Month: January 2011 (page 1 of 8)


Awesome. The SMH says my fringe is totally trendy! Too bad I suck at styling it.

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Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #2: Summer Veg Lasagne

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #2: Summer Veg Lasagne
This is our second cooking experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. We had about half a dozen episodes saved on the DVR, so we skimmed through them today looking for a suitable one. (We reckoned that if we could watch the episode first, we might stand a better chance of reproducing it.) We settled on Summer Veg Lasagne, Tuscan Tomato Salad, and Quick Mango Frozen Yoghurt.

Jamie's Summer Veg Lasagne, Tuscan Tomato Salad, Quick Mango Frozen Dessert

Quick verdict: We couldn’t find any frozen mango cheeks, and fresh ones are just way too expensive right now. So we subbed in frozen berries for the dessert. Everything else was according to the recipe, pretty much. It was FANTASTIC. We rated this one 9.5/10. Our elapsed time was 60 minutes. That’s why we’ve taken off half a point. We feel that with more practice we could maybe shave off 15 minutes, but there’s no way we could get this one down to 30 minutes total. Still, the taste made it all worthwhile! Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready go to. The grill was turned on as high as it would go.

First up are the ingredients for the lasagne. It used: spring onions, anchovies, garlic, asparagus, frozen peas, frozen broad beans, mint, cream, lemon, veggie stock, cottage cheese, fresh lasagne sheets, Parmesan cheese, and thyme.

Ingredients for lasagne

Next, the ingredients for the Tuscan salad. It used: ciabatta (we had Pane di Casa instead), fennel seeds, oregano, capers, anchovies, basil, red peppers (we left these out as Snook doesn’t like them), garlic, tomatoes, red wine vinegar, and Parmesan cheese. (We also got the Balsamic out since Jamie used it on the show, but it’s not mentioned in the book.)

Ingredients for salad

The cooking pans, ready go to. The big pot is for the lasagne filling, and the roasting pan was for toasting the bread and then cooking the assembled lasagne.

Pots and pans

The first part of the lasagne filling preparation. This has chopped up asparagus and spring onions, and all sorts of lovely bits in it.

Lasagne filling

Here I’m tossing hunks of bread with olive oil, salt, and fennel seeds. (We tore some by hand before resorting to the knife. Efficiency won out over rusticity.) This then went into the oven under the grill to toast.

Tossing the bread

The next stage of the lasagne involved adding in the frozen peas and beans along with mint, cream, and lemon zest.

Lasagne filling

The hunks of bread have successfully toasted!

Toasted bread

Now we could reclaim the roasting pan for lasagne assembly. We finished off the filling with stock and cottage cheese, then sorta mashed it as best we could. Here’s the Snook laying down the first layer of filling.

Lasagne assembly

On top of each layer of filling went fresh lasagne sheets and then cheese. We didn’t have quite enough Parmesan, but on the actual episode Jamie said that cheddar would be a good substitute. So that’s what we’ve mixed in here.

Lasagne assembly

Once you put the final layer of lasagne sheets on, you cover it with more cottage cheese, the asparagus tips, olive oil, fresh thyme, and more cheese. Then this goes into the hot oven.

Lasagne complete

While Snook worked on the bread salad, I started the dessert. As I said, we couldn’t find frozen mango so we went with mixed berry. The only other change I made to the recipe was adding a bit more honey to compensate for the tartness of the berries. (Man, our food processor sucks.)


The Snook’s completed bread salad. We didn’t seem to have quite as much liquid in ours as Jamie did. Maybe we didn’t use enough tomatoes? At any rate, our bread didn’t get a chance to soak up much juice.

Bread salad

By now my dessert had finished churning. I put it straight into a tub into the freezer.


Our lasagne took a little longer to brown up than Jamie’s. We think it’s because we had our shelf set slightly farther away from the element. But it browned up nice in the end.


A better shot of the completed lasagne. Note: this was HUGE. It easily makes 8 generous portions.


And here’s the completed meal! We had it with white wine, as suggested.

