A Writers Larder
October 22, 2014

I’ve been having trouble getting out of bed of late. It’s nothing serious. It’s just that it’s been so long since I haven’t had to drag myself out of bed every morning and face off against the barrage of teenagers and business types on the train into the city, that I feel like lying in. Every damn day. I figure it wont last forever and It’s not like I’m staying there all day, showering at noon and then lying about for the rest of the day. I’m doing stuff. The house work is still getting done, I’m not falling behind in my studies, and I’m still putting food on the table. But I do need some other reasons to get up at times and breakfast is one of them.

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I’m not a huge breakfast eater. I’m more of a ‘let’s go to brunch’ type of girl where I can indulge in french toast, or corn fritters, or just some eggs; as long as I don’t have to make them. At home it just seems all a bit too much effort. I even pre-make my own dry pancake mix to cut down on said effort. I’m not a huge cereal fan. I’m too easily distracted that by the time I get to it it’s usually a soggy mess. I don’t do soggy. But you know what doesn’t go soggy? Granola! This is also something I occasionally make in advance. Plus it’s so expensive to buy.

It usually consists of whatever I have in the cupboard unless I feel inspired to visit a health food store and stock up on fun things like puffed quinoa and spelt flakes. It really is just about whatever you feel like at the time and rarely requires a recipe. But for those of you that prefer a guide (and I use this term the loosest way I can), I have included my most recent version of my ‘Whatever-I-have-in-the-cupboard Granola’.

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Crunch Oat and Quinoa Granola

1 cup of rolled oats

1/2 cup of steel cut oats (if you don’t have steel cut just use more rolled oats)

1/2 cup quinoa (I use tri-colour quinoa because it looks nice but you can use any colour you like)

1/2-1 cup puffed quinoa, optional (though it creates a great popcorn-type crunch)

1/4 cup shredded coconut (use up to half a cup if you love the taste)

3-4 dried figs, chopped

4-6 chopped dates (1/4 cup)

1/4 cup dried blueberries (if you don’t like dried blueberries you can substitute with dried cranberries, raisins or sultanas)

1/2 cup of chopped nuts (I use almonds or hazelnuts)

2 tablespoons pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Mix all of these dry ingredients in a large bowl with the following:

1/4 cup of honey (or agave or maple syrup)

1/4 cup of unrefined coconut oil (melted)

1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

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Stir until all ingredients are well combined.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Divide the mixture onto two baking sheets lined with grease-proof paper and spread evenly.

Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, stirring twice to ensure all of the ingredients and lightly toasted.

Remove from oven and stir again. Press mixture to around 1-2cm flat on the try with the back of a spoon and allow to cool completely.

Once the mix is cool, break it up into chunks and store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for 3-4 weeks (if it lasts that long!)

I have mine with yoghurt and banana or other fruit, or straight from the container as a quick snack.

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September 27, 2014

I have recently decided to get some organic produce delivered on a regular basis. As a Naturopath, I understand the importance of organic food, but too often it’s expensive and not always local. I figured getting it delivered meant it would be more likely to have come from somewhere close by as well as seasonal, plus it was great value. The other thing I was hoping for was some inspiration to cook things I may not usually when only relying on my regular trip to the markets and try a few experiments.

One such experiment involved zucchinis. We love this vegetable in our house and I have cooked them in so many different ways over the years. One way I hadn’t tried, however; was in a cake. I’m familiar with using vegetables in sweet dishes such as beetroot and chocolate cake, but zucchini was a new concept for me. After receiving some gorgeous zucchinis in this weeks delivery, as well as a handful of lemons and fresh eggs from my mother in law, I thought I’d try a zucchini and lemon cake.

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Zucchini and Lemon Cake

170 grams unsalted butter, melted (plus 1 tablespoon for the pan)

2 1/2 cups plain all-purpose flour (plus more for pan)

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchinis)

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease a 6-cup bundt pan with melted butter and dust with flour.

Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater or the small grater in a food processor. Place in a sieve over the sink to drain any excess liquid while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Whisk together the eggs and sugar. Once well combined and the sugar starts to dissolve, stir in the melted butter, zucchini, vanilla, lemon zest and juice.

Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.

Transfer batter to the greased and floured pan and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. It’s much easier if you have someone to help with this part. It’s unbelievably messy getting batter into a bundt tin by yourself. Trust me.

