A PELICAN, A DOG AND AN APPLE CAKE

 

Your Grandpa took this photo. I bet he’ll never take one from this angle again.

Dear Amelia,
Ella took a direct hit this morning from a pelican sitting on a lamp post.
Your Grandpa was walking her down at Emu Point and before he could say holy birdshit, it was all over red rover (or in this case, all over golden retriever).
This is what a woman would have done if she’d been there.
She would have grabbed the dog rug off the back seat of the car, soaked it in the sea, rubbed the crap (literally) out of the dog’s hindquarters, chucked the rug in a bin and come home.
This is what your Grandpa did: brought her home still covered in the stuff and cleaned her with a Chux Superwipe and some washing-up liquid.
So now we have a dog that smells of pelican shit with overtones of Palmolive Gentle Care.
And so does the house.


Unfortunately, we can’t put Ella outside for the day because she’s 500 years old and she’s always been an inside dog and she’d whine and pant and scratch at the back door until she went into cardiac arrest and died a sad lonely death thinking we didn’t love her anymore.
And then we’d have to explain to the vet, who LOVES golden retrievers and has two of his own, why we had a dead one that stank of pelican shit (and believe me, it STINKS).
So to mask the smell I baked an apple cake, not something I do very often at 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning.
Luckily, I also have a spray bottle of Nilodor and it’s warm enough today to have all the windows open.
On the downside, the little kid over the road is performing her usual Saturday morning routine of running round the house, whining and shrieking and shouting, “No! I don’t want to!” in that piercing way that makes you wish you had a gun.
Her cries are drifting through the open window as I type.
If she were mine, I’d dig a hole and bury her.
I found the recipe for this apple cake at Best Recipes here and I reckon you’d be hard pushed to find a cake that’s easier to make.
We had some friends over for dinner last weekend and I made an apple and mulberry crumble for dessert.
Two peeled and quartered Granny Smiths were left over so I put them in a plastic bag in the fridge.
They were a bit brown round the edges but otherwise fine, so that’s what went into this cake.
If you look at the original recipe, it doesn’t specify cake-tin size.
I used a 20cm round tin and lined the base with greased baking paper.
I also used only half a cup of sultanas, because that’s all I had, and didn’t add the mixed spice because I don’t have any.
The cake was still delicious, very moist and tender, although next time I’d use less sugar.
We’ve just had a slice for morning tea while holding our noses.

EASY APPLE CAKE

Makes one 20cm cake

2 apples, peeled and chopped, or grated (I chopped them in a mini processor)
1 cup sugar
1 cup sultanas
1½ cups self-raising flour
125g butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp mixed spice

Preheat oven to 180C.
Mix all ingredients together with a wooden spoon.
Bake for about 40 mins, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Spread with butter while hot and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar (I didn’t do this either – it was sweet and buttery enough without it).

Note
Here are some suggestions left by people on the Best Recipes site:
Use craisins instead of sultanas.
If you don’t have enough apple, add some blueberries or frozen raspberries.
You can cook it in a square tin or a loaf tin.
Use less sugar (½ cup) and/or substitute brown sugar.
Leave out mixed spice and add a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg.

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BY THE TIME WE GOT TO WOODY WE WERE HALF A MILLION STRONG

Dear Amelia,
It’s the middle of the night and I’ve just got an email from my mate Martha Stewart telling me how to remember what colour my walls are.
“Never forget with this sneaky tip,” she writes.
“Write the paint name on a piece of tape and stick it inside a light-switch cover.”
You too could get an Organising Tip of the Day emailed to you by Martha.
All you have to do is have no life and visit her website and sign up.
Martha is tireless when it comes to her millions of fans, of which Nanna is one.
I was channelling Martha today because it’s your Great Grandma’s 80th birthday dinner on Sunday – a low-key affair, which is probably a good thing because Nanna is doing the food.
My day would have been a lot better if I’d got an Organising Tip of the Day from Martha saying, “Never forget to put the sugar in your mother’s 80th birthday cake or it will look like diarrhoea and you’ll have to make it all over again.”
But I didn’t and I did – as in, didn’t get the email, so had to make another cake.
On top of that, Carlton lost to the Gold Coast Suns.
Yes, the Gold Coast Suns. Shit, shit, shit. The shame.
Other things I have done this week: Went to Woodanilling with your Grandpa, who had to interview someone for a Science Network story.
I’ve never been to Woodanilling before and very pretty it is too.
If a bit on the small side.
There are approximately six things to photograph in Woodanilling.
I photographed five of them because it was pouring down and I got soaked and had to scurry back to the car before I could snap the Woodanilling Tavern which was gorgeous but doesn’t open until 4pm so there went my lunch plans down the toilet.
Here are the five things I snapped.


The post office.


The CWA hall.


The general store, which is now derelict (there were once FIVE general stores).


This lovely old church.


We went to Woodanilling (which is known as Woody to the locals) via Cranbrook, Tambellup, Broomehill and Katanning.
It took forever but was worth it because I hadn’t been through this part of the Great Southern for 30-odd years and had forgotten how lovely it was.
Speaking of lovely, here is a picture of your Grandpa doing star jumps in front of the Broomehill pub.


On the way to Woodanilling in the car, a bit of Crosby, Stills and Nash channelling started happening and I was singing, “By the time we got to Woody,” on a continuous loop in my head. It nearly drove me nuts.
We were gone for hours and hours and Ella wasn’t very impressed but at least she didn’t crap on the rug, which was a bonus seeing as how she’s 253 years old in dog years and no longer has any anal glands.
Nanna cooked a rack of lamb for dinner, which was delicious, and then was able to watch Bethenny Ever After because your Grandpa was buggered from all the driving and fell asleep in the chair.
Bethenny Ever After is a reality show that follows the life of Bethenny Frankel and her long-suffering husband, Jason, and her staff who help her run her business empire.


Bethenny is pretty, quick-witted, funny and a squillionaire. She’s also self-centred, whiny, self-indulgent, shallow and addicted to the limelight.
She’s appalling. Nanna loves her.
Unfortunately, your Grandpa doesn’t.
Nothing could redeem Bethenny in your Grandpa’s eyes, except for maybe ripping her tongue out with a pair of pliers.
He stomps his way down the passage shouting, “How can you watch this crap?”
Then he goes and sits in his little office, his TV tuned to the History Channel, and watches people die in German concentration camps.
What your Grandpa really does like is a juicy rack of lamb with a crumb crust.
Here’s the recipe.

PS: Want to know how many words of three letters or more you can make from the word Woodanilling? 105. At least that’s how many I got. Don’t you love long car journeys?

RACK OF LAMB WITH A CRUMB CRUST

Serves 2

1 rack of lamb (6-8 cutlets), frenched, with fat removed
olive oil
1 tsp mustard
1 slice bread
½ small clove garlic, crushed
½ tbsp finely chopped parsley

Put the slice of bread in a mini food processor or blender and process until you have crumbs.
Mix the crumbs with the garlic and parsley and a little olive oil to bind.
Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the rack of lamb, put it in a baking dish and cook it for 20 minutes.
Spread the mustard over the top of the meat then press on the crumb crust.
Drizzle over a little more olive oil and cook for another 10 minutes, by which time the crumb crust should be golden-brown.
This makes pink, juicy lamb.
If you like it well done, cook for 25-30 minutes when you first put it in the oven.


FURTHER TO OUR CONVERSATION OF THE 8TH

Dear Amelia,
Here’s what you said to me on the phone yesterday morning.
“Hi Nanna! I have two! Nigh-nighs! Up! I poos! Bye!”
I love the way you exclaim rather than just speak.
I also love the way the magical grandchild/grandparent bond is strengthened by a mutual interest in bowel movements.
Before you know it we’ll be talking about the weather.
It’s your Grandpa’s birthday today, and also the birthday of Ella the Wonder Dog.
Here are pictures taken last year of Grandpa and Ella lying on our old kitchen floor with its 1965 lino (we’ve got lovely shiny floorboards now).
Sometimes I worry that Grandpa and Ella might be the same age emotionally.


Here is a picture of what I bought Grandpa for his birthday. When he saw them he said, “Is it a record player?”


As I write this, he is hunched over his Apple Mac, doing work for a newspaper in Tokyo (pretty amazing when you consider he’s just up the passageway, here in little old Albany).
The birthday girl is lying next to my chair, farting incessantly.
Ella is 13 years old, which is about 80 in golden retriever years, and she has to take a tablet every day for her arthritis.
At night, she sleeps on the floor on my side of the bed, farting incessantly.
Sometimes I forget she’s there and stand on her head when I get up.
I feel terrible but she doesn’t seem to mind.
I’m making a River Cottage Golden Syrup Cake for Grandpa’s birthday.
It’s unbelievably delicious and one of his favourites.
I’ll stick these sparklers in the top.


I was going to get proper candle numerals instead of sparklers because I figured they could be re-used.
But then I realised the only way they could be re-used was like this.


The thought was so depressing I said, “Shit, how depressing,” out loud in the party favours aisle at Woolies and got a concerned look from the woman standing next to me.
We were supposed to be together this weekend, you and I, but your Mum got the flu and so did I, even though I had my very first flu injection this year.
Granted, my flu has only lasted a few days (I had it for SIX weeks last year) but it’s meant that I haven’t really felt like cooking.
Last night I drank lots of alcohol and didn’t eat any vegetables and I feel almost cured this morning.
Who knows? Maybe this is the way forward with flu treatments. Maybe I should patent it.
Your Grandpa and I watched the Blues get beaten by Geelong last night.
In the end your Grandpa was shouting at the TV so I got him to take a picture of his dinner to take his mind off Carlton’s final-quarter crapness.
These chicken wings are great for eating in front of the TV and seeing as they stick to your teeth they don’t spray everywhere when you’re screaming at your team.
They’re called Coby’s Spicy Wings and I found the recipe at this blog here. The only thing I’ve changed is the oven temperature.
They are the best chicken wings I’ve tasted, anywhere, ever.

COBY’S SPICY WINGS

Makes about 32 pieces

2kg free-range chicken wings (about 16 big wings)
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
2 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 heaped tsp Dijon mustard

Cut the tips from the wings and chuck them in the bin.
Cut the wings in half at the joint and put them in a big zip-lock plastic bag or a bowl.
Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour this marinade over the wings, making sure all are well coated.
Marinate the wings in the fridge for one hour or up to 24.
Preheat oven to 200C.
Line a big baking tray with foil and then with baking paper.
Put the wings in the tray in a single layer and cook for about 25 mins, then turn them over and cook for another 20-25 mins or until brown and sticky.
This recipe works just as well when you halve the quantities.


PULITZER PIES: SALMON PUFFS

Dear Amelia,
Seeing as you’re only 17 months old, you won’t be aware that Ella the Wonderdog has an inverted vulva.
You also won’t know what a vulva is and I have no intention of explaining it here except to say that when a dog’s vulva is inverted it sometimes involves ointment (or Vulvalene, as one of your Mum’s exes once put it).
We’re going through an ointment stage at the moment and for the first time EVER, I’m not the one pulling on the rubber gloves twice a day.
Yes. Your Grandpa is applying ointment to the dog’s bum.
As rarities go, this is on a par with unicorn sightings.
Sometimes I have to lie down just so I can grasp the enormity of it all.
Anyway, here’s another picture of Ella looking at some Salmon Puffs.
It was taken ages ago when we lived in North Perth.

I’ve been making Salmon Puffs since your Mum and Uncle Paul were little kids.
They love them and so does your Grandpa.
I love them too but they give me crippling heartburn, so I had to take a break until a nice Swiss drug baron invented Somac and changed my life.
I also make these pies with chopped-up leftover chicken and – for me at least – they are heartburn free.
The original Salmon Puff recipe was copied from a magazine (I can’t remember which one) about 25 years ago.
It contained two tablespoons of canned green peppercorns. So 1980s.
Feel free to add them back in if you like living on the edge.

SALMON PUFFS

Makes 6 pies

30g butter
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
¾ cup milk
¼ cup salmon liquid from the can
a few grinds of black pepper
415g can John West red salmon
3 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Melt the butter over low heat, add the onion and cook until it’s soft but not coloured.
Stir in the flour and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
Stir in the milk and salmon liquid, grind in some pepper and cook, stirring, until it boils and thickens.
Leave until cold then fold in the drained, flaked salmon and mash it in well with a fork.
Defrost the puff pastry sheets for 5 minutes then cut each into quarters so you have 12 equal squares.
If you want, flute the top of six of the squares with a blunt knife, making sure you don’t cut all the way through the pastry. Poke a hole in the middle.


Divide the salmon mixture evenly between the six remaining squares, brush the edges with beaten egg, top with the fluted squares and press down well to seal.
Place a Chinese bowl (about 12cm diameter) over the top of each pie and cut around it.


Put the pies on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush the tops with beaten egg.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.
You can put all sorts of fillings in these pies, so long as they’re not sloppy.
Because there’s only your Grandpa and me and we’re leg and thigh people, the chicken breast is always left over when I roast a chook.
So I make this same white sauce, using one cup of milk and leaving out the salmon liquid.
Then I take the skin off the breast, chop the meat into small cubes and stir it through the white sauce with some seeded mustard and chopped parsley or with just a bit of chopped thyme.
It’s very nice indeed.