Monday, August 31, 2009

No. 43 - Try 50 New Recipes (10/50)

Had some leftover egg white and decided to make some meringues. I've never tried it out before because of the fear of weeping meringues. However, they turned out perfectly. Also gave me a chance to break in my new piping tip.

Particularly love the hooked tip of the meringues.

Meringue recipe can be found here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


The sun was out the sky was blue - the only thing to be done was to enjoy life.

Yes, we are dentists who are very serious about our jobs.

Sugar Flowers

I've always wanted to get better at cake decorating but was majorly put off by the amount of tools and kits I needed to get. I figured it wasn't worth it - I'd probably make each item only once and never again - totally not worth the investment.

However, one of the dental assistants at my practice has graciously lent me her cake decorating kit! Dashed off to the library and came home armed with books.

Then it was pretty much time to get down to work.

Its extremely time consuming and mess producing. First, you have to make the sugar paste - unless you choose to take a shortcut. Seeing I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere and can't buy ready made sugar paste even if I wanted to, I made it from scratch. It requires sifting the icing sugar 3 times.

For my first batch I pretty much said stuff that, I'm going to just not sift it at all.

Bad idea. If the recipe says sift your sugar 3 times - sift it 3 times!!

Once you have your sugarpaste mix, it's time to roll a tiny bit out with a small rolling pin. How thin? Until you can see the pattern of the board you're working on.

Then cut out the petal with the appropriate cutter and start snipping in additional cuts for frills. Once done, it's time to frill the edges with a cocktail stick and then attach it onto a wire.

That's one petal done. After that one has to leave it to dry overnight and start the process all over again for the subsequent petals. I told you it was time consuming.

Here are all my flowers, hanging to dry. Still white.

Edible chalk for coloring flowers. Also had small pots of shimmer dust.

The finish products. Once all the petals are on, I dusted them with shimmer dust and painted the leaves green with green shimmer dust mixed with some gin. Yes - gin. Bombay Sapphire to be precise. Can also swap for any clear high alcohol content liquid e.g. vodka.

These flowers are designated to adorn future projects, which I have yet to get onto. I would love to learn how to make more complex flowers e.g. orchids, roses in full bloom, sweet peas etc but there's so many other things I want to learn. Maybe some other day I will revisit the art of sugar flowers.

Thus ends my dabble into sugar paste modeling. Until next time.

Sugar Paste Recipe

250g pure icing sugar (sifted 3 times)
2 level teaspoons fine gelatine
1 round teaspoon liquid glucose
30ml water

Place water into a double boiler. Sprinkle gelatine onto the water in bowl. When gelatine has dissolved add glucose and stir until dissolves. Remove bowl from heat and add icing sugar a spoonful at a time into the mixture until it comes together.

Store in fridge, in a plastic bag placed in an airtight container.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

No. 43 - Try 50 New Recipes (9/50)

After eating creme brulee at Raffety's, I decided that I should attempt to make one of my own at home.

The baking of it wasn't a problem - got it done very quickly and easily. It was the caramel on the top that was the tricky part.

Pictures show the progression from uncaramelized to the final product. All 3 of us in the house had a crack at it, with varying results.

Tip- Don't put too much sugar on - it's not necessary. A light dusting will suffice.

Recipe from here.
Felt hungry and started cooking lunch. Turns out it's only 10.30am and I'm eating fried rice in front of the computer, thinking about the next project to embark on.

Pretty Little Things

My housemate went back to Sydney and came back with these for us.

Aren't they lovely? My efforts in the kitchen pale in comparison with these.

Friday, August 28, 2009

No. 44 - Eat At 50 New Eateries (16/50)

Went out for dinner at Raffety's, which happens to be one of the better places to eat in Benalla. Apparently we've been going to all the wrong places all the while.

Everything was excellent except the rhubarb crumble - I've concluded I don't like rhubarb. Creme brulee was excellent, so much so it inspired me to head home and attempt to recreate its goodness. Will blog about said attempt.

No. 48 - Get White Bedsheets

Have splurged on 1000-count sateen weave white egyptian cotton bedsheets and they are amazing. Am also pleased because now I have a full white load to do in the wash instead of having to keep waiting for more white stuff to be washed.

