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.

IMG_4719

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


Gluten free ginger crunch and Original Thought

Recently, Kid 2 (who is 7 years old) was rolling and generally lollygagging around on the floor. He pipes up.
‘I have never had an original thought in my life.’

He didn’t appear perturbed, upset or even surprised at this revelation. The kid has a point. Is there really anything new under the sun? I am no philosopher but it is hard to believe that in the billions of thoughts that have existed in our space-time continuum, that a truly ‘original thought’ exists.

During a search on ‘t’internet’ for a quote on the theory of original thought (just to highlight how erudite and intellectual this Cheergerm can get), I got bored and started looking at photos of cats performing amazing ridiculous feats. Next, I googled ‘space-time continuum’ because, well, that’s how my brain works. (I use the word ‘works’ loosely.) I stumbled/googlebumbled upon the following quote, which has nothing to do with original thought at all. Or, does it?

‘The whole fabric of the space-time continuum is not merely curved, it is in fact, totally bent’. This quote harks from the novel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’, by Douglas Adams of ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ fame. One of my favourite all time authors.

By now you may be screaming asking politely, ‘what was the bloody point of all that?’ Bear with me folks. This spicy and delicate recipe is a gluten free re-work of a favourite old school New Zealand slice. Whilst I am certainly not claiming it is an original, there is a small point of difference in the use of buckwheat, sorghum and teff flours. However, I am sure that somewhere in this bendy, curvy universe of ours, somebody else has already thought of it before.

GLUTEN FREE GINGER CRUNCH

WHAT YOU NEED
Base
80g brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
100g gluten free plain flour
50g teff flour
40g almond meal (if you canโ€™t use nuts you can substitute for buckwheat flour)
2 tbl psyllium husk (about 10g)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
115g butter, room temperature

Icing
55g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 tsp ground ginger
55g icing sugar (make sure it’s pure icing sugar and gluten free)

HOW YOU DO IT
Base
Preheat oven to 180C and line a shallow 30 x 21cm tin with baking paper.
Put all the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse briefly to combine them. Drop in the butter and process just until the mixture forms fine crumbs. (You can do this all by hand, rubbing the butter into the flour but machine mixing is easier!)
Pour the crumbs into the tin, spread them out evenly and press down firmly using your fingers to compact them slightly. They will stick together properly as they bake.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the mixture is a pale golden brown.

Icing
While the base is cooking, put the butter, golden syrup and ginger into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring. When they are melted and combined, tip in the icing sugar mixture and mix to a fairly runny consistency.
Remove the base from the oven and immediately pour on the icing. Spread it evenly over the surface with a spatula.
Cut the mixture into fingers or squares, leave to cool then break it apart along the cuts and store in an airtight container.
Makes 12 squares or more fingers.
Recipe Note: I usually double those recipe and just use a 32cm x 24cm baking tray.

A Cheergerm adaptation from Ladies, A Plate by Alexa Johnston

Postscript.
It desperately occurred to me that the word ‘googlebumbled’ may be a truly ‘original’ Cheergerm thought or creation. As I had never heard it before, what choice did one have but to google it? It thus far appears to have never been googled as an actual ‘word’.

Just saying.

Go here for the non-gluten free version, Ginger Cat Crunch Slice
https://cheergerm.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/ginger-cat-crunch/


Gluten free lime slice and what the heck is teff flour?

MORNING
It’s Saturday morning, I am lying abed…reading, sipping tea and pondering the real meaning of life. (In other words, procrastinating the inevitable getting up and starting the day.) I have a vanilla soy candle burning and all is quiet and still….until…two small boys come bounding into the bedroom like Labrador puppies. Arms and legs flailing, falling over one another. ‘What’s that delicious smell?’ they cry. ‘We can smell it through out the whole house,’ ‘Is it something good to eat?’

‘Fraid not me laddies. It’s just the delightful scent of the candle you gave me for Chrissy, smells great hey?’ Disappointment radiates from every inch of their wiry beings. The sproglets gallop around the room once or twice. Any sadness at the lack of good things to eat is somewhat tempered by Kid 1 snarfling the TV remotes and taking off downstairs, I presume to watch something enlightening and educational on the Cartoon Network.ย 

Thoughts of this day now encroach. Yes, vanilla pervades my senses but I remember the big bag of luminous limes in the fridge. Lime slice with a hint of vanilla methinks. Gluten free, with buckwheat, teff flour…butter, now you are talking.

WHAT THE HECK IS TEFF FLOUR?
A brief ramble regarding teff flour, if I may. This gluten free ancient grain is teeny tiny but chock full of nutrition. Native to Ethiopia, it is believed that teff originated between 4000 BC and 1000 BC. I have used brown teff flour which is higher in protein than wheat and has a high concentration of nutrients such as calcium, thiamin and iron. Research has shown that the iron from teff is easily absorbed into the body. It is high in fibre and can help control blood sugar levels.

The only downer is that here in Australia, it hasn’t been easy to get. My last bag was Bob’s Red Mill Teff Flour from a local health food store and they have been out of stock for a few months now. Only a tiny bit remains, so this great hunter will soon set off once again to track down the teff. Will keep you posted on it’s whereabouts.

Overridingly this slice is all about the lime, with a touch of vanilla. (This post may give a small insight into the intricate, um, cough, workings of a Cheergerm mind.) The Yak says it has a caramel flavour, possibly from the coconut sugar. The slice is a little crunchy on the outer edge but more tender in the middle. Being a citrus lover, it’s my cup of tea. And that is exactly how it was enjoyed by The Yak and myself, alongside a cup of good, strong brew.

YOU NEED
Slice Base
150g buckwheat flour
50 g teff flour (or brown rice flour, millet flour or plain GF flour)
1 tsp baking powder
100g coconut sugar (feel free to use rapadura or raw caster sugar)
115 g butter
1 heaped tbl lime zest (3 small limes lost their zest to aid this recipe)
1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Icing
40 g butter
2 tbl lime juice
60g pure icing sugar, sifted

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a shallow 30cm x 21cm tin with baking paper.
Put the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse briefly to combine.
Pop in the butter, lime zest and vanilla paste, process until the mixture resembles fine sand.
Tip the mixture into the tin, spreading out evenly and pressing down firmly with your fingers. It may seem crumbly but don’t freak out. It will all stick together once it’s baked.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the mixture is golden brown.
Whilst the slice is in the oven, put the butter and lime juice into a saucepan and stir over low heat. Once the mixture is melted, add the icing sugar and mix. It will be a runny consistency.
When the base is removed from the oven, pour the icing over and spread it out evenly. Let it sit for a few minutes.
Cut the mixture into squares and leave to cool. You can break it apart once it has cooled completely and store in an airtight container. Makes 12 largish square pieces.

A Cheergerm recipe