the postman only comes once

The postman brings out one’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder tendencies.

Unlike the garbage collection man, the postman runs to his own watch. He might be passing through in the morning but most likely it will end up being after lunch. Sometimes it’s closer to 3pm. And he will only come once. Much to the distress of the house-bound, mail-gathering, expectant, online-shopping 21st centurian. (I know that’s not a word, but I’m making it one.)

We are becoming so used to the immediacy of the internet to communicate. To share. To chat. To buy. The internet brings us mail at all times of day and night. I’m not dissing the postie here. I appreciate the day in day out consistency of the mail service. At times I’m also genuinely concerned for his safety.

His, or her for that matter, little bike is ideal for riding the footpath. Hopping the gutter. Skidding out on the lawn by the verge. In fact, the postie is the grown up professional equivalent of a skateboarding hoodlum. With that fluoro all-weather outfit, backpack full of other peoples stuff and his ‘go anywhere’ attitude.

But I fear for the poor postie’s life when he hits the highway! I mean, really, that thing barely goes more than 50 km per hour. He’s playing with fire. The world is rushing past and he’s there, hanging on for dear life. Flat stick, metal to the floor. He’s giving it all he’s got. He’s more exposed out there than a bug in the lights of a lorrie!

Our generation could be the last to experience the postie in all his fluoro glory. We may be the last to look through the window, expectantly, repeatedly. We may be last to witness his (or her) gutter jumping aerial manoeuvres. Take note, fellow online-shopping postal service watchers, as we witness the transformation of the letter delivering postie into The Package Delivery Man.

Postscript:
I’m quite fond of skateboarders and don’t really think they are all hoodlums that have other people’s stuff. In fact, I’ve found, aside from all their gutter jumping, they are actually some of our societies most grounded people. Perhaps it’s got to do with the frequency at which they come in contact with it.

postman

image: http://www.abc.net.au/rural/content/2011/s3342254.htm

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all in the name of research

I would hate you to think that I’m not constantly working hard to research and perfect drinks for you. Here’s a selection of photos of cocktails I have been working on.

caprikosca vodka

Caipiroska
This never made it out of draft. This is what I wrote about it at the time.

So no one is driving after one of these, got it?! … serves 2 giggling gerties. You could halve quantities and serve in a martini glass if you’re wanting moderation.

120 ml vodka (that’s double shots/ 60 ml per person)
2 limes (juice of 1 ½, the quarter the last half, squeeze a bit into the glass and throw the chunks into the bottom of the glass – for show)
10-15 mint leaves (keep 2 for garnish)
2 tsp white sugar
1 tsp raw sugar
ice

Muddle lime, sugar, mint and vodka (I used my wooden citrus juicer to muddle)
Fill two glasses with ice and pour the muddled mix over the ice.
Dress it up with mint and lime rinds.

But it wasn’t very nice.

lemon cocktail

I have no idea what this is. Miscellanious lemon thing?! (with strange shadows)… Despite its watery appearance, it was obviously quite potent.

champagne cocktail

Champagne Cocktail
I know what this is… it’s sugar, bitters, Grand Marnier and champagne. I even layered it nicely but the photo is terrible. So it didn’t make the cut. Plus it was the last of the Grand Marnier until the next duty-free shopping, so there’s no opportunities to get a better shot.

cocktail with lemon rind

… No idea what this is either … but obviously the lemon rind was very important.

potato waffles

This is another of my Oma inspired recipes. I’ve had to recreate it based on how I think she would have made her potato waffles. I think this comes pretty close, with a little bit of my style mixed in.

potato waffle1 large potato, peeled, grated finely
¼ onion, grated finely
2 small eggs, separated
⅓ cup milk
½ cup self raising flour
pinch salt
butter to brush

grated potato and oniontoppers:
smoked salmon
2 tbsp cream cheese, softened and 4 tbsp greek yoghurt, combined
capers and/or chives (chive flowers pictured)
a poached egg (optional)

Grate the potato and onion on the finer side of the grater.
Squeeze out the excess liquid from potato.
Combine the grated potato, onion, egg yolk and milk in a bowl.
Add salt and four and mix well.
In a separate bowl, beat the whites to fluffy peaks.
Fold the whites into the batter.
Now you’re ready to cook in batches in a hot waffle iron brushed with butter.

