It’s spring time! Spring means peas.
Peas and sunshine and eating outdoors around a really tiny table because our landlords took their outdoor setting back. How dare they! [insert sarcasm here.]
Spring means fresh flavours and happy eating.
Spring means spring cleaning!
Spring means rain.
Spring means sproutlings! Update coming soon, I promise.
Now, spring also means November. [It's November!] And this month, for the first time ever, I am registered for something called NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s really supposed to be INaNoWriMo, because it’s not just nationally for the United States any more, it’s international (thank you, internet!) So I’m going to be going a little more than crazy for the next thirty days or so. I will probably be making a lot of sweet baked goods to keep me going but I may be terrible at letting you know about them.
But who knows? I do my best when procrastinating from other things. I should be writing an essay? I clean my room. I should be cleaning my room? I write a blog post. I should be blogging? I organise my hard drive. I should be cleaning up my computer? I get myself ready for NaNo. I should be writing my novel? I bake cookies and tell you all about them.
So prepare for some crazy posts. Like, “I should be writing 2,000 words in my novel right now but my brain’s about to explode. Have some homemade peanut butter cups.“
Pasta is an approach more than a recipe. Take 100g flour for each person, and one egg. Whizz them in a food processor, if you have one big enough. If not, whisk them together and then use your hands to knead, adding olive oil if you need moisture. Don’t add too much, though; pasta dough is supposed to be dry. Knead until it’s smooth, then start rolling it through your pasta machine.
You need to knead [hah!] the dough a lot to work the gluten – that’s why it’s best to use a high-gluten flour, one specifically for bread or pizza or pasta. Part of this is putting it through your pasta machine a few times, although if you used a food processor that does the job for you. I used mostly wholemeal flour with a little pasta flour because that’s what I had.
So it’s best to roll your pasta through the widest setting a couple of times, then start rolling thinner and thinner. I stopped short of the thinnest setting for mine because I love thick pasta.
Fresh pasta only needs to be boiled for about three to five minutes. Boil a large pot of water and make sure it’s well salted. Drizzle with olive oil, toss in your pasta and test it after three minutes. When it’s to your liking, drain and toss with the sauce.
Burnt Butter Sage Sauce
a few sprigs of sage leaves
Other vegies or add ins, whichever you like. I included:
three handfuls of fresh peas, shelled
half a lemon’s worth of juice
one orange sweet potato
two red onions
two cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180ºCelsius. Peel sweet potato and chop into small cubes. Peel red onions and slice into wedges. Shell garlic, and toss sweet potato, onions and garlic with olive oil and salt. Place in oven for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the butter until nutty and brown. Add sage leaves, peas, lemon juice and pepper and fry a little longer. Toss through roasted veggies and pour over your pasta. Eat with friends on a sunshiny back porch in spring.
[other add ins may include: fetta, tossed through at the end; chorizo sausages, fried and sliced; sundried tomatoes, with the pepper; basil leaves, tossed through at the end; the list goes on.]
Guys, I have a rash on my hands. Granted, it’s not very red or large or even very itchy (at the moment – it could spring into crazyitchy annoyingness at any moment. Watch out!
I think it’s stress related, but that is of course only a theory. And to be honest, it’s actually just resurfacing from a couple of weeks ago. What was I doing then? Oh, yeah, being a head counselor at a kids’ day care camp. Fun times.
They actually were fun times, just also quite stressful. Thankfully, I have this baking thing to destress me. Thank you God for flour, sugar, butter and ovens.
So I actually made these before the birthday cake that is yet to appear on this blog (soon, people, soon. I promise.) and they didn’t quite turn out as expected. They were quite small, and I made a cream cheese lime glaze instead of the icing I was after (I may have figured that that would have happened if it weren’t for the fact that I had quite a few other things on my mind, namely university starting in three days and also work and also car trouble. Not fun.
But hey, they tasted good.
Until they turned mouldy. Not cool! Keep these in the refrigerator, and eat them quick. Share them with your housemates, your uni mates, your family, your friends. They are really nice. Especially coming from a sun-dappled kitchen.
Carrot and Pineapple Cupcakes
Ok, so related to the fact that these went mouldy in less than a week kept in an airtight container in winter at room temperature, I would suggest that a) keep them in the fridge and b) squeeze the carrots after you grate them to get the juices out. Also c) really strain that pineapple out.
1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/2 cups (225g) self raising flour
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups (440g) firmly packed grated carrot, squeezed of juices
3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees fan forced). Line a twelve hole standard muffin pan or eighteen cupcake moulds (approximately).
Mix together oil, eggs, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in pineapple and carrot. Warning – this will not look pretty. Do it anyway.
Fill the cases about three quarters full – a little fuller if you like them spilling over more, these were a little flat.