Let cool for 15 minutes once it’s cooked, then turn out onto wire rack or cake dish and allow to cool completely.

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Make the a lemon glaze by combining 1 and 1/2 cups sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. It should be thick but still runs off the spoon when lifted. Pour over the completely cooled cake and allow to set slightly before serving.

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I used Maldon salt flakes. I love their flaky crunch and since they don’t easily dissolve in batter, every now and then you get a beautiful salty hit. This makes a great flavour combination. It almost tastes like preserved lemons.

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This cake was a huge hit with everyone. The zucchini made it lovely and moist and the lemon cut through the sweetness perfectly. Enjoy with a cup of tea, or over the sink if you can’t wait for the kettle to boil.

 

September 8, 2014

I opened the freezer door the other day and out fell a rock solid banana. You see, I love bananas, but when I buy them I never seem to get through them them all before they turn soft and brown. There really is just a small window of palatability when it comes to bananas. After some advice from a friend I started throwing them in the freezer once they passed the point of no return. This way they can be thawed and used in banana bread and cakes. Plus the freezing process makes them all gooey and easy to mash; perfect for baking. So when this banana fell at my feet I realised it was a sign. A sign that I had way to many frozen bananas and it was time to get some drunk.

Frozen Bananas

Boozy Banana Bread

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan

1 cup all-purpose wholemeal flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

125gm unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan

1 cup raw sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups (about 3) mashed ripe bananas

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons spiced rum

1 cup cacao nibs or chopped dark chocolate

1 banana, extra cacao and teaspoon of rum for top of loaf

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute between each. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the bananas, lemon juice, and spiced rum and beat until well incorporated. The mixture may look curdled, but don’t panic, the flour will take care of this.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat until just incorporated.

Add the cacao and stir by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon until incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan.

Slice a just ripe banana lengthways and press lightly, cut-side up, into the top of the mixture and brush with a small amount of rum. Sprinkle with extra cacao for effect.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack and letting it cool. Serve warm with slathered in butter or as is.

Spiced Rum

Uncooked banana bread

Banana bread

Banana bread

Banana bread

Cacao nibs are cocoa beans that have been roasted, separated from their husks and broken into smaller pieces. They add a great crunch and chocolaty flavour and also have great nutritional benefits. 

Cacao

Cacao nibs contain a substance called theobromine, a central nervous system stimulant that has a similar, though less powerful, stimulating effect as caffeine. It may give you a healthy energy boost if you’re feeling low during the day. It also contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid required for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Enhanced serotonin levels can quell anxiety and enhance mood. Eating cacao also helps to release endorphins, giving a natural high. So even though this banana bread wont get you drunk, it will make you feel pretty damn good.

 

August 31, 2014

Before you say it, let me; it’s been too long. Waaay too long. I disappeared without warning or explanation. I just stopped posting. In conversations over the last 18 months I was often asked a question I started to hate hearing, ‘When are you going to put something new on your blog?’ It’s not that I didn’t want to. It’s just the longer I left it; the harder it got to come back to. I was waiting for a time when things slowed down and I could keep posting regularly, not just once every now and then. I was also a little anxious that everyone had given up and there would be no one left to read anything. But, after long and thoughtful deliberation, and drafting and redrafting, I have returned with a new outlook and even a new look blog.

What have I been doing while I’ve been away? Working, studying, moving house, renovating and everyday things like buying groceries, catching trains and wasting time looking at Facebook and Pinterest. I’m not making excuses but you should know I haven’t just been lying on a couch somewhere, wasting my time on daytime television. There has been many a project that has kept me occupied; but for all the things that have happened over those months, many of which have been amazing and exciting mind you, something was missing. It turns out, it was me. I got lost working and making a home that I forgot I have a creativity inside me that wasn’t being fed. I was turning into a tired and grumpy manager and girlfriend who wasn’t very fun to be around.

So, I quit my job. Well technically I stepped down from the crazy busy world of academic management of staff and students and decided to go back to what got me the job in the first place: teaching. Making this decision leaves me more time than I have had in a long time. So of course I have decided to fill these ‘idle’ days with things I love. I’m still doing my masters *insert yawn* but I’ve decided to supplement this with a photography course as well, and of course, get back to blogging.

