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Wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, great-aunt and friend....and fur-kid mum I love Quilting, stitching, photography, cooking, baking, gardening, blogging and making new friends...stop by and say hi!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Farewell Family Dinner

It has been a busy weekend in our household on top of hot and humid weather. Yesterday was just awful and I was out during the late morning and early afternoon at a venue without AC comfort.......ugh! it is so draining. The first thing I did when I got home was crank up two of our three ac units because the kiddo's were coming over for dinner and I was making "the best ever" Risotto. By popular demand, I may add.

I try and do a family dinner every second week when Red is home from work but depending on when others are working (or studying for exams), depends on how many turn up.  Last night was compulsory as my dearest Miss M is heading off on a big adventure so this is her farewell dinner and I really don't know when we will all be gathered like this again.

A few months ago she was awarded a Scholarship for her Engineering degree which is such a good thing as she had to give up her part time job earlier this year due to the demands of the course. Part of the Scholarship was providing vacation work and although it wasn't guaranteed, as she is only 2nd year, the company came through and offered her 3 month vac work.  She set off on the 6 hour journey this morning so I am a big bag of nerves today.

So to take my mind off that, why don't I tell you about the recipe I made. It is actually Manu's (from MKR) recipe, so it has got to be good! You can find the actual recipe HERE but as usual, I go my own way.

First I warmed up my stock on the stovetop and then browned off my chicken.  I don't add bacon because hubby won't eat it although I imagine it would taste even more awesome with it added in. After that I removed the chicken and because I was unorganised, I only now started to chop up the onion, chilli, garlic and rosemary.

I love chopping up ingredients like this.  I get the biggest, meanest, sharpest knife in the kitchen and after cutting the ingredients up smaller, I rock that knife back and forth over them to make it quite fine. I find this incredibly therapeutic.  I was a bit lazy tonight and used bottled garlic instead.....but wait, I forgot a crucial taste sensation.  The lemon zest.

No measurements here, I just go with my gut and I left the rosemary a little chunky till I took the photo. All of this goes into the same frying pan as the chicken came out of  and sautee until the onion softens a little.  The aroma that smacks you in the face at this point is absolutely devine.

The photo's get a little blurry here due to the steam. Enter the rice.  Now I have used all different types of rice for my risotto and they all work "okay" for this style of risotto if you have nothing else but of course, you get the best results with the traditional Arborio Risotto Rice and this is where I measured the required 2 cups and tossed it in with the onion mixture and made sure all the rice got coated with the onion mixture.

At this stage, I was ready to throw it all together.  Oh, did I mention this is not a traditional Risotto recipe. Yea, I am not fond of slaving over the stove waiting for rice to soak up the stock and I am not particularly fond of sloppy, al dente rice so this concoction is going in the oven to get nice and sticky while it takes on the flavours of all those seasoning herbs, spices etc.

Now the stock in that casserole dish has been heating gently while all this was happening, (I find that gives the cooking process in the oven just that little bit of a head start) and I just add the tomato paste (almost forgot that!), the chicken and the rice/onion mixture. Give it a stir, pop on the lid and into the oven it goes.  Now Manu does give you times in the recipe but you can usually smell when it is ready.

I served ours with a simple garden salad last night and you can add shaved or grated parmie cheese but it tastes good without. Let me know if you give the recipe a try and whether you enjoyed it too.

For dessert I served chopped strawberries with blueberries, a dollop of vanilla fro-gurt, salted caramel topping and a sprinkle of these chopped almonds and cashews I spotted at the supermarket.

 All in all, it was a lovely but it was gone so quick before I realised I had not taken a photo! Just the empty dishes to add to the pile. Hubby was washing up last night. He he he!

Well my girl has not called in yet but I do know that she may have reception issues where she is going so I will try not to worry too much. Going off to do some clutterbusting.  Lots to do before moving day.  At last she called and is all settled into her new accommodation. I can go to sleep happy now.


The Change has Come

I am a bit late with my promised continuation of yesterdays post. It has been a very hot and sweaty busy day with a challenge quilt exhibition and xmas party and dinner with the kiddo's tonight. ( I will post about those on another occassion) but let me get back to my story: I left off yesterday telling you that hubby was looking for possible property in the Huon Valley that would help us make a decision about whether this was a place we would like to make home. He found several that he wanted to take a look at so as soon as we were ready, we headed back out towards Huonville. As we were travelling towards the centre of Hobart, the cloud cover cleared over Mt Wellington and I was amazed to see a cover of snow up there.

Can you believe that! It's October and the snow is falling in Tassie. I was dying to take a photo but I had to wait until we were out of the city and on the Huon highway. The lookout where we were the day before is that structure on the far right up there.

The first spot we looked at was on a road called Misty Hills (how quaint) but when we got there, it wasn't what we wanted. The block was hard to see from the road and sloped down steeply towards the rear. We got out to go for a little walk and all of a sudden we were joined by two labrador dogs. They had been sitting on a porch and as we walked down the street, they came to greet us. I wasn't worried about them as they did not bark and in fact one was a young puppy, maybe 6 months - why he was allowed to run free, i will never know. They were ever so friendly. I was dying to talk with them and scratch behind their ears but I didn't want to encourage the little one to follow us. I told the older dog to go home and he very dilligently listened to me but the pup started to run after hubby as he walked down the street, until he realised I wasn't following, then he came back to sit at my feet.

I was a bit worried when we walked back towards the car, as he insisted on coming along with us and I was terrified he would get under the wheels and get hurt but with some careful manouvering while I kept watch, we managed to drive away up the street to do a u-turn. I was very relieved when we went past their house again to see they were both safely back on the porch. We drove to the other "for sale" properties but found nothing that really took our fancy.......too steep, too small (for hubby) or too overgrown with trees. The views were lovely though.

We drove around for awhile and as we were heading back to the main road, we saw a "for sale" sign and decided it wouldn't hurt to have a look. As soon as we saw the block, we knew it was ideal for us but still wanted to look at a few more.

Along the way, I saw plenty of these!

The funny thing is that Miss M and I were in Scotland earlier this year and we went on a trip to the Western Highlands hoping to see some of these Highland "Coos" but only saw a very, very brief glimpse in the distance. Yet, there were quite a number of them here in Tasmania! If you missed the post about our Highlands adventure, you can read about it HERE and HERE.

Back to our property hunt......nothing really ticked all the boxes for us, so we decided to pop into the Apple Shed again for a slice of pie and a pow-wow. I didn't show any photos at the Apple Shed on my previous post, but, you have got to take a look at the "apple wall" they have there. My photo only shows about a third of the "wall" but each and every one of those apples is a different variety

 ......did you ever realise there were so many varieties of apple. We hadn't had lunch yet, but really wanted a slice of the apple pie we had seen the day before.......

  ........and definitely wanted to sample the cider again. Anyhow the up-shot was that we were very excited about the earlier block we had found by chance. We loved it so much that we couldn't stop talking about the prospect of living there all the way home and over dinner, later on.

The following day, we went for a drive to Port Arthur (which I will write about at a later date) and it was still all we could talk about. So much so, that when we stopped for coffee, hubby rang the estate agent to arrange a viewing. The block was everything we were looking for, and the plus - a house and orchard trees already on site (visible down on the left side of the above photo) . WE MADE AN OFFER!

 Now, I won't leave you in suspense any longer..........the offer was accepted by that evening and we are the owners of this incredible block with the most amazing view ever. It has come around sooner than we could ever imagine and as of January, Hubby and I will become Taswegians. The photo below shows the view from where we want to build our dream home. All in good time.

I really appreciate all the lovely comments left for me but honestly, things are going to be very good.  We all have good days and bad days or even good years and bad years.  I just wish I could be closer to my mum to help her.

I really hope you will join me for my next post......I am planning to show you Port Arthur.

Friday, 21 November 2014

A Change in the Air

I have found it hard to blog lately. I have not enjoyed 2014 for many reasons......my mum is not well, I have had a relapse of health issues (which seem to be on the mend now), kid issues (still a worry but not dire) etc, etc but just lately it feels as if things are turning around a bit (although my mum is worsening a bit) so let me fill you in.

My husbands niece got married last month down in Tasmania which was a lovely, happy occassion to share with two gorgeous people and catch up with our family who all live down south.
the brides boquet
 After the wedding, hubby and I decided to take the opportunity to spend the rest of the week in Tasmania so we dropped the kids off at the airport for their flight back to Queensland, and we drove down to Hobart. I have only been to Tassie once before and never to Hobart so I was quite excited about being there. It only takes about 2 hours to drive from Launceston to Hobart.....no time at all compared to getting north to south of Queensland (believe me, I have done that before)

At this point I should tell you that hubby and I have had a dream for quite some time now to live on a hobby farm, grow fruit and veggies, have chickens, maybe a horse or two and plant a beautiful garden. Back in 2012, we gave ourselves 4 years to find the ideal place.

With this thought in mind, we drove out to the Huon Valley on the first day for a look around. We travelled to the Marina in Cygnet
Now my hubby loves a bit of sailing so this ticked one of his boxes.

After Cygnet we travelled back towards Geeveston and spotted a platypus observation walk so parked the car and went for a stroll. I was enthralled by the daisies growing throughout the grass in the park. Now what does this remind me of? Ah yes, very English.......a box ticked for me.

The creek bubbled along next to the footpath and we saw lots and lots of little birds, fairy wrens, finches, black birds and a few others that I forget now.

We found the viewing platform but there were no visible platypus on this day. After having lunch in Geeveston, we made our way back towards Huonville stopping to buy a couple of bags of fresh apples along the way.  They don't call it the Apple Isle for nothing! When we got to Huonville, hubby wanted to have a quick glance in the real estate window......? and I wanted to call in at the quilt shop where I bought a few fat 1/4s, then we were off again to visit the Apple Shed Museum where we had a taste of the different ciders sold there, and the honey pot where we could see the insides of a real living bee hive......so mesmerising. We bought a couple of jars of honey and then set of back towards Hobart via Kingston to have a look around.

I just loved Kingston Beach, not exactly for those big on surfing but just beautiful all the same. We were actually looking for a quilt shop when we came here so after a quick walk and photo taking we had turned around again to find the shop.  I did find it eventually.  I wasn't my thing as it was all japanese fabric (the traditional indigo kind) and I am not in a mind to use that sort of fabric.  She also had some amazing kimonos in the shop and a few bits of bric-a-brac.  I ended up buying a little hand painted japanese plate.

Now back to Hobart. We decided to head up Mt Wellington (the backdrop to Hobart) before heading back into town. It was starting to look very cloudy while we drove up the mountain but we really wanted to have a look.  Driving up the mountain was interesting and not for the faint hearted.  A couple of times I gasped loudly as another car came around a tight bend a little bit too fast and too close for comfort.  The lower slopes of the mountain are tightly packed with forest growth, and we remarked how difficult it would be to hike through there, but as we got towards the top, the landscape changed to a rocky scene interspersed with small gorse like bushes.

I gasped again as I got out of the car as the temperature had dropped to about 3 degrees celsius......BRRR.....and I was not dressed for it but I was not going to be put off so we headed to one of the lookouts.  By this time everything was covered in a thick cloud and hubby was certain it was starting to snow......but I think it was more like sleet.
That is my hubby in the photo racing me back to the covered lookout.  Boy! it was cold and it looked doubtful that the cloud and sleet was going to clear away anytime soon.

By the time we got back to that lookout with the large windows, I was soaked but I did see a glimmer of sunshine and even a rainbow so took the opportunity to snap a shot of the view of Hobart nestled there below the mountain.

The cloud cover worsened so we headed back to the car, only to be pelted by teeny tiny hailstones. They were as hard as ball-bearings and I felt like I had just gone through a dermabrasion session.

We headed back towards the motel where I climbed into bed with the electric blanket on just to get cosy and warm again while hubby scrolled through real estate sites.......I found that interesting!

The story will continue tomorrow

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