Yeast Biscuits

Yeast, or Angel, Biscuits

I just felt like making a different kind of biscuit for breakfast today.  I felt this last night, and that's when I started looking for recipes on the internet.  I halved the recipe I found at The Fresh Loaf, and it made about 13 biscuits.  I think I could have put in 14, but I sort of ran out of room in my skillet.
These biscuits really are a yeast roll-biscuit hybrid.  They are very soft and pillowy on the inside,  with a slightly crisp exterior right out of the oven.  The crumb is tender, but there's a density and chew that are distinctly yeasty.  They smell heavenly, which is perhaps where they got their name.  I've eaten three already just to have something to say here.  I might need another if I want to write more.
Angel Biscuits
     Adapted from The Fresh Loaf
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Mix dry ingredients together.  Cut in margarine until well mixed.  Add buttermilk and dissolved yeast all at once.  Stir until all flour is moistened.  Store in container in refrigerator 2-24 hours before using. 
Preheat oven to 400°F.  On floured board, roll out dough to 1" thickness and cut with 2 inch biscuit cutter.  Place cut biscuits in a large cast iron skillet, preferably preheated as well. Brush with melted butter.  Bake at 400°F for 12-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes about 12-14 biscuits

Holiday Good Times

 Making bath products, the big Bowerbird let all the little ones help.
 Playing with Magic Sand
 Rocking in more ways than one.

I'm loving this funny thing - visitors arrive and don't know how to get in.  It wasn't as easy to install as they would have you believe, definitely a two person job, but it has stopped me from constantly reminding the kids to shut the fly screen that was shoddy, never shut very well, and constantly needed adjusting.  The magnets shut themselves most of the time.

We have also put one in downstairs where we had no fly-screen, and it's doing a pretty good job at letting in some air without the critters.  We live at mosquito central and the many bags of horse manure I've spread aren't discouraging the fly population either. I think the add is pretty funny so have decided to share. I haven't received any commission for mentioning this product.  I bought mine on Ebay and it was much cheaper than installing new screen doors in our rental property.

Who knew screen doors were so annoying?!

Here's some Boxing Day sillyness

After tricking Mr Bowerbird to eat the vomit flavoured jelly bean they had my good friend in their sights. I think they were trying to insert the rotten egg or booger flavour, we found them all over the lounge-room at the end of the day. Was the cause of much screaming and laughter on boxing day.

We received so many lovely gifts for us and our children, I feel a bit guilty that we don't reciprocate in the same way to all those who don't have kids.

{this moment}

Joining Soulemama's {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Gardening Girls

My Grandfather Koehler taught me all I know about gardening and even though I just have a patio, gardening is something I really like doing and the girls LOVE helping mommy play in the dirt garden in her pots. These shots were captured unknowingly to us by Tony's friend, I loved that she got these shots, they are priceless to me!   

Hopefully I am passing down a bit of a green thumb to my girls as my grandpa did to me!

Goin' to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

We had a busy day in the city - lunch, some shopping, Rachel's check-up with the ear doctor (her hearing is perfectly fine, so the constant "what?" comments are just to be annoying), and dinner at Steve's uncle's surprise 60th birthday party.  Oh, and in the middle of it all we went to the zoo!  The weather was gorgeous - 63 degrees on December 30th!
and tigers
and bears - oh my!
I'd brought snacks, including some cute little lollipops the girls got in their Christmas stockings.  (Yeah, I was planning the photo shoot...)
Happy New Year!

Apricot Coconut Bally Goodness

Our good friend Latonia, or "O-ney" as Aiden has dubbed her, is on her way to our house as we speak. She used to live in Calgary but moved away almost two years ago. We miss her terribly but we do get to see her when she comes back every few months for a visit. And because she's only here for a week at a time and has so many friends (she's a very popular lady) our visits are short and sweet.

To up the specialness of her visits I like to make a treat for us for our play-dates. This morning I was all set to make a cheesecake only to discover that my whipping cream had gone off. In lieu of cheesecake I scoured my pantry to search for some useable ingredients. Aha, I found some condensed milk, some apricots and some coconut balls. Apricot Coconut Balls it is.

These ooey gooey treats are easy to whip up at a moments notice (I made mine today using one arm while holding my fabulous sous chef with my other arm), and require only three ingredients. You can also enlist the help of your little one with the stirring and the rolling of the balls. They are relatively healthy and make a great play-date snack, which is why I am posting the recipe here.

