Archive for the ‘Favourite Friday’ Category

New favourite blog

February 18, 2011

I’ve long had a bit of a thing for woodland animals (e.g. all those owls, the stag on my door). So it should come as no surprise that the blog taking up most of my stringently-rationed internet bludge-time lately is devoted to foxes.

If you’re likewise inclined, head over to fuckyeahfoxfriends for all the wonderfullest fox pictures.

Advertisements

My favourite meat

December 18, 2009

WARNING: This post may be unsavoury for vegetarians.

Earlier this week I was casting around for something to write about for Favourite Friday, and somewhat unexpectedly found the answer staring up at me from my dinner plate. Lamb!

It’s funny that it’s never before occurred to me to write about my love for lamb, since everyone who knows me is surely by now sick of me waxing lyrical about it every time meat comes up in conversation. But I guess sometimes I don’t realise obvious things…remember my owls epiphany?

Anyway, on to the meat course.

Lamb is a dish I have always loved. Roast lamb, lamb stew, lamb chops, lamb curry, lamb fillet, and best of all: lamb cutlets. I’m rather predictable, because just about any time we go to a fancy restaurant I order the lamb. I just love the flavour and tenderness of beautifully cooked, medium-rare, lean lamb.

I’ve always been something of a red-meat girl. I don’t eat much pork and it was only after Phil and I moved in together that I really started eating chicken (previously I believed all chicken was dry and tasteless, but that man does amazing things with poultry). I love beef—there’s nothing like a good steak, and it’s a meat that’s not only versatile but usually relatively cheap. And of course, I love lamb. It’s funny, often, when we dine out, because I quite like red meat but Phil quite likes chicken—and the restaurant industry seems to have this idea that men order red meat and women order white meat. That’s quite possibly true for most people, but it’s funny to see waiters looking a little nonplussed when I say ‘actually, the steak is for me.’

It’s hard to describe just why I like lamb more than beef, but I’ll try. Lamb seems to have a depth of flavour that beef doesn’t. It can be more savoury, more meaty, if you like, although at times I’d also describe it as sweeter. Perhaps you could say it’s more gamy? In any case, I tend to think of beef as a straightforward flavour, and lamb as a complex flavour. I guess the meat is also juicier, since most cuts of lamb have a little more fat on them—but this doesn’t mean lamb has to be greasy, which is the main objection I’ve heard from lamb’s opponents. The trick is to buy leaner cuts: avoid chump and forequarter chops, and instead go for frenched cutlets, backstrap/fillet, leg steaks, or diced shoulder. They’re generally more expensive, but definitely worth it, and who doesn’t deserve a treat every now and then?

Enough talk. Now I’d like to share with you my favourite quick-and-easy way of cooking lamb cutlets, as in the photo above. Although there’s a little bit of preparation it’s the fun sort, where you get your fingers dirty. Remember how much you loved that at kindy?

Juicy tender lamb cutlets in a crispy crumb

3 lamb cutlets per person (you could have two per person, but let’s be honest, you’re going to want to eat an extra one anyway)

plain flour

1 egg

dry breadcrumbs (the sort you buy in a box from the supermarket)

herbs or spices if you’re feeling fancy

These are best cooked on a rack in the oven. Preheat your oven to 200°C. If you don’t have a roasting tray with a built in rack, you can put the lamb cutlets directly onto the oven racks with a baking tray underneath to catch any juices. If you don’t want to do this they will cook fine on a lightly greased baking tray, but one side won’t be crispy.

Put a handful of flour on one plate and a handful of breadcrumbs on another. If you’re feeling fancy, mix some herbs or spices into the breadcrumbs. I often just use black pepper. Crack your egg into a wide, shallow bowl and mix it up a bit.

Now start your production line. Take one lamb cutlet, dip it into the flour until it’s all covered (even the bone handle), then into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs, making sure it’s completely covered at each dipping. Place on the rack. Repeat with remaining cutlets. Flour, egg, breadcrumbs. Easy!

Pop your crumbed cutlets into the oven. Cooking time will vary depending on how you like your meat and what your oven is like, but for medium-rare it usually takes me about 15 minutes. A metal skewer is useful to check whether they are hot inside.

Once done, eat with your fingers so you can properly gnaw all the tasty-crispy bits off the bone. Yum!

I really urge you to try this, as it’s so tasty and easy. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Lamb forever!

My favourite wine

December 11, 2009

Welcome to Favourite Friday. This week the management is pleased to announce a special offer—two favourites for the price of one!

I wanted to talk about my favourite wine. I don’t want to sound like a wino, but choosing a favourite from the many wonderful drops available was never going to happen. I just like wine too much—all sorts of wine, wine from different regions, wine by different vintners, wine of different ages, wine at different temperatures, wine drunk in different places. Narrowing it down to two types was a wrench, I can tell you.

On to the first favourite: Champagne.

Let me make one thing clear from the start. Most of the white fizzy wine I drink doesn’t come from the Champagne region, in fact it’s probably never heard of France. But I’m damn well going to call it Champagne here and in every other conversation I have about the stuff. Sparkling wine it may be, but to me it’s always been Champagne and always will be. Any other name is cowardly legal twaddle and an insult to the romance of this beautiful drink.

What is it that makes Champagne so attractive? It has many charming qualities, but somehow it has a little something more, something that other wines don’t possess. The pale golden hue, the sight of bubbles rising. The delicate scent, grassy or buttery, sometimes with a faint whiff of flowers. The clean, fresh taste that’s just on the right side of too dry, the feel of bubbles on the tongue…and yet, and yet. Champagne has a certain romance about it. When you drink it, you could be in a 1920s nightclub listening to jazz. You could be a 50s-era film star, celebrating your latest box-office success. You could be at a friend’s wedding, or on a first date, or making someone’s birthday a night to remember. Champagne, apart from all its measurable qualities, has the taste of celebration, the smell of parties, and the look of romance.

See how it lights up my otherwise dull and dirty kitchen bench? Champagne is instant glamour.

Of course, another of its good qualities is that it is so versatile. You can mix Champagne with just about everything. Half-and-half with orange juice on Christmas morning. Allow a strawberry to macerate slowly in the wine as you drain the glass. Add a wild hibiscus for some colour and flavour. Mix it in a cocktail—I love the Classic Champagne Cocktail, the French 75, and of course the Bellini. Or throw in whatever you’ve got laying about—this evening I added some leftover raspberry syrup, but saffron syrup also makes an exotic and delicious blend.

Actually, it’s funny, given how much Champagne I consume, that I can’t find a photo of myself drinking it. Perhaps some angel with more regard for my reputation than I would usually show has destroyed all the evidence?

Summer, with its propensity to increase the consumption of Champagne, is also the perfect time to drink my other favourite wine—Rosé. With a colour halfway between red and white wine, but a nose and flavour all its own, Rosé has always fascinated me. It’s perfect for those occasions that call for something a little more fragrant and a little more flavoursome than Champagne. I love discovering new Rosés, and I honestly can’t remember ever buying the same bottle twice. There are so many different Rosés available these days, made (as far as I can tell) from several different sorts of grape. Some are fresh and dry, others have a hint of sweetness, and I can remember one that smelt distinctly of strawberries. Distinctly.

These are the three bottles that are currently in my possession. Appropriately, they are from three different regions—Queensland, the Barossa, and Western Australia—and I believe all three are concoted from different grape varieties. And one’s even bottled under a cork, bless their old-fashioned little cotton socks. The central Rosé in this picture is actually of particular significance—it was the first Rosé I ever discovered, having never before heard of the existence of pink wine. Mum bought a bottle of this from the vineyard when we were in the Barossa in 1998, and I can remember being fascinated by the matching pinks of the brolga’s wings and the wine it attended.

Rosé is the wine I like to introduce Summer with. It’s fruity enough to drink in Springtime, and refreshing enough to carry you through Christmas lunch and to the hot days beyond. And there’s hardly a woman I know who isn’t attracted to pink wine.

With romantic Champagne and fruity Rosé, there’s plenty to keep me occupied this Summer. What will you be drinking?

My new favourite summer drink

December 4, 2009

Is homemade ginger beer. Yum!

I found this recipe months ago and have been waiting for summery weather ever since. It was surprisingly easy to make, and definitely worth the effort. I love the freedom of being able to adjust the ginger, the lemon and the sugar to my taste.

This really is the perfect drink for a summer afternoon—refreshing, tasty, and versatile. Have it on its own, or mix it into a cocktail. My favourite is the Moscow Mule, which I think is improved no end by the addition of mint leaves. And the other day a friend was telling me about an amazing drink she tried, made of red wine, ginger beer and soda water. I’ll have to have a go at that one.

Cheers! What’s your drink of choice this summer?

My favourite FO this year

November 27, 2009

Is without doubt my purple Liesl cardigan. You can tell by the silly grin on my face!

I’ve been wanting to knit this for ages, so I’m understandably ecstatic that it’s done. The pattern is Liesl by Ysolda Teague, and I used the beautifully bulky, squishy single-ply Freedom Wool by Twilleys of Stamford. It’s a thicker yarn than the pattern calls for—something I didn’t realise until I swatched—but luckily that meant I just had to knit one size down to get the size I wanted. A nice change from having to knit several sizes up for my owls sweater. And I’m in love with the buttons too—purple-dyed shell, which I got at Tangled Yarns when I was in Brisbane in September. They aren’t exactly the same tone, but they match the yarn better than these photos suggest.

The thick woolliness of the yarn I used has made my purple Liesl warmer to wear than I expected, but this means it will just be a Spring-and-Autumn cardigan instead of a Summer-evening cardigan. Given the number of cardigans I’m planning to knit in the next few months, I’m pretty okay with that.

A slight word of warning if you choose to use this yarn: it’s soft, and squishy, and smooth, and almost the opposite of itchy, but being a thick single it’s loosely spun and does develop something of a halo pretty quickly. I’ve heard it’s easy to felt too, but I’m being anally-retentive-careful with this cardigan so that shouldn’t be an issue. I’m hoping it won’t pill too badly, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, cue more silly grins at the lacy prettiness, more sly snuggles of the epic softness, and many, many boasts of the general purple loveliness. And probably a good deal of wearing it, even when the weather’s really a bit too warm.

My favourite Christmas treat

November 20, 2009

Panettone!

Sweet, fragrant Italian cake that’s a lot like a soft fruit bread. I am addicted to this stuff and start buying it as soon as it appears, hanging from the ceiling in delicatessens like strange cubist garlands. And continue buying it as long as I can find it (one year it was available until April! Heaven). I have a vintage cake tin that is just the right size and shape to store a panettone, and it pretty much gets constant use over summer.

I love opening a fresh panettone—the floraly-zesty scent (what do they flavour it with?) is strongest then. I inhale the smell greedily after I’ve unwrapped it. Shucking the cardboard box, divesting the panettone of its plastic bag and then peeling away the paper is a ritual that promises exotic delights.

It’s not just the heady scent of panettone that makes it my favourite Christmastime indulgence. I love the lightly sweet, buttery taste, the juicy sultanas, and the contrasting textures of the crumb and the crust. I think part of the reason I eat a lot of it is that it’s not as sweet or as rich as many of the other Christmas treats we get. I love panforte, and almond bread, and fruitcake, and shortbread, and chocolates, and gingerbread, but I only want them every now and then. But panettone is perfect for everyday consumption—in fact I find it hard sometimes to limit myself to one piece a day!

Ooh, I’m getting hungry now. What’s your favourite Christmas treat?

My favourite dress

November 13, 2009

This week for Favourite Friday, I’d like to share my favourite dress.

sequins

This is a vintage 1960s handmade shift, with a wide neckline, no sleeves, a scooped back and body darts, falling to mid-calf, and covered, covered, in blue and green sequins.

vintage glamour

I found it last year on Ebay and loved it so much I hardly batted an eyelid at the international shipping charges. It’s always a bit risky buying clothes without trying them on, and with vintage you absolutely have to know your measurements, since sizing has changed so much. Even so, things sometimes need altering (and yes, I’m one of those people who sees no problem with altering vintage pieces). But this fits like it was made for me. I love it.

retro femininity

I love the way the sequins are sewn overlapping, like little scales. When I wear it I imagine I’m a mermaid or a magical sea creature. I love the wide and gently curved neckline, which shows a modest décolletage. I love how the back swoops slightly lower than usual. I love the colour, distinct blues and greens up close, but from further away melded into my favourite in-between shade, which so suits my pale skin. I love the length, longer than other skirts of the era, which is so flattering and at the same time a little classy. It’s funny how a few extra inches changes a look. I wore this to work on my birthday last year and it made the day wonderful, even if it was a little incongruous.

I love this dress because it’s special, because it’s one of a kind, because it’s pretty and sparkly and flattering, and because it makes me happy. It’s definitely my favourite.

favourite!

My favourite thing on a Friday

October 30, 2009

is dressing down. Yay for casual Fridays!

friday clothes

I’m lucky that I work somewhere where I can dress down any day I like. But there’s something about Fridays that just screams ‘casual!’. I guess it’s ’cause we’re thinking of the weekend, and we’re all fed up with playing Professional Workers since Monday. And anyway, what’s more awesome than being able to wear a t-shirt and Converse to work?

You’ll notice I look rather deliriously excited in this photo—this is not just because of casual Friday, but because I’m going away for the weekend. We have four days in the Blue Mountains, so I’ll see you on Wednesday. Till then, have a relaxing weekend, and if you’re having a little flutter on Tuesday, may the best horse win!

My favourite teapot

October 23, 2009

I guess it goes without saying that someone who drinks a lot of tea has a lot of teapots. And therefore qualifies to have a favourite teapot. But somehow it sounds like a rather strange concept, reminiscent of a deathly quiet social life and crippling OCD. Oh well. I’ve bucked plenty of other trends, I guess I can sidestep that stereotype too, right? I’d like you to think of me instead as someone with an enthusiasm for a delicate brew and a passion for fine crockery. And now that we’ve all got our thinking straight, let’s proceed.

My favourite teapot is actually only one of five—despite the aforementioned enthusiasms and passions, my teapot collection has been somewhat limited due to a lack of space. Oh, cruel fate! But all the crowded shelves and reasonable husbands in the world can’t restrain my natural urges for long. One day there will be more teapots. In the meantime, shelf space is given only to the very special. Like the original 1940s pot, brown and humble, mother pouring out cups on Sunday after Church. Or the space-age 70s pot with included cozy, a wool-lined, hard silver sphere that locks in place once the boiling water is added. But my natural sweetness and delicacy (ahem!) means that of course my utmost favourite, my very-smiley-special, is the glass teapot Phil gave me for my birthday a few years ago.

dappled light and glass

I just adore this teapot. It’s quite small and very delicate, the glassware slightly dappled around the main body of the pot. I love the shape of it—the pointed lip at the end of the spout, the squat and rounded body, the glass sphere handle on the lid. It’s one of those things that just makes me smile every time I use it, and I think that makes for a good possession. Why have things you’re lukewarm about, when you could have something that really lights that fire?

In deference to its delicacy I like to use this teapot for the more gentle brews—green tea, white tea, chamomile flowers. The transparency of the glass means teatime becomes a treat for the eyes as well as the nose and the tongue. Tea balls, those bundles of green tea leaves that unfold to present a flower, look amazing in this teapot.

so pretty

The matching glass warming-stand means you can linger over your cup, knowing that when you go back for another it will still be warm. The built-in wire strainer catches all but the tiniest of leaves, meaning an over-the-cup strainer is usually unnecessary. See, functional as well as beautiful.

And so beautiful. My favourite for so many reasons :)

My favourite day of the year

October 16, 2009

The 13th of October, because of what happened two years ago on that date.

just married

It’s the day my lovely husband Phil and I were married, outside under the trees in the morning, in the warmth of a Queensland spring, surrounded by our family and friends. It was such a special day for both of us—a chance to publicly declare our love, celebrate each other, spend time with the people important to us both, and a good excuse for a party. I remember parts of the day with such clarity—Emma doing my makeup in the morning, holding tightly to Phil’s hand as we walked across the grass towards the minister,  giving my parents the biggest bear hugs—but other parts are a blur, though a happy blur.

I know it sounds like a cliché, but I think I can truthfully say that my wedding day was the happiest day of my life. All the stress of planning and organising just wafted away once the ceremony started. I can remember looking up at the tree above us, beyond it to the blue sky, and then smiling to see all my loved ones sitting in front of me, smiling back. The day was just as I’d hoped—joyful, relaxed, friendly, happy, wonderful, funny, meaningful.

It’s hard to believe two years has passed since then, but the date engraved inside my ring tells me it’s true. When I tell people I’ve only been married for two years they smile and say that’s sweet, and then warn me that the honeymoon period doesn’t last forever. But while the marriage is young the relationship isn’t—Phil and I have been together for over nine years, and living together for over seven. I think we’ve got everything sorted out by now, and it makes me so happy that our relationship is better than ever—always affectionate, always best friends, always in love. The more I learn of the world, and watch the people around me, the more I realise how lucky I am.

This last Tuesday was our anniversary, and again, I spent the day feeling blessed and happy. It was the perfect opportunity to think about how happy my wonderful man has made me—and then, he sent me flowers at work!

red roses and purple tulips

Such a lovely surprise, I’ve never had flowers sent to work before. Which made the day also a good opportunity to boast.

I’m so loved, I’m so lucky, I’m so happy—all because of my wonderful husband. I wanted to take this opportunity to say thankyou to my favourite man, for making me feel so special on my favourite day of the year, and every other day too. <3