Monday, April 30, 2012

weekend spoils: fresh tortellini

Go gently.

Breathe deeply.

Slow down.

So over the weekend, I did. I drew inspiration from this lovely lady's Sunday adventures, and decided, I can do that. I can use the weekend hours to prepare for the week ahead. I can make yummy things to have ready in the fridge and pantry, and try to reduce my kitchen stress through the week (as well as reduce our chances of succumbing to the lure of easy takeaway).

And I made pasta.

I have a theory that a real, Italian mama is lurking in my genetic makeup somewhere, and she emerges as the weather cools each year. She likes stirring things, but only with wooden spoons, and has dustings of flour in her hair. Her favourite pot is red and heavy, and she doesn't mind that the baby pulls out all the pots and pans to play music at her feet. She makes soulful, hearty food for those she loves, and relishes in the praise heaped on her delicious offerings.

I love Italian mama me. I want to be more like her every day. Perhaps I should make more pasta?

Here's what I did:
Add eggs to flour. Tipo 00 strong flour if you can get it, but plain white flour is what I had. Large, free range eggs. Now, the ratio depends on the weather where you are, the eggs, your hands, so you will have to be prepared to play. I followed Jamie Oliver's recipe from jamie at home, but without scales, converting 600grams of flour to cups can be tricky. For a silkier pasta, Jamie recommends replacing one of two of the 6 eggs with 2 egg yolks per egg. For me, I think the recipe I will use next time (after nearly throwing this dough in the bin!) would be 4 cups flour, 5 eggs, 2 egg yolks. Crack the eggs into a well in the flour, stir with a fork, carefully bringing in the flour until a ball forms. Knead like crazy. Wrap in plastic and rest in the fridge for a couple of hours. Roll out in your pasta machine, then cut into rectangles or squares. Add your filling, brush the edges with water to seal. I used some roast pumpkin, cooked silverbeet and ricotta in this lot. You can pretty much use anything. Press down, cupping the filling with your pinky to press out air bubbles. Dust in flour and put aside to rest a little.
Drop the little pillows in boiling water- not too many at a time! They will take about 6-7 minutes to cook, depending on how thin you rolled your pasta. Let them drain (but don't rinse them!) Serve with a simple sauce.
Awesome little people food.
This effort made an absolute glutton of pasta. We had enough tortellini for two meals, and that was only using half the dough! I am going to roll out the rest into tagliatelle or just lasagne sheets and freeze for another time.
Happy tortellini pillows, nestled in their bed, ready for the freezer. I usually have a packet of commercial fresh pasta in the fridge/ freezer. We call it Emergency Pasta because I cook it on those days when I have no puff left to cook dinner. But the home-made stuff tastes a whole lot better, and is way more filling.

Stuff I learned:
  • Fresh pasta is not a mid-week meal. Definitely save it for the weekend.
  • Pasta dough does not keep in the fridge any more than 24 hours. It gets black dots and goes gross.
  • If making filled pasta, lay it out flat somewhere coolish. Do not, as I did, just pile it up on a plate. Which is sitting on the oven. Which is turned on. And then cry as you throw a gluey mess into the bin.
  • Small children love to turn the crank on the pasta roller. The wrong way.
On the dinner menu this week:
Hearty Beef Casserole (already slow slow cooked it on Sunday)
Spag Bol (can use some of my fresh pasta!)
Chicken and Chickpea Bake
Stir Fry with Awesome Sauce
Home Made pizza
Minestrone soup (or as I like to call it, Dead Veggie Soup)
For the lunchboxes:
100s of biscuits (at big boy's request)
Banana bread or cake or something (thanks, two squidgy bananas in my fruit bowl)

And a whole heap of yummies for the little one's first birthday party, looming on Sunday. I hope Italian Mama Me hangs around this week. I may have to call on Nona too. You busy, Mum?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

there were five in the van: day three

Good Friday...boy, was it ever!

We discovered the true joy in camper vanning. Stopping wherever you like, and having your kitchen with you from which to prepare breakfast. Here we are on the Great Ocean Road, just out of Lorne.

It was interesting to hang out on a different coastline to our Eastern home one. The sunshine was lovely, and although the water was an inviting turquoise, it was oh-so-cold! The biggest found some very strong, very think seaweed. We went for a walk and found some amazing shells, which the middle one wanted to keep for a connection.

And then, we ventured on to fulfill the purpose of the trip: reliving hubby's youth, attending a little surfing contest at a little beach called Bells. I am not very heavily into surf culture, but I got totally swept up in the excitement and festivities. I was a bit wary of lugging all the children to the beach for a contest that can potentially run for days and days, but somewhere the gods were smiling on me. After we parked in a field in Siberia, we made the kids some lunch (because you can do that in a campervan) and meandered down to the beach. As we approached I heard the happy announcement It looks like someone will be ringing the bell this afternoon folks! Somehow, we had managed to turn up for the men's final. Ace!
We found our mates, and then proceeded to watch some awesome displays, including this guy

do this move
landing him a perfect ten. This guy was so cool with the crowd, and his very sleek and consistent rides won him the Bell on the day.
It was all rather tiring.
I really had no idea I'd have such a great time. I even bought a t-shirt.

And once we were settled in our next campsite, and the kids were asleep, you know which movie we watched in the DVD player in the Kea camper, don't you?

Thus beginning a storm of Point Break quotes for the rest of the journey.

Friday, April 27, 2012

it's so noisy here

Everything feels loud to me right now.

The children are loud, trapped in an ever-shrinking house with no yard to run like the little wild things they are. Hubby remarked in one of my cranky bouts If they were doing this outdoors we would say how nicely they are playing.

The stuff all around me is loud. Visual piles of noise. I don't even know what this stuff is. If I just put everything that is currently on a counter-top into a box, would I wonder where it was in a week?

Time ticking by is making an unbearable noise. My last, last baby turns one in a handful of days. The march goes on. Noisy things I must get done encroach on my beautiful quiet space of mind. Interruptions are so very loud and make me bristle. The phone ringing in the middle of a precious breastfeed makes me shoot loud, rude sparks.

I am loud and it hurts me. My babies' faces when I am loud hurts me. I forget to breathe, and wait a moment before I speak. Noise just spews out, not helpful or useful. I am frustrated, and oh-so-tired, and busy. And I am noisy. My mind is cluttered.

I read Jodi's words this week...go gently. Like a quiet balm. And I know I have to gently, gently, find the hush again. Remove some visual noise. Find some quiet in the corners of my mind again, maybe yoga will help? Get ahead of things. Turn the noisy things off. Think before I add to the noise.

Don't speak unless what you say will improve on the silence.

Can anything improve on silence, really?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

there were five in the van: day two

We awoke on day two of our trip in Wadonga, a little unsure of how we got there to be honest. The children had slept soundly in their beds. We stopped in at the local shopping centre to get some fresh bread for lunch and some kind of latch to hold the fridge shut when we went around corners. I didn't find one, fortunately nifty husband got all MacGyver, folding a piece of paper into a wedge. Not that we needed it, anyway. Wadonga to Lorne was on the agenda for day two. That's some straight driving there. Next turn in 274 kilometres. I drove too (love driving a manual) and found it easier than I expected. I even did the busy part, skirting around Melbourne and through Geelong.

Our home for the evening was a campsite at Cumberland River Holiday Park. It was in such a gorgeous spot, on the Great Ocean Road just out of Lorne. Flanked by cliff faces and overlooking the sea, with a babbling creek running alongside. Truly beautiful! The park was full to capacity, with the Easter long weekend (otherwise known as Camping Long Weekend) about to kick off. I found it fascinating to check out everyone's camping set-ups, with dining tents and campfires. I cooked a simple dinner in the van- it was too late to get a campfire going in time for the kid's dinner. We had a lovely explore of the place in the cool light of the morning. Harry told me he could see people's homes way up in the cliffs, and their paintings, too.
I think he may have been right.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

there were five in the van: day one

Bells Beach. Rip Curl Pro. Twenty Year anniversary. The Great Ocean Road. An off-hand comment amongst some reminiscing about twelve months ago, and the seed of a plan was planted. When they were 14, hubby and his best mate went to watch the surfing at Bells. So why not all go down for a big old road trip? The planning and booking began. Us five in one campervan, four adults (Best Mate, his lovely wife and his parents) in the other.

I'm just going to put this out there. I got scared in the week leading up to our road trip. Really scared of what living in a confined space with three small children would be like, even though I knew it was only a couple of weeks. We hadn't travelled together yet, the five of us. I was already feeling a little unravelled as it was, and ashamed that I didn't take to the planning of the trip with the usual OCD gusto and list writing for which I am famous. Thank goodness our gorgeous friend had it in hand. So rather than tremors of excitement, I was experiencing shivers of mild dread.

And then, my darling arrived home with the glorious mobile. And I started putting things in it. Packing the clever little cupboards with breakfast cereals bought specially for the holiday and ingredients for easy meals I thought I could make in one pot. Our own pillows and doonas. The kid's scooters and teddies. Suncream and parkas. And joy settled in. That feeling of leaving it behind. Living simply for a while. And I got excited. Almost as excited as the kids, who the next morning would not get out of the campervan so we had to finish packing it around their jumps and squeals.

And at last, we popped the children into the car seats, the littlest one already asleep, and took off on the first, most boring part of our journey: taking the inland road from the Central Coast of NSW down to somewhere Abury-Wadongaish. Turns out over the Easter period, most places don't pre-book sites for less than four days. So when it came to some of our accommodation, we were winging it (because I am awesome at that).
The kids were awesome on the journey. They ate their snacks, they played with the things in their activity bags. I had prestuffed a couple of backpacks with sticker books and colouring-in. Good move. They had a little play when we stopped at Maccas and looked up some caravan parks on the ipad.
We finally rolled into Wadonga quite late- around 9.30ish. We were surprised at how quickly we got the van set up for sleep, even taking out the car seats was easy enough. The boys were mightily impressed at their big bunk bed:
We had landed at a Big4, as luck would have it. Which I discovered mostly have one of these jumping pillow things, which, if you are either nearlythree or nearlyseven, are the best thing ever.

So after brekkie and some bouncing, we headed off for the next, equally boring leg of our journey.

Oh, and the vehicle we hired was a Kea- we got a good price at a caravan and camping show we went to. It was a cool mobile. Stocked with everything you need, even wine glasses. We had the 6 berth one. You can look at their website here if you like.

Have a happy day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

it's time i came back here

Well, hello there. After having an unscheduled break from this place, due to some unscheduled life things, I'm looking forward to being back here now. And catching up with my favourite bloggy places too.

We have just returned from a family holiday in a campervan, so you will just have to excuse me while this turns into a bit of a travel blog, boring you with details of this little family's road trip. In the meantime, here's a snapshot!
Can you guess where we visited?

Have a happy day,


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