Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dim sims and removalists

The move is just about complete. "What move?" I hear you ask. The move that is taking me away from my lovely new kitchen, that's what move!

I've decided that moving is a particular brand of hell that should be reserved for use as a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and little else. It really is painful. First of all there's the lead-up in which you have to sort everything out. This wasn't too bad and I got rid of all sorts of things we thought we needed but never really used. Then the pack up. This was interesting. I booked a removalist and all seemed to be going alright, except I seemed to have trouble confirming our address. As it turns out, they had decided they were going to move us to a town that we'd never heard of somewhere in NSW. I found out about this the day before the scheduled pack up. My confidence in them shattered, I promptly cancelled the deal. Later that day I got an email, asking very politely and with apparently genuine curiosity, why I had decided to cancel. Seriously.

A week later a group of people from a different company turned up to pack, on time, in good spirits and with the correct address. Of course they packed everything in their wake, which I suppose is the idea. But I really mean everything, including stuff I'd put to one side to throw out. Such items included Tim's dirty painting gear, the linen off the bed I was sleeping in, a bottle of out of date OJ and the cat. Well not really the cat, but if we'd had a cat and it had been sitting still at the time, it would have got packed! These guys were very efficient!

At the other end, I've managed to unpack most of the main stuff we need to live and that includes the kitchen. It's amazing what you find when you're unpacking and deciding where to put it in a kitchen that isn't yours. Tim says I'll have to make it mine. And so I will.

Not having all my usual cooking resources sorted yet, I went out foraging for easy meals. I wasn't disappointed. The dim sims pictured come from a deli I found in the Gippsland town of Traralgon. It's one of the best delis I've ever been in and for around $30 I managed to buy Tim and I lunch, dinner, dessert and a loaf of artisan bread. Not bad. These were pork and beef dim sims and they were huge, very filling and very delicious. I did nothing fancy to serve either - just steamed and served with soy sauce. I've attempted making dumpling type stuff myself in the past, but I need lessons because it doesn't come naturally to me.

Coming up this week, I have some exciting cooking ahead, including catering for a 60th birthday party. I'm going to do a test run of the cake today so crossed fingers. I've also been given some fantastic kids recipes that I'll be testing as well. I figured Tim's just a boy in a man's body so it all works out.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Better late...

I think it's fair to say that 2009 was a full, rich year. I feel like I barely had time to take a breath and already it's mid-January 2010. To recap, aside from the cooking and photography, we spent the first three months of 2009 planning a wedding and getting married. Over the next few months, we had heaps of overseas visitors come to stay, there was a new job, birthdays, some major home improvements and then without warning, I found myself in hospital. Twice. The second time resulted in a week-long trip to Sydney for my mother and God-mother Ali, who, when they weren't being wonderful and supportive and bringing me proper coffee and drooling over my surgeon, wandered around Sydney shopping and marinating. So it wasn't time wasted.

By December I was ready for some fun and so was Tim, having done so much travel since October that the dog was starting to have abandonment issues (wait until I go back to work!). I felt it was time for a Christmas party, and I was right.

I couldn't stand for hours in the kitchen, so I kept things as simple as possible and made a lot of stuff in advance. My mother and Ali helped and if I do say so myself, we put on an excellent spread. I think particular triumphs for the evening were the stuffed mushrooms, Ali's mini sausage rolls, and the roast vegetable frittata cut into bite sized pieces and served with tomato mustard, fresh basil and fetta on top.

Unfortunately, I picked the hottest night in December and we don't have aircon. I remember feeling the temperature suddenly and steeply rise with the influx of people and not helped by the bottle-neck of revellers who insisted on collecting just inside the kitchen doorway. I just couldn't shift them. About half the crowd eventually spilled out into to the backyard which was excellent. Anyway, nobody seemed too worried, champagne continued to be drunk, food got eaten and we were lucky to get a refreshing breeze fairly early on in the piece. I was exhausted for about three days afterwards, but I needed it and thoroughly enjoyed it and would do it again. Next Christmas.

The purpose of the gingerbread house? I haven't made one in years, I wanted a Christmassy centrepiece for the party, and I could make this mostly sitting down which was absolutely essential in December. It took me a few days to do as I worked in fits and bursts. I had my brother Sam help me build trusses and assemble and eventually taste. There were gingerbread men standing around it but Tim apparently tripped and as he fell, his open mouth was broken by the fall of the gingerbread men. Several times. He tried to blame it on two and a half year old Henry, but I watch enough crime TV to know to match up the bite mark on the gingerbread torso that I did find, with the man. It was way too big for little Henry. At least Tim didn't hurt himself.

What next? Well so far 2010 has involved decisions about moves and jobs and health and studies and I can see it's gearing up to be another huge year involving a lot of choice and complications. Will I take the promotion? Will we get Ladybug a little brother or sister? Will Tim take my name? Will I continue to cook and blog? I know the answer to the last one will be yes, starting with me getting organised over the next few weeks.

Thanks to everyone who read this last year. Please be patient - I will be getting back into the swing of things as soon as I'm removed and resettled.