Baking oven-tures

I’ve had a lot of crappy ovens in my life.

In our first rental, the oven looked straight out of the 50s. And probably hadn’t been cleaned since then. It cooked a main meal ok, but baking was a challenge. Gas, but no fan.

Our first apartment in Beijing had no oven. But we had 5 kuai noodles at the doorstep… who needs to cook? Plus, in a department store, we learnt how to make a cake in a wok. Sorted.

Our second apartment also had no oven, but I was beginning to itch. We bought a little convection oven, which we kept on the indoor balcony as I was a bit alarmed at how hot the outer surface got, and thought it might melt bits of our rental kitchen. Supposedly you can roast a whole chook in these. Supposedly.

Surprisingly, our third apartment came with an oven! Again, possibly from the 50s, so maybe 80s China? Gas, no fan, also no temperature gauge. Basically, the longer you left it on, the hotter it got. This was probably the biggest baking challenge by far. It was also imperative that you decided which cutlery you needed before the meal because once you got that baby going, there was no chance in hell you could open the quickly expanding drawers up against the oven. It also had a non-functioning side-warming compartment. Useful for storing objects that didn’t melt.

I wish I had a photo… will keep looking…

Back to Australia, and I was a bit disappointed to find that our kitchen was electric, rather than gas. It took me a long time to get used to it, yet still I burnt things on the outside, and had to be so careful and attentive.

And then it died.

And got replaced.

And I realised that baking is a million times easier with an oven that works. My first meal of ‘The Petite Kitchen’s’ lavender chook was the most delicious ever… and I’ve been cooking it for ages. My eyes widened as I realised the baking opportunities, and threw myself into a baking frenzy. Especially after finishing uni and not having an oven for 10 days or so!

So, I wish to share two exciting recipes with you.

The first is a Chocolate Caramel Poke Cake from the Coles magazine. Woah. Hold onto your pants with this one. I’m looking forward to playing with this recipe and trying out some different flavour combos.

The second is a low-FODMAP, vegan-friendly banana pudding. The original recipe has been tweaked from Donna Hay Issue 81, p132.

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  • 250g coconut oil, melted 
  • 2-3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp chia, 6 tbsp water, briefly mixed and soaked (as an egg replacement)
  • 1.5 cups of GF SR flour (I used the Aldi one)
  • Dark chocolate pieces, to taste

Mix the first 5 ingredients, stir through the chocolate, and bake in individual ramekins at 180 for about 15-20 mins.

Note: These are quite oily, but they don’t feel heavy, as it is coconut oil, rather than butter. But you may wish to put less oil.

Whilst the puddings are baking, make the caramel. This isn’t a true caramel, because of being vegan, but it is still delicious! I found that it was actually quite hard to dissolve the sugar in the coconut oil. I’m not entirely sure why… I’m sure science would tell me. Also, the sauce separates quickly quickly as there is less fat, so give it a good whisk before serving.

  • 150g coconut oil
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup of coconut milk

Melt the oil in a saucepan, add the sugar and dissolve as much as possible. Add the coconut milk carefully and continue to cook until it thickens slightly.

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Mmm.

Hama time

Remember Hama beads? Bit retro, hey?

We’ve become a bit addicted. Adella has been churning out drink coasters for friends and family in epic proportions. After ironing, I glue a piece of felt onto the back to strengthen them, and they’ve been holding up really well. I think she should start a market stall!

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Then, we were in Lincraft two days ago, and we found kits. You should’ve seen her jaw drop. So, it was mermaids and princesses, of course.

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In terms of an activity, it reminds me of Lego. You have to follow the instructions carefully, plus it is SO good for fine motor skills. She pretty much did these on her own, and just needed help with the shape of the tail, and the placement of the eyes.

Arlo and I are working on a parasaurolophus!

I’m thinking that we could make some cool Christmas decorations too.

What have you made with Hama beads? Please share!

 

 

8 months

So… ahem… this is my first posting in 8 months. That’s embarrassing.

The general life juggle has been tough this year. Looking back, uni was easier to balance with a baby. Toddlers are WAY harder. I look back at baby time with envy. A big thankyou goes out to everyone who has helped me in any way possible. You know who you are, and you are fabulous.

Semester 1 was hard because I had a four-week prac. Throwing myself into full-time work for a month was difficult. Difficult on me, and difficult on the kids. They didn’t show it, because THEY HAD A BALL with Grandma and Grandpa, but Adella still talks about “that time that Mummy had to go to work”. It’s not an easy expectation on anyone to flip life on its head, let alone kids under 4!

Semester 2 was the worst because Arlo gave up napping. His naptime was my magic time, where I had a chance to completely focus. And then it slowly starting slipping from my grasp. I held on for as long as I could, but there’s only so much time you can waste forcing a child to nap. I took a deep breath and let it go. But this reduced my alone time to 45 mins, when the kiddies watched TV. That is not long. Evenings, you say? Yeah, my brain has pretty much shut down by 8pm. That made the 7.30-9pm weekly seminars pretty tough. Thank goodness they were audio only, and not video. I wonder how many other mums were surviving by sipping on a sav blanc?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m really enjoying my degree. I’m learning so much, and I absolutely loved my prac in Prep, and had a great time with my random teachings throughout the rest of the year.

So here I am, late at night, with my Four Pillars, bopping to my fave music, simply reflecting.

I have this overwhelming sense of having not done anything this year, which is completely untrue. I’ve taken the two kids to swimming, Chinese playgroup and kinder x2 every week, not to mention a gazillion playdates with our awesome friends. I’ve cooked meals most nights. I’ve done kids art projects. I’ve read more picture books that I could possibly ever count. It’s just my to-do list kept growing. And that to-do list is the things that are ‘me’. That’s what I’ve let go of in order to see this study year out.

I have no idea how anyone who studies, has kids and works as well can do it. My mind boggles. You are absolutely incredible.

 

I handed in my last assignment a few days ago, and since then, I’ve been on an almost-adrenelin-type-high… overwhelmed by the opportunity to do things. I’ve sorted clothes. Cleaned the shed (and taught the kids what red-back spiders look like). Gardened. Run. Sewed. Today alone I made a dress-up, fixed another, and made two pairs of pj pants.

Thank goodness our oven is broken or I may have made 6 cakes by now.

Though, I did make a steamed pudding.

I’ve also kept a list of things I have done with the kids that I meant to post. They will come. But I might have to sew a little bit more first. 😉