from little things big things grow

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bakemas 2014

Yesterday, as we all know, was the first of December. And for me this is the first day of Bakemas.

Last year at this time I raided my mums recipe book - the one with all the women's weekly clippings and recipes with annotations. Pink coconut ice, white Christmas, peanut clusters, rum balls, iced gingerbread men and buttery shortbread  - what's not to love about Christmas. Inspired by the nostalgic recipe surfing I went home and made shortbread.

I instagrammed my results and hash tagged it #bakemas.

And as I did I named my new Christmas tradition. Bakemas. For every day of the twelve days of Christmas I would bake one of these Christmas treats.

As I tend to do this time of year I got a bit confused and carried away. As I did not know, and did not ever google, when the twelve days exactly are, I found myself fluctuating between baking everyday and baking weekly. It did get a bit silly  - like being let loose in a virtual Pinterest session. But it mostly wonderful. The final flourish was four mini Toblerone cheesecakes.

It was crazily nostalgic; recreating favourite treats from my childhood, and storing them in tins and TupperwareI remember opening our family fridge as a youngster and peering between  shelves to find a special treat. Christmas visitors would bring tins of biscuits. Mum would bake, or create some divine no-bake confectionery. And I would guzzle.

I hope to find a bit of a balance for this over the coming years. Maybe I'll look up the twelve days. But I would love for my daughter to have lovely memories of Christmas and home baking.

Yesterday for the start of 2014 bakemas I made speculoos spice cookies. Delicious!

Skye was my helping hand.

Today I have made microwave fudge from the internet! I will post a pic on Instagram later - when my helper is having a nap.

Find me on Instagram - search for user sallycar. It's a private account, but if you are a genuine person I'll let you in my secret club.

Merry bakemas.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Days of terror and virtuous muesli

I have just had the most loveliest lay in. Peanut butter filled chocolate, coffee and a River Cottage recipe book for my companions. A heat pack snuggled close. Flannelette sheets, and all the pillows. Best of all - the bed to myself. And on top of all this a bowl of maple toasted muesli with creamy yoghurt - one must be virtuous, yes? And the husband and babe will be back sometime and I will need my strength for then.

I have found a few recipes lend themselves to baking on days of terror. Days when you manage to get in the shower, but must make a decision whether to let your daughter decorate the walls with blue bath crayon as you just go ahead and wash your hair. Days when you are vomited on at 6am and the sheets need changing. Days when a little hand finds you and drags you into the lounge room for yet another session of physical challenge breastfeeding with a bit of pinching off your moles, while watching a program that with a theme song that will earworm you later.

Virtuous home-toasted honey muesli is one of these recipes. And you can eat it together after you have washed the walls, the sheets and hidden the Baby Jake DVDs.

I did the artwork and layout for this on one of the days when all is perfect - i.e. babe has a 3 hour nap.

How it works for me on a day of terror follows. I sneak into the kitchen - perhaps with the aid of ABC4kids, and pull out the big blue bowl. Then I let Skye pull out all the other bowls and try them on as hats. Some on me too. The green one is too small for me, but looks good on her. Plus she likes to say 'green'.

Slowly I pour cups of various dry ingredients into the big blue bowl - which (bless) adheres to the bench with a silicone base ring. Sometimes I swat away the little hand that reaches for the oats or nuts, sometimes I give it a bowl of puffed corn to munch/stomp into the carpet. This process can fill in an hour.

Now chop up the dried fruit. This step involves a knife, but can be circumvented with the use of a food processor, but this then involves blades. Perhaps wait until babe is napping to do this step, or put on the dreaded DVD. Either way you have about 5 minutes to execute cutting and promptly hide knife/blade before the little hand appears again. But that is plenty of time for you - perhaps you will even get the sheets washed in this window of time.

Then the wet mix. The nice parts about this stage are 1. the smell, 2. you can make a cuppa for yourself with the boiled kettle of water, 3. once your pour the wet over the dry mix you can legitimately put this to the side and let it all soak for several hours.

