Thursday, 9 December 2010
It's that time of year, when you ponder the year that's ending and tie up any loose ends.
It's a time to make good resolutsions for the year to come.
I know there's lots I still want to take care of, that I promised myself I'd do before the year came to an end. It's a list of material things, of personal things, as well as more frivilous matters.
No matter what religion, race or political belief you carry inside you, you can't shy away from the fact that 365 days have gone by and what do you have to show for it?
Whether you've been good or bad, selfish or kind, let's hope we can all end this year with a smile on our face and contribute to bringing smiles on the faces of those around us.
Friday, 3 December 2010
FATE, that's why!
What am I talking about? Well, let me indulge you.
I've been asked to arrive early to work for the past few days due to some meetings that have been taking place throughout the week. Not only, but last night I was asked to stay late. Fine... I'm not happy about it, I get up early enough as it is, and never get home before 7pm on a good day, but at least I get paid overtime so I guess I can't really complain.
That said, today was another one of those days where I was supposed to arrive at 8.30am. So far I've been having issues with the commute because trains are running late making the journey going in rather difficult, to say the least. I'll save you from sharing my frustration! It just wouldn't be lady-like! ; )
So today, what changed? Well we have someone come help around the house a couple of hours a week.. We are very fortunate to be able to have help, but this person too commutes.
Guess what? Yes! Their train was late this morning as well, making me late (seeing as I had to wait to let them in) causing me to miss the early train!
Fate, I tell you!
Monday, 29 November 2010
It started off back at the very start of November. Strange lights, window decorations and whathaveyous popping up randomly. They were sporadic sightings, making me think that some folks just wanted to get a head start to the festive cheer.
Then, like a virus, the following week, more and more stores and streets started putting up the typical festive lights and signs.
Next, it was supermarkets with aisles and aisles of typical Christmas delicacies; traditional Italian Panettone cakes, bottles of Prosecco, hazelnut chocolate nougat bars and Torrone. (YUM!)
That's when it hit me... we're definitely celebrating Christmas early this year.... and this got me thinking.
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
I told you there'd be news, didn't I!?! Ok wait... I didn't?
Ok well I'm telling you now!! I've got news for you!! = )
By popular demand (ok.. who am I kidding... no one asked...)... umm, because I said so (there, that's more like it!) I hereby bring you my new recipe blog!
Yup, you got it! It's a blog. With recipes. Simple, right?
Seriously, though. BS aside, I've decided to start a recipe blog. I have posted a couple of recipes before and the odd 1 or two people have actually asked me about them, and becaise I enjoy cooking and becuase I like to share, I figured maybe one or two of you out there might actually enjoy this.
It might give you reason to try something new. It might make you dare to dabble in unfamiliar territroy (Heather???? LOL).
Heck, it might make you run to the nearest fastfood chain...
On my part I know it was something I've been thinking of attempting but never actually had the nerve to start, if anything because I never thought I was up to the other recipe bloggers' standards!
Anywho... there you have it. It's done, no going back now!
Rest assured, I am no Martha Stewart. You will not find those pciture-perfect, cookbook wonders!
It's a place to maybe find new inspiration and vary your dinner rotations.
It's a place to share ideas, suggestions and even some of your own recipes if you like!
It's still sort of in the making and so far there's an introductory post, but feel free to take a look and stop by regularly, as I will be updating and adding more content and my first recipes very soon.
So go on... click that link! Save it to your blog roll... spread the word!
Vanilla Sky Pie is open for business!!
Monday, 22 November 2010
Thursday, 18 November 2010
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
I've just been super busy. It's not easy leading a healthy life ya know??
How did you guys spend your Halloween? Had fun, I take it? Mine was so so... we had fun plans to go to a club, where they had a cabaret show and music afterwards... too abd the cabaret show was horrid (and not in a good way). I was just plain dumb, stupid. Not funny in the remotest way.
Plus the club was super packed! call me old (and I think this is the first sign of aging...) but I just can't stand a packed club, when you have no room to even breath, let alone scrtach your nose or god forbid decide you actually want to DANCE!
