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August 2014
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October 2014

A (Piece) Of Finger In Every Pie

Well, you would think I would be better, now I have finished two courses of antibiotics for my sinus infection. That would be a No. I sliced quite a wodge off the edge of my left index finger on Wednesday. I was making savoury roll up scones for morning tea. It really hurt, it throbbed and I bled like a stuck pig. Barry The GardyGardener used his First Aid skills and bound me up with band-aids and puffy antiseptic powder. My word it hurt.

Wodge off my finger

I already had an appointment at the doctor for Friday and when I asked the nurse to have look at it for me, she called the doctor and apparently, it is quite bad. My doctor asked why I hadn't come sooner. She said I must be stoic!! I think I am, though I could not bear to look at it. I have to have it dressed again tomorrow and Friday and then we shall see. It is very hard to knit, or type or tie shoelaces or have a shower. I am very cross with myself. The one good thing is that it is my left hand and not my right.

Peri is Very Well. Her liver numbers are back to normal and she has the all clear from Dr David. She loves going to the vet and had another exciting visit with Gilly to have more blood taken. I peeped through the glass door, and there she was, placidly following Dr David about in the surgery area as he chatted to the other vets and nurses. She has been very helpful, especially with my knitting!!!

Peri and my knitting

Oh and here is my knitting. I was up to the underarm of the left front when the piece of finger cutting off disaster struck. I really love this cardigan.

Back and left front

Earlier this month I sewed together the blocks for last year's quilt. I am very pleased with it, and after the school holidays my friends are going to help me pin the wadding and backing to the top.

Last year's quilt top

We had holiday lunch at MrsReno's house yesterday. So nice to catch up with friends when no-one has to go to work the next day. I made the Apple Pie Cheesecake from the new Taste Magazine. It tasted just like an apple pie and MrsDrWho styled the photo for me!!! I think the saucy apple is the most delicious thing I have tasted for a while.

Apple pie cheesecake

The weather has been very Spring-y. There was a total Fire Ban in the South, the earliest on record. There were forty-seven bushfires. Tomorrow the forecast is for snow. Daylight Saving starts this coming weekend. The Labradors have been waking up very early, so I will be glad of the darker mornings. We leave earlier for our walk and Gilly has to be extra alert because there are more wallabies and potoroos about.

Gilly is very alert

And now my hands are tired from weird nine finger typing. I am a terrible typist at the best of times and holding my sore finger at a strange angle as I type has made it ache. First World Problems!!!


Friday Food: Torta Di Ricotta E Limone

Torta de ricotta e limoneOr Lemon Ricotta Tart!! I won a Delicious magazine in the Saturday Cryptic Clue on the ABC Radio. I knew the name of U2's Apple album: Songs of Innocence. The Lemon Ricotta Tart in this Italian Issue caught my eye, I especially love the candied lemon slices on top.

 

 

 

I was able to buy the Careme Vanilla Bean Sweet Shortcrust Pastry* at the Deli at the Corner. It is $10 for about 400g, but you only need to use half the packet and you can keep the rest in the freezer. It really does do a fast defrost at room temperature in an hour too. I would usually make my own shortcrust pastry, it is easy and there are lots of recipes on The Internet or in books.

This is a very easy tart, the recipe asks you to put the filling ingredients in a food processor, but I checked Antonio Carluccio's recipe for the tart online and he just whisks everything together: much better!!!

If you use a flan tin with a removable base it is so much easier to extricate the tart when it is cooked. You don't need to line the tin with baking paper, just grease it. To bake blind, you put some baking paper into the pastry lined flan tin, and then pour in dried beans or rice or pastry weights. This weighs down the pastry and stops random bubbles from forming.

You can leave off the candied lemon slices, they're not strictly necessary, and just top the tart with whipped cream. Even though you areusing the baking blind technique, this is not too difficult and the filling bakes in just 30 minutes. Yum!!!

 

Torte di Ricotta e Limone    serves 10-12

  • sweet shortcrust pastry*
  • 240g (1 cup) fresh ricotta cheese
  • 200g marscapone
  • 10g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 300ml cream, whipped for the topping

Candied Lemon Slices

  • 1 lemon, thinly slices into rounds
  • 150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 165ml (2/3 cup) water

Grease the flan tin, and place it on a tray. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board until it is about 3mm thick. The pastry I bought was quite delicate, but it was easy to patch the holes I made!! Line the flan tin with the pastry. I roll the pastry onto my rolling pin and then slowly unfurl it, allowing it to fall slowly into the tin. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Now is the time to preheat the oven to 180*C.