This made 4 waffles.

potato waffle with smoked salmon, yoghurt cream and chives

sleep when you’re dead: another cup of joe?

Coffee sleep when you're deadCoffee. It’s one of our favourite legal drugs. That and alcohol*. We all have our favourite cup of joe. And a language that goes with it. Flat white, skinny cap, decaf latte, soy, in a mug, in a shot, sugar, honey, lemon… It’s as personal as your fingerprint.

Here’s how I drink coffee:
At home. Strong espresso, some evaporated milk, sugar then heat it in the microwave until just below “f**k that’s hot!” (that’s an official temperature).

At my desk, non-descript, however my mouth did say “a flat white, please”. Purchased from the human equivalent of a coffee vending machine. Cold, bitter and reheated too many times to bother doing it again.

At home. With play-dough stuck to the side of the cup. It started out with such potential, now it’s giving up. Defeated and reheated too many times to bother doing it again.

At home. A shot in a small glass. It’s late and dark. The creme is bitter on my lips. It reminds me that I’m alive. I look like a vampire caught in the act. Wide eyed and wild.

In a cafe. One where they roast their own coffee beans. It’s fair trade, it’s hot, it’s smooth. It doesn’t need sugar. It’s bold and defiant. It reminds me that my life is nothing without good coffee. I want to have another one.

Coffee Plantation Brazil

*I put cigarettes in another category: Marketing devil spawn. Or is it third world population control. Or is it both.

images: Coffee Plantation, Brazil, http://en.wikipedia.org 
Sleep when you’re dead, http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com

strawberry cobbler

60 ml dry vermouth
¼ lime, juiced (or ½ if its not very juicy and you like lime… you know me, I’d just use the half and save myself struggling with a tiny wedge)
1 tsp caster sugar (or 2 if you like a sweeter drink)
5 strawberries
ice and mint to serve

Combine all but ice and garnish.
I started out muddling this mix, in proper cocktail fashion, but it was tedious, slow and messy so I ended up using my hand blender on it. Much better. And ready in seconds.
Then pour over ice and garnish.

Strawberry cobbler cocktail

the things I need a man for

My house is temporarily man-free. I’m realising that I need a man for the following household activities:

– Opening glass jars. However, I’m sure that those plastic contraptions that aid opening stuff would have cheaper running costs.

– Re-attaching the soft-close device on cupboard doors when they fall off. I seem to have absolutely no comprehension about how they attach – no mater how hard I push them. But somehow I managed to bump them off all the time. Then I don’t remember which doors do and which don’t. Since being on my own, the kitchen has become a game of banging door roulette. The longer I am man-free the more doors are banging. I can’t change my habit. I’ve become reliant on the soft-close device.

– Oiling door hinges. I guess I could do this. I just don’t want to do it wrong. There’s something about how powder is better than grease for this, or is it that grease is better than powder? Or doesn’t it matter at all? Instead I continue with my ritual of slowly and silently turning the handle, then wrenching the door open at blur speed to avoid the elongated squeak.

– Washing up… when will it end?! … Ok, so that’s not technically a need either, it’s more like a down on my knees beg for washing up mercy. I’m contemplating giving up eating.

… There seems to be a pattern emerging, perhaps if I live in a house without doors and eat out of a tin my problems would be solved… ?

– Not for mowing the lawn, putting fuel in the mower or even getting it out of the shed, but for starting the dang thing. I loath the way the mower humiliates me. I pull that cord 20 times as the mower splutters and stops, splutters and stops, splutters … There’s absolutely no way that I’m talking it in for a service. That would involve putting it in the car (the other man task of lawn mowing). And yes, I do have the choke on, thank you.

– For cleaning up kid pukes. I can do poo-nappies but I cannot do chuck. (Thankfully this hasn’t happened yet but kids are so volatile, I’m anxious about it already)

– And of course, to check under the bed.

Have I forgotten anything?