It just wasn't a very fun time. Oh well... live and learn. Next time I go out clubbing, no matter the cost, I'm reserving a table! LOL
Monday, 18 October 2010
G. and I have been putting off decorating the bedroom since the summer.
We've had the paint we bought for the bedroom sitting in our spare room since August. We've been meaning to paint the bedroom wall since the summer and of course have never gotten round to it.
We bought all the equipment, compared colour schemes and picked the colour. Friday I sat G. down and told him that there was no running away from it this week end. It was gonna be us against the bedroom wall! I'm a girl on a mission!
And so fun morning began... we applied the first coat Saturday and 2nd coat on Sunday.
It wasn't as messy as I thought it'd be and we actually had fun and managed to finish pretty quickly! It didn't even stink too much either and by bed time we were able to sleep in the room.
As if that wasn't enough to keep us busy, I also promised G.'s sister I'd bake cupcakes for her son's (G's nephew) birthday party. So rather than sit and watch the paint dry (literally!) I pulled out my recipe book and food processor and whipped up the cupcake mix and about an hour later.... voilà!!
This time I decided to streth out of my comfort zone and venture with a piping bag for my very first time! The outcome was far from perfect... but not a complete failure either... don't you think?? Needless to say, there were no leftovers!
As to the bedroom.... Ta-daaaaa! After the 2nd coat was all done, this was the outcome... How does it look?
In other news... groceries, lunch, couch potatoing, tidying... not necessarily in that order.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
G. and I went to an 80s-themed party on Saturday night... and it was "fancy dress". Can you imagine digging into your closet looking for those gawd-awful terrible clothes you so desired and swooned over back in highschool??
I'll tell ya.. my outfit was PERFECT! I even had the hair and shades to match! Too bad I didn't have a scrunchie! That would have just been the "RAD"! Hahaha... even the language has evolved since then, thankfully, might I add!
Anyway.. as much as you all want to cringe and fake it... you all know you LOVED the 80s... BIG hair, BRIGHT makeup, LOUD coloured, colour-CLASHING t-shirts... and the awesome awesome music!
It was just a fun fun night... and it was so cool to see everyone made an effort and dressed in theme!
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Have I got news for you!! Guess what went down this past week end?? A summit of 14 "heads of state"... that's what!!
Yep... After almost a year of living together (to the day, almost... We moved in together Oct. 4th 2009) G. and I finally decided to have our parents meet.
I understand that, especially in the US, this usually takes place when you get engaged... and though there's nothing "official" between us, G. and I are pretty sure about what we feel for one another and where we want our lives to go... together, in the same direction.
And so this is it... a table for 14! LOL
Well... to make it less "official" and more homely, festive and "light", we invited my older brother and his gf, my younger sister, my grandma, G.'s sister with husband and 1 of the 2 kids (the other went to the stadium to see the soccer match), and last but not least, G's sister's father-in-law. *Phew*.
Care for the menu? Sure...
1. Fettucine al ragù (That's Egg pasta with bolognese sauce for y'all amateurs LOL)
2. Sauteéd peas
3. Roasted potatoes
4. Deep-fried, breaded chicken breasts
5. Nutella Roll...
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
It's a Rosemary Olive Oil Cake, with chocolate chips.... and as odd as those ingredients sound, it went down pretty well with the guinee pigs.. erm i mean the "family". Everyone really liked it - except me. Typical right?
It's not that it tasted bad... I guess it wasn't sweet enough, but I think it's an aquired taste. I must say, though, that the chocolate binded everything really well, and really complimented the other flavours.
If you're wanting to try something different, go ahead... get bakin'!
Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
3/4 cup / 3 oz / 80g spelt flour (i only used the rgular type)
1 1/2 cups / 7.5 oz / 210 g all-purpose flour
3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup / 240 ml olive oil
3/4 cup / 180 ml whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped (i used the dried kind, from my spice rack)
5 ounces / 140 g bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (I used regular chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons sugar for top crunch
Preheat the oven to 350F / 175C. Rub a 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) fluted tart pan (aka pie dish) with olive oil. Alternately, I used a loaf pan.
You can line it with parchment paper. I just used some olive oil
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, (teh recipes says to pour any bits of grain or other ingredients left in the sifter back into the bowl). Set this first mix aside.
