Friday, March 25, 2011

Looking back

A few weeks ago my Sister in law, Josie, sent me a disk with some of the Hillege photos. What a treat! So here are the kids of the Hillege clan. Arn't they a handsome group! Back row from left: Hans and Andre'. Front row from left: Lee, Frans, Pauline, Bernie and Josie.

 This was when the Hilleges became South Africans. Back row: Josie, Pauline, Papa, Mama, Hans, Andre' (looks just like his son Chris!). Front row: Lee, Frans (isn't he cute!) and Bernie.

Frans with his little dimple 

Mum Hillege. Doing what was neccessary and what she enjoys.  

Frans on his new trike. The invention of colour film! 

It's fun to look back. How everyone changes, but still stays the same.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lazy Sundays....

We had the most beautiful weather this past Sunday. Frans and I felt distinctly lazy and spent most of the day on the front deck reading and watching the world go by. The bees were buzzing and the breeze was soft. Nala couldn't even be tempted to chase the neighbourhood dogs as they passed our front gate. She was as lazy as we were!

We DO love sitting out the front.

I read a little fiction, checked out some new recipes and dreamed of travelling again. And just to make sure I didn't waste an entire day doing nothing, I worked on a new little SBJ (Surprise Baby Jacket) for my little friend Emma's baby. The baby is not here yet, but will be in a few short weeks, so I'd better get a move on and finish this little jumper!

I have finished the little quilt I started last week. Here is a close up. I really like it. It's happy and bright. Perfect for Emma's baby girl.

I made a 'Mommy' bag to match. Somewhere to keep the nappy creams, pins etc..

I also finished a little quilt for my friend Janelle's little granddaughter, Lily Joy. She's not here yet either! But I'm getting a move on. So many babies! So many thinkgs to make! So much fun!

Here is a close up of Lily Joy's quilt. She's going to be a little farm girl. So I chose some lovely reproduction blocks to make up this little quilt.

And this is the back.

As you may or may not know, Frans LOVES biscuits. Especially ANZAC biscuits. Whenever he goes to Safeway, he'll come home with batch of their home baked cookies. This morning he showed me a recipe from one of his shooting magazines. So I thought I'd give them a go.

It was really easy...
This is what they looked like after coming out of the oven and cooling down for a bit.

Can you spot the difference? Safeway on the left, Ami on the right. I know which ones I'd prefer to see in my old biscuit tin......


And here's the recipe. -Courtesy of Hunter Magazine. (I doubled it and got out 40 reasonably sized biscuits)


1 Cup plain flour
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup rolled oats
1 Cup coconut
125g butter or margarine
1 tablespoon golden syrup or treacle
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


Mix the first four ingredients in a bowl. Melt butter and golden syrup in a saucepan, add water, then bicarbonate of soda and pour over dry ingredients. Mix well. Roll into small balls (about walnut size) and flatten on oven trays. Leave some room around each biscuit as they will spread a little. Bake at 150deg for 20 mins. Cool on the trays for a few minutes, then remove onto wire racks to cool further.

Tip: If you want crunchy biscuits, then let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container. If you like your biscuits chewy, then place them in an airtight container before they are totally cooled down.

Enjoy with a cup of tea!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Feb flew by fast!

Well we have finally found our rhythm again. It's taken a few weeks to settle back into our every day life! There are chores to be done and fun things to do in the kitchen.
I bottled a batch of onions. There is nothing more delicious than some really sharp cheese and a great pickled onion! Add a slice of home made bread and you have a ploughman's lunch.

I've experimented and bottled some beetroot. I'm not sure if it will be a success. We'll open a bottle in another month or so and give it a taste test. My grandmother used to bottle beetroot. It's one of the memories I have of her. It was delicious.

It rained a lot in February! Melbourne had flash floods. Victoria is flooding. There is water everywhere. Our Summer has been short. February usually has an average of around 8 days where the temperature is over 35 degrees. Well we only had 4 days like this this year.

Lazy Sunday afternoon.....

Our garden has provided us with lovely tomatoes and flowers this Summer. We have picked close to 20kgs of tomatoes. All sizes and varieties. We've eaten Italian bread salad, bruschetta and beautiful salads. I've oven dried a batch of tomatoes too.

Another lovely weekend with our friends John and Norma. This is how we spent a few afternoons... Wine and conversation. Just perfect.

A drive to Warnambool meant we had to stop at a local patchwork shop on the way home. Here the men are waiting patiently for us....

And then we had the 'event'! Stephen was finally getting rid of his lovely locks. He and Sara raised money for the Leukemia Foundation's Shave for a cure charity event. We had a bunch of people over. Got some snags going on the barbie and then the action began.

