Sunday, December 09, 2012

Lazy Lasagne

 I don't blog all that much any more. You know, in case you hadn't noticed. Life is moving along, as it does, and frankly most of my energy for the past 2 years has been spent just trying to get by. But enough about me. I actually cooked this evening. Yep, that's right. Despite my entirely uninspiring kitchen, and my woefully crappy stove and oven, I cooked. Amazing.

It may not be an authentic Italian lasagne (actually, there's no doubt, it's definitely not), but it's tasty and filling, has ingredients you can usually keep in the cupboard for ages, and relatively quick. Remind me to share my "proper" lasagne with you one day.

A slug of olive oil
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed (or 3, or 4...)

Cook these up in a pan over high heat

100g diced bacon (or in this case, some triple-smoked ham I had in the freezer)
250g veal mince
250g pork mince

Cook until mince is completely browned. Switch on the oven to 200C or 180C fan-forced

2tbl tomato past
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
1/2 can water
a decent shake of dried oregano

Stir it around, then let it simmer while you turn your attention to the sauce. If you're too lazy to make proper bechemel, give this ago. Combine:

500ml (2 cups) milk
1 packet white sauce mix
1 packet cheese sauce mix

Whisk over heat until the sauce thickens.

Place a sheet of lasagne on the bottom of a half-size (ie. rectangular) casserole dish. Spoon in a layer of meat, then top with another lasagne sheet and repeat until either you run out of meat, or your dish is 3/4 full. Place one more lasagne sheet on top of the last layer of meat, then spoon or pour in the white sauce mix. Top with grated tasty cheese, maybe a little reggiano, maybe some mozarella. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the pasta is cooked and cheese nicely browned.

Once it comes out, leave it sit for a few minutes.

And there you have it. As I said, certainly not authentic, but it's tasty. I think even better the next day.

Even so, it's not particularly pretty, is it?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Un-boring Bangers & Mash

It's certainly been a long time between posts. What can I say, my energy and attention has been diverted elsewhere.

But anyway, I wanted to share last night's dinner with you. Not in a "come on over and chow down on the leftovers" kind of way, just to tell you about it.

To me, there's just something about having sausages and mashed potato for dinner sometimes that really appeals, particularly when the weather is a bit colder. Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you, step by step, how to cook sausages and mashed potato. But I am gonna suggest a few things.

1) Use really good sausages. Not cheap yucky stuff.

2) Don't just make boring old regular gravy: try this, to feed 2 hungry people. Dice a tomato and an onion. After you've mostly-cooked the sausages move them to a plate and keep them warm. Put the tomato and onion into the pan with a clove of crushed garlic and saute until the onion softens. Then add a splash of dark mushroom soy, a splash-and-a-bit of Worcestershire sauce, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir it all around a bit. Mix two tablespoons-full of gravy powder with a cup or two of boiling water and whisk to get rid of most of the lumps, then add that to the pan too. Stir it all around. Cut the sausages into big chunks and add them to the gravy, then let it all simmer till the gravy thickens.

This picture REALLY doesn't look appetising. What you're not seeing is how thick, dark, and yummmmmmmmmmm that gravy is.

3) Don't just boil then mash/puree the potatoes. I steam mine with a sprinkle of Vegeta on them, then mash them chunkily with a fork and a slug of warm milk, butter melted into the milk, a little more Vegeta, and whatever else I think will make a tasty addition. Even a little grated cheese. Mmmm, cheeeeeeese.......

4) Don't forget to have a thick slice (or two) of soft, fresh bread on hand to sop up leftover gravy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Melbourne Parliament House

Spring Street, East Melbourne, Victoria 3000
P: 03 9651 8911

Towards the end of last year, several of us ladies in the office decided to go for High Tea at Parliament House, which is an easy walk from the office. I fully recommend it, it was lovely.

While we were there, a couple of us then decided to hitch a lift on a guided tour of the building. There was much it didn’t take in, and we couldn’t go into the senate at all, however the guide told us an awful lot of information on the history of the building and the people who’d spent their working lives in it. Below are a sample of some of my favourite pictures from the tour.

Entry hall. Pictures of past big-wigs in Victorian politics surround the walls. I love the soaring spaces and high ceilings in this building.

So hard to believe how many volumes there are in this room. They have everything in them.

I got into trouble trying to take this picture! I just wanted this shot, with no-one in it, but the guide wouldn’t leave me alone for the 3 seconds it would take to do it (because she couldn’t leave people unsupervised or somesuch). I did eventually manage it, however she gave me the frowning of my life. The irony is that, once the tour was over, I went to the toilet... and could have wandered right into this room unsupervised. Go figure. I just wanted the picture.

Just one of these chandeliers would go a nice way to paying off a good chunk of my mortgage. I can’t remember all the details around them, but I think all up they cost, or are worth, nearly $300k.

The library. It’s not open to the public. I love the old vs. new feel of it. See the old staircase and the bookshelves? See the mouse in the bottom right corner? We weren’t allowed to move from a tiny area in the middle of the room, which is a shame as I’d love to explore it more fully. Sadly, I think the only way I could do that is to join Victorian politics, and frankly I’m too honest and nice for that!

According to the website, public tours are conducted on weekdays when Parliament isn’t sitting, and leave more or less hourly from 9.30am. See the calendar on their website for more information.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Nash Gallery & Cafe

212 Ipwich Street, Esk, Queensland 4312
P: 07 5424 2424

I realise it was a while ago now, but in my defence I DID have an entire post typed up, then lost it due to being scatter-brained.

On New Year’s Day mum and I decided to go for a drive. We thought we’d meander up to Somerset Dam and, by lunchtime, had reached Esk. We figured we were hungry, so looked around for somewhere to eat. Nash Gallery looked interesting, so in we went.

The cafe is set up in an old Queenslander-style house and, although it’s not air-conditioned, the design of the house meant that the temperature inside was still quite pleasant. We decided, however, to take a table on the verandah. Lovely white tablecloths, with butchers paper over the top, and a pot of crayons to play with are dotted around. There’s something on the menu for nearly everyone, and we quickly decided what appealed to us the most.

I went for the bacon pie. Back at school we used to get this regularly, but never to this standard. This was delicious. Possibly a touch too much pepper in it for my liking (given that I’m not a fan of pepper at all), but still full of flavour. It was a VERY generous serving. The chips were lovely too – crisp on the outside and all fluffy in the middle, and the salad was perfect – crisp and fresh, with dressing on the side so you could add as much or as little as you wanted.

Mum ordered the salmon quiche. This was also very good, although mum said it was a touch over-cooked – probably due to being reheated for serving.

Both serves were a generous size. So generous, in fact, that we couldn’t even consider anything from the sweets case:

We did, however take a bag of rum balls with us when we left.

The cafe doubles as an art and craft gallery. There are plenty of creations on display for sale, and if I had the $$ I would have happily purchased several. There are also posters with information on the area, and the house itself. I found it all quite interesting.

It also has disabled access – a ramp up the side of the house provides wheelchair access, and the toilet (one only – unisex) is well set up to accommodate people with movement challenges.

The scenery around Esk is lovely –with Mt Esk looming over the town there are some great sights. If you find yourself in the area around morning tea/lunch/afternoon tea time, give the Nash a go.

Oh, and of course I couldn’t resist the temptation of those crayons, so left a short message for the owners. I even managed to convince mum to write something!

I’m a regular Picasso, yes?

Monday, March 12, 2012


Woodenbong is a quiet little town approximately two hours drive south of Brisbane , just inside the NSW border. Well, it’s usually quiet, but sometimes Woodenbong digs through its wardrobe and pulls on its old party frock to show locals and visitors a good day out.

Yes, Woodenbong Show is on again. After being cancelled by the weather last year, Sunday 29 April 2012 will be bigger and better than ever.

The show gets started on Saturday night, 28 April, at 6pm with a BBQ tea and entertainment for all the family. The bar will be operating.

Then on Sunday morning the ring events start bright and early at 8am. This is a two-ring program and there are some new sections making an appearance. The local Border Rangers Pony Club will be doing a march past during the opening. Cattle judging starts at 10am.

Entertainment for young ones is on during the morning, with pet shows, novelty events and the animal nursery. During the morning there will be entertainment by two local dance groups, followed by a competition for all children from 0 to 12 years: as this is the Year Of The Farmer everyone in this age group is invited to come along dressed as anything to do with farmers or farming. These will be judged and the winners announced during the formal opening of the show at 1pm.

The Pavilion will be open after judging at approximately 10:30am with all the local produce, cakes, jams and handicrafts.

There will be a demonstration of chainsaw skills.

There will be a ute show so polish up those utes and come along.

A new event on the program is the Woodenbong Hotel Iron Man Competition, which will be run after the sporting events. If you fancy yourself good at farm work come along and compete against the clock. This should be fun, with a $5 entry fee and $100 winner-takes-all prize money up for grabs.

The Championship Dog Show is on again. Come along and watch the dogs going through their paces.

There will be an all day BBQ, Devonshire teas, tea, coffee, cold drinks, and the bar will be operating.

There’s something for the whole family to enjoy - catch up with folks you haven’t seen for a while: just a good old family day!

Come along and make it a weekend in this pretty little village as the Yowie Country Markets are run on Saturday, or just spend time admiring our beautiful scenery. There are a range of accommodation options:

- Woodenbong Hotel: 02 6635 1275

- Dairy Flat Farmstay (approximately 15km from Woodenbong): 07 5539 5923

- Crown Hotel Urbenville (approximately 13km from Woodenbong): 02 6634 1213

- Mt Clunie Cabins (“ten and a bit kilometres from Woodenbong”): 07 4666 5118

- Woodenbong Camping Ground: 02 6635 1300

If you wanted to stay somewhere a little more... populated... Kyogle is a mere 45-minute drive from Woodenbong, with plenty more accommodation options.

Please note, non-Telstra mobiles do not work in the area.

If you have any questions please note them in the comments section.

Hope to see you all there. Come and say hello to me ;-) if you can find me!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Finally, I can share this with you!

Well, folks, I have something kind of exciting to tell you. It's been so difficult keeping it to myself, so I'm so happy to finally be able to share it.

I have a new love in my life.

We met a week ago yesterday, and have been inseparable since Wednesday. It was just one of those things, where you simply feel a connection the instant you meet. We've moved in together and things seem to be going just so incredibly well. This isn't a rebound thing, I really feel like we'll be happy together for a long time. We're just so comfortable together and I know we'll have a lot of fun in our future together.

I'll be away for much of this coming weekend, and that's going to be hard, but we're planning our little weekend trips away together. It's going to be fun, I can hardly wait! I think we'll travel in all directions, wherever we feel like exploring.

We went to my Mum's on the weekend so she could hear the news first-hand, and my brother too, and now that my family know I feel like I can finally let my secret out.

So, here you are, folks. Meet my new Sweetie.