Forgot to write this one up – it’s not as sweet tasting as you’d think – but then a little goes a long way :)
Dry ingredients are: 2 cups of rice bubbles, a packet of smashed up arrowroot biscuits, 1 cup of halved maltesers.
Wet ingredients are: 125g butter, a can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder.
Put the wet ingredients in a saucepan and melt over medium heat until they start to bubble. Mix stirring for a minute and add to the dry ingredients. Note: mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl before you add the wet stuff – it’s easier.
Press the base mix into a lined slice pan. Use the largest one you’ve got to spread it thin – once cool, the thicker this slice is, the harder it is to cut.
Melt a packet of white chocolate melts in the microwave and drizzle over the top – add more halved maltesers and pop the lot in the fridge to set.
Nearly forgot I made this for a caramel loving friends birthday. Gird your loins and don’t make it on a hot day – it takes a half an hour of constant stirring. Make it the day before you need it to give it time in the fridge.
Prepare a 20cm square slice pan greased and lined with baking paper.
In a saucepan, put a 400g can of condensed milk (I use the 99% fat free/skim one), a cup of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of liquid glucose, 1/4 cup of golden syrup, and 125g chopped up butter.
Let the stirring begin.
Warm this over low heat until the sugar dissolves so you don’t get a gritty fudge. Don’t let it boil – but keep it stirring for about 10 minutes.
Then ramp up the temperature a bit to a low medium heat/simmer stirring all the time. On my electric stove it took another 8 minutes to get to a soft bubble.
Now keep stirring like a mad person while it’s bubbling for another 8 or so minutes. You’re looking for the mixture to thicken and darken a little. Watch the heat on the bottom of the pan though – I had to lift the saucepan off a few times to moderate the temp.
Take the pan off the heat and drop in the white chocolate (200g) in small pieces and …you guessed it, stir til it’s melted through.
Pour your fudge into the slice pan. Mine ended up about 2cm thick all around. While it’s warm, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of good quality salt flakes over the fudge. I used pink Himalayan salt.
Leave the fudge to cool for an hour and then cover with glad wrap and put into the fridge.
Lunches for the week are now sorted. Homemade hommus to have with sweet potato chips. I baked extra sweet potato to add into some Harissa cous cous and spinach. I baked some mini mushroom and feta tarts to have with salad and a few to go into the freezer for an easy late dinner after a long day at work.
I find it tough to stay positive through the drudge of my real-life workday. Staying mindful of what I want that would be better for me gets a little lost in the knee-jerk required to fix the perpetual drama of the day. And none of which adds to me achieving my goal for a more inspired life.
So this morning, I began with deciding on one small step I can do today that keeps my mind out of the humdrum and reminds me of my bigger picture. I plan to do it at lunchtime so it’s scheduled and is something I’m now looking forward to. Usually any break I take out of the office involves crossing off a chore on the to do list.
What’s your one step on the road to what you really truly want? Big dreams come true one little piece at a time. Chip away at it.
You know that little freckle on your lower inside calf? On the part of your leg visible when you sit cross-legged on the ground? The bit you hardly ever put sunscreen on because you wear long skirts and work in an office and are really only out in the sun when you’re walking to and from public transport on your weekday commute? Yeah, let’s talk about that one.
When you go to your yearly skin cancer clinic scan (and you DO GO TO A YEARLY SCAN, RIGHT?) and you strip down to your undies and get gawped over by a specialist – make sure they look at it if they don’t catch it themselves. My Doc caught it. And it came off that very same visit. A local anaesthetic needle and a few minutes razoring off a piece of me for biopsy and come back in a week for the results.
What you probably won’t expect is a phone call the very next afternoon rescheduling your follow up to a “surgery timeslot because it’s obviously cancer”. Faaaaarrrrk. Don’t do that, Receptionists. Don’t say that.
So you excuse yourself from your open plan desk and rush to an empty meeting room to ask for more info as you madly text your go-to friend who texts back saying find out more info. Then leave your workplace. Just leave. Talk to your doctor on the commute home and be assured if it was seriously bad cancer, he’d have you back in that day to cut it out.
Spend your week staying calm. Rely on the doctor. Heal your biopsy site and journal your heart out.
Go to your surgery, driven by your go-to friend who knows to talk to keep your mind off things. Stay cool while you get needled, carved and stitched. Make small talk about the embroidery skills of the Doc you’re trusting. Limp out. Keep your leg up for a few days. Look after yourself and know that whatever the next results say, that if further action is required, KNOW that you’ll do it. Whatever it takes.
