A Sweet Idea and a Bird Seed Slice

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Although we are now plunged into the deep, dark depths of winter (probably being ¬†a bit over dramatic here but you get my drift) there is still some new, fresh green growth going on in my garden. I have various little pots of cuttings and seeds that I just managed to germinate before the Cold Snap that had us all reaching for the thermals, but the ones I’m most excited about are the Sweet Peas. I’m growing the solstice variety at the moment because these guys are tough. They are the SAS of the Flower World. They laugh in the face of short, dark days and they not only accept the challenge to Flower In Winter, they relish it! Yes! A sweet pea in winter! This is the first time that I’ve tried this variety so I’ll report back. But whether Solstice variety or Spencer variety all sweet peas need good support. Over the years I have always suffered from saggy nets (eek!) dragged down by the tenacious, snaking stems of my sweet peas. This year it’s going to be very different because I had a Lightbulb Moment. Now, these don’t come around very often so I just had to share it. I was toying with the idea of using wire to thread along the top of the netting but I didn’t have any. Rats! As I started mumbling at the dog I noticed a pile of bamboo canes that we harvest frequently because the bamboo is a complete delinquent and threatens to take over not just our garden but the whole world. They looked very light but also very solid and long. Long enough to thread through the netting and balance on top of the posts!

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And lo! The first Bamboo Curtain Support for Sweet Peas was created (as far as I know anyway!!) All looking very neat and tidy and Well Supported!

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It’s just a case of threading the cane through the squares…..

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Mr Fig banged in a couple of nails to stop the bamboo from sliding off the posts and making me really cross. He’s thoughtful like that ūüôā

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We also constructed a support outside in the vege garden for more sweet peas and planted spinach, silver beet and beetroot in front.

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From the greenhouse to the kitchen….. Not sure if anyone else is doing Junk Free June but I’ve been quite keen to Have A Go. I always feel really guilty buying up processed snacks for the Figlets. I always seem to succumb to the pressure though. I’m always really shocked at the cost of them too (especially as they’re gone in a flash as soon as the Figlets find them). I do quite a bit of baking anyway so I’ve decided to up the baking and try a few new snack ideas to keep the wolves from the door and the Figlets from lynching me ūüôā Now, I’m interpreting Junk Free as not buying processed foods so the baking ideas I’ll be using do contain sugar (we’re not saints you know). First up is this gorgeous recipe from a fabulous cookery book called Ripe named after the author’s Auckland cafe. Their philosophy is… “simple, fresh, quality, seasonal, healthy food that’s good value for money.” Couldn’t have said it better myself and here’s one of my favourite recipes.

Bird Seed Slice

150g raisins
120g unsalted butter
1/2 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
90g smooth peanut butter
150g rolled oats
150g pumpkin seeds
150g sunflower seeds
150g sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 170c. Grease and line a 20 x 30cm tin. In a small bowl cover the raisins with water and leave for 20 minutes to soak and plump up. This helps prevent them from burning.

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Place a small saucepan over a medium heat. Melt together the butter, golden syrup, brown sugar and peanut butter stirring constantly until thick. Remove from the heat. Drain the raisins.

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In a large bowl combine the raisins with the oats and seeds.

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Pour the melted butter mixture over and stir to combine.

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Press the mixture into the tin and cover with baking parchment or foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper or foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden. Cut while still warm and in the tin. Place in fridge and allow to set.

Other snack substitutes that I’m hoping will become the norm include:

Toast with honey
Yoghurts and Suckies
Home made hummus with veg sticks
Sunflower seed pate
Four Seed Crackers
Pizza Crackers
Pistachios, cashews, macadamia, brazil nut mix
Freshly popped popcorn
Fruit

Some of these we have as snacks anyway but I’m looking forward to trying the sunflower seed pate, the crackers and making my own hummus again. Always good to have a challenge. If you have any healthy snack ideas to share please do! I’ll post up the new snack recipes when I’ve tried them out. Happy gardening and baking!

 

The Ultimate Kiwi Lolly Slice (recipe from Emma at Adventures of a London Kiwi)

One of the most surprising and wonderful off shoots of blogging has been the people I’ve “met” on other blogs. Blogging seems to bring out the best in people and it’s been a delight to follow other like minded bloggers on their blogging journeys. I was especially thrilled to happen upon Emma’s Blog Adventures of a London Kiwi and it struck me straight away that we were mirror images; Emma being a Kiwi in England and me a Brit in New Zealand. ¬†After some cyber-chit chat we decided to each bake something from our respective countries as a Guest Blog Swap for a bit of fun. Read Emma’s yummy post below and enjoy!

