December 2009 -

Just a place for my old thoughts

Looking back
Thursday, 31 December 2009 12:52 am

Well, it's the morning of New Years Eve so I thought I would check back through the archive to see what we have been up too.

The year started with a fair bit of uncertainty at work, learning to sail and what I now recognise as our battle for the best dinner.

As the weather cooled we headed to Harvey Bay for easter and started to cook some of our winter weather dishes and we got to try some very special restuarants.

At around this point I seemed to find myself lining up for fun runs and purchasing weird computer equipment (aka. Mind Control Headband). We also headed out to the Diggers Bluff lunch as well as the Camp Quality dinner. I think I lost IQ points after that dinner.

June was actually a full on month. From Foundation events at work, another round of sailing lessions and Deb's Birthday at which it rained continuously for three days. I also got a menu signed by Robert from Rockford which was a bit of a wine geek highlight.

I then continued to attempt fun runs and did a 5km run for the first time, learned how not to make marmalade. I also took up a 'flexible leave' option at work which meant 9 day fortnights for a few months. Oh that was sweet.

August saw the passing of our little Eeep and Deb and her mum heading overseas for their long awaited Europe holiday. We also spent more time up the coast, got a computer virus and had the website hacked. Pretty full on really.

Then I was off to meet Deb and her mum in Spain. How cool was that. Oh how I love Europe as a destination. It was only two weeks and I destinctly remember hating all the long haul travel but oh God what an awesome holiday.

October was pretty full on again from a social perspective. Catching up with Craig & Paula seems like only a few weeks ago. Oh, and food at Serena's...there was so much food. Deb headed off on her trip to Melbourne with Janet and 23 cats.

What can you say about November except that Rafficat entered the house hold. And yes, she is so very very cwoot!

So as we approach the end of the year we have survived the dinners, lunches and parties. We've spent a wonderful week in Adelaide enjoying Deb's mum's cooking and stocked up on wine again. And the dinner contest continues.

It has been a pretty amazing year really. A few tears, plenty of laughs and more cwoot than a pussycat can stand.

I guess the best way to finish of this post is with a photo of the best steak I have ever eaten in my entire life. Courtesy of a tiny little tuscan osteria located an hours drive outside of Adelaide.

Ok, so I should have taken a before shot.


Avatar x 2
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 10:13 pm

We took Deb's mum to see Avatar yesterday which is also the second time we have seen it.

This time round I spent less time marveling at the 3D and more time just enjoying the movie. It's funny that the story line, now that I know exactly what to expect, doesn't seem as lame as it did at first.

I'm sitting there waiting for bits to happen that I really enjoyed from the first viewing. So yes, it is definitely a very cool movie and on that I may even purchase on DVD even though I don't own a 3D television.

Oh, and today is Christmas Eve which means that tomorrow I get presents. You know, I really don't want anything for Christmas given how much stuff I already have. But getting to open presents is still so very very cool.

And I have gift vouches from work that are burning a whole in my pocket but I have absolutely no idea what to spend the bloody things on. Suggestions are dearly welcome.

McLaren Vale and the Barossa
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 12:07 am

Over the last few days we managed to get out to McLaren Vale and to the Barossa. We basically did a hit and run on our favorite wineries of Shottesbrooke and Coriole in McLaren Vale and Turkey Flat, Melton and Rockford in the Barossa. I am not going to tell you how much money I then spent on wine.

Lunch at Coriole Winery.

Cellar door at Charles Melton

The traditional photo outside of Rockford

Cat Rack
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 11:57 pm

As mentioned Deb and I spent yesterday afternoon giving ourselves a set of blisters. In the process we managed to build this little bit of engineering. Dinah doesn't seem very sure of it and only posed her because Deb's mum put her up there.

Central Markets
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 10:19 pm

We headed off yesterday into the central markets in Adelaide. They have a massive selection of fruit & veg, butchers and small goods that I really haven't encountered anywhere else.

While looking around we found one of the butchers had the most awesome looking whole eye fillet. They had taken the time to strip all the fat and connective tissue leaving perfectly pink meat. So dinner was on. All I did was brown it in a pan and then give it 15 minutes in the oven. Nothing more nothing less. When I sliced it it was absolutely perfect but about as pink as I would be willing to serve Deb's mum.

Oh, and it was perfect. Some of the best beef that I have eaten in quite some time.

The other part of the day was building a cat climbing thingy for Dinah. Deb and I put on our Bob the Builder hats and took at it with a saw, drill and a handful of screws. If nothing else it is solid enough to support the full weight of the cat (which is saying something).

We don't have any major plans for today so I think it is just going to be taking it extra extra easy and relaxing even more. (If that is even possible).

Sunday, 20 December 2009 11:49 pm

Down in Adelaide and I am doing all I can to resist over eating. Last trip here I was onto three meals a day and felt like a whale at the end of the week. So this time its two meals a day only...and minimal intake of fruit mince pies, sausage rolls and nuts and thinks.

We spent lunch yesterday in McLaren Vale and are off to the Barossa today. Looking forward to trying Rockford and Melton wines very much.

Well, everyone is waiting on me to go so I'll sign off now and post some pictures later.

Ok, I definitely have to go on a diet after Christmas
Monday, 14 December 2009 3:18 am

A pretty big weekend all round.

Friday night it was home to change then over to Claire's for a Christmas catchup with the guys from work. Deb was driving so I am afraid I over-indulged a little too much in the Christmas cheer. This resulted in us having an argument on the way home about crossing the river and going through the Riverside Express. But we did get home safely so all was good.

At Claire's place the house on the corner was done up with the most amazing lights. I mean if you spent a week decorating your house it would not be a patch on what this guy achieved.

Saturday we cleaned the house at a fairly slow comfortable rate. Deb too Raffi down to the vet for her last booster shot and to get her tummy inspected after her desexing. All was good. Actually all was so good that Raffi quietly climbed over the screen we have blocking the back door and then spent the afternoon running around the back yard like an idiot. Needless to say she slept like a baby all night even though we let her stay in the bedroom. That's the first night we have done that and she was pretty good.

Saturday night Serena came over and we went down to David's Off Oxford for dinner. We all agreed that it was one of the best meals we have ever had. Oysters, scallops and cured beef for entree, and rabbit and two ducks for dinner. That was followed by pavlova, chocolate mousse and cheese. It is simply some of the most delicious and well executed food I have ever eaten. Awesome.

Sunday we headed over to Dad's for a little Christmas lunch. I picked up some seafood and we had the most enormous feast. Dad also got us these new motorised salt and pepper shakers which we are both in love with. Isn't that sad!

Sunday afternoon we risked the incoming storm as I got the car washed and Deb weeded the garden.

After that it was a very quiet evening with Thai hotpot and a little TV.

Oh, I also have finally managed to get Deb's laptop fully setup and running. Even the TV tuner works. I have a bid on Ebay for an upgraded processor that would be really cool if I manage to win. I think it will give her machine a real increase in speed.

Anyway. That was my weekend. What did you do?

Christmas decorations
Wednesday, 9 December 2009 10:45 pm

Check this out...

This is a wall at the end of the floor that I work on. We have a company contest running to decorate our areas in a Christmas theme. We had put santa statues and elf hats up and draped tinsel around the desks.

Then this morning we come in and find that one of the guys in our area has stayed back, printed out 137 pages and hand assembled them into a monster mural.

It is the talk of the floor this morning with people coming from all over to wonder at the time and effort that went into getting it assembled.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 10 December 2009 3:26 am

It's awesome, but is it Xmassy??

Tuesday, 22 December 2009 12:15 am

And he obviously has way too much time on his hands...

What's for dinner
Monday, 7 December 2009 12:40 am

Ok, you all know that I like to cook but did you know that I torture Deb each day be insisting that we shop for groceries on a daily basis. I have to do it that way because I have no idea what I am going to feel like eating until I am virtually standing in the supermarket.

