Sunday, August 26, 2012

The First Signs of Spring

On my recent drive through the country I couldn't help but notice the first signs of Spring. So pretty. The pink blossoms, the canola fields bright yellow, the gorgeous puffy golden blooms of wattle. Thought I would share a couple with you. Spring storms with their fluffy clouds at sunset also get my attention.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Kate's Fighting Spirit. - A Leukeamia Story

This is my beautiful niece Kate and her 2 year old son, Noah. Kate is fighting a rare form of Leukaemia called B-cell prolymphocytic leukaemia. There is no cure for this cancer. It is a rare form of leukaemia that affects less than one percent of all cancer sufferers and causes immature white blood cells to become enlarged and therefore unable to fulfil the body's requirement to fight off bacterial and viral infections. Kate's cancer is aggressive.Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she is determined to try to help others like herself and is raising money for a cure. Kate and her husband Kristian and their 2 sons Thomas and Noah live in Benalla in regional Victoria.

See Kate's story by typing in the details below.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A West Highland Terrier named Cerys

I have had the pleasure over the last few days to be "dog sitting" my friend's West Highland Terrier named Cerys. She is a little beauty. Great personality, and VERY smart. Only took her 2 seconds to realize she had a big softy in her paws, and I was her slave....sort of.
We have been having a great time getting to know each other and communicating to each other. It hasn't taken her very long to train me at all.

Going for walks with her each day has been a highlight for both of us I think. After 2 days, I now only have to put my runners on and she goes ballistic! It's so funny. How does she know that I will take her for a walk just because I put on a particular pair of shoes!! Too smart. And while out walking I collect up her lead and say "waaaaaaaaiiiiit" (wait) at each curb and by the fourth curb she doing it on voice command only! I've got a problem here, I think her IQ is FAR higher than mine!! Should I be worried?! No, I don't think so, I'm in good paws!

Mealtimes have been funny. I put out some doggy biscuits for her and a meal for us. She looks contemptuously at the doggy biscuits and then comes to me (sitting at the table) and stands up on my legs, looks into my face as good as to say...."And where is my fish and chips thanks", so being a good mum, I shared mine with her.

Hubby and I went to the market on Sunday and I brought her some doggy chew treats and a toy. Took her out the back yard and gave her a treat when we got home. She had a great (although very short) time chewing it up and eating it. Typical dog though, I thought (stupidly) that it would amuse her for hours.....not minutes! Silly me!

Sleeping arrangements came with a She made it plain she felt that our bed was her bed and she would happily allow us to sleep either side of her.  Can't say hubby and I agreed with her. I firstly showed her, her doggy bed on the nice carpet in the nice warm lounge room, patted her bed, gave her a pat and said "goodnight Cerys", thinking that would do it. HUH!
She nearly beat me into the bed room and into funny...I had to try not to laugh as I said "No Cerys, get down please". She begrudgingly did get down after shooting me a withering look and stood with her tail hanging down looking miserable. I nearly cracked, but then remember it was going to be a long night and if I let her sleep in the middle of our bed nobody would be getting much sleep and hubby and I would be tired and grumpy next day. So I stuck to my resolve and told her "Go to be bed Cerys" and pointed into the lounge room. The response was hilarious, the tail drooped as did the head, and dragging her paws on the carpet a forlorn little dog sulked off to her own bed. Hubby and I nearly split ourselves trying not to laugh.

At about 4.00am a little doggy face appeared in front of me with paws scrabbling at the bed and eyes bright and ears pricked! A little whine followed by a snort and a race for the bed room door, spoke volumes. "Want to go out to the toilet Cerys" says me stupidly. Cerys very patiently looked at me as good as to say, well I could pee on the carpet if you like, but that's bad manners, so perhaps you could let me out the back yard for a minute. Naturally I let her out the back with a "hurry up Cerys", which she naturally ignored. Kept me waiting in my PJ's in the freezing cold for all of a minute! What a great dog, guess she was cold to. Anyway she was quick and then came flying back in and went back to her own bed! Amazing!

