Saturday, July 30, 2011

15 min Banana Bread, chewy biscuits, gingerbread cake

Had a big baking day yesterday, I was bringing cake to a meeting in the hope of luring volunteers to help out with Junior Landcare. I thought I might as well add a few more things to the oven while it was on.  Not a huge turn up so I had cake to bring home - the poor banana bread didn't look too fancy after the kids attacked it and chewy biscuits on the way home from school.  I walked out of the school with an open plate and was mauled by children as I left the grounds - was pretty cute but had to call a halt before it all disappeared.  Made about 50 chewy biscuits (much like anzacs only chewier) and a huge gingerbread cake that tastes more like golden syrup.

After all that baking I didn't feel much like cooking so it was cheese toasties for dinner, no one minded.

The banana bread was by far my favourite and the kids really loved it which was surprising as they don't normally like banana cake.  Bought organic bananas for $10 kilo today and the little one ate 4 in a row, we're really missing having them but hard to justify the expense.  I have finally used the last of my frozen banana supply from the days before cyclones and bananas were cheap.  Might not be making this recipe again soon.

Easy Banana Bread Recipe (without using a mixer) from Easy Banana Recipes
Servings: 1 loaf
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 1 hour
Comments: You can also add a little orange, lemon or lime juice for a nice tangy flavor, or ground cinnamon and nutmeg for a spicy twist to this easy banana bread recipe.
4 medium over-ripe (1 1/3 cup) bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas with butter.
3. Add in eggs and vanilla, and mix.
4. Add in sugar, baking soda, salt, and mix.
5. Add flour last and mix until just combined.
6. Pour mixture into a greased and floured bread loaf pan.
7. Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick comes out clean.
8. Allow to cool before removing from pan. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Jack Frost

It's all sparkly said the little one

poor Sam seeks the only rays of sunlight on a frozen lawn

One of the heaviest frosts we've had, still, cold and beautiful.

Spider genius all lit up by sun and dew 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Yesterday's op shop finds

Lovely lamp and basket which I thought was for me but my two year old has usurped it, she insists it's for her birthday which is next year!  I nearly bough a garlic press but it was $5 - that doesn't seem right from the oppy.  What if it's a dud like the others I've bought?

I got a postcard with my purchases, the Salvos want you to get on Facebook , Twitter and their online site, very high tech! they now have a Look Book (bit naff, trying just a bit too hard) and have an ebay store coming soon. Perhaps the days of a bargain at the Salvos are numbered? It's all for a good cause I guess.

 They are promoting fund raisers for organisations, community partnership program, where they will give your organisation $5 for every bag of items brought in - sounds quite generous - who doesn't have a bag of stuff they could lose?

‪Dot. The world's smallest stop-motion animation character


Thought the crafters amongst you might appreciate this little clip (click on Dot). Spot the little lady bird in there, think I've got a theme going. Animation is such an exercise of patience, there is also a great film online on how this was produced.

Alexander Beetle

After posting my pictures of a mosaic ladybird I have been humming the Alexander Beetle song, mum used to sing it so beautifully to us as kids. I had to find the proper lyrics

had a little beetle
So that beetle was his name
And I called him Alexander
And he answered just the same
And I put him in a matchbox
And I kept him all the day
But nanny let my beetle out
Yes nanny let my beetle out
She went and let my beetle out
And beetle ran away

She said she didn't mean it
And I never said she did
She said she wanted matches
And she just took off the lid
She said I mustn't worry
And I really mustn't mind
That there's lots and lots of beetles
The she's certain we could find
She said I mustn't worry
But it's difficult to catch
An excited sort of beetle
You've mistaken for a match

If we looked in all the places
That a beetle might be near
And we made the kind of noises
That a beetle likes to hear
And I heard a kind of something
And I gave a sort of shout
It was a beetle house
And Alexander beetle coming out
It was Alexander beetle
I'm as certain as can be
And he had that kind of look as though
He thought it might be me

And he had that kind of look as though
He thought he ought to say
"I'm really very sorry that I tried to run away"
And nanny's very sorry too
Cause you know what she did
And she's writing Alexander
Very blackly on the lid
So nan and me are friends because
It's difficult to catch
An excited Alexander
You've misstaken for a match 

Here's Melanie Safka singing it 1971

Like your version even better mum, thanks for singing to us when we were little, a new (old) one to teach the kids
Juvenile Coccinellidae (Baby Ladybird)baby lady bird

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ladybird, mosaics and playgrounds.

While the eldest was having an adventure with dad at the football the youngest told me she wanted to go to a playground on Saturday.  She said there would be slides, swings and yellow.  Who can refuse such a request?  We headed to Gisborne adventure playground - swang, slid and gazed through yellow Perspex spots at a warmer golden world.  I convinced the kids to explore the walk nearby.  The creek was full and croaking. The sun shone for us, and we discovered this ladybird mosaic delight.

