Friday, January 13, 2012

Choc chip biscuits to the rescue

Choc Chip Cookies

The situation was dire, very dire indeed. The man had been holed up with his hostages for the past four hours, and so far there had been no sign of a breakthrough.

Suddenly, there came a demand screamed hoarsely through the window. "Give me the Chief of the Police. I'll only talk to him!" The Chief, who had been huddled with his emergency situation team, straightened up and started to head towards the room that the man was in. "Hell's bells!" he thought to himself. He was desperately trying to remember what he had learnt in Hostage Situations 101 whilst attending the police academy, but the only thing he could remember was the edict to not anger the hostage. He felt pools of sweat gathering under his arms, and hoped like heck that his fellow officers couldn't see how tense he was. He was the man in charge - he should be coming across as being completely in charge. There were 6 hostages up there with that man. He shuddered to think what might happen if he mucked things up.

He was led by a member of the swat team to the barred door that the hostage take been previously communicating through, when he wasn't bellowing through the window. Tentatively he tapped on the door, and declared in an embarrassingly faltering voice "Um, it's the Chief of Police here. Or you could call me Herbert, if you prefer." Inwardly Herbert winced at how pathetically wussy he sounded, but he plowed on. "I'm here to assist and help you. Let us know what your demands are, and we'll try and resolve this situation as peacefully and expediently as possible."

The hostage taker laughed derisively from the other side of the door. "You people!" he scoffed. "How could you possibly know what I want? What, do you have a group of psychiatrists hiding there next to you, telling you what to say?"

At this Herbert turned bright red. His wife was a psychiatrist, and he was not going to allow any old hostage taker to slander her chosen profession. Drawing himself up indignantly he said in a voice that was now positively dripping with equal parts authority and sarcasm "It's my job to get these people out safe, and I would appreciate it if you would kindly remember that it's your job, sir, to make your demands, so start playing the game before I start playing it for you!"

Herbert had no idea of it at the time, being so full of righteous fury of behalf of beloved psychiatrists everywhere, but he had hit the tough love nail on the head. On the other side of the door the hostage taker hung his head in shame. All he'd wanted was a snack, but the cafe downstairs was closed for renovations, and when he had found out that he couldn't get a treat he'd just snapped, and before he knew it he had found himself in a room with six frightened interior decorators, yelling that he'd had enough, and somebody was going to pay. He stood there, filled with a sudden and overwhelming remorse, feeling just like he had as a kid when his mother had grizzled at him. He could hear Herbert tap tap tapping his foot impatiently on the other side of the door, and he decided to declare what he really wanted before things went any further. "Herbert?" he asked tentatively. "I just really, really want some chocolate chip cookies. Not supermarket ones, mind you, but real home made ones. If you could just get me some of those, then I'll let everybody go, no harm done. Besides, their constant chatter of how they are definitely going to put a jacuzzi in their own homes if they get out alive is really beginning to do my head in!"

10 minutes later, Jorth was somewhat alarmed to answer the door to a group of burly swat men. But once they explained the situation, she jumped into action. "Criminey!" she thought. "I mean, I know these bickies are good, but I never thought they would save the day!" And with that she began to bake.

Some Pretty Darn Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies

230 grams butter, softened
3/4 cup raw caster sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups of plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
200 grams really good dark chocolate, cut up into chunks (I use Green & Black's Maya Gold for a nice orangey finish)

1 - Preheat the oven to 190 C. Beat the butter and the two sugars together using an electric mixer until they are creamed and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract, and mix until combined.

2 - Sift the flour and baking soda into the bowl with the creamed butter, sugar etc. Mix until well combined, then add the chocolate chips.

3 - Place tablespoons of the mixture onto a baking paper lined tray (I usually fit 6 onto mine) and bake for 7-8 minutes, or until golden. Allow to rest on the tray for two minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

Makes 36. Not that they'll last long!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ins and Outs

Cherry Tomatoes

Jorth sat down at the kitchen table, and began to compile her weekly expenditure accounts. Previously, she had dutifully recorded all the money spent on groceries, tradesmen's payments etc in a little book with ruled columns that detailed her ins and outs, but with the advent of internet banking it seemed rather superfluous to be writing down the latest telephone bill. And somewhat depressing, what with all the bills forever going up, nagdammit!