Yes, we do purchase necessities etc as we need too but we don't do a 'big weekly shop' if you know what I mean. I just sort of start thinking over what I feel like eating and what I know how to cook. That results in the basis of the idea that often also includes Googling up a recipe or some notes and then onwards to the supermarket.

The reason for all this ramble is that last month I decided to start keeping a food diary of what we eat. I had a feeling that we just kept cooking the same stuff over and over which I was getting bored with. Not that it was anything like steak & chips, steak & eggs, steak & veg or anything. I just had a sense that we were eating the same staple meals. Also I knew that when we did try something different, and it worked well, we often forgot about it in a couple of weeks and it fell off our menu.

So, a dinner diary was started. I am finding that it is inspiring me to find new and interesting things to cook which is also a good thing.

Since it started here's what November looked like.


Friday 13th - Home BBQ chicken, spanish potatoes, asparagus & cauliflower
Saturday 14th - Singapore chilli crabs & bugs with steamed rice
Sunday 15th - Chicken tikka masala
Monday 16th - Pan-fried snapper with spanish salad and boiled new potatoes.
Tuesday 17th - Re-heated creamy chicken soup (Sausages + Cheesy Muffins)
Wednesday 18th - Linguine carbonara
Thursday 19th - Vegetable Lasagne - Mixed leaf salad
Friday 20th - Veggie Lasagne. Herb bread
Saturday 21st - Hamwiches
Sunday 22nd - Chicken Shacutti with cucumber and onion kachumber and jasmine rice
Monday 23rd - Capsicum & zucchini omelette with Spanish potatoes
Tuesday 24th - Thai Beef Salad
Wednesday 25th - Plum and soy chicken skewers with fried rice
Thursday 26th - Greek chicken, onion and capsicum skewers on rice with mint-feta dipping sauce
Friday 27th - Bar snacks @ Alto
Saturday 28th - Cold steak, chicken & salad (Xmas lunch leftovers)
Sunday 29th - Chicken & Potato patties.
Monday 30th - Spanakopita

Thursday, 10 December 2009 6:52 am

I'm hungry now...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009 12:16 am

Can I come and live with you guys?

Our escape to the coast
Sunday, 6 December 2009 11:05 pm

I had my last flex leave day left so Deb took Friday off and week headed for Serena's place. Well, we had to hang around in Brisbane waiting to see if our credit cards arrived in the mail first. It seems that Westpac had decided to stop our previous credit cards due to a possible fraud watch and issue new ones. Only problem was that they didn't tell us that this was happening so we only found out when it stopped working. I can only say that they heavens we were not trying to pay for something significant at the time because that would have made it impossible.

Anyway, the cards didn't turn up so we just headed for the coast and a little R&R. It was Ms Rafficat's first time up the coast so we packed both her new 'dog crate' as well as a play-pen that we just got recently on the web. Both worked a treat with Raffi loving the wind in her fur and the sun on her tummy. Her desexing wound has all but closed up so she is in very good nick. Mr Furrgus did his usual adoption of the end of the outdoor couch and just relaxed like he always does. That was until 2am on Saturday night when he trapped something up a tree and decided that yelling it it like a toddler in a grinder would be the best approach at that point. Sometimes I wish I didn't have cats.

Anyways, Friday we arrived at Serena's and had a couple of glasses of rose and some cheese for lunch. Then a couple of bottles of pinot grigio, then a bottle of riesling. At around that time Janet dropped in on her tip to Harvey bay along at the same time that Libette and Jaron came home. So we had a couple of bottles of sparkling wine to kick things off.

From there we headed out to River House for dinner as a farwell and christmas thingy for Libbette and Jaron before they head OS. The food was very nice and I think everyone had a great time. Back home we lazed around for a little while and then everyone called it a night.

It must have been good because Saturday everyone was feeling very lazy. Deb, Serena and I headed out for groceries for dinner and then just spent the afternoon laying around the deck and taking it very easy. Raffi got to have her pen setup down on the leaves and the sand and had a ball playing down there.

Saturday night I cooked dinner with way too much food as usual. Personally I blame Libbette from adding Duck spring rolls to the mix. Then Sunday a fairly relaxed start to the day before heading home.

