My green tomato efforts

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Big day in the kitchen…  first up were fried green tomatoes as an appetizer at lunch:  Thanks to Queen of Fractal Beauty for her hints: 

The milk was off so I mixed the egg with half & half for the "wash" .    The bakery section of Giant Supermarket sold the manservant something they use to make batter/crumbs with -  I'm not sure what it was as it came unlabelled but I suspect there was cornflour in it:

After the dunking and dusting I fried the slices in olive oil which I have had chillies from the garden steeping in for a couple of weeks.  Then drained on paper towels and eaten while hot: 

Yum

After an afternoon nap I attempted a pie based on a combination of a recipe Margy sent me and a link to a recipe from Connie:  green tomatoes, raisins (sultanas), lemon juice, sugar, whiskey, flour, breadcrumbs.  

 

Who'd have thought green tomatoes could taste like apples!   Seriously, except for the seeds, you would think you were eating apple pie!  

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Quinoa for dinner……

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Okay – I have to admit that I had never heard of Quinoa until I started researching "grains"  after reading the wonderful cooking posts of Purplesque   and   Singing Horse

Technically quinoa is not a true grain, but is the seed of the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant. It is considered, and used, as a grain because of its cooking characteristics. The name comes from the Greek words, chen (a goose) and pous (a foot) – because the leaves of the plant resemble the webbed foot of a goose. The plant is a type of succulent and grows 4-6 feet tall.  The flower heads are branched and when in seed, look like millet – with large clusters of seeds at the end of the stalk.  Relatives of quinoa are Beets, Spinach and Swiss Chard.

Quinoa is native to the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Chile and Peru and has been eaten continuously for 5,000 years by the people who live on these mountain plateaus.  It was once called "the gold of the Incas" who recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors.  Quinoa includes all 9 essential amino acids and is high in manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus.  When cooked it is sort of fluffy & creamy with an almost nutty flavour.

So tonight I whipped up a salad using quinoa:

While the quinoa was cooking  (which only takes 15 minutes) I cut up red onions, red peppers & cilantro 

Then add diced mango

Then production had to stop for awhile because the quinoa had cooked but it needed to be cooled before it could be added  (I cheated by putting it in a metal bowl in the deep freeze).  This is what it looked like in the last seconds of cooking: 

Once cooled – add it to the mango etc:  

And then …..   throw in some black beans and a bit of vinegar:  

Really delicious!!  (and so good for you!).

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Kidlet-run accommodation

I have checked in to the kidlet-run accommodation and I can assure you this is no 4 star place.

It seems that cooking and cleaning come with the shared room and half inch foam mattress on the floor!

My three children (the kidlets – ages 23, 21 & 18) live together in a rented house in the suburbs of Sydney. The 18 yo Princess calls herself the "House-sister" but she is quite obviously on strike this week.

I have fed them and they have all gone out – well, it is Saturday night and they obviously did not feel too compelled to spend time with the cook (who to be fair, was, herself, indulging in a long lunch with a friend at Manly Beach today!).

The boys' dogs are racing madly around the backyard barking at a possum in the tree and I have just had to rescue the Princess's cat from a nasty fat tabby. The screaming of the fighting cats combined with the two dogs barking – one a baritone, the other a yappy high pitch – was enough to send me for another glass of wine! 

I cooked a really delicious meatloaf for their dinner – they were very impressed with Snowy's Recipe  and have asked me to leave it here as they might make it themselves. I had a good laugh when the Economist said "I didn't realise our oven could cook things as good as this"!!!

The astro-dweeb will be on the mountain observing until we leave and I will spend the week socialising with friends. A house full of young people, and their friends, is very noisy with all sorts of coming & goings in the middle of the night, combined with music not quite to my taste -  I wish I had a similar sign to what the astro-dweeb has: 

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The scientists & the blonde break bread together…

Imagine a dinner party where the guests are:

An astrophysicist
An astrometrist
An atmospheric chemist
A cosmologist
A geoscientist
A retired professor

And  ……   a blonde!

My father wondered if my "brain would be stretched"!!!  

Perhaps I should be offended by that, but I have always considered myself to be somewhat the "light relief" when in the company of intellectuals.

There were no technical journeys from the core of the earth to extra-solar space so it was actually a very pleasant evening – made especially more so by the fact that the astro-dweeb did all the preparation and cooking (perhaps, in agreement with my father, he was allowing my brain to rest & relax in preparation to being stretched??).

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   First there was the preparation: 

Then there was the cooking in a wok which belonged to the astro-dweeb's great aunt and has been "seasoned" with Asian cooking for over 40 years.

He very capably prepared Beef with Spicy Black Bean Sauce, Sichuan Dry Fried String Beans, Stir fried Orange chicken and  Sichuan stir fried prawns.

My sole duties for the evening were setting the table and putting the nibbles out:

Our table setting is quite a mix of cultures;  the centre heat mats are from Hawaii, depicting exotic flowers,  the placemats are Australian aboriginal designs, the chopsticks are authentic Chinese – purchased in a street market in Nanjing during our trip there.  (the crystal bowl is from the Czech Republic and was given to me at work full of Lindt chocolate balls!! There are still some left – hiding amongst the shredded tinsel).

