Saturday, December 20, 2008

minced pork with salted fish

this is a homey chinese dish blutsie and i enjoy when we want something comforting. salted fish can be found in asian shops and can come dried, dried and soaked in oil or frozen. the dried variety from malaysia is my favourite, but difficult to come by. the salted fish soaked in oil is much more easily available and is from hong kong.
serve with steamed rice and blanched bok choy.

500g minced pork
2 eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornflour
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 inch piece ginger, shredded finely
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 palm sized pieces salted fish
a few stalks spring onions and coriander

stir together the pork, eggs, sesame oil, cornflour, soy sauce, half the ginger, pepper and salt.
transfer to a serving dish large enough to contain the mixture. sprinkle the remaining ginger over the pork and place the 2 pieces of fish on top.
steam for 15 minutes.
serve scattered with chopped spring onions and coriander.

Friday, December 19, 2008

eggplant relish

i call this eggplant relish very loosely. i put tons of things in it, eggplant being one of them. i have always loved chutneys, relishes and pickles, especially when they are homemade; very often, bought ones have something lacking, although there are good ones around. this one is one of my very favourites because i've put in all the flavours i so adore in chutneys. i admit to not using the recipe faithfully - sometimes one has to wing it with whatever is on hand - approximations are fine as long as there's enough vinegar and sugar.
we love this with cheese, sliced meats and sandwiches.

1 kg eggplant, cut into 1cm cubes
1 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 chillies, seeded and sliced
1 red capsicum, diced
1/2 head garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons curry powder
1 orange, sliced thinly and chopped
1 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup dates
1/2 cup crystalised ginger, diced
1/2 sultanas
1/2 cup currants
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
salt to taste

commence preparations the day before by soaking the diced eggplant in well salted water.
next day, rinse the eggplant well and squeeze and much moisture from them as possible.
heat oil in a large stockpot and add the onions, garlic, capsicum and chillies. stir over a low flame and allow the onions to soften. add the eggplant and stir to coat with the oil. allow to simmer until the eggplant has fully cooked. add the curry powder, orange, apricots, dates, ginger, sultanas and currants. stir well to combine. add the vinegar and sugar and allow to simmer over low heat for about half an hour. stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from catching. add salt if neccesary.
bottle in sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

about pei mei

yesterday, i posted a recipe from pei mei. today, i thought it would be nice to include some background on this famous pei mei person.

Miss Fu Pei-Mei is a famous Chinese culinary artist with the most distinguished background. Born in Foo-Shan County of Shantung Province. During the 2nd World War, she studied in a Japanese high school for girls in Dairen, Manchuria. After V-J Day, she went to Peiping and attended the National Girl's Normal University to further her study. Not too long after coming to Taiwan, she married Mr. Ch'eng Shao-ch'ing. At present, they have two lovely daughters and one son. Miss Fu has boon interested in culinary arts since her childhood. She had studied from many top-grade chefs from all parts of China for several years. She also went to Japan for advanced study on food nutrition. Through endless practice and eager research, she has perfected numerous Chinese recipes in line with the trend of the modern cuisine development in the world. In 1955, she established the Chinese Cooking Institute in Taipei. During the last two decades, more than ten thousand students have studied cooking under her direct guidance. In 1982 when television was first introduced to Taiwan, she started a Chinese cooking demonstration program at the invitation and sponsorship of Taiwan Television Company. This once a week culinary teaching program, which continues up to this day, has been deeply appreciated by countless housewife audiences. Later on, she assumed a membership in a committee, established by the Overseas Chinese Affairs Com- mission, for selecting qualified chefs to be employed overseas. She had acted as a judge of the Hong Kong Amateur Cooking Contest Committee. She was also asked by various governmental agencies to improve their mess services. Invitations from Japan, Hong Kong and other Southeast Asian nations to demonstrate Chinese cuisine have been frequent and she has conducted video taped programs to explain and popularize Chinese dishes of Taiwan. Miss Fu Pei-Mei, Taiwan's celebrated television chef, has had about fifteen years' experience in demonstrating the art of Chinese cookery. Her association with ladies of many other countries, who have shown interest in her art, has encouraged her to present this most comprehensive book in English and Chinese. She has skillfully compiled and up-dated recipes for more than one hundred traditional dishes which will appeal to both western and eastern tastes. Hopefully, the ease with which these dishes can be prepared will increase interest in Oriental cuisine and encourage further research by young and old cooks alike.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

pei mei's green onion pies

pei mei is this famous chinese cookbook writer. i have her three volume cookbook set, and i have to say that it is pretty comprehensive and covers just about all the authentic chinese dishes i have had or heard about.
her green onion pies are known by many other names: spring onion pancakes and scallion pancakes are just two.
this is one of those chinese snacks everyone tells me is easy to make but i confess that i still find them to be quite time consuming. i did do a cheat version earlier, but with some things, it's nice to have the real thing.
this isn't a bad recipe; i'm still trying out the different types of flour to see if there are any significant differences between them. i also intend to try making them using my pasta machine for rolling the dough to see if i can speed things up a bit.

3 cups wheat flour (this is a chinese cookbook, so there has to be a distinction between flours)
1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup cold water
6 tablespoons lard or oil (we used oil because we don't have lard...i don't don't know whether we would use lard if we had it though)
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
3 teaspoons salt
1 cup oil

place flour in bowl. add the boiling water and mix with chopsticks immediately. let cool. after three minutes add cold water and knead the dough thoroughly until it is smooth. cover and let rest a while.
remove the dough to a floured board, divide dough into 6 even pieces (or more than 6), knead and roll each piece of dough into 10" round as in making pie crust. rub 1/2 tablespoon lard on dough and sprinkle the whole top with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 tablespoon chopped green onion. roll up as for jell roll making sure the ends are tightly closed now form into a round snail shape tucking in the final end into the centre of the bun, then press down and roll out until 1/4" thick.
heat 2 tablespoons oil in frying pan, place the pie in and fry about 2 minutes. use low heat and cover this pan. flip over and splash 1 tablespoon oil down side. continue frying until this side is golden and crispy, shake and juggle the pan often while frying as this action make a flaky pastry.
cut into small pieces to serve.
note: these may be kept in a barely warm oven until all are prepared.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

a trip back to 2002

miss c was a very early reader. she started reading long before she was old enough to go to preschool. naturally, this had to be encouraged. mind you, i had ulterior motives - if she knew how to read, it would definitely negate the amount of time i would have to spend reading to her. i know, i should be ashamed of myself....i'm a bad parent. but i digress. this is a post about miss c and not me.
miss c was a voratious reader. these days, i believe more time is spent on other activities. in the days of voracious reading, she actually she actually did very well in the ms readathon, so much so, she appeared in the paper.....but that was quite a while back.
you realise that i'm adding this post to even things out, since it seems that miss k has been on the receiving end of alot of attention lately.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

another souvenir

miss k has another souvenir. remember how she was on the speech day invitations? well, they (the school) took it one step further. she's right smack in the middle of the speech day program cover. i picked up two copies of the programs, but the friends i was with thought it was funny to pick up a whole pile of copies for me.
when i met miss k after the conclusion of speech day, she greeted me with "how emabarrassing is that?" looking directly at the pile of programs i was holding. explained that she must thank the muntzes personally for the programs the next opportunity she got.
pity the muntzes didn't see miss k in the papers in october - we only have one copy of that, and that was quite by chance - the hole in the wall gang saw it and saved it for us. lucky, huh? otherwise, we would never have been any the wiser.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

poached chicken

miss k has been perfecting her chicken and leek pie and as such we have been tearing through masses of chicken and leek. to assist her in her pursuit of the perfect chicken and leek pie, i've been trying different methods of poaching for the chicken and this is my favourite, at the moment. the chicken is quite well flavoured and the resulting stock is strongly flavoured. i do stress that this is my poached chicken of the moment - i also like a simple poaching liquid which is flavoured with nothing other than salt - simplicity itself; it just depends on the mood and what's available.

1 chicken
celery tops
2 carrots, diced
a few cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons salt or to taste

place everything in a stockpot just big enough so the chicken fits snugly. cover the chicken with water.

bring everything to the boil and lower the heat to a bare simmer. allow to simmer for 20 minutes and remove from the heat. allow the chicken to cool in the liquid - this keeps the flesh moist.

use as required - i like using chicken cooked this way for anything requiring precooked chicken, such as salads and sandwiches.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

another variation

i just realised that there was something else which we like to make with the my basic bread dough - hong kong style frankfurt rolls. if you haven't had them before, they are like a hot dog, but frankfurt is baked inside, rather than added after the bread has been baked. it doesn't have any nutritive value, but is quite conforting to eat, like a regular hot dog. if you don't like hot dogs, chances are that you probably won't like this. miss k likes them for lunch on those days when i'm not bothered to go to the shops to buy a loaf of bread for her sandwiches for school and would rather make my own bread.

to make these frankfurt rolls, get yourself a piece of dough the size of a small tennis ball and wrap it around half a frankfurt (or use cocktail frankfurts) and pop it into a grease loaf tin. a loaf tin looks like this:

once you've filled the pan with the frankfurt rolls, set it aside in a warm place for an one or so, so the dough can rise.
preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius and pop the risen rolls in the oven for 20 minutes to bake.
when golden and ready, remove the rolls from the pan and place them on a wire rack so they don't go soggy in the pan.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

pineapple carrot cake

this is a recipe from the australian women's weekly.....august 15, 1979......
this first time i made this was a couple of years after that (it is rare for me to make something really soon after i see the recipe; it does happen, but it is rare). at the time, i wasn't a very experienced cake maker and just wanted something i could make that was at the very least half decent. and this helped me on my way. it was easy and moist. moist was important to me; i had spent a large part of my formative cake making years making cakes based on recipes from margaret fulton, and the butter cake recipe she had in her cookbook wasn't very encouraging because it was very dry. then, i came upon this recipe, and here was a cake that was moist and would stay moist for a couple of days. i was on my way.
i also love this cake because it's so quick and easy to mix - all you need is a bowl and a wooden spoon; there's no need for a mixer, so washing up is easy, too.
to test to see if a cake is done, you can either insert a skewer into the middle of the cake and if the cake is done, the skewer will come out clean, that is, without any batter or cake stuck to it; the other way to test a cake for doneness is to lightly press the centre of the cake and if it springs back, it's done; it will stay depressed if the cake is not yet done.

3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup finely grated carrot, lightly packed (about 1 large carrot)
450 can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius and line two 25cm x 8cm bar tins with baking paper.
combine the flours, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl.
add the carrot, pineapple oil and lighty beaten eggs and mix well.
pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 45 minute or until done when tested with a skewer.

Monday, December 1, 2008

apple and sultana scrolls

these are essentially a glorified scone, with yummy things rolled inside and drizzled on top to make them interesting. and irresistable. feel free to vary the filling and icing - think chocolate chips instead of sultanas....caramel icing instead of chocolate icing.....berries instead of apples....get the drift?
the first time i made these scrolls was in august 2004, just before i went to pick miss c and miss k up from school. the weather hadn't quite warmed up and the air was still a little nippy in the afternoon. they were just out of the oven and i made lots of chocolate icing to drizzle over them. to be really honest, the temptation is to drizzle them with chocolate icing the minute they come out of the oven. however, if you let them cool a bit before pouring the icing over, the icing will look better, so it will depend on whether you want them to look more aesthetically pleasing, or whether you want them super gooey and sticky. your call.
try not to overhandle the dough - once it is just mixed, go onto the next step of gently rolling it; there is no need to knead the dough. just think of it as toughening the dough each time you knead. this is a scone dough, remember?

2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp mixed spice
60g butter
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sultanas
extra flour, for dusting
1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored, finely diced

chocolate icing
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tbs cocoa powder
3 tbs milk

preheat oven to 200°C. line a baking tray with baking paper.
place flour, sugar and mixed spice in a large bowl.
melt the butter and combine it with the milk.
make a well in the centre of the flour and add the milk mixture. use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until evenly incorporated and the mixture just comes together. turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out dough into a 25 x 30cm rectangle.
sprinkle with apple and sultanas. starting from the long side, firmly roll dough into a log. cut the log into twelve 2cm thick slices. arrange scrolls cut-side up, side by side on prepared tray.
bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack.
set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
meanwhile, make the chocolate icing; combine the icing sugar and cocoa powder in a small bowl. add the milk and stir until combined and smooth.
drizzle scrolls with chocolate icing and serve.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

backyard visitors

we have been in this house for just over a year now and its taken these kookaburras a year before they decided they would pay us a visit. so just out of the blue one day, they lined up, waiting. then they surprised me again. they let me hand feed them.
they don't come around for a feed everyday, but have been more regular visitors lately. i suspect that they have young to feed as some fly off after a couple of mouthfuls of meat, rather than have their fill.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


one morning i woke up unexpectedly early, and for some reason, i went outside and noticed an unusual glow on the wall of the house. i thought this glow was from some light from the neighbours' house. it was the sun. it hadn't quite broken through and i thought that i should snap it before the opportunity no longer existed. it wasn't as if i would have this opportunity again seeing that it wasn't a habit of mine to wake so early.

Friday, November 28, 2008

chocolate ripple cake

i finally had a chance to make this in september for will's birthday. i say finally because we have been meaning to get around to trying out the recipe for years now. sounds silly, doesn't it? you'd think that we would just make it and that would be that. well, it took some time because i didn't want to make it for no reason at all and have to eat it all by myself - in circumstances such as these miss c and miss k are absolutely no help whatsoever. and like i need to eat a whole chocolate ripple cake all by myself and make myself more jiggly than i already am.....ugh....let's get on with the recipe....

1 packet chocolate ripple biscuits (these are a plain chocolate biscuit without a chocolate coating)
600 millilitres thickened cream, whipped, with a little sugar

dip a biscuit into the sherry and spread with some cream. place on plate. repeat with another biscuit and sandwich the two biscuits and stand them on the plate sideways. repeat with all the biscuits and place the biscuits next to each other on the plate until you get a log. cover the entire log with cream and cover with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

i made the one for will's birthday without the sherry and from what i've heard, it was fine. instead of the log, i arranged the biscuits so they resulting cake looked like a round cake with little bits of the biscuits just peeking out from the cream. another way of arranging the biscuits is to curve them around as the log is forming to make a ring cake. the ring cake needs to be made with double quantities of biscuits and cream and looks fabulous with mixed berries overflowing out of the centre.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

sage flowers

these are sage flowers. i like to grow sage, not for its flowers, but for its leaves, because it is after all a herb and i like to use it as such. but this spring, my sage flowered. the photo doesn't do it justice - some of its violet is lost and it looks just pale (i haven't mastered photoshop to enhance a photo yet), but you can see that it is quite delicate and beautiful. whether i get to progress further than this and have the flowers set seed, i don't know. but i love how the plant decided to flower for me. and i'm glad i captured the moment (even though it isn't a kodak moment).

in the background, there are some reddish coloured stalks - that's my rhubarb. last year, i bought two crowns and three seedlings. the crowns produced red stalks and the seedlings produced green stalks. this year, only four of the five plants came up - two red and two green. i'm not too upset, in fact i'm amazed that they have gotten this far. i say this beacuse i put the crowns and seedling in pots and i wasn't sure if they would be okay in pots. the pots require replenishing with potting mix as the soil level has fallen, but i think i have to wait until the plants are dormant again before disturbing them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

lyn's spiced fruit compote

my friend, lyn, and i go back some 22 years now. i met her in april, 1986, so in a way, more than 22 years. when i was first getting to know her, she made this for dessert when i had her over to my place. i've enjoyed it over the years, with lashings of cream. make sure you also eat the orange slices, rind and all. that and cream.....yum.
more recently, in 1996 (march 28, to be precise), i made this, and in an effort to give the impression of being "healthy", i bought yoghurt from harris farm fruit markets. at the time, really thick, heavy yoghurt was new on the scene and the selling point was that it only had 4% fat and it still had a rich and wicked mouthfeel. so there i was flogging this fantastic, low fat, good for you yoghurt to people at the table - "have this with the compote; it's low fat".

1 cup dried apricots
1 cup prunes
1 orange cut in thin slices
1 cooking apple, peeled and sliced
1 stick cinnmon
3 whole cloves
1 cup red wine (not too heavy or dry)(i often use 1/2 cup muscat or port)
2 cups water
1/3 cup honey

microwave on high for 15 minutes and stand for 15 minutes.
remove cloves and cinnamon before serving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

cut pumpkin

this is what my pumpkin looked like when i cut it open. the funny looking stand is just a mug, and yes, the photo was taken when the kitchen was still being renovated. the doorbell cover is in the background and the glass splashback hadn't been fixed in and the walls were stripped.....and i could still take a photo of my pumpkin.

Monday, November 24, 2008

lemon cream cheese slice

this recipe come from the australian women's weekly's simple slices cookbook. this is a handy little A5 sized book which seems to contain alot of the favourites from over the years.

