Monday, April 28, 2014

Homemade Biscuits

I've previously written about making the "condensed milk biscuits" which were posted on Rhonda's blog "Down to Earth" before and today I made another batch.  This recipe can be made into any biscuit you like as I used chocolate chips and sprinkles but you can also make jam drops out of the mixture however I was low on jam today so stuck with the other toppings.

The mixture can't really be halved as it requires one tin of condensed milk however if you are happy to have half a can of condensed milk in the fridge then by all means go ahead and make half a batch.  It does require 5 cups of wholemeal flour so as I mentioned it's a big batch of mixture.  I tend to make the whole recipe and bake half the mixture on the day which produced 3 trays of biscuits and then I put the other half of the mixture in baking paper, alfoil and into a plastic zip lock bag with instructions on it "180 degrees for 10 minutes" and then pop it into the freezer.  This way next time I make biscuits it's just a matter of thawing the mixture out and shaping it into balls and pop on your chosen toppings and also the 2nd batch there is no messy mixing bowls etc. to clean up.

Once the biscuits are cooked and cooled I always freeze them so they stay fresh and we get them out as we need them.    The kids were so excited when I picked them up after school today that I had made this recipe as they love them.  If you haven't made it before I suggest you give them a go, you won't regret it.

Biscuits ready for the oven.

Delicious golden brown home made goodness for my family.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Camp Oven Cooking - Back to Basics

You can't get much more basic than living without power and cooking in a camp oven but that's just what the kids and I, and our good friend Donna just did.  We just got back from camping at Neurum Creek Bush Retreat for a few days which was fantastic.  It didn't start out fantastic as it was raining when we left, raining when we got their, raining when we set up, raining all night and then light rain the next day and eventually the sun came out.  When we were driving there I told the kids "it's just water" like when you're having a shower and it was the only time we could go camping this holiday and we were just going to go anyway.  I didn't actually book it until the day before due to the weather however we made the commitment and off we went.  My friend Donna hasn't been camping in a bush setting before and as we were driving in the rain to our camp she was thinking that we were slightly crazy for doing this.  No one likes camping in the rain and neither do I but we went ahead as it was light rain, but rain nonetheless.  Donna had purchased herself a new tent last year and hadn't had the opportunity to use it yet so she jumped at the chance to come with us camping.

The kids loved starting the fire even though it was spitting with rain and we were wet, but hey, it's all part of life and you can always change into dry clothes later.  I took the camp oven and I had bought a little tripod to put over the fire to hang the camp oven on rather than cook directly on the hot coals as you have more control this way and things don't burn.  Now in saying this, I haven't used the camp oven all that often myself. I've cooked two perfect roast chickens in the camp oven in the last 10 years but hey, I've watched a friend of ours years ago cook wonderful things in his camp oven including lemonade scones and this was one recipe I wanted to try this time.

When I made the scones I didn't end up putting any coals on the top of the camp oven as I didn't have a spade with me and the scones would have been more brown in colour and cooked a little faster if I had.  It didn't matter as we sat around checking on our scones in the light drizzling rain and eventually I called them "done" at which stage we sat at the table with beautiful fluffly scones and put butter and golden syrup on them.  They were warm and fluffly and to die for and were a perfect morning tea both in "activity for the kids to enjoy watching" and "eating warm scones on a rainy morning".  Even though they didn't look like your typical individual scones they were amazing and I was thrilled I had included them on the camping menu.  I measured the flour out at home and put it into a container and bought cream and lemonade with us.  A total success.  As the dough is a really light and soft bundle I basically put the whole thing in the camp oven like a loaf of bread and just used a knife to make some sort of cutting line. When it was cooked I got the whole scone out in one go and we proceeded to cut pieces off where I had marked the lines.

Happy people around a camp fire, I think this time they were roasting marshmallows as Sienna has one on the end of her stick.

My new tripod to hold the camp oven for cooking which I purchased from BCF.

Cooking the scones

Don't be fooled by the looks, these were delicious scones.

Sienna getting stuck into the warm scones with Butter and Golden Syrup.

James eating his scones with Golden Syrup dripping off them.

Mine waiting for me on my plate ready to eat.

