Monday 31 December 2012

2012 My year in Pictures

This is a picture round-up of some interesting highlights of my year, month by month.

A visit to an Open Garden  in Mosman Park, with an eclectic display of tiles and pottery
An interesting tram tour of Fremantle, and a visit to the Fremantle Prison with ex-work colleagues
Queen Mary 2 visits Perth waters for the first time - here she departs to Adelaide from Fremantle port (I saw here again in Adelaide the following week...)
I visited Adelaide in South Australia - Glenelg Marina
Sculpture by the Sea exhibition - in the beach at Cottesloe

Cute Little Penguins at Penguin Island, across the sea from Rockingham (south of Perth city)
A night of "Fado" at the Portuguese Club (traditional music)

Visiting my daughter in France - here in the village of Roussillon

Martigues - the village where my daughter lives. We visited many interesting villages in the Provence area.

From France to Portugal - here I am in Braga - in the north, visiting a long time friend. I also met up with my Wedding Godparents who I hadn´t seen for over 15 years.
Another flight from Portugal, brings me to the evergreen islands of the Azores, to visit my husband´s family -  the "Seven Cities lagoon" in São Miguel.

Back in Portugal - a visit to the southern beaches of Algarve - for a long awaited  family reunion with  my parents, sisters, nieces, nephews and daughter. We are spread all over the world - Portugal, South Africa, France, Holland and Australia.
Unfortunately missing from our reunion were my husband and son and my youngest sister´s husband who could not travel at the time.
Still in the Algarve I visited the magnificent 10th International Sand Sculptures Festival (Fiesa), whose theme was "Idols"
I also met up with fellow blogger Carole from "Piglet in Portugal"
From Algarve to Lisbon - a bus tour took us to beautiful monuments -  Commerce Square built after the 1755 earthquake

Strolling around Parque das Nações - The Expo 98 "Park of  the Nations" in Lisbon

                             My youngest sister, nephews and daughter at west portal of the Church of Santa Maria at Mosteiro dos 
                          Jerónimos (Hieronymites Monastery), Belém, Lisbon

A much too short visit to Sintra revealed some wonderful sights - the Moorish Castle at the top of the hill


Back in Australia - took friends who recently arrived in Perth to the Araluen Botanic Park, in the hills - the tulips were in bloom

Also took them the visit the native wildlife at the Cohunu Koala Park, and they were thrilled with the cute Koalas.

And we also visited the Mandurah canals.

September´s most important event - my son´s Graduation ceremony of course!

Travelled to Adelaide again - Rundle Mall, the main shopping arcade

Having fun at the 40th "City to Bay" marathon - after the arrival of the runners and walkers in Glenelg.

A visit to the Adelaide Zoo to see the Pandas was the highlight of another visit to Adelaide.
More gardening to prepare the garden for summer and the Christmas Eve get-together at our place
Our 32nd wedding anniversary on the 30th November was spent in Victor Harbour, south of Adelaide.
 (my husband still had the moustache and beard for the "Movember" fundraising event...I didn´t like it as it made him look older)
Visiting Granite Island, across from Victor Harbour, in South Australia
Our Christmas tree

One of the beautifully decorated houses at Christmas time
I have to be thankful for a great year, I made new friends, real and virtual, had great dinner parties with some lovely friends, travelled overseas where I met up with my daughter and also with my youngest sister and nephews whom I hadn´t seen in 5 years, travelled in Australia, mainly to Adelaide where hubby is working...
May the New Year bring you all health and happiness and peace in our world.
Thanks to all my readers and followers for being part of my year.

Sunday 30 December 2012

Pasteis de Bacalhau - Codfish Fritters

Pasteis de Bacalhau (Codfish Fritters) are traditionally made the whole year around, but are ideal to use up Codfish leftovers from the Christmas dinner.They are lovely as starters at a party, and I just made them today to take to the New Year's eve dinner tomorrow at the Portuguese club, as we have to take our own food for the night. They are easy to make and you could also use any white fish to make these and they would be ideal to feed children who don't like fish. They wouldn't have the same taste though.In Portugal you find them in every Coffee shop and can be bought to eat as a snack, and in restaurants they would be accompanied by Tomato rice or a green salad. Can be served hot or cold. 
Ingredients:300gr codfish (already desalted by soaking in water for 2 days, changing the water 2 or 3 times a day)300gr boiled potatoes2 or 3 eggs1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, crushedParsley, salt and pepperOil to fryBoil the codfish in water for about 15 or 20 min. if not using the Christmas leftovers. Remove skin and bones and put in a food processor until it is shredded. If doing by hand, make sure the pieces are quite small.Boil the potatoes in their skins. Drain them, peel and puree them. Add potatoes to the fish, add the chopped onion and crushed garlic and chopped parsley.Add the eggs, one a time and stir well and adjust the seasoning. The mixture should be stiff.Using 2 tablespoons, shape the mixture into oval shaped cakes. Fry in very hot oil until golden brown.Drain on absorbent paper, plate them and decorate with some parsley.Enjoy them!

