Oh, a lovely long weekend of Autumn in Melbourne*, how did we love thee? Let us count the ways. And let us do it using list of noun-verb activities that occupied the Onions over the March Labour Day long weekend. Herewith a list of how we laboured - or not, as the case may be.
This involved roughly chopping ripe tomatoes, green apples, edible onions. Adding sugar, vinegar, secret herbs and spices. Simmering.* Bottling. Voila! - tasty tasty home-made tomato sauce.
This involved the Tall Designer hitting his head on the lintel on his way into the house. It involved sewing and unpicking, ironing and putting in darts, easing in and pinning. It also involved the Cake-maker Virtuoso morphing into Seamstress Extraordinaire . She ran a tight ship, improvised admirably and did all the fiddly bits.
This involved feeding six small meals of steamed chicken each day to a dog with a shaved belly and a seam of white, wirey stitches. He has told me with big brown-eyed gazes and wet-nosed nudges that he likes this eating plan - and could handle more!
Oh, hello Grand Designs. If you don't know what this involved, shame on you. It's clearly well past time you acquainted yourself with the fabulousnesses of frowny Kevin.
5. Sight-seeing 1.
Ahem. It seems that one of the Onions was not in fact in Melbourne enjoying the ausumn long weekend. She was, in fact, doing the sight-seeing in Italy. This involved taking a boat up the grand canal, chasing pigeons in St Mark's Square, buying a red leather bag from a tiny shop in San Polo, catching the train to Rome and standing, neck-craned, in muted awe of the dome of the Pantheon, before eating gelati in Piazza Navona.
6. Sight-seeing 2.
This involved taking an interstate visitor to Montsalvat and enjoying three glorious hours exploring the grounds in the sunshine.
This involved planting salad items and herb items. And weeding. Sigh.
Well, of course there was book-reading.
Hurrah! An activity from which we all benefitted!
This cake-making involved a recipe that came from Jan Smeterlin (a Polish pianist), via the Queen Mother (Elizabeth II's late mother), and then Maida Heatter (the real Cake-maker Virtuoso-Extraordinaire-Queen Mother).
The Queen Mothers Cake was meant to have the alluringly named Chocolate Cigarettes atop it, but the Cake-maker Virtuoso found at 7.30 this morning that she didn't have:
a) a marble work surface, orb) time to temper the chocolate.***
So she improvised and dredged up a vague recollection of how chocolate leaves were made. This involved pulling leaves off the lime tree in the backyard, painting their spiny, ribby backs with melted chocolate, putting them in the fridge, and thinking this was sure to end badly and the cake's virtue would have to be that of plainness. Happily, it also involved peeling away a chilled leaf which left behind a very impressive chocolate-leaf imprint. The Cake-maker Virtuoso also reports that one end instantly melted onto her fingers.
Cake-make Virtuoso's lesson du jour: soak fingers in cold water before attempting this.
Speaking of the cake-maker Virtuoso aka Seamstress Extraordinaire - she has a blog! Oh happy day! So those of you keen to learn more about the actual making of all these cakes we consume - get thee over to Macarong where you will find the Cake-Maker Virtuoso being clever and funny and delightfully entertaining about all manner of adventures in the culinary arts.
* It has come to our attention that Autumn in Melbourne is being referred to as #ausumn by some clever peeps on the Twitter. And with beautiful crisp, still mornings that lead into lovely warm Autumn days, evenings with Brett Whiteley-blue skies and then on to cool nights, all the better for the good sleeping, #ausumn indeed. We most heartily concur.
** Be warned, the long simmering stage tends to fill all surrounding environments with a sauce-making scent that may result in extreme hunger - for you and your nearby neighbours.
*** We all know that reading through the instructions before starting a recipe is HIGHLY recommended, but who really does it every single time? Not us. And the Cake-maker Virtuoso has confessed that she is daringly neglecting to do this on a regular basis, and has found forte in her improvisation skills - improvisation skills which indeed proved transferable to the dress-making activities - see list item number 2.