Sunday night BBQ

Lamb, chevups, with sweet corn, capsicum and zucchini all cooked on the barbecue.

With some side salad for good measure.

The perfect end for a hot day in WA.

20111016-205405.jpg

20111016-205411.jpg

Comfort food – bacon is not a vegetable

Nothing quite like snuggling on the couch, with new Parks and Recs. Me casting on a new minion while my boy cooks me dinner.
We both had pretty crappy days so the image of Ron Swanson swiveling around in his idea of hell (a circular desk) was just what we needed.

The mashed potato has bacon in it.

It’s nights like this I’m so grateful I have found someone so wonderful to share my life with.
I’m one lucky girl.

20111005-090210.jpg

20111005-090218.jpg

20111005-090226.jpg

don’t eat muffins while i’m improving you

Mr Sparklesness cooked dinner Wednesday night.

He cooked my recipe for chicken parma.

He bought chicken breast because the smallest IGA in the world (the one closest to my house) doesn’t sell chicken thigh, which is what I usually use.

So he schnitzeled that, cooked it, put it in a pan, added ham, cheese, and tinned tomato and put it in the oven.

Cooked up some corn to go with it. Some baked potatoes and carrots and dinner was served.

Another dish other than breakfast or brinner for his repertoire.

(title courtesy of Black Books, which I really re-watch sometime soon)

Pictured with salad which was my lunch the next day.

20110825-114813.jpg

20110825-114821.jpg

20110825-114828.jpg

Camping – Dwellingup

I love camping

I love getting away from it all.

And food always tastes better on a camp fire.

We set off a little late on Saturday morning. We had planned to leave at 6 but it ended up being about 10. We got into Dwellingup (after a few scenic route detours) around 12 and we picked up some salad rolls at the local deli.
Once we got into the campsite we could relax.

We set up the tent, the (brand new) stretcher beds, self-inflating mattresses, and sleeping bags. Realised we forgot pillows!! We always forget pillows. Then we sat around the fire (I needed coals for the pork belly) and listened to the football on the radio with a couple of cold beers.

People watching gets better on holiday. We started off with some really awesome neighbors (a young, quiet couple) but they left and we got a couple with a child and a boombox. I’m not even exaggerating, it would run off double d batteries and still took CDs!! Anyway, they were loud and bogan and kept us up all night with their arguing.

J went fishing and I kept knitting. It suits us perfectly.
One of the things I love about camping is my alone time.
I enjoy and cherish solitude.
Camping provides that for me. I can sit by myself and watch the world go by.

He didn’t catch anything but I added a few rows to my knitting.

I had prepared most of the evening meal the night before, as in I chopped the onion, carrots, and capsicum so all I had to do once the camp oven was hot was plonk everything in. I left the potatoes whole so they wouldn’t go soggy.
And it was delicious.
The veggies may have been a little on the overcooked side (read slightly burnt) but the pork was delicious.
Seriously awesome.

The rest of the evening read like our usual camping evenings. Drinking beer, listening to music (the national, arcade fire), and talking about life the universe and everything around a campfire.

Imagine the shadows of trees against the sky, and the sky littered with stars. The stars were beautiful. Escaping the city to see the stars.

Did I mention I love camping??

20110821-054718.jpg20110821-054734.jpg20110821-054745.jpg20110821-054800.jpg20110821-054825.jpg20110821-054837.jpg20110821-054846.jpg20110821-054904.jpg

An impromptu schnitzel

I hate food shopping. I really do.
Shopping overwhelms me.

There are too many decisions, too much noise, and if I go in without a list I immediately forget the three items that I was meant to pick up.

So it’s something I avoid, so when I do go shopping I tend to buy in as much bulk as my small kitchen will allow me to.

All that planning means that I can usually whip something up on those nights when plans fall through.

And so instead of going out for dinner we had an impromptu schnitzel. Well more of a chicken parma but parma purists would be a little horrified by my version.

The (once-frozen)chicken thighs were beaten with a rolling-pin, and then coated in egg and then coated in breadcrumbs. This was the schnitzel part. They were then fried in some oil in a frying pan.

Once the bread crumbs had gone all golden, they went on some absorbent paper (to drain some of that oil), and then onto a baking tray.
On top of the schnitzel went a slice of ham, some grated cheese, and enough tinned tomatoes to just cover the schnitzel. I didn’t want too much tomato stuck to the bottom of the baking tray.
And then to top it off, a line of HP sauce down the centre.
That went into a hot oven for about 10 minutes.

Whilst that was in the oven, I boiled some fresh corn (which once cooked was coated in butter), some carrots, green beans, andbok choy

And this was the end result.
“Next time more chicken”, and “I hope this doesn’t become one of those things that you make once and never make again”.

