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good things about winter :: mongrel wooly socks

I do love wearing a good pair of cozy socks in winter. Don't you? And I finally got myself a few pairs of these amazing Tasmanian socks. Being a wearer of either Blunnies or Birkies, these socks are so comfortable with my footwear du jour. Much nicer than those old pilled polyester Explorers I usually get around in.

However, a little person has taken a fancy to the red pair, and I'm not sure if I'll ever get them back :: totally understandable.

There's something quite lovely about these Mongrels, they look like they're made with love. As all good socks should. Check out their website, they have quite a range. Rumour has it the name mongrel comes from their knitting machine. And yep, they even have a wooly sock blog you should visit, off you go.

Slow weekend

I feel like I've been on a cooking holiday. Cooking beautiful food, in beautiful kitchens with a beautiful friend. I was luckily enough to be asked to help cook for the AGM dinner of the Tasmanian convivium of Slow Food.

A three course dinner for 50 using good, clean, fair food. We used beautiful organic produce, all sourced pretty much locally, except for a little flour, sugar and salt. I even contributed herbs and garlic from my own garden. Yay!

What an absolute pleasure to cook with such lovingly grown or reared Tasmanian produce. It was pretty tricky trying to be photographer and cook and my sticky, greasy camera is proof of that. Here's what we spent two long busy days cooking:

Cozze arragante:: Spring Bay mussels with a crunchy breadcrumb gremolata
Slow roasted loin of Farm Gate Cafe pork with horseradish stuffing
Roasted oca, potato and Jerusalem artichokes
Creamy parsnip puree
Sauteed cavolo nero with garlic and Ashbolt olive oil
Quince and native pepperberry relish
Steenholdt Packham pears poached in pear juice and Frogmore Creek ruby pinot noir with Elgaar cream and clover honey custard (made with 72 yolks!) and walnut and wattle seed biscuit.

Such a delicious weekend :: tired but happy :: shame there's no leftovers :: unless I lick my camera...

Good things about winter :: ice

The smalls run outside bright and early on the frosty mornings to find ice in beautiful frozen patterns.  Our freezer is full of these frozen treasures. 

We've been laying low with the flu. Quite times. 

Good things about winter :: snow

One of the best things about winter, surely, is the snow.  We drove up to Mount Wellington today for some frosty fun.  We're so lucky to be a mere 30 minute drive away from a truly beautiful winter wonderland. 

My frozen little eskimos loved it. Snowmen were built. Snowballs were thrown.  Hugo constantly falling down and laughing.  Cold little noses, tired and happy...
warmed up apres with a little milk chocolate...
...all very, very good.

Good things about winter :: rhubarb

...and some self seeded leeks from our garden. 
Leeks for soup and thinking about a rhubarb and orange cupcake....

Good things about winter :: pomanders

Don't you feel all Christmassy?  With all this cold weather, wouldn't it be lovely to give the smalls a little gift, invite friends and family over, roast a huge bird and drink eggnog right now.  I'd even go a little tinsel. In fact, I'm close to hauling a large conifer indoors, to decorate and fill the house with a fresh piney scent...  
Showing some uncharacteristic restraint, we'll stick to some winter inspired crafts.  I'm loving Mariah's gorgeous site and found this project filed under winter::making a pomander. Easy for the little ones, they smell beautiful and last for ages I'm told.  A little bit of Christmas in July.  Now, where did I see that egg nog recipe...

Good things about winter :: the museum

Specimens in drawers 
Ancient worlds to explore 
Elsa meets Wickham
And of course, mettaburrasaurus...ggrrrr

Perfect for winter:: Hobart's TMAG.

Well, actually...

Life is full of ups and downs, and you learn to take the rough with the smooth.  But the downs really do smart when the disapointment involves your children.  Like when you wait for what seems like forever for a place at the school of your choice. And after being told that you were at the top of the list, you wait patiently.  But then, when a space does comes up, you're told that well, actually, you're not anywhere near the top.  It hurts. It's dreadful. It's devastating.  Really. 

To soothe my vexed nerves, I probably should exercise, but I bake.  

Today I turned to a recipe from Christine Manfield's Paramount Desserts for a quick chocolate fix.  These are super easy and Hugo did most of the stirring. And bless Miss Chris's temperate little socks, she suggests that these be eaten as a petite fours.  So I slice these into elegant little squares, one per person as instructed.  But to help medicate that gutted feeling I have, my suggested dosage is to eat as many as required. Here's the recipe, file under first aid. 

Chocolate Brownie Fudge Slice
170g unsalted butter
340g caster sugar
3 x 61g eggs, lightly beaten 
75g cocoa powder
1tsp vanilla 
75g sifted flour
270g dark couverture chocolate, chopped (I just use chips - I'm in a hurry)
Chocolate Cream 
125g dark couverture chocolate 
100ml thick (45 per cent) cream

To make the brownies, melt butter over low heat.  Whisk the sugar and into the lightly beaten eggs, then add the melted butter, cocoa and vanilla and mix well.

Stir in the flour with a spatula, then stir in the chopped chocolate.  Pour into a greased 20cm square slice tin, lined with baking paper, and bake in a 160C oven for 25 minutes or until just set (I always find it takes about 40).  Allow to cool in the tin.

To make the chocolate cream, shave the chocolate into a bowl.  Heat the cream in a pan to simmering point and pour over the chocolate.  Stir until glossy and smooth.  Allow the cream to set in the refrigerator for 2 hours (an hour if you're desperate) to become firm enough to spread.

Turn the brownie slab out onto a chopping board and spread the top with a thin layer of the chocolate cream.  Slice into small elegant squares and serve with tea and sympathy.
Homeschooling never looked so good...

Good things about winter :: mail order plants

The dormant perennials I ordered from here arrived in the mail today.  Dahlias along with some salvias.  I've never grown many flowers before, so I'm a bit unsure. Especially dahlias as you're supposed to dig them up and store them over winter.   Sounds a bit scary.  But I'm keen to grow some cutting flowers for the house so we'll see how we go. These little pots of dirt with a stick in them will hopefully grow into the stunning Bishop of Llandaff.  Couldn't post those out in summer!

Good things about winter::cinnamon scrolls

I love the smell of sugary spice wafting from the oven when we bake these.  So delicious, I have to try really hard not to eat them all!