Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Family Meatloaf Recipe

There was a discussion about mixing meatloaf on a forum I wander into fairly regularly.

Which got onto "what is your family meatloaf"

and I thought, why not?

1kg cheap mince
1 chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 egg
1/2-1 cup grated zucchini
1/2-1 cup grated carrot
1-2 slices bread, wet in water and squeezed
1 good squirt cheap ass tomato sauce
splash worcestershire
marjoram - yes, there is something you can use that for!
if you have fresh parsley - couple of good tablespoons of that
bit of oregano
bit of thyme
stuff from the cupboard
leftover stuff from the fridge
(in place of last 6 ingredients, you could add dried mixed herbs a la the traditional family recipe)

Preheat the oven to 160-200 C.  Dependent on time availability and how tempremental your oven is, of course.

Wash your hands - ensure jewellery is on the ring stand above the sink and no fingernails are giving you gyp.

Prep the above.

Put all the above into a bowl and mix it through with your hands, squeezing it between your fingers, tearing the wet bread as you are doing so.  If too dry, add another egg.  If too wet, put in some breadcrumbs.

Put a slosh of oil into a baking dish.  You can use the spray stuff or lard or oil - whatever - bit of lube, the fat of cheap mince should provide the goodness.

Mould the mixture into thing loggy sort of shapes.  If your time is a bit tight, make it skinnier (because the aim of the game is really to cook it to the centre, not how you've got a bigger one).

If you want to get all fancy, you can wrap some cheap bacon around it.  If you want to look all health nut, try some seaweed or blanched cabbage leaves.  Gee, if you want to go vego, you could use lentils or well cooked any beans, if you want to go vegan, besan flour can hide most shortcomings.  Sprigs of herbs would add a certain frivolity to proceedings - just so long as it doesn't look like scorched earth when the dish is presented, I suppose.

Apparently some parts of the world even use a barbecue saucey sort of drench - each to their own, hey?  Best not to start a war over it.

Anyhoo - into the oven - we love roast vegies here, so will peel and put all sorts of vegetables around - generally I will give the meatloaf a bit of time in the oven before I add these, size of the veges determine the cooking time so adjust accordingly - depending of size and temp, it will take 1-2 hours and goes amazing well with gravy and peas (and corn and broccoli and mashies and salad and between two slices of white bread slathered with butter and tomato sauce).

Friday, August 01, 2014

Quite Augusting

I was having a good day.  I was doing the groceries with Paris after a lovely morning at a playground. 

Paris had decided that she was my horse, and I had been ordered to say "yaah" to go and "woah" to stop as she dragged my carriage (the shopping trolley) up and down the fairly deserted aisles.

As we exited the staples/tins and exotic products aisle, an old man took note. 

Unfortunately not an old man of the ilk that smiled gently and moved on.  This old man was more the Frank Barrone variety.  Slightly more hair, perhaps, but clothed by the same tailor and sang from the same song book.

As we "woah"ed to go around the corner of the toiletries aisle, he said (and this needs its own line)

"having a good day out, Nanna?"

Not having yet taught Paris the meaning of certain swear-words, I nodded politely and "yaahed" her right up to the far end of that aisle in record speed. 

Unfortunately I had toiletry needs that were located at the near end, but the mortification of a septuagenarian referring to me as "Nanna" blitzed all logical thought from my head.

We then "yaah"ed productively down the cleaning products aisle.  We were almost clear when he leaped (well, shuffled) out again, pretending to be a policeman and spooking my horse. 

As we all know, Paris is excessively shy, and so my gorgeous little horse shied beautifully and manouvred the carriage around Mr Plod.

My nod lost its polite, and any discerning fellow shopper would surely have read the swear words in my body language.

Alas no. 

I will give him this, he must have put on a bit of speed, because in the time it took for us to collect some cheese he had placed himself in the petfood aisle where he could not be avoided.

My horse slowed, unsure of her footing.  I "yaah"ed as gently as I could, and called out that we were currently invisible if he could please clear our carriageway.  He smiled like we were playing with him (rather than despite) and offered me another "Nanna" gee up.

