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Salsa and soup…and evidence that I cannot neatly ladle soup into these bowls.

Ingredients

Soup

Makes about 6 servings

  • 1 kg of carrots, peeled and chopped into lengths
  • 1 brown onion, diced finely
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Vegeta stock powder

Salsa

Makes about 4 servings.

  • 1/4 of a thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • handful of basil and parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of roasted red peppers, diced

Soup: Heat your oven to 180°, pop some baking paper on a sheet pan and tip on your carrots. Drizzle with olive oil and rosemary and a sprinkle of salt and pepper then pop in the oven for 40 minutes or until soft. You will need to turn them once or twice to ensure they get lovely and roasted all over. Meanwhile boil a kettle and mix your 1-2 tsp vegeta with 2 cups of boiling water.

Once your carrots are roasted you are GTG for the rest of the soup. In a large saucepan, cook your brown onion until soft and translucent, then add your garlic into the pan, cook until fragrant and then add your carrots. Stir well and cook for a minute or two, then add your 500mL of stock and another 500mL of water. Bring to the boil and then cook on a low heat with the lid on for about 40 minutes, season to taste.

Take off the heat and cool, then blend in a blender or an immersion blender. Once blended and cooled, you can chill (or even freeze) the soup at this point and reheat when needed. If the soup is a little too thick, add a little water when you reheat and check the seasoning.

Souper

Salsa: Combine red onion and the vinegar in a bowl and let stand for at least an hour until the onion softens. Then add in the herbs and capsicum, stir well and season with salt and pepper then let stand for about 30 minutes. Spoon on top of soup just before serving.

Marinading to release the flavours

Hot tips: Grit your teeth and respond with “No it doesn’t” when one of your friends leaps to assume it has coriander in it because there is something green in it (and they have apparently forgotten the numerous times over the years they have highlighted they don’t like coriander to you and the numerous times you have remembered that particular dislike without needing to be prompted when catering for their culinary preferences as they stand for this particular month). And grit your teeth and respond with “NO it doesn’t” when another of your friends says “is that tomato” (because they have forgotten the numerous times over the years they have highlighted the fact they don’t like tomato and the numerous times you have remembered that particular dislike without needing to be prompted when catering for their particular culinary idiosyncracies.) Then have another glass of wine.

Fancy jam jar serving bowls.

Ingredients

Makes 4.

Pannacotta

  • 850 mL milk (I use a hilo milk with extra iron and calcium, but a full cream or creamy milk would work if you want a richer panacotta)
  • 6-8 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2.5-3 tsp gelatine powder
  • 1 sachet of dried coconut milk powder (one sachet makes one cup of coconut milk but keep it in powder form)

Lime “Caramel” Glazed Pineapple

  • 1/2 a sweet pineapple, peeled and diced
  • Zest and juice of a lime
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

For the pannacotta: Split the milk into 2 saucepans and bring to just before boil, whisk the gelatine powder into one pan (you will need to whisk it pretty quick to ensure no lumps form) and whisk the sugar into the other pan. Make sure both sugar and gelatine are dissolved in each pan. Take pans off the heat, then combine the two sets of milk into one large bowl and whisk well to combine. Now tip in your sachet of dried coconut milk power and whisk again making sure there are no lumps.

Decant your bowl into a jug to make it easier to pour (if you are worried about lumps, decant it through a sieve into the jug). Then pour equal portions into your pannacotta receptacles (you won’t be unmolding these which is why you can get away with less gelatine). Cool the pannacotta and then refrigerate to set (best done the night before).

Check out this bad boi

Flecks of lime, a glaze of brown sugar “caramel”…100% delicious.

For the Lime “Caramel” Glazed Pineapple topping: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well until the sugar is dissolved by the lime and the pineapple juices and coats each piece of pineapple. Stir every hour/so to make sure everything is infusing and being coated. Can be made the night before or the morning of your dinner. Spoon over each pannacotta when you are ready to serve.

My feline housemate and I are pleased to announce the household is expecting some new arrivals! Very long awaited arrivals, that we (well I) have hoped for and sent a non-binding, secular plea to the non-existent and certainly non denominational garden gods. Now the day has finally arrived, and I can share my joyous garden news with you.

As it turns out Figgy Forrest is not actually Figgy Forrest, but rather Figomena Forrest and SHE IS GROWING A FIG! [NB: Technically she is Figgy Forrest #2 as Figgy #1 met an unfortunate accident from which he never recovered (and which I try not to mention as it still upsets me to this day #tragedy).]

If you look to the top left and squint, you will see a baby fig on Figomena

Anyway, Figgy short for Figomena has decided that 2019 is the year she will deign to produce a fig, thereby confirming she is a female fig tree (reassuring because otherwise for several years I have been watering and caring for what would be just a decorative fig plant).

All new parents do the obligatory out of focus of their offspring (it’s just normally the offspring look more like Winston Churchill than a fruit)

I am hoping in late 2020 she may deign to produce figs in plural, but we have to learn to crawl before we walk. And one fig is better than no figs and a decorative fig tree that you’ve been watering for several years hoping it will fruit.

On top of that GREAT GARDEN NEWS, I decided this year to follow some random advice on the internet about dealing with non-fruiting pomengranate trees:

If the tree bloomed but bore no fruit, there probably were no bees in your garden when it bloomed. If there are no native or domestic bees or other insects the flowers won’t be pollinated and won’t become fruits. So when your the tree blooms in spring, take a sable paint brush and pollinate all the flowers. Just play like a bee and go from flower to flower spreading the pollen from one to another. Sometimes people use a feather duster for this job but a paintbrush is better.

And the results, dear reader are in! Random advice on the internet does occasionally work:

There are two pomegranates in this picture…

…and with the help of a number 4 watercolour brush I succeeded in getting my blossoming but never fruiting pomegranate tree to fruit not ONE BUT TWO pomegranates!

I am currently calling them P1:

P1 is a bit of a runt because it’s growing next to the stake, but whatever I LOVE IT JUST THE SAME

And P2:

P2 is definitely the more pomegranate looking of the two (but don’t tell P1)

For those of you wondering what I will be doing once these new residents are finally ready to join my household, I will just leave this link to Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal

Recipe: Adult Fanta

My mouth is watering…

Warning: if you’re expecting the mild taste of fanta with vodka in it, this drink is not for you. This drink combines the blessed bitterness of aperol with simple flavours so that you really savour that bitter orange taste and don’t get too tanked (if you want to get tanked on Aperol, try the Aperol Spritz which has the double whammy of Aperol and prosecco and give up the rest of your afternoon because those babies creep up on you).

This recipe is dedicated to another other aperol fan: BigG (technically she’s TallG, but BigG sounds more gangsta).

Ingredients

  • 1-1.5 shots of Aperol
  • 0.5 shots of lime cordial (experiment, you may find you only like a splash of the cordial)
  • 6-7 ice cubes
  • Soda Water to top (I recommend getting a soda stream so you are never without soda water, and you can help do your bit not trashing the planet…)

Pop your shot(s) of aperol in your closest jar (all class), pop in your cordial, add your ice cubes and top with soda water. Watch your beautiful drink turn into layers of bitter sunset flavoured goodness, then stir a little to blend. Then grab your glass, swirl it so the icecubes clink, bring glass to lips and drink that delicious, delicious flavour.

#YOUREWELCOME

After a few of these aperolly need a nap…boomTISH

It’s not only the Gallery Hanging System in the hallway making me happy, it’s also the Gallery Hanging System in my office!!!! Yep: my office now has a bad case of the Gallery Hanging Systems AND THIS IS ONE THING I DON’T NEED TO VACCINATE FOR.

Gallery inspiring productive prettiness.

I chose my hallway (hello to hanging my amazing Miik Green’s) and my office as the first two rooms to receive the glory of the Gallery Hanging System. And it’s a decision making me very happy.

FYI: phase two will be: bedroom, lounge room; phase 3 will be studio and part of the other side of hallway…I dread to think how many drillbits DIY Dad will go through (one reason why this project is being approached in stages.)

Gallery on the facing wall.

Most of this artwork is actually my own work, so I don’t get to #humblebrag and #namedrop an amazing artist, I just get to #humblebrag that this is mostly me 😉

This is what I see when I look in the doorway of my office, and it makes me happy.

From the top left: You have a drawing of my mum (study for a larger painting I still need to do for my sister…it’s only about 7 years late), a painting by my mum and framed in an ornate plaster frame by my uncle (sadly the frame was damaged when the painting fell off a wall – we don’t talk about that, it still hurts – so I need to get it reframed e.x.a.c.t.l.y. t.h.e. S.A.M.E. or else) and the rest is me again.

How could you not be happy with this view?

On the other side, from the top left: that’s me, then a still life donated to my by my aunt Denny, then a painting donated to me by one of my workmates (we’ll call her Isabella’s mum)…it was Isabella’s mum’s mum’s if I recall correctly, and then the rest is me again. Fun fact: the bouganvillea cuttings I painted in the bottom right and on the opposite wall, were from my aunt’s garden #itsallconnected

Making me happy (in spite of the awful damage to the amazing plaster frame that still makes me sad)

You know I’ve wanted a gallery hanging system in my house since 2012. Technically, I’ve wanted it since 2009 but I made it official by telling you that I wanted it in 2012. [I do like to workshop things before I commit in case they are passing fancy (cough…peacock blue coloured hallway), or I find a more practical/economical/suitable solution (cough…felt storage boxes as inserts for my expedits instead of costly expensive milk crate decalled plywood boxes shipped from Europe)].

And now, in 2019, I’ve broken the seal and bought the first set of lengths of the system and begun populating my walls with gallery hanging system and then artworks hanging from the aforesaid system. First room off the rank, is the hallway where I’ve finally hung two massive Miik Green paintings. Miik is a contemporary Western Australian artist (and friend) who does both paintings and sculptures, very amazing!

Looking down the gallery Miik Greens into the living room

Miik’s paintings draw from cell-staining techniques and biological pigmentation, where colour can define abnormalities or infection. He injects, drags and extracts liquid materials, pigments and chemicals, and the paintings evolve and develop as the materials and mediums used interact with each other.

I’m a fancy art owner now. Like a grown up.

Miik finishes his paintings with a hardened, highly reflective skin so any photograph of his paintings is also a photograph of reflections. Super amazing.

I’m quite enjoying seeing parts of my house reflected back at me, although it has made it challenging to take pics of only the works, especially given their placement in my hallway means I’ll always take the pic on an angle.

Much reflection, many book. Such artwork.

Just glorious. SUPER massive props to DIY Dad who did the drilling and fixing of the points into the wall so we could fasten the rail to it.

DIY Dad’s efforts were not without challenges: we went through 3 drill bits thanks to the occasionally super hard bricks in my house; and 3 different sizes of wall plugs thanks to the occasionally super soft bricks in my house; and had to discuss our different appreciations of levels (DIY Dad = use a level, DIY Daughter: follow the cornice so it looks good, I can level the paintings.)

Reflection of a bekvan stool in a Miik Green.

3 drill bits, 3 sizes of wall plugs, 1 trip to bunnings, 1 trip to DIY Dad’s house to collect a couple of important things he’d forgotten, a brief stop for Yum Cha et voila!

The hallway is not completely done: there’s another section where I can put the hanging system but that’s not as urgent as getting Miik’s beautiful works on the wall. So 75% of the work is done, but there’s 25% to do when budget and DIY Dad time permits me to continue the progress in the hallway.

Frankly, if I thought 2017 threw me some curveballs, 2018 and 2019 threw and are throwing even more!

Early 2019 books to read pile: I now only have 2 of the books left to read.

I’ll be travelling to USA and Mexico this year, because my sister is getting married in Mexico this year, and I’m the bridesmaid. Plus while we’re over there, DIY Dad and I will be doing a road trip across the USA. That’s going to be both fun, and funny. At the same time.

So this year, I’ve had to strip back my houseolutions to the bare minimum, because I got sh*t to do this year. And not a lot of it house-related.

2019 Houseolutions

  • Travel (not actually a houseolution)
  • Study (also not actually a houseolution)
  • Gallery hanging system: I can’t wait anymore, I want some paintings hanging on my walls instead of just leaning against them…and I don’t care what else has to go on hold while I do that. (The important part of the hallway is done, and the office is done.)

Bonus: