July 8, 2013

What's Floating My Boat

So we're a month into winter and I'm desperately trying to remember what it was like to not have my ugg boots glued to my feet. Sydney was all warm and yummy right through autumn and then it wasn't. Just like that. Overnight, the bone-chilling westerlies blew their way east and the mad dash from warm bed to hot shower began.

I'm a summer gal, no two ways about it. I like the heat and I don't mind a car full of sand, especially if it means I've spent a glorious morning splashing in the ocean. I'm even good for the first bit of winter, embracing jean/boot/scarf combos and pulling out my fancy tights.

But then I get sick of having cold feet and frigid fingers. I get tired of layering my whole body in clothing when it craves air and sunlight. I even get to a point where I start to resent my slow cooker and it's 'falling off the bone' creations. I crave tartness and bite and crunchy, summery freshness.

So this winter, I'm determined to keep my positive attitude for as long as possible by embracing wintry stuff. Finding new ways with jeans. And boots. And scarves. And not forgetting the fancy tights. Taking lots of pictures of the natural world surrounding us so that I'm obliged to really look at its winter-sharpened beauty. And discovering that it's actually rather gorgeous to stand around a barbeque in winter and 'winterfy' salads with roasted vegetables and toasted nuts.

Here's what's floating my boat at the moment and helping me to enjoy, not just endure, winter . . .


It's beanie mania around here at the moment. I discovered the magic of circular knitting needles last year and have picked them up again this winter with gusto. So far since May I've knitted beanies for the whole family and finished my sixth beanie last night . . . for me!

I don't really have a good beanie head. You know how some people just look simply adorable in a beanie? All flicky-out hair from the bottom and big doe eyes peeping from under the rim? Here's a good example of that:

Not me. I just look like a pasty-skinned boofhead. Possibly a female football hooligan. But John and I are off to swish down the slopes at Thredbo in a couple of weeks so I'm putting warmth ahead of style and will be rocking that beanie daily.

If you want to jump on the beanie bandwagon, click here for an excellent tutorial and super easy pattern. And for the little knitted flower, you can find the tutorial here. I just made the first little flower but if you like the big layered number, go for it! I also used normal, not circular, needles for it. And if you want any help with either of them, just ask me and I'll try to enhance your project, not confuse you further.


What says winter more than Chicken Soup? Well, maybe apres-ski cocktail, but that's not always appropriate now is it?!

My friend Deb (who by the way is an extremely talented artist and you should buy some of her work) is half Greek and makes a killer Kotopoulo Avgolemono (Greek Chicken & Lemon Soup). It's the only soup my finicky son will eat (he used to call it 'chicken porridge') and is a divine winter warmer.

I made some on Saturday and served it with a herb damper.

Deb's Killer Kotopoulo Avgolemono

1.5kg chook (free range and/or organic if you can find it)
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stick celery
1 bay leaf
Water to cover chicken
1/2 cup rice
Salt & pepper
2 eggs
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Rinse the chicken and remove any organs that may be inside. Place in a pot with the vegetables and fill with enough water to cover by about 2cm. Cover and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 90 minutes.
2. Remove the chicken from the pot and pop it in a large dish where you can pull all the gorgeous meat off the bones. Discard the carcass.
3. Strain the broth and discard the vegies. Season the broth with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Throw the rice into the broth and simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked.
5. Whisk the eggs with the lemon juice in a bowl. When the rice is done, turn off the heat. Gradually add one ladle full of hot stock into the eggs slowly, while whisking. Gradually whisk in more stock until the egg mixture is heated. The idea is not to let the eggs curdle (or indeed, cook!) by heating them too quickly. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pot, whisking briskly. Season with additional salt, pepper or lemon juice if you like.
6. Add the shredded chicken back into the pot and voila! You have ze yummy soup!

And here's my recipe for the damper to go with.

Herb and Cheese Damper 

(I used gluten free flour which worked well too)
1 cup wholemeal SR flour
1 cup white SR flour
1 tspn salt
60g butter, softened
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
1/4 cup chopped oregano leaves
3/4 cup milk, plus extra to glaze
1/4 cup water
1 tbs grated parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Sift the flours into a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt. Rub in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Stir in cheese and oregano.
4. In a separate jug, combine milk with water. Make a well in the centre of the flour and stir in 3/4 of the milk mixture. Add remaining liquid a little at a time until mixture just comes together.
5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for 1 minute. Don't over-mix or over-knead or it will become tough. Shape into a round loaf and place on a greased baking tray. Brush top with milk and sprinkly with parmesan.
6. Bake for 30 mins or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Serve warm.

Okay, that's the official recipe. Here's what I do (saves about 15 minutes of boredom, frustration and goo under your nails). Place flours, salt and butter into a food processor till it resembles breadcrumbs. Add cheese and oregano and pulse briefly. Pour in 3/4 of the water/milk combo and pulse briefly till it comes together. Then turn it onto a board to knead, etc.


I'm just a little bit addicted to Offspring at the moment. I know the Proudmans aren't everybody's cup of tea, but I love the quirkiness of the script, the gorgeous clothes and the way it portrays life as beautifully imperfect, just as it is.

I didn't think it would be possible to enhance my Offspring experience beyond getting the kids into bed and settling in with my knitting and a cup of tea for an hour's uninterrupted Nina-a-thon. But an essential part of the experience is now reading, first thing Thursday, Nikki Parkinson's blog Styling You where she has a special section devoted to die-hard Offspring fans called So You Want To Dress Like Nina Proudman.

Nikki has all the inside info on Nina's signature boho-luxe style and where you might be able to buy the same or similar pieces to enhance your own style.

My style is very similar to Nina's (yes, even before Offspring came along!), although I'm a little less confident with the whole boho look. I realised I was missing a few elements to really polish the look, mainly in the accessories department, and that I should become a bit braver with what I match with what. I've learned new ways to wear scarves, how to layer necklaces and that a simple ponytail can look great with the right earrings and a fresh makeup approach.

You might be more of a structured Billie Proudman fashionista! Don't worry, Nikki has that covered too.

So my lovelies, that's what's floating my boat at the moment. What's floating yours?

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