Category Archives: Misc

Miscellaneous Posts

Back – New Beginnings

To those who have subscribed to my blog, I want to apologize for the unexplained, and unexpected, hiatus.

In short, here is the last eight months (in brief):

  • Got asked to vacate our rental house, 3 months prior to the proposed completion date of our new home.  Contract ended, and the owners did not want to extend for a short period.
  • Chilli plants got dumped all over the verandah (thanks to the dog), none survived…but we won’t quit that project quite yet.  Look for a sequel soon.
  • Purchased a small (old) caravan and rented a shed to live in for the short 3 months until the house was finished.  This ended my blogging due to not being able to cook much of anything (except BBQ).
  • 3 months became 6 months, as weather and labour delays cost us dearly.  Christmas was spent in the shed, instead of a new home.
  • End of January, and our house was completed…at least the building.  Landscaping to come.

So now we are in a new home, and I have a nice space to start cooking again, it’s time to bring back the blog.

Thanks to those who have sent me messages.   The good news is that I am now contributing the occasional column to our local newspaper (The Daily Mercury, in Mackay Queensland).  The next entry will serve double duty as my submission to the paper…but here it is the directors cut.  The newspaper version will likely be shortened for space.

Grow your own Chilli’s – Week 2

Last week, I wrote a post about my ambitious attempt to plant 15 varieties of Chilli’s, bedding down 4 seeds of each for a total of 60 plants.  What I am going to do with 60 Chilli plants, should they all be successful, is beyond me, especially as one of the varieties will grow to be 4 metres tall and produce more than 20kg chilli’s in a season (and I planted 4 of these seeds too).  I guess those who have followed my blog thus far have realized that I am not one to think things through to their conclusion much of the time.

Still, the start of week 2 is here, and what an exciting week 1 it was!  It was way more exciting than watching grass grow, which is odd because here there was not even any plants to watch grow.  That was, until this morning…but more on that later.

It turns out that I really do need to water these things daily.  The paper egg cartons are a great idea, but they wick the water away from the soil very readily, especially with the ocean breeze blowing across them.  I learnt very quickly that a 2 day watering cycle wasn’t going to work.  Not only were they bone dry at the time of watering, but one occasion I found one of the cartons on the floor, contents partially spilled.

I am not sure if it was the wind that blew it of the table, I actually doubt it, or whether it was some wicked local animal playing mischievous games with my crop.  Number one suspect is my English Staffy, Brunson, but he denied any knowledge.  As you can see by the photo, however, he is hardly a dog to be trusted.

Brunson: Suspect #1, can’t be trusted.

I recovered about 4 seeds from the mess, and given the bulk of the soil was still in the cartons, I am pretty sure that most of the seeds stayed in the carton.  I did replant the escapees, and topped up the lost soil, so let’s hope that tray sprouts some time soon.

Today we are going to reveal the seeds planted in tray 1.  The seeds in tray 1 were given to me by Cecil at work, and I am not 100% sure of the actual varietal.  I can only go by what he has described, and maybe make some assumptions.

Tray 1, with 3 kinds of chilli’s

As it so happens, tray 1 is also the home of my first sproutling.  This morning, when I opened the cartons to water them, I noticed one of the seeds had burst forth a pale green shoot.  Very excited, especially as I didn’t expect any action until mid way through week 3.

My first chilli!

Seed #1:  Round Red Mild Chilli.

This is the seed that has sprouted for me already.  If it is as described, I will probably save these chilli’s for one of 2 uses:  stuffing (with a cream cheese mix) or pickling.  From the description, it is either a Pimento (very mild) or a Cherry Chilli (mild).

Seed #2:  Mild Bell Chilli

So, to me, this is a capsicum, or Bell Pepper.  It may end up being something more similar to a pimento, which is pretty much what I imagine Seed #1 to be, given the vague description given to me.  This blog entry is rapidly going down hill!  If it is the Pimento or Cherry Chilli, I’ll be looking to do the same as seed #1.

If it is a capsicum, I will be eating these raw…or roasting them and preserving them in oil.

Seed #3:  Long mild chilli

Again, a very vague description that could mean anything, however I am thinking they are the generic “Red Chilli” and “Green Chilli” which is common in mega marts around here.  Quite mild, i’ll be using them to give flavour to salsa’s and mild curries, as well as using them for Taco night, given the kids are not exactly chilli heads.

Pickled Chilli’s
(recipe courtesy Jamie Oliver)

  • 600gr / 1lb 5oz medium green chillies
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 6 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 litre / 1 3/4 pints white wine vinegar or rice vinegar

Stuffed Cherry Peppers (or Pimento’s)

  • 100g chopped and seeded Kalamata Olives
  • 100g soft goats cheese
  • 50g plain yoghurt
  • 1 lg garlic clove, minced

Blend ingredients and stuff the chilli’s.  Serve raw.  Pickled chilli’s can also be used here.

or

  • 150g cream cheese
  • 100g dried apricots, diced fine
  • 20g slivered almonds, toasted
  • pinch salt

Blend and stuff into chilli.  Wrap chilli with bacon or proscuitto, and bake in a hot oven until tender.

Stuffed Cherry Peppers

Next week we’ll cover the seed that have been planted in tray 2.  Hopefully i’ll get a few more sproutlings, and hopefully my wife will remember to look after whilst I am out of town this week, lol!

As always, enjoy the meal.

Grow your own – Chilli’s Chilli’s Chilli’s (Week 1)

For a country that is so heavily influenced culinarily by Southeast Asia, Australia sucks for chilli’s.  Some Aussies have a palatal penchant for the peppery pain, but for the most part, we’re a population that would rather eat a Vegemite Pizza (I shit you not) than sweat through a Vindaloo Pork.

Yes, I’d eat it. Vegemite Pizza sounds like a culinary fusion made in Italo-Austral heaven. Photo courtesy of fellow food blogger Wasabi’s Food Safari,

Add to this the fact that Aussies seem to have made a connection that equates Chilli’s to pain and suffering, and we have decided not to explore the multitude of mild chilli’s out there that taste absolutely amazing.  Even Capsicums (aka Bell Peppers) have been called Capsicums as if to deny their Chilli heritage.  Yes people, the Capsicum is a Chilli pepper.

Zero on the Scoville scale…the mildest Chilli of them all

One of the main disadvantages of this capsaicin averse culture, is that those of us who enjoy the occasional chilli cleansing have a difficult time finding a good range of chilli’s to satisfy the craving, and that most of the chilli sauces you do find, are Asian based and packed with sugar.

To this end, I have turned to the garden.  It’s not that I have a green thumb, God knows I don’t, but I am tired of not being able to get the chilli’s I want…and not just the hot ones.  So 4 of us at work pooled our resources (meaning cash), and we spent $100 on a decent variety of Chilli seeds to try and plant ourselves.

Two weeks later, and a small package arrives in the mail, filled with 11 varieties of Chilli’s, and my new adventure begins.

For the next few months I am going to keep you all updated with my growing efforts, and report weekly (with photographs, hopefully) on the progress of my micro crop.  I will use these subsequent posts to tell you about the chilli’s I have planted, and maybe give some recipes for each of the varieties to show that not all that is Chilli is hot.  Of course, some of the Chilli’s I have planted arrived with a health warning, and are so hot that you might have to put latex gloves on just to read the blog and view the pictures.

The rest of today’s blog, is guaranteed pain free however, as I will show you what I’ve done to get these Chilli seeds started.  15 types of seeds, with the 11 shipped and 4 I already had (thanks to Cec at work).

Using my collection of empty paper egg cartons (see honey, I told you collecting them would come in handy some day…I might just soundproof a room with the other hundred or so I have) I fill each “cup” with a heaping of potting mix. Tamp each carton down with another carton, and voila!

A single seed in each cup, and label the cartons so I don’t forget which is which (a good plan, given the potency of some of these chilli’s).
The magic of Photoshop clears the writing away, because I am going to unveil the varieties one week at a time.

A final covering of potting mix, and a good watering using a Seaweed based fertilizer (I hope that was a good idea), and my babies are ready.
4 of each of the 15 varieties…60 seeds in total.

And now we play the waiting game.  I’ll keep these watered, and hopefully before too long we’ll see some action.

