water the plants. I'm looking forward to slicing these up in coming weeks. Yum...

Monday, January 12, 2009


... we picked this rather impressive (if I do say so myself) bunch of silverbeet from the garden.

I turned it into lasagne. Well, with ricotta it formed one layer of my lasagne. I also managed to squeeze four of our zucchinis into the meat layer of said lasagne.

It really was a cookathon this afternoon: we also made Donna Hay's double chocolate cupcakes. They have worked out nicely. Be lucky if there's any left by tomorrow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Books of 2008

The lovely M at EasternMax put together a list of books she read in 2008. I thought I would shamelessly pinch her idea. But now that I have sat down to write, I realise that many of the books I read were from the library and therefore I may have a bit of trouble remembering their names...
Here goes:

* Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I see on this book's website that the publisher says there are now 5 million copies in print. Deservedly so, I think. This book was lent to me by a good friend and once I had read (devoured) it, I too passed it on to a friend. It's that sort of book. I very much enjoyed the writer's candour and the whole meditation/discovering self is very much up my alley. This would have to be my book of the year.

* Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting - The Power of Positive Feelings by Lyn Grabhorn. Picked this up at the library. Only because it had a fluoro yellow cover and I kinda couldn't miss it. Parts of it were a bit roll-your-eyes, but I have to say that I tried out the positive thinking tactics she writes about and - whoa - they have had AMAZING results for me. I honestly believe we have so much untapped potential within ourselves and this book really gave me an exciting glimpse into what is possible.

* The People Of The Book by Geraldine Brooks. Not technically a book of 2008 because I am still reading it, but I did start it in 2008 when I was lucky enough to find it in a Christmas parcel (thank you Lyn! - I love it). I am quite enamoured. For me this book is perfect. It has a Jewish thread running through it - and I am obsessed with anything and everything that pertains to Jewish culture - and it reminds me a little of my very favourite book ever: Possession by A S Byatt.

* Encyclopedia of Jewish Cooking by ???. Another library book, so I'm not sure of the exact name or the author. And Google is no help. All I know is that this book takes all manner of Jewish dishes and traces their origins. There's lots of fascinating historic photos too. Naturally I didn't make a single recipe; the food for thought was rich enough.

* A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khlaed Hosseini. I read this one while we were overseas and enjoyed it even more than The Kite Runner.

* Sex And The City by Candace Bushnell. I've long been a fan of the show but I'd never bothered with the book before this year. Spied it at the library, gave it a shot ... underwhelmed, really.

*New Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Annabel Karmel. Excellent book (from library again), great kiddie meals. E wouldn't touch even one of the many I tried. Sigh.

*The Beach by Alex Garland. This one landed on my desk at work as one of the new 'retro-styled' Penguin releases - you know, in the classic orange and white design. I liked the movie, so I thought I'd give the book a shot. Enjoyed it. Didn't love it, but worth reading.

* Persepolis by Marjane Satrpai. My second foray in the world of the graphic novel, which looks at Iranian extremism through the eyes of a young Iranian girl. This is a pretty sensational read - but not as good as the first I read, which was Maus by Art Spiegelman.

* Zoli by Colum McCann. Golden find at the library. A spectacularly good read that fed another of my obsessions: an interest in gypsy culture. It's the story of a Roma girl in the 1930s who becomes a singer and is convinced by an Englishman to write her songs down. They are then used against the gypsies and she is forced into exile.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The season

Well, it's been a lovely Christmas/New Year's break, I must say. Quiet, relaxed and not too hot (which makes me happy). We headed out to the farm for Christmas and had a lovely time there. I'm still in holiday mode - until tomorrow when, sigh, it's back to work - so here's a post in pics. It's about all I can manage right now...


After Christmas we left the little guy with my parents and went camping so I check out my new six-man tent (a vast improvement on Shaun's three-man tent - what size people do they base these measurements on?!). Let's just say that the weather at Mt Kaputar, about 90 mins from Mum and Dad's, was not the best. Still we pushed on. In the mist and rain. Shaun insisted we camp. It poured ALL night. POURED. I left a wineglass out overnight and it had two inches of water in it in the morning. Needless to say, we didn't get any sleep. But we did at least find out that the fly on the tent is ace.

While we were there, we saw a rarely spotted animal. This:

It's the Kaputar pink slug. Found nowhere else. Thank goodness for that. You think I am kidding? No, it's real. Scroll down here.

What else?

Someone's pretty enamoured with his Christmas paints and his new pirate hat. Also with the reflector sunnies I got sent in a press kit.

He is also digging the gorgeous sunlounger Shaun bought me for Christmas. Apparently it doubles nicely as a toddler trampoline.

My parents bought him his first 'big' bike for Christmas. He's doing well on it.