Saturday, 26 January 2013

Bread maker!

I wanted a bread maker for my birthday, and..... I got one :-). So today, after having done some shopping for the right ingredients, we put the machine to work to make French Brioche bread (that is slightly yellow, cake-like bread). And the result was fantastic, especially when you have no idea what the result should look like - never had a bread maker before. We just shared a slice with nutella, yummm.

And then another one of Minnie - ooowwwww so cute

- Evelyn

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Minnie is actually very cool

This is Minnie's fourth day with us and she's doing really well. On Saturday, when we got her, she found a hiding spot behind, or rather, in a curtain, and took some time out now and then. But sometime early in the evening she appeared again and started discovering the whole house - in a very alert state, but she seemed to be doing okay. She also knew immediately where her litter tray was, and her water and food, so no concerns for us in that department.

Minnie on the bedroom floor
On Sunday in the morning she got spooked by something, probably me vacuuming around her litter tray with a handheld vac, and we didn't see her at all - we knew where she was, under the couch in the lounge, seemingly quite comfortable actually -, until late in the afternoon when Age returned from tennis with three other guys and had a beer on the deck. When they left, Minnie thought it time to re-appear and has been good ever since. I think that she must have been dead-tired from the whole transition, as well as from her de-sexing operation the day before we got her, and a flea treatment, deworming treatment and vaccinations. It would knock me out too.

Sunday night I woke up from Age, who went to the bathroom (I mean, who's pregnant???), and couldn't get back to sleep. Been tossing and turning for a while, and then decided to get a nightly snack, because I was hungry. I got Minnie out of her 'room' (the laundry) - usually with our cats, we put them away for the night, so that they go nicely to sleep instead of demolishing the house or keeping us awake - , and she very happily went back to bed with me. That was a new experience for her, lying on top of the duvet and being cuddled. It was almost too exciting for her.

On Age's lap. Positioning needs some more practising I'd say
She was on her own on Monday. We were very curious how she went. Would the house be demolished while we were at work??? We came home, and there she was! No sign of any activity, so we'll never know what she did during the day. And today I'm home with her, and she was really cool, standing together with me in the laundry, next to the spinning washing machine. She has to get used to all these normal household noises, especially as her litter tray is in the laundry. And this morning she also was quite cool by lying down on the floor close to the bathroom while I was in there: ventilator running, showering, flushing toilet, brushing teeth. Enough to make her run for the couch at first.

What else can I brag about...:-)
  • She's been through her tunnel - very cautiously at first, but I've also seen her racing through it
  • She's just discovered her new fancy bed, and sleeping on the floor in it, next to me
  • When I'm in the kitchen she's in the kitchen too, either eating her biscuits, or completely stretched out on the floor in the middle of the kitchen
  • She looooooves to cuddle
  • It looks like everything is a first for her, so she has to discover a lot. That you can actually sit on a lap, how to chase a rope (playing), how to race through the house on a slippery wooden floor, jumping, looking out of windows, and that maybe a chair, couch or bed is much more comfy than the floor for stretching out...

So yes, I think she'll be sweet in a couple more days.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

What's this??

Look who we have here!

An early birthday present :-)
She's eight months old, from the SPCA and sleeping behind the curtains in the front lounge at the moment. We're naming her Minnie.

A couple of hours later:
She's explored the whole house, played, ran around with her tail high up, peed in her litter tray, and... is very happy on Age's lap right now.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

O lala, great pasta recipe

Yumm yumm, pasta!

Toss together in one big bowl the following ingredients; quantities not important, do what you like most. I chose to have lots of chicken in it, compared to the amount of pasta.

- cooked pasta
- bunch of rocket, shredded
- good quality chicken thighs, coated with some olive oil and Indian curry (kerrie), from the bbq. Then cut into pieces.
- good quality feta, or goat's cheese
- good quality kalamata olives
- a bit of cream
- a dollop of dyonnaise
- salt and cracked black pepper

My intention was to easily have enough for tomorrow too, as an afternoon snack at work. But Age liked it so much, that you need binoculars to find my snack back in its plastic container.

- Evelyn

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Permanent residency

Early this morning Age received a long-awaited email, nearly three months overdue: we've been granted permanent residency!!


We can now stay indefinitely in Australia, and have more or less the same rights as Australian citizens. We can now easier get a mortgage, if we want to, and a credit card, and a normal government funded health insurance, instead of something temporary. And...our baby will have dual citizenship - great for her!
We still can't vote though, that's for citizens. A shame, as it would make politics a lot more interesting.

So, good news :-) No visa worries in the coming years.

- Evelyn

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Forget banana ice cream: strawberry is the way to go!