It’s better to know, ladies and gentlemen. It’s better to be checked, have some news and deal with it, than it is to have a nagging worry in the back of your mind and avoid it. Living with your head up your butt isn’t living.
I just made these lovely little snack pieces. The original recipe was posted here by Not Quite Nigella.
Plump up 1/2 cup of sultanas in some hot water. I also rehydrated some cranberries. Mash up two ripe bananas in a bowl and add in 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and about 3 teaspoons of agave syrup (for sweetness). Mix in the sultanas with this to get a wet mix. Roll into balls and roll these in more oats and coconut. Voila – healthy snacks for the working week.
Another summer of homegrown goodness, and it’s all come to its inevitable end. No more mangoes. All gone. The last few have been chopped up for one last day of snacking but the rest must be frozen for posterity. Cryogenic mango will save the day in the months to come. – the trick is to use them wisely.
Epic morning of de-hedging around the shed today, with the help of two friends. The weather was kind with an overcast sky and some light rain. The chooks over the back were clucking. There was one rather large toad which startled us a bit.
And then…just when we could see the fence through the massive bougainvillaea, we noticed Gucci. All tucked up and sleeping peacefully, right where one friend had been snipping branches. None of our sawing, clipping or heaving had disturbed his slumber…until his cover was nearly all gone of course. Then he started moving. And so did we!
It’s been a big week – spending hours battling the annoying with an especially high volume of stupid, so today I’m making it all about me.
As reward for surviving this week without putting anyone in a headlock – and in preparation for a weekend of hard yakka in the yard, today I am:
- buying a coffee and avocado toast for late brekkie – this is a luxury!
- spending my lunch hour in an art store, then buying something lovely for lunch – double luxury
- shopping after work for some nice foods for the long weekend (which besides gardening, will be spent bbqing, cricketing and sleeping ‘cos Australia Day)
What a rebel. Does everyone else live a life that includes little rewards all the time and it’s just me being mean to me? I don’t seem to do the nice things often. I don’t spend money wantonly ‘cos need it for a rainy day – don’t waste a lunch hour wandering ‘cos errands to run etc. I think most people have a list of “needs to do” and we never set it aside to do the nice things. I know for me it’s a case of “I’ll do the nice things when I’ve finished the “. And that sucks. When I was a kid I thought being a grown up meant I could do what I want when I want. And it is, but I still don’t do it. Maybe I’m the stupid one, but not today.
I scored a bag of homegrown mangos from my sis-in-law last week and when a few of them ripen at the same time, what do you do? Chop them up into bite size pieces and freeze them. Add in any other fruit you have around to make up smoothie shortcut bags you can throw into the blender at a moments notice. Make them about 1/2 to 1 cups worth and you have enough to add to a cup of liquid, add a shot of protein powder and some ice if you are sharing with another and blitz away. Easy.
I love Christmas time – it’s rum, rum and more rum! This is a soft fudge and very sweet.
Put 1/2 cup of raisins (which count as a fruit really) into a small saucepan with 1/2 cup of rum – Bundaberg rum of course! – and warm through to get the raisins nice and boozy. Cool them down.
In a bigger saucepan, stir a can of sweetened condensed milk, a firmly packed cup of brown sugar with 120 grams of chopped up butter until the sugar dissolves. I didn’t use glucose syrup because I like grainy fudge, but if you want it smoother and creamier, add into this saucepan 2 tablespoons of glucose syrup. Once the sugar is dissolved, raise the heat to medium and stir for 10 minutes until it’s a light golden colour.
Take the large saucepan off the heat and add in 200grams of chopped up milk eating chocolate – you could do dark if you wanted. Stir the chocolate in until it’s melted in. Add in the boozy raisins (and rum!) and when it’s all combined, pour it into a lined square tin. Let it cool and set – put in the fridge if you’re in a hurry. When it’s set, slice and dice it into little pieces and enjoy.
Is it called a truffle if there’s no truffle in them? I wonder to myself. Oh well, these taste lovely anyway :)
In a saucepan, put 1/2 cup of coconut cream, 360grams of white eating chocolate and as much grated zest of limes and lemons that you can handle zesting. The recipe suggests 2 tablespoons of each, but keep going til you can do no more! Stir over a low heat until the chocolate melts then pour into a bowl, cover and get into the fridge to cool and solidify. You need to be careful with the amount of coconut cream – too much and the mixture won’t set (tip for young players :). Leave the mixture to cool for as long as possible – overnight is great.
