Showing posts from 2005

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

For some strange reason, my parents never christened my sister or me when we were babies. Christenings aren’t that popular any more – people simply hold a naming day. But back in the sixties, Christianity was still in, so it was the norm to have a baby Christened. My sister was Christened when she was eleven years old – mainly so she could be confirmed a few weeks later with all her sixth grade classmates. As it turned out, I was also Christened when I was eleven – not because my parents were trying to establish some whacky kind of tradition. It was more about convenience.

My cousin was being Christened – she was six months old at the time. I remember standing at the front door one night, farewelling my Aunty Kathy and my uncle Yuri. They were telling Dad about their plans to have Tashi Christened at the Wayside Chapel, by the Reverend Ted Knoffs, who’d Christened Tashi’s older brother three years previously. “We’ll get Pet done at the same time!” my dad declared! He and Mum w…

Chocolate Fudge Sauce

As a child my first encounter with sugar came when my dad slipped a chocolate under both my sister’s and my pillows while we were asleep. I woke up and found the chocolate and ate it immediately. My sister was still asleep at that point, so I got out of bed, retrieved her chocolate, and ate that too.

This early acquired obsession led me to an exploration of sugary after school delights, in the absence of my parents of course! My favourite, for sheer ease of access, was the chocolate sprinkles jar. Step one: remove lid. Step two: pour contents into mouth. Repeat until satiated. I tried this one on my little brother recently. Since I’m a grown up and he’s not, I think he was shocked by my childish behaviour!

Another favourite after school snack was Milo mud. You get a glass, half fill it with Milo, drip some fresh milk into and mix it until it forms a thick, pasty mud. Then you eat it with a spoon.

I also liked making sherbet – only I didn’t bother with the excessive sifting …

Extra Notes on Fruit Cake

An anonymous reader left a message saying they'd over cooked their fruit cake, so I thought I'd add some more on this topic.

Firstly, I want to say that where cooking is concerned, let your intuition be your guide. Begin with the aroma of the thing you're cooking - in this instance, the fruit cake. Your cake will release its aroma as it begins to reach completion. That's the time to start checking on its progress!

1. Check the surface of the cake. Is it shiny? Is it sticky? These indicate it's not yet cooked.

2. Pierce the centre with a skewer, pushing all the way to the bottom of the tin. Draw the skewer out and check for raw cake mix. If the skewer is clean, the cake is cooked.

3. Is time up? I've found all my fruit cakes require the full cooking time. I then give them an extra 15 minutes, just to be sure.

4. Is the aroma making you want to get out a Christmas tree and decorate it? Do you feel like bursting out into song? Namely, Christmas carols? If the …

Pumpkin Dip

I’ve mentioned my first cat, Bill, and I’ve mentioned my current furry friend, Derek, but I think I have completely overlooked Angus, the gorgeous ginger manx who came to live with us when I was seventeen years old.

Angus came to us via Vesna, a girl at school who lived on a farm out near Ludenham. She spread the word at school that she was giving away kittens, and I thought my sister, who had just moved in with her boyfriend, was in desperate need of a little kitty kat.

It took some time for Angus to be handed over – he was the last of the litter, and the runt to boot. His mother kept taking him off and hiding him in the paddock because she didn’t want to lose her last baby. Never the less, Vesna arrived at school one day with Angus in a box. He hadn’t been weaned yet, so I had to take him to Mrs Knoffs, an art teacher and a well known animal lover, who helped me show Angus how to drink milk from a saucer.

He was a sweet little ginger and white angel who attended French class (he …

Bodacious Banana Cake

There have been some excellent animals that have transitted in and out of my life since I was three years old. Scrunch the Sydney Silky, Bill the black cat, and Angus the ginger manx. And for the last almost nine years there's been Derek Dog, a mad mini-foxy who isn't very mini at all and to my knowledge, isn't really aware that he's a dog at all.

