Saturday, March 12, 2016

Cranberry lemonade

Despite the fact that it's officially autumn in Australia, March in Canberra so far has mostly been unseasonably stinking hot - record-breakingly hot, in fact. That means that, instead of breaking out the slow cooker, I'm looking for ways to keep cool and stay hydrated. There's only so much ice water you can guzzle, and I'm trying once again to restrict my Pepsi intake. This is my latest inspiration to seek out alternative options.

Cranberry lemonade
The cranberry part of this comes from the leftover syrup in which I made sugared cranberries at Christmastime - essentially simple syrup infused with cranberries. Simple syrup keeps forever in the fridge, and I usually have a jar on the go. The tartness of cranberries and lemons complement each other, and the sweet simple syrup balances them out - plus you don't have to dissolve it in drinks the way you would sugar.

Fill a glass halfway with ice. Squeeze in 1/2 lemon (about 30 ml/1 oz/2 Tbsp). Add an equivalent amount of cranberry simple syrup (if you're using plain simple syrup, you might not need this much). Fill the remainder of the glass with fizzy water and stir to combine. Drink immediately.

Serves 1. Can be multiplied to share with a friend or two. Would probably also make a nice cocktail with the addition of a shot of gin or vodka.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Ten things

Ten things of note since my last post:

1. Breakfast on the deck, possibly for the first time since we moved in last August. (Note that said breakfast is leftover Oat-Fruit Bars – following the rule that if it includes oats, it counts as breakfast food. Also applies to crumble.)


2. Cleaned off my desk to give me the space I need for the final push on another major work project, which launched online at the end of February. (Lucky for me we had an extra day this year!) 

3. Looked up how to make a gin fizz after we finished re-watching The Jewel in the Crown, where they appear to be the main source of hydration for most of the characters. I haven’t made one yet, but soon! (I have, however, christened my Moscow Mule mugs, and now one lives permanently in my freezer.)

4. Made a zuzagna – a lasagna with zucchini noodles instead of pasta. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t stellar either – I need to fiddle with it some more before I post a recipe.

5. Giving thanks for my evaporative cooling system. Are you familiar with this method? The main benefits from my perspective are that they add some humidity to Canberra’s arid air, and that you don’t have to keep all the windows closed. In fact, you shouldn’t, so you don’t have that hermetically-sealed freezer feel that I hate about air conditioning. I’ve been especially glad to have it in the past few weeks, when Canberra temps hit a record-breaking 38C/100F at least once – the highest late-February temperature documented since record-keeping began. 

6. Trying to keep up with my tomatoes, which are attempting to branch out from the two raised beds and take over the back garden. I didn’t even plant the ones in this picture – they appeared spontaneously and are producing golden cherry tomatoes by the dozens! 
7. Refreshing my memory of the Hunger Games trilogy, since Miss B held me to my promise that she could start reading them when she got into Year 6, and then promptly found all three in a used bookstore.

8. Getting familiar with Spotify. (Yes, I know I’m way behind on this.) A group of my coworkers does a challenge during Lent every year, called 40 Days of Open Listening, where each day we get a randomly selected album which we’re supposed to listen to with an open mind. I’ve been getting the emails for a couple of years, but this is the first year I’m actively participating. My latest discovery is the Triffids, who I’d never even heard of – I’ve decided they’re a cross between the Waterboys and Arcade Fire, in a good way.

9. Making a test batch of homemade cereal: I based it on this recipe, which only has 3 ingredients - oats, oil, and sweetener. I used half canola and half olive oil, and maple syrup instead of honey, and instead of using the oven, I made it in the slow cooker so I wouldn't have to worry about burning it. It took a couple of hours on high - I just kept cooking it until it smelled toasty and delicious. It tastes so good I daydream about when I'm going to eat it again.

10. Admiring my backyard lemon tree, which is covered in growing lemons. (Roving Lemon has a lemon tree! How meta is that?)

That’s the news from here. Got any to share?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

January round-up

A bit later than of these days I'll go less than a month between posts and not have every one be a photo-filled epic. Until then, here are the latest happenings:

Two days after DP returned from his trip, and the very day of my last post, we headed off on our annual family vacation to the coast - not to Jervis Bay this year, but further down the New South Wales coast to Tuross Head, which we loved so much we may have to switch our allegiance permanently.

Then, less than 24 hours after we returned to Canberra, it was my turn to flit off - on my annual January work trip to England - all London this time, with no chance of jaunts to Oxford or elsewhere (woe) - and Germany.

For the second year running, I celebrated my birthday in England - this year with a fancy birthday tea at Fortnum & Mason and a swanky dinner as well.

After a jam-packed week of meetings, dinners, team-building activies, and more meetings, I flew to Germany to spend a weekend and a few days in the office with my friends and colleagues in Freiburg. There was snow for sledding...

...cheese for raclette...

...and this vegetable, which we thought was a parsnip - the German name for it is "parsley root", and it appears to be topped with...parsley. C and I were so struck by this - the possibility that parsley grows parsnips, and vice versa - that we went home and looked it up. Apparently parsley root is a different root vegetable, which looks like and is closely related to parsnip, but is much more widely available in central and eastern Europe than elsewhere (probably why I'd never encountered it before).

The other notable food milestone was my first time baking a cake in Germany: a lemon cake, made by special request (basically this recipe, with  a lemon apiece - zest and juice - in batter and frosting).

I really enjoyed my trip, but I was also very glad to get back to my regular routine in Canberra - including my first Saturday-morning farmers' market run (complete with coffee and planning) since before Christmas.

More cake! For my belated birthday celebration with DP and Miss B - vanilla cake (as above) and chocolate buttercream (but with double the chocolate shown there).

So, to sum up: travel, cake, travel, cake, travel, cake. And now it's February, and Miss B has started Year 6 (Year 6! Holy hell!). We're heading down the path of another year, and the first day of autumn is just around the corner.

I hope there is plenty of adventure (or not, as you prefer) and cake where you are. More to come soon, I hope.
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