When set – get a bowl of some kind of coconut (moist/shredded – even desiccated). Take a teaspoon of the mixture and roll into a ball – cover with the coconut and put on a lined tray to put back into the fridge until ready to eat.
These dark chocolate balls are chockers with raisins and cranberries soaked in port. Delish!
In a bowl, put 1/4 cup of raisins and 1/4 cup of chopped dried cranberries to soak in 1/2 cup of your favourite port. In a saucepan, melt a large block (200gram+) of dark eating chocolate with 1/4 cup of thickened cream. When melted, take off the heat and add in the raisin/cranberry bowl of goodies. Put in a bowl and refrigerate until set. I left overnight and had a glass of port myself :).
When the mixture is set, take a teaspoon sized amount, roll into a ball and place on a lined tray. When you’ve rolled all the balls, melt another 200gram block of milk eating chocolate in a saucepan. You can either drizzle the milk chocolate over the balls or dip them in – it’s entirely up to you. Refrigerate until you’re ready for the eating part.
This is a family tradition – probably more for Boxing Day nibbles while watching the cricket, but they are always there somewhere.
NB: You need a deep frypan (that can get up to a high heat) or an electric frypan you can control the temps on.
Put one cup of water in the heating pan with 2 cups (1 lb) of sugar. Colour with cochineal/red food dye. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then bring it to the boil (200C – or 375F in the old scale). When boiling add 2 cups (1 lb) of raw peanuts and lower the temp down to around 120C (260F) and put on the lid. Leave it to bubble away for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and take the lid off. Start stirring it all until the sugar crystallises…which can take a few minutes. Allow to cool and voila.
27 April 1997 – South Africa’s Freedom Day – and 3 years since Mandela had won the Presidency. A small group of us travelling overland through Africa took the day trip out to Robben Island. A bus met us at the jetty and we drove around the island first. We went to the quarry where the prisoners dug a schoolroom and taught each other to read. A quick stop at the old car painted with a welcome message to the All Blacks rugby team. Past the house Robert Subukwe was kept in by an act of parliament – 6 years longer than his sentence.
And then to the prison to get out and walk. The island had been handed over to the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology and they had invited back prisoners to work as guides. Our group was guided around by Lionel – who had served 7 years here as a prisoner.
In flicking through my journal from that day, he had so many stories to tell us. About their punishments for “offences”, having to pay for study, receiving one censored letter every 6 months and so on. He took us to Mandela’s cell – and we all took turns looking into the smallest of spaces – trying to imagine it holding for so long the man who was now President.
The one thing that stays strongest with me from that day was the last building we stopped in inside the prison complex.
One room where the prisoners spent their time talking. This is the place Lionel got emotional. He said the wardens had made a mistake by allowing them to be together – that the government should have split them up.
He said that it was in this room where they put their ideals into practice. In D Section – with prisoners from different backgrounds/political ideologies/races/education levels and so on – was where they learnt tolerance and their humanity could shine through. In this room they lived a micro-version of what they all hoped and dreamed for outside the prison walls.
Strange, isn’t it? The place the government sent Mandela to punish and break him, was the place where he triumphed.
You know that feeling of something missing in your life/an emptiness of real purpose that the day to day chore-fest doesn’t seem to answer? I’ve never heard it explained like this before and it makes sense.
Everyone is busy, and there never seems to be enough time in the day to do what you want to do, let alone need to do. Still most people I know spread themselves thinner to put some time and energy into “their Calcutta” – and some even spread themselves across a few causes. This is why.
Is there anything as good as potato and ham fritters with lashings of tomato sauce? Those were a Sunday evening favourite for my family – particularly during winter. Via twitter I was gifted the recipe for an holumi and zucchini version, which is way better for me, I’m sure. (Hat tip to Richard Chirgwin). But as good as they are – and they are very good – I’m not sure they eclipse the humble spud variety as our family tradition.
In a bowl grate 4-5 zucchini
1 packet of holumi cut into small squares
1 onion – diced
1 cup of breadcrumbs (I used panko crumbs)
Half cup of plain flour to bind it all together.
(If the mix is too dry – add another egg).
Shallow fry in oil (rIce bran oil has a high smoke point).
Dry ingredients in a bowl
5 cups of oats
1/4 cup of dark cocoa
Add the wet(ish) ingredients
8 shots of espresso
2 tbls of grated palm sugar
The seeds from 2 vanilla beans
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of orange juice
2 tbls honey
Mix it all together so it’s all a bit moist.
