Saturday, May 31, 2008

What to do with leftover buttermilk

I always have precisely 375 mls of buttermilk left over when I make Stephanie Alexander’s Carrot Muffins (from her children’s cooking and gardening book). And about 2 weeks later, just when the buttermilk is due to expire, I make buttermilk pancakes. The recipe is:

Buttermilk pancakes

375 ml buttermilk
1 ½ cups self-raising flour, sifted
2 tblsp caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tblsp melted butter

Mix all ingredients together until smooth.
Cook in non-stick frypan over medium heat, turning when bubbles appear on the uncooked side.
Flip and cook further 1-2 mins.

Spread with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Or add blueberries, etc.

The recipe is adapted from the one on the buttermilk carton. They always turn out light and fluffy and they reheat well the next day (microwave).

And I took a picture of the pancakes because the top one sort of looks like a heart…

Friday, May 30, 2008

Not religious icons

Have you seen those $2 bookshops? They are just like normal $2 shops but sell books and art supplies instead. That’s where I pick up a couple of canvases, ‘just in case’. Just in case of what, I don’t know, as I’ve had two 50 cm canvases sitting on the floor of my living room for the past 18 months, and I still don’t know what to do with them.

Anyhoo, for some weird reason, I got a few more smaller ones recently. And this is the result. They remind me of those pre-renaissance icons with the Madonna on them. You just won’t find mine in the Louvre, though.

The heart and felt birds are from Maya Road, and the chipboard scrolls are from Buzz and Bloom. The paint is just gold acrylic (sorry, I know you were expecting gold leaf...).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


You should have heard the squeals of delight when my colleague Mandy and I took delivery of an order of scrapbooking supplies at work this week. Poor Jon, who sits between us, commented that he had never heard the word ‘gorgeous’ used so many times.

But really, it was too lovely for words, so here is the picture that paints a thousand of them…

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Getting a start on Christmas cards

What do you do on a sunny Sunday afternoon? Why, go to into the office, of course. Actually, I’ve never been so keen to go to work on a weekend because a group of us had organised for our local friendly Stampin Up! demonstrator (Lin Mei) show us some products and to make a card.

As usual, it was so much fun (with a dash of frustration when things went awry). We were shown how to stamp using a two-step process, and (best of all) how to make a bog/bax (don’t ask, just look
here). This is a card, stamped with a design and folded into the shape of a bag. Too clever.

Then, we each made a Christmas card. See my attempt below.

Thanks, Lin Mei, it was great. You can check out more of Lin Mei’s work

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Kids of the world - all coming together

Here is another take on the international kiddies, this time with a far eastern feel. I used these clips because the picture will be a present for my mother, who has a few oriental-themed things in her house, so this frame will look good amongst it all.

I had a lot of fun deciding on the colours and backgrounds for this piece, not to mention the embellishments, because the frame is 12 x 12, so lots of room for bits and pieces.

I tried to match the girls’ nationality to the boys, but as you can see, they are a bit of a multicultural mix. The Japanese dude with the cup of tea seems to be chillin’ in his yukata, while his compatriot is ready to take on the Last Samurai! The girls are taking it all in their elegant stride…

The clip art (thanks again to Stampinwhenican) was coloured using Tombow markers. The lace cardstock is from KI Memories, and the metallic bronze paper (Lincraft) was embossed using a Cuttlebug (Bloom Dots design) - doesn't it look like pressed metal?. Felt flowers from Maya Road, brads from Kaisercraft and Queen and Co, rub-ons by Cloud 9. Crane stamp (on China girl’s dress) from Hero Arts. The ‘sword’ is a toothpick covered in aluminium foil (making do with limited supplies!).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gentleman callers

To complement the adorable girls of the world, Allison from Stampinwhenican has provided some more clip art images, including boys of the world and also some delightful ‘everyday’ children (the little vampire boy is real cute).

So, I made some matching partners for the girls.

Viva Zuccerati

And to prove that I am happy to play the field when it comes to desserts, here is one of my favorite weekend treats. It is a zuccerati from Bertoni Casalinga (Balmain), which is basically an Italian donut filled with either ricotta or custard. Deliziosa Zuccerati (sorry, I can’t do the accent).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is it a Coconut Rough or a Bounty?

You know how I said that I’d gone through the current range at Zumbo? Well, I lied. Sort of. Well, not really. It’s just that I forgot to document which one’s I’ve had, so I missed a few.
This is one of The Missed.

It is called Bounty Hunter because it contains moist coconut and chocolate ganache in a crisp tart shell, just like a Bounty chocolate bar. It was pretty good, but also very sweet. Rates about a 7 on the Toothache Scale.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

...the Cat Handover Card

What do you say to the former owners of your new cat? ‘Sorry’? ‘Thank you’? ‘Goodness gracious, we have a cat’?

I just settled for ‘hi’. This is a card I made to give to Tabitha’s former owners on the occasion of her signover to us. The felt bird is from Maya Road (love their stuff) and the velvet ribbon is from Stampin’ Up. Unfortunately, I placed the ribbon crooked the first time and had to redo it, so some of the flock came off. Don’t tell anyone!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Crafty Girl Power!

As soon as I came across these super cute clip art pics I knew I had to do something with them. The pictures are from Allison at stampinwhenican and they are just begging to be made into something vibrant and lovely.