The nibbles clockwise from the top:   Dried fish with sesame seeds, mixture of wasabi peas & peanuts, dried sweet ginger and cooked chestnuts. I think the chestnuts are an acquired taste – not one I have!   (although I have enjoyed hot roasted chestnuts)

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Parsnip, Potato & Cheese

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It all started when I saw a recipe which looked interesting on Claret's blog  Claret's recipe .   I was assured that the dish did not taste like parsnip so off I went to Safeway to buy some – only our "soviet" Safeway does not sell parsnip!

Strike One!

The astro-dweeb searched further afield for this elusive vegetable – must've been interesting as he didn't really know what it looked like.

Eventually, all the ingredients were gathered and ……   that's when I read the instructions and realised I needed a grater!  We didn't have a grater.  We don't have a food processor.  I contemplated using the vegetable peeler but discounted that pretty quickly when I imagined how long it would take to get the potatoes and turnip "shredded".

So Strike Two!

So everything was put aside for the day that we got a grater.  Now, I have an image of my mother's grater – it was a conical metal thing with different sized "holes" around it and that is what I described to my poor astro-dweeb as he went searching.   He stopped at two stores – one had the metal plate type of grater and the other store didn't have one at all.  So,  he didn't buy anything.

Strike Three!!

This is where I should have given up, but I'm no quitter……..

The next day we went to a Giant store a further walk from home, thinking surely this is something they would have – hey, I'd be really happy to have any sort of grater now.  But, this new supermarket didn't have any and neither did the CVS store.

By now the search for parsnip and the grater combined had taken more than 4 hours over 3 days!

I am about to give up on the whole idea of trying the recipe when a friend on her way to visit me sent a text asking "do you want me to bring anything"……   oh, "yes please – a grater".   Of course she thinks I'm nuts!

Next day I carefully convert the grams to ounces, and grate almost to my knuckles.  I add the one egg and think, mmm "I wonder if one is enough – I seem to have a lot of grated stuff to bind together"…..   I was never very good at maths so perhaps my conversions were a bit off.

I gallantly plowed ahead even when it was apparent that one egg was not enough and some force of nature or bad cooking was making my mixture cling tenaciously to the bottom of the frypan.  There was no way I could slip this out on to a plate, flip it over with finesse and get it back into the pan.

In the end it was a sort of stirred mish-mash which Claret would be ashamed of  – but the flavour was really great!!  Even Princess SJ enjoyed her vegetables!

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Going downhill …..

Last night (New Years Eve) we had lovely lobster tails for dinner along with coconut crumbed prawns with apricot & wasabi sauce served with champagne.

I cooked them on the snazzy grill thing on my stove top…

The first dinner of 2008 is the last  (thank God) of the left over turkey made into a curry, served with beer!!

The wings are just in there for "garnish" …..

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One of those days…….

I am home from work; rubbish bins are out in the alley and I am having a glass of wine.

I had a really terrible day today. I got up without a problem and even showered without incident, but after that things went downhill.

I blow-dried my hair to some old lady style (not intentional), and then I tried to cook a new oatmeal.  My microwave takes twice as long as the old apartment one  (not sure if that is because it is a convection/microwave?) -  anyway after about 3 minutes I opened the door and pulled my bowl towards me expecting it to be "set" but it was still really runny and it spilt everywhere – in the microwave, over the bench, on the floor!!  I decided not to try again and got out my trusty egg and tomato which I have been having every morning for years – break the egg into a bowl and chop the tomato and place around the egg – cover with gladwrap and microwave for about 1.5 minutes.  

Well, the egg was a double yoke-er which is meant to be good luck – but mine started leaking and lost the yolk shapes.  Put the tomato in, covered and about a minute into the cooking there was a loud "pop" sound as the plastic broke and egg splattered all over the just cleaned microwave!!  This can NOT be happening!

Cleaned the microwave quickly – really I have to do it properly tonight – ate what was left of the egg/tomato, finished getting ready and raced off to the station. Six minute wait to a train and then somewhere along the way the doors broke!! (doors not closing = train not moving)

Got to work basically right on 8am and ………..  found a temp waiting for me!  I THOUGHT I had organised a 4 hour working interview for 9am tomorrow! (I still believe I did – I mean who in their right mind would have someone turn up at 8am on the first day back after all those days off!).

My ordered veggie salad for lunch came without the avocado or swiss cheese but WITH the nasty cucumber!!  Someone really had it in for me!

I made it to 5pm without hurting myself, or others, and got to the station successfully – for the FIRST train.  Somewhere in the two working days that I did not have to travel home from the office my brain lost the ability to make the right connection.   I got off the first train at the correct station but then went up the wrong escalators and then stood on the platform for a good 10 minutes (TWO trains) wondering why the one to my destination wasn't coming in!!  God!!

Eventually the blonde moment cleared and I made my way, up, over, down to the correct side – got on a train and everything was looking rosey………   until we got outside a station about 3 before mine and sat in the tunnel for 15 minutes with the driver telling us periodically that we were about to "move momentarily"!!

I have to say that I was REALLY relieved to get inside the house and remember the alarm code!!!

Now on my second glass of wine – well, what's left of it.   I can not believe that as I was typing this I knocked it over and am now mopping the new carpet with Resolve hoping to get the red stains out!!  Thank God the astro-dweeb is not here – he can still be the first to ruin the carpet!  :-) 

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