Sunday 30 October 2011

Pudim Flan - Portuguese Creme Caramel

Creme Caramel is a traditional pudding served the whole year round. In Portugal it will be hard not to find a restaurant that does not have this Pudding in it´s dessert menu.

There are hundreds of variations of this recipe as well, but this one is pretty easy as only a cup is used to measure ingredients.
It is usually baked in a special tin, but if you don´t have it use a cake tin with a hole in the middle if baking in the oven, or if using a pressure cooker use an ovenproof glass bowl and cover the top with a double layer of tin foil and a lid if the bowl has one.

1cup sugar (for caramel)
1 cup of eggs (usually about 6)
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of milk
10ml grated lemon rind
25ml Port wine

Make the caramel by placing 1cup sugar in a heavy saucepan and melt over low heat until it turns golden. Pour into the pudding tin or bowl and move it around until all sides and middle area are covered.

In a bowl beat the eggs, sugar, milk, lemon rind and Port wine until sugar is dissolved. Do not overbeat.

Pour this mixture into the caramel lined tin. Place in a bain-marie containing enough hot water to reach half way up the side of the tin. Bake in the oven at 140ºC for about an hour until firm, or cook in a pressure cooker for 5 minutes, then leave inside the pressure cooker until it is cool.
If oven baked, remove from oven, let cool, then place tin in the fridge overnight.
Invert on to a platter with high sides, just before serving.

(Do not take it out of the tin before it is cool, it will break easily).
- You can substitute orange or pineapple juice for the milk and add orange liqueur instead of Port wine.
My pudding tin

The pudding in the tin , note the caramel coating

Pudding cooking in a bain-Marie

A bit of the top (previous bottom) stuck to the tin, maybe too little caramel coating the tin.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Saturday in the Kitchen

After a well attended Barbecue on the Perth foreshore, the Queen and the Duke departed Australia this afternoon. I didn´t attend the bbq, as I´m not too fond of crowds, although it would have been a fun and memorably occasion.
Instead I did my weekly shopping, then prepared and cooked 2 meals for the week - one of them being the Spinach tart, that I previously blogged about, as my son who is not too fond of vegetables liked it very much.
Spinach Tart
This time I added a few slices of Chorizo cut into cubes, 1 teaspoon of Mustard, 1 chopped onion and half a dozen chopped mushrooms. Don´t forget to squeeze the spinach very well after it is cooked, otherwise the tart will be a bit runny.

I also baked a Christmas cake - I will have to try it first as it was a new recipe from a Gluten free cookbook I have, far too easy, so the verdict is still out. Right now I have poured a bit of Port wine over the cake and will let it absorb it for a couple of days. If it is good I will post the recipe.

Christmas Cake

I then did a bit of weeding in the garden, and for the first time in months went for a brisk walk around the neighborhood for half and hour before the sun set. All very quiet except for a couple of people walking their dogs.

Photos taken on my walk
Hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing weekend too. xxx

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Perth welcomes CHOGM 2011

Chogm  = Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Every two years the Commonwealth leaders meet to discuss global and Commonwealth issues, and agree on collective policies and initiatives, working together to improve the quality of life in their countries and to build a better world. This year 53 member countries have been invited to attend this meeting, including delegates of my birth country - Mozambique.
This year it´s been held in Perth (Australia), and will include a visit to by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, giving West Australians a rare chance to see the Royal couple.
Queen and Duke arriving in Perth
The Queen and the Duke are already in Australia, having already visited Canberra and Brisbane, and will fly into Perth on Wednesday 26th.
During 11 days, a lot of cultural and sporting events will be held, more than 70 of these events being free.
Most of the city centre will be close to traffic due to security reasons, but all public transport will FREE on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th, to encourage people to leave their cars at home and come and enjoy the festivities. Friday will be a public holiday in Perth.
On Saturday 29th, there will be a huge community barbecue on the Perth foreshore where everyone is invited to join Her Majesty on her final public engagement of her Australia Tour. The barbecue will run from 9am to 12,15pm, and the Queen will arrive at 11,10 and depart at 11,55am.
Around 120 barbecue stalls will be located along the river front with volunteers selling $2 sausage sizzles and $1 drinks, and the funds raised will be distributed to various charity institutions.

A lot of the representatives started flying in last Sunday, and when we drove my husband to the airport on his way to Adelaide, we noticed a lot of police activity around the roundabouts leading to both the International and the Domestic airport.
An exciting time in Perth !!

10 Things You Didn't (need to) Know About Me

It´s meme time and I was lucky enough to be tagged by the world traveller Amanda, and that means that I have to write a post about 10 things you didn´t (and don´t need to?) know about me.
Hope I can think up of 10 interesting things to tell you!!

1 - I have always been shy, but the last couple of years I have been making a big effort to participate more in group conversations or to even make small chit-chat to strangers. (Maybe hitting 50 helped me unwind!!)

