Saturday, 31 July 2010

Winter Vegetables

When I was at the peak of my pregnancy with Lily, I had a sudden urge to get my vegetable patch ready for winter. What do they say when pregnant mothers have sudden urges like these?

So there I was at Bunnings, this HUGE momma of a belly pushing this great big trolley, with two mischievious boys hanging of it. We picked winter vegetable seedlings of cos lettuce, beetroot, rainbow beet, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage. And a packet of sweet pea seeds.

I got home, don my gardening gloves and gum boots. Heave HUGE bags of cow's manure and mushroom compost as well as my HUGE belly and started working through the soil. I planted rows of seedlings, mulched and watered them in. I hammered in a trellis for the snow peas to grow upon. ALL by my pregnant self!

One week later, I had Lily.

So now the vege patch, left to grow on their own accord, a little bit haphazard, a little bit "slug-eaten" are soon ready to be harvested*.

*We have since munched on crisp lettuce leaves. Best Blogger Tips

We Have Lemons!

Citrus are in season right now, and for the first time in seven years, we have some lemons! Big juicy yellow globes hanging off the branches, I love it! It reminds me of happy yellow smiley faces. I wouldn't say that they are in abundance, but hey, there's definitely enough for sharing between our family and a few friends. And if you're in the area and needed some lemons, yell out won't ya?

I have been on a mission, a quest to search for the perfect lemon tart recipe. I love a lemon dessert that packs a punch. It has got to have that zing that goes straight to the back of the jaw, one that is so tangy it makes you shudder with delight!

I tried a Matt Preston recipe last weekend, from the MasterChef magazine and was somewhat disappointed with the end result. The pastry wasn't quite right, or I must have done something wrong with it. There wasn't just enough zing in the filling for my liking. Hence, I shall not share the recipe here. I mean it was an alright recipe, but not one that blows you away.

I did however, tried one made by my sister-in-law, and it was quite delightful. She got the recipe from Perhaps this could be my weekend project. (But there's SO many lined up!)

Oh, tarte au citron! I haven't found the perfect one yet, but oh yes someday I will... Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Making Paper Chains

Ever since Lily Jade was born, I must admit, the boys spend a lot of time in front of the telly, and that is A LOT of time in front of the telly! And every now and then, I get struck by overwhelming guilt and come up with something really random - some kind of activity for them. Be it art and craft, just scribbling in a bit of paper, counting pasta shells or helping me in the kitchen. It just depends on what I'm doing at that time and what I have in front or around me.

So last week, I was clearing out junk mail and magazines, and here's what we came up with: Making Paper Chains.

It's simple really, you need a pair of scissors, strips of paper roughly cut up to 3cm by 12cm and some sticky tape.

Bring the two ends of each strip together and secure it with a bit of sticky tape, making a ring. With another strip, feed it through the hole and make another ring. Repeat until you get the length you're happy with.

This is not rocket science, but it keeps them occupied, OK maybe for just 20 minutes and helps with dexterity and fine motor skills. And that's 20 minutes less of TV time. AND it uses recycled materials.

And now what??

Best Blogger Tips

Friday, 23 July 2010

Lily @ 3 months

Here's a video of my two littlies taken this morning:

Lucas calls Lily "wee wee". At 2 years and a bit, he is quite chatty and is able to form short sentences. Both brothers just adore their little sister and often "fights" for her attention. And now you know why Lily is an "easy baby". She gets her entertainment from her two big brothers! Best Blogger Tips

Super Busy

No, really. Does it get any busier than this?

I wake up every morning with a list. I love making lists. To do this and that. Shopping list. etc. But at the end of the day, nothing gets done. How did I get so busy over nothingness?

We do things, just the usual. I cook, I clean and I feed, three little mouths. Doesn't seem that many, but it certainly feels like I COOK and CLEAN, ALL THE TIME! Three little lives depended on me. So it may seem like I haven't crossed off anything on my list, but we survive yet another day. I guess that is a big achievement in a way.

And this other baby of mine gets a bit neglected. My blog.

I have a ton of posts to write up, a lot of photos to upload, recipes to share and videos to show and tell.

But right this moment, I have a baby hanging off my booby while I try to type. A very chatty 4 year old asking impossible questions and a cranky 2 year old who has just woken up from his afternoon nap, clinging to my leg and whinging. So, I can't make any promises, but I do owe it to you my dear readers, so I will try my absolute best to update every once in a while.

I leave you to ponder on these questions:

Oh mummy, why are there only 7 days in a week?

Why did Humpty Dumpty sit on the wall?

