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The Genial Hearth
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Archive for April, 2009

Garden Photos!

Here is the first of a series of photos from the Garden Day. You can click through the photos after that for the rest of the day’s efforts… Check out the earlier photos to see what was there!

Thanks again to everyone who came and helped!

Youse Guys are Grouse! (Grubby Nails)

Today was fantastic!

We had 11 adults and 7 kids (plus Cygnet, who pretty much slept for most of it) turn up over the course of the day. So much got done! Far more than I had really anticipated:-)

I put up a list of jobs to do, vaguely sorted in order of preference. This was a good idea for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gave us a real sense of what had been accomplished. Secondly, it meant that people could look at what jobs were going and choose what suited them:-) It also meant that I didn’t have to ‘direct traffic’ all the time:-)

The list
Move pile of rocks from ‘Front’ yard to outside fence. Done!
Spread newspaper and mulch in ‘Front’ yard, from footpath towards road. Mostly done (we ran out of mulch—I was expecting newspaper to be the limiting factor)!
Spread newspaper and mulch from footpath to lemon and grapefruit. This didn’t get done, because there was no mulch left…
(If there is excess mulch, it will be going around the mulberry and apple). Or this.
(If there is still excess mulch, it will be going in the raised beds—once they’ve been whippersnippered.) Or this… although some of the area around the beds did get whippersnippered:-)
Put up a trellis for the grapevine in ‘Front’ yard. Done!
Remove Lantana from near porch. Done!
Prune Broom from near porch. Done!
Plant Red Seedless Grape near porch. Done!
Mount tool racks on the wall next to french doors (driveway side). Marked, but not done owing to a somewhat less than straight drill bit. We’ve borrowed another bit from my dad, but ran out of time. This is top of my list for tomorrow:-)
Plant Jasmine near street end upright of carport. Done!
Prune Roses. Largely done, well, not really pruned, but reduced somewhat so it will be possible to get in and prune them in a couple of months!
Whipper Snipper ‘croquet lawn’ (around roses). Partially done! I need to work out how to re-thread the whipper snipper so I can keep going with this.
Prune/remove Dollica. Done!
Plant dragonfruit (in place of dollica?) Not done, but we’ll do this tomorrow.
Plant peas and beans around teepee. Done!
Plant herbs in pots. Not done. People seemed strangely reticent to plant! The things that did get planted were pretty much the result of me specifically directing someone to do so. Also a job for tomorrow—I anticipate Puggle may be far more interested when there are fewer kids to distract him (although, they were distracting him towards work for a good part of it:-) )
Spread tea and coffee around peas and beans. Done!
(Investigate gate hanging… Not really serious, but if we get this far, it seems reasonable:-) ) Done! I wasn’t really expecting that this would get done, but I thought I’d put it on the list so that if we got through everything (being really optimistic!) we could all stand around the gate and ponder and posit… I didn’t count on a particularly enthusiatic helper:-)

Not on the List!
Fixing up paving at the end of the driveway.
Trellising the neighbour’s grape that comes over our way.
Pruning the bougainvillea and honeysuckle (and possibly other things?) in the patio.

So, lots done!
The only problem is that I don’t feel as though I did much gardening myself. I did do a lot of feeding of people. The Gulaschsuppe was popular:-) We went through near enough to 2 litres of that—and the same of the Pumpkin soup:-) We ate all the Chocolate Simplicity Cake, there are a small number of Gingernuts left, and about half the fruit cake. Other than that, most of my time was sorting out tools for people or finding things or answering questions. (There was a little bit of rounding up children in there, but not much… they worked well, because their friends were working. Or the oldest child [13] organised games or something!) Or standing around chatting… I feel as though I did far more of that than really seems fair!

