Five Things: Extreme Bakeover

Spring has sprung, and summer is hot on it’s heels over here in thunderstormy sunshiney Jozi; this change in seasons always has me frantic to springclean the wardrobe, to replace all the tatty neutrals with “pops of colour” and “form-fitting silhouettes”. Sadly, this year the annual summertime splurge has had to be put on hold because the past year of cupcakes, cupcakes and yet more cupcakes have left their plumpy mark and I refuse to buy new clothes until I can fit into the old ones. What’s really embarrassing is that I work out a minimum of four times a week and even that couldn’t contend with all the cupcakery *oh the shame*.

So, in lieu of a wardrobe makeover, I am freshening up Once Upon A Wooden Spoon – long overdue, and pink was never really my favourite (duck-egg blue all the way, peeps) so I’m working it out of the blog as well as my mostly-bright-pink bedroom (the thought of turfing my lumo pink crocheted tissue-holding poodle makes me very mizzles. Anyone know where one might procure a ducky blue one??).

Here are some little bits of prettyness in my favourite colour:

{oh Torie Jayne. so jealous right now}

{oh Torie Jayne. so jealous right now}

{how cute? i'd like one big enough to climb into}

{how cute? i’d like one big enough to climb into}

{you just know that whatever is in that pot is going to be yummy}

{you just know that whatever is in that pot is going to be yummy}

{too much of beautimous. still not as purtty as my hb though}

{too much of beautimous. still not as purtty as my hb though}

{beautiful. and informative}

{beautiful. and informative}

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Smells Like Tea Spirit

I read an interesting article a few weeks ago about food addiction. Extensive studies have been conducted with those little squeakers who threaten to take over the world – lab rats. After being fed a high-sugar diet, they were put on a sugar-free diet and the poor little rodents displayed withdrawal symptoms: shaking, sweating, possibly having little ratty hallucinations. The whole point of the exercise was to illustrate that there is a possibility that certain foodstuffs could be as addictive as, say, nicotine.

{i'm one of those peeps who thinks rats are adorableness. when not living in sewers and growing as big as terriers}

{i’m one of those peeps who thinks rats are adorableness. when not living in sewers and growing as big as terriers}

Now I would never compare my friends to rats, but I know someone who is without a doubt a raging addict – addicted to cardamom tea. If one vending machine has run out, she can be spotted sprinting from machine to machine feverishly pressing buttons, looking guilty as sin. As P.G. Wodehouse would describe it: ” “She spun round with a sort of guilty bound, like an adagio dancer while watering the cat’s milk”.

When Gillbean sent me this picture, I knew exactly what I would be contributing to the next episode of teatime in the office…

tag your friends

(This recipe is adapted from Sweet Beet and Green Bean – how cutesy is the blog name? Makes me sick).

scrummy sandiness

all aboard

to a tea

cuttin loose

high strung

For lots of teabags. Possibly 25-30. Requiring an equivalent number of cups of hot tea, in my opinion.

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 cup strong brewed black tea

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Lots and lots of pre-prepared teabag tags (lots of free printables online – I chose a vintage vibe) double-sided-taped with some cotton – about 10cm per tag. Don’t use staples or glue that isn’t food-safe. Duh.

Mix together the sugar and butter – it will look like damp beach sand, with a few tiny globs in it. It’s all good. Oh, and don’t forget to preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Those cookies aren’t going to be baking themselves.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add the tea to the beach sand and attempt to beat the two together (it’s not going to mix – basic chemistry right there. But let me not get started on emulsifiers *pushes oversized glasses back up nose*). Add the dry goods bit by bit, while stirring, to form a nice firm roll-able dough; park it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

During the 15 minute intermission, find something rectangle-shaped, roughly the size of a teabag. Of course if you are quite posh and your name is Nigella, you will have a teabag-shaped cookie cutter at the ready. Whatevs. I repurposed a “bakkie” which contained edible cupcake decorations in it’s past incarnation. Which meant, of course, that I had to fiddle with a knife and cut two corners off of each rectangle to make teabags, but never mind that. Pinterest would be proud. If only I had figured out how to involve a “mason jar” in this.

Roll the dough out quite thin, about 3mm. Cut into teabag shapes, using whatever method best suits. Then (ooh it’s getting to the crafty bit!) poke a whole near the top of each teabag with a skewer or, in my case, a knitting needle. The 3.75mm needle worked quite well (*rubs liniment onto arthritic joints and adjusts hearing aid*). It’s very important that the hole is very clearly defined. You will see why later.

