Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday

I had a hard day at the office yesterday so I was really looking forward to the cocktail du jour picked by the delightful Little Miss Sunshine. Alcohol always helps you let go of the last vestiges of work day blerk. I'm dishing that little nugget of advice out for free.

After less than lovely cocktails for the last two weeks I was really hoping for something that I didn't want to spit out the second it hit my taste buds this week. Miss Sunshine did good. This one was deliciously refreshing and very more-ish. A perfect Summer cocktail well suited to 100 degree F day ( I think Spring has come all at once)  Disclaimer: It would be fairly easy to get shit faced on a bunch of these because they pretty much taste like cordial. Dont blame me if your day after starts with a headache.

I've seen this referred to as a Tiffany's Blue Cocktail and a Low Country Lemonade. Pick your favourite name- no matter what it's called it's worth making. 

Collect your supplies:
30mls (1 oz) Peach Schnapps
Bubbly lemonade (you can use the fresh stuff if you must but aside from making it yourself you can't buy that Down Under so I just went with good old Sprite because I'd run out of Woodies )
A dash of Blue Curacao
Crushed ice

Add the schnapps and ice to a cocktail shaker and splash in just a drop or two or three of the blue curacao. Shake it up and get it nice and cold. Pour it into your glass and top with lemonade. You can fancy it up with a sugar rim if you want to make it look classy.

I made it twice because the first time I slipped over with the blue curacao and I'm all about getting it exactly right no matter how many times it takes where cocktails are concerned.  I thought the  hundreds and thousands added a nice burst of color around the rim. 

My second attempt had much less Curacao and looked much more like the original picture. That's one big mo-fo sugar rim. Mr. P is much better at doing those than I am but he wasn't home to be wheedled into doing this for me. 

Success! This one was a big 4/5 for me. Definitely on the "make it again" list!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Talking Turkey

Last week I started thinking about how ripped off Australia is because we don't have a Thanksgiving Day. Given we are a country built on enforced labour (thank you England for using us as the world's biggest prison)perhaps people had no reason to feel thankful in the fledgling years of our great nation. I imagine that the heat, the flies, the idea of being sentenced to 7 years servitude for flogging a loaf of bread, the 5 month boat ride and deadly snakes and spiders made people quite pissy to be here. 

The Northern Hemisphere can keep Halloween, and Groundhog Day and Darwin Day (Who even knew there was a day for Charles Darwin? If you did- you're a total geek) but I think Thanksgiving is a very cool idea.

The more I thought about it - the more it seemed to me that I was just going to have to create Aussie Thanksgiving Day. My email in box hasn't exactly been flooded with invitations to anyone else's Thanksgiving shindigs (hint hint for subsequent years people) so it was obvious if I wanted turkey I was just going to have to pony up and cook one myself.  

Decision made, I went forth to find one of a suitable size. I think my US friends are pulling my leg when they talk about cooking 20 pound turkeys because I certainly couldn't find one. This leads me to believe:

a) That 20 pound turkeys are an urban myth
b) The US send all their anorexic turkeys Down Under because what the hell would we know - we don't celebrate Thanksgiving 
c) That Australia is the world capital of midget turkeys. 

The biggest turkey I could find was 11 pounds which is basically a chicken on illegal steroids. But I had to work with what I had, because Thea wouldn't fed ex me one of the 20 pounders. Just a tip- when you guys are bragging about your 20 pound turkeys don't mention the price you paid. You risk bodily injury. I can buy beluga caviar cheaper here than a turkey. 

But find a turkey I did, and then began the slow laborious process of watching it defrost for three days in my fridge, taking up the entire bottom shelf, which is normally where I chill my wine. Talk about a sacrifice.  I mean really, who takes meat out of the freezer on Tuesday night when they're going to eat it Friday? I was all for taking it out of the freezer Thursday night and letting it defrost on the sink until I was going to cook it but internet opinion repeatedly told me that was the fastest way to cooking up a dose of food poisoning.

So I spent the next three days researching how to cook bloody turkey (ironically the object of which is not to have any blood coming out of your turkey at all) The internet wasn't at all helpful because apparently some people out there cook their turkeys for 13 minutes a pound and some cook it for 40 minutes per pound. I guess some people like their turkey rare? 

