Star Cake

star lamington cake with condensed milk || cityhippyfarmgirl

Some birthdays are show stoppers with meaningful presents and surprises that are so happy they bring a tear to the eye. Some birthdays, just slowly sort of slip on by. A tiny reprieve in a normal week. It’s never meant like that, but occasionally that’s just how things fall, (well for the big people anyway.)

Not for this birthday though for him. No, no. For this birthday I was jumping out of my skin with excitement on giving a little piece of paper.

No flashy expensive pieces to gather dust on a mantel. No clothing vouchers and stiff napkined dinners, because seriously it’s not our style.

star lamington cake with condensed milk || cityhippyfarmgirl

What he did have was an afternoon and evenings trek up a mountain to watch a sunset with a lunar eclipse. Followed by a little star gazing. An opportunity to take an obscene amount of photos and maybe, just maybe throw a birthday wish on a shooting star.

And in the mean time, we had cake…well, there will always, (always) be cake.

star lamington cake with condensed milk || cityhippyfarmgirl The Lamington Cake was revisited…and yes sticky fingers, VERY sticky fingers. The temptation was a little too much for her.

Lamington Cake

125g butter

3 eggs

150g (2/3 cup) sugar

2 tsp vanilla

225g (1 1/2 cups) s/r flour

50g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut

125mls (1/2 cup) milk

******

1 can condensed milk

50g cocoa

Cream butter and sugar. Add in vanilla, beaten eggs, and milk together than fold in dry ingredients. Bake in a greased and lined spring form pan (approx 23cm) at 180C for about 35-40 minutes. Bake until golden in colour.

While cake is still hot, leave it in the cake tin, prick it all over with a skewer or fork then pour on the condensed milk mixture. (Whisk together in a bowl, condensed milk and cocoa together beforehand.)

Leave cake to soak up mixture, occasionally bringing the condensed milk back to the centre to soak in at the top a little more. Once room temperature, pop into the fridge for a couple of hours (or over night- you want as much of the condensed milk soaked in as possible.) Take the cake out of the tin and cover in desiccated coconut.

Lessons in Seagulls- Take 3

seagull- take 3 || cityhippyfarmgirl

seagull take 3 || cityhippyfarmgirl

seagull take 3 || cityhippyfarmgirl

I was taking a minute to stop. Just me, the ocean, and some seagulls.

I was ignoring the fact that there was an entire city behind me. As long as I looked seaward, it was just me and the ocean, and still those same seagulls.

I sat still and wondered how long it would take for one to come bravely over. These were not the dive bombing steal your chip kind. These were the gentle, I’ll ignore you if you ignore me kind.

Except I couldn’t ignore this seagull.

This one that came closest to me to dabble in the water. This one that I thought at first was playing a game of ‘lift my leg up,’ but he wasn’t.

I noticed something hanging from his leg. A ruler length of what looked like fishing line caught up in its leg. The line had wrapped round and round the seagulls leg, growing into his skin, and finally amputating that little leg off. Left with a stump, and a continual possibility of being caught on something else as the fishing line hung down from its body.

I didn’t get the chance to think about doing anything to help it, as two pigeons came and scared the seagull off. Two lowly pigeons, that knew there was a pecking order and this amputee seagull with the man mad appendage was at the very bottom.

This was a tiny example of the state of our ocean ways and yet I felt completely disheartened as a witness to it. After sitting slumped and wallowing in a good dose of eco-anxiety, I decided to snap out of it. Wallowing will only take you so far and after that I vowed to go back to the battle lines and do something about it.

Take 3 is pretty damn simple way to do something about our precious oceans and sea life. In their own words…

“take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere and you have made a difference.” -Take 3

 

So often I don’t feel like it’s simply enough. But if I do this. Pass the story of the seagull on and I educate my kids to do this, they tell their friends to do this and so on. Maybe, just maybe we can make a difference and no more amputee seagulls (or other water based animals with far more gruesome tales.)

See here for more words on plastic and why we should be taking action from Tim Silverwood (Co-founder of Take-3)

 

Kitchen Crumbs

teeny tiny pears || cityhippyfarmgirl

Bench tops are groaning, the sink is over flowing, and there is rather a lot of flour wedged between the kitchen floorboards. If you can ignore the growing number of scattered crumbs and butter smeared finger prints on the drawers, I’ll give you a quick peek into my kitchen at the moment.

 There have been some teeny tiny locally grown famers market pears.

