Sunday, 28 September 2014

7 grain loaf

One of my baking goals for this year is to reduce the amount of bread I buy and make as much as possible myself. I am having lots of fun (and success) and am proud to report that I haven't bought a single 'fancy' loaf all year - including baked goods like bread rolls, hot cross buns, focaccia and treats like cinnamon swirls. I have also experimented with some everyday bread recipes.

This recipe for 7 grain bread came from a colleague who frequently bakes his own bread. We swapped success stories; I passed on the busy people's bread recipe in exchange for his one below. It is made in a breadmaker and baked on the medium size whole wheat setting (5 hours in total for Panasonic breadmakers). It has a few less conventional ingredients that you can buy from places like Bin Inn or in some supermarket bulk bins. They combine well to add to the overall taste and texture.

7 grain bread

  • 2 1/2 t Surebake yeast
  • 210 g high grade flour
  • 105 g wholemeal flour
  • 45 g 7 grain (or 5 grain) mix
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T cornmeal (fine or medium grade)
  • 1 T gluten flour
  • 1 T milk powder
  • 1 T sunflower seeds
  • 1 T pumpkin seeds
  • 1 T Canola or sunflower oil
  • 220 ml tepid water
  1. Add ingredients in the order listed above (or following manufacturer's instructions) to breadmaker pan.
  2. Set to whole wheat > bake > medium loaf size. Cycle will take 5 hours.
  3. Leave in bread pan for 5 mins once cooked then turn out onto wire rack to cool.
7 grain medium sized loaf
Nothing smells or tastes better than freshly baked bread

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Word of the day: pithy

Following the success of last year's word of the day, pecksniffian, I have a new word to add to my everyday vocabulary. The word came to my attention today in the form of feedback emailed to a colleague:
"At 15 pages in length this is a substantial document and doesn't meet requirements in terms of being a pithy and succinct indication of outcomes."
Pithy? Isn't that something found underneath the skin of citrus fruits, like mandarins or oranges?

Apparently not. Several sources offer variations on the following definitions:
  • brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression
  • full of vigor, substance, or meaning
  • terse and vigorously expressive
  • forcible
  • using few words in a clever and effective way
  • having substance and point.
I guess they make sense in the context, albeit the word just sounded very strange in a formal email.

I think pithy might be best used as a substitute word. We practised using it in some different contexts in the office today.

Favourite song:
Will Smith's Gettin' Pithy Wit It

Favourite way to feel sorry for yourself:
Throw a pithy party for ... nobody, because they wouldn't come if you invited them anyway.

Favourite band:

Favourite expression:
I'm really pithed off.

Favourite warning:
Don't pith me off.

Favourite way to describe the weather (derivative):
It's pithing down outside.

Favourite childhood game:
Pithy in the middle

Your challenge: use the word pithy in a sentence in a completely inappropriate way and see if anyone notices.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


If you are what you eat, I worry that I am going to turn into a Chinese dumpling sometime soon. ;-)

Dumplings have blown sushi completely out of the water this year as my preferred lunch option. They make a welcome change to the usual salad wrap that I've made almost every morning for the past few years. Every two or three weeks, lunch boredom sets in and I promise myself a treat in the form of steamed dumplings. I gather up some fellow office foodies and we head out to indulge in fresh dumplings - our instant happy place!

I've always liked dumplings but my near-obsession with them was fuelled by a dumpling making class last year. Despite the best of intentions, I still haven't got around to making them at home ... yet. I make do with tracking down the House of Dumplings cart at festivals and markets, as well as the occasional visit to the dumpling food court in town. I can't wait to check out House of Dumplings's new dumpling shops.

House of Dumplings selection
These steamed dumplings are from a small food court on Lambton Quay. They are pork with Chinese cabbage flavour with a hint of grated ginger inside and are just about to be drizzled with soy sauce and chili sauce. They also taste delicious when pan fried. Mmmmm.

Pork and Chinese cabbage steamed dumplings
Why I don't get this excited about broccoli?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Off on a tandem

We were chatting about an out-of-town colleague that is due to visit the office shortly, where she will meet some of our branch coworkers for the first time. Donna and I have worked together before. It would be fair to say that she has a very distinct personality that sometimes disguises a heart of gold. We get on well, but I'm aware that some others don't.

Patricia filled in our new staff members: "The thing about Donna is she always comes up with these outrageous malapropisms. I used to point them out but now I wouldn't dare. She doesn't think they're funny at all!"

We laughed politely at Patricia's anecdote but our confused faces quickly gave way to a collective confession that none of us actually knew what a malapropism was, let alone what Donna was doing wrong.

Patricia elaborated: "Donna will say something like, 'the meeting was going really well and we talked about lots of good ideas, until Sophie brought up alternative funding. Next thing, they were off on a tandem!'"

Imagine the impeccable timing Sophie and her colleague must have to just hop on a nearby tandem mid-meeting and cycle away together! Does this happen often? Is the tandem kept on standby somewhere close, ready at a moment's notice if it is needed, we wondered? Or does one just appear out of thin air whenever Sophie and her coworkers sound like they might be about to ride off together?

Another malapropism that I have heard for years in the education world is Pacific, as in, "we need this project's objectives to be really Pacific." How delightful would that be? Imagine objectives that were entirely Pasifika-focused! It might be appropriate sometimes, but I don't think it's the word they're looking for. I find it really hard to keep a straight face when I hear professionals educators reminding people to make things Pacific.

What malapropisms make you laugh?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Fresh As freeze dried powder

I have discovered my new favourite baking ingredient: Fresh As freeze dried powder. I came across a recipe requiring it a few months ago and so started out with a package of raspberry powder. Now, after using it to make several different recipes with some more left over in the fridge, I am well and truly hooked. It is easily one of #myfavoritethings.

Believe me when I say that this freeze dried powder is magical. A big problem for me when using syrup-based flavours is the effect it can have on the final product. Adding liquid to flavour fondant, buttercream or even cake mix requires great caution as the consistency can easily change from a slightly sticky mixture to an over-wet mess. Freeze dried powder adds both colour and flavour with the same effect as adding icing sugar, for example. It blends in and doesn't upset the balance between wet and dry ingredients.

So far, my pack of raspberry freeze dried powder has made a few batches of raspberry marshmallow frosting and filling and a three-layer raspberry checkerboard cake with piped ombré ribbons and roses. I like the look of this little passionfruit pavlova recipe and might use the rest of my raspberry powder to make some, or maybe even buy some passionfruit powder and start experimenting with a new flavour.

Raspberry marshmallow frosting
... with raspberry filling inside
Raspberry vanilla cake with piped ombré ribbons and roses
Raspberry vanilla checkerboard cake
As far as I am aware, there are three main stockists of Fresh As powder in the Wellington region: Moore Wilson's, Ontrays in Petone and Ruth Pretty's kitchen shop.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Chocolate buffet

There are many ways for a foodie to celebrate their birthday in Wellington. Markets, specialty food shops and a long list of excellent dining options. For those born in early September, the obvious choice is the chocolate buffet at the Amora Hotel. Last night, we joined a group celebrating a friend's birthday by overloading on chocolate and having dessert for dinner.

The buffet tables were heaving with small and perfectly formed chocolate desserts. Check out the menu here. We were offered hot chilli scented chocolate shots on arrival. There was also a crêpe station, a chocolate fountain and a stash of Kapiti ice cream to choose from. *drool*

It's hard to know where to begin when faced with so many options. We grabbed plates and worked around the first half of table, helping ourselves to one of everything with great gusto. Opera cake, black forest gâteau, profiteroles, tiramisu, raspberry dark chocolate marquise, Kirsch chocolate tart and Guinness chocolate mousse to begin.

First course
I checked out the crêpe station for my second course. The berry compote was a refreshing change to all the surrounding chocolate, as was the black doris plum and crème fraîche ice cream. However, we were there for chocolate so I added some chocolate mud cake slice and rocky road for good luck.

Second course
By this stage, we were labouring and the pace was seriously slowing. After soooooo much sugar in just one hour, the fruit from the chocolate fountain was appealing, as was the chocolate pear crumble with caramel sauce. I couldn't manage an almond coated rum ball or chocolate profiterole, even though I wanted to try them both. They stared at me from the plate, looking confused, forlorn and abandoned. The only thing missing was a chocolate after dinner mint at the end, but I probably would have struggled to eat one even if they were available.

The chocolate buffet is on until 14 September, so book quickly and prepare to indulge!