Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blueberry and lemonade scones.

About a month ago when an old friend of mine was visiting, we invented a game where we would rate everything we did in life as either 'winning' or 'loosing'. I would come home from a long day at work, tired and grumpy and call out "Loosing" as I walked in the door, or when something wonderful would happen yell "Winning." After he left this habit carried on into my everyday life. Some days I just want to scream "Loosing" all day. At the moment I have been studying business at pastry school, and I'm quickly learning that math isn't exactly 'my thing.' You know your'e loosing at a course when your cooking partner (who cant even speak english) is trying to help you pass on a test.

Loosing, loosing, loosing. At times, thats all its felt like for the past few months. Today however, was defiantly a winning day. Despite sleeping through my alarm, nearly missing my test, possibly failing my test, and having no time to do my laundry...........I still felt like I won today. Despite everything that went wrong, a lot went right. All of the things I know I should care about fell through, like doing well at a test. All the things I truly care about however went incredibly well. Let me explain.....

I hate waking up late. Its enough to throw my whole day into chaos. When it (very very rarely) happens, I usually run out of the house, stressed and worried, feeling awful that I have let myself sleep in. I run around like a chicken without a head, not having time to buy a coffee and then suffering from caffeine withdrawal all day. Today however, when I woke up, I simply got on with my day. I made breakfast, bought my coffee, and arrived at school late. I proceeded to just get on with my day.

After school finished I went home, baked scones, and went to a sewing group. It was so lovely to just unwind, do some craft, and meet some new people. So today I made three new friends, bakes some treats, and I think this is really what makes us win at life.

So if your wanting to win......bake these blueberry lemonade scones. They are super easy and delicious!

Blueberry scones.

You will need:
  • 3 cups of s.r. flour
  • 1 cup of lemonade
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
What to do:
  1. This is so so so super easy, you will be shocked. Place your flour in a bowl.
  2. Add berries
  3. Make a well in the middle.
  4. Add cream and lemonade.
  5. Mix together.
  6. Turn out onto a floured bench.
  7. Divide into 8 rounds.
  8. Place onto a nonstick tray
  9. Bake at 200 for 10 to 15 mins until ready (you will know, because they will be light and fluffy, and a tiny bit golden)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Banana and honey cake with cream cheese frosting......its impressive!

I had a revelation this week on how much we as humans try to come off as impressive. I don't know about but I am constantly aware of how I come across. At school I am usually the ones other steal homework off. I turn out with my cute notebooks and files of paper all ready and organised. At work I am always early. I try to be sweet and friendly to customers, and give them wonderful service. When out I am the last person to admit if I've had one too manydrinks, and I would never dream of taking my shoes off on the walk home (yuck.... super trashy.) When dating someone my fridge is always filled with food, just incase I need to whip up the perfect breakfast or desert, and I try to give off the vibe of "I'm the sort of girl you want to settle down and marry, not just take home." Nothing should ever look cheap, disorganised, messy or chaotic (unless its in a good way.)

None of this comes easily. I don't wake up everyday with my makeup done and wearing a matching outfit. It is not a coincidence that my undies just happen to matc
h my bra. I don't always feel chipper, even if I pretend to be. We all do this. We all create an elusion of how we want the world to perceive us.

I woke up a couple of weeks ago, and let me tell you, I was not impressed. My house was a mess, yet another boy had tumbled in and then out again of my life, there was no food in the fridge and my washing had not been done for a week. Currently I have no one to impress, so this should be no drama. I'm learning however, the person we want to impress the most is not our friends, or family, but ourselves.

So this is what I decided. I am very tired of being so impressive. I am worn out by trying to come across like everything is neat and tidy, and I am perfect. To prove this to myself, I shaved half my head (only half mind you, I didn't want to do a Brittany and loose all my luscious locks.) I realised that one day (hopefully not too many years away) I will have a career
, I will have a husband, and I will have children, and maybe then it will not be appropriate to shave half my head. Now however no one will care if I look like a "Mega dyke" as one of my friends dubbed me. I'm not even sure if I like it, but you know what? I don't care, because I'm not trying to impress myself, I'm just trying to experience life.

