Thursday, 21 September 2017

Zucchini Gratin/Bake

Oops I forgot to take a photo before we scoffed the lot but it was so much better than the title suggests. Imagine if you will, my Pyrex pie plate(10inches diam), lightly buttered and then layered with thin slices of zucchini, red onion coated in sour cream and topped with good cheddar cheese. Got it?

This makes 3-4 side servings

1 medium-large zucchini, thinly sliced
half a red onion, thinly sliced
1T butter(not margarine please)
1/2 cup sour cream or cream
1 cup grated cheese...make it a good, tasty cheese as this is the main flavour
1/2t chopped garlic

Start by layering about half of the zucchini and onion then sprinkle with a little grated cheese
Finish with the rest of the vegs(not the garlic)
Warm up the butter, garlic and sour cream in the may not look like enough but pour it over the dish and use your spatula to get every last morsel out
Gently shake the dish to distribute the cream
Top with plenty of grated cheese, bake for about 35-40 mins at 180C and enjoy.
We had some lamb chops and sweet potato with ours and it was lovely.

In Arles we had ratatouille twice in restaurants and I noted that they cook it for much longer than I do at home. So I tried cooking it while we were still there and once it was very tender(2hrs) I fried off some (300-400gms)beef mince and added that leaving it all to cook for at least another 30 good with pasta or mashed potatoes. I am cooking it again here today using

1 large, finely chopped eggplant
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
half a teaspoon of garlic
3 large tomatoes, chopped
3T tomato paste and around a cup of water
2t mixed herbs
salt, pepper and 1t of sugar

and you can add sliced mushrooms, olives, chopped greens to suit what you have on hand. Zucchini is generally added too but I used mine in the gratin.

Saute the onion and capsicum then the tomato paste and add everything else.
Simmer for as long as you can, checking the water and stirring from time to time.

And because I didn't take a pic of the Zucchini Gratin last night here is my duck in peppercorn sauce served with chips and salad at a restaurant in Nice...and no I didn't eat all the chips!! Want to see what Joe had?

Joe had these huge prawns they call 'gambas' served with a stuffed tomato and salad...

Now I'm really hungry...hope I've whet your appetite too and that you will try the zucchini recipe

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Life Is A Carousel

Ain't that the truth? Round and round we go, up and down and some of us learn from our mistakes but others take a little longer ;)
Growing up in an English seaside town in the 50s and 60s I had an early introduction to the Merry-Go-Round or carousel~ours were all of hand-made horses though. Mostly white with flowing manes of wool there was  always one or two black stallions with an evil gleam in their eyes.

The French love carousels too and every town seems to have one. The one in Arles next to the tourist bureau dates back to 1900 and has a delightful selection of animals and carriages...

a very large teacup with traditional dancers painted on the side...

two horses and a pig enjoying their ride together...

this donkey looks so tired...his head nods but he's not happy...

mono-plane of Louis Bleriot who was the first to fly over the English Channel...that would have been really big news back in 1900...

and le taureau...the bull; being so close to Spain and the Camargue the bull has an important role in Arles...bull-fighting these days involves removing a ribbon or trinket from his horns and they are not killed(merely terrified instead). The meat is very common in restaurants and butchers' shops and the symbol of the bull is found all around the town...

The carousel in St Remy de Provence was covered the day we visited...can you see the blue and whites stripes under the tree?

Then a stunning discovery in Avignon...a two storey carousel...who knew such things existed?

Fancy that?

Thank you for all the lovely comments yesterday, I plan to show more of the Van Gogh sites as well as where we stayed and the town itself in coming days. Plus some foodie pics...stay tuned!

Love from Sue

Our photo of the carousel at the foot of Montmartre in Paris 2008

PS Head over to Kylie's lovely blog for this fantastic pull-apart bread recipe

Monday, 18 September 2017

Back From Our Holiday

Hallo every-one, it's been very quiet on this blog as we have been to Arles in the south of France for a very special, once in a life-time holiday. Arles is in Western Provence and is studded with Roman architecture, Medieval churches and houses and was the home of Vincent Van Gogh for over a year...he did over 200 paintings around the town in some-what of a frenzy and it was here that he cut off part of his ear-lobe!

You can follow a trail of where he painted and they have these plaques and information for you, another artist is painting the same view of the avenue at Alyscamps...

Now things are settling down here at home I will share some of the wonderful times with you...firstly of course though we'll talk about the amazing market that stretches for over 2 kilometres on both sides of the main road twice a week. It seems everything under the sun is available to buy here from fruit and veg to fish and cheese, sausages and salamis, hot roast chicken whose fat drips on to tiny potatoes for an unbelievable treat,  cakes and pastries, fresh bread and hot paella, olives and honey, vintage goods, hats and shoes, books and all manner of things...

dried lavender in sachets for your drawers...lavender is the basis of a huge perfume industry in Provence...

glorious local pottery...

fresh organic bread...

this is our shopping from one such market day...

I was particularly delighted with the huge variety and flavour of the heirloom tomatoes available, green, yellow, striped, long and thin or as big as my hand...

So without further ado I will introduce to you the first of my Tigerella seedlings to 'hatch'; this variety should be fruiting in 10 weeks which is amazing, the flavour is meant to be wonderful...I ordered the seeds on-line from Diggers while I was still in France...I am so eager to have these wonderful fruits in my garden and I have also planted some Hungarian Heart seeds too. In Provence we ate delicious tomato based sauces flavoured with local herbs and I used them in a ratatouille dishes in our rented apartment.

I've also planted lettuce seedlings this week as the weather is warming up and it will soon be Summer.

I hope you are keeping well, I need to catch up with all your blogs which is always fun

Au revoir!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Knitting, Rain and Warm Food

Will start with the rain...after a whole week of none we've broken local records and even had hail one morning.
 I saw pink and grey galahs hanging upside down from power lines, wings out-stretched enjoyed a refreshing shower. I saw a huge black crow splashily bathing in a muddy puddle without a care in the world. Doves walked back and forth along the top of our fence looking like a Gary Larsen cartoon but my favourite was this little wood-duck. While I was knitting in the car and waiting for Joe at the dentist(he broke a tooth and needed a filling) I heard what sounded like a cat mewing loudly. When I opened the window it was this little chap/lady thoroughly enjoying the pop-up pond in the car park...what a funny noise they make...

It swam back and forth totally unconcerned about the cars coming and going...they actually nest in trees unlike other breeds of ducks.

Recent knitting includes this lovely free pattern for a diagonally knit washcloth , I've finished 3 in 8ply with 4mm needles and have ordered some 10ply(worsted weight) from Bendigo Woolen Mills to try it on the larger needles as per the pattern...

Then I read about a lady using up all her odds and ends of wool on very large needles so I found by 10mm needles and all my pink and white wool and made this in less than 2 days...all I've done is cast on 30 sts, knit around 10 rows in garter st, work a row of yarn fwd, K2tog to end to create a bit of a pattern, it's very loose and snuggly at the same time and cost nothing...

On to warm food...we've been enjoying lots of soups...this one is made from the left-over roast vegs and corned beef...I even found a stray sweet potato growing in the front garden, that beetroot gave it a beautiful colour and I added some frozen green beans for bulk...

Last night we had a sausage meat and pasta bake, I topped this the breadcrumbs I had in the freezer and only used the meat from 3 pork sausages with some chopped mushrooms so it was very thrifty.
I've just walked up to the letterbox and my neighbour, Vera, called me in to give me this enormous leek she'd bought on special yesterday...she'd like me to make Leek and Potato for my dear Dad who can't wear his dentures...easy to eat...aren't people wonderful? The prize leek...

I have some dianthus seedling to plant today, they are like small carnations and seem to last at 2 years...I like to have flowers in the back courtyard...

Now unfortunately it's not been all sweetness and light this week with the news that Joe's step-brother has been murdered in Canada, such a shock and we're still waiting to hear what the motive was as Pierre was a very easy going, likable man. RIP mother-in-law has now out-lived her first 3 should do that...

Joe has had surgery on his nose to remove a possibly dangerous basal cell carcinoma, he has sts inside and out and is very sore, let's hope they got it all this time as they missed some cells last time.

Priscilla isn't doing very well atm either. The Vit C infusions have come to an end and she is quite exhausted now. The doctors have found a bed in a respite facility to give her complete bed rest and hopefully stress and pain relief for the coming week. At the weekend she and Will had all three younger children baptised together with all their god parents attending too...this is my favourite photo...

So we all just muddle along as best we can don't we?
Hope things are going well for you,
Love from Sue

PS was just sent this, these 2 guys were born 83 yrs apart but have such a deep connection...

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

My 'Beanie' Pattern

I thought I'd already this posted this pattern but I see I have variations of it so here is my most basic pattern.

