Day 116 26 April – oatilicious

I am not a huge breakfast eater at home. Now I don’t mind going out to a cafè, sit, relax and eat till my tummy is satisfied but that’s a luxury we don’t have at the moment so home cooked breakfasts it shall be. I usually have egg or avo on toast, and there was a time when I enjoyed muesli, fruit and yogurt but the trend seems to wear off and I get bored with my meals.

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I’ve seen some incredible creations lately of oatmeal and/or smoothie bowls so this morning I tried making something hearty and warm for myself and the kids. Luckily my pantry is stocked with rolled oats as I often use it for baking the kids’ school treats. The rest of the ingredients I sourced from the freezer and fridge. I made a mixed berry oatmeal, topped with sliced plum, almonds and additional berries. I lightly sprinkled cinnamon sugar over as I know my kids will ask if they can add some sweetner.

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Breakfast took me 10 minutes to make and it was filling and satisfying. With winter approaching this will surely become a favorite in the house.

What is your go-to winter breakfast?

Procrastibaking – when there’s a pile of laundry to iron but you bake instead

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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.

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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.

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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.

Day 115 25 April – sweet treats

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.

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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!

 

 

Day 103 13 April – chillax

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Taking a breather after my 14 hour baking stint over 2 days.

We are also in the midst of preparing for Cyclone Cook which is believed to be one of the strongest cyclones New Zealand has encountered since the late 80’s. The kids school was closed again due to predicted worsening road conditions and most work places send their staff home early. Frantic queues are forming for public transport and already flooded areas are building sandbag barriers. I bought a few dry food products as well as water containers, I would rather be safe and prepared than regret not doing anything.

Indulging in crispy French toast drizzled in sweet maple syrup, frothy cappuccino and blogging watching the weather unfold.

 

Day 90 31 March – carrot fusion

As part of a fundraiser for the kids’ school, the PTA organises parental help to marshal at a local cycling event. The school receives $50 for every volunteer marshal. Now that is easy money! Seeing as I can’t provide my time I decided to rather bake for the cake stall the school is manning during the event. Again, easy money raised!

I found a recipe for small carrot cakes (carrot cupcakes) with a zingy cream cheese icing. It is a recipe from Nigella Lawson, one of my favourite female chefs. I love reading her cookbooks as it reads like a storybook. For those who have seen her on television you would have noticed how she speaks with great passion over the dishes she creates and that is exactly how she writes her cookbooks. It is filled with her wittiness and love for food.

This recipe was easy to put together and I enjoyed baking it more knowing it is going towards a good cause. The only change was setting the oven to 190C as our oven is a bit wonky and baking it for approximately 16 minutes instead of the full 20 minutes. What I like most about carrot cakes/muffins are the spice infusion! I often replace the cinnamon with a spice mixture of nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon.

There’s always a reason to bake!

Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing:

For the cupcakes
100g light muscovado Sugar (you can use soft brown sugar)
175 ml of sunflower oil
2 large eggs
225 g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
zest of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1/2 orange
2 medium carrots grated
scant 1/2 cup walnuts chopped 
12-cup muffin pan lined with 12 cupcake cases

For the icing
125g cream cheese
250g icing sugar sieved
1-2 tsp of lime juice
12 walut halves

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Beat sugar and oil together, then add the eggs one at a time. Add flour, baking bicarb soda, cinnamon, salt and zests, then fold in carrots and chopped walnuts. Spoon into the cupcake cases in the muffin tin and bake for 20 mins. Cool on a rack.

Beat the cream cheese until soft, beat in the icing sugar, then squeeze in the lime juice. Spread (or pipe) on the icing and place 1/2 a walnut half in the centre of each cupcake.

Day 82 23 March – messy Thursday

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Thursdays seem to be the get-your-hands-dirty-and-make-sosaties day. This is one part of my job I really don’t like. It is time consuming, the meat is freezing cold and I often poke my fingers with the sosatie sticks!

Sosaties are basically kebabs or meat skewers. We make them from marinated beef and add chunks of capsicum and red onion. They are ideal to cook on an open fire and I serve them with a couscous salad. This is just one of the many fresh meat products we sell in our shop.

I love my traditional South African roots!

 

Day 76 17 March – Key Lime Pie

I have always been fascinated by a Key Lime Pie. I have NEVER tasted one before and I had some misconceptions about this pie:

  1. I thought it had tequila in it, you know like ‘1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor’.
  2. I thought it was Jamaican inspired.
  3. I thought it was a green coloured pie.
  4. I thought it sets in the fridge, similar to a cheese cake.
  5. I thought it was a difficult tart to make.

How wrong could I have been!

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I found an easy to follow recipe on Jamie Oliver’s website today and decided to educate myself within the realm of baking school. The recipe is all written in pounds and ounces so I bought what I thought is equivalent to grams. I bought way to many ingredients, but at least they are all dry products and will soon be used for other baking adventures. While paying for my shopping, the cashier looked at the huge bag of limes and stated “Are you making a drink from these limes?” I might look like I need a drink today but I said laughingly “No, I making a key lime pie”. She looked intrigued and gave a good-on-you nod.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this pie. I found a small bag of macadamia nuts and incorporated it into my base. I usually deviate from a recipe and this was the only change I made. The rest I followed to the exact measurement. Chef Google is the perfect place to search for pound conversions to grams. The filling, prior to baking, is very similar to a South African tart called a Cremora tart, which is basically a lemon fridge tart, so you can imagine my surprise when I read that the pie is meant to be baked. Once baked, I touched the surface of the pie and it had completely set. After cooling I placed it in the fridge overnight as directed.

The morning of 18 March:

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I woke up early to get myself ready for work, and quickly beat the honey and double cream until it formed soft peaks, spread it gently over the set filling and topped it with grated lime zest. I had a very tiny taster before taking some to work with me, and oh my goodness it is divine! Tangy, sweet, creamy with the crunchy base.

1 lime, 2 limes, 3 limes, pie!