Zero to Hero: Day 15: Roast Lamb

IMG_1255I am having trouble tonight getting this to work. I don’t know whether it is a problem with the Word Press site or whether my computer has slowed up for some reason and nothing seems to be working before it times out and all this on a night where I wanted things to just flow smoothly.

Changing colours and fonts was our task today. I have already explained that I don’ t like anything other than white because I am old and I just find it too difficult to see on a black background or a busy background or print that is in colours that make it hard for me to make out. Fonts could be helpful to me but only when I want to read so it is you that needs to change your fonts for that. I don’t need to read what I’ve written ’cause I just wrote it. Makes some kind of sense.

Dinner – another roast. This time lamb. It used to be our favourite roast but now I find it a little fatty and it leaves a slightly greasy taste in the mouth. I have to say though, I did enjoy it. The only thing that would make it better would be if Le Chef made a thicker gravy. He likes gravy that is like soup whereas I like them a bit more solid. Something you can stick your peas to and eat with a fork without the gravy dripping through the tines and splashing on your white trogs. I guess that trogs is not a word in common usage as the machine keeps trying to change it to frogs.  Just in case you don’t know – trogs are trousers.

Vegies are actually my favourite part of a roast and I eat them first. Beans I’m not too wild about but sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin and potato I love. Le Chef dry roasts them so that they are not fatty – I have to watch my calories.

Tonight Le Chef was full of the research that he had done on PL Travers since we had come home from seeing the movie  Saving Mr Banks. I am including three reviews to this film done by fellow WP bloggers. Only one had researched before going and knew the truth of things. http://reelgirlreviews.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/saving-mr-banks/

The other two I thought gave good reviews. http://adamfacer.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/saving-mr-banks-review/

http://caughtbetweenthepages.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/movie-review-saving-mr-banks/

Personally I’m glad I didn’t know what was real and not and I thoroughly enjoyed the film, shed a few tears and laughed out loud on occasion. I would have given the film an eight and Le Chef a seven. The exact reverse of what we gave the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Even though Le Chef only gave it a seven he said he was really pleased he’d gone. If you liked Mary Poppins, a very well done child’s life in Australia, or the drama played out between the author and Walt Disney go and see it.

I’m not going to tell you what Le Chef found out because I think it might spoil the movie but I will tell you that P.L.Travers died in 1997 at the age of 96 “loving no-one and with no-one loving her.” I find that so sad. Luckily Le Chef has promised to outlive me so I won’t be in that position and I’ll have some-one to feed me for the rest of my days. Ahhhh…

‘Til dinner………..

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Day 14 Zero to Hero: Baked Rainbow Trout

IMG_1240 IMG_1239Todays assignment was to do anything we wanted to do – well within reason that was. So I did a bit of all three suggestions. I did some reading, some commenting and am now about to reflect. Has the zero to hero been a worthwhile exercise for me? I have nothing to compare it to so I would have to say it probably has been. Certainly the nomination for the Liebster award was very helpful as it did send a lot of traffic my way. I was correct though in saying I thought the number of visitors would go back to pre Liebster levels after a couple of days and that has happened. The only thing that I wanted to do that I haven’t been able to do is put a site visit by country widget into my sidebar. I’d still appreciate any tips. I’d have to say my experience in the last 14 days has been positive although I had no idea how time-consuming being a good blogging citizen is. This is causing Le Chef and I some problems which I will have to make a point of correcting. You see, I try to catch up with the reader whilst he is preparing dinner. For probably the last fourteen days he has had to call me to come for dinner. He has set the table and put the plates out and has often served up. Tonight he said to me “my mother used to get really angry if she had to call me to the table. Now I know why. I’m getting sick of having to call you every night. Why can’t you just come.”

“I don’t know what time dinner is.” I said. This made him even madder. “I’m sorry. I’ll try and do better.”  I said making a mental note to set my computer alarm to go off every night at 6.35 pm. That should help.

Dinner tonight was superb. We hadn’t had a Rainbow Trout in ages and Le Chef had managed to pick up two beautiful specimens which he baked after putting three slits in the skin. Inside these he put grated lemon rind, garlic and a little butter. In the abdominal area he put lemons. He cooked it for around 20mins.

IMG_1243 IMG_1242 IMG_1241This he served with coleslaw and beans and zucchinis which had been part cooked and then fried in garlic and soy sauce. This is one of my favourite ways of eating beans. You can see how much I enjoyed my meal below.

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Can I make you believe I didn’t enjoy it? Only joking – it was my favourite meal this week.

