December 19 – elf snacks

Between several different work incarnations being active today, as well as mum, sister, neighbour and a few others, one definitely gets the feeling of being an over-worked and really quite weary elf.  So I am going back to an old favourite that has uses on many, many occasions as both a treat and a reviver…

December 18 – silver cachous

There are two things to know about today’s Advent treat – a wee Christmas tree made of biscuits that has gone to the lovely little girl who lives next door. Make your own (see also step by step below) First, given time and an oven-friendly break in the weather, at Christmas Mum always made Shrewsbury…

December 14 – Santa snacks

Looking for a low maintenance effort today after epic Christmas shopping with James and an outing to the great playground at the National Arboretum, I went with these cheese snacks that only have three ingredients and take about half an hour to make. We also think that after all the sweet treats at every house…

December 13 – arrowroot(s)

I am back to solo-ing today as nephew James is busy conquering the entire known universe in our favourite city building game, so I decided to share one of the great discoveries of the Advent-ure 2012. When I put ‘arrowroots’ in the ingredient pool back then, I was thinking of arrowroot biscuits – which our…

December 10, mint spelled h-o-m-a-g-e

Everywhere my family lived, all around Australia, our Mum ended up with mint going feral around the tap in the back yard.  No surprise, then, that a mix of Philly style cream cheese, crushed pineapple and piles of mint was her go-to dip for short notice visitors.  Always on a tight budget, she managed to…

December 9 – vanilla

Today I’m thinking about one of the deep mysteries of being a cook – what the heck does vanilla add to the mix?  Particularly at Christmas, vanilla seems to be in everything but the bath (and there too sometimes!) – but it remains a cooking mystery to me.  The amount in any given recipe is…

December 8 – raisins

After this week waxing lyrical (as much as I ever do) about how I don’t really have a cook’s habit of making slices, I am about to share another slice recipe!  To be fair, this one has a slight identity crisis – in North America this would probably be close to a brownie, and it…

December 7 – custard

This custard slice (or vanilla slice) Advent treat is a practice run for making custard that is up to scratch when, no question, hot custard goes with hot pudding at Christmas, even if it is 40°C and we can hardly move for the humidity! It also continues my theme from yesterday – ‘hacks-for-the-pastry-challeged’ cook –…

December 3 – rosewater

After a first foray today into the Christmas shopping scrum, feeling a bit too worn out for real cooking, so thinking snack dinner (looks a lot like brunch items such as eggie muffins or bread pizza).  Years of assessing appetites by the look in the eyes of the men of the house, though, made me…

December 1 – chocolate fruit cake

For a year in which we are less than overflowing with Christmas cheer, for any old time when exhausted parental elves need to be buoyed up to make it through wrapping those last few presents, this is the answer. On other high days and holidays, it’s also the answer for reviving visitors arriving late at…

Date spread, your way

Always the poor cousin to the beautiful Medjool dates that go so well on a cheese platter, the humble cooking date has never looked so marvellous as it does in this spread.  Originally, I made it to go on scones as an alternative to jam.  On the second run, a bit of added ‘naked’ ginger*…

Brack

Our mum might have called this ‘no frills’ fruitcake but now it is probably ‘minimalist’ in hipster-speak. Known traditionally as barm brack, or just brack, it’s the everyman food of the Irish – the cut down version was only three ingredients, and one came out of the tap! The stark original has no added sugar…

Oatey slice

As a slightly more “politically correct” alternative to the outright sugar bombs like my biscotti and the very evil breakfast pizza, this ends up being somewhere between muesli bars and an ANZAC biscuit – but with none of the additives and preservatives now so common in store bought products. This still keeps very well in…

The mystery of ‘mookies’

Did you know that, when a teenage boy has a whole cookie in his mouth, his answer to the question “What flavour is that?” comes out “Mmmmm-ookie!”  (Picture it with a shrug that goes with the Mmmmm.)  The boy was our son Alan, the question was from his godmother, my sister Roslyn, and the result…

Buttermilk pancakes

Decades back, before I had enjoyed brekkies across North America, to me all pancakes were created equal, and pikelets were just small pancakes.  Now, I really prefer buttermilk pancakes, as a lighter, rare I say fluffier, result on the classic breakfast item. One great variation is the cheese crust – get some grated cheese ready…