Friday, December 31, 2010

I Resolve ... Not to Have Resolutions

This morning I laid on the floor in the 40C heat, closed my eyes and felt the deliciousness of living. My heart pounded. My body was mine. I felt fresh and alive. And I considered my New Years resolutions.

To be honest, I can't stand resolutions. I don't mean to be negative here - but I feel that resolutions, in general, are negative. Reflect on what went wrong in the past year and set up goals for the new year that (in many cases) are unattainable. Hmmm ... I almost never feel good about resolutions.

So this year - I'm having none. That's not to say that I won't do my best to be good to myself ... but I'm going to be less specific in what my expectations for next year are.

I want to move forward

My no-guilt plan?

I'll try to be good to my body - give it exercise and good food and (oh yes) wine - but I will never. ever. diet.

I'll try to be where I am - meaning, for example, that when I'm reading to Nelle I won't be making up my grocery list in my head at the same time. Or writing blog posts.

I'll try to remember that I'm not perfect. At least not all the time. So if I mess up? Well, I'll try to do better next time.

I'll try to live and love without reserve. Because if cancer taught me anything, it was to do my living now. And to do that living with my favourite people.

These two.

Those are my non-resolutions. What are yours?

Have a happy, happy New Years - and a great 2011!
Amanda xx

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Buckwheat and Butter Cookies

I've been trying to think of something interesting to tell you, but I can't.

I could blame my lack of inspiration on the hot yoga. Or the glass of wine. Or the jet-lag.

I could blame it on the fact that I'm concurrently writing this ... and watching the Iowa vs. Missouri football game ... and listening to my little Nelle running around the living room throwing a balloon back and forth to my parents ...

and (maybe) I'm drinking that glass of wine, too ...

But, hey, I'm not the blaming type.

What I can tell you is that these buckwheat and butter cookies are amazingly yummy. They're a perfect balance of sweetness and buttery-ness and nuttiness ... the best of buckwheat pancakes in a cookie. A perfect counterpoint to the over-indulgences of this time of year. Make them and you earn yourself major brownie points! (so to speak)

Buckwheat and Butter Cookies
makes ~ 24

The time
10 min prep + 30 min fridge-ing + 15 min baking and cooling

The ingredients
150g butter, softened
1/2 c raw sugar
1 free-range egg + 1 free-range egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 c almond meal (I ground mine myself)
1 c buckwheat flour

*As always, use organic ingredients when you can ... especially for the eggs.

The process
1. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until creamy. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and stir to mix thoroughly. Add the almond and buckwheat and mix to combine.

2. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for 20-30 min. Preheat your oven to 160C (320F). Line a cookie sheet (or 2) with baking paper. Have a cup of coffee. Tidy up the kitchen.

3. Now, remove the cookie dough from the fridge and roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough in your hand. Put each ball on the cookie sheet, about 2" (5 cm) apart. Before you put the cookies in the oven, use a fork to flatten out the tops of each.

4. Bake for about 10-12 min, until lightly golden and puffy. Leave the cookies on the tray for 5 min after you take them out of the oven, then transfer them to a rack to finish cooling.

5. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, if they should dare last that long.

The cost
My batch of 100% organic buckwheat cookies cost me less than $6 to make. Or about $3 per dozen.

Go Hawkeyes.

I mean ... enjoy your cookies!
Amanda xx

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Emergency Ice Cream (aka Bribery)

This is a busy time of year.
You need to get stuff done.
Without kids tugging on you.
You are about to resort to ... processed sweets.

No! Stop! We can do this a better way ... let's talk this through. No need to be hasty. Instead - let's make some ice cream.

No I'm not insane. I'm not suggesting you make real, custard-based, churned ice cream. What you're going to do is much much more simple than that. And, in the spirit of the 'Emergency' series - it takes no time at all. If you've taken my advice and put some bananas in the freezer, that is.

Emergency Ice Cream
serves 2-3 (depending on hunger and/or boredom levels)

The time
5 minutes

The ingredients
4 med frozen bananas (de-peeled), roughly chopped
1 c plain yogurt*
2 tsp raw honey
a pinch of cinnamon (optional)

*You could use milk, too, if you don't have yogurt at home. Just use less - maybe 1/2 cup? And add only enough to get the frozen bananas to blend without making it too milky.

