Thursday, March 21, 2013


Nuts... not as in crazy...... although sadly I do know some people who are..but that's another story!

No, the nuts I'm referring to are these:

Our very first harvest of almonds!

You can see the fruit/hull which is sort of like a dried up peach/apricot, it's not edible, but I wouldn't want to eat it anyway - it is tough and leathery! This fruit splits and inside are the almonds (pits). These have to dry for about a week or until an audible rattle can be heard and then it's time to crack them open and see what's inside. Will keep you posted!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hot cross buns and a plug

While out and about in Whangarei today, we happened to be at our newest haunt - La Familia artisan cafe and deli - when they were baking a batch of hot cross buns. We were enjoying fantastic coffees (double shots are the norm here) with walnut and chocolate brownies, and when we had finished, the buns were coming out of the oven. We bought half a 1/2 dozen to take away.

Boy are they delicious, the best hot cross buns I've ever had in fact.

If you're ever in Whangarei do check out this cafe, I can highly recommend it. It's on Cameron St, just opposite the police station. But you'll have to get in quick to get the hot cross buns, with Easter just around the corner!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Yes it's that time of the year again..

My birthday!

D took this photo, it's a lavender and almond cake, the recipe is from Shaheen's great blog Allotment 2 Kitchen. I decorated the cake with pale pink icing (icing sugar, milk, vanilla essence and natural pink food colouring), silver star candles and silver cachous. The icing was poured over the top and drips down over the edges, I quite like the effect and it's also very easy to apply!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mega pasta making session - UPDATE

In the last post I said I was drying the pasta to store. Well I did dry it, but then froze it in zip-lock bags. Reason for doing this is that I discovered a bag of lasagne sheets I made and dried only 1 month ago and they had gone mouldy! Not wishing to lose the whole big batch I'd just made, so into the freezer they went (in a basket at the top so I can SEE them!). They should keep for up to 2 months in there, although I should imagine we will be able to get through it OK before then.
Does anyone dry their pasta with a dehydrator?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mega pasta making session

With a surplus of eggs in the fridge and more coming on a daily basis, there was only one thing to do.....make pasta! Usually I make fresh pasta and then we eat it on the same day, but obviously we weren't intending to eat this much pasta in one sitting so that left only 2 choices - freeze or dry. I have frozen fresh pasta in the past, but it usually seems to get forgotten about in the freezer. Recently I tried drying some pasta and this appears to work well, plus I am constantly reminded of its presence when I open up the pantry!

So this is the pasta in a semi-dried state, I've left it out all day and will probably leave it overnight just to be sure it is thoroughly dry before bagging up in zip-lock bags.
Some recipes for pasta include semolina, and sometimes water too, but I find that just plain eggs and flour (high grade) works fine. My ratio is usually 1 egg to 100g flour, but since my hens produce slightly smaller eggs than the 'norm' I increased this by 1 egg over 400g flour (in other words 5 little eggs/400g). But it's easy to tell if there's not enough egg to flour ratio as the mixture will not form into a dough without enough moisture i.e. egg. Clear as mud? I hope so.

Anyhow, I've used up close to a dozen eggs here and now have all this delicious pasta at hand. It was relatively quick to make and roll, obviously the drying time and having racks of pasta about the place is a tad inconvenient unless you have a huge bench in your kitchen (I do not, so use the tops of my chest freezers as well as the kitchen table). I also started off hand cutting the pasta but quickly resorted to using the fettucine cutter on my machine - SO much quicker and easier than peeling apart your hand-cut pasta. Do you make your own pasta? and if so what's your preference for type - I haven't got past fettucine and lasagne sheets, although would like to give ravioli a go sometime.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Our Canadian friend H brought some Cafe Artesanal Mexican coffee over with her on her recent visit.

The coffee is low caffeine 'Moka', so as you would imagine it had very little oomph to it, but was certainly not unpleasant in taste. Now H and I like a coffee with a bit of oomph so the next time we made a brew, we decided to mix it with a fully caffeinated coffee - this one:

So now we had flavour, but also, and most importantly, we had OOMPH!