Sunday, 30 September 2012

I am definitely too short!

Today’s cryptic crossword clue – solution tomorrow

Church service sounds correct (4) 

Solution for 29 September cryptic crossword clue

Minor alteration in coins (5,6)
Solution – small change

This is a double definition clue. (For more about different clue types, refer to the sidebar under the StumbleUpon button).

So there are 2 parts to the clue and they both mean the 2 word solution.  A minor alteration could be said to be a "small change".  And the coins in your pocket are often said to be "small change".  Same phrase, 2 quite different meanings.

Simple Cooking Tip – Boiling Long Grain White Rice

I am going to talk about how we do our long grain white rice.  Many of you will have different ways to do it – and some of you will even use a rice cooker!  I don't have enough bench space for many gadgets so only have a toaster and an espresso machine that sit out all the time – and a stick blender which goes into the utensil drawer.

So we cook about a cup of rice at a time – it swells up so that easily is enough for 2.  I don't rinse the rice first – just pop it into a pot of boiling salted water.

Don't stint on the salt – it does make a difference.

Some people measure out their water – I just do it by eye – you want a fairly large pot, filled about ¾ full – if you have the water level too close to the top you will boil over.

And then we boil the rice away for 13 minutes – that's right, 13! No lid on the pot.

Then I just drain and serve but my better half insists on draining the rice into a sieve and then pouring boiling hot water through it.  Either way turns out ok.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Michael the Archangel – patron saint of banking

September 29 is the Saints Day of Michael the Archangel, who is the Patron Saint of banking.  And our banks these days need all the help they can get, I guess. He is also the Patron Saint against temptations.

Don't you think he looks remarkably feminine in this stained glass rendition?

Today’s cryptic crossword clue – solution tomorrow

Minor alteration in coins (5,6)
Source of clue – NZ Herald

Solution for 28 September cryptic crossword clue

Former partner on craft coming over more
Solution – extra

Former partner = ex

Craft = art

Coming over means art is reversed to be "tra"

If you put ex on tra you get extra which matches the word "more" in the clue.

Salmon salad on a Tomato Carpaccio

Salmon salad on a tomato carpaccio

We really enjoy smoked salmon.  I have already posted on one platter I did teamed up with corn and crispy roastpotatoes .  This one was a smoked salmon salad on a tomato Carpaccio – ie a bed of thinly sliced tomatoes.

I prepped my salad ie cut/sliced:

Red chilli
Red Onion

I put the layer of tomatoes down first, then mixed up the other things with flaked smoked salmon (not canned – hot smoked).

For the dressing, rather than mixing it up into one combined dressing I just dotted some horseradish sauce, chilli sauce and sweet chilli sauce around along with a drizzle of extra virgain olive oil.  Salt and pepper of course.

I put a few lemon wedges on the plate because I thought they would look pretty – but you could just squeeze the lemon juice over the salad.

It was quick to do, fresh and tasty and best of all even healthy.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Do you like the word picture created out of the words to this famous sonnet?

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

One of the all time great sonnets.  Ozymandias was another name for Rameses The Great - Pharaoh of Egypt.

Note:  If you feel you have seen this post before - you have!  I wanted to try out putting in a word picture for it, via Wordle and was pleased with the result.  Pop over to Carole's Chatter Blog Tips if you want to see how to do it.

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I need to remember to be more active than a tree....

Today’s cryptic crossword clue – solution tomorrow

Former partner on craft coming over more
Source of clue – NZ Herald

Solution for 27 September cryptic crossword clue

Land in eastern country (6)
Solution – estate

Land = estate – an English way of referring to someone's land as his estate – usually a big country house

Eastern = E
Country = state

E + state = estate

Food on Friday: Mushrooms


Can you believe it's Friday again.  Food on Friday this week is about that fungus – the mushroom.  There are so many different ones you can get now.

According to the great Stephanie Alexander, mushrooms go well with:

Chicken livers
Coriander (cilantro)
Goat's cheese
Guinea fowl
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Pine nuts
Red wine
Red wine vinegar
Vine leaves

So just link up your mushroomy stuff in Mr Linky below.  Your name and the recipe name in the first box and copy the url into the second one.  You don't need to leave a comment but it would be nice if you visited some of the other links.

Have a great week.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Getting ready for Food on Friday - guess what the ingredient is going to be!

