Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mexican Rice - Paradise Style

Let me start with a disclaimer.  I am not from Mexico.   May I repeat - I am not, nor do I pretend to be, from Mexico.

This is a disadvantage, because I love Mexican food - and an advantage, because I am not inhibited by the constant "it doesn't taste like Mum (or Grandma) made" refrain that may bind me.

Therefore, when I do not have the AUTHENTIC ingredients, I sometimes reach for things that would make a Mexican cringe - but that is okay, because I am not Mexican and I live on the other side of the world and, unless they take it so personally that they fly (or sail) across here and take the issue up in person, I am fairly safe from the repercussions.

So without further adieu, allow me to present a fairly non-authentic recipe for Mexican Rice as enjoyed earlier this week.

When I am trying to get inspiration, I always turn to Chef Google and ask her to show me what others are doing. *

One secret ingredient mentioned was some sort of tomato/chicken stocky thing.   We don't have any such options in Paradise, but do you know what we got in spades?

Indeed, that would be the first word covered in the tomato/chicken stocky thing.  So I got lots and chopped them all up and then zapped them in the microwave until I had some gooey tomatoey goodnes.

I chopped and fried the an onion in some olive oil ** until it was translucent and beautiful.  Mmm - smell that...

I then chucked in some brown rice and swizzled it around.  I don't know if that is authentic, but its yummy.  I also added some cumin seeds and got them popping, and gave a paprika shot and a glob of minced garlic ***.

When it was all toasty and glossy, I put in my mushy tomatoes and some chicken stock.

And then time did the rest.

So - in real recipe parlance:

Paradise-Mex Rice
  • Olive Oil **
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1.5 cups brown rice
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder ***
  • 500 ml stewed chopped tomatoes (probably 1.5 cans if you don't have a bumper crop to chop up)
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • Fry onions until translucent
  • Add rice and spices and stir to coat well and slightly toas
  • Add tomatoes and stock and let it simmer until its all cooked and everyone is hungry.

Que aproveche!

* - As an aside, I was inspired to actually unearth this post and polish it a bit as a new found blog, All She Eats of Calzone Dough fame had a round up of Mexican Recipes this morning from people who actually know how to cook authentic Mexicanish food.  Click on the link to drool.

** - Yes!!!  We have Olive Oil in the house again!!  Colour me happy!!!

 *** - Okay, I discovered that I tossed the garlic powder in the last big pantry clean out so I was forced to use minced garlic, which is a totally different fish but - hey, the Mexican's can't track me down (says she looking over her shoulder and wondering if that may be the last straw in Mexico-Paradise diplomatic relations.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


I had the opportunity this evening of doing a little channel surfing on the television set - what a quaint, old-fashioned choncept that is!!

Since the onset of Digital and the wonder of CHOICE, there has been NOTHING to watch on television.

Oh sure, there is all of the Contrivireality shows.  Some unabashedly so, some so sneaky it takes your breath away with their "surprise, we are now going to throw in a twist and make this show really INTERESTING because"

Because it seems, these days, we need to be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, the most return on your smallest investment, the most fodder for the sap mill.

Oops - sorry - did I get carried away there?

Anyhow, I have taken to doing the flick around in the vain attempt to find some quality programing with such grim humour that V regards my custody of the remote control as an indulgence he is bestowing as graciously as possible.

So tonight I thought beggar it, I am going to stop on the channels that, while not up my alley in terms of target marketing or directly aiming at my chosen socio-economic strand, I appreciate them in their honesty.

(It had to  improve on the Murder Shows or Fatuous Views on Modern Society and the yells at the screen we undertake at the 30 second offerings)

Allow me to take you with me.

My first stop was  54 TVSN (due to its proximity to the NITV show I had flicked to earlier in the evening - I can't tell you what it was, because it didn't tell me what it was and who ever has a Televison Guide these days - we want the information, and we want it NOW).

It was advertised on the EPG as the "Orly Smark Gels Manicure Deal"., but apparently someone  in the programming department can't do maths, and the "AlphaH New Skin Begins" had begun, and so I shall have to go to bed never knowing what the deal actually was.

