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.

GLUTEN FREE RHUBARB AND COCONUT SLICE

WHAT YOU NEED
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)

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

HOW YOU DO IT
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.
Topping
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.

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http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/7676/rhubarb+and+coconut+slice


Pinata Rage and Coconut Macaroons

It was the longest piñata hit in history. This gaily coloured Mexican bombonierre was seemingly made of cast iron. Possibly forged in the smelters of dwarven folk from the Kingdom under the Lonely Mountain (a Tolkien reference to all you non Hobbit loving peeps).

Child after strong armed child faced this monster. Bashing it with the supressed rage of youngsters against the iron fists of their parental controllers. Sadly, it was to no avail.

Finally, deliverance came in the guise of the smallest and youngest child (an angelic blonde haired 4 year old). It is difficult to explain the collective surprise at witnessing this beautiful young person flying into, what will henceforth be known as, ‘piñata rage’.

There was violent and assured bashing, followed by targeted smashing. The paper mâché split open and Mexican manna fell from the heavens. All was once again right with the world.

Kid 1 came up to me afterwards, proclaiming ‘The bowl of holiness has been split!’ His hands overflowing with sweet loot, some whole and some crushed. Not caring that they were in a less than perfect state, he snarfled them all in record time.

These coconuts macaroons may not have been a piñata full of sweet and lollylike goodness but they were still a huge hit with Kid 1. Being gluten free, the Yak was also a fan.

Some folk may say the macaroon is the poor, tenement living cousin to the more difficult to make and penthouse living macaron. I tell all those people to rack off. Yes, the macaroon has only 4 ingredients and yes, they are quick and yes, you don’t have to cure the egg whites for 2 days. So, yes, maybe after careful consideration ‘those people’ have a point. But as that overused cooking TV show catchphrase goes, ‘I made them with love’. (I don’t often cook with hate in my heart, although sometimes, I have been know to give a misbehaving cake batter a stern glance or two).

Floral vanilla and chewy coconut, reminiscent of a Polynesian wonderland. Close your eyes as you bite into their crispy exterior and you could be lying on a beach in Tahiti. They may easy peasey lemon squeezy but they are bloody delicious.

COCONUT MACAROONS

WHAT YOU NEED
2 egg whites
Pinch salt
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
125g desiccated coconut (or shredded)
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla essence)

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 150C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place the egg whites and salt in a medium sized bowl and beat them until they are stiff.
Gradually beat in the sugar and fold in the remaining ingredients.
Drop the mixture in teaspoonfuls about 5cm apart on the trays (as I did) or use a piping bag with a 1cm tip.
Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. When the macaroons are dry and cooked, they will be a pale, pinky-gold.
Cool on wire racks and store airtight, Makes about 20.

Recipe from Ladies, A Plate by Alexa Johnston.

A quick shout out to the lovely chicks from I Need a Feed and Vegas Hungry Girl for nominating me for some blogger awards lately. Not sure when I will get to that but in the meantime, just wanted to give you the links to their delightful blogs.

http://ineedafeed.wordpress.com

http://vegashungrygirl.wordpress.com