Life lately

Strange times indeed but I’m thankful for every minute I’ve had with the Bear and Hubby since lockdown started in March.

I’ve discovered a great local fruit and veg delivery service, thankful for Ocado (I’ve been a customer for a decade) and our local restaurants that deliver. We have seen activities picking up this week as lockdown is eased and the Bear is heading back to school this week before the school year is over.

We’ve cooked a lot of meals on high rotation but also discovered some new favourites – black pepper chicken, chicken katsu curry and homemade chips. The Bear and I have been baking bread, muffins, cakes, pies.. a good lesson in resourcefulness and pushing the boat out when it comes to cooking.

We made a lovely carrot cake which proved quite the treat!

The Bear scored me 9 out of 10 as she couldn’t taste any carrot!

The Bear is learning to ride a bike, a gift from the Hubby. The two have found this to be immensely bonding, rendering the Bear asking her dad to tuck her in instead of me.

We’ve used the time at home to make this place our home. We moved in just before Christmas and I fell spectacularly ill for 3 months. The last few weeks have seen me spending a lot of time researching mirrors, side tables and sofas! The house is coming together slowly and much more welcoming than when lockdown started.

I’ve discovered Chloe Ting’s workouts on Youtube. She is the sweetest but the workouts are hardcore for a pen pusher like moi.

We are missing our holidays in France but we just need to let things happen when the time is right.

In the words of our lovely parish priest, keep going, folks. What’s the best thing about a storm? It passes.

Fun Friday

We have an end of week family ritual, inspired by long time bloggers at @thefoodpornographer on Instagram and A healthy slice of life

The Bear usually comes up with suggestions for food and this week, insisted on a family games night too!

Pizza is usually the preferred choice but last night, instead of our usual takeaway, I made them at home. I looked up sourdough pizza five days too late and settled for an easy dough from Joy food sunshine .

Toppings were limited but tasty! Pineapple and lots of cheese for the Bear. Spicy olives, chilli flakes and pineapple plus cheese for the grownups!

The pizzas turned out really well and tasty! As for games night, the Hubby recently introduced the Bear to the first two Harry Potter movies and suggested watching the third. A big round of yes ensued and we settled in to watch Prisoner of Azkaban. Popcorn was on standby ready to be popped but frankly we were stuffed from pizza!

A pretty fun Friday had by all.

What’s your Fun Friday ritual?

Chocolate cake

If you’re reading this post, hope you’re well and thank you for stopping by. My mum was hospitalised for the last 2 days but she’s back home now. I felt a need for a band aid today, it’s been a tough few days emotionally.

Wanting to bake to take my mind off things, I found a lovely chocolate cake recipe in the Together cookbook that was backed by the Duchess of Sussex. You’ll find the recipe here.

The Bear asked for less sugar (!) so we must have used 1/4 less in the batter. I used 90g dark chocolate and substituted the rest with milk chocolate. The icing was quite sweet. Next time we’ll use whipped cream instead. I topped the cake with chopped strawberries. It is a very delicious cake and we served it with afternoon tea. A much needed band aid.

Keep safe everyone.

Coconut bread

When life deals you lemons, in my case, bake coconut bread. This Bill Granger recipe is from Bills Sydney cookbook which I bought from Borders many years ago when it was still in business. The cover of the book may be tinged with a yellow hue but the smell and taste of this bread transports me right back to Bills in Surry Hills almost 12 years ago, when I had fire in my belly, guts and an amazing sense of adventure.

I’ve made this recipe several times over the years but it was my first time baking it with the Bear. I tried to talk her into adding some pandan extract into the batter but she was adamant at wanting to taste the bread as Bill intended.

The recipe can be found here.

Now excuse me whilst I go reminisce.

A dip in spirits

Today has been particularly hard. Work has continued to be demanding even with working from home. I described work akin to gremlins that multiply. We can’t seem to solve one issue without another 5 surfacing. My team, normally boisterous, are tired and feeling low.