Stephen has some very supportive mates! They all had a go at shaving his head!

Then Sara got her hair sprayed pink! Here is Johnny. He showed no mercy!

And the final result! A very different looking couple from half an hour before!

Frans and I decided to make some boerewors. South African sausage. What a mission. It takes ages to prep the meat.

The first stage is the mincing. Add all the spices.

Second stage is sending the mince through the skins. And viola! 8kgs of sausage meat.

And then I decided to see what the potatoes were doing in the bag I'd planted them in. Well, as you can see... not much! I have another bag which I'm leaving for a few more weeks. Hopefully I'll get bigger potatoes and maybe a few more! And the garlic... what a sad story.... Three tiny little nuggets! The shallots are better. I have a good harvest of these. And lots of tomatoes. So all in all, this Summer has been fruitful. My friend Sue bottled some lemons and gave me a bottle. Preserved lemons are great in Moroccan cooking. Or in salads. If you havn't tried them, then I'd reccommend you have a go. Delicious!

And finally, I tried my hand again at making my own pasta. I have tried a few times and I've always got myself into a sticky mess. But this time I followed a few rules and the result was SUCCESS! And it tasted good too! It was good to see how the Italian aunts did this. So thanks Zia Lisa and Zia Emelda!

It's amazing what you find when you clean out an old fabric suitcase. I started making quilt squares about 12 years ago when we were living in Brisbane. We had painted Sara's bedroom and I was making a quilt for her bed. But we ended up moving. And the squares were put aside and forgotten about. Well, I pulled them out this week and ironed them. There were enough blocks to make two little baby quilts. So I got stitching again....

The quilt is finished. I'll put up a photo of the finished project next time!

Bussi ... a small town near L'Aquilla

Bussi.... a little town in Italy. How do you get there? Well, you hire a car (with left hand drive of course!) and hope the GPS has an English version. Then you wiggle your way out of Rome. Lots of hair raising moments until you finally make it onto a freeway. Hope it's the right one.... no English signs. Just keep looking at the freeway number. Remember to stay in the right lane. That's the SLOW lane here! Drive for a couple of hours. Get lost around L'Aquilla. And then finally make it to the little village. We spent two lovely nights here with the Paris families. (Stephen's family)

Bussi was affected by the earthquake in 2008 that hit L'Aquilla. Bussi is about half an hour from there. So many of the buildings in the old part of town were damaged. The old part of town is now deserted. Some buildings are being held together with straps. The repair is happening slowly. It will be a while before villagers are allowed to live in the old part again.

A visit to Sulmona. A lovely little town. Known for it's confetti. Confetti is not little bits of paper in this instance. The little plastic flowers in the pic below is what the Italians call confetti. These prettly little artificial stems are used for bombonieri at weddings and christenings.

Sulmona is also a very fashionable town. Just have a look at this glamorous girl in her fur coat and designer bag! Just lovely.

The old Castle in Bussi. A few of the Paris family members were born in the room behind the top right window. So much history here....

Walking thru the top of the old village. All deserted...

Local transport... just love it!

Now the Italians have a wonderful system of having a second kitchen that has easy access to their outside courtyards. This kitchen is used in summer as they eat under the trees almost every day. The kitchen is also used to bottle all those extra vegies and cook up the passata. I want a second kitchen! Here is Frank in his second kitchen under the house. There's a shelf with all of Emelda's bottled preserves. Tomatoes are ripening on the bench. Bottled water is stacked ready for use.

This is the little river that runs thru the town of Bussi. We ate trout that had been caught in this river.

Pasta with asparagus. The asparagus was picked by Emelda on the hill behind her house. Samuele is looking on in the background.

Here Zia Lisa and Zia Emelda are making pasta. I got a lesson! They make it look so easy....

Here's another clever idea. (The Italians are full of good ideas and great style!). This shelf above the kitchen sink has no bottom shelf. The wet dishes are placed on the rack and the door is shut. So the drying dishes are hidden from view and you don't need a dishwasher!

A visit to Mario's cantina. Mario is the elegant gentleman with the red jumper. He does not speak a word of English, but we did manage to get the gist of his very fast, one way conversation! His hobby is making his own wine and sausages. Here we are in his own private cantina. He has 5 large wine barrels doing their thing. We had to try some vinegar, I mean wine, from each barrel!

A simple Italian table. Local fruits are always served after a meal, before dessert! The Italians like persimons that are super ripe. They eat the soft flesh with a spoon. Not really our taste. But we tried it.

Family shot. Here we are with William and Marina and baby Davide. And young Samuele behind Frans.

Our time in Bussi was too short. Sadly. Next time we will stay for longer. We just loved the slow way of life this lovely family enjoy in their village on a mountainside. We'll be back!