Unfortunately I do not have any Elsa powers, otherwise the grocery store could have moved their fridge section across.

Into the last section, I remembered bags and toiletry requirements.  I left Paris by the ever so exciting stationary section and went back around the corner - and there he lurked.  I ignored very pointedly, but as he crabwalked towards me, I gave up my quest and returned to my carriage.

By the time we were at our final collection (frozen peas) he had caught up and attempted conversation.

"She must be such a delight for you, Nanna" he opened with.

My polite had left, and I delivered a rather curt "She is my daughter.  I am her mother."  The "and expletive deleted off" was unspoken but definitely in the delivery.

"Oh, well done" he said in a tone that reflected his belief that I had approached World Records in Geriatric Maternity.

I then realised that, not only was he being gobsmackingly rude in assuming my role in Paris' life, this was his attempt to pick me up.

At the supermarket.

On a Friday afternoon.

Maaaaate.

A. The wedding ring was on.  Out of bounds.
B. Old enough to be my father.
C. Not only out of my generation, out of my LEAGUE.

Yeah.  But the roots - definitely due a touch-up, it seems!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Little Thursday Adventure

Yesterday, at 1/2 past way before the Sparrow stirs (1) I arose, grabbed my exceedingly well packed backpack, boots and overcoat, and tip-toed out the door for an adventure.

After an event-free drive to the train station (and I swear, that is because there were no events to behold and NOT to do with the fact I was on all levels bar the valuable car-driving level possibly technically unconscious.  Well, I am pretty sure), I boarded a train and sat down in D17.

See how organised I was?  BIG green water bottle!


So, for those of you playing at home and thinking "hang on, Jeanie, you have escaped our shared reality zone and I am not sure what before the Sparrow stirs looks like, let alone the view of a train station platform from D17" -


and you are welcome.  Its a Public Service I am happy to provide.

Of course, we live in a modern world, and its not all about what goes on beyond our immediate environment these days, you know...


I could have actually even put in my earplugs and listened to the accompanying silence to that graphic of where we were in relation to where we were intending to go over the next 5 hours - but I chose to remain unplugged for the initial leg of the journey...


and for all that before the Sparrow stirs offers in way of entertainment out there in the world beyond the train, you will not actually be given the opportunity to view it, as there is a strict policy of keeping all the lights on at all times and therefore only offering a never ending view of ourselves reflected rather starkly back to us - not a pleasant vision for some of us who chose to eschew the beautifucation process prior.


Eventually, that magical moment of the passer pepedi (2) comes, and in terms of all the moments of such that I have witnessed, it wasn't too shabby.


Sure, a little mute of colour, but then dawn is not as flamboyant as dusk.  The promises of the day ahead are certainly subtly made.


and as the landscape changed around me as we chugged our way South, glimpses of brilliance were mentioned.



The reality also dawned on me that the cheap seats that I had scored were perhaps deemed extra cheap because the show on offer on the sunny side also had to contend with the sunny side


and there is only so many laws of physics that you can bend with a mobile phone - and overcoming such an obstacle is indeed beyond the mobile phone.

On top of that, there just aren't the money shots on the cheap side of the train.


I mean, sure, there are hints at possible beauty, but when you look over


and look at what the guy opposite is sleeping through,


well, its a $28 saving each way, and its only a theory anyway.  Right?


Still, 4.5 hours do pass, and eventually my way wended towards the ultimate destination.


There are increasing glimpses of civilisation,


indeed, it seems as if civilisation is trying to creep up towards me!


And in such a hurry, it seems!.


Sure, it doesn't always show its prettiest side towards the tracks,


although you do get surprised when beauty thrusts out at you,


sometimes it seems like we are travelling through wormholes in time as well as civilisation on the morning train...


a lot of these people perhaps think so, as they are sucked up daily from the farflung corners of this urban empire for whatever purposes or service lubrication needs of the intricate cogs and wheels.