, . . .
I then happened upon the "Swivel Sweeper G2" on 74 TV4Me, and V and I had immense fun with that.  You don't need to bend!  Ever!!  You don't have issues with a cord!!  Its rechargeable!!  The concept is B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T!!!  Had I a spare $99.95 and the luck to be one of the first hundred callers, I would have been that much poorer RIGHT NOW!!!  (Although it would appear that Google has found a few folk who aren't talking with very nice exclamation points about their experiences)

, . . .
I tore myself away from that, only to find that over at 81 GOLD I could set my sights even higher, with the "The New Shark Rotator"!!  Not only does it Lift Away, it has Enhanced Steering, and my house could be a showcase (as opposed to a showroom, as on the Swivel Sweeper G2)  It even has HEADLIGHTS!!!! *

(It would appear that they could afford to pay for a more savvy Google rating, PR team and/or Customer Service (or heck, it coudl be a better product but colour me cynical)  than their competitors also.  (Side note - check out Michael Flux from Michigan's review!!  Oh my - and side-side note, Dyson, if your PR Team is anywhere near as savvy, give the man one of your top of the range models!!  Where was I?  Oh yes, closing brackets.))

, . . .
Going back through the other channels, I also found the "Danozdirect H20 X5 Steam Mop", giving me the trifecta of choice!! **

There was also an offering on Aspire of the  "Bowflext Extreme", at which point (well, about 5 minutes after the point) V exercised his right to equal usage of the Remote Control (I would link to it to show you why, but Google is only giving me pictures of the product rather than the buff men promoting the product - theypromoted very well..) 

V then flicked us over to more generic programing, where the first ad was for the "Australian Institute of Personal Trainers" - Australia, what have you come to!!

* - V actually could include Successful Vacuum Cleaner Salesman on his resume, and the product*** he "sold" had headlights.

** As veteran players know, I have have one or two vacuum cleaner related run-ins.  Newcomers - apologies, but there are some electronic members of the household who don't play nice.

** I am so glad that knowing what brand he sold wasn't on the "Before You Get Married" questionnaire, because I would have flunked.  Sorry honey.

So - what is being sold to you today?

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Chicken Cacciatore-ish Calzone

I know - another recipe post, complete with crap photos - but tonight we had this for dinner and it was SOSOSOSOSOSO good, I had to share.

Earlier, I hatched upon a plot to cook the chicken I had thawed into - something.  I searched for inspiration in my trusty Google search bar.

Google gave me half an idea, and then another half of an idea and then another half an idea and then a drift across a few non-related bits and bobs - and eventually, with about 5 tabs open, I decided to pick apart bits and pieces from here and there and just make something up - as you do.

  • Easy Pizza Dough - I found this recipe from All She Cooks in my quest and used it.  I have put a link because I don't believe in stealing.  You will need flour, sugar, yeast, salt, oil and warm water to make it, and really it is just smink* it up and let it rest.
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp butter **
  • 400g chicken thigh fillets
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup passata - I made some a few weeks ago (from all of my tomatoes) using Rhubarb Whine's recipe in the link
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • frozen veges
  • grilled eggplant
  • oven-dried tomatoes
  • olives
  • chillies
  • About a cup of grated cheese - I used some Colby and some Parmesan because that is what I had
I first made the dough - and then went about my life for an hour or so.  As I had used fairly old yeast and fairly unscientific hot water, I figured it would need time.

I put the pizza stones in a cold oven and then switched it on to about 200-220 (hot)
I then chopped the onion and garlic, and got it all soft and translucent in some butter - mmmmm.

 The old yeast that I used meant that my dough took a long, long time to "double"!

I chopped the tomatoes and thigh fillets and added them with the passata into my pot.

I then split it into two pots - one for the kids with some herbs and frozen veges, and one for us with all the deli goodness that I could find.

Stir in the cheese.  
Punch down the dough.  
I cut the dough into about a dozen littler bits, rolled them out (with the "assistance" of a 3 year old...) and made a variety of shapes and styles with my calzones.

I cooked them in a hot oven on pizza stones until - well, until cooked.

I had leftover filling, so made a quick pasta for lunches tomorrow.

* My brother couldn't say "mix" when he was a tyke and it stuck.  It is still in use 40 years later!