Pastry in the tin

Line the pastry with baking paper.I added some mixed rice as the baking weights. Bake for 8 minutes, then carefully remove the baking paper and rice. The pastry looks quite wet still, and mine had a few holes. I just smooshed it together. No harm done. Bake for a further 3-5 minutes until the pastry is dry and golden. Cool slightly.

Baking the pastry case

Make the filling while the pastry is baking. Just put all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until well combined and smooth. That's it!!!

The filling

Put the flan tin into the oven and then pour in the ricotta filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The tart should still have a wobble in the centre when you jiggle the tin. It will continue to cook and firm up when it is out of the oven and cooling.

When it is cool, top with whipped cream and the candied lemon slices if you wish.

  Lemon and toffee

To make the candied lemon slices, put the water and sugar into a fry pan over a medium heat. Boil for about 8 minutes or until the mixture begins to turn golden brown. It actually took 12 minutes for my caramel to turn golden.

Candied lemons

Then slide in the lemon slices very carefully, the caramel is fiery hot, and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Place the lemon slices on baking paper to cool, and then arrange over the top of the cream to serve.

Lemon ricotta tart


Friday Food: Pumpkin Slice For Labradors

Pumpkin slice is goneOur house has been the House Of Sinus Unwellness for the last three days. My antibiotics seem to be working. Today The Labradors went for a walk and I managed not to sleep all day. Peri and Gilly are such good nurses that I decided to bake them some of their favourite Pumpkin Slice.

 

I did try very hard to take a photograph of them eating the Pumpkin Slice, but their mouths work at twice the speed of light. Then there were just pictures of sad dogs, who wanted MORE Pumpkin Slice!!!

I have decided it is easier to make a slice and cut it up, rather than bake individual biscuits. There are lots of great recipes for biscuits with peanut butter too. Peri shouldn't have peanut butter, so I add a tablespoon of Leatherwood honey. Any honey or peanut butter would do. I sometimes add oats, other left over cooked vegetables or parsley, as I did today. I used spelt flour because I had some, but wholemeal or rye is good too.

I baked this in a slice tin, 20 x 30cm, but it can be spread thinly in a much larger tray.

Rafa's dad asked what the slice tasted like, and it basically tastes of pumpkin and a little honey. I know this because I ate some.

I cut the slice into small pieces and keep it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. I put some into a little ziplock bag when we go for a walk and all the dogs know it is in my pocket!!

 

Pumpkin Slice For Labradors    makes lots and lots of treats

  • 1- 1.5kg butternut pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbspn (20ml) honey or peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour- spelt, wholemeal etc
  • 1 tspn baking powder

I prefer to cook a whole pumpkin because I am not confident I can slice one up without doing myself a serious knife injury. The pumpkin was 1.5kg and it took almost 90 minutes at 180*C. I usually put the pumpkin in the oven when I am baking something else and I'm not too fussy about the temperature or the time.

Baking the pumpkin

I do like to prick it all over with a knife, so it doesn't explode. I don't know if it would, but it never has when I do put tiny holes all over. You can, of course, use half a pumpkin or pieces you can carefully cut up. The pumpkin is ready when a knife slips easily through the skin and flesh.

Cut into chunks

This pumpkin yielded about 800g when cooked, I discard the seeds, but I leave the skin on. Cut the pumpkin into small pieces, and place into the mix-master bowl.

Adding flour eggs honey

Add 3 eggs and a tablespoon of honey or peanut butter. Turn the speed onto the lowest setting, and mix until the ingredients are just combined. Whisk on medium for a minute or two until the batter is paler and smooth. Add the flour and baking powder, mix on low and then increase to medium and beat until everything is well combined.

Mix and bake

Grease and line a slice tin, add any extras to the batter and then spoon into the tin and smooth the top.

Cool and slice

Bake for 45-60  minutes at 180*C. It is cooked when a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. It will be slightly browned at the edges and a little crisp on top. Remove from the tin and allow to cool.

Pumpkin slice

Cut into slices or pieces and then feed to The Labradors: they don't really want to share!! This is quite a healthy slice, being mostly pumpkin and spelt flour. There is really not much honey and the eggs are very good for The Labradors' coats. This is their very favourite thing, and I scraped the leftovers out of the mixing bowl and they ate it all up!!!


