Solo Sunday

Solo Sunday in more ways than one. My wife took Scully and went to visit her mum today, and I used the time to sit down and rewatch Solo (a Star Wars story), in preparation for starting planning on converting it into a Darths & Droids story. Yes, we’re planning ahead that far now. I think it’s only my third time watching it through, and there were several plot points I’d forgotten about, so I’m glad I did it.

This evening I had a cooking emergency, precipitated by my habitual lack of mise en place (as mentioned in the last new Irregular Webcomic!). I started boiling up some pasta, intending to just throw some pesto from a jar onto it. The pasta was boiling away, when I went to the fridge to grab the pesto… and there was none. And no spare jar in the pantry (where there is usually a spare).

So suddenly I had 10 minutes to make a pasta sauce/topping. And working with the constraints that I’m currently on a restricted diet in preparation for a colonoscopy in a few days – no seeds, and nothing coloured red. So no tomatoes.

I quickly went into a cooking frenzy, chopping broccoli into tiny florets, frying it up in olive oil, adding pine nuts, fresh garlic, chili, and then shaving some parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top once it was done. I also added a squirt of lemon juice once it was all prepared and served. It turned out pretty well! Phew. Another triumph for No-mise-en-place-man!

In other news, I got an email from the organisers of the market where I have my stall, selling photography print. They have cancelled the markets for August and September (which would have been three markets), due to caution over COVID cases in Sydney. So that’s another two months without any face-to-face selling income or handing out business cards.

New content today:

The storm?

The storm did finally hit overnight and we got a bit of heavy rain, but by the time I got up this morning the rain had stopped. Although it was cold and windy all day, and the rain did return at spotty intervals. But honestly it was nothing like the apocalypse that the weather bureau had warned us to expect. By lunchtime the sun was coming out again in between the odd showers, whereas I’d been prepared for a full day of torrential downpour. They forecast up to 50mm of rain today, but in the end we only got 13mm.

For a morning excursion I took Scully out to the hardware store, driving rather than walking. It’s next door to the home-maker centre which has dozens of furnishing shops as well as the pet shop, so we got to go in there too and Scully had a sniff up and down all the aisles of pet food. We got a bit wet walking between the two buildings, but not too bad. I also dropped off a box of electronic stuff, cables, light bulbs, and used batteries at the local recycling centre which is just around the corner from there too.

Tonight for dinner I recreated last night’s roast potato and pumpkin pizza. We always have two pizzas during what we call “pizza week” because the ready made bases come in packs of two. (I’m too lazy to make my own pizza bases from scratch each time.)

And then for dessert I made myself… a deconstructed rum ball!

Deconstructed rum ball

My wife bought me a madeira cake for a treat, which is what I use as the main ingredient to make rum balls – which I’ve made many times. But this time I thought I’d try something a little avant-garde and create myself a deconstructed dessert. After plating up (and taking photos) I sat down to eat it, mixing the ingredients with a desert fork on the plate… and it was both fun and delicious! 9/10 would do again!

New content today:

More calm before the storm?

So they told us that we’d get heavy rain today. It hasn’t rained a drop, and was sunny most of the day. There was some dramatic cloud building up late this afternoon, but as of mid-evening still not a drop of rain. Supposedly we’re still in for heavy rain and strong winds tomorrow… but I’ll believe it when I see it. It was cold though.

This was the view over the city about 4:30pm.

Incoming storm

This morning I walked up to the shops to buy a couple of things. I needed to get some batteries because the ones for the remote in our air conditioner died and we couldn’t turn the heat on or off without raiding the DVD remote for batteries – and then couldn’t control the DVD player without switching them back. And since I was going to the shops anyway, I thought I’d get some chocolate sprinkles that I want for a dessert. However when I was up there I completely forgot to get the chocolate sprinkles.

And then later in the morning I took Scully out for a walk, and I went the other direction to the other nearby shops, where there’s a small supermarket. While there, I popped in to get the chocolate sprinkles… and they had ten different varieties of cake sprinkles… all colours and flavours, but no chocolate! So in two trips to two different supermarkets I didn’t manage to get them.

