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October …. Ireland and Australia swap weather, I cycle and a fab curry recipe!

31 Oct

Being back in the working world is really impeding my blogging but fear not .. I am alive and well!
After what seemed like an impossibly long cold rainy winter, made longer and worser in no small way by the excellent weather Ireland was experiencing and the neverending tweets/emails/texts/fb chats I was getting about it,  Perth is finally starting to heat up. It was 37.2 degrees yesterday which was LOVELY! I was delighted for Ireland getting such lovely weather as I know from living here that nothing lifts the spirits as much as a warm breeze, summer clothes and the abilty to plan outdoor events and we all know Ireland needs a lift  …so I trust you will all be equally delighted for me when I start tweeting photos of my bronzed feet in the white sand to a blue ocean background. No?!

In other news …..
I cycle to and from work now its not very far approximately 3.5 kilometres, but in the morning its mostly uphill. My bike is, much like myself, built for comfort and not for speed! So the hills are a struggle but I’m seeing it as an extra bit of exercise and am fully convinced that any day now I will wake up with Heidi Klum legs. Going home in the evening I revert to being a child and free wheel most of the way, sometimes I even stick my legs out and yell WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! The more serious cyclists in their matching lycra on skinny little bikes don’t seem to enjoy this as much as I do. They don’t know what they’re missing.

My job is going well, I am still enjoying having a purpose and a fortnightly payday! But I have noticed that having a job has brought a whole new set of worries … am I being challenged enough? what will my next move be? should I do a course? what course??? Yes, my never ending pursuit of education is back on the table, I do love a bit of study and would really like to do some here, to experience a different country’s education for one thing but I’m sure some homegrown qualifications wouldn’t do my CV any harm either.  I still have a longing to do a butchering class, it was an idea that I formed before coming to Australia but had to be shelved when I didn’t have an income, so I am going to make moves on that in 2014. Looks like I have one new years resolution already …..

Oh and some big news, although if you follow me on twitter you will have heard all about it a couple of weeks ago …  After 18 months of stress and strain we got our Permanent Residency! This means we can stay and work in Australia as residents for at least 5 years, at which time we can apply to renew/extend it but in reality once we have lived here 4 years we can apply to be citizens and get Australian passports which is more likely what we will do.  We’ve been here almost 2 years now … time flies!

As for what I’ve been eating and cooking? Well lots of Indian food lately as I have had the good fortune to make a great new friend who writes this blog: and spent an afternoon recently teaching myself and the lovely Mel from LipstickHoney how to cook some beautiful Indian dishes.  One recipe in particular from her blog we make at least once a week, Kheema or Mince Curry. Its so simple that its hard to believe its so tasty! Try it! And don’t be scared of the chillies … you’ll see that they cook for a while so there’s no scary heat left in them. This is not a hot spicy dish at all.  Last night we had this served with cubes of fried turmeric potatoes (parboil, cut in cubes, sprinkle with turmeric and fry), greek yoghurt and grated cheese … it was a like a fancy Indian version of Taco Fries! It was as delicious as it was bold. I’m not sure its exactly how purist Indian cooks would serve it but believe it me it was fab.

Here is the link to the original recipe which has some useful photos for making it the first time. I’ve added a few little comments below because that’s how I roll … x

Kheema or Mince Curry

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 bay leaves (fresh or dried work fine)

2 cloves

2 peppercorns

1 large onion finely chopped

3 green chillies

1 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste (You can buy this paste in Asian shops/supermarket but I just crush 2 garlic cloves and grate a teaspoon of fresh ginger, mash together)

2 medium tomatoes finely chopped

3 tsp tomato paste/puree

500g  mince (I’ve made with both beef and chicken, the dishes are different but both great. Any meat minced will work!)

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp red chilli powder (if you are very worried about the spiciness cut back on this not the fresh chillies)

1 tsp garam masala (this adds sweetness, if you’re not familiar with this spice mix its really fragrant)

Salt to taste

Handful of green peas

3 tblsp of oil

2 cups of water/stock

Heat oil in a pan add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns and cloves.

Once the seeds start to splutter add the chopped onions and green chillies and sauté till the onions turn a light brown in color.

Add the Ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, tomato paste and sauté. This sauce is now known as a MASALA. You need to make sure that the masala is cooked well until the oil starts to separate.

It is very important to sauté the masala well or else the dish will not taste good.

Once the oil in the masala has separated add the mince, coriander powder, chilli powder, garam masasla, salt and sauté again for 5 minutes.