Ready to eat!

Variations:You can fry the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil instead of adding it raw to the mixture.Instead of whole eggs, you can also add just the yolks and beat the whites until stiff, then add them.If you use a larger quantity of potatoes than fish, the fritters will be lighter. 
 PS: I used very large eggs and the mixture was slightly runny, so I had to add 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour
        to thicken it before frying.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Portuguese Christmas Recipes

These will be the traditional dishes I will be cooking this Christmas Eve.

Oven baked Codfish

800gr salted codfish
1 teaspoon mustard
6 soup spoons Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1kg small potatoes, peeled
500gr onions
1 teaspoon paprika
150ml Port wine
125gr Ham, Bacon or chourizo, sliced
parsley, black pepper

Slice the codfish into small pieces and let it soak for 12 to 24 hours, changing the water 2 or 3 times a day. The fish will swell and loose its saltiness too.
After drying the fish slices, smear each of them with the mustard. In a deep oven proof dish with lid, pour half the olive oil and the sliced garlic. Arrange the fish pieces, and around them put the small potatoes and quartered onions. Sprinkle with the paprika and pepper. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil and half the Port wine. Cover the dish and bake in the oven, at 180ºC for 25 minutes. Uncover the dish, add the bacon and the rest of the Port wine.
Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, testing if the potatoes and fish are cooked through.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Rabanadas (Tipsy slices)

1 French loaf (day old bread is best)
2 eggs
125 ml milk
5ml grated lemon rind
oil for frying

300gr sugar
250ml water
1 stick cinnamon
50ml Port wine

Cut the bread into 2cm thick slices. Beat the eggs and place in a soup plate.
Mix the milk and lemon rind and place in another soup plate-
Dip the bread slices into the milk and then into the beaten egg. Fry in hot oil and drain well.
Put into a shallow serving dish.

To make the syrup, boil the sugar, water and cinnamon stick for 3 minutes. Add the Port wine and bring to the boil again and pour over the slices of fried bread.

If you prefer you can omit the syrup and instead sprinkle the fried bread with a mix of sugar and cinnamon. They will be dryer but not as sweet and syrupy.

Tipsy slices - in the front with the sugar and cinnamon, at the back with the syrup

Hope you like my suggestions.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Christmas Traditions

This will be our 6th Christmas in Australia. The first one in 2007, was luckily spent with my family that visited from Portugal (my parents) and from South Africa (my youngest sister, her husband and her 2 young boys).
The family and friends in the pool of a friend´s house on the 25th.

In 2010, our daughter and her partner came from France to spend Christmas and New Year with us.
Our outdoors Christmas Eve dinner (my daughter, partner and my son on left)
Since then, our families haven't visited at Christmas time, so our friends have been the closest people we have and can consider as family, and it is usually with a whole bunch of them that we get together to celebrate this family feast.

Since I was born and brought up in Africa, Christmas was always celebrated in summer, and it always intrigued me that the Christmas postcards were full of snow and fireplace images, things I hadn´t seen till much later in life. Maybe back then nobody had thought to design summer Christmas images...

I have since celebrated a few Christmas in Germany in the middle of all that snow and cold, and I must say the only thing I liked about them were the wonderful markets and the warm and spicy Gluhwein.
Even my kids didn´t enjoy the snow that much, they used to scream every time we had to put a couple of layers of clothing on them. And I´m very much a summer person, although like anyone else I will complain when it is far too hot.. Talking of which, the forecast for Christmas day in Perth is of exactly 39ºC. Probably the reason why Australians go to the beach or swimming pools on that day and then come home to a seafood barbecue and some cool desserts like Pavlova.

Of course I like to keep our Portuguese traditions alive, so we will be having friends over for Christmas Eve, which is the main event for us. Some of the guests will return for lunch on the 25th.
I will be cooking Bacalhau (salted cold fish), and this year I will be making a different recipe from the one I made for the last 3 years!. It´s time for a change!
Cod fish with potatoes
I´m will also be making "Rabanadas" or Tipsy slices, and all the other guests will be bringing various foods and puddings to the dinner, and as there will be a mix of Portuguese, South African and even Australian guests, we should have quite a lovely variety of goodies to taste.

My Tipsy slices in Port wine syrup
The "Bolo Rei" (King´s Cake) has been baked. This was originally a French cake, but the Portuguese have adopted it probalby centuries ago, or so I think, as it´s always baked for Christmas and Kings Day on the 6th of January.

It was the first time I baked it. I made 2 cakes, and we have already cut one to have a taste. It´s not exactly the same texture of the ones I used to buy at the bakery, but it´s nonetheless tasty.
 I just couldn't find the Glace fruits for the decoration, and used nuts and cherries to decorate.
The original one is also a bit flatter, I used a baking pan for mine, so it appears more like a fruit cake.
My "Bolo Rei"

One of the things I like to do around Christmas is to visit some of streets whose houses are illuminated, they look so pretty! Most of those houses collect funds for charities of their choice from passersby, and with Australians being so charitable, quite a lot of money gets collected.
In shopping centres there are little booths that do Christmas wrapping for a gold coin donation ($1 or $2) that goes towards a charity or in my shopping centre for the Scouts. (Most shops do not wrap gifts).

One of the decorated houses
Australians having a good sense of humour also like to decorate their cars with reindeer antlers or wear headbands with antlers. Just today as I drove to work, I saw a female bus driver wearing a Father Christmas hat and the dashboard of the bus was decorated with colourful tinsel. Pity I was driving and couldn´t take a photo, but it put a smile on my face, and it certainly will cheer a lot of people.
A car decorated with antlers

To all my readers and friends, I wish you a wonderful Christmas with your families or friends and may the New Year bring us all a lot more peace and prosperity.
Looking forward to "seeing" you all again in 2013 and thank you for being my friend.

I would also like to thank all the readers and friends that voted for me on the "Best Expat Blog", I have today been informed that I have won the "Honourable Mention Award" for best expat blog in Australia.
Not bad for a last minute effort.

Thursday 13 December 2012

A - Z of Australia - S is for South Perth

The suburb of South Perth just 3km south of the Perth´s CBD and just across the Swan River is one of my favourite suburbs.
At the time of the European settlement, the South Perth area was just used for agriculture and dairy farms, while the residential areas were either just north of the city or in Fremantle.
South Perth foreshore
In 1831 the river frontage land was divided among 7 people, and a mill was built in 1833, which is still visible when driving over the Narrows Bridge from the city to South Perth. The mill is now a National Trust property.

At that time a ferry crossing the Swan river into Perth was implemented. By the 1850´s the Canning Bridge and Causeway was constructed for road traffic, and lots were allocated to pensioners and construction of roads was started.
By the 1880´s a lot of Chinese gardeners arrived and started to grow fruit and vegetables and set up markets along the river to sell their produce. These markets lasted until the 1950´s.
With the gold boom in the Kimberley in the 1880´s, cashed up people moved into the suburb and built many elegant homes. The Perth Zoo and Royal Perth golf course were opened in 1898 and the area got a lot of tourists from across the river.
South Perth across from the city centre. Sir James Mitchell Park is the green area by the river (top), golf course by river (middle). The botanic gardens - Kings Park is to the left of the river
The ferry arriving from Perth
Arriving by ferry in South Perth
Taken from the ferry leaving Barrack Square in the city in front of the "Swan Bells"
Waiting for the ferry at Barrack Street
The Perth´s Zoo is nowadays still one of the suburb´s main attractions, opening daily from 9am to 5pm.
Apart from the animals, there are also a lot of special events held at the zoo, like outdoor concerts, New Year eve´s concert.

Another great place in South Perth is the Sir James Mitchell Park along the foreshore. It´s full of picnic areas, barbecue facilities, kids playground, cycling and walking paths. It´s also a great spot to watch the Australia Day fireworks on the 26th of January.
A ferry terminal in Mends Street is close to the zoo, with ferries coming from the Barrack Street terminal across the river in Perth.
Sir James Mitchell Park with Burswood Casino and residential buildings across the river
Due to its proximity to the city and the riverside location, South Perth is nowadays a very expensive residential area. To capitalise on this there are quite a lot of highrise apartment buildings near the foreshore, but there are also a lot of large and beautiful mansions and smaller townhouses.
There are some interesting restaurants and cafes by the riverfront, although I think a lot more could be done to revitalize the area in way of shopping and more variety of restaurants, but maybe being so close to the city means the residents and visitors go to the city centre rather than shop in South Perth.

Unfortunately I don´t live in this beautiful area, but when I go there I enjoy walking by the river in the Sir James Mitchell Park, and I always take my Perth visitors on the short ferry crossing, just to admire the view from both sides of the river.

You can find other bloggers with interesting posts on the A-Z series -