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Preview: Food Art and Random Thoughts

Food Art and Random Thoughts

Updated: 2018-03-06T23:13:54.298+13:00


Baby Brights Update


This is the reason why I haven't been doing much foodie blogging lately. I've been working feverishly to finish quilting this quilt before my friend's baby turns 5 and goes to school! I started the top in November before baby was born because the sex wasn't known but once the top was finished I couldn't decide what colour to quilt it with. Then I decided to quilt it in thread to match each block but figured that it would take me so long to thread individual bobbins and thread and unthread the machine each time that I may was well quilt it by hand. What was I thinking!

The quilt is being mailed this week. I hope mum and baby like it.

Dad's Plaid


The next time I say I'm going to finish a quilt by grid quilting it a quarter of an inch apart somebody please slap me - hard! No wonder this quilt took over three years to complete although it wasn't so much 3 years of actual work on the quilt but 3 years of procrastination because once you get to a certain point of a quilting design there aint no going back. I lost track of how many reels of thread I went through by the time I was done.

I gave the quilt to my dad for his 70th birthday last year. He says he wants it on his coffin when he dies - I'm not sure how I feel about that. Hmmm.

An Oldie But A Goodie


I was looking for something quick, easy and relatively inexpensive to bake as I hadn't tried anything new in a while. A recent email newsletter from Foodlovers featured a recipe I hadn't had for years and it fit the bill perfectly.

Chocolate Weetbix Slice
by Helen Jackson

180 g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coconut
3 weetbix, crushed
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa

Preheat the oven to 180 C
Melt butter and add vanilla
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and mix in the butter
Press firmly into a slice pan and bake for 20 minutes
Allow to cool and then ice with a thin chocolate icing
Sprinkle with coconut
Cut into pieces as desired - fingers are nice

But wait.... there's more.....

I did a bit of googling to see if there were any other variants out there and I came across one that had a marshmallow topping. That particular recipe had brown sugar instead of white and no cocoa. However Helen's slice was so scrumptious I decided to use it as my base. It was the first time I'd made marshmallow and I wasn't so sure what I was doing. For my personal taste I think there was a bit too much marshmallow to base but my co-workers pronounced it delicious.


All the Single Ladies


Every time I hear Beyonce's song All The Single Ladies I can't help but think of that episode of Glee where the football team danced along to it. Too funny.

Cooking for one doesn't need to be boring or unhealthy. When hubby is away I usually take the opportunity to make myself something that he wouldn't care for - like something with blue cheese or lots of shrimp or scallops.

We recently went to a party which had an American theme and we enjoyed some wonderful Jambalaya. Thoughts of that delicious meal inspired me to create my own jambalaya/gumbo type dinner. It's by no means authentic but very tasty.. and did I mention healthy?

Louis1ana inspired Shrimp and Sausage Rice Bowl
Serves 2

1 medium brown onion, chopped
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
Oil or cooking spray
1 can chopped tomatoes in juice/puree
1 cup brown rice
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
Bay leaf
Garlic salt
Black pepper
Smoked paprika
Smoked sausage, sliced as desired (I used a bier stick)
Parsley, sliced spring onion or some basil to garnish

Spray the bowl of a rice cooker with cooking spray or drizzle in a little oil
Add the holy trinity of onion, pepper and celery
Cook for a little, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent
Add your sausage
Dump in the tomatoes
Add the seasonings
Add the rice and chicken stock
Put the lid on and cook until the rice is almost done
Add your shrimp
Adjust seasoning - I found I had to add some hot sauce and a dash of Montreal Steak Seasoning which is one of my currently pantry favourites
Garnish as desired

Lest We Forget - ANZAC Day 2010


Today is ANZAC Day - the date on which we remember and honour those who fell that day in 1915 and every other fallen hero, who died in the service of our countries. Both New Zealand and Australia share the day, as we shared our forces and our men in two world wars.

ANZAC Day begins with dawn services, throughout New Zealand and Australia. The old soldiers march into the parade ground, prayers are said for the dead, the ode to the fallen is said and then the last post played and the flag is lowered.