This Week

Our plans for
Week 1, Block 4, Dorothea Term

Chapter 8 ‘Household Items’ from Song School Latin by Amy Rehn
‘Introduction’, ‘The Olympians’ from The Orchard Book of Roman Myths by Geraldine McCaughrean
‘The Wolf and the Shepherd’, ‘The Goatherd and the Goat’ from Aesop’s Fables for Children Illustrated by Milo Winter
The Muddle-headed Wombat by Ruth Park
‘The Blue Bird’ from Green Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
‘The Jumblies’ The Complete Verse and Other Nonsense by Edward Lear
Copywork: Name, ‘l’, ‘m’
RightStart B

‘Keeping Healthy’ from European Word Book by Richard Scarry
‘Bat, Bat, Come under my hat’, ‘Great A, little a’ from My Very First Mother Goose Iona Opie
‘System’, ‘A Good Boy’ from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert L. Stevenson
‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ from The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisherby Beatrix Potter (I’ve borrowed a number of these on CD, and have found that’s helped a lot with reading them this time around!)
La chasse à l’ours by Michael Rosen

Caput, Umerus, Genu et Digitus
Veni! (Come!)
J’Entends le Moulin
S’il te plait (Please)
Folksong: The Rose of Tralee
Composer: Franz Liszt
Work: Piano Concerto No 1 (This is a link to a recording)
Artist: Caspar David Friedrich
Work: The Cross in the Mountains
Music: Long/Short (p. 24 The Kodaly Method I)
Fox Went Out
Art: Wax Crayons
Colour and Pattern (p. 72 The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas)
‘Fjord’, ‘Ford’, ‘Forest’ from Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton
‘The First Sumerian Dictator’ from The Story of the World: Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer
Recorder ‘Semibreve Samba’ from Black Belt Recorder 1

Ginger Nuts

These are one of Paddington’s favourites:-) They’re really simple—and if it weren’t for the lack of uniformity in shape, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from the packet ones we know and love:-)

Ginger Nut Biscuits from The West Australian, Extra Liftout : Saturday November 29, 2003
60 grams butter
1 ½ cups sugar
1 egg
¼ cup treacle
⅓ cup golden syrup
2 cups flour (I made these with wholemeal flour today… they were fine, a few flecks on the surface, but they worked just as well)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ginger, ground

Combine butter with caster sugar.
Mix in egg, treacle and golden syrup.
Sift together flour, baking powder and ground ginger.
Mix this through the butter mixture until well combined.
Place neatly heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture on a tray lined with baking paper, leaving plenty of room for them to expand. Press down a bit with the floured back of a wooden spoon.
Bake in a 200°C oven for about 12 minutes or until they are well browned.
Leave them to cool on a tray and store in an airtight container.

If you prefer them to be soft, store in an airtight container before they are fully cooled. If you prefer your ginger-nuts hard, make sure that they are completely cool before storing.

(I’ll add a picture when I connect the camera tomorrow.)


That’s the way you’re meant to use an oven:-)

Tonight’s roast and vegetables in the oven. While they’re cooking, do lots of preparation around the house for tomorrow’s gardening extravaganza. Then, begin the Boiled Fruit Cake (boil up the fruit and spice and butter and sugar then leave to cool). Make a Simplicity Chocolate Cake and put it in the oven when the roast comes out. While the meat is resting, and then being carved (thanks Paddington!) begin a batch of Gingernuts. Eat dinner, and finish making the gingernuts. Put them in the oven when the chocolate cake comes out. Load the bread machine with a loaf. (Rotate the trays of gingernuts as they’re cooked). Finish making the boiled fruit cake. When the gingernuts are finished, turn down the oven temperature a bit. Put the fruit cake in the oven to cook (it takes a while). Take it out of the oven as the bread machine finishes making the dough. Shape the loaf and leave above the oven to rise a bit (turn the oven back up).

In about five more minutes I’ll put the bread in the oven to cook. When it finishes I’ll turn off the oven:-) The roast was for dinner tonight, the bread is for breakfast tomorrow. The two cakes and the gingernuts are for morning/afternoon teas tomorrow. The Gulaschsuppe was made, and today I made the Pumpkin Soup (not tomato, slight miscalculation:-) ) for lunch tomorrow. Now I can begin to relax:-)

Food Post Friday

Friday: Trying pinwheels for lunch. For dinner, I’m taking Tacos to share with friends (well, taco filling, tortillas, ‘sour cream’ aka Greek Style Yoghurt, and whatever salad bits I can find)
Saturday: Roast Beef with Roast Potatoes, Onions, Carrot and Peas
Sunday: I’m making Tomato Soup (vegetarian, tin-free and dairy-free) and also serving Gulaschsuppe for the Grubby Nails lunch. If I get organised, I’ll make some rolls to have with them. Frittata for dinner, so I can prepare it all ahead of time:-)
Monday: Dinner with Granny and Grandpa
Tuesday: Curried Sausages
Wednesday: Dinner with Grandma and Grandad
Thursday: Chicken Noodle Soup and Bread (I’m trying again to make this… I’ve tried a few different recipes, and none of them have been quite right… the last one was revolting, not merely not right but actively bad🙁 Hopefully this will be better!)

