food


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So my lunchbox was starting to fall apart, quite literally, at the seams. Plus, some of my lunch food containers didn’t fit into it. I decided enough was enough, and went about making a custom one!

After some quality time on Pinterest and some general surfing around lunchbox ideas, I based my lunchbox on the construction of the Fiskars Insulated Lunch Bag, which is a free pattern/tutorial. Using my largest lunch container as a guide, I did some math and sketched up a draft pattern.

The Fiskars bag is sewn all-in-one, but I didn’t want visible seams inside my bag. To do that I made the lining separate from the shell, and then slipped one inside the other, wrong sides together, before finishing the binding around the upper opening.

I used some deco fabric I’d had in the stash for ages for the outer shell. I haven’t done it yet but I intend to give it a good spray with Scotchguard to help keep it nice and clean. It is, however, washable.

The lining is a layer of bamboo quilt batting (leftovers from a previous project), a bright pink quilting cotton from the stash, and an inner lining of some clear vinyl I scored through work a few years ago. Those I layered all together and sewed as one. Doing it this way meant the vinyl was always together, so I didn’t have to worry about walking feet or that sort of stuff. I did use a jeans needle, though.

I’m afraid I had one of those ‘having-too-much-fun-to-take-pictures’ projects so I’ve got nothing of the construction!

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Seams were layered and pinked. The button and elastic closure were sewn onto the shell prior to joining it to the lining, and I did reinforce those areas with some scraps of iron-on interfacing (on the wrong side of the fabric). The handle I completely forgot to add before I did the binding, so that got sewn on by hand.

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The clear vinyl means I can wipe the inside with a damp cloth to keep it clean, but I can wash this in cold water (probably by hand or on the delicate cycle). I know that the vinyl is probably not food-safe or BPA free,  but it was a practice run, and as long as my food doesn’t come into direct contact with it I think I’ll survive.

The base of the bag is reinforced with a rectangle of clear plastic (the stuff you use with document binding machines, cos that’s what I had). I made a little pocket against the wrong side of the lining with a piece of fabric and slipped the plastic in there.

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There’s a couple of pop-studs on the sides to help keep the closure tidy. The bag ended up a little roomier than I intended – I was a little generous with my measurements – but that’s totally fine. Finished measurements are about 35cm tall, and the base is 20cm x 22cm.

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And hey. Folds flat for easy storage! It’s going to get a test run this week, and if it works I might revise the measurements a bit and make another one. I have a piece of laminated fabric I bought yonks ago with a lunchbox in mind; it could happen!!!

Enjoy your week my friends – happy lunchbox!

 

 

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Hi there! I thought I’d share some baking with you, just to prove that I’m not only all about the sewing.

 

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I based these on this recipe, with a few minor adjustments. The recipe called for 1 egg plus one egg yolk, but I hate splitting eggs, so I replaced the yolk with a dollop of yoghurt.

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White Chocolate Matcha Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour (I used a gluten-free flour)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 tbsp matcha (green tea) powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used raw sugar)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • 180g white choc chips, or roughly chopped white chocolate

Preheat oven to 325F (165C)

Beat butter & sugars until creamy.

Beat in vanilla, egg & yoghurt.

Sift in flour, matcha powder, baking soda & salt. Mix until dough is just blended. Fold in white chocolate.

Drop spoonfuls onto a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just browning around the edges.  Cool on trays for a couple of minutes, then transfer onto wire racks.

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I ran 7.1km this morning. I think I earned a couple of cookies 🙂

Wait, let’s have a closeup.

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Today’s loaf is brought to you by … hmm, that should be despite. Today’s loaf is brought to you despite the challenges  of buying a new phone half way through the breadmaking process and finding it trickier than expected to get pics out of an old phone that no longer has a connection and a new one that didn’t have email set up. Well, it does now, and here we are…

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A few weeks ago I spend a wonderful afternoon making bread on an apple farm south of Sydney. Spending five hours or so making bread is always always going to be fun for me, but this was extra special. I was attending a breadmaking class run by the lovely Tara Mills of Mill Lane Workshops.  The workshops are held at Glenbernie Orchard, a farm run by the Fahey family, with a lovely rustic shop selling apples from the farm, potatoes, eggs, honey and more.  You can read more about how Tara found the right place to realise her workshops dream here.

The classes are held in a tin shed just a very short stroll from the farm shop – very handy for wandering across and picking up some fresh produce during a break in the breadmaking! There are hay bales with padded hessian seat-tops around a wooden table in one corner; apple crates along the walls; long wooden tables for work benches; boxes of preserving jars for sale; and flowers and herbs from Tara’s garden tucked here and there.

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We were welcomed with a cup of tea and a slice of cider fruit cake – a recipe I tried to wangle from Tara as it was superb, just the sort of old-fashioned, hearty fruit cake, not dry, not too moist but just right that I love. It’s an old family recipe apparently, and I hope that if Tara ever writes a book, she’ll share it there!

 Tara – a self-taught cook who previously ran a micro-bakery for a year – teaches breadkmaking and pastry classes, as well as a one-day workshop on creating an edible garden. She’s planning to add others later in the year. She’s an excellent teacher, reassuring to the beginners in the class, full of good advice, funny and knowledgeable.

I was there for the a class in making French breads. Essentially, a dough made using a poolish (a pre-ferment, where some flour, fresh yeast and water is mixed up and allowed to ferment for 12-18 hours; the rest of the flour, water, yeast and salt is then added, before kneading, rising, shaping and proving). We turned two batches of dough into fougasse (that’s Tara showing us how to do it, below), epi and an eight-roll loaf. There was kneading instruction, tips from Tara on fitting breadmaking into your day by using the fridge and freezer, shaping, baking, chatting and eating (more tea, more cake).

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The day ended, while the last of our loaves baked, with a cheese platter, bread Tara had baked earlier in the day and glasses of bubbly or cider (made using apples from the farm). And we were sent on our way with a bag with class notes, flour (in a lovely little branded calico sack – you can see that above, ready to be put to use in my own kitchen), some fresh yeast, a dough scraper and all the bread we’d made during the day. Those are my loaves below.

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So today I used Tara’s recipe to make a plaited tin loaf – started the preferment last night, made up the dough this morning, let it rise while I went shopping for the new phone (which took a lot longer than expected – a good thing it was a coolish day and the dough didn’t hurry along too much!) and shaped it when I got back.

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Above you can see the preferment at the top, and then the dough mixed up the next day, before kneading.

Tara taught a method of kneading I haven’t used before, a kind of grabbing and slapping down on the bench. It’s very satisfying, and effective, although I’d best not test the neighbours by using it if I’m making bread late at night or early in the morning! This is the dough, below, after several minutes of slapping, and then several more minutes of stretch-and-fold kneading.

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After the longer-than-planned rise, it was actually at just the right stage for shaping – divided into three, rolled into three long pieces and plaited, then tucked into a tin.

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And there we have it – a loaf created either side of a shopping expedition and posted here despite camera tech challenges! I thoroughly recommend Tara’s bread class if you’d like to learn how to make bread, or if you love breadmaking and would like to pick up some new tips and tricks. If you’d like to see more of Tara’s baking, you can also find her on instagram as @mysouthcoastkitchengarden

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Everybody loves an orange and almond cake.

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 Especially when it’s a birthday cake with candied peel and sweet dried figs, marscapone frosting and raspberry chocolate hearts.

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I was determined to create something to equal this amazing cake.

In the end I used a very simple whole-orange-almond-cake recipe from The Cake Mistress. I didn’t boil my oranges for quite as long as she did, mostly because I didn’t want to be up til midnight! So the oranges only got boiled for an hour, and they didn’t have a lot of cooling time either, once I’d pulverized them with my stick blender.

Orange Almond Cake

  • 2 Navel Oranges, washed
  • 220g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 250g almond meal
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Place the whole oranges in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Drain and replace the water, then boil again for another 30 minutes. Drain. Roughly chop the oranges (navel oranges don’t have pips, but if you use a different fruit you will need to remove any pips at this stage) and then blend or process to a pulp.

While the oranges are boiling, start working on the candied peel and raspberry hearts (see below).

