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Delight and Things

a little peek at what delights me

Category Archives: recipes

muffins3

I have a ton of pureed pumpkin in the freezer from last October when I roasted up the jack’o’lanterns we made (they’d only been out one night, lined by foil, no rotting had occurred) in order to make a pumpkin pie – not a treat normally consumed here in Australia, Thanksgiving or not. Especially not in October, seeing as pumpkins are lucky to be seedlings here at that stage, and my struggle to purchase whole pumpkins prior to my Halloween party was proof of that. Too add to all Canada vs. Australia confusion, we ate our pumpkin pie after Halloween, when normally it would have been consumed two weeks prior. When you can only get your hands on a few pumpkins, you have to switch your holidays around to make use of what you’ve got – doesn’t everyone?

(This continues to happen, too – there were no St Patrick’s day treats at our house due to no green food colouring. I considered doing a Valentine’s repeat instead, however with Easter coming up fast and furious this year I figured we should just keep moving forward with the pink holidays. But I digress.)

So anyway, I woke up the other morning with a major chocolate craving and thought to myself, “Self, how can I turn a chocolate craving into a suitable breakfast food? And self, remember you have no milk, because you’re not so good at keeping up with the dairy needs of this house. But you doooo have tons of pumpkin.” Perhaps pumpkin muffins. With chocolate in them. So I looked up a recipe. See it here. And it was beautifully healthy, counteracting the chocolate within. But – although the town-living Canadian me would probably have the quinoa and/or kamut flour the recipe calls for (or spelt or rice or something along those lines), the country-living Australian in me most certainly doesn’t, and doesn’t even have the option of getting them, short of driving 6 hours to Adelaide.

But no big deal – I just subbed whole wheat flour and plain flour. And our flour is freshly milled at the local mill using local grain (it’s possible some of the wheat the boys grew is in there!) which actually makes me feel really good about the less-healthy option. At least it’s local.

And instead of chocolate chips, which I also didn’t have on hand, I opted for chopped up dark chocolate. I even threw in a few bits of white chocolate in there for good measure (and because I had a bit left that I wanted to use up).

These are seriously delicious, as I found out 20 minutes later… although it was a tough 20 minutes, I’ve never been good at waiting for things to bake! And mine required a bit of extra time due to a dodgy oven seal. So more it was more like 30 minutes of salivating. But so worth it in the end, the house smelled amazing and the muffins were perfect. Such a great way to use up extra pumpkin puree – I’ll be making much more of these in the future.

(And my apologies for the lack of photos. Unfortunately my camera was out of battery and by the time I’d charged it, the muffins were gone. Which means all you get is a quick doodle of a pumpkin and chocolate math equation – making math fun!)

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I was given a box of peaches off the tree this week by a friend – best gift ever! They’ve been smelling so good in my kitchen the last two days that I haven’t wanted to touch them but I woke up this morning wondering what I was going to do with them, because with the hot and humid weather we’ve been having I knew I didn’t have long before they were going to go mushy.

peaches
My first thought was a pie or a tart – but my pastry skills are lackluster at best, and that’s in freezing Canadian temperatures with little chance of the butter melting before it gets in the oven, not in the height of the Australian summer, so I had to rethink. I felt that perhaps the best use for the fuzzy fruits was to make up some sort of cool treat to try to beat the heat. I thought about one of my favourite Canadian treats that got me through many a bad day in university – frozen yogurt.

Unsure what special kitchen tools I was going to need to, I looked up a recipe and was delighted to see that frozen yogurt is pretty much just that: frozen yogurt. No churning need be involved.

colours

So I got to work freezing my plain yogurt and cutting up my beautifully fragrant peaches which were quickly going soft in the heat. I added a bit of vanilla and also a bit of golden syrup because I know my other half is not huge on the ‘plain yogurt’ taste. When it was half frozen I added the peaches and buzzed it up with my hand blender. After washing up, I decided that I wanted something a bit more special than plain old peach, so I added some fresh ginger. Not too much – I think I added only 1/4 of a teaspoon, although in hindsight I could have added more, and then I buzzed it up again (luckily my hand blender is not hard to clean). Back into the freezer, this time in popsicle moulds.

peaches&frozenyogurt

The verdict?

Pretty darned nice.

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It’s valentines day. I’m not usually a huge valentines day person – other than my mom and grandma usually leaving a few beautifully foiled chocolates on my placemat to be found in the morning when I was a kid, I’ve never really ‘celebrated’. Usually a homemade card will do. This year I decided to step it up a little, and thought I’d bake up a present for my valentine. Mostly this was due to the fact that the chickens have been laying like champions as of late and we’re getting a bit of an egg overload – so when I came across these simply beautiful meringues, I thought it was fate…

What the meringues are supposed to look like...

What the meringues are supposed to look like…

Now, I took a look at the gorgeous French Meringues with Strawberry Ganache Filling on the Cafe Sucre Farine’s blog, glanced over the ingredients, and thought to myself, 6 ingredients? How hard can it be? Determined to impress my beau and in honour of St. Valentine, I set forth.

Yeah…. so turns out piping out the meringue is a bit tricky if you’re a first time meringue-er like me. It requires a bit of patience (something which I don’t have a lot of). I may have ended up with pink meringue coating most of the surfaces in my kitchen. At one stage I had to call Jamie in to help me hold my ziploc ‘piping’ bag open while I stuffed it full of the sticky pink stuff – all while he had his eyes closed so as not to ruin the surprise. In the end I was a bit deflated, as they are not as jaw-droppingly, impressively, irresistibly beautiful as I had anticipated, but at least they taste good.

valentine meringue

What I ended up with… laugh it up. I know you want to.

Luckily I’ve got the nicest boyfriend going and he totally ignored the less-than-beautiful look.

I did change up the recipe minorly by making them raspberry flavoured instead of strawberry. I also added some cocoa powder to the ganache because I wasn’t getting quite a chocolatey enough flavour (all I had on hand was cheap chocolate). But it didn’t seem to change the integrity of the ganache.

The one thing I will warn is that these are extremely sweet – delicious, but definitely sugary. If I were to make them again I’d opt for a bite sized version; I made mine a bit too big and I can only eat half at a time. Live and learn.

If you have patience and a good piping bag with the appropriate tip, I’d say give this recipe a shot. If not, maybe just have a laugh on me, and enjoy your valentine’s day.

On one of the overly toasty afternoons where you end up having to find an inside job to do between noon and three while it’s too hot to do much else, I decided to make gingerbread cookies. Scratch that, I made ninjabread cookies – yes you heard me right! My friend has these hilarious little cookie cutters shaped like gingerbread men but doing side kicks and whatnot… so I borrowed them and they turned out excellent – so excellent, in fact, that they did not last long enough for a photo opportunity. But here’s what made them extra excellent: I used fresh ginger instead of ground ginger. Bold, I know. It could have been a disaster. But I didn’t have any ground ginger and it was a Saturday and by the time I drove half an hour to the shop it would have been closed. (Three cheers for living in the middle of nowhere!) But I actually think it was a happy accident because the fresh ginger made it spiiiiicy. Some bites were simply sweet, some bites were packed with gingery zing. As a ginger lover, I was in heaven. For the ginger hesitant, don’t give up your regular recipe.

Here’s the recipe I used. It’s adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe. I halved the recipe.

Spiiicy Gingerbread – oven at 180°C, or 350°F

    • 3 cups flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup raw sugar (if I’d had packed brown, I would have used that, but all I had on hand was raw)
    • 2 tsp minced ginger
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • some finely ground black pepper
    • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
    • 1 egg
    1. Mix the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a bowl and put aside.
    2. Beat the butter and brown sugar together in a bowl, until creamy and fluffy. Mix in the fresh ginger well, the other spices, the egg, then the molasses.
      Add the flour mix and combine.
    3. 1/2 cup dark molasses (treacle, for those Aussies reading this)

The original recipe said to chill the dough for an hour, but I found it got dry in the fridge so let it come back up to room temperature again before rolling it out on a floured surface. It needs to be about 1/2 a cm thick or a bit thicker, depending on how crisp or doughy you want your cookies. Bake on a lined baking sheet, 12 – 14 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before icing.

Ice with whatever form of icing you like!

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A lovely message found in the alley in Melbourne

It’s raining. This makes my veggie patch happy, the crops even happier, and the farmers’ faces happiest of all. Buuuuuut, this means that it’s an inside sort of afternoon. So I searched for some home-y things to do while it buckets rain down outside. Here’s a few links to keep even the biggest rain-hater happy until the sun comes out…

Save your spoons! And make these handy hooks. (I looooove hooks).

Loving this bird fabric.

Here’s instructions to create a pretty laptop sleeve. I wouldn’t be able to put our old laptop in something so nice, so if I were to make this I’d definitely have to buy a shiny new one to put in it, right?

An untranslatable alphabet? Worth a peek.

If only I had a block of dark chocolate here right now to make these DEEELICIOUS looking molten lava cookies.

I am in love with this hand-stamped pony dress!

After admiring my boyfriend’s mother’s lemon tree the other day, I snuck a look around and, confirming it was safe, stole three fat yellow lemons off its limbs. I left a good 70 lemons on the tree, so really don’t feel toooo bad about it. I was really doing the tree a favour by removing some fruit so it could focus its energy on sustaining the other ones, right??

I looked at them sitting in the fruit bowl on the table top for about a week, and although they looked quite fresh and decorative, knew that they needed to be used. Then while flicking through a magazine while waiting for a ride later on that week I happened across a recipe for lemon butter.

Delicious! The perfect use for my three yellow friends.

Things fell into place when I got a free afternoon due to some showers (never have I been in a job where things slow down because of some rain!) so I got to work. Juicing, zesting, simmering. About an hour later the house smelled so fresh and citrusy good I could hardly wait for it to cool down before tasting it.

Yum. Every lemon lover must try this recipe. Although it’s not exactly the one from the magazine (as I’m not great at following recipes).

Lemon Butter

  • 3 med lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 100g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  1. Zest the lemons and the orange into a medium saucepan. Juice the lemons (leave the orange) until you get 2/3 of a cup. If you don’t get enough out of your lemons, top it up with bottled lemon juice or squeeze the orange.
  2. Toss in the chopped butter and the sugar, then stir constantly over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
  3. Whisk your egg yolks in a bowl. Add to the butter mix in the pan. Continue to cook at medium heat until it thickens, but don’t let it boil.
  4. Pour lemon butter into jars and seal while still hot. Or tip into a sealable container and refrigerate for up to a month.

 

What delighted me most about my lemon butter was that my eggs were also farm fresh, straight from friends’ chooks!

Hope you get a chance to enjoy on fresh baked bread for a morning snack.

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While helping shift some rye seed from the silo to spreader the other day I looked up and noticed some fat black berries on a tree nearby. No, wait, not berries… olives!! Totally excited, I pulled one off, yelled “Look, Jamie, OLIVES!” and before he could say anything, stuffed it in my mouth.

Olives on the tree

BIG MISTAKE.

For those of you out there who live in Mediterranean climates where olive trees are plentiful, you’re probably just shaking your head right now. For those of you who don’t, please take note: fresh olives are not delicious. And by not delicious I mean positively awful. I’m fairly certain it was the most bitter thing I have ever put in my mouth. I immediately spat it out and ran to the ute in search of some water.

Jamie was doubled over with laughter – he has fresh olive experience and to his credit was trying to warn me but I was just too excited. “You’ve got to cure them, Raine.” I felt humiliated by the olive tree and so, even though I was mad at it, decided that I was not going to be beaten and started to collect the rest of them off the branches.

Again, thank goodness for the internet, as a handy google search started me off in my 3-6 month mission to produce edible olives from the tree. It’s so far involved soaking the olives in water for 10 days, and then in a brine. After a few more days of soaking them in that, I’m supposed to jar them up and let them rest for 3-6 months until they are yummy. If all goes well, I will let you know the process I used. But there’s no point in posting it if I simply end up with aged undelicious olives.

I really do hope they work though, for three reasons:

1. I love olives. And I love things that you can make yourself.

2. My dad has a fairly large olive habit (read: $40 plus a month spent on olives alone) and I think he may be the proudest father in the world if I started curing my own.

3. Wouldn’t it be great if you could call yourself and olivier? Too bad if it’s not an actual thing – I’ll be the first.

My fresh olives

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