It's an upgrade from my previous 450 count sheets and the difference is significant.

Totally worth the money and would recommend everyone to buy the best bedsheets they can afford. After all, one spends 1/3 of one's life in bed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

This Is Where I Belong

Wrought iron fence, long tree-lined driveway, fountain with formal gardens in front of the residence - I could not have built my dream home better than that.

Except it's not actually a home - it's a winery. And places like this are not built - they grow.

Bedtime Reading

Every night before I go to bed I take a recipe book and decide what's the next thing I"m going to cook.

Sometimes I feel like there's too many things to try out and too little time. Actually, most of the time. And the fact that there's only 3 of us in the house - when I'm really in the mood there's not enough space in the fridge to accommodate my frenzy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spring is Coming!!

Blue skies, sunshine and trees starting to put out their buds.

Waiting for the weather to warm up.

My Hyacinth

My hyacinth has been transported out from the depths of the cupboard under the sink to the confines of my room.

It's starting to turn green and I keep checking to see if it's growing. It's taking forever.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

White Frontignac

Went wine tasting. The winery was really nice - love the barrels!

Me: Mmm, I really like this one.
Housemate: Me too! Shall we get two bottles instead of our usual one?
Me: Two? But there's so many other wineries, seems silly to put all our eggs in one basket.

In the end we bought 6. In my defense, it was good value!

Milton: Did someone say chicken mince?? Did they?!?
Me: We said that so that you'd look at the camera.
Milton: Did someone say chicken mince??

He's not the brightest coin in the mint, but I love him so much. Love this photo too - probably one of my favourite shots of him.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Morning Frost

I never understood the meaning of 'frost' when I was growing up. The way I never understood why guys in movies would give girls their coats when they walked out of a building at night. But now, I can fully understand the concept of bitter, bitter cold.

Waiting impatiently for spring.

No. 44 - Eat At 50 New Eateries (15/50)

Was in Rutherglen during the weekend. Very quaint little town.

While we were there, we went to the famous Parker Pies Bakehouse.

Their pies were excellent - totally worth the visit. Coffee left much to be desired, however.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Change Of Philosophy

For a long time I was a dreamer. It got me nowhere.

It's all very well to dream, but to see results - one has to do it. Such was my friend's sage advice. Very true.

May have to commission a plaque that says 'do it' and become a doer instead.

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things...

A trip down to Melbourne these days is strictly business. Go down with a list, tick off everything and come back.

The only thing that I didn't manage to do was visit the bank. For some reason the the only branch that opens on Saturday mornings has closed down. Might have to switch to a bank that actually has a branch in Benalla to save me the trouble from now on.

Anyway, my housemate splurged on a portrait lense for her camera and we played with it for the rest of the night. Here are my spoils, photographed with her new toy.

Clockwise from top

1. Crystal shot glasses. I have grand plans for these - they'll very likely be featured heavily in the future.
2. A digital weighing scale, a new piping tip and a stacking mold.
3. Funnels. What for? Funneling, naturally.

Pretty satisfied.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Last night I woke up to the sound of deep rumbling.

Then I thought to myself - well thats' impossible - I'm the only one in the room!

Then I realized who it was. Milton. Snoring. Very loudly. Had to give him a few prods to get him to stop.

It's getting slightly out of hand.

No. 44 - Eat At 50 New Eateries (14/50)

Somewhere up in Mount Buller, we sat in this cafe in our attempt to stay away from the bitter, bitter cold.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might...

There was a fountain in one of the wineries that we visited in Rutherglen. Had to make a wish. One of those things that one does when one is a tourist.

After much thought and indecision and careful wording of my wish (after all, one must be careful when one makes wishes - it might actually come true!), I threw my coin into the fountain.

Will blog about it if it actually comes to pass.

No. 37 - Learn How To Use A Coffee Machine

Got one of the nurses at the surgery to teach me how to froth milk and run a coffee machine. Managed to do it all by myself today!!

Very pleased.

640 Swanston Street

When I moved into Uropa after my hellish year with a psychotic housemate, it was like a breath of fresh air. Finally, I had a housemate who didn't go around stealing towels and swapping toothbrushes.

