Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Natures Beads and a Bit of Fishing

Well Steve had four days off work so inevitably we would have to go fishing.  On boxing day we went up to the williams river for a late afternoon fish, there has been plenty of rain recently and lots of trees have come down in the flooding waters. One of these, and I think it might be a silky oak, was covered in these lovely little nutty, coney things so I made Steve get the boat close enough to acquire a few branches loaded with them . He wasn't too happy having all this herbage in the boat along with plenty of resident spiders, but I promised to clean up the mess and he got over it . Today I striped all the seeds off and gave them a spray to get rid of any lingering wildlife and now have a bowl full of these lovely textured beads, I'm sure I'll find something wonderful to do with them LOL.



We fishing into the dark, didn't get a bite, but it was a beautiful evening as you can see from these photo's

On Sunday we drove up to Glenbawn Dam for the day, left the coast that was hot and humid and drove into some cloud around the ranges. There was no wind on the dam for a change, I hate the wind!! and some big black clouds looming. The dam is well up now and looks like a completely different place since the last time we were there. The fishing was great, a lot more predictable than the weather, which was sunny one moment, pouring the next and breezy intermittently. This was one of the best fish for the day, a nice 37cm, we didn't find any big fish, but all those we got were fat and healthy, so much better condition than they have been recently . As you can see, I'm my usual tidy self, hair all over the place, shirt buttoned up to a fashion,but boy did I get burnt, even with plenty of sunscreen and a more sensible hat than the one in the pic, I've even got dots on my feet where the sun went through the holes in my crocs', looks absolutely ridiculous :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Kisses and a Recipe

Christmas is Oh so close and I haven't put up a decoration or done any cooking!!  But now I have finished work and today is a lovely cool day so the dreaded housework must begin ( once I've posted to my blog of course).

Each year I usually buy  a new Christmas ornament, but this year decided to make one, so here is the Mistletoe Kiss. She is an old Crone who just might sneak up on you and demand a kiss under the mistletoe, so you better keep an eye out over your shoulder :)

Here are a few photo's of her, I've even got a few of her progress this time. She is made on a cloth stump body, her head, hands and mistletoe are polymer clay,  I used apoxy sculpt to attach her head to the cloth and for her wooden staff . Her clothes are made from hand dyed cotton and cotton scrim. The green skirt has been rust dyed too and the waist coat is calico with a layer of textured modelling paste and acrylic paints. As you can see she is all puckered up ready for that kiss.

I have been out for dinner a few time's recently and been very disappointed with the food, I hate going out and spending money on a meal when you come out thinking you could have eaten better at home. This got me to thinking that I just don't do the cooking that I used to and have those great evenings of entertaining friends. So my new years resolution this year, is to do just that, I know I know we never keep  new years resolutions, but I will try. To give me some motivation I'm going to ask Santa for one of those great food mixers, I've only got a little hand beater that was a wedding present 28 years ago, that now only has one beater and really struggles sometimes to get going. I suppose to have any appliance that is that old and still going is a miracle in it's self.  So I am going to share with you one of my favourite Christmas recipes, I made this cake about 8 years ago and now make it every year, it's become one of our Christmas traditions. Louise will miss out this year as she is in the UK and there is only Steve and myself to get through two big cakes, I'm sure we'll manage :). It is a really rich cake and a bit tricky to do and you really do need a bundt or ring tin or it wont cook in the middle, but well worth the effort. Let me know if you give it a try, you might be like me and end up doing one every year.

Rich Chocolate Fruit Cake

220g dried figs, sliced

140g pitted prunes, halved

180 dried apricots, diced

125g pitted dates, halved

½ cup O.P. rum or Grand marnier

1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped orange zest

3 cups plain flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons bicarb-soda

¾ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

90g good quality dark chocolate

2 cups packed brown sugar

125g butter, room temp

4 eggs

1 cup good quality fruit mince

300g pecan or walnuts

Thoroughly combine the first six ingredients in a bowl, cover tightly and set aside for at least one hour or overnight.

Pre heat oven to 150c.  Butter and flour a 12 cup capacity 28cm bundt tin or a very deep ring tin.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb, salt and cinnamon together and set aside.

Place the chocolate in a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add the sugar and grind together, set aside.

Cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in sugar mixture in three additions (mixture will be grainy).  Add eggs one at a time beating well with each addition.

Stir in one third of the dry and half the fruit mince.  Then add the half of the remaining dry ingredients and the rest of the mince.

Stir the remaining dry ingredients and pecans into the fruit mixture, add this to the batter and mix well.

Spoon batter into prepared tin and bake for 1 ½ hours or until a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs attached.

Cover loosely with foil if the cake browns too quickly.

Remove from oven an allow to cool in the tin for 20mins. Invert onto a rack and leave for a few minutes then gently lift off the tin.  Allow cake to cool completely then brush over with more O.P or grand marnier.

Store in a cool place for up to 3 months

Can be decorated with icing sugar, drizzled with chocolate and choc coated almonds or glace orange slices.