If You Always Do What You've Always Done...Then You'll Always Get What You Always Got

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Outfit #129 - Free Time, Anyone?

I had a lot of free time today.  At school for 8 1/2 hours, I taught for a whole 3 1/2 hours.  I was meant to have only a half hour break.  Ha.

Skirt: Sunny Girl (op shop).  Top: Regatta.  Shoes: Girl Xpress.  Leggings: ? Earrings: from Mombasa.  Necklace: (op shop).
In my spare time, I organised an accompanist for a girl with an exam soon, organised a catch up dinner with a friend (and, hopefully, the next chamber music project), sorted out performance dates for my string quartets, found some people who were born today (for trivia), and I practiced.  Because I practiced so much, the necklace was actually hardly worn. 
These shoes are getting better with every wear.  And this top received compliments galore!
If you desperately want a close-up of these rather sweet, bling-y beetle earrings, you can see them here

Monday, 29 April 2013

The Room Redo, Stage 2

Over the Easter holidays, I started trying to make my room a bit nicer, more Me.  In Stage 1, I made the 'other' bedside table prettier and not so 'other'.  This has resulted in me reading in bed a whole lot more.  This is good.

Stage 2 I just had to Do.  An imminent visit from the parents finally spurred me on.  My cane chair was a gift from them for my 10th birthday, and very much loved.  However, when I left home (really the other way around, but I won't go into that here) the chair went with the parents.  In their current residence it was languishing, so on one visit when mum asked if there was anything of mine I would like them to bring down, I asked for this.  Ah, the nostalgia!  And then it sat in the spare room for a while.  Which was nice for the spare room and anyone who stayed there.  But I felt this corner of my room could do with a chair.  A cane chair.  From my childhood. 
The cushion needs a new cover - hence the black and white bedspread.  Perhaps Stage 2a will be a new cushion cover, and washing the other cushion covers while I'm at it.  I do rather like having the cheerful Fergus smiling at me, too.  Now I am really looking forward to Sunday afternoon when I'll have a chance to curl up and read. 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Flight Mode

Flight mode, or How To Get a Good Night's Sleep.  You see, I have my phone on silent, permanently.  But various notifications will cause my phone to vibrate or light up, and not everyone sleeps (or wants to sleep) at the same time as me.  So when, after struggling to get to sleep for a little too long, and just about to fall off the edge into sleeptown, and someone decides to send me a message or like an Instagram photo, I'm then wide awake again and rather irritated.  (Hint: I'm not going to respond to gig requests after midnight).

The use of flight mode only came about because I kept approaching my internet usage limit at home.  I suspected using my phone's Wifi was partly responsible, and started switching to flight mode when playing games.  I don't know if it made that much difference... But one night I forgot to switch off flight mode before going to sleep and I slept so well.  And when I returned to normal in the morning, I had several items come up that would have disturbed my sleep. 

Obviously, no one really contacts me for emergency purposes.  My responsible side is aware of this very small possibility, so I'm going to try the Do Not Disturb option as well. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

My Best Anzac Biscuits

You have to make Anzac biscuits on Anzac Day.  Tradition, y'know?  Although I have stuck to this tradition for as long as I can remember, I've not made successful Anzacs before.  This is despite me following recipes, I promise.  I like a chewy biscuit, not too soft, but definitely not in the hard or crunchy classification.  My previous Anzacs have been either too hard for my liking, or so ... Well, soft isn't the word I'm after.  They've turned into one baking tray of something resembling brandy snaps.  Yes, I must have been putting them too close together, and yes, something else must have been wrong for them to spread quite so much.  Edible, and yummy, but not really what I was after.  Every time I had that style of Anzac biscuit disaster I would remember the Anzac Day spent in the U.S. where asking for golden syrup scored us that look of "... Er... You want what now?" so we substituted molasses.  It's not the same.
Today, I found numerous recipes for chewy Anzac biscuits.  I chose the more recent recipe that also used less sugar and coconut.  Success!  These are soft and chewy.  You can find the recipe here, or below:

1 cup rolled oats (mine were quick oats, thanks to the most recent Queensland floods)
1 cup plain flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup dessicated coconut
125g butter, chopped
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda

Preheat oven to 160C.  Line 3 baking trays with baking paper (I really spread out my biscuits this time, so used 2 trays twice).
Combine oats, flour, sugar, and coconut in a bowl.  Place butter, syrup, and 2 tablespoons cold water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir for 2 minutes or until butter has melted, then stir in the bicarb soda.  Stir the butter mix into the oat mix.
Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls, place onto trays 5cm apart, and flatten slightly.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

I found that at the 10 minute mark I had to swap the trays - the original bottom tray then only needed another minute, the other tray another 4. 
Putting away ingredients while the first batch was baking, I transferred my coconut to a slightly-too-small jar.  So the 2nd batch scored a bonus tablespoon or so of coconut.  This worked.  They didn't spread as much but are still soft and chewy.
Before I tasted these, I was thinking I should just keep baking Anzac biscuits until I come across a recipe that works to my satisfaction.  However, I think I found it!  I'll be transferring this recipe to my trusty old recipe book.  Of course, a few more batches before next Anzac Day just might be in order...

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Outfit #128 - 50/50

This outfit was comprised of elements that, each on their own, would feel business-y (as much as a creative type like me would get, anyway).  Yet, altogether, I felt I was approaching Crazy Town.  Again.  I actually laughed when I looked at myself in the mirror.  And the photo (singular) here is the slightly less crazy version - I wore a 3/4 sleeve white top under the jacket, plus a scarf, to get to work warmly.  About half the time, then, I was feeling put together.  The other half, more like a crazy lady.  And I'm liking this feeling. 

Dress: Hot Options.  Jacket: Miss Cherry (from Jeannie).  Shoes: Target.  Leggings: Ambra.  Earrings: made by me.
When I told one of my students I thought I was looking a bit crazy she assured me I looked the opposite (she's one of the Fashion Police, and it's one of her quotes today on my other blog).  She did then look at my ears in that way, so I had to check the earrings were actually a pair.  They were.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Outfit #127 - Happy Birthday Shakespeare

Today is, apparently, Shakespeare's birthday.  At least, I am told he was both born and died on St George's Day - which is today.  You learn all sorts of things with trivia.  As it turns out, I know not much about St George or Shakespeare.  I think I need to rectify the situation.
Dress: Kinki Gerlinki.  Top: Ambra.  Leggings: ? Shoes: Target.  Earrings: The Silver Shop (I think).  Scarf: Atmosphere (gift).  Jacket: Hot Options (from Jeannie).

I was trying hard to find a Shakespearean outfit.  This was the best I could do.  My logic is that the dress is a bit like an old tapestry sort of thing.  My alternative involved a very short skirt.  Due to workplace dress requirements, the jacket was only actually included as a 'just-in-case' for the evening's trivia at the cathedral.  My team didn't come last - in fact we were winning for the first half of the evening.  And I'm pretty sure we had more fun than anyone else!
The scarf was only worn to school.  And then for photos.  But I do love it.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The New Hand Cream

So I'm a teacher, right?  This means that at Christmas I am often inundated with body lotions and soaps and bath products.  (Did I mention I love being a teacher?).  I very rarely have to buy any luxury body products for myself.  Last year, I even realised that if I had a bath every night for 3 weeks, I would make merely a dent in my supply.  It was tough.

I wouldn't consider my skin to be sensitive, but I know there are some brands that make me itch.  Some I try and then find I'm not feeling all moisturised but a bit itchy or dry or whatever.  All those I give to others with less sensitive skin than mine.  A couple of weeks ago, I noticed my hands were quite dry, most of the time.  And then the heel of the palms went really dry and flaky, like a peeling sunburn.  (I bet you're glad I didn't add photos to this one, right?!).  This was not helped by going to Melbourne (my skin never appreciates dry weather) or doing push ups during PT on the rubbery stuff in the park.  Looking for my facial care products, I came across a hand cream and it is amazing.  Burt's Bees Ultimate Care Hand Cream, all-day moisture with Baobab Oil.  3 applications to the rather unattractive skin, and it was all clear.  My arms are also appreciating the dose of essential fatty acids and antioxidants, especially as we are in some very dry (relatively) and cooler (relatively) weather. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Phone Case

