Saturday, March 31, 2007

I'm A Soccer Mum!

Posted by MANDI at 7:41 AM 2 comments
But no, I'm not getting a mini-van. The car I have will do just fine LOL.
We took Offspring #1 to soccer registration yestereday afternoon. He was so excited and just couldn't stand still. He's all signed up for an Under-6's team and training and 'real soccer games' start after the school holidays. During that time we have to buy some special socks, just for soccer, and some chin pads. Chin Pads? Well, I know that they are shin pads but #1 wanted to know why he had to wear them on his chin LOL. I'm not sure I want to know how he thinks soccer is played!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oh. My. God.

Posted by MANDI at 9:15 PM 4 comments
This post starts all sweetness and light but don't worry. You'll get the title in a little bit.
Offspring #2 and I have begun attending story-time at the local library. #1 and I went for about two years at home and just loved it. I have a couple of scrapbooks of his creations in his memory box. Of course, being a former English teacher we all know how much I love books and I really want my kids to love them too.
Story-time is fabulous. It's aimed at pre-schoolers so there are a bunch of toddler-aged kids and their mums. It goes for about 45 minutes, which is just perfect for weeny ones. One of the lovely kid-friendly library ladies takes the session and you can see how much she loves both the books and the kids. We listen to a couple of stories - usually decent sized picture books with lovely illustrations - on a topic or theme and then do some sort of craft activity based around that theme. Today's topic was toys and games and after the stories the kids all got to make their own jigsaw. The creations varied a great deal depending upon age and ability but they were all gorgeous. One of the nice things about story-time is that no-one looks at you funny if your kid chucks a wobbly or talks through the story or interrupts the story to tell the librarian something totally unrelated. It's just a lovely, comfortable environment that lets the kids learn about books, encourages early literacy development and gives them something fun to do at the end.
Anyway, we had finished the session and, after checking out the books I was borrowing this week #2 and I headed outside to the car. The library is actually in a little complex with the theatre and you have to walk out the libray sliding doory into the foyer, out another set of doors and then through one final set before you eventually get to the outside world. I was holding the library bag in one hand and #2's hand in the other when we quite literally tripped over a little girl climbing down the set of 10 or so steps to the car-park proper. She was a little bit younger than #2, maybe by a couple of months so I guess she was about 16 months old. I recognised her from the story-time session and she was making great progress down the steps. I looked around for her mum thinking that maybe she was getting a drink at the water foutain or was waiting in the shade at the bottom of the steps but I couldn't see her anywhere. I kind of hovered for a minute or two waiting for someone to come flying over and snatch their precious baby away but nothing happened. I did a quick scan of the carpark to check that, God forbid, her Mum wasn't lying on the road or something terrible like that but couldn't see anything untoward. Finally I decided to take the little girl inside to the librarians and see if they knew anything. To make a long story short, her Mum was happily browsing the shelves and chatting with some other mums on the far side of the library and didn't even know her child was missing. When I handed the little girl to her I said (trying so hard not to be a complete bitch or totally patronising or any of the horrible things I would hate if I'd lost #2 and was in a panic), "I found her in the carpark." The mum replied, " Oh? You're joking, aren't you?" She didn't even seem overly concerned. It wasn't a big horrified "You're joking?" or a relieved "You're joking". She said it the way I might say it to #1 when he tells me something totally farfetched like that he had lunch on Mars and stopped at the Moon on the way home from school. I was horrified, terrrified, gob-smacked and pretty much so angry I was speechless. Yes, it was probably a total over-reaction on my part. I'm a control freak and I want to know where my kids are every second of the day. I expect that will lessen with time but at the moment they are way too little to be anywhere I don't know about.
The thing that made me maddest, beside the fact this tiny little child was wandering around totally unsupervised, was that the child's stroller was sitting right there next to the mother. If she wasn't going to watch her child could she not have strapped her into the the stroller to keep her safe?
Like I said.
Oh. My. God.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Posted by MANDI at 8:05 PM 2 comments
Nothing much happening here although I am pleased to report that the new weekly schedule is doing it's job nicely. Of course, I am only 4 days into it so it still has time to fall apart LOL. So far I have kept up with the house-work, was organised a couple of days ahead of time for tutoring and lecturing and even tried a couple of new recipes. I also went browsing amongst some blogs and have some new ones to add to my reading list.
So, here are a few blogs that I have found recently and enjoyed enough to go back for more.
Wine Makes Mummy Clever has become my new must read. It's well-written, funny and of course very clever. Needless to say, I love the title!
I Think I Have A Recipe For That has also joined the list. Lots of yummy recipes with great explanations.
And although not a new find Mamarazzi is an absolute must. It cracks me up and generally makes me feel much better about my parenting skills. Hey, I didn't shave my head, ditch rehab or kiss my brother so I can't be all that bad!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Too Easy

Posted by MANDI at 12:26 PM 3 comments
This is another recipe I have been meaning to try for a while but never quite got around to buying the all-important tinned soup that was needed. This was just tooooooo easy. It was torn from a magazine some time ago and I vaguely remember that the "Kell" in the title was the wife of a sporting figure but have no idea who that was.

I actually chose to make this one because it served 4, rather than 6 or 8, and I'm sick of making too much and then having to eat lots of leftovers. Don't get me wrong. I love leftovers, I especially love feeding them to the family when I'm rushed off my feet and don't really have the time to create something new. But I get a bit annoyed when I have my menu plan for the fortnight and a recipe ends up being huge which throws all my planning out the window. Yes, there is the freezer (and the dog!) but sometimes it just doesn't all work out the way I want it too. Needless to say, we ended up with leftovers again! This fed us for two nights, luckily everyone liked it and the kids polished it off while Hubby raved over it and demanded (in a nice way) that I make it again. Anyway, this recipe provides 4 quite generous serves so if you have growing teenagers or just a family with hearty appetites this might be a winner for you.

Kell's Asparagus Chicken Casserole
from the Ugly Binder

4 Chicken Breasts or thigh fillets (I HATE thighs so used breasts)
plain flour
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 button mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 x 400g cans cream of asparagus soup
juice of 1 lemon (left it out)

Preheat oven to 180˚C.
Cut each of the fillets into three pieces. Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a plate. Dust the chicken in the seasoned flour, shaking of the excess.
Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft and brown, then remove from the pan leaving behind the oil and butter.
Add the chicken to the pan and cook until browned.
Place the chicken into a large casserole dish along with the onion mixture and the sliced mushrooms.
Pour the soup and the lemon juice over the chicken. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.

Serve with rice and steamed vegetables.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Posted by MANDI at 1:07 PM 2 comments
While we were in Perth over Christmas I delved into Mum-in-law's recipe books and came up with a few new ones to try. This one I made while we were there and finally got around to making again this week. Funnily, the first time I made this one it came out quite crumbly and a bit dry. This time round it's crumbly but a bit too moist. Maybe I was being a bit stingey with the ingredients last time and a bit too sloppy this time. Who knows? Either way, it's yummy, easy and a nice afternoon tea treat.

As you can see from the photo I didn't manage to make bars as suggested, they ended up being 'bits' or 'chunks' instead. They still tasted good though!

Honey Oat Bars
From The Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits

1 Cup rolled oats
1 cup sultanas (raisins)
½ cup wholemeal SR flour
½ cup raw sugar
½ cup dessicated coconut
150g butter
1 Tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line a lamington tray with baking paper.
Combine oats, sultanas, sifted flour, sugar and coconut.
Melt butter. Add honey then mix into dry ingredients.
Press mixture evenly into prepared tray.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
Remove from oven and cut into bars while still hot. Allow to cool completely in tray.
Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Easy Entertaining

Posted by MANDI at 2:06 PM 3 comments
Everything seems to have fallen in a heap around here lately. I have found it near impossible to stay organised and keep up with all that is happening. However, I now have a daily schedule and hopefully that, along with the calender and my diary, will help keep me on track. Well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed anyway!

