Monday, 26 March 2012

A quick and easy little chocolate dessert recipe

I'm taking a breather today. There are lots of jobs on the list but I'm taking it at my pace. The world is not going to stop spinning if I don't tidy the upstairs of my it?

Actually the upstairs of my house is pretty untidy after the sleepover on Saturday night. How can 9 and 10 year old girls manage to disrupt so many rooms in such a short space of time?

Whilst they were doing their disrupting I was playing host. I mentioned that it was 10 for dinner on Saturday night- well that changed to 12. What's another 2? Well...finding 10 of everything to sort of match was a bit of a challenge and when it became 12 I gave up trying and was just happy that I could find enough plates!

Luckily Saturday was a glorious evening and just perfect weather for dining outdoors. Got to love the Queensland climate and of course candles and dimmed lighting is very forgiving...!

As it was a relaxed get together we mingled and shared guacamole with breads and corn chips to start. Then the bbq was fired up, the various salads came out of the fridge and we sat and ate and drank and chatted until the early hours.

luckily there were no vegetarians!

little chocolate desserts

These little chocolate desserts went down well and they're great as an extra at the end of a meal. They are extremely rich hence the serves in liqueur glasses.

The following quantities was enough for 13 shot/liqueur glasses.

285ml single cream
200g chocolate (70%)
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons of brandy
20g butter

Heat the cream until nearly boiling
Remove and set aside for 1 minute before snapping in the chocolate
Stir until melted and smooth
One melted. beat in egg yolks and brandy and stir until smooth
Allow to cool slightly before stirring in butter.
Pour into individual pots/glasses.

I used Cointreau as there was no brandy in the house and added a small piece of orange to the top.

I think the recipe is Jamie Oliver's. I have a book where I scribble my favourites and then forget where they came from so I can't be 100% sure.

So I managed a relatively quiet Sunday and whilst Sibs went to a swimming party I escaped for an hour or so with a book to a favourite spot.

This is the window after the big garden tidy up a couple of weeks ago.
 The palm trees outside were all chopped back to let the light in.

This is the before shot.

Oh well, maybe I should tackle some of the tidy ups...

Saturday, 24 March 2012

A bit of this and a bit of that...

Is it me or are the days just flying past at an alarming rate?

Even my 9 year old commented the other day that time was going fast...

My work has been extra super busy this last month and I seem to come home, flip the automatic pilot switch to prepare tea and then flop on the sofa.
I escape in books and even though every sensible cell in my body tells me to go to bed early I have to read just one more page... Sound familiar to anyone?

Consequently I haven't had too much energy to blog.

I can just about see a chink of light at the end of March, so I think I can hold on until then.

So what's been happening down in this parts of the woods...?
In no particular order -

Gu and Tadcu have sailed away into the sunset (yes, literally) after their holiday with us. They are taking the long route home to Wales - the one that takes them around the east, south and up the west of Australia, then across the seas to Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa and Spain. Not bad eh?

We are counting down to the Easter school holidays and the chance to re-charge the batteries a bit.

Someone scraped the side of my car whilst it was parked at work! I was so cross as they didn't have the decency to leave a note. I've been scanning every white vehicle to see if I can find traces of blue paint - and there would have been blue paint! Watch out white vehicle I'm watching...

The garden has had a bit of a clear out. Twmff the cat's hiding place is now exposed so he wasn't impressed at first! Some palm trees have been cut right back exposing the light to the side rooms which is great.

This week we celebrated with some family who became true Australians. They received their citizenship certificates, lapel badges, and a tree to mark the occasion. Made me think that we should probably fill out the forms...

Sibs and I went to a secondary school open day and I was amazed how interested she was in the dissection of a rat! The smell of the formaldehyde - in an instant I was 16 again and back in my old school biology lab!
She got very excited when she saw the work on display in the English rooms. There was squealing...!
 "I definitely have to come here - they do Jane Austen!"

Ballet continues to be a part of the weekend with the occasional rugby match to finish off a Saturday evening.

