San Francisco

24 Sep

So I didn’t get to blog about San Francisco – I guess we must have been having too much of a good time to be thinking about writing a journal about it. In short though… It was a beautiful city and the weather was good to us. We got to feast on the best ramen I have ever had, oysters that were definitely not as amazing as the Tasmanian ones (but still good) and indulged in some of the most delicious beers ever!

I got to catch up with some friends that I haven’t seen in about 5 years – and it was very SURPRISING (since they hadn’t mentioned anything before our visit) and exciting to see that they were expecting! We also caught up with the lovely Dave and Jill who took us to e Golden gate bridge, Ashbury and Haight street and to their cute little home in Berkeley. On our last day, I met the infamous, larger than life, Uncle joe for the very first He was real lovely and a complete gentleman.

That was SF in 3 days. Oh… And we got reacquainted with Traders joe’s which we were told is amazing! Until we met the Wholefood market in NYC! I become a child (well…I’m child) in a Lolly store when I am at a supermarket in a foreign country. It’s like a game, where I load up the food trolley and Jason unloads back into the shelves.:)

Now we are in NYC! We have been told by the people of the west coast to be prepared for abruptness as well as a stream of well dressed, beautiful people. So far We have encountered both, together with Smorgasburg, a walk along the Brooklyn Bridge, sighting the Status of Liberty on the Staten island ferry and a picnic in Central Park.

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Yosemite National Park, California, USA

17 Sep

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Yosemite is stunning. Though I haven’t quite gotten over those amazing Sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park. I was thinking today, that if those trees were 2200 years old, this means that when Christ was around, those trees were already 188 years old!! Today, these trees are still alive. Their immortality is beyond me.

It took us 6 hours to drive to Yosemite from Sequoia national park. After about 5 hours, poor Jason had run out of steam. Upon arriving at the very aptly named motel, America’s Best Value Inn, we took a dip in their plunge pool and had dinner at a very traditional looking American Diner!

This morning, we headed back to Yosemite Village, bright and early. We hiked to Yosemite falls, but the waterfall was dry, due to the heat of this summer. We the hired bikes and placed mikidee in the back of a trailer. We rode all around the valley and found a pristine rock pool, so crystal clean and clear , it was too irresistible to avoid plunging right in. We were immediately refreshed and rejuvenated by the icy cold water.

We dragged our little trooper around for another couple of hours before heading back to America’s best value inn and had a frightfully deep fried, just about everything American dinner at the diner.

Tomorrow, we head to San Francisco to meet more of jason’s family and our friends.

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General Sherman – biggest tree in the world

16 Sep

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So I’ve been in the deep freeze for the last 22 months. Many have told me that i could remain in this state, where neither space nor time mean anything at all, for up to 25 years! Blimey! Nevertheless, I have enjoyed (well more than enjoyed) the last 22 months of being someone’s mother. And so i thought! Out of the deep freeze! I need an adventure! Though not so successfully in terms of kitchen adventures (my culinary talents, i think, have washed out together with my other child birthing bits), but much more successfully in taking a 14 hours flight to the other side of the world – where the people of the stars and stripes dwell.

Arriving in LAX on Saturday morning, we were no longer human due to the obvious time difference of 18 hours but especially because we had travelled with an active toddler. My more than amazing hubby, proceeded to drive another hour and a half on the wrong side of the road to Glynn and Lisa’s. We arrived alive – to a more than welcoming family and 4 fabulous dogs. I was introduced for the very first time to Jason’s extended family whom I warmed to very quickly. The whirlwind vist included a dip in Glynn and Lisa’s swimming pool, meeting their gorgeous daughter, Erica and her bf, James and being introduced to the all American diet of pizza, empinades, in and out burgers and a beautiful bacon, egg and avocado brekky.

The next day, we drove to San Diego, Coronado, where Jason’s dad grew up. We visited his grandma’s beautiful house, right on the golf course and point loma, where his grandparents lie. Jason went and got some hydrangeas for his grandma and grandpa. It was later when we met James and Diana that he realized that hydrangeas were his grandma’s favorite flower! She grew them all over her garden and Jason probably got them for her subconsciously, without realizing it.

We also went to bel boa park and the Hotel Del – where we had oysters, bbq wings and cocktails. In that spritly holiday spirit, we knicked a used pool towel from the iconic Hotel Del and took a dip in the ocean on Coronado beach.

Monday, we drove back to LA to meet James and Diana who turned out to be these Amazing foodies with an abundant passion for good food. I immediately fell head over heals in love with their daughters and secretly hoped that one day my daughter would grow up to be as lovely and funny as these 2 girls.