Conversation stayed with the sea and is an area that we disagree on. Our Prime Minister has adopted a policy of not letting the public know what is going on with refugees trying to come to Australia from Indonesia. I believe that he is acting abysmally and violating human rights. I feel for these people being displaced from homes they loved predominantly by war, making treacherous journeys and then being welcomed with less than open arms. I believe with our attitude it is no wonder that there has sprung up a huge divide between refugees and others. Putting them in detention is exacerbating the effect on their mental state as well. I believe we should treat them as we should like to be treated.

Le Chef on the other hand argues that if these people were refugees they would stay at the first safe place they came to and await processing. They would not continue to Indonesia where they then buy  passage on often leaky boats to Australia. The are therefore not refugees but economic migrants and should be treated as they are being treated.

This dichotomy of opinion leads to many heated arguments and we are usually saved from ripping each other’s throats open by the meal ending and time to head to the lounge to watch, yes you’ve guessed it – Judge Judy.

‘Til dinner tomorrow then…….

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Zero to Hero: Day 13: Potato Fish Scones

IMG_1238Todays task was to link and amplify our blogrolls, and attach hover cards  to them. I had opted early in the piece to have a community. A community consists of anybody that comments, likes or follows your blog. Having read the forums I am considering changing this as, presumably, your blog roll is people who you are following and as such are more likely  to reflect your interests. Having just said this I think I’ll go and do it now.

Done. On to dinner.

Tonight we had potato fish scones. These are predominantly mashed potato with a little white fish added and then almost dry fried in a non-stick pan. We have two scones each with only one being served at a time leaving the other on a low heat to increase the hard skin which forms. I know it looks as though it is burnt but the harder it is the better it tastes. To eat you cut them in half and put a dollop of butter on each side and let it melt into the mash. Yummy.

This is the kind of meal we have when we have either been out for lunch and had a large meal or we feel it is time to reign in our eating a bit. On these occasions we might leave out the fish altogether and just have potato scones or instead of white fish use tuna or salmon or smoked cod. Today we had eaten lunch out at a restaurant which we both agreed we wouldn’t go to again. “All smoke and mirrors” Le Chef declared.

Potato scones is also the type of meal that we eat in front of the television. We rarely eat in front of the television because I am not a television watcher and I believe that a family that eats together stays together. The television is not part of the family in my opinion. Conversation is essential to happy in relationships.

Tonight, however, we did eat in front of the television. As predicted there was no conversation except in the advertisements. We watched Judge Judy – we record this daily to watch later in the evening . We have both had some involvement with the legal system (on the right side) and we love debating whether Judge Judy made the right call or not. Tonight I felt she did but Le Chef felt that the defendant had been hard done by. Then we watched the ABC news which has no advertisements so even less conversation. Just a lot of depressing news.

So ’til tomorrow nights dinner…….

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Zero to Hero Day 12: Seafood Pasta

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Day 12. I’m probably going to opt out of today because I feel I did this assignment yesterday and I am really tired today. I did a days unpaid work taking membership money for my local U3A. (University of the Third Age for those too young to know what it stands for.) This is an organisation started in England to give brains desperate for stimulation in retirement a venue to go and learn things it wants to learn with no pressure. No exams that is. The teachers come from within the membership and utilise expertise that they either had in their working life or interests. The pupils are voluntary and the workers are voluntary. In the years since my retirement I have learnt French, numerous psychology course, history, acting, art history and, tai chi to name but a few. It wasn’t hard work today but anything sedentary puts me to sleep so I am weary.

Tonight for dinner Le Chef made a seafood pasta. The pasta was fettucine. My favourite is Angel Hair Spaghetti (capellini) but I wouldn’t complain to Le Chef about that. The pasta sauce had prawns, white fish, calamari, parsley, capsicum and octopus and goodness knows what else. He’s not looking at this blog so I’ll be honest and say it was not the best he has done. We had the same dish over Christmas and it was just delicious but something was different and this one not quite as good. Mind you, still better than anything I could dish up and done in a quarter the time it would take me to do it and done with a lot less washing up. If I were to cook I would use every pot and pan in the place.

Most of our conversation tonight revolved around the post-mortems of a couple of Australians that died in Bali. It has Le Chef fascinated as the cause of death is queried to come from food poisoning and he can’t get his head around the speed at which the deaths took place. He is convinced there is more to it than that. I think that possibly they ate a poisonous fish and the toxins killed them. That could probably happen quickly. Food poisoning, although a possibility, we agree seems unlikely as surely there would have been some gastric symptoms where there didn’t appear to be any. Another possibility is food allergy. Anyway this is all a bit depressing so I’m not going to ramble on.

