Cauliflower Bomb!

This morning I went to play a round of golf at the local course. I enjoyed the time outside and getting some exercise, but my round was poor, scoring my equal worst total for the 9 holes. So let’s forget that and move on.

Speaking of high scores, I spent some time calculating my score in the Goldfish Draft Magic: the Gathering tournament that I mentioned yesterday. I needed a spreadsheet to keep track, and ended up with a score of 7.8×10144, as best I can estimate. That’s nowhere near the winning score, alas, as at least three of the other players have been mentioning that their scores require Knuth’s up-arrow notation to write down succinctly.

Tonight for dinner I cooked a thing taken from a TV recipe that my wife saw the other day. It’s a roast miso-seasoned cauliflower, with a bunch of toppings an garnishes. The recipe is here (although it doesn’t list the ingredients for the cashew cream, which is 2/3 cup cashews, 1 tbsp maple syrup, and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar).

Miso Cauliflower Bomb

It wasn’t hard to make, and it was delicious! I’ll definitely be cooking this again.

New content today:

More Pirates!

Firstly, Scully is feeling much better today. Her appetite is definitely back, thanks to the barbecue chicken the vet suggested we try giving to her. She seems to like it a lot better than the plain boiled chicken we’d been trying. She’s also active and behaving like normal too. So hopefully she’s well on the road to recovery.

We went for a bit of a walk this morning, a big loop that we commonly do, up and down some hills, through a big park, and then back along the waterfront. Here’s Scully at the marina.

Scully at the marina

She has several interesting bandanas. I think she has a bigger wardrobe than I do!

This afternoon my wife and I played Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! again. This time she’d got the hang of it and the game was much closer. We both ended up on 37 points, and I had to check the rulebook for the tie-breaker condition. And using that… she won!

The other main thing I did today was cooking. I made another loaf of bread using the “sourdough light rye” bread mix packet, and it turned out great again. Scully’s vet had also suggested we try white fish if the barbecue chicken didn’t work, so I’d bought a fillet of barramundi yesterday. Given she liked the chicken, I now had a piece of fish to spare. I don’t normally cook with meat or fish since my wife is vegetarian, but now I had to think of something. I decided to make myself a Thai green curry with fish pieces, broccoli, and green peas, with some jasmine rice. And oh my goodness it turned out delicious. (I also made my wife a vegetable omelette for her dinner.)

New content today:

Lightning and vet

Today was busy and exhausting. Workwise, I found a cool new Proof that the Earth is a Globe, that I didn’t even have on my list already, thanks to a reader. It was so cool, I wrote it up today!

In other news, I was preoccupied with Scully, who hasn’t been able to keep any food down since Monday night. She’s been sleepy, and refusing almost all food, and vomiting a few times. My wife took her to the vet today, and they did a blood test and x-ray, which both turned up all clear, so they suspect probably a stomach bug of some sort, which should hopefully resolve in a day or two. She’s got some anti-nausea medication to help keep her food down, and she’s eaten dinner with some gusto, so hopefully she’s okay.

Also, I baked some scones today, since my wife expressed a desire for some, and I thought it was a good idea to spoil her today.

New content today:

Virtual games Friday

I’m trying to go grocery shopping less often, so we’ve run out of bread at home… the perfect opportunity to bake some home made bread! General flour has been sold out at the supermarket the past few times I’ve gone (and I’ve heard from my friends that yeast is impossible to find too), but last time they had a boxed kit for making sourdough light rye, with all the ingredients included, including yeast. So I bought that. And today was the day to try it out!

Baking bread: kneading

Kneading bread dough is hard work! All I had to do was open a pre-mixed flour sachet and add a couple of spoons of yeast from another sachet, add water, and start mixing. Then you have to knead the dough for “at least 10 minutes”. The pack says the more you knead it the better the bread will be. So I did it for a little longer, but honestly I was tired of kneading so I stopped and let the dough rise.

Baking bread: first rising

It said to put the dough in a “warm place”. The weather was cool and I was wondering how to do this, so I searched online and found lots of advice, such as “on top of the fridge” (impossible as there’s only a few centimetres of clearance above mine). But one that worked was “in the oven”. It turns out my oven thermostat goes as low as 30°C, so I put it on for a minute to warm up and then turned it off and put the dough in, with a cup of hot water to provide moisture. It rose nicely.