So smiles all round!

20110812-092109.jpg

20110812-092116.jpg

20110812-092124.jpg

Lamb shanks

Let it be known that I love lamb.
Lamb cutlets, French trim, Lamb chops, roast lamb, and I am rather partial to a lamb shank.

And this is a very good recipe which I found in a cookbook by West Australian authors, Dujour

It is a glorious book, with beautiful photos of food, and special embossed pages between chapters.

I’ve tried several recipes from it, but one that I keep going back to is their method for cooking lamb shanks.

I wasn’t particularly true to the recipe. So here’s my version.

I smeared two lamb shanks with minced garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and olive oil. That went into a 200 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
While this was cooking I made scones (as you do, but more on that later), and boiled some potatoes.

I mashed the potatoes with some beef stock, milk, butter, grated cheese, and chives, and then spooned onto a baking tray. A smidgen more grated cheese over the top, and some garlic olive oil and then they went in the oven to brown up.

At the same time as the spuds were going in the oven, the lamb shanks came out and were covered in a tomato mixture, covered in alfoil and then back in the oven.
The tomato mixture was 1 tin of tomatoes, some chopped Italian sausage, a grated carrot, some red wine, and more salt and pepper.

At the 40 minutes in the oven mark I put some broccoli and cauliflower on to boil.

After 50 minutes in the oven, the potato was crispy and the lamb cooked.

We tried to rest the lamb but we just ended up eating it.
It was melt-in-your-mouth good.
I had my reservations about adding the Italian sausage but it didn’t make it too meaty.

Definitely make it again, although I wouldn’t mind finding some way to keep my olives.

20110802-092243.jpg

20110802-092251.jpg

20110802-092258.jpg

Its just one thing after another

It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that as you sort one aspect of you life out, another will go drastically wrong.

Maybe I’m paraphrasing Bridget Jones badly (and Jane Austen even worse) but that’s what this week has been.

The washing machine, which was due to be repaired on Monday, was diagnosed as being more expensive to fix than replace. So a new washing machine needs to be bought.
And yesterday the water in my sinks was lingering a little too long, so we called a plumber out.
He cleared the blockage so potential crisis was averted but for a while there we thought there could be another flooding on the horizon (and just as we had got everything back to normal).

So on Monday night, the Mr went to the shops as he had a plan for dinner. After we spent the afternoon/evening sorting things out, finally moving everything back into the master bedroom we were somewhat spent, so J had leftover soup that he had taken for lunch but hadn’t eaten. And I made a Nigella fall back (cannelini beans with chorizo).

So Monday night’s dinner became Tuesday nights dinner.

Whilst I started a pair of socks, J busied himself in the kitchen. He came out with barbequed steak with a pepper gravy, over mashed peas and potatos, and some barbequed corn.

It’s really awesome having a boy who will cook me a good meal (with 3 vegies!) while I sit on the couch and try and figure out how to knit socks.

Life is good.

20110727-074536.jpg

20110727-074546.jpg

Mmm… Pork Crackling…

When I was at Spotlight on Sunday, I came across a half price casserole dish ($17). My d.o.d (dear old dad) had bought me a casserole dish as a house warming present, but it’s a small one. It’s the perfect size for 2 person casseroles but not much good for a roast, or for entertaining.

And me being me I has to try it out straight away.
My poor boyfriend. Having to eat pork roasts all in the name of me experimenting.

The bigger problem was the J’s dad makes the best pork crackling.
I had a lot to live up to, but no pressure.

So into the casserole dish went potato, onion, cauliflower, pumpkin, and carrot.
On top of that went the pork leg, seasoned with garlic olive oil, salt, and rosemary. The pork leg was already scored, which was a bonus as I don’t have a sharp enough knife.

A casserole dish of goodness.

That went in the oven for 2 hours. About halfway through I took it out to put more salt and oil on the pork fat.
In hindsight this may have been where I went wrong. The only instruction I had about how to make crackling was lots of salt and oil. As it turns out, my interpretation of lots of salt, is too much salt. But it was still a success.

After 2 hours the pork was cooked, the crackling was crunchy, and the vegies were at that glorious stage of caramelised golden brown.
The pork roast was wrapped in tin foil to rest.
I drained all the pork juices out of the bottom, poured that into a small saucepan with some cornflour and water to make a gravy.
I probably could have done that in the casserole dish, but I wanted to keep the vegies in that to keep warm.
Next time I would cook the vegies in a separate casserole dish. All the pork juices did make them rather mushy.

But For a first try at a pork roast it was definitely delicious. J went back for seconds which is always a good sign.

Needless to say there was no crackling left.

I’m looking forward to cooking this in a camp oven.

20110705-125049.jpg

20110705-125057.jpg