Best Ever Chocolate Muffins

best ever chocolate muffins || cityhippyfarmgirl

“Mama these are the BEST EVER CHOCOLATE MUFFINS!”

The pint sized food critique didn’t have a whole lot of chocolate muffin eating experience to go on, but I ran with her bold statement and have therefore named these, one egg- not crazy chocolatey- not super rich- easy peasy- lunch box muffins to be….the Best Ever Chocolate Muffins (some things in life you don’t need to argue about.)

Arguing against licking the spoon is also pointless, it’s a birth right for who ever is home with me when cakey kind of good things are being made.

best ever chocolate muffins || cityhippyfarmgirlbest ever chocolate muffins || cityhippyfarmgirl

Best Ever Chocolate Muffins

1 egg

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

100mls grape seed oil

2 tsp vanilla

3 tbls cocoa powder

1/2 cup natural full fat yogurt

1/3 cup milk

300g (2 cups) self raising flour

In a mixer add egg and sugar. (If using an Assistent Original, medium speed for four minutes.) While mixing slowly drizzle the grape seed oil. Add vanilla, cocoa, yogurt and milk (low speed for one minute.) Add self raising flour and gently fold in.

Divide mixture into muffin trays and bake at 180C for approximately 25 minutes.

Eat with enthusiasm.

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Assistent Original- the Grain Mill

assistent original || cityhippyfarmgirl

A couple of years ago I invested in an invaluable piece of kitchen gear. I bought this machinery of wonderfulness- an Assistent Original.

I researched and researched my options on a kitchen mixer that would hold up to my regular and large amounts of bread making. (If you are interested that research post can be found here.) I decided on the Assistent as it was the one machine that kept coming up while ticking all my requirement boxes. I then did a post on how the machine was faring six months after buying it, (which can be found here.)

I’m recapping a few details here, as it’s been nearly 2.5 years since I bought it and some people have asked do I still stand by it?

In a nutshell…YES! A big beautiful yes. I use the Assistent several times a week, I make several kilos of dough at a time (it can take up to 5 kilos) and it has never given me the slightest hiccup when it comes to bread mixing. For a baker enthusiast that isn’t at commercial levels but bakes more than the average home cook I would highly recommend it. Actually I do, for everyone!

assistent original || cityhippyfarmgirl

After sticking with the basic package, last year I decided I wanted to give a few of the other attachments a go. With the meat mincer, cookie attachment and grain mill now adorning my bench top what do I think about them?

linseed || cityhippyfarmgirl

sunflower seed || cityhippyfarmgirl

Grain Mill

Well hands down the grain mill is a winner in my book. I go through a fair chunk of grains in this household. Linseed, and sunflower seeds being used the most. I buy in bulk as it’s cheaper, that way I can make sure it’s grown locally and/or organic. By using the grain mill I can also make sure it’s kept at its freshest.

So how does it work?

The machine goes on its side, attachments on and grain or seeds in at the top. I adjust the consistency I want of the grain or seeds to be ground at, put the timer on and walk away. It looks a little odd, with the machine lying on its side, but it works beautifully, attaches easily, isn’t noisy and doesn’t make a mess.

assistent original || cityhippyfarmgirl

The cookie attachment and meat mincer I haven’t used as much to give a conclusive assessment at this stage. I would say the cookie attachment is best for larger amounts of cookie dough, (which really isn’t much of a problem in this household!) At this stage I spend more time cleaning this attachment up then benefiting from it properly- so this one will be continued. As for the meat mincer, (as she hangs head in shame, not used at all yet.)

The grain mill though? Yes! A big triumphant yes. And the Assistent Original as a machine for the home cook? 100 times yes. I love it just as much as I did when I first got it two and a half years ago, and would recommend it in a heart beat.

top 12 eco friendly christmas gift ideas

a little succulent gift- cityhippyfarmgirl

Nearly the end of the year again, which means there could be a little gift giving to be had. I love this time of year, but I don’t like the ridiculous amount of spending that usually goes along with it. You don’t have to spend oodles of money, you really don’t. Here are a few ideas to help with a greener tinged Christmas at your place this year.

1/ Tiny presents of tiny succulents in tiny tea cups, (or espresso cups as this little fella is.) You can easily do this with a little cup that may have a chip or a crack in it- stalk op shops, church fetes, roadside discards for succulent holding inspiration. The options are limitless, (have a peek at google images.) Think green, think succulents.

2/ Something for the inspired reader in your life- Changing Gears: by Greg Foyster

3/ Assistent Original– now this is a pricey gift for Christmas, but if you are serious about a kitchen investment that is going to cater for every kitchen whim you have- it’s a worthy investment, as cooking from scratch is a commitment and you want to make it as easy as possible. For bread baking nerds, look no further.

4/ Digital Subscription to a ‘green’ magazine- inspire someone with some idea thumping pages- There are oodles to pick from, and then even more.

5/ Subscription to your locally based farmer friendly fruit and veg box. Foodconnect– Whole Larder Love– Local Harvest etc.

6/ Sign a bloggy friend up to do Blog with Pip– they will love you to the moon and back, (and probably back some more; this course is AWESOME.)

12 eco friendly gift ideas- cityhippyfarmgirl

7/ If you don’t have a crafty hand yourself, have wander over to etsy– Buy direct from someone who does and support a small time crafter with a passion for handmade goodness.

8/ Sign a loved one up for a Milkwood Permaculture course, (or a locally grown Permaculture course in your area.) They will be brimming with inspiration afterwards, and that…is always a good thing.

gift cityhippyfarmgirl

9/ For the tea drinker- love chai, love tea, enamel cup and a little ginger bread bites for dunking in. A simple present that is 542 times better than buying something bland in a generic department store.

ginger bread gift ideas- cityhippyfarmgirl

10/ Or using the same gingerbread recipe, kid version style.

11/ Put together a little handmade food hamper. Jam’s, biscuits, brownie, cake, pesto, bread- the options are endless. If you team that up with a little second hand store basket (50c church sale thank you very much!) and you’re in Christmassy business, (always nicer than a gifted pair of synthetic, made in China, novelty boxer shorts…promise.)

12/ And if you still aren’t sure of what Uncle Roo and Aunt Bilby would like, make a donation on their part. There are so many charities to choose from in our collective corners of the world- choose one and your recipients will be so very thankful.

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For previous years eco Christmas gift ideas and wrapping see

eight eco friendly Christmas gift ideas

twelve eco friendly Christmas gift ideas

 

the assistent- part two (bread nerd stuff)

cityhippyfarmgirl

A few people lately have been asking me about my Assistent Original mixer and how it has fared since I got it 6 months ago. Well, what to say?

I love it.

I love, love, love it.

Effortless. For any bread maker it really is effortless. The fact that I can put the ingredients in, dial up the timer and walk away from it, is truly a miraculous thing.

Not only that, it also does well with mixing non bread ingredients. Whipping two egg whites is a breeze, just as well as the bigger amounts of bread dough.

To date, I still haven’t put the mixer to the 5kg test that it apparently can go up to with bread dough. The most I’ve put in there would be about the 3kg mark in any one time (about 6.6 pounds.) With the larger amounts of my sourdough it does ride up the hook a little initially, but it should, that’s a whole lot of dough in there. The lowest setting is more than adequate for mixing the bread dough, and (quietly) mixes it really well. Even with a lower hydration dough and mixing the salt in after a fairly lengthy autolyse period- this dough still gets a good even work over.

cityhippyfarmgirl So have there been any problems with the machine, and any peculiarities or tips worth noting?-  The only tip vaguely worth mentioning is that when making bread, the machine likes the majority of the liquid in at the beginning, and sitting at the bottom, rather than the flour first. I always hold back my liquid a little, as flour, starter and other ingredients all have a factor in how much water is needed. (eg. If 625mls are needed, I’ll put 500mls in the initial dough mix, and then slowly add the remaining, in the first minute or two of mixing.

cityhippyfarmgirl Other Attachments- I still haven’t purchased any of the extra attachments that you can buy for the mixer. (Basic model comes with- dough hook, double whisk, cake beater, bowl scraper, dough roll, and lid.) I’d be very curious to know how some of the extra attachments work also seeing them in action, but at this stage I haven’t needed any. As the basic model suits all my baking needs.

So would I recommend one?- Yes. In a heart beat. I will wax lyrical to anyone that vaguely mentions the word ‘mixer’ to me. Kenwood, Sunbeam, Kitchenaid, Thermomix are all fine and dandy, but if you are serious about baking, bread making in particular and want more oomph in your kitchen, this mixer really is the bees knees.

How much love?- If my machine died today, I would order another one tomorrow, I love it that much. (However it won’t die, as I suspect this Swedish love is going to be around in my kitchen for the next twenty plus years.)

cityhippyfarmgirl

For more details on how I came to this mixer, what kitchen requirements I had, other reviews, and various other links, please see my original post on this machine.

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* I don’t get anything by writing this review, this is purely to help out anyone that might be in a similar position, looking for a new mixer and unsure of what to get for their baking needs. Would I recommend it?… Yes, it’s still awesome.

* If anyone has any specific questions that I might be able to help with, please do ask in the comments.

assistent original- possibly the nerdiest post I’ve ever done

It was finally here.

It, being the mixer I had decided on nearly three months ago. After writing this post. I researched, and researched what was going to be best suited for me. Which one to get… which one to get?

So why did I need a new mixer?

I make all our bread, and although my kids are still quite small, we go through a LOT of bread, so it’s only going to increase. Sourdough being the bread of choice or a sourdough/commercial yeast blend. I quite often use a fairly stiff dough that needs a bit of effort behind it incorporating the salt. While I have no problem with kneading, my kitchen has a problem with bench space… it’s very minimal!

With baby crawling around- getting in to things she probably shouldn’t be, four year old holding on to a leg singing me a sad sailor song, six year old trying to read out his homework, and a dinner pot on the stove probably close to burning. Even just the simple process of kneading salt into dough (in a very small kneading space) can be a little frustrating.

A good mixer, eases this. It really does.

Over the past few years, I had been using a Sunbeam Professional. I was really happy with it and it suited most of my cooking. Although it wasn’t until researching new mixers did I realise just what a flogging I was giving it. At the most I was mixing a little over 3kg of bread dough. The sunbeam recommended amount was less than half that. Lasting two solid years of sourdough making, (plus general kitchen baking 2 years before that.) I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did.

First I looked at the Kitchenaid Artisan KSM150.

Gorgeous colours, and looks solid. $749, 300watt motor, made in the USA, but only takes 1.3k of dough. Reviews also say it can run a little hot when being put to the test with bread dough, needing frequent cool off periods. It also may have times of creeping up the hook, if there is a larger amount of dough in there.

Kitchenaid Professional has definitely got more grunt and aims higher than the average home baker needs. However, as far as I could see it wasn’t available in Australia.

Next I looked at the Kenwood Premier Major KMM770.

No colour options (silver), 1200watts, 2.4kg dough capacity, 6.7L bowl capacity, and upwards of $700. Originally a British company, and is now all made in China.

The Kenwood Titanium Major was also a contender, with same colour, an increase in the watts- 1500, but no increase in dough capacity or bowl size. I was getting mixed messages as to whether an increased wattage in the different machines actually made any difference or not.

These machines did sound ok, but the dough amount still wasn’t enough and it was a sizeable machine for something that still wasn’t quite what I needed. Problems I had read about the Kenwood was ‘walking’ when it’s on and really noisy for the older machines, (not sure about the new ones.)

The Varimixer Bear Teddy- 5L I looked at, but the weight was concerning as the spot where the mixer was to go is again quite small. A lone stockist in Sydney was also quite vague.

Throughout my research another name kept popping up, Assistent Original. There didn’t seem to be any distribution in Australia, despite it being available seemingly everywhere else. It certainly didn’t look anything like any of the other planetary mixers I had looked at.

It did however, seem to be exactly what I was looking for.

Not too big, 7L bowl, could handle up to 5kg of dough, came with basic attachments and more if I needed them later.

It sounded good, really good.

But how to get one of these little gems? I didn’t think it would hurt to send an email, which went to a US distributer. That, then got bounced to Sweden, who in turn bounced it back to Australia, to a baking company who just so happened to be starting to import them. One load of ten had already arrived and disappeared into baking land, a second was to be shipped the next week from Germany. Was I interested?

Hell yes!

Fast forward several months, now with my Swedish mixer in my hot little hands… what could it do?

Let’s find out.

First up the instruction manual is not great. I watched the instructional dvd (also available on youtube) and that helped. I basically fiddled until I had worked out what was what,and mostly it was fine, (you do just have to play a bit.) The dough hook took the longest to get the hang of, (saying that, it was probably only half an hour) which worried me a little as this was the one I basically got the whole thing for. Finally I found if I brought the arm just a smidge more forward, the peg sat in fine.

There is an extensive recipe booklet that comes with it. It would be great to explore some Swedish recipes, but unfortunately it’s all in Swedish, and I can read not a word. With distribution of the machine in a handful of English speaking countries, I’m surprised they haven’t done an English language one.

In a nutshell…

Comes in lots of different colours- I got cream

800W and weighs 8.6kg. $682 plus postage

Developed, designed and manufactured in Sweden.

Has been around since the 1940’s

Previously known as DLX Electrolux, Magic Mill Verona- now known as my new kitchen love

Basic model comes with a dough hook, double whisk, cake beater, bowl scraper, dough roll, and lid

In built timer- this is sooooo handy. Dial it up and go and do other things, come back and viola.

It’s quiet. All you hear is a gentle mixing sound on the lowest setting, which for my bread is more than adequate.

When to use the different attachments- I’ve made, biscuit dough and cake batter with the double whisk, cake beater and dough roll. There isn’t a huge difference in the over all result. They all come up with the goods in the end. Dough hook definitely for the larger amounts of bread dough though. Initially I thought it wasn’t doing a whole lot, but it is. (Just be patient and let it do it’s thing.)

I was curious to know whether it could whisk a couple of egg whites as well as several kilos of bread dough. It could, and did. I haven’t done less than 3 egg whites at this stage, but for those three it worked beautifully.

The mixer has a lot more attachments available, and if I decide I want others down the track I can buy them singularly. For the time being though, the basic attachments suit my needs.

Problems with the machine- none what so ever. I’ll certainly edit this post if I come across any problems, but so far- using it is great. I’m still at the casually polish it as I walk by stage.

It is completely different to the other types of mixers on the market, which initially felt a little daunting on opening the box. I soon shook that off though…it’s good to be different. I’d be quite happy to have a machine like this in my kitchen for the next 20 years.

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Have a look here, if you want to see it in action using the dough hook.

Other reviews that might be handy and of interest

Planetary mixer advice– on sourdough.com (Australia)

Assistent Original vs Kitchenaid-  (USA)

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Where to buy it from if you are in Australia?

Blackwood Lane– who were very helpful when I had a lot of questions to ask before I purchased.

* I don’t get anything by writing this review, this is purely to help out anyone that might be in a similar position, looking for a new mixer and unsure of what to get for their baking needs. Would I recommend it?… Yes, it’s awesome.

** All food pictured has been mixed in the Assistent Original. 

In my kitchen

In my kitchen sat my absolute favourite pie in whole wide universe…. lemon meringue. It had been a while since I had made it and Monkey Boy asked ever so nicely if I would. I didn’t want to disappoint, so made it, gave him a small slice, and packed him off to bed. This left me to admire a rather large slice of my own. Lemon meringue pie is one of those lick the bowl when your done kind of moments. Yep, it really is.

And I would have been crazy not to make one, as I had these fat gifted backyard lemons sitting on my kitchen table waiting to be loved.

A trial of a Pear and Ginger Slice. Amazingly enough I actually followed a recipe this time. It wasn’t bad, I would tweak it a little to cater more to my taste buds. But definitely not bad.

The last of my dad’s pumpkins. The orange of the flesh in these pumpkins has been amazing. Nothing like a super market bought one what so ever. I’m still thinking about my pumpkiny options.

My new mixer love arrived. Oh my sweet, sweet goodness how I love it! (Very, very nerdy post to come soon.)

In my kitchen, there has been quite a lot of my staple salad. I very rarely tire of eating kale… which is lucky, as there is quite a bit around at the moment.

and lastly, in my kitchen sits two new pans. I’m not usually one to buy new kitchen gadgets just for the sake of it, (despite desperately needing a new cooking pot- as I had burnt the crap out of one of my usuals.) Mr Chocolate wanted these, and if it had just been me, there is no way I would have got them. Thankfully I did though, as I am hooked. Cooked on low to medium, ceramic coating, no oil used, heats up really quickly, (and makes a perfect pancake!)

What’s been happening in your kitchen?

linking up with the ever lovely Celia@Fig Jam and Lime Cordial