Derek carrived at a time when I really needed a friend. He was so insane as a puppy, he was an extremely good diversion from the woes that characterised that period of my life. He ate anything - my Converse One Stars, my best black lace bra, even the stone feet on my magazine rack! In fact, he was so crazy, I'm not even sure I really liked him until he'd clocked up his second birthday.

But these days, Derek actually astounds me with his complexity of character. He is very cleary an individual with his own agenda and his own preferences. His daily antics never fail to infuriate and amuse me all at the same time.…

Traditional Christmas Cake

In my family there is no greater tradition than the Christmas Cake. Unless of course we're talking about Christmas Pudding!

As a little kid, I had absolutely no interest in either of these fruit-laden, booze laced Christmas staples. Their flavour was far too complex and mature for me to appreciate. It wasn't until well into my twenties that I started to take an interest in the fruit cake and puddings my mother makes. She and her sisters had obviously learned the art of Christmas cookery from my Nana, who cooked a wicked fruitcake in her heyday, if I do say so myself.

But my interest in Christmas cookery always lay with the sweeter delicacies we liked to enjoy on the day - rum balls, coconut ice, mixed spice biscuits. I appointed myself at a very early age to cook the Christmas fancies, and took great delight in seeing my family devour them and grow fat as a result!

A couple of years back, my dad suddenly passed away. When Christmas came round that year, my mother arrived …

Mushroom Pizza

I can't say I ever remember having pizza as a kid growing up in Newcastle - other than the horrid frozen abominations McCain's stocked in the freezer section of our local supermarket.

Imagine my delight, then, when we moved to Penrith and discovered the full flavoured authentic Italian pizza served at Capitano's on the High Street. In fact, there were two pizzerias on the High Street - Capitano's and Renee's. My dad was attracted to Capitano's because it was more of a sit down affair than Renee's - if you dined in at Renee's you invariably had to sit in full view of the passing traffic (the seats were in the window), whereas Capitano's had a proper shopfront with tables and chairs set up well away from the window.

Capitano's became a regular occurrence in our new lives in Penrith. We went grocery shopping every second Thursday, and always began the evening with a meal, either at Capitano's, or at a little burger cafe in the Medibank Arcad…

Chai Tea

Tea. It's something that we very much take for granted these days. When we want one, we just put the kettle on, whack a tea bag into a cup, pour boiling water over the bag, jiggle it a bit and voila - a good ole' cuppa!

But that's not the kind of tea we drank when I was a kid. We had a tea pot, a tin of tea leaves and a well weathered strainer. Tea bags were non-existent in my house! My parents loved a well brewed cup of tea. They also liked a good sleep in. So when I was about eight years old, I appointed myself the official maker of Breakfast In Bed.

The menu was simple: toast and tea. Toast was easy enough, but the first time I made a pot of tea to go with it, I was mortified by my father's reaction. "Cat's pee!" he exclaimed after one little sip. This of course would be enough to crumble the enthusiams of most kids, but not me! The following Sunday I set about working on my tea making technique - with a little bit of coaching from Mum, of c…

Apple Teacakes

I have very strong memories of our visits to Jimmy's Fruit Shop in the small town where I lived as a kid. Beresfield was about thirty minutes outside of Newcastle (I've got no idea of the direction!). We had a main drag, which of course seem endless to me because I was a little kid. I've been past that street in recent years - it's a block long!

On the main drag we had a supermarket. We had a Chemist, a hardware store, and a fruit shop. Jimmy was the owner - ethnic (one of few in our town) and a very friendly man, especially with little kids. Jimmy is responsible for feeding me endless mandarins as a kid - they seemed so absolutely delicious! The skin was loose and there was never a seed to be found in any of the individual segments. I've honestly never had a mandarins as good as an adult.

But there was one thing in Jimmy's shop that appealed to me above all else: cherry apples. Big fat bulbs of boiled confectionery coloured red and green jammed onto a l…