Sunday, June 13, 2010

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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

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.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

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.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

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.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

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.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

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.