In the pantry was a box of couscous. It stayed there until the end of our stay. When I packed up, I decided to bring it up to Benalla. Was clearing out the pantry today (yes, I clear out the pantry awfully often) and noticed the expiry date:

Thus ends the journey of that box of couscous.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Step One - Get A Thermometer

If one wants to temper chocolate, one should have a thermometer. Because accurate measurements are essential.

Alright. Part One done, will blog about part two - actually tempering chocolate.

No. 43 - Try 50 New Recipes (8/50)

Belated photo of the Japanese cheesecake that I baked last weekend. Turned out really well, even if I do say so myself. Lots of patience involved though - don't attempt it unless you have a good 3 hours to devote to it.

Recipe from here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I confess that I have a weakness. Well, several weaknesses. But one of them is doing personality tests, reading horoscopes, checking my numerology number and all other similar things along those lines. It's true. I like reading how my day is possibly going to turn out and how I'm such-and-such because I was born when Saturn crossed paths with Jupiter or something or other. One of my biggest guilty pleasures.

Anyway, one of my particular favourite pet personality tests is the one at I personally find it extremely accurate. To test it, I have taken that test every single time after a huge event has occured. And you know what? It will spell out exactly how I feel about it, what the problem actually is and how I'm reacting to it. Magic, I say. Magic.

Other friends have had less success with it. Perhaps I'm just reading what I want to read - you know, fitting in my life into what it says. But hey - here's a perfect example. I went to Ikea and wasn't happy with the quality of products that I bought. Did the Colorquiz and what was the first sentence it said?

"Dislikes all things cheap and tacky".

I mean, really. What was the likelihood of that??

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dry White Wine

When I decided that I was moving to the country, naturally we had to seek accommodation. There were 3 houses to pick from.

One was in terrible condition - out of the question.

One had dark floorboards, a walk in wardobe and pantry, but had only one carport.

Then we came to the house that I currently live in today. It didn't have anything out of ordinary, but everything was pretty clean and new and good. We walked into the informal lounge room and saw a bar table.

Housemate: O.m.g. is this going to come with the house??
Owner: No, it's ours... we'll be moving it when we leave.

2 months later, I was pleasantly surprised when I moved in - the owner knew how much my housemate liked it and decided to leave it for us!

Yes, that's the amount of alcohol in our house. In our defense, we don't drink every day. In fact, we only have a polite cocktail or glass of wine every week or so. However, this is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about dry white wine and cooking.

My housemates have said that there's been a definite increase in the quality of food that I've been churning out daily. I can only think of several things that may have attributed to this change:

1. I'm just naturally getting better. I mean really, when one cooks every day surely one gets proficient? Eventually?
2. My Le Creuset pot is a magical pot - nothing bad can come out of it.
3. Dry white wine. Really makes a difference to creamy sauces.
4. When I'm stressed, I read tons of food blogs and recipes to keep my mind off things. So I guess knowing the theory helps the practical side of things.
5. My Le Creuset pot is a magical pot.

The end.

No. 44 - Eat At 50 New Eateries (13/50)

Visited the Benalla Art Gallery a couple of weekends ago. It overlooks the lake and has probably the best selection of cakes available in the entire town.

Kangaroo meat and a cookies and cream cheesecake. First time I ever tried kangaroo. Tastes like sour lamb.

Monday, August 17, 2009

So there's a lemon cheesecake sitting in the fridge, setting away. Very impatient but must exercise self restraint.

Also, there's leftover stew, tons of wonton wrappers waiting to be made into dumplings and more plans.

Things I intend to cook in the near future include:

1. Macaroons
2. Baileys Cream Cups
3. Some sort of layered cake
4. Panna cotta
5. Chicken and leek pie
6. Cheese fondue
7. Carbonara pasta

Am also developing a sudden interest in the art of tempering chocolate. Should have learned it ages ago but I keep putting it off because I don't have a good thermometer. Guess I should put that onto the wish list.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Decided today was the day to complete my Avanti canister collection, only to discover that it's out of stock!! It was in stock just 3 days before. Now I have to wait for them to restock it.

Moral of the story? Stop procrastinating and just get it when it's there. Stop thinking just do it!!