Maybe.  I think I need coffee.  More coffee.


People live here.  I used to live here.  Well, not here right THERE here - but here in this metropolis.


Doesn't really feel like home, any more...


although there are bits where I get a tug of nostalgia - I don't think I really remember being at this platform, but there was a New Years in the late 1980s when I caught the first train from this station home after a night out.

Ah, to be young again.


Yeah, see, and then this one just reminds me of temp office roles and petty office politics and doing the time and mannequinning the moves and dreaming of not being there.  Youth, eh.  Not always what it appears on the surface.


Breathe.  My city is the city of coffee shops and cool bookshops and hip friends and share houses and good food and weekends, but that isn't the city that I am visiting today.



Exactly, mobile phone technology.   Sometimes you just need to turn away and refocus.


try and sneak up on it at an angle.


try not to gawk (3) , and just enjoy the fact that I don't need to contemplate driving and highway road tolls and petrol prices and other drivers and city navigation and traffic and parking.  I can just hop off at one platform, go across and hop on another, run into a friend from Paradise on the same train (because it is indeed a very small world), get on the next train, travel for 4 minutes, get off at the second station, ask a worker for directions, walk up a hill, enter a large building, enter a lift, press a button, walk down the halway and get to see



And spend ALL DAY WITH HER.

What an awesome blessing - and indeed a grand adventure.

The return trip?  Well, that is another story for another time.


1. and 1/2 hourly intervals before then for several hours - what is it about alarm clocks that I do not trust?

Unfortunately, my good friend Google was unable to offer me the true Latin translation of the beautiful Australian phrase, Sparrow's Fart.  I did the best I could.  All pedants will be held down and we shall offer them to the Passers to pepedi them all they want.  'kay?

3  or if you are going to gawk, do it from a different perspective

Saturday, June 28, 2014

a very pertinent Friday night question...

tonight, V and I did what some parents do when their children have gone to bed.

Tonight, we discussed meteorology; appreciated the merits of bathing between the kitchen timer beeps, we kneaded and rocked; we heard thumps in the night; we contemplated finances and pondered the necessity of inviting an after-hours plumber around.



Our taste in Friday nights runs to fish and chips and salad with boiled egg with the next-door neighbour, Queen Jeanie (no relation).

...

On some Friday nights, I thaw amazing fish from the bounty provided to me from a chance job with a keen fisherman, create the most excellent batter (and so freaking simple you wouldn't believe it) and dunk bits in and then to the oil-filled wok.  A whole array of anything else that can be batter covered and deep fried also get the dunk and fry treatment, due to the quantity of batter that is always remaining (and the darned Scot in me can't stand the waste of unused batter (while the vast Australian that surrounds me obviously can't stand the waste of used batter)), accompanied by chips from the sushi joint at the Shopping Centre and Queen Jeanie (no relation)'s version of salad.
Several months ago, Queen Jeanie (no relation)'s version of salad, had quartered boiled eggs as part of the salad-construct presented and it BLEW PARIS'S MIND!!!


We often eat salad, but now I have a very avid salad-assistant at the beginning of salad creation - the boiling of eggs - and the end of salad creation - the peeling of eggs (and sneaky attempt at palming some egg for a pre-dinner snack) - but surprisingly not the boring middle bit of salad creation - the actual salad.

...

On the rare Friday night, we go to a newly found and absolutely wonderful Kountdown Kafe.  For an exceptionally reasonable exchange of money, they will provide you with delicious, filling meals.

I will let you in on a secret.  They even know how to cook pretty awesome chips - and will serve them with every meal.


But not only is there food, there are the people who bring you Kountdown Kafe.  A most beautiful woman who seems to exude joy as she hostesses the room.  And a tall intense man in the kitchen, emerging to visit the pop-up sidewalk salon in the front of the shop, where philosophy, history and music is avidly discussed.

And as the ganache of the whole experience, there is live music with local musicians and always the chance you will be there when the newest material is being tested, the undiscovered will find their feet or the experienced will show you their true talents.