In another large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil, milk and rosemary and whisk again. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry, gently mixing just until combined. Stir in 2/3 of the chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and run a fork along the length of the chocolate so that the batter envelops it just a bit. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is domed, golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
My cake, in the alternate pan, took closer to 55 minutes.
Friday, 24 September 2010
I've let myself get caught up in the daily routine and turned my back on a passion I really should indulge in and help thrive.
Monday, 20 September 2010
It's that time of year when, with summer drawing to an end and you're heading full swing into Autumn, you sort of tally up your latest achievements.... and epic fails.
- Achievement - sorting out the spare room.
- Fail - cutting back on my daily calorie intake!
Fat on Alex: 1 - Diet: 0
It's not like I don't know what I should be doing, what to cut back on and where to draw the line. I do... oh how I do!
The problem is my brain. Brain you say? don't you mean the size of your mouth? Umm.. well yeah, that too. But let's face it, dieting is an attitude! It's about wrapping your head around the concept that you really don't need all that stuff that daily enters your piehole!
I always say that you can really only start dieting when you've reached the point of no return, when you look at yourself in the mirror and are so horrified at what's starting back at you, that you don't even recognize yourself. It's that moment when even your "fat pants" start to scream for help!
Well my friends, this is is. We have soooo reached that point, it's not even funny.
When your tummy resembles Jello-O, and your butt sticks so far out that you start to resemble the letter "d" when seen from the side, you know you really need to do something about it!
And so I bring you.... needle and thread. Yeah... to sew my mouth shut!
Now all chant with me:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the
courage to keep my piehole shut when I can;
and wisdom to know that further down the line
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
As if I didn't have enough social networks and media to keep up with... I thought I'd add one more to the list of blogs and whatnots....
Hence I bring you... AlexTakesPh[o]tos.
It's pretty much a gallery of some of my best photography, so if you enjoy viewing good photos.... go there! Hehehe.
Friday, 10 September 2010
The secret lovers are back!
After the summer break and vacation period, the two lovers who secretly rendez-vous on a subway platform are back to their old habits; secretly meeting under ground while the world above ground idly sleeps.
As the rest of the city goes about its ways, slowly waking and preparing to start its day, two individuals furtively set up their "backstage" romance one of Rome's damp, dark under ground subway stations.
Disclaimer - Ya know, just to be on the safe side!
This if course is a projection of my immagination. I have no idea really if these two people are indeed lovers, spouses, relatives or possibly just simply friends.
I simply see them every day when I get off the train, sitting there at the platform, just like you would if you were waiting for the train but when it does arrive, and I get off, they don't get on.
And as my mind started to wander, I fantasized and made up a story. That's how I roll.
Monday, 6 September 2010
"Hey Ma'... Look! No hands!" Heheheh
Guess what? I did it again... and this time, with icing too! Baby blue, to be precice.
Aren't they cute?
Sure, they're no picture-perfect works of art.... but they sure tasted awesome!
And, I got compliments too!
Thursday, 2 September 2010
And before you know it, Mother Nature is way ahead of you... gently hinting that the season has already started to change.
This is an all too familiar scene in the US, where the leaves delight us with the many shades of greens, browns, and golden orange. In Rome, however, this is something we're not very used to (in fact the photo you see above was taken on my brief trip to Paris a couple of weeks ago).
The leaves on our trees tend to simply dry up, the colours fade and then just fall off.
And while that dried up leaf slowly plummets to the ground, it captures its last breathe of life, enjoying one final adventure, as it rides the gust of wind that will eventually bring it to its final resting place, the ground.
Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Day 1 of our 3 day Paris visit.
The BeeEff and I woke to find a so so day, in terms of sunshine, with a rather brisk air (considering the 30+ degrees celcius we left behind in Rome!).
Seeing as our friend Lino was in Paris also for a short vacation, we decided to meet up for breakfast at... wait for this.... Starbucks!!