I also failed to get another thing I wanted from the Japanese grocery store. I wanted ramen noodles so I could make myself some ramen for lunch. But they only had udon and somen noodles, which are thicker and thinner respectively. I made do with somen, but honestly I find them too thin. But I did use them to make a pseudo-ramen for lunch:

Home made ramen

I even made a soft-boiled egg to put in. It turned out pretty good. And for dinner I roasted some kipfler potato slices and pumpkin chunks and a clove of garlic, before putting them on a pizza.

Potato and pumpkin pizza

This afternoon I worked a bit on a new tagging system for Square Root of Minus Garfield (plus other mezzacotta comics). I made a database table and populated it with tags and descriptions. This is a project that’s been on my to-do list for ages, and I though it wouldn’t be too difficult or time consuming, and I have a volunteer on the forums who wants to go through and tag all the comics, so that makes it a good opportunity to get it done.

New content today:

A long walk and a rest

Saturday is officially “no alarm Saturday” in this household, and we all slept in until almost 8 o’clock this morning. After getting up and having breakfast, we (my wife, Scully, and I) went for a nice long walk for some exercise and fresh air. The day was beautiful – a clear, brisk, late autumn day with puffy white clouds in the sky.

We walked basically this route which I covered in a photo walk essay a few weeks ago. With some bits added on to take us from our home to the start and end points as given in that page. The total walk was 9 kilometres, and took us a solid couple of hours, with a break for my wife to grab a coffee at a cafe on the way.

This afternoon I worked some more on Darths & Droids, writing up a bunch of story planning notes, based on thoughts from the past few days that hadn’t been recorded yet, and I made a couple of new strips.

And this evening my wife cooked the cauliflower dish that I was preparing on Wednesday when I sliced my hand with the kitchen knife. The offending cauliflower has been duly punished by being baked with a miso glaze and consumed with pomegranate, chilli, mint, and toasted sesame and sunflower seeds. Yum!

Miso cauliflower bomb

New content today:

A very windy day

The weather continues to be wintry here, with cold, overcast, and very strong winds today. I took Scully for a walk and it was a bit blowy. We recorded wind gusts up to 46 km/h today.

Blowin' in the wind

I spent a lot fo time today uploading photos and writing web pages for some of my Sydney walks, as part of the process of transferring from Imgur albums to pages hosted on my own site. I also expanded the commentary a lot, doing some research into various buildings that I’d taken photos of. In particular, this walk through Greenwich (the Sydney suburb) ended up having a lot of new historical details added.

Tonight for dinner I made a vegetable quiche. I make quiches a lot, but generally just with one vegetable, like chunks of pumpkin, or chopped spinach. A friend made some quiches recently with a variety of roasted vegetables, so I thought I’d fancy it up a bit. Here’s what I did:

  1. Chopped potato, butternut pumpkin (squash for the Americans), onion, broccolini. Spread on baking tray, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with rosemary. Baked 210°C for about 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile got some pre-made shortcrust pastry and put it in a pie dish. Placed it in the same oven after about 10 minutes, to blind bake for about 15 minutes.
  3. Placed vegetables in pastry shell, added chunks of feta, light sprinkle of salt, then poured over 3 eggs beaten with a bit of milk.
  4. Reduced oven to 190°C and bake 25 minutes.
  5. Yum!

Vege quiche 2

New content today:

Baking Breads

I made bread today. Firstly, I made a loaf of soy-linseed bread. This was using a packet mix from the supermarket – all I needed to add was yeast and water. Then knead and knead and knead, and knead some more. Then let it rise, then knead it some more, then let it rise again, then bake.

Soy linseed bread

It turned out pretty well – I had some of it for lunch.

And then before the oven cooled down, I made a loaf of banana bread. Which is much, much quicker and easier to make.

Banana bread

I substituted some almond meal for some of the flour, which has made it moister, and more delicious.

This afternoon I went for along walk – a couple of hours out and back home. I really felt like I needed the exercise as I haven’t been out much lately. I noticed that my shoulders and upper chest and back muscles felt sore, which I thought was a weird effect from a long walk… until I realised that it was all the bread kneading from earlier in the day that must have done it!

And now I know why I had a sore back last week, after making a couple of loaves then. Interesting. I wonder if I’ll develop breadmaker’s muscles.

New content today:

Autumnal

It was cold today. Positively autumnal. The forecast for the next week has temperatures hovering a degree either side of 20°C, which is cool for Sydney, but not quite wintery. I fear yesterday’s 27°C was indeed the last of the truly warm weather until spring.