Bake about twenty five minutes, longer if they’re bigger.
Cream Cheese Lime Glaze
25g softened cream cheese
juice of one lime
Beat the cheese with electric beaters until smooth. Add lime juice and beat until combined. Dip each cupcake in the glaze. Eat with others.
PS: Happy Birthday Harry Potter!
I know that it’s winter here in Melbourne. Living, as I do, in the hills, it gets cold here. We have a wood fire and piles of wood ready to be burnt, and as the weather gets colder I’m increasingly appreciative of our ducted heating system. Sometimes, all you want to do is snuggle down in bed for a few more
However, when it’s sunny outside and there are local strawberries for sale and you want to play pretend, summer is not a bad season to pretend to be in. Especially when all the American food blogs are talking about strawberries, cherries, barbeques and summer dresses.
I like winter. I do. But sometimes, you just gotta go with the summertime flow.
So I bought the strawberries, knowing that there would be a few gunky ones – more than a few, I think I was able to use about half of them – and decided to bake them in cupcakes. When it’s summer and the berries are amazing, I’m guessing you’d just roast them maybe, or make jam or even just eat them straight out of the punnet – but it being winter, I thought cupcakes were in order.
Contrary to some opinion, I don’t think that a muffin is a bald cupcake. I’m not saying they’re good for you, I just think that muffins have a different texture, a different feel. However, cupcakes definitely need a little something on top. And so, I decided to make some buttercream.
Mind you, it being almost seven and time to go meet some friends for pizza and camp prep sesh (yay for camp! yay for hanging out with kids for two weeks! yay for sleep deprivation! wait. What? Oh yeah, cupcakes.) I decided it had to be quick buttercream, one quartered from that goddess of cake decoration, i am baker.
And then I took them to said meeting and they were gobbled up quickly. Yum.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
I halved this recipe because I only had a punnet of strawberries, and I used a plain and spelt flour combination because I’m quite fond of spelt at the moment. I also diced the strawberries and folded them through the batter.
3 tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour (I swapped in half a cup for wholemeal spelt. Good Idea)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
250g strawberries, diced
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and put cupcake liners into a muffin tin. I only made seven cupcakes out of this recipe.
Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and beat until silky smooth.
Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add gradually while beating until just incorporated. Gently fold in the diced strawberries.
Divide among your cupcake liners. You want them to be in between three quarters and fully loaded. Bake for five minutes on 180 degrees, then lower to 160 degrees and bake another fifteen or so minutes. Cool in the pan and then unpan them and ice them. (I put them in the fridge for a few minutes to cool right down.)
Quick Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from i am baker
I, as I mentioned, quartered this recipe, which originally would have been able to frost two eight inch (20 cm) cakes. I still had leftovers.
65 g butter
1-2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp rosewater (This was my addition – a pink flavour to compliment the pink strawberry cupcakes)
Put the butter, milk, vanilla and half a cup of the icing sugar into your mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the sugar while beating, until you have a smooth, spreadable consistency. You may not need all the sugar.
I had a pretty good day on Friday. Sleep in, picnic, walk in the park, cupcakes and pizza. I thought I might share some pictures because I like taking pictures and I took a lot. I’m getting in the groove because I figured before I ask for a super fancy camera for my birthday, I’d better know whether I was going to use it. Right?
And, yes, that means that right now I use a point and click. Hey, a girl’s gotta have some sort of pictures on her food blog, right?
Right again. So.
This is my bed. I like to make my bed in the mornings… yeah, the picture’s a little wonky. Sorry. I had to get up early to drive my brother to work experience. I then slept another three hours. I love sleeping in.
I saw a beautiful sunrise this morning. I didn’t take photos because I was driving.
After I got up, at approximately noon, I messed around on the internet and wrote you some words. Then I took in the washing and took some photos of some flowers.
I went to the library to borrow some books… and to scan in a design for a camp I lead on in September. It’s called… September Camp. Surprise!
I can’t show you the design because it’s a secret still. I think.
Then I went on a picnic in the park.
I got coffee and a toastie from this place called Yarra Coffee. Good coffee – you can buy beans there too! – and great food. I got the #5 toastie, with avocado, tomato, fetta, pesto, baby spinach and possibly one more ingredient I can’t remember. I had a choice between olive and rosemary sourdough or plain. I chose olive and rosemary. Yum!
I went on a walk around the lake and listened to the Joy the Baker podcast with Joy and Tracy from Shutterbean (available from Homefries). I love going for walks! Me and my roommate went on walks around the lake pretty much every day for a while there last year.
Beautiful day for a walk. I really loved the look of these rushes. Oh! Unfortunately, I wanted to feed some scraps and duds to the ducks but I wasn’t allowed. Sad face.