We had friends around for a drink yesteday so I tried a dip I'd had my eye on for a while. I found that a few changes in measurements were needed, so here is my version.

Mexican Layered Dip

225g can reduced fat cream, chilled in can
½ pkt french onion soup mix
2 avocados, mashed
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
2 medium tamoatoes, chopped
1 cup grated tasty cheese

Shake cream well. Open can and combine with french onion soup mix. Spread evenly into serving dish,

Combine avocado with lemon juice and sweet chilli sauce. Spread evenly over french onion layer. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Arrange chopped tomatoes and cheese on top. Serve with corn chips.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Daddy's Away...

Posted by MANDI at 8:52 PM 3 comments
and Mummy and the kids will play! LOL

This morning Hubby was packing to go away for work for the next few days and Offspring #1 was quite passionate in his declarations of love for his Daddy. #1 told his Daddy how much he loved him and how much he would miss him. He checked and double-checked how many sleeps it would be until Daddy was home with us again. He sought Daddy's reassurance that he (Daddy) would call to wish us all 'good-night'. Not until he was totally satisfied did he allow himself to sidle up to me and, with a tiny little smirk, state "We are gonna have some fun while Dad's gone. Let's eat yummy stuff and stay up late." Aaahhh, a kid after my own heart LOL.

I had already planned the cheat's version of home-made pizza (buy the base from the supermarket and chuck on whatever's in the fridge) so when I suggested we have that for dinner I had a willing accomplice in whatever schemes I proposed. I chopped the bits for the pizzas and then we assembled our own. Apart from some strategic re-positioning of the cheese, to ensure it covered more than an inch of the pizza, #1 did all of his own pizza and I think he did a fine job.

He also helped dry the dinner dishes, picked up his toys and was just generally gorgeous and helpful. I think that maybe Daddy needs to go away a little more often (NO, I don't really think that at all!!!!)

Sadly I couldn't be persuaded to let the offspring stay up late but #1 does get to take some leftover pizza for lunch and, apparently, that's nearly as good!

In a quick update on my last post - #2 and I are both well on the road to recovery and sleeping at night has been put back on the 'things we can do' list, thank goodness!

Monday, March 19, 2007


Posted by MANDI at 10:37 AM 3 comments
Sick baby + sick mummy = unhappy and very tired House of Red Dirt.

Back later.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fairies Don't Stomp!

Posted by MANDI at 4:38 PM 6 comments

...or so I thought.

Looking sweet and demure

#2 loves dressing up so, at her Daddy's insistence, I caved in and bought her an el-cheapo fairy outfit from Red Dot. The dress was $7. The wand was $2 and lights up while it makes a 'magical' sound. And the delicate-looking (but suprising sturdy - thank goodness) little headpiece was also $2. She looked very cute - although she is not quite of fairy-like proportions - until she started stomping. The stomping is a new trick she learnt in the last week or so and she loves putting all her weight and effort into it.

Posing for the camera

So, a stomping fairy. Oxymoron, incongruous or both? You decide.

The real #2, looking more suited to football hooliganism than fairy-like-ness

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Basic Is Good

Posted by MANDI at 9:49 PM 0 comments

I was in a baking kind of mood today. Actually I was feeling strangely domestic - I got most of the house cleaned, three loads of washing done, two baskets of ironing finished and managed to bake bread, make a cake and organise a decent dinner too! Hmmm, can you tell I was avoiding work? LOL.

I was wanting cake but I didn't want anything too sweet. I didn't want chocolate ("WHAT???" they all gasp, simultaneously shocked, amazed and horrified.) because I wanted Offspring #2 to be able to have some cake too and I'm just not willing to feed chocolate cake to an 18month old. I also didn't want anything too fiddly. My brain is struggling enough at the moment, we sure don't need any added pressure on it. It would probably explode. I finally settled on a Basic Buttercake recipe but jazzed it up a little with some passionfruit icing. It ended up being exactly what I was after - simple, sweet but not cloying, and suitable for all members of the family. Yes, I did cut the icing off #2's slice - I may have mellowed between kids but not that much!