Completed meal

And lastly, dessert! The pink part is the Quick Raspberry Frozen Yoghurt I made above. (We didn’t bother with cones.) The green is actually pistachio gelato that the Snook made earlier in the weekend. The raspberry stuff was good… but the pistachio was AMAZING. I guess the lesson is that you can make decent ice cream quickly, but the good stuff takes a lot longer than 30 minutes!


Tasting notes: We both loved the lasagne. We’d had a lot of worries about it – would the pasta be cooked? would the mint be weird? would frozen broad beans be nice? – and they all turned out fine. Seriously, this dish alone was 10/10. The Tuscan bread salad was, as Rodd pointed out, basically a deconstructed bruschetta. We didn’t have quite enough juice to really soften the bread, but the crunchiness made a nice contrast to the lasagne. (For those worried about raw anchovy in it – as I was – it’s fine. No ickiness or fishiness at all!) The dessert was probably the weak point here, but frozen yoghurt was never going to set the world on fire. I’d really like to try it with the mango though, if we can find some frozen mango cheeks. This meal is a DEFINITE one to repeat!

Stay tuned next week for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

Opera in the Domain

Opera in the Domain 2011Opera in the Domain 2011
This was the fifth year in a row for our unofficial knitting meetup at Sydney’s Opera in the Domain. We had about twenty people in our group in the end, all gathered together under the stars listening to Bizet’s Carmen. I’d never seen that opera before, but the music was instantly familiar from hundreds of movies and commercials. I thought Carmen and Escamillo were great, but I just couldn’t buy Don Jose as a romantic lead. (I whispered to Rodd that the actor reminded me of this.) There were sound problems throughout the night, especially with Don Jose’s microphone. I have no idea how the people at the back of the Domain were able to hear anything! But the dancing was great, and I was bopping along in my seat to a lot of music. Too bad the story has such unlikeable characters!

Anyway, the day actually started long before that. I was the first one from the group to get to the Domain at about 12:40pm, and I could see that the field was going to fill up faster than usual. Reecie arrived not long after and we quickly set to work defining our area with blankets and shade tents. Within half an hour we were already having to defend our spot from invaders! Luckily reinforcements arrived soon and we mostly managed to fight off encroachers. (The nerve of some people! Turning up right before the show and thinking they could plop down right in front of us.) We picnicked and drank wine and knitted and got interviewed by some local news cameramen. It was a lot of fun! Read on for photos.Reecie had an extremely cool little pop-up sun tent. She also specially ordered an inflatable pink flamingo for our camp. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

Reecie and her tent - Opera in the Domain 2011

Me and Reecie, trying to stay in the shade as much as we could. We faithfully reapplied sunscreen every two hours.

Me and Reecie - Opera in the Domain 2011

The cavalry have arrived! There’s Sally huddled under a tent, while Issy and Derek guard the eastern frontier.

Sally, Issy, and Derek - Opera in the Domain 2011

Tia was the mum of the group for the day, making sure we didn’t get sunburnt and handing round all the yummy food she’d made.

Tia - Opera in the Domain 2011

These cameramen came around from Channel 7 news. They interviewed Sally first, then did a shot of several of us toasting the camera. Then they went back to interview Issy and Derek.

Interview - Opera in the Domain 2011

None of our interviews actually made it onto the news footage, but they did show us all saying “Cheers!” (Thanks to Daniel for the photo.)

Cheers! - Opera in the Domain 2011

Self-portrait looking towards the opera stage.

Me - Opera in the Domain 2011

It’s the Bazinga Twins! Me and Issy wore the same shirt (on purpose).

Bazinga - Opera in the Domain 2011

Here’s me and a new friend – Amanda (aka Ptinutz on Ravelry). She came in the afternoon and her boyfriend came later. It was great to meet her!

Me and Amanda - Opera in the Domain 2011

By 6pm it was really starting to fill up and they asked us all to take down our sun shades. Here’s a shot of the crowd. It was really getting difficult to keep people from shoving into our area!

