Made It Monday: Cakefest

Welcome to #MadeItMonday, where I post something I’ve made in the previous week, and where you can join in and post something you made too! The rules are easy: post a pic somewhere of something you’ve made in the last week (ish; let’s say in the last month as the hard-and-fast) and tag it. Sit back and enjoy scrolling through all the beautiful things we’ve collectively created, and celebrate the fact that humans can be awesome! 🙂

So this week we are, shockingly enough, back to cake. Stop, stop, stop. I know. Not MORE cake, you are saying. Does this woman EVER not eat cake?

Well, to be fair, most of the cakes I make are not for me to eat O:) And hey, what can I say? I just really love cake!! 😀

So last Sunday (i.e. a week ago, not yesterday, or today I guess if you are on the other side of the world where it is still possibly maybe Sunday? TIME, WHAT IS TIME) I spent the day baking, because I have a few big cake projects coming up. You can see the glorious stack of results below:

 

Item 1: A birthday cake. This one’s a paying gig that I’ll be completing next weekend (the cake is frozen in the meantime – this recipe freezes REALLY WELL, and hey, did you know that professional cake-decorators actually recommend freezing a cake at least for 24 hours before then defrosting and decorating as if you’re using a mud cake (which for decorating you pretty much should be, as they sturdy and dense enough to hold up under the weight of the decorations) it actually improves taste and texture? There ya go ;)) and I’ll OBVIOUSLY take pics and share once it’s done 😉

Item 2: The baby’s birthday cake. Her party isn’t for over a month, but again with the freezing, and between now and then I have semester finals for all my classes plus end of semester reports and etc etc etc, so free weekends? Yeah, not so much. So I figured doubling the recipe and making it now would be perfect 😉 (PS Still haven’t decided which permutation of a cow cake I’m doing for her party, but rest assured you’ll see that when it happens too!)

Item 3: Weeell. We have a staff lunch and I have to bring food and it’s going to be a Western theme and the baby’s party is cows, right? So I had this genius plan that I’d make cowprint brownies (cheesecake brownies, right?) and I’d just double the recipe and have half for the work thing and half for the cow party and THIS MADE SENSE – RIGHT?!?! Except cowprinting them turned out to be totally impossible. Sigh. It was such a good idea, too 🙁 But hey. They’re still tasty, and Imma still CALL them cowprint brownies – they’re just… reversed. Black with white splodges, right?* Om nom.

* Today in blogging: Amy’s contest to see how many times she can use the word RIGHT.

What have you made this week? (It doesn’t have to be fancy!!) Don’t forget to tag your contribution, or even better, leave a link in the comments!! I love seeing what inspiring things other people have made 🙂 🙂 🙂

Made It Monday: Disappearing Zucchini Soup (Courgettes, For Some Of You ;))

Welcome to #MadeItMonday, where I post something I’ve made in the previous week, and where you can join in and post something you made too! The rules are easy: post a pic somewhere of something you’ve made in the last week (ish; let’s say in the last month as the hard-and-fast) and tag it. Sit back and enjoy scrolling through all the beautiful things we’ve collectively created, and celebrate the fact that humans can be awesome! 🙂

Food, this week, because despite spending an intense day in the last week of holidays making two weeks’ worth of meals and freezing them for when school went back and I’d be smashingly exhausted, it’s been a pretty inspiring food week and I haven’t actually *used* anything from the freezer yet! (Despite being smashingly exhausted. Me and food are on good terms this week. Possibly because I *devoured* Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in two days – no pun intended ;))

I had a run of like three or four REALLY GOOD meals in a row, including the very first time I’ve ever cooked fish that didn’t involve just wrapping it in foil with herbs and butter and baking it in the oven.* But the recipe I’m sharing today is actually mine, so I feel like it’s a little more in line with the ‘Made It Monday’ concept, so this is the one I’m sharing.

Also, it’s a really good way to use up those giant, surplus zucchinis that always end up hanging around at the end of the season, AND it freezes well, so you can have your zucchini hit well into autumn and winter 🙂 It’s called ‘disappearing zucchini soup’ party because it’s a good way of ‘disappearing’ those extra zucchinis, and partly because they kind of do disappear into the soup 🙂

 

* Yes, yes, I’m vegetarian, but we’ll eat fish if/when my husband catches it fresh, so 2-4 times per year. After the success of this experiment, we may try to make that more often! 😀

Pot of chunky, vibrantly green soup simmering on the stove

DISAPPEARING ZUCCHINI SOUP
Makes 6-8 serves*

INGREDIENTS
1 large bunch of spring onions (actually green onions or scallions, I dunno why we persist in calling them SPRING onions in Australia)
1 leek
Oil, for sauteing
6-8 heaped teaspoons of vegetable stock powder
8c water
6-8 medium potates
2 large (forearm-length) zucchinis
1 handful fresh basil leaves
Salt, to taste
1T dried chives
2t dried ground sage
1/3c grated cheese (cheddar or tasty etc)
1/2c milk (or more to taste)
1 can corn kernels, drained.

