Sleep and other dreams

I’m not sleeping.
And when I do it is that fitful dream-laden half-awake drooling sleep that leaves you feeling wrung out and physically exhausted.
I mentioned to Chef the other morning how I felt wretched and Felix, coming in at the tale end of the conversation said, “that’s a nice name”.
Ha ha hahahaha
Can you imagine, “Hi, my name is Wretched.”
Cinnamon plum jam
This comes from Donna Hay and I’ve made several batches that always go down an absolute treat.
1.5kg plums – washed, stoned, sliced
1kg sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick

– place everything in a heavy based, wide saucepan
– bring to the boil then simmer for 25-30 minutes
– makes approx. 2 litres.

You know that kids song about the five fat sausages sizzling in the pan?

Well quadruple that and you have all my fingers and toes in one.
Seriously, I have never ever had this kind of swelling.
I guess this pregnancy, being the last, is going out with a bang (haha geddit? five fat sausages sizzling in a pan, one went pop and one went bang!)
After yesterday’s monumental effort (which was so much fun) for Chef’s birthday we were relaxing on the lounge last night and Chef amused himself (and me) in pressing his finger into my foot and marveling at how it just stayed indented.
There were many gags comparing my feet to old fish.
But at the same time, it was actually quite repulsive.
I mean, there are very few parts of my body that can be classified as thin.
My ankles are it.
But as Chef so apty put it last night, “you’ve got cankles poppet”.
And so I do.
Yesterday was just lovely.
I made scones and served them, fresh from the oven, with lemon butter I made yesterday, some cinnamon plum jam I made a few weeks back, and cream, lightly whipped with a spoon of brown sugar.
I made a double batch of the cinnamon fritters, which were devoured.
I was going to make a lemon meringue cake but ran out of time. If I’m still pregnant this weekend it’s on the list.
Not so much instead of, but as part of the day, I made almond brittle, then cut it into shards and mixed it through vanilla ice cream. It then went into a 20cm springform pan, toppped with additional shards and put back in the freezer. It was a birthday cake treat for one and all.
There was also a store-bought hoummus over which I drizzled some of the divine organic hand-pressed extra virgin olive oil Chef’s parents bought us on their recent travels and some fresh coriander. I served it with pita bread I’d toasted in the oven and broken into pieces.
And a brie with water crackers.
When all was done and dusted, there were three cinnamon fritters left, two scones and
A wonderful afternoon tea of treats.
Lemon butter*
200g butter
4 egg yolks
200g caster sugar
70ml lemon juice
finely grated zest of two lemons

– melt the butter in a double boiler
– whisk the yolks with the sugar, then add the juice and zest
– mix into the butter
– stir constantly over heat for about 20 minutes or until thickened
– spoon into sterilised jars

I’m not sure how long it keeps, as it only lasts a couple of days in our house.

* I always double this.
Jam and brittle recipes to follow.

Cinnamon fritters

That’s right.

Suse did a wonderful thing for me the other day. She alerted me to the existence of Krista at bigandlittle who, like me, has three boys, and is expecting her fourth child as well. Get this, her third is 10 days older than Jasper and her due date for this one is the same as mine. She’s been having some grief as well during this pregnancy – tooth and money related – and well, we all know how much I love the phrase “misery loves company”.

Anyway, she posted the other day about a nearby German bakery where she got the freshest, most delicious doughnuts. And me? And doughnuts? Well, its a love hate relationship – in that I really really love them, but only want the best, not the chain store variety. And in Australia, finding that is like near impossible.

But the latest Donna Hay magazine – a creation that also shits me because enough of chicken breast with lemon zest, all photo shoots looking the same and pasta presented in neat little hills – had a recipe for cinnamon fritters and when I saw it, I thought, YUM. But as a rule, I don’t deep fry at home. I mean, effort vs reward and all that.

Anyway, Krista’s post inspired me to brave the big vat of oil on the stove surrounded by small(ish) children.
So behold… I made Cinnamon Fritters and they.were.fucking.fantastic.

Cinnamon Fritters
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
vegetable oil, for deep frying

– mix the sugar and cinnamon together and set aside
– mix the egg, milk and sugar together
– fold in the flour and baking powder
– heat the oil in a wide deep saucepan (I used a wok) over a medium heat
– drop teaspoons of the mix into the oil and deep fry for 2-3 miunutes or until golden
– drain on absorbent paper, then toss in the cinnamon sugar.

Today’s efforts

I know I know, the pregnant crank needs to be put in a box and I need to say a quiet prayer of thanks for all I have. I haven’t seen The Miracle but I get it OK.

The cooking frenzy continued today with the making of meusli. Granola to be exact. Inspired by Nigella. Of course.

Hazelnut granola
500g rolled oats
125g sunflower seeds
100g brown sugar
200g hazelnuts, roasted for 10 minutes at 180C and skins then removed (I know, a hassle but so worth it)
50g almonds
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
175g apple sauce (I made stewed apples – as in Granny Smith green apples, sliced thinly, and stewed with a little water on the stove until soft)
120g golden syrup
4 tblsp honey
2tbslp sunflower oil
300g raisins
dried apricots and apples, cut into small pieces. I didn’t weigh these, probably 125g apricots and about 80 of the apple.

– preheat oven to 170C
– mix all the dried ingredients, except the fruit, together
– mix all the wet ingredients together then mix through the dry
– spread mix onto two baking trays.
– Bake for about 40 minutes, turning once half way through
– Cool, then fold through dried fruit.
– Serve with milk, yoghurt, fresh fruits or whatever takes your fancy.
– Store in an air-tight jar.

So much goodness in each mouthful.

A good reason why I’m not a SAHM

I bake. I like to bake. And I like to eat what I bake. Unlike dinners, which I gladly cook but by the time its cooked I’ve kind of lost interest.

I think it was Jonathan, my one and only UK commentor, who suggested – when it was particularly ugly a few weeks (days?) back – that I needed a big chunk of chocolate cake. Well, ever since then (I am highly suggestible/able/? people) I’ve been craving a piece of those chocolate cakes you see on movies and TV shows. You know the one, looking all moist and covered in gooey decadent icing?


It is Nigella’s Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake from her book, Feast.
The cake
200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb
40g cocoa
175g butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

– preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line (or flour) two 20cm round cake tins
– bung the ingredients all together in the mixing bowl or food processor and process until combined
– spatula into the tins and spread out – the mix is very thick
– bake for 25-35 minutes.
– turn out and cool.

The icing
75g butter
175g best quality dark chocolate
300g icing sugar
1 tbl golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

– melt the butter and chocolate together, cool slightly
– add the golden syrup, then the sour cream and vanilla
– mix into the icing sugar, beat until combined and no lumps
– use 1/3 to sandwich cakes together, 1/3 for the top and 1/3 for the sides

I am not normally a chocolate cake kinda gal. In fact, chocolate has really lost its attraction for me big time. But this, this hit more spots than you can imagine.