I know, I know.. most of you will frown - how can you be in Paris and not try the "local stuff"?To my defence let me just say, don't forget that good food and the European breakfast isn't new to us. We too get croissants and of course Italy is the coffee haven... so to us Starbucks is a treat! (How ironic, huh?) LOL
After our indulgence of calories, we took a stroll through Rue Montorgueil, headed towards Les Halles and Marais.
We stopped off to take pics of anything and everything... even this cute little church (LOL) which I later discovered to be Eglise Saint-Eustache.
We passed the Forum des Halles and this cute merry-go-round (which i've noticed are quite popular in Paris, seeing as I spotted a few others in several different places) that even had a pink pig!
We then headed slightly east, into Marais, passing the most quaint alleys and fabulous colourful doors, designer clothing stores and home decor shops.
We then arrived behind le Centre Pompidou, where we stopped to see some funny art installations in a fountain (most likely by some famous artisits, but i was too lazy to ask or check on the guidebook!).
We stopped off for a drink at a bar in the more colourful part of Marais, where I again tested my new zoom lens and afterwards my friend parted ways with us.
While Lino was off to meet some friends, G. and I headed towards the Hotel de Ville, and then onto the two small islands Yes, islands), in the direction of the Notre Dame.
What can I say, that hasn't already been said or that you can't imagine yourselves... its structure was impressive. This huge gothic church simply dominates the square and the whole area, with its bell tower shadowing in all its glory.
Of course the gargoyles at the top remind me of so many photos I've seen... and also of a scene from the movie Ghostbusters!
We continued back on to the main land, where we arrived in Saint-Michel, where there are many Turkish, Marroccan and Greek restaurants.
After a small shopping detour, we decided to head back to the hotel to quickly change, before meeting up with Lino and opther friends.
We hung out a bit at the bar, then the three of us (my other friend Stan, G. and myself) slowly walked towards Place de Vosges looking for a place to eat.
After dinner, a brief stroll then back to the hotel to bed!
What a great first day!
Friday, 27 August 2010
As he was taking, I could see the twinkle in his eye, as he mentioned how once he got inside he was going to take some sand in his hands and rub it between his fingers... just like that scene from "The Gladiator" where Maximus (Russell Crowe) does the same, before going into battle.
Some are true, some aren't.. yet we don't ponder this, we just live vicariously through someone else's portrayal of fact or fiction...
But in this case it IS fiction, dear tourist. I hate to be the one to tell you, but the sand you so fondly mention is long gone.
The bottom wooden floor that once covered the dungeons and other cages and underground areas, has since burned and many other parts of the amphiteatre were destroyed by earthquakes and other natural disasters, crumbled away.
What's left of course is still magnificent and certainly glorious to the eyes of such a "young" culture as the Australian. The earliest stages of the Roman Empire date back to 44 BC and the last signs of its reign are dated back to the year 1453... that's close the 2000 years.
And I live there!
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
If you're a meat lover like I am and you like a glass of good red wine, then this recipe is right up your alley... and "down the hatch", as the Brits would say!
First off, the meat selection. The outcome of your roast will pretty much depend on the choice of meat and for that I mean the cut. I'd say 70-80% of the results depend on the cut, in my opinion.
For a good, tender, tasty roast I'd go with Rib eye or better yet Prime Rib. Yes, it might cost a bit more, but it's SO worth the extra cost!
You can also choose Sirloin, though it tends to be a bit tough once cooked leaving you with that "I can chew this for hours" effect.
As a rule of thumb, any cut that has some fat in it is what you want to use. This provides the flavour and keeps the meat tender.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, see here. Also, if you ask your local butcher or even the staff in the meat section of your local grocery store/supermarket, they will surely know what to give you. Same goes for amount/weight.
Next, the secret ingredient! No, not the wine.... but mustard! Yes, you heard me, mustard.
Please try to avoid the "squeeze out of the bottle" kind. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but if it comes in a jar, rather than the Hellman's mustard bottle or the like, it's more likely going to have a better consitency (musn't be too runny) and flavour.
You'll also need 1 glass of dry red wine. No sweet Zinfendale stuff please... I beg you!
If you can't get Italian or French wine, then at least be sure it's dry, with a robust structure. Again, the difference is definitely noticeable. Anything such as a Cabernet, Merlot, or a Bordeaux will do great. (I'm not too familiar with what's available in the US at a fair price, but I'm sure you'll do fine.. just read the label!). And btw... NEVER chill your red wine please!
