Monday, December 28, 2009


This is a very delayed post of my now, not so recent, trip to Melbourne. The main purpose of which was to eat, drink and be merry; and that is pretty much all we did, that and walk, a lot!

First stop on our culinary adventure was Fifteen Melbourne. We went for lunch as we thought it would be a good way to kick things off, and indeed it was. After gingerly making our way down the steep stairs, we were shown through to the dining area, past the bar (where Toby was sitting having his lunch) to a lovely little table with an excellent view of the open kitchen (which was very calm and orderly, I must say). The waiter quickly asked us if we would like a drink, perhaps a gin and tonic, to get started, and as E and I were there with the distinct purpose of drinking a lot of gin, we were very pleased with his suggestion. Things improved when a different waitress came to ask us if we had any preference for our gin. We said we normally drank Tanqueray, and she suggested Hendricks with cucumber. After hearing its praises sung by Pips, we were very keen to try it, and it was amazing!! We couldn't get over it, so fragrant and crisp and delicious. We were truly in awe, and most definitely in love. After phwoaring over our gin for a bit we decided on the Express Lunch menu, which was two courses and a glass of wine for $35. The range was limited, but delicious all the same. We both went with the squid salad and parpadele with veal ragu. The squid salad was amazing; Beautifully cooked baby squid with a good hint of chili,and citrus with snowpea shoots and the most delicious fried capers, which were crispy little bursts of salty flavour, and were amazing. The ragu was lovely too, though the freshly made, perfectly cooked pasta was the star of the show. The nice mild red that we got as part of the lunch went perfectly with the ragu.

Breakfast the next morning was the next important stop as we found a gorgeous little Spanish cafe down a laneway off Flinders Lane and we ended up there every morning. The coffee was amazing, strong and sweet and the perfect temperature. I had sourdough toast rubbed with tomato and olive oil with a generous amount of delicious, smooth, jamon topped with parmesan. It was gorgeous. E had french toast made with brioche that came with a poached pear, maple syrup and cinnamon. It was gorgeous too, and I had it on our third visit and it lived up to my expectations. The second day we both had big breakfasts, which was huge (too much protein for me) but delicious all the same. It included delicious though quite spicy chorizo, bacon, two eggs, tomato, mushrooms and sour dough toast. After staggering out from that protein charged breakfast in search of juice, a little jazz band had set up at the end of the laneway, and we passed a good hour sitting over a coffee listening to them bust out some smooth tunes. It was really good, and left us wishing for such things in Sydney.

On Friday we wandered down the Southbank and were lured into a very stylish bar by the prospect of beer and by a Virginia Woolf quote by the menu. I can't remember what it was called for the life of me, but the wait staff were very attentive and lovely. We decided on some bar-type food, though this was pretty special bar food. We ordered goats cheese cigars which were the most delicate pastry filled with chived goats cheese. One end was dipped in what seemed to be dehydrated raspberries and it came with an olive caramel. It was beautiful and one of the most intriguing flavour combinations I have had. We also got some Wagu beef sliders (mini-burgers). This tender piece of wagu was served on a mini brioche bun with a pickle and blue cheese. They were very tasty indeed.

Dinner that night was much anticipated. We went to Comme a beautiful French restaurant, which I will say right away the food was delicious. Our table wasn't quite ready when we arrived so we waited in the bar with a gin and tonic, though sadly not Hendricks, and people watched for a bit. It was a lovely bar with nice, sensible, smart looking people, somewhere you would like to come for a few drinks and some of the very delicious sounding bar food. We were ushered in to the restaurant and eventually decided on our meals. I had the new seasons lamb with aubergine puree and garlic fondant and sauce ratatouille, though it is changed on the online menus slightly. It was delicious. There were two or three different cuts of lamb, all cooked perfectly, and the garlic and aubergine went wonderfully. The sauce was a very delicate , thin ratatouille with tiny pieces of capsicum, though it was a bit too capsicumy for me (I should have paid more attention when ordering. E ordered the Western plains rabbit, foie gras croquette, etuvee of courgette flower, crystal bay prawns, hazelnuts and tarragon. It looked amazing and E's reports were that it tasted fantastic. It included several different parts of the rabbit and was a beautiful well balanced dish. It was E's favourite of the trip. For dessert, although I was almost swayed by the poached peach, we both decided on the chocolate fondant with milk sorbet. We were happy to wait the 20 minutes for it to arrive and curiously watched what the other diners were getting. Due to a bit of a back log in the kitchen it took more than 20 minutes, and our lovely waiter couldn't have been more apologetic and came back several times to let us know the progress of the fondant and to assure us that it was worth the wait, and indeed it was. It was possibly one of the best desserts I have ever had, and certainly the best chocolate fondant. It was perfectly oozing in the middle, soft, tender, rich and delicious. The milk sorbet was the perfect accompaniment, and we did all but lick our plates clean.

