Don’t Throw it, Fix it! School Pants

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Even though winter has just started, it has felt like we were already a good month into it here in Australia. During this transition, my son made the switch from shorts to pants. Then I began to notice that on the daily, he was going to school with holes in the knees. Once I gathered his pants to investigate, I found that all 6 of his pairs of pants had holes. Owen has a habit of rubbing his knees on the ground when he’s got a little bit of residual energy to release.

I never had much luck with the iron on patches (although looking back, I was probably using them incorrectly).. and was looking for another solution. Since Google is my friend, I went surfing on the web for a solution and came across something I’d never known existed…. fusible webbing! This allows you to fuse 2 bits of material to each other. Since I’m not a fan of throwing things out unnecessarily. I have been holding onto a pair of school pants that Owen had outgrown with the intention of creating patches for his other pants.

 

After making a trip for the fusible webbing (spent ~$14AUD for 100cm x 50cm), I grabbed the pants with the largest hole. Since the hole was far too large, and not wanting the materials to fuse at the knee (and not allowing a leg to get in) a small patch was cut for the inside and a large diamond for the outside. A portion of the webbing was cut to match the large patch then placed over the hole. Using a steam iron for about 10 seconds to melt the webbing, the hole was now sealed and Owen took this prototype to wear to school the next day.

When I went to pick him up from school, my first task was to inspect the patch. One of the corners of the patch was coming loose… probably why most iron on patches are rounded (D’oh!). And since the material is a little thick and will fray, the patch will still need to be stitched. My second attempt is below… and hoping to work on my stitching skills very soon.

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拍黄瓜 – Smashed Cucumbers

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This is one of my favourite veggie side-dishes, and it was one I would consistently order when dining at most restaurants in China. Pai Huang Gua literally translates to Smashed Cucumbers… but as I learned while trying to prepare this dish, if there’s too much smashing involved you will end up with most of the cucumber going everywhere.

Ready 1 cucumber (I’m using a continental cucumber for this) and a utensil that will be appropriate for smashing. I usually use the end of my knife as pictured, but you could we a rolling pin or meat tenderiser. Anything with a bit of weight will do. With your tool, you carefully bang on one end of the cucumber until you see it crack open slightly. Once that happens, you continue to smash with the same amount of force along the rest of the cucumber… spreading the cracks down to the end. It should look similar to the picture below once it’s done. Then I cut it in half lengthwise and chop into small pieces. Then throw it all into a bowl. Mince 2-3 garlic cloves and throw that into the bowl… I just use a garlic crusher. Add 1 tablespoon of brown vinegar (malt vinegar or Chinese dumpling vinegar) and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, followed by a generous drizzle of sesame oil. Since my son usually eats this with me, I don’t add any chilli oil to it… but I find this is a nice touch. I really enjoy the garlic/vinegar/soy/sesame oil combination and will generally use this as a salad dressing. Feel free to add onions, tomatoes or lettuce to it.

Coconut Milk Ice Cream

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It’s been a while since I’ve had the freezer space to whip this together… but managed to make some room recently. As you can see in the photo, I poured the ingredients into a recycled 2-litre ice cream tub and just mixed it in there… previously I would use a large mixing bowl, but always found it got messy. Although this doesn’t require much effort on your end, you will need to be hanging around the kitchen for at least 4 hours to complete this recipe.

All you need is:

3 cans of coconut cream

1 can of sweetened condensed coconut milk (which I wasn’t able to get this time… so just used a bog standard sweetened condensed milk)

I popped 2 cans of cream into the fridge the day before… I could have popped all 3 in, but at that time I was still deciding whether the 3rd can would be cream or milk… I ended up going with the cream with the intention of making it creamier. I then dumped the contents of all the cans into the tub and, using a hand mixer, blended the ingredients for about 5 minutes. Once time was up, the tub was covered and placed in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then you need to go through and repeat this process for the next 3 hours…. mix for 1 minute and freeze for 30 minutes (initial mix once, then 6 more mixes for 1 minute). Once you’ve completed the 3-hour cycle… allow the mix to freeze for an additional hour before you dig into it.

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I went by memory to whip this up, and it turned out quite well… although after finding the original recipe online, I realised I used an extra can of cream. It worked out for us though because A) it made enough to fill the tub to the top and B) we don’t like it too sweet. I needed extra time to freeze this batch though… and realised my freezer wasn’t set cold enough! Next time it’ll work out.

Suspension Struts Change… TBC

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Today I had my second attempt at changing the front suspension shock absorbers and it’s something that has been well overdue. The first attempt was aborted since I needed to drive my son to an unexpected play date. But I made sure that today there would be no need to drive anywhere and get an early start so there would be more time available if needed.

Got the front of the car jacked up and placed on jack stands. Removed both the front tyres. Disconnected the anti-roll bar link from the strut and carefully released the brake hose. Removed the brake caliper mounting bracket and placed it on a stool.

And then I got stuck. I wasn’t able to take the next step since I didn’t have the tools available. It’s a problem I couldn’t see coming since my service manual only describes what I need to do and doesn’t tell me what tools are needed to do it.

After a phone conversation with my brother, I put the car back together. He’ll have some torx attachments for me later in the week… hopefully then I will be able to finish this job off.

TO BE CONTINUED….

