Sunday, September 26, 2010

Extra-ordinary Birthday Love

It ages me to think back to Std 3, and the days when new baby's just miraculously appeared .... and telling my childhood friend, 'Guess what - I have a baby sister'. My Mum made this cake for my little sister's 40th Birthday. We all went along to party with her on Saturday at lunchtime. My Mum and Dad are amazing parents - in fact my sister Julie got the best kind of parents in the world! You see she has intellectual challenges so this means life hasn't been that straight forward for her and at times this has impacted hugely on Mum and Dad. However in spite of that they have remained totally dedicated and involved in Julie's life. This has not been an easy road at times.

The preparations for her birthday celebrations came at a time that both Mum & Dad were really unwell with a nasty bout of flu - but 'true to form' they soldiered on and the party went ahead as planned and a good time was had by all. I just love Jul's cake and the sandwiches that Mum made were particularly delicious - there was loads of food of course. Darling man took some of those sammies in his lunch box for night shift last night and reported that they were very tasty - especially the mustard zing! They certainly had loads of love poured into them. We had the last of them toasted with our Leek & Potato soup for lunch today!

Julie is an artist - I love her pictures - I love that they are so free and crazy - bright and colourful - and always seem to include some interesting detailing work. Since no birthday is complete without presents we bought Julie some pastels and colored pencils that you can turn into water colors with water and a brush. I know she will enjoy using them and who knows - she may produce some more 'masterpieces' for us to enjoy. We put them on the fridge where we can see them often. She blesses us with her artistic gift.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Birthday Quake

One of our grown up girls has just had a birthday so today I decided to make her a special cake for tonight's family dinner. The Edmond's recipe - Macaroon Cake - is like an enlarged, slightly more complicated version of a Louise Cake. However as I said last week - things don't always turn out the way we plan.

When it was nearing the end of it's cooking time the topping began to look over-done. So I whipped it out of the oven trying not to burn my fingers on the hot, sticky, dripping jam, most of which had by now landed in the bottom of my oven! AND there was a crack down the middle of the topping akin to a Canterbury Earthquake fault-line. On closer inspection I also discovered that the underneath cake bit had a 'pool' of un-cooked mixture in the centre... so with topping removed and waiting in the wings I returned base cake to oven for more cooking. I then re-constructed the whole affair on a fancy plate and I sincerely hope it tastes better than it looks!

Anyways, at least it is made with Jodi's lovely free-range eggs, Darling Man's homemade/home-grown Strawberry Guava jam and I poured lots of love into it too. I hope these special ingredients suffice to rescue our Darling Girl's 'birthday quake'.

Macaroon Cake

100 gm butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup strawberry jam

Topping -
3 eggs whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups coconut
1 tsp almond essence

Melt butter in saucepan large enough to mix all the ingredients. Stir in sugar and egg yolks. Sift flour and baking powder into the saucepan. Add milk and vanilla and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Spread mixture into a 20cm ring tin lined on the base with baking paper. A spring-form pan or loose-bottom cake tin is best. Spread jam over batter. Spread topping over. Bake at 180 deg C for 45 - 50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin for 10 minutes before quickly inverting onto a wire rack covered with a clean tea-towel, then turning onto another rack so topping does not get broken.

Topping -
Beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until mixture is thick. Mix in coconut and almond essence.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Workbag

My workbag - the one that contains my latest knitting project got an airing this weekend. I decided it was time for me to polish off a few projects and bring them to a close. A ruffled, fluffy scarf got tied off and put away for next winter. I had some rows to knit so that the woolshop ladies can help me with the next stage of my pink cardy - yes the one I mentioned on my blog A G E S ago. However just as I was poised to knit I realised I only had one needle - I must have left the other one at the shop last time I was in there getting some instruction. I think I will take it to work on Monday and head on down there in my lunch break and do the few needed rows so I can leave my cardy there for them to work their magic. They are so committed - almost more so than me - that this cardy is going to work out! The truth is - things don't always turn out the way we want them to.

I do want it finished though so that I can have it ready to wear next winter - mainly so that when the urge to knit hits me next autumn I can start a fresh project and not feel compelled to grind on with something started the year before! That will not do.

My workbag pictured here is made out of two special garments. The black was a skirt that I bought when shopping with a good friend, I wore it heaps but as it began to go into its death throes I found I couldn't part with it. Now it has a new lease of life that could go on for some long time yet. The beautiful pure silk lining was a top that I wore to a family wedding that began happily but ended sadly. The silk top remains - stitched into my bag - to remind me that even sad things bring outpourings of God's grace and goodness as time passes.

I love my workbag - it means that something interesting is in progress - a bit like our lives really - 'a work in progress'.
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