** because I STILL haven't been shopping for the olive oil

So - what was for dinner at YOUR house? 

And do you have any handy pizza stone hints for me?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Fishy Tale

(complete with RECIPE and PHOTOS)

My latest client fishes for fun in his spare time.

I told him that my record with fishing was fairly successful - I ask "you got any fish" and generally the monger does indeed have such viands available.

As a result, I received a HUGE bag of frozen fish fillets from his weekend deep-sea fishing trip.  Definitely a job worth keeping, eh?

So anyway, with only a few ingredients bought, the rest from the garden and from my new client, I made something pretty special last night, and I wanted to share it with you all.

Onion - I used one.  I chopped it.

Ripe Tomatoes (from your plentiful supply - nay, over-supply - on the brown thing in the living room)  - I used about 4 medium sized ones.  They get chopped, so it could be lots of littlies or some biggies - I am not going to be a dictator on this recipe, okay? 

Parsley - we have lots.  I went down to a large clump and grabbed a good handful.  A very good handful.  And then chopped.  Choppedy-choppedy-choppedy-chop.  Choose to use a good big blade so you can do the "chop-chop-chop-chop-chop-chop-chop" and get the rhythm really going.  Change the angle.  Enjoy the process.
Shallots - a girlfriend of mine refers to these as "Centrelink Onions".  What you do is buy a bunch, and then chop the green bit and use is - but keep a goodly bit of the white and roots.  It will keep for a few days in a glass of water, but it is best to plant it out and it can be reharvested often.  I went all U* on it and BOUGHT some seedlings a few months ago, but you only need the green bits for this recipe so why waste when you pick it?  Probably the green bits from three of them were used - guess what - chopped.

Thyme - about 3 good sprigs.  Fresh if you got it.  Baby, we got it.

Lemon Juice - I juiced what I had in the door of the fridge, so 3/4 of a lemon to be precise.

Butter - you know that knob that you have leftover from the cooking that you did last week?  About 1/3 of that amount - so probably a tablespoon?  Melt it.  **

Okay, so mix all that up - don't go too spatula-crazy with the melted butter dish - use the remainder and brush four squares of baking paper on four squares of alfoil (large enough to enclose the fillets plus some).

Dump some of your salsa above in the middle of each paper.

Put a chilli on each pile.  I didn't chop it up - just topped it really.

Put a Red Emperor Fillet (or a quarter of your supply) on the mound.

How many ways can you say stack it?

The rest of the salad and another chilli or two.  Each one.  As if you would leave one of them out.  I mean, come on..  Fillet, I mean.  On top of each fillet.  Not Chilli. Come on!

Anyway, fold up your parcel, put them all in a tray (or don't - I didn't trust the parcel to not leak a little so erred (correctly) on the side of caution) and put it in the oven.  I had them in for 20 minutes in a 200 oven (ish - if you knew our oven, you would "ish" a bit on that too) and it may have been about 2 minutes too long.

The.  Taste.  Was.  Amazing.

And the juice?  Out of the world.

* I once read a biography of the Mitford sisters.  It changed my world.

** You could probably use olive oil instead - we ran out.  I know, who runs out of Olive Oil?  Bad little housekeeper.  Don't give me all that "oh, but its Week Frugal of our current Fortnightly Housekeeping Roster and there is no justification for taking such a large percentage of the funds for a tin of the goodness and absolutely no justification for not being economically wise and buying a bottle and SURELY YOU can get through a week with the good FOUR TABLESPOONS of oil that was left there on shopping day so take your snippy attitude elsewhere" because it is TIRESOME being inside my brain when it gets to bickering.  Use the butter and get over it.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Pegging Out...

It is another gorgeous day here in Paradise.

V is getting to celebrate Father's Day by taking the girls to get some potting mix and a visit to the Dump Shop.

I am celebrating by pegging out.

Now, before you get all "oh my goodness, but you call yourself a feminist and we live in the 21st" (or is it 22nd - that is one part of history or maths or wherever that fit in the curriculum where you learn the wherefores and whys - or is that whies - of centuries that was explained on one of the days that I missed school.  One of the very very few days, no doubt.  That is the downside of living at the school - wagging is that much more complicated) "century and hello! technology and skin cancer rates and global warming" on me, there is a method in my madness.

