Monday, April 30, 2007

Eating Out: Ruby

Level 1 Highpoint Shopping Centre, Maribyrnong
Ph: 03 9317 0822

The Search for a Super Parma website is a truly great creation. So when the Mr and I were looking for somewhere to do dinner to celebrate him putting up with me for a year (he's a very patient fellow), this is where we headed. He had told me about this website a few times, but could never remember the address. Finally I saw it, and it's great.

We had trouble deciding on a venue. There's only 1 point difference between the top six places! We ended up going with number seven - the pub-type establishment called Ruby at Highpoint (which scores 17 out of a possible 20). Partly because it was pretty conveniently close, and we had never eaten in Maribyrnong before. So, we rocked up, expecting to just be able to order "the parma" and be done.


I should have taken more notice of the menu. There must have been nearly a dozen different parma variations. Sure, you could get your usual run-of-the-mill parma, but there was so much more on offer. What you see above is what was called "#26". Instead of ham, tomato sauce type stuff and cheese it had smokey BBQ sauce, lightly cooked onions, sliced roasted capsicum and bocconcini with a smattering of, dammit what are they called, spring onions (?) on top. Not sure how well the picture above shows it, but it was HUGE. The salad had a mix of leaves with cucumber, tomato and red onion with a really light balsamic dressing. And the chips. Oh my goodness, the chips. Somewhat chunky, and so crisp on the outside! Even when we'd given up trying to eat everything on our plate and they had gone cold, they were still crunchy!

I'd definitely recommend this place. It was a quiet night when we got there (about 7.30). Apparently Monday and Tuesday nights it's quite busy, mostly with uni students, as Ruby does Parma happy hours :-) That's right! I believe it is something like, order a parma at 6pm, pay $6. 7pm, $7. Of course that's going to be a hit with students! The staff were pretty nice too. And Hoyts is just a short stroll away if you want to catch a movie while you digest your meal.

Give it a go. Or check out the Parma website for somewhere else to try. And if you've had an excellent parma, either from one of the top 50 or from somewhere else, let me know!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Baking: ANZAC Biscuits

Seriously, with it being ANZAC day tomorrow, what else would I bake?!

I just wish I could remember where on earth I found this recipe: it's not the one I usually use. While my normal recipe is tried and true, when I found something different I thought "hm, I'll give that a go". And so I did. I took these bikkies in to work, and there weren't even crumbs left, so I'm guessing the crew thought they were OK!

A little history (from my trusty favourite-all-time recipe book): these little beauties apparently originated here in Oz in WW1 when eggs were in short supply (which is why there are no eggs in them, duh). They were sent to troops in food parcels. Which I guess also means they have an incredible shelf-life!!! Hehe.

ANZAC Biscuits

Mix 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup sifted flour, 1 firmly packed cup of brown sugar and 1/2 a cup of dessicated coconut in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt 126g butter with 2 tbl golden syrup and 1 tbl of water. Stir this constantly. When the butter has melted throw in 1/2 tsp or slightly less of bi-carb soda and mix well. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix it all around until all the mixture is moist.
The actual recipe then says to put rounded teaspoon-fulls of mix 5cm apart on a lightly greased oven tray, but I like my bikkies bigger, so used a tablespoon.
Either way, once that's done bake them in a moderately slow oven for about 20 minutes or until the bikkies feel slightly firm. Use a spatula to loosen the biscuits, being careful cos they're fragile, and leave them on the trays to cool completely.

Niiiiiiiice :-)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Squeaky Clean

I made some REALLY nice carbonara for dinner tonight, but I'm not blogging that :-) Maybe some other time.

I'm reading an article in The Age about being green, and one of the topics discussed is cleaning, ie. cleaning your home. It hits quite a few home truths.

Now, as someone who once cleaned houses for a living, I'm going to let you in on a little something - I only ever used one product. That's right: one. Not something for the kitchen, something for the bathroom, something for the toilet, something for this, something else for that. Just one product. Now I'll admit, it wasn't vinegar or bi-carb soda with a bit of water. Maybe I should have tried that.... anyway, are you ready for this? Are you sure?

Not that I'm claiming it's "green", but it was Black and Gold brand dishwashing concentrate. That's right. That's it. A little squirt in a bucket of warm/hot water does wonders for your floors. Likewise, a tiny squirt into a 4L ice-cream container and a rag cleans up benches and things like a charm. Have an enamel bathtub or shower floor that has those pesky black marks on them? Squirt some around, smear it with a cloth, come back an hour later, wipe it all away and WOW, look at that shine! Soap scum on the shower screen? Same treatment. Throw some around your toilet bowl, swoosh it around with the brush, leave it until the next time you use the loo, no problem! Sure, if you use too much it can get a bit sudsy - this IS after all dishwashing detergent, it's DESIGNED to suds up. But I tell you, it's far and away the best cleaning product I've ever used. And at such a tiny price, is it any wonder I look at the other products on the shelf with disdain?

Actually, there is one other thing - once a month, if you throw some disinfectant into the tank in your toilet, you'll save yourself some troubles too!

I will admit, if you love your car as much as I do I wouldn't recommend using it to wash it... squeaky clean isn't quite how I want my car's paint job... so I use Maquires Soft Wash Gel for that.... hm, wonder how it'd go in the home... yeah, probably not good :-)

I wonder though, does anyone have a "does-it-all" cleaning product they want to share with us? Or a "does-nearly-all" one?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Eating In: Beef Stroganoff

Waaaaay back on my 17th birthday my mum gave me what is quite possibly one of the best cook books of all time. I tell you, if it's not in this book, it ain't worth cookin'!

So when I had a hankering for some stroganoff where else would I look? The list of ingredients required is, well, frightening in its length, but really you'd possibly have most of it in the cupboard already! Besides, it really is pretty damn simple.

I made the full amount, then container-d it up to have leftovers for a few days :-)

Beef Stroganoff

You'll need: 1kg steak, plain flour, freshly ground black pepper, olive oil, 1 onion, mushrooms, ground sweet paprika, tomato paste, french mustard, good quality dry white wine (ie. if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it), chicken stock, and sour cream.

Trim fat and sinew from 1kg fillet of steak. Slice it across the grain into short thin pieces. Season 1/3 cup of plain flour with 1/4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper then toss the meat through, shaking off excess.
Heat 2 tbl of oil in a heavy-based pan. Cook the meat quickly, in small batches, stirring over medium-high heat, until browned really well. Drain on some paper towels.
Add 1/4 cup of oil to the pan, add 1 large chopped onion and cook over medium heat until it's soft. Add 500g small mushrooms and stir over heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbl ground sweet paprika, 1 tbl tomato paste, 2 tbl french mustard, 1/2 cup dry white wine and 1/4 cup chicken stock, bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Return the meat to the pan and add 3/4 cup of sour cream, stir until combined and just heated through. Serve with a sprinkling of finely chopped fresh parsley.

You may notice from the picture that I dished mine up with rice. What can I say, I like my strog with rice. I know it's not traditional, but me likey.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Front view...

Hm, I look a little... odd. Might need to update my profile picture now!

Monday, April 16, 2007

It's DONE!

Well, folks, it's done! Thanks to some very generous people I not only reached my target of $1,000, but passed it! And so, true to my word, today I became shorn.

My thanks to No Frills Hairdressing at Wyndham Village shopping centre on Sayers Road in Tarneit. The lady who did it for me at first looked at me like I was nuts! She even offered me a few minutes to think it over. But I said "no, I said I'd do it if I reached my target, so I'm doing it!". She laughed, and off we went. She was nice enough to tie it up for me before she snipped so I could keep it. After that I shook my hair out and damn if it actually didn't look good in that little bob. Just between you and me, if I hadn't reached my total that's the haircut I was going to get anyway, so it was good to see it looked nice. Well, then she started snipping the long bits off in preparation of shaving, and damn if that didn't look too bad too!

So we started with the No. 4. It was kind of like a head massage. But when I saw the length of the 4 I said "nah, let's go a bit shorter" so we ended up going with a No. 3. And I don't think the results look too bad!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Chocolate Fudge Bars

I got so tired of chocolate over the Easter weekend, but still wanted something sweet. Then I stumbled across this little gem of a recipe. So incredibly easy! Quite nice to eat, too.

