Day 153 2 June – upside down

Last year November we had friends of ours (from South Africa) visit us out of the blue. I can’t explain what a surprise and treat it was! We haven’t seen any of our friends since we left in 2008.

At the time they were here for a “look see”. Our friend had a few interviews lined up over their 10 day stay and they also had a short tour of the north island as they made their way through to each interview. We were blessed to have them visit us one of the evenings they were in Auckland. I made a traditional bobotie and we visited into the late hours of the night.

Fast forward 7 months and our friend secured a job and has come over to settle until his wife and children joins him in 2 months time. We invited him over for dinner tonight because being a man on his own living in a Motel for the first few weeks, who knows what he is eating?!

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Good company calls for good cake and this upside down pineapple cake played right into our delightful stomach.

Day 141 21 May – pound cake

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Our local supermarket Countdown had mangoes on special this weekend, so naturally I bought a bagful. Apart from making a mango salad for the kids’ lunchboxes, I made a Mango Coconut Pound Cake. The original recipe can be found here.

I have a soft spot for a traditional pound cake. It is a versatile cake and really easy to put together. Traditionally a pound cake is made by using a pound of each of the 4 ingredients: flour, butter, eggs and sugar. Today however, a pound cake has been adapted to often include flavouring agents, dried /fresh fruits and raising agents and most have changed the amount of ingredients needed to make the lighter and more moist. I prefer the traditional pound cake which is sliced like a loaf of bread, but there is a sense of freedom knowing you can experiment with tradition without loosing the heart of the recipe.

Happiness is finding comfort in mangoes and cake.

Day 138 18 May – poppy seeds

It is surely that time of the year: colder, misty mornings when you wake up and your toes curl up as they touch the cold kitchen tiles and you hurryingly slip your feet into comfy slippers, when a chilly wind can be heard outside and you wrap yourself a little tighter with your old yet functional gown. I really want to get excited for winter’s arrival as I dream of the Highveld winter with it’s sunny, clear blue skies yet freezing temperatures, but I can’t express enough how much I dislike the cold.

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As a cheer-me-upper I decided to bake these citrus inspired muffins. I find that poppy seed and lemon baked goods can often be a bit dry, so I added a generous dollop of cream cheese in the center before baking them. They made wonderful lunchbox treats for the kids and they also filled the breakfast hunger spot for myself.

Day 134 14 May – mother’s day dessert

Happy Mother’s Day to ALL the amazing mommies out there!

All I ever want is:

  • to have a sleep in (I wake up SUPER early so to be in bed anytime after 7am is a winner in my eyes)
  • breakfast in bed and by that I do mean a warm cooked meal, more specifically eggs benedict
  • flowers, any flowers!

I do appreciate any gifts from my family but it certainly isn’t what is important to me. Being with them, relaxing and enjoying a ‘day off’ is what me heart yearns for.

Today I was able to lie in bed for some time before being asked to join my husband and the kids in the dining room. Spread across the dining room table were presents, lots of them! None of them wrapped, no surprises there. From a large white porcelain container to keep the flour in, to a new re-usable piping bag with nozzles from Jamie Oliver, to a ramekin set with blow torch (a hint that they want me to make more crème brulee), to a blue canvas print with a love quote on it…oh and chocolates, how can I forget about the chocolates. I felt so spoiled! These were all such thoughtful and practical gifts. I was overwhelmed by their generosity!

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The afternoon was spend with my parents, where I was able to spoil my mom with gifts and a home baked dessert. Mom loves a baked pudding so I made a Feijoa & Apple Crumble as that is what I know how do to best.

 

Day 122 2 May – fragrance

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With Mother’s Day around the corner, I started working on a new cookie flavour combination. I’ve always wanted to work with lavender but the thought of it tasting like soap always put me off. I knew getting the correct type of lavender (culinary lavender) will be beneficial so my search started. We have several lavender farms in New Zealand of which some are local, but most of them grow the fragrant lavender meant for soaps and lavender rich products. I finally found a farm in Masterton who grows cooking lavender, or more precisely . I ordered 2 packets and couldn’t wait to experiment with it.

Now, I didn’t want to only make a lavender cookie and looked at options that will elevate the lavender yet still stand out flavour wise. From what I read lemon and lavender are great friends and I know lemon adds a gorgeous citrus flavour to any dish.

Obviously I didn’t want to be heavy handed when adding the lavender, so I first grind it a little finer to release the lavender fragrance and then pinch-by-pinch added it to the wet batter until I could slightly smell and taste it. Once in the oven and baked, the most beautiful aroma oozes from the cookies. The most subtle lemon flavour followed by a stream of lavender.

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I am really happy with these beautiful cookies and every small mouthful is a pleasure.

L&L