Here are a few of the most popular edible mushroom varieties, from the common to wild:

Agaricus (white mushroom, button mushroom): Widely available; varies in color from white to light brown and in size from small to jumbo stuffer; plump and dome-shaped; pleasing flavor intensifies when cooked. Mature Agaricus with open veils have an intensely rich taste. Agaricus is quite versatile, being excellent for use both raw and cooked. Also available canned and dried.
Chanterelle (girolle): Vase-shaped; ranging in color from bright yellow to orange; nutty and delicate flavor and texture; expensive when fresh; also available dried and canned. Add late in the cooking process to avoid toughening. Use in salads, sauces and risottos.
Crimini (Italian brown): Naturally dark cap that ranges in color from light tan to rich brown; rich, earthy flavor is more intense than that of the Agaricus. Substitute for button mushrooms to add a more full-bodied flavor.
Shiitake (oak mushroom; Chinese black mushroom; forest mushroom; golden oak): ranging in color from tan to dark brown; characterized by broad, umbrella shaped caps up to ten inches in diameter, wide open veils and tan gills; rich, full-bodied flavor, almost steak-like, with a meaty texture when cooked. These are best when cooked in almost any method, particularly sautéing, broiling and baking. Remove stems before cooking but reserve them for soup stocks.
Oyster: Fluted cap resembles a fan; ranging in color from a soft beige brown to gray; can be eaten raw in salads but more often this mushroom is cooked to bring out its delicate flavor and velvety texture. Some say this mushroom has a faint oyster-like or seafood flavor, to match its likeness in shape to oysters.
Enoki (enokitake; enokidake; snow puff mushrooms; golden mushrooms; velvet stem): Long stems and tiny, snow-white caps; small white mushrooms are joined at the base and resemble bean sprouts; light and mild, almost fruity, flavor with a crisp texture. Also available canned. Before using, cut away from the communal base. Use in sandwiches, salads and as garnishes. If you use them in a cooked dish, add at the last possible moment as heat toughens enoki.
Portabello/Portabella: Largest of the commercially available mushrooms with a tan/brown cap, it's the mature version of the crimini. Its popularity derives from a brilliant marketing campaign in the 1980's to sell these perceived "over-mature" common mushrooms. Its long growing cycle gives a deep, meat-like flavor, and substantial texture. They are good whole, sliced, grilled, baked, stir-fried and deep-fried. Be sure to trim off the dry, fibrous portion of the stem.
Porcini (cepes; boletes; boletus; steinpilze; singular tense: porcino): Resembles the traditional fairytale toadstool; weighing from a couple of ounces to a pound each with caps from one to ten inches in diameter; smooth, meaty texture; pungent in flavor; pale brown color; very expensive; many general cooking uses. Also available dried.
Morel (black morel): A relative of the highly-prized truffle; tan to dark-brown, cone-shaped, spongey; smoky, earthy, nutty flavor; expensive and also available canned and dried. The darker the mushroom, the more pronounced is the flavor. This mushroom must be cleaned well when fresh due to its dimpled head.

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Looks like that can got a shaking!

Today’s cryptic crossword clue – solution tomorrow

Land in eastern country (6)
Source of clue – NZ Herald

Solution for 26 September cryptic crossword clue

Son coming a cropper building obstacle (9,5)
Solution – stumbling block

Obstacle = stumbling block


Son = s
Coming a cropper = tumbling
Building = block

Put them together and you have – stumbling block.

Noodles – substitute your own for instant

I confess I used to use those packet noodles, thinking they were a good quick meal standby but boy when you find out the chemicals (and lots of salt) in the little flavour sachets, it puts you right off.

I have found that I can do my own version about as fast.  I just keep plain ribbon cut egg noodles in the pantry.

I cook them in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes.  I drain them and season with chilli powder, pepper, a splash of soy sauce, a small splash of fish sauce and then I stir through a beaten egg.  Don't do this while the noodles are still on the hob because the egg will scramble – it will still taste nice but won't look great.

If you just let the noodles cool off the hob for a few seconds and then stir through the egg mixture you will have a silky little sauce.  Don't worry the eggs will be cooked by the residual heat.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

How things have changed!

Today’s cryptic crossword clue – solution tomorrow

Son coming a cropper building obstacle (9,5)
Source of clueNZ Herald

Solution for 25 September cryptic crossword clue

Picture that woman getting in pub round (5,4)

Solution – Local Hero

Here "picture" is used in its meaning of "movie" – the solution is the name of a movie.

To work out which one you need to look at the second part of the clue:

That woman = her

Pub = local (a UK usage as in "going down to my local for a pint"
Round = o (an abbreviation)

If you put 'that woman" between Local and O you get Local Hero which is the name of a movie – a 1983 movie set in Scotland.  Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame did the soundtrack.

Need some inspiration? Try Avocado – Part I

Here we are Wednesday, again.  It seems to happen every week!  So it is Need Some Inspiration? time.  This week we look back at the links submitted to Food on Friday: Avocado.  When going through them again I was once again amazed at just how versatile avocados are.

It was impossible to whittle down the links to showcase in just one go.  So this week we have avocado fries, a sauce/salsa, a salad, a sandwich, a drink and finally ice-cream.  Part II on avocado will post next Wednesday.

First, here are the amazing Baked Avocado Fries by Julie from baked in.

Baked Avocado Fries
 These look so decadent and also healthy!

Now here's a Creamy, Zesty Avocado Cilantro Sauce from the Meat and Potatoes Foodie.

