Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lots of Pumpkin! Scones, soup & curry...

Over here in usually sunny Australia, we're celebrating Australia Day (January 26th) with a long weekend. Where I am, we've been seeing rain... and LOTS of it! Thankfully, I am not at risk of being affected by immediate flood danger (though there are many in my state who have been affected by flooding, tornadoes... you name it!). But we have been spending most of our time this weekend cooped up inside the house.

What better way to take advantage of forced time indoors than cooking up a storm (no pun intended)? I managed to score a whole Queensland Blue pumpkin for 39c per kilogram yesterday morning, so everything has involved pumpkin! For lunch today, it was a homestyle chunky pumpkin soup, followed by pumpkin scones. Tomorrow I'll try my hand at a pumpkin Indian-style curry. My pumpkin soup turned out beautifully, with a richer flavour from roasting the pumpkin, hints of chili, garam masala, a few fennel seeds...

Today I'm sharing a tried and true very famous pumpkin scone recipe by Lady Flo Bjelke-Peterson. You can find the original recipe on the ABC website here, but I made a double batch so I'll post how I made these delicious scones.


Prepare your pumpkin. I diced a fair amount of my pumpkin and boiled in plain water until soft and mushy, then mashed. I set aside 2 cups of mashed pumpkin.

I made a double batch of scones (hence why I saved 2 cups of the mashed pumpkin), so next I put 2 tbsp of butter, about 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1 cup of raw sugar into my mixer and beat until well combined. 

I've added two eggs, and beat in well.

Now's the time to add the pumpkin!

Beat in the pumpkin well - your mixture will be pretty sloppy at this point.

Add your flour - I'd recommend adding only a little at a time and mixing on a low speed. I added 4 cups of self-raising flour (as per a double batch), but found my dough to still be far too moist and sticky. I would estimate that I added another cup and a half of flour before I was happy with the consistency - I stopped adding flour when my dough was still a little stickier than a normal bread dough.

Turn your dough out onto a surface covered lightly with flour and knead. Cut out your scones and shape to the size you want. Personally, I've always used a drinking glass to cut my scones as this was how my mother taught me as a child. 

Place your scones closely together on a baking tray sprinkled with flour (this prevents the scones from sticking) and bake for about 15 minutes in a hot oven. I had my oven set to 225 degrees Celsius (as recommended on the original recipe, and as I have done many times before), but in my new oven this was a little hot. If you think your oven runs hot like mine, I'd recommend cutting down to perhaps 190 degrees Celsius. 

Serve with jam and dollop cream while still warm from the oven. Enjoy!

Monday, January 21, 2013

DIY Racerback Gym Tank

I recently got back into running. After 10 years. Yep. By "recently" I mean around 2 months ago. With a week off here and there... Yeah OK, I'll never be one of those "gym junkies", but I'd prefer to run my little track along the creek and pretend the rest of the world and time itself just stands still as I do. Its tranquil. And hot and sweaty. And, at times, makes me feel like I'm dying. But all the same, I love it.

Anyway... I digress. I adore running in 3/4 tights and a nice, comfy racerback tank. But any cute racerback tank in sports stores was upwards from $50! So I decided it'd make a nice DIY project. So off I set, well informed from reading tutorials from Rabbit food for my Bunny Teeth and Dollars, Sense & More and a cheap shirt I hadn't worn since I bought it!

Now? Slightly addicted. Just a little. I've now made a few of these shirts and swear there is nothing more comfortable to run in! Nice and breezy. And you can completely pick your own style - if you think such a thing is important when getting all hot and sweaty. Own it. Make up your own slightly different way of renovating your t-shirt - that's what I did!


Choose a shirt. Doesn't have to be anything special, just something you won't cry about cutting into pieces and creating into a cute new tank for the gym or running. I picked this one - a $2 bargain from KMart. I also recommend starting with a t-shirt that's a size or two bigger than what you'd usually wear. You'll also need a pair of scissors and a marker that'll wash out (or tailor's chalk, but I didn't have any handy...)

Lay the shirt flat, facing up. Mark out where you want to cut your neckline and arm holes from the front. Keep in mind with the arm holes that you can always try it on and cut off more later! I don't mind it gaping a little as I'll often wear it over a sports bra or cropped top and find it more breezy. If you want less gaping, cut the arm holes smaller than I did.  

Now... the fun part! Cut up the front of your shirt! Follow the lines you've made, but don't stress too much. One of my favourites isn't symmetrical, but it sits fine when its on. Also cut the bottom hem off your shirt.

Flip your shirt over so the back side is facing up. Mark out where you want to cut to create your racerback. Remember that part of your racerback is going to be formed by tying/wrapping up the middle section of it, so you want to cut away enough in the middle of the back so it doesn't have too much extra fabric at that point. Experiment a little - this is another point that "less is more". If you're worried, leave a little more than what you think you need and you can trim away later if necessary. The back of your shirt is where you get to be creative and make something unique, so you don't have to do it exactly the same as me!

Cut out your racerback!
At this point you should try on your shirt. Make sure you're happy that it fits comfortably and that the arm holes are big enough. This is the point where you should be doing any further trimming you think is necessary. I didn't need to, so moving right along...
To embelish the back and make that fancy knotted racerback, I use the left-over fabric from the bottom hem. You could use ribbon, contrasting fabric, cotton rope, you name it! Like I mentioned before, the back of the shirt is where you have a little creative licence to make it "yours" and style it as you wish. 

Take your seam ripper and undo the seam of the left-over bottom hem you cut off earlier. 

 Use this fabric as a "rope" to make your knotted part at the back. I did a a basic throw (like you'd do to tie your shoelaces) and then continued doing forward knots (similar to making a really basic friendship bracelet, for those who may have made them as children) until I was happy with the length of the racerback I'd covered. I don't tie my knots too tight, so they can slide up and down the racerback to get the position right. I finish by trimming the ends with enough left to tuck it under the back of the knotted section. I find this usually holds together fine, even after going through the wash!

That's it! The whole shirt takes less than 30 minutes (it took me about that long taking photos) and you'll have your own cute little tank to wear at the gym or out running. Admire what you've created, and wear it proud!



Let me know if you give this tutorial a try. I'd love to see what you come up with - put a link in the comments for me to your own blog! Once again, sorry for the terrible photos. My tablet hates me for making it double as my camera, but its all I've got for the moment until I buy a new camera! Anyone have suggestions of what's good? Simple to use, compact, takes great pictures?

New Cookbooks, New Adventures

My other-half saw a cookbook for sale in one of those shopping centre book stalls. The same cookbook I'd been admiring rather openly last time I was at his parents' place. I've trained him well to notice such things, yes? Actually, I can't take the credit. He's just great like that.  He promptly bought the book which left me grinning like a schoolgirl for the rest of the afternoon.

The cookbook? The "Australian Women's Weekly 1000 Best-Ever Recipes". SO MUCH LOVE. Anyone who does any cooking in Australia certainly must have glanced over at least one AWW cookbook in their time. If they haven't, they're missing out. In my view, AWW have the best collection of cookbooks out there. But then, that might just be my taste. 

(Photo courtesy of LifestyleTea)

This cookbook combines my love of country/homestyle cooking with modern Australian, Asian-inspired, and just about everything I love doing in the kitchen! Granted, there's a lot I won't be making out of those thousand or so recipes... But I can't wait to sit down with a coffee and my cat on one of those rare and dangerous moments my other-half leaves me unattended with a cookbook!

Stay posted for many kitchen adventures to come that this book will inspire.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Apple Blackberry Bundt Cake

I adore bundt cakes. All of the ones I've had have been moist, delicious cakes - lemon, fresh fruit, chocolate... And they look great too! I've never been a fan of working with icing - I find I try to ice a cake while it is still a little warm (patience is a virtue, I know) and thus I fail dismally. I know this is the mistake I make, but I keep repeating it time and again. With a bundt cake, you don't have that problem! Glaze while it is still a little warm, or dust with icing sugar... or just leave it as it is straight out of the tin!

I've been looking for a good recipe to "christen" my brand new Kenwood mixer my other-half bought for Christmas! Isn't it pretty?

I've been a Kenwood girl my whole life - I grew up using my mother's old Kenwood mixer, and got my own second-hand 1960's model Kenwood when I moved out of home. My other-half has helped to fix various faults that went wrong with the old one as they popped up, and now he surprised me with the brand new one! I'm a lucky girl, for sure.

So, in search of a worthy recipe, I stumbled across a Blueberry Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze on Pinterest, which took me to the recipe on Dulce Dough. I'd been looking for a way to use a tin of Apple & Blackberry Pie Filling I'd bought months ago from Aldi, and thought I might try tweaking this recipe to suit.

Recipe adapted from Dulce Dough 

- 3 cups plain flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bi-carb soda
- 1 tsp cooking salt
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cup raw sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 cup light sour cream
- 1x 550g can of Apple & Blackberry Pie Filling

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Mix the flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In your electric mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating between each egg. Add the vanilla essence and beat well. Add the flour to the wet mixture, alternating with your sour cream, beating between each addition.

Finally, fold through the Apple & Blackberry fruit.

Pour your batter into a greased bundt tin and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until cooked.  
Easy! Mine turned out great. It rose a little more than would be "perfect" for a bundt cake, so I just trimmed away the excess on the base. The result was a really lovely cake - almost like a muffin in texture with great flavour. 

Unfortunately, you'll have to accept my appologies for the poor photography! I currently don't own a camera, so photos have been taken with my tablet. I'm hoping to rectify that soon!

Past, Present & Future

Clearly, I'm new to Blogger. This being my first post and all.

But... this isn't my first blog. Back almost 10 years ago, I started my first "online journal" on a site called Livejournal. I didn't have a clue what I was doing (much like now), but it was my little piece of the internet world to express my views, meet like-minded friends, and share my creative endeavours. Back then, you didn't tell your "real life" friends you were a blogger - people thought of you as a reclusive computer geek who spent hours gaming and only had friends in the online world. Despite the reputation, I was hooked. I met great people and learnt about what it was to blog.

After all these years, blogging has become more socially acceptable. Whether be journalists expressing views on current events, or your every-day people sharing their DIY projects or baking, blogging is the new "norm". You don't have to be a computer geek or even know what HTML is. You just type, throw in a few photos, and hit "Publish"! And then... hope someone reads it?

My most recent online guilty pleasure is Pinterest (follow me?). Despite being somewhat time-poor these days, Pinterest has inspired me to indulge my creative side a little. DIY pins inspire me to try a similar project, and the amazing recipes have given me the baking bug once again! My blog here has been created as my outlet to share what I come up with - the successes and failures. I hope you enjoy the journey.