Basic Butter Cake
from The Australian Women's Weekly Cakes and Slices

125g butter
1 teaspooon vanilla essence
¾ cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease a 20cm ring pan and line the bottom.
Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat until combined.
Stir in half the sifted flour and half the milk, then stir in the remaining flour and milk.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Passionfruit Icing
Sift 1 cup of icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon butter and enough passionfruit pulp to mix to a spreadable paste. (I used tinned passionfruit pulp and used about 4 teaspoons to get the icing to the ‘drippy-ness’ that I wanted)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

First Night Jitters

Posted by MANDI at 3:56 PM 1 comments
I have my first night lecturing tonight and between cyclones that kept us all at home, textbooks that haven't arrived and, as yet, no access to the computer system I need to be in it's all looking a bit wobbly. I am as organised as I can be with what I have but I'll be the first to admit that that's not very organised at all. I've never played poker but I think I'll have to bluff my way through this week and put on my very best 'poker-face'!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Posted by MANDI at 8:01 PM 0 comments
The second cyclone to completely pass us by has pretty much blown itself out. Jacob took a turn this morning and headed north, landing in almost the same spot that George landed just a few days ago. Luckily Jacob had weakened significantly and, as yet, I haven't heard any damage reports so hopefully all was well. We had 21mm of rain last night with 50mm all up for the 24hrs (bearing in mind that we measured that in our weather gauge in the back-yard!) which lowered the temperature cosiderable and gave everything a good watering. Today, not a drop of rain!

Anyway, back to the cooking. Here's a Tuna Pasta Bake I tried a couple of nights ago. We eat lots of Tuna and Pasta and I thought I would try a different recipe for a change. It was tasty, and a little different to my version, but was enjoyed by all so may well make a repeat performance in the House of Red Dirt.

Cheesy Tuna Pasta Bake
Adapted from a recipe in

The Australian Women’s Weekly, July 2006

415g can tuna
250g small spiral pasta
1 cup frozen peas
2 eggs
¾ cup cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Cook pasta, adding peas for last minute of cooking Drain well. Drain tin of tuna and turn into a bowl. Break up tuna into small pieces with a fork.
Preheat oven to moderately hot 200˚C. Spread half the pasta/pea mixture over the base of a shallow 5-cup capacity ovenproof dish. Spoon the tuna over the pasta and then spoon over the remaining pasta mixture.
Beat the eggs lightly with a fork in a large jug. Add the cream and stir until well combined.
Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top of the pasta. Sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake in oven for about 25 minutes or until hot and browned.
Stand the dish for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Back on Yellow

Posted by MANDI at 5:29 PM 1 comments
We're back on Yellow Alert but Jacob has been downgraded to a Category 1, so by the time he gets here he'll be not much stronger than a really ripping Easterly back at home! It has rained fairly steadily throughout the day and the kids have had a ball playing outside, jumping in puddles and laughing like loons! No wind yet, that should start in the early hours of the morning and what is left of the cyclone should be here sometime mid-morning.

Here's a pic of #1 splashing in the puddles.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bloody Belly Buttons

Posted by MANDI at 8:00 PM 3 comments

I know, it's kind of a gruesome name for cookies but it's fun. Years ago a work colleague pounced on some Jam Drop cookies I had baked and exclaimed, "I love bloody belly buttons!" It turned out that her mum made them when she was a kid and that was what she and her sisters always called them. Obviously the name stuck LOL. I have made a few different versions of this kind of cookie but I just tried this one the other day. I have to admit that we didn't make the indent in the cookie with the end of a wooden spoon as the recipe instructs, rather #1 and I had a wonderful time poking a hole with our thumbs (don't worry, we washed our hands before we started cooking!). These were really good - I think the custard powder makes them just that bit special.

