Pirongia, New Zealand: Hospitality and Recipe by da-AL

Vicky Apps (with her kitty) is a wonderful hostess!

We had less than a week to sample beautiful New Zealand. We’d landed in Auckland, spent a night in Rotorua, hiked a few hours in the Redwoods, strolled along Huka Falls, peered into Craters of the Moon and visited the Waitomo Glowworms Caves, and then river rafted in Taupo — then later Hamilton Gardens. (Eventually, in Australia’s Gold Coast, we visited family and birds of Australia Part 1 of 2 plus Part 2 of 2, then we marveled at the Spectacular Views in and Around Gold Coast, enjoyed a delicious meal on the beach and saw some wild things at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.)

Pirongia was a lovely village (by the way, it was interesting to find that as far as I know, here in the U.S. we only use the term ‘city’, not ‘village’) to spend our final night before returning to Auckland. Short as our visit to Pirongia was, our hostess, Vicky Apps, made it memorable. If you’re ever in the area and need a cozy room at a reasonable price, I highly recommend emailing her at apps@xtra.co.nz

Vicky and her charming kitty, made us feel like family at her gorgeous, spacious home. We so enjoyed sitting in her flower-filled backyard and chatting with her. Moreover, she even washed (and folded!) my clothes at no charge. For breakfast, she shared delicious homemade jams and preserves, including one that was made from a guava type fruit found only in New Zealand. (By the way, New Zealand has its own variation of sweet potato too, which I regret not getting a chance to sample.)

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash.

When I much enjoyed some of Vicky’s Anzac biscuits, an immensely satisfying sort of oatmeal cookie that was devised for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I, she generously hand-wrote the recipe for me!…

Vicky’s recipe for Anzac biscuits, page 1.
Vicky’s recipe for Anzac biscuits, page 2.

Do you have a biscuit or cookie that’s special to where you live?

Guest Blog Post: Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffins by Roijoyeux

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffins by Roijoyeux
Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffin by Roijoyeux

Most of the week, fellow blogger Roijoyeux blogs on heroic people bullied for being gay or bisexual. Sundays he reserves to torture us with photos and recipes from his latest mouthwatering healthy/delicious yummy. Another awesomeness about his site is that if you don’t read French, he’s installed a google translate widget…

Roijoyeux

Pour mon cher ami Tauche et son mari, je réalise presque chaque semaine des gâteaux à la fois sains et gourmands et j’ai décidé de vous faire profiter, joyeux visiteurs, de mes plus belles réussites…

Cette semaine, j’ai eu envie de tester la recette de muffins aux pépites de chocolat inscrite au dos des paquets de pépites de chocolat “Vahiné”, en l’adaptant pour mes amis; Tauche souhaitait un gâteau à la banane, il me restait un sachet de noisettes en poudre, voici donc les :

Ingrédients : (pour 9 muffins de diamètre 6 cm)

  • 125 g de farine de riz + 50 g de farine de sarrasin + 75 g de poudre de noisettes (au lieu de 250 g de farine)
  • 1/2 c à c bicarbonate (au lieu de 1 sachet de levure chimique)
  • 2 pincées de sel
  • 100 g de pépites de chocolat
  • 1 oeuf
  • 105 g de muscovado…

View original post 194 more words

Guest Blog Post: “Coconut Cardamom Tea Cake,” in Nithya’s exact words

Coconut cardamon tea cake by Devine Spice

Coconut + Cardamom + Tea + Cake = Mouthwatering Event! Food blogger Nithya tells us how…

DivineSpice

Isnt that romantic sitting by the window having a nice cuppa and enjoying the nature’s beautiful autumn colors on a chilly day😍 ? It will be a perfect indulgent treat when you are offered a delicious snack to accompany your tea. Yeah😎, I am gonna tell you about my secret recipe(cardamom coconut cake) that I ve tried for the first time ever and you know what, it turned out so delicious exactly how I imagined. If you are a fan of coconut and the aroma of cardamom, you must give this a go😊. I am sure that wont let you down. So here you go! Enjoy!

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Serves 5 to 7

Ingredients

  • 150g self raising flour
  • 75g or 100g sugar ( according to Your taste )
  • 7 to 8tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp full-fat milk

View original post 224 more words

Guest Blog Post: “New Year Resolutions You Can Actually Keep,” in the exact words of bookshelfbattle

Photo of toy pig pigging out in a colorful cupcake
Thanks Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com for this cool pic!

Hate resolutions? Standards too high? Bookshelfbattle to the rescue!…

Bookshelf Battle

Fart more.

Eat more.

Be ruder.

Smell worse.

Do less.

Procrastinate more…tomorrow.

Exercise less.

Watch more TV.

Play more video games.

Be lazier.

Read less.

Fail more.

Don’t be productive.

Eat more candy.

Don’t get out and meet anyone.

Get fatter.

View original post

Bah! Humbug! is Perfectly Fine by da-AL

burnt gingermen cookies
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s quite alright to say, “No!” to a holiday. It’s ok to write off an entire season. Sometimes holidays are worthy of looking forward to. Sometimes they’re not.

tray of burnt cookies
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

It’s perfectly fine to ignore the myriad external messages elbowing each other to influence us. People, companies, cultures, they all would love for us to spend, do, and feel exactly as they think we should.

