gallons of tea and chocolate butter biscuits

I am surrounded by boxes.

I have to go over an obstacle course to get to my door.

I’m typing this on my bed because my desk is covered with stuff.

But five months after everything went pear-shaped, I finally have  a place to call home.

Home’s  a funny thing. Home is, famously, where the heart is, but it’s also where the people welcome you, where you can hang your hat up, where you can put your feet on the furniture and your alcohol on the windowsill. Home is where you keep your crap, literal and figurative in more than one sense.  Home is where no questions are asked and also where all the deep questions are asked. Home is when you can say that you’re stuffed and ready for bed and you can just go there. Home is re-discovering old clothes and old books. Home is baking at ten o’clock at night and rearranging the furniture to suit yourself.

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raspberry olive oil muffins

My boss has these muffins that he makes and they’re really popular. You make them in a texas muffin tin (extra large… yum…) and they’re made with oil and they have berries in them (yeah.. I am so articulate today.) And they’re amazing! So I wanted to recreate them for snacks because I get hungry at uni and if I get hungry and I don’t have food on me I’ll buy something unhealthy because I’m shopping while hungry. Not a good idea.

So I looked on my favourite baking sites and found this recipe by Smitten Kitchen, so I decided to make a control batch before I changed things up a bit. Well, controlled by raspberries. I do love me some raspberries.

The thing about baking when you have a bunch of assessments to do is that it’s procrastinating, and I didn’t want to do that so I studied for a bit and then made these and then… failed to study more because it was late by then and I scarfed down a muffin even though I really shouldn’t eat that late at night (especially sweet things). Then I procrastinated a bunch more on the internet.

Then, a week later, I wrote this. Then, two days after that again, I’m posting it. I’m sorry I’m such a busy, frazzled person. I made you muffins. Eat them.

Olive Oil Muffins

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ok, so as I said, I made this as a ‘control recipe’ that was no where near controlled. I swapped in some almond meal, I didn’t use sliced almonds, I added raspberries. They were still delicious. There will be more muffins soon. Just let me finish my essays.

1 3/4 cup plain flour (I swapped in 3/4 cup almond meal for flour)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons orange zest (I used the zest of one orange)

2 teaspoons lemon zest (I used the zest of one lemon)

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons milk

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted (I used about a cup of whole almonds, blitzed them in the food processor, toasted them and then blitzed the big bits again. It wasn’t ideal and I’ll probably do it differently next time.)

about a cup of frozen raspberries

icing sugar, to sift over

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Spray a 12 hole muffin pan with canola spray and dust with flour. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, almond meal (if using) baking powder and salt.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and zests until they are really light and fluffy. Beat in balsamic vinegar and milk.

Pour the olive oil in a thin stream as you beat. Crush the sliced almonds as you add them or just dump the blitzed almonds in. Gradually fold in flour mix with a spatula just until incorporated.

Fill each muffin cavity almost to the top with mixture. Crush some raspberries into each muffin and stir in with a fork.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in tin, then on a cooling rack. Eat one asap, but be careful, they’re fragile. Sift icing sugar over and serve with butter.

comfort, again

Like I said a few days ago, I like to bake to calm myself down, it makes me happy. Today I made choc-chip condensed milk cookies, which I’d never made before – I never thought of using condensed milk in biscuits.

I was going to make them last night because I was super frazzled and basically at the end of my tether, but we ended up whiling the night away by other means, like eating pizza and chatting with friends, then getting into a long discussion on what actually happens when we die; what happens at the end; and how we would cope if we didn’t have hope in Jesus. Because really, at the moment, that’s what’s keeping us together.

So I was home alone for a few hours and I couldn’t just spend it all trawling the internet, much as I’d love to; I’d go stir crazy simply because I need to DO something. So cookies it is.

I promised them for after Easter, because I was giving chocolate up for Lent; I’m sure I’ll pontificate at some point on sacrifices and the importance of them, but that went out the window approximately a week ago and for some reason, I don’t think God will mind. So here they are; a day late and a buck short, but here they are.

Choc-chip condensed milk cookies

This makes a lot of cookies. A LOT of cookies. I fit about five or six on each pizza tray (we don’t have baking trays; pizza trays work just as well. We’re students. We make do.) Also, I think you probably won’t need as much butter, I felt there was too much there.

adapted from the back of the Nestle Sweetened Condensed Milk* can

450g butter

½ cup sugar

1 can sweetened condensed milk

3 ½ cups self raising flour

250g dark chocolate, chopped

250g milk chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line baking trays with baking paper (I used two and reused them. It worked fine, even though I didn’t really let the trays cook in between uses). Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in condensed milk; add flour and stir till combined. Mix in choc bits. Roll teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls, place on trays and flatten gently with a fork. Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until golden.

*Look, I know Nestle are evil; I’ve read the articles and I totally support fair trade and ethical eating and shopping (check out the ethical consumer’s guide to shopping for more on that) but it was either this or home brand and that’s just as bad. We wanted to make condensed milk cookies and after the week we’ve had, ethics are pretty much the last things on our minds.

a cup of tea

A cup of tea is a wonderful thing. It will soothe your aches and pains, make you feel cosy and happy. It will be your best friend, your shoulder to cry on, your ear to listen to all your worries. If shared, this cup does everything a hundred fold. If you are feeling blue, have a shower or a bath. Dry yourself down and pull on some warm fuzzy pyjamas and a dressing gown and slippers. Brew yourself a cup of tea and snuggle down somewhere with a good book. I promise you won’t regret it.

Many people argue about how to make a cup of tea – it’s apparently very important to do it ‘right’. I feel that you make your tea the way it makes you feel best. Now while teabags in mugs are easiest, they are also saddest. A pot helps with the cheering up process the best. A tea cosy (or, where unavailable, a woolly hat) helps to prolong the joy of tea by keeping the pot warm. This is also helped by warming the pot. I have milk and sugar; many people don’t. It’s up to you.

I direct you to George Orwell to learn about tea from an Englishman, while I go off and have a cup of tea.