On a brighter note Le Chef believes he has cracked the secret to his golf game. His hero is somebody Hogan who always played with a firm grip. A firm grip I am told is really a weak grip. Hogan apparently was the only man who could use this grip and get his hand in front of the something without closing his club face. Le Chef has worked out how to do it. Make any sense to you? I gave up listening about angles, stances, elbow position and club faces many years ago. The same as he stopped listening about heel turns, kick ball changes and feathers. I guess that happens in all marriages.

See you at dinner tomorrow? ‘Til then…

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Zero to Hero: Day 11: Oysters and Pizza

IMG_1219Day 11 was a day we had to comment on other posts. I successfully carried out this assignment although my comments on the whole were a bit mundane.  I haven’t quite got the conversation bit quite right yet. I can answer comments I get but, thinking up appropriate words to comment on some incredibly good posts I feel quite inadequate. On to dinner.

As you can see above Le Chef went down to the storm water drain with a chisel and hammer and prised some poor creatures off the wall. I tell him before he goes  (he does this quite often) “It’s a storm water drain. You don’t know what shit goes down there. You’ll get sick. You could die.” All I succeed in doing is make him cranky and he goes anyway. Luckily I cannot stand oysters. The sensation reminds me of a post nasal drip and I can’t get past it. Anyway I won’t die when oysters are on the menu because I don’t eat them. So far Le Chef hasn’t died either which is also good because if he did I’d have to start cooking myself and I’d have to change my blog.

Main course tonight was pizza and a pear salad. A comment from permaculturalist Kathy E Quinn who is found at   http://prattvillepermaculture.wordpress.com

Her post on Climate Change Fact or Fiction is well worth a read. In a comment made to me her family had pizza made from some fantastic ingredients which had my mouth-watering so I put in a request to Le Chef.  Lucky for me he complied.

IMG_1221Ours was predominantly tomato and cheese and various herbs with a small amount of chorizo. It was yummy. To go with it we had a salad which had green leaves, pears, feta and some delicious dressing.IMG_1220

Conversation was almost exclusively around the film we had seen in the afternoon. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” For some reviews try

http://juliejnichols.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/and-so-it-begins/

and/or

http://reelgirlreviews.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/walter-mitty/

We both enjoyed it. Le Chef really loved it. At times I struggled not to go to sleep but this is a problem I have whenever I sit. I rarely watch television for this reason as I am usually asleep before the credits are over. Le Chef is a romantic and the romance in Walter Mitty he thought quite beautiful. The skate-board riding was phenomenal. The scenery fantastic.  I have been to Greenland and Iceland and it was great revisiting these two places. The casting was good. Ben Stiller played a very credible WM. I found it very humorous in parts, particular the phone calls between WM and the chap from the internet dating service. Best of all was the choice of music, which included many Jose Gonzalez songs such as Step Out, Stay Alive and Dream., Grace Mitchell’s Maneater, David Bowie’s Space Oddity to name but a few. If you haven’t seen it we think it’s worth seeing.

Well ’til dinner tomorrow…….

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Zero to Hero Day 10: Glazed chicken

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Today has been one of those days. Firstly with my widgets  – I had already added the widgets that they suggested. There was no point adding a twitter or instagram widget as I have neither of these. What I would like to add that I have seen on some posts is a view by country widget. I have tried and tried and just can’t get it there. Can someone help? Any suggestions welcomed.

Tonight’s dinner was superb. My girlfriend had given me a jar of “festive glaze” for Christmas saying  “Le Chef’ll know what to do with it.” He sure did know and this was the result. The chicken may have looked black but it was the glaze that gave it the colour. The white mushy stuff is bread sauce. Le Chef originates from the UK and this is a normal accompaniment to chicken where he comes from where we would normally have stuffing. I have to say it goes really well with the white meat and I have grown to love it. I also love all the veggies that come with a roast. The colours are vibrant and I find that adds to my enjoyment. Once again the potatoes were just wonderful.

Another part of the assignment for today is to do a short post. As most of our conversation tonight was mundane to say the least I shall relate the one item that had Le Chef’s belly wobbling up and down as he laughed his highly infectious laugh. It was over the sad, frightening incident of the Perth bush fires where many had lost homes and one person to date their life. This was not at all funny and for those involved I imagine terrifying and our thoughts went out to them.