Never mind them. Really. Sometimes some holidays (and/or seasons) are best ignored.

tray of burnt cookies
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Do whatever works for you. Mark time, survive, thrive. Before you know it, it’ll be holiday-free January.

Photo courtesy Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

Whatever any one of us does, we’re never alone. We’re all unique yet all human. Be good to each other. Take good care of yourself!

Photo courtesy Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

What do you do when you want to ignore a holiday?

Panettone Makes Every Day a Holiday by da-AL

Jeff and Zoë's panettone
Jeff and Zoë’s panettone

Panettone, or pan dulce as my Argentine mother calls it, is one of my family’s favorite things that I make. For those of you who don’t already know, panettone is the queen of holiday fruit bread. Shaped like a chef’s hat, fragrant and puffy with yeast, sweet with fruits and honey.

My panettone success is thanks entirely to the melding of my two favorite no-knead bread baking books:

Bread in 5 Minutes book coverPanettone recipe from: “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking,” by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François

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"My Bread" by Jim Lahey book coverBaking technique from: “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method,” by Jim Lahey

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Heavenly Panettone that even my cousin who lives in Italy says is the best she’s ever tasted!

My loaves aren’t cookbook perfect and I never make the exact same twice. All the same, each of the dozens of times I’ve made this, it’s come out divine.

Deviations, substitutions, and notes about what works for me:

  • I use Lahey’s baking technique of using a covered pot. For the first half of the baking, I leave the lid on. For the remainder, I take the lid off.
  • Instead of a pot like Lahey uses, mine is the ceramic interior and glass lid from my electric crock pot.
  • I don’t wrap the baked loaf with fancy printed paper.
  • I use parchment paper to line the baking pot.
  • Half a recipe works equally great, though leftover baked panettone freezes well.
  • Whole wheat flour substitutes nicely for half of the white flour.
  • More fruit and/or nuts, less fruit and/or nuts — it’s all delicious!
  • For a lighter loaf first measure dry ingredients into a separate bowl, including the dried fruits and nuts. When I tried adding the raisins into the butter as it melted, it made the loaf denser.

Here’s my post on “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery that Revolutionizes Home Baking,” by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François.

Here’s my post on “My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method,” by Jim Lahey.

 

Homemade artisan bread even easier! My review of Jim Lahey’s “My Bread” (by da-AL)

A re-posting of a review I wrote for wonderful fellow blogger Jeyran.

"My Bread" by Jim Lahey book coverSurely there’s a place in heaven for bakers who have worked out the kinks of no-knead bread baking, the ones who share their secrets. No-knead recipes are yeasty home-baked goodness — within a fraction of the time.

Jim Lahey’s “My Bread” raised my no-knead loaves to Everest heights. Bread genius and angel to home bakers that he is, he does the rest of the no-knead cookbooks one better. He does away with the need for pizza stones and steam via his simple radical solution: baking in covered pots.

Recipes are for me starting points to be fiddled with after my first try, not destinations to be rigorously followed. Lahey’s recipes, all easy, forgive my deviations unconditionally. A straightforward writer, he encourages such experimentation!

2 loaves of no-knead breadThese two loaves are loose renditions of his “Pane Integrale/Whole Wheat Bread,” the ones he mouthwateringly illustrates and describes on pages 60-62. For brunch last Sunday, I baked them together. The smaller is a whole recipe. The larger one, a double recipe, needed a bit longer to bake thoroughly.

At the beginning of the book, Lahey discusses how long dough should be left to rise. Two hours is the minimum, yet more patience is rewarded with more fermentation. I’ve left my dough out for as long as 24 hours before baking. Every longer-rise loaf steams with tangy sourdough excellence.

Crock PotsAlong with messing with the ingredients (I added oatmeal to the smaller loaf, more whole wheat flour and less white flour to both of them) my personal innovation is to usually use crock pots in the oven, not the electric part of course, instead of other types of pots. That way, I don’t risk ruining yet another non-metal handle.

Whatever I use, I line with parchment paper for easier extraction. The paper embosses intriguing creases.

Parchment paper makes things easier
Parchment paper makes loaves slide out easier, plus it lends fun creases.
How to cut no-knead loaves
Scissors help with the last bit of slicing.

Forget about Wonder Bread or anything akin to grocery store texture. My loaves come out dense and crusty, a handmade delight to be experienced only by the truly fortunate. In the interest of not squashing the lofty goodness when I saw into each loaf, I use an electric carving knife that my mom gifted to my husband. To not risk mangling my already uneven slices, I use scissors for the final bit of cutting.

Dough, just like baked bread, can be refrigerated for a week or so. Freezing makes it last much longer, but allow it to thaw to room temperature before baking.

Non-book note: Initially, when baked at Lahey’s recommended 475º, my oven emitted an offensive metallic odor. An appliance repairman set my qualms to rest. He advised me to run the oven at 500º for a couple of hours. The oven has since been odor-free.2 loaves cooling in window

cut loafJeyran’s book review blog