my-speck

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

Cheddar Cheese Bread August 12, 2013

Filed under: cooking,eating,Raising a Child — rakster @ 7:09 am
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I went on a cooking spree yesterday afternoon and finally cooked a few loaves from the Rose Levy Beranbaum Bread Bible that I bought for C for Christmas 4 years ago!

I give you: Cheddar Cheese Bread..

20130812-070852.jpg

My kitchen smells amazing, the bread cuts beautifully, and tastes just the right cheesy…

Mmmmm..

 

Angel Food Cake – recipe March 31, 2012

Filed under: cooking — rakster @ 10:19 am
Tags: , ,

angel food cake

it’s essentially a big fluffy sweet sponge cake held up with a LOT of egg white.  Apparently Betty Crocker did one in the 70s/80s in Canada that my lovely other half was partial to eating when his mom made it.  I’m a bit of a packet cake snob, and when a cake is as easy as this, who wouldn’t be.  I think if you wanted to play around with it and cut this cake up to make a shaped kid’s birthday cake, it would work pretty well too – it is tough enough / not too crumbly at all while still being pretty light.  And because it’s so light (and sweet) it’s one of the only cakes I’ve ever made where my two year old has actually eaten the whole piece of cake and not just the icing!

angel food cake! yum

ingredients

1 cup (240g) cake flour (*see note)
¾ cup + ¾ cup white sugar (177g + 177g)
12 egg whites (room temp for best whipping – but they are easier to separate when cold.  Also as even the smallest speck of yolk will make them not whip up well, suggest you separate them one by one into a second bowl before adding to the rest of the whites in the main bowl – it would be a shame to get to the 12th egg and get some yolk in!)
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (and optionally ½ teaspoon almond extract)
1 ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon salt

equipment

25 cm (10 inch) angel food cake tin OR ring tin OR bundt tin.  A tin with a hold in the middle!
stand mixer / hand-held beaters
a bottle or something to invert the cake tin onto so it ‘hangs’ upside down

method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Make sure that your 25cm (10 inch) ring tin (or special angel food cake tin if you have one!) or bundt tin is clean and dry.   Basically you need a tin with a hold in the middle so the cake cooks evenly and isn’t gooey in the middle!  Do not grease the tin.  The ungreased tin allows full rising as the cake sticks to the sides on baking and the tin then holds the cake ‘out’ to stop it collapsing.
  2. Sift together the cake flour and ¾ cup of the sugar, set aside.
  3. In a very large very clean bowl (any amount of oil, dishwashing liquid or residue could deflate the egg whites), beat the egg whites along with the vanilla, cream of tartar and salt, to medium stiff peaks.  You could try this by hand but there is quite a bit of mixing, so a stand mixer works best, but you could do it with a hand-held if needed.
  4. Gradually add the remaining sugar while continuing to whip to stiff peaks.
  5. When the egg white mixture has reached its maximum volume, fold in the sifted ingredients gradually, one third at a time. Do not over-mix.
  6. Put the batter into the ring pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake springs back when touched.
  7. Balance the tube pan upside down on the top of a bottle, to prevent decompression while cooling. Yes, this sounds strange, but the cake is so light it won’t ‘fall’ out of the pan while cooling even though it is inverted.
  8. When completely cool, run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert onto a plate.
  9. Serve with fresh or poached fruit in season and whipped cream or a strawberry or passionfruit style syrup-sauce.  Or for kids with whipped cream and sprinkles!  We served with fresh whipped cream (with a small amount of icing (confectioner’s) sugar and vanilla extract added).

notes

  • to make ‘cake flour’ – measure 2 tablespoons corn flour then add plain (all-purpose) flour to make up one cup (240g) total.  Sift 4 or 5 times until very well combined.  The cake flour has a lower protein content than normal flour and should be a lot lighter.
  • there is a lot of mixture – it overfills my 23 cm bundt cake tin
  • apparently (according to someone in my house) you also need to add a small amount of sprinkles to the cake mixture (as you mix in the flour) so that the cake is flecked with little colourful bits.  I’d say about 2 tablespoons would do it.
  • This cake is super-sweet.   Hence the decoration / serving with poached fruit.   No need for icing on this baby.
  • Egg yolks? Got a few left over after making this cake?  How convenient that this cake goes so well with ice cream!  Make a batch or two.  Or some home made custard.  Or a creme pattisserie to fill a fresh lovely custard tart.  Or a batch of choux pastry nuns filled with custard.   Mmmm.  So many options!

source

Modified from a recipe on www.food.com (12591) 29 March 2012

 

Made for our daddy’s birthday this week!

 

Things to do while the baby is sleeping… (or things I have done while the baby has been sleeping) March 22, 2012

Some days the babe sleeps for but 45 minutes at a stretch before for some reason or other we need to get in the car and go somewhere or gets woken by something (or someone)…  Not like the first lucky child who had a bit of a routine and actually two good-length daytime sleeps until he was over 1.

 

But some days I do get a bit of a break when the older one is at daycare, and the younger one actually goes to sleep for a bit.  It’s hard to plan anything, because you just never know what is going to happen, but sometimes it’s just fun to pretend the sleep will a bit and just get stuck into doing something that it would be impossible to contemplate getting done with a baby underfoot.

 

This week I had two days where sleep happened.

 

The first day, I did the tax.  Well, when I say, “did the tax”, what I actually mean is get all the bits of paper and emails and other nasty things that need to be gathered to complete “the tax”, write a letter to the accountant explaining what I couldn’t find, put it in an envelope and label it “Urgent”.  Because of course I’ve left it so long that it is now somewhat urgent (oops, sorry).

 

The second day, I made a pie.  Yes, a pure escapism from reality PIE.  Lime marshmallow pie. And totally forgot to take a photo, so all you’ll get is the last-remaining wedge photo from the day after (we had people over people, we didn’t consume the whole thing ourselves – just in case you were wondering).

Lime Marshmallow Pie

 

Yum.

 

Lime Marshmallow Pie. Recipe courtesy David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert.

 

Yum.  Did I say that already.

 

I know which task I enjoyed more!

 

Have you baked anything good recently?? What do you do if you kid’s are asleep and you’ve a few minutes to yourself?? What would you LIKE to do?

Lime Marshmallow Pie slice

ooops. It seems to be getting smaller...

 

Christmas cooking (with kids): gingerman bread December 22, 2011

Yep, that is how we say it around our house: Gingerman Bread.

It’s very funny to watch kids try to wrap their tongues and heads around funny phrases and words. Especially when they are your own kids and you can just laugh out loud…

Last year when we went to Canada to celebrate Christmas with our Canadian family in the snow, we visited some friends in Vancouver on the way through who had the MOST amazing gingerbread house and scene ever made. Let me tell you. It was amazing. (Note I’m having to tell you rather than show you as I’m such a numpty I forgot to take a photo of the wonderful creation.)

They make one each year, and keep it up on display without snacking or nibbling for a few weeks over Christmas, and when the kids go back to school in early Jan they take it in as a treat for all the kids to eat together. And I was inspired – I’ve always wanted to do one.

So last week I emailed them and got the recipe for the gingerbread and icing, and started to think about making it… Then realised that although it would be fun for me, the two year old in our family would LOVE to help and the house construction and decoration is just a little bit beyond his decorating ability, patience-level and possibly balancing skills. I could forsee typhoon-struck ginger-house with icing dripping from gables aligned with the floor… (I’ve also been wondering about how a gingerbread house would ‘hold up’ here in humid Brisbane… In Canada the humidity is so low you have to have a humidifier on. Here you can almost drink the air some days. I’m not sure that any gingerbread house would have a long-life without ‘growing’ some of it’s own extra-special green decorations.. Anyone have experience with this is Australia??)

So I embraced the idea of just having fun with it and opted for gingerbread christmas shapes.

We invited O’s little cousins and grandma from Canada over and away we cooked. There was lots of mixing, measuring and then cutting.

rolling out the dough. Lots of helpers..

Then baking.

Then decorating. I put a sheet of baking paper out for each child, in front of them at the kitchen table, and three bowls each for the toppings: smarties, sprinkles and heart decorations. Then a big smear of royal icing on their baking paper and a small palette knife each, and they were off.

gathered around the table...

Little Miss L's lady..

little miss p's star

We were planning on gifting some that O had decorated himself to O’s teachers and a few other people. On reflection, after witnessing the licking of palette knife, fingers and smarties that went into putting his together, I decorated a few myself to give on his behalf…

But I still love the creations, licks and all!

mmm. a reindeer!

O's creations. Lots of licking when into these beauties....

….

love mum

P.S. Oh, I forgot. They are absolutely DELICIOUS… Thank-you Mickey for the recipe! Yum Yum Yum…..

P.P.S. I am now planning on making the making of these (and a gingerbread house when the kids are bigger) a Christmas tradition in our house.

P.P.P.S. And you may ask – where was the little baby during all of this? Alternately happily rolling around on the floor, breastfeeding and sleeping. She really is a dream child…. !

luna-baby watching the gingerbread-making process

 

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

Hello,

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 DISCOVERED THAT I WON BABYMAC’S FABULOUS 5 YEARS BLOGIVERSARY GIVEWAY!!!!  Yes, me, I won!!

…  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!

-r

 

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

 

Bad parent of the day award. And the winner is… February 19, 2010

We have an award in our house: it’s the “Bad Parent of the Day”.

It started as a joke. Your dad had a quiet chat with me a few days after we came home from the hospital and he went to work which went along the lines that as I’m at home with ‘the baby’ all day every day then I’m the one who is most likely to be the responsible parent when ‘the baby’ does get injured. Accidental maybe, but we both knew it was going to be heartwrenching, and that was your dad’s way of telling me that he wasn’t going to be angry or upset or judgemental, just supportive. Because the odds were against me.

To be honest, I don’t even remember now what your first big mishap was. I should have blogged about it, because I know it was very real and scarey at the time, but now it has just melded into a conglomerate memory of the past few months, where some days you injure yourself, or I injure you (unintentionally and generally pretty minor so far, cross fingers) and some days nothing happens but you’re still grumpy and scream at times and I’m still lacking sleep so really ask me the next day what happened the day before and I’d be hard pressed. (Oh, and I still don’t come up for air when talking. Some things don’t change.)

So as the days meld into one another, we commemorate each mishap of bad parenting with our “Bad Parent of the Day” Award. I guess I do probably win it more than your dad, but considering I’m on more parenting duty, I think the balance on weighted means would be in his favour. Or disfavour depending on how you view it.

Today’s winner? Well, I can’t think of it. Maybe it hasn’t happened yet. Or, if you count letting your baby eat of the floor as a bad thing I probably shouldn’t have fed you the cucumber you dropped on the footpath in the Valley this morning, then Me. The footpaths there are not your average cleanliness, somewhat below… In the scheme of things, minor.

Three days ago? Me. You know about the whole carrot intolerancething? Well, I went to cook more food for you and found the freezer cubes we use to freeze your food in full: of chicken stew. So I dutifully emptied them all into the sink and then flushed them down the loo. Thinking all the while, “Gee, what a waste. It’s not the food that bothers me so much as the love and time your dad put into cooking it”. And it’s not like I’m ever going to cook you chicken stew (pescetarian avoiding meat cooking at all costs). So it was a bit special.

Dumb di dumb di dumb. Well, it turned out your Dad had already lovingly thrown out all the offensive carrot-containing stew, and cooked you a whole new batch. Which was exactly what I threw out. Mmm. Bad parent of the day award: Mum.

Love you boopie baby
mum

 

Me me me me me me me. January 24, 2010

Hello Little Speckle.

Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.  Yes. Me.  I am a person.  And I’m a separate person from you, believe it or not.  I know you don’t understand that yet, and you definitely think my boobs are just yours for the taking.  But believe me, I’m a person.  And over the last few weeks it’s had me thinking a lot about that fact.  I guess doing some long hard thinking and wondering where I fit into the equation of our family.  And where the ‘me’ bit is in it all.

Actually, this question has been niggling away at the back of my mind for months.  It started when I was pregnant – I guess one of the reasons I started this blog. A realisation that to you, for many years, I’m just going to be ‘mum’. And it will be taken-for-granted that I will be there for you, with you, in the background of your life. I thought a lot about the fact that you wouldn’t even conceive that I did things and had a fruitful and fulfilling life before you came along. Just wouldn’t be interested…

Since you were born it’s changed to a more day-to-day struggle to balance out the ‘mum’ from the ‘me’. From talking to lots of other mums, it seems a very common contemplation.  It really is a difficult adjustment going from full-time gainful employment in your chosen career and a busy and active social life with just yourself and your partner to think of and straight into motherhood.  I’ve been happy, alternately anxious, happy again, tired, exhausted, wonderously surprised, excited, busy, planning…  It is definitely is an up and down road.

So I’m happy today because I feel like I did something for myself this week.  All for me.   A small thing,  but it feels like an achievement.  Actually, a couple of things:

Hotcakes and Peaches - yum

Ricotta Hotcakes with Stewed Peaches

  1. I did the second installment of my not-new-year’s-resolution resolution – to try to cook at least one new thing a week.  Last week was apple pie.  This week in honour of your aunt Milla in NY’s birthday, I made Bill Granger’s Ricotta Hotcakes but with a variation – I just stewed up some of the plentiful and delicious fresh peaches that are in season and served with that.  I’ve posted the recipe… You ate some too:

    Baby eating ricotta hotcakes

    Poogie eating ricotta hotcakes

  2. I almost got your Dad’s website finished.  It’s  been a learning process, and I’ve been at it for a while.  But when we FINALLY get the stuff from the graphic designers, I’ll be able to launch it.  Whew.
  3. Most importantly, I found the book I was looking for.  When I say found, I mean: searched through and emptied about 15 dirty, dusty, musty boxed from in our store room to find (the boxes are part of the around 50 boxes we have down there stored full of stuff from one of the four times we’ve moved house in the last five years but not yet unpacked).  So I found it: the book my mum was assistant editor on years and years ago about homebirth.  Yay.  There is a reason I wanted it, which I’ll explain in another post, but suffice to say it’s been on my “want-to-do” list for at  least two months and your dad thankfully took you out yesterday afternoon, allowing me to root around in the storeroom and find it.  Along with boxes of kitchen appliances, serving platters, more books, old clothes…home birth book

No doubt I won’t feel quite as elated tomorrow, and I’ll continue to oscillate back and forth on all sorts of things like a yo-yo. But for today I feel GOOD and quite pleased with myself.

Love and kisses
your mum

 

Boobies are Us… January 12, 2010

Hello Little Munchkin,

What has been happening?   ….. mmm Apple Pie

Long time no write for me.  It’s been a busy week – swimming, sanding the back deck and reoiling, cooking apple pie (I’ve been meaning to do the pie for at least a year and I finally got to it on Sunday – and it was yum).

Apple Pie from the baking book

Apple Pie - I finally got around to this recipe..

Designer Apple Pie

You: rolling, commando crawling at greater and greater speed, trying to swim, competently sitting-up, lots and lots of squawking.

Today’s Walking Adventure – Hot hot hot

Today is our car-less day.  Your Dad has the car on Tuesdays and we are left to our own devices.  We decided it was better for the environment and would work out that we just maintained a single car and then your Dad can taxi around a bit when he needs to for work and the like, apart from Tuesdays.   We’ve always walked and cycled a lot, and it’s one of the reasons we bought our house in the inner city – so we could continue to do so.   But today is particularly hot.  It is 30.9 degrees celcius and 51% humidity.  Not the hottest day by far, but hot enough if you’re walking around.  Today was the first meeting of the year for my local group of the Australian Breastfeeding Association, so you and I walked there and back.  And today I’m gonna write about it, ’cause I enjoy it so much and really get a lot out of it.  And you enjoy it too – it’s a chance to interact with a bunch of other young kids.

Australian Breastfeeding Association

Boobies are Us.

“Boobies are Us” is what your father affectionately refers to it as.   He thinks it’s great and is really supportive of breastfeeding – he knows it is the best thing for you and unfortunately he can’t control it, so puts his energy into helping me.  We’ve been out to the shop in our city to buy some things a few times and he has had some great input from the women working there and out the back in the State office.  But I must admit I think he is still a little perplexed about what we actually do at the support group meetings.