So now she kept a peculiar tally of her own devising, faithfully recording the bites taken out of life's pie, as well as the extra sprinkles on top that came her way. Today's entry looked like this:

 - one splendid idea for which baby cardigan to knit for brand new nephew (heaven bless Debbie Bliss)
 - 148(!) cherry tomatoes from balcony garden (there would be less, but the Tyger had yet to heed her cries of "Only pick the ripe ones, kiddo!")
 - half a knitted sleeve (here she paused and agonised a little. True, she had knitted half a sleeve, but did that mean that she should put the yarn used in the Outs column? Tricky business, this accountancy stuff)

 - one tooth
 - one shiny gold coin (see above)
 - 8 ribbons from the ribbon bag, claimed by the Tyger as her own forever and ever, and currently to be found wrapped around every limb
 - 146 pages of The Witches by Roald Dahl, read out loud as the Tyger wrapped the aforementioned ribbons around herself.

Jorth closed her accounts book with a satisfied sigh, shooing away the niggling suspicion that perhaps it wasn't how the good folks at PriceWaterhouseCoopers managed their books. As far as she was concerned, her ins and outs were perfectly balanced, particularly if one liked cherry tomatoes, and Jorth liked them very, very much.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stash Busting Mission 2012

Beginnings Of Orange Dress

Jorth strapped on her helmet, adjusted her aviator glasses, double checked her bullet-proof and quick-un-pick-proof vest, then took a deep, deep breath and dived into the sewing bureau. Her colleagues stood nervously by, the leader never taking his eyes off the large stopwatch that he held in his hand.

Silence filled the room, broken only by the steady tic tic tic of the watch. Nobody said anything - nary a lip moved, but one thought seemed to radiate out from all of them: Would she succeed? There was a heck of a lot of fabric in that bureau. The chance that she might become entangled in an old sewing magazine and perhaps find inspiration and want to rush off to the fabric store was not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Her objective was to retrieve only the supplies required for a pre-planned project, and to emerge with the fabric stash reduced, but you could never trust these new stash-busting recruits. The nervousness felt by the old-timers, some of whom were still faithfully working through stashes from the early 80's, began to swamp the room.

After what seemed like an eternity Jorth reemerged. She was triumphantly holding aloft some orange patterned cotton, a zip and a metre or so of ric rac, and was grinning self-consciously at them all as she straightened and dusted off the threads clinging to her.

The team leader crossed the room in two strides, signalled to one of the men to relieve Jorth of her spoils, and grabbed her fiercely by the shoulders as he began to interrogate her. "Did you find yourself wanting to add more fabric to the bureau? Perhaps mail-order some rare vintage buttons? Use a hidden mobile device to scoure Etsy for vintage patterns whilst you were under?" Jorth looked him square in the eyes and answered firmly "NO! I obeyed my mission instructions, and eliminated a project from the stash as directed, sir!"

The team lead's shoulders, which looked in danger at one stage of becoming attached to his ears, sunk in relief. "I'm proud of you, Stash Busting Private Jorth." Turning to his team, he fist pumped the air and with a rarely seen smile said "Well, folks, I think we can consider this stash-busting exercise a success!"

Monday, January 09, 2012

Reduce, reuse, recycle


Hello, folks! I hope you all had a spiffy break over the Christmas period. I certainly did, and am facing the new year with a fistful of brand new resolutions, all of which I am most eager to keep. I'm already up to day 9, and it's been fairly smooth sailing so far, so let's hope that's a good omen, and that I can keep up the good work.

This year I want to reduce, reuse, recycle. In many, many ways:

 - the amount of waste I create
 - the food packaging I buy. This year is all about nude food!
 - reduce the negative voices in my head. I want to turn reduce into induce, and go out there and do it!
 - reduce the things I buy, and instead make use of what I have
 - reduce the amount on our mortgage by always paying off as much extra as we can

 - glass milk bottles, and get on my bike to get my milk bottles refilled, instead of taking the easy way out and getting milk in plastic at the supermarket
 - hit up the library for books, instead of sneaking onto cheap book websites
 - reuse all those vintage sewing patterns I have. It's time to make some of them up!

 - anything that we don't use that is cluttering up the house. He who travels lightest travels fastest.
 - the small, kind deeds others do for me, and do them to others in return.

I also want to write more, knit more, cook more for friends, stop being so hard on myself, and laugh more. Whoa! That's quite a list!
I also want to rejuvenate this wee little blog a bit. I think it's in need of a makeover. I'd like to make it cleaner, and easier for readers to find things. Any suggestions are most welcome indeed!

Update: Milk in reusable bottles are available from places that stock Elgaar Farm products (list of stockists in Victoria or Tasmania can be found on their website) or from La Latteria. Yay for reusable containers!