Gluten free lemon biscuits

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Winter has certainly hit Sydney. Looking out onto a dreary garden scene, I observe a sun-deprived browning lawn, fallen twigs and leaves from recent strong winds and the remnants of summer herbs. The bright spot in my view is the lemon trees. We are enjoying an abundance of citrus but there are only so many cakes, biscuits and slices you can bake.

My next food goal is to ‘put up’ (as would they say in the old days) some Moroccan/Middle Eastern preserved lemons. In my minds eye, I envisage opening a jar of homemade bottled sunshine to chuck into a slow-cooked tagine or sprinkle atop an autumnal salad. Bathing in a feeling of culinary superiority, wearing muted linen colours, my well-manicured hands clutching a coffee mug in the very latest in ceramic serving ware. Totally ‘Instagrammable.’

Back to reality, I hoist my daggy tracksuits up around my waist. These biscuits are delicate, zesty,  wonderfully easy to make and are much akin to shortbread. Next time (there will be a next time), I will double the recipe.

Gluten free lemon biscuits

WHAT YOU NEED
100g butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbl lemon zest (I used the rind of 1 large lemon)
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour
1/4 cup rice flour

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking tray with baking paper.
Combine the butter, sugar, juice and zest in a bowl and beat until combined.
Sift in the gluten free flour and rice flour and stir until smooth.
Form the dough into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and pinch off about 1 large tablespoon of dough and roll into balls. Place them on the trays, 5cm apart. Flatten them with a fork ever so lightly.
Bake for 15-20minutes or until they start to brown around the edges.

Makes about 18 bikkies.

Recipe from the following website, with a few small adaptations.

http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/26080/gluten-free-lemon-biscuits.aspx

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More gluten free lemon muffins

Forget finding the meaning of life, running a marathon or even attempting to read an entire book without skipping to the last chapter. My personal Holy Grail (minus the white steed and medieval suit of armour), appears to be an ongoing quest for the perfect gluten free lemon muffin recipe.

Sadly, this is not it. But it ain’t half bad. It is not the fault of the original recipe but merely the curse of using gluten free flour and the tendency for such bakes to dry out quickly. (Especially when the don’t include fruit or some kind of nut flour.) The Yak really enjoyed them and they are certainly at their best on the day of or day after baking. I am most proud of our three bountiful small lemon trees that continue to provide the citrus that is the zingy backdrop to my culinary life.

The search continues but it is good to finally know my true purpose.

GLUTEN FREE LEMON MUFFINS

WHAT YOU NEED
210g gf flour
1 tbl baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar (I used brown sugar for this batch but caster sugar is fine too)
4 eggs
1/3 cup Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup grapeseed or olive oil
2 tbls finely zested lemon rind
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Syrup
2 tbl lemon juice
1 tsp brown sugar

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C and place muffin papers in a 12 hole muffin tin.
In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and eggs until pale and smooth, this will take about 2-3 minutes.
Beat in the yoghut then beat in the grapeseed or olive oil along with the lemon zest and vanilla essence.
Add the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling each about 1/3 full.
To make the syrup, place the lemon juice and sugar into a small bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds until the sugar is dissolved.
Bake the muffins for 15-20 minutes until golden or until a cake skewer comes out clean.
Transfer to a rack to cool and then immediately, poke a few holes with the cake skewer into each of the muffins. Drizzle some of the syrup onto each muffin until all the syrup is gone.

Makes 12 small muffins

A gluten free adaptation of the following recipe:

https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/05/lemon-olive-oil-muffins-recipe.html


Gluten Free Mac n Cheese – Rick Stein stylin

In an attempt to involve our kidlets in the cooking and ‘not just eating process’, a decree has been passed in our household (royally of course) that ‘each child shall take turn-a-bout choosing and cooking Sunday’s dinner with their Mum’. We took a respite from this over the Christmas and school break but once those holiday shenanigans ended we began again. This mother of two boys is determined to ensure that our lads eventually leave home (albeit in their early thirties) with the ability to cook a decent repetoire of dishes.

