Winter is here…

It’s hard to be believe that we’re nearly halfway through 2015.  Yikes.  Where has the time gone….

The weather has been really changeable in Sydney the past few weeks, but I know winter has officially arrived because I’ve made chili.  I’m also writing this under my electric blanked with my ugg boots on- so…. yep, it’s Winter.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before but growing up Chili (or chili con carne as they call it here) was always a winter food growing up.  So I know it’s officially a cold winter’s day when I feel like a big warm bowl of chili.  That day came on Saturday when I turned to The Runner and announced that I felt like making Chili.

Unlike most things I cook, with chili I don’t really follow a recipe.  Well, I do- but I really don’t.

Years ago, probably 15+ years ago, I asked The Mom for her chili recipe.  At the time, I was expecting precise instructions and measurements and an easy to follow recipe passed down with love from mother to daughter.  This is not what my mother gave me.

The Mom gave me the same directions to make chili that you would give an unwanted guest to your house.

Example:  “So you go down that road until you get to the other road and then you turn rightish and go around the corner and stop at the tree and then you sort of go a bit further and a bit further and then you’re there.”

Ummmmm.  NO.  Those are basically directions to get lost.  If someone ever gives you those directions to a party, just stop.  They don’t want you there.  They probably didn’t even want you to know that they were having a party but you found out and they gave you a pity invite.  Sigh.  That is basically the recipe I was given by my mother.  I know, for those of you know what a wonderful mother I have, it’s hard to believe.  But it’s true….

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And there’s the proof.  Not one measurement, not one detail.  It almost asks more questions than it answers.  How many onions?  How much garlic?  What size can of tomatoes?  How many cans?  How much chili????  How long do you cook it for?   For a recipe with so little information, it actually makes the best chili in the world.  Not that I’ve ventured to try other recipes (why mess with perfection??)  Over time, I’ve added my own touches- this time I added a bit of beer and also a bit of chocolate and cinnamon because well, you can tweak perfection slightly.  But looking at the internet, none of the other recipes sound as good.

What got me started on this little research project was my colleague at work, let’s call her “Jen.”  Jen was planning to make chili for dinner after work today.  In my book, that’s a no.  Chili is not an after work dish.  Chili needs to simmer, mellow, develop over a few hours.  It is the perfect Sunday dish- you can leave it to cook while you read the paper, do the laundry and get ready for the week ahead.  “Jen” was planning to use the Hairy Bikers Chili recipe.   I read the recipe, and it’s a no from me.  They put red wine and flour in their chili.  Really????????/ NO!  I can’t condone that.  It’s chili con carne not spaghetti bolognese.  So then I started doing more research….

Food Network and Betty Crocker get two spicy chili covered thumbs up.  Yum!

BBC Good Food– for a non-American entry, you’re not half bad.

Epicurious– I like you, but I think you’re over complicating things.  It’s total time is 11 hours and 45 minutes.   Yes, you read that correctly- nearly half a day!  You also want me to chill it overnight and come back to it to skim the fat.  I’ll be honest, you lost me Epicurious.  Same thing Gourmet Traveller– 21 ingredients is pushing my chili friendship.

Taste– bacon in chili?  hmmmm…. the jury is out on you.  I love bacon and I love chili.  But I’m not sure….

Jamie Oliver– chickpeas in chili?  I. can’t.even.  Go home Jamie, your chili is drunk.  Get out of my sight.  In fact, I’m mad at myself for even including you in my chili roundup.

Ugh.  That put me off….  but I persisted and found some pretty cool recipes….

The Amateur Gourmet’s Best Chili Of Your Life– big call but I’m willing to try it

Chili Con Jamie– Dammit Jamie Oliver, I wanted to hate you for the one with chickpeas, but this one sounds pretty awesome– coffee and cinnamon sticks with chili made from brisket… my mouth says yes and my stomach says please.

Needless to say, I could go on…. there were options with chocolate, recipes for chocolate and beer, bloggers putting their twist on it- hello Nessa Family Kitchen and your spiced chocolate chip chili, pigpig’s corner’s chocolate stout and ancho chili con carne and Get In My Gob’s Coffee Chocolate Chili Con Carne.

I suppose at the end of the day, everyone has their own take on chili con carne. There’s not one right recipe.  You’ll never hear the judges on Masterchef arguing that a dish is not “technically” a chili con carne.  Without knowing it, that was the the gift that The Mom gave me when she gave me her recipe.  She gave me the basics but lets me choose my own adventure every time I make it!

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Do you Fondue??

We do!  Or at least we will be shortly.  

You may remember from my post on chili con carne that fondue is one of my absolute all time favourite foods, and one of the foods that according to my mother is a “winter only” food.    Well, seeing as we only have 5 more weeks of winter — and the weather hasn’t exactly been wintry– I figured that tonight would be fondue night!

I will admit to taking the lazy route– although I have made my own cheese fondue before– and it’s delish.  I’m not tonight. Our local deli in Randwick sells fondue in a box and that’s what  we’re test driving tonight.