Wish I could make one of these for home, so cheery and colourful, even some yellow spots!

Sushi and bean-curd thingies

This is a Sunday post listed after the Monday post, it's a bit of a back to front sort of week.
Kids helped make sushi on Sunday, I gave them all the bits and they put them together.

Big sister teaches little brother what to do. 
Fillings: arborio rice (had no sushi rice) seasoned  with rice vinegar and sugar, salmon, cucumber, carrot and avocado. Pickled ginger and wasabi on the side.

 Spreading the rice

 Thought I'd make a sort of Inari to go with the sushi.  I found this expired packet of bean curd wraps in the cupboard.  Googled for ideas but found very little info.  I had no idea what to do with it which is why it had been sitting around forever.  I love going to Asian Grocery stores and perusing all the interesting ingredients, this one opens out into a giant paper like sheet.  I cut it up with scissors into small squares. Simmered squares in water vinegar and sugar for 2 seconds, it then became very soft and malleable. Little one decided she liked it at this stage and kept stealing pieces.

I then used them like rice paper rolls and rolled the sushi ingredients inside, even the fussy middle child ate them. Think I'll be getting another pack of dried bean curd, was fun to play with and less fragile than rice paper.

Kids did a very professional rolling job!

Free Sunflower seeds found, cool Bananas!

We had 2 packs of sunflower seeds left from the sow give grow exercise we did on the holidays and finally found a home for them on a return trip to the footy on Saturday.  This time dad and daughter went to Etihad Stadium.  They found a giant baked bean tin to stick them on.

and a spot at the train station

The true delight came the following day when someone found the seeds and posted a really sweet message to Sow Give Grow (see trans-plant 29). They even said cool bananas, which of course it is.  I love the thought of our sunflowers bursting forth their sunny yellow joy in someone else's garden.  Was great to let the kids know that their efforts were appreciated.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Artist Margaret Olley, beautiful lady

Margaret Olley ... award-winning artist.
Margaret Olley, artist and muse died today. What a great lady, talking of the joy of giving in recent times, she said "if only people new".  She was also putting down the white gallery walls, saying the artwork might look better against a different colour. I love a sassy nanna.

Margaret Olley
 She painted right until the end, aged 88.  

A life well lived.
She had her priorities right.

Quote from: Margaret Olley, Far From a Still Life by Meg Stewart
"I’ve never liked housework.  I get by doing little chores when I feel like them, in between paintings.  Who wants to chase dust all their life?  You can spend your whole lifetime cleaning the house.  I like watching the patina grow.  If the house looks dirty, buy another bunch of flowers, is my advice". (p.438)

Lemon Butter, rain and winter sun. Lazy Monday.

Stayed up too late reading Harry Potter last night (yes I know I'm a bit old for it) started the day slow and hazy.
 Proudly sent the kids to school with leftover sushi which looks like a very fancy, healthy, lunch - nice to pull one of those off now and then.
Sorted washing, did the dishes, organised the DVD collection. Cold and drizzly most of the day.

 The sun finally made a show and lit up this Gods Eye dream catcher thingy.

Sparkled on stars and wet leaves

 A gentle breeze drifted the smoke from our neighbours chimney. The camelias (or Chameleons as my 2 year old likes to call them) begun to open their buds and drew birds to their nectar.

 I looked at my bargain 50 cent seedlings that needed planting but shivered and left them on the BBQ.  I did weed the carrots while the littlest picked flowers and scented leaves.  Went back inside, fingers frozen, needing cup of tea to defrost them.

Breastfed the little one to sleep, left her on the couch where she wakes happiest, in the hub of family life.
 Gazed out the window at the native Hibiscus, first of its winter flowers unfurling.

Looked at the lemon bowl filled with lovely free lemons, donated by colleague at partner's work. It whispered lemon butter, which made me think of mum and nanna and childhood treats. remembered that mum had said you can make it in the microwave so went hunting for a recipe.

Grated 3 lemons rapidly with my microplane thingy that I am seriously besotted with, I have been a slow adopter of this wonderful kitchen tool.

Also baked the left over frozen rolls of Mexican wedding Cakes (in tin in background) already nearly gone.

the end result - two jars of delicious lemon butter.
I actually used the quantities below
4 eggs
3 smallish yet very juicy lemons
3/4 cup sugar
125g butter

Think I'll try the old fashioned way again as I felt like I didn't have much control when the bowl was in the microwave, so easy though - think I had a bad batch a decade ago (little eggy) and hadn't made it since - forgotten how much I love it.

 Kids took to licking the bowl with relish, "too sour" said the littlest, the bowl hardly needed washing when they were done.  Lemon butter sandwiches  for lunch tomorrow!

Fatigue made me absent-minded so the oldest one didn't have dinner (the unusual mix of pita bread falafel and fish) ready in time to go to Cubs.  Neither her nor I were too fazed, she did get her overdue homework done and enjoyed the slower start to the week.