The toasting part may need to wait until babe is really asleep or totally occupied or being looked after by someone else. Depends on how bad the day of terror is. I have found this can still be managed, especially now that my babe can be instructed to 'stand back'.

If you want to do a very quick sort of toasting you can substitute maple syrup - approx 1 cup for the wet mixture. Pour the maple syrup over the dry mix and stir. Then toast in the oven for two or three 5-7minute intervals until a nice golden colour.

Hurrah, you have survived the day of terror and done some 'cook' to boot! You are a supermum and deserve a delicious lay in with chocolate, coffee and books.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Baking is my bliss (and a free meal planner template)

Last year I was lamenting how little I was able to bake with baby around. The first year she was barely not in my arms. Now we are settling into a phase where I can manage cooking with my manic toddler. Often she is clambering on me during the process. I stop when I can and kneel on the ground where I serve as a stool for her to reach the counter. She plays with the coffee machine or the toaster. She loves to press the microwave buttons, fish beans out of the coffee grinder, or dip her hands into a sink full of bubbles (who doesn't?).

Baking together

More recently she enjoys climbing on the counter and hiding the remote in the coffee beans.

Fishing for coffee beans

It took me a while, but I see now, she is my little mimic. My daughter instinctively goes to the kitchen to hunt for me. I love making meals for the family. I look through my subscription to Feast magazine and choose recipes that I can replicate. I meal plan, shop at the markets, and I cook. I realised I've become a bit of a baking hound. When I have spare time I bake. When I'm cranky I bake.

The red baron

Today at the beach Skye fell down some concrete steps. She hurt herself pretty badly and it shook me right up. She is fine now, superficially scratched, spirits high as always. I am more shaken than I expected. So, now that she is down for a nap I have made cookies. Of course.

See what I mean. Baking hound. It's my bliss.

I've had four new chocolate chip cookie recipes printed out, ready for trial. It's been a happy little stash of possibility. This time I added notes to them. I fancy I'm becoming a bit of a kitchen nerd! Quaint, eccentric and driven by butter and sugar blends.

Speaking of nerd, I've posted meal planners on here before. I've designed a new one, more comprehensive, and inspired by the meal planning that I need to do for our family now. Dinners and snacks are not enough any more. The more planning the better the mummy/nerd in me says! Breakfast and lunch need columns too! So here is the new one.

Plate du jour (meal of the day) planner.
Right click to save. 

I hope that it can be helpful for you. I rely on it, but don't always stick to it. But those days when using my brain to do anything but drink coffee is impossible, the meal plan really serves its purpose. One day l'll do one with a column for baking. With room for notes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Toddler bake club

I try to get a stool for her and set her up with pouring items at the sink. Some days it works, mostly it doesn't. She loves the new and exciting. The stool is getting old now. Pick me up mummy, she urges with much desperate pointing and noise making. Then you can move me around all the things.

I've dedicated the bottom drawer to her. Filled it with the strange and wonderful. A medley of unwanted cutlery, small toys and objects from the recycling. I probably should top it up again because as I write about it now I realise it will have gotten old for her. The Tupperware drawer is also hers. She has also taken control of the fridge.

The other week we tried something different. She joined me in the kitchen as I started to pour muffin batter into the muffin pan. I showed her what I was doing, and she helped out by pointing to empty holes, which I filled with batter. I marvelled at her. Marvelled at how that had worked without mess or tears.

She helped pop a raspberry on each one. It was all going so merrily. I thought, aha! Here is our thing. We can do this. I can post pics on social media with the best of the mums. Perhaps use a hash tag like toddlerbakeclub or something cleverer.

As I mused away I realised there was more batter than pan space. I got out another one for us to fill. Perhaps I should have stopped there. Because as I started to fill the new tray, my toddler chef started transferring mix from the first tray to the second with her hands. She patted it down, and scooped it. Then she got an idea. She dropped some on the bench and smeared it. Her happy hands had found their thing! Finger painting. With muffin mixture.

At least there were no problems with her eating this finger paint. It cleaned up easily. And I got my photos. I was strangley comforted too, by the sweet comments applauding mess and imperfection.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The revered muesli slice

A million years ago when I was a uni student my little sister sent me a care package. A very special package indeed. For nestled among a yoga top and a Waifs cd was a snack container neatly filled with muesli slice.  Most importantly the recipe was included. Had I never tasted it for myself I might never have made it. Because the name does sound a bit boring. Sort of conjuring up visions of raw museli, sultanas and bird seed.  But I did taste it. And I'm certain I ate every piece from the container in surely one go. Because it was delicious. Warm honey; toasty oats in butter and flour; sweet apricots. What more could a broke art student desire? Beside beer, and a solo exhibition filled with red dots.

Had instagram had been around I would have hipsterly captured it. A small postpack box, a soft pink cotton top, the sepia toned CD cover, and a blue lidded container. I still have the biro written recipe.  And whenever I make this recipe I think back nostalgically on the little package that has endured time and space. Because I still make it. And it is just as delicious as it was back then.

I did share it on instagram last week. Sort of. Not the package, obviously *eye roll, but the recipe and the slice itself. I was rewarded with a request for the recipe, and a squawk of delight from baby sister. After a couple of days in which my brain stewed over the idea of this I recognised the shortcoming of instagram. You can't zoom in on pictures. (You can't can you? I'm not missing something am I?) And if your eyes are somewhat like mine - in need of glasses, then perhaps a blog post is kinder on them. So here you go...

Muesli Slice
Easy to make and easy eating

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon sunflower seeds
3/4 c plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 c rolled oats
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c chopped dried apricots
1/2 c chopped dried dates
150g butter
2 Tablespoons honey

Preheat an oven 180 degrees C
Line or grease a slice tray

Toast your seeds and allow to cool while continuing on with the next steps.
Melt butter and honey, and also cool, and continue onwards.
Now sift flour and add baking powder. Stir in sugar, oats and fruit. Add seeds.
Pour melted mixture over dry mixture and combine.
Press into the slice tray.
Bake for 20mins. Then cool and slice away.


It's a forgiving recipe, which is fortunate, because I often trade out ingredients depending on what is at hand. It can be a bit rich. Especially if you pop in dates or figs. So I like to have mine with a mug of milk.

And the thing is, as I write this, I'm aware that I have another sister. And its not that she has never sent me a care package or recipes. But if she were to send me (or even email me) her recipe for savoury corn and cheese mini muffins then she would get a blog post too.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Quick, enjoy the holidays

Ok, shall we go to natural arch today, I ask my hubby at around 6am as we both lay in bed (to try to wangle a sleep in). 
If we want to go we have until about 11am when Skye will need to sleep, 1pm at the max.

So we better go now then, he estimates.

We get out the door two and a half hours later. Then we drive for an hour. We have to pull over so I can drive because I get car sick. All the twists and turns on the scenic drive in addition to the twists and turns of handing Skye snacks and swatting her grabby hands away from my coffee are too much for my tummy. 

I had not been to natural bridge before, nor googled it. I wasn't really sure what to expect. As we navigated along the easy circuit I was reminded of cradle mountain, mt tamborine and eungella. I took so many photos but the camera didn't really capture the light or the layers of ecosystem. 

At the natural bridge I involuntarily gasped! How beautiful it was! A slash of cool blue water poured from inside a dark rock face. The colours and the light were such a contrast. The energy in the air was calming. Oh how I wished I had more than a couple of minutes in which I spent snapping photos and explaining to Skye that the shoe she posted through the guardrail was 'all gone'.

The traipse around the remainder of the circuit involved picking up and putting down an overtired Skye who wanted to run the wrong way down the path, and breathing. With a flimsy promise of peppa pig and a stop at a park she obligingly hopped back in the car for the journey home. 

We were back home marginally before lunch and well before 1pm to tuck Skye into bed for a nap. I began baking like a crazy woman- chocolate spiders and potato pancakes. But for the rest of the day I would marvel at our spontaneous nature trip and think of that cool shot of blue water streaking from the black rock.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A grand day out

On a day with probably about 200% humidity we took our wild thing to currumbin animal sanctuary. It turned out to be a massive day out and bloody wonderful.

After a strange false start of a 4am wake up, walk to the park and return for a two hour nap, we packed all the things and took off for the south side of the GC.

Feeling both hungry and tired and therefore carelessly extravagant we made our first detour via paddock bakery. It's full of hipsters, the arrogant rich, and the organic almond milk crowd, so we fit right in. Well, fit in in a standing out sort of way. Scruffy, sweaty, loud, supervising a charging toddler, taking turns sitting down to scoff tasty food - that's us on a calm outing. Skye singlemindedly relocated the gravel from the path to the grass verge. I drank a cold press. Fras had fried egg. It was good in a stressful way set against a pretty backdrop.

Back in the car we drove on to CAS to the sounds of peppa pig and weird al yankovich. We arrived shortly after lunchtime. Already the day seemed to stretch for miles.

The rain started. Tourists milled. We took deep breaths. Skye squirmed in the stroller until we pointed out the airplanes directly above on the flight path. These continued to be a highlight for the remainder of the visit.

First fish and snakes, next sleepy koalas and birds. A frolicking cheeky Tassie devil was a delightful sight. 'Pup' says Skye, pointing out the devil who is sniffing us. 

Fraser took her to feed the roos, while I ate an icy pole (banned from the roo area). I saw a baby bush turkey. When I joined them a joey was peeping out from its mothers pouch. Skye enjoyed feeding the ducks and the pigeons. Perhaps because she could chase them. The roos were asleep on their feet.

We climbed up the paths that took us past the crocs and birds of prey. It was even more humid up the hill. Had we walked into a steam room? Time to go. Preferable somewhere with aircon. As we came back to level ground we were able to breathe a bit easier and the sheen covering us somewhat subsided. 

An another moment of careless extravagance we finished our visit with a family photo with chokito the koala. He was lovely. We were tired.

A quick stop for raw honey across the road at Superbee. The aircon in the car revived us completely. We drove along the coast. The view of the ocean was divine. I felt happy. And then I felt hungry. Again. It's no suprise. I'm just about permanently hungry. But Fras was also hungry. 

Another stop was needed - Mexican feasting by way of Guzman and Gomez at Broadbeach. With a touch of serendipity there was to be found a wonderful kids adventure park nearby. So with the smell of the ocean, quickly filling bellies, and big smiles we finished our day on a high.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The switch

I bundled up Skye and myself with the usual items... water, snacks, hats, toys, towels, nappies, wallet, keys, phone... all tucked into the pram baskets and my pockets. And out the door we went.

It's our third day in Ipswich. I wanted to figure out how to get on the pedestrian bridge and maybe grab some breakfast, somewhere, somehow.

The latest pram (the fourth) pretty much pushes itself. Which is lovely. And Skye snuggles in. Which is lovely. So out the door we go and off down Darling Street, because I was curious to find out what lived there. Turns out, not much in the way of shops, but some lovely houses and huge frangipani trees. We came back down the Main Street, hunting out strips of shade and opening times of op shops. The walking felt good today so I kept going when I normally would have stopped. We pushed on and around, trying laneways and alleys and eventually by way of a car park found the coveted pedestrian bridge.

I smugly pushed Skye across.

I took photos to prove I found and traversed it. Despite the odds. Despite the poor signage and general lack of information on it. I found the beautiful pedestrian bridge which sidles up to the train line, and offers vistas of a sparking river and more parts of Ipswich I've yet to discover .

And here are the photos ...

The river below
Amazed at being this close to the tracks

Found it!