2x150g packets coconut macaroons, crushed
140g butter, melted
2 tablespoons honey

3 teaspoons gelatine
1/4 cup (60ml) water
500g packaged cream cheese softened, chopped
280g jar lemon butter
1/2 cup (125ml) sour cream

grease 20cm x 30cm lamington pan; line base and two long sides with baking paper, extending paper 2cm above edge of pan.
combine macaroons, butter and honey in medium bowl; mix well. press into prepared pan, roughen surface using a fork. pour filling over macaroon base; refrigarate until firm.

sprinkle gelatine over water in cup. stand in small pan of simmering water, stir until dissolved. beat cheese in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth. add gelatine mixture and remaining ingrediants, beat until smooth.

makes about 10

tip this recipe can be made three days ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

quantum of solace

kirsten suggested quantum of solace this weekend and it was an excellent bond. yay for kirsten!
with daniel craig, the broccolis have veered off in another direction, and it certainly gives bond depth. bond doesn't say much, well, he never says much really, but in this one, his dialogue has been pared right down to very few words, and it suits him well. in fact, i don't think i'm mistaken if the impression i got was they were very economical in the dialogue overall. it was succinct and economical. they spent it all on the action scenes. even there, there was none of the in your face expense they spent on the brosnan bonds. even the product placement was subtle.
moneypenny doesn't feature, nor does Q (or R or whatever), but this is a serious bond, and i didn't feel like they were missing; in casino royale, however, i found that i really missed the bond theme music because they only used it in the end. this was addressed right at the beginning where they used the theme enough to satisfy me and make me feel like it we were really watching a james bond movie. it's a bit like the sense of smell or whatever, the theme music ties everything together for me and lets me get into my james bond comfort zone.
homage was paid to the scene in goldfinger where shirley eaton was painted in gold. in solace, miss fields (named in true bond style) is similarly gilded, but this time, in black gold.
i'm glad the broccolis have given each of the actors portraying bond their own niche; daniel craig is quite different to the others who have portrayed him, and that's good. overall, i thought it was a great bond movie, but sean's still my favourite.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

i couldn't agree more

graham sent this to me and i couldn't agree more.

love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this!

bill gates recently gave a speech at a high school about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. he talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

rule 1: life is not fair - get used to it!
rule 2: the world won't care about your self-esteem. the world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
rule 3: you will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. you won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
rule 4: if you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss..
rule 5: flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
rule 6: if you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
rule 7: before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. they got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. so before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
rule 8: your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. in some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. this doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
rule 9: life is not divided into semesters. you don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. do that on your own time.
rule 10: television is NOT real life. in real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
rule 11: be nice to nerds. chances are you'll end up working for one.

Friday, November 21, 2008


last school holidays, miss c went out with a group of new friends to do new things (kareoke) and eat new things (omurice). omurice is a KOREAN concoction. omelette with a rice filling. anyway, she must have told miss k about it because miss k has created her own version based on her own preferences and on what little she may have gleaned from her sister.
miss k firstly prepares the rice and adds some chopped cooked chicken and sesame oil and soy sauce. this is heated in the microwave. she then prepares the pan with a nob of butter and beats the eggs with some cream or milk. the eggs go in the pan followed by the the prepared rice filling. once almost set, the egg is folded around the rice as is a regular omelette.
i don't know what authentic omurice is supposed to be like, but considering miss k hasn't had it before either, her omurice is pretty good...outstandingly delicious, actually.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a pocket monster

this is a pocket monster. pocket monsters were at the height of their popularity in the 90s last century. from japan, they were more commonly known as pokemon. the most well known of the pokemons was a pocket monster called pikachu. let me introduce you to the pocket monster called pikachu:

this plush toy is miss k's, and because of its size, she chose to christen it king pikachu. my nephew, sly, had taken a liking to king pikachu all in time for his birthday, so you can guess what he wanted for his birthday cake. by the way, that's his precious little hand on the right.

so several weeks ago, i got a phone call from sly requesting a pikachu cake. an important part of making a novelty cake, for me, is working out what i'm going to base the cake on. at the very least i need a picture. my ideal is to have a line drawing which will translate into a cake easily. in the case of pikachu, i needed a colour picture so i could get his colours as well. this, i left to blutsie, sly's mum and my sister. that's the least she could do as far as i was concerned, since she wasn't making the cake. that sounds fair, eh? i think it's good to be involved even just a little with one's child's birthaday cake - it makes it more personal. anyway, after mucking around trying to get a line drawing of pikachu and getting his colours, i ended up copying the plush toy. plush toys aren't my favourite medium to copy, but in this case, it worked.

sly's pikachu cake

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

cheesy bacon and egg slice

this is from AWW's Best Recipes from the Weekly. i love this cookbook. actually, i love lots of the old cookbooks. they have recipes which are comforting and reflect a slower pace of life. if you look at the cookbook shelves in bookshops these days, a considerable amount of space is devoted to speed - you know - dinner in 30 minutes, fast food at know what i mean - there's even fast eddy on telly. i'm sure i could cook as fast as he does if i had everything at the ready for me too. but do i want to? whatever happened to cooking being relaxing? all this speed just sounds like a stressful finish to a stressful day. surely something slow helps one wind down? this is a slow recipe. the people at the weekly even tell you that it's better if you take your time about it (i copied the introduction to this recipe verbatim from them - not my words), and qualify it by saying that it's even better that way.
instead of making a casserole for a slow meal, try this. it's a different slow, one which you can stick in the fridge and forget until the next day and won't tempt you with cooking smells hours before you can eat it.

this is one of the tastiest and handiest recipes we have created in the kitchen. the whole dish is prepared, covered, refrigerated overnight and baked when you are ready the next day. it can be baked on the same day, but the flavor is not quite as good.

1/2 loaf unsliced white bread
125g grated cheddar cheese
5 rashers bacon
2 shallots
1 small green pepper
6 eggs
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mayonnaise pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 small red pepper

trim crusts from bread, cut bread into 2.5 cm cubes, place bread in single layer in ovenproof dish. sprinkle with cheese. cut bacon in 2.5cm pieces, fry until crisp and brown, drain, place over cheese, top with chopped shallots and chopped green pepper.
whisk eggs with fork, add milk, mustard, worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, pepper and basil. pour over bread mixture, top with chopped red pepper, cover with plastic food wrap, refrigerate overnight. next day bake uncovered in moderate oven for 50 - 60 minutes. serves 6

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


miss k, who has a notoriously bad memory, was reading my post about sponge cake and couldn't believe i could remember the date, let alone the rest of it. well, it's something i don't understand myself. i don't keep a diary (i have tried, but lose interest - i'm sure it has something to do with my boringness)(is that a word? boringness....never mind), and these ramblings are probably as close to a diary as i'll ever get.
but this memory of mine is quite scary, useless, but scary. i can remember people from my childhood. i realise people age, but some people do look like what they did decades ago. i remember once i took miss c to a birthday party and one of the mothers had her best friend with her - jane e. as she was introducing jane e, i blurted out "you're jane e - we went to school together. i don't think we were in the same class, though". jane e told me she was only at that school for a little while, which meant i only knew her for one term. third term. third grade. and here we were, in our mid 30s. i didn't mean to scare her, but she hadn't changed. she has to take that as a compliment.
earlier, i did say my memory was useless too. useless for doing some exams, i say some because some exams were fine - it just depends on how much the subject grabs me. if there's trivia involved, i'm usually not too bad, so i was pretty good at the law subjects at uni and trivial pursuit (i'm sure there's something i'm not going to pursue this any further).
these days, my mind is so occupied with miss c and miss k's comings and goings i don't remember things like i used to - just ask miss c - she has to remind me of her and miss k's daily schedules, even having to go so far as to write everything down on a list. i'm not sure whether this is leading to alzheimer's, but one day when i look at miss c's list and not know what to do with it, i'll know alzheimer's has got me....or will i? i'll stop now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

clean hat selection

it suddenly occurred to me after looking at miss k's speech day invitation that she may have been selected based not upon her looks. i say this after having a good look at the picture. the girls (there were 4 girls in the picture) were wearing hats. i think the girls were selected on the condition of their well as their whiteness. you see, every school holiday, i like to clean miss c and miss k's hats to bring them back to their original colour, white. it's to be expected that the hats get grubby with natural wear and tear through the term, but some girls' hats honestly look like they have been dragged along the dirt and dust. unfortunately for my girls, i like their hats as close to new looking as i can humanly make them, short of buying new hats. i did venture so far as to ask them if their hats were embarrassing to wear. miss k only answered to say that her friends say her hat just looks abnormal.
anyway, every holiday, i put their hats (they have 4, 2 each, one to wear and a spare) in this basin (big enough to contain them), pour in the drive and hot tap water and let them soak a little (until the water cools). when i come back to them, the hats are clean and the water has much to be desired - it's dark and murky. i pour that off and rinse until there aren't any suds left in the rinsing water and leave them to drip dry. when i finish, they look brand spanking new. i love it.
i did ask miss k if she might have been chosen on the basis of her hat and she offered that she didn't think so - "mum, if they wanted white hats, they could've photoshopped".
pity there isn't photoshop for cleaning the house and laundry and doing the garden. the hats i can handle, the rest of the house has to fend for itself - it always looks like a bomb has hit, and hit it bad. my house is chronic.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

three star butter cake

remember the pound cake recipe from 1977? i had misplaced it for a while and was in a wilderness trying to find it. i remembered it was from the SCC, however my attempts to find the recipe were in vain. i scoured second hand book shops for any cookbooks i could find put out by the SCC, but none of the books i found had that pound cake recipe, and it is because of this that i tried this recipe. in 1991.
this was in one of the pamplets the electricity company (by this stage, the sydney county council had gone name changes which i was losing track of) sent out with their bills - kind aren't they? here's your bill, and by the way, here are more ideas on how you can use more elecrticity. now that i think of it, i made the SCC pound cake in a gas oven. ironic, huh?

2¼ cups self raising flour
½ cup custard powder
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup milk
4 eggs
250g butter
2 tspns vanilla

line a 23cm square deep cake tin with baking paper.
combine all ingredients in a large mixer bowl, beat on medium speed 8 minutes.
pour mixture into prepared pan.
bake in a moderately slow oven 160°C for 1-1¼ hours or till cooked when tested.
stand cake 5 minutes in pan before turning out.


coconut cake
heat the 1 cup milk (from the ingredients above), pour onto 1/4 cup coconut, stir well.
stand aside till cold.
follow method as above.

chocolate cake
sift 1/3 cup cocoa with the flour, custard powder and 1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.
follow method as above.

orange/lemon cake
beat 1½ tablespoons grated orange or lemon rind with other ingredients, complete mixing.
follow method as above.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

eggs mollet

i first came across eggs mollet in an elizabeth david cookbook. she described them as a boiled egg with hard boiled whites and a liquid yolk. what facinated me was the way she used them - they were set in an aspic, and when eaten, the fork would slice through the jellied egg and have a liquid yolk sauce in the centre - a bit like a chocolate molten pudding, if you like.

to cook the eggs mollet, water is brought to the boil in a saucepan and the room temperature eggs are lowered into the simmering water gently and simmered for six minutes after which the eggs would be plunged into cold water to arrest the cooking. once cool, the eggs would be peeled carefully, carefully because the yolk would still be soft and it would be a nuisance to puncture an egg.

because a jellied egg, whilst facinating, isn't something i'd bother with, i offer you some words from jane grigson to provide inspiration:

‘There are few nicer lunches’, writes Jane Grigson, ‘than asparagus, the new potatoes that shared their pan, and eggs mollet (soft boiled), with melted butter and home-made bread. Add a glass of white Loire wine...’

Friday, November 14, 2008


simon is my nephew. and being someone i love, he has a nickname, sly. he is thus named not because he is sly - that would be too obvious, not to mention boring. as a baby, he was a dribbler and as such was a little slimey - get it? sly.
little sly has given me much joy over the course of his life. when he was a little over a year old, rather than read him a story book before going to bed, i introduced him to the joys of looking at a cookbook. we'd sit in bed together and flip throught the pages and enjoy the food porn together. we'd see pictures of vegetables and pick it up off the page to have little "tastes". then we would naturally get to the dessert section and pick berries off the page and "eat" those as well. we would have a fabulous time together.
at that time, sly was also learning to talk, and anyone familiar with children learning to talk, that, too, is a great source of amusement.
"isn't that yummy?" i'd ask.
"mummy" he'd say.
"no, yummy"
another time, i looked after sly so blutsie and the golden one could go out. when it got closer to them coming home, sly started running around calling out "daddy". i thought how cute, he wants his dad. so when bluts and golden one got home, golden one asked if sly was okay.
"yeah, he just started asking for you a short time ago. he was running around calling out "daddy"."
golden one smiled and that was that.
until, sly ran up to his mum, cuddled her and patted her on the back, saying over and over again, "daddy...daddy..".
i love sly.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

am i lazy or just trying to save water?

we are currently coming to the end of the navel orange season and in order to prolong our enjoyment of these favourites of ours, i did what any self respecting fruit lover would do and bought 3 cases (20 kg each) of the golden orbs over the last 2 weeks.
as they are at the end of their run, the oranges are kept in cold rooms by the fruiterers and thus become sweaty with condensation when we get them. ever since those salmonella scares with tomatoes in the US and ecoli with rockmelons locally, i've become even more diligent with washing my fruit and vegetables, and the oranges are no exception. with such a mind boggling number of oranges to wash (each case holds 80-100 pieces of fruit), i also contemplated the amount of water i would be using....alot. enter the dishwasher. there's a cycle on the dishwasher called prewash (well, there is on mine). and it only uses cold water without heat. and we all know dishwashers use less water than handwashing - yes, they do. so that's what i did. i fiddled around with the racks a little so i would be able to fit the maximum number of oranges, set the machine to prewash - a whole 12 minutes! and let it do its thing. i have considered the electricity the machine uses, but i also considered the time i saved - i'm certain i would have taken longer than 12 minutes to wash the same number of oranges and definitely tons more water. i didn't wash all 3 cases of fruit, but enough for us to use for a couple of days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

soft boiled eggs

people often use the expression "xx can't even boil an egg" to describe someone who can't cook. or, anyone can boil an egg, meaning that boiling an egg is easy. is it easy to boil an egg? a perfect egg?
i don't think so. i actually think there's an art to it; it isn't so simple. i remember having a soft boiled egg at my auntie peggy's house when i was little. the albumen was creamy and the yolk still runny. it was perfect. until then, my mother had always hard boiled my eggs, but from then on, i wanted eggs the way aunty peggy cooked them. i don't know whether i've mentioned this before, but my mother was never interested in cooking, so when she first cooked a soft boiled egg for me, it was too hard. the yolk was still liquid, but the albumen was hard. next time she did it, the albumen had a very thin layer of cooked hard white albumen and the rest of the albumen was clear and liquid. it wasn't very nice, and i'm being polite (cos this is a family friendly site). i think i had a few more of my mother's eggs, then that was it. a little girl could only take that much......actually, now that i think about my mum's cooking....actually, i don't want to think about it, she could even cook an egg.
as i said before, with boiled eggs, i like the albumen to be opaque and creamy, and the yolk still runny and liquid. to achieve this, i find it easier to start with the eggs at room temperature. then i like to pierce a small hole in the broad end of the egg. i do this with a pin. having tried to stick the pin into the shell in the past, i know this is close to impossible. what i do these days is hold the pin to the broad end of the egg and use the kitchen bench to tap the pin into the egg. usually one tap is all that is required.
bring a sauce pan of water to the boil, take it off the heat and gently lower the egg into the water. the length of time you leave the egg in the water depends on how you like your egg soft boiled.

if you want the thin albumen (the albumen closest to the shell) set, and the thick albumen (the albumen closest to the yolk) clear and liquid, your egg should be ready after 2 minutes.

3 minutes will give you an egg with a soft outer albumen with the thick albumen starting to turn white while still being liquid.

a 4 minute egg will have opaque albumen which is still soft.

the whites will be more solid after 5 minutes

it depends on how softly boiled one wants the egg.

you'll have to take into consideration the size of the eggs, the number of eggs being cooked and the amount of water you use as to how the the eggs turn out as well. alot of variables, aren't there?

even hard boiled eggs don't just happen - can't over boil them otherwise you get the dark circle around the yolk, but that's another story for another day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


miss c and miss k have read this book called twilight and are understandably quite excited about its upcoming movie premier, miss c in particular. fellow fans of the book organised an early preview of the movie. unfortunately, this was cancelled due to hoyts and greater union being unable to come to some agreement about its release.
then came news of another attempt at a preview of the movie, this time at bankstown. so excitement continued....until....miss c found out that we had to get the money for the movie out to wetherill park, or as my niece so eloquently puts it, where-the-hell-park. now, for those who live near wetherill park, that doesn't present a problem, but we don't and on the few occassions that i have had to go out there with miss c and miss k in tow, they know the only attraction for them out there is red rooster (we live in an area sadly devoid of many fast food outlets). yes, poor miss c and miss k are deprived - they don't know that there are places in the world which are veritable fast food meccas. fast food is something they only eat once in a blue moon.
thankfully, miss c doesn't want to make the trip out there, no matter how tempting red rooster beckons, and no mater how tempting the twilight movie is. otherwise, i might have to not only endure a long car trip and red rooster.

Monday, November 10, 2008

damage control

we were in the aisle which sold crockery in woollies when we walked past at lady holding 2 packages of 4 glasses. she was telling her daughter that they needed to get new glasses because they had broken some over the last 2 weeks. that was fair enough. her daughter queried her and she replied "we need them because you threw a glass at me the other day" to which her daughter replied "that's because you threw a glass at me."
we continued walking, each wondering whether the other had heard the exchange. when we were out of the aisle, we glanced at each other, miss c incredulous that anyone would throw a glass.
i can't bear when any of my things break accidentally; i can't believe when people break things intentionally.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


in true supermodel style (not), miss k has been featured in her school's speech day invitation. miss c advised me by phone of this exciting news, which follows hot on the heels of miss k being snapped for the newspapers (twice, on different occasions).
this is not to say that miss c has not provided her fair share of excitement in this arena. she, too, had been selected on prior occasions; once when she was in day care, she was a feature of a video they made, and another time she was snapped for a newspaper article, well, three times, if you include the time when all three of us were in the papers together.
as a parent, this is exciting as they both have a nice souvenir, however, we don't go courting this attention. now they have their souvenirs, i think it would be nice if everyone else had their souvenir opportunity as well.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

kitchen disasters

i belong to a forum which discusses food and other issues. one of the topics of discussion which came up was kitchen disasters.
i tried really hard to think of a kitchen disaster and didn't come up with anything. i'm sure there was something, there always has to be something. then as i read the offerings of others, i remember my nephew, kevin, did bake a pizza with the plastic wrap still on it, but that wasn't my disaster. i wanted my own. i can't believe i just said that. scrap that - no i don't want any disaster(s).
i don't know if this qualifies as a bona fide disaster, but i have always loved reading cookbooks, and one cookbook i read had a section on how to remedy disasters. i was so desperate to try one of their remedies out that i created my own disaster. i deliberately underbaked a chocolate cake so it would sink in the middle and have to have the centre cut out and become a ring cake. even one of my friends reminds me of it these days.

