June 2014 Archives

I've posted this recipe before.  It's just about my favourite winter dish to cook.  It's labelled a stroganoff as it has paprika, and it's meant to have sour cream as well, however Alan's recipe doesn't really use the sour cream and in fact I actually forgot to add it in this time.  Oh well.  In fact with all the red wine it's more like a boeuf bourguignon.

No two stews are ever quite the same.  It depends a little on what's on hand and what needs using up.  But the core of it is much the same.

For this one I had a kilo pack of chuck steak, cubed; two 200g packs of streaky bacon, chopped; a bag of mushrooms, sliced; an onion, diced; several cloves of garlic, crushed; red wine, beef stock, flour, mixed spices, paprika, fresh thyme (leftover from all the other French stews that needed it) and a packet of cream of mushroom soup.  The sour cream didn't get used, and I also added in most of a packet of tomato paste.

Beef stew

Everything prepped

Beef stew

So find a plastic bag with no holes in it and mix up several tablespoons full of paprika, herbs, flour and the cream of mushroom soup

Beef stew

Give it a good mix

Beef stew

Then add all the beef into it and mix it all up so the beef is coated.

Beef stew

So here's the onion, garlic, mushrooms and bacon waiting to be browned (the beef is next to this too)

Beef stew

Meanwhile, you can chuck half a bottle of wine into the slow cooker (or more if you want), beef stock to cover everything (save some for deglazing pans too), the tin of tomatoes and a goodly dollop of tomato paste.  Turn it on to start warming up.

Beef stew

So browning the onions and garlic

Beef stew

And the mushrooms in a couple of batches

Beef stew

And the bacon in a couple of batches

Beef stew

And finally the beef

Beef stew

And chuck the whole lot into the slow cooker.

Beef stew

Set to high and go occupy yourself somehow for the afternoon.

Serve with some rice to soak up the saucy goodness.

Sadly I forgot to take a photo of the finished product.  But it was very yummy, and our dinner guests went back for seconds.

Last weekend was such a long time ago I've forgotten what we did.

Cheese and bacon balls



On the Saturday morning we went and dropped off @CLBradley's car (thanks heaps Chris!) then we went into the city for brunch.  Had smashed eggs at Mocan and Green Grout (super yummy), and a lemon meringue tart at A. Baker (even yummier!).

Mocan and Green Grout smashed eggs

Stu and hot sauce

A Baker lemon meringue tart

After that we wandered around for a while hacking portals, then did our food shopping and came home.  

Can't remember what I did all afternoon, but in the evening cooked the coq au vin.

Sunday was a complete nothing day.  Didn't do lots of things I was wanting to do which was somewhat annoying.

Work this week was even crazier that the past few weeks.  Spent three days fighting with a problem that I should have known better about.  *sigh*.  Got everything working by Thursday though, so Friday was much more relaxed.

After work on Friday I went into town to meet the sweetie and we went to Molly and by some stroke of luck found a table.  We shared a couple of whiskeys and a yummy meat platter.


Molly meat platter

Saturday morning was spent food shopping and cleaning the house, and then getting dinner ready before Marc and Jo arrived.  Tragically the morning was bright and sunny with blue skies, but by the time they arrived it was freezing and pouring with rain.  So we went for a drive around Canberra highlights, but didn't even get out of the car.  Mount Ainslie was completely enveloped in cloud.  Oops.  Told them they need to come back again and stay longer and see the place in sunlight.

Got home and nibbled on cheese and stuff and chatted for a while, and looked at some of our holiday slideshows, and played a couple of games of Buzz.

Cheese platter

Dinner was a beef stew that had been going all afternoon.  It was yumm.  No pics of the finished product unfortunately.

Then we played a little singstar before crashing before midnight.

This morning we went to Pulp Kitchen for breakfast and luckily got a table.  I had my favourite - breakfast raclette with sides of Pulp Kitchen bacon and streaky bacon.

Breakfast raclette

Came home then Marc and Jo left to go home.

So had to put on some John Williams so that I wouldn't slump into a heap.

Coq au vin

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This is the second recipe from the Women's Weekly French Classics book.  It was a tossup between that and the cassoulet, but Stu didn't like the look of the cassoulet recipe as he said it needed duck fat and toulouse sausages.

So, the coq au vin.

First lay out the ingredients.  Chicken thigh fillets, bacon, mushrooms, spring onions (I don't think I had the right kind really, but didn't make too much difference), stock, wine, flour, tomato paste, garlic, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves.