I sadly have to take her home today. Wonder how many years jail I would get for dog napping? Only joking, it has been a pleasure to have her "visit" us and we will be pleased to oblige again if asked by her family. She is currently curled up asleep on the carpet at my feet at I type this, the little sweetie, after a long walk this morning.

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT just died in here!!!!!! Ooooooohhhhhh  Cerys!!!!!!!!! You little stinker! DOGS! I forgot about the downside....they have NO inhibitions! They just do what comes naturally. Well, NO MORE roast lamb for you young lady!! Not much of a lady at the moment more a stinking ratbag!  Still she is forgiven, although I can't help wondering if she doesn't know exactly what she has done as I gasp for breath and fan the air, a little eye opens and looks up as me and I swear I saw her smile........

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Rhubarb & Apple Pie with Champagne Pastry

Pie Fruit.
I like a mix of Rhubarb & Granny Smith Apples.
In a saucepan combine, about 6-8 stalks of Rhubarb cut into small pieces.
4 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and thickly sliced.
Juice of 1 orange.
4 tablespoons of raw sugar. (or any sugar to your own taste).
I like my apple in larger pieces so when this is cooked it looks like apple pieces in a Rhubarb sauce. Again you can do it how you like.

1 1/4 cups S.R. Flour. 
Pinch salt.
1 tablespoon Cornflour.
Place in Thermomix and mix 4 sec on speed 7.
(If you don't have a Thermomix, you can mix by hand with a fork or in a food processor).
3ozs of Butter
Add to Thermomix (or food processor) and mix on Speed 7 until resembles fine breadcrumbs, about 5 secs. If mixing by hand rub butter through with fingertips until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
1 large egg          1/4 cup sugar.
Add to Thermomix and knead on Interval speed until forms a dough. May need a little water.
If mixing by hand, whisk egg and sugar together first then add to mixture and mix with knife until it forms a dough, then use your hands.

Turn mixture onto floured surface. Divide approximately in half. Large piece for bottom of pie, slightly smaller piece for top of pie. Pre-heat oven to 200C.

VERY gently roll out base continually sprinkling rolling pin with flour and checking pastry is not sticking to your surface. When large enough to cover pie dish, pause, pray, take a large sip of your coffee, and roll pastry up onto rolling pin. It will probably break. Try NOT to swear, put what you can into the pie dish and patch the rest like a jigsaw. It's the base, no one will see it. Cook in the oven 200C until light golden. Remove from oven. Cool slightly, roll out top, add cooked fruit to pie dish, cover with top. Patch it if it breaks, it will still look ok.

Don't worry about the patched look, it will cook ok, and taste fantastic.

Serve hot with Thermomix vanilla custard (or another vanilla custard), ice cream and/or whipped cream.
This pastry is light and sweet and very tasty with sweet pies.

Alternative use for pastry recipe : This pastry makes delicious biscuits.
Roll into small balls, press with your thumb, add your favorite jam into the thumb print. Bake at 200C until light golden. Add a piece of slivered almond on top of the jam for another alternative. Light, sweet, delicious biscuits.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Really enjoyed lovely Paris on our 1st European Vacation last year. Here is a 20sec look at the twinkling tower at night. Doesn't do it justice, and it was my first go at video on my little "pocket rocket" camera. Don't worry I'll keep practicing and  try to remember that the sound track also works when you are videoing! So next time if I'm going to make a comment, I'll try to make it something more intelligent, than "yer me to". (Good grief!) Never mind. Leaves plenty of room for improvement!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Aaahhhh, I just love the feel of an open fire. The radiant warm goes all the way through to my bones. Toasty I am. Yep. Love it, love it, love it. Just wish I had it in my Melb. house instead of central heating. Never mind. Regular visits to the holiday house will just have to suffice. If you would like to see the video of the fire just click on this link.

Great Places To Visit - Doncaster East, Melbourne, Mullum Mullum Walking Track

Just because I'm currently in the city for awhile doesn't mean I have to "miss out" on my daily bush walks. Nearby to us i...