Living a day of regret now.

The Pantry Cleanout

Decided to do a audit on what's in the pantry and fridge and realized that we have way too many unused ingredients.

Which kinda means today I woke up at 9.30am and proceeded to put some pork spare ribs into my beloved pot and start braising them. Then I decided to use up some stray egg whites in the house and make a batch of meringues (currently still in the oven, how long does it take to dry out?!). Then found some raspberry drops and decided I should make some rocky road out of it. Ohh, and there's some white wine still hanging around - should make a chicken and leek pie.

Too many plans, too small a fridge to accommodate everything. What to do what to do...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

No. 26 - Do Something Spontaneous

Was in Rutherglen and saw this in one of the shops. I usually take a long time to make up my mind when it comes to buying things but for this one, I pretty much made it up instantly. After all, one must be spontaneous once in a while.

I don't throw tantrums though. Instead, I mull over it for a few months and finally decide yes - I will get it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

No. 59 - Get A Le Creuset Pot

Le Creuset pots were 40% off and it was time to squander some hard-earned money on another frivolous item for the kitchen.

Immediately set to work on a chicken and mushroom risotto (7/50). Turned out great. Is it the pot or my fabulous cooking skills? I don't know.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Friday tomorrow. I love Fridays, because it means the weekend is finally coming.

Fully intending to try out a few new recipes and kick back and relax. If Milton is lucky, I might even muster up the energy and motivation to take him on a big walk.

This week has been extremely exhausting. Made massive headway into my 101 list, but it comes at a price. Should learn how to pace myself instead of doing too many things at the same time. I guess I felt I was on a roll and decided to just kill as many birds with one stone as possible.

No. 44 - Eat At 50 New Eateries (12/50)

Went to Albury to visit a childhood friend who was placed in Albury Hospital for his rural rotation. Decided to go to Green Zebra (quite an odd name for a restaurant, in my humble opinion).

Albury is quite a quaint little town and it was nice catching up with someone from home. Food was pretty interesting as well - I had ravioli stuffed with sweet potato and pumpkin. Yum.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Been Bejeweled Blitzing a lot. It has taught me something about life.

Sometimes you keep focusing on the same old small corner of the screen, plodding away, getting plain 3 in a rows - when if you could just pause for a second and look at the entire screen, you'd realize that somewhere else there's a 5 in a row just waiting to be found, bringing you into the realm of double, triple, quadruple and even quintuple scoring.

So step back, breathe and reassess.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I dreamt that I was driving a car that was going in reverse and I couldn't brake. Was forced to do some crazy steering and ended up crashing with another car.

Possibly suggesting that I'm stuck in the same rut. Need to get out of it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Busy Busy

I've been very busy.

On top of full time work, I've been:

1. Playing Bejeweled Blitz.
2. Reading the Twilight series - finally finished it. Slightly anti-climatic to be honest.
3. Reading other books I borrowed from the library.
4. Eating my well stocked store of junk food.
5. Watching various things on tv.
6. Talking to Milton.
7. Planning more weekend trips and the like.
8. Cooking.

Not enough hours in a day, I say!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Just spent half the night looking for the blade that goes with my food processor.

Needed my food processor because I wanted to grind down coarse table sugar down to caster sugar.

Searched the entire kitchen from top to bottom 4.5 times until finally I decided to look through my cookie cutter box a little more thoroughly and there it was.

Why was it doing in there? I have no idea. Either I put it in there in one of my 'Let's put this in a safe place' moments or it wanted a break and went there to hide.

Safe places. I've put so many things in these so called safe places only to forget where I put them, because it was in such a safe place I couldn't remember where it was. It's a very annoying habit of mine and I should really stop it.

Anyway, as a result, my cake went into the oven at 10.40pm and it takes 1 and a half hours to bake and another hour to rest in the oven with the oven door halfway open. Which means if I'm lucky I might be able to eat it at... 1am?

Yes, it's a cheesecake. A Japanese cheesecake, no less.

Pictures to follow if it doesn't sink.

Walk In The Park

Brought Milton to the Benalla Lake for a freezing winter evening's walk.

I feel guilty sometimes that he gets so little time with me.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A week into my fabulously french manicured nails, I noticed a problem.

