Cocktail Recipe

I came up with this one quite by chance when going through the Christmas and New Year’s left overs. At first I started without the Rosemary syrup but felt it was well needed. The end result I will name Priscilla, not just after my wife but after the drag queen movie. It’s pink and spicy.

Ingredients:

  • Rosemary Syrup – you can’t just buy this from the shops but luckily it’s very easy to make. You just need sugar and fresh or dry rosemary. See this recipe for Rosemary simple syrup
  • Gin – Gordon’s is fine. Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray is better
  • Schweppe’s raspberry flavoured soft drink – If you can’t get it where you are then any old fashioned raspberry or other artificially tasting pop will work for you
  • Soda water

Prep:
In a tumbler add a shot or two of gin and a half a shot of rosemary syrup. Top up with 50% soda water and 50% raspberry. Add ice and garnish with mint or if you still have fresh Rosemary then use that.

That’s it! A simple yet delicious drink.

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The Maximiser

I’m often asked where I find time to do all the things I do. Recently I have started replying by saying “I’m a maximizer”. It’s only today I decided to look that term up to see if anyone else was using it. Turns out it’s not not really used. In fact I am not sure how someone like myself is described.

I have two young children, a two and a half hour commute each day and a 45 hour (thankfully) a week job. Yet I still get in a good deal of exercise, usually have a business on the side and a multitude of hobbies at any one time.

How do I do it? I like to call it maximizing my time. Most people spend at least half their waking hours relaxing. I don’t ever stop. I spend every second of my day learning, doing, moving. You can probably come up with a hundred reasons why this is a bad thing but I need to fill my day being productive. Unlike most people I can’t sprawl out on the couch after work and do nothing. I may sit on the couch but I am pumping out product every waking hour. I will not stop until it is time to close my eyes.

You hear stories about the high achievers, the ones who really put their all into it. The Edisons and the Teslas. I am not one of them. I sleep 8 hours a day, 10 if I can and unlike say Tesla have a family, friends and a social life. I have just learned to balance work, life and those things I need to do for myself. One thing that annoys me is those who do not manage to do that well.

This is why I am writing this blog instead of answering the friend who asked me today – “Where do you find the time to do all this?”

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New entrepreneurial venture

It has been a while since I last posted on greener desktop but I am happy to say I have been working on a micro-niche ecommmerce site dedicated to vintage cameras. The idea originally came to me when trying to source quality vintage film cameras. EBay can be a bit of a gamble and buying from markets and garage sales a hard slog to find anything quality. So I decided to set up a site to sell refurbished and fully tested vintage cameras called hipsnap.com.au. The inspiration coming from the resurgence of film cameras in the hipster community. I can never expect to stock every camera ever made but will keep a good range. The site is still being built but I already have a good range of cameras to sell.

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Bike Building

Since coming back from our six month stint overseas we have been staying with Priscilla’s parents in the north west of Sydney. With more spare time than someone working full time and an existential crisis spurred on by the combination of having the world at your feet, missing home and trying to work out what I wanted to do with myself I took to riding again.  At first it was near home, then as I learnt the area the radius got wider and wider.  I then found this magical trail called the M7 bike path. It goes on forever and ever. I am now regularly riding 50km round trips on it and still haven’t found the end. Suffice to say I am now very fit and despite not weighing anything less than previously I am looking and feeling a lot trimmer than I have been for at least four or five years.

I also learnt something whilst in Europe – an appreciation for a good looking bike. Not just the lightest, the fastest, or the one with the most accessories but a bike that could be practical yet still match its owners sense of style. In fact I think the French prefer to use their bikes rather than their clothing to portray their sense of individualism. All black clothes but amazing French blue and baby pink bikes.

I decided then that I would make my own bike. The first bike was derived from a $5 derelict Malvern Star I bought at Blacktown markets. The frame, forks, pedals, chain ring and chain where all that remained when I was done with it. The frame was kept as found, the patina of years of neglect frozen, for the moment, by a can of clear coat. This bike when done became my favourite, for it weighed almost nothing when stripped of gears and brakes and all the other gadgets bikes are weighed down by. It felt like I was really connecting with the road. Every bump was felt, every hill meant my legs had to push harder.

