Tag Archives: cake

Challenging my thinking

I have been feeling a teeny bit  frustrated in recent days because I have a long list of lovely things I want to do and places I want to go, but my gallivanting has been curtailed by domestic activities. The domestic chores are not arduous, or even unpleasant , so why the frustration, I ask myself?  Is it because I am dividing the world in to pleasant and unpleasant, fun and duty, good and bad?  Is it the  old  “you can only play (happy times) once you have done your homework ( dutiful times)” syndrome niggling away in my brain? A variation of the  punishment and reward system that pervades our thinking and our society. Perhaps…..

In an attempt to eliminate frustration and refresh my  thinking, I decided that today I would challenge myself to make the domesticities of  my day as fun and inspiring as my gallivanting.  Here’s a sample of my day’s domestic amusements.

I read the newspaper.I read the news today

I poached some pears.Poached pears

I hung out the washing.Pretty in Pink

I made lunch and enjoyed a cup of my favourite Trade Aid coffee.Coffee Time

I made a pear cakePear Cake

and a loaf of herb bread.Basil Bread

I did some shopping,Shopping by the Bucketful

after which I did a few rows of knitting and read a few pages of the book I was given for Christmas Knitting and Wisdom

Then it was time to bring in the washing, cook the dinner and feed the animals and  walk the dog……..but that’s enough photos for one day.

So , how did I go with my challenge? I had fun. My frustration levels are lower but ,deep down, I suspect that, no matter how hard I try, doing the laundry will never be as inspiring as walk in the park. But, who knows, if I keep challenging myself, anything is possible!


I deliberately chose to photograph the section of the newspaper that covers the State of the Nation report by the Salvation Army. The report says that the Government is not doing enough to reduce child poverty, create jobs or improve housing affordability.  I have not read the report itself but it seems to me that we all need to challenge our thinking on social justice. Our  social policies, put in place, over the years, by the people we vote for, appear to be rooted in the same old punishment and reward type ideologies which have haunted our society forever and a day. This  means that people are inevitably assessed and judged as worthy  or unworthy  of support. The end result is our current society where violent offences against children have increased by 84% in the five years up to July 2012.

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The appearance of pears

I came home this afternoon to find a bag of pears had appeared on my doorstep, courtesy of my good neighbours who have a pear tree, but don’t much care for pears. Not in their uncooked state, anyway. These are the first pears of the new season.First appearance of the Season

They look ,and are, slightly scruffy and diseased but their less than perfect appearance belies their delicious flavour, once they have been allowed to ripen and sweeten in storage.

Last year, my neighbours kept me well supplied with pears and I kept them busy tasting all my pear inspired baking and jam making. I think, maybe, just maybe, I managed to persuade them to grow a little fonder of pears.

Here’s a photo of my Upside Down Pear Cake from last season’s pears, alongside my neighbours’ first offering of this season’s pears.  Cake appears from Pears

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Plum delicious

With surplus plums in the pantry, (well, they would be in the pantry, if I had one), it was time to get creative. So I was. I made my favourite plum coffee cake.Plum coffee cake

The recipe is from the Joy of Baking website  http://www.joyofbaking.com/PlumCoffeeCake.html which is an excellent place to find cake recipes. I follow the recipe to the letter, but not the pan, because I don’t have a suitable round cake tin.

With the most important cooking task completed, I decided to add a few more flavours to our evening meal. Enter my spinach and rice cake which is another favourite recipe.Spinach and Rice Cake This one comes from Very Easy Vegetarian Cookbook by Alison and Simon Holst. Again, I follow the recipe exactly, even to the baking dish,  because  the Holsts excel at producing precision recipes. Here is a link to their website, although I don’t think this recipe is on it, http://www.holst.co.nz/Home.aspx  The main ingredients, apart from the obvious spinach and rice and tomatoes, are cottage cheese and eggs and parmesan type cheese, onion and herbs.

Baking over, let us come to the table and feel blessed that our food is plentiful.Blessed

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A Second Helping of Christmas

For many people around the world, today, January 7th, is Christmas Day.  In our home, our main    Christmas celebration is on 25th December but, as my husband comes from a Coptic Church background, we usually have a small acknowledgement of Christmas on January 7th as well.  I find it very handy having a second round of Christmas because it means that, if something didn’t get done in time for the first Christmas,  it can be done in time for the second.  A case in point, is the Christmas Cake which I finally made yesterday. In keeping with our double act, untraditional Christmas season, my Christmas cake isn’t a traditional Christmas Cake either. I use a recipe given to me by my aunt, and it was given to her with the title of Golf Cake! I don’t know its original source but it is a very fine cake and superlatively easy to make.Christmas Round Two

Ingredients for Cake     1kg of mixed fruit (store-bought or home-made), 2 cups of packet/bottled orange juice, 2 cups of self-raising flour, 1 tsp of cinnamon.

Method    Soak fruit in orange juice overnight (don’t worry if you soak it longer);  mix in flour with cinnamon until just combined; bake in a lined 23cm square cake pan  at  180 C deg for about 45 minutes and then reduce temperature to 160 deg and continue baking until cooked. Sometimes that can be another 45 minutes, sometimes less, sometimes more. Occasionally, I need to cover (loosely) the top of the cake with foil to prevent the fruit from scorching. Cool the cake in the tin and when completely cold, remove the cake and store in a container. If you can leave the cake for a few days before cutting, your taste buds will be richly rewarded. The cake freezes well, too.

Sometimes I add some freshly grated lemon or orange peel, some crystalized ginger, some almond or vanilla essence,or a few slivered almonds. Occasionally, I will substitute some of the orange juice with brandy or sherry.  It’s a flexible recipe.

Happy Christmas.Christmas Returns

And, by the way, we get double dips on New Year too. Once in September and again in January. It’s nice to get second helpings.

© silkannthreades