Saturday night dinner would turn out to be the highlight for me and it was, I have to say, one of the best meals of my life. Gills Diner was our port of call, on what was a cold and rainy Melbourne evening. Set down a little alleyway, Gills is a charming little place with loads of character and a friendly, if noisy, atmosphere. We had an early booking, and although we were early were shown straight to our table. We were pleased to see that they had Hendricks, and quickly ordered some. Deciding what to eat was another question, as everything on the menu sounded delicious. We had heard that the meals were quite hearty so after a delicious selection of bread with excellent butter, we decided to start with a main. I decided on the pork, which was a roast Otway pork chop (clearly from a rack of pork) with a pumpkin and chorizo puree, a fennel and apple salad and asparagus. The pork was perfectly cooked. The meat was tender and juicy and the crackling was to die for. The pure was amazing, rich and smooth, and a generous amount. There was also a drizzle of heavily reduced cooking juices, which was perfect. The fennel and apple salad was finely chopped, like a coleslaw and the asparagus, which was white asparagus had been lightly battered and fried. It was a wonderful, tasty and perfectly balanced meal. E ordered a special, which was an eye fillet steak topped with an olive crust served with potatoes, cabbage, onion and bacon. Though full, we were sorely tempted by the dessert menu and decided on basil panacotta with strawberries and pistachioes. All I can say is wow! The panacotta was perfect, niether rubbery nor runny. It was a beautiful green and the flavour of basil was both distinct and subtle. The strawberry had been cooked and the syrup around was perfect with the panacotta. We were also persuaded into a dessert wine. We weren't sure which to choose and asked for one that would match the dessert, and we were not disappointed. The staff were lovely again and the whole experience was wonderful.

We finished off the evening with a trip to the Paris Cat jazz club where we saw Kimba and the Gin remedy - which was a fantastic show, if you like jazz and ever see her playing I can't recommend her strongly enough. Her band was wonderful, her husband was the lead guitarist and musical director, and was just amazing. All in all, it was a wonderful way to round off a wonderful day.

Our final culinary stop was Giuseppe Arnaldo & sons where we had a bit of an antipasto selection. We had some delicious Cacciatore salami, A ricotta basket with chili, lemon, mint and grilled bruschetta and aranchini made with spinach risotto. Again, Hendricks gin rounded off the meal.

We left Melbourne full and content and wishing that we could afford to eat and drink like this always.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Caramel Slice

It has been quite a hectic few weeks since I last posted including my annual review (which I survived), our Post Graduate Conference which I gave a paper at (again, survived the ordeal) and watching the entire first season of Trueblood in just over 24 hours. My supervisor goes on maternity leave in less than a month and I have a chapter due before then. Little does she know I am going to Melbourne, which may result in a small chapter and a large amount of gin.

I also, stupidly, started a diet. I realise now, that not only do I like food a lot, I don't like being told what to eat, at all, and that 115g of ham is a hell of a lot of ham. I have, unsurprisingly, strayed from said diet, but may reengage it at a later stage as I am to be bridesmaid for my friend whose impromptu engagement party was the recipient of Chocolate-Guinness Tirimasu and wouldn't mind being a bit thinner for the occasion.

Baking has been a bit quite as a result. I did make some choc-chip cookies which almost ended in disaster when I realised after I put half in the oven that I hadn't added the Bi-Carb to the mix. After quickly withdrawing them from the oven and adding them back into the mixture, I ended up with marble cookies as the chocolate had already started to melt.

My most recent endeavour is caramel slice which I made as a result of an open can of condensed milk and this recipie for Dulce de Leche. I decided I should turn it into something, rather than just eat it all in its rich, creamy glory straight from the dish.

Having never made caramel slice before, it was good to make and the delcious tray of caramelly goodness in the fridge makes me want to make it again. I just made a digestive biscuit base, added the caramel and a very thin layer of dark chocolate. The thinness of the chocolate contributed to the cracking, but I don't care as it tastes fantastic.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

When good cakes go bad...

I am insanely busy at the moment, thesis, tutoring, life in general, all hectic. Despite all this, I couldn't miss an opportunity to celebrate with my good friend and her boyfriend, who got engaged last week. This saw me rush home from work with slight detours at the shops to make a cake, have it cooled and iced all in 3 hours. I also wanted to get some marking done, eat lunch, and write a job application. It doesn't need saying that I got very few of those things done, and with mixed results.

I decided on Nigella's chocolate Guinness cake, which I have made numerous times, as it is easy and involves no beating of butter, sugar etc as it starts its life in a saucepan. Something went wrong in the baking process as it rose gloriously, and then sunk, terribly, so much so that no amount of icing could have filled the void. I thought I would turn it over and ice the bottom - sweet. No, it didn't come out of the tin well (I rushed it, I know, and it was a new tin, silly me) - it was ugly, ragged and sunken and it was an hour before I had to leave - no time for a new cake or baked goods.

