Monday, August 31, 2009

Blog this...

I came across this blogger community today and decided to join. I love the idea of it: An Australian blogger community where there is a weekly challenge posted, that inspires the bloggers to contribute.

I loved the thought of this, because a) It connects me to other Aussie bloggers & b) It provides inspiration for posts.

My first Blog this challenge is this question:

If you could choose a day, a week, a moment in time to re-live - what would it be?

I have had a think about this. I was instantly thinking about whether there was anything i regret that i would like a do over of. I thought briefly of a bitter first relationship, would i like to go back in time and grow more of a backbone? No.... all of the turmoil, angst, love, and challenges in that relationship shaped who i am. It made me stronger. It is also what led me to meeting my True Love.

Would i want to do over any part of my childhood? Again no... again, it is part of the patchwork that makes up my life. I really don't believe in regrets. Every moment in life, no matter how achingly sad, or painfully embarrassing, make us who we are. Part of growing older is experiencing life, and all it has to offer.

I instead throw my thoughts to the happiest day of my life (to date!), my wedding day. Admitedly it really wasn't that long ago, as it was only at the beginning of this year. This is a day i would love to relive, over and over again. It was everything i wanted it to be. Is there anything i would change... hmm... I would perhaps actually look at my Future Husband to Be as i started going down the aisle, instead of grinning madly at my guests and trying to get a look at everyone because i was so damn excited. I would perhaps actually pay attention a bit more during the ceremony, because it was over before i knew it (again, because i was too excited and looking around everywhere to actually pay attention). However, i doubt any of that would change. I WAS excited.

I was marrying a man that I firmly believe is the most wonderful loving man in the world. I was committing to sharing my life with him. I was surrounded by everyone that I love. It was a beautiful sunny day, all of my plans had come together and it was the happiest day of my life.

Who wouldn't re-live a day like that over again?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zumbo Cafe

It was recently Mike and my 4 year anniversary since we met. To be honest i didn't really remember, as i am really bad with dates. However Mike reminded me in the morning and hinted that he had a surprise outing planned for the next day. He kept very tight lipped... but I had my suspicions.

The next morning we set off. with Mike still saying mum on where we were headed. Once i saw a sign taking me towards Balmain i started to bounce gleefully in my seat and shout gleefully 'ZUMBO CAFEEEEEEEEEE'.

I have been wanting to visit this cafe for a long long time, well before Adriano Zumbo's Masterchef fame. I have read many many reviews of his culinary delights throiugh a huge number of sydney based blogs. I have drooled over a great many images of his sweet delights.

We arrived at Balmain by 10:30 am and headed first for the patisserie. Sadly, a peek through the door showed quite a line, and almost not sweets left. We headed off towards the Cafe Choolat a few doors down, where we waited in line for a bit before gaining a seat.

I already knew EXACTLY what i what i wanted from hours of browsing his website

We ordered two hot chocolates - One dark (mine) one milk (Mike's), and decided to share two desserts, The Younger years and It's not a hamburger! ...It's a macaron.

We firstly had the It's not a hamburger!... It's a macaron. This "Hamburger" was made of two giant chocolate macarons filled with dulce de leche gelato and was nestled on top of a bed of banana and caramel rice pudding, finished with a sprinkle of bitter chocolate soil. This tasted truly great, with the macarons still warm, and rice pudding was just awsome! It tastes like a banoffe pie (which is what Adriano was going for).

Next out came The younger years. This dessert is served in a kidney dish, with a warm chocolate fondant, gorgeous peanut butter gelato and an injection of vanilla anglaise and raspberry coulis, finished with a crunchy scattering of salty peanut caramel. When the fondant is injected with the anglaise and raspberry mix the fondant explodes like a volcano with chocolate lava dripping over the sides.

After the rolled our way out of the cafe we decided to duck in and hae a quick look at the patisserie again. We decided to buy one of each flavour of the macarons, which we consumed over the nect 3 days (although i would say they are best consumed within 24 hours).

Flavours (from my rusty memory) included Rhubarb, Salted popcorn, Salt & Vinegar, Blackcurrant, Mocha, Pear, Passionfruit... ooohhh that's all i can remember!!!

These were really beautiful. It was the first time either of us have had a macaron and we really enjoyed them.

I would definately recommend a visit if you are in the area. Hell, even if you are not in the area, visit it anyway!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

M&M cake!

I love making cakes, especially kids birthday cakes. The other week it was our nephews 3rd birthday. I offered to make the cake, and was told something chocolatey but simple would be perfect.

I decided to make a marbled cake, with chocolate buttercream. I actually added some strawberry jelly sugar to the pink part to add a little extra flavour. I decorated the cake with m&m's just to ass a bit of colour and excitement.

It was gleefully recieved by the birthday boy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pergola Renovations

We really love our home. Mike and i often look at each other and state how lucky we are to have found such a lovely first home. I saw this house on the internet and fell in love. The day we went to see it was the same say that we signed on the bottom line and paid a holding deposit because it was P.E.R.F.E.C.T!

However, one small defect was that the pergola only extended over half of the decking.
This is something that we happily rectified recently. I am really grateful to have a Father that works in the building industry and knows how to draw up plans. He had a look and drew up a plan of action for our pergola. We did a bit of ringing around to find the best timber price. I would definitely recommend people do that as prices ranged from close $1500 to $800!
Over two weekends my wonderful parents, husband and his father and brother all helped in putting our plan into action. Slowly but surely we saw our pergola take shape.
I had the task of painting all the bits of timber. It is a good little trick, to give the timber at least one coat of paint before assembling. The reason for this being that it is allot easier and quicker to paint the timber this way, as opposed to having to get on a ladder and paint it all once assembled!

We finished all the framework by lunchtime Sunday. We didn't get the supplies for the roof though as we wanted to wait and get the right measurement so we could have that cut to fit the length. This way we only have to screw the roofing in place, not measure and cut.

Two weeks later (today) we finished the project. I spent the Saturday painting the older part of the pergola as the colours weren't quite an exact match.

Today my Dad, Mum and Mike's Dad all came over and we finished putting the roofing on. We brought some doubled sided cream corrugated sheeting from Stratco. We had an existing semi clear sheeting on the existing part, but that stuff actually adds 8 degrees to an area. However we did want to add in some natural light, so we interspersed the cream sheeting with the clear.

The end product looks AWESOME! All up it only cost $1500 so it came in within budget!!

I am very pleased with this project! I think it looks fantastic and am very excited at the prospect of many bbq's to come!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Caramel Cupcake

I have had a bottle of Cottee's sticky Toffee topping in mt cupboard for a while. I decided to do some baking duringt the holidays and decided to try to make some caramel/toffee cupcakes. Last year my now SIL made me some beautiful caramel cupcakes. I thought i would try to recreate them, but decided to be lazy and use topping instead of make the complicated caramel sauce that went into hers. Sadly, these taste nothing like hers, but are still quite tasty!

3 1/3 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
150g softened unsalted butter
2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cup Sticky Toffee topping
¾ cups castor sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Pre heat oven 170°C. Line two 12 hole muffin trays with cupcake papers
Sift together flour and baking power
In a separate bowl beat butter for 2 minutes. Mix the two sugars together. Add 1/3 of the sugar, beat for 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining sugar, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy and sugar dissolved
Add eggs, one at a time. Beat for 1 minute after each addition.
Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.
Add 1/3 of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
Add half of the syrup mix and beat until combined. Repeat this process
Add the remaining 1/3 of flour and beat until thoroughly combined.
Spoon mixture into cupcake papers. Bake for 18- 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from trays and cool.
I did experiment with a caramel buttercream icing using top n fill but it didn't quite turn out. As the icing was being piped it seperated slightly and so made a speckly icing. Still tasted good though!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009