Food

#69 – Bake a rainbow layer cake

by Elizabeth on August 16, 2013 · 9 comments

in 101 in 1001, Cool stuff, DIY, Food, Life

rainbowlayercake

 

#69 in my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Bake a rainbow layer cake!

 

I’ve been wanting to make a rainbow layer cake for the longest time, ever since I first laid eyes on Meg Duerksen’s beauty way back in 2009.  I can’t imagine that anybody could look at these happy colours and epic proportions without breaking into a smile, so it’s the perfect cake for a celebration.

Ever since Pinterest showed up on the scene I’ve had almost weekly reminders of how damn pretty this cake is.  The desire to make my own kept getting stronger, and when I realised that three of my favourite people had birthdays coming up in the same week I knew it was time.

Finally, an occasion worthy of this beautiful giant!

 

rainbowcake1

rainbowcake3b

This was my favourite stage of the cake making process, when all of those vibrant layers were stacked up high and nothing had fallen over!  At this point I realised how important it was to get those colours right before throwing it all in the oven.  I was a bit sad about the prospect of covering everything in white frosting, but after a handful of photos I got on with the job.  After all, nothing beats the ‘wow’ factor of a plain white cake with surprise multicoloured guts!

The next day our friends came over to help us break in the new BBQ I bought Tim for his birthday.  When it was finally time for dessert I lit three candles for each of the birthday babies.

 

rainbowcake4

rainbowcake5

I imagine it’s pretty tough being my friend.  I mean sure, maybe I’ll invite you over for lunch and maybe it will be really delicious, but if it had anything to do with my 101/1001 list you’d better not touch a thing on your plate until it’s been photographed!  Luckily due to the height of this cake the pieces were all pretty skinny, so I was able to feed my friends before whisking away the rest of the cake to take the photo above.

My friends make fun of me a lot.

rainbowcake8

Tips!  I have some.

If you have a failsafe plain and dense cake recipe then stick with what you know.  If (like me) you don’t have a go-to recipe that you trust, don’t be ashamed of using a packet mix that’s been tested in a million different kitchens.  My little cousin was mortified when I came clean about this, but I’m super happy with the result and I think somebody owes Mrs Crocker an apology!

My cake was made with plain 20cm cake tins, $7 each from Woolworths, and I baked two at a time.  I didn’t use springform pans for this, but I did spend time lining the tins really well.  The cakes cooked really evenly despite my dodgy oven and tipped out of the pans easily when they were done.

You’re going to find a lot of advice about which food colouring to use in your google travels.  Most people swear by gel colours to get these vibrant colours, but the truth is I just used a couple of boxes of the $2 Queen 4-packs from the supermarket.  I had to use a lot of colouring to get that red layer to stop looking pink, and lots more red for the orange and purple layers too, so make sure you have plenty.  Normally I steer clear of food colouring but with this cake it’s important to go big or go home.

Spend time trimming your cakes to make sure that they’re perfectly flat on top.  It’s obvious from my photos that I didn’t bother trimming the orange layer – oops!

Your frosting is going to need a lot of sugar in it to keep your structure standing.  Don’t even attempt this with runny icing or you’ll find that your construction won’t be up to code.  (This is probably not a good time to reflect on your weight loss journey.)

Just know that in order to get the right visual effect you will need to use more frosting than you ever dreamed.  And when it comes time to eat your slice you shouldn’t feel bad about leaving two thirds of it on your plate because diabetes.

If you find yourself getting emotional during the cake baking process, call my little cousin Trisha.  She gives great moral support over the phone!

 

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And finally… try not to get too depressed when you realise that some other kickass lady has made an eighty layer rainbow cake that leaves yours in the dust.  Nobody likes a show-off, lady!

 

Happiest of birthdays to my love Tim, and to our gorgeous friends Glen & Janelle.  Sorry about the hypoglycemia.

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flemish-beef-stew

Melbourne has had a very mild Autumn so far.  Until just a few days ago the temperatures have been relatively warm – a few fresh mornings, but plenty of sunshine to warm the bones.  I always get a little crush on my city at this time of year when the leaves are vivid shades of orange and scattered all over the street.  Seasons make this little Queenslander so damn happy.

And then?  This week happened.  All of a sudden Melbourne’s temperatures have plummeted, the rain has arrived and the winds have been icy.  My workmates have been turning up in tights and boots, scaves, coats and sulky faces.

Winter is coming.  And it’s my favourite.

I got up at 5.30am this morning to start making this incredible stew.  I discovered the recipe earlier in the week and I was immediately hooked – it sounded so rich and decadent.  The killer secret is that there’s no stock, no water… the only liquid is strong, dark ale.

I left it to cook on my kitchen bench all day while we were at work, and by the time I got home it was perfect!  The aroma was so strong that I could smell it from the driveway, and my poor dog was wreck from the delicious smells that had tortured him all day.

So, trust me.  You really need to do this.  But don’t feed it to your dog, not even if he wags his little puppydog tail.

 

The ultimate Winter comfort food - slow cooked beef in beer
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
For this slow-cooker interpretation of Carbonnades Flamandes, a Flemish stew made with beer, if you can't find a brown ale, use a strong, dark beer (but not a stout).
Author:
Cuisine: Comfort food
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Canola oil
  • 1kg casserole beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 750g thickly sliced mushrooms
  • 660mL brown ale or dark beer (but not a stout)
  • 6 large carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 2 large onions, cut into eighths
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2½ Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & pepper to taste
Method
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the beef and brown on all sides, turning frequently, for about 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker.
  2. Return the saucepan to medium heat, add mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms give off their liquid and it evaporates to a glaze (approx 5 to 7 mins).
  3. Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms; cook undisturbed for 10 seconds, then stir and cook for 30 seconds more. Pour in dark ale; bring to a boil and keep stirring to reduce foaming. Cook until thickened and bubbling (approx 3 minutes). Transfer the mushroom mixture to the slow cooker.
  4. Add carrots, onion, garlic, mustard, caraway seeds, bay leaf and salt & pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
  5. Cover the slow cooker with lid and cook on low until the beef is very tender, 8-10 hours. Discard the bay leaf before serving.

 

I’ve made some modifications to the recipe that this is based on, mostly because my slow cooker is pretty big.  You can find the original over here.

(Potatoes and peas would be an excellent addition to the stew although I really enjoyed the simplicity of this recipe just the way it is.)

What’s your favourite Winter comfort food?

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Banana & coconut bread

by Elizabeth on January 5, 2013 · 2 comments

in 101 in 1001, Food, Recipes

My list of 101 Things in 1001 Days is going pretty strong so far, so much so that I’ve found myself falling behind in terms of writing about my progress here on the blog.  There are some overdue posts about my completed tasks that I’ll be sharing over the next week.  12 months into the project and I have 30 items completed, with 16 in progress.  I need to get the words down so that I can properly sink my teeth into my next 30!

So this is just a quick update about one of my ‘in progress’ items: #71 – Cook something new from 10 different cook books.

coconutbreadMarie Claire Kitchen by Michele Cranston is one of my favourite cookbooks, and is just a gorgeous book to flick through when you feel like some inspiration.  I love that there are pages devoted to basic skills like working with pastry and how to pick the perfect potato for a specific purpose.  It’s a great all-rounder.

A couple of days ago I noticed that I had a couple of overripe bananas, so went hunting for a banana bread recipe.  This book had the one I wanted, although it did cause me a bit of a problem.  The banana bread recipe was on the same page as the coconut bread recipe, and once my brain connected the two I really needed some combination of the two.

So I followed the recipe below, but also added 2 1/2 cups of shredded coconut, 200mL milk and a lot of nutmeg.  Because if you don’t have nutmeg with your banana bread you are a crazy person.

coconutbread2

Banana bread
 
Prep time
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This is the original recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, Marie Claire Kitchen by Michele Cranston.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • 90g butter, softened
  • 115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1 orange, grated zest only
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4).
  2. Put butter, caster sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, bananas and orange zest into a food processor. Process to a smooth batter.
  3. Spoon into a greased and lined 8x16cm loaf tin. Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  4. Serve in warm slices or toasted with butter and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup

The end result was pretty much perfect.  Oh, and don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor – I mixed mine by hand and it turned out beautifully.

I’m trying out a new WordPress plugin called EasyRecipe to format posts like these, and I’d love to hear your feedback.  I may need to mess around with the stylesheet to make it a little prettier, but I love that it generates a simple printable version for you to keep.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

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#70 – Make macarons

by Elizabeth on November 25, 2012 · 7 comments

in 101 in 1001, Food

Task #70 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project was to make macarons.

 

I seem to go through stages with my 101/1001 list.  There are times when I want to tackle each task perfectly and do them to the best of my ability, taking no shortcuts.  I feel that if I don’t cheat the result will be more rewarding, more credible.

But sometimes progress is more important than perfection, and that’s why I took the easy way out with #70.

Make macarons.  Not perfectly, not necessarily from scratch.  When I saw the Adriano Zumbo macaron kit on my supermarket shelf I decided to embrace my 2012 mantra and help myself to put a dent in my list.

Done is better than perfect!

This isn’t a sponsored post, just a small word of thanks to an awesome patissier and his clever new range.  The kit was perfectly designed to include piping bags and circle template, and the QR code on the box led to a bunch of handy videos in case you needed a quick demonstration.  A lot of thought has gone into the design and packaging of the kit and it all worked brilliantly.

Now that I’ve had a run-through with the kit I’d like to try a simple four-ingredient macaron recipe.  It might be a good idea to hold off until I have an oven that can hold a constant temperature, because some of these babies ended up being a little flat and hollow.  I have to fight with my oven whenever I want to make something delicate like meringue or souffle so I wasn’t surprised.  I don’t blame the kit for that.

It’s almost December and I have 27/101 items crossed off my list.  That puts me a little bit behind schedule so I need to try and get some more points on the scoreboard before Christmas.  If you can spot something on my list that you can help with please give me a shout – even if it’s just a proverbial buttkicking!

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The Basics of Herbs – by Illustrated Bites

by Elizabeth on November 16, 2012 · 1 comment

in Art, Food

 

Basics of Herbs infographic by Heather Diane of Illustrated Bites.

(Allow plenty of time to drool all over her blog – every post is an illustration!)

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Part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project.

Tim started telling me about lobster rolls about two years before our trip to Maine. so I had a long time to get excited about the idea.  They’re such a simple concept – a bun that’s sliced along the top, fresh lobster and just enough mayonnaise and seasoning to tie it all together.

The recipe doesn’t vary much from region to region, but Maine does it best by keeping it really basic.

My first lobster roll (pictured above) was from a trendy waterfront restaurant, and it was delicious. I was pretty confident that I’d had the best lobster roll there was until a couple of days later when I went to McLoon’s Lobster Shack in South Thomaston, ME.

It may not look like much, but damn.  It was the perfect balance of fresh lobster to tangy mayo and the bun was perfectly toasted.

Since coming home to Australia I have had dreams about the lobster roll in the photo above.  Delicious, filthy dreams that would make you blush.

I’ll be seeing you again someday, McLoons.  You and your beautiful sunset.

 

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#42 – Try frozen custard

by Elizabeth on November 1, 2012 · 3 comments

in 101 in 1001, Food, Travel, USA

 

Part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project.

If it wasn’t for all of the blogs I read from around the world I may not have even heard of frozen custard (let’s hear it for the Internet – hooray!)  It seems to have a bit of a cult following and for years I’ve been waiting for it to become a “thing” in Australia.

There are a few places that sell frozen custard in Australia, but to the best of my knowledge you can’t get it in Melbourne.  We decided we’d just have to fly all the way to the USA to try it out.

