Sunday, July 23, 2017

Latest addiction

Glorious Wintersweet
How is your winter going?   Cold, wet, miserable?  Well I have something that may help you endure those long winter nights. I have recently emerged from a dangerous Netflix rabbit hole.  After rocketing through the second series of Outlander (sigh) I was looking for another diversion and something to load onto the ipad for a trip overseas and came across Gran Hotel.  To say I became hopelessly addicted is an understatement.
Set in a luxurious hotel in Spain in the early1900s, in Spanish and subtitiled (don't let that put you off) it is three seasons of implausible plots with ill-conceived execution, the logic of which vanishes into the ether but it all sort of comes together at the end.  There's a serial killer, murders, rapes, a lot of face slapping, cavorting between up and down stairs, swapping of babies, deceptive maids, cruel villains with unscrupulous morals and high drama that sometimes verges on farce.  There is some great acting and some awful overacting.  And yet.  I couldn't put it down.

In the end it's a love story with a very satisfying dose of URST, which there is just not enough of these days.  An impossibly handsome hero whose perfect torso is regularly displayed and a beautiful heroine with very pretty dresses who is in an unresolvable situation.....have I got you in yet??

You have to understand that I don't commit to these things flippantly, but a cross between Downton Abbey without the boring, self-righteous characters (except for Granny) and Pride and Prejudice with way more passion was a guilty pleasure that was too irresistible.

It became a bit of a joke with my family.  "What's Mum doing?".   Rolled eyes and "Spanish hotel drama..."
All I can say is sorry and don't say I didn't warn you.

And a couple of interesting podcasts:
S town - from the makers of Serial, another fascinating American story
Trace - I've only just started this but apparently it's great....the true story of an unsolved crime set in Melbourne

Winter sky at Robe

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The stirrings of Autumn

February for me is normally least favourite month.  Hot, dusty and dry, dry, dry.   But this year the weather gods have delivered a remarkably mild Feb and included some rain, which has really taken the pressure off the watering circuit.  One thing I do love though are the stirrings of autumn, the subtle changes in the garden that mark the change of season.  The hawthorn berries are ripening:
as are the crab apples:
The sedums are starting to flower 
 the deciduous leaves are starting to turn
and the first belladonna has popped up
Did anyone see the disturbing story on 4 Corners last night about plastics in the ocean?  I know this is a bit out of the blue and off topic but I've been reading about the problems associated with plastic and was shocked to learn that basically it never actually biodegrades and every bit of plastic ever made is still on the earth, breaking down into tiny pieces in the ocean and being swallowed by fish or sitting in landfill.  Sarah Wilson goes into more detail here.  Those handy little Nespresso coffee pods take 500 years to break down!  The sheer volume of the problems seems insurmountable but here are a couple of things we must do to help save the planet.
  • Plastic bags.  These have been banned in South Australia and believe me you only get caught out once.  It's high time Victoria followed suit.  Have reusable bags and keep them in the car or right by the door so you can grab them on the way out.
  • Take away coffee cups.  Same deal, even if they look biodegradable, they are not, because the lining that stops you from burning your hand is pure plastic (as are the lids).  Millions get chucked out every year and you can't put them in the recycling.
Use one of these instead (this came from House) and I have another one from the supermarket.  I like that it's china, it keeps the coffee hotter.
  • Coffee pods.  Don't chuck them in the rubbish or your own recycling (they are too small for the processors to handle and end up in the rubbish anyway).  You can take them back to the Nespresso shop and put them in the recycling bin there.  It's a bit of a pain for country people to remember to take them but in Melbourne there's a shop in the city and one at Chaddy.

  • Use pyrex glass containers instead of plastic for food storage.  These are obviously more expensive than plastic but will last longer.   Buy them on special or at Aldi or Ikea.

  • Other shockers are plastic water bottles, plastic straws and plastic cutlery.  Most of us use our own water bottle, but since I seem to be forever on the road, I'm thinking I should put a fork and a spoon in the glove box as well.  
Have a look at this Clean Up the World plastics recycling fact sheet for more responsible and do your bit!!

Anyway enough ranting for today...just something for you to think about.

I've had hardly any tomatoes yet (maybe this week of warm weather might get them going), but the basil has been amazing.  I've been making lots of pesto and heard a great tip on the weekend which came from Jamie Oliver.  When you've made your pesto, roll it into a log, wrap in glad bake (if trying not to use plastic) and put in the freezer.  When you need some just slice off a piece.
I posted a few pics on Instagram about how I've been using up the nectarines off the tree and had a few requests for this tart:
You can also do this in a round tin

1 quantity sour cream pastry, rested in the fridge
50g mixed nuts (or just almonds will do if that's all you've got)
35g castor sugar
50g butter at room temp
1 small egg
1 teasp plain flour
1 tblsp honey or golden syrup
juice of half a lemon

Heat oven 180c
Roll out the pastry on a floured board and line the tin.  Prick all over with a fork.  Put it in the fridge while you make the frangipane.

Whizz nuts in food processor to chop finely.  Add sugar, butter, egg and flour and whizz until well mixed.  Spread over the base of the pastry case.

Chop nectarines (you could also us apples or pears) and arrange over the frangipane.

Bake the tart in the oven for 15 mins.  Melt 2 tblsp honey/golden syrup and add the lemon juice. After 15 minutes take out tart and brush over the mix then return to oven for approx 30 mins until tart is golden
Loved this article in The New Yorker about bake sales.  Anyone with primary school kids will appreciate this.