Big healthy balls

The original intent of this post was not to highlight men’s health. However, seeing as we are still in the month of November it does seem appropriate to touch briefly (yes, figuratively speaking) upon this subject. November is the chosen month of The Movember Foundation, a global charity that focuses on encouraging men to live longer, happier and healthier lives. Founded in 2003 and focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity, they have raised over $685 million dollars. This has been through the growing of moustaches for thirty days in ‘Movember’ or something called MOVE. A thirty day physical fitness challenge. An awesome effort in my opinion.

Having witnessed the devastation that cancer can wreak and the heartbreak that suicide brings to all, I say ‘balls’ to the bad old days of men just ‘pushing through and getting on with it’. If you are a man, go get those regular doctors checks and let us all start more open dialogues regarding men’s health and mental well being. Discussing emotions and seeking professional help when needed, is not just for chicks. As my young lads grow into this world, we encourage them to talk about their feelings and try to convey to them that being a man, is not just about showing the world a tough exterior.

Back to the original topic. These date, nut and prune laden ovoid edibles are a delicious healthy bite for those peckish times. Based on a recipe that a friend has been making for a while, I must admit to feeling completely ripped off that they were not her usual scrumptious old school spherical butter, chocolate and biscuit goodies. However, as balls will do (on those of us who are male), they have grown on me.

Adaptations include swapping the oats for gluten free puffed millet, using whatever nuts I had on hand and opening a jar of wondrous Prunes in Vinno Cotto (or vincotto) from the Western Australian Cape Farm Shop. (Given by the mothership after a recent sojourn she enjoyed there.) Vincotto is essentially a condiment made from unfermented grapes that are slowly cooked until they become thick and syrupy. These prunes added a sweet and almost musty piquancy to this unctuous mixture of nuts, fruit and cocoa. You can of course, use regular prunes if you have nothing similar.

Healthy balls, we all need them.


1 2/3 cups pecans (original recipe called for 1 cup walnuts and 2/3 cup raw cashews)
2/3 cup 100g almonds (recipe asked for blanched I used regular almonds, skins on)
150g pitted dates, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes (mine were in vinocotto)
1/3 cup sultannas
1/3 cup tart dried cherries (the original recipe called for 2/3 cup apricots chopped but I used sultannas and cherries)
1/2 cup puffed millet (puffed amaranth or rice would also work)
2 tbl sesame seeds
2 tbl cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (or 1/4 tsp vanilla essence)
2 tbl honey
1 cup dessicated coconut


Place the pecans and almonds (or whatever nuts you have chosen) into a frypan and cook over a low to medium heat for 2-3 minutes until lightly toasted.
Using a food processor, process them until finely chopped.
Add the dates, prunes, sultannas, cherries, sesame seeds, cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla and honey into the food processor and blend for 2-3 minutes until the mixture forms a paste.
Divide the mixture into golf ball sizes (about 50g) and roll into balls. It helps if you lightly moisten your hands before rolling them.
Roll the balls in the coconut and serve.
Store in an airtight container, as we have had extremely hot weather, I refrigerated ours.
Makes 12 balls.

A Cheergerm adaptation of a Jill Dupleix recipe from the Delicious website,

Black sesame chocolate cake, looking into the heart of darkness

A person with a vivid imagination could easily gaze into the inky black oil slick that is this cake batter and associate it with all that is dark and evil. Easy to do, in the distressing and challenging times we are currently living in. The portion of my soul that is part poet longs to wax allegorically. However, the pragmatist within, gave the poet inside, a short sharp slap around the chops. Serving as a stern reminder that this was merely a cake made of black sesame powder, given as a gift by a sweet friend. Pondering what to do with this bounty, there was certainly something fortuitous in the recipe that popped up on my Facebook feed a day or so later.

Black sesame seeds are rich in vitamin B and iron and the Chinese believe they assist in slowing down the ageing process. (Anti-ageing you cry! Be warned, they can also have a laxative effect so don’t start chowing down on them by the handful.) They contain nutrients that protect the heart, aid digestion and can assist in lactation. Quite the tiny powerhouse indeed.