I know there are some people out there who change their phone cases as often as they change their shirts.  I, however, have had the same phone case since May 2011.  A hot pink Speck case, it did the job.  My phone felt safe encased in it. 
Recently, the little rubbery bits started to give way in a big way.  The bottom part would detach readily, and I started playing with it the way some people click pens.  Guess that might have been annoying...  Anyway, I decided a new case was in order.  I'd seen some pretty cases in Mombasa so headed in there.  This was the only one that appealed to me though. 
Removing the old case, I felt justified in this new purchase - the whole lower section is only just hanging on.  After nearly 2 years of the hot pink safety of Speck, this new one feels rather insubstantial.  I am yet to drop the phone though to really test its protective properties.  In the meantime, I'm getting used to this new yellow thing hanging around.  I do like the spots!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Outfit #126 - Black Caviar

I'm not really a horse-racing person.  At all.  Not really having any idea what I would wear today, I kept thinking of the horse top.  And then yesterday, it was announced that Black Caviar was retiring. 

Top: Hot Options. Skirt: Sunny Girl (op shop). Leggings: Ambra. Shoes: Pulp. Earrings: from Kuranda. Pendant: gift.
I also wore my black Jeanswest cardigan and graduated grey/blue scarf on the way to work.  25C when I was coming home at lunch time though. 
I'm surprised by how not-grey the leggings look in photos.  They're quite grey.  They also gave me a slightly crazy lady feel. 
These earrings always make me feel special. Unfortunately they're really hard to capture.  No-one wants to see me up that close. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Outfit #125 - Winners and Not

Last night, for the first time, my trivia team won a round.  Outright, too.  Even more amazing was that the subject was Brisbane, and only one of us was born here (not me).  Unfortunately, I hadn't tried out this outfit beforehand, and as I was dressed only 2 minutes before having to leave, I didn't have time to alter it.
Tank: Now.  Top: Suite Boutique.  Skirt: Katies.  Shoes: Girl Xpress.  Scarf: Gregory Ladner.  Cardigan: Jeanswest.
One issue of contention in our winning round though - our quizmaster was adamant (and then a bit stroppy) that St John's cathedral is still under construction.  It's not - it was completed in October 2009.  It does show that we need to update our Wikipedia site though!
In this outfit I was really glad I am in an arty role.  No comments about the mostly-black outfit with bright splashes of random colour.  No comments of mixing whatever you might call the pattern style on these shoes with the floral skirt with the totally different scarf.  Despite the floppiness of both halves of this outfit (not one of my preferred outfit styles), attention was diverted to my shoes.  I had many comments along the lines of "Iloveyourshoes!".
I have often worn the ribbon from this skirt.  Despite having owned this skirt for more than 6 years though, this is the first time I've worn the ribbon with the skirt, in its intended location. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Outfit #124 - Vindicated

I almost didn't pack my umbrella today.  It was sunny when I left home at, you know, 6:24am.  I had no knowledge of forecast storms or rain or showers.  At about 2:30pm though, it was black outside.  By the time the little ones were going home, we had thunder and lightning, and raincoat-clad waist-high kids terrified.  It wasn't really raining by the time I had to leave work, but I was glad I had my umbrella with me.  I live in Queensland, after all.
Dress: Quick Brown Fox.  Shoes: Target.  Earrings: Cose Belle.  Necklace (usually unworn - it rattles my violin): op shop.  Scarf: ? Cardigan: Portmans.
So, the cardigan only happened to and from school.  I love swirling the skirt of this dress.  One of those really nice-feeling dresses.  Even though the top is one I need to monitor regularly.
The earrings got the thumbs up from the 11-yr-old Fashion Police.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Drink Your Greens

I grew up hearing "Eat your greens".  I'm pretty sure I am not alone in this.  Now that I'm an adult and have control over what I eat, I think I'm still pretty good at eating my greens.  Last year I started trying to eat at least one packet of baby spinach each week, as well as the other greens that make it to my fridge.  Last week when visiting Jeannie, she made me drink a greens drink.  It wasn't the worst thing ever.  And the smug feeling!  Through the roof.