Friday, November 7, 2008


last night, we went to the belvoir st theatre to see the importance of being earnest. boy, i don't know what oscar wilde had in mind when he wrote the play, but i don't think this interpretation was what he had in mind somehow. the last time i saw this play, it was nothing like it was last night. last night was really different and really funny. the importance of being earnest, the way oscar wilde intended, is a funny play anyway, but last night, it was taken one step further.
i've seen more plays this year than i ever have done in the past, and one thing i've noticed is that plays tend to be on the light side with the number of actors - nothing like the full chorus one finds in an opera or musical. very economical - a couple of actors carry the story line and there's no padding, no unnecessary bit parts, no extras to do their rhubarb thing.
last night was no exception - economical, no bit parts to accommodate a benefactor's aspiring offspring; none of that. in fact, two actors play jack and algernon - and all the other characters as well. how's that for economy? so not only does one get oscar wilde's funny play, but one also gets the added bonus/distraction of 2 guys doing a sybil thing. it starts off with them doing the costume changes quite smoothly, and ends with the costume changes getting quite bizarre, all on stage. i'm sure this is all intentional - the storyline also starts to reflect a sense of chaos at the same time, so i'm not only laughing at the story, but also at the guys sorting out their characters through the use of costume props, which when you consider it, is quite clever. have i lost you?
i'm sure there's someone out there who can express this all more eloquently and put me, and definitely you, out of our misery.
oh, if you do get a chance to see it, look out for some "interesting" incorrectly vintaged props - i'm not spoiling thing by telling you what they are - part of the fun is spotting them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

round things

when i was about 7, my dad brought me to his colleague's housewarming party. mr and mrs little's house, at the time was something special - it was round and had a greenhouse in the middle. at the same time, mr little designed a building in hornsby hospital, and it was round too - he must have been going through his round phase. maybe it was a time for round buildings - i'm thinking harry's iconic round australia square in the city. i recall that the building's name was a bit of a joke at the time - a cylindrical building called a square....haw haw haw - you have to appreciate that at the time there were no jokes flying around the world at cyberspeed, thus people had to find humour in the most mundane of things, even buildings.
this housewarming party was my first introduction to fingerfood and need i say a round fingerfood item? meatballs. i remember the meatballs - they were so tasty. now i'm more familiar with herbs (one would hope so after so many decades), i realise they were seasoned with thyme. and the more i think about them the more i realise that at that time, they were probably made with a packet of stuffing mixed through the mince. nothing wrong with that - it was a time of culinary discovery and we wouldn't be where we are today without them. so i present this recipe for meatballs which is kitschy, but very comforting. take note that i've added fresh herbs to the mix to redeem it and that i've added a modern touch by suggesting that the microwave can be used to simplify the cooking process.

500 grams mince beef
500 grams sausage mince
1 cup stuffing mix (or bread crumbs, if you prefer)
1 egg
1 onion, finely diced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stock cube

mix all the ingredients together well - i like to use my electric handheld mixer to do this - my hands stay clean and odourless and everything is mixed more thoroughly than i could ever hope to do with my hands.
form the mixture into walnut sized balls and place 10 balls on a plate and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until cooked through. the meatballs can be served as is, but can also be finished off either by deepfrying or in a hot oven to give them a little colour.
i don't remember any sauce being served with the meatballs at the housewarming, but as a modern touch, a greek yoghurt dip can be served alongside.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

sponge cake

the first time i remembered having a freshly made sponge cake was back in september 1971 and i think it was a sunday. if it wasn't, then it was a saturday, but in my mind it was a sunday. my parents and i were at echo point park and we bumped into one of dad's architect friends, tony, and his wife, megan.
from echo point park, you could see this piece of land we had in castle cove. all we ever did when we first bought the land was just look at it. then the years passed and the novelty of looking at it wained. but i digress....
one thing led to another and we ended up at tony and megan's place and we had afternoon tea there. megan (who is jeff wiggle's sister....i know, small world...i also know jeff wiggle's mother) whipped up a sponge cake and dressed it with strawberries and cream.....can't remember if there was jam, but there definitely were strawberries.
i remember being so impressed that someone could just whip up a cake just like that while guests were there. i knew then and there i wanted to be as clever as that when i grew up. i thought i wanted to be able to just whip anything up at short notice. more recently, i did bump into megan, and she's still the very beautiful, tall, stylish and slender lady she was then. amazing how she hasn't changed. i did tell her about how inspirational she was; she didn't remember the occasion, but i'm glad i did.
this isn't megan's recipe, it's actually a recipe for a sponge roll which i use, and it's very quick and easy. the thiness of the cake really speeds things up so it's quick to bake, quick to cool and fill and ultimately quick to get onto the table.

3 eggs separated
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup wheaten cornflour
2 tablespoons hot milk
1/2 cup jam
300 millitres thickened cream
fresh berries

preheat oven to 180°C. line a 20 x 30cm swiss roll pan with baking paper.
using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until pale and thick.
sift self raising flour and cornflour over egg mixture.
drizzle boiling water around edge of bowl.
use a large metal spoon to gently fold ingredients together (don't over-mix).
pour mixture into prepared pan.
bake for 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.
sprinkle an extra 1/4 cup of sugar onto a sheet of baking paper.
turn sponge straight from oven onto baking paper.
gently roll up sponge in paper. wrap in a tea towel.
set aside to cool.
whip the cream.
unroll sponge and remove paper.
spread jam, cream and berries on sponge.
reroll and slice to serve.

alternatively, slice the sponge in half lengthways and fill with berries, cream and jam and sprinkle with icing sugar. this is my favourite way of serving this cake - since you don't have to roll it, there can be lots of filling with not too thick layers of cake. yum.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


some movies i like because they're different:

the bank - david wenham, anthony lapaglia
the castle - michael caton, eric banana (before he became a mega star)
bootmen - adam garcia
proof - hugo weaving, russell crowe (before he became a mega star)
priscilla, queen of the desert - terence stamp (have to confess that we were nuts about him when we were in our early teens...and now look at what happened....)
looking for alibrandi - pia miranda, anthony lapaglia

Monday, November 3, 2008


i'm not an expert turkey cook, but recently i saw a really easy way to prepare turkey. i'd eaten the turkey on previous occasions and thought that it was absolutely delicious, but it didn't occur to me how simple it was.
i believe the portion of the turkey used was called a turkey buffe - i will try and clarify that on my next trip to the supermarket or deli. this turkey buffe was an already cooked breast, so it was all meat, no bones and no waste.
remove the turkey buffe from its packaging and place on a suitably sized baking tray lined with baking paper.
get a jar of redcurrant jelly and spoon it over - about half a jar should do it. there is no need to spread it too evenly, just do the best you can.
put it in a oven preheated to 150 degrees celcius for 30 minutes, baste and turn, and return to baste and thurn every 10-15 minutes for 45 minutes. because it is precooked, if you don't require the turkey hot, you don't have to baste and turn for the 45 minutes. just take it out to enjoy when you require it.
the basting and turning in the redcurrant jelly makes the turkey, i think. the turkey is fine as is when it comes from the shop, the redcuarrant jelly adds some succulence and flavour to it and provides some juice for gravy if you so desire, otherwise, serve with more redcurrant jelly to carry the theme through.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

maggie's harvest

i bought this book when it first came out because it was just irresistible - it was the whole packaging thing. the cover is just gorgeous.
that said, i didn't need a new cookbook because i have so many i don't even dare to count them. also in this day and age of instant gratification, it's all too easy to buy whatever takes one's fancy, which is why i now so careful with my purchases. but this one is different. its cover is embroidered; the text is interesting and readable; you can tell maggie put her heart into it. i felt it was worth more than on a monetary level. out of all the books i have so far, this has been the most special, so i'm glad i have it.
maggie's recipes are nice too - homey and she shows a genuine love of food. the book has lots of stories, something i adore in a cookbook reading about food as well as being given directions on how to prepare it.
i guess whether maggie's harvest is a book you want will depend on what you are looking for, but i find that these days recipes are so easy to find on the net (and that i have so many cookbooks), i want something different, and this book fit the bill for me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

and now for dessert - something smooth and crunchy and hot and cold...all at the same time...

got your attention?

that's how i like to introduce this dessert and all it is is glorified ice cream. not fried ice cream, although now that i think about it, it is hot and cold etc, but i like to think my version might be a bit more sophisticated. yeah...that's and sophisticated go hand in can stop laughing....NOW.....

sophisticated or not, i like this dessert and whether you do or don't doesn't matter - just take your cursor to the little "x" at the top right hand corner of this window and click....

remember the brandy snaps? well, make a couple in the shape of baskets.

remember the hot chocolate fudge sauce? well, make some of that.

rememeber sara lee or connoisseur ice cream? well, go get some.

put a couple of scoops of your favourite connoisseur or sara lee ice cream in a brandy snap basket, top with a healthy dollop of hot chocolate fudge sauce and if you really want to be tres sophisticatated, garnish with berries.

there you go - smooth (ice cream) and crunchy (brandy snap basket) and hot (hot chocolate fudge sauce) and cold (berries...okay, cream).

everyone i've served this to has loved it (or loved me so much they pretended to like it so as not hurt my feelings.....). i hope you love it too (you don't have to pretend anything though).