**As always, use organic ingredients when you can.

The process
1. Put into the blender and blend. It'll be thick and creamy.

2. Serve the 'ice cream' in small bowls with a spoon and a Dora the Explorer dvd.

3. Use your time wisely!

The cost
I buy marked down bananas, and put them straight in the freezer. I also made the yogurt ... so my organic emergency ice cream costs about $0.50 a serve. But is priceless in happiness-factor.

Mmmmmmm .......
Amanda xx

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to Feel Virtuous Over the Holidays

No matter what you tell yourself ... you're probably going to eat and drink and be merry a little too much. You may even feel guilty about it. I know I always do. ( and I was going to list what I feel guilty about - but what if you haven't thought of that yet? And I remind you, and make you feel guilty? Best to leave my own guilts unspoken ... or at least wait till I can offer guilt-offsets, as below ... )

Seriously, people. We're too hard on ourselves! It's. the. holiday. season. That's what it's about - indulging.  Hopefully you'll be hanging out with your favourite people, enjoying some special food and (oh, yes) presents. That's what I plan to do. (Before flying 14 hours to the US with my 3 year old ... but let's leave that for the moment). 

So let's accept the guilt as inevitable ... we are humans, after all. Why don't we offset it? Here's what I'll be doing to make myself feel virtuous.

How to Feel Virtuous Over the Holidays

1. Use cloth napkins
This is really simple! It's hard not to use (and throw away) heaps of paper around the holidays ... so I've already converted our household to a paper-napkin-free zone. I love using thick, soft cloth on my mouth rather than scratchy paper. And I collect my napkins at thrift stores for sometimes $0.10 each. Plus, they'll look a little special for the holidays ...

2. Add fruit to alcohol
I have my lovely friend Angie to thank for this idea! Hibiscus flowers in champagne ... a great way to add vitamin C (and a touch of class ... ). But you could mix champagne with any number of juices to give it some nutritional value ... or make sangria with wine and fruit ...

3. Bake with alternative flours
Why limit ourselves to plain white flour? In using a variety of flours, you can increase the different types and quantities of nutrients that you give your body. And if you've never experimented with a non-wheat flour - then why not use the 'search' tool on right side of my home page to give you some ideas! It'll help you find recipes on my site, as well as all the sites I love. You might also like Kim Boyce's book Good to the Grain - which I haven't seen yet myself, but which everyone seems to be raving about!

Flours to look for? Kamut, spelt, besan, millet, buckwheat, maize, quinoa, amaranth, or brown rice ... or even nut meals, like ground almonds (am I forgetting any? Tell me if I am!)

You'll probably end up mixing these alternative flours in with the old standard wheat ... because there is a reason why we use so much wheat. But give them a go!

(these, by the way, are buckwheat and almond cookies ... recipe coming soon!)

4. Sneak veggies into desserts
Um, pumpkin pie? Need I say more? 

Ok ... well, I've used Jessica Seinfeld's book Deceptively Delicious to give me lots of ideas for including veggies in my desserts. It actually ends up being pretty yummy! Take these brownies (pictured) for example ... would you ever know they had amaranth and chard and carrot in them? Ha!

Other great veggies for sweet stuff? Beetroot. Carrot or zucchini. Sweet potato. Pumpkin. 

Be adventurous!

and this recipe is coming soon too ... Promise.

5. Make a loan on Kiva
Kiva is an organisation that facilitates micro-loans (small amounts of money) to people in developing areas. This is that little bit of money that people need to get their business started, or get it back on its feet. Most loans are repaid! So you can keep redonating the same money again and again and again ... 

6. Give presents you've thrifted or made or grown
Remember when you were a kid, and gave your parents a painting for Christmas? (bet they still have it ... ) We seem to grow out of that - the giving of homemade gifts ... but they're some of my favourites! Tins of cookies, bags of roasted nuts, jams or marmalades, jars of toasted muesli, a bottle of vanilla, books picked up from the secondhand bookstore, chili plants or aloe plants or a basket of homegrown herbs ... wouldn't these be lovely gifts to receive? (they're some of my favourites to give!)

Think outside the box-store.

7. Choose homemade over store-bought
I almost always make this choice, when it's available to me. And I (strongly) encourage Nelle to make it, too. When something's been homemade, it's less likely to have strange or unpronounceable ingredients in it (because who has guar gum in their pantry?). It's less likely to have preservatives, and it may even have less sugar. Plus, someone's gone to the effort to make something - which is lovely!

Whatever you do, have a lovely and happy holiday season! Try not to be too hard on yourself ... and have a great time!

Amanda xx

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Chai

I don't know about you, but I loooooooove chai. If you wanted to make me a really excellent homemade Christmas present, you could make me a batch of it. I can even show you how ... and give you a recipe.

Go on ... you know I deserve it ...

There's something so warming about chai ... even here (in summertime Australia) I love a cup when I'm getting ready for bed. And what makes a good chai? A bit of spice ... a bit of sweet ... a bit of milk. Something involving green or black tea and cloves, cardamon pods, cinnamon, ginger, lemongrass, fennel seeds, star anise, orange peel, black peppercorns - in whatever combination you like the best. Raw honey and creamy milk. Warmth.

But I'll give you my current favourite recipe, just in case you're not up for tinkering!

Christmas Chai
Makes enough for 24+ cups 

The time
5 min for tea + 2-10 min for bags

The ingredients
12 tsp black loose-leaf tea
1 tsp cinnamon
12 cardamon pods, lightly smashed
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 star anise seeds
12 cloves

The packaging
2 sheets of baking paper
sewing machine or needle and thread
hole puncher
cute label

The process
1. Mix all the chai ingredients together in a bowl.

2. Cut out a 3x10" (7.5 x 25cm) piece of baking paper and fold it in half so it makes a 3x5" pocket. Sew 1/2" from each edge, leaving the top open. Fill with half your tea mixture. To secure the top, fold it over a few times and punch a hole through. Thread a cute tag through the hole to keep your bag closed!

3. To brew, use 1 tsp of tea mix per large cup or 2 tsp per medium pot. Brew with almost-boiling water for 3-5 minutes then serve with a tsp of raw honey and a dash of milk, to taste.

*Remember, these are storage bags, not tea bags. If you want to make your own tea bags, there's a recipe here.

The cost
I used all organic ingredients for mine, and it came to $0.10 per cup. And it's a lovely present ... the perfect size for Christmas stockings ... (hint, hint?)

And if you'd like to check out another chai recipe ... look here.

Dish of the Day

I just found these two retro mugs at the thrift store today ($0.25 each)! Just right for chai, don't you think? And maybe that re-match in Scrabble ...

Be cozy,
Amanda xx

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Give an Aloe for Christmas

If you haven't heard of aloe vera, then you're probably looking at this photo thinking ... hmmm, that looks a bit prickly for a gift ... and yes, ok. I'll admit to the slight prickliness. But underneath that lovely green skin is a gel that's so great for you ... and this is a plant that you have to work really hard to kill. 

Useful and easy? Yep!

I've had my aloe vera for about 6 years now, and now and then it buds itself off and forms another new plant. I have it contained in a pot, so it can't get too crazy ... but this year I thought I might give some sections to friends. So they can use it too! 

How is aloe used? 

Well, when you need it, you cut off a leaf and squeeze out the gel inside. The gel is most often used for the skin ... to treat burns or sunburn or scrapes or when you gouge your finger with your daughter's safety scissors (do not ask). My dad uses it on his face everyday, and his skin looks great for it! Robbie has used aloe gel straight from the plant for shaving ... when he'd run out of his everyday shaving gel.  I use it on my face, where my skin needs a little extra TLC (like around my eyes). 

But ... there are lots of cool ways that aloe can work from inside your body, too. If you're keen to eat it, that is (it smells a little strange). It seems to have an immune-boosting and cell-regenerating effect -which you can read more about here. Personally, I haven't tried consuming aloe vera gel - but I do see aloe juice on sale at the natural foods store. If you're going to eat it, I might recommend checking out the website I just recommended ... but just so you know, it's very rare to have any sort of adverse effects of aloe applied to the skin.

And a note about all this  - you're probably going to find that it's better to use the fresh juice or gel rather than buying a product where it's already processed. Which is why this makes such a lovely present!

If you haven't got an aloe plant yet - why don't you buy one and grow it up for Christmas next year? Or buy some baby aloes and give them as gifts?

You might even be able to decorate it ...

Amanda xx

Friday, December 17, 2010

DIY Beeswax and Olive Oil Furniture Polish (*without creepy extra stuff)

Lovely title, don't you think? It gets the point across anyway. The way I consider things - that is, if there's a chance that I'm going to eat something directly off the surface of something else - then I want to minimise the chance that either is going to cause me harm. Or my child harm. Or my husband harm. Which is why, for instance, I clean my benchtops and floors with eucalyptus oil (What was I saying? I would never eat something that fell on the floor! er ... unless it was really yummy ...).

And when I got a new garden setting for Robbie for Christmas, and I wanted to protect it from the torrents of rain we've been getting, I had to come up with an alternate solution. An alternate to the fume-ridden pots of oil I bought last time I had outdoor wood to protect. Because the whole point of the table and bench and chairs is eating outside. Eating. Eating those little crumbs that get nudged off the plate. The tidbit that falls off the fork between serving platter and plate (or plate and mouth, for that matter - if you're like me). You see what I mean.

So I'll do this myself, I thought. And I trawled the internet looking for recipes - and let me tell you the whole furniture polish topic is hotly contested out there! I won't bore you with the details, but I did find one forum where people were openly calling each other idiots ... And what did it all come down to? Common sense, I reckon. If you have a $30,000 antique chest of drawers - do NOT apply anything without consulting an expert first. If you're like me, and you just want some sort of non-toxic product to protect some furniture you paid a couple hundred dollars for ... read on.

Anyway, here's what I figured: oil for moisture, wax for waterproofing. Simple. Easy. And so the beeswax and olive oil furniture polish was born. I chose olive oil because 1) I usually have it on-hand, 2) it's not prohibitively expensive, and 3) it has a long shelf life - meaning that your table shouldn't go rancid. And beeswax - ditto!

Beeswax and Olive Oil Furniture Polish
Makes enough to polish 1 new double-seater bench or 1 new outdoor table

The time
5 minutes

The ingredients
1 c shaved natural beeswax*
1/4 c olive oil
6 drops lemon or orange essential oil (optional)
a soft cloth (I used an old, cut-up T-shirt)

*I ordered my organic beeswax from a farm in Australia (via Ebay). I use it to make lip balm as well! It's actually really great to have in your cupboard, so I recommend you invest in some. It's not that expensive - the site where I got mine is currently selling for $12 / 750g. Beeswax can be used for beauty and candles and polishes and lasts ages.

I know, you never imagined you'd buy beeswax. Me either. Now I want bees.

The process
1. Shave the beeswax into a bowl and melt together with the olive oil and orange or lemon essential oil.

2. Warm it up in a low-heat oven or over a pot of boiling water until the mixture melts together. It'll proceed to harden again into the paste above.
NOTE: Don't be silly and dip your cloth into the recently-melted liquid!! It'll be quite hot!

3. Smooth a bit over your wood surface, till the wood loses that 'dry' look. And looks oiled instead. Then, when you're finished, grab a clean cloth and wipe off any excess.
NOTE: You can have too much of a good thing. Excess polish left on the wood can cause dirt to adhere to it. Or your arm. Or your newspaper. 

You'll probably get by with polishing your furniture once or twice a year - though after the first time you'll have to clean it with a mild soap before re-polishing.

The cost
Each portion of certified organic furniture polish cost me $1.50. And smells great! 

I'm pretty excited about the prospect of long summer dinners outside ... with candles hanging from the tree ... and with the fruit bats flying over ...

Amanda xx

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Use Up a Whole Lemon

This may sound absurdly simple. And why would you want to use up the whole lemon anyway? Why not just use half of it and then let the other half turn wrinkly and dry in your fridge? (I know you know what I'm talking about ... )

Ok, I'm resorting to sarcasm - a sure sign that I'm too tired to be doing this. But it'll be a short post, so I'll keep at it.


1. Buy organic or spray-free ones. Wash them well.

2. Use a peeler to peel the zest from your lemons. Try to avoid the white pith - just get the lovely yellow peel.

3. Now your lemon looks ridiculous. Nude. Put it out of its misery by juicing it.

  • Use the juice in baking 
  • Add it to a pitcher of icy-cold water (with a sprig of mint) 
  • Add a couple of spoonfuls to a mug of warm water. (Many consider this to be a good liver-cleanser first thing in the morning)
  • Use it however you like to use lemon juice. The options are pretty limitless.
  • And if you have extra, do as Steph does and pour the juice into ice cube trays and freeze it.

4. Finally, all you've got left is the hollow shell of your lemon. What more could you possibly do with it?

  • Use the shell to wipe down your sink. There'll still be some lemony goodness in there that will cut through any residues. Plus lemon in your sink smells nice. 
  • Then, if you've got a garbage disposal - grind up the shell in it ... that's what Kelly does ...

5. Now you have to bin your lemon, because if you have worms in your compost they don't like citrus. And too much citrus in a worm-free compost can acidify your soil.

But that's ok, because you've used all that you could.

Now to celebrate with a nice lemonade ...
Amanda xx

PS. check out the comments for more great tips!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cure for the Common Cold

Ever have one of those days where you feel a bit like this?

Yes, well I can relate. I just had one of those days, complete with a voice like Grover from Sesame Street (only it doesn't sound so cute on me). I whisper-read books to Nelle. I drank lots of green tea with lemon. I tossed. And turned. and couldn't. get. comfortable.

And then, I made this. My new cure for the common cold. A miso-based soup, with mushrooms and asparagus and egg and *chili*. You're going to love it!! And ok, maybe it's not technically a cure for the cold ... but it'll make you feel much more human. And that's a start.

In my case, the next day I sounded more like Morgan Freeman than Grover, and I even felt up to a coffee date with a friend. But before I could organise a vocal agent and make my millions doing Morgan Freeman gigs on the radio ... my very own voice returned. How sad, really. Maybe I shouldn't have made this soup after all ...

Miso Egg Drop Soup
serves 3-4

The time
10 min prep + 20 min cooking

The ingredients
4 c veggie stock
6 Tbs brown rice miso
1 strip kombu seaweed (optional)
1 - 2 Tbs butter
2 - 2 1/2 c mushrooms**, sliced
5 stalks asparagus, cut into bites
3 eggs, beaten
chilis (optional; to taste)
tamari or soy sauce, to serve

*As always, use organic when you can.
** I used Swiss brown mushrooms, but feel free to mix and match. Just try to include a non-button variety, as they tend to be more flavourful.

The process
1. Heat the veggie broth + miso + kombu over med heat until just below a boil. Try your best not to boil it, as that decreases the nutrients you'll get out of the miso. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in the butter.

3. After 10 minutes of simmering, add the sauteed mushrooms and asparagus bites to your soup. Continue simmering for another 10 min, at which time your asparagus should be perfect - not too soggy and not too tough. The time will depend on your bunch, though, so adjust as necessary.

4. Remove the pan from heat and, while stirring the liquid around and around, gently drizzle the beaten eggs into the soup. It'll form long eggy strands that'll break up somewhat as you stir.

5. Serve with tamari and chilis, as you wish! Oh - remove the seaweed before you serve, or someone'll get an extra special mouthful ...

The cost
I made the stock, from veggie odds and ends. My organic egg drop miso soup cost me $9 to make - or $2.50 - $3 per serving.

Hellooooooo sunshine!

Amanda xx

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I had big plans this week. BIG plans.

Here's what I had going:
make my new business idea a reality. fly to Sydney to visit friends and family. dinner with a friend the night before leaving. dinner with another friend the night returning. tidying the house for our house-and-dog sitter. planning out my writing career. attending a food blogger picnic (in a city I'm bound to get lost in). being the best mum in the world. getting in touch with friends I haven't seen in awhile. calling my parents. calling my mum in law. wrapping presents. making presents. buying presents. buying stuff we need and purging stuff we don't. drinking tea. reading Gourmet Traveller. or Donna Hay. cleaning out the fridge, the bathrooms, the cupboards, the garage, Nelle's closet, my head. getting a haircut. remembering to exercise. everyday. eating. making sure my child eats. being happy. going to the dentist. the grocery store. and the post office.