We drive on to Sequoia National Park – the land of the Giants – where the biggest and some of the oldest trees in the world live, some were as old as 2200 years, which blew my mind. We entered an impressive cave which was over 4000 years old and now mikidee says, “I like CAVES!!!” How sweet is she? :)

And then that fateful evening, i had to go ahead and have a urinary tract infection. My God sent husband drove an hour and a half out of the national park to get me to a hospital to get me fixed up.

So now… We’re lying in bed in America’s best value inn at Yosemite National Park, watching a heart breaking movie about chimps. Tomorrow… More adventures await!

I HEART USA.

Introducing “little mik”

27 Jul

It has been 8 months since my last post.

So I thought it was time for me to share… the best thing that have baked in my oven so far.

Baking time: 9 months and 4 days.

Baking environment: warm oven at 37.5 C

End product: Mik….

Ingredients:

  • love
  • cuddles
  • lots of pastries and cakes
  • alot of nandos chicken
  • a whole heap of frasier

Pear and Walnut Loaf

14 Nov

The next few paragraphs (if you decide to soldier on and read away) is not exactly what one would describe as appetizing or palatable. Nevertheless, I’m going share it anyway since it is a good lesson for all expectant moms who are in their 3rd and final trimester to realise – sprog and stomache are in competition for space, do not overeat as sprog always WINS!

*Disclaimer: If you’re the sort that recoils, cringes or dry reaches upon reading anything related to P**, P** or V****… simply look away and scroll right down for a scrumptious Pear and Walnut loaf recipe.*

So the story begins as such. My last week at work has not been like any other week. It has in fact, been a bit of a party week – with elaborate lunches, random treats from very lovely people and delicious morning teas. Everyone in the department have been really lovely with putting the time and thought into the baby gifts and well wishes they’ve given me.

On Wednesday, my boss took me and a bunch of colleagues out to the pub for a “good luck, farewell, we’ll see you in 9 months” lunch. In my current state, I have the appetite of a small whale (I’m being modest). I had a serve of wedges supreme (i.e wedges covered in melted cheese and bacon served with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce on the side), a fish main course, apple crumble with ice-cream and the works as well as a decaf latte.

Swearing to myself that I would not have dinner that night, I went home and snacked on half a can of Pringles, BBQ rice crackers, a bag of honey snacks, and some pistachio nuts. After which, I told Jason I felt like a batch of hot waffles (the very same ones he made me on Saturday) which I had with ice-cream, maple syrup and fruit. My last and final snack for the night were 2 pieces of Turkish delight that Uncle P. brought back from Istanbul.

At 1am exactly, I woke up with a terrible pain in my belly. I lay in bed for 10 minutes, praying that the pain would go away and that this was not me having the baby. 10 minutes later, I shook the hub-ster awake and told him, that I thought I was about to have the baby. He shot out of bed like a spring that had been tightly wound up and fumbled for the lights. The next 20 minutes involved me screaming into the toilet bowl and having explosive you know what (paint ball style…). I did not have the baby. My sorry plight was purely the result of self inflicted gluttony with no one to blame of course, but myself. (Though I did try to blame Vicki – the lady in the office that had gastro on the day we went for our pub meal pig out… SHE SAT RIGHT OPPOSITE ME at the restaurant!!)

On a less unpleasant note, Fi however did have her baby… not on the same night as I had my episode but a week earlier. She had a gorgeous little boy, cute as a button. I made a Pear and Walnut Loaf to take over to their house, just to give them a little boost that they would need to take care of their new addition. Congratulations guys! We can’t wait to meet little Leon again.

This recipe is adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s “The cook’s companion” - simple banana bread recipe (I substituted the bananas with pears)

(Makes 1 loaf)

Ingredients for the loaf:

  • 125g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe pears peeled, cored and cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp all spice
  • 1/2 cup milk with 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 150g chopped walnuts

Ingredients for the walnut and brown sugar topping:

  • 3 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbsp self raising flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 100g soften butter
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar

Method:

  1. Grease and flour a loaf tin (24cm x 15cm x 8cm) and line with baking paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy and slowly beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Sift the dry ingredients and add to the mixture alternating with the milk mixture.
  5. Fold through the pears and walnuts into the mixture and pour mixture into the lined loaf tin.
  6. Combine all the ingredients for the walnut and brown sugar topping and scatter evenly over the top of the loaf mixture.
  7. Bake in the oven for 1 hour 20-30 minutes (or until a fine skewer comes out clean).
  8. Cool the cake completely in its tin and then turn out onto a wire.

Golden Waffles

10 Nov

Friday was my last day of work which makes it now 20 days away from my anticipated due date. I’m thinking – the next time I step back into that office, I will be a dedicated, full-fletched mother of a little person under the age of 1, juggling both work and little human being. In reality, I’m not very good at juggling. (According to mom, I could not catch a ball till I was 10.) The imagery of me as a mother remains surreal, almost airy and non-fictional. However, I am pretty sure that when it finally happens, it will set in like concrete.

