July 2009 - alvers.info

Just a place for my old thoughts

Weekends, pussycats and cake as a weapon.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009 1:00 am

A little late on the weekend post but you can't have everything. Friday I had another leave day so I woke up early and waved Deb goodbye as she headed off to work.

Deb has her Mum in town for the weekend and was heading down the coast. So I had the idea to head up the coast and make the most of the long weekend. I'll let Deb post about seeing Cats and going to the Casino.

I then packed my bags, caged a couple of cats and headed off for Serena's place. With many of the road works now complete between here and Yaroomba it was a rather quick 1:30hr run which was good. Eeep still make a mess of her cage but you can't have everything.

When the pussycats realised they were at Serena's they turned into little balls of grateful cat love. They jumped and performed, smooched and snoozed and generally soaked up the great weather and change of scenery.

I managed to fall asleep on the back deck twice, once of which was captured and posted to Facebook, thanks guys.

Toby, a friend of Libbette's, was coming over for dinner so Serena and I headed out to pickup pork chops for crumbing. Along with some roasted vegetables and a mushroom gravy it turned out to be a fantastic meal. It is kind of fun being with Serena and Libbette because they are both very good cooks so we short of discuss the best approach and timing for dinner. So it all hit the table at the same moment and in perfect order. And the pork itself was pretty outstanding having been purchased that day from Serena's favourite butcher.

We headed out to the back deck after dinner and rugged up under some new throw rugs that Serena had purchased. After a little port and fruitcake (thanks to Deb's Mum!) I was feeling very content and headed off to bed by 10:30. Given that I had fallen asleep twice it looks like I was cashing in on a sleep debt.

Saturday Serena and I headed up to Eumundi to the markets to have a look around. There was also a butcher up there that was recommended as having fresh duck. Well. They also had fresh goat mince, duck liver pate and all manner of hard to find ingredients. I am definitely going to have to head back up there on our next visit.

On the way back to Serena's we stopped in Noosa and picked up Snapper fillets and Morton Bay bugs. These were to become our dinner. Libbette was planning to head out for a movie after dinner so her sister Shelly was in for food as well. Serena repeated her Snapper in coconut milk and dill which was outstanding and I did Singapore chilli bugs.

All served up with rice and some stirfried greens it was a very good dinner. After Libbette headed off I made up some mulled wine which was not as good as Deb's, although I used the same recipe, but it was pretty good. After a couple of mugs I fell asleep watching the Tour de France. (I am seeing a pattern forming here I think) The next thing I remembered was waking up at 1am as Serena was going to bed.

Sunday I woke up reasonably early and headed out for a run. I was pretty pleased with myself because I ran down to the local IGA and back which is a reasonable distance. From there I just had breakfast and cleaned up. Then quietly slipped out because Serena was still asleep.

Home and a very lazy afternoon. I walked down to the shops to get groceries for dinner, a bottle of wine and a couple of movies. From there it was an early night and off to bed.

Monday I was working remotely so that I could be home to get my Foxtel upgraded. The process was fairly smooth but now my internet connection is dropping out on a regular basis so I think the guy that installed it has stuffed up my phone line. Not good as the internet is dropping out every 20 minutes or so. Very frustrating.

Mid afternoon Deb and her Mum came home but I was trapped on a phone call for the next three hours. When I finally got off we had a chat and then discovered that most Brisbane restaurants close on a Monday. So we settled on Citrus for dinner.

My experience there has always been mixed and true to form I found they now carry an extensive range of steak of which my rib filet was absolutely outstanding. That should be contrasted with my strawberry cheesecake which could be used to plug an oil leak in a tanker. When it arrived I was taken back by how hard it was to hack a bit off the slice but sadly realised why after I put it in my mouth. I am not sure how much gelatin they had used by that sucker was rubber. After a second bit to confirm it really was that bad I left the rest.

Anyways, I got up to pay the bill because we had no luck attracting a waitress. When I was at the counter paying apparently a waitress did appear and commented that the cake was uneated. So Deb offered that it was a bit 'tough'. I do wish I had been there to see this, but apparently the waitress picked up a fork and tried unsuccessfully to break off a bit. 'I'll mention this to the manager...' she mumbled as she carried the offending desert away.

I had by this stage already paid the bill but the manager did offer to refund the cost into our next meal, so at least they acknowledged the issue.

