Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Making Christmas Presents - Chutney

I am feeling rather chuffed with myself that, to date, I have not bought one commercial present - and I am trying hard to keep it that way this year.  We have had a general concensus that no bought presents are to to given or recieved this year.  Only home made ones, or the present of the persons presence!

I don't trust that people want my presense so much, so tonight, I am making chutney as gifts.  The recipe is from the man I secretly want to run away with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall but only as far as River Cottage.

Here is the link to the original recipe ...


Makes 2-4 jars


  • 500g onions, chopped
  • Scrap of oil
  • 1kg diced apples, any will do but try to include some Bramleys
  • 500ml cider vinegar (I will use verjuice)
  • 400g demerara sugar
  • 200g dried figs, diced
  • 125g dried cranberries
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Generous glass of port
  • 5cm piece root ginger, roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves (will leave these out as I hate them)
  • 12 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 100g walnuts, roughly chopped


  1. Start by sweating the onion in a scrap of oil then add the apple. Pour over the vinegar and sugar and and once it's had a good stir and the sugar has dissolved then fun can start.
  2. Add the fruits to the pot then after that the orange zest and juice, followed by the port.
  3. Next it's time to put together your spices. Tie the ginger, cloves, cardamom pods and coriander seeds in a clean square of muslin and secure with string. Immerse the pouch deep in the simmering chutney and let it bubble away for an hour or so, making sure to stir it regularly so it doesn't catch on the bottom.
  4. Add the walnuts and cook for a final 30 minutes. If you can part your chutney and see a little bit of pan on the bottom you are done.
  5. Decant the warm chutney into sterlised jars, seal with vinegar-proof lids and allow to cool.

I will post back and show how it went.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dear Santa ...I wanna poneeee for Christmas!

Not that I would EVER has asked this way, no sirree.  I was brung up right.  I asked nicely and politely .. the first few times.  Then I asked incessantly for weeks and months afterwards.  Then I pretended that I already had a pony - I fed it, talked to it, rode it - which freaked the parents out, and then, one very special 11th birthday, I did indeed get my wish.  It was the most special and exciting and thrilling day of my life.  My very own horse.  I didn't have to share him with the other kids from the riding school, he could come home to live with me, I could talk to and look after a real horse instead of my imaginary one. I was the luckiest eleven year old alive.

We named him Tullie.  Spelt like my name, Jodie. He was a worm ridden, scrawny, barely broken, brumby (we think).  To me, he was like black beauty.  We did so much together, learnt an awful lot (me), had tears and frustrations (him) - but we came to mature into a pretty good team.  Sadly, I lost him way too soon, he got very, very sick and we had to put him to sleep.  I still love that horse, I have never found one to replace him.  I have owned many horses since him, but never one like him. 

My beautiful and kind Tullie

I still yearn for a horse in my life.  It has been a deep desire that is always there, yet circumstances have asked me to shove that desire down deep.  Every now and again, it creeps back up to the surface and I am left with a sadness and emptiness that only the hot breath of a horse's soft muzzle can fill.  I did get to buy a horse property, but can't live there yet.

So, Santa, if you are listening.  This is what I would like for Christmas. Please.  Pretty Please.  I have been such a good girl, all year. 

  1. The Business to actually make a profit next year so we can pay off our overdraft, then we can afford to move
  2. Mr K's Mum to find her ideal unit in the care facility she wants, so we can move
  3. Real Estate to pick up in our area so we can sell our house and move to the horse property
  4. Our current (and lovely) tenants to find their own dream house so they are happy to move out
  5. To move into my beloved horse property and I will never ask for a single thing.
  6. Oh, well, maybe a pony ? !  ?
Got all that Santa?  You the MAN!

Coming up ... 11 glorious days off!