Eventually (just after I started to weep uncontrollably and consider whether the local chicken shop would cook my turkey for me if I begged and cried loud enough) I found instructions on the actual turkey wrapping.....who would have thought to look there?

This Thanksgiving business is hard work. In between popping off to the hairdresser, I spent pretty much all day in the kitchen, peeling spuds, trimming the ends off beans and cutting carrots, wrapping corn in foil, and stuffing a cob loaf with cheese and butter. We wont talk about how much butter I actually used during the course of the day but I will say cows all over Australia were working overtime. Naturally I only used calorie free butter so it's all good.

My intention was to show you my entire Thanksgiving meal but somewhere along the way I forgot to take photos of everything (I'm blaming turkey stress). I did manage to take a picture of my dwarf turkey and it doesn't look all that appetising. If looking up a turkey's butt will stress you, look away now.

It looked far prettier all plated up and nobody died of whatever malady you contract from badly cooked turkey. My vegetables were also sublime. I served up mashed potatoes instead of roasted ones. And green , orange and yellow ones too. I now know why you all serve mashed spuds with Thanksgiving dinner- its because you don't have room in your oven for anything besides turkey. 

Gratuitous tablescape shot to divert your attention from the fact I didn't get pictures of anything else. 

And finally the piece de resistance. My triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream, cherry ripes, wafers, ganache and chocolate honeycomb.  Yes- I put all of that on one cake. 

This cake came together far too easily. I should have known something was going to give. When I poured the layer of ganache over the top before I put the honeycomb on top, it all pissed out the sides of the cake and my cake ended up floating in rather large puddle of chocolate that came an inch up the sides.  I did contemplate leaving it there and pretending an intentional moat was part of the plan but ended up sopping up all that chocolate with 327 paper towels instead. Do you know how hard it is to lift a 5 pound cake with an egg flip so you can wipe underneath?

I vote Thanksgiving should be a bi annual event. Who's with me?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching for our US friends and I spent the better part of last week surfing the internet trying to find an appropriate way to help them celebrate the occasion. I couldn't find any cocktails that contained turkey or mashed potatoes so I went with the next best thing. 

I'm going to confess that until this morning I actually thought Thanksgiving was tomorrow. My blissful ignorance of important holiday dates gives you plenty of time to run out and get the ingredients you'll need to serve this up at your own Thanksgiving dinner next week. There is a bit of alchemy involved with this cocktail so I've left you plenty of time for the infusing process as well.  You're welcome. No need to thank me. 

I was pretty taken with this idea when I saw it because it just screams Halloween/Thanksgiving to me but the trouble is candy corn is a bit thin on the ground Down Under. I've never seen it for sale here. So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled across an international lolly shop last Friday completely by accident, and lo and behold it had candy corn for sale. I happened to be with a family I work for at the time and that mother now thinks I'm completely crazy because my discovery was accompanied by much excitement and possibly a few squeals of delight. Nothing like losing that thin veneer of professionalism when your work life and home life suddenly collide. 

This is officially the most expensive candy corn in existence. Given the price of the bag ($10.00) I think it must have been flown here on a magic carpet, accompanied by baby unicorns and a bag of hens teeth. 

OK- now on to the fun part. You're going to need:

4 oz.  Vodka 
1/2 cup of candy corn 
2 oz. Cointreau 
Juice of a 1/2 lemon 

Crushed ice 
No trips to Dan Murphy this week..I had everything I needed at the good little alcoholic that I am.

Take your vodka and put it in a jar with a lid. Or if you're classy like me you'll use a beer glass and plastic wrap. Then chuck in your candy corn and give it a shake. Slowly back away from the Vodka and go and do something else for a minimum of 12 hours. Go to work , dance a jig, knit a blanket. Sneak back occasionally and shake the jar to get all that candy corn goodness happening.  

Once most or all of your candy corn has disappeared and you've tired of knitting or dancing it's time to strain your vodka mix into a cocktail shaker. Dump in all the other ingredients and give it a shake ala Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail. Pour it into a glass and take an arty photo like this one to celebrate making a Candy Corn Martini.