We've gone through homemade banana ice cream and walnut caramel last week and a half - a great combination by the way. Both ice creams were delicious in terms of flavour, but rock hard and hardly scoopable from the tub. I did some research on ice cream making and using an ice cream maker, and it's all in the size of the ice crystals. Meaning that ice cream batter needs to be as cold as possible, the ice cream maker needs to be as cold as possible, and the freezer too. What you'd like to achieve is snap-freezing your ingredients. A good recipe (with a low water content) helps heaps, but it's not easy if you're like me, and not patient enough to put your ice cream batter in the fridge for about eight hours to chill it thorougly.

The walnut caramel straight from the ice cream maker was so sweet and creamy that at first we didn't like it. After a night in the freezer the mixture was a lot colder, so a lot less sweet.
The banana ice cream tasted great and fresh, but looked in our bowls more like granita - it had a lot less fat (cream), and contained yoghurt and milk (higher percentage of water).

The sweeter caramel ice cream together with the yoghurt-like banana ice cream had a nice balance to it. But I need to find better recipes to get a better structure. And I need to stop overfilling the ice cream machine :-)

I also made a batch of melon ice cream. Melons are in season at the moment, and I can eat them by the kilo, so I thought it would be a great idea to make some ice cream. It tastes good, but one problem we had was that I kept the melon overnight in the fridge, and our water jug with filtered water, also in the fridge, took on the taste and smell of a ripe melon. That was terrible, like our water was off, or the jug mouldy. We didn't know why the water tasted that way - we didn't immediately make the connection with the melon in the fridge. So when we had our first little bowl with melon ice cream after we'd been to the beach for a swim, it just smelled like that water. Yuk.

But then.... I remembered making strawberry ice cream years ago, and it was the best ever ice cream. I never order strawberry when I go to an ice creamery, because it's never so good as what I've tasted before. Except the fresh fruit ice cream from the berry farm in Richmond, NZ - there you choose the type of berries you want in your ice cream - straight from the farm, and they throw it with a block of frozen yoghurt in a magic ice cream maker. A minute later you've got the most fantastic ice cream ever; great after a round of golf or a swim.

So yesterday, I made strawberry icecream, and it was heavenly. The smell of the pureed fresh strawberries alone is enough to make you want to eat the bowl too.

What else, besides ice cream... As you probably would have guessed, I've still got this week off. Age returned to work on Monday, so I've got all the time in the world to potter around. It's not so hot anymore, the rest of Oz has got our hot weather, and I saw that we may even see some light rain on Sunday.

Tonight we're going to watch the tennis. There is an International tennis thing on in Adelaide - as in almost every major city in Australia, some kind of build up to the Australian Open in Melbourne, which starts next Monday. There'll be some oldies playing tennis, like Hingis, Navratilova and Wilander, and tonight we'll be able to see them all in action. Great that it'll only be 26 degrees, and not 40.

Baby is growing steadily, and kicking wildly too, especially when I sit down or lie down on my back. It's a funny feeling, but she's clearly getting stronger by the day, so it won't be long I think until those kicks will become a bit uncomfy. And she plays hide and seek with Age. As soon as she's putting on a kicking show and I alert him to it, that surely now he'll be able to feel those kicks as I can almost see my belly move, she stops. Until he removes his hand from the kicking spot - she happily starts again.

She likes to be in the right part of my belly, that's where the action is, and down low, with her feet down, 'standing' up.

I am 22 weeks and 0 days (?) as of today, 18 more to go. I realised that I only will work 10 more weeks before my leave starts, straight after Easter. That is really scary. And we bought our first big ticket item..... a pram/stroller! A bit early still, but it was on sale..., o lala.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Tomorrow 44 degrees??!

Just saw the weather forecast for tomorrow, and it looks insane: 44 degrees.

More or less the whole country is sweltering in a heatwave, even Tasmania gets a 38 tomorrow.

We've had mid to high thirties in the last couple of days, will get a break on Saturday with just 29 degrees, after which the temperatures will get back to the 40's again.

Tomorrow's fire danger rating for our district is an 'encouraging''catastrophic', which hasn't happened in the last couple of years.

What that means? That we'll be happy when the sun goes down again. And that on the first sound of alarm we'll be out of here and take an hotel in town till the threat is gone.

What we're doing with these temperatures? Being indoors in the airco, watching tennis, compiling baby lists, and doing a bit of administration. And go out for a walk, or in Age's case, for tennis, later in the day when the temperature is a bearable low thirty again.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Banana yoghurt ice cream - homemade

Just for me as a reminder how to make this delicious homemade banana yoghurt ice cream - and to make all of you jealous of course.

4 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (500ml) pouring cream
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups yoghurt
1 cup milk
2 bananas, mashed

Place the eggs, yolks, vanilla and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Place over saucepan of simmering water and, using a handheld electric mixer, beat for 6-8 minutes or until thick and pale. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Mix milk and yoghurt. Add the mashed bananas and stir through egg mixture.

