Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Here's Pengubble, Catriona's solar car. Went well, didn't win, but had a cool penguin on it.

Catriona says thumbs up!

Here's Catriona at solar car racing. Andrea's in the background setting the car up. Yes, that's a top hat.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A goat cake

I decorated a cake today with a smiley sun design. There was a second cake though. I offered Jonathan the chance to decorate it. He said no, because he didn't know how to draw a goat.

So that's why I drew a goat on this cake.

We're racing solar cars again!

There goes Pengubble, Catriona and Andrea's car! They are in front here - sadly this photo was taken after the finish line. AT the finish line they were behind, but there's more races to go.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Melbourne Royal Show

We went to the Royal Show this year - it was super educational. For example, what would happen if one of these super fluffy chickens dunked its head in a bucket of water?


Then we wondered, what would a knitted tractor look like?

Pretty much like this. We met the yarn bombers who are yarning up much of Melbourne.

There was a dinosaur. Oh, wait, that's a cake.

Then the boys ran off with all their ride vouchers, while Catriona and I sampled our way around the food pavillion. It was fun!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Mandarin macarons! With a recipe!

Ever since we had hot chocolate at Angelique in Paris, Jeff and I have said that the best
possible macaron is mandarin. That's because we ordered a small plate of macarons to have with our hot chocolate. One of them was mandarin, and it was the most delicious thing imaginable.

So today's macarons were made with a recipe adapted from Pierre Herme (the one I got given at my cooking class at La Cuisine).

Want the recipe? I'll write it down so I can remember what I did too.

Mandarin Macarons
Whites of three egg whites (this made 90g of egg white for me)
120g almond meal
120g icing sugar
120g sugar
30g water
3 mandarins
Orange food colour (gel style)
100g white chocolate
Just under 100ml cream

Zest and juice all the mandarins.

Heat the strained juice slowly and reduce to about a tablespoonful of liquid awesomeness.

Top up the juice with cream, to make 100ml. Heat til bubbling. Pour over the finely chopped chocolate. Stir until it turns into the best ganache ever.

Sift together the almond, icing sugar and zest. I'm assuming you have fine zest. If it doesn't like going through the sifter, stir it in instead.

Put some gel food colour and HALF the egg white into the almond mix. Stir it all up.

Beat the other half of the egg whites ntil it forms soft peaks. Meanwhile, heat the water and sugar without stirring. Bring it up to 118C. Trickle the hot syrup onto the still-being-beaten egg whites. Keep beating until the mix is about 50C.

Mix the meringue (you can call it Italian meringue now) into the almond mix, starting with a little bit at a time. Be thorough each time you add more. Keep stirring until it reaches some mysterious stage I've never been able to recognise. I just stir a bit.

Pipe out little circles, about the size of a macaron, onto trays with baking paper. Leave some room between them - no so much for spreading, but more for easy handling.

Ignore them for a while. They need to dry on their tops a bit.

Preheat the oven. I went for 160C, static baking (ie no fan), but when I checked the thermometer in the oven it was way hotter, so I turned it right down to 120C. I baked for 11 minutes at that temperature, one tray at a time, and basically, it should have been a bit hotter. Some came out great, some were too wet inside, and it shows. The ones in the photo are the great ones!

Cool them right down, and fill with ganache.

Leave for 24 hours in a sealed container in the fridge. Before eating time, get them back to room temperature.

At this stage we are unlikely to do all of the last step.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

I let the boys use a big gun

Be afraid! Here are Thomas and Jonathan manning a gun on board the HMAS Castlemaine, a decommissioned navy minesweeper that saw active service in WW2. It's a museum now. It's berthed at Gem Pier in Williamstown, and you can look around on weekends. They let us on board today because they were between tour groups, and we looked interested. Now we know how they got rid of mines - they towed floats behind them, which had fins that made them veer off to the side. The rope had a cutting edge that would cut any mines free, and they would bob to the surface. Then the crew could take a shot at them from a distance. Ian, our guide, who served on this class of ship, told us sometimes the mines would go off too close to them, and rattle all the cups!
So take the kids to see the Castlemaine. If it can keep my grouchy 14 year olds engaged, it will be interesting enough for you!

Catriona gets a haircut...

And donates her hair! At Pantene Beautiful Lengths, they collect pony tails of nice clean hair, and make wigs, which are given free to women who need them because of cancer treatment. Catriona was due a haircut anyway, so we followed their detailed instructions (our hairdresser Rose was happy to help, of course). This lovely pony tail of never-dyed, never-permed hair is off to them in the next mail!