Friday, October 30, 2015

5 things I love about our Hyundai Santa Fe

Not sponsored at all. I just fucking love my car.

We've had our new (to us) 2013 Santa Fe for a year now, and I am still head over heels in love with it. Our old car was cool, but whenever I get in to this one, I feel like I'm living in the future and spontaneously break in to song.

So here are the things I absolutely love about it

Inbuilt sun shades on the rear windows
Duuuuude. DUUUUUDE! These are so freakin' cool the way they stow away in to the door and then pull up whenever you want. Gone are the days of the "wind sock" or the stick on things that meant you couldn't open the window, or the other slightly better stick on things that mean they only sometimes get caught when the window opens. I'd get it on with these things if I was in to the whole Objectum Sexual shebang.

Reversing camera
I've had the sensors before, but never the camera. It is so bloody awesome for reversing in to a space and knowing just how close you can get. On the dashboard it lights up if the object is left/right/centre and the colour it is depends on how close you are to it. Handy. I'm paranoid about kids in driveways, so this has given me so much peace of mind. But I mainly use it to double check I'm parked straight in a car park bay, this is how it goes: pull in, put car in reverse, see the lines, see that I'm smack bang in the middle, give myself a high five.

Sat Nav
I've never had Sat Nav before - I have Map Guy, the human Sat Nav instead. But I use it all the time and map obsessed Tricky loves it if I leave it on. The lovely "Jennifer" (the name of the Australian female voice - there is Aussie and British male and female) tells me where to turn and the little screen shows me the map, which lane I should be in, what the overhead signs are going to look like, even the speed limit or if there are hazards ahead. I usually talk back to her, which is a bit weird, but hey, we all need to talk to someone, right?

Speed warning
I hate speeding. I try my hardest not to do it and I hate it when other people speed near me. When someone hoons around all I think is "Clark! I don't want to spend the holidays dead!". But the afore mentioned Jennifer lets me know if I'm going too fast. "You are over the speed limit" she says in her sultry radio tones. The only issue is that sometimes she gets it wrong because the limit has changed recently, at which point I usually tell her off along the lines of "Eat a dick, Jennifer" or "Fuck off and die, Jennifer". No, I'm not proud of myself.

Third row seating
Seats go up, seats go down, seats go up, seats go down. I'm Homer Simpson on that cloud every time I get to use the third row. It's like magic: it's a boot, no it's a seat! We've used it more times than I thought we would and it's no doubt going to be used heavily when we're ferrying kids and their friends around.

There are heaps more things I love, but those are definitely my top five.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie in the Cuisine Companion

This is a S3 post - I received a Cuisine Companion for review purposes
For full details please see my disclosure policy

The Cuisine Companion bloggers were challenged to bake on the theme of Spring this month, which is perfect because a) it's spring here, and b) I'm all for seasonal eating, so Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie it is!

There's a few reasons I like to eat with the seasons:
  • It's better quality (i.e. more delish)
  • It's cheaper (and I'm all about saving money)
  • I'm supporting local businesses
  • There is a lower carbon footprint getting it to my door
I'm not against buying produce from overseas or out of state if needed (hello, Valencia oranges in Winter), but I do prefer my fruit and veg to have less frequent flier points than me.

I got a whole stack of beautiful fresh, local ingredients delivered to my door for the challenge, and as soon as I saw rhubarb I couldn't go past a pie. Plus we'd just been strawberry picking in Gnangara, and the two are a match made in taste bud heaven.

My family are rather obsessed with rhubarb, and we were even hoping to plant some to harvest in a few years because we go through so much of it.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie

240g plain flour
120g soft butter (you can use Nuttelex to create a vegan base)
70ml water
pinch salt

A bunch of rhubarb, chopped
500g of strawberries, chopped
1 teaspoon of gelatin (you can use agar agar to make a vegan filling)
Optional: 1 tablespoon of sugar/honey/sweetener of your choice (or more if you like - my lot like it really tart!)

Place all the base ingredients in to the Cuisine Companion with the kneading/crushing blade, press pastry program and start. Yep, that's it. When it's finished, ball up the dough in cling film and leave it to firm in the fridge for 15 minutes, clean the bowl, but don't panic about being super thorough.

Chop your rhubarb and strawberries in to 1-2cm pieces and whack them in the bowl with the stirring blade. Set on speed 4, 100C, for 8 minutes. Your kitchen will start smelling amazeballs.

