Saturday, June 20, 2009

Strawberry and cream cake

Its not often I get to hang out with my Mum in the kitchen but she is visiting from Australia at the moment and staying in this amazing cottage with its beautiful kitchen.

Mum loves to entertain and loves to try new ideas. She's a Food TV addict and was raving about the Strawberry and Cream Cake by James Martin before she came over and I was keen to see her in action making it. I've just been over to their rental cottage to have a Mum Master-Class in the and I thought I'd take a few photos and share it with you. So here goes:

First you need the ingredients listed in the link above. Take your cake ring and put it on the serving plate. This is one of those small ones for making an individual cake but you could use a large cake tin if you wanted to.

Use it to cut circles in your cake and put one in the bottom of the ring. Put sliced strawberries base down around the edge.

Pour your liqueur if wanted onto the sponge then put some cream, strawberries and more cream level with the tips of the strawberries that are round the edge.

Put another sponge ring on top.

Carefully lift the ring off with one hand while gently pushing the top sponge ring down. It should look like this. Your cream, sugar and custard mixture should be thick so it all holds together otherwise it will turn into a horrible gooey mess at this stage!

Get your icing sugar (doesn't this look pretty?)

and shake it all over your dessert.

Heat up a skewer on a gas ring and mark some lines in sugar with it (this step is optional but adds to the whole look. We didn't have a metal skewer so it didn't really work for us). I think we are using something out of the middle of one of those chinese paper lanterns. It was the closest thing I could find to a metal skewer!

Now comes the fun and very dangerous part. Grab a wooden spoon or a metal knife sharpener. Heat some sugar and water up until it caramelises then allow it to cool slightly.

Here's my Mum doing her thing.

When the caramel is cooled to dropping consistency, twirl it round your greased knife sharpener or wooden spoon handle. Allow it to cool a bit more so you don't burn your fingers and then very carefully take it off and put it to one side while you make some more.

Chop up another strawberry or use a small one with leaves on top and place it on top of your cake. Pop the twirly sugar on top as well and voila. Fab dessert to die for!

I think these twirly sugar things would look fab on special cupcakes too.

Have fun having a go!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fast and Green sewing projects

There are some amazing craft books out there at the moment and I've been making the most of our library ordering service to get my hands on the more popular ones. Amazingly I have found the the time to get stuck in to some of the projects (normally I just love to sit and browse with a cup of coffee and they never even make it down to my sewing room.) I made this gorgeous quilt for Maddy in just 4 1/2 hours.

She is my biggest critic but these are her favourite fabrics and I was thrilled when she said she loved it.

Its from Sewing in No Time by Emma Hardy which I would highly recommend. Great hand drawn step by step instructions and some lovely but practical ideas. I particuarly like the picnic rug that converts into a pup tent with a rope and some knitting needles! I will definately be saving up to buy this book.

I also got Stitched in Time by Alicia Paulson which is so beautifully written that it made me cry at one point and laugh out loud in several places. Alicia writes the Posie Gets Cosy blog and always has something interesting to say. I haven't attempted any of the projects in it yet but I will do when I need to make some gifts.

Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross was another great find at the library. She has some fantastic tips on how to fit sewing into your life. I'll be trying the baby kimono as a baby shower gift and I love the adult Kimono dress and Obi Sash. I'll post photos when I get the chance to make them.

My favourite of all the books is Sewing Green by Betz White.

I LOVE this book. It has the most amazing and practical ideas made from repurposed items and other projects to encourage a green lifestyle. As soon as I got this out of the library I went straight on to and bought it. I've made the reuseable sandwich wraps for Maddy and Eloise and they love them. They only take about 15 minutes to make start to finish. The printed PUL is from Little Cloth Kiwis who sell on Trade Me. They have nappy cuts which will make 1 1/2 sandwich wraps for $8. If you are making these for kids I would recommend getting some cheaper plain PUL for the side flaps and just using the printed stuff for the main body of the wrap which will be on the outside. They are great things because you can open it out like a little lap blanket and catch crumbs! They just wipe clean and you can put them through the washing machine.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Magic wishing toadstools

A few weeks ago we took the girls up Mount Victoria to see the magic wishing toadstools. They are actually the vents to the old war time tunnels that run through the mount.

It was a stunning day and the girls made the most of it hopping from one toadstool to the next making wishes. This is them doing roly polies down one of the hills.

Those toadstools had a real impact on the girls and they have talked about them a lot.

These little guys really remind me of that day and I've made one each for the girls and a couple extra for the market this weekend. If you look closely, you can see the remnants of a real mushroom. This little stump in our garden is our very own fairy ring. In summer every year, a ring of pink flowers spring up around it and the rest of the year fabulous golden mushrooms sprout from it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Flying kites at Karaka Bay Beach

Boy is it cold today. We had a trip to the beach planned despite the big freeze that seems to have come over the city this morning.

The girls begged so we decided to go to one of my favourite places in Auckland, Karaka Bay Beach. I love this beach.

It has a huge place in history being one of the places where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840.

You drive down what appears to be a dead end street and walk down a tiny and very steep path to one of the biggest surprises Auckland has to offer .

There is an incredible community down here. Baches built by pushing wheelbarrows of building materials down the steep slope teeter against the cliff. Next door, an enormous architect designed home was barged and helicoptered in piece by piece. That one was recently up for sale but apparently the potential new owner didn't like the idea of parking his merc so far away. At one end of the beach is the most beautiful pohutakawa tree. A friend who lives down there told us it was about 500 years old (she said that one saw Rangitoto erupt). Branches regularly fall off the tree in storms. She was a surgeon in a former life and now loves the art of bonsai. She took one of the fallen branches and made cuttings several years ago. Of the 8 cuttings she took, one survived and she put it in a pot to train it to be a bonsai. The tree cutting didn't want to be a bonsaii for long so she planted it on her lawn and is training the branches out low and wide so she can climb it to read books in the sun when she is old. What a fabulous plan.


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