A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Madness – Asymmetry

So yeah, I’ve been slack with the posting. Short attention span and all that :)

Asymmetry by Thoraiya Dyer


One of the first things you may notice about these macarons is that they’re not smooth and even. There’s a reason for that :) Mostly it’s because I’d been cooking macarons for something like ten hours and my care factor had slipped a little (Sorry, Thoraiya!) But I kinda figured that with a title like Assymetry I could get a pass on them being smooth, shiny, perfect little bites of sweet delight.

Which isn’t to say that they’re not delicious little morsels, because these were amazing! The colour was easy to choose. I didn’t. They are macarons a la naturel. No colouring, just the natural colour of the almond meal macaron. The flavour though like Thoraiya’s writing is a twist on the everyday – Vanilla and Elderflower. And the consensus was that it was absolutely delicious!


Previously in Macaron Mayhem:

Nightsiders by Sue Isle

Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan


Add a comment June 3, 2014
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A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Madness – Cracklescape

Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan

Photo by Cat Sparks



Of the nine Twelfth Planet books, Cracklescape was the easiest flavour to choose. I always knew it would be the same flavour as the cupcakes I did. Salted Lime Caramel! Because it’s hard to go wrong with salted caramel. And when I make them again, as larger versions, which I will, I’ll be folding crushed toffee shards through the frosting for extra crackle, as well as putting a dollop of goopy pure caramel in the centre of the frosting.

The shells had lime zest grated into the mixture for a hint of citrusy goodness to match the cover,  and there was a good squeeze of juice in the caramel itself as well, and it really worked. I think these are quite possibly my favourite. (Favourite enough that I have made a batch of them this week – in full size.)


Previously in Macaron Mayhem:

Nightsiders by Sue Isle

Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts


Add a comment May 9, 2014
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A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Mayhem – Love and Romanpunk

Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Photo by Cat Sparks

I LOVE how strong the colour turned out with this one. Actually, the colours for this one, BAD POWER, and THROUGH SPLINTERED WALLS all came out gorgeous, and I think that was mostly because I let them mature overnight. Alisa and I had been cooking all day and into the night and had only completed six batches, so about 8:30 I decided to make the mix for the remaining three, but cook them the next day. And it paid off. The colours matured beautifully!


I had come across a flavour combination of Fig and Port Wine, which seemed to be perfect for LARP, but I did encounter a couple of issues with it.

Problem number one is figs aren’t in season, so I got hold of some semi dried figs and marinated them for a day or so. Problem number two occurred when I first attempted to make the filling dairy free. I thought the flavour would go well with a chocolate base, and I had a recipe where you cream an avocado and mix it with cocoa to make a rich chocolate frosting.

Perfect! or so I thought. The base frosting tasted beautiful, and I will be using it again, but remember those marinating figs? When they were mulched up and mixed in, a) I needed A LOT of them to override the cocoa which left me with an overwhelming fig flavour, and b) the look and texture was not something you want to put on anything you are intending to eat. Brown. Lumpy. Sticky.

Yeah. No.

So, I pushed it to the side and decided to try a different variant. Fortunately, when I’d purchased the semi-dried figs, I’d also gotten some of “Maggie Beer’s Fig & Fennel Paste.” The taste was quite mild and was complemented well when I added in a splash of port. The question then was what frosting base I should add it to, bearing in mind I was trying to stay dairy free. I ended up going with the cashew frosting – soak natural cashews in warm water for several hours, then blitz with a bit of oil. A nice subtle flavored frosting that didn’t conflict with the fig and port. Very nice!


Previously in Macaron Mayhem:

Nightsiders by Sue Isle


Add a comment May 5, 2014
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A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Mayhem – Nightsiders

Nightsiders by Sue Isle

Photo by 
Cat Sparks


The cover is yellow, but the flavour of the book is far from bright, nor is it sweet. So no traditional yellow flavour (eg: lemon or banana) would suffice for me. Instead I needed a dark, gritty flavour, and I decided on Vegemite. Don’t laugh! And don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. The King of Macarons, Adriano Zumbo introduced the world to Vegemite Macarons and the world accepted this offering of ambrosia. And technically is wasn’t Vegemite, coz I needed to use Ozemite in order for all the macs to stay gluten free.

The Vegemite was mixed into a white chocolate ganache and a handful of gluten free breadcrumbs for texture. And the salty tang of Vegemite (Ozemite) balances beautifully with the sweet of the white chocolate ganache and the macaron shell.

At the launch this was the flavour that garnished the most attention, and not everyone was convinced enough to try it, but for the most part, those that did thought it worked.

Add a comment May 1, 2014
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A New Level of Crazy: Macaron Mayhem Edition

As you may have noticed, two of my passions are baking and fandom. And the most fun I can have is when I combine the two. And I had an opportunity to do this recently, because Swancon was on, and Twelfth Planet Press had a special announcement to make. The question was, how to do it in style? Remember last time, when I decorated 300 cupcakes in a hotel room? Yeah, I didn’t learn.

And, since this time around I would be in my own kitchen,  I couldn’t just live with that, could I? Noooo, I had to up the difficulty level. Because that seems to be how I define fun. :)

The Challenge: A macaron for each of the nine released book of the Twelve Planets series. Colour and flavour matched. And for an added twist of difficulty I decided to make over half of the fillings dairy free.

Now, NO ONE should eat nine macarons in a short period, not unless they want to go into sugar shock, so by opting for mini macs we figured we’d lower the sugar intake for those determined adventurous enough to try all flavours. What Alisa and I discovered with a full day spent cooking, is minis are way harder to get right than traditional sized ones, which means I have A LOT of leftovers (aka way less than perfect) at home that we are working our way though.

FYI they look a lot like this.


However, we did end up with around 450 complete mini macarons for the night.

A night which seemed to be a success.


Last few… they were gone moments later.

20140428-185613.jpg 20140428-185555.jpg

And Alisa selling ALL the books!


Oh, and the Twelfth Planet Special Announcement? News about a Thirteenth Planet by Isobel Carmody!

In the next few days I will attempt to post the story of each macaron. I’m not going to give a specific macaron recipe, because there are a million out on the net, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for someone else. However, I will talk generically about the shells, and give an idea of what I used for the fillings.


Photo by Cat Sparks


Add a comment April 28, 2014
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Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

A few months ago there was a huge internet storm after Maria Kang, self described “FitMom”, posted a photo of herself and her children with the words “What’s Your Excuse?” plastered over it.
Now I know she wasn’t the first person to use that phrase, and she certainly hasn’t been the last. And hats off to her that she can exercise and eat well and raise her kids, and keep her household running and run her business. That’s great.
However, something has bugged me since the furor erupted, and it took me a bit to realise what it was.
I have to say I HATE the phrase “What’s your excuse?” Particularly the use of the word excuse. The term excuse immediately acts to invalidate a genuine reason. And yes, while the phrase may be technically correct, the tone it is offered in is always one of self righteousness – “If I can do it, then you should be able to.” It shows no empathy for others. No understanding or compassion.
I’ve heard colleagues say it: I can do X job and Y job, and all the filing, mopping, broadcasting and rocket building – what’s your excuse?
I’ve heard writers say it: I can work full time, raise a family, run a marathon, cook a gourmet meal and knock out a novel by lunchtime – what’s your excuse?
Because if they can do it then obviously anyone can.
It’s a selfish, arrogant and dismissive thing to say! No one truly knows another persons circumstances. No two people have the exact same circumstances, so what works for one person may be totally ineffective or unsustainable or unobtainable for another. And branding a persons reasons as an “excuse”, belittles those circumstances.
Personally, I think it’s the equivalent of telling a depressed person to “get over it” or “cheer up”. It’s not helpful, it’s harmful. It’s like saying “I broke up with my partner and I’m fine, so what are you moping about?”

ETA: All of the above is addressing the fact that you might actually be striving for the same thing as the person commenting. As Alisa says, “…the other thing that bugged me about it was implication that we want what she/they have.” And THAT is a whole other issue.

Add a comment January 28, 2014

Gluten Free Fluffy Pancakes

Last night we had had some awesome gluten free pancakes. I mean GF Pancakes can be pretty blah normally, but these…will become a staple. However, these weren’t awesome just because they were GF, but pretty amazing pancakes anyway! They were light and fluffy, not rubbery or crumbly, and tasted like real pancakes.

2-3 egg whites
2 cups gluten free self raising flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar (we used maple syrup for flavour and taste)
2 eggs

Beat the egg whites until stiff and meringue like

Beat all other ingredients in a separate bowl until thoroughly mixed

Fold in beaten egg whites

Drop spoonfuls into a hot buttered pan.
Cook as per normal. However these are thick enough that they tend to start to burn on the outside without being cooked through, so keep an eye on the temperature.


Add a comment May 27, 2013
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Buying a smile

When I was a baby I had an accident. Well, actually, I had multiple accidents as an infant, but the specific incident I am referring to in this post happened when I was just ten months old.

It was mid afternoon, and I had been put down to sleep on a bed, with a bottle. Wriggly child that I was I managed to roll off of the bed, and I knocked my mouth on the collar of the bottle, dislodging one of my baby teeth, root and all. At the time, while I imagine there was a bit of blood and more than a few tears on my part, and panic and distress on my mum’s, I don’t think it was considered a serious accident. After all, it was only a baby tooth, surely the adult one would grow in eventually.

But time went by, and nothing happened. My baby teeth fell out, the adult teeth grew in, but not the one that I had been missing forever. And it wasn’t like I could hide it, after all it was front and centre.
Now missing front teeth might be considered cute on a kindy kid,
but as you get older it starts to attract looks, and by eight or nine you start to get Questions.

So, when I was ten I received My First Denture. (Now, there’s a title you don’t see often in the My First range.) It took a bit of getting used to, and it was a definite learning experience…the first thing I learned is that it didn’t mix well with bubble gum, rather it seemed to get tied in knots and end up in all kinds of weird mess in my mouth. This led directly to me learning the hard way not to put it in the back pocket of my shorts when I needed to take it out, because a week or so after getting my first denture, I had to get my second one, when I sat down and managed to break it into multiple pieces.
I was on double dentist visits at school…I had the usual six monthly checks, and on the alternate six months I would have my plate assessed.
And then I left school. And due to affordability, and procrastination, and apprehension I have had only a handful of visits since. And it is a testament to the workmanship of the school dentists that a denture that is supposed to last five years or so has lasted me five times longer.
You know, I’ve never been overly comfortable with my smile, and at times I’ve been very self conscious of it, but I’ve never quite taken the step to do something about it, after all, there’s always more important things to pay for.
And then my parents decided to buy me a new smile.
I had several options open to me, and I explored each one. I always thought if I ever did anything I would have an implant done…it costs Outrageou$ $tupid Dollar$ to get it done, but it’s as close to the real thing as you can get. Then I found out what was involved and quickly reconsidered. It was trips to Perth, probably surgery under general anesthetic, lots of healing time and a process that would take about six months. On the other hand, the next option only cost $tupid Dollar$ in comparison, could be done at my local dentist, and would only take two weeks.
I’ll take option B thanks, Eddie.
So that’s what I’ve been doing…on Monday there was needles and moulds and drilling and grinding. (And possibly tears, coz, you know, needles, and dentist!) And I walked out with a temporary measure to get me through the next two weeks. Except it didn’t survive my first meal. i bit into a soft, fresh bread roll and the temporary measure broke. Obviously this eating gig needs some readjustment. So yesterday I was back at the dentists. They were jam packed all day and could only squeeze me in at the very end of the day, so I stayed hidden away like the Hunchback of Notre Dame all day, until I could rush to the surgery for my emergency fix.
Apparently breakages are very common, so I figure I’m going to exist on soft foods for the next two weeks. Don’t want to risk that again. At least it’s soup weather atm. Soup and ice cream! :)
It’s so weird though. For the first time in over thirty years (30??!!!) I don’t have a plate in. I can feel texture and temperature with my whole mouth now, and I almost have a lisp as my tongue tries to adjust to these few extra millimeters of play room suddenly granted. It’s a strange feeling indeed.

1 comment May 8, 2013
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“Just ‘Coz” day

I have the most awesome friends and today they declared it was “Just ‘Coz” day.

I don’t celebrate birthdays. Or Christmas. Or Easter. Or Mother’s Day, Valentines Day etc, etc…..And my friends and family that do celebrate, and know I don’t, respect me enough to neither give me presents or expect presents from me.

What I do believe in and celebrate though, is “Just ‘Coz” day. I love “Just ‘Coz” day – it says “I saw this and thought of you!” I think it’s personal, and meaningful. It also sneaks up on you in wonderful ways, and surprises you when you least expect it.

Today, Alisa and Tehani surprised me with the most gorgeous napery set, covered in colorful macarons. (From one of my favourite brands, no less.)
Just add pearls for an instant 50's housewife

And, as an added bonus, it’s trimmed in Twelfth Planet Press pink.

Add a comment May 6, 2013
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Well, Conflux has been and gone and it was great fun! I had never been to Canberra, so that was an adventure in itself. And if eating a salad in the airport counts, I have visited Adelaide as well. So now I have been to every capital city in Australia. I am so well travelled. Next stop, get myself a passport.

Mostly for me the weekend was about supporting Alisa and Twelfth Planet Press, and getting to catch up with friends! And late nights…oh the late nights. #Iamold

By far the greatest majority of my time was spent in the Dealers Room, but I quite like that, because nearly everyone wanders through at some stage or another, so I get to see everyone.

I don’t tend to do panels, so my one contribute was organising the awards ceremony. I wanted something fun and engaging and the awesome Deb Biancotti provided all that. She did an amazing job.

Congratulations to all the winners! It was wonderful to see some of my favourite fandom people being honoured.

And the trophies themselves this year were stunning! Lewis Morley did a beautiful job on them. Most years I am a bit meh about the trophies, (although squeaky octopii were definitely cool) and I have never been particularly sad that I don’t do award worthy things….but oh, I badly coveted this year’s edition. And then some people actually got TWO of them! So not fair! (It is really…Tansy, Kaaron and Kathleen all deserved to win their categories!)

I thought I had people convinced about me being all sweetness and light, but Sean the Blogonaut saw through me when it came to the Ditmars…because I utilised my underworld contacts to procure myself a Blackmarket edition.

I has Ditmar
It’s so, so pretty sitting in my cabinet.

Add a comment May 4, 2013
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I’ve Said It Once…

Past Ingredients




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