I coloured the girls using Tombow markers, added some glittery rub-ons and mounted them on cardboard over some scrap paper. They are set into shadow box frames that will eventually be placed up my staircase (when I get around to putting some hooks in the wall).

Here is a closer look...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Very Berry nice!

I haven’t posted many photos of cake lately, though not because I haven’t been eating any. It’s just that I seem to have gone through the current range at Adriano Zumbo and am just waiting for the new range (due in a month or two).

But here is a late entry…Berrylicious. Is it berry season in autumn? It would appear so, as the fruits on this tart were so sweet and lush. That’s scarlet strawberries, ruby raspberries, garish grapes and beautiful blue blueberries (!). All sitting in a crisp pate sucre tart shell filled with mascarpone vanilla cream.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

...Mmm, luscious moist delicious banana bread…

Two years ago, Cyclone Larry wiped out 90 percent of the banana crop in North Queensland, and bananas hit the unbelievable price of over $12 a kilo (when you could find any). But the crops are now flourishing again and bananas are plentiful and life is good.

So, even though I don’t normally eat bananas, the price makes me pick up a couple every time I see them in the supermarket. So, what do you do with them? One of my favorites is to make a hot caramel sauce to drizzle over. The other is to make…banana bread. Admittedly, the banana bread idea was spurred on by Not Quite Nigella’s brilliant
banana bread bake off, so here is my entry.

I went through my collection of Donna Hay and delicious magazines to find a good recipe, and this one stood out because it filled my criteria of a) not too many ingredients and b) using melted butter instead of creaming it (good because the weather is getting cool and butter takes ages to soften).

And the result is fantastic – it is a mouth-watering bread that is not too heavy, studded with walnuts (can be substituted with craisins/cranberries). Straight out of the oven, it is great with more butter gently melting into it. Or it can be eaten cold (again with slatherings of butter - not exactly healthy, but all things in moderation, etc!).

I suppose the final word goes to my mother, who has sampled banana bread in cafés all across town – she said of mine: ‘very nice, very moist’. I’m a happy daughter! PS: Happy Mother's Day.

Banana bread

Ingredients (serves 8)

1 3/4 cups (260g) plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2/3 firmly packed cup (150g) dark brown sugar
100g walnut crumbs or chopped walnuts
3 large over-ripe bananas
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g unsalted butter, melted, cooled

1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Lightly grease an 11cm x 22cm loaf pan and line base and 2 long sides with a sheet of baking paper, leaving 2cm overhanging.
2. Sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder, soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a bowl with the brown sugar, then add the nuts.
3. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a fork or potato masher, then stir in the eggs, vanilla extract and cooled melted butter. Using a wooden spoon, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they're just combined - don't overmix.
4. Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the loaf in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Cut into 8-10 slices.

This banana bread will keep in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days, or frozen in individual slices for up to 1 month.

Recipe from delicious. September 2007

Truly delicious!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Melbourne is cool!

I’ve just returned from a couple of days in Melbourne. Even though I was there for work (boo!), I still managed to squeeze in a few wonderful meals and a very teensy bit of shopping at lunchtime.

The bf came along too, and he did his thing during the day (shopping for DVDs, visit to Queen Vic markets,
Game On at the Aust Centre of Moving Images) while I slaved away at work. But come nighttime, we ate ourselves silly.

Why does Melbourne’s CBD have so many more (good) eateries than Sydney? Maybe our eyes are more open in a new environment, but there seems to be a quaint café or groovy bar in every laneway in Melbourne. We ate at Hanabishi (top Japanese), Bistro Vue (junior offshoot of Vue de Monde), and The Quarter, a café/bar in Degraves St (funky laneway).

The meal at Bistro Vue stands out because I had (among other yummy things) ‘two hour poached egg with wild mushroom puree Shimeji mushrooms’. It came served in open eggshells which sat in a paper carton, and the flavour was intense and amazing. You too can drool over the current menu here. A visit here is a must, especially if, like me, you don’t have an expense account to eat at Vue de Monde.

Also part of the little Vue empire is Café Vue, a casual breakfast and lunch place. The lunch box is the thing to order here, with its menu changed weekly. I had one lunch box on Monday, then bought another to have on the flight home on Thursday. The flight attendant was wishing she could have one as well… In this week’s lunch box were a scotch egg, a tuna, pea and risoni salad, pita bread with roast beef and rocket, and for dessert, a crème caramel. By the way, the scotch egg is actually a quail egg and it was incredddible!

The other attraction of Melbourne is the shopping. Though a lot of the chain stores can be found throughout Australia anyway, there are still some boutiques that are unique. One place I discovered is Little Salon, in Little Collins St. It has brilliant laser-cut jewellery and quirky clothes – see below what I got. I thought the cat top was a nice touch – reminds me of Tabby!

On my next trip, I think a visit to the cake shops in Acland Street, St Kilda is in order. From what I can remember, the cakes there are more old-school European than avant-garde Adriano Zumbo, but all in the name of research, eh?

Cat finds new home

Manky cat has officially been signed over to us! It’s probably best that we no longer call her Manky, so I’ve renamed her Tabitha (‘Tabby’ for short. And yes, after the little witchy daughter in Bewitched).

We love you, Tabby!