I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Recently I entered a gingerbread man contest....and while I didn't win, I had a pretty good time making them! If you look at the pictures (and winner) at this post, can you guess which ones were mine?! ...and for what it's worth, my favourite of all are the gingerbread reindeer made out of upside-down gingerbread men. I have every intention of stealing that idea for next year!

As a side note, Baking Bites is only of only 2 or 3 blogs which I read religiously - it's fun to read, well informed, has good recipes, and doesn't take baking too seriously. I highly recommend it for both the home baker and the professional.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My Tallest Cake Yet

....90 cm/3 feet in height
....6 kilos (13.2 pounds) in red icing
....approx 12 kilos/26.4lbs in weight
....1 kilo/2.2 lbs cocoa powder
....2+ kilos/4.5+ lbs dark chocolate
....8 elephants
....more edible gold balls than I could count
....10 gold paisleys
....3 cans of gold spray paint
....2 trips to the hardware store
...1 metre/3'3" of wooden dowelling

....and one happy, gorgeous wedding couple.

....which is precisely why I love my job.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'z Got Math Skillz

Tomorrow is the kids' last day of school before summer vacation begins. To celebrate the end of school and a successful year in Prep, their class is throwing a math party! A teach after my own heart, really... finding an educational reason to eat junk food! I love it. Anyway my son ended up on the "catering committee" for this event. He and the rest of the committee decided on the menu, wrote out 'invitations' and so on. My 'invitation' asked me to contribute something sweet of my choice (cupcakes, cake, muffins, etc) and a fruit plate.

This is what I came up with - something sweet with a math theme. For reasons I can't entirely explain (other than they look wicked cool with the multi-colour icing), I totally adore these. I'd venture to say they are my favourite cupcakes I've made all year, and I've made a LOT.

For those who care, it's a Devil's Food cupcake with a buttercream icing, and the numbers are made out of dark chocolate. Who says math has to be boring? (We won't talk about how I failed miserably at it for most of my life...and now I use my math skills more than any other in my every day life.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

She's Apples, Mate!

I had temporarily forgotten that this is sorta supposed to be a cooking and baking blog...but then it's a Mommy blog, too - so that's my excuse! In any case here is a recipe to keep you happy for a while.

Apple cake is not something I would normally bake in the summertime. Summer, to me, is cookies I can take to the local pool, no-bake slices, novelty baking (where I try out things I wouldn't normally bake) and baking which involves little effort. Summer is not a time for heavy, cinnamon-y apple things. However, sometimes you just bake things so you can get your hands into some dough to improve your mood. Therapeutic baking is all about the sensory experience. The slippery, shiny bright orange of a fresh egg yolk, the shhhhhhhhhh sound of sugar pouring into a bowl, the glug-glug of oil, the first taste of sweet raw batter, the squishy feel of cold butter between your fingertips. Baking is therapy without the high bills and the uncomfortable couch.

So I found myself on summer eve, with a grumpy mind and a basketful of apples which were sadly beyond their crunch-by date. Hmmmm. I reached for a cookbook I don't use all that often - Bundt Classics (published by Nordic Ware, the makers of Bundt pans!). It should be noted that this cookbook is very annoying. A vast majority of the recipes start with "one box yellow cake mix"...and we all know that NO recipe should ever, ever start that way. It's baking sacrilege! This book also has a number of savoury recipes - like Shepherd's Pie - which you can make in a Bundt pan. Now maybe it's just me, but I don't really want to see what "Spaghetti Florentine" looks like an a floral shape.

There is something very 1970's about a classic Bundt pan, isn't there? To me it just screams "orange and brown curtains in the kitchen!" and Tupperware in a variety of mustard, orange and brown shades. In perusing the book I decided (with DH's assistance) to go with an equally 70's inspired recipe - Apple Streusel Cake. Who eats struesel nowadays? Clearly, the house of emzee does. Damn, but this cake was GOOD. Neither summery nor fashionable, but one worth baking when you find yourself in need of a Prozac and with a bucketload of apples at your disposal.

Apple Streusel Cake
Courtesy or "Bundt Classics" brought to you by Nordic Ware
(Note: Recipe has been given the emzee treatment - in other words, made easier!)