That night for dinner I made "Maple Syrup & Soy Drumsticks" and Roasted potato, corn and carrots in the camp oven which was fun.  I used a trivet covered in alfoil then had some baking paper on top of that and then put all the food on top, sprinkled with salt and pepper and then put the lid on.

This time I borrowed the next door neighbours spade from their campsite to put coals on top of the camp oven so it would heat up from underneath and on top.

Sitting around cooking dinner - my style of kitchen complete with cuddles from Sienna.

Donna having a photo in the lovely surrounds of Neurum Creek Bush Retreat complete with our outdoor cooking facilities.

This is the cooked dinner and it smelt and tasted amazing.  There were lots of OMG and YUM and "Oh I wish there was more."  I had popped the chicken drumsticks in a big ziplock bag at home, tipped in some Canadian Maple Syrup and Ketchup Manis (which is Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce) and closed the bag and put it in the cooler box to take camping.  

We enjoyed our chicken and roast veggies by candle light.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Home Made Dumplings

Usually before the school holidays arrive, we talk about things we want to do during the school holidays and one of the things I promised James and Sienna was, that we would make Dumplings.  Today was the day where we all had Dentist appointments in the morning and the kids had a Podiatrist appointment this afternoon so in between all of that we made some dumplings for dinner.

We followed Celia's Dumpling Recipe from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog and they were delicious.  I purchased two packets of Wonton Wrappers or sometimes known as Gow Gee Pastry as seen in this post which are round however we used the square Wonton Wrappers.  They can be found in the fridge section of the supermarket somewhere near the pastas which is near the cheese section.  The Wonton Wrappers had 68 wrappers in each packet and we used two packets minus about 6 wrappers however we could have used those if we didn't fill some of them quite so much.  I just discovered a recipe for you to make your own Wonton Wrappers however you would have to be pretty keen to make them, and then the actual dumplings but it's there if you feel the need to spend the day in the kitchen.

We each had 10 dumplings each for dinner and the kids would have had more if I let them.  The rest of the dumplings were put in the freezer on a tray lined with baking paper so once frozen I can then put them into little ziplock bags for another yummy evening when it's just a matter of boiling some water on the stove and making up a little sauce to dip them into.  Totally delicious.  It took the 3 of us just over an hour to do all of these (120 or so) we put on some music and got to work.  If you were doing them by yourself it would take a lot longer and I would then sit down at the dining table and do them rather than standing up at the bench.  Here's a look at our little adventure into making Home Made Dumplings.

Whilst I'm sure our unique shaped dumplings would never make their way into a Chinese Restaurant they tasted amazing and the kids loved them.  James wants them again for dinner tomorrow night but I said we could have them on Saturday night.  It's a great activity if you have kids because they chopped and mixed and then filled the Wontons and everybody was happy plus it even has Bok Choy in it which there is no way James would eat normally.  Take a look for yourself.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sunshine Award

Sunshine Award

I received a Sunshine Award from Martina who is an Irish girl living and working in the States who has a blog called "SnapShots & WhatNots".  Martina is learning about simple living, has made her first ever quilt for a friend and loves knitting.

Rules of the Sunshine Award: 
1) Display the award on your ever deserving blog
2) Say "thank you" to the wonderful person to have nominated you
3) Give us 10 interesting things about yourself
4) Nominate some of your favorite blogs
5) Link to those blogs in your post and let them know that you've nominated them!
Here's where I talk about interesting things about myself.
1.  I've been a Justice of the Peace (JP) since 1994 and this is for witnessing the signing of documents not for marrying people.
2.  When I was 21 and working in an Accounting Office we had to type up Land Tax Returns for our clients and this involved typewriters, carbon paper for the triplicate copies and bottled liquid paper if you made a mistake.  If anyone knows the Real Property Descriptions of land in Australia they are all numbers and letters and if you make a mistake you had to white out 2 copies, let them dry and try and line up the typed words again in your typewriter to continue on.  It was early days of computers and our office had a Wang Computer stand alone system (ie one person at a time) that cost $19,000 and I got sick of typing these huge A3 forms so I made a meeting with the head of the Land Tax Department in Queensland to see if we could change from doing them on the typewriter to using the computer with a base document (typed by me) and merging information (ie the client's property details, postal addresses etc.).  They agreed and in an institution like the Government this was ground breaking stuff as it had always been done on the typed forms.  This change saved our office hours of work and from that moment on the system was changed.  Not bad for a 21 year old who could see a better way of doing things and just made it happen.
3.  I started work at 15 and stayed with that company (the Accounting firm above) for 12.5 years and I got a job with a computer company and stayed with that company for 12.5 years.  I then left and had my kids.
4.  I'm the middle child of 5 children.  2 older sisters, 1 younger sister and 1 younger brother who died when he was 17 from a hit and run drunk driver.  His name is Paul.
5.  I used to have long hair as a child and wore plaits to school like Sienna does now.
6.  I love my photography and it makes me really happy photographing our lives.
7.  When I was a teenager I used to love the TV show Starsky & Hutch and the Women's Weekly had the pattern for Starsky's jumper in it so I asked my Mum to knit it for me.
8.  I tell my kids I love them on more than one occasion each day.
9.  I lived in Brisbane until I was 30 then worked in Perth for one year, and Sydney for one year with the computer company.  Moved back to Brisbane and swore I would never move away from my family again until I got married and we moved to Melbourne with work for 1 year which extended into 2 years.  James was born in Melbourne and then 8 months late moved back to Brisbane and honestly can't see myself leaving Brisbane again.
10.  I became a Life Time Member of Weight Watchers July 2004, 7 months after James was born and after having Sienna and a difficult marriage and all the aftermath that goes with it I haven't gotten back to my Life Time goal weight since then.  A couple of times I've been close but it seems like a life time away from goal right now.  I love chocolate and it's my way of coping when times are tough, when I'm happy, sad, bored or whatever.  
Thanks Martina for nominating me and now I get to nominate 3 of my favourite bloggers that I think deserve the sunshine award.
Virginia from Ock Du Spock

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Apple & Cinnamon Cake

Inspired by Kate Berry of The Lunch Lady where she compared the store bought box version of Apple & Cinnamon Cake vs making it yourself I couldn't help but want to make this delicious recipe myself.  It was very easy and the cake tasted very nice indeed.  I can't remember the last time I made an Apple Tea Cake so I really enjoyed it.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Slow Living Essentials March, 2014

Linking up with Christine at Slow Living Essentials to do a recap of our slow living.  It does seem anything but slow but thoroughly enjoyable at the same time.

I have made some new to me recipes lately including Swedish Meatballs and Apple & Cinnamon Cake.

I have finally gone through the kids clothing drawers and sorted out clothes that no longer fit them.  Some shorts in James drawers were size 6 and he is 10 now.  In my defense he's not a huge child so can still fit size 8 shorts however size 6 definitely had to go into the bag for charity.  I have two large bags at my front door which I will take to the Red Cross store on Monday.

I continue to sweep the floors with the broom only bringing the vaccum out once in a while.  I hardly use the dryer still as we have a clothesline that's indoors/outdoors because it's under our back entertainment area.

We loved growing our little corn crop for the very first time and our cucumbers grew very well this season.  Lots of schallots, tomatoes and coriander.  

After more than 10 years away from the sewing machine I made a Rag Quilt for Sienna's 8th birthday which I wrote about here and James loved it so much I made him one as well which you can read about here.

I also made Sienna a little Sausage Doggie which I wrote about here.  Both the Rag Quilts and the Sausage Doggie gave me a great deal of joy and satisfaction in both making them and seeing how delighted the kids were with them.

Reading about a family who moved from a big house into a tiny cottage they built as a family of 5 when times got tough.  They discovered it has been one of the best things that happened to their family.  The blog is called The Assortment.

We attending the fairly newly formed local Residents Association Meeting to discuss opportunities for our suburb like Farmers Markets etc. which was attended by over 100 people.   I also attended James Grade 5 School Excursion to St Helena Island as one of the parent helpers and photographer for the day which you can read about below. 

We celebrated Sienna's 8th Birthday with family gathering and home made pizza's.  We attended the School Bush Dance and the sneak preview of the Lego Movie which was a school fund raiser.

I went along a Class Excursion with James to St Helena Island which is a place I have always wanted to visit.  We caught a bus from school to Hamilton, then on the Lady of Brisbane Boat to the Island and back again.