Wednesday, August 31

Life is your recipe book

I've just been visiting with my Uncle.  We don't see each other very often as he lives in Melbourne, but as I'm here for work we arranged to meet up and he made me his speciality:  Steak dinner.

It was delicious and we chatted as he cooked for me and as he likes to he talks about the past.  Me as a little girl (I was his off-sider quite a bit in those days) and his childhood.

He was telling me how he makes his best mashed potato when he launched into telling me about a conversation he had with my Nan (his Mum).  My uncle is a confirmed bachelor but he's had his fair share of romances - he's just not the 'settling down type' and my grandmother was quizzing him:

'What ever happened to that girl (insert name)?  She was nice..' said my grandmother

"Yeah" responded my uncle :"It didn't work out but she made the best lamb curry, I still make it'.

'And what happened to what's-her-name... you know the one that lived in that house on the beach, she was nice...'

"oh yeah, she taught me how to make Beef wellington, top chick that one'

Eventually the story came around to the mashed potatoes which he credits another one of his former loves with imparting his favourite potato recipe to him.. and now to me.

And he said - although he's a bachelor, and there's no one in his life, he has the best lot of recipes from these women who have come in and out of his life - it wasn't wasted.

Interesting! And such a great philosophy!

So then I started to think about it - yes, I learned how to fry an egg properly from one of my ex-boyfriends and of course all the recipes I've learned from my Nan, Mum, Dad - even my mother in law...

And of course, I left him with a recipe of my own - my famous meatloaf!

Where have you picked up recipes along the way?  Ex-boyfriends, girlfriends, flatmates, friends...?  

Tuesday, August 30

Baked doughnuts (not half as naughty!)

Have I got your attention?  Yes? When I saw the recipe for these from Krissy - there was no choice - I was making them and that was that.   I changed out the nutmeg for cinnamon and glazed mine instead of half-half glaze/sugar, but you can get as fancy as you like - these might even be a great activity for a birthday party - and eat afterwards right?  You could even freeze the doughnuts before you ice them...!

The taste isn't exactly like a real doughnut although they are light and tasty - do remember they are bread... if you want the real thing - try this recipe here.

For the Dough
3/4 cups Warm Milk
1 tsp yeast powder
1 egg
1 tb butter, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the Glaze
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 cups sifted icing mixture
colouring if you wish
100's and 1,000's if you like too!

Add your yeast to 1/4 cup of your warm milk, and set aside for about 15 minutes, until it foams up a little:

Add the rest of your milk, egg, and butter and sugar, then gradually stir in the flour eventually kneading it into a smooth dough.   Place in a greased bowl covered with cling wrap for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in size:

Preheat oven to 190 degrees c

Pour out your dough onto a clean floured surface

Roll out until quite thin, about 3mm thickness

Cut out your doughnut shapes - I used an ikea cup and a tupperware melon baller!  Improvise as you like (or you can buy a doughnut cutter, yes, you can!)

In the leftover pieces of dough, cut out extra holes - but don't re-knead the dough - it will be too tough when baked.

Place on a greased tray (I made 18 dough-nuts and about 30 holes!) and allow to rise for another hour

Aren't they beautiful!?

Bake for 7 minutes then allow to cool.

Make your glaze by adding the vanilla and colouring to the icing mixture and whisking in the milk until you get a thick-ish but spreadable consistency.

Dip your doughnuts in and then get an eager assistant to 'sprinkle them'

Now if you like a light glaze, dunk them when they are a little warm (on the left) but leave them until they are cold and dunk, and the icing will be more pronounced (I personally loved eating them warm...)

They look like the real thing right?  My kids didn't even care!  Now if you are going down the artificial colouring free route - can I suggest hopper .. great resource on artificial colourings/flavours and also where you can buy the alternatives (which don't look any different!)

On your list?

I will tell you when you're older.... #1

I love the way Laura's mind works.

This morning I was having a shower, and not unusually she found a reason to be in the bathroom too.

'Mum, you know how Daddy's Grandad is in the rose garden?' (his ashes are scattered quite famously in a rose garden in hubby's home town)


'He got burned up and gets to be in the soil now and is part of the beautiful roses, that's pretty cool'.

'Yes it is..'

'When I die, I don't want to do that though.  I want to go to heaven'

'Um, you can do that too, it's just your body that gets burned up'

'what, it's just your head that goes to heaven?'.

Monday, August 29

What Australian Bloggers think: Social media, what do you have and how important that a blogger embrace it?

Us bloggers have these thoughts and sometimes we'll even externalise them into a blog post, a forum post or (even!) a 'real life' discussion.  I decided to bring together a group of bloggers of different genres and experience together to understand what Australian Bloggers think as a community, of themselves and of others, their relationships with brands, PR's, blogger platforms and few other things... stay tuned each fortnight..!

Today we're discussing social media - Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, StumbleUpon - the list goes on and on and on... there are lots of ways to share not only your thoughts, questions and opinions, but many bloggers use social media to extend the dialogue of their blog, attract new readers and network with other bloggers and brands.

Today a dozen bloggers tell me on a scale of 1-10 how important social media is to their blog (1 being least, and 10 being most) and why:

What? I use twitter, facebook and pinterest as MahliMoo. My blog isn’t that main reason for using them though. I enough the social  ‘contact’ it allows me to have.
Importance Scale? I would probably rate it a 7. I have found a lot of people through twitter, but I would still be blogging regardless. I blog for myself, but it would get mighty boring if no one commented.
Amy, MahliMoo  [craft, parenting] [6 months blogging]

What? Currently YouTube. I have a twitter and Facebook account ready to go but don’t promote them because I’d rather not till I know I will actually use them.
Importance Scale? Probably 8, which seems strange since I am not currently using them. I do think if I am REALLY to take my blog to the next level it needs to happen, and soon. It just hasn’t yet. Probably the number 1 thing holding me back.
James - Aussie Green Thumb  [gardening] [9 months blogging]

What? Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin
Importance Scale? 10!
Nikki, Styling You [Fashion, beauty] [3 years blogging]

What?Twitter and a Facebook page 
Importance Scale?  8.  I blog to create community – to form a network of others interested in play and early childhood education, and social networking is an important tool to create connections.
Jenny, Let the Children Play [Education] [21 months blogging]

What: I have twitter, facebook and tumblr attached to my blog, with youtube coming up in the next few months.
Importance Scale? I rate social media's necessity to blogging at 15. It is vital that you keep in touch with people via the channels they use the most.
Stacey, Veggie Mama [food, parenting] [18 months blogging]

What? Twitter, facebook, rss feed, bloglovin - I also embed youtube clips into my blog occasionally                                    
Importance Scale?10 times a million!!!!!
Caitlin - Chasing Cait [Fashion, Beauty] [9 months blogging] 

What? I have twitter, facebook, must add my youtube channel.  I only have it advertised on my 'contact me' page, need to add buttons on the side bar.
Importance scale:   5 - not really sure yet.  At the moment, it's helping me to build relationships with other bloggers, that's about it.
Mandy, A little space like home [personal, parenting] [6 months blogging]

What? Just Twitter.
Importance Scale: I would say that as a new blogger it's very important.  So a 9.  It's how you build up your followers and get your posts out there.

Amelia, Wedding, babies Everything [family] [9 months blogging]

What: @frank_in_oz - Twitter here for Hiking site BUT I loveTwitter and play there a bit with all sorts of stuff. Facebook - Frank wall - mix up person and OHB stuff -YouTube (slow on this ) - ourhikingblog. @CradleMtn - specific for Cradle and Tassie
Importance Scale: OHB - 5-6 have a few subscribers and get most of traffic off Google search. Cradle - Huge, 10 -  thats how I launched it and promote everthing around it!

Frank - Our Hiking Blog,[outdoors/hiking] and Cradle Mountain [tourism] [8 years blogging]                                                                                                           

What? facebook, twitter, youtube
Importance Scale? I'd say about a 6 for me because I use facebook for my community and to chat but it's not essential to my blog! My blog came first and is where I spend most of my time but I see social media as a tool. I'm trying to get better at twitter but in all honestly - 4 kids, husband always working, household to run, blog posts to write, photos to take, emails to answer, craft, doesn't leave a lot of time for spending on facebook and twitter!
Corrie - Retro Mummy [craft, family] [5 years blogging]

What? Facebook and Twitter
Importance Scale:   In terms of building my readership, I'd have to rate social media right up there as a 10.  Twitter and Facebook are fantastic ways to help promote blog posts and interact with my readers.  They're both great outlets for sharing other people's blogs too - I think that it's important to help promote other blogs that inspire or have something useful in their posts that you think your own readers would enjoy.
 Melissa, One Crafty Mumma  [craft,family] [5 years blogging] 

What: Primarily Facebook and Twitter although I dabble on Stumble Upon, Flickr and will be using YouTube more in the future for vlogging.
Importance Scale? In the beginning it would have been a 10. Now that I have an established readership it is no longer essential to survival but is still essential to the growth of my blog. I'd still give social media a 7.
Zoey, Good Goog [personal, parenting] [2 years blogging]

How do you rank social media in your blogging life  or even your non-blogging life?

If you are interested in taking part in this series as a blogger in either the technology, travel or sports arenas or a PR please don't hesitate to email me!

Sunday, August 28

Alfresco dining - Gado Gado (Indonesian salad with peanut sauce)

I must tell you - this past weekend the weather was glorious - it was fraught with activity for us, but I did manage to steal some time in the sunshine and left the windows open and let the warm, fresh air circulate the house... just what the doctor ordered!