Prepare a 22cm round springform pan: spray lightly with oil and cut baking paper to fit the bottom and sides. Preheat the oven to 160C (150C if fanforced).

Using a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on a high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the baking powder. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and use a spatula to carefully fold in the almond meal and orange pulp.

Pout the batter into the pan. Bake for 45-50min or until a skewer comes out clean and the edges of the cake are starting to pull away from the sides. Keep an eye on your cake from the 30 minute mark – if it starts to brown too much, place a piece of foil over the top.

Remove the cake from the oven. Leave in the tin, and place on a rack to cool completely before removing from the tin. (At this stage, I drizzled the leftover zest syrup over the cake while it was still hot. You don’t have to do this but I love syrup cakes!)

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Decorations

Using a zester, remove peel from 1 or 2 oranges. If you don’t have a zester, use a regular peeler, but make sure not to remove too much pith with the peel. You want long thin strips of zest. Put 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup caster sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the zest and simmer for about 20min, until the liquid has reduced. Place the zest and syrup in the fridge for a while. When cool, drain the zest, keeping the syrup.

Cover a small tray with foil. Place the sweet, sticky zest on the tray. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of caster sugar, and toss well to coat. If you’ve timed this right, your oven will still be hot; put it on the lowest setting and put the zest in for about 15-20 minutes, tossing once or twice. It should go crispy and crunchy. Remove from the oven and allow to air-dry for as long as possible (I left mine overnight, covered with a clean cloth).

Take about 4 dried figs and slice them thinly. If they seem a little dry, soak them in warm water for a couple of hours.

For the raspberry hearts, take a piece of baking paper and draw some hearts on one side, about 3-4cm in diameter. Turn the baking paper over and place onto a clean board. Melt about 150g white chocolate (I do mine in the microwave, short bursts at low power, stirring in between). Add a few drops of raspberry essence. My chocolate went a bit stiff at this point so I added about 1/4 teaspoon of peanut oil. Using a small spoon, dab chocolate onto your baking paper, filling your heart lines.

Awww. Filling your heart lines. I like how that sounds.

Pop the board into the fridge until the chocolate has set, then carefully peel off the hearts and place in an airtight container until ready to use. I did two batches.

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Frosting

A search for ‘mascarpone frosting’ turned up an amazing looking almond praline cake which I pinned to try some other time! I used their frosting recipe, but I only made half the batch which turned out to  be exactly right for my cake. Basically just marscapone, heavy cream, vanilla and sugar (I added a little extra icing sugar as well). I whisked mine by hand and it thickened almost instantly – be very careful not to overbeat or it will start to separate and curdle!

Slather frosting all over your cake. Sprinkle with the candied peel and sliced figs, then decorate to your chocolate heart’s content.

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I made muffins.

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These are fruity coconut cream muffins. I had some coconut cream left over from the lamb & macadamia nut curry I made last night. So I thought, you know, I haven’t made muffins in ages. So I trawled the internet (and by trawled I mean a rather brief search) and slightly modified this recipe.

Fruity Coconut Cream Muffins (Dairy Free)
3/4 cup SR flour
1/4 cup ground oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 Tsp baking powder
3/4 cup coconut cream
1/4 cup almond or almond & coconut milk
1 egg
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 apple, coarsely grated
1/2 cup diced dried apricots

Preheat oven to 180°. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper cases.
In a bowl mix together all dry ingredients. In a separate jug or bowl combine all liquid ingredients. Add liquid to dry mix, stirring until just combined. Gently fold in apple and apricot.
Divide mixture between muffin cups (I only made 10 because they looked a little small).
Bake for 20min or until springy when touched.
Cool in tray for 5min before removing to a wire rack.

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Delicious when eaten warm!

I must apologise for the scarcity of my blog posts of late. Having moved house only a month or so ago, I am still a) figuring out where stuff goes and b) trying to remember where I put stuff when I was unpacking. Case in point, my camera tripod is apparently on vacation somewhere. This episode of makebakesisters was brought to you by a plastic tub balanced on a chair.

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It’s how I roll.

Anyhoo. Moving right along.

I had this skirt in my refashioning pile. It’s Witchery, made of stretch gaberdine, and it cost me a dollar.

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I liked the zippers and the assymetrical seaming, but I wasn’t convinced about that weird gather thing at the back there. This skirt hit about 4cm below my chubby knees, which is possibly the most unflattering length a skirt could be on me. At the time I just snatched it up (seriously, $1!!) without trying it on. It’s a size 10.

Now, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I have more refashionables than I’m ever really going to get around to. So I’m trying to be hard and send stuff back to the op shop. When I dug this skirt out of my stash, I almost didn’t try it on – I haven’t been a size 10 for a few years! But it fit like a dream at my waist and hips, and then of course I couldn’t bear to part with it.

Now, how to make it wearable! First of all, get rid of some of that length.

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You can see my chalk marks where I have drawn in new side seams to create a pencil skirt. I left that gore in at the centre back – it’s stretchy, but I want to be able to walk in it.

Then I made cookies.

Nom nom nom.

Nom nom nom.

These are the easiest cookies in the world – flourless peanut butter. I added choc chips ‘cos I’m crazy like that.

Now, back to that pencil skirt. I sewed the new side seams and stitched up the hem…. and that was it. Done!

So here’s some slightly dodgy photos of the finished product.

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Not only have I no tripod, but I don’t have much light either.

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Hey, you see that classy drapey jacket? Yeah, that one right there. I’ll be bringing that to you next week. Stay tuned.

Now, here’s some pics of the skirt where you can see the detail:

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That’s better.

Oh, you want the cookie recipe? Okay then!

  • 1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy – I used a combo!
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Combine first three  ingredients in a medium bowl, then stir in choc chips if using. Roll big teaspoonfuls into balls, place on a baking sheet, and press lightly with a fork. Bake in a moderate over 12-15 minutes or until just golden. Cool on tray for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. And just try to keep your hands off them then…..

Easter has come and gone, leaving us groaning in the wake of all those chocolate treats…. yes, I totally use Easter as an excuse to eat lots of chocolate that I shouldn’t. Easter Egg chocolate is different to regular chocolate, so you have to take hold of that opportunity!

There were purchased Easter Eggs in my house, but I decided to have a go at something I had been eyeing off for a while – Slow Cooker Fudge!

What’s that, you cry? Fudge that doesn’t require hours of standing and stirring? Fudge that, essentially, makes itself???

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In a word – YES!

It was this recipe, initially spotted on Pinterest, that started the whole process. Posted by The Sugar Free Mom, the original recipe uses a sugar-free dairy-free chocolate – these things aren’t a concern for me though, so I just used regular dark cooking chocolate. Also the original used Stevia, which I didn’t have (and am not a fan of anyway), so I whacked in  some maple syrup instead.

  • 1 pack (375g) dark chocolate melts
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • a generous splash of maple syrup (about a tablespoon)
  • 1-2 tsp peppermint essence (depending on how minty you like it)
  • pinch of salt

Throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker and put it on low for two hours. I gave mine a good stir at the hour mark. Yes, I know you’re not supposed to take the lid off your slow cooker, but the original recipe had two hours in the cooker plus an hour with the lid off. Then after two hours, I took the lid off, stirred, then left the lid off while I prepared a small dish to pour it into.

My slow cooker is a retro 1970’s one – I love it, but it doesn’t have a removable crock! So pouring stuff out is a bit tricky. (If you’re going to be manhandling your slowcooker, make sure you unplug it from the power point first.)

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It doesn’t make a huge batch, but it’s so rich you don’t need to eat too much!

Of course, I immediately became obsessed with the possibilities of slow-cooker fudge, and busted out the white chocolate melts to see if that worked.

  • 1 pack (375g) white chocolate melts
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

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Oh yes. It worked. I was a bit worried because it went lumpy and I thought the chocolate had burned; but I gave this batch a few extra stirs during the cooking time and it turned out beautifully smooth and velvety. It was crazy sweet, the chocolate that I used having a high sugar content, so I’m keen to try it with a better-quality white chocolate.

Now I’m wondering about the possibilities of caramel fudge in the slow cooker…. could it happen? Time will tell…..

 

 

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