That's just a crime! LOL
You will also need Olive oil - extra virgin. Honestly, I dunno how people can live without it LOL.
You don't need much... and now all chain stores and grocery stores carry it, you're bound to find a fairly cheap brand, even if it's imported. Many supermarkets will put their label on perfectly good imported olive oil, which cuts the cost.. just check the label to see its origin. European is best.. Italy of course, Greece, France, Spain... They sell small bottles too.
You'll need about 3-4 tablespoons, depending on the size of your roast and therefore of your pot.
So to recap, you'll need: (God I feel like I'm on one of those TV cookery shows... I can literally hear myself speaking to the audience as I type this! LOL)
*1 piece of Prime rib roast cut (or equivalent)
*1 small jar of mustard
*olive oil (3 swirls - what that means is, that you swirl the bottle of olive oil, as you slowly pour it in your pot, circling three times... it basically needs to cover the of the pot by 3/4, so not entirely)
*2-3 tsp of margarine (butter will do fine also, salted or not)
Now for the directions:
Take your meat cut and leave it in the string or netting, if it has any. Gently cover the piece with mustard, making sure to spread a thi even latyer all over. It can be a bit messy, but fun!
It doesn't have to be perfect, so long as the mustard is everywhere, on all sides.
Don't worry about the meat juices watering down the mustard, it's normal.
Add the olive oil to your pot, almost covering the bottom and turn on the flame/heat. You want a nice medium-high flame, in order to get the oil nice and hot. The pot I use is stainless steel, with a thick 1/2 inch (1 1/2 cm) bottom. This helps to evenly distribute the heat and avoids your food from burning. Try to use this kind of pot, if possible.
Now add the margarine or butter to the oil and once it's melted and starting to gently sizzle, add the meat. You'll hear the meat sizzle fairly loud, don't worry, it's normal... and DON'T lower the flame/heat.
Be sure to brown all sides, in order to properly sear the meat and keep all its moisture. DO NOT add salt until your meat has browned and is seared entirely, otherwise this will cause the meat to start "juicing", expelling its juices, toughening the meat, creating a "boiled" effect.
Once salted, add the glass of red wine and then lower the flame/heat some, to a medium-low setting. Not too low or the wine won't evaporate and the juices will start to flow again.
If you feel it's drying too quickly, you can cover the pot (though not entirely) for 10 minutes or longer, depending on the consistency of the juices.
Be sure to turn the roast on all sides from time to time, to cook evenly.
Once the wine and juices have nicely become Au Jus (a light gravy) (about 20 mins or so, depending on size of roast), then it is done. Bare in mind the connsitency of the Au jus is not like the typical think american or british gravy.. it is ahrdly even a sauce. It is more of a dark, slightly concentrated broth almost. You are likely to see dark bits in it, that's normal. It's the mustard that has thickened, together with the natural juices from the meat.
The great thing about this recipe is, it can be served hot or cold (but the Au jus must always be served hot). Simply cut the string (if any) and then thinly slice the roast, and lay it on a platter or a plate topped with the Au jus, or you can serve it on the side, though I highly recommend it on top!
The ideal cook time will allow for nice pink slices, with a slightly darker (more cooked edge). This of course, changes according to taste. If you prefer your meat medium-medium well, simply cook longer (and vice versa).
I really hope you try this recipe out and let me know the outcome and what you think!
Also, feel free to comment or contact me for any questions!
Monday, 23 August 2010
While I can't get up and leave... I shall console myself with the thought of yummy cupcakes.
They always put a smile on my face!
As for pics of wonderful Paris, you'll all have to wait, my dears.. they're just so many... it's going to take a while to edit them and sort them out!
So... that's all for now.
Lovin' ya and leavin' ya!
Sunday, 22 August 2010
Paris was a blast... but all good things come to an end, or so they say.
I'll soon be back to posting regularly, so watch this space!
Meantime, sending positive thoughts and good vibes to my friend Heather for her surgery tomorrow.
Love ya girlie... you'll be fine!