Friday, 23 August 2013

You're still in time for the Hot Chocolate Festival

Did you know there's a Chocolaterie in the Yarra Valley? Well, there is. Yarra Valley Chocolaterie will serve you a better than average hot chocolate any day of the week, and if you can get out without buying a treat to take home, you're a better woman (or man) than I.

Right now (August 2013) is the Hot Chocolate Festival. They have 31 special flavours, and you get to vote on your favourite. They've organised it to be seven flavours every seven days, so no danger of finding the one flavour you didn't like being the only thing on the menu. We've had two visits - we have a learner driver in the family (who has to fill in a log book with 120 hours of proper supervised driving practice), and she thinks a one hour drive, then chocolate, then a one hour drive is a morning well spent.

I had Lemon Myrtle in week 1. Oh wow. Lemon Myrtle is a bush food you need to get into your repertoire, it's fabulous.

That's a shot of melted milk chocolate next to it, and a handmade marshmallow.

Jeff recommends the mint...

While Catriona favours Cookies and Cream.

That was week 1.

In week 2 we had macadamia (amaaazingly good), mocha (big coffee hit, apparently) and jaffa (never fails to be a good combo). No photos that time.

And this weekend, it's week 3, but our driver is busy singing and dancing. Shall we have driving practice without her?

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

You must become a John Finnemore fan!

Who's the funniest comedy writer working today? Why, it's John Finnemore! If you want a treat on your iPod, you should hunt down Cabin Pressure, and Souvenir Programme.  Cabin Pressure is a sit com based at a tiny airline. It stars the now-very-famous Benedict Cumberbatch, but of course when it started, he was just part of the talented ensemble. And Souvenir Programme is a sketch show, featuring some of the cleverest and funniest sketches I've ever heard. There's one about grasshoppers, honestly, cleverest thing ever, but you'll have to work up to it.

Here's a link to the first episode of Cabin Pressure, and here's one for Souvenir Programme.

And here is a link to Mr Finnemore's own blog, a terrific read (his descriptions of procrastinating at the British Library when he's supposed to be writing are particularly worthwhile).

And here ... this is good ... is a sketch he wrote, and wasn't able to use in the new Souvenir Programme, so he kindly gave it to all of us.

And here are my twins, Jonathan (left) and Thomas (right) performing the sketch after dinner. I was amazed at how it came to life in performance. Even though I'd read it, I giggled myself silly! And anything that gets 15 year old boys away from the computer is a good thing.

So thanks for a lot of laughs, Mr Finnemore, and get back to that next writing thing you were supposed to be working on.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

We got cockatoos!

Well, who's that in the garden? We seem to have some cockatoos visiting the bird bell! Jeff loves getting birds into the garden, so is is a real score.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Interesting cooking lately

I've been doing plenty of interesting cooking lately ...

There's this. Sourdough starter. I have two going, one I made myself, and one I got from a shop. They're both good. This one wears a hat so I know which one it is.

With a good starter, I make bread like this any day! Well, I make it with yeast too, but starter is extra satisfying, and it tastes pretty good.

I've made yoghurt too, pretty successfully... I used the dehydrator to keep it at the required temperature, and that was successful.

Since the dehydrator was on, got to make some fruit leather too. This is kiwi fruit, very tart and tangy.

Sprouted some barley in a jar ...

... and used it to make malted barley flour! That goes into the bread too. I dried the sprouted grains in the dehydrator too. The sourdough starter hitched a ride on the dehydrator too, so I think we can safely say, nothing went to waste.

My Masterchef Career - how I know it's totally rigged.

I think I'm allowed to share this now. I was in the audience for Masterchef, on two recent occasions. We had to sign agreements not to disclose ANYTHING. Gosh, cos there was some juicy info. Like, how to make a cake. We didn't see the contestants at any time, so no danger of leaking any info about the competition.

The first time I got to see Gary make rice paper rolls, Matt make a pudding, and the judges doing an opening talk. We got to applaud madly for Curtis Stone (who was NOT there at the time we applauded).

The second time, I was a bit smarter. When they asked if anyone would like to wear a microphone and ask a question, I jumped up and down saying "ME ME ME!" And I got to see Gary make a cheesecake, and I asked questions, sniffed a rose geranium leaf, and got to taste the dessert (and it was truly great, and I'm not just saying that). That was pretty cool! We also got to see Kirsten Tibballs make a fabulous cake. Her demo was excellent.

It was fun but tiring, and I was super excited about seeing myself on telly, especially that second time. I heard about a call for audience on a third occasion, and it was on my day off, but I gave it a miss. Really too tiring, and I'd had my fun.

So finally, the air dates rolled around. I saw the first episode. Hey, where's the rice paper rolls? Gary made a curry instead! I was really looking forward to that recipe too. You could see me in the opening, so at least I could prove to my mum that I'd done it.

Then the second episode rolled around. There's that terrific cake. And Gary's making the wrong thing again! WHERE'S MY CHEESECAKE? I was barely visible in that episode. Bah! My bragging rights instantly dissolved.

Still, I got a few photos from the audience-wrangling area, which I thought was pretty fun. Makes up for the fact that Masterchef is clearly totally rigged, rigged to feature ME as little as possible.

Oh, and that third episode just aired, the one I decided not to bother with. Turns out it was only Heston Blumenthal for the whole episode, so it's not like I missed out on meeting anyone awesome or anything!

Check it out, mystery boxes ready for use!

Now THAT is a lot of oil!

Controlling Cable Clutter, Laing style

Well, that's a nice TARDIS you've got there, Mrs Laing. Does it, um, work?

Why yes it does! We use it to store all the cables we use for charging various devices in the kitchen (which turns out to be a handy spot to charge things).

The TARDIS was made for a costume, and now it's part of the household stuff... so any time one of us needs to dress up as the Doctor, we have a handy prop.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Not putting the fruit shop out of business...

... but I have been growing carrots! Here's the harvest so far.

And here it is a few minutes later...