Not that I am counting or anything, but just in case you were curious, there are approximately 104.2 hours until I can departmentalise my work life from my home life.  Eleven days to wallow about in our pool, to water the garden at my leisure, to have sleep ins (well laying in bed awake, can never 'sleep' in), to read the six books I have beside my bed, the four I have on my kindle and the stack of nine beside my chair in the reading room.  Ambitious?  I love a challenge! 

My folks are coming up to stay with us, to stay in what they now call their 'City Apartment'.  Our recently renovated Guest Wing - I love that.

For the first time, Son #1 will be hosting a family Christmas event.  We are going to his house Christmas Eve for dinner and drinks.  He has worked so hard building a patio, gardens, a lawned terrace - it will be special to see him be a host!

Christmas Day is going to be a cook off between my Dad, Mum and I.  We all have cookbooks at the ready, bring it on!

Boxing Day is always a toss up between drag racing or watching the first day of the test match from the pool.  Weather will be a deciding factor.

Then endless days of nothing.  Doesn't get better than that.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Busy Day Today (or not ;-)

'The staff have all voted to have the Staff Christmas Party at our home again this year' ... so declares Mr K, all proud like.

He takes this as a sign that our staff love us and want to come to our house as they think that's neat.  He sees this as just one big Friday night after work drinks - on steroids.  With lots of food and a pool.

I see this as a big pile of hard work.  Which is fine, I am happy to show our staff how much we really do appreciate them, to say thank you for all their hard work, to spoil them for a bit.  But, guess who gets to do all the work that Mr K just can't see?  All the 'little things' that only women know about?

It's like that old joke that does the email rounds, the one about the husband who tells his wife she can have the night off and he will do the BBQ for their guests.  He stands turning snags whilst drinking a beer - she shops for all the ingredients, cleans the house, makes salads, sets the table, gets platters ready for the meat, makes sweets, clears the table, washes the dishes ... and he asks her afterwards how she enjoyed her night off cooking?

This will be our fourth year we have had the end of year party at our home.

The first year I had caterers in.  Lovely food, useless service.  It cost a small fortune, more than if we had taken everyone out to dinner. We had leftovers which would be great anytime except for right before Christmas when I need my fridge empty.

The second year we had the waitress of our local cafe, who was a cooking student, come and do it.  I worked harder than ever and my kitchen looked like my kids bedroom after they had searched for the missing Lego piece. 

Third year, I said ENOUGH and we went out to a restaurant.  I will admit that the party was flat, we sat at a table and had to behave ourselves. We were in public.  (I really didn't care this year, it was right before I had a hysterectomy, I was in no laughing mood!)

The fourth year, feeling SO much better I threw caution to the wind, having learnt from past experiences about caterers and cooking students; that I can do it better, quicker, cheaper and cleaner than anyone.  I made one little mistake - I got all elaborate and made lots and lots of canapes from scratch, far too many choices. 

Fifth year, this year, I am older (boy am I ever) wiser (I think!) and under the misapprehension that I have it all sussed.  I have simplified the menu, bought things that are fiddly to make, like four dozen mince pies, frozen spring rolls, and cheezels.  There will be huge slabs of roast meat, fluffy bread rolls and gravy - the majority of our staff are young lads - give them meat, bread and beer.  A few salads to keep the waif girlfriends happy. 

I have written a huge TO DO list for Mr K.  He has his jobs allocated.  Lets see if he is as keen to host the party here next year <wink>

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My new Toy - A MS Surface

I am no geek, but I do like neat toys.  Except this is really not a toy.  I will actually be able to work on this little device.  So much better than the iThings. 

So far, I like it.  Its like a tablet/iPad but also like a laptop.  The OneNote is great, I can sync with my PC at both home and the office.  I can see this will be great for writing, keeping tabs on projects, being organised.

Lots to learn still, the only drawback at the moment, is that there are very few apps developed for it yet.  But that will come as they become more popular. 

I got a red one as it goes faster.  The cover is actually a keyboard.  Now this is kewl.