METHOD
Slice up the whites and some of the greens of the onions and leeks. Saute gently in olive oil (or other oil or butter or whatever).
Add stock powder, mix until pasty and heat for a minute (this helps release the flavours in the stock).
Add your water and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, finely dice your potatoes and grate the zucchinis. Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes for 5 mins then the zucchinis and basil for an additional 3-4, until the potatoes are soft. Add salt to taste.
Add the chives, sage and cheese and stir until cheese is melted, then add milk.
Use a bar mix to blend until smooth, then add the drained corn kernels. Adjust seasonings if necessary and serve with sour cream and, if you can bothered, a grate of parmesan. Om nom. 🙂

* Honestly I have no idea how many serves this makes because I serve two adults and two small children who may or may not be hungry and then package up some of the rest for my lunches for the week and then throw the rest in the freezer. But on the basis that one cup of water equals one serving, you can assume about 8. For reference, we got out of it two adult dinners, two tiny dinners, four adult lunches and then probably another two adult dinners for the freezer.

What have you made this week? (It doesn’t have to be fancy!!) Don’t forget to tag your contribution, or even better, leave a link in the comments!! I love seeing what inspiring things other people have made 🙂 🙂 🙂

I Made It: Dinner, Om Nom

Hello! I KNOW, this is me blogging for what, the third time in a week, or something like that? Don’t keel over in shock. I’ve finally come up with a Plan that I think might see me blogging more regularly–but then again, I’m currently Not At Work (because surgery), and we all know that full time teaching tends to play havoc with my most carefully laid plans all the time. So. Blogging: I have a plan; we’ll see if it survives contact with the enemy next week 😉

Anyway the net result of this is that a) you’ll hopefully have more blog posts to read, but the corollary is that b) random topics. I can’t be thinky and deep all the time (AH HA HA MY POSTS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THINKY AND DEEP WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING SHUT UP) so prepare for more randomness.

On that note, dinner. 1) Due to my recently acquired gallbladderlessness, I have to, er, tinker with the way I’ve been eating. Not outright change, but definitely, undeniably tinker. It’s possible that you don’t know, but I’m vegetarian, and have been my whole life. I’m not vegan, though, and I love me some dairy. Sadly, that’s part of the problem: I love me some dairy a little too much. Animals fats are high on the list of things that can exacerbate my digestive system now, so urgh, I have to learn to cook without cheese at every meal. (Meals without some variety of cheese? What even IS this?)

2) In my attempt to establish more regular blogging, I decided alliteratively that Mondays shall hence with be Made-it Mondays, wherein I can post pictures/evidence of something non-writingish that I have recently made. Dual purposes: a) I believe strongly that writers, as well as every other type of person in existence, should fundamentally be creative people. Being creative is soul nourishing, character developing, anxiety liberating, and a perfect antidote to an overly capitalist/consumerist society. People who are alive create; people who aren’t consume. (For the purposes of this argument, assume ‘create’ is defined in the broadest sense possible.) And b) this will force me to both i) make time to pursue my other creative hobbies that tend to fall by the wayside (music, drawing, photography, cooking, baking, building lego sculptures, etc :D) and ii) acknowledge the act of creation in the mundane. Because sometimes, like today, the most blog-worthy thing I created was dinner. But you know what? That’s totally okay, because creating food is still creating, and when you look at it that way making dinner is no longer drudgery, and is instead a creative and interesting endeavour 🙂

So! All of that preamble aside, dinner! I’ve had my eye on this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s blog since Deb posted it because I am TOTALLY ADDICTED to all things sweet potato AND all things involving baked vegetables, and this not only ticked both those boxes BUT so long as I kept the yogurt dressing to a minimum it also fit my other ‘dietary requirement’ bills (yay non-animal protein). (sigh).

The recipe is Roasted Yams and Chickpeas with Yogurt and it’s pretty much as it says on the can, except that the title neglects to mention the delicious spicy kick from the chilli and paprika, and the sour OM NOM from the Greek yogurt and lime juice. Either way, it was dead simple to make, incredibly tasty,* and it’s going on my regular roster – albeit as an Amy lunch food rather than dinner, since Mr 4 is currently incompatible with orange vegetables** and Mr Laurens was not a giant fan of the sum total of the parts.

Anyway. Crunchy, sweet, sour, spicy, and with a good hit of protein. Dead easy to make. Good weekday food. The only thing I changed in the recipe was the amount of lime juice – I only used one lime 🙂

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* So long as you’re a comparable sweet potato freak, I guess. Husband was not a massive fan.

** Though strangely enough carrots are still okay. Go figure. Still, better than my “I will not eat anything but corn kernels and cottage cheese” phase at an approximately similar age, I guess.

Random Lunch Recipe: Pear Salad

Because it’s autumn here and this was just the thing for a lovely, sunny, bright and breezy day 🙂

Ingredients (per person)

A large double handful of baby spinach leaves, torn
1 beurre bosc pear (or one with similar soft texture), cubed
50g of soft feta (more or less), crumbled
1T pecans, roughly crushed
1T black cherry vinegar*
1 med-large strawberry
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Finely chop or puree strawberry with vinegar. Let steep. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients and gently toss. Pour over vinegar, season and consume 🙂

Alternatives

* Good quality balsamic vinegar should be a passable substitute for black cherry vinegar.
Try walnuts instead of pecans, apples instead of pears, or parmesan instead of feta.

This Is How We Party…

Family friend’s 18th party on Sunday, and it was the family team at work in all our usual roles: Mum on food, Jess on decorations, me on cake, and Em on stand-by/gofer/jack-of-all. Friend wanted a picnic in the park–less clean up, good choice!–and the weather held out, which is not usual for this time of year in Canberra–it’s usually teeth-blisteringly freezing by now.

Picnic in the park; pretty simple, right? Ha. This is how we party.

 

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(There were originally a whole bunch of paper lanterns hanging across the top of the shelter, and a big pink parasol hanging at the back. Alack, the wind…)

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And the cake, a milk-choc mud cake with orange marmalade filling (since friend wanted jaffa), with cinnamon and cloves in the cake (to blend better with the orange). The filling, meh. I’d do it differently next time. The cake–well. Husband dislikes cake. He usually declines, or if pressed for politeness, will have the tiniest of nibbles. He devoured an entire bowlful of trimmings and lamented the subsequent empty bowl. I call that a win.

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No candles – we used sparklers instead 🙂 Four down each side to make eight, then one in the middle to make “eighteen” 😀

 

Sugar-free Chocolate!

Also, in other (much more exciting) news, I am now making sugar-free chocolate by the block, and you can have some, if you’d like. Check it out at http://cobbettandpaws.wordpress.com 🙂

In fact, because I am excited about my chocolate, how about I offer you a block? Comment below with your name and some way to get in contact with you (email, facebook, twitter, phone if you live in Australia, whatever), and on Friday I’ll draw the names out of a hat. Metaphorically speaking. Winner can choose a block – at the moment I have 60% dark (all blocks are based on this, so they’re all dark), almond, coconut rough (dark with a touch of milk), and mint (not pictured). Go to, and if you spread the word somehow and let me know you can have an extra entry 😉

Five Pack of Cobbett&Paws Chocolate

What To Do When You’re Feeding An Army…

…at home, and you lack the flatware for everyone to eat off. Seriously, guys: this is an AWESOME IDEA. If we hadn’t just had a massive dinnerware set donated to us, I’d totes be doing this next time I needed to feed a bunch of people 😀

(seriously, read the link – it’s cheaper than disposable plates and so insanely clever it almost feels like you’re doing something illegal…)

http://theyearofless.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/day-87-better-than-disposable-dishware.html

Sweet Potato Savoury Slice

My best friend in high school introduced me to this, and I haven’t made it in yeeeeears. But, I have lovely fresh sweet potatoes grown only a couple of hours away from here waiting to be used, and a bazillion and one eggs (otherwise known as 43 o.O) in the fridge because both Boyo and I thought we were out. Oops. So. Lunch, that is tasy and filling and nutritious and all those other good things.

 

Sweet Potato SliceIngredients

400g ish of sweet potato – peel it, and slice it thinly

200g of feta – hard, soft, whatever you like best

1T crumbled basil (I used frozen from fresh for the first time, which was surprisingly good, actually)

6 eggs – free range of course 😉

1/3c of cream – I used thickened as that’s all we had

 

Microwave/steam the sweet potato until nearly cooked. Layer half in the bottom of a greased baking dish – mine was about 15cm x 22cm at a guess. Crumble over half the feta and sprinkle over half the basil. Mix eggs and cream – I beat lightly with a fork until combined. Pour half of it over the sweet potato etc in the dish. Layer on the rest of the sweet potato, feta, basil and egg mixuture. Bake at 180C for 20-25 mins until nearly set and just browning. Remove from oven and sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy hot or cold :o)

Octopuses Achieve Consciousness

This makes me irrationally happy. Octopuses and I have a very love-terror relationship: the freak the heck out of me, but I also adore them.

 

In other news, I think I have begun to clarify my relationship with writing. Happy days. Also, the bread-shoggoth is beginning to make bubbles; hopefully we shall have an active culture soon and can start experimenting with this whole bread-making idea. Rah. Also-also, I totally survived the English teacher Professional Development workship that I was asked to run last night, and it went swimmingly. They have encouragd me to volunteer to run it again next year. Also-also-also and also finally, I must now run away to do Sekrit Project things for tomorrow’s hens night (for my high school bestie, not me). Pictures forthcoming. Woo-rah.