What helped me to make this life changing decision was a weekend away with some very talented and lovely people. One day, while wasting time on yet another social media site, I saw a post that stirred something in me. There was to be a food photography master class in the picturesque Daylesford, and I was going to go! I secured my spot, counted down the days, charged up my camera and packed a bag. The next four days would change my life.

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I arrived at the Morgantis homestead and quickly realised that there was no phone reception. I quietly dealt with that and stepped inside to be greeted by the talented Master Chef that is Billy Law. Once I settled in I became acquainted with the rest of the gang. Ewen Bell, the amazingly talented photographer; the equally hilarious Michelle, of Iron Chef Shellie; the baking extraordinaire Sally Boyle, of Simmer and Boyle; and Maureen Ow, Singapore’s own Miss Tam Chiak. I started to think I was a little out of my league.

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We spent the weekend learning the art of great food photography along with lots of eating, cooking, drinking and laughs. Our mornings consisted of waking to the smells of a full cooked breakfast accompanied by some photo taking. We spent the days in the garden of the homestead, at a local pig farm and at Daylesford’s many markets and vintage stores acquiring props for our shoots. Dinners were spent out in some of the best restaurants Daylesford has to offer and, once we’d had our social media fix (being back in phone reception), we’d make the most of the local wine and food.

I realised while I was away that this was something I should be doing. I was unsettled for weeks after until over a bottle of red one night my partner asked the question I had been too afraid to ask myself.. ‘Why don’t you just quit?’ What?! What a ridiculous concept this seemed to me; however, he had noticed some other points he wanted to share. ‘You hate the position you’re in now. You don’t like managing. You could still teach and do other things you love and be much happier than you are now’. He was right. I was miserable. I could just teach, which is the only thing I liked about my job at that point anyway. That would certainly give me more time for other, more creative things.

It was another few weeks and many conversations between us before I had enough courage to write a letter of resignation and give it to my boss. Six weeks later (Never give six weeks notice. It’s way too long!) I found myself without a fulltime job and bedridden with flu. This was clearly my body’s way of saying ‘At last! I can have a rest.’

So now that I’m on the mend, I can finally say: ‘I’m back!’

Thanks for waiting :)

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December 22, 2012

Christmas is one of my favourite times of year, and why shouldn’t it be? Work is over for another year, there is food, friends and family everywhere; plus here the sun is out and I get to add a little colour to my office-pale skin.

This last semester was a trying one, but it’s now I can reflect at how much I actually achieved this year and feel a little accomplished. With all the students I had this semester, I felt buried under marking for most of my time at work, but outside of that, I did some pretty cool things too. I contributed to the writing of a book that will be published early next year; I completed some post-graduate studies (and took on further more) with quite reasonable grades; I moved into my own lovely little house by the bay and started a vegetable garden which I have been reaping the benefits of ever since; and apart from work pressure, this has been a pretty happy and satisfying year. Though there are many other things I am yet to achieve (and things I got to do this year which have to remain a surprise for a month or two yet), I feel this year has brought me closer to contentment than any year prior. It’s a good feeling to finish on.

Going back to my vegetable garden, I have to honour my promise to a few requests on Facebook and share one more recipe before the silly season takes over completely.

When I moved into my little house there were already a few gifts in the garden that I was able to collect over the past few months, one of those being some beautiful beets. As you know, I often make things for my students for their last class. I figure we have been discussing food all semester we may as well eat some. For one quite special morning class this year I decided to use up some of my beetroot and make them a beet and chocolate cake.

Fresh beetroot

75g cocoa powder
180g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
200g caster sugar
250g cooked beetroot (or raw grated)
3 large eggs
200mL rice bran oil (you could also use, coconut or avocado oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Boil beetroot (skin on) until just tender. Run under cold water and the skin should just rub off in your hands. Use gloves if you don’t want to satin your hands. Puree the beetroot in a food processor.

Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla and oil and blend until smooth.

Sift the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the sugar.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the beetroot mixture. Lightly mix.

Pour into a greased and lined 23 cm cake tin.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is firm when pressed with a finger and a skewer comes out clean from the middle. If it starts to get too dark on top you can cover it with tin foil until it has finished cooking.

Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar to serve.

This is a beautifully light moist cake with a slight twist in the traditional chocolate version.