The bike became real exercise. Not just a means to get around but, for the first time in my life, a form of exercise I really enjoyed. We’re not just talking pumping your heart a bit here. When you hit a steep hill you have to put everything into it. Your biceps bulge, your pectorals strain and your abdominals tighten. You work muscles in your shoulders you never knew you had. All the while laughing because you can feel that effort going straight into the road, like you could do a burnout if you just pushed that little bit harder.

My second bike, which I have just completed is meant to be more of an around the town bike not for speed training or endurance. It has a very comfortable Selle Italia 1980 saddle in brown suede and matching stained cork handlebars which have come out a rich honey colour.

The complete bill of parts is as follows:

  • Cheap frame off ebay – british racing green (lets down the rest of the bike a bit but still nice)
  • SRAM Automatix 2 speed automatic hub
  • $25 wheels from Reid Cycles – quite good for what they are
  • Schwalbe Delta Cruiser 35mm 700cc tyres in cream
  • Kalloy riser stem
  • Sunlite north road handlebars
  • Cork grips stained with furniture oil (which amazingly doesn’t rub off)
  • System EX alloy post
  • Tan Selle Italia Turbo 1980 saddle
  • MKS Sylvan road pedals
  • MKS half deep toe clips
  •  KMC B1 Chain 1/8″ (heavier but feels tougher which for a single/dual speed hub is better)
  • Miche Xpress Chainset 42 teeth

I haven’t added up the total costs yet but including shipping it must be close to $500. Building custom bikes isn’t a cheap hobby but it sure is a fulfilling one. If corners weren’t cut with the frame and wheels, and it actually had front brakes, reflectors, lights, a cup holder and all those others things people like to have on their bikes it could have cost a lot closer to $1000. Of course for that you get something far superior to the cheap junk you get from most bike shops.

I have plans for an electric motorised bike next which takes inspiration from the cafe racer motorcycle. That one will require some saving, and getting rid of one of my existing bikes. I may just have to turn pro and sell some bikes if only to save space.

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Quick recipe: Chipotle Kangaroo fillet

I like many others tried kangaroo for the first time and was instantly put off. If not prepared properly the meat of this extraordinarily lean creature turns into tasteless rubber. Kangaroo needs to be seasoned and cooked properly. Many years later I learnt the art of cooking our national icon and since then I’ve loved it.

Today I had some leftover chipotles in adobe sauce, a smoky chili in a spicy marinade and was thinking this tangy mix might go well with the grassy, iron taste of kangaroo. So here’s the recipe for a marinade.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 kilo kangaroo fillet
  • 1/3 can of chipotles in adobo sauce
  • tablespoon of lemon or lime juice (approx 1/2 a lime)
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • a good sprinkle of cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

These amounts are approximate. Use your good judgement, more honey if you like it sweet, less chipotle if you don’t like it too hot.

Method

Kangaroo meat needs to be cooked quickly or it becomes chewy. To make sure it cooks through as fast as possible cut the meat into pieces no thicker than 2cm high. Of course they can be as long as you want.

Take chilis out of the adobo sauce, remove seeds and chop finely. Mix the rest of the ingredients and brush on both sides of the fillets. Marinate for at least an hour but no more than two or three as the lime juice will very quickly “cook” the meat which is really what you want the BBQ to be doing.

Cooking

Kangaroo really needs to be done on a BBQ. Alternatively you could use a frying pan but you really need the heat up on max. Now go outside and turn your BBQ on, to its maximum setting and let it heat up. Put your fillets on and hear that sizzle. Now you should only have to leave it on 2-3 minutes each side max. You’ll feel the meat firm up when you prod it.

Quite likely this will produce a meat far too rare for most people’s likings so what you can do is let it rest for about five minutes so the juices absorb back in to the proteins then slice it thinly and put it back on the BBQ rare side down for another minute or so per side.

