You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2011.

Looking for a new “hiking” venue within an hour of the city, we headed to Mount Macedon the day after Boxing Day (which was observed Christmas, or some otherwise sanctioned holiday).  Turns out, a lot of people had the same idea. 

Our little dachshund powered his way to the top, despite the constant clatter of “oh, a sausage dog!” from pretty much everyone we passed on the trail. 

It’s DACHSHUND people.

Steve could barely contain his audible teeth grinding by the time we descended.  Luck for us it was a short summit and there was not a soul on the base walk, so at least we enjoyed the second half of our walk without edible epithets.

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Some days, I can’t possibly compete with others around me for content worthy of web-publishing.  Today’s guest post comes to you via Grace, who is fostering kittens this Christmas out of the goodness of her heart, and Leah, my cat-loving sister, whose reaction upon viewing pictures of said kittens is reproduced below.

<<<Why I Can Never Foster Kittens:

 The situation would go something like this: 

*adoptive kitten parents show up for kittens*

 Loving potential parents: “Hey! We’re here to see the kittens and bring them home and love them!”

Leah: “They’ve been eaten by wolves. Go away.” 

 *slams door and continues snuggling kittens in a fit of euphoric joy*

Then i would have to quit my job so i could stay home and take pictures of them all day, then i would have to resort to blogging about cats in order to raise funds so i could buy more kittens, then slowly my house would fill with small furry piles of addictive bliss until you found me one day, half nibbled by adorable tiny pink mouths with my hands wrapped in yarn.>>>

See, I told you.  Can’t possibly compete.

Leah maintains a food and beverage blog (not involving her love for cats, yet…) that is totally worth checking out.  Because not only does she love cats so much she would make yarn mittens of her hands just to bring them happiness, she also makes a mean martini. And as you can tell from the exchange above, is pretty freaking hilarious.

Last year, we had Christmas on the coast, spending a long weekend on Phillip Island and Mornington Peninsula.  After almost a year and a half in Melbourne, the coast is our good friend and so this Christmas, we spent our time in the CBD.

Strange, you might think, since virtually no one stays in the city for the holidays.  The coffee filled alleyways of the CBD grind to a halt, as does the Great Ocean Road, and the city becomes a barren ghost town as everyone heads for the beach.

But we enjoyed a few leisurely days and got out in the sun where we could.  Thunderstorms rocked the city on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (hailstones!), but the thing about Melbourne is that the weather’s always changing…

Merry Christmas everyone!

Turns out the old adage is false, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.  On a gorgeous sunny hot Saturday this weekend, we took off for the beaches on Mornington Peninsula.  The coast on the eastern of the peninsula catches the Arctic winds, but on a hot humid day that seemed like the right place to be.

It was a day of firsts for our little dachshund–he learned to swim and dig!

It’s that time of year when my cooking posts become totally out of sync with the fresh seasonal produce in the U.S.  While I am enjoying kilos of cherries, nectarines and mangos for mere dollars at the farmer’s market, those of you in the dead of winter in the U.S. are probably thinking, does produce shipped from Chile count as “seasonal”??

In any case, this soup was so fabulous it’s worth sharing whatever the season in your hemisphere.  A cold treat, with a hint of sweetness and a lot of crunch, it will be a staple on my “impress the dinner guests” menus to come…

 apple and soup cream soup

10 lychees

1 small Lebanese cucumber

8-10 large mint leaves

400g unfiltered pressed apple juice

200g sour cream

Carefully remove skin and pit lychees, leaving roughly whole (or only halved).  Dice cucumber into small squares, and thinly slice mint leaves.  Combine with lychees.  Whisk apple juice and sour cream together, and chill for 10-15 minutes or until ready to serve.  Divide lychee, mint and cucumber mixture evenly among 4 soup bowls and pour apple sour cream soup on top.

*recipe from Australian Gormet Traveler

As a break from the Aussie landscapes, a bit of portraiture. Laura and her Mia.

It happened. This week, I became a Twihard. It all started with an innocent Sunday night screening of the original Twilight. Steve was already asleep on the couch so I thought, hey, why not?

No, this is not part of some midlife crisis where I’m trying to relieve my tween years. And yes, it does help that the vampires are so darn attractive. If Steve gets to watch movies like the Hulk and Conan ad naseum, why cant I have a little mindless fun? Plus a little part of me really loves the imagery of the Pac NW (don’t get too excited Dad, the premise is that the vampire live there because of the lack of sun).

Now, all I want to do is see if she becomes a vampire! Once I found out Kelly had been similarly “bitten”, and had poured through all the books and the movies on her iPad in mere weeks, the jig was up. I spent late nights this week catching up on New Moon and Eclipse. Nope, still human! We’re going to see part 1 of the finale in theaters this afternoon. Maybe, finally, I’ll get my answer…

You may have already seen the bounty that was our Thanksgiving dessert table.  On the night prior to, Kelly & I had ourselves a pie and hot tub night:  we rolled out Kelly’s pre-made crust (spiked with cinnamon, that secret recipe stays with her I think), filled it up, popped the pies in the oven, and rewarded our efforts with a few glasses of champagne and dunk in the hot tub…

The cherry pie was totally impromptu.  Kelly had made extra crust, and when gathering provisions at the grocery store I noticed cherries were $5 a pound.  Cheap berries are few and far between down here outside of the seasonal bounty, but in late November and December there happens to be a bonanza of fresh cherries to be had.  When life hands you cherries….

The pumpkin and apple pies were the clear winners; but just as good by me….  Cherry pie for breakfast!

Kelly’s apple pie

6 or 7 tart apples

2/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten,

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Slice apples, skin on for flavor.  Combine with all ingredients. Fill pie, and top with lattice pie crust.  Bake 55 to 65 minutes at 350 F (260C).

impromptu cherry pie

1kg (2 pounds) fresh cherries

1 shot brandy

1/4 cup sugar, or to taste

Pit cherries (and be prepared dig cherry juice from under your nails all weekend) but leave roughly intact (halved)  Combine with sugar and brandy in a small saucepan.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes until cherries are well coated and softened.  Fill pie crust, top and bake at 250F (260C) for 40-45 minutes.

nutella, pumpkin pecan pie

1 jar nutella (or other chocolate spread / melted chocolate)

15oz can pumpkin

3/4 cup milk & 3/4 cup cream

1 cup brown sugar

3 egg

1/4 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, or to taste

100g pecans

2 egg whites, whisked

Heat pumpkin, sugar and spice over low in saucepan, until lightly browned.  Add milk and cream and continue to risk.  Blend with egg .  Layer 1/4 inch of nutella in the bottom of the pie crust, then pumpkin mixture. Toss pecans with egg whites and scoop on top (try to avoid pouring in, which can lead to too much goopy egg whites settling on the top of the pie).  Bake 55 to 65 minutes at 350 F (260C).

Disclaimer, this version of pumpkin pecan pie was delicious, but not really the right texture for me for a pumpkin pie.  It was very soft, likely from the blending process, but ever so tasty.  It might benefit from a few extra minutes in the oven (covered), or prompt serving (since we baked the night before serving and stored in the oven overnight).

Last weekend we took Alex, our temporary associate from NYC, down the GOR to see all of Australia has to offer.  It was kinda cold, and less than abundantly sunny, but we had a great time nonetheless cruising down the coast and camping overnight at Apollo Bay.  Full pictures on the photos page.

It’s that time again: http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/11/national-geographic-photo-contest-2011/100187/

The annual submissions to National Geographic’s photo contest are always worth a gander, to see the phenomnial work of photographers around the globe and remind yourself just how beautiful this earth is. 

I see my submission of a koala sunning itself along the Great Ocean Road didn’t make the cut, but judging by the quality of pictures in the contest I can’t begrudge National Geographic for it’s selections.  Maybe they thought Oz was already sufficiently covered in the contest pickings; note the relatively high concentration of photos from Australia…