Apricot Coconut Balls
1 1/2 cups dried apricots
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
2/3 cups condensed milk
Extra coconut for rolling

1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Put dried apricots in a food processor to finely chop them.
3. Put chopped apricots in a bowl and add the coconut.
4. Stir the mixture or get your little person to do this.
5. Add condensed milk. Stir again.
6. Pour the extra coconut onto a plate.
7. Roll the mixture into small balls and then roll the balls in the extra coconut. You can get your little person to help you with this.
8. Place finished balls onto the cookie sheet and put them in the fridge to set.
9. Enjoy!

Happy cooking,
Creatively yours,

Organic Raspberry Curd

I came across raspberry butter on Pinterest whilst pinning preserves ideas.  I love lemon butter and raspberries (which we have plenty of) and decided to give it a go.  I also had some serious enthusiasm and offer of help from the Big Bowerbird.  There are a lot of different techniques for making raspberry curd, after some deliberation we decided to use a fairly involved one.  Not so simple, but very tasty.

Here is our own take on the recipe

  1. Mash 580gm of raspberries (what we picked yesterday - they're starting to wane)
  2. Pass berries through metal sieve to remove seeds (some recipes don't do this)
  3. Cream 1and 1/4 cups castor sugar with 170gm butter in large glass bowl
  4. Gradually add 8 egg yolks to mixer and combine
  5. Add pinch of salt then gradually add raspberry juice until well combined.  Our mix looked split but this doesn't matter.
  6. Transfer bowl to sit on a saucepan of water. Cook on low.  Butter will melt then mixture will gradually thicken.  This process took around 30mins, we were whisking to keep mixture combined. I used my mostly neglected kitchen thermometer and brought the mix to 80 degrees Celsius.
  7. Take off heat and whisk whilst cooling
  8. Place in sterilised jars
  9. Will keep for 1-2 weeks or you can freeze


I liked the pre mixing in this recipe which meant there was little chance of getting curdled egg in the curd.

We added 3 whole eggs, and a dash of cream to the remaining egg whites and had a tasty dish of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and chives for dinner.

The raspberry curd is silken and has an intense raspberry flavour, my eldest said it looks like a strawberry milkshake.  She was an amazing helper through the process, stirring, pulping and sterilising. Middle one was also a great helper playing a lengthy game of hide and seek with the little Bowerbird to keep her out of our hair.  They were all busting to lick the bowl. I think the curd is screaming pancakes, or a wonderful filling for a macaroon or sponge with cream.

A Happy New Year to you all.  
I hope you have a beautiful evening with family and friends.

New Year's Malt Choc Cheesecake

Planning a New Year's Eve buffet or lunch on January 1st? This cheesecake would be great for either occasion. It's a malt chocolate cheesecake with a milk chocolate and malt (Horlicks!) layer and a white chocolate layer on top of a malted milk biscuit base...and what else could you decorate a malt cheesecake with, other than malteasers!!

A lovely easy cheescake which will certainly help you win friends and influence people!! ;-) It's not strictly a bake but it's definitely a winner.

  • 200g malted milk biscuits
  • 100g salted butter
  • 5 tbsp caster sugar
  • 600g full fat soft cheese
  • 300ml double cream
  • 300g white chocolate
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 2 tbsp malt or Horlicks powder
  • Bag of white malteasers
Bash the biscuits until they resemble crumbs... I blitzed mine in the food processor but there's always the traditional method of plastic bag and rolling pin if you wish to take out some aggression! Melt the butter in a pan and then add 2tbsp of sugar and the biscuit crumbs and mix before pressing the mixture in to a 23cm loose bottom or springform tin and chilling.
Take two bowls and divide the cream cheese and the cream between the two. Add the Horlicks, milk chocolate and remaining sugar to one and the white chocolate to the other, mix well, it may be best to do this with an electric whisk.
Spread the milk chocolate mix over the biscuit base in an even layer before adding the white chocolate mix on top. Gently smooth the white chocolate layer, making sure you push it right to the edges of the tin so there are no gaps between the layers. Finally, decorate with Malteasers.

Handmade Holiday: Woodworking

The holidays are over! I have a little time to sit down and relax now. Over the last month and a half or so, every moment I could eek out has been spent on gift making. I swear again, as I do every year, next year I am going to start so much earlier! Time enough to complete projects at an easy pace, possibly even with time enough to find a few moments at the computer here and there. Now I can share the things I have been labouring over.

