Monthly Archives: July 2012

An award!

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I arrived down south with the sprogs a few days ago, but without my mobile internet stick.  Horror!  Even being down here away from it all I couldn’t dispel that niggling sense of unease that comes with being disconnected.  I’m not super geekie or into all things network, but I do need to have my daily hit of blogging, emailing and generalised surfing.  Kind of like my morning coffee…  So when Wal arrived, connectivity in hand, I couldn’t wait to fire up the laptop.

It was a very exciting and lovely surprise to be greeted with the Versatile Bloggers award!  Thank you to Carla Sue from eat sweet!

Carla bakes the most scrumptious sweet treats – and they look fabulous too! I am looking forward to trying out a number of her recipes. I think my first indulgence will have to be the peanut butter brownie cookie sandwiches:

peanut butter brownie cookie sandwiches.

Part of getting this award means sharing 7 things about myself:

  1. I have 2 kids.
  2. I have 2 cats.
  3. I have 2 boats.
  4. I love boats: afternoons of food, wine and spectacular views out on the water.  What could be a better way to spend a day?
  5. I love the south coast of New South Wales.
  6. I love Sydney Harbour.
  7. I love and devour books and magazines – about anything: fiction, biographies, cookbooks, gardening, craft, nature, boating, birds, etc. etc.

Another part of getting this award is that I get to nominate 15 other blogs for this award too!  Here is my list – and if you would like to nominate this award to some of your favourite blogs, please do! (see the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award at the end of the post). Congratulations on your great blogs!

Books, cupcakes, and cats …

Baking Makes Things Better

thejodester

petit4chocolatier

Words and Herbs

The Seaside Baker

The Saucy Apron

eclectic faerie

six degrees north

Life Seeds

Daily Illuminations

Daydream Believing

installari

Alice in Baking Land

Grace Cakes

Versatile Blogger Award – Rules for Winners

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to their blog.

2. Choose fifteen blogs to nominate and let them know by leaving a comment.

3. Request that the chosen blogs pass on the award to their favourite fifteen.

4. Copy and paste the award on your blog post.

5. List seven things about yourself.

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Creamy Vegetable Spaghetti

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This is a wonderful warming vegetarian pasta meal for a cold winters night.  It is absolutely delicious and satisfies the sprogs never ending demand for noodles. If you have a die hard meat eater to please you could add a few finely chopped rashers of bacon.

This is another recipe adapted from the Australian Good Taste ‘Cook the Issue’ challenge (July 2012).  The recipe calls for dried egg spaghetti pasta, but making your own is a great activity to share with the sprogs on a cold afternoon during winter school holidays. Obviously this turns a quick easy meal into a lengthy afternoon of cooking acitivity, but homemade pasta is always a joy and kids love making pasta!

Spaghetti Recipe

  • 325 g  flour (pasta flour is definitely best and is readily available in supermarkets)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T olive oil

Place flour in a mound on a smooth clean surface and hollow out a depression in the middle. Crack eggs into the depression and add salt and oil.  Mix the ingredients in the well and gradually incorporate the flour around it.  If the dough is too dry or wet you can adjust it. If too dry, add a few drops of oil or water at a time and re-mix, or if too wet, add a sprinkle of flour and re-mix until the dough forms a workable consistency.

Knead the dough by pushing down and away from your body, then turning and pushing down and away again.  Knead for about 5 minutes if you are intending to roll it out using a pasta machine.  The process with a pasta machine also kneads the dough so if you are going to roll it by hand you will need to knead it for longer (closer to 10 minutes). Pasta needs to be well needed to make the dough smooth and elastic.

Wrap the dough in cling wrap and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes at room temperature. Roll out and cut using pasta machine as per manufacturer’s instructions. If you are rolling out by hand, lightly dust the rolling surface and rolling pin with flour. Flatten the dough out by hand and then roll.  Always roll away from your body and turn the dough, just as you do when kneading.  Roll it until it is an thin as you can make it – 3mm is good. Cut into desired widths.

Once pasta has been cut, spread it out on a flat surface with a light sprinkle of flour to stop it sticking, until you are ready to cook it.

Creamy Vegetable Sauce

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 button mushrooms, finely sliced\
  • 1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1/3 red capsicum, diced
  • 1 t dried marjoram
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 c vegetable stock (or 1/2 c boiling water and 1 vegetable stock cube)
  • 250ml ctn Philadelphia Light Cream for Cooking
  • chopped fresh parsley for serving

Put water on to boil for the pasta. Saute leek and mushrooms until getting soft. Add remaining vegetables and cook until just tender.

Add pasta to boiling water.  Add stock and cream to vegetables and bring to boil. Stir until mixture has thickened slightly.  Pour some of the liquid from the sauce into strained pasta and mix.  Place pasta in dishes to serve and ladle sauce on top. Garnish with freshly ground pepper and parsley.

Mariners Restaurant Hamilton Island

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The Whitsundays is a chain of islands off the Queensland coast in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.  There are 74 islands, most of them uninhabited, all of them beautiful. Hamilton Island is one of the larger islands and is essentially a giant resort. Hamilton is a good base for investigating the Whitsundays and the Reef. There are all sorts of activities available: sailing around the island, yachting between the islands, sports fishing tours, helicoptor tours, and of course a trip to the reef at some point is a must – although some people, like me, need to conquer seasickness and a fear of being so far from land. The Reef is truly amazing, the coral isn’t as colourful as I expected it to be the first time I went but it is still amazing to see, and the fish are outstanding. Every bit as colourful and abundant as any brochure claims.

 

What I love most about Hamilton is that you can just hang out there on the island. You don’t have to do any tours or go anywhere else. Being there can be enough – there are swimming pools all over the island (the one with the cocktail in the middle is my favourite) and doing nothing aside from lounging around enjoying the view with a good book and a cold beverage is a fine way to spend a holiday.

This trip, during the last week of June, was well into winter.  Winter in Hamilton is reputed to be very mild and sunny, with reported average maximum temperature of 24 degrees C (74 F), but we were most unlucky to have cold wet and windy days – and a house with no heater!  It was still beautiful, but not ideal.  It didn’t stop the kids from jumping into every swimming pool they could, or taking the catamarans out, and we even had one day good enough for a hike out to the reef.

                                                                           

However the bad weather gave us lots of time indoors, and plenty of time to think about food! We were hoping to go to try Bommies at the yacht club while we were there, but discovered that the minimum age for dinner reservations was 13, which ruled out taking our family.

One restaurant that we did go to was Mariners Seafood Restaurant.  I had been there before and loved it, and so I was keen to go back. Mariners is on the main street in town – Front Street and has a lovely view by day looking out over the marina to the islands beyond, and at night sparkling in the marina lights. The service at the restaurant is a joy.  Friendly and attentive without being obsequious.

I began with the seered scallops and pork belly. The scallops were juice and plump with a subtle sauce.  I expected the pork belly to be over-powering against the lightness of the scallops but found I enjoyed the contrast. The only failing of the dish was that there were only two scallops, when three would have been satisfying.

For mains I had the Thai-style Jungle Curry with Queensland tiger prawns.  The prawns were fresh and cooked perfectly, but the sauce was a little heavy on the fish sauce for me, alhtough Wal thought it was fabulous. I also thought the presentation was bland, but the portion size was very generous.

And just because we were there I couldn’t go past dessert.  A pear and caramel tart with a berry coulis.

I am normally not a huge fan of pears, but I do love caramel and any kind of berry, so I thought it was worth a try.  It was very rich, so I was glad I was sharing with one of the sprogs, and had some unusual flavours in it (still haven’t figured them out), but was delicious.

It was a lovely meal and a great night out, but overall I felt the food wasn’t quite at the same standard as my previous experience.  Still worth a go if you are visiting the island. I would go again…

Honey Soy Ice Cream

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This is another recipe inspired by Salsa.  The key challenge was to make ice cream without sugar and to use organic ingredients where possible.   I use organic soy milk in this one, which, combined with the honey gives a rich almost malty flavour.

Recipe

  • 1 1/2 c organic soy milk
  • 1 1/2 c thickened cream
  • 2/3 c honey
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t cinnamon

Beat all ingredients together until fully blended and slightly frothy.  Refridgerate for at least 3 hours.  Churn in ice cream machine as per manufacturers instructions and freeze.  Serve with fresh or frozen berries on top.  I prefer raspberries with this ice cream. They offer a lovely fresh tartness to cut through the honey sweet of the ice cream.