Day 160 9 June – spills

Today was certainly one of those “I should have stayed in bed” type of days. It seemed that everything I touched turned to custard, and not the edible sweet dessert type. I often have days when I feel jittery and have random, uncontrollable shakes. I don’t know if it is due to not eating properly on that day or being over-tired, but it usually turns my day upside-down.

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But I have noticed that through the photo diary challenge I am able to see the light-hearted side to life, and there was no time to cry over my spilled coffee, especially when it is in the shape of the African continent.

*always look at the bright side of life…*

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Day 120 30 April – schnips

I have been struggling a lot with hair loss these past few months. I usually loose hair with the change of seasons, but since December last year I am too scared to touch my head as I literally loose hair by the handful. I have naturally curly hair, big spiral curls so I don’t brush my hair very often but I do use my hands as ‘combs’ and daily put them through my hair to loosen the curls. I don’t know if my hair is thinning due to always having it in a bun, or due to having a deficiency. I know iron deficiency, which I suffer from, is a known cause for hair loss but I can’t see how my iron levels could have dropped so dramatically. I am too scared to go to the doctor with this.

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Today I had a much needed hair cut and I am hoping that by cutting my hair short (it is a short uneven bob) it will have time to thicken and hopefully grow.

They say a change is as good as a holiday. And those head massages they give when they wash your hair is the best part of visiting a hair salon!

Has anyone had similar problems? Or know of a natural remedy to combat hair loss?

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 66 7 March – cappuccino créme

When I get a spontaneous idea in my head it is usually very hard to convince myself to not follow through. During the day I had this thought of making crème brûlée. I have always wanted to try making it but the thought alone of how quickly something can go wrong is overwhelming.

During the current televised season of The Great British Bake Off one of the challenges were to create a crème brûlée. I watched the episode three times trying to understand the making of it, but they don’t usually show the contestants recipes from start to finish, and it still seemed like an immense task. I asked chef Google to find me an easy to follow recipe, and I ended up with Mary Berry’s Cappuccino Crème Brûlée. This was also a good opportunity to add another item to my baking project.

The only ingredient I needed to buy was cream. Now true to my style, I misread the recipe and bought normal cream instead of thick (or double) cream. I had to adjust the recipe and whisked the cream to a thick consistency. The only problem with that is, you whip air into it which surely will effect the outcome of the final product. The rest of the method was very easy to follow and it doesn’t have a lot of steps either. The tricky part is the baking. I placed my ramekins into the water bath and set the timer. It all hangs in the balance!

A few minutes before the timer goes off I peeped through the oven door to see what, if anything, is happening. Now I know what the whisked cream does when baked, it forms a thick froth-like texture over the top which separates from the custard. It looks horrendous but thankfully once the ramekins are removed, it is easy to scoop it off the top and you are left with the crème.

After cooling the custard down and giving it some time to set, I sprinkled brown sugar over the top (as per another recipe’s instruction) and placed it under the grill for about 3 minutes until the sugar crystalizes. I was very doubtful that the custard will be edible but we still gave it a try. And YES it was! It was a little bit thicker than what it should be, but it did NOT separate or scramble. *happy dance*

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It was perhaps a little ambitious of me to try add a sharp flavour such as coffee as my first attempt so next time I will try a traditional vanilla crème and work on my technique.

 

Day 32 1 February – back to school

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The day finally arrived, back to school for my two! My daughter is walking in as a year 8 senior student, her last year at intermediate and my son is a year 6 student and his last year of primary school. They attend a full primary, which means they can complete their intermediate years there instead of moving to a new school.

I was up early this morning to make and pack their lunchboxes, sorting their school uniforms and checking their stationery. After I felt confident that all was organised, I made myself a cup of tea, grabbed one of the oats biscuits and sat in the lounge, watching the kids make their breakfasts. I looked up at my daughter as she came in to sit with me, and my heart absolutely sank. I couldn’t believe how much she has grown. Apart from the fact that she is tall (7cm more to go and she’s outgrown me!), she’ll be turning 13 this year and she’s confident, funny, intelligent and talented. How is it that 12 years have flown by so quickly? I still remember when she started kindy, at 18 months old. The hugs, the giggles and yes the tantrums. I sat there fighting back the tears. Tears of disbelief, tears of pride and tears only a mother will understand. Watching both my children grow up is a blessing and an honour. I will value their impact on my life with gratitude and adoration.

My message to them while driving to school was to make the most of this year’s opportunities. Don’t look back, learn as much as you can and take on all challenges with a positive attitude.

Bring on 2017!

 

Day 12 12th January – running on empty

Today was not a good day. Not that anything bad happened, but more so that I am feeling unwell. Day 12 into the the new year and I feel like I’m ready to celebrate the end of the year. I have mentally prepared myself for the year ahead and am looking forward to what’s lurking behind each day hence the reason for starting my photo diary project, but on days like today I wish I had a fast forward button on life’s remote.

I had a terrible headache again and the humidity we’ve had for the past few days has depleted me. I have no energy and am exhausted by late morning. By the time I realized I haven’t taken my daily photo yet it was well into the early evening. Nothing exciting or worth mentioning happened during the day…what am I going to photograph now?!

I was in need of a home baked sugary treat. I noticed the rocky road jar on the side table in the lounge and realized my mistake for leaving it where my kids had access to it, as there was hardly any left. I looked into the jar and honestly felt like I was looking at the scraps of my day.

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I still ate the largest piece…now it’s truly running on empty!

Recipe for this jolly good rocky road:

1 large slab each of 50% dark chocolate and white chocolate (I prefer Whittakers)

2 cups of marshmallows, cut in quarters

1 cup of turkish delights, cut in quarters

1 cup almonds

1 1/2 cups shortbread biscuits, broken into small pieces

Mix dry ingredients (except chocolate) and divide them into 2 separate mixing bowls. Place the dark chocolate over medium heat in glass bowl over saucepan. Do not let the water in saucepan touch the base of the glass bowl. Once melted, remove the glass bowl from heat and let it cool down slightly. Repeat the same process with the white chocolate. Add the cooled melted chocolate each to the dry ingredients. One mixing bowl will have the dry ingredients + melted dark chocolate and the other will have the dry ingredients + the white chocolate. First pour the white chocolate mixture into a prepared tin followed by the dark chocolate mixture on top. This will give it the ‘top deck’ effect. Place in fridge until set. Remove from tin and slice into desired edible sizes. Store in cool, dry area in an air tight container. Enjoy!

 

 

Day 11 11th January – fruity

Today I saw juicy, beautiful mangos for a really good price so I bought two and the first thing I thought of making was mango lassi. The kids were really excited as I have only once made it before and it is something we enjoy drinking when we eat Indian cuisine. And there is nothing better than to end a humid and warm summers day with a glass of refreshing mango lassi with my family.

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Whenever I taste Indian cuisine I think back to one of my first meals my sister introduced me to shortly after immigrating, called butter chicken. We ate at a food court in a small shopping centre so the area was filled with mouth watering aromas, but the one that stood out the most was the sweet smell of curry. I have to be honest, I have never (before that day) been a fan of curries. She ordered our meal, and accompanied with rice and a naan bread, I was intrigued.

My first mouthful was incredible! It was sweet, creamy, full of flavour and the chicken melts in your mouth. The best part came when the meat and rice was finished and all that was left was the sauce and naan bread. Dipping bits of naan into that bowl of liquid lava is beyond divine. I soon discovered there certainly is nothing ladylike when eating it, as I was left with some droplets on my chin and clothes. It is pure enjoyment!