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I know, it’s pathetic for a girl with three fondue cookbooks to use fondue in a box and I really should make it from scratch, but it’s been a hectic few weeks and fondue making was not on my agenda for tonight.

In truth, I would LOVE to find a good fondue restaurant in Sydney so that we could actually have three courses of fondue– cheese, meat, and chocolate– because let’s face it, I LOVE fondue.  I went to one years and years ago– Eiger Swiss on Parramatta Road, and it was….obviously not somewhere I’ve been back to in the last 10 years…..hmmmm.  

 First hurdle- apparently Sterno is virtually unheard of in Sydney– or at least in the four shops including Coles and Woolies that I went to.  I asked and got completely blank looks– even though one store actually sells fondue pots and the other is a kitchenware store.  So, we’re going to try menthylated spirits and hope that we don’t burn the house down in the process.

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Secondly, I don’t have fondue plates.  Yes, there is such a thing and yes, my mother, goddess of all kitchen utensils, has them– a whole set from the 1970s, and they’re super cool.  I envy them and covet them, but sadly don’t have my own.Image

 

 

So fingers crossed everything else will go to plan and we’ll have a lovely evening of cheese fondue.  It’s been a big couple of weeks in our household.  I ordered my wedding dress yesterday (squee!!!!!!!!!!!!! excited!!!!!) and we had our engagement party last weekend (so much fun!) and now we’re on the 12 month countdown.  This time next year, I will be leaving Ireland to head to DC for our wedding….  Very exciting!  Must make a mental note to bring back Mom’s fondue plates next year…..shhhhh don’t tell her!

 

Lions, the Tour, and the tennis…

It’s a busy, busy time in the He Runs, I Cook household.  We’ve been cooking, eating, pinning, and watching sports.

The Runner is in the midst of  a late night sportsapalooza of Wimbledon and the Tour de France.  Add in the British & Irish Lions Rugby tour and it’s been a pretty sports filled couple of weeks.  We have grunting women, men in spandex and scrums happening in our living room on a nightly basis.   Thankfully, we have Foxtel so he hasn’t missed a minute- and luckily Wimbledon and the Tour start after Masterchef so there haven’t been any fights over the TV—yet. 

I’ve been cooking up a storm- slow cooker corn and prawn bisque, Nigella’s spaghetti with mushroom and thyme, and Bourbon glazed pork tenderloin with peaches  tonight from my Dinner: A love story cookbook (Thanks Mom!)

 We went to the Good Food and Wine Show this past Sunday, and well went a little bit nuts on the Wine part of the show.    We discovered some great wines from some wineries I can’t actually remember, but don’t worry, we came home with enough bottles to jog my memory the next morning! 

I’m still in the midst of wedding planning– I’m actually not even sure what’s being planned at this stage but I think the term “wedding planning” covers my obsession with pinterest and wedding blogs.    Of course, I don’t actually have time to read all of the blogs so at this stage they’re going into a “Wedding” folder in my email account……Last look, there were hundreds of emails in there….yikes.   

I have to confess, I don’t know the first thing about weddings or wedding planning.   It’s a nice distraction, but I’m starting to get a bit bored of tulle and looking at pictures of centrepieces.  It wasn’t a good sign the other night, when I turned to The Runner, who was distracted by the first stage of the Tour de France and announced that I was ready for the wedding to happen now.  

He sort of looked at me and rolled his eyes.  We still have 13 months and 6 days to go until the wedding— so If I’m already tired of planning, it’s not a good sign.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so excited about the wedding and about being married and all, but I just kind of want it all to happen on its own.  Like all the little bouquets to make themselves, and all the placecards to be set and all the photographers to be interviewed and all the dresses to just appear as if by magic.  Yes, I’m like the anti-bridezilla at the moment.

The Wedding is sort of falling into the same category as photography and scrapbooking—two hobbies I  enjoy doing- especially photography  and was really really into for a few months so I took lessons and bought all the gear and now I never really do it now.  I mean, yes, I take pictures, but the Adobe Photoshop Suite I swore I was going to learn to use because I was going to be a serious photographer—nope touched it once, still don’t get it.  All that pretty paper I was going to use to make a scrapbook out of, still sitting upstairs on the desk I bought as a scrapbooking desk.  By the way, the scrapbooking desk—covered in wedding magazines at the moment! 

Maybe it’s just that it’s so far away and I’m actually slightly organised that wedding planning has lost its sense  of urgency.  I’m becoming quite good at shopping for wedding dresses, but not so much making a decision on one— yet.  And I haven’t really started on anything else yet.    I’m very relaxed about the whole thing because I have loads of time… and I’m more of a last minute person anyway…..  procrastination and finishing assignments in the middle of the night  is how I got through school!   Partly, I’m writing this because I’m sure 12 months from now, I’ll be frazzled and panicked and interrupting the Tour de France with Bridezilla like freak outs about posies vs. peonies and other silly things.    But this year, I’ll just let The Runner stay up and enjoy it in peace!