Kid 1, on the cusp of turning 14, decided that after watching Rick Stein cook up a decadent version of Mac n Cheese (Macaroni and Cheese for those that may not know), that this would be the dish for him. We have since renamed it ‘Heart Attack on a Plate.’ But my, how very delicious it was. To save precious energy (I am old and he is, well, an adolescent), we decided that the dish had to be entirely gluten free and vegetarian. Frankly, we couldn’t be arsed bothered making two different versions. And guess what, none of us cared.

Well, The Yak actually cared a great deal as he truly loved this old school classic. I mean, really, dangerously, intimately loved it. Hence, we cannot make it again for a very long time. Our parental ageing bodies cannot take this amount of saturated fat too often, even if the youngsters can. However, if you are looking for a moreish, autumnal or winters, tasty, zingy, creamy, monstrously wonderful comfort dish, this is it. Don’t baulk at the amount of cheese, keep grating. Its a veritable mountain but it is required. (The next Mac n Cheese I make will be a healthier version, you will hear the complaints globally but that’s the way the cheese grates, or well, doesn’t.)

GLUTEN FREE MAC N CHEESE

WHAT YOU NEED
100g butter
100 g gluten free flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1.2 litres milk (I used low fat but the orignal recipe calls for full fat)
75 ml double cream
1 bay leaf
400g mature cheddar grated
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg (or dried if you don’t have fresh)
500g of your favourite gluten free dried macaroni
60g gluten free breadcrumbs
50g Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 200C (or 180C fan-forced) and grease a 35x20cm ovenproof dish.
Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan then stir in the flour and cook for two to three minute until the mixture (roux) starts to bubble.
Add the mustard and remove the pan from the heat, add the milk, cream and bay leaf and quickly whisk together.
Return the pan to a medium heat and continue to stir constantly until the mixture starts to thicken and boil.
Remove the saucepan from the heat, remove the bay leaf and add the cheddar. Stir until the cheese has melted then season well with black pepper and nutmeg.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni until al dente as per the packet instructions, usually around 8-10 minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce.
Pour the mixture into the ovenproof dish. Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together and sprinkle over the top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling and serve immediately.

Cooking Notes: Choosing a decent gluten free pasta is a veritable minefield, to avoid too many white starchy carbohydrates I will often use a buckwheat pasta for The Yak. For this recipe we used a generic supermarket brand corn and rice pasta which was actually OK but that was only because the people in my life cannot follow a simple shopping instruction. Thus far, the best ‘most like wheat based pasta’ gluten free pasta I have ever purchased, is the fairly new gluten free Barilla pasta range. I am not paid to say this, nobody pays me to say anything, although I wish they would. I would also happily be paid not to say anything at all. I am open to all offers.

A slight adaptation of a Rick Stein recipe. Go here for the original non-gluten free and non-vegetarian recipe for those of you who don’t have to care.

Rick Steins Mac n Cheese

I never usually comment on my photos but I had to state that this photo cracks me up. Our lad is standing in exactly the same way that I often do. It is also the same way that my physio has told me off for as it is not good for your spine alignment. It seems to be that very little in this post is actually ‘good for you’ but frankly, cest la vie!


Gluten free pecan and vanilla shortbread

This is the pointy part of the year when our ‘busy’ lifestyles become more hectic than usual. Fighting for a carparking space and battling the multitudes at crowded shopping malls is not my idea of a good time. Completing my present purchasing early, allows me to enjoy the process and maintain some semblance of sanity.

When I think of childhood Christmases, certain gifts I received stand out (hello wholesome Sindy doll, no pneumatic Barbie for me.) What I remember most however, is that feeling where the world has slowed down. Of spending it with my crazy beautiful family, of the steadfast family friends who tethered us, of decorated pine trees hauled from the paddock next door fat and laden down with old school tinsel, Dads long walking socks used as Christmas stockings stuffed full of small and thoughtful delights.