Be careful that it doesn’t burn.

Add the Peas

It is very important at this stage you lower the heat and cook the mince for almost 10 minutes in the masala (chicken will cook faster than beef so use your own judgement as to when the meat is cooked)

The gravy is meant to be dry so be careful not to flood the dish with too much water. It has to be just enough for the meat to cook.  Give it around 10 – 15  minutes to cook properly and then sprinkle some fresh coriander while serving.

You can serve this dish with potatoes, rice, naan bread or other veggies if you are attempting to cut back on carbs. Cauliflower goes very well with curries, I’m still promoting cauli at every opportunity.

Let me know if you try this,

Enjoy

SJ x

Beauty-FULL!

27 Aug

I love a good beauty product and I have been known to go totally nuts buying, use a couple of times and leave to gather dust while I continue to use what I already had! I don’t think I am alone in this, am I???

However, my recent long term unemployment put a total and abrupt stop to all purchases of the luxury sort and to my horror I had to survive with what I had plus the extras my lovely sisters would send me … if you don’t have sisters like mine you are missing out, they are amazing (and hopefully reading!). I of course did survive but a little bit of me died not being able to have shiny new things to make me pretty, but I suppose I did have a tan pretty much all the time which helps!

Now that I am once again financially liquid I can have the odd splurge/investment but I have to say unbeknownst to myself I’ve become more risk adverse when it comes to new products … I am researching lots before buying and impulse purchases no longer seem to be in me! It was a shock to me too but perhaps its old age combined with experiencing a recession? Or am I just getting boring? Oh GAWD!

Anyways … I came across this great post from new Irish website Frillseeker yesterday and it really is packed full of great reccomendations for all types of beauty products from Irish Beauty Bloggers. What I really like about this is that you can see the lady in question so for the lipsticks in particular you can judge if you have the same colouring/skin tones and whether that particular shade might suit you.

FRILLSEEKER

Some of my own favourite products and brands are listed here such as:

La Roche Posay. You all need to get the Cicaplast Baume its a wonder product for everything from dry skin to chaffing/heat rash from exercise! Also great for nappy rash I believe so a family friendly one.

MAC lipsticks. MAC in general is a love of mine especially their blushes and brushes. I have Rebel and now Lady Danger lippies on my wishlist.

Rimmel Kate Moss lipsticks. These are cheap and really good! They don’t make you skeletal like Kate herself which was such a relief 😉

Benefit They’re Real mascara. I just adore this product, I always feel my eyes look so much better with it on. The brush took me some time to get used to and I stabbed myself a few times but now I don’t think I’ll ever use anything else.

YSL Touche Eclat foundation. This is a beautiful foundation, it makes my skin glowy and isn’t too heavy (freckles are still visible through it which I like). The bottle is huge and lasts for ages.

Products I need to get after reading this article:

Seche Vite – this is a top coat for nails that dries really quickly so fantastic for silly billies like me that start painting their nails after they have called a taxi or just before they need to find something in a handbag or go to bed hence ruining all the good work!

Cocoa Brown tan – this has been developed my Irish beauty therapist Marissa Carter and everyone is raving about it, I will be picking up a bottle when I am home in December to try next Winter. Its really affordable and can be washed off a couple of hours after application so no need for smelly sleeping! There is an accompanying scrub called Tough Stuff that also sounds right up my street. I love a good scrub and have been body brushing with vigour lately in anticipation of 7 months on the beach. Yes I did that on purpose. Emigrants are soooo annoying aren’t they?

I’ve been using some lovely Australian products lately too so I might do a post on some of them soon too …. give the blog a little break from food!

Ok peeps have a good look at this and tell me what you think? What are your favourite beauty products? What can you not live without? Please comment as I love hearing everyone else’s opinions and I hate missing out on wonder products!

 

 

Books, libraries, celebs and food!

18 Jun

Last week myself and my friend Donna went to a cookery demonstration in the local library. The two ladies giving the demo had been contestants on the last season of a reality cookery show called My Kitchen Rules. Its a show that I really enjoy and I believe a UK & Ireland version is currently being made with the lovely Lorraine Pascale as a judge.

