oranges coming out of my ears

The week before last, I made an error in my grocery order. I do the bulk of my grocery shopping online and sometime I misread the specified quantity. This particular time, I accidentally ordered 2kg of oranges instead of 2 oranges!

We ate many, many oranges over the past week or so, but I soon realised we were not going to get through all of them before they started to go bad. I acted swiftly, and was able to find ample delicious cake recipes to use them up.

Hazelnut and orange olive oil cake

I love nutty cakes, and since I had some left-over hazelnut meal, I chose this as my first recipe. The original recipe called for orange flavoured liqueur, but I opted for orange juice instead. This also used up the rest of the orange used for the zest in this cake!

making hazelnut and orange olive oil cake

I decided to make cupcakes instead of a whole cake because I though it would be easier for distribution and sharing at playgroup and the office. Instead of cooking them for 45 minutes, I took them out after 20 minutes.

hazelnut and orange olive oil cupcakes

Orange pistachio cake

I stuck with the recipe for this one – it sounded so delicious with the pistachios, mint and orange flower water! While a little more fuss than I usually like, the boiled and pulped orange gives it such a lovely orangey flavour and is ever so moist. Also a gluten-free one!

making orange pistachio cupcakes

Again I went with cupcakes for these, and I cooked them for 35 minutes on a slightly lower temperature because they seemed to be browning a little too quickly.

pistachio orange cupcakes with orange flower water syrup

With the orange flower water syrup drizzled over them, they look so glossy and delicious – and they are.

Finally, I had a little bit of syrup left after all my cupcakes were soaked, so instead of eating it all off the spoon (which very nearly happened) I poured it into mini cupcake cases and popped them back into the oven for another 20 minutes of so and made some toffee. Yum!

orange flower water toffees made from left over syrup - very sticky but very delicious

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baking and being

Today is my birthday. I’m thirty six and just realised just how quickly the last 6 years have gone! Six years ago I celebrated my birthday expecting my first child. I was blissfully unaware of the magnitude of the changes this child would enforce on me. And yet, I cannot imagine my life had these changes not occurred.

It’s been an extremely busy couple of weeks. Still getting into the swing of doing the whole school thing, I now feel a little more relaxed about it all and not so frightened of forgetting to pack lunch or return notes on time. Scarlett has settled in to OOSH a little better, and Xavier has stopped crying when I leave him at preschool, instead adopting an awkward little sad wave goodbye. Lots of cuddles resolve any ill feelings at night.

I have been insanely busy at work lately, which I have come to realise has made me a little on edge at home, but I am trying to be conscious of it and keep things in perspective. Even though at times I feel that I am not achieving anything much, I am lucky enough to have a boss who reassures me that I am, and appreciates my efforts.

After an extremely long week (having attending a music festival and two gigs), I am just grateful to stay home today (in my pyjamas) and do the things that make me happy. Presents in bed, breakfast made by someone else, lounging around and baking. Today I have made good use of some bananas that were going bad…

banana bread with coconut

And have also made some delicious Crunchy Lola Cookies

delightful crunchy Lola cookies

But what I am enjoying right now, is listening two my delightful children playing ‘schools’ downstairs. Scarlett, being so excited about learning new things at school, has decided to start her own letter lessons for toddlers such as her brother. I wonder if she will become a teacher one day?

excited to be writing her own words, each family member was asked what they like doings this evening

bad mother #22

It’s been a very long time since I’ve added any bad mother moments, but I thought I should revive them after the following incident today.

You know you’re a bad mother when… at the local markets shopping for a snack, you try to convince you child to go for the cupcakes and cookies instead of a healthy alternative. “Alright, you can have grapes if you really want them, but if you have grapes, you will not get a cupcake”.

apple and date chews

So the second snack item I made this weekend was something that sounded delicious to me. I should have known it would not be to Scarlett’s taste. Oh well, more for me and hubby!

apple and date chews

Apple and date chews

  • 400g apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Grease and line a slice tin.

Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Spread into tin.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool in tin, then cut into fingers before turning out.

