The music of apples

apple and almond tart recipe || cityhippyfarmgirl

apple and almond tart || cityhippyfarmgirl

As his little body seemed to hover above the water for far longer than normal. I couldn’t help but smile. With legs bundled beneath him, his arms outstretched in an open air embrace, and that smile. That huge smile on his face.

Pure and absolute joy.

And it was contagious. Days later I still smiled at the thought of it. That summer imagery of my son’s face mid jump into the pool, will be forever etched into my mind. This was joy at its very best, but it also got me thinking. As an adult, how often do we feel an emotion in its purest form?

When those little legs jumped, he wasn’t performing, he wouldn’t have even known I was watching. He jumped with an expectation that it would be fun and that simple happiness radiated out of him. It shone out of him.

As an adult those true emotions seem to be too easily brushed away. Too often we seem to squash, ignore, or simply refuse to acknowledge them. Never letting them see the emotional light of day as it’s either deemed; not acceptable (quickly brush those tears away) no time for proper acknowledgement (yes, we really need to get going/ do something else) or maybe just too confronting (that feels way too hard!)?

Small feelings of contentment, frustration, annoyance and briefly happy no problem, I can easily visit all of those within the same day. But those whole emotions, that’s something else. Something different.

I think it starts with noticing these smaller ones too though, being aware and really sitting with them for a moment. As an adult our emotions seem to get watered down a bit- so many things to do, multitasking, rushing, clock watching, looking ahead and most of all dismissing. But what about the here and now? What about noticing those tiny bubbles of excitement in the pit of your stomach at that knock on the door. Or stopping to watch your child experience something right before you. What are they feeling? As children, they are usually feeling a hell of a lot, and it can be pretty amazing to be a part of.

Obviously, it’s not always a positive thing. I recently saw something, that in the past had stressed me out greatly. The instant adrenal response was actually really interesting.

Every. Single. Fibre of my body was lit up. Fight or flight, I didn’t have to make that decision but the body response, that was interesting. Really interesting. In this moment, my curious brain actually over rode the stress of it all, (which helped.)

Going back to absolute joy, and that’s what I watched on my daughters face recently. For a music loving family, somehow she had got to being past two years old and had never held ear phones before. Watching her little face discover that there was music coming out of those tiny ear pieces was…exquisite.

To her ear she would hold it, take it back down to her hand, examine it, frown a little and laugh in amazement as she would hold it up to my ear for me to listen to as well. Back to her ear, and then to her hand. This was the most amazing discovery of her morning and it brought pure absolute joy, to both of us.

apple almond tart

apples || cityhippyfarmgirl

While I can’t begin to imply that this tart will bring that kind of pure emotional happiness on eating a slice or two. I can vouch for tiny bubbles of excitement on eating a great apple. Supermarket ones, yep, won’t cut it, not at all. Visit your local farmers markets, find out when the season is, and buy up.

Like watching a little person discover the joy of music coming out of earphones for the first time, a great seasonal apple?

It really can, be absolutely joyful.

Apple and Almond Tart

4 apples- peeled, cored and diced

100g raw sugar

zest of half a lemon

50g almond meal

Pastry

150g cold butter

50g sugar

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp bitter almond aroma (or say 75g marzipan)

300g plain flour

1 tbls cold water

In a blender, pulse flour, sugar and butter until resembles bread crumbs, (add the marzipan in here if using it.) Tip out to a bowl and add almond aroma (omit if using marzipan), egg yolk and cold water. Knead lightly until it comes together to form a smooth dough. Cover and and chill in the fridge for about half an hour. Then roll out for your pie shape.

For your apple mixture, add diced apples, sugar, lemon zest and almond meal. Mix together and spoon mixture into pastry lined dish.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes at 180C.

loving… the mountain air


mountains || cityhippyfarmgirl

rock collecting || cityhippyfarmgirl

lookout || cityhippyfarmgirl

moss || cityhippyfarmgirlLoving the slower, so much slower,

no time, no places to be

just us

and some mountains.

Loving those beautiful, deliciously cold mountains.

Time to take in the air,

take in the view,

the vivid blues, the rushing waters.

Loving stopping,

and breathing, really breathing.

Loving cold air on pink cheeks,

and warm hands stuffed into pockets.

Rocks stuffed into pockets too,

loving the fact that every, tiny thing is so amazing to those little hands.

Contentment is a vast collection of rocks. In pockets.

Loving the slower, oh so much slower.

The mountains,

you were good to us,

and I’m loving that.

snowy mountains || cityhippyfarmgirl ***********

I’m also loving that I was nominated in the top 100 bloggers for Kidspot 2014 this week, (or top 30 for the Personal and Parenting category). Really, really, happy and excited… thank you people!)

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

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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.

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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!)

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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.