Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Baking bliss!

When life gets a little crazy, I love nothing more than spending a bit of time in my kitchen.  Baking (and cooking) for the people in my life who I love is my idea of bliss! 
Today it was the dogs turn for a treat.  Our wee cavoodle Max (half Cavalier King Charles spaniel and half poodle!) is quite a fussy pup and he is also prone to getting the most noxious gas if we feed him dog food from the supermarket.  So, in an effort to please the pooch and be a bit more frugal I have started making his dog food for him. 
There are quite a few good recipes on the internet, here is mine:

·         4 cups of cooked brown rice

·         500g minced pork (chicken or turkey – I use whatever is on sale!)

·         4 cups of chicken stock (I use home-made, which is low sodium, but store bought is fine)

·         1 cup of breadcrumbs

·         A few herbs from the garden – today I used finely chopped sage

·         2 eggs

To make, simply brown the meat in a large frying pan (I use my wok), add the cooked rice, stock, bread crumbs, herbs and eggs and stir until combined.  Ta da!  It keeps in the fridge for about 4 days, but you can also freeze it in batches and just take it out when you need some.

Next it was time to make some yummy human food!  Is there anything more comforting in life than baking (okay maybe eating baking ha ha!)? 

I am lucky enough to have a few people in my life who have been especially kind to me this year.  So as a way of saying thanks to one of those dear friends who has helped me through the stinky days this year, I made a gorgeous old fashioned ginger loaf – perfect with a cup of tea!  The recipe is one that has been in my family for generations, but I prettied it up a bit by placing a few cubes of crystallised ginger on top of the cake also (if you prefer a more mild ginger taste then I would omit these as they pack quite the flavour punch!).
Old fashioned ginger loaf recipe:

·         50grams of butter

·         1 tablespoon of golden syrup

·         1 egg

·         ½ cup of brown sugar

·         1 cup of flour

·         1 teaspoon of baking powder

·         2 teaspoons of ginger (powdered)

·         1 teaspoon of mixed spice

·         1 teaspoon of baking soda

·         ¾ cup of milk

Preheat your oven to 180 C (160 fan-bake) and line a loaf tin/baking dish with baking paper.

In a bowl (or mixer) mix together the egg and sugar.  Melt the better and syrup together in a pot, then add this to the egg and sugar.  Sift in the dry ingredients except the baking soda (I say sift, but I never sift – I just plonk them in and they are fab).  In a small cup mix the baking soda and milk and then add this to the rest of the ingredients.  The mixture will be fairly runny – like a cake mix.  Pour this into the loaf tin and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  As I said above, this time for a change I scattered a few cubes of crystallised ginger over the top before I baked the loaf, but the taste was quite strong, so I will probably omit that next time.

Max the dog thought this new treat was for him too…    

What do you mean this isn’t for me?

I’d better take the darling pooch for a walk now.  We are having the most gorgeous autumn weather here in Wellington (New Zealand) and I am desperate to soak up as much sunshine as possible before it disappears for the winter!  I will just have to keep cheery by reading all those lovely blogs by the folk in the northern hemisphere. 

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Time for reflection

Well after what seemed like an endless wait, I finally got my test results and found out that I am 'fine' as my doctor put it.  No cancer!  Hooray!  I want to shout it to the world, but later that same day I found out that a friend of mine who I went to high school with (and who is only 40 with two little kids) now has cancer again.  She has been in remission for awhile and we all hoped she would beat it, but its back and things are not looking good at all.  My heart goes out to her.

So this weekend, I felt a little subdued about celebrating my own good news.  In the end hubby and I had a nice 'date' and went walking in the countryside, ending up in a little village that I have always adored.  There is a church in the village (St Albans - above) where my Great Grandparents are buried and its such a lovely spot, overlooking green hills and a beautiful inlet. 

Over 100 years ago, my Great Grandparents left their beautiful home county of Devon in England and emigrated to New Zealand to begin a new life.  Seeing the pretty spot where they are buried reminded me that life should be about the journey.  I havent got time to search out the quote today, but I believe it was Tolkien who wrote that it isnt the amount of time we are given that matters, what matters is what we do with the time that we do have.

And on that note, I will close here and go and spend some time with my lovely family.  Have a great week gorgeous peeps! xxx

Friday, 9 March 2012

Time to rest, relax and recharge!

Well the week started off well with a trip to one of my favourite shops to spend some birthday money I still had tucked away.  I treated myself to a pretty cover for my journal:

Alas dear little son has now passed on an annoying virus to hubby and I.  The good news is now that the weekend is here it is time to rest, relax and recharge the batteries!  Luckily the sun is shinning and it is one of those glorious autumnal days with a bright azure blue sky and a gentle warm wind blowing. 

I have been a fabulous domestic goddess type (ha ha!) and washed all the bedding and linen so it could spend the day on the line outside, getting fresh and lovely in the sunshine.  While it dried hubby and I lounged on the sofa and moaned about our various ailments.  It was bliss to have some time to devour my favourite magazines though!

And just when I think that my little boy is becoming so grown up (I was reprimanded for kissing him goodbye at the schoolgate this week!), he surprises me with something sweet and adorable, like spending a hour or so playing 'doctors' with his wee teddies.  Tucking them up in bed and nagging them to eat their green veggies (hmmm, I dont know where he has heard that before!). 

Time to dash back to the comfort of the sofa, hubby has put on an old black and white Humphrey Bogart movie to watch and made us all mugs of hot chocolate - yum yum!  I think dinner tonight will simply be soup and toast (or maybe just brandy and dark chocolate, he he he).

 Have a happy and healthy week dear friends!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Autumn arrives...time for comfort food!

Well autumn has arrived in New Zealand and today we have our first really stormy day just to give us a little taste of what we may be in store for this winter.  Boo hoo!  So of course my first inclination is to head into my lovely warm kitchen and start baking!  Not only does an oven full of goodies warm up the house and make the place smell sweet and yummy - it tastes good too! 

Todays delights included pancakes for breakfast:

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for an afternoon snack (best eaten with a lovely cold mug of milk!):

And for dinner a yummy pie served with veggies harvested from our garden (which we had to run out and save from the gale force winds that are battering New Zealand at the moment):

Having lived a large portion of my life in the northern hemisphere, it feels to me like the seasons and customs in New Zealand are a bit topsy turvey.  The shops here are begining to fill with pretty easter delights...but it just doesnt feel right.  Easter is a spring celebration!  So to those of you in the northern hemisphere, here's wishing you a lovely spring.  Hopefully you will soon be seeing spring bulbs popping up and the days getting longer and brighter. 

As for me I am off to snuggle on the sofa with hubby, drink hot chocolate (possibly spiked with something naughty) and to watch something good on telly!  Have a great week lovelies! xxx