So that was my weekend. I have left out the bit about me hurting my back again and being a cripple but you don't need to hear about that.

5km huh?
Sunday, 19 July 2009 11:08 pm

Another weekend down and another gripping blog entry to be written. I was home Thursday and Friday last week with a head cold but you would never know given that I basically did 10hrs work per day. Having said that it is easier to sit in comfort at home, no air-conditioning and all rugged up. So it wasn't all bad.

Friday night we went down to the local Thai restaurant on Oxford street, it was better than I had remembered. It may have just been our choice of dishes but it all went down very well. As usual we ordered too much but that's fine really.

Saturday Deb and I headed out for a little shopping at DFO and to grab groceries for dinner. We had Serena coming over that night who was crewing for us at the Jetty 2 Jetty fun run on Sunday morning. I have to say that with my cold I really didn't feel like competing but the thought of not running was really weighing on my mind.

Anyway, Deb made a yummy lasagne with lamb mince and a light salad which was delicious. Then I was off to bed fairly early. I have been pumped up on sudafed tablets for the last week so my sleep patterns are shot to bits. I find the stuff makes me drowsy but unable to remain asleep. Still it is better than drowning in my own mucus.

Sunday morning we were up early to get ready for the run. Dressed, a bowl of birtcher muesli and then off to the race. We piled Serena under our t-shirts and stuff and then headed off for the 5km run.

I was doing it tough but found myself ahead of Deb for most of the race. In the last km she happily reeled me in and then headed home for a ~30 second lead on me. (We haven't seen the results yet).

In a growing tradition we headed back to Serena's folks place for a shower and then off for Yum Cha in the city. It is weird getting to a Yum Cha resturant early because there were only two or three tables full. Over the next 45minutes it grew to the normal frenetic yum cha vibe.

Back home and Sunday was spent snoozing, watching TV and taking it easy. We had picked up this awesome Thai basil while we were in china town so dinner was Pho Bo. (Vietnamese beef and noodle soup). Absolutely perfect as a light but yummy end to our weekend.

Clarifications and licences
Tuesday, 14 July 2009 4:06 am

For those of you not following along the title of the last post was "How hard can that be..." and only gave the first line as "Oh, famous last words indeed."

I suppose I could be accused of being overly criptic but it actually related to the preceeding post about taking the ingredients for marmalade up to Serena's and making it there. The 'How hard can that be?' turned out to be harder than I thought when I decided to sit on the balcony with my glass of wine while the fruit and sugar mix cooked. At some point Deb goes in and tells me that I have burnt it onto the bottom of the pan. So it was another attempt for the sink.

Anyway...I am now also the owner of a new licence and an International Driving Permit ready for our trip overseas.

And to top off the excitement my self-dimming lightbulbs arrived by courier yesterday. Yes, I have had to resort to importing lightbulbs because there isn't a shop in Australia with the forethought to think that selling self-dimming light-bulbs would be a good idea. I ask you, do you have a room or lamp in the house that would benefit from being able to dim from 60-40-25-15 watts with just the flick of the switch? Think about it.

I guess I am just ahead of the curve again.

How hard can that be...
Monday, 13 July 2009 12:26 am

Oh, famous last words indeed.

Friday afternoon was pretty pleasant taking it easy at home and then into the city to catch up with JT and Jason for dinner over at a new place on Grey St at Southbank called 5th Element. They have a very impressive wine list and the food is pretty good. A tad too pretentious for my taste but it was great to catch up with JT and Jason who finished yet another half-marathon last week.

Saturday morning was an early early start so that we could get up to Serena's place with the cats. It was a glorious sunny weekend and we made the most of the decks.

We headed out to Coolum which is being torned down and rebuilt and grabbed a few t-shirts and stuff before heading back to the beach house.

Deb had put in an order for Duck which Serena roasted and served with potatoes baked with duck fat. Oh the ducky bits! Deb then made mulled wine and after three cups I was ready for bed.

Sunday we went up to Sunshine beach for a lazy breakfast and then made a dash for home. I had been planning to take a nap and relax but instead we ended up cleaning the bathrooma and mowing the lawn. Fortunately it all ended with a glass of bubbles and some cheese on the deck, it is was not all lost.

For dinner last night I continued my experiment with risotto and made mushroom and roast duck risotto. I am getting better at it but still think there is some way to go in terms of perfecting the technique.