As I finish up for the year and blow my nose from my annual Christmas hayfever (which has afflicted me all year mind you but has now decided to really kick into gear), I’d like to wish you all a very safe and happy festive season and hope that 2013 brings you all lots of love, laughter, and good food!

November 8, 2012

I can’t believe it’s been over two months since my last post. I have clearly taken on way too much this semester. The good thing is though.. it’s coming to an end. I have finished teaching for another year and all I have to do now is get down to marking the student’s final reports and exams. Yes. More marking. I feel like I haven’t stopped since August and I guess I haven’t. There is always something.

One thing I did manage to do last month though was cook a big feast for my gorgeous mother’s birthday. I won’t mention her age because not only is it irrelevant, but she will also never look it.

I decided to gather recipes from a few of my favourite places including Bill Granger, Jamie Oliver and a couple of my favourite blogs. I ended up with this menu*:

Chapatis with hummus – Yoghurt and spinach salad – Carrot salad – Whole roasted tandoori cauliflower with mint chutney – Indian meatball and rice pilaf – Rhubarb and pear meringue tarts with lemon thyme

The chapatis, carrot salad and tarts were adapted from Jamie’s new 30 Minute Meals cookbook. I was skeptical about this book at first but after watching the first series I’m hooked. The meatballs, rice and spinach salad were from Bill Granger’s Feed Me Now cookbook, which is great when you need menu ideas. I’ve done the meatballs from this numerous times and they’re always a big hit.

The Dinner Table

The thing that generated the most oohs and aahs from the guests was the tandoori cauliflower though. I saw this on the lovely Sarah Britton’s blog. She always has the most amazing recipes, photos and videos. I was inspired by the wow factor of her cauliflower and decided to give it a shot.

But before I could get to the cauliflower, I had to make the spice mix. Sarah’s spice mix had the following dried spices:

2 tsp. (4 grams) chili (or you could use cayenne)
1 Tbsp. (5 grams) cardamom seeds (or pods)
4 Tbsp. (20 grams) cumin seeds
2 Tbsp. (11 grams) coriander seeds
½ whole nutmeg, grated
2 tsp. (5 grams) whole cloves
2-3 (5 grams) cinnamon sticks/quills
2 Tbsp. (15 grams) ground turmeric
2 Tbsp. (15 grams) paprika

Spices

Place all ingredients except for the turmeric and paprika in a spice mill, mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. I used a mortar and pestle in batches to begin with but it was quite hard work so I ended up putting it all in my little food processor. This worked well but don’t do it if you don’t want your processor stained! Grind until powdered. Mix in turmeric and paprika and transfer to a glass jar. Keep away from light and heat. Sarah says it should keep for up to six months.

Tandoori spice mix in a jar

On the morning of the dinner I trimmed the leaves off a head of cauliflower and prepared my marinade:

4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. minced of grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. tandoori spice mix
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. sea salt
½ cup (120 ml) thick yogurt

In a mortar and pestle (or food processor) smash garlic and ginger into a paste. Add the tandoori spice, lemon and salt and mix until uniform. Fold in the yogurt.
Place the whole of cauliflower -washed and trimmed – in a large bowl and spread the marinade all over, including the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum 1 hour – maximum 12. As I said, I did it in the morning ready for that evening.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C. Place cauliflower in the middle of a lined baking sheet or roasting tray and roast until tender (45-60 minutes depending on the size of the cauliflower). A skewer should be easily inserted into the centre if it has been in long enough. Garnish with coriander leaves and even some sliced red chilli, lots of lemon juice and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately with mint chutney.

Cauliflower with marinade

Whole Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower

For the mint chutney (which by the way went great on cold roast chicken sandwiches the next day):

2 cups loosely packed mint leaves
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1 shallot, minced
½ red chili, minced
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup yogurt (I used coconut cream which gave it an amazing depth and nuttiness)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
a couple pinches salt
1 tsp. honey

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is a chunky pesto-type of sauce. Season to taste. This can then be served up as a garnish on the cauliflower, or whatever takes your fancy. It does pack a punch so if you don’t feel up to it you can leave the chilli out.

Dinner

I was so happy with the way everything turned out. And so was Mum cx

*If anyone is interested in any of the other recipes be sure to let me know and I will add them.

