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Delight and Things

a little peek at what delights me

I was given a box of peaches off the tree this week by a friend – best gift ever! They’ve been smelling so good in my kitchen the last two days that I haven’t wanted to touch them but I woke up this morning wondering what I was going to do with them, because with the hot and humid weather we’ve been having I knew I didn’t have long before they were going to go mushy.

peaches
My first thought was a pie or a tart – but my pastry skills are lackluster at best, and that’s in freezing Canadian temperatures with little chance of the butter melting before it gets in the oven, not in the height of the Australian summer, so I had to rethink. I felt that perhaps the best use for the fuzzy fruits was to make up some sort of cool treat to try to beat the heat. I thought about one of my favourite Canadian treats that got me through many a bad day in university – frozen yogurt.

Unsure what special kitchen tools I was going to need to, I looked up a recipe and was delighted to see that frozen yogurt is pretty much just that: frozen yogurt. No churning need be involved.

colours

So I got to work freezing my plain yogurt and cutting up my beautifully fragrant peaches which were quickly going soft in the heat. I added a bit of vanilla and also a bit of golden syrup because I know my other half is not huge on the ‘plain yogurt’ taste. When it was half frozen I added the peaches and buzzed it up with my hand blender. After washing up, I decided that I wanted something a bit more special than plain old peach, so I added some fresh ginger. Not too much – I think I added only 1/4 of a teaspoon, although in hindsight I could have added more, and then I buzzed it up again (luckily my hand blender is not hard to clean). Back into the freezer, this time in popsicle moulds.

peaches&frozenyogurt

The verdict?

Pretty darned nice.

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Follow-Me-To-4

I absolutely love the photos in the series Follow Me To by photographer Murad Osmann that I found today. I definitely find that my perspective hugely changes depending on who I’m traveling with (or if I’m solo), so it only makes sense that his girlfriend is a constant in each photo, I imagine reminding him of all the things he saw through her eyes, too.

As he’s a professional photographer, I can’t really get too jealous about the gorgeous grain and the HDR look that’s going on there – my little travel-ready, rough and tumble point and shoot probably won’t match up in terms of quality and artistry, but doesn’t it make for a nice series?

Makes me wish I’d had a ‘theme’ to some of the photos I’ve taken during my travels so they’d fit nicely together. Never too late to start, I suppose.

Photo above copyright of Mr. Osmann.

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Classic?

Not the classic I was hoping for…

I just read the most frustrating book. I’d only picked it up because it was passed on to me in a box of books a friend was getting rid of, and it was one of those books that looks like it’ll be a quick, easy read that would be perfect for ‘shutting off’ before going to bed. But at page 99 I still wasn’t sure what the plot line was, and the two main characters annoyed me. I kept going because I’m not one to put a book down, and I was sure that something would happen to justify the time I’d already invested in it.

No such luck. When I finally finished it, at page 247, I got grumpy. I actually asked my sleeping boyfriend, “Did I just waste the last week of my life on that?!” then chucked the book out the bedroom door. (The sleeping boyfriend woke up, confused.) The murderer was exactly who I’d expected it to be, the sexual tension between the two (maddening) main characters never went any further than a handshake, and the most developed character was a cat.

So I’ve moved on. And I’ve stopped grasping at random authors and stuck to the tried and true – the classics section. I mean, they’ve been keeping people entertained for years, so there’s a good chance I won’t finish them feeling ripped off. I chose One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest because I’ve never really been the Jane Austen type (no offence to all those people who are) and I wasn’t quite looking to commit to Tolstoy. And what can I say, I love a good book about psychiatric patients.

I’ve hardly even started, but I just wanted to say, I’ve gotten more character development in the first 10 pages than I did in the entire other book. Thank goodness for the classics.

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It’s valentines day. I’m not usually a huge valentines day person – other than my mom and grandma usually leaving a few beautifully foiled chocolates on my placemat to be found in the morning when I was a kid, I’ve never really ‘celebrated’. Usually a homemade card will do. This year I decided to step it up a little, and thought I’d bake up a present for my valentine. Mostly this was due to the fact that the chickens have been laying like champions as of late and we’re getting a bit of an egg overload – so when I came across these simply beautiful meringues, I thought it was fate…

What the meringues are supposed to look like...

What the meringues are supposed to look like…

Now, I took a look at the gorgeous French Meringues with Strawberry Ganache Filling on the Cafe Sucre Farine’s blog, glanced over the ingredients, and thought to myself, 6 ingredients? How hard can it be? Determined to impress my beau and in honour of St. Valentine, I set forth.

Yeah…. so turns out piping out the meringue is a bit tricky if you’re a first time meringue-er like me. It requires a bit of patience (something which I don’t have a lot of). I may have ended up with pink meringue coating most of the surfaces in my kitchen. At one stage I had to call Jamie in to help me hold my ziploc ‘piping’ bag open while I stuffed it full of the sticky pink stuff – all while he had his eyes closed so as not to ruin the surprise. In the end I was a bit deflated, as they are not as jaw-droppingly, impressively, irresistibly beautiful as I had anticipated, but at least they taste good.

valentine meringue

What I ended up with… laugh it up. I know you want to.

Luckily I’ve got the nicest boyfriend going and he totally ignored the less-than-beautiful look.

I did change up the recipe minorly by making them raspberry flavoured instead of strawberry. I also added some cocoa powder to the ganache because I wasn’t getting quite a chocolatey enough flavour (all I had on hand was cheap chocolate). But it didn’t seem to change the integrity of the ganache.

The one thing I will warn is that these are extremely sweet – delicious, but definitely sugary. If I were to make them again I’d opt for a bite sized version; I made mine a bit too big and I can only eat half at a time. Live and learn.

If you have patience and a good piping bag with the appropriate tip, I’d say give this recipe a shot. If not, maybe just have a laugh on me, and enjoy your valentine’s day.

For some reason I’ve been on a bit of a woodland creatures kick lately – I can’t seem to get the visions of raccoons and deer and foxes out of my head.

Here are a few of the lovely shy forest creature items I’ve found to satiate my appetite.

Shy Forest Finds

1. Animal wallets by sTiCkAlot. ♥  2. Painted antler from Etsy shop Madebycassandrasmith.  ♥  3. Elk Necklace at The Oxford (ships to Aus!)  ♥  4. Mugtail Animal Mugs at Connect.  ♥  5. A lovely watercolour painting of cotton on the branch at Etsy by AnneliesClarke.  ♥  6. Badger pillow by Fluffed Animals at Etsy.  ♥  7. Fox flats by Tory Burch.  ♥  8. Fox print dress at Asos.  ♥

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I’m one of those people who will follow roadsigns that may be going totally out of my way providing there’s the promise of fresh fruit and veg at the end. “Farmers Market, 15 km in the opposite direction” – sure. “Mango Man, 3 km up an incredibly steep footpath, this way” – I could probably use the exercise. “Community Garden, around the corner” – I’ll go for a look, just to see what other people are growing.

You can imagine my delight when I came across Colton Bakery on the drive back from a fishing trip on the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula over New Years. Well, to be fair, I didn’t just ‘come across it’. Most people who’ve lived on the EP for any length of time know about it, and I’ve driven past it once before when it wasn’t open. But this time, the timing was perfect – the open sign was out and I had spare change in my wallet. They had beautiful loaves and rolls in paper bags on shelves, and a small tin for money. “Everything is $4”. I left with a multigrain loaf and a bag of sticky rolls.

Colton Bakery, SA

I love the handwritten welcome sign, especially the comment “I hope the care and feeling put into the bread is reflected in the finished product” – that’s what I love about small roadside stands like this; they’re full of heart. There’s no harsh glare from fluorescent lighting, no sterile smell of plastics and cleaning products, and there’s no need to wait in a line for ten minutes to finally get served by a bored teenager who’d rather be checking Facebook. There’s just someone who likes making bread, so they make enough to cater to passers-by.

Colton Welcome

I’ll never be an amazing enough baker to have a roadside bakery. But it is one of my dreams to eventually have a little honesty box for veggies down at the bottom of my driveway. There’s one in Canada on the road to my parent’s cabin in the woods, and there’s something just so wholesome about it. I love the idea that someone’s surplus homegrown veggies could be someone else’s garden fresh dinner. I love the idea of having faith that people will leave a couple of dollars for said veggies. I love the idea of a handpainted sign and a little tin box with a hole in it for coins.

Every time I have to drive to town and back (an hour round trip) before 5:30pm in order to buy some not-so-fresh produce from the grocery store, my resolve grows stronger to become an expert veggie patcher (it’s totally legitimate to use that as a verb, right?) so I can one day help other out-of-towners like me who want a couple of fresh veggies but don’t have the hour it takes to get them. Maybe it won’t happen this year, but I’ll start designing my handpainted sign just in case.

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Today I woke up to rain. After almost two months of baking heat, I actually found myself smiling out the window at the dark, damp, cloudy day. After making myself a hot chocolate (yes, it’s still 25 degrees out, but for some reason hot chocolate felt necessary in order to enjoy the rainy morning) I headed out to the home farm with Jamie because I didn’t have any other plans for the day. There were 90 sheep there that needed loading into the truck to shift back to our property.

By the time we got out there everything was soaking wet. But while soggy weather may deter people from working outside, the dogs could not have been more excited. We took the two best yard dogs to load the truck, Buckles and Rough. I love watching the dogs work – you don’t know focus until you watch a sheepdog in the yards. Nothing distracts them, not the rain, not any birds flying by, not even me hovering over them to get close up pics. Even after the truck was loaded the dogs wouldn’t look away.

Buckles and the sheep

Loading, watching, raining, lamb bums!

Roughy still watching the truck even after her job is finished.

I’ll say this much – I wasn’t much help seeing as I was taking photos the whole time… but the dogs did a far better job than I would have, anyway.

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