My next 6 weeks are going to be quite massive.  A really big concert in just under 3 weeks, and a hilly half marathon 2 weeks after that, and another concert a week after that.  I had resigned myself to being a social shut-in, but then I thought I might need an extra nutrition boost as well.  Greens drinks popped into my head.
I checked out the options in the health food store on Saturday, and chose the same brand as my protein powder (Tony Sfeirs).  It's certified organic, and contains barley grass, Spirulina, Chlorella, kelp, and Hesperidin.  Don't you just feel healthy reading those words?!  I won't bore you with all the health benefits, but the list is long.  I keep it relatively concentrated, using about 3/4 cup water, and then drinking another glass of water to wash out the taste and to get any residue.  And I've found that if I'm cooking dinner or making tomorrow's lunch, it's easier to get it down as my brain is elsewhere.  Fingers crossed for a super-healthy term.

Sunday, 14 April 2013


I really wasn't going to do my New Place today.  I actually thought earlier in the holidays would be a great plan.  That didn't work out.  Obviously.  And then, I thought a later Sunday during this month would be fine.  But if you were awake in Brisbane this morning you would know how fabulous the weather was today, especially compared to the extensive rain we had yesterday.  I love rainy weather, but I'd rather go exploring in drier weather.

After church, I was all set on going straight home and tackling my to-do list for the day.  Then a ferry ride popped into my head, and then I thought I could visit Hawthorne.  I stopped for some caffeine first, then took a Citycat from North Quay.  Typical tourist shot followed (you gotta fit in).

Clouds were starting to gather by this stage, so it wasn't the perfect blue skies of earlier.  Still lovely, though.  I'd checked the map and, once I got to Hawthorne I headed for Hawthorne Park, about 700m from the ferry stop.  This park turned out to be a 'healthy park' - there's a running track around it, and those structures that aid chin ups and other exercises, and goal posts, and an oval.  And hardly any seats.  I walked around the track a bit, until I came to a seat occupied only by an ibis.  I think it was threatened by me. 

The whole way there, cruising down the river and walking to the park, I kept thinking about which places would have been flooded in the last few years.  Everything was very neat and clean and orderly, but near the ibis seat, I came across 2 pools of reflections.  Very serene, but a definite reminder of all the rain we've had recently and the low-lying area in which I found myself.
 After taking many photos of reflections, I headed back to the ferry and then home.  I'm sure Hawthorne has more to offer than the park and a whole lot of water, but that will have to wait for another time.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Melbourne Trip #4 - Tuesday and Wednesday

Yesterday's post only got me to the end of lunch on Tuesday.  After lunch, I had a bit of downtime while Jeannie taught a really cute little student.  Then, because of my little encounter on the bike, I decided to change before we went out again.

Tuesday Outfit #2: Stockings from Target, top from Dotti, dress is Don't Ask Amanda - bought at an op shop on my last trip, boots Mina Martini from Jeannie.
We headed into town again, this time on the train, and went to the Rialto tower.  This was something I remember from my high school trip way back when, but Jeannie had never been to the top.  I'm not sure, but I suspect it's been swankified since my school trip.  I can't imagine a whole lot of high school girls, on tour, behaving properly in the bar at the top. 
We were the only customers when we arrived (great service!) so had a pick of views. 
We opted for the Albert Park Lake side, and so had drinks overlooking the city.  It was a pretty great view.
We then headed over to Captains of Industry (in Somerset Place) for some trivia.  Yes, I'm slightly addicted to trivia, so I would have said yes to this anyway, but this particular event was a fundraiser for a group doing the Oxfam Trailwalk shortly.  At first it seemed that everyone there was formerly from Brisbane and either visiting Melbourne like me, or had moved there in the last few years.  As it turned out, there were plenty more people who didn't fit into this category, so those people had a distinct advantage in the 'sport' round.  Another fabulously fun evening, and we came not last, or even second last, but respectably in the middle.

Wednesday.  Outfit: green Kinki Gerlinki dress, black Ambra top, black leggings, black flats from Target, Hot Options jacket from Jeannie.  Wednesday was the consumables day.  This was a good outfit choice.  My hair was in a world of its own though, and highly annoying.
First, we walked down to Bread and Jam for Frances, via Bradstreet Books.  Bradstreet Books is a secondhand store by Glenferrie station, and has 2 levels of shelves and nooks and more shelves.  So many books!  I did not buy anything.
Bread and Jam for Frances is a bakery/cafe attached to Readings bookstore.  Really good service.  Really good coffee.  So we had 2 each.  And we shared a pastry.  And then... Then we went to the bookstore side of things.  Having spent many dollars in my life on not great books, I developed a list of authors I was allowed to buy - everyone else had to be borrowed from the library.  I bought one book from an allowed author.  And then I bought 2 new releases.  No regrets!  One I read yesterday, and the other I started today, and my brain is thanking me for it.
Home again, then I was forced to drink a super greens drink.  I know it's good for me... But yerk. 
Back into the city on the train, and by this stage we were both hungry.  We went to Degraves Lane again, this time to TOFWD.  I have no idea what the initials mean, but I felt healthy just looking at the food, and chose a lentil burger.  We then undid all that good nutrition by heading over to Koko Black.  It's still amazing.  I even had a Chocolat experience!  Having decided from the menu what I would buy to take home, I then forgot one of them - the chocolatier correctly suggested an option. 