Friday, October 31, 2008

one of my favourite things

i have to tell you that one of my favourite things is a non stick frypan with the handle removed. i just buy one of those non stick frypans from woollies (it's on specials every now and then) and take off the handle with a screwdriver. make sure the one you get is one with the thicker base - there are also the thinner ones, but i prefer the thicker one, and i don't think there is much of a price difference, so you may as well get the thicker one because it cooks more evenly. since i've just mentioned price, these are under $20 - a bargain for a non stick roasting pan, i think.

these pans come in 2 sizes and they are so versatile, i have several of them. that way, i can put my roast in one, have vegetables in another and an upside down cake in yet another. you can do the roast and the vegetables in one pan if you like, but i always like cooking too much food, so find it's easier to use another pan.

these pans put a nice crust on vegetables and caramelise carrots and sweet potatoes deliciously. roasts can be browned and roasted in the same pan without having to dirty a frypan and a roasting pan. and these are a dream to clean because they are non stick. just wipe off any muck with paper towels, wash with a little detergent and rinse.

i love it when favourite things are as practical as this.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

hot chocolate fudge sauce

this is something for true chocolate die hards. also, very simple, and microwavable, if a stovetop isn't available or too much trouble. try it on ice cream, as if u needed to be told.

1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 milk
125 grams dark chcoclate
125 grams butter
4-6 marshmallows

place everything in a saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth, adding sugar to taste. serve immediately once sauce boils.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


miss k was reading this blog and thought that she would put its address on her msn.

won't you be embarrassed?

no one will know it's me.

i'll be embarrassed.

shrugs her shoulders.

48 hours later, i ask why she'd removed the address.

too embarrassing.

i told you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

brandy snaps

brandy snaps are one of those things which have always posed a mystery to me because whilst they are called brandy snaps, they don't have any brandy in them. why are they called brandy snaps? because you chomp on them whilst having a brandy? because they are brandy coloured? because someone called brandy dreamed them up one day (or night)? (my english teacher would be having a fit right now - you don't start sentences with because!!!! and where's the punctuation???) if anyone knows the true story, enlighten me now!!!

that said, i always thought brandy snaps were supposed to be difficult to make because the first time i came across a recipe for them was in a margaret fulton cookbook and she put three dots against the recipe. she had this way of grading recipes whereby she would put dots next to her recipes to indicate the level of difficulty, and three dots was the most difficult. well, brandy snaps are not difficult at all, so banish all thoughts of difficulty out of your head and just make them. if anything, they make anything look special, so if anyone eating them wants to think they're difficult, go ahead and let them think just that. but between us, we know that is just not so.

even the recipe quantities are so easy - equal quantities of melted butter, golden syrup, sugar and flour are mixed together with a teaspoon of ground ginger added for every 1/2 cup of flour. if you need measurements, here they are:

125 grams butter, melted
1/2 cup golden syrup, eyeball this if you're like me
1/2 sup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

mix this all together and place teaspoonfuls (or tablespoonfuls, if you want larger brandy snaps) of the batter onto baking sheet lined with baking paper. don't try to fit too many rounds of batter on each baking sheet or the resulting snaps will run into each other because they will spread as they bake.

bake for 5-10 minutes or until golden. remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool for a few moments. this will allow the snaps to set a little so you can lift them up with a knife or spatula; quickly either wrap the snap around a tube or handle of a wooden spoon to form them into tubes. alternatively, drape them over an upturned bowl so as to form brandy snap baskets. should the snaps become firm before shaping, just pop them back into the oven for a few moments to soften so you can shape them as you like.

Monday, October 27, 2008

pound cake revisited

pound cake again? yes, pound cake again. this time it's a blast from the past. back to 1977, in fact.
in 1977, i was still in high school and every school holiday, i would always make an effort to get myself down to the city and make my way down to the sydney county council building on george street and collect recipe sheets. i actually remember that on this particular occasion, i was with julia and anna and one stephen o'leary and we were on our way to see star wars. my friends were good, weren't they? allowing me to detour and get my recipes sheets. well, they were eventually rewarded by a piece of cake, so there was really not too much to complain about. they did have to wait until the following year, i think, before i actually made it for them to try, because i remember taking it to musical rehearsal - we were doing bye bye birdie and i remember bringing it along and offering it around. i still remember my costume, and i have a scary feeling that it may still be somewhere hanging in someone's was a very bright yellow, so it shouldn't be too hard to find if i wanted to find it. but i digress....
barbara lynch and doreen andrews presented switched on living monday to friday at 10am on channel ten, and these recipes would be the ones they demonstrated. i loved them. and i loved this cake. it was a cake that worked and tasted good.
this is from the issue week commencing 5th december 1977, "gifts from the kitchen" part I. i hope there are still many of these treasures tucked away in someone's files or drawers or massive piles of things - i find this so comforting and relaxing....can a recipe be relaxing? well, it gives me a warm sort of fuzziness...or something.... i hope i continue to discover other pound cake recipes.

2 2/3 cups flour
1/4 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 level teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 1/4 sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
8x50 grams eggs
1-2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

sift first 4 ingredients.
cream butter and sugar very well, add vanilla essence.
add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
add flour mixture all at once and mix at low speed till smooth and well blended, add rind.
place into a well greased, lined and floured 23 cm (9") tube pan.
bake in moderate oven 180 degress celcius for 1 hour and 40 minutes or till cooked. cool in tin for 5 minutes before turning out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

are glasses on a girl sexy?

miss k got some new spectacles and was telling her friend about it on msn.

do they look sexy? he asked

now, last century, i believe there was a phrase that went something like "gentlemen seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses" but i now believe that has gone out the window. there are people who think glasses are sexy. times have changed and isn't that a good thing?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

christopher robin to pooh

You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

honey picnic cake

this post comes courtesy of my friend liz. in an odd way. odd because i suddenly thought to call her out of the blue for no reason, or so i thought.

liz was trying to make this cake, from memory, beacuse she couldn't find her cookbook. the recipe was in one of those little murdoch cookbooks....sour cream...honey...

did you google it? i asked.

yes. couldn't find it.

and so we continued chatting while i went to my disarray of recipes and pulled out family circle's step by step quick and easy cakes. this is a different publication from lizzie's, but still published within the murdoch stable. went straight to the index and found it.

now, i could understand it if liz rang me to ask if i had the recipe, but how do you explain my calling her to give her a recipe she needed?

anyway, liz says this loaf cuts well and has made it several times, so there is your recommendation.

honey picnic cake

300 grams sour cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups wholemeal plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons honey, warmed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

preheat the oven to slow 150 degrees celcius. grease a 22 x 12 cm loaf tin and line the base and the two long sides with baking paper. blend the sour cream, sugar and egg in a food processor until combined.

add the flour and baking powder and process until well blended. add the honey and process until mixed. add the nuts and process just long enough for them to mix through.

spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. leave in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

does this ever happen to you?

around this time last year, miss c went on a camp and came home less one thong (or flip flop, for those who think a thong is an undergarment).

more recently, miss k came home with one broken thong. being someone who keeps things for spare parts (aka i can't throw away anything which may remotely be useful one day), i told her not to worry - we still have the thong miss c didn't lose and maybe we can use it to make up a useable pair of thongs (since they are the same brand, colour and size).

unfortunately, fate was teasing us. we have TWO left sided thongs. and you know that if we throw them both away, we'll need left sided thongs.

does this ever happen to you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

mini pizzas like at il gianforniao

i used to buy these mini pizzette for miss c all the time when she was little because they were so cute, just like her (and because she loved eating them).

well, like they always say, if only i knew then what i know now, i wish i had known how easy it was to make those pizzette.

again, the same bread dough comes to the rescue (i told you it was versatile). again, snip off walnut sized pieces of dough. this time press them flat onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. you should be able to fit 12 discs of dough onto each baking sheet.

get yourself a jar of your favourite pasta sauce (or make your own) and spread a little on each disc. top with slices of mushroom, pitted olives, whatever you like. sprinkle with a little grated mozzarella cheese. cover and leave in a warm place to prove for at least an hour.

heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius and once the oven is hot and to temperature, bake the pizzette for 10 minutes or until golden.

the last time i made this, wiggy and sly polished off the lot when i wasn't looking. then, they went on to eat a huge dinner. it was after dinner, when i started to stack the dishwasher, that i realised i had made a tray of pizzettes. i asked misses c and k as to the fate of the pizzettes - sly and wiggy ate them before dinner. if the boys are such good eaters now, i'd like to know what blutsie is going to do when all four of her boys reach puberty. wiggy and sly are her good eaters now; i can't wait to see when engine and blackbumboy start polishing off their food. it's only a matter of time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

my favourite tomato sauce for pasta

this is a really basic tomato sauce, but it's very good because of its simplicity. i learnt how to make this watching mary, julia's mum, make this whenever i was lucky enough to be invited over their house. i remember cooking this for julia when we were in paris; i was thrilled when she said it was just like her mother's!
i think the main difference between this tomato sauce and the other italian tomato sauces i've tried is that there is no onion in this sauce. i'm not sure whether it is because julia's mother is from northern italy with a yugoslavic background that there isn't any onion, but whatever the reason, this sauce is simply perfect - to me. there is also the addition of chilli. this is added for warmth, not burning spiciness, unless burning spiciness is what you are looking for.