Why are there only two "arrows" on the clock?

Why do boys like blue and green, and why does Lily wear pink all the time?

Why, mom why? Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Morning Walk

I'm in dire need of some serious exercise. Post baby fat and some recent indulgences in good macarons food, need I say more?

So this morning, while everyone is still asleep, I slipped into my joggers, zipped up my woolies and stepped out into the frosty cold. Brrrr.....

I walked to my sister-in-law's house a good 1.5km, snuck in through the side gate, ran to the back and dug out four fresh stalks of lemon grass. The missing ingredient for my satay beef marinade. You didn't even noticed, did ya? ;)

All in the name of food!

Oh, a plate of satay skewers coming your way... Best Blogger Tips

Friday, 16 July 2010

Home Made Mayonnaise

Here's another recipe from MasterChef.

Home Made Mayonnaise

1 egg
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Process eggs, mustard, vinegar and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a small food processor until creamy. Add 1/4 of the oil to the egg mixture and process until slightly thicker. Add the remaining oil in batches until the mayonnaise is thick and creamy.

Once you've made and tasted home made mayonnaise, you will never buy them in the shops again. It is unbelievably easy! Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Raspberry Macarons

I must admit, I'm a sucker for reality TV and especially one that concerns food. So I love MasterChef. Much to their protest, the boys know that when MasterChef comes on telly every night at 7.30pm, they give up the reign of the TV remote control. And they play their air guitar and dance along to Katy Perry's Hot and Cold, the theme song.

So when Adriano Zumbo brought out his macaron tower for one of the pressure test challenges, and hubby sitting next to me making ooohhh and aaahhh noises, I knew I had been "pressured" to make some. And I have never made macarons before in my life. I researched on the web for a recipe, and there are millions out there! The MasterChef recipe seems a little complicated and requires a few ingredients that are somewhat peculiar to me (powdered egg whites and beetroot powder?) So as I was about to abandon this task, a friend send me a link to this site on Serious Eats: How To Make Macarons (Thanks Jas!). There were a few handy tips and tricks for optimum macaron creation, and only 4 ingredients to a basic macaron recipe. How hard could it be? After sifting through a few more recipes, I settled on one from My Tartelette because her pictures look pretty, and the recipe looks similar enough to the basic recipe. And raspberry why? Because they are my hubby's absolute favourite.

Raspberry Macarons and Raspberry Buttercream
Inspired by MasterChef and My Tartelette.

For the shells:
90 g egg whites (From about 4 eggs)
25 g castor sugar
200 g pure icing sugar
110 g ground almonds
1 tsp of rose pink food coloring

Here are a few tips:
  • Use eggs whites that have been preferably left 3-5 days in the fridge. I left mine to "age" overnight on the kitchen bench at (wintry) room temperature.
  • Put the almonds and icing sugar in the food processor and give it a few good pulses to make sure that they are super fine to give the batter a smoother finish.
  • Preferably, use powdered food colouring.
Prepare the macarons:

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the castor sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.

Fold the almonds and icing sugar mixture, and colouring into the meringue until fully incorporated.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 155 degrees Celcius. When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size with the oven door slightly ajar (Use a wooden spoon). Let cool. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

Raspberry Buttercream

125g butter
2 tbsp good quality raspberry preserve
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp milk

I kind of made this recipe up as I went along. Just whip up the butter and icing sugar until as pale as possible, light and fluffy. Fold through the raspberry preserve and milk until fully incorporated. Add enough milk to the right consistency to pipe.

Fill another piping bag with the buttercream and pipe a small dollop onto the centre of a macaron shell. Sandwich the cream with another shell. There you have it, a raspberry macaron!

So here's the story of how I actually went creating these little fluffy puffy pink buttons. It was somewhat disastrous to be honest, and don't be fooled by the prettiness in the picture. These 8 macarons are what was left, salvageable. You see, I don't own a piping set, and honestly my piping skills are close to none. Sometime ago, I bought a pack of disposable piping bags that comes with 3 plastic tips that I have kept. I've been recycling those tips every now and then, using zip lock bags instead and I thought it has worked marvellously well over the years.

The consistency of these macaron batter are like "magma" and should "flow like hot lava" as Matt Preston once said, so the thickness of it meant that it needed a bit more force to pipe them out. Needless to say, my "ziplock piping bag" burst open when I started to pipe and I had lava flowing everywhere. It was very very messy. I contemplated making one HUGE macaron instead.

Oh well, I manage to salvage some batter and with another dodgy piping bag, I got some done.

