Thursday, August 21


Jeannie and Big A arrive tonight so the apartment is looking shiny and new, so much so that I don't want to make breakfast for fear of lowering the tidy-level.

Just thought I'd post a few pics since I've had a run of picless posts lately.

Firstly, here's a shot of our dinner from the other night. We got home late and were too tired to cook so this is our "off" night! Surprising what's contained in the bowels of the refrigerator sometimes. Farmers market figs though ;)

Also, Josie was out babysitting the other night so I was able to whip up some contraband that I had stashed in the freezer (seafood that is). It is poison to Jo so I rarely ever even cook it at home, because of the smell. I did a pulp fiction style clean up after this one though, and it sure was worth it!

And finally, it has been raining on and off here for a week which means we got a shot at an unusual sight (for Texas anyway). This is off the balcony of our deck, pretty green for August eh?

Tuesday, August 19

A deliciously drippy break from the heat

Yup, it's Monday morning and it is raining! Seems appropriate really, but there's no dreary Monday-itis for this little duck, instead I'm grinning at the view outside my office window and enjoying the reprieve from the heat. Josie's folks arrive in a few days and everything is looking pretty green. We've dropped from high thirties to the positively chilly low thirties and I am even contemplating long pants!

Anyhow, weather aside, the weekend was great for the simple fact that almost nothing happened. It was one of those weekends that just seemed to keep on going. I got up at sparrowfart again on Saturday to get to the farmer's market and do a fresh bread run, and this time I even left the beloved to sleep while I shopped. The spoils this week included yukon gold and red skinned potatoes (to make up for having forgotten them last week), eggplant, more okra (yes it really is that good), a big bag of purple figs, some zucchini and some cherry and plum tomatoes. There was also a guy there this week selling some of the best looking herb plants I've seen in a while. If our deck wasn't already overflowing with edibles I would most certainly have taken a few off his hands.

Made it home with loot in tow, including fresh bread and some local crimini mushrooms (baby honey browns for you Aussie folk) from Wholefoods. Bastards still haven't restocked our favorite picholine olives but I'll forgive them this time because they did have some gorgeous ciabatta rolls topped with cheese and roasted hatch peppers...mmm

I didn't do too much post market cooking this time, but the plum and cherry tomatoes were promptly split and roasted with some garlic and rosemary. I stewed them down later and the combination of sour cherries and sweet plums made the most delightful pasta sauce - all smooth sweet acidity. But enough about food, I'm making myself hungry and it's only 11am. The rain is still falling and the ground outside my window is flooding. Got to love Texas for never doing anything half-assed!

Wednesday, August 13

What is that sound?

So this morning, getting ready for work (kind of) I was scrolling through the muted TV channels looking for some coverage of the 'lympics when I heard the strangest noise. After ruling out the wind (there wasn't any breeze), the A/C hadn't kicked in and it wasn't the train going passed...I was stumped. I called out to Josie "What is that noise?"

"It's rain dear..."

Oh. Wow, I guess it's been a while!

Tuesday, August 12

Port Aransas and the Texas Coast

A couple of months ago we went down to the Texas coast and spent a few nights with some friends. I didn't know what to expect but it was fun. A really different kind of beach than we're used to, more like some parts of Queensland I guess, but we had a fabulous time. We rented a house for a few days just down the street from the caravan park where friends of ours go every year, so we were effectively hanging out with local beach rats :D

It's about a 2-3 hour drive from San Antonio, depending on traffic, but really pretty through all sorts of (very flat) scrub and fields. When you get closer to the coast you hit a lot of refineries, and then those are replaced by coastal, fishing suppliers etc etc. Our destination was Port Aransas, which is a barrier island (Mustang Island) so there's a big lagoon in behind and lots of birds. The water was insanely warm (over 30 deg C) and absolutely TEEMING with fish. Big ones too. Sometimes you could even feel them butting your legs! While I was out floating one day I had two little angel fish who came and swam with me, up over my belly and back for about 20 minutes! They were very pretty. The water was really nutrient rich, so a tad murky, but we got lucky in that there was no seaweed and no hurricanes (although we did catch a very pretty lightning storm).

Can't remember what time of day this was (evening I think) but it was still hot! This was about as much swell as we saw, but it was great for just floating around in. The peace of this shot is in stark contrast to earlier in the day, when the beach is covered in tents, blankets and umbrellas as far as the eye can see, not to mention people. There were people fishing over the top of people swimming even. And many of the tents had these kites attached to them, I guess so you can spot your stuff from the water. There was a bit of a tow, so it payed to keep an eye on some kind of landmark. The kites are also testament to the fact that there is an almost constant breeze, or at least there was when we were there.

Some of the local real estate. Pastels are in this season. There were also some fabulous "shacks" that we would have been quite happy living in, and some very grand looking houses!

The wharf at the end of the island (Port A proper I guess) and the sunset just before the lightning storm came across. There were some pretty impressive fishing cruisers moored here...the ones with the big game swivel chairs that look like glamorous dentist chairs attached to the back of the boat (stern?)

Same wharf about an hour earlier.

And from the look of these there is some pretty serious fishing that goes on round those parts!