I'm prioritising. Some things are worth making the effort for. Some things are not. Here is my new list of truly impressive things in life:
  • In the mornings when I wake up, I now only have to brush half my head of hair.
  • My supermarket sells marked down gourmet bread for $3 if you search the back of the shop (honestly what is more impressive than sour cherry and chocolate bread?)
  • I have amazing friends and a family who love me dearly.
  • I cleaned my whole kitchen, and it looks ace.
  • Last year I dated a couple of the best looking people I have ever met, and yes its shallow, but points to me for being a mega babe.
  • Some days I take afternoon naps. Its excellent.
  • But most importantly. BEING REAL IS IMPRESSIVE. Having the courage to say "today, I feel sad," or "Everything is not always ok," is incredibly impressive.
So I cant promise I'm going to be incredibly impressive from now on in. I will still hold firm to a few of my vain misconceptions that I like to show to the world (such as hosting as cooking home make bread in heels and a black dress when friends come over, and pretending tha
t a cake that took me three hours to make was just 'thrown together.') This is because, its nice to be a little vain at times. Mostly though, I'm hoping to be a little more honest.

I will however continue to make this banana cake, and tell people that it only took me half the time it actually took me to make. So if I can leave you with any lasting advice it would be: Make this cake, it tastes amazing. Be more real, it feels much better. And of course, lie about how long the cake took you to make (we all need a few secrets.............)

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese frosting. (I stoke the recipe from gourmet traveler and changed it a bit, but the picture of the cake comes right out of the magazine.)

You will need:
  • 160g soft butter
  • 160g brown sugar
  • 110g honey
  • 4 large bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp each of bicarb soda, and baking powder
  • 270g sour cream
  • 1 tbsp of milk
  • 340g plain flour
  • 1 tbs of cinnamon (banana and cinnamon are best friends.)
  • 300g soft cream cheese
  • 150g sour cream
  • 70g honey
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 170c.
  2. With an electric beater (or if your lucky enough to have a kitchen aid.....I totally do) beat together the butter, sugar, and honey till light and fluffy.
  3. Stir in mashed banana and eggs.
  4. Sift in all the dry ingredients, fold through.
  5. Whisk together sour cream and milk, fold through.
  6. Divide evenly between to buttered and lined cake tins and bake until golden and spring back when touched. This should take between 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. To make the icing simply beat all the ingredients together until smooth.
  8. Let the cake cool on a wire rack, and when it is no longer warm, slice through the centre so that you have four even layers of cake.
  9. Spread each layer with frosting, and drizzle with honey. You can also add sliced banana between the layers and extra cinnamon if your in 'that kinda mood.' But honestly just do whatever makes you happy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Korma curry from scratch.

Are you scared of making curry paste from scratch?
I am too.
Lets hold hands and do it together.
Its nearly valentines day after all. So we can do that.
There are two things I love:

  1. Holding hands (I remember distinctly the first time I ever held hands with a boy. I was fourteen. He was sixteen it was bliss.)
  2. A good curry. I love a really well made one, but I always get intimidated by all the spices. Its not hard.

Last night I made a curry from scratch and was left thinking "Well that wasn't scary at all," because its not. I hate having to buy all the spices, and I don't have a little grinder. Its not required. It makes it easier, but don't panic if you don't have one.

Cherrys Super Vegetable Korma Curry:

You will need:
  • Vegetables. Any you like really. I used potato, pumpkin, and cauliflower, and thats it.
  • 4 diced tomatos
Spice mix:

  • 1 tsp of cardamon pods
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp of black pepper (like the sort you put in your grinder)
Toast these bad boys in a little pan for about two minutes. They will go a little bit brown and smell amazing. Take them out of the pan and grind them up. I just cut them with a knife. This takes much longer, but it works. You could use a food processor.

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • A small piece of ginger (about the size of a twenty cent coin)
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp of garamasala
  • 1tsp of turmeric
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of minced coriander
  • 1 green chilli.
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds (this makes it thick and delicious)
Still with me here? It hasn't got scary yet. So cut up your garlic, ginger and chilli super small. Add it to your toasted spices. Keep cutting it until its like a paste. You want it to be nice and fine.

Lets get started!

  • 3 onions diced small.
  1. Take out a pot and add some olive oil. On a low heat add your onions. Cook them until they go see through.
  2. Add your spice mix and all the dried spices. Stir it on a medium heat for two minutes until is smells good.
  3. Add your tomato paste, coriander, and almond meal.
  4. Stir it all around.
  5. If it starts to stick turn down the heat.
  6. Add the tomatoes. This will provide some moisture so it doesn't burn.
  7. Add your vegetables. Stir stir stir.
  8. Add one cup of vegetable stock.
  9. Put the lid on. Let it simmer for about an hour. Check on it from time to time. Its ready when the vegetables are tender.
  10. Serve it with rice and flatbread. Maybe add some yoghurt on top.
That wasn't hard was it? And we got to hold hands on the sly. This was my plan all along.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My sister scraps.

As teens growing up my sister and I lived in a small town called Noosa. There isn't much there except beaches and restaurants. We both lived in run down share houses. We both dated a fair amounts of inappropriate men. We both thought we fell in love a lot. We both never did. We both wanted to leave town, and we both worked hospitality jobs.

I was always back of house, in dodgy cafes, baking cakes and cooking breakfasts. She was front of house serving customers in fancy restaurants. She had long blond hair and was gorgeous, in black skirts and work aprons. I had short red hair, flour covering my chefs clothes, and wore a head scarf. We both dreamt of better things, better jobs, better pay, better relationships and better clothes.

Life was simple, not like now, but at least it was simple. On her days off she would go eat out with her boyfriend at an expensive restaurant. On my days off I would try new recipes and go to cake decorating classes. Sometimes we would have picnics together. Sometimes we would bake six gingerbread houses together (which would get bored of, and making someone else decorate for us.)

Now we are a bit more grown up. We have nicer houses. She has a lovely boyfriend. She is studying natural medicine and I go to pastry school. We live far apart and I miss her a lot.

When we lived in Noosa sometimes I would cater for weddings. I would spend hours in a tiny kitchen covered in chocolate and decorating three teared cakes. When making a wedding cake its really important to trim it down to size. You don't just bake it and decorate it. First you have to cup off any crust (because it will be dry) and then trim it so all the layers fit together perfectly. My sister used to love the trimmings I shaved off chocolate mud cakes. Id wrap them up and bring them home for her to snack on. I called them "scraps" and very soon she started calling me "scraps," and was always begging me to bring home more pieces of broken cake.

Today I'm making a six layered chocolate cake layered and decorated with cream cheese frosting. Its cooling on my bench right now. Its the best thing I've done all week (seriously......I mean it. I have been grumpily making my way through ten hour shifts at work, and putting in minimal participation of studying my business course at pastry school.) Soon I'll be icing it and trimming off the crust. It makes me wish my sister was here. She would eat all the broken bits and sit on the bench with a cup of tea, and harass me. She would tell me off for being a rat bag, and give me good advice. She would sit me down in a cafe and order me mushrooms or toast with spanish sausages. I know she would........because she always always takes me out for breakfast or drinks when life gets a bit rough. What I am learning is this........ boys often don't call you back when they say they will, but your sister will. You can get your heart broken 1000 times, but cream cheese frosting on a chocolate cake will never, ever let you down.

The moral is:
  1. I'm baking a super amazing cake.
  2. Always trim your super amazing cakes.
  3. I'll post the recipe when I can be bothered
  4. I miss my sister

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Being left with chocolate cake.

"One large, weak soy flat white?" the owner of my local coffee shop enquires as I walk in the door.
"Yes please," I answer. Its nice to be known so well. This place is quickly becoming a second home to me.
"And how are you today?" he asks.
"I'm good. A boy is leaving me though."
"Yes in an hour so I have to run to the shops, buy ingredients, and then get home to cook him breakfast."
"Get out of here," he yells at me playfully. "Go say goodbye to your man."

So thats exactly what I do. On my walk home I ponder the wisdom of having gotten into a short romance with a boy who has six personalities. One never intends on doing this, but sometimes it just happens. At first it was strange, sharing my life, for a short period with some many characters, but after a while, when I was properly acquainted with them all I found it fine. I also found it endearing. I tend to get bored quickly in a relationship if there is not enough quirks. There has been plenty of quirks for the week and a half that I have spent with an old friend. Never a bull moment.

I have gotten very attached to the lifestyle of waking early, walking to the coffee shop, buying fresh bread and coming home to cook breakfast for a boy. Today was my last day in this routine, and I'm sad to see it end. Will I be sad? Yes. I will be. He has left me with a messy room, trashed with empty coffee cups, one red cardigan, and a small pile of cash 'to buy food with.'

"Crying is the best release of emotions," he told me before he left.
This is true, but instead, I think I'll bake a cake. I like my way of dealing with things. It works for me. So after he leaves I pull out my pots and pans, cake tins, and switch on the oven. Todays concoction is a flour less chocolate and almond cake. I have no cooking chocolate so I melt down all my left over birthday chocolates and whisk in eggs, butter, vanilla and almond meal. I drop some chocolate coated almonds on top to give it some crunch. I think I've posted this recipe before so I wont waste your time making you read it again.

If a boy leaves you, one who you think is truly beautiful, despite being a little crazy, you should make this cake. It soothes the soul, and is much better than a big cry. Your not left with dirty wet tissues, but instead chocolatey goodness. Thats my advice.