Coq au vin

Here's everything prepped (except the chicken that needed flouring, and the herbs that needed de-stemming)

Coq au vin

Firstly browning the onions a little.  Next time I'll try to find the more bulbous ones that were in the picture in the book.

Coq au vin

Because I was using the frypan for browning but a big saucepan for cooking, I just started chucking things in the saucepan when they were browned.  This is just the wine, I left the stock out so I could use it for deglazing later.  Also has the little bits of spring onion, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves and herbs.

Coq au vin

Next we're browning mushrooms.  These little buttom mushrooms brown up nicely.

Coq au vin

Into the pot they go!

Coq au vin

Bacon!  Two packs of bacon! (done in a couple of batches)

Coq au vin

Chuck the bacon into the pot

Coq au vin

It's important to stay hydrated during the cooking process.  And if there's a bit of a bottle of shiraz leftover from the cooking, well it may as well be drunk, right?

Coq au vin

The chicken thighs get coated with a little flour

Coq au vin

And they get browned nicely in bacon fat :)

Coq au vin

Into the pot!  I used some stock to deglaze the frypan and chucked all that in too

Coq au vin

Then simmer away for about forty minutes

Coq au vin

The finished product.  Served with a little rice to soak up juices.  Not very pretty to look at .. but it was soooo good!  Super super tasty.

Coq au vin

Coq au vin

Loved this dish, but again, I'd probably halve the recipe so all the browning didn't take so long to do.

Sydney Week

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Last Sunday I borrowed @CLBradley's car and headed up to Sydney.  Got it down to 7.0L/100km which is pretty decent.

Hacked some portals while I waited for mum to get home from her lunch.  We did a bit of cable de-ending, and pulling stuff out of the back alcove.  Dinner was scotch fillet steak.

Monday night we went out to celebrate Mum's birthday at the Tradies.  I had bbq pork ribs which were amazing, but I couldn't finish them, so brought the leftovers home.

bbq pork ribs

Mum's birthday

We didn't do any more garage cleaning that night.

Tuesday was takoyaki day at Sushi and Grill.  This time I had it with grilled pork dumplings.  They were ok, but a bit difficult to manipulate with chopsticks.

Grilled pork dumplings

After work I met up with Marc and Jo for a drink at Jet in the QVB, which turned into several drinks and then dinner.  A great fun night.

Partly demolished garlic bread
Partly demolished garlic bread

Supreme pizza.  Sadly we ended up getting too full to finish it :(
Jet supreme pizza

Calamari - yum
Jet calamari

We didn't do any garage cleaning that night.

Wednesday was Peking Duck with @StuartCRyan.  We decided to be sensible this time and only have the pancakes, and get the san choi bow as takeaway.  So we didn't stuff ourselves silly for a change.

Peking duck

Work has been *insane* the last little while.  On Wednesday I was just about to go catch a train home when I got smsed by henrch to ask me to stay and help fix an app.  I sat there for two hours with next to no communication from the developer, which was super super frustrating.  And when I could finally escape I was in a rush to catch a train, so forgot about the san choi bow in the fridge :(:(:(  Hopefully my colleague remembered to take it.

We didn't do any garage cleaning that night.

In the end I decided to stay the night in Sydney, and go home the next morning.  Of course I was grumpy and stressed about work wasn't I, so couldn't sleep, and then got up at 4:30am the next morning to go home.  So I was pretty much a zombie the next day.  Went to bed at 8:30pm on Thursday night.


Car Dramas

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We had Stu's car serviced the other week.  But there's plenty of issues with it, and Stu has been wanting a new car for ages, so we thought it might be time to get him one.

But my car's overheating problem came back as well, so I took it in to get looked at and hopefully fixed before my next Sydney trip, which was last week.

Turns out it's the head gasket :(  Coolant is leaking into the cylinders, which explains the loss of coolant without any noticable puddles.  So I'm looking at $1000-$1500 to get *that* fixed, assuming it hasn't caused any more serious issues.  Super super bad timing.  We really don't want to be buying two new cars at once.  And I needed a car to get to Sydney that weekend.  hrmm.

So I'm still debating what to do.  Most of me wants to get it fixed, because for $2000 I could probably get my car working again.  A new car, or even a brand-new-second-hand car would still see me out of pocket a lot more and then I don't know what I'm letting myself in for.