I'm sure there's something I'm forgetting.

What was I thinking? Seriously?

I've had two colds in the span of a week. I've lost my voice, sniffled, coughed, agonised, had a sore throat and a sore body, napped, nightmared, and been unbearably grumpy (or so I think Robbie would say). A series of enemies? Or just one?


Whatever it is - it doesn't matter - I'm grounding myself.

no trip. no plans. feeling the earth beneath my feet. buying veggies. reacquainting myself with Simplicity. (I'm sure it's hiding in a cupboard somewhere). remembering my priorities. reading,  preferably in bed. listening to music - and really hearing it. smiling at myself in the mirror. playing games with my child - and while doing so, forgetting every. single. other. thing. that needs to be done. breathing in. breathing out. Grounding.

And what does chocolate have to do with any of this?

Seriously ... you have to ask?

Amanda xx

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ode to Bananas

Where oh where would I be without bananas?
The perfect antidote to hunger-induced grumpiness. (Not that I'd know anything about that). Incredibly toss-into-bag-able. Nutritious and entertaining and tummy-filling for my little Nelle. Perfect for smoothies and cakes and sliced over granola.

I want so much to plant a banana tree. We have the climate for it, after all. And recently my friend Amanda gave me a bunch of her home-grown bananas (the ones pictured in this post!) and - well - they were amazing. I read recently that I could get something like 50-150 bananas a year ... oh, bliss.

And what to do with too many bananas? Use them in your favourite recipe! But here are my favourite ways to save them for later:

1. Store them in the fridge (under very particular conditions)
Don't just lob them in ... they'll go icky or hard. But if you buy an excessive amount of bananas because they're on sale or something, you can store some of the greenish ones for later. So you don't have 20 ripe bananas all at once.

Here's what you do:
Wrap your bunch of bananas in a thick tea towel. Put them in the door of the fridge, near the bottom - basically, the warmest part of the fridge. Ideally you would keep them at around 10 - 15C (50-60F). There you go! I learned this method from my favourite banana vendor at my favourite farmers markets ... and it really works!

2. Pop them into the freezer
I've read before that you should peel them and store them in baggies ... but really I just can't be bothered to do that. I just pop them in, as is, and then when I fancy a smoothie at some later date I just cut the peel off while they're still frozen. Easy peasy.

3. Dry them out
I love dried fruit, and bananas are no exception. But when drying something aromatically fruity, how to prevent a fruit fly infestation?

Here's what I do:
I dry fruit in the back window of my car. For example, if you're going to dry out some bananas - slice them thinly and lay them out on a cookie rack. Pop them into the back window of your car (or on the dash) and they'll be ready to store in a day or two. I love this method because it allows me to preserve my little fruits without having to think about them at all.

NOTE: do not do this if you're not keen on the smell of whatever it is you're drying, because when you drive around you will be trapped with the aroma. I think it actually smells nice - it's not like when you forget a banana peel under your seat or anything. That's pretty ick.

NOTE TWO: And don't forget to remove the rack from your car window before driving off! Some might consider flying bananas to be slightly dangerous ...

I love bananas. Don't you?
Amanda xx

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kids Can Make ... Zucchini Cake

Gingerbread for wimps.

Zucchini bread with zing.

Kids can make ... zucchini cake. 

Hmm ... that might work. I like the poetic feel of it, anyway. Maybe I should write the whole post in rhyme? Uh ... no. What am I thinking? I'm obviously not spending enough adult-to-adult time. 

Anyway, this is a lovely muffin / cake recipe that includes *veggies* and tastes a touch like gingerbread. Perfect for Christmastime!

Kids Can Make ... Zucchini Cake
makes 2 medium cakes or lots of muffins

The time
10 min prep + 40 min baking + cooling

The ingredients
2 organic eggs, beaten
2 c milk
1/2 c olive oil
3 Tbs molasses
1/2 c rapadura sugar
3 Tbs fresh ginger, grated
3 med zucchini, grated
1/2 tsp nutmeg (ground)
1/2 tsp clove (ground)
1 tsp cinnamon (more if you like)
2 c wholemeal flour
2 c unbleached plain flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

*As always, use organic ingredients when you can, particularly the eggs - then you can be sure the hens were happy. 

**Don't be scared by the number of ingredients here - wait till you see how we just lump them all together and stir ...

The process
1. You preheat the oven to 160C (350F) while your kids mix the eggs, milk, oil, molasses, sugar and ginger together in a large mixing bowl. Then add the grated zucchini and mix.

2. You oil a couple of small cake tins (or line them with baking paper) while your kids measure out the spices, flours, baking soda and powder and salt into the same mixing bowl where all the liquid ingredients are. Stir, just until combined.

NOTE: You may have to police this part a bit ... we don't want the batter overmixed, or it won't rise up so nicely. Just stir to combine thoroughly.

3. Pour the batter into the cake tins - half into each if you can. Put in the oven and bake for 30-40 min, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. How long you bake will depend on how shallow your cake tins are, so start pricking them when the top starts to look solid.

4. When they're done, take the cakes out of the oven and let them cool on your benchtop for a few minutes. Then take the cakes out of the tins and finish cooling them on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, or ...

5. Serve with butter or ice cream or whipped cream or lemon curd. 

And if you serve them with butter, try to use a gorgeous wooden butter pat you got at the thrift store. Yep - it's dish of the day time! But first, let me tell you how much this costs.

The cost
You get 2 cakes here. I put one into the freezer and the other got used up for morning teas / Nelle's lunchbox / dessert over the week. Each cake cost me about $5 to make - and was 100% organic. I did manage to use marked down organic milk and marked down organic zucchini, so I felt pretty thrifty!

Dish of the Day

I walked into a thrift store the other day, and found so many gems that the little old ladies in there were running out to me with more items - yet to be priced and shelved. I felt a bit like a superstar! (It was great.) And this lovely wooden butter pat was one of the items I bought. For $4. 

And check out my little photographer! 

Have a lovely, lovely week!
Amanda xx

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Basket of 'Googies'

Little Red Riding Hood lives at my house. No matter where you are - she'll find you, with her basket of 'googies' in tow. An imaginary wolf hides behind the couch, or under the dining table - always ready to leap out and frighten our little heroine away. But she persists. She's very stubborn, our Little Red.

And if I really was Granny, and I really was sick in bed, I think these googies (er - cookies) might just do the trick. A touch of lime ... and cumin ... it sounds like a strange combination, but it really works! A little tangy, a little sweet, a little savoury, and oh so buttery. What's not to love about these cookies?  

Cumin and Lime Cookies 
makes ~ 20
adapted from Marie Claire Zest

The time
10 min prep + 12 min baking

The ingredients
1/2 c softened butter
3/4 c raw sugar
1 organic egg
3 Tbs lime juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 c + 1 Tbs wholemeal spelt flour*
1 tsp baking powder
4 dried figs, chopped finely (optional)

+ yogurt and honey (optional) to serve

*You can substitute regular wholemeal flour here, but I do recommend trying spelt. It's lovely and soft and has a slightly different nutritional profile from regular wheat. And we like variety!

**Try to use organic ingredients when you can, particularly for the eggs.

The process
1. Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F (160C fan-forced). Line a large cookie sheet or two with baking paper.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the egg, lime, vanilla, and cumin. Mix well.

3. Add the flour and baking powder to the wet ingredients and mix well. Transfer tablespoon-sized portions of dough onto the cookie sheets, leaving a 5cm (2") between them. 

4. Bake for about 12 min, until golden. Remove from the oven, cool on the sheet for about 5 min and then transfer the cookies from the sheet to a wire rack for the remainder of the cooling process.

These cookies came out to be $0.20 each, or $4 for the whole batch.

And by the way, that wolf wasn't really all that bad. I mean, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure he was just after that basket of 'googies', right?

Amanda xx