This recipe tasted fantastic! The best of Australian and Mexican flavours coming together. Next time I think I’ll do some meat this way and put it in a burrito.

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Our gap break map

We’re going away for six months on a long break with sixteen month Camilla in tow. Here’s a map of where we are going:


View USA Road Trip in a larger map

If you would like to follow us on our voyages then the main blog is Prisky Adventures

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Mobile Diary – Europe 2009

My computer at work has decided to give up after a couple of years of faithful but not always reliable service. While backing up everything I found some files which turned out to be a diary I kept on my mobile while traveling. The trip in question was a month long journey to England, Paris, Portugal and Spain but I only started writing on the last week and a bit before the trip was over. Obviously a little tired and cranky given some of the comments. So here I present my writings, along with some photos and commentary. The commentary is there because two years worth of reflection helps mellow the mind.

Sintra – 18th September 2009

Sintra is what I imagine Campos Do Jordao is like in Brazil from the descriptions Priscilla’s family have given me. However, Sintra is the most expensive tourist trap ever – €4.50 for a return bus ticket up a hill. To enter the palace we are going to is €11. I brought 40 with me and thought we’d never spend it…

The place is beautiful though, like the jenolan caves but with palaces and gardens everywhere. I can understand why it attracted the rich and powerful for thousands of years.

Unfortunately I suffer from the same affliction many Australians do and that is I believe that every country should be cheaper than Australia. Much, much cheaper. It doesn’t matter where you are and sometimes even how much things cost. Quite silly really considering overall Portugal was a lot cheaper than back home.

Madrid

Went to prado and its free after 6pm on sat. saw goya’s 2nd and 3rd of may paintings. plus so many “famouso” paintings it wasn’t funny.

I appreciate pris’ innocence when it comes to art and almost feel ashamed of my idolatry. I was running around saying which was famous and she was just appreciating what she liked. She simply asked why or who decides a painting Is famous. I answered “the critics of the day and it helps if the artist knows the right people”. A man at the ticket queue before we went in put it quite succinctly … “picasso was sitting at a cafe and a man asked him for some money picasso merely signed a napkin and said something like here’s $ 1000 “.

They sell bread without crust here. Weird. Supermarket was open until 2am. €17 for some bread, cheese, cereal etc. Seems that nowhere in spain or portugal can u get fresh milk. No wonder they are all so short.

Madrid – day 2

Slept in until 11am and ate our supermarket breakfast.

Went to Sophia Reina museum of modern art. Free on Sundays.

So much Picasso and so much proof he was nuts. Look up some of his contemporaries. They look interesting.

the royal palace is another one of a line of royal palaces starting with Versailles that just sicken me…. Especially with the influence of reading the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Roark was right. The rooms in these palaces served no reason. They were simply filled with as much expensive crap as possible. One room in the palace real in Madrid was so bad it had beautiful Chinese tiles on the walls but the ceiling had a renaissance style sky with angels. Pris once again had a beautifully simple answer to it “they probably weren’t into minimalism”. I just felt they were like the neuvo riche of today. No idea what to do with their money. also symbolized in their armour. Rooms full of ceremonial and jousting armour never to be used for a practical purpose. Most made well after the gun. Its a pity no photos were allowed.

Went to plaza Espana and saw Edificio de Espana and saw Torres de Madrid. Look these up as they looked quite old but were very tall for Europe… 20 stories plus.

Ate the biggest plate of calamari ever. €9 – must remember to say “Media Ratione” in future.

More to follow when I have the time to put up more.


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Homebrew: Malty English Pale Ale

It’s the break between Christmas and New Year in Sydney and despite average highs reaching the high twenties or even early thirties we had a cool day. Having withdrawals from brewing I had to take a chance despite the forecast for the next few days soaring back into the high twenties.

This beer partly came about because I was running low on ingredients and partly inspired by the malt forward taste of Marston’s IPA. I found Marston’s quite mild hop wise, which is good, because I think I’m sick of drowning my beers in hops.