Peach and Vanilla Pie

A couple of weeks ago, we had peaches needing to be used, and friends coming to dinner, which reminded me that I hadn’t made this in quite some time:-)

Peach and Vanilla Pie from Australian Gourmet Traveller, March 2005
peach-pie350 grams flour, plain, (2 1/3 cups)
60 grams almond meal
½ teaspoon salt, sea
50 grams sugar, caster
250 grams butter, unsalted, finely chopped
¼ cup water, iced

1.2 kilograms peaches, (about 6)
40 grams tapioca, (or sago)
60 grams sugar, caster
1 bean vanilla, seeds only
1 egg, white
sugar, caster, extra, to sprinkle
For the pastry, process flour, almond meal, sugar, salt and butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the iced water and process until the mixture just comes together (with pastry remember that less working is better for the end result).
Divide the pastry into two slightly uneven pieces. Form each into a disc, wrap in gladwrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
If you are concerned about the skin on the peaches (some are tougher than others), put peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds (two or three at a time), remove and plunge into iced water, then peel. Halve and remove the stones, then segment further.
Process the tapioca in a small processor (I have never succeeded with the mortar and pestle!) until it’s finely ground. Place in a bowl with the sugar and vanilla seeds.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
Roll out the larger piece of pastry until about 3 millimetres thick (I did it on my tupperware pastry sheet, and it was actually possible to see the blue lines through the pastry!) and line a greased 23 centimetre (4 centimetre deep) metal pie dish, then refrigerate while you roll out the second piece of dough.
Add the peaches to the tapioca and sugar mixture and toss gently. Spoon these into the pastry. Brush the edge with a little egg white, then cover the pie with the second piece of pastry. Trim the excess and crimp edge with a fork. Cut a 2 centimetre slit in the top of the pastry, brush the top of the pie with egg white and sprinkle with the extra caster sugar.
Place the pie on an oven tray, and put into the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce to 180˚C and bake for another 30 minutes or until golden.
Remove the pie from the oven, place on a wire rack and cool for two hours or until room temperature (it is nice when cool, but really? Who can wait!) Serve cut into slices with thick cream.

Pot-Roasted Cider Chicken with Speck and Carrots

Pot-Roasted Cider Chicken with Speck and Carrots from The West Magazine
oil, olive
150 grams pancetta, chopped
1 large onion, red
5 cloves garlic, bruised
2-3 bay leaf, fresh
400 grams carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
375 milliliters cider, (mid/dry, or add a splash of brandy if it’s very sweet)
1 chicken

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Heat the olive oil in a french oven with a tight-fitting lid. Fry the pancetta until it starts to sizzle. Add the onion, garlic and bay leaves and fry to gently brown the onion. Add the carrots and fry a few minutes longer. Pour in the cider and boil rapidly for two minutes. Add the chicken, breast side down, and cover. Place in the oven and cook for thirty minutes.
Taste the chicken sauce for seasoning (the pancetta is salty, so you may not need too much), turn the chicken over and cook for another thirty minutes or so without a lid, so the skin can colour and the sauce reduces a bit.
Skim most of the fat off the top of the sauce. Rest the chicken for a few minutes before you cut the bird and serve.

Serve over mashed potatoes and accompany with some greens.

This Week

Our plans for
Week 5, Block 3, Boronia Term (Break Week)
Theoretically this week contains nothing but continuing to sing. Given the last couple of weeks though, I think I’ll aim for us to do a little Copywork, a little Maths and some History. If we can manage to finish the last sections of The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus and The House at Pooh Corner, that would also be good.


Just a reminder that this Sunday (the 19th) is Craft Sunday. I’ll probably be working on some wedding and birthday presents… Come by any time after 1.30.

Also, the following Sunday is the Grubby Nails gathering. Come by any time from 10, bring gloves if you have them, and newspapers would be good (we’re pretty short, and still have a lot of ground to cover!) I’m going to make a couple of soups for lunch, but if you felt like bringing some bread or sandwiches to go with it, that would be great.

Hope to see some of you there!