I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at Rita’s, so was a bit surprised to find that it comes from a soft serve machine and looked just like icecream.  This is what Wikipedia has to say about its origins and the differences between frozen custard and icecream:

Frozen custard was invented in Coney Island, New York in 1919, when ice cream vendors Archie and Elton Kohr found that adding egg yolks to ice cream created a smoother texture and helped the ice cream stay cold longer. In their first weekend on the boardwalk, the Kohr brothers sold 18,460 cones.

A frozen custard stand at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago introduced the dessert to a wider audience.  Following the fair, the dessert’s popularity spread throughout the Midwest; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in particular, became known as the “unofficial frozen custard capital of the world”.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration requires products marketed as frozen custard to contain at least 10 percent milkfat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids. If it has fewer egg yolk solids, it is considered ice cream.

True frozen custard is a very dense dessert. Soft serve ice creams may have an overrun as large as 100%, meaning half of the final product is composed of air. Frozen custard, when made in a proper continuous freezer will have an overrun of 15-30% depending on the machine manufacturer (an overrun percentage similar to gelato). Air is not pumped into the mix, nor is it added as an “ingredient” but gets into the frozen state by the agitation of liquid similar to whisking a meringue. The high percentage of butterfat and egg yolk gives frozen custard a thick, creamy texture and a smoother consistency than ice cream. Frozen custard can be served at –8°C (18°F), warmer than the –12°C (10°F) at which ice cream is served, in order to make a soft serve product.

Another difference between commercially produced frozen custard and commercial ice cream is the way the custard is frozen. The mix enters a refrigerated tube and, as it freezes, blades scrape the product cream off the barrel walls. The now frozen custard is discharged directly into containers from which it can be served. The speed with which the product leaves the barrel minimizes the amount of air in the product but more importantly ensures that the ice crystals formed are very small.

So now we know.  But more importantly, how does it taste?

I decided to be a purist for my first taste of frozen custard, so I chose vanilla with hot fudge.  It was delicious – dense, creamy and very “eggy” in taste compared to ice cream.

Tim chose the chocolate, and although it was delicious I didn’t notice the custardy taste as much.

Verdict: Frozen custard is amazing and everybody should try it.    There might even be a reason why this ended up being #42 on my list!

 

Aussies can find it at these places:

I’ll add to this list if I hear of any others.  If you know more, please leave a comment!

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Feel good Friday

by Elizabeth on April 27, 2012 · 0 comments

in Feel good Friday, Food, Health & Fitness

Feel Good Friday is a small collection of the inspiring stuff I’ve discovered around the web.  It’s all about good health, happiness and the stuff that makes us feel good!  Please leave me a comment if you have a great article or blog post to share in next week’s round-up.

First of all, a link from my friend Ralf (hi Ralf!) about “Ego Depletion”.  Turns out willpower is not just a metaphor, it’s actually a finite resource.  This is a really worthwhile read and made me think.

A great deal of your thoughts and behaviors are automatic and unconscious. Blinking and breathing, for example, need no help from the conscious part of you. Much of your behavior, like driving to work or toweling off after a shower, just happens while your conscious mind drifts off to think about Game of Thrones or how you’ll approach your boss for a raise. If you touch a stove you recoil without thought. Your desire to avoid dark alleys and approach embraces occurs without your input. When moved by a song or a painting or a kitten, the emotional rush comes without volition. Much of your mental life is simply not under your conscious control, and Baumeister’s research suggests once you take the helm every act of volition diminishes the next

It is as if the mind is a terribly designed airplane. As long as the plane flies in a straight line, it burns very little fuel, but as soon as the pilot takes over in any way, to dive or bank or climb, the plane burns fuel at an alarming rate making it more difficult to steer in the future. At some point, you must return the plane to autopilot until it can refuel or else it crashes.

Read the rest of the article here.

 

This is why chocolate is my favourite vegetable!

15 Things you should give up to be happy.  These are the things we should try to quit for a happy and stress-free life:  from needing to be “right”, to living your life to others’ expectations.

This week I learned of a new hazard related to smoking: Third-hand smoke.  Researchers have warned that toxins from cigarette smoke remain in the environment and build up over time.  Like we needed more to worry about!

The chemistry of tea.