Jam Drops
Family Circle Step-by-Step Biscuits and Slices

80g unsalted butter
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup custard powder
2 tablespoons raspberry jam

Preheat oven to moderate 180˚C. Line two biscuit trays with baking paper

Using electric beaters, beat butter and sugar in a small mixing bowl until light and creamy. Add milk and essence; beat until combined.

Add sifted flour and custard powder and mix to form a soft dough. Roll two teaspoonsful of mixture into balls and place on prepared tray.

Make an indentation in each ball using the end of a wooden spoon. Fill each hole with a spot of jam. Bake for 15 minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool.

In cyclone news, Tropical Cyclone Jacob is still 700km away but appears to be heading our way. At this stage he should make things interesting sometime tomorrow afternoon/evening and, if he continues on his current path, should arrive around breakfast time on Monday. We are offically on Blue Alert which means we should be taking precautions against the possibility of a cyclone but since we didn't unpack from the last one there isn't much to do except turn the trampoline back over and tie it back up to the tree! If you are interested in checking out his path, here is the official map and here is the link for the updates.

Friday, March 9, 2007

And here comes another one!

Posted by MANDI at 8:04 PM 4 comments
Yep, now we're on cyclone alert for Cyclone Jacob. It's still waaaaay off the coast but all along the coast is on the very first of the alerts which basically means "watch the news and keep and eye on what it's doing".
George is now quite a way inland and lots of towns/communities are on Red Alert, the highest level which means that the cyclone is imminent. Although it is weakening a little it is still a Category 3 so it hasn't been downgraded at all which is worrying when you consider how far away from the ocean it has moved without losing much strength. We have spoken with/texted all the friends in Port Red Dirt and they are all fine with only minor damage to fences, gates, trees, etc.
In cheerier news (and just cause I think it's cute) I finally got Offspring #1's school 'nu-niform' shirts last week but it took until earlier this week for us to be on-time enough to stop and take a quick photo before running out the door. He loves his whole uniform, mostly because he looks like everyone else in his class - aaahhh, I'm enjoying that because I know we'll be fighting about uniforms before too long.

#1 insisted on crossing his arms and legs for this photo. Nothing would get him to stand up straight so he looks a little 'crookedy'

I just LOVE this pic. This is my beautiful happy little boy at his best.

I'll be back tomorrow with some cookies we made while we were waiting for the cyclone that didn't arrive!

We're fine

Posted by MANDI at 7:05 AM 1 comments
George missed us completely, we didn't even get as much rain as we'd been expecting. Port Red Dirt wasn't so lucky though - it appears to have scored a fairly direct hit but we're waiting for more info to come through. George is now inland and is posing a threat to some of the small communities and mining ventures in it's path. There is still some danger of tidal surge along the coastal areas, but that's higher up the coast from us. We are off Yellow and have been given the all clear "with caution" but schools and most businesses are closed.
I'll check in a little later after I have spoken with our friends in Port Red Dirt and checked that they are all okay.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Still Waiting

Posted by MANDI at 8:10 PM 2 comments
We're still on Yellow but the cyclone has changed course and looks set to hit Port Red Dirt head on sometime tonight. The weather people are warning that it could change course again but, at this point, it looks like we will avoid the worst of it and just cop the rain over the next few days. It is raining at the moment, although it's not especially heavy, with just a slight breeze. The temperature has dropped so it's really quite pleasant.
There was bedlam at the shops and petrol stations today. Red Dirt Central has no Diesel fuel left in town, so it's not too hard to work out that the town is full of 4WD's fueled by diesel! We had already stocked up on batteries, candles, etc but, as today is my normal shopping day, the cupboards were pretty bare so Hubby did a quick run to the shops this morning for milk, bread and some vegies. He said there were so many people there that it was hard to get a car-park and the lines at the checkouts were huge. The worry for most people in town isn't that we have enough food for the next couple of days but that wide-spread flooding is expected which means no trucks will be able to get up to us with fresh supplies until the floodwaters settle.
Anyway, off to watch Lost and enjoy the cooler temp's for a while.

Yellow Alert

Posted by MANDI at 8:36 AM 4 comments
A quick post to let you know that we are on Yellow Alert for Tropical Cyclone George. Yellow Alert means that a cyclone is expected in the next 12-24 hours. At this stage the weather people are expecting it to hit at about 3am. It's currently Category 3 with winds at about 230km/hr at the centre of it and travelling at 20km/hr. It will probably be Category 4 by the time it hits and, at the moment, is heading straight for us. Of course, cyclones are totally unpredictable and it may all just blow over, or head back out to sea or (fingers crossed) change direction and head towards somewhere free of towns and people.
I'll let you have updates as they come in but if I disappear for a couple of days, don't worry. I expect the power will go off and it may take a day or two to restore.
Now we are off to clear the yard and put everything away in the shed!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A Chocolate Treat

Posted by MANDI at 7:43 PM 2 comments

We were out to dinner last night and I was asked to take something sweet for dessert. This is one I had been wanting to try for a while but needed an excuse to make. While I could easily have made it for home, and probably even have eaten the whole lot myself, I thought I should keep it for a time that it could be shared. Pleasingly, it was enthusiastically received and rather delicious. It was light and fluffy and altogether rather too more-ish!

According to the author of the cookbook this came from: " this beautiful light-as-air dessert cake has no flour, it's really a chocolate souffle omelette".

Chocolate Roulade
The Margaret Fulton Cookbook (2006 ed.)

3 x 60g eggs, separated
½ cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons sifted cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
¾ cup cream, whipped
1 punnet fresh strawberries or raspberries (I used frozen "summer berries")

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line a 30cm x 25cm Swiss roll tin with baking paper. Beat the egg yolks with a whisk or electirc beater until thick and creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Sift cocoa then fold into the egg yolk mixture with the vanilla essence.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into cocoa mixture. Pour at once into prepared tin and bake for 15 minutes, until the cake has drawn away from sides and springs back when gently touched in the middle.

Have ready a tea towl liberally sprinkled with caster sugar. Turn the cake out onto the towel and carefully peel away the base paper (I found this quite difficult and used a small sharp knife to help separate the cake and the paper) While still warm, roll the cake up, including the tea-towel and leave on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled, unroll and spread with whipped cream. Scatter over sliced strawberries or raspberries. Roll the cake up and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Note: don't be alarmed if the cake starts to crack whe you shape it inot a roll as the cream will bind it well. The melt-in-the-mouth quality of this roulade is worth a crack or two.

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Very Long Lunch

Posted by MANDI at 9:51 AM 2 comments
Yesterday we had a birthday lunch at Maria's house. We arrived at noon and finally made it home a little before 8pm. Now that's a long lunch! There were a couple of other families there and we all enjoyed relaxing, eating, a couple of glasses of wine (or in the case of the Hubbies - more than a couple of beers!) and the kids had a great time playing and swimming in the pool. We all ended up staying for dinner. An attempt was made to order pizza but the power was off at the pizza shop so we ducked out to grab hot chips and a couple of cooked chickens instead and that, along with the leftover salads, kept us all satisfied. We don't often get to have these kind of 'long lunches', especially since the move up here to Red Dirt Central so it was a nice treat and a thoroughly enjoyable day.

I took potato salad which seemed to go down well - the Hubby loves my potato salad and I have to admit that I'm rather partial to it too.

In other news, I have been declared "A Very Good Mummy" by Offspring #1. He and Hubby made a quick trip to the shops on Saturday and bought these home for me.

After thanking them I enquired as to why I had received flowers (a fairly rare occurrence in the House of Red Dirt). I was informed that they were from #1 because I was a very good Mummy! Awwwww.... Too sweet.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Ho Hum

Posted by MANDI at 8:04 PM 2 comments

I thought I'd try a new banana loaf recipe and while it smelt fabulous as it was cooking the end result was kind of so-so. It's tasty and pleasant, and it is nicer with a bit of butter spread over the slice, but not anything fabulous. I think it could do with another banana and a bit more honey just to give it a bit of 'zhoosh'.

Banana Honey Loaf
from Super Food Ideas, August 2006

100g butter, chopped
1/3 cup honey
2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup milk
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 ripe bananas, peeled, mashed

Preheat oven to moderate, 180˚C. Line base and sides of 7cm deep, 10.5cm x 20.5cm (base) loaf pan with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhand at both long ends.
Combine butter and honey in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM (50%) for 1 to 2 minutes or until melted.
Sift flours, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl (add husks from sieve). Stir in sugar.
Combine milk, eggs and banana in a large jug. Whisk with a fork until well combined. Add banana mixture and honey mixture to dry ingredients. Stir with a metal spoon until just combined.
Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool loaf tin in pan for 10 minutes. Lift onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.

Friday, March 2, 2007

I Remember...

Posted by MANDI at 9:05 PM 4 comments
Ellie, aka The Kitchen Wench is hosting a blog event that celebrates nostalgia. In her own words, "I’d like to invite you to take a trip down memory lane and make a recipe that evokes a sense of nostalgia for you, and share the story of what memory ties itself to this particular food. Whether it’s a seemingly small event or something that was life-changing, there are no limits on what sort of memory or recipe is required for this event - just so long as it is something from your past." The recipes don't need to be in until the end of March so there is lots of time for you to get all nostaglic and drag out Great-Aunt Hortense's recipe book but I thought I'd get an early start and try one of my 'favourite memory' recipes today.

My Nan was a fantastic cook. Whenever I stayed with her, which was often, we would cook together and she would let me do the grown up stuff like cracking the eggs. It was from her that I learnt about the relationship of food and love. I think it's also from her that I learnt about the relationship of love and chocolate! I would find recipes and she would let me try them. Some were good, other not so much but nothing ever beat Nan's Chocolate Cake. We had it for birthdays, for special and for just because. We had it iced and covered with sprinkles as well as still warm with ice-cream. I remember sitting on Nan's kitchen floor, covered with a towel, licking the beaters. I remember the smell of this cake cooking in the oven and the anticipation of tasting it. I remember learning how to grease a cake tin and how to check that a cake was cooked. I also remember my Mum making chocolate cake and us turning our noses up and declaring that it wasn't as good as Nan's. Poor Mum was not happy - she'd used Nan's recipe but it just wasn't the same. I have made Nan's Chocolate Cake several times since she died but it just never turned out the same and in the end I gave up. I figured it was her recipe and only she could make it 'just right'. Then Ellie came up with this idea and I decided to drag out the recipe and see what I was doing wrong. I thought about all the different things I had tried and then decided to try them all at the same time. SUCCESS!! So here is my Nan's Chocolate Cake with my hints and notes to make it delicious. It is a very simple recipe - sometimes the best one's are.

Nan’s Chocolate Cake

1 cup self-raising flour
¾ cup sugar
30g butter
2 dessertspoons cocoa
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup milk
1 egg

Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder. Add sugar. Make well in centre. Melt butter. Pour into well: butter, unbeaten egg, milk and vanilla. Stir well with a spoon. Beat with electric mixers for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides. Beat for a further minute. Turn into a greased ring tin. Bake in moderate oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cook for 5 minutes in cake tin. Turn out onto wire rack and leave to cook completely.

¾ cup icing sugar
1 dessertspoon cocoa
1 teaspoon butter
1 - 2 teaspoons milk

Sift icing sugar and cocoa. Stir butter in until mix is crumbly. Add milk, a little at a time and stir until icing thickens.