 Some crunchy bread ends and lazy coconut biscuits- slab style.

chilli

Lots of home grown chilli that certainly gets your attention. Hot? You betcha.

over proved sourdough || cityhippyfarmgirlThen there was Moon Bread, as it was aptly named. Over proved thanks to crazily humid afternoon- which is never forgiving with my bread. Still passed the taste test though, (this bread had sprouted millet, sunflower kernels, linseed, dark malt flour and water kefir in it.)

window sill farming || cityhippyfarmgirl

And lastly the ever present kitchen window sill of sprouting things. While the shadowed bench tops are full of things fermenting, the sunny sill is where sprouting action is. Window sill farming at it’s very best.

*********

What’s happening in your kitchen at the moment?

Linking up with Celia this month for more sneaky peeks into other peoples kitchens, see here. 

Sticky Buns of the Spelt and Hot Cross kind

 wholemeal spelt sourdough hot cross buns recipe || cityhippyfarmgirl

spelt hot cross buns recipe || cityhippyfarmgirl

I do wonder what food memories I’m creating for my kids sometimes. I occasionally ask them if they have seen any food from other kids school lunch boxes that they might have rather liked the look of and would perhaps like to try as well? I’m yet to get an answer of anything different to what they generally get though. Whether they really aren’t that fussed or they are keeping those wishful lunching thoughts to themselves, I’m not sure.

Me, I longed for white bread, devon and tomato sauce sandwiches. With more butter than should be legal slapped up on the side. Plastic cheese was longingly looked at and don’t get me started on packets of chips for recess. That’s what I wanted when I was a pint sized school girl. Did I ever get it? Nope, not a once. ( Thankfully I did grow out of that one.)

Would my own kids get it, if that’s what they said they were lusting after while watching someone else unpack their lunch box. Oh hell no!…but I’m still curious.

Spelt Hot Cross Buns is what the small people are packing at the moment. Easy to make, easy to eat, and easy to keep in the freezer.

Every year I seem to fiddle with my Hot Cross Bun recipe. Sourdough, semi, yeasted, chocolate and now spelt. Wholemeal spelt flour is a firm favourite round here. So much so, that I buy the 12.5 kilo bags, so it’s always on a high turn over round here, (it’s good stuff, really good stuff!)

***********

But before the recipe, for something completely different…*small polite cough*. I was wondering if you would like to vote for me for the AWC- Best Australian Blogs- Peoples Choice. Would you like to? It will be super quick, promise. Either click here, or the badge on the side bar, and a huge thank you, to those that do.

sourdough spelt hot cross bun || cityhippyfarmgirl

(If wholemeal spelt isn’t your thing, easily switch these recipes to a regular wheat flour.)

Spelt Hot Cross Buns (sourdough)

250g dried fruit

150mls hot water

2tbls brandy

(soak this mixture of three ingredients the night before)

300g starter (100%)

600g (4 cups) wholemeal spelt flour

1 tsp dark malt flour

200mls water (approximate)

1/2 tsp cardamom

1 tsp cinnamon

100g (1/2 cup) raw sugar

100g softened butter

2 tsp salt

Add all ingredients together except, 200mls water, softened butter and salt- either by hand or mixer. Mixture will look shaggy and dry. Now slowly add the 200mls water. This an approximate amount, depending on the dried fruit mixture and your flour. If it looks too wet, don’t add it all in, too dry, a touch more.

Let it rest for 30 minutes and then mix through your softened butter and salt. Dough should look smooth and coming together off the sides of the bowl.

Place a damp tea towel or plastic shopping bag over the top of the bowl. This creates a gentle humid environment for your bread to rise. Leave it for an hour or so.

On to a really lightly floured surface, give your dough a brief three way fold or knock back. Back into the bowl for another hour or so.

Divide your dough into equal portions, (this recipe makes roughly 16 portions) rolling them into balls and then on to your baking trays. Allow them to prove for roughly another 1-3 hours, (depends on the temperature- dough should neither spring back or leave an indent.) Or overnight in the fridge. Again covered by either a damp tea towel or plastic shopping bags.

Crosses

75g (1/2 cup) plain flour

100-125mls water

2 tbls raw sugar

Mix ingredients together and use a piping bag to squeeze out crosses just before popping buns in the oven.

Bake at 210-220C for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

Sugar Glaze

1/4 cup raw sugar

1/4 cup water

Heat the glaze and brush buns as soon as they are out of the oven.

spelt hot cross buns recipe || cityhippyfarmgirl

Spelt Hot Cross Buns (commercial yeast)

250g dried fruit

150mls hot water

2tbls brandy

(soak this mixture of three ingredients the night before)

600g (4 cups) wholemeal spelt flour

2 tsp dried yeast

1 tsp dark malt flour

200mls water (approximate)

1/2 tsp cardamom

1 tsp cinnamon

100g (1/2 cup) raw sugar

100g softened butter

2 tsp salt

Add all ingredients together except, 200mls water, softened butter and salt- either by hand or mixer. Mixture will look shaggy and dry. Now slowly add the 200mls water. This an approximate amount, depending on the dried fruit mixture and your flour. If it looks too wet, don’t add it all in, too dry, a touch more.

Let it rest for 20 minutes and then mix through your softened butter and salt. Dough should look smooth and coming together off the sides of the bowl.

Place a damp tea towel or plastic shopping bag over the top of the bowl. This creates a gentle humid environment for your bread to rise. Leave it for an hour or so.

On to a really lightly floured surface, give your dough a brief three way fold or knock back. Back into the bowl for another 40mins- to an hour.

Divide your dough into equal portions, (this recipe makes roughly 16 portions) rolling them into balls and then on to your baking trays. Allow them to prove for roughly another 40-60 minutes, again covered by either a damp tea towel or plastic shopping bags.

Crosses

75g (1/2 cup) plain flour

100-125 mls water

2 tbls raw sugar

Mix ingredients together and use a piping bag to squeeze out crosses just before popping buns in the oven.

Bake at 210- 220C for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

Sugar Glaze

1/4 cup raw sugar

1/4 cup water

Heat the glaze and brush buns as soon as they are out of the oven.

The inconvenience of Fairtrade Chocolate at Easter

fairtrade easter eggs || cityhippyfarmgirl

easter eggs || cityhippyfarmgirl

Easter eggs is tricky business in this household. It’s not something I grew up with a great deal. My grandparents would always buy us a modest sized egg to eat as fast or slow as we wanted and that was kind of it. No easter egg hunts, no mysterious rabbits leaving Easter themed gifts and household bombardment of chocolate. It was all kept rather simple.

As an adult I get that, I totally get that. But as a child I wanted to be ill on chocolate easter eggs, I wanted to swim in it like every other child seemed to be doing but me.

So as an adult and now parent myself I come to this tricky line. While Easter doesn’t hold a strong gift giving significance to me, I do like giving a little chocolate something as I remember the joy I had of eating the same. I like adding a hunt for it, as hey, it’s exciting- who doesn’t like a good hunt? But, and it’s rather a big BUT…

I don’t want to buy those chocolate eggs that have been on the supermarket shelf since just after Christmas.

I don’t want to buy those eggs that have food miles to the moon and back.

I don’t want to buy compound chocolate that has palm oil in it’s ingredients.

I don’t want to buy that chocolate that has a multitude of layers of packaging.

And I sure as chocolate eggs don’t want to buy that chocolate that sources it’s cocoa from child slavery conditions.

To give my children a small inexpensive chocolate treat at the expense of all that? No, no I wont. I simply will not buy into that.

I make this decision by thinking about where my dollar goes. I am happy to pay more for an ethically made chocolate that is produced as locally as I can source. Not because I want to buy something more expensive but because I value all those things above and think chocolate should never be cheap. I will pay more for a chocolate that I know won’t have palm oil in it. And I will plan ahead, take the time to find out where I can buy them, avoiding last minute unconsidered purchases. I think chocolate is a luxury and a pretty amazing one at that.

So this Easter, I want to treat that small gifted chocolate with a little respect and hopefully pass that on, even just a little to my kids. Showing that every last delicious sweet crumb that I buy is to be valued, (whether they eat it quickly or slowly it doesn’t matter). I don’t see buying fairtrade chocolate as an expensive inconvenience, it’s a carefully considered treat…and that’s the way I think it should be.

easter chocolate || cityhippyfarmgirl

Where to buy some Fairtrade Easter Chocolate

World Vision Fair Trade Chocolate Guide (Australian based- but many of these brands are available internationally, so would still be relevant.)

Tribes and Nations- stockists of Fairtrade easter eggs.

Spencer Cocoa- Single plantation chocolate, grown in Vanuatu and made in Mudgee.

Chocolatier- does Fairtrade options for Easter.

so long summer

summer- cityhippyfarmgirlafternoon light || cityhippyfarmgirl

sea pools || cityhippyfarmgirl

And just like that summer was gone.

No drawn out goodbyes, and long lingering looks back.

The windows are now lowered as the cooler dusk air sneaks in.

A quiet goodbye to the carefree summer bare-feet,

next summer those same small bare-feet will be bigger.

The warm early morning starts that have you throwing open back doors,

the kitchen air still thick from the heat of the day before.

So long summer, with your long golden lit afternoons,

and to the melodic cicadas singing their songs.

Farewell to the invitingly warm sea pools,

with their noisy jostling swimmers.

The pools once more reclaimed,

by those that don’t fear the sharp coolness of the water.

Until next time summer,

so long.