What if bone health has more to do with our Vitamin D intake than calcium and dairy?  This study suggests that calcium may only be part of the picture.

Much Too Complex Carbohydrates by Rick London.

 

And so ends another week!

I’ve been feeling pretty stretched lately, and after a couple of weeks of trying to ignore the problem (and eventually admitting that it’s not going away) I’ve spent a little bit of time trying to figure out why.  Turns out I’m not really doing anything more than usual, I’m just making terrible use of my time!

My suitcase isn’t unpacked from our trip to Apollo Bay two weeks ago.  My laundry is being stored on top of my suitcase instead of being put away.  The whole house needs a vacuum and my bathtub needs a scrub.  We also have a car load of stuff to donate, and we keep shifting it all from the car to the laundry because we can’t organise ourselves to drop it all off!  Ridiculous, right?

So this weekend I have two goals:  sort my house out (if I crank up some music this will take 2 hours, max) and see The Avengers.  Probably in that order, so that I don’t go rewarding myself prematurely.

Hopefully by getting these jobs out of the way my brain will have a little more space for the stuff that really matters – like drawing or painting or tackling one of the 91 uncompleted things from my 101 list!  I haven’t really made any ground so far this month, so it’s time to get serious again.

What have you got planned for your weekend?  If you’re in Melbourne it’s going to be a chilly one, so find a good book and remember to pick up marshmallows for your hot chocolate!

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Feel good Friday

by Elizabeth on April 6, 2012 · 0 comments

in Feel good Friday, Food, Health & Fitness

Feel Good Friday is a small collection of the inspiring stuff I’ve discovered around the web.  It’s all about good health, happiness and the stuff that makes us feel good!  Please leave me a comment if you have a great article or blog post to share in next week’s round-up.

 

I’ve discovered that quinoa divides people into two groups: those that love it, and those that haven’t tried it yet.  Here are 12 things you should know about quinoa!

An excellent summary of the pros and cons of the paleolithic diet which has become so popular.  It’s not for me, but it seems to work for a lot of people.

20 quick and healthy snack ideas (looove apple and peanut butter together, but watch your portion sizes!)

I loved Sarai’s post about cultivating friendships.

40 ways to unwind and relax.  Perfect timing for the long weekend, right?

We all know we should be eating fish, but it’s hard to know which ones we’re supposed to be choosing for ourselves and for the planet.  Here are 6 of the healthiest fish (and 6 fish to avoid, but that part of the article is very US-centric)

Whistle while you work?  An interesting article about RMIT University’s instruction to its staff to be enthusiastic and positive in the workplace, despite obviously trying times for its workers.  Is it a good idea to insist upon positivity on the job?

At an individual level, the power of positivity can’t be denied.  These 21 ways to define a positive attitude made me think about how I can develop my attitude and be a better version of myself.

More on the topic of happiness: a study has shown that people aren’t at their happiest until they reach the age of 33.  (I’m really looking forward to my next birthday now!)

31 ways to brighten your day!

 

Here’s a guaranteed way to put a smile on your face.  Barry Morgan, from the World of Organs!

Don’t forget to get the t-shirt!

Don’t forget to tell them Barry sent you
Barry Morgan – World famous in Adelaide

 

Happy Easter long weekend, everybody!  I’m planning a MAJOR de-cluttering exercise here this weekend, but I plan to fit in some drawing and running as well.  Maybe also some top secret work on a Top Secret Project.

Hope your Friday’s good!

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Feel good Friday

by Elizabeth on March 16, 2012 · 2 comments

in Feel good Friday, Food, Health & Fitness

Feel Good Friday is a small collection of the inspiring stuff I’ve discovered around the web.  It’s all about good health, happiness and the stuff that makes us feel good!  Please leave me a comment if you have a great article or blog post to share in next week’s round-up.

 

5 ways to find happiness in nature from Tiny Buddha

Give brussels sprouts a second chance!  This recipe looks amazing, and until reading this article I had no idea that these cute little guys are such a great cancer-fighting food.

Speaking of vegetables, my lovely friend Marieke shared these tips for cooking and storing a week’s worth of veggies in a single afternoon.

 

Another gem from Marieke: 101 Cookbooks by Heidi Swanson.  Lots of great vegetarian, whole food recipes with gorgeous photography and food styling.  I especially love the way that the posts are categorised – it’s an excellent resource for people who care about food and eating.

Strength training for beginners – not only is this excellent advice, but it’s funny too!

Studies have shown that people work out longer and harder when they have company.  Here are some ideas for workouts for couples.

Lots of good information about nature’s perfect powersnack – nuts.

Last week I reconnected with an old schoolmate of mine (thanks, Twitter!), and we discovered that we’re both bloggers!  Kate had a dig around my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days and she told me that it inspired her to refocus her goals.  Amongst other things, her brand new blog House of Goals is full of stories about her running journey, including the training she did for her marathon last year.  (That’s right, I said marathon.  Way to put my 5km to shame, Kate!)

 

And finally… this video by Mikhael Paskalev is bound to leave you feeling good this Friday!

 

Happy weekend, everybody.  Tomorrow is my birthday, so my weekend is looking pretty good already!

Hope you find time to do something that makes you feel good.

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My Abuela’s Table – by Daniella Germain

by Elizabeth on September 1, 2011 · 6 comments

in Art, Food

 

The first time I heard of Daniella Germain it was through her blog and now I’m broke.  This blog began after she spent her last $300 on a pair of boots, and decided to use her skills in illustration to motivate herself to watch her pennies.  Over the course of the project she illustrated every little purchase – big and small – and shared them on her blog.  Lucky us!

Daniella was a student of graphic design at RMIT when she embarked on a project to document her family’s collection of recipes.  Her abuela (grandmother) had kept a collection of recipes in a manila folder for 30 years, and these were passed on from generation to generation.

My Abuela’s Table is a cookbook of more than 100 authentic mexican recipes, but it is also an incredibly inspiring book of illustration.  Daniella made a decision to not photograph her recipes and instead drew them in incredible detail.  I honestly don’t know whether it was the foodie or art nerd in me that ripped this book off its shelf when I saw it this afternoon!

 

 

There is a certain Americano living in this house who adores Mexican food, and every now and then he complains that it’s hard to find good authentic Mexican cuisine on this side of the Pacific.  When I showed him this book tonight his eyes lit up, and then he informed me that there’s about to be a whole lot of chillis in my life for the next little while!

My Abuela’s Table is published here in Melbourne by Hardie Grant, and you can buy it a lots of Aussie book stores including Readings (RRP $35).  If you’re outside of Australia you can also find it at Amazon, but don’t forget that measurements are metric and our Australian cup is slightly different to the US cup!  Don’t let that put you off – quantities are easy to convert and all my favourite recipe books are full of little pencil notes anyway.  And besides, it’s not as though you’ll find a soufflé in need of such precision!

This lovely book is worth owning even if you’re not a foodie.  I love the story behind the creation of this book, and the lovely illustrations would be right at home on my kitchen walls.

I kind of want to buy a copy for everybody I know!

 

Oh, and the best part?  Next month Daniella will hand-deliver a copy of her book to her beloved abuela.  What a precious gift!

 

 

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This isn’t funny, you guys.

by Elizabeth on November 10, 2010 · 0 comments

in Current Affairs, Food

At the rate we’re going, chocolate is going to be a rare—and extremely pricey—commodity within the next twenty years. Somebody needs to light a fire under those Oompa-Loompas, stat.

The problem’s easy to explain, and much harder to fix. According to the Cocoa Research Association, we’re consuming more chocolate than we’re producing cocoa. Which means, eventually, we’re going to run out.

Cocoa’s notoriously difficult to harvest, meaning more and more small-scale West African growers—who make an average of 80 cents per day—have little incentive not to turn to more lucrative crops, like rubber, or give up farming altogether in favor of more stable opportunities in cities.

What will the shortage mean? $11 Snickers bars, sooner than you think. Pretzels given out for Halloween. Or more candy made from carob, a poor substitute for the sweet and sticky real deal. And a tectonic shift in how we view our mochas, according the Nature Conservation Research Council’s John Mason:

“In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.”

But don’t lose hope! Both Hershey and Mars, Inc. have sequenced the cacao genome, meaning more resilient trees could be in our future. And 20 years seems like enough time to figure out how to incentivize farmers appropriately.

Read the original post at Gizmodo, who found it at The Independent, who fou… oh, I can’t keep this up when there’s a chocolate shortage happening out there!

It’s time to panic, everybody.

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Cupcakes on cupcakes!

by Elizabeth on November 9, 2010 · 4 comments

in Cool stuff, Food

This post is dedicated to Laura.

Because…

Cupcakes on cupcakes. Made with the help of mini peanut butter cups, and a whole stack of awesome.

This is the genius creation of Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. Granted, the wheel was a pretty great invention but I think this wins, right?

Right.

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An Aussie Halloween

by Elizabeth on November 2, 2010 · 3 comments

in Food, Life

Halloween isn’t something that most Aussie kids care about, but I’ve noticed its popularity is starting to grow (at least in the merchandise department). This year Tim and I thought it would be fun to put together a little Halloween party for our friends, and coming up with ideas was lots of fun!

First of all, we had to tell them what was in store. I made these invitations out of glitter card and foil wrapping paper, and included a severed finger in each envelope…

Gross, right? Even worse was the text on the back, which promised delicacies such as “cultured mould” (cheese), “cured epidermis” (prosciutto) and “a boutique brew of swamp water” (lemonade with tapioca pearls, a gummy killer python and a glow stick)

Tim and I gradually spooked up our house throughout the week leading up to Halloween, and hid fake spiders in all sorts of places. Who wants to bet that I find a forgotten spider in an unexpected place two weeks from now, and end up screaming like a girl?

Yup.

But the best part of all was putting together the menu! We managed to come up with some pretty disgusting stuff, although I had a last-minute failure with my egg eyeballs when I realised that they’d been frozen at the back of my fridge.

Here are some of the gross stuff we enjoyed:


“Witches Fingers” (mozzarella sticks, with dyed shaved almonds for fingernails)


“Blood Worms” – made from gelatin & cream, and set inside bendy straws. These were awesome! Here’s the recipe.


We had jars full of baby teeth, earthworms, brown snakes, frog eyes and artificial eyes.


The “Cultured Mould” and “Cured Epidermis” attracted some fake flies!

Everybody who came was awesome and brought something, but I didn’t think to take photos of their excellent offerings. One person brought cupcakes with M&M spiders on top, another made a spooky pool of green jelly and snakes, and someone else brought brain poppers (pop rocks)! We all had diabetes by the end of the night.

Lastly, here are my owl and witch cupcakes (decorated with oreo cookies and chocolate dipped sherbert cones)

I highly recommend “Drag Me to Hell” for a scary (but silly) movie for a crowd. It gave me dumb nightmares, but it was worth it!

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The recipe blog is back!

by Elizabeth on August 28, 2010 · 0 comments

in 101 in 1001, Food, Website news

One of my 101 Things in 1001 Days tasks was to resurrect my old recipe blog. It began (and ended) in 2007, and it’s always bothered me that I abandoned it.

I should make one thing clear: I don’t have any aspirations of becoming a food blogger! I’m not that talented, nor do I have the required dedication. And besides, I prefer to eat when my food is hot rather than run to perfect lighting to compose a photo!

The idea behind my food blog is really simple – I just want to collect all of my favourite recipes in one place. Over time I hope to have a strong collection of food that I adore, and it’s an added bonus that I can share it with others at the same time. I have temporarily named it “cracked pepper” until I am blessed with an idea that’s more creative.

Updates will sometimes be infrequent, so throw it in your RSS reader and forget about it. Be assured that when I do blog over there it will be because it’s worth it!

I’m ticking three things off my 101 List this weekend – the clock is ticking!

ETA: Did anyone notice the part where I forgot to link to my awesome new recipe blog? Geez.

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