Scott bought us a cheese making kit from Amazon for a #smaj activity. We already successfully made halloumi, but Rosemarie said I should document the process next time, so here is our attempt at making cheddar cheese!

Don’t use this as a recipe, I haven’t included the finer details.

Heating the (6L) unhomogenized milk, calcium chloride, starter culture, and rennet.
Once it was set I cut the curd. Then we had to heat it up again very slowly while stirring to break up the clumps.
Curds ready for hanging. I didn’t save the whey this time, but last time I used it to make bread, which turned out weird.
Then we hung the bag for an hour.
Which resulted in a more solid curd lump.
Breaking up the curds and adding salt.
Curds in cheesecloth-lined press.
Scott setting up the press.
We pressed it at 5kg for 10 minutes, then 10kg for 10 minutes, then 20kg for 12 hours.
What it looked like after pressing. Also this is my favourite picture I’ve taken with my new camera so far.
Our cheese cupboard. LOL.

Now we have to leave it in the cupboard for a week, flipping it twice a day, so it can develop a natural dry rind. (We have a mesh food cover for it.) Once it’s dry we have to cover it in wax, and then leave it to age for minimum 5 weeks.

Part 2 in six weeks!!

I’m back. Let’s catch up.

Our March #smaj activity was clay target shooting in Carrum Downs. I was worried about it! I don’t think I have very good hand-eye coordination, and I’d never even touched a gun before. But it was actually super fun! I did better than Scott!

We got to do three rounds. In the first round, they shot one target at a time and they told you where it was going to come out. In the second round they shot two, but told us where they would come out from. And in the third round they also shot two, but you didn’t know where they would come from. I think I got about 70% of my targets which is WAY higher than I would have guessed.

The guy standing next to me in the picture who ran the whole thing went to the Commonwealth Games! Maybe it’s a new hobby for me when I retire from weightlifting. :D

We went to a AFLW game. We got to see the goal of the year!

Terrible picture but Da Boys came over for lunch and games. We played Tiny Towns and Camel Up, and ate sausages and mac and cheese.

I was doing regular, uneventful back squats and thought “Hmm, my finger feels kinda weird” and then watched it turn purple right before my eyes! I must have burst a blood vessel or something?

Waiting after jab #1. My work got us vaccines very early. We all thought we were category 1B, but we got them nearly straight away with category 1A. We got AstraZeneca, then literally the next day they started having all these news articles about how you could get blood clots and they were going to stop using the vaccine in many parts of the world. Felt great man. But we all survived (so far) and I’m due for my second dose this week.

It has been reassuring being half vaccinated while still seeing lots of patients, many of whom are immuno-compromised. (And also don’t wear their masks properly.)

Just a random tasty meal. Honey gochujang baked salmon with green beans and rice.

Other things not pictured:

  • Scott played A LOT of lawn bowls. He got promoted to the club first team, and they made it to the finals.
  • He also made it to the grand final in his basketball league.
  • We had a few family lunches.
  • We went to this progressive dinner thing in Kew where we had entree, main, and dessert at different restaurants within walking distance. I didn’t take any pictures but it was fun. We ate so many different things and also way too much.
  • We started pottery class. I think I’ll make that into its own post.

I’d had Cactus Country bookmarked for years, but because it’s 3 hours away from Melbourne and not really close to anything, we still hadn’t made it out there. But it fit into our Bright and Echuca trip perfectly.

It’s $17.50/adult to get in to see 1000s of cacti and succulents set up in little themed trails. There are number markers that match up to a guidebook that gives you tons of fun facts and information. They also have a cafe where you can try cactus cake and cactus ice cream, and a shop where you can choose a cactus to bring home.

We were lucky to see a few flowering cacti.

So colourful! I kinda want a cactus Christmas tree.

Huuuuge!!
Spiky boy.

They use these ones to make the cactus cake.

Scott made me do this.

Cactus ice cream and cactus cake. A friend asked me what it tasted like and I wasn’t sure how to describe it. Maybe like apple? The ice cream was mild with a pleasant crunchy texture, and the cake was moist and spiced.

I bought a little Monkey Tail cactus to try to grow at home. We’ll see how it goes.

Overall we both loved Cactus Country! My favourite was the “underwater” themed area with all sorts of genetically unstable mutant cacti. The place was huge, there was so much to look at, so many cool pictures to take. And the information guide was very informative. I recommend a visit for sure.

Whoops I’ve jumbled up my posts a bit. Oh well. Here’s the rest of 2020: a mixture of lockdown and freedom.

Spent a lot of time in the garage. Sometimes it was freezing, sometimes it was sweltering. Always lots of spiders. Even though it sucked training alone in the garage I am sooooo grateful that I had this set up. Not only did it keep me sane during lockdowns, I even managed to improve a bit. I think about it like my catch up time compared to the other much stronger girls.

SMAJs were more difficult during lockdown. September SMAJ was a hot chocolate tasting pack from Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, which had 16 different epic ho chos. This is just one example: Zingy Chilli (chilli and lime dark hot chocolate with lime marshmallow, choc lime slice, and chilli leaf truffles).

Mega fried Ubereats meal from Hibiki. Was a nice treat.

I worked on bird paintings a bit. I really should get back to them.

Of course we bought the Wingspan Oceania expansion. It’s so nice seeing birds we can find here. The new expansion adds a couple elements but nothing too overwhelming. We like it.

We went to the beach one day for a walk and found the beach covered in these crazy jelly blobs. I was scared to touch them until I saw the kids playing with them, throwing them back in the water or making huge piles of them. I later found out they’re moon snail egg sacs.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually had an ice cream from an ice cream truck before. It cost a lot but I have to say it was pretty great.

November SMAJ was a pottery painting session with BYO food and drink. I found it very stressful to paint something on a time deadline with no pre-planning. I know I need to relax, lol. I painted a mediocre mug, and Scott made a craptastic (his word) leaf shaped dish.

I made Tres Leches cake for Scott’s birthday/a Christmas brunch. Such a tasty cake. I still need to get a more similar sized cake tin and rimmed platter though so the liquid absorbs better.

Our December SMAJ activity was boating along the Yarra in a Go Boat. You don’t need a boat license because they go verrrrry slowly. It was neat to see the city from a different perspective. I think these would be fun with a big group of friends.

Docked the boat for a quick riverside coffee to go.

Unpictured things:

  • Many many picnics. Man we got so good at picnics in 2020, lol. I still think they’re a pretty good activity, eating food and lying around… that’s great.
  • We bought a new couch. It still has not arrived. I think we are on week 12 of 14-16 weeks now. Getting there!
  • AFL Grand Final at home with no guests. Zzzz. Can’t believe I managed to lose the sweep.

There’s this really cute Japanese-Korean restaurant near our house. We first noticed it because it was always still really busy on our way home from family dinner (RIP family dinner) at like 9pm on Sunday nights.

They’ve got laminated menus and a dude cooking everything on a tiny stove, it’s cozy inside, and the waitress was very… honest. We’ll definitely go back.

Salmon sashimi daily special. I love salmon so much.

Seafood korean pancake. Very generous with the seafood, every piece had a big chunk of prawn, oyster, or squid.

Scott had spicy bbq lamb chops. They weren’t super flavourful but he still enjoyed his meal.

Alcoholic Calpico from their convenience store next door. I didn’t know what it was going to be. The guy assured me it wasn’t beer. Tasted great!

Cafe Carpenter Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato