Sunday, July 22, 2012

Happy Sunday!

Hello lovely blog readers,
 I hope everyone has had a fabulous weekend and you're all feeling nice and fresh for the new week ahead. 

I have been scatter-brained multiplied this week and
need to clear my head, clear my studio.
I'm running a 10 day promotion to offer blog readers only (and readers of your blogs also, if you'd like to give me a little shout out) a couple of codes for use in my Etsy shop.

First code is tenoffone and will give you
an automatic 10% off any purchase you make in the next 10 days.

Lovelies such as this
 Monster Book for Boys, a blank page journal.

Also Everybody's Book, a gorgeous scrapbooky,
 little bit of everything book.
Perfect for a gift.

 It's got tags, and pockets, and maps, and envelopes for the curious.
 One of my absolute favourites that I've ever made, the Sea Star journal, filled with blank pages just waiting for you.
Draw, doodle, write down your wildest dreams.

She is lush.

Smaller notebooks, great for shopping lists and day to day ideas, and, I think, spot on for teachers gifts ;)

If you'd like to buy two or more and stash them away for
 the teachers at the end of the year.............I'm gonna
give you a whopping 20% off.

You don't have to promote me, you don't have
to give me your favourite slowcooker recipe,
you don't have to Tweet about it,
 and you absolutely do not have to go on
over and 'like' me on Facebook 
 (not that there's anything wrong with any of that, mind you).

Just use this code: twentyofftwo.


There's more in the shop,
 go and have a look.
If you like.

buy one for 10% off with tenoffone
buy two for 20% off with twentyofftwo
Codes valid until the first of August.

(if you're unsure about discount codes: there is a space
to pop your code in as you go through Etsy
 checkout and the discount is applied automatically)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peanut Butter Biscuits

If you love peanut butter and sweet treats,
 you'll love these Peanut Butter Biscuits.
They have just four ingredients and, if you have a
food processor, they're dead easy to make.
These are a no-bake, raw treat.

I came by this recipe a few months ago
 (via whole family fare, a fantastic blog
with loads of vegetarian recipes) and have made quite a few batches of these little bikkies,
 they disappear very fast every time.

a cup of raw almonds
a cup of pitted medjool dates
half a cup of peanut butter
a teaspoon and a half of vanilla extract

The original recipe calls for the almonds to be pulsed in the processor first before adding the rest of the ingredients but after once accidently just throwing the whole lot in together and having no problems that's what I continue to do.

Put all the ingredients in your food processor bowl
 (a grimy looking bowl like mine is optional, you can have
 your bowl squeaky clean if you must.
Vanilla not seen, below, I put it in after taking the picture.

On this occasion I pulsed them to the texture seen below, sometimes I make it smoother, do what makes you happy.

After you've whizzed it for a couple of minutes it becomes dough like and all that's left to do is shape it together into little balls.....

....flatten them with a fork to make them look biscuit like.....


......have one yourself before offering to your children or partner, or else you may miss out altogether, they're that good.
(pop them in the fridge, they should be good for 5 days or so and they are PERFECT for school lunches)

Let me know if you try them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bikes, bikes, bikes.

When I was a teenager I used to love getting on my bike and going for a ride. I rode alone and would just ride and ride and ride until I figured I should probably turn around and head home since my Mum has no idea where I was. We lived in the city so I was just riding the streets, bike paths, and probably sometimes on the footpath if I was on a super busy road and scared I would get knocked off my bike and die if I rode on the road. Because I've always been a little bit dramatic and paranoid.

When I finished uni, left Brisbane and moved to Cairns, nursing, I bought a little green bike at the Salvos for five bucks and used to ride it to work.
After that I didn't really ride much at all for a long, long time.
My Dad, though , was a mad cyclist and continued loving it even after coming off his bike and breaking bones. I *think* he was around 70 years old when he did an organised bike ride, cycling from Bundaberg to Brisbane (around 400 km).
What a champion, hey?

Anyway, only in the past 6 months or so have I really started to use the bike again. In very, very baby steps. No 400km rides here. Yet.
Just going on rides with the kids, and using the bike to run errands I normally would have used the car for. Going to the library, going to get milk or just a couple of things from the shops.

My husband has been riding with the kids for a while but I was always the one who would walk along, just to kind of keep the kids on track, mainly to make sure Clary was all good. It didn't make a whole lot of sense to be on the bike. Until now.
We upgraded Clary from the itty bitty bike to , ah, I don't know what size but a bigger bike and he has really taken off so now I can jump on the bike and we can all go off together.
The only draw back for me is that when we're heading off down the street and I want my purse, and water, and then everyone else has something that they just have to have with them and can-I-please-put-this-in-your-bag-Mum-?, well, can you see where this is going?
I have a little back pack and I run out of room.
Especially if we're returning books to the library.

I'm still working on a solution to that problem,
but while looking at my options on the trusty old internet
I came across this wonderful lady, Emily Finch.
Seen here cruising around on her bike with her 6 children.
(in a dress!)
Go you, Emily!

Have a read about her here.

After I saw that I just had to go and google cargo bikes.
Cargo bikes are the bomb.
Look at them!

Sanitov Cargo bike found on designboom.

this one found here,
and check this one out below,
perfect for carting your kegs around town!!
Genius from here.

 (I couldn't exactly figure out where these guys are, or what they're all about but totally take my hat off to them for their diy attitude)
 made their own cargo bike, how's that!
(I figure they maybe stole that shopping trolley but
sometimes you just have to turn a blind eye when
there is such awesome creativity involved,
it's equally as likely they salvaged it from the tip or something)

The more bike super-ness I found, the harder it was to stop looking.
I discovered what looks to be, hmmm, the Rolls Royce
of bicycle companies?
Beautiful, beautiful bicycles.
Such as this red Dannebrog.

This blue beauty is Poppy from Adeline.

And back to Velorbis where I found the perfect front carrier.


Do not even move.

I found my dream bike.

How could you not love this bike?

My actual bike looks nothing like any of the bikes
I have shown here. I am currently making plans to strap
 some milk crates to the front and back of it though.
Like a kind of bum cargo bike.

Get on your bike.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Make your own Butter!

Have you ever made your own butter?
The kids and I have learnt how to do it  in the past few
weeks, it's fun, so I thought I'd put together a post
 to show you how.
We've had a few goes at it, with success every time
and it was only today when we were doing it for the purpose of taking photos for this post that we had a little glitch.
But I'll get to that.

A couple of months ago I found this old butter churn
at my Mums', stashed away somewhere, and it
found it's way back to my house where it became
a part of the house decor.
Because that's how I like to decorate.
 With old household utensils.

Just a little while after that we were at a fair
 and saw one being used to, you guessed it, make butter.
Hmmm, I novel.
 Butter churns......not just for
 putting on show in your house?

This is the churn I'm talking about here.

It's a real beauty, heavy duty, made in England. Not sure where my Mum got it from, I'll have to ask her.

Ruby was keen to get on with the butter making
over the school holidays so I started googling and came across
 a super simple way to make butter without having to
 have an actual butter churn. I've since found out this is something that many other people did as kids but it's all new to me.
With just a glass jar, your cream, and a coin
 (I've been told some people use marbles),
 you can shake, shake, shake that cream into butter.
I have a stack of these glass jars, as seen below,
 and I use them for 101 different things.
 But I won't be using them for butter making again.
You'll see why in a minute.
(I boiled that coin before sticking it in the cream,
just incase you're wondering)

So today, we did both churning
in the jar and churning in the churn.
 Here goes.
We leave the cream out of the fridge for a couple of hours
 before we start. I believe there is a specific temperature
that's best for butter making, but I also read that 'room temperature' would cut it, and that was good enough for me.

Cream in, and get your little helpers in position.

If you're on the jar,
then shake, shake, shake.
 And keep on shaking.

The kids got bored quickly this time around, and swapped over.

Clary got more bored.

Then he got his second wind and went nuts.

Now before the wheels fall off this whole production I'll give you a quick run down on how it had worked for us previously.
Cream in jar, coin in jar and shake, shake, shake.
When you start out you can hear that coin
 going from one end of the jar to the other.
Clink, clink, clink.
Then, as the cream thickens right up,
you can no longer hear the coin for a minute or so,
 it's not moving as freely as it was at first.
All of a sudden you'll hear it hitting the ends again as the butter separates from the butter milk.

Not the case for us today.

Here is Clary giving it his all.
 At that point I took over the shaking of the bottle.

And this happened.
Ah, I think I shook it too hard.
The coin broke the bottom of the bottle.
Butter everywhere.

Now, I was thinking 'thank god Clary wasn't shaking it, lucky I was doing it' yada, yada, yada......but honestly, I've convinced myself it wouldn't have actually happened if it had been the kids shaking it. Because they really don't shake that hard.
But you never know.
I would do this again in a glass jar.
 But I would be absolutely certain that it was a very thick glass.

I'm not going to cry over spilt butter right now though, let's keep going with the butter in the churn.
After churning away for, I'm not sure, about 10-15 minutes, the cream has separated, we have butter.
It looks kind of like scrambled eggs to me.

Butter, and buttermilk.

The buttermilk is drained off, put it aside, you can have buttermilk pancakes in the morning.
Below is my jug of buttermilk, with the butter still in the churn waiting to be washed.

Cold water is used to wash as much buttermilk as possible out of the butter. Pour your water in and churn, drain and repeat.
I wash it 3 or 4 times.

Clary doing a bit of washing for me.

At that point, after it's final drain, it's looking somewhat like this and is ready to be 'worked' with butter pats to get any excess liquid out.

I don't have butter pats yet (my Mum has those too, just need to snaffle them off her), and in all my googling,
 I didn't have a whole lot of luck getting much to give you
but I did find this image here which shows you what they look like if you don't know what I'm talking about.
They can also be used for shaping the butter.

From here on in, after the exploding butter bomb, the kids have pretty much abandoned me and I'm on my own, so the pictures get a bit dodgy.

To help rid my butter of its' moisture I stick it into some muslin and just kind of let the excess liquid come out on its' own.
If you were to try and squeeze it out I'm pretty sure
you'd just squeeze all that butter through.
I'm sure there's a better way, but I'm not a perfectionist for this activity, and this is good enough for me.

You're done, you have butter.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Muesli Slice

Disclaimer: I don't encourage the purchasing of supermarket brands and normally avoid them like the plague
(same goes for Nestle but I'm still to find my way around that on the condensed milk),
BUT if you happen to make a purchase like I did,
 because your son handed you the packet and then
 you saw what sounded like a good recipe on the back
 and just went with it.............I will forgive you as I have am trying to forgive myself.
Don't beat yourself up (like I did).
Nobodys' perfect.

ok, let's get on with it.

Like I said, the recipe sounded good so I thought I'd give it a go.

The recipe called for

-a small packet of glace cherries
 (I don't think you need many at all really)

-a cup of slivered/chopped almonds

-a cup of cooking chocolate
 (definitely don't need that much and obviously could omit it completely if you like. same with the cherries)

-a can (390mls) of sweetened condensed milk
(I added more, I'd say almost 200ml more, the mix was just so dry)

- four cups of muesli

Muesli, condensed milk and almonds
 get mixed together in a large bowl.

Get your tray ready.
 Spray it, grease it, line it with paper,
whatever you do.
The recipe stipulated a 20x30cm lamington tray.
 Without getting a ruler out and measuring I'd say my tray
was around 20x20cm.
 No idea if it is a lamington tray.

Press the mixture into your tray.

Stick it in your (pre-heated to 180 degrees celsius,
160 fan forced)  oven for 30 minutes.

Take it out and let it cool (another 30 minutes or so), then melt your cooking chocolate and try and do a way better job than I did of drizzling the chocolate over your slice.

I know. Pathetic.

 Add some cherries, and give it some time in the fridge to set that chocolate.

I still think it was a little dry.
But my son liked it.
Probably due to the high sugar content.

Hit or miss?
Well, I won't be making it again but I'm sharing it with you
because I took all these photos before I knew that it really
wouldn't be worth making twice.

And now I feel terrribly guilty because that's a really dissappointing ending for a food post.

I will do my best to make it up to you in the next few days.
I do have a couple of tried and completely
approved snacks I can share.

I just have to take the pictures ;)