I. Have a thing.  For pegging out.

Not a good thing.  Not a bad thing.  But a thing.  Well, several things.

Hear me out.

Thing number 1.  My family made me.

Always best to start with an excuse, and my excuse is that my Uncle Stu (who was an artist with the welding rod) made us a clothesline.

(Or maybe he didn't.  Maybe he only made the awesome billy-cart created from a tractor seat and pram that had steering, primitive brakes and went like a rocket down the hill to the loading ramp and I have transferred the memory of that with a bog standard picked-one-up-at-Ostwalds children's sized clothesline.  Enough with the interrogation, okay?)

Can you imagine?  A clothesline that you could borrow your mum's pegs and clip up your doll's clothes (or even your own if Mum let you) and have them dry JUST LIKE REAL?

That young innocent's loveeeeeeeeeee (thanks keyboard for that little addendum) has rarely dwindled, and no matter how much it has been rumoured that I have been known to shirk on housework, the inner bask given by pegging out has (nearly) never been bemoaned.


Thing number 2.  Smells like Teen Spirit.

I have read - in magazines, on blogs, on forums - that the teen years are cesspits for rebellion, gremlins and stomping on the rules.

Don't get me wrong, I was no angel.

But my teen years were defined by boarding school (and therefore studiously creating arguments for broken rules that would result in me being exonerated of any wrongdoing - and the search for just the right rules to apply my torch to), double-church detention (perhaps resultant of the smart-assery displayed above), "holidays" at home, stints of truly dramatic and cringe-worthy self-loathing and Paul Young.

However - pegging out often soothed nerves rasped by parental "advice", being in the sunshine (or fighting biting winds or burning rays - this is life, after all) choosing clothing, choosing pegs, chosing patterns or pairs or colour combinations, bending and stretching, bending and stretching - well, let me just say that if more therapists embraced peg therapy, the happier (and drier and greener) the world would be.


Thing number 3.  The Sydney Effect.

1990 I moved states, I started my brilliant career and I moved into an awesome share house in Leichhardt.  Life was sweet.  I had spent two months in this city of promise the Winter prior but now I was THERE  and it was REAL and the possibilities of life were within my grasp.

Picture this.  Hand-made or second hand-clothing, generally quaint, BRIGHT or brown.  Thin for the second time in my "adult" life (the first time had been an abject failure - but its amazing what jaw surgery can do for a girl's figure), my hair funky and orange (often with nails to match) and feeling rich as I was actually receiving a wage!  Watch out Sydney!

And Sydney - that sneaky city - did.  She turned on a record number of wet weekends IN A ROW to welcome me.

She alerted me to the fact that, just because I was receiving a wage (if you could call it that, with a twist to her lips), there is NOTHING to do in the bask of her glory when it is raining and you are broke.

She put pizza shops within walking distance and awakened my workaholism which meant that my clothes were oft washed and pegged in the dark.

(She allowed me to be lured to a home with fantastic new friends, a huge kitchen and a taste for red wine and backgammon, so no matter how much of a bitch she can be, she has her upsides)

She made that home with marble conglomerate floors (and yes, apparently concussion can occur if one bangs one's head against it whether one is inebriated or not.  It hurts far, far more if not), a pebblecrete front deck and a concrete rear garden.

Did you know concrete can (and does) grow moss if left moist - nay, even drenched?  Which meant that my clothes were oft washed and pegged in the dark with an additional degree of difficulty.

The Sydney Effect- hung across whole stretches of time, getting tighter, getting bleachlines across the peg-line and advising you to just GET OVER yourself.


Thing Number 4.  Focus, Ladies, FOCUS.

Once upon a time, I was a young mother.  Well, okay, a younger mother than the old mother that I am today.

But anyway, once upon a time I was a mother for the first time in my life to a baby who was a baby for the first time in her life.  I was suddenly economically reliant on factors other than myself and had another being suddenly completely reliant on me.  Let me let you in on a little secret.

That.  Freaked.  The.  Heck.  Out of me.

