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February 2018

Friday Food: Cake Mix Chocolate Smartie Biscuits, Cafe-style.

Cafe style biscuitEvery week I watch How To Cook That with Ann Reardon on The YouTube. A few weeks ago she made ten things using a cake mix. I was intrigued by the Cafe style biscuits. Could I make them and would they meet MrsDrWho's approval?? I decided to bake them. As it has been hot, I also appreciated that they only needed 10-12 minutes in the oven. Ann's recipe doesn't say how long to bake the biscuits, so I searched other similar recipes. I did bake mine for the full 12 minutes, and they are deceptively soft and harden up on cooling.

My cake mix didn't have extra choc chips, so I added some. I was able to find a cake mix with frosting, which the recipe calls for. I should have listened to Ann, because I could have applied more Smarties/M'n'Ms. I only put 4 biscuits on a tray because I wasn't sure how far they would spread. Four was enough.

I measured the mixture using a 20ml Australian tablespoon and there were about 24, so I made each biscuit 2 tablespoons. I had a smidgen of mixture left over but not enough for another biscuit. It may have been that I added the choc chips.

MrsDrWho approved. I don't usually use a cake mix, but they have improved and don't have a cake mix "taste" really. They were very easy to make and cooked very quickly. I think they could be frozen baked, or unbaked.

 

Cake Mix Chocolate Smartie Biscuits    makes 12 large biscuits

  • 1 chocolate cake mix with frosting
  • 125g (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 egg
  • extra choc chips if you want
  • Smarties or M'n'Ms to decorate

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C, I chose 170*C fan-forced. Line 3 trays with baking paper, or  2, and then use one tray again!

Butter and egg

Melt the butter in the microwave, let it cool, and then whisk in the egg.

Cake mix

Pour in the cake mix, frosting and extra choc chips if you are using them.

Add dry to wet

Mix together with a spoon until the cake mix and frosting is thoroughly incorporated.

Stir and portion

Measure out the biscuits: 2 x 20ml tablespoons. Roll the biscuits into a ball, place on the tray leaving a lot of room for expansion. Flatten slightly with the heel of your hand and then apply more lollies than you think you will need.

Flatten  enbellish  bake

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on the tray and then move to a rack. Keep in an airtight container. These really are like the huge cafe biscuits that are always in giant jars on the counter. You only need one. Or two!!!

Cafe biscuits using a cake mix


January, Don't Be Hot, Don't Be Too Hot To Me. You Make Me Sad........

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, unfortunately January has been as hot as hell and is about to get hotter and we have been hiding from the heat as best we can. This year I am keeping track of the days when I am unwell and the days when it is too hot, which makes me unwell:

January sick and tired

This is the year so far: I was sick with my throat infection, had a brief respite and then had an enforced long recovery in bed. Now we are having a run of hot days. And more to come. I do feel physically unwell when it is hot, and in Tasmania The Police have said we need to add 5-8*C to the temperature to calculate an equivalent Mainland heat. Coming up is a week of 35-40*C. When I look at this I see why I haven't really done anything this month.

I am reduced to eating instant noodles, with some hot smoked salmon and peas. And I have drunk so much liquid that I slosh when I move.

Dinner

We have set up a cool retreat on the verandah with piles of old doonas and cushions, but round about now the mosquitoes come out and we have to come inside. We are very grateful that we have had some cool breezes overnight, but it was already hot when we woke up this morning.

When we went for our walk on Tuesday last week the dam area was closed. We saw a giant crane and other big machines on Monday.

Damn cranes

When we went back on Friday we could see they had added a shiny and jagged metal edge above the new valve area. It is above where the water gushes out. We don't know what it is for. Yet.

Dam valves addition

We had to go along to another walking area where we met Rafa and his Dad. Lorelai Gilmore was in her element, she raced ahead with Rafa and smelled all the smells. Hedy was not very confident at all.

Gilly is confident Hedy is not

Hedy Lamarr looked to Gilly to lead the way.

Gilly Hedy Rafa

When we came home Hedy could not seem to get comfortable. She wriggled and was restless and licking her legs. We went to The Vet, all of us as usual, and saw the Lovely Dr Alison. Hedy had tiny red spots and was allergic to something in the new walking area. They love going to The Vet and Dr Alison gives them treats!!! Their tails wag too fast for the camera.

Gilly and Sick Hedy at the vet

$150 later we came home with a new magic spray instead of nasty tablets. Of course Hedy hates the spray. The first time I sprayed her - one little spray under each arm and two on her belly- she hid under the honeysuckle for an hour and looked accusingly at me the whole time. Now I squirt her when she starts eating breakfast. The spots and the irritation disappeared almost immediately and we didn't go walking there again.

Afternoon tea

MrsDrWho and I went for afternoon tea last Monday. I had a lemon tart and she had a cronut. I was torn between the tart and a rhubarb and apple cake. MrsDrWho bought me an apple and rhubarb cake to take home, and it was delicious.

And that is all that has happened thus far, but I wanted to take advantage of a brief moment of cool to announce the winner of Lorelai Gilmore's birthday bag:

Gilly birthday bag 2018 #134

and it is Judy Edmonds. Congratulations!!! I assigned ordinal numbers in order of comments and then used The Internet to chose the winner randomly:

Random number picker

I will send an email Judy!! Lorelai Gilmore and Hedy Lamarr would love to send a card to the other kind people and dogs who left happy birthday wishes as well, so we will send an email about that too!!

We hope it is appropriately nice weather where ever you are. Please send cold wishes......


Friday Food: Peach Melba Inspired No-Bake Cheesecake

Peach melba no bake cheesecakeThis week, in honour of the incredibly hot weather, I made a no bake cheesecake. I am not a big dessert fan, but I ate this and it was delicious. I saw a no-bake 4 ingredient cheesecake in the  Jan/Feb Taste magazine and was inspired, by the beautiful juicy in-season peaches, to create a Peach Melba no-bake cheesecake. Peach Melba is named after a famous Australian Opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba, and it is scoops of vanilla ice-cream, topped with fresh peaches and a raspberry sauce.

The no-bake cheesecake part is flavoured with some citrus juice and zest. The ideal fruit is an orange, but I am allergic to oranges so I used a lemon, but I will imagine it is an orange in this recipe. I used Butternut Snaps (oat and golden syrup biscuit) as the biscuit base, but ginger biscuits would be nice or a plain sweet biscuit. You could go the extra mile and make a raspberry sauce, but it was Just Too Hot. This took all of 5 minutes and an hour chilling in the fridge. I filled individual glasses, but you could make one large dessert too.

All in all, a good idea brought to a very successful and delicious conclusion.

 

Peach Melba Inspired No-Bake Cheesecake      serves 4

  • 8 (about 75g) Butternut Snap biscuits
  • 1 orange, finely zested and juiced
  • 250g Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-2 fresh peaches
  • fresh raspberries
  • whipped cream, if desired

 

No bake cheesecake

Cube the cream cheese and place in a bowl with the condensed milk, the orange zest and 40ml of the juice. Beat until smooth. You can use a mixer or processor, or even a fork.

Biscuit base

Crush the biscuits to make a fairly fine crumb.

Cheesecake assemble

And now it is all about assembling. I bought some nicely shaped tumblers for $2 each at The Target. Spoon 1/4 of the biscuit crumb into the base of each glass. Then, careful not to sully the sides of the glass, spoon in 1/4 of the cheesecake mixture and then smooth it out.  I used two teaspoons, one to scoop and one to push the scooped cheesecake into the glass. It was like a game of Operation.

Fruity

Remove the stone and then slice the peach or peaches. Arrange the slices on top of the cheesecake and add raspberries. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour, up to overnight. Embellish with some whipped cream and/or an extra raspberry. The cheesecakes will keep, covered or in an airtight container, for 2 or 3 days.

Peach melba inspired no bake cheesecake 


Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine, Gilly's Nine......

Gilly's birthday

Happy Birthday Lorelai Gilmore, eighteen months ago we weren't sure you'd make it to eight, so nine years old is pretty wonderful!!! She'd had a dip in the paddle pool after her special birthday breakfast. (And nicely obscured Hedy Lamarr with her tail) Their breakfast today was chicken breast, carrot, celery and a little rice.

Gilly's birthday breakfast 2018

Here is baby Gilly, she was so cute!!

Baby gilly

Do not think that Hedy Lamarr was missing out. She likes to stand on your lap, dripping with paddle pool water, showing you that she really wants to play with her Billyball.

How close is hedy

In celebration of Gilly's birthday we are giving away a shopping bag, Labrador-ified. It is bag #134 and the second bag of 2018. Please leave a comment, and then in a week we will draw out a name from a hat. And we promise to send everyone a card with Gilly and Hedy's photo!!

Gilly birthday bag 2018 #134

It is a polypop bag in my favourite lime green colour with a strip of the Labrador fabric I "created" last year on The Spoonflower.

I am feeling a little more like myself again. Antibiotics are a wonderful discovery and without them I would be dead. Thank you, scientists, for all your life saving discoveries. I know doctors counsel against the overuse of antibiotics, but because I have a compromised and suppressed immune system, any small health issue can become serious very quickly. I am allowed ALL the drugs!!!

Here's a quick review of last year's craft and cooking. I didn't knit very much at all, basically because I was poorly, had a chewed finger that needed plastic surgery and had my eye operation. I made hats and cowls and small things. And only one pair of socks.

Knitting

I sewed a lot of shopping bags: thirty. I love sewing these. Someone asked if I would make them for their cool and trendy little shop, but I am not only unreliable health-wise, but I could not bear to have to make bags under pressure. I only make them when I need them, and I enjoy it immensely. I like to try and match the bag fabric to the person and it is fun looking and choosing.

Bags 2017

I sewed a variety of other bags too.

Other bags

I sewed some garments, which I was very pleased with. Two dresses for me and one for MrsDrWho's sister in Supernatural fabric.

Garments

I made a table runner, wall hanging and the final of three cat beds:

Cat bed wall hangings

And finally the "other" category, a baby quilt, a cross stitch and some tiny bunting.

Other

I was not very consistent with Friday Food last year, for obvious reasons. Here's what I did make:

Baking 2017

So all in all, in spite of being chronically poorly and having extra medical happenings this year, I was very productive. I like to keep as busy as possible and to be useful. Since I can't be a teacher any more, I have to find ways to make myself productive and useful.

Today I am baking some biscuits for Gilly, going to The Eye Hospital because I have an errant stitch sticking out of my scar, I think if there is a hole big enough for a stitch to poke out then germs can find their way in, and possibly baking a cheese and spinach slab quiche.

And we shall be resting after yesterday's heat. It wasn't 47*C / 117*F, but it was too hot for us.

Run labradors run


Friday Food: Layered Crunchy Noodle Salad

IE0C340CE-7627-4D13-AF08-7B0C12DB8C9E think I shall adopt, as my personal motto: better late than never. I am starting the year as I mean to go on, ie eventually getting around to things. It is far too hot to cook and so this week I am assembling a layered crunchy noodle salad from the Jan/Feb Taste magazine. 

There is a fair bit of slicing and dicing, which a machine or device would do more quickly, but I don’t mind cutting and chopping. In an amazing turn of events, I managed to follow the recipe precisely, all except for the optional black sesame seeds. Mine were the ordinary pale kind.

I think a lot of this salad’s wow factor rests in choosing the correct serving bowl. Mine is too wide, it needs to be tall and narrow with a 2 litre capacity. The dressing is on the bitter, rather than the sweet, side but it pairs well with the salad.

If you are looking for an alternative, I can recommend the Layered Garden Salad. There is a little more work as you actually have to turn on the stove and cook bacon etc, but it is a sweeter salad. I think all layered salads improve with time, and are best prepared a day ahead. I know this is at odds with the current advice not to dress salads until right before serving, but the layered salad is a different beast.

Of course, you can substitute and add to your heart’s content.

 

Layered Crunch Noodle Salad        serves 4-6

  • 1/2 wombok cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 100g snow peas, sliced thinly lengthways
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled into ribbons. I cut mine into chunks
  • 100g packet crunchy noodles
  • 3 spring onions, sliced diagonally
  • black sesame seeds, optional

for the dressing:

  • 1 cup Kewpie dressing
  • 40ml rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tspn hot mustard
  • 1/2 tspn sesame oil

 

Prepare the dressing first. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined. Refrigerate and let the flavours develop. I left it for half an hour.

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And now it is just a case of assembling the salad.

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First the wombok cabbage.

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next the carrot,

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and then the snow peas.

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now drizzle the dressing over the salad.

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Add the cucumber,

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and radish, and finally the spring onions, crunchy noodles and sesame seeds.

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I think this is best eaten the day after it is made, though if refrigerated carefully it may keep another day without becoming soggy.

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Still Crazy After All This Year

I saved this post as a draft on New Year's Eve, at  12/31/2017, 8:56:48 PM, but my tiredness and annoying little cough turned into a raging throat infection and temperature, so my draft continued to just sit there: unrealised. I saw the Nurse Practitioner and she prescribed the giant antibiotics and I have been getting better. It no longer feels like a thousand swords when I swallow and I don't have to sleep almost all of the day and night.

 

The time before, during, and after Christmas has been much cooler, and we have used the time to sleep. Just sleep really. Sleep in the cool breezes coming in the window. There’s one right now.

We had a lovely Christmas, even though I didn’t finish everything I wanted to. In true tradition I am now doing one thing every day. Starting yesterday, I baked a batch of the most excellent chocolate biscuits. Today I am puffy painting the General Grievous I appliquéd on a bag for MissSingapore. I may even cut out her kimono jacket ready to sew tomorrow.

General grievous

I am very grateful to have such wonderful family and friends, who accept the reality that I am always late with most celebratory gifts.

I have not given over blogging to The Instagram. I intend to blog again next year, perhaps more frequently. This year had a huge chunk taken out of it, from August to the end of November, with a chewed finger and then an eye operation. Everything turned out well. Hurray for our medical system.

MrsDrWho gave me some little notebooks she thought would be good for blogging notes. Oh my word they are. I have not written in them yet, but I have a list of things including: errant apostrophes and people in the 12 items or FEWER queue with 24 items, or the ABC radio presenter who said 'arch'-ipelago. They are my Little Books of Not Calm!!!

Little books of not calm

We always spend New Year’s Eve at home. I always fill in my diary and have a glass of cider and nibbles. This year I have a different kind of diary, not the usual Buffy Diary. My psychologist suggested a Passion Planner, recommended to her by a friend. We will see how it goes. I don’t have to fill in dates and I photocopied the cover of the Buffy Diary so I feel a comforted by its familiarity.

New years eve

Lorelai Gilmore and Hedy Lamarr are both well. They hated the hot weather before Christmas and have so enjoyed the coolness. This does not mean they have not been in the paddle pool morning noon and night. Especially night.

First paddle pool for 2018

I managed to sew my Captain Kirk Star Trek dress and wore it in the middle of the night to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I did not know three hours had gone past. I sat entranced for the entire film. People complain, but they did not live through the long dark teatime of the soul when there was no science fiction or fantasy on TV. There was no streaming, no way other than buying VHS tapes. But this is not why I liked the film, I liked it because it was an excellent tale, told well.

Captain kirk dress making

I need to tweak the toile and shorten the bust darts, add a sway back adjustment, trim the front armhole and maybe fiddle with the forward shoulders?? I love the v-neck at the back and now I need a dress with a v-neck at the front.

My captain kirk dress

I finished the year sewing a lot of shopping bags:

Last bags of 2017 up to 132

And I am sad I forgot to take a photo of all the slices I made for food gifts. My plan worked very well and I shall do it again in 2018.

Gilly and Hedy had a lovely Christmas and they had a special walk with Rafa and the returning Paris the Guide Dog in Training. Here they are, assembled, walking up the hill together: The Four Dogs of the Christm-apocalypse.

4 dogs of the christmapocalypse

Lorelai Gilmore is very happy, she sometimes looks a bit sad, but she has the hay fever and her eyes are yucky. She very much enjoys a special treat on our walk.

Gilly wants a treat

Hedy Lamarr has learned to drop on command. She is recalcitrant. I am working on 'come'. She comes when she likes, if she likes, unless I say "Here you are" in my treat voice. Then she comes. Here she is being very annoyed when the Billy ball won't co-operate.

When the billy ball won't cooperate with hedy

Here are two happy, wet Labradors in the backyard.

Happy wet labradors

And here endeth the draft.

Tomorrow or the next day I plan to post a review of all my crafting and baking during the year.

Gilly and Hedy wish everyone a very happy and healthy 2018. We hope it is not interesting at all!!!