Chocolate Fudge Bars

Sift 1 cup plain flour and 1 tbl cocoa together and add 1 cup dessicated coconut. Melt 185g butter and mix through the dry ingredients with 1/2 tsp of vanilla. Mix well until it all holds together. Press it into a greased lamington or slice tin and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes. When it's cold mix up a cup of sifted icing sugar, 2 tbl cocoa, 30g melted butter and 1 1/2 tbl of hot water until smooth and glossy, then spread over the top. When the icing has set cut the slice up into bars.

So easy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mere DAYS Remaining!

As some may remember, back in February I put up a post about my participation in the World's Greatest Shave.

A quick update to let you all know that I'm THAT CLOSE to my target. I mean, literally, THAT CLOSE!

So please, go online and sponsor me, or post a comment with your contact number or email (I moderate, so it won't show) if you would rather donate cash and keep your credit card number OFF the net.

It's only days to go now, folks, and I'd hate to fall short by so small a margin.

A couple of people have said to me "I can only afford $5". My response is "That's fantastic! Every dollar brings me closer to my target but, more importantly, every dollar helps the Leukaemia Foundation". And that's what it's all about.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Eating In: Thai Fish Parcels

First and foremost, I don't know why I'm having such issues with the text of my blogs lately -- despite having all the text the same font and size, it gets smaller as the entry goes. Most annoying. What you're seeing here is actually the font starting at "smaller" size and ending up being "large" Sheesh!

It's only in the last few years that I've started to tentatively explore the fish side of the human diet. I started off gently, with extremely fresh, deep-fried flake and chips at The Boatshed in
Batemans Bay on the NSW south coast. This progressed to buying the frozen crumbed fillets and baking them at home.

So this year I decided that I'd start exploring fresh fish and how to cook it. And what better time to start than Easter? Now, I'm not religious at all, I don't subscribe to the whole "can't eat red meat on Easter" thing, but meh, this public holiday was a perfect excuse to spend time with my bro, and make a scrumptious (ok, I'll be happy with edible) meal of fresh fish.
I went looking for information on cooking fish and found it quite interesting, if not all THAT helpful.

Thanks to the MSN Recipe Finder I located a dish that sounded delicious, and seemed pretty darn quick and easy. That it also appears to be quite light and healthy is just another bonus.

Thai Fish Parcels - to serve 2

Start preheating the oven to about 200C. Cover about 100g of rice stick noodles in boiling water until they're just tender then drain them. Divide the noodles into two piles and place each pile in the bottom of a foil pouch (ie. make a pouch out of some foil. I'd recommend giving it a very light spray with some canola oil or similar). On top of this place the fish. The recipe calls for 150g bream fillet per person. More about this later. Then on top of the fish fillet throw some quartered baby bok choy, a few snow peas, a little thinly sliced lemon grass and a couple of torn kaffir lime leaves. Combine half a teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce, half a teaspoon of fish sauce and a tablespoon of lime juice. Drizzle an equal amount over each stack. Seal the foil pouches up and put them, in a single layer, on an oven tray.

Cook for about 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Then transfer the noodle-y fish-y goodness to the plate and dish it up with some roughly chopped coriander. The recipe suggests serving with lime wedges or a salad of fresh pomelo or grapefruit segments. Pfft!! Fancy stuff! You can also apparently assemble everything a few hours ahead and keep it all in the fridge.

Now, i tried my darndest to find bream, but in the madness that is the Thursday evening before Easter Friday it was a lost cause.
Having absolutely no clue what to buy instead, the young lass who served me was less than no help. Eventually I decided on the smallest white fish fillets I could see there: something called basa. Apparently it's a type of catfish. And it worked quite nicely! Although as you can see, my presentation still sucks :-)

Ah, also, any excess lime juice you have don't throw out - a squirt in some nice chilled water is divine.

Monday, April 02, 2007

An issue close to my heart...

As I do in the mornings, I was making my way through The Age online, and this article caught my attention.

I won't let myself turn this entry into a long-winded rant about how any knocked up 15 year old trailer trash can have a kid and claim all kinds of benefits from the government, while loving, financially secure, committed couples - who, for whatever reason, can't have children the "natural" way - have to jump through all kinds of legislative hoops just to have the chance to have a child of their own (be that through surrogacy, IVF or adoption). We won't bring the obscene amount of money they often have to spend into the argument.

So why is it made so hard for people to have a baby?

(I'm so proud of me - managed to keep this short! I can go on forever about it, but... I won't)