Then I remembered trifle - the saviour of cakes gone bad. From trifle I turned my thoughts to tirimasu, as the cake has a cream cheese icing - and from there the decision was easy, and the result I must say delicious (possibly better than the original).

Chocolate-Guinness Tirimasu
1 Chocolate Guinness Cake
1 packet of cream cheese
250 ml or so of thickened cream
(though you easily could use 1 1/2 or double the amount of cream/cream cheese)
100 g Pure icing sugar
Splash of Brandy (or whatever is left in the bottom of the bottle from Christmas cooking)
Sweet Sherry to douse the cake
Cocoa for dusting
1 packet of Frozen Raspberries thawed slightly in the fridge

Cut the dishevelled cake into thin slices.

Beat together the cream, cream cheese, icing sugar and brandy with an electric beater until smooth and fluffy.

Add a layer of cake to a trifle/any bowl. Douse with sherry, as the cake is quite dense I think you can be quite heavy handed with this.

Add a layer of the cream cheese mixture.

Repeat with the cake, sherry and cream cheese. (If you do double the cream cheese, you could do another layer of cake as you will have some left over) Dust over a generous layer of cocoa.

Leave in the fridge to do its thing until you are ready to eat.

Top with raspberries before serving.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I have spent my whole life thinking I didn't really like cheesecake, but secretly knowing that if I had a homemade one, that I would love it. The flavour combinations of cheesecakes always lure me in, I have spent hours looking at recipes, yet I have never made one...until now.

My little sister turned 16 last week, and as cheesecake is her favourite dessert I decided that it was the time to make it. She decided on Nigella's London Cheesecake, which I felt was a pretty good place to start.

My hand held mixer- which I borrowed several years ago from my grandma when our proper mixer died - was not happy with beating the cream cheese - making horrible screeching noises and casting off a nasty smell - but I persisted and eventually got to the lovely soft texture required. The rest went off without a hitch. After 50 minutes in the oven I added the layer of sour cream, vanilla and sugar as per the recipe. For whatever reason it didn't keep its lovely whiteness, but it was still lovely and added a nice touch.

The cheesecake was wonderful. Amazingly creamy, full of vanilla and just what I had been missing all these years! I shall be entering whole heartedly into the world of cheesecakes now, however, I may have to step it up at the gym to compensate!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I hate having to start these posts with an apology for how slack I have been, though I have been very slack this past few months. Apologies.

Thesis work is moving at a moderate to slow pace, and despite my asking for continuous extensions, and consistently failing to get things in on the date we agreed on, my ever patient supervisor is yet to wash her hands of me. My most recent chapter was well received, and I am trying to think about the next one. There is a moderate degree of stress building however, as my supervisor is pregnant, which is wonderful, but will be on maternity leave the semester I was planning to submit. This is a problem. I am thinking I will defer first semester next year and either go to England for a bit, or tutor a lot, but mainly work hard and try to write up and then try to submit as soon as possible after June.

In the baking world, things have been much more interesting especially since I have entered the world of creme patisserie, and am not looking back. My first effort was Nigella's chocolate meringue layer cake, of which the filling is a deliciously rich chocolate creme patisserie, and the second foray was with profiteroles. Not being familiar with choux pastry either, I made the first batch unmanageably small as I thought that they would expand more than they did, and also thought I was using a recipe that my friend said made a lot. ( I worked out a week later that I was not). The second batch were much better, though I need to work on my piping technique. The vanilla creme patisserie was beautiful, and over all I was quite pleased with my efforts. When I have more time and energy, I will revisit this new and wonderful world. I think next I will make a fruit flan.... I do love them.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Poached Pears

Since my last post nothing has been done on my thesis, which is a terrible thing. The stress of having too much to do prevents you from doing anything, which compounds the stress you already feel, which in a vicious cycle, makes you do even less.

On the upside, I enjoyed, immensely, my time house sitting, getting into the Balmain lifestyle, making friends with the Gourmet Grocer, watching too much of the food channel, drinking, and having people over for dinner almost every night. My bank balance will, I am sure, be suffering for this extravagance, seeing I am only working one day a week at the moment, but, what is money when good friends and good food are to be had.

The highlights of the two weeks were a curry made with ginger, chili, turmeric, coriander, cumin and cardamon and chicken, pumpkin, and eggplant; Roast beef, which made delicious sandwiches the next day; a beef, eggplant and zucchini tagine, made with Herbie's Moroccan spice mix. I added dates and then honey at the end, it really was lovely with just the right amount of heat and fragrant spice; Moussaka, made with beef and pork mince, a bottle of white wine, beef and chicken stock, plenty of garlic, onions etc...and apart from almost dropping it on the floor as I took it out of the oven, it was amazing.

I didn't deprive my guests of dessert, and after making some more crumble topping, I made apple crumble one night, followed by mixed berry crumble the next. The berry crumble was by far the winner. I just used frozen mixed berries, a splash of vanilla, and a little brown sugar, let that sit whilst I finished dinner, and then topped it with the crumble and baked.