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Daniela and Stefania are cousins (double cousins in fact) and act like sisters, as in they bicker and joke non-stop! So amusing to watch but most importantly they cook delicious Italian food. We got to taste some lovely bites and I even had some cake (not sugar free) it was a chiffon cake and I was so interested in how it was made that I had to taste it. It was the lightest fluffiest texture and most interestingly it has to be made in an aluminium angel cake tin with tripod little legs extending from it to allow for the height that it rises! If the tin was non-stick or greased the cake wouldn’t be able to “climb” up the sides and so would flop. I am bringing this recipe home on my next visit as I know my Aunty Kitty loves trying new types of cake, I must pick up the correct tin too I believe kitchen warehouse is the place to go.

Stefania demontrating how to get the chiffon cake out of the angel cake tin (see the tripod legs?)

Stefania demonstrating how to get the chiffon cake out of the angel cake tin (see the tripod legs?)

 

 

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How do I have the recipe?? Yes. I bought the book! In fairness to me I don’t have any Italian cookery books and it has been commented on more than once that my pasta sauces are not as good as jars (what an insult!!) so it was needed! But also the ladies were so so lovely that I wanted to support them.

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For anyone who has just moved to Australia be sure to check out the local libraries they are really good not just for borrowing books/dvds/cds etc but also for running demos and classes … my next adventure with the library is a Penguin book club, I’ll keep you posted …

I’m also going to another book club meeting that Donna found through MeetUp which is reviewing a book called How To Be A Good Wife with the author Emma Chapman in attendance. I read the book this week and really loved it, its a long time since I have read a book with structure, a good story and beautiful writing so I am very excited to hear what the author has to say.

SJ x

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Munchkin Pumpkins

20 Mar

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These little beauties were too cute not to share!
SJ x

Christmassy Time

19 Dec

Christmas is fast approaching .. although it feels nothing like it to me as the sun is shining, I’m thousands of miles from my family and no one has asked me what I am doing for New Years today yet!
However I am doing my best to create a Christmassy feel for us so I’ve decorated our little abode,  while deciding on a theme I had toyed with something understated and tasteful like this …..

Chic Christmas TreeHowever I don’t do understated particularly well and the Christmas feeling needs a bit of help this year so I went for  “All Out Tacky” instead!

2012_12_05_14_42_339726240938784123_4945572_Hudson 2012_12_13_12_01_345443233755100562_4945572_X-Pro III have baubles hanging from every spare wall space and have taken to wearing this around the house, do you think it makes my ears look big?

Elf hat I’ve even explored my crafty side (if I have one!) and crocheted some decorations .. I started with a star

Crochet star

Progressed a little better with some Christmas trees …

Christmas tree crochet And eventually had something worthy of hanging on the wall …

2012_12_17_06_03_348162262391387407_4945572_RiseI hadn’t crocheted since I was in primary school but once I had watched a couple of simple tutorials on youtube I was flying at it again. I used this pattern for the bunting trees and this one for the star. I found the abbreviations and the different names for the stitches confusing at times but this link was really helpful in that.

So our first Christmas in the heat is nearly upon us (I spent one other Christmas in Australia in 2004. I was in Melbourne, it rained, I was miserable!) We are hosting a dinner party on Sunday, turkey with all the trimmings is the plan and our guests are all either Irish or English and away from their families so everyone is invited to bring along a family tradition. I am doing carrot and parsnip puree as we always have it and Dave’s Mum makes the most delicious potato stuffing so we are going to attempt to recreate that (hopefully the awful Australian potatoes won’t be a spanner in the works) we have even been cultivating two thyme plants especially! Our English friend is making Bread Sauce, I have absolutely no idea what this is and am very intrigued to find out. I’ve ditched mulled wine in favour of this chilled cocktail from food blogger Katie Quinn Davies (she’s Irish living in Australia so its appropriate). It should be a fun food-filled evening!

Xmas cocktail

On Christmas Day itself we shall be with my lovely Irish-Aussie cousins experiencing Christmas on the beach eating a BBtQ’d turkey with salad. Its forecast to be 38 degrees so there’s a good chance there will be very little eating but heaps of sitting in the shade melting done!

The postie has delivered lots of exciting pakcages in the last few days, most with strict instructions not to open until the 25th … but I had a peek at one or two and I am glad I did as we now that this adorable decoration on our tree …

Santa boot dec

In case we forget where we are I have also placed some exotic flowers around the place … gorgeous aren’t they?

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Only 6 more sleeps til Santa arrives ….

What are you all up to for Christmas? Any unusual family traditions? In our house we call it “Eat Yourself into a Coma Day” … I’ll miss that

SJ xx

Salad Season: Minty Peas with Feta & Warm Potato Salad

1 Nov

These make a great side for BBQs or even as a lunch in its own right with a crunchy green salad!

