#505 Home-made food

Baby girl was hell-bent on some sickly sweet treat from the bakery today, so I succumbed. It was a pink meringue, and looked something like this

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but it was long, like a plait. There were two m&m blue eyes, and sprinkles throughout. At home, I broke it into chunks for her, and popped a piece into my mouth to see what was so good about it. I tasted some kind of bakery taste, but not necessarily a pleasant one, and something oily. It WAS sickly sweet. I didn’t think baby girl would last with it, knowing her palate, and yet I left the room and left her to it…

I was making my Nutella-filled baked cinnamon doughnuts. I too had a disposition towards sweet things today – maybe it was the cold, dark and dreary weather, and the menacing clouds hanging over us and threatening to spill with rain at any second, that made us need the sugary pick me up.

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As I was near the end of the process, my doughnuts now out of the oven, and close to buttering and sugaring them up, baby girl ran in.

“Yuck!” she was saying. She appeared to be spitting, and needed some kind of help so I went over to where she had been eating her meringue while watching endless Nickelodeon in the other room.

A few pieces had been eaten, yet several chunks were still there on the table, with one wet, clearly chewed up and spat out piece.

“This is too sweet baby girl. I knew you wouldn’t eat it.” I told her we would pack up the uneaten pieces for another day, and I cleaned up her spat out piece. She needed water, and it was here that I crouched to her level.

“You know baby girl, this stuff is no good. What Mummy bakes is the best. You know when Mama was a little girl, she only ate the cakes that Baka made? Home-made food is the best honey, know that.”

I went back into the kitchen with such conviction, with baby girl happily gulping down water and converted, behind me. Home-made food, no matter the dish – savoury or sweet – was always going to be a fresher, healthier, and smarter option compared to store bought or processed ANYTHING. Even as I finished off my Nutella doughnuts and reviewed the ingredients in my mind (caster sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon, milk, egg) they were all pantry/fridge standard staples, and though yes butter and sugar prevailed, I’d rather that than artificial colourings and sweeteners. This is the stuff the old, old, old generation used. This was the stuff to eat, when you ate sweet. Anything home-made, ruled.

Anything home-made RULES.

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It’s a lesson I knew I was always going to teach baby girl, and today I was grateful in the knowledge that I received that much-necessary education from my own Mother, by her words and strong example, so many, many years ago.

Thanks Mum… as always, you are totally right 🙂

 

 

 

#499 Baking: cappuccino cupcakes

Still on the theme of baking for Winter warmth: baking, more so, baking sweets.

There’s nothing like the scent of freshly baked sugary foods wafting out of your oven, filling the house with comforting joy. Today was such the case, as I baked one of my ol’ faithfuls, my cappuccino cupcakes.

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It certainly was a while since my last endeavour, and in a new kitchen with last-century appliances, it took some oven tweeking until they were ready… but when they were pulled out, were just as deliciously sweet as always.

And there’s nothing quite like the warmth of a freshly baked cupcake, to remove any previous winter chill that was lingering in your home 🙂

#459 Local help

Everywhere I turned, I seemed to run into them. People at the shops, bumping into their friends. Acquaintances. People from down the road. A local they hadn’t seen in a while.

Two women stood in front of the apples talking about how it was when they ‘showed’ so early for their second child. The grocer guy sang out to his buddy stocking up corn, and they chatted loudly about people they knew from other stores.

Another older woman held her arms out in an embrace as she came across another woman, and then the woman being hugged pointed to a third woman and said “this used to be my neighbour.” I saw them picking out groceries together and helping the older woman later on.

Two old ladies stood at the entrance to the biscuit aisle, whispering lowly about God-knows-what, but their faces were so solemn I nearly hung out a second longer to catch a word or two about the latest scandal, I could only assume.

I felt a bit left out. I couldn’t just bump into someone I knew in our town. Not yet. I didn’t know anybody. Baby girl was slowly making friends at kinder – soon she would know people out and about. Hubbie was also now working locally, so he too was recognising faces here and there. I was still based out of town, WAY out of town for work, so I wasn’t really based in any such way in our new town, not yet.

Not yet. I told myself this. I told myself, as I smiled at the exchanges I came across, wishfully thinking that my time would come, and soon enough, I would be bumping into people, and saying “oh hey! How have you been?” Maybe I would talk about how the corn was in season. Or maybe I would indulge in some scandal/gossip or two.

Or maybe all of the above. If I was lucky.

And this I pondered, as I searched for fresh yeast.

