Thursday, December 30, 2010

An Australian version of a Filipino sausage dish

Dear Readers,

I write this to you at 8:02pm on Thursday, 30 December, 2010, from my dining room table. On the other side of the room, in the kitchen, I am in the process of frying sixteen Aussie Beef sausages, in a pan... literally saturated with vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and smoked paprika. I confess! I'm an addict now!

Before Joe introduced me to longanisa, I'd never cooked with rice wine vinegar (or indeed any sort of vinegar, unless a recipe specifically called for it), had no idea that one could buy smoked paprika, and didn't know what rice wine even was! Now, my life has been enriched, I feel... Enriched... with garlic...

So, Joe was right when he said that I had some reservations about the amount of garlic included. I read the recipe and it said, 4 cloves of garlic. When I went to the supermarket, I saw four heads of garlic in a little bag and something in my mind linked "four" to "garlic", and I picked up the entire bunch, delighted that I'd been able to buy all of what I needed. Got home and showed Joe. One look at the expression on his face and I suddenly remembered that "cloves" of garlic were slightly smaller than "heads" of garlic...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Shhh... It's a Karaoke Secret!

My lovely Joseph has been working on a very special project for the second year running: Karaoke Secret Santa! Click to see a playlist of this year's videos (definitely worth checking out). In the meantime, here are our contributions to the event. I consider it to be very cute that we both decided there was a need to include gifts from one another in the "decor" of our videos, without either of us realising that the other was doing the same thing!

Wishing you love and joy for the holiday season,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Skype Date, the Third: The Filipino Main Dish Experiment

So, last week (was it just last week? So much to do in December!), Pamela and I had some free time together and decided that we should plan a third Skype date. But, we had a hard time finding one that really spoke to us. Okay, *I* had a hard time finding a dish that really spoke to *me* (<<<pain in the butt). It might be because we had made a couple of dessert dishes already and my soul was hungry (literally?) for more. After some brainstorming that didn't yield strong results, we decided on graduating into the main dish realm.

Now, this isn't as easy as it may seem. The time difference between Australia and the United States is at *14 hours* now, meaning when one's ready for dinner, the other is probably ready for breakfast (or still sleeping). So, it was important to find a dish that can be eaten as a breakfast dish *and* a dinner dish. And the first thing that came to my mind:

Longanisa! (from an April meal. Yum!)

However, I soon found out that longanisa (or longganisa, or commonly misspelled as "longhanisa", "loganisa", "loghanisa", etc), in its Philippine sausage form, is not readily available in Australia. Heck, I'd have to go to a speciality market in Philly to see if it's available.

Go see how Pam and I overcame this hurdle (and others, as well), after the jump!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Skype Date, the Third: The Preview

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I present to you a preview of Pam and I's third date over Skype. We've graduated over to a main course of sorts. After some brainstorming that often meandered and stalled, we finally agreed on a dish that is close to my heart. We shall talk more of it soon, when we make it for dinner/breakfast.

Here's a preview pic:

The Ingredients

The Meat, Marinating

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lulled into dreamland...

Watching somebody sleep has to be one of the most personal, intimate things in the world. Neither party is required to really do or say anything; one simply has to sleep, while the other rests and remains quiet. I feel incredibly acquainted with Joe's sleeping self; the tossing, the turning, the amount of times he wakes up, the cute noises he makes in his sleep and, best of all, the way he opens his eyes, looks directly at me, and says, "I love you," even though he may have said it thrice already on similar wakings. Here is a man whose purity of heart is revealed to me from the very moment he wakes up 'til the moment he sleeps again, and I feel very blessedly unworthy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Second Skype Non-Bake Bake-Off! Bake Date. Yeah. Date. Not Bake-Off. Um.

Well, as I have suspected for some time now, my housemate's cup measures in the second drawer (you know how cutlery is always in the top drawer, and useful things are always in the second drawer?) do not actually measure One Metric Cup. No, apparently the large cup-ish sized cup measures 1 Decilitre. I don't truly know what that is, as I've never had to measure 1 Decilitre, but there you have it. I was warily using it as a rough guide to 1 Cup, and yeah. Turns out that it's really not. However, I have discovered that cinnamon sugar disguises the flavour of anything...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Second Skype Bake-Off...I mean, Bake Date (Preview)

This afternoon (later in the morning, for my sweet), I will be embarking on a second Skype Bake Date with Pamela. I think it's funny that Pam called it a "Bake-Off" at first and now has changed it to "Bake Date". Tee-hee-hee. :-D

We've both prepared a dessert dish beforehand to accompany the Atkins-friendly drink that we will be making together later, but I had a little bit of an ingredient issue. As this was a traditional Aussie dish, I did not have access to special ingredients, such as "golden syrup" or "COPHA shortening". Heck, I didn't even know what a lamington pan was (though I think I figured it out ;-)).