My nails were getting a slightly patchy yellow discoloration, and I couldn't figure out why.

I don't clean, I don't wash, all I do is do dentistry and cook.

My dental assistant was the one who guessed it right. Got home and got my housemate to guess what it was that was causing the discoloration to occur.

Housemate: Gloves?
Me: Nope. Not gloves.
Housemate: Handwash?
Me: Nope, not handwash.
Housemate: Gimme a clue.
Me: It happens when I have my gloves on.
Housemate: So it goes through the gloves? Nothing goes through gloves! Umm... blood??
Me: And blood goes through gloves HOW?
Housemate: Oh...yeah. Hmmm. Composite?
Me: And composite goes through gloves HOW?
Housemate: Alright give up!
Me: The curing light.

Yup, and seeing that I can't not use curing lights in dentistry, this career has officially robbed me of lovely manicured nails. The way it robbed me of my long curly hairstyle, my dangly earrings, my bracelets, my rings, my makeup and very soon, possibly my sanity.


Spied this scrawl under the Benalla Bridge.

Oh, to be young and free and so ruthlessly confident again.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

No. 43 - Try 50 New Recipes (6/50)

Chocolate mousse the Nigella Lawson way does not require any eggs. Makes life a whole lot easier. Whipped them up in less than 10 minutes.

Recipe can be found here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Can't wait for my latest purchase to arrive!!!!!!!!!

What is it? You''ll have to wait and see. All I can say is that it's for the kitchen and is definitely going to inspire me to try out more recipes.

No. 15 - Go To The Snow

The snowfields are just about an hour and a half away from where I am.

I'm not much of a skier. The truth be told, I have a irrational fear of getting hurt. Can't be because of my accident prone past, I'm sure. Anyway, decided to go up and at least have a look, even if I wasn't going to actually do anything.

It was freezing cold and drizzling - so much so that when my housemate wanted to build a snowman, I told her it'll have to be done in under a minute.

Here's the result. My only contribution was to poke the right arm into the body. Oh, and take photos while saying "Hurry up I'm freezing!!" while laughing slightly hysterically.

Had a good time but not a pleasant drive - up or down. And it was just way too crowded. And cold. And wet. However, it was an experience and another thing off my extensive list done.

I'm pleased.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

No. 43 - Try 50 New Recipes (5/50)

Had a sticky date pudding craving and decided to act on it.

Sticky. And yummy.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Many of my patients come from the little town of Mansfield, which is about a 45 minute drive from the town I practice at. I've heard so much about it but had never been - until this weekend.

Here I am in the middle of the main street, which has a large nature strip and this set of totem-pole like items. The sun out but it was freezing.

Can't wait for warm weather to come.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Songs I'm currently addicted to:

1. Siberia - Backstreet Boys.
2. Because - Jessica Mauboy
3. Waking Up In Vegas - Kate Perry
4. Won't Even Start - David Choi

No. 31 - Live In Rural Australia

5 years ago I would never have thought that I would be in a little rural country town, practicing dentistry. Because the reality was that I thought I was going to become a doctor.

However, here I am now and I have to say I do not regret my last minute change of decision. Sure, I have my bad moments when all I want to do is just walk out of the practice but overall, I think I have come to realize that I have a very privileged life.

Here's a photo of lush green fields near my town - thanks to the good amount of rain we've been getting.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Friend: Ugh, that person is so annoying!
Me: Oh, I didn't know you felt that way. You were really nice to him.
Friend: I know, but it was only because I know that the only way to put him in a good mood was to be sympathetic and nice. I know how to handle these people!
Me: By being nice?
Friend: Yes!

Sigh. She's so nice.

No. 44 - Eat At 50 New Eateries (11/50)

Went to Wangaratta to watch Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Went to have some food at one of the pubs in town after that.

Why did I go to Wangaratta to watch a movie? Because where I am, there isn't a actual cinema. Sad, but true.
Been reading the Twilight series. I've concluded that if I had a choice between going out with Edward Cullen or Jacob Black, I'm going to have to go with Jacob Black.

How is it pleasant to hang around with someone who's cold?

My opinion is possibly warped by the fact that I'm stuck in the middle of winter.
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