Spread out on a tray and add almonds and some coconut on top. Into a low oven (80 degrees) for 2 hours. Turn off the oven and let the tray cool completely in the oven before putting in a container lined with baking paper.
It’s supposed to make up to 10 breakfasts but it lasts me longer. It’s delish with soy milk.
This is the link to the streamed lecture Mr Suzuki gave last month in Sydney. Brilliant. The people I know listen to this man, debate what he says and tend to rate his opinion highly. The POLITICIANS DON’T. Idiots.
Don’t get me wrong ‘cos I like a dance track as much as the next girl BUT…I’m scared this table gives the modern music industry’s recipe for chart success. And re: the two examples I’ve chosen – let’s not get into lyrical quality, social commentary and marketing to leverage audience drivers.
What I need is a retreat, fully catered, in a 5-star resort complete with free bar and complimentary massages, that is designed to support me in ripping out recipes from all my cooking magazines.
I need emotional encouragement to tear out pages and choose which side of the page to display. I need professional advice on whether to scan and print, or keep everything electronic. And what about indexes/contents pages? What about them!?!?
I need examples of organisation systems – display folders sorted by season, by magazine title, by ingredient… I need counselling through all these life-impacting decisions. Because they’ll live with me for the rest of my life.
Basically, I need someone else to do all this for me – is there a consultant I can buy for a week?
I distinctly remember parking the car this morning, putting my hair up, taking off my rings to put on some handcream, putting on my sunnies, then grabbing my bags, locking the car and heading off to work.
Nothing felt ‘wrong’ to me throughout the day – which goes to show I’m mental/tired/distracted/dim/getting old/only human…
Got back to my car at 6pm – and there on the floor next to the driver’s door are my two rings. I spent the drive home repeating “I cannot believe that…I CANNOT believe that”. I’m very grateful they were still there. And I’ll never forget them like that again*.
Nice and quiet here today. I love this suburb. Lots of people out walking but all for the same reason – enjoying a peaceful morning. It’s overcast and grey and there is a bit of drizzle around… the garden is giggling.
I’m old school when it comes to roses. If it doesn’t smell like a rose, I don’t see the point. Mr Lincoln, Freesia, Gold Bunny, Honey Dijon, Double Delight are some of my roses that all have a strong fragrance.
I break my own rule when it comes to my favourite rose. It’s called Julia’s Rose. It buds up a deep brown colour and when it opens it fades to the colour of parchment. My parents had it growing in the garden I grew up with and although it doesn’t have a scent, I love it because of its unusual colour. Parchment. What a delicious word to describe a flower. This is my favourite rose.
This is an interesting (and short) read via Mashable giving three ideas on managing your time (and the things/people) who impact on it. Although, not sure about the deferring the daughter’s whereabouts to someone else, the idea of what my time is worth vs who should do my to do list is food for thought.
What a shame the weekend is only two days long. Saturdays for errands and some chores. Sunday for the rest of the chores and as much of the good stuff you can cram into a few hours. Add in at least one catch up with family and/or friends and the time for doing hobbies is seriously compromised.
There needs to be a third day. A day of unwinding from the chores and the errands. A day for a movie. A day for some art. A day for reading, while lying on the lawn in the dappled shade filtered by a tree. A day to nibble from a small plate of antipasto and sup on some fruity wine. But instead, we have to go to work. It just doesn’t seem right, does it?
Take eleventy billion zucchini and grate them. Sweat down a humungous bunch of spinach in a saucepan with a little butter and soy sauce. Add in some mushies and soften these too. Slice up as much ham as you like and add it to a large pie dish with the zucchini, spinach and mushrooms all mixed up. Whisk up some eggs with a good dose of pepper (I used 8 – this is a HUGE quiche). Pour the eggs over the dish and flatten it out. Then add some grated cheese over the top. The dish goes into the oven (sans lid) at 160 degrees until the eggs are cooked and the top is golden brown. Allow to cool, then slice and freeze for “tired night” dinners with some salad or wrap up for picnic lunches at the cricket :)
The Ashes at the Gabba is a HUGE deal and the preparation for the “catering” our group organises for each day is taken extremely seriously. Limes cut for the drinks. Nibblies for elevenses and threesies. Salads and/or rolls for lunch. It’s serious Masterchef picnicking stuff.
Tonight’s effort (guinea pigging work mates tomorrow) is a roasted pumpkin and feta pastry.
How it goes:
Thaw 2-3 pieces of puff pastry.
