Monday, June 29, 2009

The Four Rules Applied ...

The neighbour has some balloons stuck in a tree at the front of his property. A local school released some balloons with seeds in them a couple of days previously and I was chatting to my two girls (5 & 7) about whether or not they thought these balloons contained seeds.

The discussion then moved onto how to get the balloons out of the tree - they're about 5 metres up.

Various things were suggested and discussed and then I said, "I was thinking about using the .22". My eldest looked at me and said "Where would the bullet land then?"

Good question.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cooking: Chicken and Pineapple Hotpot

Another recipe at the "A Year of Slowcooking" blog caught my eye yesterday. It was one using chicken and pineapple.

So today I decided to do a similar one.


- 400gm can pineapple, drained and cut into chunks
- 300gm chicken cubed
- 150gm celery chopped into chunks
- 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered chillies
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- oil

1. Turn slow cooker onto high
2. Brown chicken in a frypan with a small amount of oil and the chilli powder
3. Add the chicken, celery, pineapple, soy sauce, vegetable stock to the slow cooker
4. Mix well
5. Cook on high for 2-3 hours until chicken is cooked
6. Stir through coconut milk before serving. Serve with rice.

TBA ....

UPDATE: Well three out of four family members liked it (my husband, my eldest and me). Miss 5 is sitting there subbornly not even trying it! Will give her a bit longer.

Miss 7 wouldn't change a thing.
Hubby would like the sauce a bit thicker - maybe Coconut Cream instead of milk and he thinks a bit extra Soy Sauce would be good too.

UPDATE 2: Miss 5 eventually(under a bit of duress) ate the chicken out of it - nothing else. She didn't like the coconut milk nor the celery.

Ooops - just realised I didn't take a photo of the finished product. Will have to make it again soon so I can.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cooking: Bean and Rice Hotpot

I've been doing some Slow Cooker cooking recently but have forgotten to write down exactly what the ingredients are so I haven't been able to put them on my blog. But today a friend directed me to this wonderful blog "A Year of Slowcooking" and I liked the way they recorded their ingredients ... by using a photo.

So for my recipe tonight "Bean and Rice Hotpot" I've done the same. Now the recipe is based on their Crockpot Beans and Rice but with a few differences.


- 400gm cans each of Chickpeas; Red Kidney Beans; Borlotti Beans and White Beans (these being all the different types of canned beans in my pantry)
- 2 x 440gm cans of tomato (I was planning to used diced tomatoes, took the wrong ones out of the pantry)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (hot)
- 2 teaspoons mixed herbs
- 1 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper (only decided to add this after the photo had been taken)
- 400gm of cooked rice (i always cook & freeze rice so it is handy for things like this. You could use uncooked rice but then the cooking time would be about 3.5-4 hours)
- spray of Olive Oil

1. Turn slow cooker onto high
2. Drain and rinse beans
3. Spray the bottom of the slow cooker with the spray oil
4. Add the pepper, onion powder, chili powder and mixed herbs
5. Add the beans and stir well
6. Add the rice and mix well
7. Add the canned tomatoes. If using whole tomatoes break up with spatula. Mix well
8. Leave on high until heated through and then turn down to low.

The temperature described above is for a meal in 2 hours and using cooked rice. If you are using uncooked rice you would need to adjust the cooking time.

TBA :) in about 3 hours ....


I served the Bean & Rice Hotpot with sliced grilled veal. I had defrosted the veal before deciding to do the hotpot, so we used it anyway.

It was was yummy - just a bit spicy but not enough to put the girls off. Maybe eating it tomorrow will be too much for them without yogurt.

I think the rice was a bit over-done (it was on for 2hrs ... maybe 1.5hrs or putting the rice in later would have been best).

The girls liked it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

45 Thoughts

Received this in an email today - some things to think on

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me ... It is the most-requested column I've ever written."

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past, so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood.... But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you..

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive every one everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Update on Job Hunting

Prior to our trip over East I submitted two job applications. As yet I've heard nothing back on either of these. Both were Business Analysis roles. Both very similar to the contract I've just finished.

However, today I submitted another one - this time for an IT Trainer/Facilitator role. This was the work that I did prior to this last contract.

I have also been toying with the idea of applying for a Syndey based job with an ERP Implementation team. This job sounds really interesting. They're aiming to role out to 11 sites over the next 12 months. These sites are all across Australia. The major downside to the job is that I would be away from my family for significant periods over the next year. However, I really like the idea of the challenge that this job would provide. My husband thinks I should apply for it and just make the final decision further down the track if I get that far.

Family Holiday – Melbourne and the Gold Coast – Part I

We flew to Melbourne on June 5th and after getting stuck on the runway (another plane was still in our bay)for about 45mins we finally got off the plane and found our hire car.

Negotiating Melbourne traffic (in the dark) to get to our rellies house was interesting to say the least I'm so glad my husband was driving!

Anyway once we found the house and got inside it was really nice to spend some time chatting and catching up.

We were in Melbourne from the Friday night to the Wednesday morning.

Saturday was spent in the city (we trained in and trammed out). The highlights of the day were the Queen Vic markets (where we bought some very warm jackets – Melb is COLD) and the Aquarium. They had a Emperor and Gentoo Penguin exhibit. I could have spent all day watching the penguins. The rest of the aquarium was also interesting – definitely money well spent.

Our rellies had a group of friends over on the Saturday night and it was interesting to chat with a number of them. I sounded a few out for suggestions of where we could spend the Monday. One of the suggestions was to visit the Innocent Bystanders Winery in Healesville.

On the Sunday I had arranged to meet up with a group of on-line friends for lunch. So we had a nice quite morning and then made our way to the restaurant. I have met some of the people before and it was nice to see them again and also meet (in person) two others that I chat to regularly on-line.

On the Monday we made our way out to the restaurant and was not really surprised to find the place booked out. However, they did offer to let us sit out on the verandah, which, as there were heaters it wasn't too bad (did I mention that Melbourne was COLD).

I can thoroughly recommend the winery. The food was wonderful and so was the wine. Actually the wine was SO GOOD we ordered a six pack to be sent to our house back in Perth (the wine was on special for 50% off with free delivery – couldn't resist!). The winery also had a bakery area, a cheese area and both the bread and cheese were delicious.

After a delicious lunch and coffee we visited the Healesville Sanctuary. Again a really enjoyable place. We got to see a Platypus, two Bilbies and a Tasmanian Devil. Normally these animals are hiding when I want to look at them. There was also a Lyre Bird who did a brilliant impression of a tree full of Kookaburras and a siren.

The girls spent the evening teaching their cousin how to make Panir Cheese.

The Tuesday was spent on the Puffin Billy Railway – a steam train that make its way through some lovely scenery. The temperature was around 10deg C and the steam train had open sides to allow a good view of the landscape!

The train went from Belgrave to Lakeside – we had an hour at Lakeside before the train returned. There was a model train exhibit there which was fascinating.

Once we returned to Belgrave we did a bit of a drive around the area before returning to Melbourne.

On Wednesday we flew to the Gold Coast. We heard that it snowed on the Tuesday night up near Healesville and Belgrave – see, I told you it was cold.

Here's a map of our travels:

A is Healesville
B is where we were staying in Melboure (a very interesting suburb called Box Hill)
C is Belgrave (Lakeside where the train terminated is just near Emerald)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Joys of Not Working

Day 2 of my unemployed life ... and so far, I'm loving it :)

Day 1 was spent in my youngest's class and then chatting on-line with a friend. Some housework got done too and a job application was sent off, but these were incidental to the "good stuff".

Day 2 was mainly spent at the range. I was doing "Draw and Fire Two Shots" for a couple of hours this morning. Great fun. I then had a BBQ with a fellow-shooter before returning home to the mundane things. I also had a long and interesting discussion with a would-be shooter and possible employer.

Tomorrow, I'm helping a friend with some Excel and I have another two job applications to write. I need to also start packing as we (the family) fly to Melbourne on Friday morning for a holiday.

