My sister tagged me in a post on Facebook to which I could only giggle as it is so very true. I have always enjoyed baking but only truly found my passion for it over the past few years. I think it came about when I started baking to fundraise for my daughter’s gymnastics competitions back in 2011. We had additional costs that year as we were travelling up to Auckland from Cambridge once a week for extensive training. I started out by baking one of the best biscuits I had ever tasted called Death by Chocolate biscuits. It is not an easy biscuit to bake compare to the ones I bake now, but they are devilish good. Rich, sweet, decadent and literally melt in the mouth.
Soon afterwards my husband bought me my first Nigella Lawson cookbook. I have made several of her desserts and baked goods but what I love the most about her books is the way she writes them. You might as well be having a one-on-one conversation with her. It’s personal, funny, witty, just like her.
Baking cakes only started in 2013 when I worked for a company where sharing your baking was considered the best thing since slice bread. At first I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes (the seasoned company bakers) so I didn’t bake anything for the first few months. It was only when we moved to our new premises in April 2014 and we lost more than 1/2 of our workforce that I brought my baking in. I baked traditional and fail proof cakes, muffins and biscuits at first. It was through the encouragement of my work mates that I started experimenting with flavours and cake combinations. Whatever I baked I took with to work. I baked for individual employees, whether it was to celebrate their birthday or send them off as a farewell. I felt great joy when I could share these baked goods with them. My most memorable cake was the Hummingbird Cake which I baked for the sales manager’s farewell. It was rustic and full of flavour and oh so pretty.
Today I still mainly bake to share. I bake to give as gifts, to show love and empathy when friends loose a loved one, for my husband to share at work (expecially when the ladies ask for anything sweet with chocolate). One of those cakes was a traditional Black Forest Cherry Gateau. I baked it for my husband’s birthday so naturally he took it into work for everyone to share.
I bake because I learn something new every time. I bake because I can’t think of anything more satisfying to do. I bake because nothing smells more divine than the aroma of freshly baked cookies. I bake because I owe it to myself to enjoy food.
We have SO many birthdays in April. Not only was it my dad’s birthday on the 19th, but a good friend of mine celebrated his birthday on the 21st, my mother-in-law on the 22nd and my brother-in-law today the 25th. I arranged for flowers to be delivered to my mother-in-law for her birthday as it is hopeless trying to send something through the post to South Africa. I have used NetFlorist several times this year to deliver beautiful flowers to friends and family and I highly recommend them! Their service is impeccable, their products fresh and they are very affordable having to pay in NZ$.
Today is Anzac Day. I spoke a little about what this day is all about in my post Poppies and I can’t help but get emotional on this day. In 2010 I attended my first dawn service to commemorate the returned soldiers and remember those who have lost their lives to bravely serve their country. These services stir your spirit and awaken a sense of gratitude.
In celebration of Anzac day I baked traditional Anzac biscuits. I have never baked these before and can’t believe how easy they are. The biscuits are believed to have been baked by the soldiers’ wives who would send them abroad. The biscuits are made from rolled oats, flour, sugar with butter and golden syrup as the binding agent. The more factual story is that they were baked and sold at public events to raise funds for the war effort. They received the name of ‘soldier biscuits’ and it was only after Gallipoli, and with the New Zealand and Australian troops known as ANZAC, that the biscuits were given the name Anzac biscuits.
My daughter also returned today from her 5 day visit in Tauranga and with her she brought a small jar of guavaberry jam which our friend made. I am in love! I served a small teaspoon with our coconut pikelets. It is tart yet sweet and goes well with the maple syrup and dark chocolate. We have a guavaberry bush and I will certainly be repeating this smooth, delicious jam recipe soon!
It’s the second week of the school holidays and my son is the unfortunate one to have to be at the shop with me ALL DAY LONG. It is terribly boring, and I can only imagine torturous, for a 10 year old boy.
Things he did today to keep himself occupied:
Go into PaperPlus to see if the magnetic putty is still there
Play on his IPod for 10 minutes before hunger sets in
Eats a yogurt and chips
Makes his first visit to the entertaining ‘Bubble Man’
Takes a run around the shopping centre
Plays on the desktop for approximately an hour, with additional sound effects
Realises it is lunch time so I heat up the macaroni & cheese with chicken nibbles
Returns to the desktop
Second visit to the ‘Bubble Man’ to which he gets his toe stepped on and rips his nail
Sits still for a short time as his toe is too sore for him to walk on. I clean it off and place something cold on it too sooth the pain
Returns to the desktop
Goes for visit number three to the ‘Bubble Man’ who must wonder where this child’s parents are?!
Takes another run (sore toe and all) around the centre
Tummy grumbling again so eats biltong and has a juice for afternoon tea
Give him $ to buy us each an ice cream
Plays on the desktop until I close up at 5:30pm
Walk to the toilets with him and on my return find him playing in the toddler section of a make-shift playground.
Rhythmic gymnastics has turned into a stunning sport showcasing flexibility, handling and co-ordination with apparatus in hand. The leotards are sparkling, bright and beautiful and the masteries the gymnasts perform leaves you wondering “How did they do that?” Here is a vibrant and beautiful routine from Russian gymnast Dina Averina.
Today we fetched my daughter’s ball leotard and we are very pleased with the end result. It is simplistic yet elegant. I can’t wait to see her perform her new routine.
Botany town centre has two small fields of poppies in remembrance of fallen New Zealand soldiers and those brave souls who had returned home.
The use of the red poppy – the Flanders’ Poppy – as a symbol of remembrance derives from the fact that the poppy was the first plant to re-emerge from the churned up soil of soldiers’ graves during the First World War.
I love airport, there’s always so much excitement filled with a hint of anxiety.
My daughter has been looking forward to this day for the past few weeks! We have arranged for her to visit friends in Tauranga for a few days. She flew out today and what makes this challenging and an adventure is that she flew out by herself. I must admit I was very nervous leading up to her boarding but after seeing how efficient the process is for an unaccompanied minor any fears I had was put to rest. At the check-in they go through thorough security checking, they hand her a security bracelet which gets scanned at each point of her travel and I receive a text message. When the passengers are called to board she is taken separately and escorted by one of the crew members who makes sure she boards the plane.
Luckily the flight is only 40 minutes long which makes it a great start for any future solo flying.
Today my daughter and I saw the most beautiful rainbow right above our house and we couldn’t help but think of loved ones who are not longer with us.
I remember my uncle Harry who drowned in the rough seas of Kwazulu-Natal on 23 December 2000. My oupa who passed away in May 2005 from deteriorating health conditions. My ouma who passed away in 2010 from a heart disease. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend her funeral as we didn’t have the finances for me to fly back to South Africa. I was heart broken and felt terribly guilty. I remember my uncle Dawie who committed suicide in May 2013 and left behind a wife and two sons. And we remember Erin, my daughter’s one rhythmic gymnastics coach who passed away February of last year from cancer.
Rainbows evoke memories but also represents rejuvenation of all things broken.