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After a sweaty workout to Just Dance 2 and Wii Broadway Dance I decided to sit down and come up with a new blog. Unfortunately I’ve been stuck for ideas lately- sure I have a few stored away for convenient use but I wanted to write something new and off the top of my head. So much for that idea I thought. BUT then I turned my head to look at the time and saw a pile of books by my bed and I was struck with inspiration. BOOKS!
I adore books; I read every night before I go to sleep no matter how tired/sick/drunk I may be. It has been an integral part of my, and my sister’s lives. Out parents started reading to us when we were very little and kept reading until we were able to do it for ourselves. We were always going on trips to the library to pick out different books to explore. Books have that magical ability to stimulate and soothe. Sometimes it’s easy, calming and familiar and other times it’s a labyrinth of confusing and exciting words that require all your attention. When else are you going to visit Narnia, an enchanted wood, New York, Henry the VIIIs’ castle or a gladiator’s arena in one sitting??
I have an irrational fear of books becoming obsolete, probably because technology is moving forward in such a way that one person can hold a thousand books in their hands whilst sitting on the train. But I love the smell of books, going to the library to find something you haven’t read before, the satisfaction of getting through a particularly lengthy tome and I couldn’t even begin to imagine a world without them. They made me better at English, gave me a broader view of the world, stimulated my imagination to go places I could never get to on my own, gave me topics of conversation and resulted in some fabulous movies and TV shows being made. One day I want to have a huge library filled with all the books I love and to sit there by a cosy fire, cup of tea in hand ready to fall into yet another wonderful adventure.
Hey all, just wanted to update you all on my new category “Small Bites”. This section of my blog will have the usual blogging section but will be recipe-less. It may contain pictures I like or inspirational sayings or just a thought that I wanted to put down. Don’t worry though- I will still be putting recipes up in my Ramblings and Recipes page. This is just for the odd occasion when I don’t have a recipe to match my blog.
Hope you enjoy though!!
Just a quick note on my blog for today: I wrote this blog about a year ago and it was originally just for me to touch on some ideas that were very relevant at the time. It still is actually, which is why I wanted to put it up for you to see. I don’t want to come across as ‘airy fairy’ and start sprouting messages of misguided wisdom, but this bit of writing is really something I have done a lot of thinking about and that I wanted to share. So I hope you enjoy it and I promise to one day blog about my love for Justin Biebers hair, Zac Efrons abs and why school like totally sucks… Or on second thoughts I might just stay with what I know best.
We all have inner strength, some people are only aware of this through times of deep sadness, pain, insecurity and loss. Others are lucky and born with the knowledge that they are strong and no matter what happens they can survive. Then there are those who have it and never discover it, never have to, never want to or are never allowed. It amazes me the strength that one can discover when it feels like there just isn’t an ounce left. The tiny flame of hope, light, recovery, happiness, joy, patience and forgiveness that fights to stay alive against almost all conceivable possibilities. Light that keeps cropping back up, no matter how hard life tries to put it out. It’s in all of us, it’s just whether we have the opportunity or the means to be able to put it into practice, to get it to work for us and not fight against it. Whether to stoke the fire or let it burn out is sometimes not a choice that we get to make. That’s what makes it so special; it burns for us without conscious thought and without effort, protecting and nurturing us until we are free to take over and live as brightly as we possibly can.
A nurturing and nutritious meal to stoke your inner flame
(PLEASE IGNORE- the can of diced tomatoes, I had a momentary lapse of memory and for some reason added it to my ingredient picture. There is no canned tomato in the recipe so just forget I ever put it there!)
1 onion, chopped
1 Large carrot, grated
1 Large stick of celery, finely chopped (use a couple of celery sticks if they’re small)
Half a large zucchini/1 small zucchini, grated
1 Large clove of garlic, crushed
500g Beef mince
5 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 cups of beef stock
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ cup of frozen peas
3-4 medium sized potatoes
1-2 Teaspoons of butter
½ cup of milk
Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
- Heat a large pot over medium heat and splash in some olive oil. Add onion and cook for a few minutes then add in carrot, celery, zucchini and garlic. Cook for 5-8 minutes until everything has become softened. Add the mince and cook until browned.
(There are two ways to approach the next part- if you don’t have enough room in the pot you can take out your vegies and put them aside while you cook the meat. OR push the onion mix to the side of the pot and cook the meat alongside the veg. I personally like to cook my meat apart from the veg so I can know it’s cooked before moving on to the next stage. But it’s up to you!)
- After the meat is browned add tomato paste, beef stock and Worcestershire sauce, (don’t forget to add the onion, celery, carrot, zucchini and garlic mix back into the pot if you took it out to cook the mince!) bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. You want a lot of the liquid to have evaporated and thickened slightly. If you are in a rush and you have too much liquid a teaspoon of corn flour will make it thicken quicker, just make sure you do still simmer for at least 10 minutes before you go adding the corn flour.
- While your shepherd’s pie is simmering away it’s time to get the mash started. Peel and quarter your potatoes then place in a pan of cold water. Put over a medium heat and boil until cooked (I’m notoriously bad at telling when a potato is cooked and still have to ask mum for help, so I’ll leave it to you guys to know when it will be done!). Drain potatoes and mash with a potato masher. Throw in a teaspoon or 2 of butter and mix through. Make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour half of the milk in, let it absorb into the potatoes and give it a good stir. Keep adding milk until you get a smooth, creamy texture. Sprinkle in a bit of salt and pepper and set aside until assembly.
- Stir parsley and peas into the now reduced shepherd’s pie mix and then simmer until peas are cooked. Turn your oven and grill on (this ensures the top of the pie goes lovely and golden whilst the inside stays piping hot) to about 180 degrees Celsius.
- Spoon the mixture into pie pots- I use individual pots for the pies but this would probably work in a big baking dish as well- leaving a centimeter gap at the top. Place a few dollops of the mashed potato on top and smooth out. Cover with some tasty cheese and place under the grill for about 5-7 minutes until the cheese is golden and delicious looking.
- EAT AND ENJOY!!
As most of my friends would know, I have a ridiculous love of tea; English breakfast tea, peppermint tea, green tea, jasmine tea, sleepy time tea, chamomile tea, headache tea, cold and flu tea, Melbourne breakfast tea (thanks to Nick for that particular find), etc. The list is endless, especially after the discovery of T2 and the vast array of exotic and new delicious blends to try. I suppose my love stems from the simplicity and comfort tea offers, nothing is easier than boiling up the kettle and making yourself a cup (unless I’m being lazy and then I make my mum do it). I’m lucky because I have many friends who enjoy a good cuppa- my whole social life revolves around the kitchen bench, my mini 2 cup teapot and some form of baked good. Tea is not a drink to be carried around in a styrofoam cup or to be drunk in a rush. It is the drink that you sit outside with on a sunny day enjoying the moment or sitting in front of the computer playing some mindless yet entertaining game -which is my personal favourite- and having nothing to worry about. It’s what I enjoy when having a good girly gossip or debriefing on the latest movie. It’s old fashioned and cultured and grown up and just damn lovely. I was lucky enough to spend the morning with my gorgeous and wonderful friend Amy who has more teapots in her house than any other household appliance (she definitely has an unbridled passion for tea that rivals my own). We sat down over a particularly fragrant herbal tea and watched a movie together- it was lovely. I couldn’t ask for a nicer morning. Tea is simplicity itself, it’s a few leaves and a splash of boiling water, it is a conversation, a warming cuddle, a rainy day huddled under a doona and it’s my symbol of friendship- if I make you a cup of tea then I probably love you.
The naughtiest, simplest, ridiculously easy teatime treat…
Chocolate Ripple Cake
The guiltiest of all pleasures- with absolutely no nutritional value (unless you count the cream as calcium, then it’s totally good for you) and little to no visual appeal why is it so goddamn good?! The simplicity of it, you actually physically cannot stuff this up. So what are you waiting for? Go make it!!
¾ of a packet of Chocolate Ripple biscuits
Tub of whipping cream (200-250mls depending on what brand you are buying)
Cocoa powder for dusting (but only if you’re feeling a bit fancy)
In a bowl, whip cream. Place a spoonful of cream on a large plate. Sandwich biscuits together with cream and place on the the plate to form a log. Spread remaining cream over the biscuits until covered. Cover loosely with foil and put in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. When ready to eat, grab out of the fridge and dust lightly with cocoa. Slice and eat. Make sure to serve with a nice cup of English breakfast tea.
Some tips on tea
For every person you are serving, place a spoonful of loose-leaf tea in the pot and always add one extra.
I put my milk in before my tea because I’m weird like that but apparently it’s not just a personal quirk. When fine china was being used more frequently, putting milk in first ensured that the boiling tea didn’t crack the beautiful china. Also, having milk in first means it warms gently and stops the milk from scalding.
I suppose I should start this foray into blogging with a simple hello and a quick introduction. So… Hello! My name is Elise, I’m 21 years old and I like reading, cooking, video games, television and talking (a lot). I live at home with my mum, dad, 2 sisters (Emily and Erin), 2 dogs (Charlie and Penny) and 2 cats (Milo and Sabrina). I have had the unfortunate experience of suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for almost 6 years (which I will write more about later!) and in an attempt to lessen my boredom I decided to give myself a project- so blogging it is.
I’ve always felt rather apprehensive about dipping my toes into the vastness that is blogging; I never wanted people to read what I thought or feel like I was being self indulgent or whiny in any way. But I realised that it doesn’t have to be any of those things. It is a way for me to share what interests me, connect with people and get some of the million thoughts floating in my overcrowded brain out into something that could be meaningful. This blog is combination of my life, loves and loathes and sharing some excellent (if I do say so myself) recipes that trigger those thoughts and memories.
So bear with me as I work my way into this new venture, it’s a pleasure to be here and I look forward to coming back!
An introductory recipe
I love to bake for my friends and family. One of the things I make almost every birthday for my youngest sister Erin is cheesecake. My dad started off making this recipe years ago, then I kind of hijacked the whole thing and made it ‘my’ recipe. Give it a go! It’s delish.
Baked Cheesecake with Sour Cream
250g of butternut snaps
1 teaspoon mixed spice
110g melted butter
500g Cream cheese
2/3-cup caster sugar
1-teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-cup sour cream
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1-tablespoon caster sugar
Sprinkling of nutmeg
Line the base of a 20cm round springform cake tin with foil and grease with melted butter. Place your bickies in a food processor and crush until fine. Pop into a bowl and add the melted butter and mixed spice. Stir until all the crumbs are moistened. Place the biscuit mix into the prepared tin and press firmly over the base and sides. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until firm.
While the base is chilling turn the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Using electric beaters beat cream cheese until smooth- this always works better if you have the cheese at room temperature. Add sugar, lemon juice and vanilla essence and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each one. Pour the mixture out into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until the cheesecake is just firm to the touch. Take out of the oven but don’t turn it off just yet! Combine sour cream, vanilla essence, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl. Spread over the hot cheesecake, sprinkle with nutmeg and return to the oven for 5-7 minutes. Take out of the oven cool and refrigerate until cool.
Occasionally I can’t wait until the cheesecake is cooled to eat it but the texture is completely different and not as enjoyable. So I thoroughly recommend a little patience and make it in the morning so you have a lovely creamy, dense cheesecake to have with your afternoon cuppa. Try not to eat it all in one sitting!