Sunday, 18 February 2018

Happy Birthday Oscar

Our grandson Oscar has turned one and we had a small party to celebrate. Not that a one year old really understands about parties but more from the belief that occasions and milestones need to be recognised and celebrated. It is such a joy to be Oscar’s Nanna.

What is a birthday party without cake? Nanna was so pleased to make his cake, based on the children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The first step was to make the caterpillar cake topper. When making this type of decoration from icing you need to allow some time to dry, so I made it a couple of weeks ago. The toothpicks are to help anchor the caterpillar onto the top of the cake.

In the book the caterpillar eats his way through a lot of fruits and food and the circles are around the pages so I made these to decorate the sides of the cake.

For the cake, I thought that a rainbow layer cake would be appropriate and used my favourite mud cake recipe, the white version. The mixture was divided into six bowls, each bowl coloured and then baked. I used standard  7 inch sponge tins. The frosting between the layers and over the cake is white chocolateganache, whipped until thick and fluffy.

This is a smallish cake and more for cutting. The white chocolate cupcakes are easier to serve and eat and also box up and take home.

A few party pics.

Not sure why everyone is singing.

Cutting the cake, not a real knife,

Parties are fun.

A glimpse of the revellers.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Back to Printmaking - Cyanotype

For some time I have been taking printmaking classes. The facilitator, Gaye, is a very knowledgeable and skilled printmaker and always puts together an interesting and challenging range of classes. The focus for the first two sessions is Cyanotype. The first session involved using images copied onto acetate sheets to create the print. I decided to use some botanical images from my stash, one of drawings of a raven and a feather.

Callistemon or bottle brush.

Inverted image


Inverted image


Raven image with toning in peroxide solution

The original drawing. This was done with permanent marker onto tracing paper. I think it would work better on acetate sheet.

Feather, original print and then toned in peroxide solution.

The images on acetate sheet and then placed on the prepared paper.

Exposing the images to sunlight.

Rinsing the exposed papers

A chance to admire each other’s work with all the prints laid out around the room.

Monday, 5 February 2018


I used to make ‘sushi’ a lot, long before the prevalence of Japanese restaurants and Sushi bars in my town. My son did not like the traditional packed sandwich but would have these for lunch. Many years ago I had the the good fortune to have taken a class with Hideo Dekura. I had purchased his book many years before that and it was my go to for Japanese cooking. Traditionally, the rice needs to be fanned as flavouring ingredients are chopped or stirred into the rice. These days, I rarely make sushi or more correctly Nori-maki using the traditional techniques. There are just too many places nearby that sell good quality at a very reasonable price.

This ‘recipe hack’ is something that I do make and mostly to use up the leftover rice that I cook to serve with other Japanese dishes such as this Ginger beef stir fry. They make a great light snack or lunch the next day.

Or Chicken Teriyaki. Soba Noodle Salad is also good with the chicken.

I use Sushi rice purchased from the supermarket and cook it  as directed on the packet. If the rice is still warm it is easy to add a little Sushi Vinegar to flavour the rice. If the rice is cold warm it in the microwave first.

Take a sheet of Nori seaweed, put it shiny side down on the bamboo sushi mat or onto a clean board if you do not have one. Spread a thin layer of the flavoured rice over the sheet of seaweed.

Spread mayonnaise or perhaps a little avocado dip. This is a combination of mayonnaise, Tahini and a little crushed garlic. Add your filling. For this I used some thick omelette but use whatever you like. 

Roll up firmly. Cut rolls with a sharp damp knife.

Sometimes I add some chopped salad ingredients.

The idea is to use up leftover ingredients.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Month That Was

As a former teacher, The Australia Day Long Weekend has always marked the end of the summer holidays (but unfortunately not Summer) and despite retiring the habit has stuck. Like many of you I find the lead up to Christmas a hectic time and it seems that each year it becomes more so. Consequently January has been a time to relax and regroup. It is not that I have been doing nothing but more going about things a little more slowly. So here is a snapshot of the the month that was...

In the garden. The colours of Summer, this year not as much red in the garden but plenty of yellow and orange.

An old favourite, this dahlia seems to flower for ages. 

At home with family. The joy of spending time with Oscar and introducing him to my passion.

Out and about.  My daily walk around the neighbourhood or around Lake Wendouree on my trip away.

Creative moments. Lots of altered papers for book making. Some stitching and 

a trip to Fibre Arts for a workshop with Lorie McCown which I wrote about in more detail in the previous post.

Happy times. A wedding for a long standing family friend. 

Sad times. A farewell to my Aunty Rey who sadly lost her long battle with illness. 

Some dining out. Pizza at El Toro, my go to quick meal when I do not want to cook.

A trip to a new vegan restaurant, Face-Plant This

A fun night at the Lorne Hotel. A pop up restaurant featuring Geoff Lindsay’s Crab Club.

Scaled back cooking, simple food. I didn’t give up cooking altogether, however, we worked our way through the casseroles, curries and other foods stashed away. Lots of guests but minimal effort meals and very little baking or dessert making.

The Australia Day BBQ lamb lunch served in a wrap

Easy cooked breakfasts,

Or something healthier 

Gnocchi from the freezer


Crumpets, these have become very popular.

And Stir fry, lots of these with steamed rice or noodles.

Ginger Beef with Broccolini and Beans
500 g thinly sliced steak
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small knob of ginger grated(1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon oil

1/3 – 1/2 cup stock
1 teaspoon sesame oil


2 teaspoons cornflour, mixed to paste with a tablespoon of water

1 onion, sliced into thin wedges
250 g green beans
sliced and blanched/ cooked in microwave for 1 minute
1 bunch broccolini,
sliced and blanched/ cooked in microwave for 1 minute
1 large chilli, thinly sliced
½ bunch spring onions, thinly sliced

Combine beef, garlic, ginger, soy in a bowl and marinate. I like to refrigerate it overnight.
Heat pan/wok until very hot, add oil and then beef. Toss/stir for a minute or two until brown and nearly cooked. Remove to a clean bowl.
Add onions to hot pan, toss around and allow to cook a little then add chilli. Return beef to pan, add stock, bring the stir fry to the boil. Add beans and broccoli and toss together. Add the sesame oil and then spring onions.
To thicken sauce
Stir in cornflour paste and allow mixture to boil.