The crowd - Opera in the Domain 2011

As usual, Mazda was going nuts with the corporate branding. They handed out fortune cookies that contained lousy ads instead of real fortunes!

Fake fortune - Opera in the Domain 2011

Just before the opera started, here’s Reecie and Lucas having a little rest.

Reecie and Lucas - Opera in the Domain 2011

And that’s it for the photos! Snookums turned up just before the show with my dinner (Oporto and beer – he is awesome). When the show finished, we packed quickly and joined the crowds streaming to the city. Luckily it didn’t take us too long to catch a bus home.

Thanks to everyone who came along!

Black Swan Visual Effects

For those of you who’ve seen Black Swan, this visual effects feature showcases some of the amazing work that was done in it. (BUT DON’T WATCH IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT. SPOILERS!)

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RunningBlog: Week 4

Week 4
I suppose it was inevitable that I’d have a “down” week after so much exercise last week. That’s okay. We’re also having a run of hot weather, so just getting out there is a big win. I started with a run of 7km on Sunday. (It’s a cutback week on my marathon training plan.) On Monday I did a Spudds class after work, where I had some good form on the rower. Tuesday I ran to work wearing my new backpack, but it was a really sucky run. I just felt flat and tired. Wednesday I did a quick core workout before the Australia Day festivities, and this morning I did an easy run before work. Huh. I guess I did more than I realised.

Jan. 23: 7.01km
Jan. 25: 5.21km
Jan. 28: 6.06km
Total this week: 18.28km (11.4mi)
Total in 2011: 82.81km (51.75mi)

To meet my goal of running 1100km in 2011, I should be at 84.6km. So I’m about 2km behind pace. That’s fine; I’ve got another long run scheduled this weekend that should put me well ahead!

Happy Australia Day!

Knitters' PartyHappy Australia Day!
Well, yesterday anyway. It’s weird having a holiday in the middle of the week. It’s like it’s thrown off my whole circadian rhythms or something.

Anyhoo, I had a lovely day. I spent the morning baking cookies and making Rice Krispie treats. Then I caught the train with JP over to RoseRed’s house for a lovely knitters’ party. We had scones with jam and cream, sandwiches, meat pies, cakes, cookies, and everything lovely. I noticed a pavlova sitting beneath a dome and wondered to myself why the fruit seemed to be clumped together instead of evenly distributed. Imagine my surprise when I realised it was Sydney Harbour, complete with a banana bridge and a strawberry Opera House!

After much merriment, knitting, and champagne, I headed back to the city with Kylie. After a quick stop to pick up the Snook, we caught a bus to the city and met Kunaal at the Opera House. It was time to see Amanda F**king Palmer!

Me and KylieThe show was AMAZING. Kylie and I spent some time marvelling at the set (one half of which was “bogan”; one half was “art fag”). Amanda opened the show herself by acknowledging the Gadigal people, the Aboriginal people of this area. Then The Jane Austen Argument kicked everything off with a couple songs. They were okay; a bit too “Melbourne arty” for my taste. Then came Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen, who we LOVED. Hilarious and brilliant, and great musicians too. And finally, with much fanfare, out came Amanda Palmer! She swooped around the stage; she climbed down into the audience; she slithered across people in the stalls. We were entranced. She sang a hilarious song about how evil Vegemite is. She drank VB on stage and we commiserated on how shit it is. She threw flowers. She played the piano; she played the ukelele; she played the keyboard. She played for hours. At one point, she brought out her husband Neil Gaiman who read a few pieces for us, including one he’d written that day on Australian megafauna. He also surprised her with a poem about all the reasons he loved her. (WE WERE ALL SQUEEING LIKE CRAZY.) The Black Sea Gentlemen came out at various points to accompany her, and they amused us by dressing up in increasingly crazy costumes. The show ended with a raucous encore of “Map of Tasmania” with sexy go-go dancers and a female beatboxer and all kinds of fun. It was amazing. Three-and-a-half hours! Great way to end the day.

Cinnamon Rolls

Note to self: Make the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls… but do a small batch.