I got 24 small bite sized pieces from this batch. Scarlett had one nibble and placed the remained of her piece back on the chopping board. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

afghan biscuits

I’ve been trying to make some sort of slice or snack for school lunches each weekend so there is something home-made in Scarlett’s lunch box. This trend will probably wane as the term moves on, but for now, I’ve got a heap of recipes to try. Here is one I made today and it has the thumbs up from Scarlett. Xavier is yet to try one.

afghan biscuits

Afghan biscuits

  • 190g softened butter
  • 1/3 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups of wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 3/4 cups cornflakes

Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Lightly grease baking trays.

Cream butter and sugar, then add sifted (or unsifted if you are lazy like me) flour and cocoa. Carefully fold in the cornflakes a little at a time.

Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto the trays and bake for 12-15 minutes.

When completed cooled, ice with chocolate ganache icing if so desired. I thought in this case it was best to leave them be.

Easy. And yummy. They in your mouth like buttery shortbread. I got 26 biscuits out of this batch.

one week down

We have survived the first week of school. I was a little bit cocky in my last post – Scarlett had attended a total of two days of school and I was not working on either of those days – but the week ended up being far more taxing than I had expected.

one week down

Four days a week, I rise at the crack of dawn. On three of those days I have to leave the house an hour before my train is due to manage drop offs at OOSH and preschool. Early evenings are spent washing lunch boxes and preparing dinner, feeding and bathing the children, convincing them to go to bed, then re-packing lunch boxes for the next day. And that is only the logistics.

Scarlett not only needs to find her way at school, she also has OOSH three days a week – another new environment with older children to contend with. As a child whose parents work most days, she also has quite a lot of responsibility for a 5 year old:

  • remember to bring home your hat and jumper each day
  • take this note to your teacher and bring home any other notes in the note folder
  • take this slip with my credit card details on it and don’t drop it on the playground for other kids to find
  • Ditto to all for OOSH

This isn’t so easy when you also have to focus on learning all day. So far, she has left the hat and jumper left at school one day, the hat at OOSH another day, and the note folder at school every day. The payment slip never made it out of the pocket of her backpack.

For me, it has been hard to let go and trust her to take on this responsibility. Not being able to control as much as I could at preschool and having to keep calm about it all.

Xavier and I spent our first day alone together on Monday. We had a great day going to kindergym, a lunch date and to the park before picking Scarlett up from school.

lunch date with my boy

I thought this one on one time would make him feel more secure and make leaving on  preschool days a little easier, but it only seemed to make it worse. He spent half out day together telling me how much he loved me and how much he missed me when I was gone. Consequently, there were tears and heartbreak each day I left him at preschool each day. We are working on it, but it’s hard.

With all the emotional upheaval going on, I didn’t want all the logistics weighing me down even more. So I’ve tackled it the only way I know how – planning. I have been religiously menu planning for some time, but I’ve now added to this the school lunches and snacks.

menu planning

While my mornings are insane, hubby is picking the kids up of an afternoon and bathing them while I prepare dinner, and bedtime is a dual effort. I know it is only early days, but I know we will all get into the swing of things before too long. Heck, we only have another five hundred and thirty two weeks of school to go!*

*for Scarlett that is – add on another eighty two weeks if we’re including Xavier!

christmas baking

Today I spent the day baking with my mum. For as long as I can remember, my mum has made the most delicious biscuits each christmas. There is her famous almond bread, hazelnut logs, almond crescents and pistachio pears.

As my sisters an I got older, we started to pitch in and began helping out each year. For several years now though, both my sisters have been living in another state, so it’s just mum and I. This year it was I who approached mum to get the day organised.

There is something very special about baking with a mission. Not just baking one cake or a batch of cookies, but to tackle the sum of baked goods we plan each year requires organisation and hard work. For six straight hours we each moved from one task to the next. Grinding, beating, mixing, moulding, baking, dusting, drizzling. Today we barely stopped to eat lunch or have a cup of tea.

The results were worth it.

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Aside from the copious amounts of baked goods I returned home with today, I also left with a great feeling. Mum and I had spent the whole day working, but also chatting and just being together which has been a rare thing this year. We talked about kids, work, health, religion, education, discipline and being women. I’ve suggested we do it more often. We have a lot to talk about.