Very thin, and light, yet powerful enough for me to remote into work and run all my applications on the move.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

OK, OK!!. I will put up the Christmas Tree Today!

Feeling so much like the Christmas Grinch, I look green! (Now I know that our vision of Dr Seuss's character has been tainted by Disney, the original Grinch was a pen and ink drawing with red hat and red eyes, which, when I think of it, I resemble much more)

It's not that I don't like Christmas, I do, I just don't like how quickly it goes from 55 shopping days til Christmas to oh-crap-I-haven't-done-a thing-and-its-now-less-than-2-weeks-til-the-big-day.

Not one single present has been purchased, so I have declared we are having a 'homemade' Christmas.  So far I have made one bottle of Chili infused oil. 

We have the staff party here this Saturday. I have bought paper plates and plastic cups.  The fact that I am catering for 25 people should have me in a mild panic at least, but I am too tired to care.

My first Christmas cake I made in November got eaten.  I have boiled the fruit for the next one 10 days ago and it has sat on the stove, waiting to be cooked in the oven.  I can't smell or taste anything at the moment so I am not sure if its gone off yet.  I am hoping the copious amounts of Grand Marnier in the mix is preserving it.

The Christmas tree is still in the shed.  Its in a dust covered box, up high on the shelf.  The very thought of getting it down, dusting it off, putting it up, finding the lights, decorating it - is enough to make me forget the whole palaver.  I liked it when the boys were still living at home and their girlfriends would come and put up the tree for me.

The house needs a good, deep clean.  Pity that.  It might be lucky to get a lick and a spit. 

Braved the shops on Sunday - ha!  Who says we don't need Sunday trading?  It was carnage.  So we came home with nothing after walking out of 3 stores when we saw the queues at the checkout.  Went again last night, thinking it would be quieter.  Well, there were not as many people true, but the calibre of the ones there, the ugly language and delinquent kids more than made up for it.

The only good part is we have 11 days away from work, my parents are coming up to stay, I will get time to relax and chat with my sons - yep, we forget, its all just about family and some down time.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Great Rock Sell out

It's a bad photo.  I had to take it with my phone. I was holding the 'few things' I had popped into Coles for.  People thought I was a bit nuts, juggling toilet paper, 3 litres of milk, cat food, tim tams (yeah, I fell for the special ploy), broccolini (what we used to throw out as underdeveloped/bolted broccoli heads when we were growers, they now market and sell), Bonds socks - three pack and tonic water - to try and then, with arms full, (really should have got a basket) to try and take a picture.

What was it that made me carry out such madness?

Status Quo.

Once, they were cool.  Long haired, hard rockers.  I would bet my arm full of shopping that they had done their fair share of groupies, Jack Daniels and white powder in their time.

Now they are sad old men, trying to make a bit of money by selling out their famous hit to Coles.

There, at the checkout, you could buy the CD of Status Quo singing Down, down, prices are down for $10!

That's why I had to take the photo!  No-one would have believed me otherwise. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tim Winton - you Rock!!

I feel like my child has just won the honour awards at school.  I am bursting with pride!

Yeah, a bit weird of an analogy, but stay with me here.

My all time, ever, favourite author, Tim Winton, took out #1 place in the ABC's First Tuesday Bookclub's 10 Aussie books to read before you die, with Cloudstreet.  Number One!!  Out of all the amazing books in this country, the public chose Cloudstreet as their favourite.

ABC First Tuesday Bookclub

I have read every book Tim has ever written, buy all his books as first edition hardbacks plus a paperback when it comes out so I can lend it to people.  Some of my hardbacks are signed by Tim himself - confess that I am a bit of a groupie and go to book readings or signings by him.

Although, the last time I went to a reading (for The Turning) I didn't line up and ask him to sign my book.  He just looked so sad, so out of place, wanting to be away from people and this book selling machine.  He looked like he wanted to be on a beach, or at his kitchen table, writing.  So I went home, and gave him a gift of personal space.

I have loved every single book he has ever written, but my favourite is his latest Breath.  My sons love his books too, something that is tough to do - get boys to read.  I still remember Son#1 hopping about, getting me to read That Eye the Sky after he had read it and wanting to talk to me about it.  Lucky it was a short book, I devoured it in half a day, then Son and I sat and talked and talked.  Now that is something!

I love Tim's style, his (seemingly) easy writing manner, as you read, you feel like you are talking to an old friend.  I get the same feeling of place every time I read his books - I am about 15, everything is exciting.  We go camping on the beach, way down South, with my family, my best friend is there too.  We escape the adults, and at night walk down to the beach where there are some boys with a campfire.  They look a little rough, older, surfies, our hearts race, but we try and be brave/cool.  We sit with them, we talk, they are smoking pot and hand us some, we shake our heads.  I look into the fire, there is a delicious electricity around us, a thrill to be had, yet we don't know why... yet.

This is where Tim's writing always takes me.  On the precipice of discovery, a teenage girl about to fall into the most exciting time of her life.  Fear, mixed with sexual tension and a sense of emerging power.  I wish I had better words to make this scene of time and place come alive.  It will be a good writing exercise I think!

If you haven't already, go discover Tim's work.

On being a cocaine user

Icing sugar anyone?

Shocked are you?  That all this creativity comes from a white powder?  Let me put your mind at ease.

I have discovered that I would make a lousy cocaine addict – I can’t even snort nose spray up my nose properly.  I have had some kind of allergy/sinus infection for weeks and weeks now.  I like to let my body fight things naturally, but its got to the point where the bug/irritant has won and I have lost.  I haven't been able to breath normally at all.  Not wanting to wait hours in a Dr's surgery with real sick people, I went along to my local drug pusher chemist.  I was given a nasal spray and some quite nice tasting medicine. 

I read the instructions carefully, (after I found my glasses, the print certainly was fine), had a little practice go of putting the nozzle up my nose, breathing all the way out and a big breath in.  Looked like an complete naff but I was in the privacy of my own kitchen. Repeat these steps, while at the same time I am to breath in, squeeze the bottle to emit a spray of liquid up my nose.  Oops, forgot to block one nostril with my finger.  Talk about multi-tasking - how would a man do all this?

The first try was a failure.  The liquid just ran back down my nose and dripped on the kitchen bench (so much for hygiene).  I guess you have to take a bigger breath in.  Tried again, I breathed back harder this time, and got a nose full, that trickled down the back of my throat and made me cough and splutter.  OK, so in between the two actions might be the way to go. 

Third try lucky.  I pretended I was a groovy chick at a upmarket party and this wasn't nasal spray but fine cocaine. I sniffed it up and waited for the rush.  Oh my giddy aunt.  I could breath, for just a minute.  Clear fresh air - is this what cocaine does for you?

A friend, who, umm, knows all about chemistry, informs me that I could just shoot cocaine direct into my veins, but where is the fun in that?  No, I want to look Kewl (yes, with a capital K) with white powder around my nose, otherwise how will the hipsters know I am one of them? 

Clearly, a seasoned user

I have also been taking this sinus relief medicine (yeah, watch out, I am one mean, on the streets, druggie) with big bold letters saying

Three minutes after I take it, I want to sleep the sleep of the dead. 

I guess I just wasn't cut out to be a drug addict.  Pity, I reckon I looked pretty with it! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Very late things I learnt this week

I knew it!  I knew that I would be unable to keep up a regular blog post, on the same day each week.  I think I managed 2 weeks in a row.  I suck at routine, yet crave it.

But, I am still learning things each week, so here are the latest.
  • Don't use eucalyptus tissues as a substitute for toilet paper when you have run out.  Obvious really.  Ouch!

  • When Mr K has a early morning meeting to attend, I will have to get up extra early to make sure he is ready and on time.