State Election fever is everywhere at the moment as the votes are being cast today. The seat contested in my suburb is THE seat - Campell 'Can do' versus  'Keep' Kate! I've been amazed at the ferocity of the campaigning. Some of it has felt a little too much like a personal attack on the other candidate for my liking. I guess you need a very thick skin to be a politician? I've lost count of the number of leaflets that have been in our mail box and the number of telephone polling calls I've received these last few weeks.
On a lighter note, on the drive to work yesterady there were balloons lining the streets publicising the different political parties. There were even dogs dressed up in party colours and placard waving enthusiasts at every street corner. It will be quiet here next week.

So Friday came around with home made pizzas for tea, a glass of wine and the promise of a lie in.
Today brings a Skating Birthday Party, ten people for dinner and a sleep over.
Sunday will be quiet...oh, forgot about the swimming party in the afternoon!
Sunday evening will be quiet...

(No photos on this post - the laptop or the program doesn't want to play! I might try and upload them another time)
Have a great weekend,

Monday, 19 March 2012

Well done Wales - Grand Slam 2012

I think that there will be a few sore heads in Wales this Monday morning following the weekend.
photo by Tom Jenkins

I wish I'd been there...
...not for the sore head,
but to watch and celebrate following the Welsh rugby team winning the
The Triple Crown
The 6 Nations Championship,
and the Grand Slam!

Just in case you're not Welsh or you're reading this and wondering what I'm talking about...

The 6 Nations Championship is an annual rugby competition played between Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy.

When a British Isles team (Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland) beats all other British Isles teams they claim the Triple Crown.

A Grand Slam is achieved by winning all games.

As a child in the '70 I lived through what was considered the 'glory years' or the 'golden era' of Welsh rugby.
In my mind the nation stopped when Wales played rugby. Everyone watched the game - no excuses!

I remember Saturday mornings would be spent in anticipation of kick off. We'd head off to the town to choose our own bag of pick and mix. A treat indeed - no sharing of my sweets with my younger sister for once! Most Northern Hemisphere rugby union is played during the Winter months so it was home to a warm house, the fire would be on and the sandwiches for tea and snacks would be prepared. Nothing could interrupt the afternoon once the starting whistle had gone.

I still like to make a bit of an occasion of an international rugby match even though we are the other side of the world now.

Taffy the dragon makes his appearance and we now usually watch the recorded games over breakfast without the pick and mix sweets!

However, this Saturday (my very early hours of the morning on Sunday) I couldn't wait until a respectable time to watch. Being the late owl that I am, I stayed up until the 12.45 am kick off.

The only drawback being that it was only me, Taffy and the cats.

Anyhow, to cut a long story short the game was at times tense, but the Welsh hung on and came away with a 16 - 9 victory to beat France and claim the championship.

I had to curb my was 2.30 am after all! I did let out a slight 'whoop' at the end and one of the neighbouring dogs joined in! (sorry neighbours)

photo taken from the ESPN TV coverage

I missed the whole post match discussions, I missed the familiar lilt of the Welsh commentators, I missed the sharing... I missed home...

not a spare seat..
 photo by Tom Jenkins source 

 So roll on June, when the Welsh rugby team come to Australia.
I'll be there...I might even take Taffy...!

Have a good week,

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Losing your hair at school assembly...

I went to school assembly this morning.
I really like the fact that my girl's school encourages you to be involved in everyday stuff.
When she was in the lower grades I got the opportunity to help out with reading groups, art classes and PE lessons. It was a wonderful way of being part of her school day...
Anyway, I digress -  back to the assembly.

During assembly this morning one of the Grade 7 girls got up on the stage and had her hair shaved
 in front of about 700 pupils, teachers and parents.

She pledged to do this if she raised a certain amount of money for Leukaemia research through the Greatest Shave. She smashed her target amount! Everyone was behind her. The school pupils were asked to bring in a gold coin donation, and for an extra $1 they could also get their hair sprayed.