I think of all the delicious things we ate; shiny glazed hams studded with cloves, homemade pavlovas crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle, enough boiled new potatoes to feed an army and freshly shelled green peas – a job shared by all. Of scorching hot days when our bums stuck to vinyl car seats, us kids making whirlpools in above-ground swimming pools and running wild through sprinklers in baggy one-piece swimming cozzies. I hope one day, my own children will look back and remember the traditions created and moments spent together and not the ‘stuff’ that they received.

My goal has always been to spend the last week before Christmas away from the shops. Soaking in the festive feeling, spending time with loved ones, enjoying the Christmas lights on our street and of course baking shortbread for Christmas gifts. This year I find myself in the kitchen as the temperatures in our part of Sydney soar into the high thirties and low forties. (Celsius that is.) Working with butter in extreme heat is tricky but is manageable if you work fast. I do admit to turning on the air-conditioning once the oven starts to warm up. Pecan and vanilla is a winning combination and so far, no-one has complained. (They wouldn’t want to, there’s no saying what an overheated possibly perimenopausal baker might do if offended.)

Christmas isn’t always an easy time. Grief, pressure, depression,ill-health, financial woes and difficult family dynamics don’t just disappear because the calendar tells us it’s December. Terrible things happen at any time of the year and not everyone has it good. With that in mind; whatever you do or don’t bake this Christmas and whatever kind of Christmas you are experiencing, I wish you good tidings, peace and love.

GLUTEN FREE PECAN AND VANILLA SHORTBREAD

WHAT YOU NEED
250g butter, room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla essence
2 3/4 cups plain gluten free flour (for non gluten-free shortbread use the same amount of plain flour)
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 170C.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper and sift the flours and salt together into a bowl.
Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually (I used a mixer), beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and mix until evenly dispersed.
Work in the flour gradually until the mixture is just combined.
Add the pecans and give the mixture another quick mix.
Knead the mixture lightly in the bowl for a few minutes to bring it together.
Divide the dough in half, roll each half out to a 3-4 cm log. Wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for half an hour to an hour.
Slice the logs into 1-2 cm thickness, depending on your fancy, place 10mm apart on a baking tray and prick each piece all over with a fork.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp and straw-coloured. (Regular shortbread will be quicker to bake, probably only 15-20 minutes.)
Cool down on wire racks.
Makes about 20-25 pieces.

A Cheergerm Adaptation of a Margaret Fulton recipe.

Cooking Notes: Gluten free shortbread can be delicate creatures so please handle carefully when rolling and cutting. When adding the flour to the mixture, I pop a teatowel over the mixer to stop the flour ‘floofling’ (an exact culinary term) all over the joint.


Leura and Holmcroft

Our brother-in-law had arrived from the UK and after a couple of days hanging in our usual surrounds, we thought it a grand idea to go and visit further afield. It didn’t take long to decide upon the charming village of Leura, set admidst the quintessential Australian bush environment of the Blue Mountains. After investigating accommodation options online until my eyeballs bled, I chose a charming wee cottage named Holmcroft. Staying in another home elsewhere is like trying on a pair of fine, expensive shoes. You get the feeling of another way of life in a place that is different to your own. Yet you are not required to commit to it.

The bones of Holmcroft wrapped themselves around us. Pressed metal walls and ceilings, wide knotted Kauri floorboards and panels of stained glass panels hark back to the early 1900’s. I stared at the ornate ceilings, imagining those who passed through and have long gone back to dust and dirt. So many unspoken stories embedded into the mitochondria of this building. The spoken and the unspoken, I like to think that we also left behind a tiny part of our own story.

Holmcroft definitely harkens back to a more gracious time. When clocks ticked their steady rhythm, fine bone china clinked and heavy fabricked skirts rustled. The house is plenty big enough, four bedrooms are dressed with good quality bed linen, there are two bathrooms, two comfortable decent sized living areas and a lovely verandah for cup-of-tea relaxing. Mod-cons such as central heating, a dishwasher and an updated kitchen are the icing on this vintage cake. The boys ran out their bottled-up energy in the rambling garden, when they weren’t exhausted from the daily walking.