Bake for about 8 minutes; I’d say twos more rolls of the dough is OK but after that you’re going to be heading for tooth-cracking territory. Remove from the oven and inspect the holes – if any appear to have started closing, carefully give them another poke with the needle.

Once the cookies have cooled, thread the free end of your teabag tag through the hole and tie – not too tight or you’ll break the cookie. NEATLY stack them once you’ve assembled – do not just fling them into a pile, or you will be untangling those knots for several hours. I looped the thread round each cookie so that the tag sat flush against it. Possibly I should have done the chocolate-dipping thing but I’m no copycat. Plus I wasn’t sure that the cardamom had a loud enough presence for chocolate. Plus I had no chocolate.

high tea

VERY IMPORTANT: WARN YOUR COOKIE-MONSTERS THAT THEY CANNOT EAT THE TEABAG TAG!! Few things ruin a tea party faster than an asphyxiating person with a teabag tag protruding from their oesophagus.

Enjoy with a hot strong cuppa spicy chai :-).

Happy (belated) Birthday “Flasher”!

download

PS: If you, too, have a keen interest in rat addictions, check this and this out.

 

Sweet Lil’ Bunnies

So on my previous post I promised that the third postscript would be the last one… which I regretted immediately after publishing because actually I wasn’t quite done saying all I needed to say.

PSsst

And what I wanted to say was:

Check out these awesome cake bunny chow cakes!! I had completely forgotten about them til just now; they were my contribution to a farewell party a zillion years ago, long before the blog was even a twinkle in my eye.

loafing aroundhalwe loaf

I’m not going to post a recipe because I have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast this morning, so let’s not even try recipes concocted two years ago.

When I decided to do mini bunny chows, I hunted high and low for small square cupcake tins which I’d seen all over the cakey shops in the past. Of course, the shop owners saw me coming, read my mind, and maliciously hid all of the square tins away (I believe in this conspiracy theory completely, because I saw them in the shop again two weeks later), so I purchased mini loaf tins. Which made for much more realistic bunnies, but which I’ve had no use for ever since.

I baked vanilla “loaves”, cut them in half after they had cooled and scooped out a tiny bit of the inners. The hollows were then filled them with “curry” made of chocolate buttercream and Milo powder mixed together for texture, with a few strategically placed chopped yellow marshmallow bits posing as potatoes.

yummy bunny

How frikkin cute are they? And they are guaranteed not to cause any digestive drama or require storage of loo paper in the freezer :-).

Hoppy Diwali everybunny!

Happy Diwali to all those celebrating the Festival of Lights!! Keep it awesome and safe and pet-friendly, and please please remember to bring along goody-bags for those of us not celebrating – but who nonetheless LOVE a bit of murukku, jalebi and naan khatai ;-).

bunny bun bun

This year I gave a nod to the festivities by bailing completely and not cooking supporting local business. Reason being I discovered a Durbanite who had never eaten a bunny chow. This is the equivalent of an Asian never having eaten rice. An American never having eaten saturated fats. You get my drift.

Fortunately my neck of the Jozi woods is thick with eateries of Durban origin, including the legendary Coconut Grove just 2km from my doorstep. We got the most phenomenal lamb bunnies – a hollowed-out quarter-loaf of soft, fluffy, fresh white bread filled with tender nuggets of curried lamb and melt-in-the-mouth potatoes, with a little bank-baggy of carrot salad to take the edge off the flaming-hot spiciness. We guzzled. We sweated. We wept (but only a little). Although fireworks were in short supply at Cakepoppie headquarters, we definitely had some palate-pyrotechnics going on :-).

{not much beautimous but so much of yumminess}

{not much beautimous but so much of yumminess}

{we were totally those bunnies' biatches}

{we were totally those bunnies’ biatches}

PS: Just a short toddle from Coconut Grove (but I couldn’t remember how to get to that part of the parking) is Red Chilli, and in my dodgy old neighbourhood is Raja Rani, my personal favourite bunny provider – ignore the fact that it’s between two pawn shops and don’t look too closely at the madness beyond the front desk.

PPS: If I wasn’t a leetle teeny bit squeamish about the fact that they resemble deformed alien babies, I would just love to get my hands on rabbit meat. To make … wait for it, wait for it….. bunny bunnies! Genius, right?

PPPS – last one, promise: How awesome are these stickers from Zazzle? It took me a minute to figure out – and then it became my new favourite thing EVER and will forthwith go on all fragile parcels, to confuse mail and luggage handlers everywhere:

oh i die