Juggling work and homeschooling comes with its own challenges. I want to keep the Bear’s spirits up too therefore engagement is necessary rather than just leaving her to get on with her worksheets.

I hit a low point tonight. Soon it’ll be a year since I’ve seen my elderly parents and I hope we don’t have too long to wait to see each other again.

I usually find comfort in prayers but even that isn’t helping.

Onion rings

Onion rings hold a special place in my heart usually reserved for Asian tea-time snacks such as banana fritters. I had mentally bookmarked a recipe when watching Masterchef Australia many years ago. One of the contestants, Kylie Millar won a challenge with her amazing onion rings.

We’ve been receiving weekly fruit and vegetable boxes from a local supplier. The brown onions are huge and we can’t seem to get through them! The Hubby and I were discussing onion rings and I remembered Kylie’s recipe which is luckily still up on her blog

These onion rings were so crunchy and delicious, I hope we did Kylie justice. Definitely a winning recipe.

Dalgona coffee

I’m a little bit late to the dalgona coffee party! Intrigued after seeing many videos on Instagram, curiosity got the better of me.

2tbsp of instant coffee, 2tbsp of granulated sugar, 1.5tbsp of water. Combine together and mix on high speed on your electric mixer for 3 to 4 minutes (or more) until the mixture resembles an incredibly thick and creamy texture.

Fill a glass up with ice and pour in your milk of choice, mine being almond milk. Top with 2 to 3 tbsp of the coffee mixture on top of the milk, stir to combine.

Delicious iced coffee!

Courgette fritters

Hope everyone reading this is well and safe. I signed up to a fruit and vegetable delivery service recently. The selection has been great and I’ve been grateful for having access to fresh fruit and vegetables without having to venture out.

We had a few courgettes to use up but the Bear isn’t a fan. I suspect she dislikes it as much as I hate liver. So there was no way I could sneak courgettes into a dish as she’ll spot them! But what if I fried them like they do in one of our local restaurants?

I sliced 3 courgettes up into 0.5 inch thick rings, mixed in some plain flour, ground turmeric, salt and water to make a batter. Some hot oil in a frying pan and voila:

The fritters were delicious, alas there’s no convincing the Bear. More for me and the Hubby.

Return of the Ratatouille

This recipe for ratatouille by Thomas Keller is an absolute labour of love. I planned on revisiting this weekend as I had courgettes and tomatoes which had to be used up before our next grocery delivery.

The Bear isn’t a fan but I hope she comes to love the dish as much as we do. It reminds us of our holidays in France and with the current lockdown, is the perfect dish to transport us back to a place which holds countless memories of warm summers.

The piperade
The vegetables arranged in a spiral over the piparade pre 2.5 hours in the oven

I’ve blogged about this dish before. I found today’s preparation and cooking of the dish immensely therapeutic. We’re having it with grilled chicken and mash tonight. Yum.

Let’s break bread together

This week was another hectic one managing homeschooling and a demanding work schedule from home. We got through it ok with me calling it a successful week as I switched off my laptop at 7pm yesterday (Friday).

I had bookmarked a bread recipe from one of my favourite blogs, Daily Connoisseur on Thursday night. Our next grocery delivery isn’t until Sunday and I knew the Bear would enjoy baking.

It’s an easy recipe, though I used 4 cups of flour (rather than 5 to 6 cups) and 1 sachet of yeast. We used my KitchenAid to knead the dough and took around four hours from start to finish ( we proved the dough twice for almost an hour each time).

The Bear was asleep by the time the loaves were baked. It took a lot of self restraint not to have freshly baked bread as a midnight feast. I couldn’t do that to the Bear. She woke me up this morning excitedly asking if she could see the fruits of her labour.

Pleased as punch, she ate a few slices slathered in butter for breakfast!

Super delicious and soft. I think this is going to be a regular feature!