Warm Potato Salad 

Ingredients 

800g baby potatoes – well cooked in salted water

2 spring onions – sliced, use it all right up to the dark green part

1/2 chilli – sliced (this is optional if you’re not a chilli lover)

handful of fresh coriander – chopped including stalks

1 clove of garlic – crushed

squeeze of lemon juice

2 dessert spoons of mayonnaise

1 dessert spoon of yoghurt – I used full fat greek as its the only decent sugar free yoghurt I can find in my local supermarket but any good creamy yoghurt will work

1/2 teaspoon wholegrain mustard – I didn’t have any today so used dijon instead and it was differnt but still good

When potatoes are cooked run a knife through them in the pot roughly, aiming to halve most but not all of them, we want a rustic look!

Chop the spring onions, chilli & coriander together add the garlic and squeeze over the lemon juice .. give this another chop together mainly to get the gorgeous smell from all the herbs then add to the hot potatoes.

Followed by the mayo, yoghurt and mustard.

Mix it all gently together, you want all the potatoes well coated but not pulverised…

The hot potatoes sort of drink in all the dressing,

Season with salt and pepper, taste, season, taste …Yum? Yes!

Personally I think they are best eaten immediately, from the pot! But are really good as a cold salad too.

This australian garlic is quite large so I just used half this clove.

Any excuse to use this massive cleaver …

Can be eaten still warm or cold.

Minty Peas with Feta 

I serve this as a vegetable with dinner alot as its so simple and tasty

Ingredients 

400g Frozen peas – cooked as normal

40g Feta cheese – good stuff chopped up or crumbled, don’t bother with the fake or “light” stuff you might as well be eating styrofoam for all the pleasure or nourishment you’ll get!

1 small clove of garlic – crushed

5 fresh mint leaves

When peas are cooked, strain and add in the crushed garlic immediately – stir around and pop the lid back on for a minute. This will “cook” the garlic so its not too overpowering.

Then add in the feta and mint .. Stir…  Smell .. Taste and season, taste and again and .. YUM!

The feta melts and becomes a salty creamy dressing of sorts .. the mint adding a lovely summery freshness.

Check out my home grown mint!

Delish with some decent pork sausages from the bar-bie!

(Apologies for the photos, the place is very shadowy today and I am without skills..)

Enjoy

SJ x

Hallowe’en

30 Oct

I love Hallowe’en.

I’m not entirely sure when this started and I have vivid recollections of being PETRIFIED to go to the party in our local community hall in case the red haired witch from Forty Coats would be there …

But as I got older I relished everything about the festival and time of year .. wearing hats & scarves again, the leaves turning brown, beautiful orange pumpkins, buttery colcannon, barm brack and mostly dressing up!

In my opinion to completely get into the spirit of Hallowe’en you need to leave all shame at the door, forget about looking well and make at least part of the rig-out yourself! Luckily for me I have no shame at the best of times and love make n’do!

Hallowe’en is not really a big deal here in Perth. There are no decorations anywhere and in fact no real mention of it, I was quite dissappointed by this but we were invited to a Hallowe’en house party so I was happy! At about 5pm on Saturday when it was 30 degrees and I was getting into my make up and wig I had some insight into perhaps why its not a big deal here … its TOO HOT! However I soldiered on for the cause, trooper than I am, and we had a great night. I’m attaching some photos of this year’s and previous years’ outfits to prove I really have no shame if nothing else ….

Myself as Marilyn Monroe and Dave as Wolverine from XMen! We made his claws from the packaging of our tv and painted them grey .. looked great but now we can never sell the tv 😉

My peacock tail was real peacock feathers and really impressive but sadly I don’t have a good photo! The eyelashes were cool too, I didn’t make them but I like to think I wore them well.

That’s me at the front, the Rubix Cube! I forced a young fella in the supermarket to give me the box then my very talented sister came up with a plan and the best costume ever was born! I made matching rubix cube themed earrings and necklace and basically went totally overboard. There was a slight drawback though .. I couldn’t move around very much and some people pushed me over to see if I could get back up. Suffering for my art ….

This was actually my 80’s themed 30th Birthday.. I was the 1980 Rose of Tralee! I found the dress in Oxfam, made the sash and had the best night of my life …

The hair was my favourite part, I modelled it on Julia Roberts in that bar scene from Pretty Woman! Totally 80’s!

Next week we are going to a 90’s themed party in the city so I have to get thinking … any ideas?

SJ x

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