@CLBradley very nicely loaned me a car to take to Sydney, which Stu appreciated rather a lot, as it meant he didn't have to take the bus to work that week...

Camera Dramas

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During our Turkey trip, I started having focussing issues with my camera (actually dad's camera, but my old lens).  Especially in low light, and mostly at full wide angle.  I had a quite a few failures, and it was most frustrating in the basilica cistern to get any photos that would work.  If I persisted and changed the focal length it'd usually come good.  But quite disappointing.

When I got back I didn't use it all that much, as I mostly use my phone for photos.  But I took it to the poultry show and it was having even more issues.  A week later and it was pretty much dead, completely unable to focus.  Even in bright light, it would just chug the motor back and forth and simply not focus at all.  

I tried taking off the UV shield to have a look, but it was wedged on pretty good - one side had jumped a thread by the look of it.  I think it might have happened in Turkey when I was taking photos out the bus window.  We went over a pretty decent bump and the camera got shoved nose first into the window.  I think that might have been what damaged it.  

I've seen youtube videos of people pulling apart the lenses to replace the auto focus flex cable, but it might not even be that.  There's definitely something loose in there though, as it rattles a little when I tip it upside down and back.

So it's all very sad.  Can't decide what to do - either get it fixed, get a replacement, or go the L series 24-105 .. which has less range on it than my 18-135, which is why I've been reluctant to get it...

Recent Jigsaws

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Haven't done many jigsaws recently, it's been too cold to do things downstairs.

There was this cool tiger we did in March at work.

Tiger jigsaw

Tiger jigsaw

There was also a Where's Wally? jigsaw we did at work, but I forgot to document it before I went to Turkey and it was dismantled when I got back.

This was a cool jigsaw Neil got in Queensland.  Every piece has an edge on it!  It was completely evil because the pieces were so similar you couldn't really tell if they were correct or not.  And it had like thirty corner pieces as well!

Edge jigsaw

Edge jigsaw

Edge jigsaw

Edge jigsaw

June Long Weekend

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Yeah it's been that kind of couple of weeks.

On the Saturday of the long weekend, Stu made a Cantonese custard with pork mince.  It was yummy!  But quite a lot of effort.

Cantonese custard with pork mince

Sunday morning we had brunch at the Coffee Club, although it was so late I had an early lunch.

Coffee club calamari

Then we went to the poultry show at Epic.  We didn't think it was still on at first because there was hardly anyone around at Epic.  But as it turned out, it was on, just in a smaller pavilion.  Apparently there'd been a bit of a faction split of some kind, and a lot of people weren't there.  We saw a whole heap of Kath's chookens that had won prizes.  Hers are very friendly chickies that don't mind being patted.

Long duck

Stu and a duck

Cute chickie

Kath's fluffball

Kath's chickie

Dunny brush chickie

Pretty chickie

Fluffy chickie

Nice goose

Then did our food shopping and came home.

On the Sunday night we had "Effan C" over for dinner.  I did the boeuf bourguignon, and prior to that we had quite the little party of cheeses.  And afterwards we sampled quite a few of our whiskeys.  And there might have been singstar that went til 2am!


Monday was mostly just culling down Turkey photos for sending out to people.

In the evening we went to Stu's sensei's place for shabu shabu beef.  Yumm.

Shabu shabu beef

I actually thought about creating a whole new blog for this.  Well not this specifically, but for all the recipes in the Women's Weekly French Classics book I bought the other week.  Much like in Julie and Julia, but a lot less complicated!  But for now it can all stay in here.

The first recipe I made from the book was Boeuf Bourguignon.  We'd planned to make it on the June long weekend Monday night, but then we remembered we were already going out that night, so decided to do in Sunday night.  But this was while we were out shopping on Sunday afternoon and there wasn't going to be much time to slow cook it.  We decided to go ahead anyway, and invite people over to share it. 

The recipe is *huge*.  It called for 2kg meat!  So much food it wasn't going to all fit in the slow cooker.  So I decided to split the food into two.  One lot to be done in a big saucepan on the stove, and the rest in the slow cooker for leftovers.

So here's the starting ingredients.

Bouef bourguignon

Beef, mushroom, shallots (recipe called for small brown onions, this sufficed), bacon, garlic, parsely, thyme, bay leaves, butter, oil, wine, stock and flour.

Here's everything prepped (except the parsely).

Bouef bourguignon

So next we're cooking off the butter, onions, garlic, bacon and mushrooms.  The recipe said to cook until the onions browned, but there was so much stuff in this pot this wasn't happening.

Bouef bourguignon

Meanwhile, brown off all the chunks of meat.

Boeuf bourguignon

Since the recipe wanted the onions browned, when all the meat was browned I fried up the onions a little as well.

Boeuf bourguignon

So then you add some flour til it thickens, then the wine and stock.

Boeuf bourguignon

At this point I split the meat and the onion/bacon/mushroom mix.  Half into the slow cooker and half into the saucepan.  The slow cooker half was looking a little empty of fluids, so I added the rest of the bottle of wine and a bit more stock.

Boeuf bourguignon

So I cooked the stove version on as slow as the stove would go, which was still a pretty decent boil.  It was there for probably four hours.

And oh my!  It was amazing!

The onions had their bottoms kept on so they'd stay whole while cooking.  But that didn't quite work out.  The onions completely disintegrated, as did much of the meat.

The finished product, served with the parsely, and a some rice to soak up all the lovely gravy.  Doesn't look like much, but our dinner guests were pretty impressed :)

Boeuf bourguignon

We left the slow cooker version on low overnight, but probably should have turned it off earlier.  It still tasted great, but the meat was a little dry.  I'd topped up the liquids too before leaving it overnight, but they didn't really boil away, so it was a lot more watery than the stove version.

Boeuf bourguignon

I'd definitely make this again, but I'd halve the recipe and just do it in the slow cooker all one afternoon.

Crazy Week

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This week was thoroughly insane.  We did manage to get a lunch in at Zierholz, but other than that it was super super busy all week.  

Last night I managed to escape and I picked up Stu's car, then him, then we went to the Dumpling Inn for dinner.  Shredded beef peking style and combination chow mein - our usual dishes.

Today I did a bit of housework, a bit of monitoring some testing, and then a pile of my own testing.  This afternoon we went out to hack some portals and climbed Mt Rogers.  Hopefully all the fresh air and exercise will help us sleep tonight.

The sweetie


Belconnen from Mt Rogers


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The craziness at work continues.  By 3pm I was asking if it was beer o'clock yet.

Didn't have any beer, but did have some lemon tea in these cute little cups, both of which I got in Turkey.

Turkish Lemon Tea

Not that there's actually any tea in the powedered drinks I got in Turkey.  It's just sugar and flavours (I got lemon, apple and pomegranite).  And the silly thing is, they serve it with sugar cubes - but the drink is already super sweet as it is!


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Have had a super busy couple of days at work.  But most of that has been doing (or procrastinating doing) paperwork.  I'd much rather be *doing* than writing about what I'm doing so it's a tad frustrating.  But hopefully things will improve soon...

Also, today was the first day this year that I felt like I should have worn a jacket .. Canberra has been *that* mild this year..

Been a bit of a boozy few days.

On Thursday, and dude from McLaren Vale came up to offer a wine tasting, mainly for the bar, but for others as well.  So a small group of us partook.  There were five whites, a muscato, a rose, four reds, a dessert wine, a tawny "port" and a "Delight" - which is much like a Baileys.  It was a fun night, had a taste of some lovely boutique wines, and I bought a mixed case of things.

Wine Tasting

Yesterday we went along to Whisky Live.  $99 for 100 whiskys in three and a half hours.  Stu and I shared tastes to start with, so we could try more things.  But then it got a bit complicated trying to have any working method of working the room, so I ended up wandering around by myself towards the end.  There was an ample supply of hot food (cheesy risotto balls!) as well which was great.  A fantastic event, I'd be interested in going again next year.

Whisky Live

Afterwards we went over to F&C's (who were also at Whisky Live) for a yummy moussaka.  And I ate blue cheese for the first time since 1987 (I've had it a couple of times on pizza, but it's a bit different cooked).  Then we watched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.  But I just didn't *get* it.  It was funny reading reviews on IMDB as well - people either loved it or hated it.  I'm on the hated it side heh.

Today was fairly quiet.  I finished geotagging my holiday photos, and have started culling them down.


Kit bought three more chickens and two ducks today ..

More chickies


This afternoon I was craving a roast dinner, but we had nothing to roast, so I popped over to the markets to get something.

Kazza's "Boring Life Of a Geek" aka BLOG

IT geek, originally from Sydney, moved to Canberra in 2007. Married to "the sweetie", aka Stu. Prolific photographer, Lego junkie and tropical fish keeper.

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