The overall winner, however, was poached pears. I have never made them before, and I couldn't find a recipe that I liked. Jamie's recipe wanted me to bake them in the oven, I didn't have time for that. Nigella doesn't seem to have one in the books I have, briefly looking on the BBC site, I couldn't find one that I wanted. I had, however seen Valentine Warner on his show What to Eat nowpoaching some pears, so armed with that and Jamie's recipe I proceeded.

Poached Pears:

1 Bottle of red wine
4 pears (though I could have fitted 6 or even 8 at a push)
Around a cup of caster sugar
Rind of half a lemon in thick strips
Juice of the lemon
A couple of Star Anise
A couple of Cinnamon sticks
A xouple of good slugs of vanilla
Knob of butter
Creme Fraiche

Peel the pears (slightly better than I did)
Add all the remaining ingredients to a saucepan big enough for the pears. Bring to the boil. Add the pears and cook for about 20 minutes until the pears are tender, turning the pears a couple of times if they aren't covered in the liquid. (My pears were pretty soft do didn't need a great deal of cooking). Leave to cool slightly in the warm liquid.

Divide the creme fraiche amongst the bowls. Place the pears on top. Meanwhile, reduce some of the poaching liquid, adding a bit more sugar to help sweeten and thicken it. Once reduced, add a knob of butter to make it silky and glossy. Pour over the pears and put any remaining syrup in a jug to add as you eat.

The (almost) best part of poaching the pears, however was not the delicious deep red pears, it was the remaining, unreduced poaching liquid, which I reheated, added a little more sugar to, and poured into a tall glass with a couple of shots of cointreau. Delicious, citrusy, peary, spicy mulled wine.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

'In the shape of some fragmented journal'

After a string of posts, I have once again become terribly slack in my blogging, and I do apologise, though I have had nothing of note to say. (perhaps I still don't).

I have finished my tutoring for this semester, all the marking is done, I just have to record the marks and haggle with my supervisor on the scaling. So this is excellent. I am now waiting, anxiously, to hear if I will be tutoring next semester. I hopefully will be doing a 20th C course, that I took when I was a first year, many moons a go. So fingers crossed.

Other points of interest were another trip to the Lord Nelson Pub where many pints were drunk, and where the pie with mushy peas (well peas that were mushed), mash and gravy was had. It was all very delicious, and Nelson enjoyed him self as well.

These pics are courtesy of my good friend Brennan

In other news, Mr A has booked his flights to Australia for a holiday in January next year. It is all very exciting and now we just have to work out our movements as he has family in Adelaide and Melbourne and go to see them before I spend a bit of time showing him round Sydney and its surrounds (and convincing him that he really wants to live here).

Finally, on the baking front, which was been relatively silent, I have made White Chocolate cheesecake cookies from Hungry and Frozen, as prompted by Foodycat. They are delicious, so creamy and tender and delicious, though I didn't enjoy them warm, patience in this case, is a virtue.

I shall try to be more diligent with the blogging, but seeing I have a chapter due in just over a week, perhaps it will have to wait. On the other hand, uni work tends to make me blog like fury, so you never know your luck!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Speedy French Toast

As I mentioned, Mr A is in Paris for the Bank holiday weekend, and I am very jealous. I have taken to using google translator to write in French to one of my friends, though she started it, and I have also indulged in my newly discovered love of French Toast.

I have actually been craving it, in one form or another since Foodycat posted her delcious sounding Torrijas almost a month a go! A month is a long time to be craving something, and when the something arrives, it has big shoes to fill!!

Though I am very busy marking, I needed some down time, as well a break from sitting at my desk which is killing my back/shoulder/neck for whatever reason. I decided that last night was the time for French Toast action.

Needing to be speedy, and without enough Sherry to make Torrijas, I hastened to Speedy Nigella (Nigella Express), for her Doughnut French Toast. I didn't use thick white bread, just a normal pan loaf, and forgot to half the number of eggs, as I was only serving me, but it worked a treat. I let the bread soak for 5 minutes total, not 5 minutes a side. Delicious. Egg, vanilla and sugar. A wonderful supper.

This, however, did not satisfy my craving.

Breakfast this morning, I needed more French toast. I wanted something different, more breakfast-y. My weapon of choice, Nigella's Orange French Toast. Again I halved the recipe, remembering to only use one egg, though for the amount of bread (two pan slices)I could have used two. Now this was fantastic! Marmalade, cinnamon, egg, oranges. It was almost like Spanish Macaroons in French toast form! This was a winner, enjoyed with lots of syrup and two cups of tea. I am picturing lazy Sundays making this in my dressing gown, reading the paper and relaxing. I hope Mr A likes marmalade! (If not, ah well, more for me!)


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Zucchinni and Mint Fritters

In a break with tradition, my title is not a quote from Jane Austen, as I really don't have a lot to say that relates to Jane Austen, but am mainly posting because of the delicious lunch/dinner that I made myself today!

I am still in the throws of marking, though the end is nigh, sort of. Mr A is off to Paris for the Bank Holiday weekend, so I am very jealous and wish, more than ever, that I could be there too! Perhaps next year.

Back to food. I came home from work hungry as I normally do on a Saturday as I work 8-2.30 without lunch. I wanted something substantial but light at the same time, as well as being quick and easy, also making use of the zucchini's I had the the fridge. I picked up some goats cheese feta and some labneh on my way home, and decided that Zucchini and mint fritters were the order of the day. The recipe is based on one that a friend, P from mdw, posted ages ago and it has since been languishing in my "recipes I must try" folder. Today was its day.

4 small zucchini's (about 400g, grated
150 g feta, crumbled (or goats cheese, as I said I used goats cheese feta, so the best of both worlds)
Small handful grated Parmesan
Small handful of mint, finely chopped
Half an onion, grated finely
2 eggs
about 90 g plain flour
A generous amount of cracked black pepper

Combine grated zucchini with the cheeses, mint and black pepper.
Beat the eggs and add to the mix along with the flour. Mix well.

Heat oil in pan. Add heaped dessert spoon dollops of the mixture into the pan, flatten and cook about 2 minutes each side until golden.

Serve with labneh and more pepper, or they are great on their own. Freshly squeezed lemon would not go astray.
Makes 12-15 fritters.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

"My feelings will not be repressed"

Three times in one week! I think this is a record for me!

I had my annual review this morning, and all my anxiety regarding it was relatively unfounded, and while it wasn't "wow! you are amazing" it was good and I will consider the comments of my reader. Some of the comments were a bit strange, but she suggested I needed to take a step back from the material and not get too caught up in the story. I think the story is the best part, and I can't help feeling for them, as I am feeling some very similar things myself at the moment as the long-distance thing continues. Obviously we are not at war, and Mr A isn't fighting or even in the Navy, but the similarities are there. I have also managed to convince them that I am on track to submit next year, which is good. Now I just have to convince myself!

In more exciting things, and continuing with the chocolate theme, I made some delicious muffins earlier in the week. I have decided that they are to be called "Chocolate Brownie Muffins" as I kind of made them up.

Following a basic Muffin recipe (Plain flour, bi-carb, 2 eggs, 125 ml oil) I added 100g dark brown sugar, a block of dark chocolate, melted, a tbs milk, a few oats and a packet of dark chocolate chips. Baked for 20 min and cooled in the tin. ( I tried to take one out earlier and it wasn't firm enough). They probably would have benefited from some walnuts, but very delicious and not too sweet.


Monday, May 18, 2009

" doubt not that you are an adept in the science yourself"

You will be amazed and astounded that I am keeping my promise of more regular blogging.

An overwhelming desire for chocolate and a curiosity at Just cook it'schocolate mousse, I decided to give chocolate mousse made out of only chocolate and water a go.

It worked....sort of. The chocolate didn't go grainy as the chocolate-hates-water theory suggests, but it didn't thicken either. I beat it for 40 minutes, once my arm died, with an electric beater. The texture changed, and it was full of air, so I put it in the fridge and it did get thicker. It was delicious and I will try it again for better success. I think it might have been due to my scales being unreliable and therefore getting the chocolate/water balance wrong. But still delicious and almost virtuous, it was half water after all!


Sunday, May 17, 2009

"A faithful promise! "

I seem to open all my posts with a disclaimer about what a slack blogger I have been and promises to improve greatly in the near future. This hopefully will be true this time as Semester (thankfully) draws to a close.

Things have been busy and tiring lately, but good. I am enjoying tutoring for the most part, and (legitimately) got to talk about Nelson in class a few weeks ago. I stopped at pulling out my Nelson figurine and placing him on the desk next to my 'nothing says "hello, sailor" quite like ruby red lipstick' pencil case. I am hoping to maintain some semblance of sanity so that the students can't claim special consideration on the grounds that I am mad.

It is annual review time this week, so while I am nervous I had a pep talk from my supervisor on Thursday and I am hoping the positive reinforcement lasts until Thursday this week.

I have incidentally been spending a lot of time on the Internet, procrastinating, but also just to give me little breaks in between marking and the like. I have therefore been reading every one's blogs, and as such was inspired today by Foodycat's most recent post to make something delicious for dinner. Out of the ingredients in the recipe I only had Haloumi, which didn't stop me. I had zucchini as a replacement for sausages and eggplant and grape tomatoes for peppers. I laid them all on the tray with two cloves of sliced garlic, a little olive oil and a good crack of black pepper. I let it all roast away for 15 minutes or so and then ate (ashamedly most of it!) with a good squeeze of lemon. Lovely!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

"You think it a faithful portrait undoubtedly"

I have been a bit silent of late, and I do apologise,the week "off" over Easter was greatly appreciated, though I could have done with two weeks. I am no where near where I want to be with my thesis work. Tutorials are going well however, and the feedback I have gotten from the students has been overwhelmingly positive, which is great.

Taking advantage of a lovely autumnal day we went to the Art Gallery to see the Archibalds. It was heaving with people, we had to wait in line for 10 minutes just to get tickets! The exhibition was good, though not overly profound. The highlight of the morning was seeing Bonita from Playschool in the crowd. That being said there were some very good portraits, particularly one of the little kid from Australia, that was stunning.

We then went to The Lord Nelson Pub for a pint (of real ale!!!) and lunch. We have been meaning to go here for about 5 years, and it didn't disappoint! I went for Fish and Chips and an Admiral's Ale, which was delicious, I am very much looking forward to going back there when I don't have to drive home and having several pints. It is a lovely pub though, and I am curious about the accommodation too. I am scheming for when Mr. A comes out to visit, it might be a nice place to stay for a weekend.

On the baking front, it has been also been a bit silent, or at least not worthy of photography. I did make some more choc-chip cookies, like the ones I made previously, but they turned out so different as I left out about 90 g of flour for oats. They were much crunchier, though equally delicious. I will make another batch tonight I think. I made ANZAC's too, but they weren't quite right. I think they needed more golden syrup. I will try again.

My Annual review paper is due in about 3 weeks. I haven't done it and I don't want to think about it. The panel is pretty nasty, and it isn't a stretch to say I am very nervous and anxious about the whole thing. Fingers crossed they don't hate me. Perhaps baking to soften them up might be the way to go!?

Ah well, better go and do some of the work that I have been putting off.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

"The very next day however produced some proof of inspiration"

I have been hideously unproductive this weekend, and whilst part of me is raging, for the most part I don't care and I have enjoyed watching the rest of season 2 of Buffy (oh the angst, it is so unfair!). I have now moved on to an episode of Hornblower...research purposes of course. I shall of course, get down to work tomorrow, or later tomorrow.

After working at my non-history job on Saturday, and comforting an elderly woman for forgetting her wallet, I turned around and did the same thing myself in the evening. It made paying for dinner a difficult experience, thankfully my friend helped me out, but also driving home during double demerits rather disconcerting. I back streeted it, and arrived home unscathed.

After speaking to Mr A this morning, I had a nice day. I cooked roast lamb for lunch and then pear, walnut and ginger crumble for dessert. Foodycat's friands got me thinking about the pears and walnuts I had in the house, and with limited eggs, my thoughts turned to crumble. Using the pie lady's recipe for the crumble, I stewed the pears and two granny smith apples with a little sugar, water and a cinnamon stick, and then stirred in a good teaspoon of ground ginger once it was cooked. I used walnuts instead of pecans, and it worked very well. The topping was great, just what I want in a crumble, crunchy, chewy, crumbly. Served with custard (Birds not real, again due to limited eggs) it was a nice end to a nice lunch.


Friday, April 10, 2009

"I have sometimes thought of going to London again after Easter"

The last few weeks have been somewhat crazy. Tutoring and marking have somewhat consumed my life, and my PhD has gone by the wayside. Tutoring itself is going really well, marking I hate and am now anxiously awaiting the avalanche of complaints. Mr A is good, though still in England, and it is a bit of a downer being apart, especially for the long weekend when we are both doing nothing in particular. I am secretly wondering if I need another research trip, I am sure I could pitch it legitimately to the uni and my supervisor...maybe....

I hope over the coming week to get back to my own work and have some down time, which I seriously need. Today I made a good start on that, by watching several more episodes of Buffy! (Phwoar, urst, angst!) I also made some hot cross buns, from Nigella Feast. I am tempted to make them again and let them rise in the fridge overnight as she suggests as they could be more tender. Though infusing the milk with spices before adding it to the dry ingredients and ground spices, awesome. I didn't pay much attention to presentation so they are a little ugly, but really, it is what is on the inside that counts. (Sorry that there are two missing from the picture, they smelt so good we couldn't wait!)

I hope everyone has a good Easter, or long weekend, which ever takes your fancy.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"I really cannot be plaguing myself for ever with all the new poems"

After watching some Doctor Who on the weekend, I realised that I am missing and will continue to miss Doctor Who this year, I am not sure that the five specials will be enough. The next one airs at Easter I believe, so hopefully we will get it here not long after.

Whilst I was in Ireland, my sister asked me to help her with an English assignment in which she had to write poetry. After writing a very tortured one on Jane Austen that Virgina Woolf would have liked, I was told to write one a 15 year old would write (yes I was doing my sister's homework!)Oh and it had to be on culture. (I think my sister had already written an ode to her ipod) So, I picked, the culture of Doctor Who. I thought I would share it with you, even though you will all laugh, and probably will stop talking to me as a result.

Anyway, enjoy, my poem,

"On Watching Doctor Who"

As evening draws in
And the TV flickers,
The Doctor dances
And the villain snickers.

Eagerly awaiting,
The sound that we love,
The Doctor is coming,
Up there, from above!