Oven to 180-200 Celsius.
Slice and dice the pumpkin (I used a half of one) and spread it on an oiled (or baking paper lined) tray. Season it with the herbs and spices of your choice. I love harissa flavourings – but turmeric and garlic go well also. Whatever you like really. Roast for 20 minutes and then get it out to cool a bit.
Whisk up three eggs and 100mls each of light sour cream and milk (you could also use cream if you’re feeling decadent).
Oil two muffin trays. Slice each pastry sheet into 9 squares (for a big muffin tray) or 16 squares (for a small muffin tray) and line each with a square of pastry. (I got 12 large and 24 small out of this recipe). ** Don’t forget to oil the tray!! These suckers are difficult to get back out.
Fill each pastry with some spiced pumpkin. Spoon the egg mix over each. Don’t overfill. Crumble some feta over the top. I used a whole packet (250g).
These go into the oven for another 20 minutes or until golden. Let them cool in the tray before getting out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Because the egg mixture ran over a bit, I ended up using a cake tester to loosen the edges of each to get them out of the pan.
The Refugee Council of Australia has produced election guides outlining the refugee and asylum policies of the major parties as well as the minor party candidates for the Senate. Summaries of the policy platforms for the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal-National Coalition and The Australian Greens and a summary of the minor party candidates for the Senate can be accessed from their website.
How much does the inability to get to sleep suck? Heaps! It sucks heaps. It’s nearly 1:30 and I have to be up in 4 and a half hours to go to work. My mind isn’t whirring. No big to-do list being compiled as I lie here. Just me asking myself why I’m not sleeping? Stupid. Now I’m getting angry and my jaw is clenching. Teeth grinding and a headache will be the morning result. Sigh. Something is going to have to give and it will be something other than me. It’s gonna be a long week.
There’s something a little disconcerting when the line at Bunnings warehouse is longer for a $2 sausage sizzle than it is to buy a badge or a wristband from our boys in uniform. The fact the armed services need to raise money to support the health and wellbeing of returned soldiers is insulting enough.
Stamen’s website allows you to type in a place and it renders a map of it in watercolour. Fantastic for scrapbooks of travel, framed on your home’s “Wall of Life”, or part of your travel journal all marked up with where you have been – or want to go!
Mix 65g melted butter into a bowl containing 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup plain flour and 1/2 cup of almond meal.
Flatten this mix into an oiled & papered slice pan (small square) and bake on 160 Celsius for 10-15 minutes til it has a little colour. It’ll be baked again with the topping, so better to go a little under here. Leave this out of the oven to cool while you make the topping.
Melt another 80gm butter in a small saucepan with 3 big dollops of honey – go more if you like the taste. Let this simmer for 3 minutes then stir through 1 cup of sliced almonds so they’re all soaked and covered in the gooey goodness.
Pour the topping over the base slice and pop back in the oven for another 15 minutes until golden.
I love this site – it’s a drop of the bigger picture every time I see it. When your life seems consumed with spinning your wheels doing all the “haves to do” – a reminder of the important stuff is a gift.
“Every page was once a blank page, just as every word that appears on it now was not always there, but instead reflects the final result of countless large and small deliberations. All the elements of good writing depend on the writer’s skill in choosing one word instead of another. And what grabs and keeps our interest has everything to do with those choices.”
There are some extraordinary people who have spent their lives fighting for the preservation of the natural world – Dian Fossey, Ron and Valerie Taylor, Steve Irwin, Rick O’Barry, the Cousteau family, Trevor Long and David Suzuki, to name a few.
They have a lot in common. Tenacity. Drive. Determination. An ability to gather supporters around them – who either volunteer or work alongside them or fund their efforts. An ability to make enemies – dangerous ones at that when it comes to the “business” of poaching. They inspire the rest of us – particularly children. It’s a rare person indeed who has earned the respect and holds the attention of teenagers.
Standing tall amongst them is Sir David Attenborough.
One month after heart surgery to fit a pace maker, Sir David made good on his promised tour to Australia. An evening spent listening to him speak about his life – prompted by questions from Ray Martin. How he got into the role we love him for, what are his favourite moments, what was scary, how has the work of nature documentaries developed and improved over the years. So much to hear about and only 2 hours to hear it in.
Some lovely stories, stunning footage and an audience rapt to listen to it all. I spent the evening next to my nephew, who didn’t miss a word – and who didn’t miss his Xbox either. To see and hear a living legend was a treat well worth the money, time and the late bedtime on a school night.