Today was a random melange of walking Scully, housecleaning, making some Darths & Droids comics, and cooking dinner. I made an “autumn risotto” – with hazelnuts and mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, and king oyster). I was originally just going to make mushroom, but was inspired to throw in some hazelnuts by the fact that my wife was watching a cooking show while I was cooking, and the chef on there made something with hazelnuts. I overheard it and immediately thought, “Yes! That’d go great with mushrooms!” and so tossed some in. And it indeed turned out great – the crunch of the nuts adds a lot to what is typically quite a mushy dish.

New content today:

Good and lousy

I went to play some golf this morning at nearest local 9-hole course. It was early and the grass was very dewy. I had a pretty good putting day, and even sank a short chip onto the green, but my driving really let me down on many holes. I did manage to score one par, with a tee shot landing just off the green, followed by a short chip, and then sinking a putt of a little under 2 metres, so that was satisfying.

At home I baked a loaf of bread, which turned out very nice. And while the oven was hot I thought I’d try an experiment and see if the old pre-made puff pastry we’ve had sitting in the freezer for ages would be able to be rolled up and baked into something resembling a croissant. Bakers out there are probably laughing at me already, but wait until you see this photo…

"Rustic" croissants

I generously call them “rustic” croissants. Actually they weren’t too bad, with either butter or strawberry jam, although it really was more like “puff pastry with butter/jam” than a croissant.

And my wife was laughing so hard at them, and asked if she could send the photo to her nephew, who is currently working overseas in Paris. She said that the first thing he sees when he wakes up this morning (in the Paris time zone) will be her message containing delicious looking croissants! It’ll make his mouth water and he’ll have to dash out to buy some freshly baked croissants from a Parisian boulangerie to try and satisfy his sudden craving!

Yeah…

Experimenting with cooking is fun!

New content today:

Late Monday

I got stuck into a few cut-throat games of Codenames last night with friends via online chat, and before I knew it the evening was over and I hadn’t written my Monday blog post. So here we are doing it over breakfast the next morning.

On Monday I went for a bit of a walk in the morning, around the local shops. I noticed some places newly closed and the premises up for lease. I hope the COVID restrictions don’t cause more shops/cafes/restaurants to go out of business. There were also some places renovating and fitting out for new openings, including our vet, which is moving premises in a week or so. Their old building is being demolished to be redeveloped – almost certainly into new apartments. The building never ceases in Sydney, as more housing is needed for the ever-growing population.

I took a photo of what may be the most hipster barber shop ever:

Most hipster barber ever?

Last time I did grocery shopping, I noticed that the supermarket was still selling hot cross buns. (I actually think they sell them year round now, because they’re so popular, rather than just around Easter.) I bought some, because they’re so good. In the past I only ever had them warmed up with butter melting on them. But inspired by Japanese melon-pan ice cream, I’ve taken to heating them up and then putting on a scoop of ice cream, which works amazingly well.

But in the first post-Easter COVID-lockdown-approved visit my wife made to her mother’s place, she came home with some chocolate Easter eggs. So I’ve been trying heating the buns with a chocolate egg inside, which melts and makes a delicious filling. And then I recently bought some bananas…

Hot Cross Banana Split

Behold the Hot Cross Banana Split! I heated the bun with the chocolate egg in it – so it’s all melty. Then added sliced banana and a scoop of ice cream.

Hot Cross Banana Split

Close the lid and squash it all together…

Hot Cross Banana Split

Oh my…. Highly recommended!

New content today:

Double or Nothing Sunday

Okay, today I did some stuff! Firstly, I restarted using Duolingo to practice learning Italian again. I’ve been slacking off on my Italian since I got back from my trip to Portugal last year, and finally decided to restart. Fortunately it seems I’ve done enough that I remembered all of the relatively easy stuff. We’ll see how I go with trickier stuff later on.

I cleared out another backlogged Snot Block & Roll review, of an amazing sausage roll.

I did another long walk, documented with photos. This time through the historic Coal Loader site and nearby Balls Head, in Waverton (a suburb of Sydney).

For dinner this evening I made carrot and lentil soup, seasoned with coriander and my home made chilli sauce. And I made yoghurt flatbread to go with it, which is so easy and delicious. A simple meal, but it was really delicious and perfect for a cool autumn day.

New content today: