mushroom stew with spicy chive scones

People, life is hard and full of disappointment.

It’s hard to get up in the morning when you know you won’t see daylight except out a window for nigh on nine hours.

It’s hard to live surrounded by boxes, but sometimes it’s harder to unpack those boxes to find out what lives inside.

It’s hard when your life is full of potential but you don’t know where you want to steer your ship.

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vegan chocolate cupcakes

I was at a cafe the other day taking a break from, well, my life, and it was pretty busy so I got a seat at the counter which runs along the window, squeezed between a girl on a notebook computer and a guy drawing with a sharpie in a visual diary and

side note but I am always fascinated by people who can draw and I like to watch them. The way that people can use a pen or a sharpie or whatever and make lines on paper look good? wow. Probably because I would really be able to draw but I don’t have the discipline to make myself draw enough to get good at it. I love to do too many other things.

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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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cupcakes, chocolate

I didn’t really know what to title this post because although there is a recipe for chocolate cupcakes at the end, it’s not really about the cupcakes. The cupcakes are a vehicle for me to talk about stuff.

I feel like lately life has been happening to me, rather than that I am actually living life. It might have to do with the fact that I’m living in a state of limbo and my life has been turned upside down this year. I don’t know what I want to do with my life or where I’m going and so I’m filling in time by working and baking and going to parties and weddings.

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just…relax

Hey guys on the interwebs. This is a little post to say hello! Hello to my new subscribers, numerous as I know you are, and even if you are not many, you are all wonderful. Thanks for checking out my little corner of the internet. I appreciate it!

It’s been a bit hectic over here because it’s summer! There is some amazing produce hanging around at the moment but it’s also hot and sticky and not always all that pleasant. There is work to be done but there is also something else that is happening in my life at the moment.

I am about to move house! I’m moving out of the hills and away from all the beautiful views. Away from this hectic house full of people to a new challenge, a new house with new people. So I’ve been packing and organising and getting slightly stressed trying to fit everything into my life. But it’s happening.

I have several posts in the line up, I just have to finish editing the photos which is proving difficult because my camera’s still playing up so look forward to those! They may be backed up but they will appear on your screens for you to read with your eyeballs soon. Sooner than soon. I promise. Because I love you. That is a true truth.

So instead of a recipe I invite you to simply pour yourself a glass of something, or a cup. It could be bourbon, bourbon with coke or another mixer, maybe some other type of alcoholic beverage. Beer would be nice, thank you. Perhaps you would prefer a cup of tea, and I totally support that idea. Hot chocolate, especially if it is winter where you are residing. Coffee. Lemonade?

Sit, with your beverage. Make it pretty. Use your favourite drinking vessel. Maybe you want a straw? Yep. A tea tray! Excellent idea. Sit. Take a moment. Relax.

With love, from my corner of the world to yours.

not your mama’s nutella

Well, unless your mama is Stella of Bravetart. Then, yeah, I stole your mama’s nutella recipe. However, I’m fairly sure Stella doesn’t have kids, so no, this is not your mama’s nutella. Really, it’s not nutella at all, because Nutella is trademarked.

This is a chocolate hazelnut spread that is much better than nutella. Trust me. I know. It took me a while to get there, but it was worth it. (Whether it was worth the procrastination it took – the time away from my essays – only time will tell.) Oh, it was a real hassle but we got there in the end.

So, why make chocolate hazelnut spread yourself, you ask? Good question. The thing is, I’m trying (slowly, painfully, with not much success) to bring my life back to the ground. The earth. So I’m planting stuff and making bread and sitting in the spaces but I don’t have a lot of time and I make a lot of lame excuses.

I want to eat less processed food, more local and organic food. I want to celebrate life properly. It’s a long hard slog but I’m getting there. Sometimes I feel like I say that WAY too much. I’m getting there. Getting to a place where I’m at peace. Getting to the end of my tether. Getting to the top of the mountain. Getting back down again. Getting to God. Getting further away.

Getting there is usually positive, however, because positivity breeds positivity. I am not great at being positive all the time, however, I do my best. And physical activity plus healthy food equals a pretty positive day.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Adapted from Bravetart

Dude, this was a fiasco and a half, let me tell you. I started off with my sister in the kitchen and I should say right here, I am not good at sharing a kitchen with anyone, let alone family. Then the brittle didn’t become brittle, which I figured out later was because I didn’t cook it enough (so either get yourself a candy thermometer or cook until lovely golden brown) so I got sticky non-brittle EVERYWHERE and then it was like nine o’ clock before I even started the dishes. Oh my goodness.

But was it worth it? Yes, definitely. It’s amazing. Make this, and you will never buy storebought Nutella again.

7 ounces (205 mL) water

15 ounces (425g)

6 ounces (170g) honey or corn syrup

3 ounces (85g) butter

1 vanilla bean

10 ounces (285g) hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed, chopped coarsely

8 ounces (200g) dark chocolate (72% cocoa is preferred) melted and cooled

1 ounce (28g) cocoa powder

3/4 tsp salt

6-8 ounces (170-225g) hazelnut oil (We couldn’t find hazelnut oil in the supermarket so we used macadamia nut oil instead and it was fine. I only used about 5 ounces all up.)

Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out all the lovely insides and put it into the sugar. Slice the two halves lengthwise again and mince them as finely as you can. Rub all that vanilla goodness into the sugar so you have vanilla sugar (this is also a good way to clean off your hands and knife from all that clingy vanilla bean paste.)

Place the sugar, butter, honey/corn syrup and water into a saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and stir continuously until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, not stirring, until the mixture reaches about 300 degrees (Farenheit, I think) on a candy thermometer (this is about 150 degrees Celsius) or pale golden brown. Or lovely deep golden brown, if you want to go that way.

Take off the heat and stir in the hazelnuts. As you can probably see from my pictures, I didn’t chop the hazelnuts beforehand but I chopped up my brittle fairly well after it set so it turned out ok.

Grease a baking tray and pour the brittle mixture in.

While you’re waiting for the brittle to set is a good time to melt your chocolate.

When it’s set, carefully remove it from the pan and break it into manageable chunks (I fairly well chopped mine because I was scared my small slightly-cracked-but-still-useable food processor might not hold up to the pressure.) Be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp brittle!

Pulse half the brittle in the food processor. As it keeps running, add in the rest of the brittle piece by piece until it’s pretty much powder. Stop the food processor and dump in the cocoa, chocolate and salt. Keep the processor running until it’s pretty well homogenised, then as it keeps running, carefully pour the oil in until it reaches your desired consistency.

Now is the time you dip everything you can get your hands on into this liquid gold and stuff it in your mouth. Soft white bread, crunchy baguette, chopped fruit – anything and everything tastes better dipped in nutella. Then pour it into jars, seal tightly and keep indefinitely at room temperature.

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?