The first mouthful tastes like paint stripper but it gets much more palatable with each passing sip. I couldn't really taste the sweetness of the candy corn in amongst all the booze but maybe that's just me.

I reckon by the second one you'd be drunk enough to contemplate making a third.  If you could see straight.

Rating 2.5/5. I wouldn't turn one down if it was free but I wouldn't go out of my way to make it again. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Did You Hear The One About How I Was Going To Finish Something?

I keep telling myself I'm going to make a run at finishing the 827465 WIP's I have laying round.  In September I decided I could finish 5 more quilts before December 31st. I didn't publicly proclaim it because I didn't want to be responsible for people dying of hysterical laughter.  Given I've finished one quilt since then, it looks like I'm starting 2014 with a s*** load of WIP's. I've made peace with that.

This weekend I meant to sew until something emanated from the pile of fabric that resembled actual progress. Naturally,  I was only interested in working on the quilt that is currently the least finished. So I dragged out all the 2.5 inch strips I'd previously cut for the postage stamp quilt and mindlessly sat at the sewing machine chain piecing fabric , and stood at the ironing board pressing, pressing, pressing, and then moved to my cutting table to cut cut cut ....

I did get distracted once. OK - twice. The first time I popped out to engage in a spot of retail therapy. 

Yes I'm aware I bought a new handbag last week - but I really did need this one because I had to chuck my big black all purpose handbag out because the cat took a leak in it. She has done that to the last three black handbags I've bought. You cannot get the cat piss smell out of a handbag no matter how hard you try. I know through bitter experience. 

The second time I digressed, I sacked out for a nanna nap. Sometimes I really do wonder how I manage to get through a full day at work without crashing out on my desk. (No pictures of that because you cant take photos of yourself when you're sleeping) 

By Sunday morning I was reasonably pleased with the results of my labour. I had visions of having half a finished quilt to share. But by that stage I was running out of strips to piece, press and cut so I dragged out my fabric boxes and started to pull fabrics out to cut some more. Then I thought "well since I'm here - I may as well tidy the sewing room/fabric boxes as I go" which led to "I may as well cut more fabrics for my orange peel quilt while I'm at it". 

We all know where that leads right? 

So, I'd love to show you pictures of all the fabric I sewed together this weekend for the postage stamp quilt because it was tons, but unfortunately it's hidden under the remains of my sewing room. Creativity is a messy business. 

This weeks goal? Tidy the sewing room.....and keep the cat away from my handbag.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday

Welcome to Wednesday and another attempt to make hump day bearable. 

As I was pouring my cocktail this week the thought occurred to me that I need to get myself some more snazzy cocktail glasses. I have my martini glasses and some coloured glasses (that are so big they almost resemble bowls-perfect if you're actually having frozen daiquiris or margaritas) but not much else. Im going to have to remedy that- I see a trip to do some op/thrift shopping in my fairly immediate future.  

I learned my lesson last week with using a 1/4 cup measure. I worked out (later when I was capable of doing maths) that by the time I'd finished my cocktails I'd managed to swill down about 7 standard drinks.  I was pretty darn proud I could still function once I'd worked that out. It's easy to forget when you're drinking something that basically tastes like cordial. I held it together in a much more ladylike fashion this week. 

Little Miss Sunshine picked this weeks cocktail.  She was keen to do something with Limoncello so I wandered out to buy some (I'm pretty sure she deliberately picked something I didn't have) Then I realised I didn't have any white creme de cacao -only dark - so I wandered out again to get some without the benefit of writing it down. I came back with white curacao by mistake and had to go back to Dan Murphy's to get the right stuff by which time the staff were probably thinking I was either casing the joint or had a real issue with alcohol that I was trying to hide with multiple trips to augment my stash. 

Some proper measuring this week with an actual jigger...a quick shake in the cocktail maker (or just stir it with a stick if you don't have a jigger -dont use a quarter cup measure because that way lies drunkenness) and voila you have a Lemon Meringue Cocktail. 

