Sunday, May 28, 2017

Birthdays, cooking, kidlettes and eveything else in between

The last couple of weeks has seemed to have just whirled by.
 
I've had so many plans which haven't worked out that well but then we've had quite a few special family events and random things that have been really good.
 
First of all was a completely random late (school) afternoon trip down to Bribie Island.  It takes a little over half an hour to get there (more or less depending on taffic). 
 
 
This was also a lovely hubby suggestion and idea which is so extremely amazing because as much as I love this man,  he NEVER instigates ideas to do absolutely anything.  Every idea for outings, events, celebrations etc have to come from me so this was sort of an angel singing kind of moment.
 
 
 
 
The fact that we ended up having fish and chips (after he'd bought the blood worms for his fishing trip the next day - I knew that there had to be some kind of reason), watching a beautiful sunset over the mainland in the distance was so much of an unexpected added bonus. 
 
Then a couple of dolphins swam by which added to the extreme excitement of it all.  No photos of the dolphins sorry.  I was just as excited as the kids feeling like I had been 'let out' for the afternoon.
 
Anyway, it was really lovely and a couple of days later we celebrated my Uncle's 70th birthday with a lovely lunch out with the family.  I didn't even think to take a photo of the day as I was having such a good time.
 
The next day was Mother's Day and there's no photo's here either.  It was about the 2nd or 3rd time in a decade that lovely hubby was home for Mother's Day which meant that for an extremely rare occasion I could actually relax and enjoy myself.  (I've often said that Mother's Day is usually the busiest and most stressful day I have every year). 
 
 
I've also been doing some more cheese making.  Please turn your head to the side....
 

 
 
The editing of my photo way beyond me at the time, even if it was to give a quarter turn to a photo. 
 
What you see though is the process of making Haloumi cheese.
 
Yes I made it myself.  Yes it is incredibly yummy and awesome.
 
I blended a couple of people's recipes and ways of doing it and ended up doing what was best and easiest for me. 
 
Pressing it between something heavy (water filled milk containers on a baking tray and a cutting board worked a treat)....



 
 Then blanching and salting the final product made me pretty proud of what I had achieved.

 
 
Then there was the final drum roll and cooking of the Haloumi to see if it really turned out okay.  No matter how well you think you have done, it can all turn to pot if it tastes like crap. 
 

 
 
It was INCREDIBLE. 
 
Even Master M said that it tastes exactly like the shop bought cheese.
 
I also made some ricotta which is super easy and made a pretty incredible spinach and ricotta filling for some ravioli the kids and I made.
 

 
In between all of that we also celebrated my brother's birthday and then my birthday.  (One week in May is always a busy family time.)  Oh and lovely hubby was home for my birthday too which was just as miraculous as having him home for Mother's Day so it was a good week.
 
 ...and just to finish things off for the moment.  I've finally picked up the crochet hook for the first time in a couple of weeks and have started a new project with this lovely pure alpaca yarn I have.
 

 
 

I hope you are all having a lovely week.
 
xx Susan
 
 
 
 


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cheese and Butter

I have been channelling my inner "Little House on the Prairie" lately and have had the urge to make my own butter and cheese.
 
The cheese was the first thing I tried and with the modern day version of learning things (Google and You Tube), I decided to try the most basic of cheeses using just milk and lemon juice.
 
The first time I tried this it was a disaster because I used some UHT milk that I had in the cupboard and knew it would sit there forever if I didn't use it for something.
 
UHT milk does NOT WORK when you make cheese. 
 
So the next day I bought some more milk and went to work on my cheese experience take 2.
 
 

 
After heating the milk up, adding the lemon juice and letting it sit for awhile until it separated, I then tied it up in some cheesecloth over the sink to let it drain for awhile.


 
 
After salting it, wrapping it back up then pressing it for a couple of hours with a few cans of baked beans on top I was left with cheese.
 
Yay me!
 
I'm not sure if I really like the lemon flavour though so I think I will try it with vinegar next time to give it a more neutral flavour.
 

 
It is quite yummy on crackers with a little of my homemade relish though so that's got me quite chuffed.  The cheese making story has just begun though as I've just ordered an Italian Cheese beginners kit from our local brewing shop so I'll keep you updated on my progress.
 
The other thing I made was butter which I'm sure is one of the easiest things in the world to make.
 

 
All I did was pour a bottle of cream into the mix master and turned it on to do it's thing while I tidied up around the house a bit.  Then when it started to thump around, I knew that it had separated and I poured the lovely buttermilk into a jar for future use in pancakes.
 
 

 
 
I then washed the butter which is basically pouring some water on it and squishing it around then draining the water off.  Then pouring some more water on and squishing it around again a few more times until the water is clear and not cloudy.
 

 
 
That's it.  Seriously.
 
You can add a pinch of salt if you want but otherwise just plonk it into a container as is.
 

