Making an apple pie from scratch

Okay, not quite from scratch:

But tonight I tried my hand at sweet shortcrust pastry for the first time, and tried making an apple pie. I think I added a bit too much milk to the pastry, because it was very sticky when I tried to roll it out, and I had to mix in a bit more flour before I could manage to roll it. it’s in the oven now for the final bake, so let’s see how it turns out.

There’s been a bit of cooking tonight, as my wife made pizza dough and topped it with things for dinner. So the oven’s been going for some time.

Okay, half an hour later… the apple pie turned out… rustic.

Apple pie from scratch

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Pancakes and mud

I made sourdough buckwheat pancakes for breakfast this morning. This is pretty unusual – I don’t normally cook breakfast because my wife and I usually eat muesli pretty much every day. I know some people do cooked breakfasts, but it’s very rare for us. But I’d bought buckwheat flour recently to try some in a sourdough loaf of bread, and we have maple syrup that a friend sent from the USA, so it seemed like a perfect confluence.

My wife and I took Scully on a big walk today for exercise and some ball chasing at a small park out on the headland in the harbour. We took a bushwalk route along the harbour foreshore, behind the houses sitting on the hill above. It’s a nice walk near the water and you can almost imagine you’re far from civilisation. But the path gets muddy in wet weather and, of course, we’ve been having a lot of that lately. So we had to negotiate several muddy patches along the way. And then the park at the end was a bit soggy too, so Scully got pretty muddy.

So when we got home, we gave Scully a bath straight away. You should have seen the dirt that washed off her in the bathtub!

I cleaned the bathroom and shower today, being careful not to strain my back like I did two weeks ago. It’s much better now, but I did it soon after a morning of housework, and I didn’t want a repeat today. I’ve also started running again after my back has settled down. After a 2-week break it’s a bit difficult and my leg muscles are a bit tired and stiff, but if I keep it up it’ll get better.

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Games and Indian dinner

Friday night was online board games night with the guys. I ate dinner at home so I could join in early this week. We played Dice Forge, Can’t Stop Express, 7 Wonders, Azul, Scattergories, Codenames, and Sketchful. And possibly something else that I’ve forgotten.

Most of the day yesterday and today I spent working on my current secret project. There’s a bit of a deadline on this, so it’s occupying a lot of my time at the moment, and there’s nothing I can really say about it.

Oh, Thursday night I had that ISO planning meeting. We were deciding if enough people were prepared to travel to Cologne to have a face-to-face meeting, or if we should convert it to a fully online meeting. I was hoping the agenda would be finalised as a three-day face-to-face meeting, so I could travel to Germany, attend the meeting, and then have several days free at the end to explore some of the Netherlands. On the other hand, if we cancelled the face-to-face and did a virtual meeting, I would reschedule our flights and we’d have a pure vacation trip a few weeks later.

Unfortunately we kind of ended up with the worst of both worlds. Enough people are planning to travel to make it worthwhile doing it face to face, but virtually all of the Japanese contingent are not travelling—probably restricted by their companies in ongoing COVID precautions. So to please them it was decided to have a hybrid meeting, and instead of 3 days of 9-5 meetings, it’s going to be spread out as 5 days of meetings from 12:00-17:00. This is bad for me, because now I have to spend 5 full days in Cologne, while my wife entertains herself while I’m in the meetings, and then we only have a few days left at the end for sightseeing before heading home. SO it’s less than ideal, but I guess we just have to make the most of it.

Tonight for dinner we decided to go to an Indian restaurant that is a bit over half an hour’s walk from our place. We took Scully there in her doggie backpack, and she walked all the way home. I tried a new dish that I’ve never seen before: pistachio chicken, which was very nice.

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Heavy rain and heavy lunch

Aldi advertised a special item available today – a dog bed. We’ve got two of the dog beds from there and Scully loves them, but she’s also chewed them a bit so they have some holes, so we wanted to get another. I drove over to the nearest Aldi store to pick one up this morning, but they didn’t have any.

For lunch, I caught a train to Newtown, where I met my brother. We had lunch together at The Pie Tin. He’d never been there before, so I recommended some of the best pies for him to try – he chose the barbecue brisket and a sausage roll. I had a Nepali curry lamb and a Mexican chicken. We were both really full, but it’s worth it since the pies there are so good.

ON the way home, I stopped off at Town hall to check out the game shop and see if they had a copy of Azul: Queen’s Garden. They didn’t. I then stopped again at North Sydney to pop into the Aldi there and see if they had the dog bed. They didn’t.

Oh, and it’s been raining almost all day. Heavy rain. We had a lot of rain overnight. There was a break in the early afternoon, but it’s now raining heavily again this evening. Everyone in Sydney is so sick of this endless rain.

The rain on the train

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Old school apple turnover

Today was kind of a food day. For lunch I took Scully for along walk to one of the nice bakeries and I had a spinach and ricotta pastry. Then for lunch-dessert (that’s totally a thing) I had one of their apple turnovers. It was pretty much exactly the sort of thing you’d get in the 1970s as a kid, with piped whipped cream, oozing out of the seam where the folded pastry comes together. It was nostalgic and delicious.

For dinner, I found a Malaysian place near the university (where I was tutoring again tonight). I got a beef rendang with rice. It was okay, but I’ve had better. It was very filling though, so I was a bit stuffed during the tutorial class.