2 - I can´t use chopsticks although I love eating Chinese food. I have been shown mountains of time but just can´t seem to get the hang of it. And Chinese restaurants never give you knives, so I have trouble just using a fork to eat. Because I´me now gluten intolerant and don´t eat all Chinese foods anymore, I eat mainly rice and vegetable dishes.

3 - I like to have more than one craft project on the go at all times, I seem to get a bit bored doing just one thing until the end.

4 - The same for books - I usually start reading 2 or 3 books and alternate reading a few chapters from each.

5 - I have a sweet tooth, and would rather eat sweet than savoury food.

6 - I am a great dessert maker, and whenever we get invited to friend´s houses they always ask me to bring dessert. Somehow my cakes rarely turn out well. They get eaten nonetheless, mostly by me!!
My chocolate Mousse

7 - I´m not a sporty person, hated participating in sports in school and don´t follow much sport on TV either, apart from the Olympics which I enjoy.

8 - I love necklaces, have probably over 50 of them in various colours and always wear one matching my outfit. I have been collecting them over many years and a lot of friends knowing of my penchant give them to me as gifts.

9 -  I like to move furniture around all the time and redecorate, but because I try to do too much on my own, I then get backache from all the pushing and shoving, so I have put a stop to that....unless I have willing help.

10 - Just like Amanda, I have never been to Bali. When you live in Perth, it´s like saying you´ve never been out of your city. It´s cheaper and quicker to fly to Bali than to any other Australian city. I have heard good and bad things about Bali, so haven´t yet made up my mind if that is a place where I would like to go.

Finally, such a meme requires that I tag other blogging friends to have a go at the same thing.
So, taking inspiration from my meme write your own post on 10 things we don´t know about you!
Good luck, hope to read some interesting things about you!

Friday 21 October 2011

Spinach Tart

I have been gathering some tips on green living from a very interesting and informative book, that I borrowed from my local library - "Green Living" (eco-friendly homes, natural gardening, organic, food, energy saving and recycling), written by Sarah Callard & Diane Millis.
Apart from some very important information on various topics, they had a few recipes, and one of them caught my eye as it was easy and didn´t need any pastry and it was gluten free as well.
So yesterday, I whipped it up in a few minutes and as I had a lasagna to put in the oven, I put both in at the same time saving some electricity as well.



500gr ricotta
5 tablespoons sour cream (I used fresh cream)
1 egg, lightly beaten
a pinch of nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped dill (I put other herbs)
2 tablespoons pine kernels, chopped and toasted (I left this out)
50 gr grated Parmesan cheese
500gr baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon water 

Preheat oven to 160ºC. In a bowl smooth the ricotta with a fork, and combine with the sour cream, egg, nutmeg, pepper and salt.
Wilt the spinach in a pan with the water for 1 minute, drain and chop them finely.
Stir the spinach, Parmesan cheese, pine kernels and dill into the ricotta mix.
Spoon into a greased pirex dish, and bake for 25-30 minutes until firm and golden.
Let it cool for 5 minutes before serving.

                                                             * * * * * * * * * * 

PS: I didn´t have spinach, but I had about 400gr of rocket, so I used that instead, and it tasted good as well.
Next time I might make some changes such as adding bits of ham or some slices of chourizo cut into tiny pieces.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Saving lives with CPR

As part of our ongoing education at the GP clinic where I work, a colleague and I took part today in the St.John´s Ambulance Basic Resuscitation course.

The course lasted 4 hours and we learned how to do CPR - Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation technique, by doing compressions and mouth to mouth breathing in the manikins.
As we were doing our first tries someone came running into the hall asking for help as just across the road an elderly man had fallen off his motorized scooter and was lying on the road.
Our trainer ran out, pulled on his gloves and started checking the man. We could see across the road that he was bleeding. A few seconds later a couple of the trained volunteers crossed the road to check the injured man and an ambulance pulled up to drive the man to hospital as he had deep lacerations to his legs and arms.
The scooter was brought for safe keeping to the St John´s premises.
So a bit of fun (not for the injured man of course) was had with a live rescue.
Follow the DRS ABCD

Sunday 16 October 2011

Renovating Weekend - Dining Room and Laundry

I had been thinking of changing the look of my dining room chairs from the brown leather type material to something with turquoise blue to match the wall colour, to bring it more up to date with the look of the renovated kitchen. I felt that the kitchen being so modern, the dining room looked far too austere and out of place.  The dining suite is made of solid Cherie wood, and we brought it with us from Portugal, so it´s the type of furniture that will last a while, so I didn´t want to change it.
On Friday I went to Spotlight and decided to buy 1mt of a furnishing fabric that would match the wall perfectly. Maybe I should have gone for something a bit bolder, but I didn´t want to start too bold, baby steps first...

On Saturday, while my husband was putting the finishing touches to the laundry, like securing the bench top to the cupboards, drilling holes for the handles, etc, I started dismantling the chair seats by unscrewing the four screws underneath - in fact except for 1 chair, all 5 others only had 3 screws, they must have been saving some pennies, but as my husband said "If they saved 1 screw for each chair they made, it would add to many thousands and that would be a fair bit of money".
I then cut the material in 6 matching bits and with the help of a hand held stapler, I stapled it tight over the original cover material. One hour later I had my brand new chairs. 

 My husband thinks I should add some covers for the back too, so I might by a bit more material and make 1 cover and see how it looks...

Boring brown chairs
Unscrewing the chair seat from the frame
The old and the new
I also decided to add to the art collection on the wall. I had hung 3 pictures originally, but I found two more in the garage that would be suitable for the dining area - (this was a little seating area before, although I had already changed the dining area to this room when we finished renovating the kitchen).  I first cut newspaper  to match the picture sizes and hung them on the wall in various positions until I was happy with the outcome, then after much measuring I finally hung the 5 pictures.(if you look closely the picture on the left is closer to the middle one compared to the picture on the right, even after all the measuring). A bit too much art for the small wall perhaps, but I will live with it for a while and see if it grows on me.

The original 3 pictures and former seating area

Trying out the newspaper cuttings
The final choice - except for the top right picture in a gold frame, all others were painted by me
The dining room with the newly covered chairs and picture gallery
What do you think, does the dining room look a bit more modern now? 

The newly renovated laundry: 
This is how it looked when we bought the house
The start, the fridge is out and now we have a broom cupboard and  wall cupboards,
same washing machine that we inherited from previous owner.
The finished laundry - new front loader and sink.
Still missing 2 small shelves over sink and to glue some black  laminate in the
benchtop corners that were cut at an angle

Friday 14 October 2011


Fat Cat hugs one of the kids
For the non-Australians and for the non-Perth residents, Telethon is a yearly event that takes up a whole weekend on Channel 7 TV station, who is a major sponsor, and is broadcast from the Perth Convention Centre. 
It´s an event dedicated to raising funds to help improve the lives of children throughout Western Australia, by supporting research into children´s diseases, supporting children´s hospitals and other charitable organisations.
It was first started in 1968, and it has to date raised over $103 million.
Throughout the year the fundraising team have various projects to raise money, such as The Lexus Ball, Telethon Christmas sizzle, selling Fat Cat dolls at the Friendlies chemists, Viva kids photo album, Monopoly and Bingo games at Burswood Entertainment complex, etc.
Apart from this, a lot of West Australian companies support the charity, such as building companies and their suppliers who build two houses, one in Perth and another in a country town, to be auctioned on the weekend, and all the money raised goes to the Telethon charities.
Other big sponsors are the Sunday Times Newspaper group with their call centre and information technology department.
This is a fun weekend on TV, with a lot of high profile personalities, singers, dancers, actors, offering their services by manning the phones and performing for the huge audiences both on the local and via the tv broadcasts.
This year TV stars from the series "Home and Away", "Packed to the Rafters" and "Winners and Losers" will be making an appearance, plus some impressive musical acts such as: The Ten Tenors, Deff Leppard,
Shannon Noll (Australian Idol winner 2003) , Jack Vidgen (Australia has Got Talent 2011 winner), Mark Vincent (Australia has Got Talent 2009 winner), Stan Walker (Australian Idol 2009 winner) and Emmanuel Kelly, a favourite, but now eliminated contestant of Australian X-Factor 2011).
Many radio and TV personalities will also be participating.
The TV coverage starts on Channel 7, on Saturday 15th at 6,30pm and ends on Sunday 16th at 8,30pm.
Donations can be made via phone on 1300 737 507.
Australians are a very generous nation, so I´m sure that once again Telethon will be a big success.

Will you be watching Telethon and who are your favourite stars appearing this weekend?

On my mind is a Friday link-up photo feature linking from Rhonda at Down to Earth.

Sunday 16th - PS:  Just to let you all know, the Perth Telethon weekend raised the sum of $13,473,159.00.
This was the most amount ever raised, and this was raised in West Australia alone.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Very busy weekend - lemon cordial, soap and dinner/dance

This weekend I managed to achieve quite a lot on my to-do list.
On Saturday I made 4 litres of Lemon Cordial using lemon juice and a syrup made of 1 litre water to 1 kg sugar for every litre of juice. A lot of juicing, but worthwhile, natural and refreshing.
A nice glass of cordial with mint leaves

Then after a bit of preparation I finally made the soap from Rhonda´s recipe. It was easier than I had anticipated and today I have already taken them out of their silicon moulds and they will now dry for 6 weeks until they are ready to use.

Here is the recipe :

450ml rain water, or distilled water. (If using tap water let stand for 24 hours before using)
172gr caustic soda/lye
1litre olive oil (a cheap one will do)
250gr copha (vegetable fat made from hydrogenated coconut oil),found in the butter section or coconut oil.

Materials needed :
Measuring jug
Stainless steel pot (do not use aluminium pots)
Stainless steel, plastic or wooden spoon 
Kitchen thermometer
Mixer or electric blender

- Measure all ingredients beforehand.
- Work in a well ventilated area, as when you mix the caustic soda with water, the mix can burn you or the the bench tops, and it emits fumes.
- Make sure there are no children or pets around when you are working with the caustic soda.

PS: Animal or vegetable fats can be used to make soap. All soaps are made using caustic soda, but when they go through the chemical process (saponification) all ingredients come together over the course of a few weeks and the caustic soda is neutralised making the soap safe to use. Home made soap contains natural glycerin unlike the commercial soaps where it is extracted and other chemicals are added to counteract this, and the glycerin is then sold as an expensive product.

Preparing and measuring the ingredients

1  - Measure all ingredients and oil the moulds first. Cover the counters with newspaper. 
      Wear gloves and goggles.                                                                        
 2 - Pour all the oils and copha into a stainless steel pot and heat until the temperature 
      reaches 50ºC.

Add the caustic soda to the water, not the other way around


3 -  Pour the caustic soda into a jug and mix until dissolved (careful with the fumes). The mix will heat up, so you have to wait until the temperature comes down to 50ºC.
  4 - Using the thermometer check the temperatures of both the oil and the caustic soda and 
       when  both reach 50ºC you can mix them, pouring the oil into a mixing bowl first, then           the caustic soda.      
The oils and caustic soda mix are now together
The soap mix reaches trace

5 - Mix with a hand blender, I used my Kenwood mixer. Start in the lowest setting so the mix doesn´t splash, (I have a cover that fits over the bowl) and when it's thick increase the speed, until it reaches trace - that is when the soap thickens. If you drizzle soap it leaves traces that  don´t disappear into the mix. 
It could take about 10 minutes, but it all depends on different oils used.

If you want to use essential oils or essences you can add them at this stage.
I sometimes add oats.
The moulds are already oiled
I used a soup ladle to pour into the moulds

6- You can use silicon moulds (used for cakes) or well washed milk cartons or plastic containers. (Again - use no aluminium) I used a soup ladle to help pour the mix into the moulds.
7 - Wrap the moulds with some towels or blankets to keep the mix warm.
8 - After about 15 hours unmould and cut into bars.  
9 - Let dry for 6 weeks before using.    
Ready to dry for 6 weeks
Some interesting sites with soap recipes (they are in imperial measurements, you would need to convert to metric if using these recipes) -
Saponification - scientific explanation

                                                          * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
After the soap making session it was time to get dressed and ready to go to a Dinner/Dance at the Portuguese Social Club. The event was being held at the Stirling Bowling club.
The dinner was Beef Curry or Beef Stew, and both were very tasty.
The party theme was "Madeira 
Island", but not many people were wearing the Madeira traditional dress, I don´t think it would be easy to find such an outfit in Perth. Entertainment was good, starting with various talented young singers and then the DJ carried on with dance music until the early hours of the morning. We had a big group of 20 people sitting at two tables and it was a very pleasant evening.

Hubby and I after a dance
The hall before the party started
The traditional Madeira house - a miniature on stage

The traditional Madeira outfits

On the Sunday morning we woke up at 6AM with loud noises on the roof of the house, and I realized it was hail. I quickly jumped out of bed, went to the linen cupboard and grabbed some bath towels and ran outside to the driveway to cover our car.

As we had arrived home after 1am, we left the car in the driveway as the garage door makes a huge noise when opening. I certainly didn´t want to get some dents in the car, as some unlucky people had when Perth was hit bit a big hailstorm last year. 

It hailed for about half an hour before it stopped and a couple of hours later the day was sunny and warm. 
Of course I came back inside dripping wet as not even the umbrella covered me properly as I ran around throwing towels over the car...

My son who woke up later hadn´t even heard the hail and found it strange that I had covered the car and that there was an open umbrella outside the front door when it was such a sunny day.

My car covered in bath towels
The grass covered in hail balls
 All in all we had a very busy and fun weekend. I hope you all had a great weekend too.

Friday 7 October 2011

On my mind - My spring garden

Linking from Down to Earth this is a Friday photo feature that anyone can join.

On arriving home from work today I walked around our back garden enjoying and admiring the lovely spring flowers. I don´t have many or a great variety, but here are the photos I took.

The lovely jasmin

I´m growing three jasmin bushes so they cover this side fence

Pink Kangaroo Paw

Another climber that covers the back fence