Next week, I’ll talk about the first 3 varieties.

Jamie Oliver’s ministry of Food Ipswich Event – Video is Posted

In case you didn’t get to see the Webcast of the event, brought to you from Ipswich by The Good Guys, here is a link to the video.  The Good Guys have posted the video for you to watch whenever you can.

Jamie dispenses some good health wisdom to us all

Watch it and be inspired, oh and look out for the big guy in the Hawaiian shirt standing behind the Premier, Anna Bligh.

http://www.thegoodguys.com.au/mackay/content-ReadMore2?cm_sp=sidebar-_-leftpromoespot6-_-jamiefood

After you’ve watched it, click HERE to review the blogs, as written by the 4 finalists in The Good Guys Home Chef Blogger contest, and vote for the best blog.  Click the “Vote” button on this page, because there seems to be an issue with the buttons on the actual blog pages.

My Jamie Oliver Blog – Posted (finally)

Well, here is the link to The Good Guy blogging page:

https://www.facebook.com/thegoodguysAU?sk=app_203351739677351

They are 4 really great pieces of writing, so read them all for each of our perspectives.  Vote for the best of them, and if that’s me, vote for me.  If you don’t want to read them all, read mine and then vote for me, lol.

The whole process was mentally exhausting, and I take my hat off to those who write for a living.  Writing a blog when it’s for fun is one thing.  Writing something when it really counts, it was very stressful.

Still, I hope you all appreciate the result.  It has been a fun ride, and wouldn’t change a thing win or lose.

Enjoy, and thanks for your support.

It's a new superhero called APRON MAN!

The Good Guys Blogging Contest

The blog is done…I think.  I have ached over it for hours, writing and re-writing, and I think I have finally come up with something I am happy with.

Thanks heaps to my lovely wife, who did the bulk of the critiquing, and thanks to Azra, who helped put the finishing touches together, I have met the deadline and submitted my entry (along with photo’s).

Now The Good Guys will collect the entries, and post them online in the next day or so.  I will follow this up with the link to the voting, and I will also write up a blog for this site to post.

Unfortunately I can’t give you a preview of my entry, but hopefully it fits with my “style”.

Thank you all for your support, past and ongoing, and I look forward to blogging from London (if and when I win, of course).

2011 Lunar Eclipse

Full Lunar EclipseFull Lonar Eclipse with Aura2011 Lunar Eclipse 08Full Eclipse with auraLunar Eclipse Double Moon3/4 Lunar Eclipse (Cloudy)
3/4 Lunar Eclipse1/2 Lunar Eclipse with Cloud Cover1/2 Lunar Eclipse with cloud cover1/3 Lunar Eclipse

2011 Lunar Eclipse, a set on Flickr.

Here are my photos of the Lunar Eclipse from Charters Towers

Lunar Eclipse – Charters Towers

The full Lunar Eclipse happened during our night in Charters Towers.  Probably a good thing as Mackay was hit with some nasty storms, which may have ruined the viewing.

With the weather mostly over for us in Charters, we were able to catch occasional glimpses through the cloud cover.  Some of the shots are made by the cloud, i’m sure you’ll agree.

So after a day of driving, I braved exhaustion and stayed up to witness the rare event, and shoot these pics.

What is Mirepoix Au Gras?

In culinary terms, a Mirepoix is a preparation of aromatic vegetables (traditionally Carrots, Onions and Celery) used as a base for many soups and stews.  It is one of the foundation preparations of cooking.

A Mirepoix Au Gras means the base preparation is cooked “With Fat”, typically  bacon or ham or some fatty pork.

Life’s Mirepoix is Food, Travel, and Family/Friends.

This Blog is to celebrate the Mirepoix of life, and will be used as a Food Blog, a Travel Blog, and just a general blog about Family, Friends, and good times.

Plus…the bacon.  From time to time you will find other topics discussed and opined, including Movies, Books, Theatre, TV Shows, Sporting Events, Politics, just about anything I feel I want to share some personal point of view on.

So, enjoy my ramblings, and those of whomever choose to contribute, and feel free to respond with hearty agreeance, or angered dissaproval of, anything I may write.  Not all will share my point of view, a fact I understand quite well (I am married, after all).