On the way to our next engagement (free comedy), we just happened to pass Quick Brown Fox.  A free blowdry later, I also bought a scarf and a pair of earrings.  Then we were ready for some free comedy.  At first, I thought "No wonder this one is free" but then it got unbelievably funny.  Not clever funny, not crass or anything else, just people from the audience being asked to act and have props made out of balloons.  I laughed for at least 30 minutes.
We went to yet another bookstore, then were at a loss.  Instead of buying a bottle of water and wandering aimlessly until dinner, we went to the Cookie rooftop bar.  What a find!  Many flights of stairs (how to earn your treats), and you're practically on top of Melbourne.  There was no great vantage point for photos, but seeing dusk gathering over the city was fabulous. 

Dinner at Miss Chu was mostly vegetables.  Definitely an inner-city eating establishment, with house rules (including 'no chopsticks fights'!) listed at the top of the order forms.  Quick ordering process, very little room, vegetarian and vegan options, and plenty of serviettes for all the effects of the chilli.  My greatest delight here though was when I realised what the deal was with the light fittings - inverted rice bowls!
Then - the highlight of the trip.  We went to Arj Barker in the Melbourne Town Hall.  Going to a comedy festival event had been on my to-do list for years and years and years.  I was not disappointed.  Again, I laughed for most of an hour (there were some serious points), and I was relieved not to be the only one laughing outrageously.  I even bought a sticker pack with quotes from the show, and got a sneaky photo thanks to Jeannie.

I had a relatively early flight on Thursday, so nothing exciting happened that day.  And I wore jeans and many layers of tops, not exciting.  I'm very pleased to have achieved some of my to-do list - and I've added at least 2 items to the list for next time.  And aside from everything detailed here, I met many new people and didn't freak out.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Melbourne Trip #4 - Monday and Tuesday

It's that time of year again.  Melbourne trips seem to happen every 3 months.  I flew down on Monday, after very few hours sleep.  One of my goals for this trip was to wear different clothes - not just jeans and a top.  This occupied more of my brain than I anticipated, which was partly why I'd had very little sleep.  I still had a suitcase weighing only 9kg though.  Throughout all the following activities was a much-needed dose of talk.  Of the kind only a best friend can share.

Monday.  Outfit: Jeanswest super skinny jeans, black organic cotton Ambra tshirt, green and grey striped cardigan from Miss Shop (via op shop), black Target flats, graduated grey scarf.
I met Jeannie at Flinders St station, and we went to Degraves lane for coffee.  At Cafe No. 5 we had coffee and a pear and cinnamon muffin, then decided to get lunch.  I can't remember the name of the place we had lunch (Cafe King? Cafe Kong? something like that) but it was an Asian place with great service, mostly Asian customers (always a good sign) and massive servings.  My sizzling noodles with beef in black pepper sauce would have lasted me for 3 meals if I was making this at home.  Because it was so tasty, and I was rather hungry, I ate rather more than I should have. 
I have no regrets.  Then, being after midday, and we were both in that mood, we went to Ponyfish Island.  This is a bar underneath the Southbank Footbridge, and it's like being in Pirates of the Caribbean.  It has a lovely view, too.
I was a little worried I'd brought not enough in the warm clothing department, but Jeannie had a pile of clothes for me to check out.  Just in case, though, we went to 2 op shops (more great finds).  I then had a teeny tiny nap.  I had been warned that Monday nights were swing dancing lessons.  With all the other fun new things we had planned, combined with the immense sleep deficit, my brain was not enthusiastic about swing dancing.  Eventually, I was hauled off the sofa.  I went to swing dancing.  It was my first time, but knowing where the beat is, and a bit of salsa dancing experience, really helped.  I had so much fun, and didn't feel like an idiot most of the time.  So much fun, in fact, that I'm going to check out the swing dancing options in Brisbane in a couple of months.

