Thursday, 29 March 2012

Melting moments

Well, the choco buttons didn't last long ... yum! It has been a "I need to bake twice in one week" kind of week. These melting moments taste a lot like shortbread and were so delicious that even our cat helped herself to one - her first and last ever biscuit. (We were not impressed.)

I filled a few with strawberry jam purely for the sake of convenience and we ate the rest of them unfilled but I think they would taste great with butter or lemon flavoured icing.

Melting moments

  • 200 g butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • butter icing or raspberry jam for filling
  1. Cream butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Sift flour, cornflour and baking powder together. Mix into creamed mixture, mixing well.
  3. Roll dough into small balls the size of large marbles and place on a greased oven tray. Flatten slightly with a fork.
  4. Bake at 180°C for 20 minutes or until cooked.
  5. Cool and sandwich two biscuits together with butter icing or raspberry jam. Makes 16.
Melting moments

Monday, 26 March 2012

Choco buttons

This recipe for choco buttons isn't from the Edmonds Cookery Book but is similar in style. I remember my mother baking these when we were kids and we would dig into the bag of chocolate buttons while she was putting the rest of the mixture together. They are really easy to bake at the same time as cooking dinner, which is lucky as they nearly were our dinner tonight!

Choco buttons

  • 150 g butter
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 6 tbsp cornflour
  • white and dark chocolate melts
  1. Pre-heat oven to 160°C.
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over a moderate heat. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla.
  3. Sift over flour and cornflour and stir to combine.
  4. Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and place on a greased tray.
  5. Make an indentation with a thumb in the centre of each biscuit and place in a white or dark chocolate button.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 16-18.
Choco buttons

Monday, 19 March 2012

Marmite, shmarmite

Big news today. Forget crime, war or 'new' give way rules. Something bigger has got everybody talking: New Zealand is heading for a Marmite shortage.

Yes, Marmite - more specifically, the yeast spread that is made in New Zealand (not UK) in an earthquake damaged factory that is the main supplier for both here and Australia. Apparently the situation is dire and there will be no Marmite left in either country until the new factory is up and running again in July. How will we cope? Personally, I'm beginning to wonder if it's a great marketing ploy.

Actually, I'm a Vegemite fan myself so not at all bothered by the shortage. Both Marmite and Vegemite are acquired tastes and something you either love or hate. I did get to thinking, though, what would I do if warned of an impending shortage of say coffee? Or chocolate? Would I rush out and stock up? I'd certainly buy some coffee to keep me going, but not too much as it's only good when fresh. Chocolate lasts a bit longer and it would be a good excuse to fill the pantry. And then there's cheese. I'd buy one or two soft cheeses and keep some hard cheeses in the fridge for a rainy day but eventually it would go off.

What food shortage would see you rushing to stock your shelves?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Up and down

I love the notion of #lazysunday. Even if I am busy with work or study (like today), I still love escaping for an hour or so in search of coffee and the Sunday papers. A regular feature that I enjoy in the Sunday magazine is Up and Down, where a list of random things is categorised as either going up or down. Like most people's opinions, it changes weekly and I always say to myself I should collate a similar list sometime so I've taken a short break in my study to share my list for this week.

  • Water glasses kept in the fridge at cafés. Nice.
  • Cheese scones. I still can't get enough of them.
  • Ginger crunch. It smells so good in the oven and tastes even better.
  • iPod shuffle. I love how my iPod is so random that I can go from listening to AC/DC to Los Bravos to The Muppets to Paul Simon to Amy Winehouse all within five songs.
  • Noise cancelling headphones. It's amazing just how many irritations can be replaced by my favourite music (albeit temporarily).
  • Good friends and long, leisurely weekend brunches. One can never have enough. 
  • Missing Pieces. Never fails to produce a tear or two.

  • The price of movie tickets. $17 to sit in a dark room for an hour and a half with a bunch of strangers?
  • Micromanagement. You know it's true.
  • TV or radio ads that shout at me. No, Harvey Norman, No!
  • Stress related insomnia. It wouldn't be so bad if I I could actually achieve something useful during those wee small hours.
  •  Junk mail and circulars cluttering up letterboxes. Some weeks, my recycling bin can barely keep up.
  • The impending end of daylight savings time. The mornings sure are getting darker (and colder)!
What's up and down for you this week?

Friday, 16 March 2012

Codependent chocolate cake

I was having lunch with a friend recently. She is newly single after a ten year marriage and has two young children. After telling her about the divorce party I was going to last December, she thought it was a great idea and considered throwing one with her ex-husband. I'm not sure that's still her plan. We caught up on recent events and she told me she is learning how to live as herself again and do some work on her codependency issues. (Her words, not mine. Yes, she's pretty straight up like that.) She was very positive about it all.

In the next breath, she announced some exciting news: she is in love. Yes! She met someone this weekend that she had known several years ago and knows he's the one. She had to move quickly as he was going overseas for three years this week, but she has got their future life together all sorted. With him away, she will have time to work on herself and address her codependency issues before he returns. Hmm.

I got to thinking that everyone might have a codependency of some sort. Quite sadly, mine is work. I know that is not a good thing. How I wish it was chocolate or cake (or chocolate cake) or something not so destructive, but that is the lot of a workaholic who descends from a whole line of high achieving workaholics. I keep on working longer and harder and keep on getting used and abused for my efforts, to which I respond by working even longer and harder than before. If work is not easily accessible, then other thankless tasks will do - study, for example. I'm just thankful that my codependency isn't housework or cleaning, although some might prefer that it was.

What's your codependency? Do you see any way of breaking the cycle?

Thursday, 15 March 2012


The biscuit bake off resumes again after a slight pause. Today, I baked afghans. Afghan biscuits tend to polarise baking connoisseurs; people either love or hate them. Aside from the walnuts on top (which I personally like but know many people who pull it off before eating the biscuit), I think the biggest problem is that afghan biscuits tend to be overcooked, leaving a burnt aftertaste. With that in mind, I set out to bake my first ever batch of afghans.

One of the best things about baking biscuits is eating raw dough. How is possible to taste so good? I must have eaten the equivalent of a full afghan in mixture alone. Yum! So, how big is a 'mound' of mixture? Certainly smaller than the ones I made - I ended up with 15 medium sized afghans (plus the raw one I ate), meaning that we'll only eat them one at a time instead of two at once. Yeah, right!


  • 200 g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 cups cornflakes
  • chocolate icing
  • walnuts (optional)
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Sift flour and cocoa. Stir into creamed mixture. Fold in cornflakes.
  3. Spoon mounds of mixture onto a greased oven tray, gently pressing together. 
  4. Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes or until set.
  5. When cold, ice with chocolate icing and decorate with a walnut (if desired). Makes 24. 
Afghan biscuit

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Life's too short

I've been doing a lot of middle of the night contemplating/worrying/fretting thinking in recent months. My current work climate is literally making me sick, leaving me physically and emotionally drained for far too long. It has got to stop!

At the start of this year, I developed a recipe for living. Although I have all the ingredients on hand, various nasty things are getting in the way of me following through with the method. Believe me, it is no way to live.

I came across this today and took a moment to enjoy it.

Life is indeed short. Too short, in fact, to not enjoy it. After all, tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone and none of us will get out alive! I got to thinking about all the things that life is too short for. There are some good suggestions on this site and now I have come up with a few of my own.

Life's too short:
  • to read a bad book. So many good books have been written that I won't have time to read, so I'm not going to fuss about finishing bad ones.
  • to iron clothes. Just buy clothes that don't need ironing. Problem solved!
  • to listen to crappy music or bad radio stations. Buy an iPod and only listen to the stuff you like.
  • to drink bad (especially instant) coffee. This goes without saying.
  • to wear makeup every day. Really, who can be bothered?
  • to blow dry your hair. See above. (I don't even own a hairdryer - or an iron for that matter!)
  • to go to shopping malls. *shudder*
  • to read trashy magazines (or magazines at all). Why waste time when you could instead read a good book?
  • to work inside on a sunny weekend. Get out and enjoy every moment you can.
What would you add to the list?

    Saturday, 10 March 2012

    Sculpture at Weta Cave

    It was a stunning day in Wellington today - the extreme opposite of last weekend's weather bomb. Some friends and I decided to go for a walk around the bays in the Eastern suburbs, beginning with brunch in Miramar before heading around to Scorching Bay.

    Along the way, we popped into the Weta Cave, home to Weta Workshop and a showcase of movie art, sculpture and creativity. I hadn't been to Weta Cave before (although have intended to visit for many years) and enjoyed briefly looking around the mini exhibition and sculptures on display. Next time I will try to catch the behind the scenes movie.

    Today and tomorrow, sculptor Craig Campbell is giving a live demonstration as he creates a sculpture out of what started as a big slab of clay. I really enjoy seeing creative people at work and Craig seemed so relaxed as he expertly twiddled bits of clay between his thumb and fingers, all the while casually answered the questions of those watching. I see he has done a fair bit of work for the newly opened Roxy Cinema, too. If you're in the area, pop in and say hi.

    Craig Campbell creating a ... not sure what
    I see that creativity is fuelled by coffee!

    Friday, 2 March 2012

    Weather bomb

    The weather is often a leading conversation starter but the subject on everyone's lips tonight has a pretty extreme name: weather bomb. Wow! We had lots of rain followed by a great weather bomb a couple of years ago and last year it snowed in Wellington. (Yes, we're still talking about it.) Tonight, we have been promised a spectacular storm that seems to be gaining speed, rather than petering out as it crosses the Tasman Sea on its way towards us. Imagine the stories that we'll be able to tell in a few days' time! Anyone silly enough to venture outdoors with an umbrella this weekend is likely to end up looking like this poor woman.

    Now, I actually love a good storm - but under certain conditions. There is nothing quite like lying in bed, snug and warm while the rain taps down on the roof. There's even a pretty cheesy song about it. I remember wet, wintery days when we were kids; we'd close the curtains, sit by the fireplace reading books all day, drinking hot chocolate and eating vegetable soup - very cosy.

    So normally I'd look forward to some extreme weather, provided that I was planning to be at home and had enough coffee and books to last the distance. But this time it is different. We have had plans for many months to be away for the weekend, with some of those plans involving outdoor activities. We will be driving in the direction of the storm and it is expected to be intense for most of our time away. No doubt it will last until we arrive home and head back to work on Monday. Typical.

    Are you in the path of the weather bomb? What are your plans for the weekend?