There was however a residential area which had been fully evacuated apart from approximately 50 people who had refused to leave their homes. They are classified as being in a hot spot and are still being urged to leave. The emergency services man doing the rounds of this area was interviewed and said “we have been giving them moral support. They are starting to feel lonely ………” At this image Le Chef could not stop laughing. “They are starting to feel lonely” he repeated laughing even harder. “Lonely” was not an emotion he envisaged these people were feeling as they fought for their lives and their houses.

See you at dinner tomorrow?

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Zero to Hero: Day 9: Lasagne with peas and corn

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Day 9 zero to hero had us socialising again. I visited and followed several blogs as instructed and am wondering whether Le Chef is going to feel neglected as I read everyone’s posts. He is not used to having  to call me to set the table and put out the plates. Usually I am aware of where he is up to and appear out of thin air to play my small part in the meal. Not so the last three nights.

You have seen this meal before. I pictured it in the question “what is my favourite foods?” which I answered for the Liebster award. I can tell you this award has done amazing things to the number of views I received today. So far it has hit 66 from a low of 3 a week ago. I sure hope depression doesn’t kick in tomorrow when my visits will probably return to pre Liebster award levels.

Back to the meal. You’ve probably guessed it was lasagna. Le Chef cheated with this one. He purchased a ready-made lasagna from the supermarket and then pulled it to bits. Added his own sauce which had lots of tomato, basil, capsicum, onion and garlic and goodness knows what else  (plus a minute amount of ground beef) and then he reconstructed it. No-one would have been able to tell and it didn’t taste shop bought I can tell you. It was delicious. Served with one of those delectable potatoes I raved about the other night and a few peas and sweet corn the meal was complete. Totally yummy.

Tonight we talked art. We both enjoy looking at works of art although neither of us paint or do anything arty. We eventually came to a point in the conversation where we were deliberating on why  US artists had such different early art to Australian artists. The US was settled somewhere around 1607 and Australia in 1778 and the settlers both came from the same background so it would be fair to think that there would be some parallels. However, the art was quite different.

Le Chef put forward that it was due to religious and geographical differences. His argument was along these lines:- Australia early population were convicts and the army, many of whom then became free settlers. These convicts had a huge array of expertise and the army were given watercolour classes and encouraged to paint what they saw. There were no cameras and as a record of the landscape and animals needed by the authorities in Britain,  the First Fleet included art teachers. In Australia the population remained small, starting at around 2,000 people in 1800 and swelling to 10,000 people by 1811. The US on the other hand started as free settlers at Jamestown and the population grew rapidly. In 1790 it was 3.5 million, 5.5 million by 1800 and 7.5 million by 1811.

There were huge physical differences between the countries. Australia had no river  systems and no real mountains where in the US there were mountain ranges on both sides of the country and a fantastic system of rivers.  The US started with a British class system and had African slaves. Neither of these existed in Australia.  In the US no artists came with the free settlers with the first artist being John Smybert , a scot who did Rococco style portraits.

Due to the religious beliefs of the Puritans paintings did not happen as they did not believe in graven images. The indigenous population was almost wiped out and went from 72,000 people to 200 in 10 years due to Smallpox. By 1860 the North was well established and Harvard had opened 1836.

The Quakers settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Again there were no artists but they were great business people. They lived a simple, plain life – quilting and simple furniture. Also arriving in Pennsylvania were Dutch Germans recruited by Penn who had travelled extensively attracting settlers. Sadly no-one liked them and it was four generations before they spoke English.

Then there were the Amish somewhere around 1737. They were an offshoot of the Swiss group Anabaptist. They believed in the separation of the church and state. Old is best, new is the devil. They didn’t believe in graven images which was how they classified paintings, therefore there were no artists. Their art was their quilts.

As a result the early artists in the State such as Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley were predominantly self-taught as there were no professional artists. The only teachers of art were a few fellows (not really artists) who had come from England to teach young ladies.

Australia on the other hand had quite a number of artists as they had been sent out to record what they saw and send it back to England. As free settlers many of these artists set up art schools and art took off early in Australia’s history.

I think Le Chef is probably quite right about why the differences occurred in the early days of each country but nevertheless there have been some absolutely fabulous artists from both countries such as James Whistler (US), John Singer Sargent (US), Grant Wood (US), Norman Lindsay (Aust), Albert Tucker (Aust), Ethel Carrick Fox (Aust) and one of my favourites Georgia O’Keefe (US).

I can’t wait for tomorrow night’s dinner.

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