Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Veggie shopping

How much do you think all of these veggies cost?

6 Bananas
400g Rhubarb
1 Soup Pack
400g Baby Carrots
1 Bunch Shallots
8 Apples
1 Cauliflower
3 Capsicum
Large pre cut fruit salad

$20? More?

I got the whole lot for $15.50!!! Yep .. that's right!

My husband and I are going to be living off my wage for a while. Due to this i am looking at ways that i can cut down our budget a bit. I figure if i save money on groceries then we may have a bit more leftover so we can save AND still have a life.

I needed to grab some fruit and veg as we were running very low. I remembered that one of the fruit and Veg shops at my local shopping centre often has a mark down section, so i went to check it out.

As i had a look at the veg there i was really surprised at the variety that was there, and also the quality. Most of it still looked very fresh, with very little of it looking wilted or mouldy. There was a huge variety. Here are a few of the other items on offer

- Corn
- Pineapple
- Mushrooms
- Beans
- Squash
- Pumpkin

None of these items were over $2 for a tray. I loaded up my basket until it was too heavy to keep going and skipped off to the counter. I had worked out in my head that it may come to about $20, so i was very pleased when i realised it was $15!

I know some people don't like to buy fruit or veg that is even sightly bruised or wilted. However i figure that particularly in winter this isn't a bad idea. Given that many dishes are slow cooked stews, curries or roasts, the less than perfect appearance maters less. Plus, there is a huge variety of reasons why stock is reduced, and it doesn't always mean that they are no longer any good.

So next time you head out fruit and veg shopping, have a look at the markdown section. You may be surprised!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Food Blog Love

I ADORE food blogs. It stumbled across the blog Not Quite Nigella one day when i was searching for a cupcake recipe. She had me hooked! I love reading about her food escapades, from restaurant reviews to her recipe commentary. I love how she begins with a little annecdote and then goes into her beautiful story. When i realised that this blog was updated daily it became one of my daily rituals. I now read this blog every day without fail, either in the morning with my brekkie or in the afternoon with a cuppa. It still remains my all time favourite blog.

It is from here that i then decided to go in search of some more food blogs. I prefer Aussie blogs as i feel i can relate to them more, plus they also have ingredients i know i can get here!

Here are some other food blogs that i frequent (and drool over)

Suze also gives very funny anecdotes, and i have come to love her catchphrase 'nom nom'. She does not post daily like Lorraine of NQN (yes, i feel as if i am on first name basis) but does post frequently. Suze also frequents many sydney markets as she owns her own biscuit company called Biscuit Tree. She always has plenty of pictures for you to look at.

This blog is written by the lovely Ellie. This also features little stories, with some hilarious vignettes of her family and their tendency to sneak bits of her food. This blog often weaves baking in with raditional korean dishes. I love the step by step photos that she presents with any of ther recipes.

I found this blog a while ago but i forgot to tag it. I came across it again recently and was hooked once again. This time i remembered to tag it!

This blog is vastly different from the others, as the blogger is a trained pastry chef. If her posts are anything to go by, a bloody good one at that!

Her blog is one i simply enjoy looking at as her presentation of her food is always a complete work of art. Many of her recipes are definate 'restaurant quality'. I would LOVE to try one of them some day. You really must check it out for yourself!

These are just a very small handful of food blogs. If you like cooking i would definately recommend that you check some out for yourself!

But be warned... they are strangely addictive!

Kind Over Matter

I have found some BEAUTIFUL quotation cards from the blog Kind Over Matter which i will share with you from time to time. It is a beautiful inspirational blog.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

R rated cake...

Ok... firstly.. if you are easily offended you may not want to keep reading.

Still here? Intrigued by the title? Well you should be! hehehe

On Saturday night we had my a-fore mentioned friend Maree's Hen night. Maree has a wicked sense of humour so we had though that it would be really funny if we made her a... ahem.... penis cake!!

I was disturbed taken by the idea and began planning and researching this cake weeks ago. Firstly, I had the PERFECT cake tin that i knew i could use, a Key shaped tin. With some careful carving and an additional round cake... i knew that i could get the right shape.

Next i began thinking of the design. I did a bit of googling ... which, by the way, typing in penis cake brings up some pretty interesting images, and alot of unusual looking cakes.

I had to begin the cake making process in advance, as i knew that i had some very busy events at work in the days leading up to the party. I baked the two cakes and set them aside. The next night i ganached the cake. I did have a few problems because i did not make quite enough ganache, but nonetheless... a definite penis shape was beginning to emerge.

Last came the covering with the icing. This part was tricky... mainly because i had spent the previous day/ night with 50 wide awake teenagers at the school's winter sleep out.. which involved NO sleep. Fast forward to a very tired me, attempting to roll out cheap icing without it ripping. As the cake was so large i found the icing too heavy to lift up without it causing too many large holes ( i curse myself for not finding time to go to the cake shop and buy proper icing, instead i settled for the supermarket stuff...). However a very tired and emotional me did finally manage to cover the cake... apply the 'hair' and voila!

Penis cake!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Books Galore!

Recently went to my parents place and finally picked up all of my books, and accompaning bookshelves. You see, i have loved books ever since i was a little child. I still remember the first proper 'novel' i read in first grade, called Amelia Jane gets into trouble by the lovely Enid Blyton. I was hooked!

However i was so hooked that i refused to get rid of ANY book i ever owned.... so now here i am with 6 mega garbage bags filled with books. They range in every possible genre and thickness! When i moved out with my husband (then fiancee) i left my books behind as i anticipated that it was going to be a huge job, and that i would need a place to put them all.

My mother always shared a love of reading with me, so when it came to taking the books we had to have a few negotiations over who got to keep which books. She allowed me o take all the Enid Blytons but she got to keep Raymond E Fiest... i tried to con her into giving me the Anne of Green Gables series but she didn't budge on that one *Pout*

We do have a dilema though. I was planning on making a bookshelf wall on the far end of our 'entertainment' room. I say 'entertainment' because it is currently a room housing an unused weight set, various boxes and our old plasma which we plan on eventually mounting on the wall.

Anyway, i digress, our dilema is that the antenna port and electrical socket for said TV is on the aforementioned wall. We are unsure at this point whether to a) move the antenna and electrical socket b) cut a hole into one of the shelves or c) choose another spot... sigh...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mini Quiches

I mentioned these yummy quiches on my previous post. I would highly recommend these as they tasted so damn good and were sooo easy to make! I found the recipe on but adapted it to what i had on hand.
You could easily adapt this recipe and make these into any combination of flavours that you like!

Makes approx 24 mini quiches
4 large eggs
1/3 cup full cream milk or cream ( also had some left over buttermilk so i added a slop of that too...)
1/4 grated onion (or you could finely chop shallots)
salt and pepper
2 sheets thawed puff passtry
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 - 3/4 cup diced bacon or ham

In a bowl mix the eggs, milk, onion S&P in a bowl until well combined

Using a round cutter approx 8 cm in diameter (i used a scalloped cookie cutter i had) cut out rounds of pastry. Pop the pastry rounds in a well greased muffin pan. The pastry should be a little bigger than the bottom so that it forms a slight lip/curve.

Sprinkle cheese and bacon in the bottom or each pastry round. Spoon on egg mixture over top.

Put it in a pre heated 200C oven. Bake for approx 15 - 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden.

Perfect. The crisp buttery pastry, eggy creamy centre with the salt from the cheese and bacon make these the perfect finger food... Too easy.

Kitchen Tea Madness

I recently hosted a kitchen tea for my lovely friend Maree. She is my oldest friend and i have shared so much with her over the years. I was so delighted to be able to host the Kitchen tea for her and show her how much i loved and cared for her. I have three very close girlfriends, one of which is maree. The other two are Ange and Jo. We have been friends since highschool and are pleased to see that our friendship has grown from strength to strength through the years.
I have been eying of a cake design in the window of my local cake art shop of a Tiffany blue cake with utensils out of the top. I also recently brought the wonderful Planet Cake book and have been itching to do a novelty cake with fondant icing.

I have never actually done a proper fondant cake so i was excited but apprehensive

I baked the cake a week in advance and froze it so that i would be ready. I then made the ganache the night before. Planet cake advise to give 3 days to do a cake, so you bake it, ganache it and then ice it. I was really pleased with how my ganaching went and once it was firm it provided a great base to work with. The morning of the party i tinted the fondant light blue and followed the instruction from planet cake. I didn't have some of the tools the recommend but my clean hands (sans rings..)were still able to make it smooth and lump free.

I had found some miniature utensils to put in the top of my cake and made a bow from the planet cake book.

The finished product? I was pretty pleased with myself!!

The cake itself was a choc mud, and i think it tasted really yummy and moist. Although it was a shame to cut up the pretty cake.
I went a little baking crazy too and i made all of the food for the party. ALthough this was also partly due to cost. I looked around at some pre made quiches but i just felt that they were way too expensive for something i could easily make myself.
In the end i made the following food
- Miniture Buttermilk scones
- Cheese and ham quiches ( i will post this recipe next. It was just so easy but tasty!)
- Tuna/ Chicken bagettes
- Chocolate tarts (these i did cheat with, i brought ready made cases and used left over ganache)
- Berry and cream Tarts
A JoJo brought some frozen mini croissants and we covered those with cheese and bacon and baked them . Maree's lovely MIL brought along her famous caramel and cream pies.