While that's happening, grab your dough out of the fridge and divide it. If you'd like a fully topped pie then use half the mixture, or if you'd like a lattice style pie with a bit of the ol' peekaboo happening, take out 3/4. This will become your base.

Roll out your pastry portion on a floured surface until it's big enough to cover a lightly floured 24cm/9.5inch pie dish. Gently lift the pastry on to the dish and push in to the edges, trimming any overflow. You can put the excess back with the rest of the pastry if you need to, but the more your work the pastry, the less forgiving it becomes.

Blind bake the base using baking paper and ceramic stones or uncooked rice in your oven for 15 minutes at 190C. When done, remove the stones and put aside until it is cooled slightly. If the Great British Bake Off taught me one thing, it's that blind baking helps minimise the chances of a "soggy bottom". Nobody likes a soggy bottom!

When your Cuisine Companion beeps, add your sweetener and the gelatin, set on speed 4, 100C for a further 4 minutes. When finished, pour the mix on to your base.

Roll out your remaining pastry on a floured surface and shape or cut how you'd like it. If you are covering the entire pie make sure to leave a steam hole somewhere or your pie will explode in the oven. It's not pretty. Trying to keep with the spring theme, and also because I'm a bit of a wanker, I used a flower cutter and arranged the blossoms around the edges and worked my way in.

Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 190C or until golden.

Allow to cool slightly before serving because the pie filling will be like molten lava at first. Serve with a dollop of vanilla bean icecream and enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Strawberry Fields Forever

I remember going strawberry picking in Perth with my mum and sister, way back in the day. We'd get in the car and drive forever to this insanely remote strawberry farm, I'm talking middle of nowhere. Or, at least that is how it seemed to us at the time, because there was nothing around - these days, it's tilt-up city right up to the farm gates as Perth sprawls and spreads.

My Facebook feed has been full of people picking strawberries lately, and with all the memories rushing back, I just had to get in to it and take the kids these school holidays.

As if she was reading my mind, my bestie was about to take her boys, so we went together. MG, me, Tricky, Bobbin, a preggo Mrs O, and her boys L and B. I had visions of us having a fabulous morning out together, but I underestimated the crankiness of a tired toddler who doesn't particularly like the wind on the windiest day ever. 

We rocked up to T & H Holl & Son Strawberry Farm on Badgerup Road, Gnangara at 9:30am, grabbed an empty box for $5 and proceeded up the hill to fill it! The boxes don't look that big, but strawberries are small and it will hold around 3kg of them.

Look for this sign and a big shed with T&H Holl & Son
Fat, juicy strawberries hung heavy on lush green plants all around us and the air smelled sweet. It was heaven. We couldn't wait to get started so the boys ran up the hill ahead of us all. The best strawberries were in the far corner - possibly because some people couldn't be bothered walking that far, but we were on a mission so we did it!

Super sandy! 
My lot were in gumboots because the weather bureau had forecasted rain and a friend had told us it was very sandy. The weather turned out beautiful for us, but the gumboots were still great - my two didn't have any sand in their shoes at all. Winning!

Bobbin complained incessantly about the wind, and demanded to be held in the carrier most of the time... except we didn't bring the carrier because, oh, we were meant to be bloody picking strawberries! I really thought she'd be in to it - she was eating enough at first to give that impression, but soon got tired and whinge, moan, grizzle. 


The boys had a great time and most of their conversations were:

"We picked one thousand strawberries!"
"Well we picked a million!"
"I mean we picked a billion!"
"Actually we picked INFINITY strawberries!"

Ahh, five year olds. 

The farm isn't open every day because the strawberries need a chance to ripen and buggers like us keep on going and picking them, but finding out when you can pick your own is like pulling teeth. The owners, although lovely, weren't sure when the next strawberries would be ready.

They have pre-picked boxes for sale there, too, so on days when you can't pick your own you can still buy. The "jam boxes" are $2 and have about 2kg of sub-optimal strawberries in them... although they looked pretty damn optimal to me. They also have drinks available for a few dollars if all that pickin' gets you hot, and when we were there they had local garlic for sale.

Tricks was so happy pottering around, trying to find the best strawberries and took great pride in helping me make jam when we got home. Which means I only have 2.6kg of strawberries left... um, what should I make next?

. . . ___ . . . ___ . . .

Other places to pick strawberries in Perth:

Ti Strawberry Farm - 263 Old West Road Bullsbrook. I haven't been there but my friends highly recommend it. They're open every day of the school holidays and charge a per person entry fee on top of the box fee. You're still getting a cheap and healthy activity. 


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