i'm pregnant and it's going to be a rollercoaster

bottles and jars November 3, 2011

Filed under: cooking — rakster @ 10:48 am


I’ve been on a cooking spree again recently. And to divert myself from the sweetness of baked goods and icecream, I’ve been venturing out to explore preserving and pickling.

We freeze a lot of pantry staples that I’d prefer to make myself rather than buy: stock, pesto, sometimes reduced tomatoes etc. And they taste 1000% times better than anything you buy at the store. But freezer space is limited, despite my having rushed out in the heat of a pregnancy-induced-buying frenzy and buying a stand-up freezer to replace our spare fridge about 6 months ago when I was 2 months from giving birth. Also, as the little O still needs to eat dinner pretty much bang-on 5pm otherwise nothing gets eaten and chaos descends, we often find ourselves putting together meals a lot more hastily than previously. So we have resorted to buying and using more frequently store-bought pasta sauce etc which we bulk-out with vegetables etc. I’d rather be using OUR pasta sauce.

So. I’ve decided to try to ‘can’ a bunch of things using the pressure cooker and jars. But, and this is where you come in, we don’t have many jars. So in the interests of feeding my family and you perhaps getting a bottle or two of yummy home-cooked goodies in jars, if you’re in the Brisvegas vicinity can you please collect any glass jars that you use with their lids (I’ll buy new sterile lids but need the old ones to get the size right) and keep them for me??

I’ll do pickups!!! Thanks!


Recipe: Strawberry Balsamic Icecream! October 23, 2011

Filed under: cooking,eating,Parenting — rakster @ 9:19 pm

strawberry-balsamic-icecream... yum!

If you’ve never made icecream at home before, this is my all-time favourite no-cook simple recipe.  Nothing beats freshly made strawberry icecream with a hint of balsamic.   It can be done without an icecream maker if you want to experiment.  Yum!!! Make it now!

strawberry balsamic icecream

450g fresh strawberries

150g caster sugar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

150ml whipping cream (36% fat) (i.e. plain cream)


  1. Wash and hull the strawberries. Dry thoroughly then start to process them with the sugar in a food processor/blender.
  2. Add the balsamic vinegar while blending.  Blend until ingredients are combined to a smooth puree.
  3. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavour of the fruit to be brought out by the sugar/vinegar.
  4. Combine the cream with the strawberry mixture and still freeze / freeze in an ice-cream maker.
  5. Put into container and cover with greaseproof paper (to eliminate air touching the icecream).  Then pop in the freezer and freeze for an hour until firm enough to serve OR  freeze but allow to soften for 20 minutes in the fridge if frozen solid.


  • Yum!!! It never lasts more than one day in our house.  Amazing flavour!
  • I sometimes reduce the cream and add some milk for a lighter mix, or a bit of jam stirred through etc to change the texture.
  • make when small children are asleep.  then you don’t have to share. They will just be happy with fresh strawberries.  There has to be something exciting to look forward to when you’re old..


adapted from Liddell, C. & Weir, R. Frozen Desserts 1995


apple poppyseed cinnamon muffins September 28, 2011

The muffins we made on Saturday are a staple around our house – simple, sugar-free (just honey), take about 5 minutes + cooking time, and can be done with pretty much any fruit you have about.  The original recipe calls for blueberries, but we usually do apple.  They are so simple, kids can help measure, mix, spoon and they are ready in a jiffy.

cupcakes! AKA apple cinnamon poppyseed muffins

apple poppyseed cinnamon muffins

1 banana, mashed

¼ cup vegetable oil

⅓ cup honey

¾ cup milk

1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour

1 cup white self-raising flour

½ cup poppyseeds

big dash ground cinnamon

finely grated zest 1 lemon

2 medium-large granny smith apples, diced 1cm or smaller cubes


  1. Mix together banana, oil, honey and milk.
  2. Add the flours, poppyseeds, cinnamon and zest and mix very lightly (remember that muffin batter should only be just mixed).
  3. Stir in the apple.
  4. Spoon into 12 lightly greased muffin pans. Bake in a preheated moderate (180°C) oven for about 20 minutes.


  • serve warm! they don’t need butter that way
  • they freeze well
  • works fine with frozen/defrosted bananas (i always put my oops forgot about those bananas in the freezer for cooking.  Just skinned and in a freezer bag/container.
  • you can substitute pretty much any fruit, or a combination, or put more or less to your tastes.



substitute 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) for the apple, and omit the poppyseeds, cinnamon and lemon zest.


the original blueberry recipe from: Creber, Ann. (1988) The Almost Healthy Cookbook p13



P.S.  Always looking for new muffin recipes – let me know if you have a favourite!


Saturday morning breakfast… September 24, 2011

“Mum, can we make cupcakes?”

Mmmm..  I don’t think he’ll know the difference between cupcakes and sugar-free apple and cinnamon and poppyseed muffins….

Let’s cook!

eating the spoon

can I lick the spoon now??

We mixed the batter, licked the spoon and baked.

They turned out well:

cupcakes! AKA apple cinnamon poppyseed muffins

off to the garden for breakfast:

Eating the end result!


Juggling a temper with an ear infection… and cuteness.. September 15, 2011

Day three of an ear-infected, cranky little boy. And a sleeping-a-lot-trying-to-fight-it-off little babe.

Mummy is going a bit stir crazy. She was seen stalking the neighbour’s cat with a squirt gun this afternoon through the back garden… By a workman who she didn’t notice in the other neighbour’s garden. Nice look. He waited until she had been down there for about 5 minutes acting like a dodgy commando-action-hero actor before he made his presence known by raucous laughter. She was a tad embarrased. But granted, she was doing it as the blasted cat was trying to eat her two new chickens. And for some light self-entertainment (she makes her own fun). The workman graciously pointed out where the chickens had gone and where the cat was hiding when his laughter subsided.

As you can see, fours days with two children at home all day, one of whom is on full whine/tantrum/attention-needing at all waking hours, with very little adult human interaction, has left her unable to speak in the first person anymore. She has reverted to full third-person child-speak. God-knows why.

The only saving grace was a few minutes last night when she was preparing dinner. Little O was very excited to be at the big table on his new grown-up big chair and was entertaining his sister with the gift she so carefully chose for him when she was born.

entertaining the little sister


drilling - hard work


Cooking Experiment – Rocky Road…. August 11, 2011

Can I rate it before I describe the process?? YES?

FAIL, total fail, on an objective how good was your rocky road quality test.

PASS, exuberant PASS on a subjective how good does it taste test.

OFF THE SCALE SUCCESS on was it a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon with your rocking little sister test.

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, on the weekend we attempted to emulate the amazing Noosa Chocolate Factory’s Rocky Road

Which was a very fun process, but not so successful in emulating their product…


I started by making homemade marshmallows using David Lebovitz’s recipe, which worked wonderfully.  Light, fluffy and lovely to bite into and eat.


homemade marshmallow

cutting up the homemade marshmallow and the finished product! Yum

It was the fruit jelly layer that was our first undoing.  We had a number of attempts, using no recipe but ones we adapted using a mix of gelatin and agar.  Then realized after attempt #5 that the Noosa chocolate factory actually use pectin.  Which we decided we didn’t want to try at 4pm after attempt #5.    We ended up with one set of jelly that we thought would hold together ok and tasted ok.  Ok, not wonderful, but worth a shot.  …

attempts at fruit jelly layer for rocky road

Then we tried to mix it all together: our roasted peanuts, coconut, marshmallow, fruit jelly and melted chocolate…..


My sister was all for just throwing it in together and mixing.  I decided I’d prefer to experiment with a few techniques.  Luckily we went with my advice, as guess what?  Hot melted chocolate melts marshmallows made with egg white and gelatin!  Who would have thought!

But we had a hoot: laughing, eating sticky piles of goo, and eventually ending up with a few samples that we might actually serve to friends.


attempts to combine ingredients to an edible rocky road

attempts to combine ingredients to an edible rocky road... note the bottom left... bit of a mess!

Overall verdict: FUN.  But still requires some tweaks.  I think we might give it a rest for a month and then have another shot…..

homemade rocky road

the finished product: sans-fruit-jelly-layer rocky road!

Love me.

P.S. and this was definitely a not-for-the-two-year-old dish. He would have bounced right into the sky with the amount of sugar in it!
P.P.S. If and when you read this when you are older, I was keeping you from it for your own good. And it wasn’t perfect, so have to perfect it before you are old enough to have it anyway!

Readers – have you ever tried homemade rocky-road? Any tips???


I won!! I won!! I won!!! (something for once, and something good!~!) and… the start of a rocky road adventure August 6, 2011


here I am, quietly spending my Saturday experimenting with gelatine, agar and a few different varieties of a strawberry jelly… Because my sister and I are trying to create our own version of the marvelous Noosa Chocolate Factory rocky-road that is sold at the Jan Power markets here in Brisbane.

It is totally addictive and amazing.   I’m just lucky I don’t have the energy to walk the 30 minutes to the city on a Wednesday yet when it is sold so I can buy it regularly… (though note to self: that may change. Bulge around the middle from baby-stretch: advises against incorporating this outing into the weekly routine. Taste-buds and sugar-receptor centre of brain advise: the case for – walking would burn off enough energy to eat a lot, surely that would compensate… and there is a playground, pool, etc at Southbank on the way, so it combines as a good kids outing)…

So the homemade marshmallow is done.  Thank-you to David Lebovitz for the recipe.

But the jelly layer isn’t going so well.


But I won!!

Frustrated, I returned to my computer to once again find some recipes for a fruit jelly and see what I could tweak after attempt #4 is not quite right… And got sidetracked reading a few blogs…..



…  And the first thing I think I’ll enjoy is a glass of great champagne.  As I was just saying on facebook yesterday: “breastfeeding, bouncing and thinking, ‘oh yeah, I could go a cocktail’ while listening to the dj on jjj at the moment.. Greatest hits of my previous life as a clubber :)”.  So next DJ set I put on I can express some breastmilk in advance, pass off a feed or two, have a nice glass of champagne and bounce along myself.


Thank-you BabyMac!



P.S. Notes on the rocky-road adventure to follow tomorrow.


Happy Birthday to us! .. Cake before and after… June 19, 2011

We had a lovely relaxed party in the local park this morning with some friends and family to celebrate our birthdays…


I made you a tip-truck birthday cake:

the tip-truck birthday cake ...

Which was enjoyed by all present:

I had a lovely time chatting and watching all the kids run about in excitement.




thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone!

P.S. And unless the baby decides to come quickly in the next 3.5 hours, I’ve avoided a double birthday with myself.  It just has to wait another 27.5 hours to avoid Poogie’s too!


Dear Baby.. I think this is what is called ‘nesting’ June 13, 2011

Filed under: cooking,Parenting,pregnancy — rakster @ 7:19 pm
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12 individual trays of spinach cannelloni baked and ready for the freezer..



A little bit grumpy… but out to solve that. With Cake. 28 weeks and counting. April 7, 2011

So, not sure what happened to the happy hormones, but they kinda just upped and left me all alone with the grumpy ones about a week ago.  It co-incided with my pelvic-floor/back deciding that it really only had the stamina to hold a growing baby until week 28 and that it was just going to give up and go with the strain of it all.  Pity it didn’t co-ordinate with my nerve-endings and decide to release a bunch of serotonin at the same time – that would have made it bearable.  Why can’t we control that ourselves??


So.  Grumpy 28-week pregnant lady on the loose.


That is me.


Thankfully however a few months ago I booked myself my first trip-away from child #1 (Poogie) down to Sydney for this week.  So here I am in Sydney for a few days, sans-child and sans-husband.


A bit of work, and a bit of play before I’m not allowed to fly anymore.  So today, after a day at work yesterday, I plan to shake off the grumpiness by consuming all manner of sweet desserts at Adriano Zumbo’s after a short walk from the relaxing lounge where I am currently reclining at Chez Shef’s…. (thank-you for welcoming me into your home – read: letting me invade and take over once again).


love mum


ps. I have just reviewed my state at 28 weeks in my last pregancy.  And lo and behold, surprise, surprise: I was grumpy, the happy hormones had deserted me, and I was compensating with dessert…


p.p.s. and to cheer me up this morning already, two of our dearest friends just welcomed their beautiful little girl into the world. So I’m smiling at least a little :)