Thursday, April 26, 2007

Getting In Early!




































Tomorrow, I'm christening my new raclette. A couple of friends are coming to my place for lunch. It's going to be such an easy meal to prepare because we'll be cooking our own fare at the table. Our hands are going to be very busy...what with filling up our little raclette pans with all the goodies that I'll have on offer and balancing a wine glass in the other, it's going to make it difficult for me to talk with my hands! Speaking of "talking", here's a little story for you to mull over while you enjoy your cup of coffee, beer, wine or whatever else quenches your thirsty needs.

Mother's Day is not far away here in this country. Aussie mums' special day is the second Sunday in May, not later in the year as it is in some areas in the northern hemisphere. I thought I would re-tell a story I post last year when I had no readers of my blog and I was a lonely little petunia in the onion patch...or at least, that's how I felt! And just to show you I have no hard feelings, I'm going to share a couple of recipes with you, as well.

I've never been a 'Mum", but I can keep 'mum' when asked to do so! However, not being a mother didn't stop me from enjoying my own special 'Mother's Day' breakfast one year. It came as a total surprise, as you can imagine. My special treat came when I was managing the resort at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island. Unknown by me, my staff decided to surprise me! And surprise me they did!

A habit of mine when speaking with the island guests or others was, I referred to my staff as "the kids". "The kids did this". "The kids did that". "One of the kids will bring your luggage down to the boat. You don't have to worry about it". Things like that. Actually, once a guest asked how I liked having my "children" work for me! I wondered what she was talking about for a minute or two, then the penny dropped! I hurriedly explained, not wishing her to think I really was the mother of this brood of twelve or so, running around the island! As a joke, which, too, became a habit of my staff, they used to call me "Mum", just for the hell of it and I thought it was fun.

You may recall my telling of the time I organised the making of a sales/marketing video for the island. Peter and his wife came up from the Sunshine Coast to do the filming. On the last day and night of their stay, all the cabins on the island were booked, so I had to move them out of theirs and put them up in my little house, overnight. They wanted to rise before dawn to catch the sunrise over the ocean and Orchid Beach, the beach of the resort. It would be their final filming before flying back south. I wasn't required to join them, which suited me just fine, as my days were long and my nights, most times, even longer.

In the morning, I heard them shuffling around quietly, as they headed off down to the beach. I made no acknowledgment, in an effort to steal a little longer under the covers.

They'd been gone perhaps an hour, maybe an hour and a half, when heard footsteps on the spiral stairs, leading to the bedroom area of little island home. Now, the upstairs' level of my home was open-plan. When turning left at the top of the staircase, one step into the kitchen area, which in turn, led to the bathroom. Turning right at the top of the stairs was my "bedroom" that opened out to a covered deck. No walls other than the exterior walls and those of the bathroom broke the flow.

"Did you forget something?" I called out.

"Happy Mother's Day, Mum!" A chorus of voices replied.

"What! You idiots!" I laughed, pulling the bed covers up around my bare body. I'm not into dressing for bed!

My escape route had been foiled! I had no where to go but to stay put...under the covers, as my "kids", bearing trays filled with tropical flowers, fresh fruits, yoghurt, orange juice and champagne grabbed their piece of my bed...on top of the covers! My staff, some aptly dressed in 'nappies/diapers' made out of old, no longer used bed-linen, full of early morning merriment, sat on my king-size bed while we toasted our halcyon life on the island and their mothers elsewhere on the mainland and across distant oceans.

During this early morning frivolity, I saw Peter's head come half-way up the stairs and promptly to disappear again! I laughed as I called out, "It's okay, Peter! We're not having an orgy...it's Mother's Day!"

Amongst my memorabilia, I still have the cherished Mother's Day card my staff gave me that morning, with its crazy comments and signatures. It's a reminder of those wondrous, incredible, often unexpected and unplanned times! Every moment is forever embedded in my mind and locked in my heart.

Chilaquiles

Tortillas
10 medium corn tortillas
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
pinch of salt

Sauce:
24 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped well
1 medium onion, diced 1/2" pieces
Crushed chillies to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chilli sauce sauce
2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs

Garnish
Coriander/cilantro
sour cream

Preheat the oven to 210C/425 F. Cut the tortillas into either 1/2" strips or into 8 wedges per tortilla. Toss in a bowl with a tablespoon of oil to coat the chips. Toss very well. Spread the pieces out on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven until they crisp up, around 20 minutes or so. Check after 15 and every 5 minutes, tossing the chips to ensure they crisp evenly. Remove once crisp and dust with a pinch of salt while hot. Set aside. Add all the sauce ingredients together in a medium saucepan, stirring well. Sautee for 10 minutes until the flavors have combined together. Remove from heat. Blend the sauce with an immersion blender carefully. Return to heat. Add the crisped chips to the sauce and stir to coat all the chips. Put a tightly fitting lid on top of the pan and heat on medium-low for five - ten minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet and fry two eggs over medium heat.

Serve half the chilaquiles (the tortillas which have soaked up almost all the sauce) with a fried egg on top. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and coriander/cilantro.

Pecan Pancakes:

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted if desired
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup melted butter
vegetable oil
pecan halves or fruit for garnish, optional

Method:

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, soda, and chopped pecans.
In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and milk, egg yolks, and melted butter. Blend into the dry ingredients just until all ingredients are moistened. Beat egg whites in another bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold into the batter until well incorporated. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When skillet is hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle, scoop pancake batter onto the skillet in about 1/4-cup portions, spreading slightly. When edges are rather dry and bubbles are popping and bottoms are nicely browned, about 2 to 3 minutes, turn over and cook the other side until browned, about 2 minutes longer.

Serve hot with butter and syrup and garnish with pecan halves or fruit, if desired.


Just a couple of ideas for you to play around with between now and Mother's Day. I don't need to give you a recipe for fruit salad...now, do I?

20 comments:

  1. What a lovely surprise for you Lee and all without the trauma of childbirth and the terrors of raising all those children.

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  2. Hahaha! I had my hands full controlling that, I can tell you, Peter! ;)

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  3. Doesn't it give you a lovely feeling when people do things like that for you? You deserve it, obviously.

    As for those chilaquiles, I love Mexican food so I'm going to try those. Thanks:-)

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  4. The chilaquiles set up the start to a good Sunday morning, Robyn! ;) To be topped of with a couple of Pina Coladas...and, then some Margaritas! Forget the rest of the day after that! ;)

    Mostly, I had a good crew working with me.

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  5. Good post, Mum. The pictures look delecious.

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  6. Don't you start, Steve! ;)

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  7. wow, breakfast in bed! now that's a treat! as long as no crumbs find their wait between the sheets you had it made! lol

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  8. We were too busy enjoying the champagne and orange juice to worry about the crumbs, Deslily!

    Crumbs were never a part of the equation! ;)

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  9. Hi Lee ~~ Glad the kids gave you a nice Mother's Day surprise. They must have been very fond of you. Your recipes look delicious, thanks for sharing.It is raining here at last so hope it rains all weekend. And sure
    someone will complain, but I live alone and won't hear them. Take care,
    Lee, Love, Merle.

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  10. Loved that mother's day story. Too fun and funny. The food looks yummy. I have no idea what a raclette pan is. I know I made a mess of the spelling.

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  11. Another great story Lee. Probably a better appreciation effort than a lot of mothers get.
    Lunch at your house again.

    I told my husband that when we next go to Australia and hopefully get to Queensland I'm going to visit Lee in Mount Tambourine (?). He said where's that? I said I don't know but I'll find it. So do I get a future invite to lunch? I'm not kidding, you know!
    regards
    jmb

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  12. What a wonderful and well deserved "Mother's Day" they gave you, Lee. Lovely photos and recipes. Thank you.

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  13. Good morning Lee!

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  14. That was a good story. I would have loved to have seen it. Good memory.

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  15. It's trying its hardest to rain here, Merle...grey skies the last couple of days so I hope it soon pours down. :)

    Corn Dog...If you scan back a few of my posts you will see a pic of a raclette and accompanying recipes. :)

    Jmb...Mount Tamborine is in the hinterland up behind the Gold Coast. It's a lovely area...only about 30ks from the coast and about 90 minutes from Brisbane CBD. You are most welcome to come to lunch...consider that an invitation. :)

    It was a lot of unexpected fun so early in the morning, Welsh! lol

    Hey Marc...good evening to you. We had some crazy times on that island! :)

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  16. Oh, my gosh, that food looks too pretty to eat. Great story, too -- as always.

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  17. Those pictures are lovely.

    I have actually made chilaquiles. I think it is a wonderful dish. It is fairly easy to find in the mexican cafes here in Houston. Your recipe looks very authentic.

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  18. Hiya Serena and Gary...thanks for popping in to join me...glad you like the story and the pics. :)

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  19. Ooops, sorry about that. Sometimes I don't do a good read on the cooking sections because the only thing I can cook is cereal.

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  20. I doubt that, Corn Dog. :)

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