My day off.
Friday, 10 July 2009 1:37 am

I have the day off on account of the firm asking people to help out and take a bit of unpaid leave. So here I am with my day playing out as it will.

First task was to drop Deb off at the ferry for the trip to work. Then over to Manly to drop the car off for a service. I was hoping then to pickup a new power-supply for my PC and get it installed but MSY doesn't open until 10:30am. So home I went.

I should say that my previous batch of marmalade did confirm my fears and never set. Not to worry I dumped it down the sink started another batch of marmalade when I got home. Then realised that we are heading up to Serena's tomorrow. I guess I can just take the jars and stuff up with me and make it there. It only involves boiling sugar after all. How hard can that be.

I then got back to MSY and picked up another power supply. I ended up getting the cheapest one for $29 because the last good one, over $100 blew up, and frankly I can buy 4 cheap ones for the same cost. I'd still be ahead.

So, with a new (and much louder) powersupply in my PC I am back up and running. It was weird not having it around for the week. I kept having to ask Deb to use her laptop to look thing up and print pages out.

Anyways, I am just waiting for a call from the mechanic to say the car is ready and then I can pick it up and settle into my day off afternoon. I'm thinking of heading down to Oxford street to grab a computer magazine and read it over lunch at the pub with a beer and a steak sandwich.

Lot'sa things...
Sunday, 5 July 2009 11:58 pm

It was a very productive weekend all round. We caught up with Lucette on Friday for lunch and Shane was able to drop in for a quick drink which was great. They are both heavily into a fitness programme and are looking very good for it. Friday night was a quiet evening at home with me being in bed by 10pm. How sad is that.

Saturday we cleaned the house, much to Deb's protests of 'but we did it last week'. And then headed out for a visit to Bunnings and to pickup crunchies for the furrg. Then home for a glass of bubbles on the deck in the afternoon sun. That was when I figured that I would try to make grapefruit marmalade using the fruit from our tree.

You know, cooking is an interesting practice that I really enjoy. It exists somewhere within construction, art and science. You need to understand how ingredients will work together, how best to craft them into a dish. And sometimes you are playing with pure chemistry as you mix items together and suddenly the amazing happens. (I love white sauce!)

Marmalade adds a fourth mystical dimension. That is to say that most of the recipes are so incredibly simple you would be lead to believe that nothing could go wrong. The truth couldn't be more different. The recipes are simple because the number of things that need to be accounted for are so vast that a single recipe cannot account for them all. So instead they just say, fruit, water, sugar, you figure it out.

Anyway, back to my Saturday. After consulting a few recipe books and the internet I settled on a hybrid recipe that sounded like it might work. You start by simmering 500g of fruit in water to get the process started. Let me say that 500g of grapefruit isn't that much. You then let it stand for 24 hours so the evening was ours to enjoy.

We went across the river to a little Japanese restaurant that Deb had been meaning to try called Mizu. It was definitely very good and reminded us of what good Japanese food should taste like. We couldn't help but recall our Sakura days in Melbourne.

From there we walked up to Blowfly and had a final drink and then home. Unfortunately the coffee martini that Deb had didn't settle very well and she had a very fitful nights sleep. I on the other hand snored so loud that Deb was unable to wake me.

Sunday we went out to try and find preserving jars for my marmalade. How hard can it be I ask you? Clearly it is a dying art because we searched high and low and found only one place that was selling imported Italian preserving jars. They are very very cute though so we picked up a couple of packs and then headed home to try our luck.

I should say that this was where the mystical part cuts in. You basically just pour a ton of sugar into your fruit and water mix and then boil the hell out of it for 25 minutes. At the end you put a scoop on a cold plate, run your finger through the middle and if it doesn't run back together you have marmalade. Right...

So we sterilised the jars and loaded them up with hot syrup. Deb was pretty impressed but I was worried that they would not set. While they cooled we headed off to watch Terminator Salvation. Not bad for a T movie.

Back and I found the jars were still quite warm and that the marmalade was stubbornly holding it's syrup like consistence. Deb told me that she had read that marmalade can take a couple of weeks to set. I want to believe her but she used that tone of voice you use with kids when their gold fish has died, you know... 'Fishy was very tired and had to go away for a rest, but if you wish really hard I am sure one of his brothers might come back to say hello to you'.

Needless to say that I am not holding out a great deal of home for my first experiment. Then again it only cost me three grapefruit, 2kg of sugar and a dozen preserving jars.