1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 chilli, fresh or dried, seeded if only warmth is desired
1 can italian peeled tomatoes, crushed

gently heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan. add the garlic and chilli. allow the garlic and chilli to bathe in the warm oil and impart their essence. on no account allow the garlic to burn.

add the canned tomatoes carefully so as not to let the slash into the hot oil. allow to simmer until thickened. taste with a clean spoon and salt to taste. remember that this is a sauce and the saltiness will be diluted when the pasta is added, so ensure the sauce is salted adequately.

just before serving, tear basil leaves into the sauce and pour over the pasta.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

rosemary bread

another variation for the bread dough is to form the rolls and put a sprig of rosemary into the dough with a light sprinkle of salt flakes before letting it rise. bake as usual at 200 degrees celcius for 20 minutes.

a very simple variation, isn't it? very fragrant, too.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


miss k went to a fancy dress birthday party where the theme was come as your favourite disney princess. with very good intentions, miss k wanted to make her own costume and go as a mermaid. i had made both miss c and miss k mermaid costumes when they were much younger and it was on this that miss k thought she would base her creation. we scheduled a day to go fabric shopping and recruited kd and wenty to accompany us on our expedition. miss k chose a mid pink and gold shot organza (and a few other pieces of fabric which may or may not be discussed another time) which looked very glamourous.

a couple of days after the fabric was procured, miss k decided to embark on this first time sewing adventure. it was decided that since the childhood mermaid costumes worked well, the same procedure would be employed to create a similar miss k had to shir rows and rows of elastic on the fabric to create the body. this was no mean feat. after the first few rows, she confessed that it wasn't as easy as what she thought it would be. then she started to express that she couldn't believe that i went to so much trouble to make the mermaid tail she wore. i reminded her that i made not one, but two tails.

to cut to the chase, miss k spent a couple of hours each day working on her project but at the eleventh hour decided to chuck in the towel. she went to the party dressed very casually in a pair of shorts and a peasant top. and to top it off? mussed up hair.

result? she turns up this party and comes home telling me that her friends told her she looked like a super model. now, i have an unfinished mermaid tail and a supermodel.

Friday, October 17, 2008

cheese and bacon rolls

you make these rolls with the basic bread roll dough.

find yourself a muffin tin with loaf shaped holes. if you can't, it doesn't matter, you can still use the one with round holes and it will still work fine. either spray or grease the tin with oil or butter.

cut your bacon into strips and slice your cheese. i like using "light" or low fat cheddar cheese when baking because i find it less greasy (otherwise, i always use full fat everything). you can also use grated cheese, but i like using a slice of cheese so i can "insert" the cheese into the dough.

snip off 3 walnut size pieces of dough and pop them into the prepared tin(s) and press the cheese and bacon onto the dough. you can actually be quite firm when pressing the cheese and bacon on because when the dough rises, it will more or less push the cheese and bacon out.

cover the dough with a clean cloth and leave it to rise for at least an hour in a warm spot (read previous posts for what i suggest is a suitable warm spot).

heat your oven to 200 degrees celcius when the rolls are ready to bake and pop them in when the oven comes to the right temperature for about 20 minutes or until they are beautiful and golden. the cheese should bubble and the bacon, sizzle.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

miss k's middle school music concert

miss k has just been in a concert for her school's middle school. she was in four items, but the item which meant the most to us was the one where she performed BOTH the piano and chimes. miss c and i couldn't contain our excitement whenever miss k tinkled the ivories and did her thing with the chimes. in fact, our inability to contain ourselves was noted by many. we were sitting in the third last row; little did we know that we were being observed by those sitting in the two last rows. miss c's colleagues sat in the row behind us, so we should have known better, but we were overcome by miss k's effortless technique. miss k's just lucky HER colleagues were nowhere near us; poor thing to have an embarrassing family.

cinnamon rolls by whisks

remember the basic bread roll recipe? you use the dough from that recipe to make these. to start with, i think it would be good to make one pan of cinnamon rolls, rather than use all the dough to make cinnamon rolls .

for one pan of cinnamon rolls, cut out about one fifth or a quarter of the dough. that looks like about a third of the depth of a 28 centimetre round cake tin that is about 5 centimetres high. just an appoximation will do.

sprinkle some flour on your work surface and roll this dough into a long rectangle shape. spread some very soft butter over it.

get a small bowl and put in about 2/3 cup of brown sugar in it with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. mix this together and sprinkle this over the butter.

roll up the dough, swiss roll style, starting from the long side.

cut this roll into 8-10 pieces and place them in a 28 centimetre round cake tin lined with baking paper with the spiral facing upwards.

place a cloth over the tin and leave the rolls to rise in a warm place for at least an hour.

when you think the rolls have nearly risen sufficiently, heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

once the oven has reached 180 degrees celcius, pop the rolls in the oven to bake for 45-60 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

basic bread rolls by whisks

this is my recipe for making simple bread rolls. they don't need to be kneaded and don't need alot of time to mix up, although they do need time to sit around and rise (prove, if you want to be technical).

this recipe also makes what seems to be a ton of rolls....about 50, depending on how big you make your rolls. i know 50 sounds like alot of bread rolls, but don't forget you don't have to bake and eat them all in one day because the dough can be refrigerated. this means you can have these beautiful rolls baked fresh over a couple of days. this can be quite useful when we run out of bread and i don't want to drive out just to buy a loaf of bread.

also, don't think you have to eat them just as rolls either. the dough is versatile and can be used to make a variety of yeasted baked goods. i'll tackle that over the next couple of posts.

4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
250 grams butter
7 cups plain flour
2 cups self raising flour
2 packets (4 1/2 tablespoons) yeast
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons salt

place milk, sugar and butter in a large stockpot and bring to the boil.

remove the stockpot from the stove and leave it for and hour of so to cool until comfortably warm (about 25 degrees celcius or if you hold your hand against the pot, it feels just warm, not hot - remember, you've just left the pot for an hour, so the pot shouldn't be burning hot).

once the milk mixture is comfortably warm, add 4 cups of plain flour and use a handheld electric mixer to beat the flour into the liquid. the mixer just makes it easy and helps to get rid of most of the lumps. if you don't have one, that's fine - just stir it around until everything is mixed in nicely.

add the yeast and give that a stir as well.

add in the remaining plain flour, the self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix that in well. you'll have to do this part manually as the dough might be too elastic at this stage to do it with a mixer. i like to use a silicon spatula to help mix and scrape the dough off the sides of the stockpot. this is a really sticky dough and if you use your hands, you'll probably have to use too much flour to keep from sticking.

once everything is combined, just cover the stockpot with a lid or cloth and leave it until required. if you don't need any rolls for that day, put the covered stockpot in the refrigerator. if you decide to refrigerate it, just make sure to check the dough every now and then and punch it down whenever necessary (the dough will continue to rise in the refrigerator, and as such, you have to punch it down so it doesn't overflow). this dough will stay quite happy in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (it could stay longer i guess, but i've never had an opportunity to find out).

an hour or two before you need the rolls, grease one or two muffin tins.

dip your fingers in some flour so the dough doesn't stick to you and snip off walnut sized pieces of dough (i like using scissors to snip off the dough, but if you like to pinch it off or pull it off, feel free to do as you wish), and pop three pieces in each muffin hole.

once all the muffin holes are filled, the dough can be sprayed with water and sprinkled with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or sunflower seeds, or brushed with butter or whatever you want to do.

cover the rolls and leave them them in a warm spot (i like to put them on a table outside in the sun) to rise for an hour or so. if it isn't sunny, or if it's cold, pop the tray on top of a pot of hot water. the top of a warm old television is fine, too. be patient at this stage. you want the rolls to rise completely so they are nice and light, not heavy and dense. if you want heavy, dense rolls, you'll need different flour and a different recipe.

once the rolls have done their part and risen to the occasion, bake them in an oven preheated to 200 degrees celcius for about 20 minutes or until they are nice and golden

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

how i like to keep track of recipes on little scraps of paper

i usually like to photocopy whatever recipe i like (in colour, if possible) on A4 paper because it's more sturdy and put it in a plastic sleeve to go into an A4 lever arch binder or display book with the plastic sleeves. this can be time consuming, but once it's done, it's wonderful because the recipes and pictures are well protected. i think it's worth doing the photocopying especially for recipes which have been cut out because they are often on little scraps of paper which are easily lost, which can be heartbreaking if it is a favourite recipe.

i've also found that an added advantage of photocopying the little scraps is that i can enlarge them to fit the A4 sheet and this makes them look really good too.

i often tuck the original recipe behind the photocopy so it also stays well protected and doesn't get tatty and faded. you're less likely to lose it too.

i did try handwriting the recipes out, but i really think that takes alot of dedication. i still try to do this though because it lends the recipe a nice personal touch. do it for your own versions of recipes and it makes them really your own.