Whisk the cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold through the egg mixture until well combined. Place in fridge for a couple of hours to cool completely.

Prepare ice machine, pour mixture into ice machine, and let it run for 20-30 minutes. Pour over into ice cream tub, and place in freezer for a couple of hours.

Makes a bit more than 2 litres.

Tweak the milk, cream, egg and yoghurt quantities to suit your taste. You can't do anything wrong.

- Evelyn

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Kangaroo Island

We have been to Kangaroo Island last week. It is an island close to Adelaide, about an hour and a half from our place to Cape Jervis, where the ferry to the island departs. The boat trip takes 45-minutes to Penneshaw, which is a very small, but pretty village where we'd booked our accommodation.

We'd read up on the wildlife on Kangaroo Island, and there should be about one million kangaroos. On our first evening we spotted this one in the front yard. A good thing that Age made this picture, as it was the only kangaroo we saw during our week-long stay! Except for a remarkable number of dead ones on the road each and every day again. It was probably too hot for the roos to leave their sheltered spots in the shade during the day.

We took our car to the island, brought lots of food for the first couple of days, plus our Christmas presents, because our stay fell smack in the middle of the Christmas break.

I was the lucky recipient of above kitchen utensil, plus a smart oven mitt, and... an ice cream maker to use with my KitchenAid mixer. Age got a very nice pair of shorts for Christmas (he was spoiled with Sinterklaas, so this was more than enough), and for his birthday he got a GPS watch specifically for running purposes.

After all these festivities we spent the rest of our time on the island discovering and exploring. The island is truly amazing as it is huge, nearly 200km wide, with only a few major sealed highways, and the rest is unsealed and very bumpy as we found out - even with our four-wheel drive. At times it felt like the whole car would fall apart.

On top of Prospect Hill. I got out of breath a lot on the steps to the top. Looking out to the South-West.
Age on Prospect hill - looking out to the East
Besides Penneshaw (300 inhabitants), there is also Kingscote, a bigger town with about 1300 residents. All the guides we read mentioned that Kingscote is a picturesque and quaint little town, with a few good cafe's and the best seafood place on earth, but we thought it was rather ugly and small, and that cafe and brilliant seafood place have probably gone out of business, as we were unable to find them.

Kangaroo Island has brilliant beaches, and a coastline with beautiful shades of blue and green. The rolling and open inland scenery is probably quite nice too, but our drives were for the biggest part terribly boring because of the shrubs everywhere on the side of the road, blocking out any bit of view.

Beautiful Pennington Beach - on the South Coast.

Age dipping his feet in the sea - a lot colder than the water in Penneshaw.

Still Pennington Beach.
Notice the little blue esky Age's carrying? We're becoming true ozzies - we quickly bought one huge coolbox before our trip, and the little one, plus a 2.5 litre water cooler came with it. Very handy for a cool lunch and firm chocolate on the beach.

One of our drives brought us past this salt lake. You could buy packets with salt from a lonely fridge in a paddock, for $2.
Salt Lake

One of our trips went to Little Sahara. As you would expect with a name like this, it was a place in the middle of nowhere with a lot of fine white sand, suitable for sandboarding, which, by the way, didn't look very spectacular.

Climbing the biggest dune.

A few people gave sandboarding a try.

Beautiful white sand.
Kangaroo Island also has a few young wineries, so we checked two of them out for lunch. Age did the tasting, I did the sniffing, and after that lunch would follow - usually a platter with meats, cheeses and condiments.

At Dudley Wines.

Wineries come with a view - and flies (when you order a bucket of prawns with your platter). In the distance you see the mainland.

At Sunset Wines - see the tasting glasses?
We also went to the far-Western corner of the island, which is about 150km away. There is a National Park (Flinders Chase), with walking opportunities, and some natural gems with strange rock formations created by wild Southern Ocean seas. In 2007 or something, about 100.000 hectares of this park burned down in a bushfire, something still very well visible. You have to pay to enter the park, and we suddenly found out where all the tourists were: here!
Our B&B host told us that each and every bed on the island was sold out till the end of January, but we hadn't seen proof of that, somehow we were always on our own, had the beaches to ourselves. Until we did something touristy, like stopping at Little Sahara, or Flinders Chase. Crazy busy there, and driving in queues to the rock formations.

It was great to see the rugged coastline, the New Zealand Fur Seals, and the rocks, but strange to do this with so many other people and to pay for it, while in New Zealand this is exactly what you would regularly find around a coastal corner.

Pounding waves on granite

Limestone 'dripping' down

Admiral's Arch - in the water and on the rocks you can see seals

Eroded rocks. What's left is the granite core.

The shapes and size of the rocks were quite amazing.

And that was it :-)
We came home again yesterday, spent New Year's Eve together and had a lovely and relaxed evening. Happy new year everyone, and all the best for 2013!