Birthday High Tea.

March 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

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A High Tea, whipped up on the morning of the event, turned out to be just the right combination of nibblies for afternoon tea and a smashing cake that was deceptively simple to put together.

Lily and her little lady friends had a great time chatting and drinking rose tea, chasing the guinea pigs and playing musical statues. Happy 8th Birthday to Lily Rose!

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Belated Birthday

January 15, 2015 § 1 Comment

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Birthdays are not a big deal for my husband, but they kind of are for me. I know I like to feel a bit special, a bit pampered, and remembered on my own day – so I try to give to others what I would wish to receive myself.

This Monday just past was his special day, but we spent the day mostly apart, driving home from a short holiday (separately), and with him attending a funeral. That night we spontaneously decided to go out for dinner to ‘celebrate’ – though I think the idea was also to save us the chore and work of cooking at home after a tiring day. We chose a family restaurant, full of TV’s showing the soccer, a kids movie area showing -what else- but ‘Frozen’, and with an outside play area too. Perfect for lots of children to entertain themselves and for exhausted parents to sit, dazed-eyed, with a glass of wine.

Today, three days later, I finally got around to the cake. Sol is not a sweets-man, preferring wholesome and often different flavours, and so I decided to make him the cake I prepared for his 30th birthday (over ten years ago now!). Then, we lived in rural QLD, far from family. I invited the only couple we knew over to our sparsely furnished but gorgeous modern “Queenslander’ home, a cornflower blue two level beauty with wooden floors and a massive wrap around verandah. Our guests were clean living folk who appreciated the nutty, not to sweet Choc Walnut Torte that I presented.

I presented the same cake tonight – unfortunately rejected by most of the children due to the amount of nuts involved, but happily devoured by Sol and myself; our little secret. The recipe comes from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks by Holly Davis, which I have owned for many years. I used to be a hard-core macrobiotic eater, and her cookbook ‘Nourish’ entered the market just when macrobiotics was becoming cool. It transformed the original macrobiotic principles into modern, fresh, gorgeous food with clean flavours.

Though not containing many ingredients, the cake is super moist with a few subtle flavours in there. The choc/coconut ganache is my own addition to the dessert.

Rich Cocoa and Walnut Torte (gluten free, dairy free).

4 cups ground walnuts

1 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon cardomom powder, or seeds crushed up

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup maple syrup

2 unpeeled oranges, boiled whole for 15 mins.

5 eggs

 

combine all dry ingredients in a bowl

blend the maple syrup and whole oranges (yes, whole oranges!)

whisk the eggs to a frothy consistency

gently fold wet ingredients into dry

pour into an oiled, floured cake pan (flour with cocoa)

bake at 170 degrees celsius for one hour

serve with berries, cream and optional choc/coconut ganache.

 

Chocolate Ganache (dairy free)

100ml coconut cream

100g dark chocolate, dairy free if desired

 

heat the coconut cream to just boiling

remove from heat and add chocolate

stir till smooth and silky.

My new favourite Dessert

June 23, 2014 § 2 Comments

I don’t often post cooking blogs – there are plenty of bloggers and people out there who are much better at food than I.

And my relationship with cooking is a little rocky – having to cook for so many people every day sometimes leads to inspiration burnout. At those times I tend to fall back on Jamie’s Fifteen Minute Meals, or the ‘classic Kirrilee’ recipes I have held on to since my early twenties.

This year I have been reading the I Quit Sugar books by Sarah Wilson, and the paleo inspired recipes of Pete Evans, along with the allergy friendly baking recipes of Jude Blureau. The following recipe has fast become a favourite of mine – taking elements from all those mentioned above, with a couple of touches of my own thrown in. Strictly speaking it is not sugar free, but the sugar is very minimal. I find the fatty acids and protein from the quinoa, chia and coconut keep me really satisfied.

I have been seen eating it for breakfast on the run, and while watching Game of Thrones: a most enjoyable pairing.

Quinoa and Chia seed Pudding with Maple Custard

(this recipe make enough for a few puddings)

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Quinoa and Chia Seed Pudding

1/3 cup cooked quinoa

3T chia seeds

3 teaspoons cocoa powder ( I use an excellent quality raw cocoa)

300 mls  milk ( I use half coconut milk, half soy or almond or oat milk)

Mix everything together in a bowl and let set in fridge for two hours.

Maple Custard

3T cornflour

1 1/2 T maple syrup

1t vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups milk (I use soy, oat or almond)

65 mls coconut milk

Mix cornflour, syrup and vanilla over a low heat. Increase heat and add milk, stirring constantly until it thickens.

Remove from heat and leave to cool in a bowl.

When cool, blend with coconut milk, adding more maple syrup if desired, to taste.

Together:

Layer the quinoa/chia seed pudding with some custard. I add strawberries and a sprinkling of cacao nibs on top.

A birthday.

March 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Last Friday, it was world Down Syndrome Day. On Saturday, my family gathered to celebrate my older brother’s 40th birthday.

My brother, Stephen, lives with Down Syndrome. I had no idea there was a day of recognition for Down Syndrome until photos began popping up in my Facebook newsfeed, posted by mothers celebrating their children who have this condition. It started me thinking, remembering my childhood, and what it was like growing up twenty five years ago with a sibling who was ‘different’.

There wasn’t the acceptance and support that exists nowadays. And while I don’t remember ever being teased, I do remember stares whenever we were shopping or out in the community.

It wasn’t always easy growing up with my brother. He was incredibly stubborn as a child, and more than once I ended up doing his chores as well as my own. But at only two years older, he was a great playmate. I remember many hours of playing outside together: cricket, riding bikes, and then basketball on the driveway.

We shared a bedroom for a while, and a love of swimming in our backyard pool and on holidays.

He had a great love of musicals, and would watch The Sound of  Music all the way through, only to instantly rewind the tape and watch it again. I think I know all the words to that movie, as well as Thoroughly Modern Millie and Calamity Jane.

Stephen now lives independently, with some support. Nearly every weekend he goes to lunch with our mother, and so I often catch up with him there. For his birthday my family, my sister’s family and our mother all came together, a rarity in these busy times.

We had chinese takeaway and I made a chocolate and salted caramel cake. Being one of the major birthday milestones, I just had to put all 40 candles on the cake!

 

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Snapshots of December days.

December 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

Vegetarian Dumplings with chilli

Vegetarian Dumplings with chilli

blue sky days

blue sky days

...and great books to read.

…and great books to read.

ballet concerts....

ballet concerts….

craft markets

craft markets

...and hobby horses

…and hobby horses

home made gifts (coconut muesli)

home made gifts (coconut muesli)

tears...

tears…

...and sleepy cuddles

…and sleepy cuddles

Affirmations....

Affirmations….

....and Jamie's Fifteen Minute meals.

….and Jamie’s Fifteen Minute meals.

A show with my mother....

A show with my mother….

....and dolls hanging on the line?!

….and dolls hanging on the line?!

Never enough beach.

Never enough beach.

And so much to be thankful for.

Late Night

September 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

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After dinner….

We fill the bath. To or sometimes three children get in, and sometimes an adult too! By the time we dry off, most of the water is over the floor. Robin loves to splash.

It’s crazy time as we try to get our girls ready in their jammies. They love to run and jump on our bed. Robin does not like getting dressed: the result is a speedy attempt to get something on him before he squirms away. Same with the girls.

We read a book, one for each girl. That means two books. One parent lies with the girls and tickles/massages them to sleep, while the other one cleans up the kitchen. Often Sol is at work of an evening, so I work at turbo speed to get the kitchen done while the girls play in the bath. The boys babysit Robin while I lie with the girls.

Samuel’s bedtime is next. We always have a book that we read together of a night, aloud. He loves lots of snuggling.

Once I usher William to bed, and finally get Robin to sleep (he seems to have the latest bedtime of all!), it is finally my time.

I should be going to bed as early as I can. Life is busy.

But I can’t resist a late night moment for myself. I often make a hot chocolate, sometimes a plain old cocoa and milk (dairy free of some kind), sometimes gourmet hot chocolate with peanut butter, coconut cream and cocoa nibs.

I have my favourite perch on the couch. Sometimes I read, sometimes I write, sometimes just see what late night TV is happening for a little while. It is my time to slow down and reflect on the day now past.

A little window in time, when responsibilities don’t exist. The house is still. And so am I.

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