Mr Husband bakes

Yesterday I wrote about how I bake to survive. But, I’m not the only one who bakes in this house. On the contrary! Not long ago I did the best thing EVER! I gave Mr Husband not only one, but two cooking books. Or rather cake/desert books. Both of them are by French superstar chef Michel Roux who loves his deserts.

Mr Husband is now on a quest to see if he can copy the star of all things sweet and he is doing very well. Unfortunately I haven’t got pictures of most of the things he has made, but trust me, it has been fantastic. First up it was the how-to-make-the-perfect-pastry-phase so we had lemon tarts, berry tarts and apple tarts. I only have one picture of the apple tarts but it was taken before they were glazed with berry jelly, so they look a bit boring. The other picture though is from the last experiment: kiwi and passion fruit soufflé. Dear oh dear oh dear that was good.

All I can say is that if you have a competitive chef in your house, I recommend you give him/her these books. They are worth their weight in gold!

      

I bake, therefore I survive

One of the topics often discussed among Europeans here in Australia is bread.
It is just not the same as at home. And it is very expensive too, compared to what we are used to, which makes it harder to accept the quality. We miss heavy, crusty loafs full of seeds – and no, you do not get that in Australia, unless you live near an IKEA. Yes, that’s right: IKEA (and no, they do not make it from the remaining saw dust, like some people think). This packet was my savior for the five years we lived in Brisbane:

I just spent the weekend in Brisbane, arriving with hand luggage only, departing with a 17kg suitcase. Our survival is secured for a little while yet.

But unfortunately there is no IKEA in Cairns and no bakery either which make this type of bread. Luckily, when I was in Denmark my friend Nina gave me the recipe for cold risen bread, which substitutes nicely (though it is not dark enough, but I might be able to fix that myself). I thought I’d share the recipe with you, just in case your stomach needs some real love.

Ingredients:
350 g of flour
15 g of yeast
350 ml of cold water
1 tsp of salt
1 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp of oil
1 cup of oats/seeds/sawdust or whatever you like

Mix flour with yeast, salt, sugar and oats. Mix water with oil. Mix it all together – it should be like a thick, sticky porridge. Cover the bowl with cling film and stick in the fridge overnight. This step takes less than 5 minutes. The next morning you spoon the dough onto the plate (no mixing it, leave the air in) to create buns (I use two spoons for this) and leave for 10 min (that gives the oven time to warm up). Bake for 25 – 30 min at 200C. All done.

Look at the love in those! Sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, oats and all. Yum, yum, yum!

Brazilian Movie Night

The movie club members have upped their game and the night has turned into a regular feast. Egyptian movie night set a new (high) standard and so the Brazilians in our group thought they would match it. They toured all of Cairns and found black beans, chorizo and all the other things on the plate that I cannot remember what is called.

Desert was a passion fruit cream. Need I say more?

Then we watched the ultimate Brazilian drama crime thrillers: Tropa de Elite I and II
What a ride! We follow the life of Captain Nascimento from 1997 until today. Captain Nascimento works in a special unit of the Rio de Janeiro police force, the unit who investigates the corrupt police officer – which seems to be pretty much all of them.

Both movies are fiction but they are based on real life in Rio. And it feels real. Needless to say, they are violent. Very violent. But never for the sake of violence or to take away from the story. The main characters are displayed as complex human beings and their development through the years is remarkable.

It has been a long time since I have liked two movies as much as I liked these. They are complex, provocative and gives you plenty to think about. What I really liked about them was that they do not portray anyone as the true hero or villain. There is no black or white – only gray. Gray, which leaves you with an understanding of how complex the issues are and how difficult it is to come up with solutions to the social problems in Brazil. If you can stand violence I recommend you watch these movies. It won’t be long before I have to see them again.