August 20, 2012

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently moved into a new house. I had been so excited to have my own space again, with room for a garden, my sewing and writing and other various projects. But the first few weeks here, as exciting as the possibilities were, I was starting to think I’d made a terrible mistake. As a child, and I hate to admit but also as a teenager and an adult, I’ve had a fear of someone coming into my house, my room, with the intention to bring me harm. I was fearful as a child, always fretting at the slightest noise, imagining a kidnapper climbing through my window and taking off with me in the night. It sounds crazy when I put it down on paper, but it was unfortunately what I felt as soon as the lights went out. I no longer have a fear of being kidnapped, but I’m yet to grow out of my habit of laying awake, listening to the noises and imagining the worst possible scenario. So my first few weeks on ground level, with windows that could be looked in, doors that could be opened and a rather large backyard that could easily house a multitude of shady characters, I struggled to relax.

But as time is wearing on I’m learning the noises of the house, the creaks and groans and the comings and goings of the neighbours. I know the latch on the power box near my window makes a weird scraping noise and the gate clangs when it’s windy. And I know my cat bangs against the window when he wants to come in! I still get nervous, but I’m also starting to get excited again.

So his weekend I had some ladies over for afternoon tea. I got out my antique cake plates and forks and my silver tea pot and hosted my first afternoon tea in my new place. It was lovely. As were the burnt butter and honey madelines I made (recipe to follow)

My antique platesBut I also got out into my garden and discovered some treasures. There are herbs like rosemary and parsley; veggies such as silverbeet and cabbage; and other goodies like broad beans and sweet peas. But the thing I was most thrilled by were the potatoes. In what I thought was just a bag of soil, I discovered some gorgeous purple gems that were baby potatoes.

Veggies in my gardenMy catConsidering I had Sunday lunch with Mr M’s family, I didn’t need a big protein dinner; so I decided to forage in my own backyard. I settled on potatoes, silver-beet and zucchinis (which to be honest I got the latter from the supermarket but the rest were from the garden).

My HarvestI boiled the potatoes and finished them off in the oven with some garlic and thyme until their skins were crispy.

Bakes potatoes and sautéed greensThe greens I sautéed in butter with some lemon zest and chilli.

I have to say, I have never tasted potatoes quite like that before. I can’t wait to dig further down into that bag and see if there are anymore surprises buried deep in soil.

August 17, 2012

My humble little blog is one year old. Which makes me feel even worse that I’ve been neglecting it of late. It’s a little conceited of me to apologise for this as I’m pretty sure none of you have been sitting there with baited breath, waiting for my next post, but I do feel a little bad that I’ve been so slack.
I did mention earlier that I would be rather busy with more study, moving house and the start of the latest school semester, but honestly it’s likely my new found obsession with Pinterest is more to blame than anything else. This confession makes me cringe but it is a more honest reflection of how I have been spending my spare time.

Though as it’s been a year, it has made me reflect on just what I’ve achieved since starting this little project.

My initial motivation for it, apart from combining my love of food and writing, was that I needed a writing portfolio in order to be accepted into the Food Writing Graduate Certificate course at Adelaide University. I was accepted, and I have since matriculated. In fact my suitably embossed and overall expensive piece of paper should be arriving in the mail within the next month. Even though my initial reason was the course, I decided to keep up the blogging because I found myself really enjoying it. Plus it keeps my brain (and stomach) happy.

American Food pictures
I also visited family in the States this past year and realised just how much I love and miss them every day. They were amazingly fun when it came to food and drink, going out of their way to ensure I tried all the things Minnesota had to offer. I also met some beautiful people – some of which have made their own contributions to this project – who I have kept in contact with and vow to visit again. It’s amazing how social media and the like make us feel like we’re not so far away.
I also owe the last year to rekindling an old flame. I met my ‘man friend’ (let’s finally call im Mr M) in a crowded bar many years ago. I still remember experiencing the clichéd ‘eye-lock’ across the room. For whatever reason, it fell apart and we went our separate ways; keeping minimally in touch. But once again, thanks to social media, we are back in each other’s lives and things are looking up. We’re also about to celebrate our own one year milestone. Time changes people in different ways and sometimes that’s all it takes to realise what you may have been missing.

The Locavore officeI’ve also started more study; undertaking a Professional Editing and Proofreading course. I figure if I want to take this writing caper any further I need some nuts and bolts to hold it together. Along with working on my writing skills, I’m still working with the amazingly talented people at The Locavore Edition. We are almost ready to start the writing process for their next publication, The Field Guide to NSW Produce. Stay tuned! (The Victorian Guide is already available on the website)

My cat and my gumbootsAnd to round out my year, I moved into a house. Just me and my cat (but not in a crazy way). I felt it was time for some space for me to get out into a garden and back into my writing, photography and sewing; all hard things to do in a shared apartment on the 19th floor; though that type of living was an unbelievable experience.

Views from my old apartmentSo as I blow out the candle on my favourite salted caramel cupcake, I have but one wish: that you continue to enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, and that I will be blowing out two candles in twelve months’ time. cx

Salted caramel cupcake

July 6, 2012

Once upon a time there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she would have to be a real princess. Of course she would. Back then there was no such thing as a prenuptial agreement. But this aside, he travelled all over the world to find one, but nowhere could he get what he wanted. Sound familiar? There were princesses enough, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones. There was always something about them that was not as it should be. Of course there was. So he came home again and was sad, for he would have liked very much to have a real princess. One evening a terrible storm came on … Suddenly a knocking was heard at the city gate, and the old king went to open it. It was a princess … But, good gracious! What a sight the rain and the wind had made her look. At this point it was hard to tell by looking at her if she truly was a princess, but for some reason the old Queen thought that by placing a pea under twenty mattresses and twenty eider-down beds they would be able to tell. On this the princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how she had slept. “Oh, very badly!” said she. “I have scarcely closed my eyes all night. Heaven only knows what was in the bed, but I was lying on something hard, so that I am black and blue all over my body. It’s horrible!” Apparently this was how they worked out she was a real princess – all sexual innuendo aside – because nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that.

Cover of The Princess and The Pea by Hans Christian Andersen

When I was a child, I thought I might like to be a princess, and often acted like one I am sure; especially when it came to vegetables. As a foodie I find it astonishing the lengths I went to, to avoid consuming my veggies. I was often left sitting at the table, my plate of now cold limp vegetables in front of me, refusing to give in but not allowed to leave the table until I was done either.

Every now and then, on special occasions (my mother asked me to add this part to save her reputation as a good parent), we would eat in front of the television. Mum and Dad on the couch with their stable-tables and me on the floor between them at the coffee table. It was during these dinners I had the best advantage when it came to avoiding my vegetables, my peas especially. I would make sure no one was looking, take a handful and roll them behind me, right under the couch. It was genius. That was until Mum was doing a thorough cleaning one day and moved the couch to get under it. The peas made the loudest clanging noise as they shot up the vacuum hose and into the bag. It took her a moment to figure out what made the noise but needless to say, we ate at the table from that point on..

Peas in a pod

The fairy-tale is obviously not mine and I cannot take credit for it, that goes to Hans Christian Andersen, but I do want to clear up one point: my Mum was an excellent parent, and still is cx

June 26, 2012

It’s Tuesday today which in my world roughly translates to ‘Market day’. This doesn’t apply to every Tuesday, but tonight I’m cooking dinner for two of my most lovely friends and need some quality ingredients. Now I know I’ve mentioned these before, but I really didn’t give them the attention they deserve. And so I found myself once again, elbowing my way into the crowd at the borek stand of the Vic Market; waiting patiently for the promised ‘one minute’ for the ever popular spicy lamb borek to be expertly transferred from the oven in the rear to the girls at the counter. Within less than a minute, these doughy parcels of lamb, onion chili and parsley are gone and the wait starts again. Today I got lucky though and managed to grab myself a steaming hot borek on the first round. Getting it back to the office is always fraught with juggling the supplies for dinner and the skin-scorching borek wrapped in just a paper bag, but I managed it.

Borek stall at The Victoria MarketNow this isn’t the healthiest of lunches, but at $2.50 a pop, it can certainly be considered one of the cheapest! And if you do try them for yourself, just a word of advice: Don’t be afraid to use your elbows, and always have the right change.

The end of a spicy lamb borekAs for my dinner guests, I hope they enjoy the gluten-free roasted pumpkin, spinach and caramelised onion lasagne and the raspberry and rhubarb crumble tonight.