Creamy, Zesty Avocado Cilantro Sauce 
I can only imagine what that tastes like!

Now for the salad – this is Dishing with Leslie's California Summer Salad.

California Summer Salad
 Love the corn in there!

And here is Baking with Blondie's South of the Border Sandwich.

South of the Border Sandwich

Look at that melted cheese!

Now for the drink – what about this avocado-spinach-cucumber smoothie!  It's by Mom Photographer – and if you check her site out you will see some wonderful photo's.

avocado-spinach-cucumber smoothie 

That looks so creamy!

Finally for today, this Avocado Ice Cream by Show Me the Sugar.

Avocado Ice Cream

So that's all for today.  Do pop by Food on Friday: Avocado and see some of the other great links.  And if you have a post using avocado, it is not too late to link it in.

I have made up a Pinboard for Food on Friday: Avocado.  This is the link.

Have a great week.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Aren't penguins just so cute.... awww!

Today’s cryptic crossword clue – solution tomorrow

Picture that woman getting in pub round (5,4)
Source of clue – NZ Herald

Solution for 24 September cryptic crossword clue

Some forget to get here for gathering (3-8)

Solution – get together

A gathering can also be known as a "get together" and if you look at the first part of the clue you can find those 2 words hidden in it. You don't have to scramble them or anything – they are just there.

Forget to get here

Home-made lemon curd

Lemon curd

Sorry that the picture doesn't do my lemon curd justice.  I have made jams and a chutney before but this was my very first attempt at lemon curd – and it turned out just great!  And was quicker to do than jam or chutney.  What's not to love?

The only thing is that I realised how much butter and sugar goes into it – we have used bought lemon curd up to now – and liked it very much – no wonder with all the butter in there!  We now have it straight on toast rather than buttering first.


8-9 lemons – enough to make 1 ¼ cups of lemon juice (which you strain)

220g butter, cubed (just under 8 oz)

1 ½ cups of caster sugar

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon – I used my microplane

6 large eggs

Now I have put quantities in – because for this recipe the relative proportions are important to the result.  This made 3 normal sized jars.

I won't tell you how to get your jars ready.  You might sterilise etc.  I just rinse clean jars in hot water.  And keep the curd in the fridge.

If you have a double boiler you should use it.  I didn't so put a metal bowl over the top of a saucepan and it worked just fine.

So you get your water to the boil – don't put in too much – it mustn't touch the bottom of the bowl.

Pop your bowl on top and then put in your sugar, butter, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Heat over medium heat until the butter has all melted.

In another bowl whisk the eggs well – now comes the only tricky part.  You put the egg into the butter mixture and then anxiously stir it continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens.  Now don't stop stirring – but also pull the bowl away from the heat and check that the water underneath is only simmering gently.  If you apply too much heat at this stage things will turn to scrambled egg!  Disaster.

The moment I felt it thickening – which took about 5 to 7 minutes, I pulled it off the heat and stirred furiously to ensure the bottom wasn't sticking.  Don't worry if it is still a bit runny – it will thicken some more when it cools.

Pour the mixture though a sieve and then pour it into the jars – using your jam funnel, if you have one.

I put little waxed paper discs on top of each pot and then put on the lids.  The waxed discs are optional but I think they give a better seal.

The store bought version costs $4.99 a jar and I worked out that my version cost $3.00 for the ingredients.  If you counted my time and the gas it would probably have been cheaper to buy it.  But the result was so perfectly to our taste that I am sure I will do it again.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Do you agree?

Today’s cryptic crossword clue – solution tomorrow

Some forget to get here for gathering (3-8) 

Solution for 23 September cryptic crossword clue

Spanish city looted badly (6)
Solution – Toledo

"Badly" in this clue indicates that the letters in "looted" are scrambled – in this case to come up with the name of a Spanish city ie Toledo (which is also the name of places in the US).

Toledo in Spain is famous for being a World Heritage site and for the manufacture of swords and knives.

Flag of the Week – Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon and used to be a British colony.  It became Sri Lanka in 1972. You will see that it has a gold lion holding a sword on a red background.  The four leaves around the lion are a Buddhist symbol.  The green and orange stripes are there to represent the Muslim and Tamil communities.  I think it is a very distinctive flag.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Useful kitchen gadget – small wooden or bamboo chopping boards

I don't know about you guys, but I have a real preference for wooden chopping boards.  I know there are all sorts of chopping boards out there but I believe, rightly or wrongly, that wooden ones are best because they have some natural antibacterial properties.  And wooden boards last well.  I do have some lighter bamboo boards which are less sturdy.

But large chopping boards make it quite unwieldy to transfer the stuff you have chopped up into a container or pan.  So I use a number of smallish boards that I just lift in one hand and scrape stuff off with the other.  And I put them through the dishwasher too.

Today’s cryptic crossword clue – solution tomorrow

Spanish city looted badly (6) 

Source of clue – NZ Herald