We do not visit often enough, for our enjoyment of life is tempered greatly by the potential grizzles (or tsunamis) of overtired Paris, the enforced disassociation of the teenage 'Salina (and her companion of choice - or ours at the next table (logistics)), V's knees and occasional budget-anxiety.

...

And most other Friday nights are Salad de Paradis avec l'œufs (that was thrown in to keep my Internationally Renowned Food Blogger status bobbing above the "alleged" line) with Fish and Chips bought at the Seafront Fisho by Queen Jeanie (no relation) over at hers.



Party animals, eh.  So after an exhausted Paris (and seven stuffed toys) is said good-night to, and an aloof adolescent 'Salina gives final orders - "turn off my fan, check the radio, don't disturb before necessary, don't talk about me or post my image on the internet", V and I look expectantly at each other, and collapse at opposite ends of the house to decompress.



My chosen mode of decompression on this Friday night was baking.  You can dovetail baking nicely with bathroom requirements, internet surfing, background football, cups of coffee and the occasional whispered innuendo.  Pretty wild, I know.

Do you know how tempting it is right now to throw in the term "Ironic"?  Just so I could get all the true defenders of the meaning of the word ironic to rattle their pitchforks in my direction.

...

Yeah.   But I used to go to nightclubs.  Clubbing.  By choice.  Every.  Friday.  Night.

True story.  It would start with drinks at friends or in town and sort of morph into all night dancing, drinking and being delirious with fun.

And youth.

...

Sigh - but no, bread baking.

In the beginning, it is quite simple.  You measure, you activate, you blood-warmth test and you wait.

Then you mix and you knead and you knead and you knead and you are on guard regarding the amount of flour covering the (sadly inadequate) counters in relation to the moisture in the dough and you can really start to meditate on the world and your place and your circles and the referees background calls and commentators reaction and then the urgency of the floured counter/dough moistness ratio kicks in.

Once the "oh-crap-I-forgot-to-oil-a" bowl is located and oiled, and the dough is covered by a fresh tea-towel and - poof - the troubles of your day disappear.



The timer is set and it is time to MAKE.  A.  DECISION.  Together, as a couple, the most important discussion a couple can have takes place.

Who is going to have first bath.

It is Winter.  There are factors to consider.

...

V got the long straw.

I got to surf and await the next step in the bread making.  And decompress.

It has been a week.  Aren't they all?



The timer goes off and this beastie goes on.

Isn't she beautiful?


Hello sweetie.

Anyway, ahem.  The downside of such an amazing massive oven is the fact that it takes longer to warm up all that space.

But I can cook five loaves (perhaps even six) at the same time.  Yeah, baby.   Because it is the Food Swap tomorrow and because I am the bread lady.  And we need bread.  And I am decompressing from the day, from the week, from the fish and chips...

And suddenly it is ON.  Baking paper for the trays, oil the pan, knead the dough.  Get a knife - guess complex fractions and divide the mass into approximations.  Knead each loaf.  Cut the loaves for rising.  Attempt to reshape the loaves.  Realise I am not a food blogger.  I am so much such not a food blogger that I didn't photograph any of this!

The timer is set.



Bath-time.

...

I am currently reading a book.  It isn't a bad book.  Its quite a good book.  But there is just one problem - and that is that it is an African book.  And I love African books.  I hate that I just emcompassed the whole continent's literary output with a blanket "African book" - but here is the thing.  The writing is beautiful - evocative.  It builds a world that I have no true understanding of except through the words, and they are words that makes me feel I do have an intimate knowledge of people, culutre, politics and food of a faraway place.  But it is one of those books that - and I warn you now Mum, I am going to use a word that you don't like so scroll down the the next picture.













Yes, it is one of those books that at the opening, everything is fucked.

And then lots of really fucked things happen, getting increasing bleak.

And the ending is generally pretty fucked too.


But all with really beautiful, evocative writing.

It always puts me into a bit of a moral bind.

