Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rainy day

It rained today - beautiful refreshing rain.  The grass is greening up and the smell of the rain's sweet freshness filled my nostrils and lifted my spirits. 

But the car was getting serviced and we were stuck at home. 

I love Play-Doh - I mean, I love that my son loves Play-Doh.  Lots of fun.  But then . . . .

Baby woke up.  Keeping the Play-Doh out of the carpet, mouth and from mixing colours is tough enough with one child  . . . .  so . . . .

We played cars.

What do you do with the kids on rainy days?


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Quirky & Boring? Can the two exist?

As some of you know, I am totally new to this blogging thang.  So, when the opportunity arises, I go for a jaunt in blogland and soak up all the creativity and inspiration out there.  It's like stepping through the wardrobe! 

Last week or so, Pip at Meet Me At Mikes introduced Michelle from Hugo & Elsa on her blog and I was whisked away to a little country paradise in Tasmania.  When I find a new blog that tickles my fancy, I do a random flick through their history.  And it was at Hugo & Elsa that I found this little game.  Now, this is from a post from 2 years ago and perhaps this game has run its course (or is still running).  But it sounds fun, so here I go:

Here's how to play:

1) Link to the person who tagged you
2) Mention the rules
3) Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacular details about yourself
4) Tag six other bloggers by linking to them
5) Go to each person’s blog and leave a comment that lets them know they’ve been tagged

1. I love love love promite on raison toast.  I have introduced this delicacy to my husband who after saying that he was never going to try it was sprung in the kitchen one morning munching on it.  He loves it too and has tried to convince his eldest son to put it on his cafe's menu!  I suspect my husband had been consuming it for a while before I discovered his little secret.

L- top drawer                                                                                        R- 2nd drawer
2.  The cutlery tray in the top drawer must have all the spoons spooning and the forks hugging and the knives . . . well, they just lie there as they can be rather unruley.  But surrounding the tray is a free-for-all and lets not talk about the second drawer!  The mess polarizes the order in the tray and that strangely makes me happy.

3.  When I was little, I jumped out of my car seat and put my hands over my mother's eyes while she was driving and squeeled "guess who?!" . . .  no one knows what I was thinking.

image source

4.  High on my list of blessings-in-the-little-things are sundried sheets. . . going to bed on a cool evening and slipping between sheets that were earlier soaking up the rays is what good dreams are made of.  I would do this every evening if I didn't have to make the bed up by myself!

5. I recently discovered that if I wear my black maxi dress that doesn't have straps (boob tube style) when I haven't shaved my legs for 2 days, the little spikes actually start pulling the dress down as I walk!  It made for an awkward grocery shopping experience last week.

image source
6.  I have never been to the snow - been as close as compacted shaved ice but not snow.

Okey dokey - here are six lovely bloggers that I think you would enjoy a frolick through their corner of the blogoverse and I am inviting them to play along:

I was told to get a hobby - Jen has an awesome blog about her crafty hobbies and her babies.
Country 2 the City - Ms Rita is a talented design student who has recently cruised into the Blogoverse.
Life on Planet Baby - Jane's blog is sublime!  Very honest and funny and full of useful tips especially for bloggers!
Little Poppa & Me - Tammi's blog is inspirational, relaxing and full of homemade eye candy.  A very talented kiwi living in WA
Meet Me at Mikes - I'd be very surprised if you haven't met the talented and published Pip.  She's very inspiring and happy!  Pip's blog is a safe haven when feeling low and uninspired.
Hugo & Elsa - Michelle's photography will have you booking your next holiday in Tasmania.  Beware, you may find yourself licking your computer screen as she showcases her perfect cupcakes.  A little piece of escapism.

Boring and Quirky - Can you meld the two?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One of my favourites: Rigatoni with Pumpkin and Ginger Tofu

Thanks Shelley for taking the photo!
We eat tofu about 3 times a week in our household.  This one has recently reimerged and has gone straight to favourite status with me!  My man loves this tofu marinade and the kids are mad on the pasta.  And as you can see, it is part of my blog's header!!

The recipe comes from the book, Deliciously Healthy Cookbook by Heart Foundation.

You can find Rigatoni with Pumpkin and Ginger Tofu here.  As you can see, I used what pasta I had in the  pantry (Angel Hair - a family staple) and as I am out of pine nuts I used sunflower seeds (untoasted).

Hope you like it as much as us.


EDIT: It appears that the recipe link above has been removed so here is the recipe (which is perhaps what I should have done in the first place!):

300g firm tofu
1 Tbl fresh ginger grated
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbl soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbl oil (I use olive but recipe calls for soybean oil)
1 leek, thinly sliced
500g pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 cinnamon stick
250ml vegetable stock
fresh coriander
500g rigatoni
2 Tbl pine nuts

Cut up the tofu into thick slices.  I like the triangular shape the recipe book shows, as you can see in my picture.  In a jub or bowl, whisk the ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce and brown suger then pour over the tofu.  This marinade doesn't need long so a simple ten minute wait is fine.  I have left it over night but it does become too strong in flavour when it soaks all the way through the tofu, plus the tofu becomes a little brittle.

Heat oil in saucepan and gently saute leek until soft.  Add the pumpkin and cinnamon and cook until pumpkin is tender

Add stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer until pumpkin is really soft.  Remove the cinnamon stick then blitz in blender or use a stick blender..

Cook pasta to packet instructions.  That's the beauty of angel hair pasta, by the way, it cooks very quickly so hungry mouths don't have to wait too long.