I know it’s is jest, but the question,

“Do you all just get your boobs out?”

has come up!  The answer?  Yes, most of the women there do “get their boobs out” at some point to feed their child/children.  Some discreetly, some less discreetly.  Some babies, some toddlers.  But not everyone.  There is an older lady (perhaps in her fifties) who is our treasurer, whose children are well past the breastfeeding stage.   Is everyone there a boob feeding nazi? No, definitely not.  That’s one of the reasons I enjoy it so much – there is such a mix of people there.  Yes, people there are obviously giving breastfeeding a go as that’s what it is: a breastfeeding support group.  But do some of them use other forms of food too – you bet. Are all of them commited to feeding their babes by breastmilk until they are five? Of course not. Are some – yes, if that’s what their babes are after.  It’s a mix.

Do dad’s go?  Yes –  not so many, but there have been a few at different meetings, often when their baby is young and they are there with their partner to get some input and support.

And what do we do??  Well, most fortnights there is a topic for discussion, and we have an activity or prompts that the group leader has put together that we use to stimulate discussion and chats.  The kids (of varied ages) all rollick around on the floor (it’s held in the playgroup space under a local church so there are lots of toys and it’s a safe area).  The reason I enjoy it so much is that there is actual opinion, debate and experience about meaningful things discussed.  Yes, most of it is breastfeeding-focussed, but a lot about the tribulations and challenges of raising children, and coping strategies, techniques and listening to each other.  And it’s a very local group, so I then see a lot of the members around the traps when we are out and about.  It makes me feel connected to you, my baby, and my area, and the community.  Which is pretty important.  ‘Cause my hormones still leave me up and down quite a bit.  And I’m still adjusting to the major life change of having a baby and having to care for someone else 24/7.

Today’s topic was about toddlers.  We discussed a range of topics such as  developmental milestones, separation anxiety, breastfeeding, eating, weaning, having a second child, me-time or mum-time, occupying and stimulating toddlers…  It’s still school holidays, so there were lots of extra kids there today, and about 15 mums.And there were lots of opinions, lots of questions and lots of talking.  Fun.   You cracked-up and got a bit tired about and hour and a bit in, so we left early.

Just thought I’d write about one of the things we get up to during the day.  An important thing.

Love you

mum

 

eating and waiting… June 12, 2009

Hello Little Baby Speck!

Well, its freezing this morning. I have my computer in bed with me and am working from there. We went out yesterday and bought two new oil heaters after plugging in our old one to absolutely zero effect the day before (I think the move back from Sydney finally killed it). And so I have the heater we bought for your room in our room this morning and I’m under the covers too. Brrrr. Apparently its five degress. Very cold for a draughty queenslander.   Your dad and I are both a little worried at how cold our house is going to be when you arrive home …  (BTW Week 38 today!  Week 38… I never thought it would come around).

Slept badly again last night. Woke at 3 am and didn’t get back to sleep until around 5:30… Then got woken this morning at 6:30 by the gas workmen right outside our bedroom window digging a big hole in our yard and discussing how cold it was last night / this morning and how many Bundy and Cokes they managed to consume in the car trip home last night because the traffic was bad. Aaagh.. You weren’t impressed either – there was some kicking down there and I interpreted it as “pissed off”. Much more violent and quick than your normal movement.

Yesterday had a spurt of energy and decided to get some things done. Hence the heater-buying. Also managed to inspire myself to cook biscuits. See – still having total cravings for sweet food. Weird. Anyway, I was inspired to biscuits after looking through the Australian Women’s Weekly biscuit cookbook. Its a book that my Grandmother gave me when I was 12 years old. I only just got it back from your Aunt R the other day – I must have loaned it to her a few years ago… I’m really glad I got it back – I thought it was just packed away in one of the multitude of boxes we have yet to look in – stored under the house from before we moved to Sydney. Its sentimental. Anyway, I’ve got it and I have good memories of cooking the biscuits. Hopefully something we can do together when you get bigger – I’ve had some practice with F as she and I used to cook them all the time when we lived next door to each other…

monte carlos - yum!

Yep, so yesterday I did the monte carlos. And damn, do they taste good if I do say so myself. I say so myself. They taste good. Full of sugar. Yum.

Today is a work day. Looking forward to the weekend :)

love you
mum