Otherwise today it was mostly the usual sort of stuff, an ethics class, making comics, some work on the ongoing secret project. Nothing too exciting to report.

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Hot cross bun crawl

My wife had today off work as an extra day before the Easter long weekend, and I had no classes on today. We went for a big walk together at lunchtime, in search of hot cross buns. We decided to get some from each of our two favourite bakeries, which involved a loop walk across multiple suburbs, covering over 7 km by the time we got back home.

Here’s Scully along the way, in her Easter bandana.

Scully's Easter bandana

Tonight we went for dinner at our local seafood restaurant. A nice relaxing meal to kick off a double long weekend. On the way home we walked past a group of brushtail possums. A young one was in a tree right near where I was walking, and I got a fairly close photo of it.

Baby brushtail possum

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Double update: Friday/Saturday

Friday I worked on my secret project a bit, and then had ethics classes in the early evening, before virtual games night with my friends, We played Perudo, 7 Wonders, 6 Nimmt, Scattergories, Boomerang Australia. I was very surprised when I won the first game of 7 Wonders, which is a game I don’t often win. Moreso because I thought I was doing quite poorly, until the final points count at the end where it turned out that I’d won.

Today we all slept in a bit in the morning. For once in a long time we didn’t have anything urgent to do in the morning. The sleep in was really nice.

I did some writing and comic making for Darths & Droids today. And this evening we dropped Scully with the neighbours while I took my wife out for a special dinner at a nice restaurant. Check it out:

Barbecue pork, smoked trout, capers, garlic flowers:

Barbecue pork, smoked trout, capers, garlic flowers

Macadamia ravioli, cherry tomatoes, madeira, green olives:

Macadamia ravioli, cherry tomatoes, madeira, green olives

Jerusalem artichoke, black barley, hazelnuts, sea lettuce:

Jerusalem artichoke, black barley, hazelnuts, sea lettuce

John dory, green tomatoes, currants, verjuice:

John dory, green tomatoes, currants, verjuice

Valrhona chocolate, Earl Grey mousse, buckwheat, wattle seed:

Valrhona chocolate, Earl Grey mousse, buckwheat, wattle seed

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A long walk to a cake shop

I spent today working on Darths & Droids comics, as well as teaching the last class of my current 6-week course on creative thinking and a couple of ethics classes.

At lunch I went on a walk with my wife and Scully, a few suburbs over to the good Italian bakery. I had a pie and they had doughnut-shaped thing covered in chocolate and almonds which looked amazingly good. The label said it was an eclair, but it looked nothing like any eclair I’ve ever seen. I just ordered one, regardless of what it really was because it looked so good.

It turned out to be… an eclair! It was choux pastry in a doughnut shape, filled with custard and coated in chocolate. It was delicious – actually better than any other eclair I’ve ever had. A top notch choice!

For dinner tonight I used more bunya nuts. I made potato salad with the nuts as one of the ingredients.

Bunya nut potato salad

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Proofreading and cleaning

Saturday is traditionally a day of rest for most people, but I was hard at work today, proofreading that academic paper. I wanted to get through it sooner rather than later, and give myself enough time this weekend to do some other things I want to get done. It turned out to be easier than the first paper I edited a while back, because I’m familiar with the subject material now, so it went quicker. Which is good!

I cleaned the bathroom and shower today, and my wife has been running loads of laundry all day to clean towels, and clothes, and Scully’s dog towels. I also took some product photos for my wife of a batch of the bangles she’s been working on for her Etsy shop. And took Scully for a couple of walks.

Tonight we went out to the Thai place that we like. It’s 15 minutes drive away, but it has outdoor seating for us and Scully, and the food was really good. Except now they’ve changed ownership and name, and honestly the food was not as good as it used to be. This is the fourth Thai restaurant near us that that we’ve really liked which has now closed down. There are still several others around, but none of them what we’d really consider excellent quality any more.

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Experimental pizza with peanut butter

You heard right, folks.

Broccoli pizza

A few weeks ago I had the satay chicken pizza from the menu at our local pizza place. Tonight when thinking about what to cook, I realised we had no pumpkin, my usual go-to pizza topping. But we had broccoli, and what better to go with broccoli than satay sauce? But I didn’t have any satay sauce… so peanut butter and chilli flakes to the rescue! I added some pistachios and almonds as well for crunch I would have used cashews, but we ran out of those on the weekend and I have to buy some more.

Anyway, it turned out really good! There’s not a lot of peanut butter on there – just enough to give it a peanutty taste. The sauce under the cheese is traditional tomato paste, although I spread it a bit more thinly today.

The weather continues to be rainy. Today marked the 14th day in a row of rain. We can barely remember what it’s like to have a day where it doesn’t rain.

And in what I hope is not a consequence of the war in Ukraine, Outschool did its weekly credit card payment processing of class fees, and informed me by e-mail that a payment for one of my students could not be processed. A student who lives in Russia. Occasionally I’ve received these processing error notifications, but there’s no follow-up and the kid shows up in class as usual, so presumably the parent did something and the payment went through. But this time, a few hours later I received a second e-mail saying that the payment had failed to be processed again. I’ve never received a second message like this before. It makes me wonder if the parent tried to pay again, and was denied again. I’m hoping this is not being caused by the financial sanctions being taken against Russia, and that this student won’t have to miss my classes because of this war.

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