But, I survived the substitute dilemma, as well as a near-metric-conversion-fail, and am ready to indulge in some serious chocolate action later today...with my sweetheart, of course. ;-)

Here's a preview pic!

A transfer of ingredients...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Different food cultures

Well, tomorrow, my sweet Joseph and I are going to have another Skype Bake Date, now that he's finished with his film internship, and I'm finished with my Master's degree. I'm surprised that either of us had any energy to talk to each other at all for the first half of November, but there you have it. We've both recovered, and it's time to move on! So this is just a teaser post for tomorrow's event, but I just had to update to express my astonishment at the fact that Joe had no idea what golden syrup was. Or Copha vegetable shortening. Or a lamington pan. I mean, this is more than just "sweet biscuits" this time! Golden syrup?! Does America not have any form of treacle?! I'll be very interested to see what the crafty Joe has come up with as a substitute. Until tomorrow, folks!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Operatic Floral Tribute

A couple of months ago, I participated in the world premiere performance of pianist, performer and music educator Geoffrey Lancaster's new version of Henry Purcell's opera, "Dido & Aeneas". The original prologue to the opera had been lost over the centuries, so this version was a lovingly restored version by Lancaster himself, using choruses and dances from other works of Purcell's, changing words where necessary to fit the original dialogue. I was lucky enough to be asked to play not only Venus, Goddess of Love, in the new Prologue (in which I got to wear THE MOST AMAZING COSTUME EVER - see pics), but also the role of "Second Woman" in the opera itself, which Lancaster slightly adapted to take on more of a sisterly role to Dido and Belinda (ie. sharing the aria "Pursue thy Conquest, Love" as a duet with Belinda).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The First Skype Non-Bake Bake-Off! (Part 2: Notes from the Other Side)

Well, I know that I've been wanting to do a date online, because I love the idea that we transcend distance barriers. :-) My original idea was to actually go out to a diner or cafe and enjoy breakfast (a versatile meal that can be had at any time of day). However, Pam was quick to point out that there will be a lack of internet. :-\ Well, maybe we can find a reliable source of public wi-fi at a dining establishment that will be open at comparable hours in the future. :-P

So, here is a little bit of what happened on my end, with a slight assist from Pam's original entry:

Date: Sunday 17 October 2010
Time: 2330 AEST (DST)/0830 EST *Well, on my end, the first photo taken was about 0959 EST, but Pam got the general idea. :-)
Activity: Non-Bake Bake-off! *Wait, this was a competition? No. 1: Lemon Cheesecake

The Recipe

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Birthday Rose (5 July 2010)

Though we had been "official" for just over a week, I went out my front door on my birthday to find a beautiful long-stemmed red rose balancing neatly against the door-frame, in cellophane packaging, complete with a green spray and dew-drops on the petals. Magnificent! I have never felt so special and appreciated. It was my first birthday away from my island home of Tasmania, and the first birthday that I was going to spend without family and friends (though three Canberra-based friends rallied round in the evening and we went out to a great dinner at a hotel). I think the loveliest part of the rose was having something so special right there in front of me that was tangible evidence of Joe's consideration and affection.

A couple of days old in this picture.

Me, with my beautiful rose.

Thank you, Joe!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The First Skype Non-Bake Bake-Off!

Joe had heard about a friend of his in a long-distance relationship who had come up with the perfect idea for long-distance dates: simultaneous movie-viewing! This friend of his was in America, and her beau, in Canada. Luckily for them, they shared a timezone, so they were able to go and see movies at the same time in their different cities, experience it at the same time, and talk about it afterward - just like a real date, sans the physical aspect. This was recognised by us to be a terrific idea, but unfortunately, our timezones are not too flexible when it comes to movie viewing. At the moment, we're fifteen hours apart. We were fourteen hours apart, but then Australia moved into Daylight Savings Time. Soon, America will fall back out of Daylight Savings Time, so we'll be sixteen hours apart! Argh! Not conducive to being able to view a movie at the same time. If I went to a 9:30pm showing of a film, it'd be 6:30am at Joe's house.

My lovely Joe had a brainwave. Let's have a baking date! Previously, I had sent him a recipe book published by an Australian company, one in a series of cookbooks released by The Australian Women's Weekly magazine (which is a women's mag, as every good Aussie knows, that is released monthly). I agreed that this was a terrific idea. What we'd do is both follow the same recipe at the same time, sharing the experience together via Skype. Joe leafed through the recipe book until we settled on doing the very first recipe in the book: lemon cheesecake!

Olive Juice (In Three Words or Less)

I know the first time I wanted to tell Pam that I loved her. I probably felt it a long time before that moment, but this was the first moment that I thought, "Why am I scared to say it? It's true. I think about her every day. I want to know what she's thinking and if she's thinking about me. The thought of her fills me with so much peace and happiness. Why not say it?"

Well, for one thing, Pamela was a friend, still. Further, she was a friend I never met...physically, at least. You see, Miss Pamela Andrews resides in Australia. Always has. I reside in the United States of America. Always have.