Creature Comforts

I’ve been a bit quiet on here lately. Not for any other reason they I just didn’t feel like I had anything important or worthwhile to say.

Brad and I have been out for breakfast a few times in the past few weeks and I have still been cooking up a storm in the kitchen, namely clean eating stuff but a few treats also.

My writers block got me thinking though…..why was I struggling so hard to write? Was I concerned about what others would think? Is what I want to put down on this blog important and worthy of others reading and enjoying/hating/not caring what was written and then it hit me…..I go through moments every now and then (and they are gradually getting less and less and don’t stick around for as much time) of “homesickness”

Now I have written homesick but really it’s just a craving for creature comforts I grew up with back in Wales. 5 years ago when I first came here I craved three things so badly!

  1. Hellmanns Mayonnaise
  2. Unsmoked bacon
  3. A proper good Indian curry

About 3 years ago, Brad and I drove out to see some friends for a lunchtime birthday party. We arrived and found out it was BYO so Brad shot off, like the dutiful husband and went and bought me a beautiful bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (Drift NZ) there was a Bi Lo in the complex where this bottle shop was and someone, a while before, had told us that they had seen Hellmans mayo in a Bi Lo. Brad decided to quickly pop into this shop and what did he find? Hellmanns mayonnaise! I was elated when he came back to the restaurant bearing to gifts, one of wine and one of mayo! Of course being imported from the UK we now paid a premium of nearly $7 per jar – but we have not bought any other mayonnaise since

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Next was the curry, Brad and I decided that we would venture out into Hamilton and find someone where to eat, midweek. We walked for a few moments down Beaumont Street when we stopped and looking into a shop front window, this is how we found, Indiana Raj.

From the outset it looked like someone’s living room, but we decided to give it a go and walked in to literally be greeted by the whole family. We were seated and ordered and oh my goodness did my taste buds do a little dance!!! This food was amazing and the experience didn’t stop there! After dinner, the music paused before following on with a loud bollywood track and the staff/family members encouraged all the patrons to get involved with a makeshift bollywood dancing class! Well, what fun I had, but I’m pretty pleased I’d had those 3 glasses of red wine prior!

And lastly my search for British, unsmoked bacon.

When Brad and I went back to the UK for our wedding, I had been in Australia 11 months. My mum asked me what I wanted in her flat food wise for when we were there. Hellmans and Bacon were on the top of the list.

Once Brad had his first taste of unsmoked British bacon there was no turning him back. He was a convert and walked miles every morning just to buy more bacon for us to have for breakfast.

We have not stopped searching for butchers in Australia who would leave this cut in it’s purest form and yet we constantly failed. I have been in Australia 4 years and 11 months and I had all but given up hope of ever achieving final tick on my list of three.

Last weekend I needed to go to a different shopping complex to pick up my engagement ring that had been in for a clean. I decided as I was there I would just do my weekly shop in the Coles. I was slowly pushing my trolley around as I had never been here before and I was concerned I would miss important food items, when a reduced sticker on a pack of pre-packaged bacon caught my eye!

Usually I get my bacon from the deli counter, but if there is a deal to be had I love getting them, so I walked over to the fridge and picked up this packet bacon to study it further. LOW.AND.BEHOLD the label read “Authentic British Bacon” Oh wow did my heart start racing, I checked the bacon itself and YES it was raw! There as a deal on the “not coming up to used by date” two packets for $10 so I through the reduced packet down and grabbed two fresh packets. How I couldn’t wait to get home and show hubby!

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We actually froze the two packets and had it for breakfast the following weekend and it was DELISH!

So there you have it! I have achieved everything on my tick list for things I really would like in my life here in Australia and less than 5 years have achieved them all. Yum yum yum! I just think it’s going to make me very poor buying $7 mayo and $10 for 500g of bacon!

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Polenta – Enough Said

OMG I am slightly addicted to this beautiful ground cornmeal substance!

It was only a few weeks back when I was chatting with Kate, a girl I work with about polenta. She is gluten intolerant and I tend to cook a lot of dishes that are gluten free as my mother is also intolerant. I was telling her about the ready made stuff I used to use in the UK and how amazing it was. You see, I had attempted to make it from powder form and failed miserably. As I’m sure you’re cottoning onto, I don’t do measurements or timing so well and therefore this make it yourself polenta ended up in the bin.

I was super excited two weeks ago when i was just daydreaming down the pasta isle of Coles when I stopped to check a message on my phone and just glanced right and there, low and behold was this ready made polenta!

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Super excited, I snapped a picture quickly and sent it to Kate, I placed the polenta back on it’s shelf and started walking away, only to find myself dashing back to this exciting find and throwing it into my trolley like a little guilty pleasure!

When I got home I popped all my groceries away and then sat and stared at this wonder, wondering what I would make to go with it! You see the ready made stuff, although super easy to use, only as a 3-4 day window from opening the packet and placing it in the fridge. I definitely didn’t want to waste this golden treasure so I started planning meals that I could do that would utilise it all.

The first dish I did I pan fried the polenta in thick steaks trying to achieve the rather difficult black line look. I served this with a T-bone steak, green beans and home made red onion relish. This recipe can be found here.

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I had enough polenta left over to try a very simple polenta and rosemary fries recipe that I just made up. This time, however, I decided to spray the fries with olive oil and sprinkle salt and finely chopped fresh rosemary and then bake them rather then fry them. Although this took around 30 minutes to achieve, the result was mind blowing and I will post a recipe for this as soon as i make them again and remember to take a picture of it!

Last night, I had bought a new packet of this wonderful accompaniment and decided as it was Meatless Monday that I would use some frozen Salmon steaks and build on that. In the end I made a homemade salsa and served the dish with a swirl of Sweet Chilli Sauce. Not the cleanest of eating but OMG it just topped the dish off to a T! You can find that recipe here……

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So my journey with polenta is really only starting. Maybe one day I will venture back to the “do it yourself” kind, but for now, I am happy in the knowledge that sat in my pantry (or fridge when I have opened the packet) is my ready made polenta just waiting to be eaten all up!

#Getinmybelly

First weekend of July

The past 24 hours have been pretty awesome! After my wonderfully boozey and steak filled lunch on Friday, I decided that for me to go home and cook for a hungry husband and two hungry, fussy children would not be the way to go about my Friday afternoon and start to the weekend.  So I rang my husband and advised I didn’t want to cook and he was the one who suggested Mr Foongs – our local Chinese takeaway! Now Chinese takeaways have been a bit hit and miss in every town I have lived in, but randomly on a little street in my suburb, Mr Foongs does a pretty awesome Chinese dish. The usual order consist of Satay Chicken, Mongolian Lamb and Spicy beef which this time around I ordered extra hot !! (and it didn’t disappoint!)

I rang through at about 6pm and as always the beautiful Chinese daughter, who would only be about 8 years old, answered the phone and took my order, polite, professional and understood everything. The order was made in Bradleys name as I knew he would go and get the food later on. $48.80 later we have 3 dishes, one bag of prawn chips and a rice to boot and we are all cowing down on our Chinese with, might I add, chops sticks!

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Now, don’t get me wrong this hasn’t always been a love/love relationship with Mr Foongs, when we first moved into our house we were craving a good old fish cocktail and chips. Mr Foongs also advertised that there was another take away in their establishment called “Peters Takeaway”. So we thought, “well the Chinese is pretty good lets go there for western food”. Boy, were we wrong! The cocktails were something that had been cooked and left for a good few hours, the batter soggy not just soft and the fish completely dry inside. There was no flavour throughout and the chips lacked their vavavoom of shop bought chips. an overall disaster.

Anyway, everyone loved their Chinese treat. As I’ve said before I always try and cook my step children something healthy and nutritious as I don’t believe they get that at home. So when I sit back and let take away get ordered they are pretty excited! As the kids washed up, Brad and I sat back on the lounge and chilled out after our long week of work.

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For Saturday a colleague of mine Victoria, had organised a “pamper afternoon” where a consultant of a company came in trying to flog their wares and we all got to have a play with it all 🙂 I asked Victoria if it was all good for Katie to come along too. All was fine. With me driving and Katie only 12 I decided to invest all of $8.69 into a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne as I knew the rest of the girls would be drinking proper champagne! To be completely honest, although the Cuvee was a little on the sweet sick it was actually pretty scrummy! I’m surprised not more pregnant woman aren’t opting for this?! I was drinking bubbles, out of a glass and the best part was I didn’t wake up with a hangover this morning!

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We left a little late but we weren’t too concerned as Bradley and Mitchell had opted to cook dinner for us all that evening! Great! So we all drove the 1 hour journey home and was greeted with a big kiss and a large glass of shiraz! Yummy! Brad has perfected his pizzas and I will eventually get a recipe for you for his bases as they came out AMAZING this time around. Brad made three different pizzas for us, a pepperoni with extra, extra pepperoni, a surf and turf and my favourite a creamy based chicken and mushroom! YUMMY!!!

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