Ground sesame has the aroma of a musty health food store but this rich dense cake ends up tasting nutty and earthy. The generous slathering of chocolate ganache atop this somewhat grim looking bake is a decadent and welcome addition. Maybe it is a cake perfect for a Halloween or Day of the Dead celebration. Our children were extremely fond of this toothsome dessert despite it’s subdued sweetness. To the point of asking for extra servings, repeatedly. And there certainly isn’t anything dark about that.


200g (1 1/3 cups) black sesame seeds (I used 1 cup ground sesame seed powder as that’s what I had.)
200g butter, chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
185g (1 cup) coconut sugar
100g (1 cup) almond meal
35g (1/3 cup) plain gluten free flour
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
Chocolate Ganache
200g dark chocolate, chopped
100 ml pure cream

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
Grind the sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice mill. (I didn’t need to as my seeds were already ground.)
Put the butter and sesame seed paste into a saucepan and cook over a low heat until melted.
Remove from heat and place into a large bowl, allow to cool down for ten minutes.
Stir the eggs and sugar into the sesame seed mixture.
Sift the almond meal, flour and baking powder into the sesame seed mixture and gently fold to combine.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to stand in the tin for ten minutes before turning onto a cake tray to cool completely.
To make the chocolate ganache, combine the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate melts.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes, until thickened.
Spread the ganache over the cake and allow to set. Cut into small pieces and serve.

Recipe from the SBS Food Website taken from Beautiful Food by Jody Vassallo, published by Harlequin.

A honey cake fit for a Pooh Bear

‘Pooh said goodbye affectionately to his fourteen pots of honey and hoped they were fifteen, and he and Rabbit went out into the Forest.’

Recently, I accidentally found myself with three kilograms of glorious honey. It may not have been Pooh’s fourteen pots but it did feel as if the gods of providence had smiled upon me.

This abundance of golden liquid ambrosia called for a honey cake. The weather had turned nasty so all and sundry were cooped up within the confines of the house. The Pied Piper smell of the melting honey, butter and sugar enticed lads of all sizes into the kitchen. ‘What is that smell?’ they whispered wondrously. This cake smelt of every good thing that ever existed.

The warmy woody spices balanced the cakes caramel like sweetness. Honey is a natural source of sugar but from what I have read, it isn’t necessarily a healthier sweetener when used in baking. However, when consumed in its raw and unheated state it contains antioxidants as well as anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Maybe Pooh Bear really was a bear before his time but I am also sure that he wouldn’t have turned up his nose at a little smackeral of this moreish cake. Particularly if it was eleven o’clock.


250g clear honey and 2 tbls extra for glazing
225g unsalted butter, chopped
80g dark sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
300g gluten free self-raising flour (or regular SR flour)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 140C and grease and line a 22cm springform tin.
Place the honey, butter and sugar into a medium saucepan and melt slowly over a low heat. When the mixture looks quite liquid, increase the heat and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl.
Let the honey mixture cool down, this prevents the eggs cooking when they are added. (This took about half an hour.)
Once cooled, beat the eggs into the honey mixture using a wooden spoon.
Sift the flour and spices over the honey and egg mixture and beat until you have a smooth and quite runny batter.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes until the cake is risen well, golden and springs back to the touch. A skewer inserted into the cake should come out clean.
Let the cake cool for 5 minutes in the pan then turn onto a wire rack.
Warm the 2 tbl of reserved honey and brush over the top of the cake to give it a sticky glaze. Allow to cool. Then eat a smackeral around eleven o’clock in the morning. You won’t regret it.
Store wrapped, in an airtight container.

Cooking Notes
If you don’t require this cake to be gluten free, simply use the same amount of regular plain self-raising flour.

A Cheergerm adaptation a recipe from the BBC Good Food website. Link provided after photos.

The leading quote comes from AA Milnes beloved and charming children’s novel ‘The House at Pooh Corner.’

Building windmills millet and rice puff squares

Me: I don’t like it, it’s new.

Kid 1: Stop building walls and build windmills.

I stare agog at this child of mine dispensing wise advice like a miniature life coach. This ‘set in its ways’ brain of mine has forgotten what ‘new’ thing I was alluding to. He was referring to an ancient Chinese proverb that goes ‘when the wind of change blows, some people build walls, others build windmills.’ Change is one of the few things in life that is constant. Having always thought of myself as someone adapts to change readily, I was somewhat taken aback. It would seem that ‘wall building’ creeps up on you. Not wanting to be the stubborn person who remains unresponsive to all that is new, I will have to remain vigilant. (In other words, I do not want to become what is commonly known as ‘an old fart’.) I am thankful (mostly), that my Anthony Robbins wannabe son will keep me on the straight and narrow.

One thing that has thus far remained constant, is my love of the ever changing world of food and the brilliant adventure of trying new recipes. My latest cookbook love is The Wholesome Cook, written by Martyna Angelas. The creator of an award-winning blog, her book is chock full of refined sugar-free wholesome recipes. It is a stylish tome full of inspiring photos and a wide range of nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals. Her sensible philosophy really resonates with me. She acknowledges that no single diet fits everybody the same and as our environments and bodies change, so should our diet. No wall building going on in this book. Some of my earmarked recipes include the Polish gingerbread cake, the double chocolate and caramel popcorn cake, kale and cashew pesto, the fennel, ginger and turmeric soup and the sweet and sour lamb riblets. My mouth is watering already.

This nifty little snack lives up to its promise. A few changes were made to the original recipe but this was merely due to the fact that I wanted to use whatever I had on hand. It is a grown up, healthy-err, gluten free version of salted caramel rice bar. The tangy fruit adds a zesty brightness to it. Moreish, chewy and a new favourite for the adults in our household.


3 cups gluten free crispy rice cereal (I used wholegrain brown rice puffs)
1/2 cup puffed millet (the recipe calls for puffed quinoa)
3 tbl dried blueberries or cranberries (I used tart dried cherries, chopped)
1/2 cup hulled tahini (I used unhulled as its all I had)
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 1/2 tsp salt (optional, I used 1 tsp, this gives it the salted caramel flavour, the recipe says its optional, I highly recommend going the salt route)
1 tbl (15g) raw cacao butter (I used unsalted butter)

Line a 29cm square baking tin with baking paper.
Place rice cereal, puffed millet and dried fruit into a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine tahini, rice malt syrup, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan.
Melt, stirring gently over low heat until all ingredients are blended together. Do not boil. Add cacao butter (butter) and whisk until melted.
Pour warm mixture over rice cereal mixture and mix well. (Move fast while the mixture is still warm.)
Transfer to prepared tin and press into the base, corners and edges. I used my small off-set spatula to do this.
Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before slicing into squares. We kept our squares refrigerated.

Recipe from The Wholesome Cook by Martyna Angell, published by Harlequin, October 2015

A messy life and a messy rhubarb and coconut slice

In our social media lives, we are inundated with beauty. Images of gorgeous food, people and places rain down upon us from our Instagram, Facebook and blogging feeds. This stuff floats my boat. It inspires and feeds the creative beast that lurks within. There is nothing wrong with beauty, with wanting to create it or own it. It lifts our spirits and soothes our eyes and souls when we are weary, low or merely bored.

Beauty lubricates life and is the grease that keeps my wheels turning. But there is a flip side to every coin and a ying to every yang.

When viewing these images, we can easily forget the chaos that goes on behind the scenes and that life is intrinsically messy. Children are, intimacy is, friendships and family can be. My hair is messy and curly, no matter how I may try to tame it. My house is a weird mixture of beauty, clutter and order. Work is not always straightforward, nor is writing a blog. It can be difficult to decide how much to reveal and how much to keep private. Disarray abounds.

This slice reminded me of that fact. Whilst trying to smooth the troublesome batter into the cake tin, the temptation of binning the entire bake was high. My fingers were steeped in a sticky blend of butter and flour and as the vibrant rhubarb poached, my temper rose to simmering point. The coconut crumble for the top resembled the surface of the moon and the resulting photos looked shambolic. The scrappy coconut playing havoc with my focus (both the cameras and my own.)

