Archive for August 2012




In Search of My Macaron Mojo

Macaron’s. That sweet little bite of heaven. So quickly devoured, so melt-in-your mouth. The bane of so many who venture into the kitchen.

Of course I had to try making them.

One reason is because they are gluten free, and since I’ve had to move into GF cooking as a general way of life now, I figured it’d be handy to know how to make them. But also, you know – they’re challenging, and I do like a bit of a kitchen challenge.

The first time I attempted them I had never actually tried one, so perhaps that wasn’t the wisest move. Not that I’ve let that stop me before.

They tasted fine, at least, I thought they did, but they were eggshell thin, reminiscent of crazy paving, and had no feet to speak of.

Since then I have tried macarons from several places, so at least I have an idea of what I’m aiming at.

I made some more last week:

Taste wise they rocked! Cranberry & Salted Pomegranate = yum!

Aesthetically, not so much. I obviously under mixed it as all my shells had nipples. Some of them cracked, and the oven was obviously a fraction too high  because they lost their pale pink colour and started to have a toasty look.

So, I read more blogs and recipes and guides on What Can Go Wrong, and I tried again today.

Things started off okay…they certainly looked better than my last attempts

 

 

 

 

The one batch of mix was able to give me three batches in the oven. Each batch came out a little differently.

Batch the first:

The second:

And the third:

 

As you can see, the third lot is overcooked…I’m trying to find the fine line in my oven temperatures to give my macaron’s a nice foot without toasting them,,,so far, not overly successful.

The second lot are my best. A few cracks here and there, no feet, but could be worse. And they kept their colour nicely.

Batch one was undercooked…which left me with something that looked like a Macaron Massacre – lots of gutted bodies.

They might not have ‘footed’, but I could still make them into wanabee ‘rons.

I still had some Salted Pomegranate filling left over, so I made some with that, and then the others I made White Chocolate & Raspberry

 

And look at this! ONE (semi) FOOTED MACARON:

Just don’t look at the back of it! However, I’m taking that as proof positive that it can be done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Add a comment August 26, 2012

CBCA Book Week Challenge: Under the Covers

Over on her blog, Tansy Rayner Roberts is celebrating the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week, and she has challenged people to talk about their childhood reading.

I decided this year I want to do something fun on the blog to celebrate Book Week, as I usually forget about it until it’s too late. So I’m going to write some posts about my childhood reading, not only favourite books, but how I read them and why I still remember them.

So I thought I might try and take up her invitation.

Under the Covers

Today I’m not talking about what I read, so much as how I read.

As a kid, if I was on my own, my nose was seldom out of a book…walking to school, at school, walking home from school, even during school if I thought I could get away with it. Trips  in the car, to the shop, or on holidays. And in bed. Especially in bed.

There’s probably very few avid child readers who didn’t read under the covers. I know I did, which is a big reason I was able to read five or six novels a week.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t fortunate enough to possess a torch, so I had to Make Do. and for a long time the only source of light I had was my digital watch. This tiny little thing that Dad brought back from an overseas trip when I was eight. I would hold the light on and move the light across the page, line by line, word by word. It was tedious, yes, and I’m pretty sure I developed a callous on my thumb from holding the light button down, but when I finished a book at three in the morning and curled up asleep, I was sure it was worth it. The good thing about the digital watch light was that it didn’t cast a glow that might be seen under my door, which meant I didn’t need to hide under the covers –  a good thing, too, as our house wasn’t air conditioned and temperatures were in the mid 20’s at night time, so it could get a bit stifling under the bedspread.

Eventually my watch battery died, and I had to find a replacement. I was at a loss for quite a while, until I discovered Brusome’s calculator. It had luminescent green numbers, so I would press 88888888, and add it to the (M)emory to maximise the light output, and then continue happily reading.

When I had children of my own, my daughter would read by the light coming through the crack under her door, or by the light of the tiny little sewing machine my mum had bought her.

Did I just live a deprived childhood? Were you lucky enough to have a torch? Or did your parents love you enough to provide a LAMP?  😛

Add a comment August 22, 2012

CBCA Book Week Challenge: Choose Your Own Adventure

Over on her blog, Tansy Rayner Roberts is celebrating the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week, and she has challenged people to talk about their childhood reading.

I decided this year I want to do something fun on the blog to celebrate Book Week, as I usually forget about it until it’s too late. So I’m going to write some posts about my childhood reading, not only favourite books, but how I read them and why I still remember them.

So I thought I might try and take up her invitation.

Choose Your Own Adventure

I was eight or nine when these started appearing in the local newsagency, and for a couple of years they were an important part of my life. My brother and I were immediately captivated by them when they first came out. Brusome was four years older than me, and most definitely didn’t! read! at! all!

We actively saved our pocket money for these books, and would check the newsagency every time we went passed, just in case the new one was early.

And when a new title was finally released and we had it in our possession, we’d sit at the kitchen table and take turns reading it. At times I think the kitchen timer (aka mum) had to be employed, but generally each read through was very quick. And, when we were sharing, a “no cheating” rule was introduced – if you weren’t sure of what choice to make and you peeked ahead, you would forfeit your turn. And if we went ahead and bought one on our own, there was as a certain respect this commanded, and the book could be used as a bargaining chip – “If you do the dishes for me, I’ll let you read it through once.” At times they would even become a form of currency – “I’ll trade you my newest book for…”

Many of the titles were SF oriented – I’m pretty sure time travel was a recurring theme, but aliens and the future were always popular as well, and it’s quite possible this is where my love for the genre started, as neither of my parents had the slightest interest in anything SFish, Mum tends towards life stories, and Dad reads…well anything that isn’t SF really – .in his words, it leaves him cold. So we didn’t read, or even watch, science fiction until Choose Your Own Adventure came into our lives, but after that it seems to be a constant in my memories.

As an eight year old, it was very exciting to have an element of control over the narrative, knowing that one wrong choice could end my life/story, but if you chose wisely you could get your “happy ever after”. and I’m sure reading  CYOA books was also my springboard into text based adventure games when Brusome got his Commodore 64 – first Zork and others, and in later years games like Space Quest, Quest for Glory, and  Police Quest. Games that I spent many, many hours days weeks months playing.

It’s quite possible that even though they were really only a part of my life for maybe three years before I outgrew them, Choose Your Own Adventure books were some of the most influential reading I did as a young child.

Add a comment August 21, 2012

CBCA Book Week Challenge: Nancy Drew

Over on her blog, Tansy Rayner Roberts is celebrating the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week, and she has challenged people to talk about their childhood reading.

I decided this year I want to do something fun on the blog to celebrate Book Week, as I usually forget about it until it’s too late. So I’m going to write some posts about my childhood reading, not only favourite books, but how I read them and why I still remember them.

So I thought I might try and take up her invitation.

Nancy Drew

How I wanted to be Nancy Drew. She was level headed, and smart. She got to travel, and she drove a blue convertible! (Mine would have been red) Nancy could do anything! In fact, I’m pretty sure Nancy could do EVERYTHING! Nancy and I became firm friends – firm enough that mum started to curtail the amount of time I was allowed to spend with her. Seriously, eventually I was limited to TWO ND books a week from the library. That was partly because I would stay awake all night reading them…but also partly because I may have been getting a tad obsessive about her.

After working through a substantial number of my library’s collection, I started interspersing them with the Hardy Boys, which was basically a male version of Nancy Drew, but nowhere near as cool, because they needed TWO boys to solve a crime when Nancy could do it on her own for the most part. Even if you counted Nancy’s best friends, girlie girl Bess and  tomboy George, at most that only equalled things, because Frank and Joe were often accompanied by their well meaning, but often inept friend, Chet.

And then they released a few books where Nancy, Frank and Joe teamed up, and I thought all my Christmases had come at once…even if I don’t actually celebrate it. The thing is, I think they must have been pretty disappointing, because while I remember a lot about the various ND and HB books, I remember nothing but the covers of these, yet I know I read them.

And in a bit of side trivia, one of the very first things I looked up on the internet when I first got online (way back in 1995) was information on Nancy Drew and Carolyn Keene – I was devastated to learn that she DIDN’T EXIST!  Betrayed, I tell you! But it did explain the inconsistency in writing quality that even as a twelve year old, I could spot.

Add a comment August 20, 2012

CBCA Book Week Challenge: Enid Blyton

Over on her blog, Tansy Rayner Roberts is celebrating the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week, and she has challenged people to talk about their childhood reading.

I decided this year I want to do something fun on the blog to celebrate Book Week, as I usually forget about it until it’s too late. So I’m going to write some posts about my childhood reading, not only favourite books, but how I read them and why I still remember them.

So I thought I might try and take up her invitation.

Enid Blyton

For me, Enid Blyton is the obvious place to start when talking about my childhood reading. I can’t remember when I first discovered her, she just always seemed to be *there*, which, given the amount of books she wrote, probably wasn’t a hard thing. And although I was growing out of her by grade five, for the my early and middle primary years, her books probably formed the most substantial part of my literary diet. Not that she was high brow literature, but she entertained me.

I think I kind of started with the various adventure books, wishing I had a family that owned an island on which I could escape and have adventures. My cousins and I would play adventure games where we pretended to be the Terrific Three, since we were two short to be the Five, and we’d spend our school holidays building hiding places under the stairs or in the hedge, and making adventures. But we were better than the FF because we didn’t need boys to take the lead and show us what to do. And then, when I was alone, I would try my hand at writing Famous Five stories. Yes, there it is – I wrote fanfic.

Eventually the time came when I had read all the FF books in the library, (for some reason I never could get into Secret Seven) and then moved into the boarding school series, kicking off with the Naughtiest Girl where I found myself wishing that I could get sent to boarding school, so I could indulge in midnight feasts with lashings of ginger beer, despite the fact that I didn’t like ginger beer at all.

I think though, that my favourites were the various books that involved visits to other lands – The Wishing Chair, and The Faraway Tree particularly, because those books stayed with me. I was reading them at the same time as I was having adventures on Kirren Island, and I continued to re-read them (albeit covertly)  in high school (and beyond) as a comfort thing. As a matter of fact, I still have several of them in my bookshelf now.

3 comments August 19, 2012

My Crazy Cupcake Adventure — Nightsiders

In a future world of extreme climate change, Perth, Western Australia’s capital city, has been abandoned. Most people were evacuated to the East by the late ’30s and organised infrastructure and services have gone.

A few thousand obstinate and independent souls cling to the city and to the southern towns. Living mostly by night to endure the fierce temperatures, they are creating a new culture in defiance of official expectations. A teenage girl stolen from her family as a child; a troupe of street actors who affect their new culture with memories of the old; a boy born into the wrong body; and a teacher who is pushed into the role of guide tell the story of The Nightside.

Nightsiders by Sue Isle is a collection of four stories set in  a post apocalyptic Perth. It’s a world where the sun is vicious, and the few remaining residents move around at night time in order to survive.

When I was trying to determine what kind of cupcake would embody Nightsiders, I automatically went to lemon, because of the sun, but I wasn’t quite happy with that as a choice, because it felt too fresh, which I didn’t think represented the feel…not the writing isn’t fresh, it is. It’s n awesome book! Rather it was the whole “lemon fresh” thing I had an issue with. Until I realised that making Scorched Lemon Meringue Cupcakes would be perfect.

I have a very easy, basic cupcake recipe that works well as the base, and as an added bonus it’s gluten-free.

(more…)

2 comments August 3, 2012

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