The outcome was delightful. Light and crisp on the outside, a slight acidic note from the raspberry cream, chewy and creamy on the inside. The flavours come together very well.

Now, on to my next task. That is to get a good piping set, one that will not explode on me. I hope you are reading this my dear hubby.

... Best Blogger Tips

Friday, 9 July 2010

The Icing On the Cake

Lemon Butter Cake

with White Chocolate and Lemon Ganache

Royal Icing
Hand Moulded Toppers, Marshmallows and Sugar Fairies


Let me explain. This is what I love doing.

A lot of people asked me where I'd find time to do all these. Well, I just do. I would happily give up that extra two hours of sleep to dust out the rolling pin and roll out the icing. I don't mind the red and blue pigments around the edges of my fingernails, even if they stay for weeks. I love creating that little fairytale scene on the cake. Little pirates on a pirate ship. Toadstools and fairies and chocolate freckles. To see their smiles on their happy faces... it takes them to a different place. It takes me to a different place.

By the way, this cake was especially for a little girl named Elizabeth. She turned 6 years old this week. Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Notice how the pictures of all my cakes are taken in the dark? Haha... that's when the pixies come out to work! (Or rather when all my little pixies are fast asleep!)


Click here to see some of my other creations.
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Thursday, 8 July 2010

Phonics with a Four Year Old

Lachlan, my 4 year old child, has started recognizing some words using phonics. In all honesty, he learnt most of his ABC's from a toy bus with little A-Z buttons. When each button is pressed, it will tell you the letter and the sound it makes.

Today, we had a conversation that went like this:

Car starts with the letter "K", "kuh-kuh-kaarr..."

I said, no Lachie, C is for Car.

Mum, listen to this sound..... "kuh" for "kar".

I said, "C" for CAR, just like "C" for CAT.

No mum, Ceeee is for Snake. SSSss, Ssss, Ssnake. Ceee for snake.

No Lachie, "S" for SNAKE. Hissssss....

"S" mom, is for ES-ca-la-tor!


Better start using the books, I'd say. Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Jamie Oliver's Cheese and Bacon Quiche

One of the things that excites me, is the sight of fresh, farm eggs. Smooth, ellipsoidal mounds and their creamy coloured shells! Today, we were given a tray of these beautiful eggs, and they were HUGE! So thank you, Mags & Benny and your gorgeous boys!

Just look at the size of these beauties.

The one on the left, rested on the rest of the giant eggs, is a 59g egg (From a 700g carton of extra large eggs). We cracked a few open, some are triple yolked and some are double. It makes me rub my hands with glee... just wondering what I shall make. The possibilities are endless.

But anyways, this is what I made earlier this morning, but not with those huge eggs.

Cheese and Bacon Quiche.

I came across this recipe from Jamie Oliver's website.

It's a classic. Very few ingredients and relatively simple to put together.

Recipe from


220g plain flour
120g cold butter
1/2 tsp salt
about 3 tbsp of ice cold water

4 large eggs
150ml double cream
100g mature cheddar cheese, finely grated
200g bacon, cut into small strips
1 small onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to season



1. Place the flour and the salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes then add to the flour.
2. Rub the flour and butter between your fingers till the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Add the water, continue mixing, then knead gently into a ball. Place in the fridge for about 15 mins.
3. In the meantime, grease a quiche/flan dish (approx 24cm) and preheat oven to 180C.
4. Roll out the pastry and lay in the quiche dish . Trim the edges.
5. Cover the pastry base with some greaseproof paper and then fill with dried beans or peas.
6. Pre-bake the pastry case for about 12-15mins, then remove from the oven (remove the paper and beans).

7. Prepare the filling:
Fry the bacon strips in a dash of olive oil, till lightly browned. Remove from the pan.
8. Fry the chopped onion gently, till soft.
9. Place the fried bacon and onion into the quiche crust and spread out evenly.
10. Whisk together the eggs,cream and cheese. Season with a little salt and pepper.
11. Pour into the quiche dish then place in the oven and bake for approx 30-40 mins.

My variation:

For the pastry, I simply throw the dry ingredients and the cold cubed butter into my KitchenAid food processor, and with a dough blade, I gave it a few pulses. Then with the motor running, I drizzled in the cold water until the dough comes together into a ball. I threw it into the fridge, and half an hour later, it's ready to be rolled out.

I was feeling generous with the filling, and pretty much used 1 and a half quantity of all the ingredients. It came out just right for the size of my quiche dish.

The end result: a nice little Sunday brunch for the family.

Now, more egg-baking to come from Gracey's kitchen so watch this space.

*Rubs hands with glee...* Best Blogger Tips