One of the refineries on the road down to the coast. We could only just make out the oil rigs off shore, but these complexes were impressive. I love a good industrial site (aesthetic wise only though)

One of the many crops we passed. This one was gorgeous in its colouring, and we still don't have any idea what it actually was. It looked a little like it was related to corn, but hard to know when you're zipping past at 75 mph and trying not to get carsick!

The road out of the coast is of course a hurricane evacuation route. These warnings pop up every few miles but I wonder how well they are obeyed when it comes to the crunch. I've seen people fill up the access lanes on the highways here just to avoid a 10 minute delay due to an accident...

Matt in what seemed like a fitting shot...

Farmers market fun

So this weekend we thought we'd try something new, like getting me up at 7am on a Saturday! o.0 Wild and crazy I know, but if was for good reason (food). We wanted to get to a local farmers market close to opening time, before all the good stuff sold out. I'd been meaning to look up the farmers market scene in San Antonio for a while now, since the whole "shop local" thing here isn't even close to mainstream yet. I'd heard a story on NPR about a market that was being run by the Botanical Gardens, but sadly that fell on a Thursday. Not sure I could get the morning off work to buy vegies! Anyhow, I found this list of local markets, and there are actually quite a few! Not many on Saturdays but there was one listed at Olmos Park Basin that is pretty much on our normal Saturday morning route of breakfast tacos and shopping at Wholefoods. Seemed like the perfect one for us to check out. Opening time 8am. Gah.

I managed to drag my sluggish self out of bed. The beloved was sprightly as ever at that time of the morning and I only sensed a slight level of gloating at my suffering. A coffee and a shower later and I started to realise that mornings are actually kind of pretty. The sun doesn't burn quite so fiercely and the temp was only just pushing 90 (30)...not quite the 100+ that would settle in by about 10am.

Anyhow, back to the was great! I must admit that I had low expectations...maybe 4 tables of mostly tomatoes, but it well and truly exceeded those. There were around 10-12 stalls (so still small by most standards) and the range of produce wasn't staggering, but the quality was excellent and very well priced. There were around 20 cars when we arrived at a little after 8 (ok, so it took me a while to get going) but by the time we had shopped there were more like 50 cars, and lots of people (and dogs) of all varieties. It just had a great feel to it, very small town, and we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were still in San Antonio!

As you can see, all sorts of yummies including Japanese eggplants, gorgeous peppers and the best looking okra I think I've ever seen.

Lots of melons too.

There were even gorgeous flowers! Pity we weren't going straight home. We didn't take any of these beauties home because we didn't think they'd survive their time in the PT.

So, here are our spoils. Tomatoes, two kinds of eggplant, okra, white onions, yellow fleshed peaches and a big bag of serrano peppers! I thought we were pretty restrained and I actually kicked myself later for forgetting potatoes, but oh well, next time!

Since it was before 10am when we made it back home (post breakfast tacos and bread shopping at wholefoods) I decided that I might as well put some of this stuff to good use right away. The first thing I made up was a batch of peach and serrano pepper jam, with a little orange and ginger. I didn't have any pectin on hand so it turned out a little on the 'sauce' side, but it's absolutely divine on ciabatta toast with brie, or on cold pork meatloaf.

I also slow roasted some of the tomatoes, eggplant and onions with some garlic and herbs, then stewed the whole thing down in red wine and put it through a coarse sieve to make a tomato base for pasta (which I'll be using tonight).

And after all that I needed a nap!

Thursday, August 7

I <3 Google

I think it's pretty clear to most people who know me that I love Google and would have their babies...or at least go work for them in a snap if given the chance (dream job much). I've often thought about writing some kind of post along the lines of 'the ten Google offerings that have changed my life' or some such (blogger being a good example) and maybe I will, eventually. I mean, if you don't have an iGoogle homepage you are seriously missing out (even if only on having virtual fish to feed, not to mention your news streams, email, web cams and link collections all in one place no matter which computer you are on). Gmail is the singe best web mail program I have ever used and I still forward all my accounts through it mostly because of its god-like spam filtering. I have a Google random button on my Google toolbar that gives me website suggestions based on my browsing history... and that thing has opened my already bulging eyes to the wonders of the internets (and is rarely wrong except for the time it took me to Maxim...go figure!)Then there's Picasa, Google Earth, gtalk, Google mobile (for the PSP) and the list goes on and on. I'm not going to link them all, half the fun is working it out for yourself, but if you want to start changing your world, go here.

Now this is not what I was planning to blog about today, but something Google did rocked my world...street view! Yeah yeah I know it's old news, but being away from home I didn't realize just how powerful it would be to virtually walk the streets of home (my favorite kind of walking) with just the click of a button! I can literally drop in and take a peak at a whole bunch of favorite places. I'm so thankful that Australia was on the list for the initial mapping. Wheee!

So here are a few notable spots. Feel free to send me any favorites!

Boat Harbour Beach, of my favorite places in the world (Jo's family have a house there but that street hasn't been mapped)

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Latrobe, Tasmania, where I grew up...This is my old church/primary school.

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The Macquarie Street Foodstore in South Hobart with its fantastic view up to the mountain.

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And the entrance to our apartment complex here in Texas, complete with crazy person walking in the heat and police car.

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