Cocktail recipes from other parts of the world often put the measurements in fluid ounces while we use millilitres to measure liquids. Im sure at some point there is going to be a major disaster with conversion...

You will need :
1.5 oz of lemon vodka ( I just used regular because I was too afraid to go back to Dan Murphy's a fourth time for the week ) 
3/4 oz limoncello liqueur 
1/2 oz white creme de cacao

Like my embellishments? Kind of makes my cocktail look like a freaky Mickey Mouse.  I have a ton of really cool cocktail stuff hidden somewhere in the shed in my "party" box that I think Mr. P is going to have to find this weekend so I can make my cocktails look all purty...

Gotta say this one isn't going to make it into my "must make again soon" file. The first glug almost blew my head off - and I think after that my taste buds were drunk. It tasted better the more I drank though. 

A La Votre!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Redeemed by Rolls

I started my weekend with the best of intentions. Tidying of the sewing room and finishing the quilting on Mr. P's T-Shirt quilt were both on the agenda. Once those things were done I planned to move on to dragging out the triangle quilt and seeing if I could make some progress on that. With the whole weekend stretching ahead of me I felt confident, motivated and determined. 

Friday morning I had an appointment and then met up for morning tea with the lovely Sue who blogs over at Mother Patchwork. It was our first meeting so I was on my best behaviour and didn't do anything to disgrace myself. I ate my cheesecake with a fork not my fingers , and managed not to swear (much). The best thing about meeting up with blog people is when they don't turn out to be axe murderers and Sue was just lovely.  I also managed to finally find the perfect handbag to match all my aqua /blue clothes and 3 new books at the bookshop. I think that was fate at work because I've been looking for a handbag in this colour for about a year. Isn't the bottom cute? 

Later, I knocked it out of the park for dinner with my take on an open faced BLT with hash browns and avocado and tomato salsa.  I went to bed feeling all was right with the world and that my life totally rocked. 

It all went a bit pear shaped on Saturday when the mood took me to go back to bed at 8.30 am after a mere 30 minutes of sewing(and not on the T-shirt quilt) Ostensibly I went back to chat with Mr. P who likes to lay in on weekends. The next thing I knew it was 11am, and I decided I was going to stay in bed all day, reading, playing on my Ipad, and chatting to Indy and Lola who decided to join me. So Saturday was a bust unless your definition of achievement  includes playing Hay Day and spending hours on Pinterest. 

Sunday, I was distracted by shiny things. After a promising hour of Facetime sewing with Little Miss Sunshine (again on the postage stamp quilt- not the T-shirt quilt - that thing is destined to be a WIP forever ) I wandered off to do some really exciting things like washing, and a spot of grocery shopping.Then, completely out of the blue I decided to make cinnamon rolls. Kirsten posted a recipe she uses for these last year and I decided I'd procrastinated enough.   

All was going swimmingly until the second rise when Lola decided to limp in holding one of her front paws up and crying. I'm sure Lola could have been more accommodating with the timing of her injury since we were just at the vet on Friday with three animals having annual checkups and I had rolls rising. It took about three minutes for me to decide we had to get her to the emergency vet. I figured the worst that could happen was that my rolls would rise to be the size of boulders and who doesn't love a massive bun?

An hour later Lola was dosed up to the eye balls with anti histamines and anti inflammatories having been bitten by "something" (probably something lethal like a bull ant for crying out loud) and my rolls went into the oven. And came out looking pretty darn fabulous. Voila!

After all that excitement I went and had a nanna nap for 4 hours on the couch. And the only thing I achieved for the weekend was to eat cinnamon rolls to excess. But they were bloody good ! 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday

On my way home from work last night I had the most inspired idea I've had in months. I've been hankering for a cocktail since Saturday so I'm starting a new Wednesday tradition...Cocktail Wednesdays. Wednesday is hump day and we all need a little motivation to get through mid week. Plus I like the idea of winding down on Wednesdays with a cocktail when I get home from work ala 1950's style. 

