Friday, November 30, 2012

Survivor: Kitchen

I'm still pinning things like a crazy lady on Pinterest . At this rate I'm never going to run out of recipes to try. To be honest, I seem to be pinning a lot of chocolate and dessert recipes so I can see some very interesting dinners in my future line up. I'm not one of those people that gets all fussed about dinner having to be a savoury meal. Or even proper food really.

This week though, the recipe I chose was proper food which is just as well because a friend dropped over with my wine barrel delivery on Tuesday night (don't get all excited -they were empty - but still smell like wine so that was a bonus because perhaps we'll get drunk off the fumes ) and I had arranged for them to stay and have dinner with us. 

And I figured the best time to cook something new was when I had guests coming because if it was brilliant I'd look like a cooking genius and if it was horrible I could say "yeah that was a new recipe - and it was  crap, I wont be cooking that again" and my reputation would be completely saved. 

Here is the original of this weeks recipe including the link. I had to go buy limes at $1.79 each which hurt a little bit because that's an utterly ridiculous price for limes. However this recipe is called Coconut Lime Chicken so it wasn't an ingredient the recipe could do without. 

Coconut Lime Chicken 
And here is my version that I completely forgot to put sauce on,even after doubling the marinade recipe and reserving half of it so I could do the sauce! And my picture isn't half as pretty as the original. 

I actually ate those salads and they were delicious 
I used chicken thighs for this recipe and palm sugar when the recipe called for sugar and then I bullied Mr. P into gently throwing these onto the barbecue to give them some final flavour. They were an eight  thumbs up kind of recipe and the tribe voted them in as a definite keeper. I love anything curry based and with lots of spice and these fit the bill. I was a bit worried when I did the marinade that they would have too much bite and not enough sweet to balance it out but the flavour combo was perfect! 

You could double this recipe and use the leftovers for a kick arse chicken salad too!

Next weeks recipe is  Vietnamese Steak Sandwiches . Mr. P is already dreaming about it. If you're looking for a fast easy recipe this is the one ! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Survivor: Kitchen

Australia is a bloody big place. And while America is larger in land mass (only because they cheat and count Alaska) unlike America, over 70% of Australia is outback or desert and 85% of our population lives crammed within 50 kilometres of the coast line.

So I guess you might be wondering what do we do with all that land we cant grow anything on? Well we shove sheep on it.  Lots of sheep. There are more sheep in Australia than people. So we raise cute sheep and sheer them for the wool and then because we don't want them to get together and plot to take over the country we eat them.  In fact Sunday lamb roast is practically our national dish. Along with Lamingtons. 

This weeks Pinterest recipe challenge involved lamb. I'm a huge lamb fan, and I love feta too and because this dish had red and green and yellow colours in the recipe I could kid myself I was eating actual salad at the same time. 

Lamb Stacks with Mint Relish Recipe 
I followed this recipe exactly and even used mint from my own garden. I also roasted a yellow capsicum because I couldn't find any that came in a jar. And I mooshed my feta into the dressing so it was even more delicious. LOVED this recipe. It was a perfect dinner for a warm day, and took all of 10 minutes to make. That's my kind of dinner. 

The tribe has spoken. This one is a keeper!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What do you do when there's no tomorrow ?

On Fridays I think about the glorious 63 hours that stretch ahead of me and all of the things I could potentially do with MY TIME OFF WORK. I think of it in capitals because it's so exciting that I feel like shouting and dancing a jig.  And every weekend MY TIME OFF WORK ends up being taken up with washing and cleaning and all those other boring tasks that ensure I can function like a regular human being for the next 5 days that I have to go to work.  Whoever thought up the 5 days work/2 days off thing was an idiot. It would work much better for me  if it was the other way around.

The trouble with my life is that there is no tomorrow. I can't put off stuff and say "I'll do it tomorrow " because tomorrow I'll have another list as long as my arm of  things that need to be done. And if I start adding today stuff to tomorrow I'm really going to get myself in trouble because most of the time I can barely cope with today.

You may have picked up that I've been thinking about life balance a lot lately, and what I've realised is that I don't feel like I have it. So instead of sitting and whining about my lost weekends, I decided to take ownership of the problem. I bit the bullet and arranged for a house cleaner. I figure I'm buying back some of my life so it's totally worth whatever it costs. Just like my window cleaning dude and the personal shopper that does my grocery shopping and Ronald McDonald and the Colonel who do my cooking a lot of the time.  These people are an indispensable part of maintaining my sanity. I can't wait to come home to a clean house once a week that I didn't have to personally clean. 

So in keeping with the new regime, I didn't do any house work this weekend. I went mad with spray paint instead. I rescued this poor sorry looking thing from the "going to the rubbish tip "pile  and gave it a quick spray paint makeover because I think it will make a fantastic dessert display cabinet for Christmas Day. 

