Well its been a while and I have stopped berating myself for being slack so dont you start on me. I came back from Thailand to Australia. Met my darling at the airport and we ventured accross the country visiting friends and family and in the middle had a bit of break in lovely Byron Bay where I turned 40. There was no great fan fare, I did not feel any different afterall. I did however undertake my first ever Yoga class and despite it being advanced and grueling and I sweated like a 40 year old pig I had a ball. Had a cleansing bath to remove toxins through my feet and all around had a holistic experience. We even fit in some comedy at a festival. Back up to Brisbane after the break and said farewells to family again ("boy not another farewell" said my brother). Lisa sung the national anthem at a race meeting on the Gold Coast to raptuous applause by me and thousands of others and we flew to Sydney and saw Tim Minchin perform. He is a genius and had us in stitches. Then it was off to New Zealand.
Christchurch is a fantastic city and for those of you at all interested I will start a new blog this week called A Life Less Ordinary where I will describe the antics I encounter in this fabulous city over the next four months. Working in factories, writing for magazines and checking out the night life. This blog Squeezing Grapes, will continue with my adventures in food as I embark on a 16 week intensive chef course at the New Zealand School for Food and Wine. Starts Monday, so thought I better get back in the swing/saddle so to speak.
One thing I guess I shall admit before going to this course is that my baking skills are slightly lacking. Having been frightened I could never cook perfect rice I have had two attempts prove perfect of late so I can scratch that one off the can't do list. Baking however. I made a fabulous Carrot cake guessing volumes of ingredients like a man refusing to look at directions when he's lost and it worked out brilliantly although I stuffed up the philly cream icing. Still pefecting that one. Then I tried a big Chocolate Cake. Guessed the ingredients again and added a load of choc chips into the mix. The consitency looked good and it tasted lovely prior to baking and watching it grow in the oven was exciting at it rose perfectly. Then when I tried to see if it was cooked all looked good and i decided to cut it in half so I could add a layer of caramel in its centre. Damn it was still soggy in the middle so I had to bake it again cut in half and watch the goo solidify. I then added the caramel and then smothered it in the thickest glumpy icing made with icing sugar and a chocolate mousse packet (didn't really work but those that ate it agreed the icing tasted lovely). The cake itself was stodgy to say the least and was more like a chocolate brownie cake. Thick and heavy. I blamed it on the choc chips melting and stuffing up the sponge effect but I think I just fucked up the mixture because I refused to look at a recipe. Then little kids arrived at the house so the challenge was to bake cup cakes. Had all the ingredients and then at the last minute decided to throw caution to the wind yet again like the idiot I am and cook 'em "guess stylie". You suck at baking dog - says a Randy Jackson in my ear. Gonna get booted off the cooking idol show me thinks. You cook like a bad kareoke singer says Simon. Oh hell the cup cakes looked great although they grew in the oven like scones. I lathered them up in four different coloured icing toppings with freckles and choc chips and other decorations and although I was unhappy with them the kids gobbled them down. I must start using bloody recipes. Who the hell do I think I am.
I made a big Thai meal for Lisa and friends last week and it was a huge hit - and guess what I used my cooking books from the thai cookery class I attended. What a surprise. Well lesson learned and as I am about to enter school and take instruction from a real chef soon I had better start using the tools they give me.
Speak soon dear reader.
Hopefully with cup cake recipes to blow you away with. Gonna make choc chip cookies to a recipe right now and later whip up a bowl of home made hummous for Lisa. I can do that!