The house is a mess and Deb has both the start/end of a cold and a bad back that is wrecking her sleep and making her feel awful. She was so bad that she has stayed home today in the hope of shaking it off.

We have a few pics of the cat enclosures that I'll post up tonight when I get home. Till then!

A belated christmas lunch post
Tuesday, 1 December 2009 11:10 pm

Ok, it's Wednesday and I haven't put up my weekend post strap yourself in and here we go.

Friday night we had tickets to a Flamenco guitarist at the Powerhouse so we headed off a little early and had bar snacks on the deck with a couple of cold glasses of Friday afternoon happiness. While not exactly cheap the cold meats, calamari and chips were very good and went down a treat.

The performance was really good. I was sort of expecting Flamenco dancing with some music but it was actually music with some dancing. Very good though and a pleasure to watch so much skill on the guitar. I really have to get off my butt and get some lessons. Maybe that will be my New Years resolution.

Saturday we were up early to start preparing for the family Christmas lunch. John was not well so Aunty Jane and Lisa had very kindly offered to bring Mum up to our place.

The morning started with me preparing and baking two chickens at about 7:00am. I then ran out to get a BBQ gas bottle refill, bread and seafood. Deb was left behind to clean the house up and bake a batch of home made sausage rolls. Mmmmmm...sausage rolls....

You know how it is when you have planned exactly how much seafood you will need by carefully calculating the correct weight, minus the shells, per person. Then...standing in the store I just doubled everthing. That was an indication of what was to come. I think everyone looked at the 'correct' amount of food that they should have brought and then just thought, 'Screw it!, I'm bringing double'.

So we had tons and tons of food. Icy cold drinks were the order of the day as the mercury crept up to +34 degree temperatures. Then everyone was gone and Deb and I found outselves sitting on the front deck relaxing with drink. The lunch was awesome but went way too fast. Oh, I should say that the secret santa went really well with everyone getting really cool gifts.

That evening I baked another chicken for Deb's work picnic down at the Gold Coast on Sunday. I must be stupid to have the oven on twice in the same day given the max temp.

I had promised as well to make Deb a frittata for the picnic as well so it was up on Sunday morning to cook an eight egg capsicum and zuchini frittata. It is the biggest one that I have ever made and other than having to unscrew the handle from the pan in order to get it under the grill properly it turned out really well.

We then loaded up all our picnic stuff and headed for the coast. Apparently we chose just the right moment as well because our trip was pretty quick and painless while others who arrived after us complained that the traffic was awful. Oh well, chalk one up for us.

The lunch was very good with lots of food bring provided by everyone. Luckily the park we were in had a wonderful cool breeze blowing through so after lunch I had no choice but to take a snooze on our blanket. Very nice.

From there it was a quick pit stop in at Mum's for a tech support afternoon and then home to the shops to pickup Rafficat steak and a few essentials. All up a reall full on weekend.

On the Rafficat front she is still incredibly cwoot and is growing so fast. Her little wound is looking better but seems to see-saw back and forth between healing and getting pussy. So we are taking her in tonight for the vet to have a final look. We are also the proud owners of two new BIG cages. One is for inside the house when we need to separate Furrg from the fur rocket. The other is a monster thing that we can use in the frontyard for her when we are gardening.

So as we commence our race up to Christmas I am very much looking forward to kicking back and relaxing down in Adelaide.

Sunday, 6 December 2009 9:22 am

Great to catch up and have the traditional Alvers feast. Thanks for letting me pick your brains latelt too :)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009 12:26 am

For our pre-Christmas lunch brunch Deb made fresh sausage rolls using the sausage mince from our favourite butcher plus some extra bits of yummy.

This is a tradition that her Mum seems to have started of fresh baked sausage rolls being available almost 24/7 at her house.

We are heading to Adelaide for Christmas this year so I'll get to compare and contrast the two different versions.

Chilli Crab
Tuesday, 1 December 2009 12:02 am

I had one of my cravings and made Singapore Chilli Crab a few weeks ago. I used a hybrid recipe that I will tweak until it gets better and better.