Friday, April 19, 2013

Lately..

The teen has been baking. She is on a mission to find the perfect recipe for Red Velvet cupcakes. Personally I am a little confused as to what exactly makes a 'red velvet' cupcake. Is it the frighteningly lurid red colouring obtained from that section in the supermarket? Or perhaps the cream cheese icing that makes the 'velvet'? I say little, preferring to watch instead as she finds her way on this baking mission she has chosen...

Beans have been plentiful this year. Both Blue Lake and Purple King have not disappointed us. I think there is only one kind of way to grow beans for such generous cropping and that is UP! No longer will I be on my knees tending the dwarf variety, climbers are definitely the way to go for those that are seeking abundance..
Our tomatoes are finishing up and I confess to being rather neglectful at bringing them all in lately. Isn't that silly that we plan and hope all year for a generous crop and right when they hit their peak we get a little lazy and smug at their seemingly endless fruiting..tsk tsk, shame on me I know.

On the plus side however, the new dehydrator has been christened well with a batch of semi dried tomatoes. 

I have put them in a light olive oil and in the fridge. Do you make semi dried tomatoes? Do you add garlic or herbs to the jar? My two preserving books had contradictory advice on this..

Teenettes have been 'parking it' over the holidays. A few days of glorious sunshine made it an obvious choice for picnics. We did the rounds visiting three good parks in our area whenever we got a chance...
Someone mentioned to me recently that their girls, aged in lower primary school, were "too old for the park now". I've thought about this a lot and am really sad for those girls. How can anyone ever be too old for a park? I sure hope my girls never are! I for one am not too old, still managing to squeeze into the swings anytime I'm there. I imagine when I'm a wise old women, I'll be sitting on the seats in the sunshine still taking it all in, watching wannabe youthful mamas squeeze themselves into the swings..yep, never too old.

A Punch and Judy show! Have you seen one? Apparently it's a must for everyone to see at least once in their life. The slapstick humour from yesteryear had some kids in the audience scratching their heads but overall I think they warmed to the spirit of comedy that is Punch.
I still get a chuckle when I recall scenes from the show or remember the voice of the puppeteer!

And back into the swing of the school term, our veggie group resumed today in spite of the chilly winds that saw beanies pulled out from cupboards and jackets brought out again.
Having the sun peep out while we worked was most welcomed. It IS meant to be Autumn after all, right?


29 comments:

  1. I've always wondered about red velvet cake also. Is it just the red coloring? Sounds like you are going to have several cakes to answer that question with.

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    1. Yes, several cakes! She seems to have no shortage if eager guinea pigs in her sisters either..

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  2. Those cup cakes look very tasty!
    I have a recipe for red velvet cake using beetroot! let me know if you want it.
    Never never to old for the park.
    I would love to try making sun dried tomatoes with home grown toms, but mine never rippen!

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    1. We would LOVE a copy of your recipe, thanks so much Emma!! :)

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  3. It is always enjoyable for me to read your posts. :-) Here in the USA we are in the full swing of spring, getting lots of things in the ground and attempting to eat up the stores of the previous season. Just yesterday my husband put in an espaliered apple tree with 6 different varieties grafted on! So exciting.

    I wanted to comment on both the dried tomatoes and the red velvet cake. First, I also dry little cherry tomatoes in my dehydrator all summer long, but I dry them all the way and store them in the pantry. In the winter I make the most fantastic dried tomato pesto with them. It is quick and easy to prepare and it can go on any manner of pasta, pizza dough, spaghetti squash etc.. The recipe is super simple and I don't measure anything. I just grab a wide mouth mason jar, throw in a couple handfuls of the dried cherry tomatoes, some dehydrator dried herbs like (basil, oregano, thyme), a couple cloves of garlic, olive oil, warm water, salt and pepper, and a splash of red wine vinegar. Then I grab my hand wand /immersion blender and blend it up. I add more or less olive oil or warm water depending on how thick or thin I want the pesto. If you have never tried this before you are in for a treat!
    Secondly, I had an enjoyable cookbook from the library recently called "The Smitten Kitchen" and in it the author and food blogger (Deb Perelman) from NYC had a more grown up version of red velvet cake that uses red wine to color and add flavor to the batter. It's probably not something for you daughter as I don't think all the alcohol bakes out, but I thought you might find it and her book interesting.

    Take Care!

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    1. Hi Melenie, your dried tomato pesto sounds absolutely delicious!! I have another basket here needing a use and will be giving your totally dried method a go, thankyou! :)

      Interesting too about the red wine for the cupcakes, something to remember. Our favourite brownie recipe is a Smitten Kitchen one! ;)

      Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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  4. I recently made some semi dried tomatoes following the method given by Kate at Fox's Lane blog. Chop a few garlic cloves and some herbs, I used thyme, mint and rosemary, and add to some olive oil. Cut tomatoes in half and mix the oil mixture through until well coated then place in the drier. They were the best I have ever made.

    Cheers, Karen near Gympie.

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    1. Thanks, Karen :) I haven't heard of oiling the tomatoes first before drying - very interesting!

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  5. Ooh your semi dried tomatoes look wonderful!

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  6. Hello Christine,
    it is always a pleasure for me to read your post.We have spring in germany,but at the moment it is cold.My tomatoes harden up.I have never made dried tomatoes,but i think this year I will it try.Thanks for the inspiration.
    Have a nice weekend,
    Regina

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    1. Hi Regina, it's good to hear from you! I hope your tomatoes are bountiful this summer for you! :)

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  7. So jealous of your veggie garden, but inspired by your ideas and successes and yearn for the day when I can put veggie gardening into practice myself... And I'm wondering, could you use beetroot to colour a red velvet cup cake?

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    1. Lisa, once you start pulling up your own home harvests you'll be a convert, I'm sure of it! Yes, good tip about the beetroot, I believe Emma (above) has a recipe..
      :)

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  8. Oh those cup cakes look so lovely. I am wondering how you went with putting your sun dried tomatoes in oil. David and I embarked on stuffing our mini capsicums with feta and putting them in olive oil ...because of the feta we had to put it in the fridge. The result - one solid mass of hard oil with the capsicums in there somewhere. It isn't as we imagined. Has this happened with your tomatoes?

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    1. Ha, Kim, yes, you are right on the mark! They looked so lovely at room temp but after an overnighter in the fridge have turned into one solid mass. The other night I was making pasta and needed to dig them out with a fork, sit them in a cup near the warm stove for 5 or 10 minutes for the oil to melt and then add them to the pasta. Hmmm...not sure what to do about this! Those feta stuffed peppers sound delicious if it weren't for the hardened oil. ;)

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  9. I love it when my girls bake, they really enjoy being in the kitchen. Your veggies look wonderful and your dehydrated tomatoes look great! We are also not too old for the park and need to visit there again soon.
    Have a wonderful week ahead,
    Linda
    :)

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    1. Lovely to hear from you Linda. Great to hear that others are not to old for the park - it's such a staple for us, hard to imagine life without one. Enjoy the week. :)

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  10. The Red Velvet Cupcakes have certainly been the buzz on the internet for a few years now. Personally I haven't had one and eating something that red..umm doesn't really appeal to me...now make it chocolate coloured and flavoured I'm in before they can come out of the oven. Lovely that your daughter did such a fabulous job on them and baking is such a great skill to learn. Regards Kathy A, Brisane, Australia

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    1. You know, Kathy, I had never heard of these Red Velvet cupcakes until my daughter decided to bake them! I must really be living under a log. Have to agree with you on the red colouring -not my cup of tea. The cream cheese topping was very nice though! ;)

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  11. Those cupcakes look amazing! Please share her recipe, my daughter has been wanting to bake some red velvet cake too :)

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    1. Hi Wendy, she used this recipe:
      http://www.joyofbaking.com/RedVelvetCupcakes.html

      It has a LOT of red colouring in it and as she follows things to the letter, I'm pretty sure she would've used all that the recipe stated.

      I'm on a quest now to find a beetroot coloured version, probably not her cup of tea but definitely mine. ;)

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  12. I always read your blog but never comment, so this is a first. When drying your tomatoes, and storing them in oil, don't add garlic, as this could turn nasty. The exclusion of air could cause the garlic to release botulism, which you can't smell, taste or see, but will make you very ill.
    If you insist, you will have to add some sort of acid too, which would kill the botulism bacteria.
    X
    Anneke

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    1. Thanks Anneke, I had wondered about this and was just too scared to add the garlic in the end. It would be so helpful if preserving books were all consistent!

      Enjoy the day :)

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  13. I love your beautiful blog It’s exactly what I was looking for!nice job for posting this.

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  14. It isn't tomato season here yet and I can't wait! Your photo of the girl on swing with so much motion behind her is amazing!

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  15. Thanks, Bev, she's our eldest, The Teen. ;)

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  16. When I do semi dried tomatoes I put them in small containers in the freezer with layers of waxed paper in between.I've tried it with oil in the fridge before but found it messy to scrape the excess olive oil off them before use. This way they come out nice and clean and you can add the olive oil and garlic later if you need it.

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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