Chocolate Fudge, With No Thermometer

Pecan fudgeIt seems we are having a thermometer theme at our house. In the case of this excellent chocolate fudge: no thermometer. I do have a sweets thermometer now, but this recipe was too good to pass up. I used 70% dark chocolate melts, but you could use milk chocolate too.

 

 

This is a Sarah Carey recipe, and she made hers with walnuts, I prefer pecans. You can add anything you fancy really: any other nuts, dried fruit, other chocolate, crushed up peppermints, flavoured essences or even some alcohol. I am putting this fudge on my Christmas Cooking List.

I used ordinary marshmallows, and I counted them: 16 cut in half filled up a cup, and so to make 1 3/4 cups I needed 28. They average 5g each so you could also weigh out about 140g. Cut them with scissors, it is so much easier than trying to cut them with a knife, however sharp.

Sarah specifies a 22 x 12cm loaf tin, but use whatever is close to that. Loaf tins seem to vary quite a lot in size. I used my new bar tin, 25 x 8cm.

 

Chocolate Fudge (no thermometer)   makes between 16 and 24 pieces

  • 125ml (1/2 cup) thickened cream
  • 220g (1 cup) white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 140g (1 3/4 cups) white marshmallows 
  • 45g unsalted butter
  • 280g ( 1 1/2 cups) best dark choc or chips
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 100g pecans

Grease and line your tin with baking paper. Once the chocolate is added the fudge thickens up quite quickly, so you want to be prepared.

As it heats up

Put the cream, sugar, salt, marshmallows and butter into a saucepan over a medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook the mixture until everything is melted and it is smooth. The fudge can catch on the bottom of the saucepan, so keep an eye on the temperature. It took 4 minutes for mine to melt.

Boiling hot

Once it is melted allow it to boil and cook it, bubbling, for 5 minutes. Again, stirring all the time so it does not catch on the bottom.

Making it chocolate

Once the 5 minutes is up, remove from the heat, add the vanilla and chocolate and stir until everything is well combined and smooth.

And into the tin

Here's where you add any extras into the fudge. Pour very carefully into the lined tin. It is very hot, and you do not want to burn yourself. I pressed the pecans into the top.

Cut into pieces

Allow to cool and set at room tmeprature for about 3 hours. Carefully lift out of the tin and cut into pieces using a sharp knife dipped into very hot water.

And here it is, looking fairly impressive!!! I tasted a sliver, even though I can't have chocolate, and it was marvellous.

Fudge


But When The Thermometer Goes 'Way Pup

I wondered where the week had gone. Suddenly it was Thursday and I struggled to think what we had done on all the other days?? Monday the weather was wintry so we went to bed. Tuesday the car had to be serviced and, with the comings and goings and waiting, that took all day. Yesterday The GardyGardeners came and I did some baking.

Then my mobile had a conniption. I turned it on to text my mum and then it sent three empty texts to The Vet and threatened to send a dozen more before I could turn it off. I had to go out and buy a new one. And of course it is never that easy. The new mobile has a nano SIM: the old SIM is gargantuan. I couldn't transfer anything over, but I could keep my old number. I just had to go in, swap the new SIM for a blank one, ask the kind technician to do the magic whatever to make it work again and wait ten minutes. I think it works now, I am too afraid to try!! I did ask them to bar the internet. My mobile is pre-paid and I don't want to accidentally spend all my money on an unexpected trip to The YouTube.

Caution, labradors ahead

This afternoon Peri went back to The Vet to see Dr David. Gilly comes along because she hates being left home alone. They spend all their time in the Waiting Room crying and looking alert. They know when the door opens it will be their turn and they want it to be their turn NOW.

Gilly and Peri at the vet

Last week Peri was very poorly, and her liver numbers were on the high side of normal. She's been taking horse antibiotics and eating bland food for a week. Dr David took her temperature again. It is very undignified for her, but she is very brave and stood nice and still. Dr David multi-tasked: he took Peri's temperature and patted Gilly so she didn't cry from being left out. Peri has been pronounced well, her temperature normal, but we have to go back in a fortnight for more blood tests. The bill has been $300 so far, and will be another $250 in a fortnight, so for the time being there is no new sewing machine. Maybe at Christmas. The Labradors are far more important.

Cppm cardi

My Ca Plane Pour Moi cardigan has been going along very nicely. I made short rows using the Shadow Wrap method, and I cannot see where I turned and went the other way. There are short rows to make the hem curved. I am up to the under arm cast off, but I'm going to measure twice and decide tomorrow if it is the right length.

New pyjamas!! I like stretchy pyjamas and these were on sale, 50% off, at only $17-50 (well, $17-48 but you have to round up now we have no 2 cent pieces) As a bonus, they are the perfect length for me, and I was able to find my size, which is apparently a 14 or Large. I think they are underestimating their sizes!! The picture is from the Sussan website.

New pyjamas

I have my fingers crossed that my long running cold is on the way out. At last. I have been enjoying the Spring weather, which is windy, wild, wet and colder than Winter with snow as well. I've also been enjoying the Spring vegetables and fruit. At the weekend I made quick vegetarian tostadas. There is something about tasty vegetables that makes me feel better when I am not. I even made my own flat bread using Jamie's recipe. I only made one quarter of a batch, but they were three very good flat breads. I can highly recommend this recipe, though mine were on the thicker side, I am sure they can be enthusiastically rolled thinner.

Tostadas

My new SD card ate all the photos saved on it, and so I have thrown it out and I am just using my old one. I have already uploaded the photos for tomorrow's Friday Food, so I can rest easy now. I do have a photo of my new sock wool. Our Knitting group made an order from overseas, but sadly they only had three of the green colours I wanted. Still, at just $12 a ball they are not to be sneezed at. They are greener than they appear!!

New sock wool

We might have a very early night. I am always secretly worried when we go to The Vet, and it is a relief to know, for a while at least, that Peri is well. Gilly is very happy about that too!!!

Too Darn Hot with Ann Miller from Kiss Me Kate.

 

This is one of the records my mum played all the time when I was a little girl and I can sing along, lustily, to all the songs.

Especially Brush Up Your Shakespeare, which I adore.

 


Friday Food: Carrot Cake Biscuits

Carrot cake biscuitI was idly browsing The Pinterest on Tuesday and I saw the cutest carrot cake biscuits from Lauren's Latest blog. I desperately needed to bake them and so I did, for Sewing supper on Wednesday. Not only are they cute, but they taste just like carrot cake, and they are biscuits, well a cakey biscuit.

I Australianised the recipe, to make it easier for me to cook, and so that's the version of Lauren's recipe here.

I used a level Australian tablespoon (20ml or 4 teaspoons) as my measure for scooping out the biscuits and the mixture made between 24 and 27.

You'll need about 3 small carrots, 180-200g, grated. I grated mine quite finely. I think of a carrot cake as being chunky and rustic, while these are light and delicate. I once read that carrot skin is bitter when baked, so I always peel mine. If you can't have nuts, then I think sultanas or currants would be good instead. I was able to buy some whole nutmeg and grated about half of one: much nicer if you can get it than the already grated spice.

I am especially impressed by the icing: orange cream cheese. The amount you make is perfect for the number of biscuits. So often there is too much, or too little, but a generous teaspoon is the perfect amount to top each biscuit.

When I went to write my blog post this morning, all the photos of baking the biscuits had mysteriously disappeared from my new SD card. Oh no: how terrible for my next door neighbour that I had to bake some more and give them to her. I am very pleased that there were no important Labrador photos lost!!

 

Carrot Cake Biscuits    makes about 24

  • 125g (1/2 cup) softened butter
  • 110g (1/2 cup) brown sugar  (Not 75g, sorry!!)
  • 20ml (1 tbspn) golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 150g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn cinnamon
  • 1/4 tspn nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 30-40g (1/4 cup) pecans, finely chopped

For the icing:

  • 60g Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 140g (1 cup) pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tspn orange zest
  • extra chopped pecans for embellishment

Preheat the oven to 180*C, grease and then line two trays with baking paper.

Creaming

Cream the butter, sugar, golden syrup and vanilla extract. When it is paler and light it is time to add the egg. Beat until well combined.

Dry ingredients

Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices and add to the batter. Mix well.

Extras

Grate the carrot as you please and chop the pecans.

The batter

Add to the batter and mix thoroughly.

Baking and cooling

Place tablespoons of the mixture onto the trays. Mine didn't spread very much, they went up rather than out. Bake until the edges of the biscuits are browned. It took between 10 and 12 minutes in my oven. Rest for a few minutes on the tray and then cool on a rack. They cool quite quickly, so you don't have to wait for ages before you can ice them and eat them.

Icing

While the biscuits are cooling make the icing. Just put all the ingredients into a bowl and beat until smooth, light and creamy. You could add a little orange juice too. I can't eat oranges, so if I made some for me to eat, I would use lemon zest.

Embellishing

One generous teaspoon of the icing is plenty for each little biscuit. I used a knife dipped in hot water to spread and smooth the icing and then topped them with some more chopped pecans. You need to keep these in the refrigerator because of the icing, and as they are cakey biscuits, they won't keep long. Not that they would anyway!!

Carrot cake biscuits

 


Spring Of Good Things Not Bad. Spring Of Happy Not Sad.

And Spring is here and it is raining and windy and the camellias are sad. It has been raining all day, and hardest of all this evening. The daffodils at the dam are very happy, they bloom regardless.

Spring labradors

It isn't cold really, but it is quite wet. Peri and Gilly are quite wet. I popped next door to have my shoulder to shoulder measurement taken for a new Knit A-Long. The Labradors cried, and sooked and stood at the fence for twenty minutes and were soaked to the skin. They even worked together to open the gate into The Forbidden Zone. Rascals. We filled up the wet and muddy swamp at the fence with two bags of wood chips and now Peri can poke her head through the gap at the top of the fence. Gilly is not tall enough, she's a short Labrador. This is what you see from the other side of our fence. No wonder they are always scamming seaweed rice crackers, they look so sad and needy.

Peepo Peri and Gilly

I am joining the Pour Moi KAL. I had such trouble buying the pattern with The PayPal and I cannot thank the pattern's author, Lori, enough for her help and kindness!! I have some gorgeous Merino Fleck 5ply Heirloom, and it knits up so beautifully in the tension square it promises to be a lovely cardigan. My tension is 23/29 instead of 22 stitches and 30 rows over 10 cm. I am just going with that as I am too lazy to knit a whole new square for one stitch in width.

For me

I am knitting lovely possum socks for me in dark green Waikiwi. It is quite a dark green, so I can only knit during the day, else I have to spend time fixing all my mistakes the next day. Being possum, I have named these The Dame Edna Everage socks. It amuses me.

Dame Edna Everage sock one

At last, I made time to sew some shopping bags for myself. I made two from skirts (top two) and the others from material I found in The Spare Oom. The bags are surprisingly roomy and strong.

Bags for me

Peri and Gilly have been enjoying their walks. They like Mondays and Thursdays best as there is a build up of unsmelled smells to be sniffed and horrid things to be rolled in. I am not quite sure what is inside the old shed at the dam and I am too afraid to look.

Labradors rolling and sniffing

I love coming home to be greeted at the gate by Peri Naughty and Miss Lorelai Gilmore. They love meeting me, and always hope there may be something in my bag for them.

I am home. Labradors are there

Last week there was something for me in my bag: a lovely breakfast cup and saucer from V&A. It is called Borage and is stable enough to resist Labradors and large enough to hold well over a metric cup. I have some delightful aged Earl grey tea, a gift from MrsDrWho from Numi.

New cup and saucer

MrsDrWho's new house is set on a circle with a village green in the centre, rather like a Midsomer Murders setting. Last week I spotted a plover, a rather fat plover, on her front lawn. Lo and behold I was right to be suspicious: two plover chicks were hiding under the plover's wings. I am afraid of plovers, I have been since they used to chase us off the oval at Primary School. The dad was on the green, limping. MrsDrWho says he is perfectly well, and limps to draw attention away from the rest of his family when he thinks they are in danger.

Plover chicks

Oh, new shoes, new shoes!! I bought new Summer shoes at Lead'em Footwear, and I only went in on the off chance. I mention the name because they are so very helpful and always especially look out for green shoes for me. These weren't even unpacked and they went up the ladder to the ceiling to fetch them for me. For a day or so I could only find one, but today I found its pair. They are very green, with embellishments and a nice grippy sole and a wedge heel: perfect.

New sandals

Peri and I both have hay fever. Peri can take people's tablets from the chemist. I can't. We are both sneezing and have itchy eyes. Gilly is well, so we are relying on her to be the one in charge: what has the world come to?? Thank goodness for Gilly!!! The Labradors are in bed already, so it must time for us all to go to sleep anon.