The Right Glove FAIL

 

Whenever I have a pair of gloves for dishwashing… I seem to have a habit of quickly creating holes in the right one. I began setting these aside with the hope that I could one day reuse them. Trying to find a fix on Google proved unhelpful… it was time to problem solve.

My initial idea was to make use of the caulking gun and patch the gloves up with a bit of silicone and off cuts from one of the worn rubber gloves. I typically create holes on either the thumb or index finger of the glove, so I cut a matching finger thinking that should do the trick! But after allowing the appropriate amount of time to dry, what should have stuck together… did not.

Despite being sure it would work out, the silicone and rubber weren’t bonding like I’d hoped. My next thought was to use some rubber cement from a bike repair kit… but I was having the same issue. It just wasn’t going to bond. It was during this that I realised I was going about this the wrong way. The outside of the glove was clearly rubber, but the inside was lined with a different material.

I went back to the silicone, flipped the patch and applied enough to cover the hole. After drying, it seemed much more stable than previously and after washing a load of dishes, my hand remained dry. Success at last!

EDIT: …. or so I thought. It has partially peeled away a few days later. What can be done? Leave a comment if you have an idea

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Masterpiece Pizza Vol. IV

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Trying something different on this occasion. We went with BBQ on the base, onions, cheese, 2 eggs (beaten and poured on top), and bacon on top…. Kind of like a Carbonara pizza. It was OK… but need to remember to add some herbs or spices. Could have also cooked a bit longer, since the bacon hadn’t gotten to the crispy stage and the top could have goldened a bit more.. but the base was definitely ready to go. Might need to place the pizza on a higher shelf in the oven!

My Pizza Base

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This is the pizza base method that is now ingrained into my memory since this is the way we like it…. maybe it’ll be to your liking as well. When it comes to pizza, we have been a fan of thin crusts with more focus on the toppings. My dough has this in mind. An added bonus is there’s no need to wait for it to rise… you can use it immediately.

First, fill 3/4 cup of room temperature water, and drop 1 teaspoon of yeast into it. Leave that to work it’s magic for 10-15 minutes (you can stir it if you’re impatient). While you’re waiting for that, pop 2 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl (I usually use wholemeal… but the choice is yours) and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and mix it around. Create a well in the middle of the flour and, once the water is ready, drop the yeasty water into the newly created well. From there, you can start folding the flour into the water until the dough starts coming together. Then knead the dough until the flour has combined fully and the dough has a smooth appearance.

IMG_7898This recipe creates 2 decent sized pizzas…. So you want to divide the dough in half. Leave one-half in the bowl, and place the other onto a surface for rolling. You can flour the surface, but on this occasion, there wasn’t a need to do so. I roll it out to close to the size I want, then place it on a greased pizza tray. From there I push the pizza out to the edges of the pan. Once that’s done, you can begin adding your sauce and toppings.

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As for the other base, I will roll it out like the previous one. Then pop it into a large freezer bag, push out the air, zip lock it, fold it (to save space) and then place it in my freezer for the future. When that time comes, I’ll just take the bag out of the freezer and allow it to thaw for 10-15 minutes. Once it has properly thawed, you can unfold it without it snapping. Pop it onto a greased tray and you’re ready to sauce and add toppings.

The Beau Burger Revisited

IMG_7916Since my last burger post, I’ve played around with the recipe a little more. This time around, I added breadcrumbs to the mix. I was previously having issues with the patties breaking open and leaking out the butter inside. Last night, I was a lot more cautious to not disturb the outside of the patty, gently flipping the patty only when necessary. Usually, I would cook the bacon in the frying pan at the same time. But this time around, they were in a pan in the oven… as were the burger buns.

The buns were halved once toasted, a squirt of tomato sauce swirled onto the base and chopped pickles placed into the sauce. Then the patty (which had cheese melted onto it while cooking), followed by tomato slices. Then the bacon topped with BBQ sauce. A mayonnaise squirt was placed on the top half of the bun with the lettuce. As I was typing up this post, I realised this burger was missing a thin slice of onion in there… I’ll be sure to add that next time.

Although the patty itself is still not as “melt in your mouth” as I’m looking for, it was good.

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Cheeseburger Sausage Rolls

A couple of weeks ago, this video came up in my Facebook feed > Cheeseburger Spring Rolls. A fantastic idea, but it was something that I wanted to make immediately and I didn’t fancy having to go shopping just for Spring Roll pastry. Knowing that I still had puff pastry in the freezer, the idea was tweaked slightly to form this creation… Cheeseburger Sausage Rolls!

Ingredients remained the pretty much the same…

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 400-500g beef mince
  • 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese – I didn’t have any Colby cheese to add
  • 2 large dill pickles
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry

Since I would need to form the mix into sausages, I didn’t cook the ingredients and simply mixed everything into a bowl (minus the pickles). The pickles were cut at length and quartered, then placed into the meat mix. The sausages were then formed around the pickles. 4 were made using the amount in this mix. The puff pastry was then separated into 4 and each sausage was rolled into a piece. The sausage rolls were then placed in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 220ºC.

Once they came out of the oven, each roll was wrapped in sandwich paper and placed in a paper bag… ready for dinner. I also brought a small bottle of tomato sauce… needed if it’s to have that “cheeseburger” flavour. Those that got a chance to try it thought it worked out… apart from my son who had very little interest in it. I thought it tasted a bit rich… maybe that would even out if I added that extra cup of Colby. Perhaps this idea will be revisited in the future.

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