Roy Lichtenstein, Thinking of Him

image: Roy Lichtenstein, Thinking of him

barely summer: the cocktail

There’s a chance I had an original thought!

I mixed this drink the other day, in homage to summer, and after a few minutes spent on internet research, I’m almost positive that it hasn’t been made before. Wow. And cool. And refreshing. So I named it!

It took me ages to come up with that name so please try not to be too critical. It seemed appropriate for obvious reasons, plus, we barley had a summer this year… I tried to use “passion” in the title but it just sounded naff… regardless of what it’s called, I recommend you try it, particularly if you like things fruity but not too sweet.

Into a tumbler full of ice add the following in this order:
squeeze the contents of 2 passion fruits
30 ml vodka
15 ml cointreau
60 – 90 ml ruby grapefruit juice (pour steadily into the centre so that it neatly sinks and creates a layer)
garnish with mint and a swizzle stick

It needs to be stirred once everyone is done with the “ooh look, it’s two tone!” moment. Plus you can use your stick to pick the passion fruit pulp from the bottom of the glass while casually chatting with friends.

barely summer passionfruit cocktail

not just mushrooms on toast

I love the earthiness of mushrooms. Especially the brown ones. They taste like a forest. If I close my eyes, I’m somewhere else. While I’m not keen on the hallucinogenic kind, nor the kind that kill you. I’m very fond of the table varieties. Eating these mushrooms feels as soul nurturing as a bush walk on a crisp and clear Autumn morning (but with less exertion).

mushroom and egg on toastMushrooms on toast #1
sourdough bread, toasted
parmesan cheese, finely grated
butter
olive oil
parsley, chopped
thyme, chopped
swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
salt
black pepper
egg, poached (I had 2 eggs because this was actually my dinner)
½ clove garlic, crushed (garlic is optional. Either add to the frying mushrooms or rub it on the toast if you want a sharper flavour)

Fry the mushrooms in butter and oil, add parsley and thyme.
Sprinkle the parmesan on the toast, top with mushrooms.
Place poached egg on top and finish with salt, pepper and a parsley garnish.

mushroom and goat cheese on toast

Mushrooms on toast #2
sourdough bread, toasted
goat cheese curd (a smooth creamy goat cheese)
olive oil
swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
salt
black pepper
parsley, chopped

Fry the mushrooms in a little oil.
Spread the goats cheese on the toast, sprinkle with salt.
Top with mushrooms.
Finish with pepper and parsley.

sweet chilli chicken with sweet potato chips and salad

sweet chilli chicken with sweet potato chips and salad

This is a quick and healthy weeknight dinner that doesn’t skimp on the yum-factor.

sweet chilli chicken:
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp olive oil
Chicken breast, chopped into thirds (just so it will cook consistently and quicker)

Combine all of the above, except the chicken, in an oven dish and give it a mix.
Now throw the chicken in and turn it about to coat the chicken pieces. Give the chicken bits a bit of space in the dish for heat to circulate.
Bake at 180 c for about 20 – 30 minutes.

Check your thickest piece of chicken to make sure its cooked. I cook the bejeebers out of chicken. The good thing about this meal is that over cooking the chicken just makes the yummy sauce coating more chewy and caramelised.

Tip: Soak your baking dish. I’ve tried making this in an oven bag and it works but you don’t get the caramelisation. It becomes much more saucy, more suitable to serve with rice.

sweet potato chips:
Slice a sweet potato thinly, using a mandolin if you have one.
On an oven tray, lie the slices in a single layer on a sheet of baking paper.
Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.
Bake at 180 c for about 10 minutes or until golden and the desired crispness.
They would probably be better if you turn them over part way through cooking but I never bother.

side salad:
mixed lettuce leaves
tomato
aged balsamic

sweet chilli chicken sweet potato chips salad

vodka bitter lemon

I don’t know about you, but I need a drink… and I can guess what you’re thinking, that just looks like water. Well it’s not! But it does go down like water while watching a hot afternoon turn to evening.

30 ml vodka
15 ml bitter lemon cordial
tonic water
ice

vodka bitter lemon