Ode to the Fallen

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

Red Poppies are worn, as in England, for Armistice Day a tradition that grew from the poem In Flanders Fields:

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

History has it that ANZAC biscuits or cookies to Americans, were baked by women during WW1 for their sons/husbands/brothers/fiances etc overseas on deployment. Basically they are a rolled oat biscuit made without eggs in order that they keep longer. The golden syrup is the binding agent. I've successfully used maple syrup as a substitute.

I searched the web and my collection of recipe books to find the best recipe but for the most part the only significant difference was the amount of butter used.

ANZAC Biscuits (Cookies)

1 cup flour
pinch salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup rolled oats
125 grams butter
2 Tablespoons golden syrup
2 Tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla essence - optional

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl
Melt butter, golden syrup and essence together
In a small bowl or cup mix the boiling water and baking soda and then add to the butter mix
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine
Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and place on greased or lined baking sheets
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 10-12 minutes until the biscuits have flattened out and are starting to brown

Pictured is a batch of fruity ANZAC biscuits that I made from A Treasury of New Zealand Baking. The recipe is by Dean Brettschneider. The biscuits have brown sugar instead of white and an assortment of seeds and dried fruits (I used pumpkin seads because I didn't have sunflower seeds). I think I prefer authentic ANZAC biscuits. You can find Dean's recipe here and make your own decision.

What I Did Last Summer


Did ya miss me? I haven't been blogging this year on account of not having a functional camera. There's not much point to a food (or art) blog that doesn't have photos is there.

Just before Christmas I got some junk mail which had a knitting pattern on it for little doggie jumpers. It's a project that the SPCA is running and I think it must be quite a sucessful program because when I googled it I came up with an entry from 2008. Check out the some pictures on Crafty m.e's blog or get your own pattern here from the Wellington SPCA site.

I thought it would be fun to have one of my kitties model a jumper but surprisingly they weren't having any of it and the photo here is the best of a bad lot. One thing about your average cheap and cheerful digital camera is that it's not so great on action shots and action shots were what I was dealing with as Sticky tried to back her way out of the jumper. It was kind of funny in a mean sort of way.

BBM - Indulge Me


2009 ended with another round of Blogging by Mail organised but the wonderful Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness. My apologies for the late post but my camera had a hissy fit and is only working intermittently. Time for a new one I think.

My package didn't arrive until the New Year which was fine by me because I knew it was on its way. Belated gifts are like IOUs which my mother always told me are good for your soul because they give you hope. I was delighted to find out that my swap partner was none other than Breadchick from The Sour Dough. Our paths have crossed in the blogosphere but this was the first time we'd really connected.

I was thrilled with my box of goodies which contained some items I'd hinted that I would like to receive. So what did I get?

Montreal Chicken Seasoning - I like to use it on hamburger patties on the grill - yeah I know - chicken seasoning on beef - what's up with that? It's also nice on skillet fried potatoes.

Good Seasonings Italian Dressing - we don't have anything like it in NZ. I like it as a salad dressing and also as a marinade for grilled veggies.

Strawberry & kiwi flavoured lip gloss. Just what a girly girl needs.

Pretty pink decorating sugar. I see some frosted cupcakes in my baking future.

A cute little mini whisk - so useful for sauces and dressings.

A fantastic book called The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry. It's about an American woman's experiences at the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. It was an easy read and made me realise that French Cooking a la Cordon Bleu is definitely not my style.

Any finally a pretty little magnet with images of wildflowers on it.

Thank you dear Breadchick for a very indulgent treat and thank you Stephanie for hosting this great event.

Cranberry Walnut Bread


One of the coolest benefits of having a blog is meeting new people through your readership or by postal exchanges. Here is a recipe from my new blog friend Esme who I met through the latest round of Blogging by Mail (organised by Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness).

I used butter instead of margarine (I couldn't possibly work for a dairy company and have margarine in the house!) and I didn't put raisins in as I didn't have any. I halved rhe recipe to make one loaf and probably overcooked it just a little. It certainly didn't need an hour in my oven - 30 minutes would probably have done it. No harm done though - just an excuse to spread more buter on the sliced loaf. YUM. Next time I think I might put in some frozen cranberries in lieu of the raisins. You can find Esme's original recipe here.

Esme’s Cranberry Nut Bread

1 cube margarine (1 stick)
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
3 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2/3 cup raisin
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 can whole cranberry sauce

In a large bowl cream margarine and sugar
Beat in eggs one at at time
Add dry ingredients
Add cranberry sauce, nuts and raisins
Turn into 2 greased and floured loaf pans
Bake 1 hr at 350 degrees (or until loaf tests done)
Cool 10 minutes
Turnout to wire racks to cool

Truffles and Treats


I like to give homemade treats and preserves as Christmas presents and this year was no exception. I made truffles (the cheat's kind with cookie crumbs rather than with chocolate and cream), rocky road and some date and rice bubble balls. I really think that making edible gifts like these should not be reserved for the holiday season. They are so easy, relatively inexpensive and make a great gift at any time of year.

Carla's Liquer Truffles

1 packet plain biscuits eg wine, Girl Guide - crushed
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
185 grams icing sugar
125 grams butter - melted
4 tablepoons (or more) liquer of your choice

Place biscuit crumbs, cocoa, and icing sugar in a bowl
Add melted butter and liquer
Form into balls and roll in coconut
Set in the fridge

For a nice variation you can roll the trufle mixture around a halved marshmallow.
I made Malibu rum truffles for my first batch and for my second batch I used Frangelico and added some hazlenut paste to the biscuit mix. I dusted the Frangelico truffles in cocoa powder rather than confusing the flavours and rolling them in coconut.

Rocky Road

Two king sized blocks of chocolate (400g- 500g) - I used Cadbury Dairy Milk
1 packet mini marshmallows
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
1/4 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped dried fruit - I used dried strawberries

Line and 8" x 8" cake tin with baking paper
Melt chocolate
Add other ingrediets and stir well to combine
Spread into prepared tin and chill
Cut into desired size pieces when set

Note: You can vary the combination and quantities of nuts and fruit to suit your taste. Try some chopped turkish delight with pistachio nuts for a festive looking rocky road. You could even use white chocolate if you wanted.

Odd Balls
From the Foodlover's website - no other source given

1/c cup sugar
75 grams butter
1 cup dates
2 cups rice bubbles

Slowly heat the sugar and butter in a saucepan
Add dates
Stir and mash with a potato masher until soft and pulpy
Remove from the heat and add the rice bubbles
Roll into balls and then dip in coconut
Chill until firm

Oatmeal Cake with Coconut Frosting


Back in July I visited my dear friend Deb in Kentucky and was not at all surprised that she offered me a piece of cake with my afternoon cup of tea. It looked like one of my favourites (also a Deb recipe) - Lazy Daisy Cake, but it was somethink just a little bit different. Most Americans will probably have tried this cake before. From my investigations the recipe seems to have been around for about 50 years old and appears everywhere you google. I made the cake for some co-workers recently and it went down a treat. The cake is so moist and tender you'd never suspect there was something healthy like oatmeal in it.

Deb’s Oatmeal Cake

1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup oats (regular or quick-cook, but NOT instant)
1 stick butter (4oz)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Mix boiling water and oats in a bowl and let stand approx. 20 minutes
Meanwhile, cream butter and sugars
Add eggs and vanilla and beat well
Add oat mixture
Sift in dry ingredients and mix
Bake in a greased 9 x 13" pan at 350 F for 30 - 40 minutes (until
center tests done)
While still warm, spread topping (recipe below) on cake and return to oven to broil for around 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter (or a little less) (6oz)
1/2 cup cream
2 cups coconut

Sa Sa..... Salad


Spinach, avocado, strawberry and asparagus salad to be exact.

Doesn't this just shout summer? There are countless recipes for Spinach and Strawberry Salad with a poppyseed dressing but I've jazzed my salad up a bit with the addition of some asparagus and avocado. The creamy avocado and tender asparagus add a little textural something to the mix.


Spinach, Strawberry, Avocado and Asparagus Salad

1 bag of baby spinach leaves
1 punnet strawberries, sliced
1/2 a ripe avocado (or more if you want), chopped
1 bunch asparagus, blanched and sliced

1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespooon finely choppped red onion
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

Combine salad ingredients in a bowl
Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine
Dress salad just before serving

I made the salad a couple of weekends ago when we had a few guests at home for a barbeque. One of my friends was in charge of dessert and she brought this fantastic looking Black Bottom Pie which is a Ruth Pretty Recipe. You can't tell from the picture but the pie has a chocolate custard on the bottom and a silky vanilla topping. YUM.


Why I'm not putting up a tree this year....


If this is what happens with a table top tree can you imagine the havoc with a full sized tree?

Perhaps it was an act of revenge after I tried to put a little santa hat on Sticky.


The Easiest Lemon Curd Ever


Don't fall off your chair in awe over at the styliest photo ever on my blog!

This fantasticly easy recipe is courtesy of my blog friend Tammy. The great thing about it is that it's made in the microwave with no faffing about over a double boiler. My mixture looked a tad overcooked but a few seconds in the food processor and voila - velvety, unctuous, luciousness.

Tammy's Lemon Curd

200 grams butter
200 grams sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
120 mls lemon Juice
6 eggs, beaten and strained through a sieve

Put the butter, sugar, zest and juice in a microwave bowl
Cover with gladwrap and microwave for 4 minutes on high
Stir then whisk in strained eggs
Microwave uncovered for 2 minutes
Stir with a whisk and then whizz in a food processor for about 30 seconds
Pour into sterilised jars
Store in the fridge

I have a new favourite way to use lemon curd - mix equal quantities of Greek yoghurt and lemon curd and serve with fresh summer berries.

There are some more lemon curd combinations I really want to try including a lemony tiramisu. I stumbled on this recipe after a reader left a comment and I thought hmmm why do I know that name? And then I realised it was a published food writer who was commenting on my lil ole blog. What a proud moment. Check out Sue Story's blog here. She is a contributing writer to one of my most used magazines and her Lamb Tagine recipe in Annabel Langbein's book The Best of Annabel Langbein is fantastic.

Meatless Monday - Mee Mamak


When we lived in Wellington one of our favourite restaurants was a cheap and cheerful Malaysian place called Satay Village. My husband’s favourite dish there was the vegetarian Mee Goreng, mine was the Chicken Rendang or the Chicken Sambal depending on my mood. In Palmerston North we have a plethora of Asian restaurants but they are mostly Thai so my husband has been missing his noodle fix and I’ve been trawling the net trying to find a recipe for Mee Goreng to make at home. The recipe I’ve settled on is absolutely nothing like the Mee Goreng from Satay Village but is a quick and easy dish that is healthy and delicious. It’s from Cuisine Magazine’s website and you can find the recipe here. I didn’t used to use the beansprouts that the recipe calls for but after talking to a Malaysian girl at work she persuaded me that they are an integral part of the dish and that they add texture. I have to admit she’s right. While the recipe calls for a mixture of prawns, chicken and tofu, I only ever make it with tofu. I used to buy a type of tofu from Japan that comes in a tetrapak but it's the soft kind and you end up with a dish that has a scrambled egg effect. It's much better with the firm tofu that you can stir fry to let it soak up some flavour before adding the noodles.

Baby Brights


Here's a preview of something I've been working on recently instead of baking - the photo doesn't do the fabulous bright fabrics any justice at all. I was searching for ideas for jelly roll quilts and came across a really neat site which has lots of cool ideas for quick and easy quilts, especially quilts for charity. I need to make a quilt for my cousin who has a significant birthday next year and I've been looking for ideas.

As yet this practice piece has no owner but I have someone in this space.

Blogging by Mail - Indulge Me Package Shipped


A teaser but hopefully not a spoiler. I shipped my package today and it's on its way to someone who, like me, has a cat, or maybe two. Come on now - you didn't really think I'd spill all the beans did you?

Here's another clue or at the very least another adorable picture of my girls.


One Bowl Chocolate Cake



When it comes to cake I'm not a huge fan of chocolate but I think I may have found my new go to recipe for the times someone says "make mine chocolate" ....

It's light and tender with a subtle chocolate flavour and yields a pretty decent sized cake. This recipe is so easy - just add all the ingredients to one big bowl and mix – no sifting, no creaming of the sugar and butter! And you can even use light yoghurt if you’re that way inclined…

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

115g butter, softened
1 ¾ cup self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup cocoa
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in ¾ cup hot water
¾ cup natural yoghurt – (or use your favourite flavour such as strawberry or use a low-fat yoghurt option)
2 tablespoons raspberry jam (I had none so used plum)

Grease a rectangular cake dish (a 9" x 13" pan works well) and preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius/ 350 degrees fahrenheit
Add the following ingredients to a big bowl and mix (you can use your arm muscles or an electric mixer
Pour mixture into pre-greased dish and bake for 45 minutes or until cake tests done
Cool and turn out onto a cake rack
Once cool, ice with butter icing

Butter Icing
Cream 115g butter
Add the following and mix
¾ cup icing (powered) sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon water

Blogging By Mail - Indulge Me


The wonderful Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness has gone a little nuts and organised another round of Blogging by Mail. Yes, I KNOW, at this time of year - what IS she thinking! I couldn't be more delighted. I love these events because they are a great way to meet new bloggers and of course you get good mail. Because I lived in the US for 3 years and I feel that I have a special connection with the place, I always ask Stephanie, very nicely of course, if she will match me up with someone in the US. That's all I'm sayin' - y'all 34 other participants will just have to wait and see who I am sending to.

The hard part about sending stuff overseas is that all the really cool things like candy and books are expensive to send. My BFF lives in the US and our birthday and Christmas packages to each other usually put us back about $35-$50 for postage alone. For once or twice a year we just suck it up. So, dear BBM partner, if you are reading this, keep things light and small - please.

Oh and just so I don't have a photo-less post and this blog isn't called Food Art and Random Thoughts for nothing, I thought I'd share some photos of Smudge and Sticky.

How cute and adorable am I?

It wasn't me who did this

No really it wasn't.

OK so maybe it was but look at what my sister is up to...


Preserved Lemons


Around this time of year I usually start making some preserves to give away as Christmas gifts. I thought I should try and do something with those pesky lemons of mine and thought that a nice big jar of preserved lemons would make an excellent Christmas gift. My first hurdle was to find a jar big enough to hold the lemons. Then I discovered that my lemons were in fact too big to fit more than about 3 of them in a jar. There was no option but for me to go to the supermarket and buy lemons which seemed completely ridiculous since the whole reason for me wanting to make preserved lemons was to use up my own supply. The lemons I purchased were imported from the US and probably Lisbon variety.

There are lots of recipes out there for Moroccan Preserved Lemons and if you google preserved lemons you'll find plenty of other blog entries but there's not a lot of variation in what you do.

Preserved Lemons

What you need
A very large glass jar with a lid
LOTS of lemons
A bay leaf or two
A cinnamon quill

Wash and dry your lemons
Cut a little off each end of the lemon
Cut your lemon almost into quarters but leaving one end intact (I really don't see why you can't cut them completely into quarters and if I'd done that I could have fit them in the jar)
Sprinkle each lemon generously with salt
Place in the jar
Fill the jar with lemon juice
Poke the bayleaf and cinnamon quill in the jar
Seal and leave for at least a month before using

To use
Rinse the lemon and discard the flesh
Slice the lemon rind finely and add to your chosen dish be it a tagine or a salad or even muffins like Barbara from Winos and Foodies did. I tried Barbara's muffin recipe and they were delicious.

Whittering about Whitebait


Today's biology lesson: In New Zealand, whitebait are the juvenile of certain galaxiids which mature and live as adults in rivers with native forest surrounds. The larvae of these galaxiids is swept down to the ocean where they hatch and the sprats then move back up their home rivers as whitebait. In other parts of the world whitebait refers to much larger fish.

Whitebait fishing season is very short (about 10 weeks in most areas) and because they are such a delicacy whitebait commands big prices during the season and you can pay upwards of $70 per kilogram. You can of course by frozen whitebait from China but it just ain't the same.

Whitebait in its raw form - not very appetizing looking

Check out the beady lil eyes of these teeny weeny fish

Now that the eyes disguised with lots of cracked black pepper the whitebait are transformed into fritters

Whitebait Fritters

250 grams/1/2 a pound of whitebait
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Salt and LOTS of cracked black pepper (it disguises their eyes!)
Butter for the frypan

In a bowl, mix the egg and flour until smooth
Add the whitebait and stir gently to combine
Season with salt and pepper
Put a little butter in a frypan on medium heat
Drop a spoonful of fritter mix into the pan and cook for 30 seconds
Flip and cook on the other side
Serve with buttered fingers of fresh white bread with lots of lemon juice on the side

Pink Ribbon Cupcakes


I wanted to make something for Pink Ribbon day but was was in a bit of a hurry and didn't really have time to come up with something fun and interesting. As you can see, my frosting efforts need A LOT of practice. Considering this was the first time I'd made cupcakes in a very long time and the first time I'd used a piping bag in a very long time I don't think they look too awful and anyway, people were so enchanted by the pink sugar glitter they didn't notice anything else.


Liz’s Carrot and Banana Cupcakes

150ml/ 1/4 pint mild flavoured oil (I used rice bran)
250g/8oz self raising wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g/5oz light muscovado sugar (I used brown sugar)
60g/2 oz walnuts, coarsely chopped
125g/4oz carrots, grated (I used 2 medium sized carrots)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl
Mix well until thoroughly combined
Spoon into cupcake papers
Bake at 180C/350F for 20-30 minutes or until they test done
Note - this will depend on the size of your cupcakes. Mine were quite large as I only got 10 cakes from the mixture. They took about 30 minutes
Transfer to a wire rack to cool
Decorate as desired

Happy Birthday Queenie


The first Monday in June is a public holiday in New Zealand to celebrate the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. It's our last long weekend until Labour day at the end of October and pretty much marks the beginning of a dreary winter. What better way to celebrate than to have an afternoon tea served on fine china. Tiaras compulsory of course.

We had a lovely range of goodies including pikelets with cream & jam, little bread cases filled with a cheesey corn mixture and topped with tomato, chocolate cake and club sandwhiches. My contribution to the tea was something quick and easy because I was going out the night before and didn't have much time to bake. I made my reliable, tried and tested orange cake. It's one of those ones where you bung everything in the food processor - no creaming required and best of all it doesn't even need icing. I've blogged about it before and you can find the entry.

Mama's Got A Brand New Bag #2


I wrote this random post and filed it away in draft but since I've not been baking much lately I figured it was time for this little piece of randomness to be used. Some time ago I had a day to myself in Wellington, my home town. Well actually Upper Hutt is my home town but Wellington is where I worked for over 15 years. They say you can't beat Wellington on a good day. Unfortunately the day I visited was drab and drizzly. This is a photo I took of Wellington harbour from the bus to Upper Hutt looking out towards Oriental Bay.Here's a look at the sea from the east coast of New Zealand, this time looking across to Kapiti island. This was on my bus trip home to Palmerston North.I had a lovely wander around Wellington and took the opportunity to snap a few photos. Here's a sculpture on Featherston Street that caught my eye.And here's a picture of one of New Zealand's cultural icons - buzzy bee. It's right beside the largest wooden building in the southern hemisphere.It's quite appropriate that Buzzy Bee is not far away from "the beehive" - our parliament building.I did a little shopping at Moore Wilson's which is an Aladdin's cave of foodie accessories. When I spied the little blow torch in my favourite shade of turquoise and at a reasonable price I just had to have it; similarly the lime green kitchen timer. I usually use the timer on my microwave but many's the time I've either forgotten to put the timer on or wanted to use the microwave for something else in the middle of baking. My new timer is magnetic and will stick to the fridge. It's also big enough to take with me if I leave the room to go update my Facebook page or whatever else might be on the agenda for the day. Here's a tip for you re timing in general which is quite useful. As you put your cake in the oven, note down the time on a piece of paper. Sure it won't help you if you leave the room and get distracted by something but it's a good standby if you are in the kitchen and had forgotten to put the timer on. The tea towels - well they're in my favourite colours and I couldn't pass them by. Lastly some Maldon sea salt which has been smoked - I've not tried it yet and I'm sure it'll be good although I'll be judicious about what I use it on/in. Once I made a rogan josh curry which called for paprika but all I had was Spanish smoked paprika. I can tell you it does NOT have any place in a curry and it's a fusion combination that doesn't work. I am the laughing stock of my Indian friends who take great joy in reminding me of my faux pas.If you are in doubt about my favourite colours check out my shoes....[...]

