Home Comforts

I’ve been in Darwin for just over a year now and until 2 weeks ago the fact that we often wouldn’t get home until 6.30/7pm evening and that I only had a BBQ to cook with meant I was a lazy cook trying to cook the easiest and quickest things possible with little experimentation.

I’m actually far too excited about the fact we have a cooker with an oven AND a grill. We also bought a slow cooker which meant I can try to recreate the delicious stews my mum makes as well as casseroles and the like.

Reading this blog post on the Smitten by Britain blog today really got me thinking about the foods I miss from the UK and the dishes I’ve cooked that remind me of home and my mums amazing cooking.

Every winter at home in the UK means stew season and on the weekends I’d often wake to the smell of my mums beef stew being cooked ready for re-heating at lunchtime or for dinner. This stew tastes fantastic the first time it’s cooked but is even better when re-heated especially with dumplings!

I made a Darwin version although called it a casserole as seems strange to call it stew and to be eating stew when it’s about 25 degrees.

Here’s what it looked like :

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To make the stew I basically placed the following ingredients in the slow cooker, cooked it on the fast cook setting for 4 hours and then cooked it for a further hour just before serving. The only thing I will change next time will be to add some corn flour to thicken the stock:

Stewing beef
Carrots
Onion
Swede
Turnip
Parsnip
Celery
1 litre beef stock
Worcester sauce
Pepper
Mixed herbs

I also had a craving for my mums cottage pie today and came up with this which we enjoyed a lot

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The ingredients were:

Minced beef
One onion
Two carrots sliced
Handful of mushrooms
Handful of frozen peas
Vegetable stock (I used a stock pot and added about a cup and a half of boiling water)

For the topping
8 potatoes
Butter to mix
Drop of milk
Grated cheese

To make the cottage pie I boiled the potatoes and carrots and started them at the same time but only boiled the carrots for about 10 minutes. Next I cooked the minced beef until it was brown, added the onions and mushrooms until cooked then added the stock, Worcester sauce, water along with the carrots and peas and simmered this until the stock reduced.

Once cooked I spooned it into an oven dish and mashed the potatoes with butter and pepper adding a drop of milk at the end. Once mashed I spooned it on top of the mince mixture and spread some grated cheese on top before placing the oven dish into the pre heated grill for about 10 minutes before serving.

This was a great home cooked meal and I’m looking forward to trying some when I get home in just 23 DAYS!!!!

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Moving Home Gratefulness

Moving into our own home has been quite the adventure. We’ve had the “fun” of hunting for furniture (after a day of hunting for a sofa/sofa bed I soon lost my shopping for furniture excitement) plus the moving and packing of course.

It was extremely entertaining to receive a moving home card from my parents and discover that it had been opened by Australia Post on behalf of Customs because immigration were concerned that it might have banned material!

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It’s also been lovely to receive lots of offers for help including being lent a ute to move our stuff, people giving up and offering their time to move bits that are too heavy for me to lift with the Aussie, offers of furniture as well as being lent a TV which I’ve just set up in the living room today.

My parents have sent us some money to buy lots of handy things for the house (I’m hoping to have a few blog posts because of the things they’ve paid for as well) which have been so so helpful especially when money was a bit tight.

I’m quite excited to use our new wine glass charms which were a gift from my neighbour in the UK who also met an Aussie who she is married to and lives with her hubby and her son in West Australia (we really need to plan a visit).

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We had very short notice to find a new home and were lucky to find a great apartment in the middle of the city at a good price but then to see lots of people in our lives offering their time, support and other things to help us has been a lovely thing for us both.

So not only is it fantastic to have our own home in the city but it makes you feel very grateful to be surrounded by family and friends likes ours and lucky too so I’m going to join the Grateful Heart link up on Emily from Ember Greys blog as it’s a week long link up.

Ember Grey

Home Sweet Home

So me and the Aussie are all moved into our new home in the city and we love it! Not only are both the toilet and shower inside but we’re so close to everything so it just takes me 15 minutes to walk to work so no more waking up before 6 to get to work on time and definitely no more 4am starts on a Monday to drop the Aussies brother to the airport to catch his flight for work – bliss! I also haven’t seen a single spider yet which can only be a good thing.

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Transporting all of our stuff from the rural area was interesting as we had the look of a pack horse at times!

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We were also a little worried about the fact we had no furniture at all. We bought a new bed as we decided it was well worth the investment but everything else was a bit trickier and new wouldn’t be in budget. We ended up raiding gumtree and found 2 lovely sofa beds and a couple of tables which we’ll use as desks and for the balcony.

It’s been fun unpacking (and actually having) the kitchen and other than things like the microwave which are non essential it’s well stocked. It was funny trying to judge how quickly food would cook on an electric cooker as things on the BBQ used to cook so quickly. Also it’s novel being able to cook more than one thing at a time because we have 4 hot plates!

IMG_0522-0.JPG Our first meal!

I’m hoping to be more adventurous with cooking now we have a good cooker and much more time as our travelling time is now less than a quarter of the time it used to take us on a good day with very little travel. I made the oh so delicious creamy salmon pasta from scratch this week again.

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I also have proper wardrobes now and re-discovered a lot of clothes I’d shoved in a suitcase to get it out of the way at the old house so have what feels like a brand new wardrobe!

This weeks been a mixture of unpacking, shopping for house things and spending time with friends which has been made much more fun as we live so much closer now!

Our only problem is our internet won’t be switched on until 18 September and then I go to the uk on the 20th but I hope to get back into the blogging again now as lots of things have happened in the last 6-8 weeks that I want to talk about and share!

One Year On

Firstly me and the Aussie (or should that be the Aussie and I?) were approved for a house well unit on Friday and we will be signing the contract this Friday and moving in to our own place. I am very very excited about this because not only will we have our home together but we will also have an indoor toilet and shower and air conditioning which will be so good when the build up to the wet season hits. We’re now busy hunting through Gum Tree and all the similar websites to find furniture ready for when we get the keys!

We’ve had a busy old weekend all in all with some of the Aussies friends visiting Darwin and we got to enjoy some lovely dinners with them as well as trying out some touristy things in the Northern Territory that we haven’t tried before. I will talk about that some time this week I am sure as I go through the photos.

The final thing for this weekend is that today, the 10th August 2014 is one whole year since I arrived in Darwin and officially moved in with the Aussie!

I honestly have no idea where this past year has gone but it has zipped by in a heart beat and during that time I have had 2 jobs plus a couple of promotions, met lots of amazing people, some of which have become very good friends, tried new experiences such as sailing, outdoor bathrooms, cooking on a BBQ (including cooking a whole Christmas dinner on there and a sponge cake) and located 2 snakes and numerous spiders in the house!

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The best times have been living with the Aussie and of course my families visit which was amazing but also sad when they had to go home as well. I am now counting down the days until I go home for 2 weeks in September to see them and my lovely friends.

Now we have a home and spare bedroom I am hopeful to have more people visit and also build lots of memories with the Aussie and our friends and families in our new home.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

I’m still here!

Hi everyone

I just wanted to let you know I’m still here and have plenty to say!

Me and the Aussie are busy house hunting in Darwin City (though I’ll always be an out back expat of course!) at the moment and so our evenings are filled with visiting properties, some nice and some not so nice, scouring real estate websites and general moving home planning.

We hope (really really hope) to have somewhere to live shortly and then normal service will resume.

I’m really looking forward to finding the perfect house for me and the Aussie and also decorating of course

I’ll be back!

Vicky