Baking bread: second rising

After rising once for 40 minutes, you knead the dough again, shape it into your loaf, and then it rise again. This is after the second rising, and the dough has increased massively in size. It’s now ready to go into the oven for baking.

Baking bread: out of the oven

The baking time is surprisingly short (at least it was to me). 25 minutes and it looks like this. I was a bit concerned if it was baked all the way through.

Baking bread: slicing

But yep! It slices nicely and tastes delicious! And the first slice while it was still warm out of the oven, with melted butter… mmmm…

Well, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought to make fresh bread! I think I’ll be doing this a bit from now on.

Besides making bread, I worked a bit on writing new Darths & Droids comics. And in the evening was fortnightly board games night, held virtually for the second time due to COVID restrictions. Last time we used Board Game Arena, but this time we had planned to do a Magic: the Gathering draft tournament, as mentioned the past couple of days. We drafted our decks asynchronously using a tool my friend wrote, and then built decks in Tabletop Simulator, which is an amazing virtual gaming tool that I only recently learnt about.

Dominaria draft deck

This is a screenshot from Tabletop Simulator showing my deck laid out. I actually drafted really badly. I played 5 games of the tournament during the virtual games night, and lost every single game. I’m pretty sure I’ll be coming dead last in this tournament. Ah well, at least it’s fun!

New content today:

Chilli and potatoes

My chilli plant has been growing really well, and had heaps of chillis on it. Way more than I could use for cooking. So today I decided to pick all the extras and make some home made chilli sauce. A friend of mine got me on to this, since he also has a chilli plant that produces way more than he can use.

Collecting chillis

My wife picked the chillis for me. I was only going to grab the ripe red ones, but my friend showed me a photo of his latest batch and he included a lot of the unripe green ones too, so I did likewise.

Chopping chillis

I chopped them up carefully, trying not to touch them with my fingers.

Chillis with salt and garlic

Put them into a jar with some salt and sliced garlic.

Chillis ready to ferment

And topped it up with water. The jar gets sealed and stored in a dark place at room temperature for two weeks. The idea is that the naturally occurring lactobacillus that is everywhere ferments it, while the salt inhibits any undesirable bacterial/fungal growth. After two weeks, the whole lot gets blended and vinegar added. And that’s pretty much it, as I understand it, although you can add other flavours as well for variety. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Besides this, I spent some time this afternoon making potato salad, to have with dinner. Similar to last time I made it, but this time I remembered to add chopped capers! I completely forgot about those last time.

Work-wise, I intended to start writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! today… but ended up so distracted and busy that I didn’t even manage to write a single comic. Yeesh! I better get stuck into it tomorrow.

New content today:

Baking damper: attempt 2

We were out of bread today after eating all the damper I made three days ago. Restricting our grocery shopping outings to once a week, I didn’t want to buy bread today, so I made another damper. This time I used soda water instead of beer, and the recipe I looked up pointed out that you don’t want to knead the dough, because that drives the air out of it. Last time the beer damper recipe said to knead the dough lightly.

So today I mixed the dough roughly and didn’t knead it at all. And sprinkled a bit of flour on top before baking. And here’s the result!

Damper, version 2

It turned out well – better than the last one. Really delicious, in fact. My wife actually said she didn’t want us to buy bread ever again. Of course that relies on me making bread whenever she wants it…

I did have to go out today though, to take my wife’s 4G box that her office gave her to use for connectivity and get it repaired, after the trouble she had yesterday. The guy at the mobile shop poked a tray through the door and told me to put the box on it, then locked the door behind him, with me waiting on the outside while he checked it out. Ten minutes later he came back and told me through the glass that it was working, and had me check by connecting to the WiFi with my phone. Then he unlocked the door and handed it back to me, from the tray. Getting it home, it did work again, so that’s good.

I really don’t know what happened with the rest of the day!

New content today:

More walking and baking

For today’s exercise, my wife and I took Scully on a walk down to the local golf course, and then through a bushwalk along Gore Creek.

Scully at Gore Creek

It leads to Bob Campbell Oval, a cricket/soccer field near the water.