What's in a name?


My mother and I enjoy a good play on words and are also known for using malapropisms. It’s our greatest fear that one day we’ll say something and people won’t “get” the humour and think we are just stupid like a certain US ex-President. When I was growing up we always referred to Rhubarb as Rupert and a popular winter dessert in our household was Rupert Crumple. Today I present to you a very tasty Rupert cake recipe.I had a large amount of cream left over from a dinner party and thought it would be a good idea to use it up in a cake that perhaps called for buttermilk in keeping with my well publicised theory that dairy is pretty much interchangeable. My mother-in-law had given me some rhubarb from her garden so I searched for rhubarb and buttermilk and came up with a recipe from Allrecipes. I read a lot of the reviews which mentioned cutting down the sugar, upping the rhubarb, adding oats to the topping and adding extra spices so I decided to tweak the recipe and see how it turned out. I’m pleased to say that this is definitely a keeper. It’s a very moist and tender cake, probably on account of all that wonderful fat from the cream. Usually I don’t know how well cakes keep because more often than not I take my baking efforts to work and there are never any leftovers. Most recently I baked this cake for my father-in-law’s birthday and it was eaten over a long weekend. If anything the cake got moister.Rhubarb and Ginger CakeMakes a 9" x 13" cakeIngredients½ cup butter (4 oz)1 cup white sugar1 egg1 tsp vanilla extract1 tsp cinnamon1 tsp ground ginger2 cups flour1 tsp baking soda¼ tsp salt1 cup cream (or milk) soured with the juice of half a lemon or 1 tablespoon of white vinegar4-5 cups sliced rhubarb½ cup crystallised ginger washed (to get the sugar off), and sliced (optional)Topping¼ cup butter (2 oz)1 cup brown sugar (very lightly packed)½ cup rolled oats (regular, not quick cooking or steel cut)1 tsp cinnamonMethodIn a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffyAdd egg, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon and beat wellInto a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda and saltAdd dry ingredients alternately with cream to the butter and sugar mixture.If desired toss the rhubarb in a little flour (I omitted this step with no ill effect)Add the sliced rhubarb and gingerSpoon into a lined and greased 13” x 9” cake panCombine butter, brown sugar, rolled oats and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the cake.Bake at 350 degrees F/180 degrees C for 40 minutes or until cake tests done.This is the cake before going into the oven - just use your imagination for how delicious it looked after baking. I'm sure it would be delicious served warm from the oven with a dollop of cream on the side.[...]

When Life Gives You Lemons....


.... make Yucca!

While living in the US we we were introduced to a wonderful party drink called yucca (yucka) and despite having an abundant supply of lemons I'd never actually gotten around to making some of my own. The weekends have been sunny and the pool has been hovering around 30-31 degrees celsius/88 degrees fahrenheit - perfect conditions for a nice refreshing batch of yucca or as I like to call it "electric lemonade".

I think what had put me off making yucca until now was the fact that the original recipe calls for a 5th of vodka (750 mls) and unless you have company that's just a little too much alcohol for two people. Also, I've been unable to find a large enough glass jar. I scaled the recipe down by about a quarter and use an empty Ocean Spray Cranberry juice jar which works pretty well.

Here's the recipe:

Yucca Cocktail

175 mls vodka - approximately 6 fluid ounces
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3-4 large lemons, deseeded and chopped small enough to fit through the mouth of your jar
A large glass jar with a wide mouth lid

Mix vodka and sugar in the jar
Add lemons and ice
Wrap in a towel and shake until the sugar dissolves and the towel is starting to stick to the jar

Serve over ice in a tall glass