Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nutritious, wonderful soup!

With autumn fast approaching here in New Zealand I have a craving for soup. One of my fondest childhood memories is of drinking cups of Mum's vegetable soup while curled up reading a good book. I can never seem to replicate the taste of her soup but it's good fun to keep trying.

Today I bought a bacon hock and a few extra vegetables and now my house is filled with the wonderful smell of soup which is bubbling away. For those trying to lose weight, eat healthier or save money soup is a wonderful meal. I will be freezing meal-sized portions which will make good lunch fodder for the next week or so. Also, living by myself I love coming home from work and having soup and crusty toast for my dinner.

Today's soup has onion, grated carrot and parsnip, sliced celery, silverbeet, barley and, of course, the bacon hock for flavour. Now I find myself sitting here impatiently waiting for it to ready to eat. Yum! Lunch will be a real treat today.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dastardly Rascal!

Well that rascally Rascal cat turned up on my doorstep tonight looking decidedly worse for wear. I am guessing his wound was itchy so he had managed to rip out most of the stitches!

He is spending a night at the vets tonight and tomorrow will undergo another round of cleaning and stitching and will have a drain put in. The vet has told me he will need to be kept inside for a while and given antibiotics twice a day - that is going to be no fun for Rascal or for me. He hates being cooped inside for more than a few minutes so he will go stir crazy - and I can imagine I won't be getting a lot of sleep. Poor Rascal. I will pick him up from the vet tomorrow afternoon. Fun and games!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Silly cat!

I am a cat-lover (not the mad cat lady my kids make me out to be) and as such have three lovely cats at present. Sam is a large black and white fluffy boy - he is about 6 years old now. He has a lovely nature and is super friendly. Rascal is a tough-looking ginger tom and is probably about 4 years old. I don't see a lot of Rascal. He visits once or twice a week. He hasn't lost any weight so he has either moved in with someone else or he spends his time sneaking through cat doors getting a feed. Rambo is a little tabby who has a tough name but is the wimpiest cat I know. He is about 3 years old and is scared of his own shadow. So those are my boys! Nice of them to choose me I think.

Rascal is the problem child of the moment. He turned up last week with a gaping wound in the side of his neck so I threw him into a cage and headed to the vet. Apparently he had had an abscess which had not been treated and subsequently burst. $350 later and he was all cleaned and stitched up. The biggest challenge will be that he needs to go back and have the stitches removed in two weeks time. What are the chances he will deign to visit? Not good I suspect. Maybe his other family will take him instead!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Art class completed!

Today I went to a Basic Drawing Skills class. Anyway one who knows me would tell you I am a practical, logical person rather than someone who is creative or artistic. I had always written myself off as being totally useless when it came to things like drawing. But I also have a bit of a stubborn streak so decided I should go along and do a class and see whether I could be taught!

The class itself covered off some basic techniques with lots of practising along the way. Some of the first attempts were hilarious! Actually the first exercise was to draw each other without looking at our sketch pads. The results were very Picasso like!

We carried on and learnt about negative space, angles, measuring, shading and all sorts of wonderful things. The picture below was from the last exercise we did which pulled together all of the things we learnt. I reckon it's not bad considering it's my first ever art lesson. :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Garden surprises

I would love to be one of those people who has hours to spend in the garden and therefore be on top of everything that is going on. Sadly, with working full-time and having other priorities, that is not the case for me.

The upside of this is that, now and then, I come across little (or sometimes big) surprises. I had noticed a few things seem to have popped up around my compost bin and had realised there were several tomato plants - not much of a bonus for me as I detest tomatoes!

But today I finally had a bit more of a look and I have a pumpkin plant. Not only do I have a pumpkin plant but I also have pumpkins - at least three from the quick look I had this morning. I can see lots of pumpkin soup and other savoury, autumn dishes. Yum!

From the photos below you can also see I am way behind on weeding. Oops!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The downside of holidays

I guess this is preditable but the only negative I can think of from my holiday in Nelson is the 2 kilos I managed to pile on - pretty good effort for one week I think! I think I can put it down to being totally inactive for a week and drinking gallons of beer every day. :) Generally I get to the gym 6 days a week with a mix of spin classes, thai fit classes and weights. So a week of lazing on the beach and not thinking at all about what I ate and drank has resulted in a bit of unwanted weight going on.

Now I am not upset about it. In fact I loved my holiday and if that's the only "bad" thing to come out of it then so be it. But now that I am back home and busy working I am back into my routine and committed to eating healthily (and not drinking beer!). The upside is a focus on finding (or creating) new recipes. Tonight's dinner is an experiment. I had some cooked chicken (which is nice and spicy) and could have had a chicken salad but that is what I had for lunch. So I decided to get a bit creative.

I felt like having something like a frittata and have thrown together a meal that may produce something like a frittata....... maybe! Basically I have stir-fried some vegetables (onion, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli and mushrooms) and then have put the vegetables into two ramekins (guess what lunch is for tomorrow?). Then I mixed up some eggs, milk, salt, pepper and chunks of blue cheese and poured that over the vegetables. Now it is cooking in the oven. I am not sure whether the result is a frittata (it certainly doesn't match the frittata recipe I would normally follow).

Here is a photo of them cooking - just about ready I think. Apologies for the poor quality photos but I was in a hurry - I'm hungry. :) Yum!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Moulting chooks

The saga with my chooks continues. They are not broody anymore so that is cause for celebration. Instead they (or at least three of them) are moulting - and not laying. Goodness, I never realised it would be so difficult to have a good egg supply. It seemed simple enough - get coop, get chooks, feed and water them, get eggs. But apparently not. They appear pretty happy with life and burble away quite happily when I see them. According to a wonderful forum I found (and the wonderful world of Google) I need to be sure to give them protein so they will grow lots of nice new feathers. Twice a day I am now giving them mash mixed with milk as well as their usual dose of fresh green vegetables. I am hoping this moult thing doesn't take too long as the three or four eggs a week I am getting is pretty pitiful.

My garden continues to provide me with the bulk of my vegetables - lots of zucchinis and sweetcorn. I am usually competing with the chooks to get any silverbeet but put some aside for me every now and then. My chilli and capsicum plants are all growing furiously and have loads of flowers so I am hoping for a good crop off them at some stage. They are in the greenhouse so any change in weather won't affect them too badly. There are plenty of potatoes in the garden - I just dig them up as I need them but pretty soon will probably harvest them all and find a nice dark place to store them.