After swing dancing, we went to Cafe Sofia (2 doors down) for dinner.  Jeannie and Matt have some experience in the meal sizes at this place, so we ordered one pizza for the 3 of us.  I think we managed to eat the whole thing, but only just.  Huge!  This place reminded me of my childhood, a really great family restaurant with friendly staff.  So friendly that we were given free 'cranberry juice' (port) after our meal.  Needless to say, I slept rather well on Monday night. 

Tuesday.  Outfit #1: op shop dress bought on Monday (black and white horizontal pin stripes, not apparent in photos), black Dotti top, colour block stockings from Target, black flats from Target. 
One of the things on our to-do list was to ride bikes into the city.  So, after breakfast, I got on a bike for the first time in approaching 20 years.  A little practice ride around the garage area, and I thought I would be fine.  Then we got out onto the road.  I got a little freaked out by traffic.  I then realised I didn't need to pedal downhill, and that the brakes were there for a reason.  My adrenaline was rather high, and thankfully we eventually got to the bike path.  I won't go into great detail, but I did realise a lot about my brain from this experience.  In those moments I wasn't concentrating on staying on the path and out of the river, it was a picturesque ride of about 15km in to Federation Square. 
We were hoping for more people around and more coffee, but had an okay coffee and muffin at Opti.  We then ticked off another item on my to-do list: seeing inside St Paul's cathedral.  It's rather beautiful.  It also reminded me of St David's, in Hobart.  Many photos later...  So I'll just share my highlights.  The front door is impressive (that's the outfit photo).  The tiles throughout reminded me of so many English cathedrals, and such a lovely feel.
The vaulted ceiling - I always enjoy looking up.
We also rode home.  I had a little incident (again, brain - resulting in jarred finger) and so when we'd completed the bike path component I opted not to ride along the road.  With the parked cars on one side and major road traffic on the other.  Uphill.  I could foresee an expensive disaster.  Jeannie rode on ahead.  Unfortunately, I didn't check the map function (thank goodness for my phone!) until I was quite sure I was in the wrong place.  And how!  It should have been 800m from where I now know I took a wrong turn, but I went about a circuitous mile instead.   Lunch was rather delicious though, and really healthy.  Thankfully.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Schnitzel with Spiced Apple Sauce

Technically, this should be 'Schnitzel with watercress and spiced apple sauce' but I didn't find any watercress.  Wilted spinach to the rescue.

I realised I hadn't made a Jamie recipe for a little while, so, instead of putting up even more pictures, I looked through Cook with Jamie.  This recipe caught my eye - and it's my first ever schnitzel.  It won't be my last.  I have to say, though, that this is not a great option straight after a run.  Although the cooking time is quite quick, the preparation is a bit longer than is good for me when I'm in the post-run ravenous mood.  I made my own breadcrumbs, and heeded Jamie's advice to have them very dry.  This used up the few crusts still hanging around the freezer, but took some time under the grill to get them really dry.  It was also my first time using whole nutmeg.

for the apple sauce:
a knob of butter
zest and juice of 1/2 an orange
50g sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 of a nutmeg, grated
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 good eating apples, peeled, cored, chopped into 2.5cm dice
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored, chopped into 2.5cm dice

2x150g pork escalopes, preferably free-range or organic
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large free-range or organic egg, beaten
3 large handfuls of dry, fine breadcrumbs
olive oil
small handful of cornichons, drained and chopped into matchsticks (I omitted these)
2 handfuls of watercress, washed and dried
1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil

To make apple sauce, in a small saucepan gently melt the butter for a minute with the orange zest and juice, the sugar, cinnamon, grated nutmeg and cloves.  Stir until the butter foams, then stir in the apples.  Place a lid on top and cook for 20 to 25 minutes on a medium to low heat until you have a soft, sludgy sauce.  Taste and add a bit more sugar if you want (I didn't).  I found this was the same amount of time as it took to do the schnitzel.

Put the escalopes on a chopping board, put a piece of greaseproof paper on top, and bash it with the bottom of a saucepan to flatten it - the aim is about 0.5cm thick.

Get four plates and lay them out in a line.  From left to right, you need salt and pepper in one, flour in the second, beaten egg in the third, and breadcrumbs in the fourth.  Simply season the meat, dip into flour and shake off excess, put them in the egg and shake off the excess, then into the breadcrumbs, patting them over both sides and pressing down quite firmly.  Gently shake off any excess and put them on a clean board or plate.

Heat a heavy frying pan, add a couple of good glugs of olive oil (yes, it's Jamie!) and, when it's good and hot, put both pieces of pork into the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes or so, then carefully start to shake and agitate the pan to cover them in the hot oil.  Turn the pork over and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until both sides are crisp and golden brown.  Remove to a tray (or plate) lined with kitchen paper and season with salt and pepper.  Put a schnitzel onto each of your serving plates.  Put a little pile of cornichon matchsticks and some water cress on top and serve with a big lob of the apple sauce, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
I was too hungry to notice the last bit, so mine was schnitzel, apple sauce, wilted spinach, and roasted sweet potato and pumpkin on the side.  Oh, and this apple sauce - YUM!!!  I'll most likely be making this again... and again...

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Room Redo

Walking through the local shopping centre last week, I passed a homewares store and got all deflated.  I'm not one of those interior decorator whizzbang types who can make their surroundings beautiful just by - well, I don't know.  I went through my usual "But I don't need any stuff" phase.  And then the next day was a really bad day.  It was saved from being a 'C' by an email from a great friend, and seeing a bush turkey freaked out on the roof next door.  And I made some possibly unnecessary (but happiness-inducing) purchases for bedroom decor.  So far, only stage one is complete, but I've nearly completed stages 2, 3, and 4.
Stage 1 - bedside table.  Not the main bedside table, but the other side.  The neglected side.  Now, it's much more 'Home Beautiful'.  And it looks even prettier with a Hipstamatic lens, and flowers.
The lamp I bought ages ago - but now I have a power board, I can have it plugged in as well as my other lamp (and various other things too).  I am yet to use the owl as a tea light holder.
The vase I am justifying by the fact that I was without a large vase, the others having broken (sad face).
And (this is big - brace yourself) I bought a new lampshade for my other lamp.  This is a lamp I have had since childhood, but the shade hasn't lasted the distance.  For many, many years I've just draped an old sarong around it.  I thought it was time to grow up.  I found a shade in a dark ruby sort of colour which goes rather nicely in my room.  Of course, one of the drawbacks of having a room decorated more nicely with decent lighting is that now I want to be there even more.  And it's just going to get worse. 

Monday, 8 April 2013

Italian Breakfast Banana Bread

You know the story.  Bananas going ripe.  Must make banana bread.  Especially as the weather is getting cooler.  I did have a day of "I'm totally going to freeze the remaining bananas for smoothies" but then I got over it.  Next time, I promise.  In the meantime, there's Nigella's Italian breakfast banana bread.  Which can be consumed at any time of day, thankfully.
150mL flavourless vegetable oil
3 medium bananas, very ripe (about 400g with skin on, 300g without)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch salt
2 eggs
150g caster sugar
175g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder

Place a baking sheet in the oven, and preheat to 170C.  Line a loaf tin with baking paper or lightly oil it.
Mash the bananas with the vanilla and salt, then beat in the oil.
Beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the sugar.
Mix the flour with the bicarb and espresso powder, and beat these dry ingredients into the runny batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin, then pop it into the oven, on the baking sheet.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until slightly coming away at the sides and bulgingly risen.  A cake tester should come out clean, barring the odd crumb.  Leave for at least half a day before slicing into it.  Really.

I made this one evening, so my whole house smelt deliciously of baking the whole evening.  It is really quick and easy to whip up, too.  Mine didn't rise 'bulgingly' though, and after leaving it in the oven overnight (yes I turned it off) it had sunk a little, so it was wider rather than higher.  No matter - it was still deliciously moist and banana-y.  Nigella recommends chocolate spread (yum! - but not a good thing for me) or mascarpone sprinkled with  cinnamon.  I went with quark sprinkled with cinnamon.  Yum.  And I was really really good - I sliced the leftovers and put them in the freezer for later.  Sorry for all the smug vibes permeating the blogosphere.