life happens

When does one become an adult?

When can a young man or woman stand in front of their peers and older adults and declare themselves to be officially grown up?

What are the markers that show the world that you have left  that middle space between complete dependence and complete independence behind? And why the heck do we have to go through it in the first place?

What happens when we get to adulthood, and how do we deal with leaving our safety net behind?

Life happens to all of us, but only some people happen to life.

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almond plum tray bake

It’s the start of things! It’s the end of summer and the start of new beginnings. I’m excited. Are you excited?

I’m excited. I have a few tentative New Years resolutions. I don’t usually make them because I don’t like feeling guilty when they don’t work out. But I am putting out into the world some goals. Some things I would like to do this year, what I would like to happen in my life. At the same time, I’m going to be nice to myself if I don’t achieve my goals.

I know it’s almost February but now feels more like the time to be making goals and lists and plans. It’s the start of new things NOW. It’s almost the end of the holidays, the beginning of the academic year, the start of something new.

Here goes.

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lemon slice

It occurs to me at this moment that to get places in this world – I mean places that the world, society, Western culture thinks means something, that we put meaning and value on – you have to be, well, a total bitch. 

Excuse my language, I know that the internet is a wide reaching entity. 

I’m watching the social network and I know it’s not a completely non-fictional movie (or it’s definitely a movie, fiction expected) but it’s a really interesting and kinda scary look at society, our expectations, desires and inner workings. What we want and what we will do to get there. 

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pizza night

Having people over for dinner is one of the best experiences ever. Especially when you’re making pizza together, watching the sunset, talking about, well, stuff. Like how we can make the world a better place. Pretty much an ordinary night with my awesome friends.

Pizza, garlic bread, sunsets, Christianity. But Christianity where we try to analyze our behaviours and make them better. Especially seeing as Christmas is coming up!

Mary-Ann Bryant is one of the Christians I wish didn’t actually exist in real life, but I have a feeling they do. (Can you tell I’m watching Easy A at the moment? I think it’s hilarious. I’m a little distracted. Sorry.)

I always think, when Rhi is going on about no George being sexy, that she’s missing out on a whole lot. George Clooney, anyone? That girl needs to watch some ER. Ocean’s Eleven, maybe. Geez.

I love smart people. Or at least, I love watching smart people movies. Like Easy A. And also having smart conversations. Having good conversations with good people, eating good food, sharing life together. It doesn’t get much better.

So invite some people over, make some pizza, some garlic bread. Have someone say grace over the phone for you. Eat cake, drink tea, make smart conversation – or just rent some awesome movies and watch them and stay excellent.

P.S I’ve been doing some baking recently, as you can probably tell. Recipes coming soon, I promise.

father’s day breakfast buns

What do you love?

I love breakfast. I love coffee. I love family. I love eating, I love food.

I love sunsets, especially ones shared with friends. Especially ones from my own porch. (They’re beautiful!)

I love winter. I love socks. I love loving stuff, getting so uncontrollably, jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair LOVING stuff. Being so excited by something you literally cannot control yourself. I love uncontrollable laughter with friends.

I love reading. I love writing.

I love baking and cooking. I love sharing, especially something I’ve made, with other people. I love giving.

This week, I got uncontrollably excited about the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. I started reading a book I bought there (I currently have four books I’m juggling, five if you count the Bible. Not that you wouldn’t – it’s just that it’s always being read in some capacity:). I finished writing my essays and drank surprising amounts of coffee (surprising considering the amount of stress I put myself through with those essays). I watched several sunsets from my porch, one from my lecture hall and one in my rearview mirror. I celebrated socks by wearing two pairs at once at the start of spring, the end of winter but still a pretty good season.

I gotta say, I pretty much love all seasons. For different reasons.

This week, I heard about some things that other people love. What other people do in their everyday lives that expresses their love for something bigger than themselves. I gave a piece of myself in the form of a poem. I got a stir in my belly that warned me of getting stuck in a rut.

And I baked breakfast buns for my family for Father’s Day. I didn’t get to be at home for as long as I’d have liked to, but I was there for long enough to make and enjoy these immensely. I’m hoping the next time I try, they’ll rise a little better, though.

What do you love?

Lemon Raspberry Breakfast Buns

Adapted from Joy the Baker

 

So, my yeast wasn’t exactly alive. Not quite dead, but I couldn’t make it into the scrolls that the original recipe requested, so I rolled it out as best as I could and cut it into rounds and we ate it that way. It was still delicious, and I’ll put in instructions for both ways.