Cats and fish…

Mr Husband and I took a Sunday drive to Port Douglas not so long ago. I brought a chair, a really good book (The Long Song by Andrea Levy) and an esky full of food and lovely cold drinks. Mr Husband filled the rest of the car with fishing gear. Then we found a tree with shade for me and a pier for Mr Husband. An hour later came the cat.

Everyone was happy that day. It was a beautiful day as well. We saw this guy on the same day. I think he had a good day too…

Egyptian movie night (with English subtitles)

That headline will wake up a few people!
Never in my life would I have thought it was a problem to get an Egyptian movie with English subtitles. Or any Arab movie for that matter. It is a HUGE challenge (google it and watch the amount of chat forums that have discussed this issue). But there is a solution, or rather a new initiative, which – as far as we (the movie club members) know – is completely legal: YouTube!

After sweating for weeks over what movie to watch, YouTube solved all our problems. There are heaps of complete feature films available; all you need to do is use the search for “Egyptian movie, English subtitle”. So we were set. This is how we set up the cinema/my living room for the evening

Four people squeeze onto the sofa, four on the floor and three on the chairs. The arrangement on the floor has now been substituted with a queen size air-mattress; we do like our comfort.

Normally everyone brings a plate for the night and we have a mixed meal. This time Mohammed was so excited that he decided to hit the kitchen and to cook up a storm of Egyptian food. The home-made falafel deserves an  exclusive photo, they were so good.

The dip for the falafel was amazing (tahini base with lemon) and so were the eggs with pastrami, the bean stew and the pasta (Lebanese style!). The potato cakes in the front were brought in as an extra treat by our Ecuadorian member. They are called Llapingachos and were a first for me and a yummy one at that. In addition we had Vietnamese rolls and tons of chips and cake. As I said, we like our comfort.

So what movie did we see? The Yacoubian Building based on the 2002 best selling novel by Alaa Al Aswany. If you need a good read, I can definitely recommend it. You could also just watch the movie. On YouTube.

Grocery shopping? That is two hours drive from here!

In mid-April I reviewed the Indigenous section of my Sunday morning paper. I wondered how the local residents here in Cairns would cope if the food prices were 50% higher than the rest of the country, the government let a mining company blow up a local church and then cut their water supply, sewage and garbage removal.

In the mean time, the story from New South Wales about supermarket prices being 50% higher in Indigenous communities, has moved to another level. I almost fell off my chair when I read this.

In Wilcannia, where the local supermarket was being investigated for price-gouging, it suddenly decided to close. It is the ONLY supermarket and the town’s nearest supermarket is now at Broken Hill, two hours drive away. Few people have the option of travelling that far, so those who do, are helping to supply things such as baby formula and nappies. There is talk of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs bringing emergency supplies to the town.

WHAT IS GOING ON? This is not an aid-convoy in a third world country, though it sounds like it. This is New South Wales, Australia. It does my head in to read on one page that while the Australian Rugby League Commission has scored a $1 billion TV deal, children in remote communities are having their milk delivered as emergency supplies. For real? Oh yes, for real! Welcome home to Australia.

To read more, click here

Memories

I baked a cake today and all the way through the process I had a long conversation with myself about the things I would write on this blog. It was so relevant, you have no idea. And wont have, because I forgot everything. That is one of  the really unfortunate things about post-jet-lag. No memory.

I did take a picture of the ingredients, just to make a happy food item. I scooped all the items into bowls because I didn’t want to advertise. Then I checked the recipe to make sure that all ingredients were in the picture (and that I was ready to go with the mixing). I had forgotten the sour cream. By the time I got it out of the fridge, I had also forgotten the I’m-not-giving-you-any-credit-if-you-don’t-pay-me, which seemed so important.

Weight watchers? ME? that is just because Australia doesn’t have Icelandic products. I didn’t know it until this very long trip away, but apparently we should not be able to survive without skyr. And I’m serious. No one should advertise for weight watchers when they make butterscotch sauce to go with their brownies (mr husbands idea, but I think he did some brilliant thinking on that one).