What touched me the most was the support and feeling of camaraderie in the school.
 Whilst she sat on the stage the other pupils watched, (the young preps with wide eyes) they giggled a bit, they gasped when the clippers first went through her hair and then they broke out in spontaneous applause.
It went on and on and on...

I was choked...I welled up...I had to put my sunglasses on! (I am such  a cry softie!)

Her Dad was there to take photos,
her mum was there with the congratulatory hug,
and we were there to applaud.

When so many young girls are preoccupied with a certain image and looks,
this beautiful young girl challenged that.

I congratulate her, not just on raising the money,
but for the messages that she has allowed me to share with my girl.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

'The sound of silence'

Can you hear that? the sound of silence.

I'm having a night in.
One of my favourite candles is burning and there's a magazine still in it's plastic wrap waiting.

Look, there's even a glass of wine and some Swiss chocs (thank you sis in law).

This last month has been a bit full on. Routine has gone out of the window - in a good way.

So tonight, Sibs, Neil, cousin and uncle have gone out to watch the Reds rugby and I am staying in.

I have the rugby match on the TV, (just in case I spot them in the crowd) but without the volume.

I have loved having a full house this last month.
Just catching up with news from home, drinking lots of coffee, doing everyday things with my mum.
 As special as it was, tonight is mine...

A long time ago, as part of my  training for what I now do to earn a living, I learnt to use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. This is a psychometric questionnaire for personality assessment. I wasn't surprised to learn that my attitude preference is 'introversion'. Basically, this means that I recharge and re-energise by preferring to spend time alone. The opposite attitude is 'extroversion' and this would be an individual who needs to be with others to feel energised. (This is a much simplified explanation, but gives you an idea).

Are you thinking about your preference?

So this evening I will embrace my introversion,
enjoy the silence and stillness
and get ready to face tomorrow.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Cawl & pice ar y man (soup & welshcakes) for St David's Day

Happy St David's Day
Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus.

morning coffee and afternoon tea on St David's Day.

March 1st is Saint David's Day, also known as the feast day of Saint David.  Many Welsh people will prepare a traditional meal of cawl (soup) and pice ar y man (welshcakes) to eat. They will also wear a daffodil or a leek today to symbolise their Welshness. Leeks and daffodils are both considered national emblems of Wales. The story goes that some Welsh troops once wore leeks on their soldier uniforms to distinguish each other from enemy English soldiers. I'm not sure why the daffodil is considered a national emblem, perhaps it's down to some some confusion...?
The translation of the word Daffodil is very similar to leek -
Daffodil - Cenhinen Pedr
Leek - Cenhinen

This photo is from last year's blog post about St David's Day - (link here)

So yesterday the cawl was prepared by Gu (as it's better made the day before) and I cooked the first batch of Welshcakes on the bbq. I posted in the past about welshcakes and included the recipe link here and how we have adapted our cooking methods for Australia.

This year I'll share the other traditional meal of Cawl.

traditional Saint David's Day meal
Cawl (pronounced kah-ool) is a hearty soup made with root vegetables and a meat stock. There is no definitive recipe as it's an ancient idea of using what was to hand. Quantities of individual ingredients can vary according to supply and taste, so don't worry too much about precision here!
Here is a guide recipe to serve 4-6

2-3 lb. Welsh lamb (or equivalent)
1 large sliced onion
3 leeks
2 medium sliced carrots
1 medium parsnip
1 small swede turnip or 2 white turnips
6 small potatoes
salt and pepper
4 pints (8 cups) water

Trim the fat from the meat, cover with cold water, season, and bring to the boil
Simmer until the meat is very tender (approx 1 hour)
Once cooled, skim the fat
Add all the chopped vegetables except for the potatoes and leeks
Simmer for approx 1 hour
Add the potatoes and leek and cook for 20 mins

Serve with crusty bread, good quality butter and a hard strong cheese.

The above is a traditional recipe which is the one I use on March 1st. Any other time I cook cawl in the slow cooker. Just throw everything in and turn it on!

Welsh Gu (grandma) and Tadcu (grandad) are staying
so we will have an extra special St David's Day meal tonight.