But there was one thing that my mother taught me, throughout my childhood and reiterated when I first brought that baby home.  And that thing was - no matter what, there is always the washing.

With a degree of difficulty of being your average hippy mother of the day complete with terry nappies and a partner supporting the nappy nest method, I have a belief that, while pegging therapy may not have pulled me back from the abyss of insanity, it gave me something to focus on while going bonkers.

So.  Me.  Alone.  Pegging.  Happy Father's Day, Vince.  Thanks ;)

(I was meant to be doing a Garden Update blog for the Garden Share Collective hosted by Liz at Strayed From the Table with this time, but the photos have been downloaded to another computer and the pegging out needed doing and one thing led to another...  So my Garden Update this month will be late.  Oops.)

Over to you.  Pegging - have you done any lately?  And was it good?


(not doing that SOLELY to send you back into my archives folks, more an epiphany that this carp really dogs me)

(Do excuse me - train of thought just derailed by Eddie Spaghetti and an attempt to attract my attention with the Branxton Furball Expulsions - it worked, with me implementing Stage One of training him to throw up on the Real Estate glossies from the local rag.  Lets just call it a draw, put a line under it and move along.  Nothing to see.)

As I was saying, there was a fleeting moment in time - from the ages of eleven through to twenty-something - when I was switched on technology wise - but it seems that several factors have led to an apparent gap between my requirement of technology, my desire for technological prowess and the availability of both device and time to suit the outcome of choice.  Actually, more a chasm.

But tonight - tonight has held one of those lightning bolt moments, when the inner luddite discovered a tunnel of understanding.

You see, for reasons that would possibly take me several paragraphs to explain (and we may well both come out of that experience not much the wiser) (involving economic, geographic, international trade, international cuisine, craft, ideological, ethical, politic and philosophical factors) I was in the process of canning kidney beans this evening.

I am not sure if you are familiar, but "dans la maison du Paradise, il y avait une petite cuisine."  (Une very petite and very YELLOW cuisine, actually)

Although I project a front of crafty kitchen queen, I am actually more at the scullery maid level when it comes to the art of canning.  Chutney-ing and jam-ing I have done for years, pickling since I was a child and on a fancy level more recently - but canning (or bottling, as it were) is territory I am only just starting to explore.

So the kidney beans were cooked and cooling.  The children were in bed and snoring.  The pressure canner was unearthed from the storage unit (otherwise known as in its box on the spare chair in the sunroom for lack of a better place to put it) (but there are plans) and the recipe book cupboard completely reorganised and tidied in (successful) pursuit of the bible of preserving, "The Ball Blue Book".

(And may we all take pause for a moment and think how different this blog post would be were we in pursuit of the bible of persevering, "The Blue Ball Book")

During my trawl through 3 different chapters, I only discovered three main mistakes I had already made in the kidney bean project - but I was quite chuffed with that, as at this point the last time I had attempted a similar kidney bean project I had chalked up seven.

I then - drained the beans, put the liquid back on to boil, cleared the draining rack, filled the sink, brought in the jars from the storage unit (otherwise known as the brown traymobile in the living room for lack of a better place to put them) (but there are plans), washed them, put on another pot of water to boil for the bottles, found the spare box of bottle inner lids, assessed the intricacies of the pressure valvle for the pressure canner, put the bottles, outer lids, inner lids into the boiling water, put on pressure canner with water on to boil, had a shower, read another chapter, found two more mistakes, bottled the beans, added boiling bean juice, put lids on, put into boiling water in pressure canner, read another chapter, remove bottles, tip out some boiling water, put bottles back in, seal the lid, vent the steam, wash up, put on the valve, watch the gauge g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y c-r-e-e-e-e-e-p u----p to ten pounds.

And then it happened.

That moment when it actually CLICKED on how this doggarned machine actually works.

Suddenly, technology that first raised its gastronomical fist in le cuisines of the Napoleonic era and the physics principles in play with the perfect synchronicity of the gauge aligning with the strength of the valve and science gave me pause to think.

And I thought - You know, this is a bloggable moment.

Lord, I am a shallow pool.

In other news, we are not mentioning the vacuum cleaner.  Not with very nice tones anyway.

But we are not letting it overshadow the joys of the day.