 
 
I melted a little of it in a pan with some garlic, added some zucchini and mushrooms then mixed the whole lot through some leftover pasta for a quick and yummy lunch.
 

 
 
It was also really nice on the hot scones I made for an after school snack on a cold and rainy day.
 

 
 
Delicious!
 
xx Susan
 


Monday, May 8, 2017

Random

The last few weeks have certainly seemed to have flown by.  My life really is a cycle and it revolves around when lovely hubby is home and when he's at work.  
 
Things that need a little extra time to do, I always try to plan when he is at home so I have a little extra help with the kidlettes.
 
Things like making pasta.
 
 

People make their own pasta all the time and I can see why.  It's incredible.  It's also quite easy if a little time consuming which is why we really do love shop bought pasta that you can just bung into a pot.  The homemade stuff is worth it though and when I'm a little more comfortable with making it, I may even do it when it's just the kidlettes and myself.
 
 
The kidlettes themselves..... One moment causing me absolute joy and the next I'm on the brink of a mental asylum.  The below photo is an in-between moment....


 
5 minutes before I was ready for the asylum.  Then they kept at me until I came and saw what they were up to (the photo is the happy co-operative proof).  5 minutes later I was ready for the asylum again. 
 
Mum.  I apologise for when I put you through this when I was a child.  Sometimes I wish time machines were invented for just these moments.
 
There was also an outing to the Clydesdale and Heavy Horse Show at Gatton.
 
 
I didn't know it was on so I thank my Mum for the suggestion.  We left Master M with my Dad, my brother and Master M's cousins for the day (all boys),  and the girls headed off to look at the horses.
 
I'm not that big on horses but Little Miss R loves them and Mum thought it would be a nice day out.
 
 

 
 
It really, really was.  Three generations with my Mum, me and my daughter.
 
It's not quite a 2 hour drive to Gatton (maybe two if you add toilet stops), and the drive over and back were part of the fun of our day out.  In other words, we got to check out a few things that husbands and fathers drive straight past because the are on the A-B track and looking at things in between is not an option.  We happily meandered a bit.
 
Our girl got to pat plenty of horses.  There was a beautifully made wagon (see above photo) and plenty of demonstrations from the heavy horses and the jobs they used to do before the good old petrol engine was thought of.
 
There was also a farrier competition and a petting zoo which Little Miss R just HAD to experience.
 

 
 
Our girl also got to have a ride on a wagon drawn by 6 horses.  She LOVED this.
 

 
 
Just once around the arena but she thought it was fantastic.  I was only thankful for most of the day that Master M wasn't with us as he would have been so totally bored out of his brain.
 
We girls loved it though.

 
 
We even loved the fairies on their mounts.
 

 
 
Onto other things.  I've tried to make cheese.
 

 
It was a total disaster but I know where I went wrong so will update you when I get it right.  I didn't even take a photo of the disaster, it's too embarrassing.
 
The scones were perfect though.
 

 
 
It was raining and the coldest day of the year so far (not even 20 degrees celcius!) 
 
On the drive home from school the kids asked if we could have scones for afternoon tea.
 
I told them years ago that my Mum used to cook either pikelets or scones on cold, rainy days when we got home from school.  I know she didn't do it all the time but it really stuck in my mind on the days when she did do it.
 
It looks like my kids are loving this tradition too and I have to say when it's cold and raining outside, there's nothing better than a hot scone (or pikelet) smothered in butter and dripping in syrup, honey or jam. 
 
They're cheap to make too and now I have extras for school lunches tomorrow.
 
:)
 
xx Susan
 
 


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Master M's blanket is finally finished!

I started this blanket back in November I think.
 
I was determined to work a little bit each day on it but sometimes plans and good intentions don't always work out do they?
 
I will admit that I did do pretty well with doing just a bit on most days, except for the 6 weeks when we had no air conditioner.  I think I can be excused for not wanting to be anywhere near a blanket during that time.
 
The other delay came not far from the end when I ran out of some of the colours of yarn so I had to order some more.  That took 3 weeks and 3 days to arrive so there was another bit of a delay of almost a month.
 
It's now done though and I'm so very happy with it.  Master M had it in use almost the second after I tied in the last end (lucky I tied the ends in as I went along so I only had the final ones to do).
 
 
 
I just love the ripply goodness of this blanket and my boy does too which is what counts.

 
These coastal colours are just perfect for a boy I think.

 
 
Now I need to decide what to do next. 
 
 I've got a number of smaller projects ready to go and I need to remind myself to work on them ONE AT A TIME. 
 
I'm really thinking about a blanket for hubby's and my bed which would be good to do over the winter months.  I'll let that stir around in the grey matter for a bit before I decide though as I'll need plenty of yarn for that.  I'll then have to decide what pattern to use and whether I use an already made up colour pack or if I work out my own colour scheme.  I'm sure it will all come together soon though and then I'll let you know what I decide.
 
xx Susan