Scully at Bob Campbell Oval

From here you have to climb The Stairs of Cirith Ungol to get back to my place.

Scully on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol

At home, we were out of bread. Rather than go shopping, I made some damper! This is beer damper, made with 3 cups of self raising flour, a bottle of beer, a pinch of salt… and that’s it! Mix and bake for 30 minutes at 190°C. It turned out really nice.

Beer Damper

This afternoon I played some games with my wife. We played Azul.

Azul

And then Walking in Burano.

Walking in Burano.

New content today:

Patricia Trail and banana bread

It’s Saturday, so although she’s been working from home all week, today my wife had some spare time during the day. So we took a bit of a trip, choosing something to do that wouldn’t involve encountering any people, to respect the coronavirus distancing rules.

I wanted to find somewhere where we could do a bit of walking through some bushland, with Scully. Unfortunately for this plan, dogs are forbidden from National Parks. However, I found that there are some Regional Parks which allow dogs, and there are a few within Sydney. So we set out for the Berowra Valley Regional Park, and in particular the area accessed from the northern end of the suburb of Cherrybrook. Here there is a walking track through the park where dogs are allowed.

Scully on Patricia Trail

The track led through thickly grown forest and undergrowth, but the path was easy enough to follow. Although it was a bit muddy in places from the recent rain this week, and there was also a bit of grass growing on the path.

Scully on Patricia Trail

After completing the track, we did a loop back to where we’d parked the car, walking along the quiet suburban streets. We only saw a few people out and about – it was a lot quieter than the area where we live.

Back home I decided to bake some banana bread.

Home made banana bread

We don’t do a lot of baking, but with the purchasing of a few weeks of non-perishable foodstuffs we suddenly have plenty of flour in the house, so I figured I’d make use of a couple of old bananas. I used a simple recipe found online.

Home made banana bread

It turned out fairly good. Nice flavour, maybe a little denser than commercially produced banana bread. My wife had a slice with yoghurt and honey on top.

Home made banana bread

New content today:

Salad days

I don’t really have much to report today – I was busy doing boring financial stuff. Except I made potato salad.

Potato salad

Boiled kipfler potatoes, with the skin on, sliced; chopped boiled eggs; diced gherkins; chopped onions and garlic, lightly fried; mild English mustard; and coleslaw dressing. I like to use coleslaw dressing instead of mayonnaise because it’s lighter and tangier.

New content today:

Salad Sunday

I spent much of today… making a salad.

Usually a salad you just chop a few things and toss them in a bowl. Done in five minutes. Not this one.

I started first thing in the morning, by putting some dried chick peas into a pot and covering them with water to soak for several hours. After lunch, I boiled them for a half hour or so, then let them cool slowly. Then I tipped them out and dried them thoroughly, then spread them on a baking tray. Into a hot oven for 20 minutes, checking and giving them a shake every few minutes. At this point several of the peas popped, like popcorn, and flew across the oven, ending up on the oven floor. After 20 minutes I took them out, put them in a bowl, added olive oil, salt, and some garam masala, gave them a stir, and then back onto the baking tray and into the oven for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile I chopped some cauliflower into small florets, mixed them with olive oil, salt, cumin, and chilli powder in a bowl. When the chick peas came out, I poured them into a bowl to cool while I placed the cauliflower on the tray, and then into the oven to bake for half an hour, turning them occasionally.

While the cauliflower cooled after baking, I opened a pomegranate and extracted the arils – a job which takes about 20 minutes just by itself. Then I toasted some pine nuts in a frying pan. And finally, just before dinner this evening, I combined all the ingredients, with some tahini and a drizzle of caramelised balsamic vinegar, while I fried up some vegetarian sausages to go with the salad.

The salad turned out spectacular, if I do say so myself. My wife and I both loved it. The chick peas were crunchy and flavourful, the cauliflower provided tenderness, the pomegranate sweetness, the tahini nuttiness, and the vinegar a bit more sweetness as well as sourness. And there was just enough spice plus heat from the chilli to make it even more interesting. Absolutely delicious, and I’m glad I spent so long making it.

Otherwise today, I watched a bunch of cricket on the tele, and I wrote a bunch of rerun annotations for Irregular Webcomic! Oh, and I finally changed the IWC poll question, to something seasonal.

New content today: