Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Healesville Sanctuary

I really, really liked the Healesville Sanctuary. It's an Australian native animal zoo, set in bushland. It's entertaining and educational. Lot's of walking and getting close up to the animals. You can get up close and personal for an extra fee, but we didn't. It was still cool.

There's extinction fighting superheroes, and if you find yourself perched on the loo at any time, you'll hear a voice over from someone called Crap Man, informing you about the benefits of using recycled dunny paper. They really push that here.

The bird show is a must see. There's Kevin the talking bird, a Corella, and loads of other fabulous birds who do cool stuff.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cinnamon poached pears with a cream sauce

 ’This post is an entry into the Nuffnang ‘Fresh Recipe’ Network Competition, thanks to BRITA. Check out for inspiration and exclusive recipes by Gary Mehigan’.

I am a filtered water convert. Up until a few months ago, I was always a tap water girl.

Brett would be forever complaining about the taste of the kettle water, and now, being a black tea drinker, I have to agree with him and finally get it.

I no longer use the town tap water to fill my water bottle, or the kettle, something I thought I'd never do. I use the water from the filtered rain water tap that he installed, right at the kitchen sink. Just secretly, I am loving it.

Here's a recipe that I use my filtered water for, using delicious, in season, Beurre Bosc pears. It's easy, you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry.

Using filtered water in this recipe ensures that the you get the most out of the flavours in your dish, without the added, tainted taste, of unfiltered water.

Cinnamon poached pears

2 beurre bosc pears
400 ml filtered water
200 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon lemon juice
100 mls cream

Place water, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla essence and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn down the heat to a simmer.

Peel the pears and lower into the saucepan. If they are not submerged in the liquid, lay them down and occasionally turn so they cook evenly. Cook for 10-15 minutes. 

Take the pears out and drain on a wire rack.

Reserve 100 mls of the poaching liquid. 

Place the reserved liquid back in the saucepan with 100 mls of cream. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes.

Drizzle over the plated pears. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream(and some of my lime and poppy seed biscotti).

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lemon butter tarts, three ways

Thursday I posted my recipe for Lemon Butter. Here are some easy tarts made using that butter. I bought the tart shells ready made from the bakery section in the supermarket, which makes life a lot easier. Heck if you don't want to make the lemon butter, you can even buy that in a jar at the supermarket!

Lemon tarts
This tart is the easiest. Just spoon in some lemon butter and put some whipped cream on top.

Lemon yogurt tart
This one is my favourite. Use half a cup of vanilla yogurt, mix it with half of cup of lemon butter. Spoon into the tart cases and top with mixed berries.

Lemon Butter cheesecakes 
For every 100 grams of cream cheese, add in a good tablespoon of lemon butter. Beat until fluffy. Spoon into tart cases and top with a sliced strawberry. Place a dab of cheesecake mix on top and place a blueberry to top it off.

Fancy wancy for not much effort.

Open Slather

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lemon butter

Lemon butter or lemon curd, whatever you want to call it, is one of my childhood faves. I could just eat this stuff by the spoonful, straight from the jar.

I love getting free lemons. I love getting free anything, but my favourite is fresh produce that I can make something out of. Something to cook with to make delicious food.

You can substitute the lemon rind and juice, for any other citrus, like oranges or lime.
This recipe will make three small jars. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water, then place in a 160C oven for 10 minutes, removing just before you place the hot lemon butter in them.

Lemon Butter

3 lemons

1 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
175 gr butter

Finely grate the rind from the lemons, making sure not to get too much of the white pith just under the skin.

Juice the lemons, then sieve to get rid of the pulp and pips.

Place the juice, rind and sugar in a medium saucepan, on a low temperature. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Add the eggs and butter, continue to stir until the butter has melted.

Turn the heat up to a simmer and stir until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.
Place hot lemon curd into hot sterilised jars and seal.

Ways to use your lemon butter -
  • mix with yogurt, mascarpone cheese, or cream cheese for a tart filling
  • on toast
  • on pancakes
  • a glaze for a cake
  • spoonfuls straight from the jar when no one is looking
  • thinned down for an easy lemon sauce. Add in herbs, chilli, ginger, garlic etc.

This is how I used some! You will need -

A pack of 2, unfilled sponges
300 mls of cream, whipped with a half a teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 small jar of lemon butter

Cut each sponge in half. Spread the bottom layer with lemon butter, then spread with some whipped cream. Place the other half of sponge on top. Repeat layering the cake like this. 

Place the last, and top section of cake.

Mix about two teaspoons of lemon butter with the remaining cream, just so it is swirled through.

Place a thin layer of the lemon cream on the outside of the entire cake. This will ensure the crumbs are held in place. Spread the rest of the cream evenly over the outside of the cake. 

I made some decorations on the top with lemon butter. Decorate it how ever you would like. You could use strawberries, toasted almond slivers, coconut or grated chocolate for example.

Have you tried lemon butter?
What homemade goodness do you remember loving as a kid?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lake Mountain snow resort

It's been two weeks since we returned from our cold holiday. We ventured into Victoria, staying our first night in Ballarat, then moving onto the high country of Marysville and Lake Mountain. Never was I ever so grateful for powered sites, so we could heat the caravan.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lime and poppy seed biscotti

I haven't been around very much lately. 

I've had good days and bad, most bad. After three weeks on the medication,  things weren't improving much. 

I saw my counsellor for the first time on Friday, two weeks too late if you ask me. All she had to do was say "Tell me about yourself", and I lost it, couldn't speak without bawling. Got some stuff off my chest though and she upped my meds. I have felt a big change over the weekend.

It always seems these sorts of things happen when the people we need around, are out of town. Like Murphy's Law. One of those people is my sister. She's living the good life, travelling and seeing the sights in Ireland, with her boyfriend, in a Wicked van. I am loving seeing the photos she posts on Facey, she's having the time of her life, and it is much deserved.

Anyway before she left she said if I wanted limes, her tree had heaps. Saturday I ducked in and picked some. This is what I made using three of them.

Lime and Poppy seed biscotti

120 grams butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lime zest (close enough is good enough)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 180C.

Beat together butter, sugar, salt, baking powder and zest.

Add eggs, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix to combine.

Mix in flour and poppy seeds.

Divide the soft dough into half and make two logs, about 3 cm high and 5cm wide. Transfer to a greased and floured tray.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven to 160C.

Cut the logs into 1 cm thick slices. Place on tray and bake for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Let cool. Place in an airtight container. 

If you value your waistline, seal with three layers and duct tape, hide and forget you ever made them. They are so delicious! Or eat a few and make you friends very happy by giving them some.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Create new post - the week just gone

So I have these three words staring at me, I don't know what to say.

I have so much to say, but the words don't seem to flow.

We've been away. We took the caravan, which after three days seemed to shrink. It was cold. We stayed at the Marysville caravan park. It has the most gorgeous stream running through it. 

We spent a day up at the mountain, Lake Mountain, tobogganing. It was fun, but exhausting. Lots of walking uphill. The drive up through the hills was so picturesque and at times breathtaking.

We built a snowman. The girls had a great time. Brett couldn't help himself but add the boy bits to the snowman. Such a man thing.

I took photos, which are on my laptop. I will hopefully share them on wednesday when the laptop comes back from the fix it shop. It died the day we got back. I feel like my right arm is missing!

I had lots of time to think, sitting in a car for two days, which also seemed to shrink. I let things that happened yesterday, last week and even ten years ago seep into my present thoughts where they compound and fester. I need to leave them in my yesterdays and move on. Forget them. Don't let them ruin my today. 

I do lots of deep breathing to keep myself calm and centred. Sometimes it doesn't work and I find myself crying and stressing over nothing, and the next minute I am fine. This is happening much less. 

Onward and upward

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cookie Monster's Surprise cookies

I've been meaning to make these cookies ever since I saw them in this volume of The Sesame Street Library.

We only have two volumes of these old books from the 70s. 

You'll need Cookie Monster's Famous Cookie Dough to make these(which is in Volume 1).

You will also need fillings. Cookie Monster suggests nuts, raisins, jam, jellybeans, chocolate chips, peanut butter and chocolate mint patties.

Cookie Monster's Famous Cookie Dough

3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla, mix well.
Add flour, salt and baking powder, mix to a soft dough.
Chill dough for an hour.

Cookie Monster's Surprise Cookies

Preheat oven to 200C.

Roll dough out flat(about 5mm thick) on a well floured surface.
Use a 6mm cookie cutter to cut rounds.
Put a little filling(about a teaspoon) on one of your cookies.
Now put another cookie on top.
Pinch edges together to keep filling inside.
Do this with LOTS of cookies, with LOTS of different fillings.

Place cookies on ungreased tray. Put in oven and cook until lightly browned. About 10 minutes.

We used choc chips and some Milky bar 'cookies and cream'.

Peanut butter and choc chips, and strawberry jam.

You get a surprise every time you have a cookie!

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