Thursday, May 31, 2012

Banana cake pops

I wasn't expecting to make these again so soon after last time, but I had to use up a banana and coconut cake which was getting forgotten in the fridge!

This time though I made up a cream cheese frosting and mixed this into the cake crumbs. I was careful not to overdo the frosting to cake ratio this time round and I think I succeeded in getting the correct texture. I also made the balls a little smaller, (somewhere between a walnut and a golf ball size).

I used up some leftover dark chocolate to adhere the cake pops to the lolly sticks.
After chilling the pops in the freezer for a while, I dipped them in a little melted white chocolate before dropping on some sprinkles by hand. I used a spoon to try to scrap off some of the excess chocolate as last time the coating was quite thick and added to the extra sweetness. They might not look perfect but I was quite pleased with the result, I think they are nicer than the chocolate ones I made first time round. Only trouble is.........the youngest member of the household says he doesn't like them! Oh well, I tried!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What went wrong with my soap?

I made this olive oil based soap last week and it's still very sticky and doesn't look right. I used different olive oil to the usual one I use - it was actually some from our neighbours who have olive trees. The oil was very green in colour with quite a bit of sediment, no good for culinary use. Apparently something went wrong in the pressing process, so they gave it to me to experiment with in my soap making!
I'm picking my results were because of this oil, but can any experienced soap makers out there confirm this? or maybe have any other suggestions? Pretty sure I had the oil and lye at the correct temperatures and I mixed well with my stick blender until trace.
Will it dry out in time? I'm turning it daily and the edges are looking drier but the middles not. Your comments are very welcome as I'm such a novice at soap making!

Friday, May 25, 2012


I'm linking this post to something I just read here:

While I think the 'Hug a Ginga Day' sounds daft (I had to look up what it meant, see here if you're in the dark like me)......the info about actual Ginger (the plant that is) is quite interesting.

At the moment I've got a tropical arrangement on my kitchen table, which includes some flowering galangal, that's it there with the yellow/white flowers and fabulous green foliage. I've put a bird of paradise flower in there too, another of my favourite tropical plants.

But I truly hope and trust that this is in fact galangal, as it is quite rampant and comes up even if you think you've dug it all out as is the case with me! It is beautiful though, the flowers are divinely scented. The rhizomes are pink, see here.

Can anyone verify that this is actually real galangal? I read somewhere that sometimes another type of ginger is sold and either intentionally or mistakenly called galangal...

Mozzarella cheese

Yesterday I mentioned I was going to make mozzarella cheese. Well this is how it turned out. Now I'm a total novice at cheese-making. I've made ricotta cheese twice before and that's all. I've always fancied having a go at mozzarella, especially as I enjoy making homemade pizzas fairly frequently.

I used my Mad Millie Italian Beginners Cheese Kit again, which provides the steriliser solution to clean all my utensils and pan prior to starting. It includes the citric acid, calcium chloride, and the rennet which I added to the raw milk at certain stages of heating the milk/curds.

Cutting the curd

I'm not exactly sure why my mozzarella came out with the texture it did. If you look closely at the top picture you can see it looks a little grainy in places instead of smooth and shiny all over. Whether I didn't stir it enough during the heating process, or heated it too quickly, I'm not sure. Or maybe it was some other factor.

Any tips from more experienced cheese makers?

In any case, the cheese was just fine on the pizzas. And I still have this much again left over. While it was reasonably time consuming, I would definitely make it again. And the chooks love the whey!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's a beautiful day

And the bees are enjoying the flowers in the garden. Here's a bumble on my Nerine flowers:

And they're buzzing all around the borage, which is growing everywhere in the vege garden:

I'm both indoors and out today, gardening while it's so glorious, and also trying my hand at making mozzarella as I have raw milk to use. Will let you know how it (the cheese that is..) turns out, as it is my first attempt!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rules and regulations for lady teachers

Believe it or not, this is a genuine sign, spotted in the local Museum! I wonder what rules we have these days will be laughed at in 100 years!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rainbow morning

Just posting this photo of a fantastic rainbow we spotted the other morning. Amazingly, it didn't actually rain on that day. But since then we have had a few heavy showers, and a dramatic thunderstorm with lightning last night. The wind is gusting South Westerlies today, but in between the showers the sun still manages to shine.

Slow progress around the property. I have rotary hoed the old potato patch, it will need another work over in about a week to turn over any new weeds. Then into this area is going lupins for a 'green manure' crop plus a row or patch of carrots, might even put my garlic in this area this year.

Today I bought some Spring onions and lettuce seedlings to put in. I wanted Red Onions too but couldn't find any.

Dug up and ate our very first ever swede, but forgot to take photo for the blog.. (doh!) It was nice.

The brassicas (caulis, broccoli and cabbages) are all growing very slowly. We've put in some mangels and sugar beet for the next lot of pigs. They are growing well, could have put more seed in but it will suffice.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Digging up the potato harvest

Over the last couple of days I finished off digging up the last rows of potatoes. It's a rewarding chore, a bit like digging up buried treasure, give another dig and find a few more!

After letting them dry in the sun for a few hours, I bagged up several kilos of lovely red skinned potatoes.

This area will now be hoed and sowed with lupins and other 'green manure' plants. I might sneak in a few rows of carrots too..!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cake pops!

I've seen these little cute sweet treats on several blogs, notably Bakerella. After making D's robot birthday cake, I had quite a bit of leftover chocolate cake 'trimmings' to use up was the perfect solution.

I made up some chocolate icing/frosting using butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and a dash of milk. The cake bits were crumbled up in a large bowl (approx. 3 cups worth), then I added some of the icing to make it sticky. The mixture was rolled into small balls and these were laid on a baking-paper lined tray. At this point along came my little helper, to put the lolly sticks in, first dipping them into some melted chocolate:

The unfinished cake pops then went into the freezer for about 20 mins to firm up.

I melted more chocolate, about 400g in total, to dip the pops in, twirled each one around to loose any excess and then working quickly sprinkled on a little chocolate 'hail'. I used some polystyrene to stand the pops in to set thoroughly and then put them in the fridge.

Outcome: these were VERY sweet with all the icing and extra chocolate etc. Next time I will make them a little smaller, and try using less icing in the mix. It was hard to use any less chocolate to coat them, since they set quickly and there's not a lot of time to muck around! It would be interesting to experiment with different types of cake to find a less sweet option.

However, all in all they were fun to make, look great and make a nice wee treat. Not something I would be making again soon though, since I am not planning to make that many more themed cakes this year..maybe just one for hubby!