Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter traditions

I don't remember any easter traditions in our family home when I was growing up (correct me if I am wrong mum and dad). And through watching reality television shows and reading about other peoples lives on the internet I have started to think about whether I want traditions in our own home. What I hope is that we will set up some traditions of our very own and one day when our boys are much bigger and living separate lives from us they will gravitate home to us to enjoy their childhood adulthood and hopefully then one day with families of their own. I realise this might sound like I want to set up traditions JUST for the future benefits. But that is not the only reason. I know that Hamish is at the age where his earliest memories are forming, I would like to think they will become of baking in the kitchen with me, hunting in the garden for eggs with his daddy and not of me raising my voice at him to tidy his toys, or clean his room...or wash his hands.

In any case, what DO I want to become our Easter traditions. Well today I pondered the tradition my dad had of cooking shortbread every Christmas. Sadly Australian summer is not conducive to working with rapidly melting butter and flour on the kitchen bench and drinking a hot drink with a piece of shortbread is not quite as appealing as it would be in a northern winter. As a result I pondered making shortbread each year for Easter. Given we are now living away from my parents I cannot rely on a constant supply of shortbread from their home and the postal system is not nearly reliable I just might have to make it myself.
Today I found a very simple recipe and then put the shortbread dough into Easter egg moulds. I thought that this would make little crispy shortbread biccies that the kids would enjoy. The result was not too bad considering I have a) never worked with easter egg moulds and b) not done shortbread in this way before. As with all my recipes recently it was made with dairy free margarine as opposed to butter. The recipe is simple, 250gms marg, 1 cup of icing sugar, 1 cup of cornflour and 1 cup of plainflour. You cream the marg and sugar then sift the flours in and mix and knead well. I find it is quite sticky with the marg so its harder to work with.  In any case, below is the result. I'm pondering lining the moulds with chocolate before putting the shortbread in next time, also decorating with icing once cooked. Not sure yet...will this become a tradition for Easter in our house. Time will tell. I apologise for the dodgy picture - Blogger keeps changing it around.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

You can't have your cake...

And eat it too! But seriously, who wants to leave a cake and not eat it? Even when it is deliciously gorgeous I would still rather eat it.

Hamish, our big boy is now 4! This also marks the end of birthday season for our little family, and thank goodness for that. I'm all birthday caked out!

My Women's Weekly cake book served me well for the birthday season. Hamish's cake for preschool was the basic vanilla cake and his cake for home was the chocolate cake.

Rich Chocolate Cake:
1 1/3 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
125gm butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup water.

As with all the recipes I do these days you can substitute, in this case I use Orgran No egg replacer and I used tablelands dairy free margarine instead of butter. I find it make things lighter using the dairy free options anyway.
This recipe you just sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and then add all remaining ingredients and combine. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes or until mixture is smooth and changed in colour. Spread into prepared pan and bake until cooked.

I added a little something with the buttercream to jazz up an otherwise ordinary cake. This meant putting a layer in the middle of the cake.

A messy shot, I know! BUT it was a quick photo to show the middle. I have to say it was a delicious cake. The butter cream, also a Women's Weekly recipe and again substituted with the dairy free marg and rice milk instead of cows milk.

Butter Cream:
125gm butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
2 tablespoons milk

Beat butter in small bowl with eletric mixer until as white as possible. Gradually beat in half of the icing sugar, milk then remaining icing sugar. Flavour and colour as required.

And the result is delicious!!!!!! And here is the birthday boy himself

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Replacing the old with the new

When I found our new home in Perth (Chris had never seen it person until we moved in) I was able to visualise what I didn't like in the house in its improved state. I knew that the hosue was right but there was aspects to it that we needed to put our stamp on it. It only took us a couple of months before we got fed up with trying to operate in a tiny and disfunctional kitchen and trying to keep the floor clean. White tiles + 2 busy and messy little boys = hopeless to keep clean.

As a result we set out on the task to update the floor and kitchen, a costly task. After collecting a few quotes and inspecting a few showrooms we decided on Granite Transformations to redo the kitchen (they use as much of the old carcass as possible and enhanced this as well as built some new cabinetry) we also decided on Vinyl planking floors which looks like timber. Vinyl planking is durable and easy to maintain as opposed to its more expensive options such as the laminate or timber. Use Granite transformations and vinyl meant we could afford to update both features of the house that bother us the most.

This is the result of lots of dust and mess:

Before (before we bought the place so not our items in the kitchen or anything):

After (most renovations completed we just need to paint the walls):

As you can see we had a builder also come in and knock out the interior kitchen walls and plaster the brick walls.

Fresh, clean, bright. Much more 'us'.