Ten Things I Eight About You

Gilly is 8

Lorelai Gilmore is Eight years old!!! There are a bazillion things I love about her, too many to list. She is such a wonderful animal companion. Gilly is loving and loyal, sturdy and true. She loves to play with disposable plastic cups and to walk between your legs and have her back scratched. She makes me laugh. I was chuffed to see that when they are home alone, The Labradors sleep next to each other in the garage. Gilly has a good companion coming along nicely in Hedy Lamarr.

We sing this song about Gilly, now she is eight. I have always enjoyed Sesame Street King of 8 for Gilly.

We are so very happy that she has kept on living after her awful immune suppressed illness last year. She is still taking all her tablets, but she is as bright as a button, full of playfulness and every alert. She is teaching Hedy Lamarr to be alert as well. Hedy is a little bit afraid when Gilly barks, and this is not a bad thing: Hedy should go lower than Gilly. It is the way of the world.

Gilly and Hedy on night time alert

In celebration of Lorelai Gilmore's birthday and the fact that I have just sewn my hundredth shopping bag: Gilly and Hedy would like to give the hundredth bag away to someone. Just leave a comment and we will pick a winner next Thursday afternoon our time. The bag is made from some green quilting cotton and has a mosaic print of Gilly and Hedy on the front. I printed the fabric on The Spoonflower. It is a milestone, or a kilometrestone??, and now I have made one hundred bags in three and a half years the unit cost per bag for the pattern is just eight cents. That's as much as The ABC costs each Australian: Eight cents a day. I would pay more.

#100 bag

The bag is sewn, ironed and ready to post anywhere in the whole wide world. We will send it off to be used for shopping. It will do a good job. Even if you have never left a comment before, it will be fine if you'd like a chance to win!!

#99 bag cats

Here is bag #99, a cat bag. Though the material was cut carefully in the shop, when I tore it, it was quite wonky, and I ended up short. I used two blue jelly roll strips as an accent on the bottom. I think it looks as if it was meant to be. Roll on bag #101.

Sunflake dishcloth

Knitpicks is sending a free dishcloth pattern every week this year. I have knitted the first: Snowflake Dishcloth. Oh the agony of soooo many ends, and sewing ends into a cotton dishcloth is my idea of hell. Still, it will be very pretty, and if I can keep it up I will have fifty-two at the end of the year. Last year I was determined to sew The Splendid Sampler. I made it through about six blocks and then Hedy arrived.  I shall knit as many dishcloths as suits me and if I miss a week, I shall employ a devil-may-care attitude.

Cheese you've been a long time

We walked to the shop and I left The Labradors at the Dog Stop while I went to The Bakery. They waited: Gilly patiently, Hedy not so patiently. She woofed. Poor Lorelai Gilmore still has a fairly pink belly. Her fur is growing back every so slowly.

Hedy does rhythmic gymnastics..the stick

Hedy Lamarr is very athletic. She can leap and twist and turn and should be considered for The Dog Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastic team in three years!!

The new Donna Hay magazine has some recipes for icebox pies. Basically it is a base with flavoured ice-cream and maybe a topping. I made the Salted Coconut and Passionfruit Icebox Pie.

Ice box pie

The base is 135g shredded coconut, 75g caster sugar, 25g melted butter, 1/2 tspn salt flakes and an egg-white. You mix this together and press it into the base of a 20cm pie dish and bake for 25 minutes at 150*C. I used a flan tin with a removable base. Set aside to cool.

It would have cost $20 to buy the twelve passionfruit the recipe asked for, so I compromised with four real passionfruit and used some tinned passionfruit pulp. Bring the passionfruit pulp to a boil, add 55g of caster sugar and simmer for 6-8 minutes until it thickens. Set aside to cool.

Then Donna Hay mixes 40g shredded coconut with 1/2 tspn of salt flakes and bakes it for 1-2 minutes. It is meant to be sprinkled over the top of the icebox pie. I missed out this step as I felt it was a bit too trendy for the icebox pie recipient.

Soften 2 litres of vanilla ice-cream and fold in almost all the passionfruit. Spoon onto the base, swirl the extra passionfruit mixture over the top and then cover and freeze. Slice, top with softly whipped cream and enjoy.

There are five other icebox pies: blueberry cheesecake, pandan key lime, cherry chocolate, chocolate swirl & hazelnut and tiramisu.

We are expecting rain tomorrow, which is very exciting. The State has had to start up the gas-fired power station for the second Summer in a row. We really need some rain. I think we will cavort madly in the rain when it comes. And there will definitely be a Friday Food recipe tomorrow. I am baking back-to-school lunch box idea recipes.

Happy Birthday Lorelai Gilmore.

Baby Gilly

 

 


Friday (Food) Friday, Gotta Get Down On Friday.

I am being kind to myself after a tricky week and there is no Friday Food. This week:

  • The NBN came
  • The phone and internet did not initially
  • Nor did the silent number
  • The car is leaking some kind of fluid (sp edit)
  • We need new tyres
  • It has been hot and ever so humid

 

The actual man who installed The NBN was kind and very nice to The Labradors. Gilly was interested and sensible. Hedy was all yes I want a pat/no you are a stranger and had to be put in her little box for everyone's peace of mind. Ipad photos, so worse than usual. Hedy inspected the work.

The nbn has come

I am just treating myself a little carefully. After phone calls and emails - from MrsDrWho's mother's house because you can't email or phone if you don't have the internet or landline connected -  my ISP magically found it would not take up to twelve days (5-7 working days with two weekends in the mix) and they had enabled the internet and phone by the next day. I do despair, that I have to exert such effort, but it all ended up being sorted out and my number is silent again too.

Don't know what is leaking from under the car, I just noticed it yesterday, and we need new tyres desperately, so I am off to see what can be done about money. No point in having a car if it doesn't work. We spent all our money on Lorelai Gilmore last year and she is worth every cent!!!

Although it is hot and horridly humid, we have had a cooler summer and this morning it was cloudy so the sun didn't heat the front of the house: a boon.

So I am being grateful and telling people about what is happening. I am thinking today of James Hird. I am not an AFL fan, I only keep an ear on MrsDrWho's mother's team so I can chat to her about the games. I know only too well how easy it is to slip into a state where you believe people would be better off without you, that you are not worth very much and life seems a burden rather than a joy. I hope that whatever has happened, he can find the help and support he needs, anyone needs: BeyondBlue.

Gilly Hedy new summer beds

The Labradors have new Summer beds. They have a cool fabric outer and are squooshy but not warm, they feel airy. They are very popular, especially after the paddle pool. I think a wet cushion is a lovely cool sleeping place.

Cicadas potential friends or snacks

When my mum came to visit she came on our walk. The Labradors were astonished, as were the people, at the cicadas flying through the air. Gilly, and then Hedy, found the cicadas which had fallen to the ground but were still flapping, and they became potential friends or snacks: you guess which. They look like birds, but they aren't. The sound is almost unbearable, but to us it is the sound of Summer.

Christmas baking

I did some Christmas baking, and made cards. That's pretty much all I did. I made spiced shortbread mini biscuits, gingerbread with fondant snowflakes, vanilla pinwheel biscuits with peppermint candy cane iced on the edges, flourless chocolate biscuits, fruit cake and ganache truffles and lemon and white chocolate truffles. I am so pleased with the way they turned out and I purposefully made things that weren't covered in chocolate so they didn't melt in the heat.

Becca bag #1

Sweetpea bag #1

I bought a Craftsy course on sale for $24 and learned a new zip technique and sewed a Becca bag and a Sweetpea pouch. I am totally enamoured with the way the zip works. You cut the zipper ends off and then sew just one half to the bag and then re-attach the zipper pull. I feel very clever!!!

Bags 97 and 98

Grocery bags #97 and #98. I am almost to one hundred and I think I shall give #100 away on my blog. It is the very least I can do after subjecting readers to endless bag photos. I have some special material from Spoonflower printed with Gilly and Hedy and I shall use that!!!!

Xmas 2016 zippy chip bags

Last two zippy chip bags for the last two children at our Christmas gathering.

Hot bowl cosies xmas 2017

Also for Kris Kringle, hot bowl cosies. When you take a bowl out of the microwave, you pop it in the cosy to protect your hands.

And generally the rest of my craft for 2016: I am always amazed that I make so many things. I do sometimes think I waste my time sleeping and feeling not very well at all, but I look at all these things and I feel useful and productive. Of course I love making the shopping bags, but I like to try new things as well.

Knitted things 2016

Bags 2016

Hats 2016

Other bags 2016

Other things 2016

Gilly is trying new things, she joined in the Border Collie/Labrador Puppy chasing game. We are so pleased to see her being happy and enjoying herself. I wonder if she pined for Peri, after Peri died?

Gilly plays The Game

And Hedy is as happy as a pig in mud. She is silly happy, and extra pleased because Gilly stole a present bone from the Christmas bag and I gave half to Hedy Lamarr!!

Hedy is so happy

Here are The Labrador after the gardener whipper-snippered. They have the whole yard to play in and he even filled the paddle pool. He's a kind gardener.

Gilly and hedy after whipper snipper

Today I sat down and added one hundred and four books to my sidebar - you can only see the most recent twenty books I think. I hadn't added any last year. I think there are some I have missed. I usually take a photo as I put the book across the opening at The Library. I think there might be a few photos elsewhere. I've already read seven books this year so I hope to keep up-to-date with my list in 2017.

It is still too warm to sleep, and since we did sleep all day yesterday until 4-19pm and then all night again, perhaps we can stay up a little later. Tomorrow and Sunday are forecast to be 30*C so we should take the cool moments while we can.


Bark The Herald Labradors Sing: Auld Lang Syne and Everything.

Ahhh, quickest post ever. I sat down to write my blog and the whole jolly Typepad was down: 404 error and my blog had disappeared. Kind of like we did. December was kind of lost in translation and though I wanted to blog, other things took my attention: being sick again, too many social outings and things that HAD to be done and then a mini heat wave.

I stopped saying that I was poorly to the NBN people. MrsDrWho said other people think poorly is a bit of a cold, so I used the Leukaemia word and they backed off and gave me a date for next week and stopped ringing me every day.

Gilly and Hedy 2016's last walk

Lorelai Gilmore is exceedingly well and with much hard work and much less food this month, lost the two kilograms she gained in November. Hedy Lamarr continues to grow and is going through a The Naughtiest Puppy in The World phase. I know this too will pass, but please pass soon Naughty Phase.

I have caught up with almost all my friends, made and posted almost all my cards and given up almost entirely on and presents for people until 2017!!! Something's gotta give and presents was it.

Gilly keeping cool

Here's Gilly keeping cool in the pool. She love the paddle pool cooling her belly.

Hedy and some of her eight presents

Here's just a small portion of Hedy's Christmas presents. Hedy loves Christmas, but the heat?? Not so much.

2016 was a rough year at our house and though it seems to have ended happily for us, we were sad that both Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds died so unexpectedly in the last few days.

Happy New Year. (because damn, I missed the last year by "that" much)


Friday Food: White Choc Boozy Gin Fudge

Boozy gin choc fudgeWe are still a tad poorly at our house, so it was with great pleasure I remembered this recipe from The Decorated Cookie. In fact, there is a series of boozy fudges and I have made some with vodka and dark chocolate too. This white chocolate and gin fudge with lime is pretty fabulous. MrsDrWho sent me home with some Bailey's Irish Cream, Kirsch and Butterscotch Schnapps, so I am looking forward to some more boozy fudges. I am thinking about dark chocolate and kirsch with perhaps some dried cherries mixed through??

This is such an easy recipe: three or four ingredients and a few minutes of sifting, mixing and microwaving and maybe some zesting, and the fudge is done. This is definitely for adults only, as the alcohol is not cooked in any way and so it remains alcoholic. I used pure icing sugar which I sifted and ordinary eating chocolate, though I did find some posh chocolate with vanilla. The recipe calls for choc chips or buttons, but I checked, and they are just chocolate with nothing added and our choc chips have things added.  I sprinkled some lime zest over the top, but you could used lemon or even orange zest. They would all be good. I have converted the recipe to grams and I made 1/8 of the recipe quite easily, which yielded 9 2.5cm (1 inch) squares. As it is warm, I did pop it in the fridge to firm up.

The Decorated Cookie says it will keep for about a week in the fridge, and as it is not Winter at Christmastime here, that's where I will keep mine. I do think it will last for longer than a week, as there is nothing that will really deteriorate. I shall be making many, and varied, versions of this for Christmas gifts!!! This is a great recipe, and I can highly recommend it.

 

NB: I shall put the measurements for my 1/8 batch in brackets for each ingredient. I think it would be perfectly fine to round things up or down a little too!!!

 

Boozy White Chocolate and Gin Fudge        makes 60-72 pieces

  • 908g pure icing sugar, sifted     (112g)
  • 236ml gin   (30ml)
  • 340g good white eating chocolate     (42g)
  • zest of two limes    (zest of 1/4 lime)

 

Icing sugar and gin

Before you begin, line a 20x 30cm tin with baking paper. For 1/8 I used a small plastic container measuring about 7 x 11cm.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the gin. Mix to combine.

Melt chocolate

Gently melt the white chocolate in the microwave. Break chocolate into smaller pieces and microwave it in 20 second bursts on Medium or High depending on the microwave's strength. Stir thoroughly after each burst as the chocolate burns very easily. This batch took 60 seconds in all.

Combine

Mix the icing sugar and gin with the melted chocolate expeditiously, as it will set quite quickly.

Set add lime

Spoon the fudge into the container and distribute evenly, smoothing the top. Sprinkle over the lime zest and gently push it into the fudge. Let it sit for 30 minutes and if it is still soft, put it in the fridge for an hour or so before you cut into small squares. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container, especially in Summer!! And then enjoy your boozy fudge: remember, don't eat boozy fudge and drive.

Boozy gin and lime chocolate fudge


Friday Food: Adam Liaw's Easy Cheeseburger

Adam liaw easy cheeseburgerI have finally surfaced from the fog of being poorly, though we do still sleep most of the day. And I know this is hard to believe, but I am not very hungry. Today I remembered seeing Adam Liaw's easy cheeseburger and it was just what I fancied as some proper-ish food. I can't really justify the Heston method of making burgers: too complicated and too expensive to buy my own meat grinder, so this was an easy cheat.

The ingredients are readily available, and the cheeseburgers really are quick to prepare and cook. Do buy the cheapest beef mince: he explains that instead of trying to buy more expensive meat with a high fat content and then mincing it yourself, cheap mince has enough fat for the burger to stay moist. I think that just gently moulding the mince to form the burger, and not squashing or kneading it, also helps. There is nothing to bind the mince. When I was little we called dill pickles, gherkins. Now they have lots of names, but I still think of them as gherkins. Maybe they are something completely different?? I am not dill pickle/gherkin aware.

We don't have a BBQ or a griddle plate, and as I was only making one, I used a little cast iron frypan. It didn't really do a great job heating/toasting the buns, but they tasted perfectly fine. Though the burgers require at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator before they are cooked, they can be ready in about 20 minutes: maybe quicker than going to The Scottish Restaurant!!

The burgers were moist, flavourful and I could almost have eaten another one, well, in my mind. These are really great cheeseburgers: thanks Adam Liaw.

 

Adam Liaw's Easy Cheeseburgers        makes 4

  • 500g cheap beef mince
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) vegetable oil or dripping
  • 4 soft hamburger buns
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, shaved into rings
  • 4 slices tasty cheddar cheese
  • gherkins or dill pickles
  • tomato sauce
  • American style mustard

 

Divide the mince into four equal parts and gently form into a burgers. I made mine and then put it between two pieces of Gladwrap and poked and prodded it until it was the same size as my hamburger bun. It was quite thin. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Mince and burger

Heat a grill or large frypan, I went to 5 on a scale of 6. Brush the pan or plate with oil. Cut the buns in half and place, cut side down, in the pan. Check to see they don't burn, season with salt and pepper and then set to the side if there is a cool spot.

Heat and toast buns

Take the burgers from the fridge and put into the pan. Press some of the shaved onion rings into the top. After just 1 minute, flip the burger and top with a cheese slice and the top of the bun. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes, the cheese should be melting. Because the burger is so thin, maybe less than 1/2 cm, it will be cooked through in a short time.

Burger and onion

Squeeze the mustard and tomato sauce onto the base of the bun. Flip the top of the bun with the burger and cheese onto the base and there you are. Your burger is ready to serve with a gherkin on the side.

Cheese, bun and condiments

It is totally delicious, and I interspersed my bites of burger with bites of gherkin: Yum.

Easy cheeseburger

 


Swollen Swollen Swollen, Though The Streams Are Swollen, Keep Them Doggies Rollin': Rawhide.

It is no wonder I have been feeling tired: I am officially sick. I actually feel a tad ( a tiny tad ) better when I know I am sick, and not imagining it. Not that I have ever imagined being sick.

There was a cancellation at the doctor on Monday, and I have swollen glands in my neck, a temperature and an infected throat. Oh, and now I have a raging cold and a gravelly voice.

Hedy and the water and the toy 1

Hedy and the water and the toy 2

Hedy Lamarr has run amok, all night and all day. I changed the water bowl, to no avail. Hedy still dips her toys in the water, swooshes them about and then runs about the house, shaking them.

Gilly trotting

Lorelai Gilmore is a perfect Labrador, lying on the bed and looking inquisitively at me when I cough my hacking cough.

Rafa Gilly Hedy Sandy

I did arise from my sick bed yesterday to go for a walk, but I was so pleased today is Wednesday and we don't walk on Wednesdays.

Sandy Rolypoly Hedy Gilly

Three dogs walking

Look, various photos of various combinations of dogs. I have been up for half an hour, it is time for bed again.

Super Moon.

Supermoon peeking through clouds


Friday Food: Oven-roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato tart with goat's cheeseThere are so many Christmas magazine issues, I feel overwhelmed: in a good way. I mainly focus on the sweet, but this savoury tart in the December 2016 Donna Hay Magazine caught my eye. It looks so scrumptious, I love the array of tomato slices, and it is so simple to make. It is indeed very delicious, because I have eaten it for early dinner and some more for supper!!! I really only needed to buy a couple of out-of-the-ordinary ingredients, and they were not too tricky to find.

I used goat cheese rather then the goat curd the recipe asks for, basically because I could put my hand right on it in the deli. I bought a small roll, 100g, and it was plenty. I could not find any white balsamic vinegar, instead I used a Moscato Glaze, which has a sharpish taste, on the same level as lemon juice. It works really well. I also used flat leaf parsley and spring onions, as I always have those in the fridge. Instead of olive oil, I used avocado oil. It was a gift, along with a few other special oils, and it worked perfectly with the tomatoes and the Moscato Glaze.

So, I adapted the recipe to what I had at home, mostly, and it worked perfectly well. I can see this as a delicious lunch, I ate mine with some broccolini, as a posh entrée or an upmarket side with chicken, fish or steak. This tastes just as good piping hot, warm or cool. I am not sure it will refrigerate well at all, but I don't mind. I will eat it slightly less crispy, and cold, tomorrow!!

 

 

Oven-roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart       serves 4

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted. I used butter puff.
  • 140g (1/2 cup) goat curd/cheese
  • 400g fresh tomatoes, sliced 1cm thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dill sprigs
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 20ml (1 tbspn) white balsamic vinegar

 

Preheat the oven to 240*C.  I would also heat the tray. I usually do this, didn't this time, and wish I had. It just makes the base of the pastry crispier.

Puff pastry

Lay one sheet of the thawed puff pastry directly on top of the other and press firmly together. I also scored a 1cm border around the edge of the top sheet, as this gives more of a puffed crust.

Cheesy goodness

I left the goat cheese out of the fridge to soften, and then spread it out evenly over the pastry with the back of a spoon, which I dipped into some very hot water.

You say tomatoes

My 3 medium tomatoes were almost 500g, but that meant I could cut off the bottom and have nice uniform slices.

Top and bake

Array the slices of tomato atop the goat cheese and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. I had some nice sea salt flakes and some chilli cracked pepper. Drizzle over half the oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown, and the pastry is cooked through.

Top with your herbs of choice and drizzle with the remaining oil and the white balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!!

Tomato and goat cheese tart


That Touch Of Sink

Yesterday Hedy Lamarr had her first swim. In truth, she had her first sink: she ran full pelt toward the ducky she spied and leaped into the water and sank like a stone. There is no documentary evidence per se as I was in will-I-have-to-wade-in-and-save-her mode. I do have "after" photos:

Labradors not swimming

Hedy submerged totally, and after the beat when I wondered whether I would have to save her or not, she surfaced like a submarine, spluttering and dog paddling!!! I made sure to clean her ears and eyes before breakfast.

Gilly does not swim. She wades about doing a kind of canine water aerobics and gets wet up to her chin. Hedy is very vocal and is always making high pitched barks.

Lemon butter biscuits

I have been poorly on and off and spent more time sleeping. Not much else has happened at our house: a little more knitting and some baking. I baked some Jamie Oliver Lemon Butter biscuits for The Vet today. They tasted lemony and buttery but they were not very pretty and I had run out of icing sugar and I just glazed them with some lemon curd. The recipe did make twenty, though it refused to roll out without sticking. I just rolled 20g balls of dough instead.

New toy

As anyone reading my blog knows, I am the world's worst photographer. MrsDrWho bought The Labradors some soft toys at her school fair.  Gilly had the toy, and Hedy stole it. Gilly is chasing her trying to get it back. To no avail.

Lorelai Gilmore is very well. She stole Hedy's treat yesterday, much to Hedy's shock and horror. Gilly is bright eyed and interested in all sorts of things out the window now. She even sneaks into the kitchen if we forget to shut the baby gate.  We go to The Vet next week for more blood tests.

Gilly likes a good step

Hedy Lamarr is in denial. We weighed her at The Vet last week and she is a tad more then 23kg. Gilly is a tad under 27kg. Hedy thinks she is still a tiny puppy.

Hedy says her little box fits perfectly well

She is too big to lie sidie-waysie in her crate, or Little Box as I like to call it. She does not let this deter her.

Hedy is sure she fits

The lady at the wool shop gave me some banana passionfruit. I have frozen the pulp, mixed with a little sugar, in my new freezer. I love freezing things, I have two litres of freshly squeezed lemon juice and six take-away containers of raspberries and loganberries from MrsReno. There is still plenty of room for more frozen things!!!

Banana passionfruit

Last night I went with MrsDrWho, and other lovely people, to see Blackadder. Encore Theatre dramatised three of the Elizabethan episodes: Head, Money and Beer. It was very good, though the seats were uncomfortable. I was glad to go out as I had had a shock. I had had my heart set on something and my hopes were dashed. When I met MrsDrWho I burst into tears. After a lot of Blackadder and a commiseratory glass of wine I had things more in perspective. I did have to listen to Classic FM all day today though. I can only hope that in Australia we see what happens when a country is divided and we don't go down that path. I am glad to live here in a small city, on a small island, where in spite of all our differences, we manage to get along. Still, I Maintain The Rage from 1975, but maybe those Over There will instead maintain their hope in the face of adversity. I shall hope along with them. Together: we can.

Halloween here

Oh and we had a Halloween here, of sorts. There was a great letter in our letterbox inviting us to participate if we wished and a balloon to tie to the letterbox to show assent. The letter also acknowledged not everyone celebrates Halloween in Australia (which is as it should be) And although we didn't participate, I feel a lot happier about it than in years gone by. The Halloweeners were all rather older teenagers and the only interruption to the early evening was their laughter!!

I used my $10 Spotlight Christmas voucher wisely, and bought four sewing patterns and a 6B Wilton piping tip for just $10. I am love a bargain. I saw 8096 on The Curvy Sewing Collective and was smitten, and not just because it is green!! I shall make the third iteration, with the wider gathered shoulder straps. Not so sure about 1102, as it is made in knit fabric, but I might give the version modelled a try.

Patterns 1
I saw 8137 reviewed as well, and I am in search of a woven fabric wrap dress, so I will try a sleeveless short dress version. I just love the skirt on Butterick 5982. I am not sure about the dart in the centre front, but there is some discussion here about a full bust adjustment in the comments.

Patterns 2

The weather is very Springy: hot, cold, frosty, snowy, rainy and wind so strong I couldn't open the car door. It has not been terribly hot, but it was hot enough that I didn't want to take The Labradors in the car for a visit to The Vet this afternoon. We are also enduring mosquitoes the size of blow flies and bulbous, loud blow flies as well.

Labradors on the new bedding

The night is coolish, but we have a new woollen underlay and a new doona so we will be snuggling under the doona and sticking a foot out of bed to cool down. My mum very kindly gave me some money so I could pick up my lay-by early. It is technically too hot for the woollen doona, but I don't care. The old underlay was so old, I had turned it already from top to bottom and in many places there was No Wool Left!! This is a photo taken in a poorly lit room with the iPad, which doesn't have a flash. After disassembling the bed, and making it halfway again, I was too tired to find the camera. Gilly looks so happy, and Hedy sits up very straight to have her photo taken and is very interested in case there might be a treat afterwards.

I have also started answering my blog comments, slowly but surely, and they are not a task or a bother. I like to answer my comments, it is just they get away from me sometimes!! Gilly is lying on the almost finished quilt (and I let her, she's sick) and Hedy is squashed in her little box, so all is right with the world. Time for bed for all Labradors.


Friday Food: Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Peanut butter cupcakeSometimes, in a state of ennui, I can't think of anything to bake. I sent this link, The Scran Line, to my Sewing friends and they chose two cupcakes: Peanut Brittle and Carrot Cake. Since Wednesday I have made two and a half batches of Carrot Cake cupcakes and half a batch of Peanut butter cupcakes!! I did cheat and actually made toffee peanuts (which can be can be made into a praline) instead of a proper brittle. They have a hidden surprise of chocolate sauce in the centre and vanilla buttercream on top.  You can just make the peanut cupcakes and ice them with some chocolate ganache or an easy peanut butter icing, and not go the whole hog with chocolate sauce, buttercream and peanut toffee.

Suprise inside

The recipe says it makes 20 cupcakes, and I halved it and it still made 12. I filled each cupcake paper with 60ml of batter. We are lucky to have quite a few brands of peanut butter which are just Australian peanuts: nothing else added.  This makes me very happy. The chocolate sauce is just melted in the microwave, it took about 2 minutes, and looks pretty luxurious.

I watched a video from The Australian River Cottage before I made my toffee. I often have bad luck with toffee, it either crystallises before it is melted or it burns. This time I just used 150g of caster sugar and swirled the pan as it melted and it worked really well. I used Australian peanuts and Tasmanian hazelnuts. MrsDrWho doesn't like peanuts so I made her some toffee hazelnuts so she wouldn't feel left out.

After I made half the buttercream recipe, (and I forgot to add the peanut butter but honestly it was fine) I bought an actual Wilton 6B tip and used it to pipe the buttercream after the cupcakes were safely at Sewing. I forgot to take a photo I was so excited at the lovely piping pattern. I am not in love with wondrous architectural buttercream toppings. I prefer a lower frosting to cupcake ratio, so I just piped a ring shape and then filled it with the roughly crushed peanut toffee.

I'll give amounts for the full cupcake recipe, along with the chocolate sauce and vanilla buttercream.

 

NB An Australian tablespoon is, very sensibly, 20ml.

 

Peanut Butter Cupcakes      makes 20-24

For the cupcakes:

  • 430g plain flour
  • 265g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 3 tspn baking powder
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 375ml milk
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) Greek yoghurt (I used the top of my passionfruit yoghurt!!)
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 4 tbspn (80ml) smooth peanut butter

 

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 400g dark chocolate, I used 70% cocoa
  • 50g butter
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 250ml cream

 

For the toffee peanuts:

  • 100g peanuts
  • 150g caster sugar

 

For the vanilla buttercream:

  • 500g butter, softened
  • 1kg icing sugar mixture, sifted. You may need a little more.
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) milk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C or 160*C fan-forced and line your muffin tray with paper cases.

Dry, butter and wet

To make the cupcakes, I follow The Scran Line's unusual method. It seems to work very well. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix for a few minutes on a low speed until it is well combined. Then add the softened butter, I always judge it to be softened if I poke it with my finger and it "gives" a little.  Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. I also whisk the eggs into the oil while I am waiting.

Add wet to dry and butter

Next, slowly pour the oil and eggs into the mixer as it is running on a low speed and continue until it comes together. Scrape the bowl once to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom and mix for another 30 seconds.

Add peanut butter

Fold in the peanut butter and the batter is ready. I put 1/4 cup, or 60ml, of the batter into each paper case and then bake the cupcakes for 25 minutes, turning the tray halfway through.

Bake and cool

Check they are cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre and it should come out clean.  They will also be slightly golden brown on top and will come away from the edge. Allow to cool completely on a rack.

Chocolate sauce

The chocolate sauce is so easy to make. Just put everything into a microwave proof container and heat in 20 second bursts on High. Stir well after each 20 seconds, especially at the start when it doesn't look like it needs it. Just heat until it is smooth and glossy. This will keep, refrigerated, for at least a week, and you can make it saucy again simply by reheating gently in the microwave.

Toffee

Before I made the toffee, I roasted the nuts for 5 minutes at 180*C and then put them on some baking paper. I did try to rub off the skins, but I was tired and I gave up. I made my successful toffee by pouring 150g of caster sugar into a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. I then stood there and peered intently, swirling the sugar every few minutes until it really started to melt.

Toffee and nuts

Once it was a nice dark amber colour and all the sugar was dissolved I poured it over the peanuts and hazelnuts. The toffee is BOILING hot, even hotter than that, and for once I managed not to burn myself. I did that on the oven shelf instead. It sets in a few minutes and you can crush it roughly by putting the toffee in a ziplock bag and banging it with a rolling pin. Or you can make praline using a blender.

Vanilla buttercream

The vanilla buttercream takes a little while to make, but it is not difficult. Put the softened butter into the stand mixer and beat on a medium speed for 5 minutes. The butter will change from pale yellow to white and it will be fluffier. The add half the icing sugar mixture and beat till it is combined. Finally add the remaining icing sugar, the milk and vanilla extract and beat for a final 5 minutes. You can add the peanut butter here, I forgot, and beat it in well. I found  the buttercream was quite soft and so I filled my piping bag and refrigerated it until it was time to leave. By the time I was ready to pipe onto the cupcakes, the icing was the right consistency.

Buttercream, filled cupcakes

To assemble the cupcakes, first you core them. I used the large end of the piping tip and pressed down half way into the cupcake and then used a teaspoon to ease out some of the cake. I left at least half the depth of the cake so that the chocolate sauce wouldn't leak out the bottom. Fill the centre with chocolate sauce, then pipe on your desired amount of buttercream, and top with the toffee peanuts. The carrot cupcakes are lurking at the back of the plate.

Cupcakes galore

 

 


Friday Food: Four-Ingredient Chocolate Cupcakes

4 ingredient cupcakeDelicious magazine is celebrating its 15th birthday. I used to collect Delicious, but now I use the Zinio for Libraries app to read it on my ipad. This month I was very interested in the 4 ingredient chocolate cupcakes because, well, 4 ingredients and chocolate cupcakes. The 4 ingredients are chocolate, cream cheese, eggs and brown sugar. I was lucky enough to use proper farm eggs, and the whites whipped up in no time flat. There are actually 6 ingredients, but they haven't counted salt and water. I made half the recipe and 15 cupcakes and the recipe says a whole batch is 24, so you might have 30. MrsDrWho tasted the cupcakes and said they were unusual, kind of like a baked mousse. In fact when they came out of the oven they were quite puffed and then sank when they cooled, some even developed a hole. I don't think that really matters.

Once again, the recipe gave the total of the ingredients, but you have to read the recipe really carefully, because you don't use them all in the cupcakes, they are used for the frosting too. I will give the amounts for one whole batch, separated into cakes and frosting.

I was not very successful in making the frosting lovely and shiny as it is in the magazine photo, but my bakes often suffer from being refrigerated and transported. I ended up just spooning on some frosting rather than piping it.

Magazine shiny frosting

I think that is all really, other than the cupcakes being fine for gluten-free people!! I don't think these will keep for very long as they were not terribly moist, and they went a little hard when they were kept in the fridge.

 

4 Ingredient Chocolate Cupcakes     makes 24-30

For the cupcakes:

  • 500g dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • 500g full fat Philadelphia cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 12 eggs, separated
  • 250g brown sugar

 

For the frosting:

  • 200g dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • 500g full fat Philly cream cheese, cubed and softened
  • 80g brown sugar
  • 20ml water (1 Australian tablespoon)
  • pinch salt

 

Preheat the oven to 150*C and line muffin trays with paper cases.

Melt chocolate

For the cupcakes, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

Philly

I cubed my Philly cream cheese earlier and put it out in the sun in a big clear tub, with the lid on!!  Once it is softened, beat it with a spatula or spoon until it is smooth.

Combining

Then pour in the cooled chocolate and beat together. Add the egg yolks and sugar and mix well to combine.

Eggwhites

Whisk the egg-whites, by hand or with a beater, until stiff peaks form. There looks to be some yellow in the beaten egg-whites, but it is just a trick of the camera. Any yolk at all in the egg-whites will prevent them from whipping up.

Cupcake batter

Gently fold 1/3 of the egg-whites into the chocolate mixture. This is to loosen it, so that the rest of the egg-whites will be easier to fold in. You always lose a little of the lift from this first 1/3. Gently fold in the remaining egg-whites until no white streaks remain.

Bake and cool

Spoon or scoop into the paper cases, I filled mine to about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. I found it took 25 minutes for my cakes to cook. Set the cakes aside to cool completely.

Choc and cream cheese

Make the frosting by melting and cooling 200g dark chocolate, and softening and beating 500g of cream cheese.

Frosting

Beat the chocolate and cream cheese until smooth and then add the sugar, water and salt. Beat again until smooth. The icing will be thick and they recommend chilling it to thicken. This is when mine went dull, instead of shiny.

Spoon or pipe the icing onto the cupcakes and you are done!!!

4 ingredient chocolate cupcakes