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup butter, chopped into small pieces
2 tsp cinnamon

3 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 T baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
4 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced

Heat oven to 325 / 160. Grease your best 1970's bakeware (Bundt of course). Put all the streusel ingredients in a small bowl and mix around a bit. In a large mixing bowl, put all the cake ingredients except the apples. Stir it around with a fork for a while, until you get bored or it's all mixed together. It'll be a very thick dough. Plop a scant amount of dough into the Bundt. Layer the apples in the tin (be generous with them, and be as neat or as messy as you like. Makes no difference to the end product.) Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture. Plop a bit more dough in, do the apple thing, do the streusel thing, and finish with whatever's left of the dough. Bake for 75-85 minutes or until a toothpick is clear or you can't stand the good smells any more and you need to eat some cake NOW.

Cool ten minutes in the pan then turn out and eat warm, so that the bottom part falls off and goes all gooey, like this:

Serve with a tall glass of cold milk, a mug of steaming hot tea, a ball of good quality vanilla bean ice cream... or do all that on the second piece. Just shove the first piece of 70's goodness into your gob right away. It's well worth it.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

On Being A Ballet/Soccer/Gymnastics Mom...

I never in a million years thought that I would end up a Ballet Mom. Or a Soccer Mom. Or a Gymnastics Mom. Or a Cricket Mom, a Yoga Mom, or a any-other-extracurricurlar-activity mom. However this past weekend, when I found myself saying things like, "Would you PLEASE hold still so I can get your mascara on?" to a SIX year old....so I had to wonder if the whole ballet Mom thing didn't creep up on me when I least expected it. After all, I didn't grow up doing sports/activities of any kind until I was old enough to get myself to/from stuff. (My parents ditched the swim team idea once they realised they would actually have to drive me to swim meets. I sucked at piano. I have no coordination. I can't sing. You get the idea.)

We've already established that being a Mom wasn't part of the plan. We've also established that I got here anyway, and I am pretty happy about it (although OPK are a whole 'nother ball of wax.) So having gotten to this Mom state, how did I end up a Ballet Mom? And a Soccer Mom? Cricket Mom, Gymnastics Mom, and so on? I was very, very determined that my kids were not going to be dragged all over town doing a million things. Let kids be kids, I used to say. Let them play outside with dirt and sticks and run around the local park. Who needs expensive classes? Who needs...mascara?!

Clearly, MY kids do. Mostly, it seems, because they ASKED to do all of these things, and I'm either too much of a sucker to say no, or because I can actually find reasonable justifications for these activities. So Gymnastics = another form of OT, necessary for DD1. Soccer, Aussie Rules Footy, Cricket et al = exercise, which DS will need in a big way if he continues to grow and eat as much as he does. Ballet = a natural progression from Kinder Dance, which started this whole madness in the first place. (Yoga? I just caved into the begging. I can't really find a good justification for that one.) Plus all of these things give my kids something to excel at which are clearly done apart from their siblings. As one who believes firmly in the importance of independence, I made the effort to give each of my kids a few things which are wholly and solely theirs. Not something they do with their sibs. Considering that at age six they still sometimes share (clean!!) undies, share clothes, share a room and often share my time, my attention and everything else - I think it's pretty essential that they do at least ONE thing differently.

Other parents of multiples don't feel this way. You know the parents who dress their kids exactly alike (even when the kids are fraternal). I've met several parents that, when their kids were babies, would CHANGE both kids if one of them got dirty. I mean, honestly - what are these people thinking?! Quite often I get asked, "But why doesn't DD1 do ballet?" or "Didn't the girls want to do cricket?" and so on. I'm not sure why these people believe that the kids should be interested into the same things, just because they were born 30 seconds apart. I've made it one of my unofficial parenting goals to ensure that my kids have an identity and a literal and figurative space away from one another. Lucky for me, they've chosen different activities. If they had chosen the same one (as for Yoga) - then so be it. But I'd like to think that I at least gave them the opportunity to find their own way.

This of course leaves me sadly lacking in a number of Mom skills, which I've had to learn in order to keep up with all these activites. I find myself spending one day trying to figure out how to put mascara on a squirmy ballerina, and the next I am learning how to tie up footy boots, and the day after that I'm applying hair glitter to a gymnast. Being their Mom - being their active, interested, involved, cheering-from-the sidelines Mom ... that's MY extra curricular activity.

If the smiles on their faces are anything to go by (and the glitter all over my hands, the hairspray in my eye and the dirt under my fingernails) I think I might even get the MVP award this year!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

If you don't ask, you don't get!

Dear Channukah Harry,

I've been a very good girl this year! I've blogged, opened a business, raised my children well (I hope...but we won't really know until I get their therapy bills), been a good wife (DH wouldn't dare say otherwise), a good daughter, a good sister, and above all else, I've eaten all my veggies.

Therefore, for Channukah/my birthday, I would like the following items:

1. A new Kenwood mixer for my kitchen. I've decided Kitchen Aids are pretty sexy, but not nearly as powerful as I'd like or need. Red, please. (We all know the colour red makes things go faster!) I don't think this mixer actually comes in red (that being the Pro version you see above), but isn't that why god invented spray paint?

2. Some money for clothes. Fat as I am, there is really no need to compound the problem by wandering around in shmattas. The time has come to throw this crap out and get some new stuff.

3. A new watch. I've not worn one in years, mostly because of what I do for a living. I still want one, though. I want a Mickey Mouse one, like the one I had as a teenager. It was cool then. It would be cool now. (And I promise not to lose this one.) (Picture above is not what mine looked like, but it's cool anyway.)

4. A copy of Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Cake Bible. I read her blog, and there are a few recipes in there I want to try. The book cannot be found anywhere in Australian bookstores, because it's out of print (or so they say.) Just magic one up for me, okay?

5. A good quality stainless steel rolling pin. Commercial quality. The one I use is wooden. My Mom bought it for me when I was a teenager. The stainless steel bits of it (which hold the handles into the spindle) have broken and are jiggling free, so that the spindle moves from left to right (and back again!). It's usable, but every day I am destroying it more and more. I love it. I want to keep it. I don't want to kill it. If you love something, set it free!

6. Peace and goodwill towards all men... (ha! and you thought I was just a selfish, demanding wench. I can think of others, you know!)...but especially delivery men, who are going to bring me this cool stuff (okay I am. Selfish that is.)

7. My sister coming to visit next North American summer. She hinted at it. She's going to regret it, because I'm going to harass the SHIT outta her until she comes for real.

8. New contracts for my DH. Because my house is literally falling down and he needs to work so we can afford to fix it, and also because I truly believe he is going to be a success. I also know that my life, and my children, are not possible without him. I'm grateful for him every single day, even when I snip at him or complain about him. So I'd like him to get something great. He deserves it. While you're at it, could you make the contract a) worth a kabillion dollars b) take up very little of his time c) not involve morons in Canberra or, heck, in Melbourne (okay, morons anywhere in the solar system) and d) earn him a jillion and one accolades for being the all around clever guy that he is.

9. A subscription to Who Weekly. What? So I like celebrity gossip. Who doesn't? (Seriously, you're telling me you don't know that Paris's chihuahua is names Tinkerbell? OMG! Where have you been? Living in a bubble?)

and finally...

10. I'd like some willpower. Because there are only 413 days left on The Matthew Diet, and I am failing miserably.

Anyway, thanks Mr. Harry. I promise also to be a good girl next year, okay? Just please don't leave a lump of coal in my Channukah slippers, because I might eat it, thinking it's chocolate. And really, that's just cruel. Imagine the dental bills!

Greetings to the Oompa Loompahs from me! (Because, being Jewish, I'm guessing you don't go in for elves and all that.)



How True It Is!

Having recently purchased a kilo of vanilla beans via Ebay, and seriously contemplating buying some random kitchen crap, I can relate to this!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The final SQF

In this post I talked about the SQF = the Slurpee Quantitative Factor. Here in the Southern Hemisphere, it's December 1st - officially the first day of summer.

To date, I've had so many Coke slurpees leading up to today that I've actually lost count, which means (according to the SQF) that this summer is going to be:

7+ = Please, God, take me now. Hell would surely be cooler.

So it looks like we are in for a long, hot summer. The only advantage to this (that I can see) is that many of my IRL (in real life) friends have read what I've had to say on this blog about my love affair with the aerated iced confection. So now I get text messages and emails which say, "Can we catch up for a Coke slurpee?"

Bwahahahahaha. I love it.

Go bookmark this now, people. NOW. It's the only way we'll get through. Trust me.
.... and this website is proof that I am not alone in this madness.

(7-11 flavour update: Kiwi Lime seems to have left the building, to be replaced with Sherbet, which is a crappy flavour.)