We also had our first outdoor meal since winter began, and it was lovely.  And although this salad isn't a quick 'throw-together-affair' it is something you could make in advance and assemble last moment.

The star of this salad is the dressing - peanut satay-ish - and with the combination of crunch from the beans, bean shoots, cucumber and carrot, and the substance of the potato and egg, it's light, but filling and personally I don't think you need to have is as accompaniment, but as a meal in itself.  Although, leftovers can easily fit that purpose or you could make it to feed a crowd at a barbeque.. (I've advised hubby the barbeque will be getting a workout next weekend!).

4 small cobs of corn, boiled for 5 minutes, and cut into disks
1 lebanese cucumber, thickly diced
6 eggs, hard boiled and crumbled
1 1/2 cups bean spouts
20 or so fresh green beans, trimmed and blanched
2 large white potatoes, diced and firmly cooked
1 medium carrot, grated with a potato peeler

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2/3 cup roasted peanuts
3 cloves garlic
1 small red chili, finely chopped, seeds removed
2 tb lime juice

Chop, cook and grate ingredients as necessary

In a food processor add all dressing ingredients

Process until smooth, then add water (about 1 1/2 cups) to make it 'drippable'.

Arrange all your ingredients on a large tray or bowl (I prefer it on a tray.. easier to get the sauce on as much as possible..)  Get the kids to help with this bit!

Drizzle sauce over the top and any leftover sauce, put in a bowl, you'll want more I promise!

So put it on your meal plan for the week or even the weekend!

Saturday, August 27

Sunday baking project - Chocolate buttermilk cake with best chocolate frosting

I've confessed many times on this blog I'm not much of a cake person.  Birthday cakes come around work and I find it easy to say 'no thanks'.. unless it's cheesecake then I might consider it, but not always take it.  But I know I'm in an extreme minority in my family and friends, so find myself making cakes that I never eat more than a bite of.

This one I don't actually mind that much because it's soft and moist and although not a fan of icing as such either, the frosting on this reminds me so much of those 'chocolate on chocolate' cake mixes that were all the rage in the 80's (remember those?).  My husband and frills are grateful for my cake baking, which makes it all worth it - watching their eager anticipation as I make the frosting (they are frosting fiends) I feel so very virtuous and loving spreading it on the cake.  Almost like I should be wearing an apron and high heels in a lovely 50's magazine campaign - icing a cake whilst my family look on, angelically.

(makes 12-15 slices)
2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp baking powder
125g butter, melted
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs

1/3 cup margarine at room temperature
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3-4 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees c.
Grease a large ring or round tin or if you have a slab tin, that would be suitable too.

Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, sugars, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder)

Mix on a low speed and gradually mix in your wet ingredients - buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract until it's smooth.

Pour ingredients into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes

Leave to cool in tin for about 15 minutes, remove and leave to cool completely on a rack or plate.  Make your frosting!

Firstly, mix your margarine with your cocoa, mix well, then gradually a cup at a time, add the icing sugar, and some buttermilk and mix until you get a smooth consistency.

When you pick it up with a spoon it should 'ribbon' i.e. you should see it's texture when it spills back into the bowl like below.  (who wants to put their finger in that???)

Spread onto your cooled cake with a spatula or knife

It will set, but personally if I'm going to eat it I like eating it whilst the frosting is still a bit wet!

So friends, who licks the beaters/spoon at your house?

Friday, August 26

Quick and Healthy: Ten minute beef tortilla

I've had a craving for these for oh-so-long.  I make this quite simplified and healthier version of a quesadilla - it takes no time and it's a great lunch or even an easy-peasy-can't-be-bothered-dinner.  You can mix up your ingredients - used diced chicken thighs or even turkey mince if you like.... or even drained tinned tuna or salmon.  I like to use corn tortilla but again, if you want, use another flatbread, you can.  Get creative, involve the kids, make an assembly line - make it a Friday night fun feast!


Ingredients: (per tortilla stack)
2 corn tortillas
1/2 cup lean minced beef
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
1 medium tomato, diced
1 stalk continental parsley, roughly chopped

Heat up a frypan around the size of your tortilla to a medium heat.   Add your beef and sprinkle the paprika and a tsp water, mix it around until beef is completely brown.  Move beef into a bowl and set aside.

Place your first tortilla in the frypan, and turn down to medium-low heat setting..

Sprinkle 1/2 of grated cheese on the bottom, then layer your beef. Add the rest of cheese on top.

Pile your tomato and parsley on top.

Place your other tortilla on top,  With a egg flip, place underneath the bottom tortilla and flip over.

Put some pressure on top of your tortilla - you can do this by pressing down with your hand or your egg flip or you could get really 'technical' or 'lazy' and cover a small brick in 2 layers of aluminium foil and put that on top for about 3-4 minutes.

Then transfer across to cutting board and cut in quarters.

Feel virtuous and try to stop at one....

Have a lovely weekend all - what have you got planned?


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