In a frying pan, gently fry the tofu on both sides.  Stir the pumpkin sauce through the pasta and top with the tofu and coriander leaves.  Scatter with toasted or raw pine nuts (or sunflower seeds).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sew Excited! - Part 2

If you know me well, you would probably have thought that I have 'shelved' the debut into sewing

Well I haven't!  I did put it off for a little bit as I was not confident in using the rotary cutter and cutting up my patches when I have absolutely no fabric left in case of mistakes.  So, in comes Jen to the rescue!  She showed me, the other day, her cutting technique and I was off and running or cutting in this case!

1. Cut 9 patch
2. Flip diagonal squares
3. Sew back together
My centre seamed took only 2 unpickings to get right!

After I square up the patches the next step is deciding on the fabric for the back and the binding - for the sashing I have decided on white.  Everytime I think I know what I want, I err.  Is it like that for you?  Which colours/fabrics do you think I should use for the back and binding? 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Homemade Hair do

It is hopefully the last night of this nasty heatwave.  It is 2 am and I am not sleeping as it is a) 30.5 degrees celsius outside right now, so inside add a degree to two and b) both my sons have contracted some nasty cold with an ever so charming smoker's cough . . . poor little men.

I should be sleeping but I thought, 'what the hey, I may aswell tell you about my latest disaster'

You know, I swore to myself that I would never hack at my children's hair like I thought my mother had done to me and my sister.  She would keep cutting until she got it even!  Check out my super short fringe. . .

I'm about 8 or 9 years old - in my friend's bedroom with her toys

Was it impatience, or did I wriggle and carry on?  Did she just have an unsteady hand or dare I say it, was she vindictive as I wasn't always the angel? (despite appearances, hee hee)

The eyes say it all . . . "Mummy what have you done?!"
Yes.  I have done the same to my son!  Oh the shame - not of him, never of him.  The shame that I have done what I promised myself I'd never do. 

Side profile, just so you can see the real extent of the damage!
But come on! He's the biggest wriggler, squirmerer, whinger EVER!  I really did feel like I was hacking at it.  It wasn't the first time, (eighth time?  He's always been hairy), so you'd think I'd have it down pat.  Two attempts and this is what comes of it.  He screamed the whole way through, but once you start you can't stop!  It has to be completed!!

His giant brother (25 years older), is getting married in March and Liam is a page boy.  Fingers crossed it will grow out by then.

Why did I cut it myself?  Am I too stingy to pay $10?  No!  I just didn't want the public tantrum!

And I now realise that my Mum did a darn good job at cutting my hair!

Have you ever done the same to your children?  Do you have a fail safe plan for either home do's or avoiding tantrums at the hairdressers?  Please share!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lunch time whimsy

It's fun, it's quirky, it cuts off crusts (which he eats separately anyway).  Got 'em from Mini Gourmets.  Oh, and he punched them out himself.  Love it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

One of my favourites: Salt & Pepper Tofu

My dominant love language is 'words of affirmation' - that is what I speak most, and from those that are dear to me, that is what I need to hear from them.  But otherwise, it is gifts - not materialistic gifts but gifts of food.  You give me food, I give you food - awesome. 

Now, I won't necessarily feel the love if you buy me a macca's burger . . . . I'm talking about home made yummy morsels . . . or being taken to a restaurant . . . and honestly, combine affirmation with gifts of food and you will have me as a best friend forever.  I love having people over for a meal and it gives me great joy when my food is appreciated.  On the flip side, I feel deflated if I have served a culinary failure or if my guests don't feel the need to say something affirming about their gastronomic experience.

Why am I telling you this? (apart from this is what bloggers do on their blogs)  Because, I am giving you the recipe to one of my all time favourite dishes: Salt & Pepper Tofu

I've made this a few times, and people who would normally turn their noses up at tofu have tried it, exclaimed how good it is (yes exclaimed!) and have gone back for seconds, thirds, fourths etc. 

I serve it as finger-food at parties or afternoon teas, but at home it is served up with a simple bowl of steamed vegies. 

I first saw this recipe in Kitchen by Michele Cranson for Marie Claire but I have simplified it.  I don't make the cucumber sauce as it is waaaaay too sweet, even for me, so a simple squirt of sweet chilli sauce into a dipping bowl seems to be just the ticket.

Brave New Fiona's version of Salt & Pepper Tofu (as inspired by Michele Cranson)

750 g firm tofu
2 egg whites, lightly beaten (1 egg white if using smaller pack of tofu)
2-4 cloves garlic, finely grated (use a microplane if you have one)
2-3 cm ginger, finely grated
1/4-1/2 cup cornflour
1-2 tsp each of ground sea salt and cracked pepper (or to taste)
enough oil to deep fry

1. Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes (about 1.5 cm square)
2. Combined lightly whisked egg whites with the garlic and ginger in a container that has a lid. 
3. Add tofu to egg mix and place lid on the container.  Gently tumble until all tofu is covered in the egg mixture.  Refrigerate until needed.  (I like a strong flavour to go through the tofu so overnight is good, but you can make in the morning for frying in the evening just as well.  If you forget to allow time for the marination, it is still yummy after 10 mins, just not as strong).
5. Put oil into saucepan and place on a high heat. 
4. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a rectangular shallow dish that has a lid. Place tofu pieces into base and put lid on.  Give it a gentle shake, turning up side down to quickly coat tofu (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of dish).  Test oil temp by dropping one tofu piece in.  If it bubbles straight away, continue cooking in batches.  Drain on paper towel.

You know, let me know if you like it!
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