I know that if I keep reading, I will get carried away by the words but, being open to the beauty of that makes you vulnerable to the sheer dispair of the situation of (insert African nation currently being screwed over by multinational trade and aid politics).

And you wonder if you avoid being vulnerable to such dispair...  yeah, I am in about the middle of the book.

...

It was a very decompressing bath.



Thankfully, the timer went off.

Towards the end of bread baking, the whole timing intensity amps up.  And when you are not just baking ONE loaf of bread but indeed FIVE of TWO DIFFERENT SIZES, we are talking algebra-requiring calculations for the insertion, turning, swapping and finally inhaling of loaves.  Great for decompression.
So, between kitchen timers and all those verby words above, V and I were finally decompressing together.  Contemplating our next move.  I thought I would check the last turn of the bread before we decided.



As I walked towards the kitchen, and almighty BANG captured my attention.

It was definitely not the melodic beeping of the kitchen timer.

And that hissing sound was not the oven fan.

My mind did an inventory of all the things that could possibly stuff up.

"V" I quivered, as I flung open the back door and peered down towards the laundry.  The laundry was dark.  Darn, I hate it when good organisation means that the bogeyman has a better chance.

"V" I quivered, because although I am a feminist, I am one of the equal rights feminists thinking the bogeyman should get a choice.

There was a funny smell, but it wasn't burning.  There was a haze, but it wasn't smoke.  The hissing noise seemed to intesify.  The stairs were descended and the laundry declared clear.

"Phew" said V (well, not in those words, but they convey the meaning) "its only raining".

It wasn't just raining, it was BUCKETING down.  The hissing sound was accompanied by the roar of a million drops hitting the roof - and the buckets and the washing on the line and the lawn furniture.

When we went back inside, I had a brainwave.

I went to the front door.  I went on the front steps.

It wasn't raining at the front steps.

Back we went to the back stairs, and further investigations were undertaken.

A pipe had burst.

We had a fountain in the back yard.  Well, not really, because the pipe was directly under the upstairs floor - so it was more a water feature.

The smell and haze in the kitchen was mist.

...

The water mains must be approached with caution.

It is basically a rectangular bucket at the bottom of the slope of the front yard with a lid.

The lid is not very effective at keeping out dirt.  Or water.  Or ants.  So to turn off the water mains, one must first dig through a mudpit of biting insects.  Very Indiana Jones.  With our bare hands because in our haste, we had failed to bring along gardening equipment.

 Once cleared, the tap turned out to be one of those horrible impossible to turn designs.  The only edge that offers purchase does so on such an angle that there is NO SINGLE TOOL in V's kit that will turn that last quarter-turn required.  Luckily I am married to a very smart man, because he knows the secret men's business that involves combining tools.  Colour me duly impressed.

...

So the question remains - will this be fixed by duct tape, or will the universe require after-hours plumbers to deal with this sudden turn of Friday night events.





How is your Friday night going?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Who invited bagpipes and jazz to the same jam session?

Good evening and welcome to the late evening edition of Everything In Paradise, brought to you by the Bagpipes currently featured on ABC Jazz and the fact that V could not hear my desperate pleas for help from the bedroom and the remote control was too far away.

I am sore.  Sore due to the fact that the Personal Trainer who has made it possible for their to be every so slightly less of Jeanie in Paradise than there was several months ago is soon to be leaving, and the last opportunity to be tortured at her hands was this evening.

Now, when I say less of me, that is not to say that there is a darned sight more of me than is the vogue in her troupe of sweaty ladies, but I feel I serve a particular purpose in the group.  Sure, I may be the bar below which they do not dare fall - but I am also that member against whom they can all favourably compare.

I am also sore because there was a split nanosecond when a fragment caught within a bathroom mirror evoked a glimpse of hotness that has been unconscionably quashed by Facebooked photographic evidence of oozing rolls of hotness wrapped around the Jeanie-core.


 Still - with the art of photoshop* I could just have it prove my theory



its just that I am too short!

* and too tight - it is really a Paint job.