Thursday, June 14, 2007

Making The Most Of The Cooler Weather.

So, technically it's not really cool and it's nowhere near cold. I mean, most days are about 28C and the nights are around 14 or 15C so, even I - who hates the cold, has to admit that it's not cold. But... and it's a fairly big but, it is a heap cooler than it was and the nights get sort of chilly. The kids are in winter pj's, mostly because they won't keep their blankets on and they get too cold otherwise and then they wake me up all night long. My least favourite night-time cry at the moment is Offspring #1 calling, "Mum, can you come and pull my blankets up? I'm cold." Since I know for a fact that he has two arms and I well remember growing those arms (the used to poke me in the ribs often enough!) I think he should pull the blankets up himself. He, however, has other ideas.

The days are gorgeous. Cool enough to be outside at any time but warm enough to still be in shorts and shirts, although I am wearing my jeans as often as I can just because I can. It is quite cool doing the school run so I'm running through #2's many pairs of jeans too. Even if she changes into shorts by mid-morning at least some of her warmer clothes are getting a wearing. It is kind of funny at the shops at the moment as we are into Tourist Season (yep, it has capitals!) and the grey nomads are arriving in force. For the uninitiated, the grey nomads are the retired couples who travel around with their caravans chasing the sun and warm weather. They aren't hard to pick in town - those of us who live here are rugged up in the mornings (and so are our kids) and exchanging "isn't it chilly today?" comments while the tourists are running around in shorts and tank-tops exclaiming over the heat LOL.

Anyway, I'm making the most of the drop in temperature and cooking up some yummy meals that I either haven't made since before the move or haven't been willing to have the oven on for. The other day I made one of our very favourites, Lamb Shank Casserole. Not so long ago I thought lamb shanks were the bones you bought cheaply and gave to the dog. I couldn't understand why anyone would eat 'dog meat'. Boy, was I wrong! Hubby says this one ranks in the top 10 of my meals - I didn't realise he had a top 10 so now I'm bugging him to find out what the rest are! This is a recipe for 2 that has hugely generous serves and therefore feeds the two adults and two small children in my family, along with a large dollop of mashed potato, rather nicely. I have doubled and trebled it at various times and it works out every time. Just cook it for a bit longer or until the meat is quite literally falling off the bone. This one benefits from long slow cooking and is well worth the wait.

Lamb Shank Casserole
Cooking for Two

2 (about 500g) lamb shanks
plain flour
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 stick celery, chopped
1 large (about 150g) parsnip, chopped
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup tomato puree
1 cup beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1 carrot chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
(I add beans too, about a handful, chopped in half)

Toss shanks in flour, shake away excess. Heat oil in pan, add shanks, cook until browned all over; remove from pan.

Add onion, garlic, celery and parsnip to same pan, cook stirring until onion is soft. Add wine, simmer, stirring, until reduced by half. Return shanks to pan, stir in puree, stock, bay leaf and pepper, simmer, covered for about 1 1/2 hours. Add carrot and beans and simmer for about another 30 minutes until vegetables are tender and lamb is tender and falling away from the bone. Discard bay leaf, stir in parsley and serve with creamy mashed potatoes (I added a handful of grated cheese to mine and they were very well received!)


Melody said...

Heehee. I know *exactly* what you mean about the weather. We ive just north of Cairns and as it is coming into Peak Season (with capitals!) and it has been rather chilly as of late in this corner of Oz too, we wear jeans, long sleeved ts, whilst the tourists walk around with shorts and singlets on. *giggle giggle* We like a good shank recipe here too!

Red Dirt Mummy said...

Hi Melody. Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments on the other posts too. Aaah, gotta love the tourists - and as an added bonus they give us something to laugh at (in a nice way of course!).