I have a ton of cocktail recipes pinned on Pinterest and it seems a shame to waste all that pinning (and alcoholic amazingness) and I have a cupboard full of booze and I don't want it going to waste. (Quell horror - what if it goes off?-better start drinking it just to be on the safe side)

So I dropped by Dan Murphy's on the way home and stocked up on Blue Curacao, Chambord, Midori and Raspberry Vodka because in typical fashion they were the only four things I didn't have in my liquor cabinet  and they were the things I decided I needed. I'm drawing a long bow at the truth when I say Liquor "cabinet" which sounds so classy - I actually keep my liquor stash in various cupboards where it will fit.  If I had it stashed all around the house that would be a lot more suss because I hear that's what alcoholics do, so I'm careful to keep it in the kitchen.

So this weeks concoction was a Purple Rain. 

The recipe calls for a 1/2 nip each of Raspberry vodka, Chambord, and Blue Curacao. Then you top it up with cranberry juice. I couldn't find my alcohol measure thingy so I used the next smallest measuring implement I had, which just happened to be a 1/4 cup measuring cup. That worked out really well because I got at least double the amount of cocktails. I'm sure that was due to the top up with cranberry juice. 

Somewhere in between Cocktail 1 and Cocktail 2 I face timed Little Miss Sunshine to tell her of my brilliant plan and to rope her into this new piece of madness. I also phoned a friend from work, my mother and told a telemarketer who called to sell me a new phone plan. My point in confessing that is that it's OK if you want to join in too. 

The trouble with making cocktails is that the more you have the more it seems like the most brilliant idea you ever had. So I followed up with a Japanese Slipper chaser and before I knew it - it was 7.00pm and I was wondering if I could stay awake for the end of the Big Brother Finale. FYI- I did. Just. Maybe because I made the tactical decision that three cocktails was probably enough. 

Japanese Slippers are an old favourite of mine. Just mix equal parts of Midori, Cointreau, and lemon juice and pour over crushed ice. If you want to class it up add a red cherry to your glass. 

Roll on next Wednesday - Little Miss Sunshine is picking next week's cocktail and I'm hearing rumblings about Limoncello. 

P.S. Realised AFTER the fact that the cocktail shaker I was using to mix the cocktails actually had a measurer on top of it...oops!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Tale of Two Quilts

In my previous post I briefly lamented the fact that while I was in Vietnam there was buggerall chance of me buying clothes off the rack because I’m twice the size of your regular Vietnamese chick. A number of alternative possibilities were considered and discarded. I didn’t honestly need any more handbags and shoes (I cannot believe I just typed that out loud- and sincerely hope Mr. P doesn’t read this post) even if they were fabulous Prada knockoffs. None of my real life friends even know who Prada is so I’d have to fling it around leaving it conspicuously on tables and eventually tell the story about how it was Prada and that kind of defeats the point of having one.

Anyhoo. I had birthday money burning a hole in my pocket which I was determined to spend even if it killed me and I wanted a memento of my time in Vietnam and a pointy hat or Vietnam magnet just wasn't going to cut it ...

So I bought myself a quilt....

I got this from a wonderful craft and quilt shop in Saigon called Mekong Quilts. They sell all sorts of things on consignment that are made by women in a number of villages around Vietnam. The money goes back to the people who makes the goods , and the project generates employment and wages for a sustainable living situation for those living in poorer communities. Fabulous quilt + Great cause = win, win. 

The hand quilting on this is amazing and it's far more gorgeous than my cruddy photography shows. 

The back is a plain white and really shows up the gorgeous hand quilting. Honestly it was incredibly reasonably priced for a hand made quilt. I could quite easily have brought back more than one if I could have convinced Mr. P to be a pack horse. 

Moving right along...the second part of this post deals with an actual finish from moi. After working on the binding for my Irish chain quilt for what felt like forever , I finally finished it late last week. 

This one is a keeper...and i finally managed to some of those reds I collected for my Farmer's Wife quilt that never got anywhere near finished. 

Beautifully quilted by my quilting fairy . I'm thrilled with how it's come together in all it's antiquey loveliness. 

It's backed with a heavy damask I picked up on sale eons ago and I think the back is just as pretty as the front.  I think this is my favourite quilt of 2013.