1 cup milk

2/3 cup sugar

1 pkt active dry yeast (1 1/2 tbsp)

1/2 cup (110g) butter, room temperature)

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp salt

4 1/4 cups plus 1/2 cup plain flour, plus more for sprinkling

For the filling:

1 heaping cup fresh raspberries (or frozen, not thawed, unless you’re making buns not scrolls) (I used a mixed berry mix because that’s what we had)

1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp cornflour

1/4 cup butter

 

Warm the milk to just under body temperature (in a saucepan or in the microwave). Pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir the sugar and yeast into the warm milk and leave it to froth if you like, but you should probably know if your yeast is alive. (HINT, HINT).

Add the butter, eggs, lemon zest, salt and 4 1/4 cups flour. Beat on low speed for a few minutes, then scrape down the bowl and mix again for a few seconds. Now you can use a dough hook, if you have one, and mix on medium speed for ten minutes, or take out the dough and knead it for the same amount of time. Use the 1/2 cup of flour, plus more if needed, to sprinkle on your kneading surface. It should be soft and slightly sticky.

Place in a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place either in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.

If you left it in the refrigerator, take it out for half an hour while you do this next bit.

Grease a 9×13″ pan or line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

Combine raspberries, 1/3 cup sugar, lemon zest and cornflour and set aside. If you’re making the scrolls, brown the butter in a saucepan and set aside.

Roll out the dough. If you’re making buns, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius, and roll the dough out to about an inch or so thick and cut out 2″ rounds. Place on the baking trays and bake about 20 minutes. Serve with the butter and raspberry mix scattered over.

If you’re making scrolls, roll it out to about a centimetre. Brush with the browned butter and scatter the raspberry mix all over. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over and carefully roll the dough and filling lengthways into a log.

Slice it into inch thick rounds and nestle into the baking dish. Cover with a tea towel and let rise another hour in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius and bake 20-25 minutes, until the filling is bubbling at the edges and the tops are golden brown. Let cool about half an hour and then gobble them down with your family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

brownies without eggs

You know what I love about cooking? The sounds. The clink of the spoon against the bowl, the bubble of boiling water, the hiss of escaping steam (beware escaping steam!) the whirr of the oven, the crackling of the plastic packaging, the crunch of the salt grinder.

I love music. I love a lot of different music, you may have even noticed a few songs I picked out to share with you on this blog, and I love cooking to music. Music’s a big part of my life. It helps us to connect to others, it takes us to another place.

It’s important to hear the music in everyday life. The sounds of baking delicious, egg-free brownies, the calling of one friend to another, click clack front and back, train choo choo, all of that. It’s important to listen to the cadence of another’s voice.

The science of noise is fascinating and completely confusing (although click here for a really cool, funny, not-too-confusing intro) but what interests me is how we all connect to it. We are all searching for something, but the weird, sometimes comforting, other times frustrating thing is that someone else has probably felt it before you, and even if you feel like you are all alone in the world, chances are that someone out there cares. It may be someone who’s been down your particular black hole before and so therefore can empathise with you, or it may be someone who’s seen someone not come back.

Perhaps it’s just that you don’t look hard enough in your own life to find the person close to you who cares that much about you and can have an actual conversation without being awkward about it. Perhaps you have online friends, who although they’re a million miles away or close enough, are closer to you than those you see everyday.

Hopefully you have some people you see, so you can share brownies and sad stories (or even hopeful ones) but have some virtual brownies on me anyway, and know that I care, and that maybe I even love you.

[what is this, esther day?]

Egg-free brownies

So originally these were vegan but I don’t keep soy milk or margarine around the house (sorry lactose intolerant and vegan people. It’s not that I don’t love you. I just don’t like the taste of those things) so I just made them egg free, which was what I was looking for anyway because I ran out of eggs. I also accidentally cooked them at 200 degrees for fifteen minutes and then realised my mistake and dropped the temperature to 150. So just try to keep it at one eighty, yeah?

**UPDATED** These do actually taste of coffee. A lot of the time the espresso is just put in to enhance the coffee flavour, but these do taste like coffee. Just a warning!

adapted from Milk’N Cookiezzz

4 ounces dark chocolate

3 ounces butter (substitute margarine for vegan version)

1/3 cup milk (substitute soy milk for vegan version)

2/3 cup sugar

1 tbsp cornflour

1 tbsp instant coffee powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp cocoa

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line an 8″x8″ baking tray with foil and spray it with baking spray.

Melt chocolate and butter together. In a seperate bowl, whisk together milk, sugar, cornflour, coffee powder and vanilla.

Combine chocolate mixture and milk mixture. Sift in flour, baking powder and cocoa. Pour into prepared pan and bake about 20 minutes.

blondies

 

Blondies are amazing. Blondies are like brownies without the chocolate mixed in. Blondies can be any flavour or combination you like. Blondies are very popular.

They are so great to share, because blondies are a one bowl recipe, so easy it’s not even funny, and when you put mnms in there like I did, they’re colourful and a bit crazy while still being a neighbourhood staple type treat. Like camp – colourful and a bit crazy but familiar and comforting at the same time.

See? One bowl, only a few dishes.

Not even that many ingredients – but you can add as many extras as you like.

Like MnMs.

Make them. Do. At camp this week I’m on meal crew which means I make lunches for all the leaders every day. I love it. I love working with food, it’s my thing. A clean kitchen makes me happy (props to the girls who did all the cleaning up today!) and baking helps me destress. Truth.

I cook for a lot of different reasons, and part of those is because, let’s be honest, people love it. And I love people. Put the two together and people like me because I bake for them. Sometimes I bake so people will like me. (ps – this works). Sometimes this is a bad thing. Sometimes I should just trust that I am beautiful enough in my own way not to manipulate people into liking me, because they will anyway, just for me.

For anyone out there who’s reading this and understands the concept of the enneagram and you’re a two, you may understand. If not, I just want to say that I find personality types useful in discerning how to be a better person and become closer to God.  It’s also helpful for understanding other people.

These are easy to make and share. Wrap them up and put them in a container, take them to work or uni or school or whatever. Hand them out to random people. Just Do It.

Blondies

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

So as you can see from the photos, I made two types. Both were from the same recipe, however I did a couple of things different the second time.

So the first time I used a packet of mnms – that’s 200g of mnms there – and mixed it in at the end, and that was all.

The second time, I felt that I needed more mixture, so I added an extra 65g of melted butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of cocoa, because you can never have enough chocolate. Then I put in half a cup of dark chocolate chips and a packet of mnms, 200g again. Yum!

125g butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch salt

1  cup flour

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line an 8″x8″x2″ baking tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter and mix it with the brown sugar, well. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. Sift in the flour and salt. Stir in any additional mix ins.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake about 20 minutes. Slice into squares and serve to your friends.

blimey limey shortbread thins

Remember these guys? I had a bunch of logs in the freezer, ready to cut and bake and toss and eat. Yum. It’s really been useful, because… We have camp this week! Camp Sonshine in Melbourne’s east, a holiday day care for primary school aged kids. It’s so much fun for campers and leaders and we take care to provide the best care.

I’m in camp mode. Meal crew, activities, excursions, leaders, campers, averting disasters and dealing with crises. I love this camp.

Our premise is basically to love these kids as much as is humanly possible. More, because we’re opening up to Jesus to love through us. It’s a pretty amazing thing to be a part of.

It’s busy busy busy all day long. It’s great.

This means that posts will probably be sporadic and unpredictable, but that’s not really new, hey. It also means I’ll probably be writing about camp for a while. It’s really all-consuming because it goes for two weeks and it’s basically over twelve hours everyday, on the go.

What I love especially is just those moments where you find you’ve really touched someone or they really appreciate what you’ve done. We do a lot of laughing because the kids are so cute. And so serious! They have so much energy and are so fun and bubbly (kinda like these biscuits) but also fragile – also like these biscuits.

We’ve had them in the office for the leaders to munch on during the day because it is such a long one, and one of the funny moments – it might have been so funny because we were already tired from getting camp ready to go, but they got renamed from lime melting moments to blimey limey shortbread thins (you may have noticed from the title of the post).

They were originally (apparently) lemony shortbread delights but they’re not lemon, they’re lime. And so, that makes much more sense – they’re a really weird lemon! – and they got renamed. Blimey, they are good. Addictive, even. Kinda like leading on Camp Sonshine.

 

 

a day in the life

I had a pretty good day on Friday. Sleep in, picnic, walk in the park, cupcakes and pizza. I thought I might share some pictures because I like taking pictures and I took a lot. I’m getting in the groove because I figured before I ask for a super fancy camera for my birthday, I’d better know whether I was going to use it. Right?

Right.

And, yes, that means that right now I use a point and click. Hey, a girl’s gotta have some sort of pictures on her food blog, right?

Right again. So.

This is my bed. I like to make my bed in the mornings… yeah, the picture’s a little wonky. Sorry. I had to get up early to drive my brother to work experience. I then slept another three hours. I love sleeping in.

I saw a beautiful sunrise this morning. I didn’t take photos because I was driving.

After I got up, at approximately noon, I messed around on the internet and wrote you some words. Then I took in the washing and took some photos of some flowers.

Pretty!

I went to the library to borrow some books… and to scan in a design for a camp I lead on in September. It’s called… September Camp. Surprise!

I can’t show you the design because it’s a secret still. I think.

Then I went on a picnic in the park.

I got coffee and a toastie from this place called Yarra Coffee. Good coffee – you can buy beans there too! – and great food. I got the #5 toastie, with avocado, tomato, fetta, pesto, baby spinach and possibly one more ingredient I can’t remember. I had a choice between olive and rosemary sourdough or plain. I chose olive and rosemary. Yum!

Toastie

Coffee

Converse

I went on a walk around the lake and listened to the Joy the Baker podcast with Joy and Tracy from Shutterbean (available from Homefries). I love going for walks! Me and my roommate went on walks around the lake pretty much every day for a while there last year.

Beautiful day for a walk. I really loved the look of these rushes. Oh! Unfortunately, I wanted to feed some scraps and duds to the ducks but I wasn’t allowed. Sad face.

I was going to make muffins but decided to make cupcakes instead when I saw local strawberries for sale.

And then I went to hang out with friends and eat pizza. And talk about camp. Excited!

How was your Friday?

swedish visiting cake

Every now and again, I get this urge to declutter. I have to get rid of my stuff and recently, it’s been gnawing at me a whole lot more. It’s not just the ‘oh, I have to tidy and I don’t really use that stuff anymore’; rather, I’m feeling like I need to live a lot simpler and enjoy life the way it was meant to be.

Plus, I have way too much stuff.

So recently, I’ve been sifting through the piles of stuff that I own and sorting them into piles. Stuff I want to keep, stuff I want to keep but don’t have room for at the moment, stuff I don’t want to keep, stuff I want to form into something else, stuff I’m using and stuff I’m not using. It’s a pretty big job and it doesn’t help that a lot of my stuff is still at my parents’ house. Yay, more stuff to go through.

My sister and I are planning to have a garage sale. We both have stuff to get rid of, but not enough for a sale each. (Although going through my stuff, I’m not so sure about that…:)

I come from a family of packrats. Hoarders. My Opa kept stuff in the back room, in his two garages and the tiny shed in the backyard, all over the back yard… my mum is queen of ‘we might use it later’ which is a mindset I’ve adopted. I’m also a collector, of sorts; I like pretty things, those free postcards, business cards, ribbons… I like to remember things.

I write things down and put them on my walls… I have a lot of paper related products lying around that need to go. Where, I’m not sure. They’ll probably end up in the recycling bin. Or possibly the fireplace, not sure yet.

With the help of Love and Trash, Courtney at be more with less, the bloggers at SuperForest and a whole bunch of other influences (including Jesus and some of his followers) I am on a journey to live simply so that others may simply live. On that note, let’s talk about cake.

This is a simple cake. It comes together in about ten minutes, takes about half an hour to bake and is simply delicious. It’s called a Swedish Visiting Cake and so in another, yet somehow related train of thought it immediately brings to mind not only visitors, but visiting – getting to know your neighbours, connecting with real people instead of a computer screen.

And yes, I’m aware that you’re reading this off a computer screen.

The point is that by learning to live without, others can live with. And you don’t even notice the difference, except that you’re happier, more content with yourself and with the world. Surprising, isn’t it?

So make the cake. Bring it to a neighbour’s house and share it over stories, stories that remind you that each person you encounter is the star of their own story, just as you are the star of your own.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Adapted from Baking: from my home to yours

zest of one lemon

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 tsp salt

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste/scrapings from one vanilla bean/two teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup plain flour*

125g butter, melted and cooled

 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and butter your pan. Traditionally this is made in a cast-iron skillet. I don’t have one so I made it in a springform tin – I suggest using a nine-incher, as my ten-incher cake turned out a little thin. Not that I’m complaining…

Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until incredibly lemony and you can just help yourself licking your fingers. Or not. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Add the salt and vanilla and whisk until incorporated.

Fold in the flour, then the butter. Pour into your pan and sprinkle the almonds over the top. Bake about half an hour.

Share with strangers.

*The first time I made it, I made it with spelt flour and it was amazing. I think you could also do this with a mix of almond flour and perhaps another type of flour for the gluten-free among us. Just a thought.