Saturday, January 10, 2009

Be sweet

Making shortbread

With a friend coming over for afternoon tea today, I decided to make some shortbread using my friend Julie's grandmother's recipe (which my mum got off Julie and wrote down for me. Confused? Me too).

I made pretty star shapes, and they were great, but towards the end of the rolling and cookie cutting, I got bored and suddenly had an idea. When mum had sampled Julie's shortbread just before Christmas, she realised they were the same shortbread her mum (my Oma) used, only with jam cooked into the top. Every couple of years when we were kids, Oma would travel up to Townsville on the train to visit, and would bring with her a couple of tins of jam biscuits. They were so delicious. I still remember them.

So with the rest of the dough I made jam biscuits. They disappeared really quickly today (when Mr QM found them) so I made some more.

Jam shortbread

Jam shortbread

250 g butter
120 g caster sugar
340 g plain flour, sifted
Jam (I used four berries and homemade apricot jams)

Cream the butter and sugar then fold in the flour. Leaving the crumbly dough in the bowl, shape the dough with your hands until it sticks together. Scoop out tablespoons of dough, form into a ball shape and place on the baking tray. Press down gently to flatten the top, and press your thumb into the top of the biscuit to make a well.

When all the biscuits are on the baking trays, place a small dollop of jam in the well of each biscuit. Don't put too much in or you'll have a volcanic eruption! But it is nice to have a little jam flowing over as it cooks.

Cook for 25 minutes in 150 degree (C) oven or until they have a nice pale colour about them. Check the biscuits every 10 minutes to check that they aren't getting too dark.

Carefully transfer biscuits to a cooling rack, and cool completely before eating. Trust me on this - you don't want a boiling jam biscuit anywhere near your mouth (or your fingers!)

Oma used to make hers a lot flatter, but I have a problem with space in my oven so decided to go for the chunky biscuit so I could get more on a tray.

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Yes, this does appear to have become a food blog. Maybe I should change the name of it to "Cookingmick". Or not. I think this will be my last post for a while - I need a break while I get back into the routine of working and playing. Also I seem to have developed an addiction to swimming laps at the local pool. The other day I was there at 6.10 am, which is the time all the other swimming addicts turn up, and I have to say, it wasn't pretty. The fast lane swimmers were all in the medium lane, and the swimming club people were all gossiping in the fast lanes. The medium lane was so fast I couldn't keep up and ended up in the leisurely lane. Those 6 am people are WEIRD. With a capital W.

Judy Horacek

Hi, my name is Michelle and it's been 9 hours since my last swim.

(Cartoon by Judy Horacek - she's obviously swum at the Dickson Pool)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Be positive

It's funny. I just wrote a very long post about how I try to keep a positive attitude and how I attempt to overcome down-in-the-dumps days. Then I deleted it. Today was a fairly horrid day, and I'm letting the turkeys get me down. I'm not in the mood for being positive at this very moment. I just want chocolate icecream.

Anyway, yesterday it was 36 degrees. It was so hot that I lost a few baby zucchini to heat stress. Poor little buggers. But check out how pretty this zucchini flower is (I'm seeing a Mr Whippy soft serve icecream - can you see it too?)

Zucchini flower

PS. I hate letting the turkeys win - my next post will be happier, I promise.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Be orange

I swear to you, this is not a food blog. Two food posts in a row? Ridiculous! I promise you that crochet content will resume tomorrow, even if it's crochet fiction because I haven't actually finished my latest project in time!

Homemade apricot icecream

As mentioned yesterday, I made apricot icecream. I'd never made icecream before, but I was leafing through Tessa Kiros' Twelve for an apricot jam recipe, and came across the recipe for Gelato di albicocche. It sounded so simple I couldn't resist.

And it was simple. And bloody delicious. I tweaked a few of the ingredients, mainly because if you're going to buy cream in 300 ml pots and whole milk in 300ml cartons, what's the point of using only 250 ml of it?

Gelato di albicocche (Apricot ice cream)
Makes about 1 litre (4 cups)

400 g or so of ripe apricots
300 ml thick (single) cream (I used black and gold thickened)
300 ml milk
220g caster sugar

Remove the stone from the apricots and pulverise in a blender until smooth. In a mixing bowl (I used a glass Pyrex bowl so that I could mix and then put it straight in the freezer - much easier) add the sugar, milk and cream, and then whisk (by hand or with electric beaters) them together until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the pureed apricots, cover the bowl (I used tin foil) and put in the freezer for an hour.

After an hour, remove the bowl and whisk again. Put back in the freezer.

After two hours, remove the bowl and whisk again, energetically. Put back in the freezer.

Let the icecream freeze for another few hours until it is almost solid, and whisk one final time.

At this point I put the almost frozen slop into a plastic container with a lid - just for ease of use, and to take up less room in my freezer. And I let it freeze solid overnight.

When it's time to eat, leave the container of icecream on the bench for a few minutes before serving. It's just easier to scoop.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Be healthy, happy and green

This is my favourite summer lunch.

Best summer lunch - ever

A breadroll with cheese and salad, with all of the salad coming from our garden.

How cool is that?

Yesterday I harvested the first cucumber and the first tomato (a Black Russian - it's gorgeous!) and then, well, we ate them. The lettuce we've been picking since winter - but going outside each lunch and dinner to pick the lettuce for salad still isn't getting old in this family. Oh no. Definitely not. We still think it's very cool.

Home made bread

Last year I documented my adventures in making
bread and cheese, and this year I want to definitely do more bread making. A friend has loaned me her breadmaker, so I might have to see what the fuss is about. And as luck would have it, Suzy Hausfrau has just given us her tips for breadmaking which I think I'm going to find very useful.

But maybe when the days are a little cooler. And after I've done something with the 7000 kilos (well no really, but it seems like it) of apricots I have currently sitting on top of my washing machine. After my swim yesterday we went back to Julie's house and I helped her pick the rest of her apricots. I totally scored for my efforts. Last night I made apricot icecream. Tonight will be jam. Tomorrow night might be apricot tart. Or more icecream. It's certainly delicious.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Be resourceful

The Santa which is Mum and Dad gave me this very cool book for Christmas - Stencil 101 by Ed Roth. It includes reusable stencils inside the book - tear out, use, clean and reuse! Love it!

Stencil 101

Yesterday morning I had a lot of fun stencilling some old singlets. These singlets were bought about eight years ago and have really seen better days. While they have no holes or stains, they have lost a lot of shape and colour due to too much wear - I wear all four of them each week in summer. They are perfect for wearing to the pool, around the house, and whilst gardening.

I didn't really want to throw these out - but they needed to be jazzed up a little. So ...

Stenciled singlets

And now I want to stencil everything in sight!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

One little word

I don't do new year's resolutions. I actually think resolutions are a crock of shite, borne out of that quiet period between Christmas lunch and 3 pm on New Year's Eve, when there is really nothing to do except think about what is wrong with your life.

Not that I don't want to improve things in my and others' lives. Oh no - I would just rather it happen all year, rather than in the three days into the new year.

So I was interested to read Ali Edwards' blog and her
One Little Word for 2009.

One little word defining what you want to do and where you want to go is brilliant. So I thought, and thought ... and decided it's really hard to come up with one little word to encompass so, so much. And then late one night, it hit me.

One little word

Be creative.
Be smart.
Be patient.
Be at peace with my choices.
Be kind.
Be industrious.
Be me.
Be an awesome cook.
Be resourceful.
Be generous.
Be willing to let things go.
Be frugal.
Be funny.
Be loving.

So that's my one word. What would your one little word be?