Last post I mentioned the planets in alignment. This week I managed a bit of alignment myself. Got the tri-pod set up, got the remote shutter cord attached, camera on tripod and woke up in time to catch a time lapse photo between cloud cover.
Monday 16th May 2011.
Wow! I slept through the night again. It sure takes a long time to begin to relax. I guess I still have more than 50 years of corporate life to put behind me. Although I am now working again I know it is only for a short time to clear the credit card, purchase a few items we need for our life on the road and to build up the coffers for unexpected expenses.
Today I planned to erect our new change tent and set up the washing machine inside and refer to it as our laundry room. There was a strong wind warning in place so I delayed setting up until I was sure the tent would not get blown away while I was halfway through the process.
Well, the change tent/shower tent/laundry tent is up, a slatted wooden base holds the washing machine level and the water, power and drainage is fitted and a couple of loads of washing run through the washer. After use we just zipped up the front and all our washing gear is out of sight and it looks quite neat and presentable.
Tonight I made mushroom soup from scratch (I did cheat a little, using Campbells stock instead of making my own but that’s because I could not get any chicken frames to make the broth). There was enough for seconds and an entrée size portion each for tomorrow night. I used 275 gr of mushrooms but that is because that is all I had but 400 gr, which the recipe calls for, would make a more intense flavour. Yes it does have a little cream and some butter and of course we made some rye croutons and it was a delicious meal. Far, far better than anything which comes out of a can. It cost less than $6 including all ingredients for such a great meal. Next time mushies are on special I will be making this soup again. Um, to be on the safe side I had better keep a container of Campbells Chicken broth in the pantry.
There has been a strong wind warning in place all day and heavy rain fell in the afternoon.
Drum Roll for the recipe…
Ingredients (serves 4) This is 4 generous serves.
1 onion, sliced
400g field mushrooms, roughly chopped (I only used 275 gr so the 400 gr would make a really nice soup)
2 garlic cloves, crushed (I used 5 cloves but that is a personal choice)
3 cups (750ml) beef stock (I used 4 cups and omitted the water)
1 cup (250ml) water
1 (250ml) cream (I used about 125 ml of thickened cream and would probably use the full 250 ml next time)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt and cracked black pepper ( I also used a half chilli, including the seeds, finely sliced)
crispy croutons, to serve
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Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushroom and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the stock and water and cook for 35 minutes or until mushrooms are very tender.
Remove from heat and, using a hand blender, process until almost smooth. Return pan to heat and stir in the cream, chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
Ladle soup between serving bowls and serve with crispy croutons.
Tuesday 17th May
A strong wind warning was in place today with the chance of local showers. It was delightful in the sun out of the wind. The wind is from the cold southern states but we should be back to warmer days and nights by the weekend. No rain today.
I walked 10klms for my work today. I must mention my good running shoes (which I use as walking shoes). They are Asics Gel 1150 and depending on where and when you buy them could cost you as much as $200 or more. I bought mine for $80 at a store closing in Goondwindi last December. It was a bargain but with the price came a bit of sorrow. The store has been a Goondiwindi icon for over 100 years but they just cannot compete with costs and called it quits and sold everything at around half price. Some items were being sacrificed at $20 for things like jeans and leather sandals (which I also bought)
A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I played squash almost every night or day of the week. I was not a champion but not a bad player nonetheless and always got invitations to play particularly to fill in for higher grades. I always spent the big dollars and bought good quality shoes. Initially, the shoes I bought were called Tigers. They were so light and flexible on my feet. You could almost tie the shoes in a knot. Asics bought out Tiger and continued the quality running and sporting shoes tradition.
Peta J came over to visit us this afternoon and go for a walk along the beach with Donnis.
Peta is Donnis’ son, Peter, ex-girlfriend. She is such a nice person and we have continued the relationship with her. She is a Catholic School teacher, in her first year as a teacher.
Wednesday 18th May
It is my day off and according to my supervisor, my next shift is Sunday morning, unless I get called in as a back-up.
Today I did a load of washing and re-arranged the hose supplying water to WWWGO and the washing machine by installing a Y valve with on/off taps. I did a bit of reading a book and a bit of time reading a blog by a couple who started out travelling in a Toyota Troop Carrier about the same time we started our retirement travels in September last year.
Apart from the strong wind warning there were scuds of rain all day. Each time I decided to sit outside in the sun or walk the kilometre to the supermarket it would rain and I would scramble to get the clothes off the line then re-hang them later when the rain passed on. A most frustrating day from that point of view. The sun comes out, the wind picks up, the clouds roll in and it rains. The sun comes out etc.
I did take the opportunity to try a new casserole as follows.
Basic beef casserole Ingredients (serves 6)
1 tbs vegetable oil
40g unsalted butter
1kg gravy beef or chuck steak, roughly chopped into 2.5cm chunks (I only used 600 gr)
2 onions, finely chopped (I used three small)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large carrots, cut into 2cm cubes
2 tbs plain flour
1 tbs tomato paste (I used 2 tbs)
1 cup (250ml) dry red wine
2 cups (500ml) beef stock (used stock cubes)
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbs oregano leaves
(I also added pepper n salt and half a finely sliced chilli. I also added a can of drained chick peas and a small can of baked beans to give a bit of additional texture and bulk)
Heat half the oil and half the butter in a large wide-based casserole over high heat. When hot, cook the beef, in 3 batches, for 2 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to a bowl.
Heat the remaining oil and butter in same pan over low heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic and carrots and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the flour and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for a further minute. Increase the heat to high and return the beef and juices to the pan with the red wine. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until wine is reduced by half.
Reduce heat to medium-low, then add stock and tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2-1 3/4 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender and sauce is thick. Stir in the oregano leaves and serve.
While the casserole was simmering, Donnis was studying at the table and I was reading, lying on the bed. We heard a voice from outside calling “Donnis? Are you there?” She went outside and called to me to “come quickly, Jason’s here.” Jason? Jason? I thought. Who is Jason? Stepping outside I saw it was my neice Kelly and her partner Jason called in for a surprise visit. They had only arrived in Bucasia the day before. They have been travelling around Oz for the last three years. Kelly is 5 months pregnant and decided to return to their home in Bucasia to have the baby and Jason can obtain work. Kelly’s dad lives around the corner in Bucasia and her brother Aaron lives at Slade Point about 20 minutes away. It makes sense to return to your own home and have family around when your first child is due. That was a wonderful surprise visit and we look forward to a family barbecue next week.
Thursday 19th May.
Another cool, windy and occasionally sunny, day.
Donnis alarm went off at 5.30am. Normally I would toss n turn or get out of bed and help her with breakfast or lunch. This morning I stayed in bed and woke just before 7am. What the…? I never heard her making breakfast or getting dressed for work or leaving WWWGO or starting the car and driving off. Wow. I musta been tired.
It rained off n on during the day.
Friday 20th May
Another cool, windy and sunny day.
I was out walking the creek today and saw a Brahminny Kite hovering in thermals above the beach and creek.
I have always called these magnificent birds a Sea Eagle. In fact the Sea Eagle is mostly white in the underbelly and chest whereas the Brahminny Kite has a clearly delineated white chest only. I watched as it went into a speed descent with wings tucked in and hurtling towards the water. At the last possible moment it pulled out of the dive and grabbed at something with its talons then swiftly flapping its large wings to gain altitude. A group of Masked Lapwings took turns harrying the Kite like a set of fighter pilots and chittering away at the Kite as they pulled away from their target. The Kite continued to ignore them but they just kept on and on with their aerial bombardment.
For dinner we had a wonderful Asian Crab Omelette drizzled with stock diluted oyster sauce. I will not bore you with another recipe unless I get requests.
Saturday 21st May
Heavy rain woke us.
Later in the morning I left Donnis to continue her studies while I drove to Mackay to purchase a replacement Town Water Pressure Valve and Water Inlet. Ours has never worked on town water as it leaks heavily when the tap is turned on. Regretably it is a sealed unit so replacing worn washers is not an option. I will fit it on Monday, my next day off. I drove to daughter Melissa property at Finch Hatton to collect our mail, barbecue, the bike helmet, bathroom items and a dozen fresh eggs.
Tonight we went to the movies to see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, On Stranger Tides. We chose to see the 3D version and so glad we did. Yes. OK. It was just an excuse to continue to make money from a successful franchise and Johnny Depp continues to play the part of Jack Sparrow in a camp way and Jefferey Rush plays his foil. The 3D effects are quite effective and the screen seems to be right in your face. The price of admission is much dearer. Given that it costs more, and the story line is a bit thin, we still enjoyed the 3D experience. If you like a swashbuckler movie and if you can suspend your logical mind for a few hours (the movie runs for 2.30 hours) it was an enjoyable experience. Of course Johhny Depp is in control and I could not help waiting for his next one liner which usually made the theatre audience roar with laughter.
Sunday 22nd May.
A workday for FrankieG today. He walked 8klms. Did not finish until 5.30pm.
Donnis did housework.
It rained on and off. Mostly on, so the raincoat and umbrella came in handy.