i also tried the scrapbook thing, but i found that the cut outs were getting messy and worse still, damaged. i don't bother with this method anymore.

with recipes which become tried and true favourites, i put them on an online file so i can access them when i'm away from home - this worked beautifully when i was in london a few years ago.

this is what works for me; i hope you find something that works for you.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

multi-coloured dermatitis

i look like i've contracted some horrible multi-coloured dermatitis on my hands. but i haven't. i was filling the ink cartridge...the colour cartrtidge, to be specific...of my printer. i usually try to underfill because there is no reason to overfill, unless you want to have the (expensive) ink leak out and stain everything that gets in its way, such as hands, for instance. a messy, very messy affair. and such a waste. and i don't like wasting anything if i can help it. but i thought that the cartridge was low in blue ink...well, i thought wrong. well, there were lines going across my printing, so it meant i was low on something....the yellow looked still nice and fresh, and because what i was printing was purple, i assumed it was blue. i assumed wrong. there was still tons of blue (or cyan, if you want to be picky). i found that out the hard way. so once i got the excess blue/cyan blotted up, i topped the cartridge up with red...ensuring that i didn't put too much ink in, of course. naturally, the printer's doing a great job now, and all the printing's nice and even.

all said and done, i'm very happy with my printer. it must be something about me - i love printing. i remember when i was younger, i asked my father for a photocopy machine. i know, other people ask for other things. this is just me. and because he's my dad, and because i'm me, he got that printed A3. i was in heaven printing things. printing things so they would look like the originals, such as sheet music. sheet music? yes, sheet music. another affliction of mine - i like keeping things in mint condition. so if i bought sheet music, i'd run off copies of it to use so i could keep the original...well.....original looking. as far as i know, if one has a copy of the original and makes copies for one's own use (and not to sell, redistribute etc) it's legal.

these days, printers are so cheap...and light...and in colour. what more could a girl ask for? an A3 (or bigger) printer! that's something i'd really like, and once one of those are readily on the market, i might just get myself one. i know they're available in the the UK, but i want to see one in real life and touch it and see it in action, before i'll get one. i think it's important to have to wait for certain things in life - sometimes it's just too easy just to get whatever it is one wants.

when i think of the photocopier that dad got me nearly 30 years ago (i's scary that i can talk in decades now) and how much it cost (thousands, back then), how heavy it was (we finally had to tip it, and man was it heavy - we had to pull the thing apart and even so, the components needed at least 2 people to lift it into the skip bin) and that it only printed black, i am amazed at what the printers these days can do. it's a pity my dad isn't around to see it all - he'd love it. he'd love the printers, and i'm positive he'd love the internet - reading online news, trading shares online, ebay....he'd love it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

baking powder

baking powder is essentially the combination of an alkali and an acid - if you mix the two, they give off carbon dioxide which when added to a cake batter makes them rise.

in the case of baking powder, the acid takes the form of cream of tartar and the alkali is bicarbonate of soda. both are dry, so when they are combined, remain inert (don't do anything) until a liquid is added, then fizzing and all hell breaks loose....not really about hell breaking loose. if you're on the ball, you'll realise that because cream of tartar is an acid, you'll be able to replace it with vinegar, another acid which should be fairly easy to find around the house, if not in the pantry.

so how to make baking powder? so simple. two parts cream of tartar to one part bicarbonate of soda. mix it together and there you have it. this is more potent than the store bought variety, so you only need half as much. if you don't think you can remember to use just half, just add one part cornflour to the bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar mixture, mix well, and use it as you would regular baking powder.

if you want to perform amazing feats with children, this is a good volcano ingredient - use vinegar with the bicarbonate of soda with food colouring. this is especially good with younger children who are easier to impress. with teenagers, one might have to resort to making fireworks, something else i've made in another life, but that's another story for another time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

lemonade, like at the easter show, but probably healthier

do you ever buy those big lemonade drinks they sell at the easter show? you know, the ones which are in a big tank with the lemon rinds floating in them and lots of ice? we do, and we buy the really big one because we like to share it (between the three of us, and no one else). it's always so refreshing and the acidity's just right to cut the greasiness of all the junk we eat when we're at the show. doesn't this sound bad? so much junky food...and drink.... i reason that it comes once a year, and the show's the only place where we get this kinda stuff. i'm sure it's available all year round at markets and the like, but for us, that's the only time we see it.
this lemonade is my imitation of the one at the show, but i'm sure it's better because it's home made, and as such, we would take extra love and care when we make it. like washing the lemons before we use them and not adding any preservatives or anything unnatural.....and since this is so wholesome sounding and all, one of these days, i'm going to post something to "balance" it, like the recipe for corn dogs (yum) and cheese on a stick (yum yum).
we didn't make it to the easter show this year, so i think miss k might be entitled to her annual quota of junky easter show food, albeit my version of it.

1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6 washed lemons, and retain the rinds for the garnish)
7 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar

combine the lemon juice with the water and sugar in an 2 litre jug and stir to disslove the sugar. if you like, you can stir, go away and do something and come back to it and give it another stir, and before you know, it would have dissloved.
place the jug in the fridge until ready to serve.
to serve, fill a large glass with ice and fill the glass with the lemon concoction. to give it the full easter show effect, put half a lemon rind in the glass, as they do. me? i like to slice the rind into slivers before adding it to the drink, so they release lots of lemon flavour.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

family traits

ever since i gave birth to my firstborn, miss c, i couldn't believe how much our children inherit from us, their parents. in fact, i'd be more inclined to say their grandparents. miss c has definitely inherited alot of characteristics from my side of the family, especially my father. my father always used to say that he liked his food hot, when it was supposed to be hot, and cold when it was supposed to be cold. nothing in between. me? i don't mind having leftovers cold, but miss c will always reheat leftovers. miss k? she is very much a clone of her paternal grandmother. they like things salty if it's savoury or sweet if it's sweet and they just lurve deep fried food. and both of them have fine bones, so they look nice and slender. naturally, miss c, taking after her maternal grandfather (and me) has a heavier bone structure.
which brings me to why i started rambling. miss k and i went over to the wigs and miss k was enjoying a friendly game of monopoly with her cousins wiggy and sly. engine, being only two, wasn't able to comprehend the full complexity of the game and naturally didn't want to be left out. so what did he do but grab hold of some of the money from the game and ran around the room teasingly with miss k in hot pursuit. once she caught up with him, he hurriedly scrunched up the notes. i know where he got that naughtiness from - his mum, my little sister. blutsie, being nine years younger than me, would often run off with my homework as an attention getting strategy. and as if it were a cue, the minute i uttered the word "mum", she would scrunch up my homework. sound familiar?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

my pumpkins

we've been in this house for just over a year now and i know with some people, they would have made 36932 changes to the house and have the whole place liveable and have alot to show for it. me? sigh....

so what, you ask, has this to do with my pumpkins? well, in this year just gone, i grew eight pumpkins in my garden. i'd say in this year past, i have eight pumpkins to show for the year....sort of...i had eight pumpkins, and now have only two left to show you. i wish i had taken photos when i had all eight, but i didn't even think about it. now i have just two, i thought i had better get my act together. so i have a photo of the two remaining ...with an egg so you can see it in perspective....

Monday, October 6, 2008

honey and oat pancakes by whisks

i first made these scrummy pancakes on a beautiful spring day on my backyard verandah. i bought an induction hotplate a while ago, and it has been wonderful to use. i really love it because i had to do most of my cooking outside, since the kitchen we had didn't have an exhaust fan. now that it does, i still continue to cook outside because it works so well.
cooking these pancakes outside allowed me to sit down at the little table and read the magazine section of my sunday paper and enjoy my coffee - it was bliss. i was multitasking - cooking pancakes, reading my magazine and sipping a coffee.

now for what you'll need:

the ingredients:
2 cups self raising flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 cups buttermilk (don't worry if you don't have any - just add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to regular milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon melted butter
extra butter to coat griddle
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds

the utensils:
a griddle
mixing bowl
measuring cups and spoons
pancake turner

here's everything mixed and ready to go on the table i've set out outside. because this is a real life home demonstration, i have to let you know that the griddle i had set up on the hotplate decided to crack when it was heated. hence the pancakes were cooked on the frypan:

here at not just cake, we know how to improvise. and here is what the pancake looked like when it has been flipped:

and here's a whole pile of the pancakes:

as you can see, these look rustic, and i like that.

honey and oat pancakes

2 cups self raising flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon melted butter
extra butter to coat griddle
1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds

combine the flour, oats, salt and bicarbonate of soda. add the buttermilk, eggs, honey and melted butter. use the mixer to give it a mix. don't worry if the batter is slightly lumpy. you can either use the pancake batter straight away, or you can leave it the the fridge for a couple of hours until you are ready to make the pancakes.
when you're ready, melt some butter on the hot griddle, then use the ladle to pour 1/4 cup batter (more for larger pancakes) onto the griddle. immediately sprinkle each pancake with 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds. if you don't like the sunflower seeds, you can use something else, or not use anything else - the pancakes are nice however you like them. Cook one side of the pancake until bubbles begin to break on surface and underside is brown.
flip pancakes and brown other side.
makes about 10 servings...or one or two really big ones.