Mr. P had to evict a family of redbacks so I could take the before picture. Of course he told me that as I was cleaning it and I just heard the "redback "part and nearly peed in my pants.

 And here it is after...looking all white and pretty and redback-less.

 Then I broke out another spray can and went mad on this antique wrought iron beauty.

 Looks so much better black. 

 I finished a quilt top too. Now to decide how to quilt it. 

And immediately started a new quilt.....for my favourite grandson. And I have a super hero quilt to make for another special young person so I'm really going to have to get weaving on both of these to finish before Christmas. 

I'm anticipating much more crafting time with the new world order.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Survivor: Kitchen

They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem so I come before you all today to confess that I am an addict. A Pinterest addict.

To start with it wasn't a problem. I had it under control. I opened an account about 8 months ago and occasionally added things to it that I saw and liked. Mainly quilts. And then I didn't do any pinning for ages proving that I could  stop any time I wanted. I knew lots of people who had thousands of pins and I felt really sorry that they'd started something they couldn't control. But I've been pinning daily like a crazy lady for about a month now and its starting to take over my life. 

For the uninitiated , Pinterest is a fancy schmancy way of bookmarking all that awesome stuff you see on the net and might want to come back to later. And you can pin onto boards that you create using pictures so stuff is so easy to find unlike my bookmarks bar on my computer that has approximately 3874 things in it , and is so long I can't be bothered looking when I need something. And you can search other people's boards for inspiration and re-pin stuff that they've pinned which means that every single person on Pinterest is basically an enabler. 

Little Miss Sunshine and I were chatting the other night and commenting that our respective food Pinterest boards were in danger of becoming a graveyard for stuff we've pinned but never got round to making .So I suggested we choose a  recipe once a week and both cook it and report back to one another about the results. Kind of like a virtual cooking class that extends your dinner time repertoire. I tend to make the same 40 things for dinner because by the time I get home from work I'm brain dead. Sometimes I'm so brain dead I eat chips or breakfast cereal for dinner which in my humble opinion is perfectly acceptable if you don't have children in the house. And we decided to name it Survivor: Kitchen because we get to vote out recipes that we wouldn't put in our respective cook books to make again. I want to point out that I am a fussy eater, and so any voting out is probably not about the recipe per se. It's more about me only eating about 18 foods that exist on this planet. 

Since Little Miss Sunshine loves vegetables and I'm a complete carnivore and carb gal ( if I ever get stuck on a deserted island I'm praying a cow, crackers and cheese will get washed up with me) this brilliant idea is probably going to make for some really interesting eating for both of us. Recipe tweaking is not really allowed but I'm pretty sure it'll happen anyway. 

So the first recipe we decided on was this.

Creamy Dijon Chicken (recipe can be found by clicking this link) 

I loved the idea of a punchy creamy lemony mustard sauce married with moist chicken breast. As far as I'm concerned big flavours rule!

There was absolutely nothing wrong with this recipe but it wasn't exactly what I expected . I was expecting more mustard flavour (and I cheated and put extra in) so I wonder if it lost something in the translation between American Dijon mustard and the Aussie mustard variety? Maybe they are completely different? If I was to make it again I'd leave the lemon out altogether and tweak the mustard so it had a sharper more intense flavour. This would be a great meal though for a family dinner because it's mild enough for kids to enjoy too. And it was quick and easy to cook which I love. And it had leeks in it so I can pat myself on the back for eating a vegetable this week.

Creamy Dijon chicken: The tribe has spoken - it's time for you to go. Pop on over to Marg's to see what she thought. And if you'd like to play along next week email me and I'll send you the recipe we're planning to use. It's fun to see how close we can get to the picture and I'm sure there will be at least one burnt down kitchen by the time we're done. Last time I had a fire in my kitchen I went and bought two fire extinguishers and a fire blanket so damage should be minimal. 

By the way I wanted to have Jeff Probst do the Survivor line for this post but he didn't return my calls. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Finishing off the Farmers Wife

At the beginning of the year I announced I was getting in on the Farmers Wife craze. So along with some other awesome quilting chicks that I know in real life I've been toiling away on making blocks when the mood struck me. That's the beauty of a sampler quilt,  you can do a few blocks in between other projects. I'd been wanting to do a sampler quilt for ages. 

The other lovely thing about the Farmers Wife quilt is that you can make the quilt whatever size you like based on the amount of blocks you complete.  So you make blocks for as long as it's fun and then bang it up into a finished project. 

I decided in August that I had enough blocks to start putting them together into a finished project. My enthusiasm for these blocks was non existent by that stage. I was so over the whole "it'll be fun to make a sampler quilt" thing. It wasn't fun. It sucked the big one.  So I counted up my blocks and was thrilled to discover I had enough to put together two projects! 