I happily did very little cooking, unless you can call arranging a piggy-platter of tasty nibbles and opening a bottle of fizzy wine actual cooking? Leura was a pleasant ten minute stroll away and we delighted in the heavily blossom laden trees and beautifully maintained gardens we passed on the way into town.

We ate at a number of restaurants and cafes but my highlight was lunch at the Red Door Cafe. I ordered the same dish on two different occasions, it comprised of a wild rice sage and mushroom rosti, chilli and chive fried eggs, sweet roast pumpkin and all topped with a radish, almond, peach and pecorino salad. Whilst it sounds like a bit of a mish-mash, it was incredibly well balanced and completely delicious. Something to attempt replicating at home for sure.

Josophan’s Chocolates was another solid fist punch foodie moment. The boys scoffed decadent brownies, of which we got a tiny nibble. I also purchased a bag of their magnificent Belgian cocoa and may (or may not) have bought a small bag of their hand-crafted chocolates. (Shhh, don’t tell the children or The Yak.) We ate hearty pies in buttery pastry and very good sourdough at Wentworth Bakery. This sometimes grown-up also managed to sneak away for some lovely shopping moments in the lush boutiques that dot the main street.

We walked, talked and enjoyed the jaw-dropping mountain scenery. Whilst extreme heights has never been my favourite, I found myself panicking whenever the boys went too close to the vertigous edge. I tried not to pass on this new found anxiety to the lads. Judging from the way they happily trekked down the cliff face to the closest point of the Three Sisters rock formation, I seem to have succeeded. (Despite my small tantrum at not wanting them to go and storming back up the path so as not to witness their descent. Another chapter to add to my ‘Fine Parenting Moments 101.’)

We read by the fire, ate, drank good wine and made new memories. Although the absence of our Joanne weighed heavily at times we hope that it was a small salve to Rob’s soul to be elsewhere for a while, just as it was for us to spend time with him.

Speaking of leaving a part of us behind, we accidentally left one boys favourite soccer cap and two other items of my clothing at the house. So I guess the old adage of ‘be careful what you wish for’ sometimes does come true. If that is the case, I would like to throw another wish out there, that we come back to visit Holmcroft again and not before too long.

Holmcroft

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Maple syrup muffins, gluten free

Since moving to the northern suburbs of Sydney and its bush surroundings, a particular bird has become my steadfast night time companion. A birdwatching neighbour assisted me in identifying the resonant hoot of this avian creature. It is the smallest and most common owl in Australia, the Southern Boobook. (Or as I have nicknamed it, ‘The Hoo Hoo Bird’.) It’s voice capacity seems far beyond its body weight, some would say this fact may explain my feelings of kinship towards this evening songbird.

It’s nocturnal call has become a comforting, rhythmical backdrop to what I have dubbed the ‘3 am blues’. Upon waking around that particular hour; every bad thought, hideous possibility and nightmarish circumstance comes to mind. And due to the hour, it feels unbeatable, unbearable and imminently possible.

Too many times to mention has the rhythmic far off call of the Boobook been my lullaby back to the realm of peace and slumber. Lately, this owl has begun to roost very near our house. The closest I have ever heard it. As I write, my eyes droop and my head nods in a Pavlovian response to its soothing call, lulling me to the Land of Nod.

Oh beautiful bird, thank you for your gift of sleep during restless nights of dark thoughts, wakeful breastfeeding babies, anxious parent emotions, vomiting children, snoring husbands, asthmatic lads, grieving nights and wide eyed ‘what if’ overthinking. I wish you propagation, the protection of your bush environment, delicious treats and the continuing joy of your nightly call.

These gluten free muffins are on steady rotation in our household. The recipe doesn’t contain any refined sugar, only maple syrup which gives them a floral, caramel flavour. They are tender, not too sweet and are best eaten on the day (or day after) they are baked.

MAPLE SYRUP MUFFINS, GLUTEN FREE

WHAT YOU NEED
350g gf flour (see cooking notes)
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs (70g)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
2 tbl maple syrup extra for glazing

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 200C (or 190 fan forced.) Place muffin papers into a 12 hole muffin tin. Spray lightly with baking oil to ensure easy removal.
Sieve all the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs then add the buttermilk, maple syrup and grapeseed oil and stir well.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Spoon the mixture into the muffin papers and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven onto a cooling rack and using a pastry brush, brush the extra maple syrup over the top of the muffins whilst they are still hot.
Eat them.

Cooking notes:
In regards to gluten free flour for these muffins, I like to use a blend and this will change depending on what I have on hand. The two blends that provide a lovely, tender muffin are: A. 150g chestnut flour and 200g plain gf flour blend such as the Orgran brand. B. 100g Bobs Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour and 250g plain gf flour.
If you don’t have buttermilk you can make your own by adding 1 tbl of lemon or vinegar to 1 cup of buttermilk and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

Maple syrup muffins original recipe link

The call of the Southern Boobook


Vegetarian lentil shepherds pie

Our two lads will happily eat standard veggie fare such as corn, carrots, peas, broccoli and potatoes. If you asked them, they would vehemently deny eating (much less admit to enjoying) eggplant, zuchinni, mushrooms, fennel, onion and capsicum. However, they regularly eat these vegetables in curries, vegetarian Mexican bean dishes, veggie lentil pasta dishes, meat casseroles, burgers, bolognese and more.

Whilst eating, they sometimes ask ‘Mum, what’s in this ?’ When I tell them ‘eggplant’, they are not deterred from continuing the inhalation process. I am sure this has something to do with the leafy matter being ‘hidden in plain sight’ and not easily identifiable. On the flip side, they run screaming from the room when confronted with beetroot, brussel sprouts, parnsips or sweet potato.

This hearty winter dish is all about the fifth flavour of umami (or in other words ‘deep savouriness’), provided by the mushrooms, miso and soy sauce. These flavours and textures, combined with some slow cooking, are completely satisyfing. I cannot promise that it will convert the most adamant of carnivores but our lads love it and in fact, have said they prefer it to my meat version of the same dish. (A declaration at which many sheep breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing.)

Make, eat and enjoy; knowing that neither sheep nor shepherd was harmed in the making of this pie.

VEGETARIAN LENTIL SHEPHERDS PIE

WHAT YOU NEED
4 tbl olive oil
1 medium onion finely diced
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
3 medium carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 medium sized red pepper, diced
1 large eggplant, diced
1 large zuchinni, diced
2 cloves garlic
3 large flat mushrooms, diced
2 tins brown lentils, drained
1 tin crushed tomatoes
250 ml vegetable stock
1 tbl oregano
1tbl gluten free soy sauce
1 tbl miso paste
Salt and pepper to taste

Mashed potato topping
1.5 kilos potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup milk
50-100g Butter to taste (add as much as or as little as you like)
Salt and pepper
50-80g Parmesan for grating on top

HOW YOU DO IT

Lightly oil a large baking dish.
Sauté onion, chilli, carrot, celery and red pepper for five minutes. Add the eggplant and zuchinni and sauté for another five minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the mushrooms and cook for another five minutes. Add the lentils, tin of tomatoes, veggie stock, oregano, soy sauce, miso and another cup or so of cold water so the whole mixture is covered in liquid.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cook for up to one hour until all the liquid is evaporated and the veggies are tender. (This can take more like 1 hour 15 minutes.) Check for seasoning.
Whilst the vegetable mixture is simmering make the mashed potato topping. Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender then drain them. Quickly pop them back into the saucepan and cook on a low heat for a minute or two. This will evaporate any remaining liquid and help to make a more fluffy mash. Remove them from the heat.
Warm the milk then add this and the butter to the potato mixture and mash until light and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.
If cooking the shepherds pie straight away, preheat the oven to 180C.
To assemble the pie: Place the vegetable mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth flat. Dollop even spoons of the potato mash over the top of the veggies. Flatten the mash with a spatula then drag a fork through the top. (This uneven texture helps the potato to brown.)
Sprinkle the Parmesan over the potato and bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden brown. (If the top hasn’t browned enough, I often turn the grill on to medium for five minutes or so to help the browning process.)
If you are heating up the shepherds pie from the fridge, bring it out for half an hour before baking and it will take around an hour to heat up to piping hot.

Cooking Notes: Don’t feel compelled to follow my recipe for mashed potato if you have your own awesome recipe and technique. You can also make this recipe vegan by using a vegan margarine to mash the potatoes with and not using any milk. Top with a vegan cheese instead.
Another great thing about this dish is that due to its size, there are always leftovers for the next night. You little beauty.

A Cheergerm recipe


Sautéed cabbage

Cabbage is supposedly the latest ‘it’ vegetable, the suddenly fashionable ‘new kid on the block’. It’s in the zeitgeist and cauliflower has been kicked to the curb and replaced with the humble cabbage.

Dear Cabbage, please know that I have always loved you. When you were the wallflower, the last kid picked for handball and the lonely vegetable left sitting on the veggie stand. Eastern Europe stood by you when so many others shunned you. You are delicious whether eaten raw, cooked, pickled and fermented.

Cabbage, I am happy that you are having your day in the sun. Please know that those of us who have always been your stalwart supporters, will still be here when your fifteen minutes of fame finally ends.

SAUTÉED CABBAGE

WHAT YOU NEED
3 tbls olive oil
50g butter
400g red cabbage, finely sliced
400g white cabbage, finely sliced
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup cold water
Salt and pepper
1/2 small lemon

HOW YOU DO IT
Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat then add the olive oil and butter.
Once the butter has melted, sauté the onion for a few minutes, then add the cabbage and stir until the cabbage is well coated with the butter and oil.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Add 1/4 cup of water and bring to the boil then reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally for around 30 minutes until the cabbage is soft, tender and starts to caramelise. (If you want crunchier cabbage, just cook it for less time.)
Squeeze the half a lemon over the dish and season to taste with salt and pepper and serve alongside whatever your heart desires.

Cooking Notes:
I sometimes add 1/2 tsp caraway seeds with the garlic if I have them.
My hard taskmaster erstwhile editor (aka The Yak) wants me to explain the terminology ‘sauté’. Sauté means to cook quickly in a small amount of fat in a sauté pan or fry pan, over a medium to high heat for a short time.

A Cheergerm version of a dish that has been around a very long time


Turmeric, garlic and sumac potatoes

Our home is an eclectic mix of the old and the new. Vintage pieces have either been collected or handed down. Our artwork tells the story of where we have been, who we once were, where we came from and perhaps where we are headed. The sentimental and the functional work alongside a healthy mix of Lego, too many books to count and endless drawers stuffed full of ‘God Knows What.’ Furniture is chosen for both comfort and design and in some cases, passed down or handed over.

I am drawn towards textural fabrics that provide warmth and please my eye. Our abode is a continual work in progress and our list of ‘things to do’ grows bigger by the day. We are not the greatest of ‘handypeople’ and we work at a snails pace that would (and probably does) frustrate those faster moving people out there. Our home doesn’t suit everybody but then nobody should really ever have to justify ‘home’ to anyone. (Except maybe those of you still married to the 80’s grey and pink decor theme but then, who am I to judge?)

This winter, it feels as if my heartbeat and mind have slowed. I notice the small things. A new crack in a wall, a particularly lovely leaf on an indoor plant or the iridescent glaze on a piece of pottery. The way the light moves throughout the house during the day, alighting on a painting or a section of wooden flooring. I have found great peace and comfort in my surroundings.

Today’s recipe is more of a delicious idea than a recipe. Mum gave me a turmeric plant a little while ago and I excitedly harvested it the other day. I peeled and grated a bulb then threw it into the dinner potatoes alongside some olive oil, crushed garlic, sumac and sea salt then baked them until golden brown. Earthy, slightly tangy with a garlicky hit, the lads loved this little twist on a regular side dish.

strong>TURMERIC, GARLIC AND SUMAC POTATOES

WHAT YOU NEED
1 kilo Pontiac or Desiree potatoes, cut into 3-4 cm chunks
2-3 tbls olive oil
7-10cm fresh turmeric bulb, grated
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp sea salt

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Toss the potatoes in the olive oil, turmeric, garlic, sumac and salt.
Place on the tray and bake until golden brown and tender.
Serve with whatever takes your fancy.

A Cheergerm creation


Gluten free lemon yoghurt cake

Very soon this blog will have to be re-named ‘fear-germ’ as everyone will be too scared to read it, for fear of finding yet another sad story. Unfortunately, that’s all I have for you again today but it is slightly sweetened by the addition of a wonderful Donna Hay lemon yoghurt cake recipe. I am hopeful for gentler and happier waters ahead.

A letter to our dog Elvis

I find you in unexpected places. Your ball tucked behind a chair, your jacket hanging over a balustrade.

I go to save you a snippet of cheese, salmon or sausage and realise you are no longer here.

I watch our boys reach down to where you once sat but you are gone. They recoil in confusion and tears well up in their eyes. Every night before bed, Kid 1 goes to your pillow and breathes in deeply, stating that it smells of you.

Children are more easily distracted. They move in and out of grief fluidly but when it strikes, they are hit hard. For us ‘so called grown ups’, who made the call, based on the opinion of an unknown emergency vet late on a rainy Friday night, there is second guessing and a deep unease. And for me, who spent more time with you than all of us, losing you is far worse than I could have ever imagined.

We had you fourteen beautiful years but we are greedy and it doesn’t seem long enough. The unconditional love you provided soothed all of us at varying times. Our boys learnt about responsibility, loyalty, trust and compassion through having you in their lives. (And well, buying you as a tiny puppy after our first miscarriage, The Yak and I did too.) The lads are now learning another life lesson on loss and bereavement.

We think we hear the jingle of your collar, the pitter patter of your petite paws.

Night falls, I tell the Yak to remember to take you out for a wee but you are no longer here.

Sitting on the couch, there are no more gentle snores, no more ‘hello I am here’ visits. As I go through my work-a-day-life, passing through our home, there are no more doggy-lying sunshine spots.

I could burn this house down for it’s emptiness. You were a member of our family and part of our heartbeat. You were our baby before our babies, a patient and fun-loving brother to our boys, our Happy Birthday singing diva, our cheese-loving fluffy puppy, sneaky cake-eating canine, fence-jumping pooch, Houdini style escaping hound, our ball-chasing high energy muppet, my sweet compadre and house shadow.

What will we all do without our morning lick and cuddle? We are undone, you will live in our hearts forever. I dedicate this cake recipe to you sweet dogger, in the memory of the many cooling cakes you sneakily partly devoured. We love you Elvis and we always will.

If you are looking for a tender, human and canine pleasing, tangy gluten free cake recipe then this is for you. Using lemons from our own trees surely made it more delicious. There is a link to Donna Hay’s original recipe after the photos. Enjoy.

GLUTEN FREE LEMON YOGHURT CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)
2 eggs
1 tbl finely grated lemon zest (I used about 1 1/2 tbls)
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
1 cup (280g) Greek yoghurt (I used vanilla bean yoghurt)
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
300g gluten free self-raising flour

Lemon Icing
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tbl lemon juice
1/2 tsp boiling water

WHAT YOU DO
Preheat oven to 160C and grease and line a 24cm springform baking tin.
Place the oil, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, yoghurt and caster sugar in a large bowl and whisk together to combine.
Sift the flour over the mixture and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to stand for 5 minutes before removing from the tin.
To make the icing, combine the icing sugar, lemon juice and boiling water.
Turn the cake out onto a cake stand and pour the icing over the cake whilst the cake is still warm. (I didn’t do this, I iced the cake when it was cold.) Let it stand for ten minutes for the icing to set then cut it and well, tuck in.

A slight adaptation of a Donna Hay recipe, link to the original recipe is provided below.

https://www.donnahay.com.au/recipes/desserts-and-baking/lemon-and-yoghurt-cake