I was going to make muffins but decided to make cupcakes instead when I saw local strawberries for sale.
And then I went to hang out with friends and eat pizza. And talk about camp. Excited!
How was your Friday?
I never really dressed up for mass. (For all you Protestants out there, that’s what we call church. Mass is the gathering; church is the people. Or the building, depending on who you talk to. I always thought it was the building, but then I found out different when I got older. Excuse me, we don’t tell people what we believe, we try and make them guess by how we act. Unfortunately, this way you can get a little confused, especially if you’re only five.)
But hey. I digress. (Often. Clearly.)
Today is Sunday and I am in my Sunday Best. I went out for breakfast and you know what I was saying about the best way to break in new shoes is to dance in them? It’s true but the second best way may be to walk down a sun-dappled street on a summer morning after a beautiful breakfast. It was so good and I was so disappointed that I couldn’t finish it. I clearly need to make my stomach bigger. The walk was almost necessary just to get that over-full feeling from my stomach. I will never be able to stick to a portion-control diet. I think it’s ridiculous.
Sunday best for me today was my new shoes, a red dress pinned up to be bubble like (which, incidentally is great to dance in) and flowers in my hair.
I love driving slowly down sun-dappled streets with the windows down and the wind in my hair. It’s a beautiful way to get to know someplace and when I move I’m totally going to go on many new drives, particularly to orchards and pick your owns and particularly with my housemates and my friends. I’ll put on beautiful music and revel in life.
I love the idea of taking a day off from the rest of your life and remembering your roots, where you come from, where you’re going, what your purpose is. That, I believe, is the true meaning (or one of them) of Sunday services, although I think it’s either been lost or it just doesn’t get talked about enough. We are scared to tell our stories for fear of being told we are trying to convert people but what’s the matter with telling people the beauty and the mystery of life as we know it?
So I didn’t go to mass today (yet… there’s still time:) but I did remember what I’m trying to do in life – put the world back together. And part of that is loving myself and sending out happy energy into the world. Because to love others like you love yourself, you first have to love yourself, right? Well, maybe not first, but it’s definitely a part and parcel of loving the world. And remember 1 John 4:20 - Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. You have to love others to love God. Everything is connected.
So go and connect yourself. Happy Sunday. Happy January 16.
It’s official: the best way to break in a new pair of shoes is to dance in them.
And so, the cleaning, the tidying, washing, packing, cooking, calling, REALITY of LIFE can WAIT because I got new shoes today and they’re pretty and I’m listening to some awesome music and it’s sunny out and I am having a pretty awesome day.
It’s so weird how a mood can swing, up and down, from really crappy to really happy. But you know, you can make it happen yourself. Listening to great music, calling up a good friend, chatting away, curling up in bed with a good book and a hot chocolate until you feel ready to face the world again. It’s ok to figure things though at your own pace.
But the happier you are, the more happy energy you send out into the world, I believe, and I think that it’s a good thing to do. I don’t believe in karma or in a God who rewards those who do well and punishes those who don’t. I do believe that if you send out happy energy into the world, it makes the world a better place and it makes you a better person.
Because, you see, what you practise eventually becomes muscle memory, right? So if you are constantly asking yourself if it’s the right thing to do, if you’re constantly sending out happy energy, if you’re constantly trying to make the world a better place, then it’ll eventually just become second nature to you.
So clap your hands.
Don’t let go of the people that matter.
Kickstart the love.
And just have fun, because everything else can wait.
Today I took myself out for coffee.
You may think that this was a token for holding the lonely at bay but I am, in fact, trying to get to know myself. I am in the process of becoming friends with myself, of believing that I am, in fact, worthy of friendship. Because I am.
I’m sure I will believe it fully one day, but for now I must be patient.
Because as I try to be better (and remind myself do or do not – there is no try) I believe that to do so, I have to believe that I can. And to do that, I have to love myself, because you don’t believe in people you don’t love. Or at least, there is always an underlying belief that it won’t happen and if it does, it doesn’t mean much.
So I went for a drive, because we all gotta go places, and I bought a coffee and sat for a while and watched the people; I saw a couple who had matching converse on and a girl with a motorbike and several skateboarders and some really cool shoes. I walked for a while and went into bookshops and vintage clothing stores and bought ice cream. And I drove again and sat again and wondered.
Because wandering around aimlessly is toxic if you wonder what the point of it all is, if you really have no purpose and aim simply to fill in time or rather, not; but if the point is the sun and your own company, wandering and wondering can be quite therapeutic.
So hold your heart and move, gorgeous and affecting, to your music. Believe in yourself. Dance like no one’s watching; because they’re probably not. Enjoy your company, because you’re stuck with it. Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you!
But if you do decide to take yourself out for coffee, dress up. Be nice to yourself. Impress yourself. Be happy.