Week 4, Block 3, Boronia Term

Well… owing to recovering from Swancon (and the short week that gave us), we really did very little (in fact, I think Puggle pretty much just did Weather Watch). Of course, he did play a number of games (fair amount of problem solving there) and played with numbers a few times… he’s quite taken with the idea of maths:-) Just as well next week is Break Week—I think I’ll plan on being a little more productive than usual to make up for it a bit!

Food Post Friday

Friday: Pizza with friends
Saturday: Tacos
Sunday: Pot-Roasted Cider Chicken with Speck and Carrots (I can’t believe I haven’t blogged this one!)
Monday: Dinner with Granny and Grandpa
Tuesday: Chicken Spaghetti
Wednesday: Dinner with Grandma and Grandad
Thursday: Gulaschsuppe

(Edited to add the link to the Chicken Recipe.)


I had a lovely time:-) Many things worked for me (including the Kiddy Programme, most worthwhile, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops in years to come:-) ), but for me, this year was all about the gaming:-)

Big_jobbies did a fabulous job of organising a really welcoming gaming stream—I have not previously gamed at a con, but this year I played lots! So I thought I’d chat about some of the ones I particularly enjoyed playing or watching. (I was particularly looking for things that would work with kids.)

Villa Paletti
This was probably my favourite game:-) Huge fun! I really want to play more of this:-)

This is one that I’m looking forward to trying with Puggle in a couple of years—it seems aimed directly aimed at him:-) All those animals, and there’s even an expansion set with a Polar Bear!

Hot Cocot
This was was one that Puggle and Bilby enjoyed playing, and I did too:-)
I played this quickly with the kids, and while it wasn’t a resounding success, we enjoyed it enough that I thought it would grow on us:-)
(I have bought both of these, the Australian Geographic shops currently have them in stock. In fact, I’ve given one of each away as a birthday present as well! Since we got them, Puggle has played with them repeatedly:-) )

I didn’t actually play this one, but I watched a few games and it seemed pretty cool:-) It looked playable by a fair range of people—and most entertaining.

I played a few other games, and watched a number more—I was rather intriged by the BattleStar Galactica game, and Wings of War looked interesting (although, far too complicated for me, with that number of people!), but I now feel enthused about trying out the EuroGamesFest:-) We’ll see.

This Week

Our plans for
Week 4, Block 3, Boronia Term

Chapter 7 ‘Classroom Items’ from Song School Latin by Amy Rehn
‘Hestia’ from The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki
‘The Man and the Lion’, ‘The Ass and the Lapdog’, ‘The Milkmaid and her Pail’ from Aesop’s Fables for Children Illustrated by Milo Winter
The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
‘The Magic Book’ from The Orange Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
‘Limericks’ p12-20 The Complete Verse and Other Nonsense by Edward Lear
Copywork: Name, ‘h’, ‘i’
RightStart B (some more number recognition, the abacus, writing numbers)

‘Numbers’ from European Word Book by Richard Scarry
‘Hickory Dickory Dock’, ‘Hickory Dickory Dare’ from My Very First Mother Goose Iona Opie
‘My Shadow’ from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert L. Stevenson
‘The History of Jack the Giant-Killer’ from The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The Tailor Of Gloucester Beatrix Potter (I’ve borrowed a number of these on CD, and have found that’s helped a lot with reading them this time around!)
Ours Brun, Dis-Moi by Eric Carle

Parva Casa in Silva
Siste! (Stop!)
Scions du Bois
Lentement! (Slowly!)
Folksong: The Rose of Tralee
Composer: Johannes Sebastian Bach
Work: The Art of Fugue
Artist: Sandro Botticelli
Work: Calumny of the Apelles
Music: Timbre (p. 22/23 The Kodaly Method I)
Hot Cross Buns
Art: Watercolour
Painting Skies (p. 56/57 The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas)
‘Delta’, ‘Desert’, ‘Dune’ from Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton (drawings for Puggle to colour in… although this is an ‘everyone’ topic, realistically, we’ll probably do it while Bilby naps in the afternoon)
‘The Old Kingdom of Egypt’ The Story of the World: Ancient Times Susan Wise Bauer


Week 3, Block 3, Boronia Term

Not as much done this week as I would like to have achieved. We spent some time working on Puggle’s costume, and otherwise preparing for Swancon:-)

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