wholemeal spring pasta

It’s spring time! Spring means peas.

Peas and sunshine and eating outdoors around a really tiny table because our landlords took their outdoor setting back. How dare they! [insert sarcasm here.]

Spring means fresh flavours and happy eating.

Spring means spring cleaning!

Spring means rain.

Spring means sproutlings! Update coming soon, I promise.

Now, spring also means November. [It’s November!] And this month, for the first time ever, I am registered for something called NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s really supposed to be INaNoWriMo, because it’s not just nationally for the United States any more, it’s international (thank you, internet!) So I’m going to be going a little more than crazy for the next thirty days or so. I will probably be making a lot of sweet baked goods to keep me going but I may be terrible at letting you know about them.

But who knows? I do my best when procrastinating from other things. I should be writing an essay? I clean my room. I should be cleaning my room? I write a blog post. I should be blogging? I organise my hard drive. I should be cleaning up my computer? I get myself ready for NaNo. I should be writing my novel? I bake cookies and tell you all about them.

So prepare for some crazy posts. Like, “I should be writing 2,000 words in my novel right now but my brain’s about to explode. Have some homemade peanut butter cups.

Happy Spring!

Wholemeal Pasta

Pasta is an approach more than a recipe. Take 100g flour for each person, and one egg. Whizz them in a food processor, if you have one big enough. If not, whisk them together and then use your hands to knead, adding olive oil if you need moisture. Don’t add too much, though; pasta dough is supposed to be dry. Knead until it’s smooth, then start rolling it through your pasta machine.

You need to knead [hah!] the dough a lot to work the gluten – that’s why it’s best to use a high-gluten flour, one specifically for bread or pizza or pasta. Part of this is putting it through your pasta machine a few times, although if you used a food processor that does the job for you. I used mostly wholemeal flour with a little pasta flour because that’s what I had.

So it’s best to roll your pasta through the widest setting a couple of times, then start rolling thinner and thinner. I stopped short of the thinnest setting for mine because I love thick pasta.

Fresh pasta only needs to be boiled for about three to five minutes. Boil a large pot of water and make sure it’s well salted. Drizzle with olive oil, toss in your pasta and test it after three minutes. When it’s to your liking, drain and toss with the sauce.

Burnt Butter Sage Sauce

125g butter

a few sprigs of sage leaves

Other vegies or add ins, whichever you like. I included:

three handfuls of fresh peas, shelled

half a lemon’s worth of juice

one orange sweet potato

two red onions

two cloves of garlic

olive oil

salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 180ºCelsius. Peel sweet potato and chop into small cubes. Peel red onions and slice into wedges. Shell garlic, and toss sweet potato, onions and garlic with olive oil and salt. Place in oven for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the butter until nutty and brown. Add sage leaves, peas, lemon juice and pepper and fry a little longer. Toss through roasted veggies and pour over your pasta. Eat with friends on a sunshiny back porch in spring.

 

[other add ins may include: fetta, tossed through at the end; chorizo sausages, fried and sliced; sundried tomatoes, with the pepper; basil leaves, tossed through at the end; the list goes on.]

carrot and pineapple cupcakes

Guys, I have a rash on my hands. Granted, it’s not very red or large or even very itchy (at the moment – it could spring into crazyitchy annoyingness at any moment. Watch out!

I think it’s stress related, but that is of course only a theory. And to be honest, it’s actually just resurfacing from a couple of weeks ago. What was I doing then? Oh, yeah, being a head counselor at a kids’ day care camp. Fun times.

They actually were fun times, just also quite stressful. Thankfully, I have this baking thing to destress me. Thank you God for flour, sugar, butter and ovens.

Also eggs.

So I actually made these before the birthday cake that is yet to appear on this blog (soon, people, soon. I promise.) and they didn’t quite turn out as expected. They were quite small, and I made a cream cheese lime glaze instead of the icing I was after (I may have figured that that would have happened if it weren’t for the fact that I had quite a few other things on my mind, namely university starting in three days and also work and also car trouble. Not fun.

But hey, they tasted good.

Until they turned mouldy. Not cool! Keep these in the refrigerator, and eat them quick. Share them with your housemates, your uni mates, your family, your friends. They are really nice. Especially coming from a sun-dappled kitchen.

Carrot and Pineapple Cupcakes

Ok, so related to the fact that these went mouldy in less than a week kept in an airtight container in winter at room temperature, I would suggest that a) keep them in the fridge and b) squeeze the carrots after you grate them to get the juices out. Also c) really strain that pineapple out.

Onwards.

1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil

3 eggs, beaten lightly

1 1/2 cups (225g) self raising flour

3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups (440g) firmly packed grated carrot, squeezed of juices

3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees fan forced). Line a twelve hole standard muffin pan or eighteen cupcake moulds (approximately).

Mix together oil, eggs, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in pineapple and carrot. Warning – this will not look pretty. Do it anyway.

Fill the cases about three quarters full – a little fuller if you like them spilling over more, these were a little flat.

Bake about twenty five minutes, longer if they’re bigger.

Cream Cheese Lime Glaze

25g softened cream cheese

juice of one lime

Beat the cheese with electric beaters until smooth. Add lime juice and beat until combined. Dip each cupcake in the glaze. Eat with others.

PS: Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

 

 

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.

 

 

strawberry cupcakes

I know that it’s winter here in Melbourne. Living, as I do, in the hills, it gets cold here. We have a wood fire and piles of wood ready to be burnt, and as the weather gets colder I’m increasingly appreciative of our ducted heating system. Sometimes, all you want to do is snuggle down in bed for a few more minutes hours.

However, when it’s sunny outside and there are local strawberries for sale and you want to play pretend, summer is not a bad season to pretend to be in. Especially when all the American food blogs are talking about strawberries, cherries, barbeques and summer dresses.

I like winter. I do. But sometimes, you just gotta go with the summertime flow.

So I bought the strawberries, knowing that there would be a few gunky ones – more than a few, I think I was able to use about half of them – and decided to bake them in cupcakes. When it’s summer and the berries are amazing, I’m guessing you’d just roast them maybe, or make jam or even just eat them straight out of the punnet – but it being winter, I thought cupcakes were in order.

Contrary to some opinion, I don’t think that a muffin is a bald cupcake. I’m not saying they’re good for you, I just think that muffins have a different texture, a different feel. However, cupcakes definitely need a little something on top. And so, I decided to make some buttercream.

Mind you, it being almost seven and time to go meet some friends for pizza and camp prep sesh (yay for camp! yay for hanging out with kids for two weeks! yay for sleep deprivation! wait. What? Oh yeah, cupcakes.) I decided it had to be quick buttercream, one quartered from that goddess of cake decoration, i am baker.

And then I took them to said meeting and they were gobbled up quickly. Yum.

Strawberry Cupcakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

I halved this recipe because I only had a punnet of strawberries, and I used a plain and spelt flour combination because I’m quite fond of spelt at the moment. I also diced the strawberries and folded them through the batter.

3 tbsp butter

3/4 cup flour (I swapped in half a cup for wholemeal spelt. Good Idea)

pinch salt

1/2 cup sugar

small egg

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

250g strawberries, diced

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and put cupcake liners into a muffin tin. I only made seven cupcakes out of this recipe.

Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and beat until silky smooth.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add gradually while beating until just incorporated. Gently fold in the diced strawberries.

Divide among your cupcake liners. You want them to be in between three quarters and fully loaded. Bake for five minutes on 180 degrees, then lower to 160 degrees and bake another fifteen or so minutes. Cool in the pan and then unpan them and ice them. (I put them in the fridge for a few minutes to cool right down.)

Quick Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from i am baker

I, as I mentioned, quartered this recipe, which originally would have been able to frost two eight inch (20 cm) cakes. I still had leftovers.

65 g butter

1-2 cups icing sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp rosewater (This was my addition – a pink flavour to compliment the pink strawberry cupcakes)

Put the butter, milk, vanilla and half a cup of the icing sugar into your mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the sugar while beating, until you have a smooth, spreadable consistency. You may not need all the sugar.

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?

white chocolate macadamia cookies

My brother is staying with me for this week. My family, as I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned before, lives in the country, and I barely live in the city of Melbourne, out in the outer outer suburbs, where there are trees and views and long drives to anywhere. J’s doing work experience reblocking houses this week. (He’s basically digging holes for a week. Underneath houses.)

Me and J fought growing up. I mean, I have a sister, so obviously we fought, especially since we’re only two years apart. But me and my brother fought more. When I was bigger, I’d win. When he got bigger… we stopped fighting. As much. Because he used to win All. The. Time.

Now he does karate and I used to do karate and so it’s reduced to play-wrestling and him tickling the shiz outta me. (I’m not ticklish! I just have sensitive skin….yeah…)

Macadamia white chocolate cookies used to be a major staple at our school canteen. And I used to be the one who made the snacks at our house. But J didn’t eat them all – mainly because I have two other brothers and a sister. Five kids and two adults can polish off a tray of biscuits faster than you can say ‘Those are for school!’

(Ps, I sometimes shorthand write recipes I find on the internet on leftover conference promotion cards. No biggie. That’s one there on the side, peeking in.)

Well. Except for the fact that Mum was very good at keeping snacks for snacks and leftovers for leftovers – if you had leftovers for lunch and they were meant for dinner that night, watch out!

In any case, make these cookies and they won’t last long in any house.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Pps: It looks like I made two batches of cookies. Not so. For some reason, my camera started shooting blue pictures. Sorry!

125g butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

about 2 tbsp milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup plain flour (I used wholemeal spelt. They were delicious.)

1/2 tsp bi carb soda

pinch salt

130g chopped macadamia nuts

approximately 180g white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Melt the butter in a saucepan. If you are patient, unlike me, melt it until it is browned. If not, don’t stress, they taste delicious anyway.

Pour the butter into a glass or ceramic bowl to help it cool straight down. Mix in sugar, then milk, egg and vanilla. Gently stir in flour and bi carb soda and salt, then fold in nuts and chocolate.

Plop approximate tablespoons of the mixture evenly around a baking tray, and bake for ten to fifteen minutes (mine took about eighteen to twenty.. It could have been my oven. Check them after ten.)

Share with your entire household. If that’s just you, don’t feel guilty.