  • Hoping to make an advent calendar, with little gifts, for my sons before December 1st was just that - hoping.

  • Eating the little gifts for the above project wont make me feel better.  But I do like the little bags of tiny teddies.

  • Don't believe the weather man when he says that rain is unlikely.  This really means it will most likely rain and you had better put up the windows on the ute otherwise you will be sitting on a wet seat.

  • The towel you put down on the wet seat of the ute won't absorb any water at all and you will walk around all day with a wet bum.

  • Making a detailed shopping list is pretty useless when you fail to take it with you.

  • There are only 20 days til Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Careful what you wish for!

Have felt like I have been pulled in seven different directions the last few weeks.  So much to do, half of which is my own making - I wished I could be a writer.

So, three weeks ago I enrolled in an online writing course through UWA Extension.  It was a six week course with 12 lessons.  Each lesson has about 5 chapters, each with a number of writing exercises.  Plus a quiz and an assignment, and lots of extra reading.  You post your assignment onto an online discussion board for critique by fellow class members and the lecturer.  You are also expected to read and comment on your fellow class mates work. 

Love every single minute of it, but it sure takes a lot of my time.  Add to this, a few all day writing workshops, that annoying habit, called a full time job, housework, gardening, Christmas looming, and it all makes me a very busy girl.

My dear blog, the thing that has saved my slipping sanity, gets the cold shoulder.  I don't mean to, and yes, it makes me feel very guilty.

On top of all this, I have some kind of sinus infection. Its been with me for weeks now.  I thought it was just hay fever set off by the easterlies.  Some days are better than others, the worst days make it so hard to think I need a Bex and a good lie down.  Actually, the drug I am taking that has stamped on the box in bold 'Non-Drowsey' makes me so sleepy its like I have taken a sleeping tablet. 

I wished I could be a writer and write all day. Now I know I need to change the wish to, I wish I could do nothing else but write.  Geez, why cant magic genies who grant you wishes use a bit of common sense?  When I wished I could be a writer, they could have made the assumption that I couldn't do it all and cut out the non-writing things in my life. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sweet Nagomi Cumquat of Mine

Crappy Monday.  Not for any other reason than its Monday and all Mondays are crappy.  It’s a fact. 

This Monday, I got a smile on my face as I sat at my desk to see what the week will bring.   Looking out the window (yes, I was seeking distractions already) I see my little cumquat tree.  Poor thing, once a majestic, topiary, cat-walk-model Nagami cumquat, she was now a lopsided, bedraggled, half dead half alive shadow of her former self.

She looks like a drug addict, and this is why I had to move her onto my front veranda where I can put her into rehab, watch her closely, and nurture her back to health.  She needs lots of good food, water, fresh air and tender care.  I think a good haircut, some fresh clothes and a good bath won’t go astray either.

I blame the Kaffir lime.  He is handsome yes, but thorny and rebellious and was a real party boy.  Growing WAY outside his pot, his lifestyle spilled out and influenced the elegant Tahitian Lime; the smooth ladies’ man Kalamata Olive and my poor sweet, innocent Nagami cumquat.  I could see the aftermath of some of the parties, puckered limes on the ground, leaves strewn everywhere.  Sometimes it got really rough and there would be soil spilled on the paving.  Those times, I had to call in the police and get the place swept up.

Kaffir had to go.  He had sullied all that was nice and decent in the fruit tree village.  His ego had got out of control, being fed by illicit substances like the air-conditioner water.  His roots were firmly down into the seedy underground.  The other fruit trees, were content to stay in their little pots, happy with the life given to them.  Sure, they indulged sometimes, but Kaffir just had to take it a step too far.

Yesterday, he was evicted.  He was thrown out onto the streets to fend for himself.  I don’t know if he will survive, his life blood being severed from the connection with the underworld.  I know Nagami will pine for him, but time and healing will show her a better life.