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Homebrew recipe: Dark Ale

White Rabbit Dark Ale

It’s close to my Black IPA but lighter in colour, hops and alcohol. So should be easy to do and taste just as good.

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Homebrew recipe: American Cream Ale

I have to start this recipe by firstly admitting that I have never tasted a cream ale – so I will have no idea whether I got it right or not. They’re a fairly rare beer in terms of commercial varieties and none of the Australian boutique bottle shops seem to stock any. Not even slowbeer.com.au.

I also decided to make it because I was doing some late night home brew shopping online and came across flaked maize. Wondering why anyone would use such an ingredient in home brew I felt I must take up the challenge of trying it. Little did I realise there are only two real styles that ask for it (unless you count American piss lager). Cream ale and a few ESB recipes, and I get the feeling the ESB recipes only ask for it because a lot of them ask for everything, including the kitchen sink.

You can read all about the style guidelines on the BJCP’s site but essentially cream ale is an ale version of an american lager. Low on malt and hops, a large percentage of the sugars come from corn, in the form of flaked maize or from corn based sugar products such as dextrose.

It should be fermented at low temperatures and lagered. Unfortunately it’s both October in Sydney with an average temperature in the early twenties and I have no fridge to lager in so I’m hoping it still turns out ok.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kilograms pale liquid malt extract (LME)
  • 500 grams dry malt extract (DME)
  • 300 grams dextrose
  • 1/2 kilo marris otter malt
  • 400g flaked maize (corn)
  • 100 grams carapils
  • 40 grams light crystal malt
  • Hallertau and Saaz hops
  • Safale US05 dry yeast

Steep grains in 3 litres at 70c for 60 mins and sparge with 4 litres of water at 70c.

Bring to boil and stir in 500 grams of dry malt extract to help isomerise the hops.

40 grams hallertau AA 5.9% 60 mins

25 grams saaz 15 mins (AA 3.5%)

Teaspoon of Irish moss at 15 mins

15 grams saaz 1 min

10 grams hallertau 1 min

Some time during the boil the dextrose can be added. Where is not important. As soon as the flame goes out add the liquid malt extract tin. One issue with adding the liquid malt extract so late was that with the aggressive cooling of the wort employed there was a thick layer of extract left on the bottom of the kettle. After the majority of the wort was poured into the fermenter there was a need to pour some hot water into the bottom of the kettle to mix up the remaining extract to be poured out. Hopefully no contamination made it in.

Original gravity was 1048 and the sample and at 73 – 77% efficiency the final gravity should turn out around 1012 but given the high ratio of straight up sugars and corn products which I’m hoping for closer to 1006 which will be the lowest final gravity of any of my brews so far.

Fermentation

Luckily for this brew Sydney decided to have a cool Spring. Most of the fermentation was done in temperatures below 22 degrees celsius which seems to be important to the cream ale style. One week in the primary and a healthy yeast cake had developed. The beer was transferred into the secondary and so far has been in there for a week.

Bottling

After an unintentionally long eight week conditioning in the secondary (who knew having a baby was so hard) the remaining 17 litres were bottled with 150 grams of dextrose. Unfortunately by then the weather had warmed up so the small fermentation that happens to carbonate the beer won’t be under the most favourable conditions but I don’t expect an impact on flavour.

Tasting

A week after being bottled the beer is not highly carbonated yet and does have some residual sweetness but I’m quite happy. The first question you may have while reading off the ingredients list is: Does it taste of corn? The answer is, no.

It’s a light beer that still tastes distinctly like an ale but much less heavy, fruity and sweet than most ales. It’s quite bitter and as expected from the hop schedule it has a very distinct saaz taste. There is a tiny hint of oxidisation, no doubt from the eight weeks in the secondary. Colour and clarity are still the same as the picture of the sample above. Lemon with a hint of gold and fairly cloudy. It should make a nice sessional drop when it’s had a little time to bottle mature.

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