It was becoming extremely difficult to find. Back where we used to live in the Northern suburbs, I knew exactly where to find, and where to go for the fiddly, specific, random items I sometimes required. Fortunately for me, where I used to buy yeast was just around the corner from me, at a continental deli in the large shopping centre in town. There were that many wogs, (ahem) Europeans there, of course they had fresh yeast for sale, frequently. It wasn’t odd to look for it.

Here however:

“No we don’t sell it,” said one gourmet deli cashier to me, as she genuinely looked quizzical, adding that she didn’t know where I could buy it while looking around to serve the next person and get rid of me.

“I don’t know where we get it from,” said the bakery lady who had walked out to place bread on the shelves in Woolies, implying that yes they had it, but no, they did not SELL IT.

Where was I going to get fresh yeast from? It almost seemed like I was asking for a Unicorn’s horn, or something. People looked at me like “Wowzee, geez, good luck.” I was making a bunch of bread-like cheese rolls for my parents’ upcoming anniversary, and I was going to make them tomorrow. So I needed to buy the yeast, NOW.

I decided nothing was lost by asking the cashier who had put through my items a previous time at Woolies. She seemed like a really lovely person. As she weighed my apples, I asked, “do you know where I could find fresh yeast around here?”

She thought for a moment, throwing a bit of a clueless look as so many before her had thrown when I had posed my question, and then turned to the Mum with two kids behind me who was placing her groceries on the conveyor belt, and without hesitating asked “where can you buy fresh yeast around here?”

They knew each other.

This Mum was lovely and started rattling off heaps of names. One on the Main street, and then the cashier jumped in and mentioned a grocery store in town.

“My Hubbie works there actually” I said. “I’m just waiting for him to get back to me on that.”

The Mum then remembered a gourmet/organic grocer that was a few shops down in the little centre we were in, and immediately I was like “of course!” How could I have forgotten that little unique and quirky-buys place?

I high-tailed it out of there after thanking them, and upon walking into the gourmet grocer, came across a very smiley lady at the counter.

“Do you sell fresh yeast?”

“You know who would know that? Our chef. And she so happens to be a few doors down. Follow me.”

And just like that, she left her post in the grocer store at the counter, and walked off, me following her with my trolley full of groceries, containing almost everything BUT fresh yeast. She kindly introduced me to the chef who was chatting with another shop owner, and then left to resume her post, while I asked wide-eyed “was there any fresh yeast around here?”

The chef, was super-friendly. She was surprised Woolies hadn’t just given me some, but said to try all the bakeries in the area… she mentioned the Baker’s Delight just several stores down, and Banjos on Main street, and then another fine foods deli off the Main street. She was so friendly and helpful, and placed confidence in me that I WOULD find it.

I still tentatively walked to Baker’s and when it was my turn to be served, asked all high-pitched “do you sell fresh yeast here?”

“Yeah” responded the cashier with no confusion or Unicorn horn- questioned look.

Finally!

And so, I got my damn fresh yeast. The locals had been lovely, and gone out of their way to help me, just as you would expect in a village-type seaside town.

And just as I had been wondering how long it would talk to get it, the fresh yeast came across my path quite suddenly, as it had been there in front of me, all along…

And I realised that like the yeast rising, hopefully so too would my ‘locals’ friend list also go up… much sooner than I expected.

 

#457 Sweeping Autumn leaves

I’m loving Autumn more and more each year.

Not only because the season reminds me of when Hubbie and I wed. But it’s often been an under-rated season for me – I’m always too busy dreaming about Summer, dreading Winter, and getting excited at any ray of sunlight that decides to peak through the clouds in Spring.

Although we are less than half a month away (yikes!) from the coldest time of the year, I’ve come to realise, as years go by, that there is something so magical and beautiful about Autumn.

Autumn brings us the boldest and brightest of colours, shining and then fading as they roll majestically to the ground. Even the way the leaves fall, there is no hope lost in their descending action, only pristine beauty, with the promise of even brighter leaves and trees, in the far-off future.

Days may be slightly colder, but the sun is still warm, and the days are calm and peaceful, allowing for silent reflection and contemplation about what the future holds, and what actions we can take now to make our dreams come true.

That’s how Autumn feels for me.

Baby girl and I have been doing something for a few days now, which is, sweeping leaves by the side of the house. I noticed how peaceful this activity was on a crisp yet sunny Autumn’s morning last week, and was amazed that I actually enjoyed it: being outside, sweeping leaves that had fallen from our neighbours fig tree, and not even minding that they weren’t even OUR leaves. Not even OUR trees.

There is a reason why baby girl is so fascinated with the sweeping leaves process – in doing so I am literally paving the way so she can ride her scooter, leaf-free. So today, amidst baking like mad for my parents’ upcoming anniversary party, I took some slight refuge amidst the busy-ness of it all, and while bringing in provisions from the garage, I stopped to ask baby girl, who was already turning the scooter around “do you want me to sweep the leaves?”

I was so busy, but a part of me wanted to do it. A part of me has found real solace in the gentle, cleansing action, the scraping of the broom against concrete, bristles against crackling leaves. In fact, I adore it.

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Finding gratitude, everyday, in places I’d never expect…

 

#436 Tea and reclaimed Easter egg muffins

You know how some days you just need a tea? I’m talking to you coffee drinkers out there. I don’t have to reconvert a tea aficionado to know how good a drink of little-itty-bitty leaves can be.

But today, I knew from the morning, on this cold and dreary day, that I would eventually need a tea. My soul was asking for it. And how rude of me to ignore the inner wishes of my psyche, so of course, I complied.

But I went further. I had seen a fellow facebook ‘friend’ post a photo of some muffins she had made using some box mix, and thrown in a whole heap of chopped up Easter chocolate, to use it up.

‘What a great idea!’ I had thought. Hubbie and I are way more cake people than we are chocolate ones. However if I left baby girl to her own devices, she may just block herself up on all the Easter treats she received this year, let’s be honest. So I have most of it stashed away, and like all the other years before it, it would eventually get to a crumbly white faded texture, and then we’d throw the poor chocolate away.

But this?! Popping chocolate into a plain old muffin mixture? I could do that every week!

So I found a reasonably simple muffin recipe I had, that used orange and strawberry as an afternoon treat, and instead substituted that with a bunch of Easter eggs chopped up.

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I was surprised at how good they were. And as per usual, my soul’s wish for tea, was touched indeed. Ahhh 🙂

#417 Easter egg hunt

One of the most rewarding parts of the day…

was not when we had hot cross buns for brekkie, that had been baked fresh in the oven minutes earlier (they were delicious but this new oven I’m working with, actually, OLD oven, burnt the bases of all my buns so that they had to be sliced off – minor annoyance)

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was not when I surveyed the satisfying end result of 2-3 days of baking and preparing, all my lovely cakes presented on pink plates to be taken to family and friends (I spent a lot of that time also being grumpy, stressed and rushing about like a mad woman)

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was not when we arrived at my parents place later in the day on time (we had been driving around for hours already)

was not when we cheers’d as a family and had a good swig of the strong stuff to commemorate yet another beautiful family Easter dinner together

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… But, it was in the morning, during our Easter egg hunt with baby girl. Because even though we did it with her last year on Easter morning, she did it then in surprised awe, like she was still working things out. It was more wonder at why all these little eggs were in our front yard, more so than excitement.

Today was much, much different.

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Hubbie scattered little eggs around the front and back yard, and then showed baby girl where he saw the Easter Bunny hop about, thereby directing her to the right spots.

She carried her green Easter bag with her, excitedly filling up the bag with chocolatey goodness, exclaiming in excited happiness, popping the eggs confidently into the bag, and listening ardently as her Dad and I seriously spoke about where else the bunny had hopped to, and what else we might find…

and then we came to the ‘piece de resistance,’ which, hidden amongst a bush, was this

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A Frozen-themed tin chest. Filled with more chocolate eggs of course.

Seeing that smile on baby girl’s face, why, we could almost do an Easter egg hunt every day, just to see that beautiful face light up with happiness the way it did.

Happy Easter All 🙂 Hope yours was a special and memorable one.

#415 Good, baking, Friday

Just some of my W.I.Ps today:

I’ve got a lot of baking to do for Easter which is in two days, and I was more than happy to spend my day off today with my family, on a cold and grey and not too impressive day, just baking at home.

Baby girl played with her blocks, Hubbie played some instruments… and I baked.

Baby girl watched Tangled, Hubbie listened to music… and I baked.

Baby girl lined up all her Kinder ‘surprises,’ Hubbie watched youtube videos of cars he was frothing for… and I baked.

And I really enjoyed it all:)

The smell of muffins, melted chocolate, and moulded cake pops filled the walls of our home, and surrounded by that, and my family… well I think that makes for a pretty Good Friday, don’t you? 😉