We're away for 12 days - 5 in Melbourne and 7 on the Gold Coast. Tonight was spent on the net booking Seaworld, Dreamworld and similar tickets. I'm really looking forward to the holiday before coming back and getting serious about job hunting.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Day of Cooking

Today is a public holiday in Western Australia (Foundation Day) so the girls were home from school. My husband had to work for some of the time so I decided that it would be a good chance to do a bit more cooking with the girls.

Firstly, the girls peeled potatoes and carrots for a Corn Soup.

I sort of invented this one as we went along but the ingredients were:

1.5kg of Potato
4 carrots
.5 cup dry soup mix
1 teaspoon Asfotedia powder (herb which substitutes well for onion & garlic)
1.5 teaspoons Mixed Herbs
3 x 425gm canned corn kernels (drained)
2 cups whey (additional milk can be used instead of the whey)
1 litre milk
Salt & pepper to taste

Basically, peel and chop the carrots and potatoes, place in a large saucepan with the soup mix, asfotedia powder and mixed herbs. Add enough water so that all of the ingredients are covered. Mix. Bring to boil and then simmer until potatoes and tender, stirring occasionally.

Once the potatoes are tender stir through the corn kernels (retaining about half a cup), whey, milk, salt & pepper.

Process the soup in a blender. Mix through remaining corn kernels and serve.

The finished product:

While the potatoes and carrots for the soup were cooking we made our first batch of Panir Cheese for the day. Both girls wanted to make some - the youngest wanted hers plain, the eldest wanted to try putting herbs through hers.

Here's a (blurry) photo of the youngest stirring the milk waiting for it to foam:

Here's the youngest measuring out the yogurt (BTW this is the best yogurt I've found to make the cheese with).

My eldest daughter has created a powerpoint presentation on the whole Panir cheese making process, email me if you would like a copy.

We used the whey from this cheese in the Corn Soup (and later in the Roast Cauliflower Soup that we also made).

Once that cheese was underway the eldest and I started to make some bread, using this Basic White Bread recipe.

Both girls took turns kneading it - here's a photo of the eldest:

We used the recipe to make one loaf and four buns.

While that was rising we started on the Mini Chicken Burgers - which I've blogged about before and some coated Eggplant slices. My youngest, when asked in class last week what an Eggplant was didn't know, so I thought it time to introduce the girls to them.

I was very pleased with the girls, the eldest mixed and formed the Chicken Burgers and the youngest crumbed them.

We simply sliced the Eggplant (I used a baby one), dipped it in beaten egg and then coated them in breadcrumbs with some mixed herbs and then cooked it in a hot, non-stick fry pan.

Here's a photo of some of the Eggplant slices with the Mini Chicken Burgers cooking away:

By this time the first batch of Panir Cheese was ready and we started on the second. The only difference was that we sprinkled crushed mixed herbs through the mixture as it was spooned into the cheesecloth. I think, after tasting it, we were a bit light on with the herbs. So next time we'll be a bit more generous.

Once the bread was cooked we quickly roasted some cauliflower - cut the cauliflower into small florets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with crushed black pepper. Place in a hot oven until the ends of the florets go golden brown.

I then warmed a couple of cups of whey in a large saucepan. Microwaved two potatoes and mashed them and then mixed them into the whey. Mixed the roasted cauliflower through and then blended about 3/4 of the soup to a soupy texture. Mixed this back into the unblended soup and added the left-over yogurt (about 2 tablespoons), for a quick, but totally yummy soup.

So all in all, there were two lots of cheese, two soups, mini-chicken burgers, bread and eggplant slices all cooked this morning. What isn't eaten today will be used for lunches / dinners through the week ...

Here's some pictures to show you what the girls thought of the food:

This is my 7y.o. with the Roasted Cauliflower Soup, the bread and a mini-chicken burger.

And this is my 5y.o. with the Corn Soup, the bread and some of her cheese.

(Notice the bandaid on her thumb - this was caused by a slight knife accident when she was chopping carrots!).