Behold my Farmers Wife Potholders ! The most amazing pot holders in the Southern Hemisphere or dare I say it? possibly the world. 

Things I discovered about myself during the making of these gorgeous pot holders?  Small pieces of fabric and I don't get along. The Farmers Wife is a cow.  And Sampler quilts are a completely stupid idea. 

Last week I showed you my new napkin rings. Napkin rings mean you have to have actual napkins. Cloth napkins just ooze class and require laundering and ironing and so I've never felt the desire to own any. But since I'm turning into a little old lady and liking things I have never liked before it was off to the sewing room to look for some suitable Christmas fabric. I'm going with a gold and white  theme for Christmas this year and these will look lovely as part of my table scape. And because I had the fabric in my stash these napkins were free because it's a universal law of sewing that once fabric hits your stash , it didn't cost anything. 

And lastly I've been working on a quilt made from bandanas for the last few weeks. Have you ever had an idea that is so ridiculously simple that you know it'll only take a  day or so to whip up? This was not that project. But it's done and I'm happy. 

I spent the weekend on Pinterest, baby sitting little P who watched the Christmas pageant on TV and has been calling Father Christmas  "Christmas Father" ever since, and running from one project idea to the next. I can't believe it's Monday already . 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

'Twas the Month Before Christmas

The Christmas spirit galloped full pelt into my head on Saturday. I have no idea where it came from. I have 5273 ideas running round in my head (all of which require significant effort on my part) and it's time to start pulling my finger out and getting some of them started. Because this year Christmas is here. At my house. All day. 

We're doing an "open house/roll up when you like" deal so I sort of have to keep the food flowing all day and into the evening. Oh who am I kidding? My sister is coming, so by 4.00pm the cocktails will be flowing like the Murray River and I won't care what people are eating.  Maccas is open Christmas day isn't it? Maybe I can just get a load of Happy Meals and blitz them in the microwave when people look hungry. Regardless of my brilliant Maccas plan I've been collecting ideas for Plan B over the past few weeks for yummy (easy) eats I can serve that wont entail me being chained in servitude to the kitchen all day. I think I finally have that part nailed, at least in theory. My "all day food" menu is written up and includes things I haven't cooked before so I've been using Mr. P as a guinea pig to try them out. He has a cast iron stomach thankfully.

Spinach and Persian Feta Tartlets . These looked and sounded better than they tasted. If I'm going to make these I need to find a way to zing them up a little. Personally I prefer to eat the feta right out of the can , guiltily standing in front of the fridge forking it into my mouth while hoping Mr. P doesn't walk in and bust me but my inner spidey sense tells me that's probably not the way to go with guests. 

Ham, Cheese and egg cups. A great breakfast idea to feed a lot of people but I really should have covered them with alfoil after 10 minutes of cooking like the recipe said so the rolls didn't get as hard as rocks. And I would have done that if I had any alfoil but we've been alfoil-less here now for a month.

Ginger Molasses Cookies. They taste like Christmas in every bite. Seriously. I'm thinking maybe I could dip one side in chocolate to make them even more delicious but they are the bomb. Definitely making these for Christmas day.

Last week I was in Spotlight (the Australian version of Joann or Hobby Lobby )  and I saw some Christmas napkin rings.  Since I have never owned napkin rings before because I have never owned actual napkins, I decided to get some for my Christmas table. I grabbed 4 packs and sauntered up to the counter to ask the price where I was duly informed that they were $17.00. Per pack ! I'm one wild and crazy girl but even I'm not insane enough to pay $68.00 bucks for 16 metal Made in China napkin rings that probably cost them 2 bucks to make. So I set out to make my own and saw an idea on Pinterest using old spoons and forks which I thought was quirky enough and cute enough for my Christmas table.

Take that Spotlight! It cost me $3.36 to buy the cutlery and an hour of my father in laws time and muscle to bend them into napkin ring shapes. I love that they're all slightly different and think they're going to look fabulous on my food laden table.

Speaking of my Christmas table, I'm planning to have a new one by then. The dogs like to take tap dancing lessons on our current outdoor table when we aren't at home, so I've been plotting how to foil their dance -fests. 

This table is about 14 years old. It's moved from my parents house to my house and has seen many meals and crafts and quilts being basted on it. Consequently  it's looking pretty trashed. My inspired idea for a replacement involves a bar height table with a twist that I am going to make myself. Stay tuned. Whenever I touch power tools (or knives) it's odds on that someone is going to get hurt.

It's nice to be starting Christmas projects. Let's see if I'm still saying that 6 weeks from now !

I'm off to see what you've all been up to since I haven't been anywhere this week except the Bloggers Quilt Festival posts.