Don’t post, came to mind. Yet it tasted so very, very good. The jammy sweet and sour rhubarb was offset by a crunchy biscuity bottom and the textural tropical macaroon topping. The Yak was a very happy man, giving it the big coeliac thumbs up. He certainly didn’t give a flying fig how it looked.

So perhaps, loveliness is also in the mess. We were brought up to believe that beauty is only skin deep and what truly matters is depth of character. Something we try and relay to our own children. So much of the food we consume at home isn’t always picture book perfect but it certainly tastes darned good.

Beauty perhaps, truly is in the eye of the beholder.


150g butter, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup gluten free plain flour
1/4 cup teff flour (or rice flour)
2 bunches rhubarb (I had one big bunch that weighed 550g) washed, trimmed and cut into 3cm lengths
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup caster sugar (to cook with rhubarb)

2 cups desiccated coconut
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 160C and line a 3.5cm deep 16cm x 26 cm (base) lamington pan. I used a larger tin and spread the mixture out to roughly those dimensions.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and the 1/3 cup of sugar until well combined.
Sift the plain and teff flours into the butter mixture and mix well.
Using an offset spatula (the recipe suggests floured fingertips but I found it far too messy), press and smooth the flour mixture evenly into a pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool down and increase the oven temperature to 170C.
While the base is cooking, combine the rhubarb, water and 1/4 cup caster sugar in a large saucepan. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for up to ten minutes or until the rhubarb is tender. Let cool for about 30 minutes then spoon the rhubarb mixture over the cooled and cooked base.
Mix the eggs, sugar and coconut well, then spoon the mixture over the rhubarb. Press down and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until light golden. Cool in the pan and cut into squares or slices.

An adaptation of a recipe from the Taste website. Link to original recipe provided after the photos.


Keep cooly cool, orange and poppy seed cake

Earlier this year, our ten year old lad, on the cusp of eleven, said he wanted to sleep on the floor of our bedroom. When this happens, you stay calm (try not to let your excitement show). As the Jets gang sang in the iconic West Side Story movie, keep cooly cool, boy.

He brought along a mattress, a doona, his pillows with once again wrestled off pillow cases and a book.

He said that he loved our room, it made him feel safe. This was because it was on the second story and always felt comforting to him.

I told him you are always welcome here.

He read and shared some of his thoughts whilst I also read. Be cool, I thought. It was like entertaining a nervous gazelle. One false move and you could scare him off. I kept my breathing light.

‘Mum, did you know that Aztec children played a game of ball where they would rip each others limbs off?’

‘Really?’ I replied. (Gross was what I actually thought but ‘get cool’ I reminded myself.)

‘Mum, how old can you be before you get your drivers licence?’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘I think it is 16 for your learners licence.’
‘Is that too young do you think Mum?’
‘Maybe,’ I said. (Playing it very cool.)

I went to him, kissed his still soft cheek and told him I loved him and was proud of him. ‘I love you Mum,’ he said.

He fell asleep and his breathing evened. I am getting older and somewhat wise enough to know how rare these times are. I know I have been a less than perfect parent, that my impatience and temper have at times ruled the day when they should not have.

No-one can ever tell you how very scary this parenting journey is, how imperfect we all are, how many mistakes we will make. My new parenting motto for myself?

Keep cool.

All too soon, Kid 1 returned to his own boudoir. A fleeting moment indeed. He adores this orange and poppyseed cake recipe that the dearest of friends bakes on a regular basis. So, before the lad embarks on a school camp this week, I baked this cake, especially for him.

Slightly nutty tasting poppy seeds (which are actually considered a spice) combined with citrus in baking, is a long-standing tradition in many European countries. The zingy aroma of orange that permeates your kitchen as this cake bakes is drool worthy. The buttermilk adds a lovely moistness and the entire cake is low in fat. This fact is greatly appreciated by those of us older than eleven and keeping a close eye on their ‘ice-cream’ pants. The Yak stared at this speckled delight with great sadness and maybe (just maybe), a tear welled up in his coeliac eyes. A gluten-free version will be baked very, very soon.

Kid 1 was happy not to share.


2 cups self-raising flour, (I used white but you can use half white and half wholemeal.)
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
3/4 cups caster sugar (raw or white, my friend has used coconut sugar as well and it also works)
2 tbls poppy seeds
2/3 cup oil (grapeseed or rice bran oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup orange juice
grated rind of 1 orange

60g cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
2 – 3 tsps orange juice
shredded orange rind, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180C, grease and line a 23 cm round cake tin with baking paper. (I used a 20cm deep baking tin and my friend uses a bundt tin.)
Sift flour,baking powder and sugar together into a large bowl.
Stir in the poppy seeds.
Combine the oil, buttermilk, eggs, juice and rind in a separate bowl of jug.
Blend this mixture into the flour mixture and beat for one minute.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is cooked when a skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for five minutes.
Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
My friend never ices this cake and nor did I, choosing instead to dust with a light rain of icing sugar. I have provided the icing recipe in case you would like to.

Beat cream cheese and icing sugar until well combined.
Beat in the orange juice to achieve a spreadable consistency.
Spread over the cooled cake and decorate with the orange rind. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe from a friend, who found it, she knows not where.

The siren call of the sunflower seed

Funny how life can come full circle. Things from childhood, that in your teens and early twenties seemed so passé, suddenly become desirable or enjoyable.

One particular blast from my past, has always left me stone cold. The sunflower seed and its hippy chicky cohort, the pumpkin seed or pepita, as it is also known. Mum tried to sneak those little buggers into everything. Little parcels of them appeared in our lunch boxes, whereas other lucky children may have scored a chocolate teddy bear biscuit. They also crept into cookies, cakes, salads, breakfast cereal (not really but I bet she would have if she thought she could have.) These wee kernels stood for everything that, at the time, I totally didn’t get. (Physically and metaphorically.) Homemade, nutritious food in abundance, when all I really wanted was a store bought white bread tomato sandwich. And a Mars Bar.

Our parents grew radiantly yellow sunflowers in our garden and we watched with fascination as they grew tall, blossomed and withered. We would watch their seeds darken, harden and grow as the flower matured. They also grew pumpkins, in varying shapes and sizes. Not even these living miracles convinced me it was natural to consume their kernels.

For many years I have staunchly withstood the squeaky siren call of the sunflower seed. Until that fateful day, when the decision was made to throw together a gluten-free granola for The Yak. Packets of those grey and green coloured things were purchased. After a good toasting, there was a tasting (because a good cook should) and guess what? I liked them. I really liked them.

Full circle. Sorry Mum.

This gluten-free recipe is from The Gluten-free Kitchen cookbook by Sue Shepherd. It is definitely what you would classify as a ‘health cake’ and The Yak (self-proclaimed taster) and cohorts have all proclaimed it as a toothsome and moreish concoction. Dense and fruity with an intense blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves that will make your head spin. This cake is savoury, earthy and studded with a plethora of seeds and nuts. A small piece goes a long way and your body will thank you.


1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup tart dried cherries chopped, (or raisins, I like the sourness of these cherries.)
1/2 cup glacé pineapple (125g), chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
30g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
140g brown rice flour
90g buckwheat flour
2 tsps gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbl ground flaxseed or 1tsp Xanthum gum. Both are optional but I used flaxseed.
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin (pepita) seeds
3 tbls sunflower seeds, extra for sprinkling
3 tbls pumpkin (pepita) seeds, extra for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line with baking paper.
Combine the sultanas, cherries (raisins), pineapple, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, butter and sugar and 1 1/4 cups water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. (Smells like Christmas when the fruit is cooking.)
Stir until the sugar has dissolved , then increase the heat and bring to the boil.
Boil for 1 minute, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.
Sift the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and flaxseed/Xanthum gum (if using ) into a bowl. Repeat this process three times to ensure they are well combined. Or whisk really, really well.
Add the eggs, pecans, sunflowers seeds and pumpkin seeds to the cooled fruit mixture, then stir in the sifted flour mixture.
Pour into the prepared cake tin and sprinkle the extra sunflower and pumpkin seeds on top. Cover with foil and bake 50 minutes, then remove the foil, rotate the cake tin and bake for a further 10 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Remove onto a wire rack, let the cake sit in the tin for 15-20 minutes, then remove carefully onto the wire rack and let cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.

If allergic to nuts you could substitute the pecans with extra dried fruit and seeds.
Rotating the cake tin ensures more even baking.
I have also been reading about about grinding sunflower seeds in a spice blender or NutriBullet type doohickey, and adding them to baking. Kids, watch out.

Recipe from The Gluten-free Kitchen by Sue Shepherd. Published by Viking, Penguin, 2009. (With one or two minor changes.)

Gluten free lemon coconut fridge slice, a happy accident

This recipe was a happy accident. Others accidents I have experienced have been far less joyful. Take for example the time that I gained rather painful third-degree burns on a delicate part of the anatomy, upon backing into a wall heater. In my defence, it was a cold and wintery Melbourne morning and the heater was irresistibly warm. No cheer found there.

Then a few years ago, I boarded a train, holding Kid 2’s pram with one hand and attempted to open the train door with the other. Pushing the door with undue force, I overbalanced and slipped into the gap between the train and the platform. Dangling from the train door handle, I utilised my superhuman strength and propelled myself upwards. My shoulder was badly damaged but I did have the wherewithal to let go of the pram when I slipped. Could have been worse but again, not happy.

Or the time that I haphazardly found myself in the middle of a bar fight that had nothing to do with me and was punched in the face. That experience provided very little glee indeed.

This tasty no-bake slice is just as good using either gluten free or regular store purchased biscuits. The recipe required 250g of biscuits but my pantry only coughed up a mere 160g packet of gluten free Anzacs. What to do? With the temperatures set to unseasonally and prematurely soar to 37 degrees Celsius there was no way that I was getting in the car to go shopping. It was also a public holiday and lassitude ruled the day.

Necessity once again being the mother of invention, my beady eyes happened upon some bags of puffed amaranth and millet. A cup of each was added and Eureka! It worked.

Chewy, cold, buttery and sweet, this fridge slice is balanced by a superb lemony punch. A happy accident indeed and so much more enjoyable than a real punch in the face. Trust me.


1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
125g butter
250g milk arrowroot biscuits gluten free or not ( Arrowroot work best but all I had was a 160g packet of gluten free Anzacs.)
1 cup puffed amaranth
1 cup puffed millet
1 tsp grated lemon rind (I used the rind of two small lemons)
1 cup desiccated coconut

1 3/4 cups icing sugar, sifted
3 tbl lemon juice
15g butter, softened
2 tbl dessiccated coconut

Line a lamington tin with nonstick baking paper.
Place condensed milk and butter in a saucepan. Stir over gentle heat until the butter has melted and the mixture has combined.
Crush the biscuits very finely. (Either old school by placing them in a plastic bag and beating the stuffing out of them with a rolling pin or sensibly, as I did, by placing them in a food processor.)
Place the biscuits into a large bowl, add the lemon rind and coconut. Mix well.
Add the condensed milk and butter to the biscuit mixture. Mix well.
Press the mixture into the tin, my slice was about 1.5 cm thick and about 24cm long x 23cm wide, it didn’t use up all the tin. Refrigerate for one hour.
Icing: Combine the sifted icing sugar, lemon juice and butter in a bowl. Mix well until smooth. Spread over the chilled biscuit base and sprinkle with the coconut.
Refrigerate until the icing is set, cut into small squares.

A Cheergerm adaptation from a recipe found on the Allrecipes website.

Cauliflower fritters and the stink of learning

A conversation had with the eldest of our progeny went like this.

Me: You smell of school.
Kid 1: I hate the smell of school too. It’s the stink of learning.

It is true that our boys emanate a certain odour upon their return from school which is, well, rather unpleasant. However, I always thought it had more to do with the running, jumping, sweating, wearing enclosed shoes, stinky socks, and being cooped up in classrooms with twenty five or so other human beans along with their bodily emissions.

In my imagination, the smell (or stink) of learning would consist of the earthy scent of knowledge filled books and the exciting aroma of information. You would be enveloped by the bouquet of well washed teachers who are thrilled to impart knowledge and to empower our children to be independent and critical thinkers.

But then, what do I know? All that is required is a shedding of uniforms and some serious bathing to ablute the young ‘uns of the heady aroma of school. These fritters are packed full of cauliflower (the totally hip vegetable of the hour.) They smell only of good things, the tingly exotic spices of India and the promise of something tasty to eat. We usually serve them with an Indian style tomato relish or yoghurt and mint sauce.

I would rather walk into a house that was perfumed by the fragrance of delicious fritters than the odiferous miasma of stinky, day old school socks. Like, any day.


Olive oil/grapeseed oil for frying
1/2 cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into small 1.5 cm pieces
1 medium red onion, (half it then finely slice each half)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsps sea salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chilli powder (or 1/2 fresh red chilli finely diced)
Black pepper, a few healthy grinds
Handful of fresh coriander, stalks and leaves roughly chopped
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup millet flour (or sorghum flour or brown rice flour)
1/2 cup plain gluten free flour
1 1/2 tsps gf baking powder
3/4 to 1 cup water

Preheat oven to 170C and line two large baking trays with baking paper.
Place the cauliflower, onion, garlic, spices and coriander into a large bowl.
Sift the flours and baking powder into the large bowl. (I am big on saving on washing up.)
Add the egg and half a cup of the water, mix well. If the batter is too dry, continue to add the rest of the water until you have a loose batter.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a large non stick frying pan.
To make the fritters, add 2 – 3 large spoonfuls of the batter for each fritter into the pan. The mixture will be chunky and look like it won’t hold together but it will. Once they are golden brown on the bottom, flip them carefully and cook until golden brown on the other side. Remove to the tray and repeat the process until the batter is used up.
Place the fritters in the oven and cook for fifteen to twenty minutes until they are puffy and golden brown.
Makes ten very big fritters or if you wish to make smaller ones, just use 1 – 2 tablespoons of batter when making them.

A Cheergerm recipe creation

Yes, I really am a Superhero

Collecting old stuff isn’t an illness, it really isn’t. Collecting, finding, procuring, nay – rescuing old vintage stuff, is a bit like being a superhero.

Think about it folks, you walk into an antique shop/opportunity shop/charity shop/secondhand shop/market stall/trash ‘n’ treasure/skip/kerbside collection. Whilst at any one of these fine locations, you may happen upon a beautiful ‘something.’ (A piece of china, kitchenware, jewellery, furniture, old teatowel, clothing, a pair of 1920’s men’s underwear…ummm…maybe not).

This item has history, it was once owned by someone, possibly even loved (or loathed) by someone. This object/knickknack/doo dah has a story to tell. It may be rare, odd, tickle your fancy, or perhaps you simply love the colour. It is difficult to define and pin down what makes an object desirable. (I have a particular penchant for secondhand china and kitchenware. Followed by abandoned furniture and op shop clothing finds).

If you don’t buy it (or pick it up from the side of the road and put it in your car) then that special thing that caught your eye, may just end up in the desolate pit that is landfill. (Or worse, someone else will get it and you will miss out.) You are saving something from a Fate Worse Than Death. Just as Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, Harry Potter and Frodo have done, time and time again.

You are committing an act of social service by saving this piece of crap vintage stuff from merely being trashed. Or left lonely and forlorn on that shelf. Don’t worry about space and storage, as I have confidently informed The Yak. These delicious finds can always be stored in The Tardis that one keeps in the garage.

My vast rather small collection also includes wondrous objects that have been handed down to me and in some cases, passed on by friends who know how much it will be appreciated in my household. (Well, by one person at least.)

Don’t only buy new, find old stuff as well. It’s really cool and you too can be a Superhero just like me.

Here are a few pictures of some of my old vintage stuff, don’t worry, it’s only a few things. I promise to share more of my lovelies with you every now and again.

Bet you can’t wait.