I like to use double knit/8 ply 100% wool that I buy at Spotlight for around $3 for 50 grams....I weighed this green hat and it's under 60 gms so you will need to buy 2 balls for a plain hat or add some stripes to use up scraps...

So you'll need

approx 60 gms 8 ply yarn
a pair of 4mm/UK 8 needles
a 4mm/UK 8 circular needle or you could use the set of 4mm double pointed needles(DPNs)

Two sizes large and medium

Using straight needles cast on 90(80) stitches and work 14 rows in garter stitch(all knit sts)

Change to circular needle/DP needles and knit round and round until work measure around 6 inches or 15 cms.

K8, K2tog for one whole round
Knit one round

K7, K2tog for one whole round
Knit one round

K6, K2tog for one round
Knit one round

If using a circ. needle you'll need to switch to DPNs now

Now, leaving out the straight rounds(the ones with no decreases) continue to work the decrease pattern until you have 2sts left , cast them off.

this photo shows the back of the hat where I have sewn up the garter stitch band, weave in the end at the top too...

2 finished hats plus one on the circular needle...

I hope this helps you Pauline at The Happy Retirees Kitchen Blog

For a child you could try 70 or even 60 stitches gets very cool in them thar hills where your family are ;)

It Ain't Pretty But It's Done!

Although we're only a month into Winter the passionfruit vine is sending out lots of new shoots. It needs to be pruned each year as it's the new growth that produces the fruit and we want lots of that!

Before...this fence is 6ft high...


our local council have just supplied green waste bins, I've filled 2 with all my pruning, the waste will be mulched and used on city gardens...the roses are next!

It is Winter and we I am trying not to use the gas heater as it gets rather costly. Joe feels the cold but is willing to rug up in hand knits...he couldn't find his scarf this morning so he's grabbed my newly made shawlette to wear at the computer...cutie!
I used a 'cake' of Lincraft yarn, 200gms, cast on 5 sts and increased at beginning of each alternate row until I had around 63 sts and then I decreased the same way to the last 5sts and cast off. On 5mm needles it was a quick and very easy knit...

I've also finished several hats this month, here are a couple,

Discovered a lovely new recipe of half a mashed cauliflower, a beaten egg, 2T brown flour or breadcrumbs and half a cup of grated cheese mixed together and shallow fried...they can be re-heated and are still delicious...we had them 3 days in a row lol...We also had our first taste of turnip leaves, quite bitter but quite delicious when well fried and crispy, a nice free meal.

Rhonda has got me well and truly hooked on Bear cam again this's like a soap opera as we watch the families at work and play. There are web cams all over the world featuring a variety of wildlife.

I've been reading, knitting and watching lots of tennis on telly, looking forward to Wimbledon next week. One book I really enjoyed was The Rain Queen by Katherine Scholes I also have a couple of Amanda Hampson's books from the library to relish very soon. Yesterday I went to the op-shop and bought 4 near new pillow cases, 2 thick coffee mugs, 2 French glass plates and a set of double pointed needles all for $6.20, why shop any where else without trying the op-shops first?

So that's where I have been and some of what I've been up to, have enjoyed reading your blogs too, lots of lovely recipes for Winter food from Aussie blogging friends..I love the inspiration.

Hope you are keeping well,
Love from Sue

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Hallo There!

Still here, just meandering through my days as I countdown to a wonderful holiday that I will tell you more about another day.

Priscilla has started thrice weekly Vitamin C infusions and is feeling a little brighter...the good news is that she has a 'gopher' now and can get out and about now the weather there is much milder...the girls ride their bikes along-side and Liam catches a lift with Mom...

I've been quietly crafting away and have finished an incline scarf made from a giant 200gm 'cake' of yarn...

made a bag from 3 samples of curtain fabric...

some 'subversive' embroidery...

some tasty meals...Singapore noodles...

Feta and spinach turnovers(the spinach was actually sweet potato leaves!) and stuffed capsicums with some chopped tomatoes and cucumber...

and some goodies for Dad, creamy soup, cooked pork sausages, vegetable 'quiche' and a dinner of silverside and vegetables...he grumbles when he sees so much food but it doesn't last long :)

Our little grandsons are continuing to thrive...Kullen is such a chubby chops now...

Cyclone Charlie is now walking and turns one year old next week...

...we're really looking forward to his Nanna Tracey coming over to join us for a week.

That's about all my news for now so I will wish you all a happy weekend,
Love from Sue