Jason made me these beautiful golden waffles for breakfast last weekend. He said it officially marks the last weekend we will be alone for a while, as mom arrives on Saturday and sprog arrives soon after. The first time I had these waffles, I felt sweet golden warmth and happiness radiate through my belly down to my twinkles. This is an American waffle recipe passed on from Jason’s mom to him. They are really quite amazing. We had them with salty butter, fresh fruit, maple syrup and raspberry yoghurt.

(Makes 15 waffles)

Ingredients for the waffle batter:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 2tbsp cornflour
  • 4 tbsp melted butter

Method

1. Separate the eggs. Beat egg yolks and sugar together with a whisk, then add the milk, water and vanilla and beat again.

2. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix well.

3. Mix in the melted butter.

4. Beat the egg whites till stiff and fold into the mixture.

5. Allow the batter to stnad for 20 minutes before spooning into a hot, greased waffle maker.

6. Serve with fresh fruits, maple syrup, cream or yogurt. The world is your oyster.

Norwegian Cinnamon and Candied Pecan Buns

28 Oct
Over the weekend, I made Norwegian Cinnamon and Candied Pecan buns for my very gorgeous hub-ster, who all of a sudden, has become very nesty. It’s actually quite endearing that he’s gotten this way – In the last couple of months, he has been trying to convert our old bathroom into a little study so we can move the computer and study desk out of the baby’s room.
For starters, he’s no Handy Andy, so everything that may seem straight forward takes a little more fiddling and thought than normal. But he has tried so hard, and so far, with some help from a few lovely friends (thank you Kiet and Zoe), he’s managed to tear out the vanity, shower and roof, jack hammer the floors, put up the new roof, put up the plaster boards, sand the plaster boards and even put up cornices!! What a champ!

Despite all his efforts, he says he’s still feeling stressed that he’s not working fast enough. He’s even having dreams at night about working on the study… just so that he can move all of the clutter into the new study… and hail and behold the PRIZE!! i.e To eventually set up the cot and change table in the baby’s room and neatly place the cotton nappies in the shelving of the change table. Very cute.

I’ve made him these to enjoy for afternoon tea. They were really delicious straight out from the oven but if you decide to have them when they’re cooled, nuke them in the microwave for about 15 sec and Bob’s your Uncle.

This recipe is from Nigella Lawson’s “How to be a Domestic Goddess”

(Makes 9-10 buns)

Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 300g flour, sifted
  • 50g sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 23g fresh yeast
  • 50g butter
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 egg

Ingredients for the Filling

  • 75g butter, softened
  • 75g sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten, to glaze

Line tin with baking paper bottom and sides.

Recipe for Candied Pecans
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 an egg white
  • 180g pecans

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and flour.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg white until foamy; whisk in the brown sugar and flour mixture. Fold in the pecans.
  4. Transfer the pecans to a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool completely before breaking apart.

Method

1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl.

2. Melt the butter and whisk it into the milk and eggs, then stir it into the flour mixture.

3. Mix to combine using the dough hook of an electric mixer until it is smooth and springy. If the dough looks too sticky, add a little more flour.

4. Form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave it to rise for about 25 minutes.

5. Take one third of the dough and roll it or stretch it to fit your tin; this will form the bottom of each bun when it has cooked. (I did not do this step.)

6. Roll out the rest of the dough on a lightly floured surface, aiming to get a rectangle of roughly 25 x 13cm. *Notes: As the dough was very sticky, I rolled the it out between 2 sheets of baking paper to prevent sticking.*

7. Mix the filling ingredients in a small bowl and then spread the rectangle with the buttery cinnamon mixture. Try to get even coverage on the whole of the dough.

8. Roll it up from the longest side until you have a giant sausage.

9. Cut the roll into 2cm slices to make 9-10 rounds.

10. Sit the rounds in lines on top of the dough in the tin, swirly cut side up. Don’t worry if they don’t fit snugly together as they will swell and become puffy when they prove (and cook).

11. Brush the tops with egg and then let them rise again for about 15 minutes.

12. Preheat the oven to 200°C fan forced and cook for 20-25 minutes, by which time the buns will have risen and will be golden brown in colour.

13. Remove them from the tin and leave to cool slightly on a rack. Press the candied pecans on top of the cinnamon buns and enjoy them warm.

*Note: Visually, the candied pecans did not work as well as I had hoped. The taste was lovely, but I was hoping for a more gooey, pecan texture to smear over the top of the cinnamon buns.

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