Spread icing over cake and sprinkle with 100’s and 1000’s or coloured sprinkles.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Two Firsts

Posted by MANDI at 8:45 PM 5 comments
Well, three if you consider that this is the first time I have made this recipe. The other firsts were: first time using my new flan tin and... drum roll please... the first time I made pastry!! I'm totally certain that those of you who usually make your own pastry will laugh yourselves silly when you see how easy this lot was but I was still pretty pleased with myself!

Updates and news first, then onto the recipe.

The kids colds are finally better (YAY!!!) although #2's nose seems to have developed a permanent drip. Sooooo disgusting!
The weather is still horrendously hot and humid and apparently we have a cyclone brewing for sometime next week. Of course these predictions are notoriously unreliable but the real locals seem pretty certain.
Just for fun the other night we stuck a themometer into the bath water to see what temp the water was. We haven't used the hot water tap for anything other than doing dishes for a few months now. We shower with only the cold water on, run the bath out of the cold tap, etc and quite often it is still too hot. We don't ever just grab a glass of water from the tap (besides that I put it all through the filter jug anyway) because it is hot and not real pleasant. Some days I have to run the bath, wait for it to cool down and then get the kids organised and into it - no I'm not joking or exaggerating on this one. Anyway, Hubby and I were pondering on that when he decided we should grab the big-you-beaut-professional themometer from the shed and check out what temp the water really was. The water coming out of the cold tap was 39˚C! That's not cold at all.
Hmm... what other news? Tutoring went well. I'm down for one class for lecturing at the Uni and waiting to hear back on two more. And, after a couple of off-weeks I finally feel like cooking again so will attemp to return to blogging on a somewhat more regular basis.

In news to hand... you may have noticed that I added a site meter to my page. I was very proud because I managed to do it totally by myself and didn't require Hubby's assistance at all - then again the directions were pretty much idiot-proof! Anyway, I have been thrilled to get an idea of the traffic through my blog. I was stoked to discover how many people visit, I was only aware of about half-a-dozen readers, so hello to you all and please leave a comment and say hi. For those of you interested in adding a site meter to your blog just click on mine and follow the directions - it is sooooooo simple and the best bit is that it's free.

And onto the cooking ("at last," I hear you all sigh!). A new flan recipe today. It was pretty simple, although would have been even easier if I had cooked the pumpkin a little earlier. It was very tasty; the bacon gave it a little saltiness while the pumpkin, cream and eggs made it smooth and the herbs just added an extra zing. I liked it and everyone else dug in so it was deemed a winner. Yay for Mummy! We had it with a quickly-thrown-together salad.

Pumpkin and Bacon Flan
from Family Circle Delicious Quiches and Flans

1¼ cups plain flour
90g butter, chopped
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons iced water (I needed 3)

1 tablespoon oil
2 bacon rashers (strips), finely chopped
1¼ cups mashed cooked pumpkin (about 375g raw)
1 tablespoon plain flour
½ cup cream
3 eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil
¼ teaspoon cracked black peppercorns (left this out because of the offspring)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, extra

Place flour and butter in food processor. Using the pulse action, process for 30 seconds or until the mixture is fine and crumbly. Add nutmeg, cheese, egg yolk and almost all the water. Process for 20 seconds or until the mixture just comes together; add more water if necessary. Turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead mixture gently to form a smooth dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to moderately hot 210˚C. Brush a shallow 23cm flan tin with melted butter or oil (I used canola spray). Roll out pastry between two sheets of plastic wrap, to cover base and sides of tin. Ease pastry into tin; trim.

Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper large enough to cover pastry-lined tin. Line with paper, spread a layer of dried beans or rice evenly over paper. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and discard paper and beans. Return to oven for a further 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool.

To make filling: Reduce oven to moderate 180˚C. Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Cook bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels. Combine bacon with remaining filling ingredients; mix well. Spread mixture into prepared pastry case, bake 35 minutes or until lightly golden and set. Serve hot.


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