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Sarah’s blog is a delight to a long term expat like myself and in some ways we seemed to have swapped; I’m a Kiwi living in the bright busy lights of London, and she’s a Brit who has escaped to a far more tranquil life in New Zealand.

When¬†Sarah ended up on my blog in her search for more Kiwi slice recipes, it¬†was great to chat¬†over email and deciding to swap a recipe or two. Armed with an excuse for once, I trekked to a few corners of London (again, any excuse) and tracked down the ingredients to assemble and share my absolute favourite slice in the world, the slightly misnomered Lolly Cake. Ironically, it wasn’t the Kiwi ingredients (Malt Biscuits (the UK ones aren’t quite the right texture) and Eskimos) that were hard to find, it was the coconut that took me an age and three different supermarkets…

Lolly Cake is also quite interesting as Brits call Ice Blocks Lollies causing much Faulty Towers amusement to my English husband. Sarah, have you turned to the dark side yet or is your Lolly Cake going to have Popsicle sticks hanging out it?

Crush¬†a packet (250g) of Griffin’s Malt Biscuits into chunks –¬†around 1/3 pulverised, 1/3 medium chunks around the size of a 5 cent coin and¬†1/3 large chunks around the size of a 10 cent coin.

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Cut up a packet (190g) of Eskimo or Fruit Puff lollies into bite sized chunks and add to the malt biscuits.

Warm 120g Butter – I prefer normal salted butter –¬†and 1/2 a tin (200g) of Sweetened Condensed Milk¬†in microwave until pretty liquid (or do what I did and use a hairdryer under the bowl because your microwave is broken). Mix crushed Malt biscuits, lollies, butter and¬†condensed milk together.

Tip out onto a cutting board once combined, then use your hands to form into a firm log shape. The heat of your hands is key to getting a good texture as it will help combine everything.

Roll in coconut, wrap with foil or clingfilm and chill in fridge for 4 hours.

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When set, cut into slices and serve.

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If you ask pretty much any Kiwi for¬†‘the slice’ that they miss when living in another country,¬†it’s Lolly Slice. I know rather high brow Brits who¬†squeal when offered Lolly Cake,¬†and Kiwis who track down dairy-free condensed milk in order to make it. It’s also pretty well known here in the UK that if you want to ask a Kiwi for a favour, it’s Lolly Slice you want to make.

Ps. Did you need proof that Lolly Slice is as Kiwi as you get?¬†I have photographic proof of girls dressed as Lolly cake, standing outside London’s Parliament Square on Waitangi Day.

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Thanks so much Emma for that fabulous recipe! I’ve loved swapping my Cherry Bakewell Post¬†with you. Not sure I’ll ever dress up like a Lolly Slice (or a Cherry Bakewell for that matter!). I have definitely moved to the dark side and I even find myself saying ‘aye’ at the end of sentences now….. It’s a slippery slope!

Luscious Lemon Slice

Lemons Lemons Close up

My lemon tree has finally deigned to produce lemons after sulking, rather stubbornly, for the past two years. It was worth the wait; there’s nothing like helping yourself to a fresh, unwaxed lemon from your garden. I have quite a collection of citrus fruits including limes, lemons and grapefruit. I’d like to add mandarins too. As soon as the first lemon shed it’s greenish hue in favour of it’s sunshine yellow coat I plucked it and joyfully marched it to the kitchen to make one of my favourite slices – the Citrus Slice. The recipe I use is from an old New Zealand Woman’s Weekly Magazine.

250g Wine Biscuits (or Rich Tea)
1 cup dessicated Coconut
Finely grated zest of one lemon
120g butter, melted
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

For the Lemon Icing
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
40g butter, melted
Juice of 1-2 lemons

Ingredients

Start by lining a 17 x 27cm or thereabouts tin with greaseproof paper. Blitz the biscuits to a fine crumb.

Biscuits Blitzed Crumbs

Put the biscuit crumbs into a bowl and add the coconut and lemon.

Dry Ingredients

Melt the butter and add to the dry ingredients with the condensed milk. Resist licking the condensed milk spoon if you can (bet you can’t!)

add liquid

Mix all together and press into the tin. Refrigerate for an hour or until firm.

Base

Once the base is firm make up the lemon icing which is so easy and very delicious. Melt the butter and sift the icing sugar into a bowl (a bit of multi-tasking here) and add the lemon juice.

Lemon Icing

Combine all the ingredients with a little light whisking.

Lemon Icing Mixed

Spread onto the slice to completely cover the biscuity base.

Iced slice

Refrigerate again to firm up the icing. Lemony loveliness in a Slice!

Tea and Slice