Bridgetown Adventures (pt 2) Nannup

I love going through photos after a holiday. I can reminisce and think about the good times. But also so close to the event I can remember all the things we said we’d do better next time.

Next camping trip we are not taking as much food.
This will be great as its one less thing for me to plan, but it’s also means spending money on local produce and wasting less food.

I don’t know why we hadn’t thought like this sooner.

And we have another place on the ‘to stay’ list. We did a day trip to Nannup and it was lovely. Full of little churches, interesting craft stores, and a good pub.
In fact the beef and gravy roll was a highlight. It came the day after I had burnt my mouth quite severely on a very hot honey carrot (to the point where it peeled most of the skin off and is now blistering 6 days later), but it just hit the spot I could eat it without too much pain.
Nannup was very pretty and I’d like to spend a little more time there in future.

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Once I got the oven going, a lamb was a roasting

I’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment. I’m trying to move more, eat more fruit and vegies, and drink less calories (be it alcohol, cordial, or milk).

So a roast is an easy way to have lots of yummy vegies. And a roast almost always involves cauliflower cheese. I mean while the ovens on why not bake more. Cauliflower cheese is always a comfort food. A white cheese sauce (with nutmeg obviously) over cauliflower and broccoli and then set in the oven.

Add that with some garlic, potato, and pumpkin which was par-boiled then set in the oven with some garlic olive oil for good measure.

Then the lamb, which was close to the best lamb cutlets I’ve ever cooked.

I rubbed rosemary and garlic olive oil over the skin. Browned it in a pan and then set it in the oven. After about 40 minutes I took it out and placed it in alfoil. So really I just did everything tv chefs tell you to do. And guess what! It worked.
So it may not be ‘diet friendly’ but definitely big on vegetables (and taste).

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A soup and a pasta

Mondays can either go one of two ways.
Either I get home from work completely spent, uninspired, and want nothing more to collapse on the couch watching Project Runway.
Or I get home inspired, ready to clean the house, cook dinner, finish knitting projects that I was previously bored of, and take over the world.

Last night was the latter.
After an unenthusiastic day at work, I came home, did the grocery shopping, did a vague meal plan for the rest of the week, paid some bills, started the head of another minion, and cooked a two course meal. I even did the dishes afterwards (a rarity) so there isn’t washing up left over.

I borrowed a recipe from the blog of Food On Paper. It’s a delicious blog with food photography which I aspire to.
She posted this Mint, Pea, and Yoghurt soup a while back and I squirreled it away for a night like last night.

I was planning on trying to recreate the roasted lamb pasta which I had at the Royal not so long ago. So into the oven went a little lamb roast and some diced potatoes, carrots, and parsnip.

As I knew dinner was going to be late (roasting in the oven takes time) I thought I’d make a soup.
I’m always a bit ravenous when I get home and a quick soup seemed just the ticket.

See the recipe here.

The only variation was I didn’t have any mint! It’s a total disaster to not have an ingredient which is in the title, but it still worked. It would have worked better with some mint, but the only mint I had in the house was chocolate mint drinking powder. I decided against putting that in.

I served it up with the prescribed dollop of greek yoghurt which really made it something special. Accompanying it on the plate was some (store bought!) scones which had gone in the sandwich press to melt the parmesan cheese over the top.

To be honest that would have been enough. If I didn’t already have the roast in the oven I would have been quite content with just the soup and scone.

But the lamb was in the oven so once that was cooked it was rested until it was able to be sliced.
Into a hot pan went some garlic olive oil closely followed by some chopped onion. Then went the sliced lamb and the roasted vegetables.
On top of that went a bottle of passata, (I thought it was the closest match for what I had tasted at the royal), and then some water which rinsed out the jar.
That then came to the boil and then simmered until the pasta was cooked.

For the pasta, I used fresh lasagne sheets which I tore into rustic looking sheets.
I know why I don’t always use fresh pasta (it involves going to the shops more often) but oh how I love fresh pasta.
One of my dreams for when I have a bigger kitchen is a pasta maker.

Delicious! Even though he wasn’t hungry, Mr Sparklesness went back for seconds.
It’s a lamb roast, in a bowl, hugged by pasta.
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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??

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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.

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Sunday roast

Sundays are a lazy day, mostly. Once all the housework’s out of the way, or procrastinated away, one thing I love to do is spend time reading cooking books and magazines, planning what I could cook for dinner without the rush of the after-work rush.

As I was flicking through, making myself hungry, I asked J if he had any ideas, me said I never make him pasta bake. I argued with “I cooked pasta three times this week” but in his eyes it’s not the same.

So I built a meal around pasta bake.
So tomato pasta bake, cheesy potato and cauliflower, and roast beef was the plan, with a french onion soup to start.
I say it was the plan because it didn’t quite turn out as expected.

The french onion soup (I thought) was pretty good. J thought it had way too many onions in it. I agree, but loving onions I didn’t mind it as much.
The recipe was from a Donna Hay magazine, and was pretty much cook onion and garlic, add white wine and beef stock. Serve.
It was a nice broth, so maybe next time I just take all the onions out of J’s serving and put them in mine.

The cheesy cauliflower and potato was probably the laziest way to make a potato bake or cauliflower cheese. I don’t think it could even come under that category. The potato and cauliflower were boiled for about 3 minutes just so they didn’t have to do all their cooking in the oven. That went into a casserole dish, on top of that went a tin of (low-fat)cream, some mustard powder, grated cheese, salt, and pepper. That went in the oven for an hour.
I could have taken the time to make a decent sauce, but I simply couldn’t be bothered.
When I served it, I just had to take the cauliflower and potato out of the cream. There was rather a lot of it, too much really. But it still tasted good.

The pasta bake I was scared of. Given that it was the only item that J had actually requested I was slightly nervous that it wouldn’t live up to expectations.
So I boiled some penne, and I made a sauce out of a tin of tomatoes, some Worcestershire sauce, some dried chilli flakes, and some water to wash out the tomato tin.
That all went into a lasagne dish, with some cheese grated over the top.
It was probably in there for too long so it was a tad crispy on top.
But that wasn’t the biggest disappointment.

The roast beef.
First time I’ve cooked roast beef.
Well… silly old me didn’t read the instructions properly. There was a note (in little tiny writing) above the instructions, saying “per 500g”.
Now I didn’t read that. I just saw the cooking times and went with that.
So after half an hour we had one very rare piece of beef.

Now I’m colour blind, specifically I have trouble telling shades apart. The difference between red and brown, pink and red, white and light pink; those tiny variances in colour which mean the difference between cooked and uncooked.
So I served up the beef uncooked.

Back it went into the oven for another half an hour.
The little bits that I had chopped off only needed 10 minutes.
So we ate the rest of the meal, and then had some bits of meat.

After half an hour in the oven we took it out, wrapped it in foil and let it rest (as you’re meant to do). After half an hour I thought it just might be cool enough to make into sandwiches.
Lo and behold, it still isn’t cooked!
Back into the oven for another 20 minutes.
This time, sod it! I’m not waiting for it to cool, I’m just hacking into it and checking if it’s cooked.
Chopped it in half, right down the middle.
It looked cooked (J verified my colour deficient opinion).
So it cooled so I could make sandwiches (it was about 9:30 at this point).
20 minutes later it looked slightly less cooked, but probably just a little on the rare side.
Into sandwiches it went.

Note to self – buy a meat thermometer.

So a rather staggered meal, of oniony soup, crispy potato bake, overly creamy potatoes and cauliflower, and undercooked meat which then took another hour.
It was mostly edible. But when a meal is described as edible it’s not generally a good thing.

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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.

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