I had completely different plans for every child on my list up until I suddenly acquired a scroll saw. I am so excited about it! I haven't used one since... well, 6th grade shop? So it was a bit of an adventure, and very much a learning experience.

As a trial, I first cut this little tree you see above. It was 100% an experiment, just to get the hang of the saw and to try out watercolour paint on the poplar wood I was using. It is unsanded, and the entire thing, birds and apples included, I cut free-form with the saw without so much as sketching anything out on the wood. They could definitely be nicer. I used our Dremel to round out the edges, and did quite a hack job, especially around the pop-out objects. Despite all this, the toy was snatched away the moment I finally agreed it was dry, and has been played with since. This gave me hope for the toys I was actually going to try on!

For my next project, which was for my 3 year old niece, I ran with the same tree / puzzle idea and made this owl set. This time, I took the wood burner to it and added more details. I have only a wide, flat edged tip for my wood burning tool and found trying to make small marks, or most especially the circles for the eyes, very difficult. I am definitely going to find myself some different tips, but the stores I tried at didn't carry them, and I didn't have time to order anything online. So I could be happier with this set, but I still felt like it came out okay.

I followed that with a teether for her baby sister, which I made from scrap cherry. My photos do not do the wood justice, it is so, so very smooth and soft, and after I oiled it the wood positively shone.

I sewed a little leash for the teether as well, with velcro closures so that it can be used on other toys.

For one of my four year old nephews I made a space set. By this time I was better understanding how to shape the wood, and starting to have fun going to town with the wood burner. I looked at a handful of astronaut pictures, and tried to make his suit more simplified, but still reflective of the real deal. The alien has got a butt, because... come on, what little kid doesn't love a butt? My apologies for the backdrop in the following pictures, I was in quite a hurry and just grabbed a piece of fabric out of my cloth bin, I did not take the time for lint removal. ;)

My 7 year old niece was a little tricky. I'm not sure how much toy play she does anymore, so I decided to go with something that could be for either play or simply decoration. I made her a set of rainbow gnomes a couple years ago, so a stacking rainbow (I hope) can either be displayed with them, or be played with together.

It was about at this point that I realized I should be using a wood cutting tool on the Dremel to shape my figures, rather than the sanding attachments I had been using to slowly grind things down. How did I not realize this? I have no idea, but I feel rather daft. Things got easier after that, as you can imagine, and I made this unicorn for my other four year old nephew. The cutting tools I picked up made it possible to separate the ears, make a horn, narrow the nose, and give the body itself more shape, things I couldn't really do with the sanding tools.

For the unicorn's mane, I drilled a series of small holes down the back of its neck and used non-toxic wood glue and a toothpick to insert short lengths of yarn nice and deep, two of each colour. Once the glue had set, I combed through the yarn to separate out the individual strands and make it look more like hair.

For my horse loving 13 year old niece, I made a horse as closely resembling hers as I could manage. It is intended to hang on the wall. I burned her horse's name into the side, and made her mane little nubs like my niece likes to do her horse's hair up for shows. To the back, I attached hanging hardware, and two brass chains. I finished a dowel rod and screwed two hooks into it to attach to the chains, so that she would be able to use it to hang things from.

I had fun attempting to add details like hints at muscle structures, and recessing the back legs.

I finished all of the toys in non-toxic paints. For the most part I used watercolours, I love the way the grain of the wood comes through it. There are a few exceptions, such as the astronaut and some small details here and there, which I watered down acrylics for. (I had no safe "white" watercolour paint.) I sealed them all with olive oil, aside from the horse at the end here, which is not a toy and I felt safe using wood stain and sealer on.

It makes me so happy to be able to give all the children toys that I made especially for them, and I hope they are enjoyed. I enjoyed making them... At least, aside from the insane amounts of sanding, anyway! I really did warm up to working with wood though, I am so excited to have the scroll saw to use. I feel like I learned so very much in just this batch of toys, and I am really looking forward to making more... At a more leisurely pace!

Next wood project is a doll house for Miss Kaia's birthday... that will be a new experience entirely, as well, so I am keeping my fingers crossed and cutting and taping myself together a big cardboard model. More on that later, though, I still have the rest of my handmade holiday gifts to share, and plenty of time to get a doll house done. Okay, actually I have just over a month, but after everything I have crammed into the last handful of weeks, that seems like a dream! 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.