Monday, December 19, 2011

"One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly." -Andy Rooney


If you are like me and a little short on time (and money) this Christmas, this is possibly the easiest Christmas Cake recipe I have every come across. I have made some smallish cakes as gifts for family, friends, etc. You can also add spices to the recipe to make it a bit more christmas-ish (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc.) and could probably add alcohol if you go in for that sort of thing.

QUICK EASY MINI CHRISTMAS CAKESINGREDIENTS.-
1 kg of mixed fruit

600ml Coffee or Chocolate Big M (If you live somewhere that doesn't have Big M, it's basically flavoured milk. You can substitute, I imagine, other flavoured milks, but don't go with the diet varieties as it's the fat content which binds the recipe together)

2 cups SR flour

METHOD.-
Soak fruit in Big M over night.
Add 2 cups of flour (and a bit extra) & stir.
Put in muffin tins, or large tin or whatever. Decorate with blanched almonds if you like that sort of thing.
Cook at 180oC until done (about 15-20 mins for cupcakes - longer for a bigger cake)
Enjoy
The End


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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On nom nom - quick and easy chocolate mousse

QUICK AND EASY CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

INGREDIENTS. - 300g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
3 eggs
1/4 cup Caster sugar
1 tbsp good-quality cocoa powder, sifted
300ml thickened cream, plus extra whipped cream to serve
Grated chocolate, to serve


METHOD. - Place the chocolatein a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water). Stir until melted.
Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Place eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat with electric beaters for five minutes, or until mixture is pale, thick and doubled in volume. Fold in cooled chocolate and cocoa powder until combined.
In a separate bowl, whip cream until thickened (becareful not to over-beat). Use a large metal spoon to carefully fold the cream into the chocolate mixture, trying to keep the mixture as light as possible. Spoon into 6 serving glasses and chill in fridge for at least 1 hour. Remove from fridge 15 minutes before serving, then top with extra whipped cream and grated chocolate to serve.


Or serve with strawberries and whipped cream. Or however you feel like it really.

SERVES six.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

“On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads, as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels . . .” - Charles Dickens

I borrowed this recipe from my ΒΣΦ sisters, but it is delicious. Although I left out the marshmallows because I thought they were just weird. Crazy Americans.

But there you go...

UPSIDE-DOWN BERRY CAKE.
INGREDIENTS. - 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, halved
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 package (3 ounces) raspberry gelatin
1-1/2 cups miniature marshmallows (what the ?????)
1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1-1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons canola oil


METHOD. - In a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish, layer the walnuts and berries; sprinkle with sugar, gelatin and marshmallows (if you feel like adding the marshmallows. I found the cake was plenty sweet enough without them).
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, water and oil; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour over top.
Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter.
Refrigerate leftovers.
SERVES 15 servings.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I wanted a cupcake, I did not have one. - David Grayson

So I have been making some cupcakes recently. A lot of cupcakes. And all different kinds of cupcakes. 

And I'll confess my little bugbear - people who make muffins and call them cupcakes. They're not cupcakes, they're muffins!!!! Cupcakes are by their very nature cake, whereas muffins are supposed to be more bread-y, like a quick bread - even if they are sweet.

I was given for my birthday a book - 500 cupcakes, which only makes me more angry because at least a good third of the recipes are for muffins, making it more like "335 cupcakes and some muffins". That said, it's a lovely book and has some great recipes, but clearly I have some OCD issues with the title.

Blah!

Anyway, here is one favourite from the above book, written by Fergal Connolly.

BANANA & HONEY CUPCAKES

INGERDIENTS.-
450g mashed bananas
150g packed light brown sugar
90g honey
4 tablespoons margarine, melted
225g self-rising flour

1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

150g roughly chopped walnuts

METHOD.-
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Line pans with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine the bananas, sugar, honey, and margarine. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended. Slowly add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix well.
Spoon the batter into the cups. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove pans from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack. When completely cool, frost or sprinkle with powdered sugar. (I iced mine with honey buttercream icing)
Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.


02/12/2010

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Manners Rap

A recently released video to promote a new book A Guide to Australian Etiquette by society doyenne, Ita Buttrose. Not only has she been voted 'Australia's most admired woman' twice and was the founding editor of Cleo and later editor of The Australian Women's Weekly, but she also has a slight lisp that is sublime.

 


Ita Buttrose - my new hero.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Music: The Baseballs


My new favourite band is The Baseballs. They are the most awesome rock and roll band from Germany, who do covers of Top 40 hits - in ...wait for it... - 50s rock and roll style!

Which is both awesome and unbelievably catchy. I defy anyone to listen to their album "Strike" and not get up and dance. No, seriously, you HAVE to get up and get your boogie on. My feet refuse to stay still when listening, which probably drove the guy in aeroplance next to me crazy when I was listening on the flight and jigging all over the place.

Check out their version of "Umbrella" by Rihanna - defintely makes a bad song excellent.

You should definitely check them out if you love rock'n'roll, or those crazy Germans who make crazy ideas work fabulously! Hope you enjoy them as much I as I am.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Kate's Fabulously Awesome Layered Taco dip!

This dip is the best thing ever at a party. Everyone loves it (even those that claim they don't like refried beans, or avocado or etc.) and some just sit right in front of it stuffing heavily laden corn chips in their mouths.

Allegedly, this an old Tupperware recipe, designed for a special Tupperware container that is 22cm X 32cm - which may affect the proportions of the layers, but I have made it in other containers and it's still delicious so have at it.

It basically tastes like tacos - which are awesome - so what could be better than having a massive taco to share with all of your friends.

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INGREDIENTS. -
530g tin refried beans (although I think this size is made up - I just get the largest one I can which I think is slightly smaller)
1/2 cup taco sauce
3/4 cup shredded cheese
1 250g block Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tbs mayonnaise
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 large avocado (seeded and peeled)
1 medium onion (diced)
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tomato (seeded and diced)
1/2 cup sliced pitted olives
1/2 cup sliced shallotts


METHOD. - 
1. In a large bowl, stir refried beans, taco sauce and several dashes of tabasco (if desired).
2. Spread the refried bean mixture evenly on the bottom and sides of large rectangular container. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese over the bean layer. (If you forget the cheese here, its fine.)
3. Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, mayo and garlic powder. Beat with electric mixer on med speed until smooth.
4. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the bean/cheese layer.
5. Cut avocado into small pieces. Blend in blender/food processer with onion and lemon juice until combined.
6. Spread the avocado mixture evenly over the cream cheese layer.
7. Sprinkle avocado layer with chopped tomato, sliced olives, sliced shallotts and remaining cheese. If desired, drizzle with additional taco sauce. Cover and chill.
8. Serve with corn chips

My mouth is just drooling thinking about this dip - now I'm hungry!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax-- Of cabbages--and kings--"

Tonight introducing the Eighth Wonder of the World...



the CABBAGE!!!!! (weee, roar, wooo)

Now, I'm sure some of you are going to tap me on the shoulder and say "Excuse me Miss... Cabbage is the most disgusting, evil, horrifying, appalling vegetable ever created, and if I were God, I would take it back." And I'm sure school lunches may have something to do with that.

But when cooked right, to just the right amount of crispness with a little salt, cabbage is delicious and juicy.

07/06/2010

CABBAGE, BOILED.

INGREDIENTS. - Cabbages.
To each 1/2 gallon of water allow 1 heaped tablespoon of salt, a very small piece of soda.

METHOD. - Pick off all the dead outside leaves, cut off as much of the stalk as possible, and cut the cabagges across, tiwce at the stalk end; if very large, quarter them.
Wash them well in cold water, place them in a colander, and drain; then put them into fast-boiling water, to which has been added salt and sode in the above proportions.
Stir the cabbages once or twice in the water, keep the pan uncovered, and let them boil quickly until tender.
The instant they are done take the cabbages up into a colander, place a plate over them, let them drain thoroughly, dish, cutting them into squares.

TIME. - Small young cabbages, from 15 to 20 minutes; large cabbages and savoys, from 30 to 40 minutes. SUFFICIENT, allow 1 medium sized cabbage to 3 or 4 persons.

Note. - Cabbages are seasonable at any time

So that's how you cook cabbages. I like to slice mine up pretty fine. Nothing is worse than overcooked cabbage, so keep an eye on the times and you may want to reduce them accordingly.

Enjoy!


07/06/2010

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Holy Carp!

It's February already!

It's finally getting hot over here. Summer has arrived; it was 38oC on Sunday. (that's 100o Fahrenheit for you Imperialists playing along at home)

Whast could be better in the summer, than sitting in the beer garden at your local watering hole or public bar and enjoying some Vitamin D and some Vitamin Beer.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to cycle in style - Part 1

You may or may not know that I am a pretty keen cycler. I like to cycle to work or just about. My husband and I cycle into the city most weekends for coffee. It's fun and healthy.

What I don't love about cycling is the lycra, and the assumption that if you're not wearing lycra you're not a cyclist (damn snobby road cyclists). Lycra is really, really unattractive - and unless you're cycling a million miles in a road race - usually not that essential.

So instead, I'm offering some tips on how to cycle in style - not Lycra.

ESSENTIALS
1. Bicycle
So you have a bicycle, or you want to get a new one?
If you own one, well that's half the job done right there.

Now look at your bicycle, now back at me, now back at your bicycle.


Does it make you want to leap on it and tear off down the street? No? Why not?

Consider getting a gel seat cover - and if you're a lady, perhap a ladies' seat. It's a bit wider and more supportive for your hips and things.

Get a basket at the back or the front - or perhaps some cute panniers or saddle bags. Try weaving some plastic flowers in your basket - make it fun!


If you are going to buy a new bicycle, consider your terrain. Riding along the beach front - go for a cruiser. Live on top of a mountain - perhaps something with a few (or heaps) of gears. Ride your potential new friend around the shop and see how it feels.
The first time I got on a bike that had suspension it felt super weird and squishy - but now I love it.

If you wear skirts - like I do - get a step through frame, or at least a ladies' frame. Trust me, you'll thank me.

Also consider getting a second hand bicycle. They often have more classic style and most have nothing wrong with them except requiring a bit of paint and maintenance.

Whatever you get, make sure it's something you'll want to ride - often. I'm still a bit sad that my current bicycle is blue, but I'm considering a bit of cosmetic work to fix that *evil grin*

2. Helmet
Now you may live in parts of Europe and elsewhere that do not require you to wear a helmet when you ride. But I think you're nuts (and considering the number of odd looks I got in Europe when wearing one - you all think I'm nuts)


And with so many cute helmets out there, why would you risk have your brain come out of your ear sockets? Just check that they comply with the safety standards in your country.

Plus I'm a massive klutz and not wearing protective gear is just inviting trouble.

3. Lights
I always ride with lights on my bike - just in case I want to go off on a long adventure or it gets really dark and cloudy out.
You can buy teeny clip-on LED lights for less than $20, so unless you live in a super high crime area, you can just leave them on your bike and not worry about the weather or the night time.

4. Bicycle Lock
Once you've gone to all the trouble of making your bicycle all pretty and fun, you don't want someone pinching it.

Depending on how prevalent bicycle theft is in your country (Netherlands, I have my eye on you) you may need a heavy duty lock (or several) or just a regular bicycle lock.

Try getting a combination lock as then you have no key to lose.


Stay tuned for the next installment addressing clothing and accessories.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

HAVE!!!

I guess Santa (or myself as it may be) was good to me this year. Now I just need a brooch to go with them.

05/01/2011
05/01/2011

P.S. Don't forget to get yourself something in my GREAT GIVEAWAY!!!!