The sofa is pulled out,
Away from the wall
For when the Daleks attack,
It will defend one and all!

The Doctor appears,
Flashes a cheeky grin,
With me by his side,
He is certain to win.

For a moment I think,
It is me in his box,
Fighting aliens and monsters,
Not wearing bed socks.

As the theme song sounds,
And rings out Wohooo,
I know I am dreaming,
I know its not true.

The Daleks attack,
The Cybermen too,
I can’t wait until next week,
I love Doctor Who!

(an embarrassed, slightly nerdy) HH

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"With unpardonable arrogance"

I think one thing I hate is arrogance, particularly unfounded arrogance stemmed from ignorance and a big ego. (Possibly small other things, but I won't make assumptions or lower the tone of the blog.) I attended a workshop on Thursday, which whilst I got some constructive feedback, one of the other participants got on my nerves so much that everything seemed beyond saving, and I was ready to un-enroll at the end of the session!! He felt it was his place, without knowing anything about my topic, to give me very direct criticism, and tell me what I should be doing and reading, without any evidence that the historiography he suggested even existed. He also interrupted others giving genuine advice to point out typos. He also said "Yadda, Yadda, Yadda", a lot, as part of making an argument. Where was he from, 1993? I really was livid, I think I could have rivalled mscrankypants and SSS with my level of ranting about the general fuckwittage of this fellow.

I am over it now, but as I had been feeling so good about things on Wednesday, I think what I could normally brush off hit me a lot harder. My armour was down. This has, in turn lead to much procrastination and a total lack of motivation. I am trying to rectify this now, though blogging perhaps is not the best way to show that I am working hard.

Neither is baking....but we had some bananas...and choc-chips, what is a girl to do? I made some chocolate-chip and banana muffins, from Speedy Nigella's Butterscotch and Banana muffins, which are very good. Moist, chocolaty, not too much banana, and good for you as they have fruit in them!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"So says my historian"

I am now officially a tutor having survived two weeks of classes. The first week went pretty well. I was less than brilliant in the first one, but by the second I was finding my feet and by the third and the fourth I was in my element. I really did enjoy it and as general concept it is good. This is big from me whose main goal is to be invisible where possible. I also distinctly remember saying I would never be a tutor. How times change, though I think apart from the good experience this all falls into doing things I wouldn't normally do, which has been my successful New Years Resolution two years running. It was good to be able to talk in tutes, something I rarely did as an undergrad, and the students spoke as well (bonus). It is a bit strange being asked my opinion on essays and things, when it will affect their marks if I tell them something crap or wrong, but I suppose I am marking them so I can do what I like! (mwhahahah)

I have a busy week so far and have a workshop tomorrow with an Historian from England which I crammed all weekend and wrote a mostly new chapter for, and then tutor training on Friday. It is strange in the last month or two I think I have become an historian, at least in my own mind, which sounds a bit pretentious, but it isn't meant to be. I think I have just reached a point where I know what I am doing, where I am going, and where I actually fit into all this work I have been doing!! So that is a nice feeling.

Despite all the work I have to do today, I baked choc-chip cookies this morning. Just from the AWW "Cook" book, but they are pretty good. Chewy in the middle but crisp on the edges, chocolaty, vanilla-y and lovely. I was worried when I ate one too soon of the tray that they weren't right, but no I was wrong, they are right. Perfect with milk, good with coffee, and thankfully it made a huge batch so the four I ate in a row won't be missed.


Friday, February 27, 2009

"There is nothing to be alarmed at in reality"

It is four weeks now since I left England, *sigh*, and reality is well and truly setting in. It has been lovely seeing friends here and catching up, though I am missing England and a particular Englishman an awful lot. It is amazing how quickly I have started to fall back into old routines. I am back to work at my Saturday job, but have told my typing job to shove their typing up their arses, (not in so many words) as they were going to decrease my rate of pay from the miserable amount it was to an even more miserable amount. This was, I was told, because of the drop in the Aussie Dollar. For an Australian company, hiring Australian workers in Australia and only taking Australian jobs, I can't see how that would be an issue. However I think it will be the best thing I have ever done, and a wonderful feeling to tell them that I would be unable to proceed!

However, to make up for the lack of this job, I have taken on a new venture, tutoring at uni!(argh) My supervisor is also the lecturer on the course, and I am the only tutor, so those things are in my favour, though having never tutored before, I am naturally freaking out!! I am a little excited, perhaps 1%. Mr A thinks it is great, and it will be good experience, if it doesn't send me over the edge!

It seems like I am going to be insanely busy this year, which will be good in a way as it will make it pass by quickly. Though as I want to try and finish up ASAP, I hope it doesn't melt away too fast!!I have so much to do on my thesis, but a new sense of determination and motivation is pushing me on. Some how I have broken it up into 10 chapters, of which I have written the equivalent of 4, but all of which will need to be redone. I am thinking March next year, my supervisor is thinking July....we will see. It will be a battle of wills and if I can defeat procrastination, I might just do it!


Friday, February 20, 2009

"They left England with the probability of being nearly a twelvemonth absent."

After leaving Ireland I had a week and a half left in England, to enjoy and misadventure as I saw fit. Lunch with Foodycat was my first port of call, and then I headed South to see Mr A. We explored the delights of his little local pub, which was a good real ale pub, and where we had Smoke Beer which was an unique, strange and delicious beer in which the barely is smoked prior to being used for the beer. Poor weather kept us indoors and then poor organisation prevented us from going anywhere too far a field. However we took a reasonably optimistic weather forecast and headed to Battle for the day to see the Battle of Hastings site, which was very interesting and rather beautiful. We rambled about in the mud most of the afternoon and then went to the pub for a quick pint. Four pints later we were both starving (and getting a little drunk) so we marched back up the hill for dinner and another pint before making our way home on the train. We also headed to Ramsgate for the day, though the weather was bloody awful and the ship we went to see disappointing. I think we ended up walking about 8 miles, again in mud! I was up to my ankles in mud, and if I had of had long petticoats on (thankfully I was wearing a shorter dress and slip than dear Lizzy), oh my, 6 inches deep I'm sure they would have been. It was too cold and far to go to the main harbour, so I didn't see where dear Georgiana had almost eloped, but walking along the cliffs, I could imagine it quite well. It actually felt almost Gothic, so it wasn't altogether unliterary. The misdaventuring went really well, and so now I have to work out what to do about it, I don't want the story to stop here, and niether does Mr A, so we will see. It is now a question of if he can come over for a holiday at Christmas, and when I can get over there, perhaps for more than a holiday....But I won't bore you anymore, but will just put up some pictures. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"How much your friends in Ireland must be enjoying your pleasure on this occasion"

Once more my bold resolve to blog more often has weakened and failed, even though procrastination should be at an all time high. Surprisingly, it is not.

I thought I would blog, mainly in pictures, the end of my UK trip. It was a wonderful trip, not least of all due to my misadventures, but also it was wonderful spending time with my extended family, particularly my Nana, with whom I spent many an evening just sitting quietly with, watching telly and chatting. Whilst in Ireland we did a lot of driving and saw a lot of the country which was lovely, as well as taking in some nice pubs and spending time with the family. Needless to say there were many tears shed as well all left Ireland, though hopefully it will not be so long between drinks and we will be back there again soon. More on my last week in England will follow shortly, but for now here are some of my favourite pictures from Ireland.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"that upon an average we cleared about five pints a head"

Being in Ireland, of an age to be drinking, and inspired by Mr A, I decided that I should try as many different stouts as possible. I quite like Guinness at home, but know that it is better in Ireland, closer to the source. Though having tried a can of Guinness after making a Beef and Guinness stew for Mr A, we thought that it was a bit on the watery side, even though everyone kept saying that it was thick oily stuff. Thinking it was perhaps because it was in a can, I was determined to have it on draught to see if I was mistaken.

On our jaunt to Belfast we tried a Chocolate Stout which was brewed using cocco, and while it was nice, it wasn't on draught, and didn't quite have the taste that we were looking for. Whilst in the first pub we fell in with some men, one of whom was a member of CAMRA who was bemoaning the evils of Guinness and their monopoly on the Stout market. He pointed us in the direction of the John Hewitt Bar hoping they would have a non-Guinness stout. They didn't have one on tap, so we settled for German Black beer instead, which was lovely. It wasn't pretending to be thick like one imagines a stout should be, but was full of flavour. The two we tried were bitburger and Kostritzer, the latter of which was the favourite.

I headed down South last week, and was determined to work my way through a good few pints of stout. The first evening I had a Guinness as there was no other stout on offer. It was better on draught than in the can, but still was lacking a depth of flavour. Perhaps, I thought, I was seeking a holy grail of stout that didn't exist. In Dublin I backed my Dad's enthusiasm for a slightly dodgy looking pub because they offered Beamish, a stout from Cork, on Tap. This was getting closer to what I was after. A fuller flavoured stout than Guinness, though not bitter. A nice creamy head and no disappointing watery texture. I was very impressed. For dinner we trooped into another pub off O'Connell St, and another stout was on offer, Murphy's. Again it had a fuller flavour than Guinness, but was lovely and smooth, like the Beamish.

A small pub in Roscrea was our next stop where I had a pint of "Good Guinness" according the the barman, and indeed it was good, better than the previous pint, but a lighter option to Beamish and Murphy's.

In my uncle's pub I indulged in more Murphy's and then I pulled myself a pint of Guinness, which had its merits for having pulled it. All in all I am pleased that there are other stout options than Guinness, and that I am now an established Stout drinker, to add to my love of Ale which was carefully nurtured and trained whilst in England. I won't know what to do with myself when I go back home and have to make do not only with no real ale, no varieties of stout and worst of all no pint glasses!!