Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hokkein with Beef & Broccoli

Quick & easy dinner!

Beef strips or sliced chicken
Broccoli and mushrooms, or whatever veggies you have on hand
Hokkein noodles
Oyster sauce, teriyaki and soy sauce

1. Set water to boil in a kettle, and prepare a heatproof dish with a lid (or just use a heatproof bowl and a plate large enough to cover it) on the counter. Place fresh hokkein noodles in the dish.

2. Set a wok or large frying pan on the stove and preheat. Add about two tablespoons each of teriyaki and oyster sauce, quickly followed by sliced beef or chicken. Seal the meat, then add mushrooms. The noodles should soak up any remaining moisture, so don't worry about draining the wok after the meat has browned. Saute meat (and mushroom slices, if using) for approximately five minutes.

3. Once the kettle has boiled, pour water over hokkein noodles until they are covered. Add lid and cook for three minutes.

4. Add broccoli and/or bell peppers to wok, adding more teriyaki and/or soy sauce as needed to maintain moisture in the pan.

5. Once the hokkein noodles have finished cooking, drain them, then add to the wok and stir through.

This is a very loose recipe - I just start with a combination of sauces, add meat & veggies, and finish with hokkein. I like the thick noodles. They take on the flavour of the sauces and are so quick to cook - plus, they don't stick together like glass noodles. I use "Fantastic" fresh noodles. This dish also makes great leftovers - but be careful not to overcook the broccoli the first time around. I recommend a quick pan fry rather than microwaving, if you can, to reheat. Yummy!

Winding Down

Oh, I am so happy the big conference week is over.

Yesterday I had most of the day to myself - first thing in the morning, Jody made blueberry pancakes & bacon at home, and I cleaned up after he and our three guests had left for a "code sprint." As far as I can tell, a bunch of coders and users get together and try to solve a problem using only the power of many laptops & some serious wi-fi.

I put on sunscreen and a hat, downed a glass of water, and walked to the next suburb to find the library. It was a nice walk, just under half an hour, and I walked slowly because it was noon and getting quite warm. I had my iPod (2nd gen turquoise 4G - still good!) so it was quite an enjoyable trip.

The library did indeed have the aforementioned book on the hold shelf for me, with the "J" in my name written backwards ( I guess her hearing isn't the only difficulty the staff member I spoke to has). They also had the fourth book, and I already had #3 from my last library run - so now I have books two to four of The House of Night to churn through. Yay for light reading! I wouldn't say they're phenomenal, but 1) the pace makes them hard to put down, and 2) I am trying to write a story with some similarities, and am hoping that mine isn't so parallel it will look like a House of Night rip-off. So far so good.

To those of you wondering, I'm halfway through book 2 now (Betrayed) and, while it's a fun series, I wouldn't likely read it more than once - and despite Visual Bookshelf app's combined reviews stating it's "Not to be Missed," you could miss it. But if they're at your library, you may want to pick them up for something fun - just don't expect the teenagers to actually sound like teenagers. The language is a little too clean and there are too many full sentences, compounded with the irregularities of words and phrases that are supposedly slang. Unfortunately for the Cast writing duo, teen speech is hard to master on the page. (I hope I can do a good job with my own writing - but I am definitely concerned about that.)

I meandered through Vinnies (Australia's short form of St Vincent de Paul thrift shops, aka "Op shops," yet another short form - "opportunity shops") and found a cheap towel to aid in hair-colouring, a pair of brown sandals, a short sleeved white blouse, a cute casual skirt, and FINALLY a collection of charms I can use to make a necklace I've had in my head for months. I also picked up a lovely Portmans blouse that is minus its belt, which I will be mailing to someone in Canada in the hopes it will fit.

Hungry, I chose a friendly-looking cafe and ordered a beef burgundy pie & side salad and a Sprite. It was a little while in coming to my table, but I realised that I had nowhere to be, and could simply sit at the table with my book and watch the world go by. Such a nice change from all the madness of these past several weeks. I had a serving of house-made Strachiatella ice cream to top it off, then took a walk down the main road.

The nail salon I'd already passed a few times was still busy, and I thought that must be a good sign. They had time for me, so I booked a mani-pedi and spent some time being pampered. My nails are now a lovely shiny cranberry. Usually I do my own nails (unlike most Sydneysiders) but it was such a treat to have someone else tend to them. I had just finished up when Jody called to say the code sprint was over and people were heading out for burgers, so I hopped on the tram to save time walking and met up with the nine of them for dinner.

Dinner turned naturally to drinks at our place, and later in the evening I improvised a mango and puff pastry dessert, so it was quite a nice evening, if impromptu. And plans were made for breakfast (at a cafe this time) before Code Sprint Day Two.

Corn hotcakes with poached eggs, bacon, and tomato ragout with a side of potatoes. Delicious!

It's noon now and it's been raining, so I am going to take it easy - do a load or two of laundry, make some tea, read my book. Other than taxes (due Oct 30th) I am actually winding down now. It is such a nice feeling to have my spouse paperwork done - and now the wait begins.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Charlie's Angels

I just called the library to make sure they actually had a book on the shelf - the web catalogue says yes, but you never know. I wanted to save myself a walk in case it wasn't there, especially since it's book two of a series and that will drive me crazy.

The elderly-sounding woman who answered the phone said she couldn't hear me very well, so she asked me to spell the last name of the author. No problem, it's only four letters.
"Cast," I said. "C - A - S - T."

"No. C for Charlie, A for....... Apple, S for Sam, T for Tango."

A is Alpha but I forgot, and it was so natural to say Angel after Charlie... but I resisted.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's Starting...

The Geek Takeover.


I've been very very busy with work because the FOSS4G conference begins this Tuesday. International visitors have already begun to arrive, and Jody is delighted to see people who usually only speak to him online at weird hours of the night. Here's a snapshot of the gathering of geeks at our flat, 4pm Saturday. Jody and Justin (Canadian) and Andrea and Andreas (Italian) are up and running with their machines, chatting in languages I don't understand and using more acronyms than words found in a dictionary.

Help me.

*No developers were harmed in the taking of this photo.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Soft Cocoa Cookies with White Chocolate

1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 Tbsp baking powder
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup white chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Cream butter and sugar. beat in egg, salt and vanilla
3. Combine flour, cocoa and b powder in a separate bowl
4. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk to the creamed mixture
5. When smooth stir in white chocolate chunks
6. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto baking sheet and bake approx 10 min

Makes about 30 cookies. Enjoy!

This recipe courtesy of my aunt.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Short of the Long Weekend

I need bigger muscles, or a stricter grocery-buying impulse.

I could barely carry my three cloth bags for the ten minutes it took to get home. 2 litres of juice, 2 litres of milk, sweet potatoes & beets, broccoli & bell peppers aka capsicum, flour & sugar, cheese, crackers & chips. Lemons & an avocado, shrimp, bread, salad, pasta, tea, and chocolate - both the baking kind and the snacking kind. And a new cookie pan, and a small stainless bowl.

I have plans, you see. Cookie plans, and dinner plans -
a) my aunt's cocoa and white chocolate drops
b) Melissa Clarke's roasted broccoli & shrimp

It is just about half past six, and I feel ahead of myself because I'm usually just leaving for the grocery store on a weeknight at this time. But it's a long weekend, and thank goodness one of the grocers near us was open, because we needed food. So I am going to spend some quality time in the kitchen, and while the broccoli toasts and softens itself and the shrimp gets all plump and flavourful, I am going to read some more Austen.

I read a bit of Northanger Abbey this morning, and was beyond happy to talk to my grandmother and my best friend on the phone. Last night I Skyped with my parents, and early this afternoon, chatted with my sis. It's been a really lovely day, despite the rain.
More later...

Dinner with cous cous!

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