Mother’s little helper

I’m turning into my mother.

I picked up a packet of loose-leaf tea by mistake at the supermarket a couple of weeks ago, and rather than go through the rigamarole of exchanging, I have started having a pot of tea every couple of days.

Mum and Dad would start their day with a pot of tea with their breakfast. It’s a ritual they had within their families in Ireland. When I would stay with my aunt when over there, there was always a pot of tea at breakfast time, to accompany the Ulster fry of bacon, eggs, and an assortment of fried breads.

I’m not there yet, but I’m warming to the idea- of the tea, not the daily Ulster fry (I like my arteries unclogged!). I love the ritual of warming the pot, and letting the tea draw, while I get out a tea cup and saucer. Rather than gulping it down on the run, it’s nice to sit down and savour the delicate flavours; in fact it’s a great time to savour the early morning stillness and the promise of the day.

My mum also wakes up early for a cigarette, something which I have never done. My addictive personality leans more toward chocolate and endless games of computer solitaire 🙂

One thing she has passed on to me is a love of lipstick. Mum has always maintained a woman is not quite fully dressed without lipstick, and will not leave the house without it carefully applied. In every handbag I use regularly, I have a lipstick, just in case. They’re all pretty much the same shade, a deep red.

I find it very hard not to buy a lipstick when Avon comes calling, and I am always on the search for the perfect shade. An elusive quest, and one which I intend on pursuing for many years to come. It’s up there with the quests for the perfect hot chocolate, the perfect Gin and Tonic, and the perfect bra (the balance between comfort, fit and looking incredibly hot).

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These are a few of my favourite things…

When under stress, my first reaction is to look for something sweet, preferably chocolate or the carbs (chocolate cake fits the bill nicely!).

With work, exams, assignments, gym, kids, husband and friends,  the cravings are very hard to resist…I have had to ask Mr BG to take the Halloween lollies to work, and am currently gulping water to keep myself from heading to the nearest cafe. Regardless of if I’m at work or at home I am never too far away from a cafe (curse working in the CBD! Curse living in inner Ballarat!)

And so in order to satiate my sweet cravings, I would like to share my favourite sweet recipes

Tara’s Chocolate Fudge

I made this as my Easter gift for family friends and workmates- everyone loved it, especially me 🙂 Important – give away as much fudge as you can because it is seriously yummy! You will want to eat it all- resistance is futile 🙂

500g chocolate (dark, milk or white)
1 can condensed milk
75 gm butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

20cm slice tray – greased or lined with baking paper

  1. Put chocolate, condensed milk and butter in a microwave safe bowl, and melt in microwave (approx, 2 mins, then stir, then 2 more minutes then stir)
  2. Make sure there are no lumps left in mixture
  3. Add vanilla essence
  4. Pour into slice tin
  5. Put into fridge for at least 2-3 hours to set
  6. Lick out bowl (you can try putting your whole face in the bowl to make sure you get every last piece)
  7. Take out of fridge, tip fudge out onto a chopping board
  8. Cut into small pieces (I know your eyes will be bigger than your stomach but really, the pieces should be no bigger than a 50 cent piece – trust me, you will thank me later)

My Rum Balls

My mum makes christmas cake, my sister makes mince pies and I make rum balls. They’re a nice gift for my in-laws and the lovely Ms S likes them too!

1 packet plain biscuits (usually Marie)
3 tblspns cocoa powder, sifted to remove lumps
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2-3 tblspns rum (Bacardi or Bundaberg rum works well)
1 cup extra coconut (for rolling finished balls in)

  1. Finely crush biscuits in a food processor).
  2. Add cocoa power, coconut, sweetened condensed milk and rum to crushed biscuits and combine.
  3. Take large teaspoons of mixture and roll into balls using your hands, then roll balls in extra coconut to coat.
  4. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet or shallow plastic container and put in fridge.

Makes approx 30-40 balls (depending on size of balls).

Marla’s Egg free, Milk Free Chocolate Cake

Good for those who have allergies to dairy and egg and is vegan-friendly. Lovely warm with cream and raspberries too.

1 cup of Plain flour

1 cup white sugar
½ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup water

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C
  2. Prepare an 8-inch square cake pan by spraying with non-stick spray (I also use baking paper)
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add all liquid ingredients and combine with whisk until just blended
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes
  6. Cover with frosting or icing (as preferred)
  7. To make a layer cake you need to double the recipe and bake in two pans.

Donna Hay Cupcakes

Made these for Miss BG’s birthday and a batch with the kids. Because you add all the ingredients at the same time and mix, it’s great to do with the kids. The smaller size is good for children too!

125g butter softened
3 eggs
11/2 plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 c caster sugar
1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (350 F). Place butter, eggs flour, baking powder, sugar, milk and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 4 minutes or until smooth and a pale creamy colour.

Line 12 1/2 cup capacity patty tins with deep paper patty cases. Spoon in the mixture to 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked.
If you have the smaller patty tins, the mixture can make about 24.

Streets of your town

This article which has famous Melburnians describe favourite walks around their city/past had me pondering my favourite walks/places of significance.I am not Melburnian by birth- I lived there for 8 years before my move to Ballarat.  It’s a place where I studied, fell in love, married and became independent- I ‘grew up’ during my years in Melbourne.

I would happily walk up and down Collins Street, it has one of my favourite lunch eateries and two chocolate shops in the same block (have yet to try the Lindt shop, but will save that for later), and I feel so alive walking down it in any season any time of the year. It’s also around the corner from work at one end and Southern Cross at the other- I have been catching trains to Geelong and Ballarat from Spencer Street for 20 years now :).

My walk would include Swanston Street. It’s not particularly glamorous, and full of tacky souvenir shops, but I would start at the end- the University of Melbourne, where I did my B.A. It was miles from my small girls’ only Catholic secondary school, and I am so glad I went there. Favourite two places there was the South Lawn and the Baillieu Library (guess I was a library nerd in waiting…).

It’s a good walk down Swanston to my next stop, the State Library of Victoria. As a child I remember going there to see the museum exhibits with my family. As a uni student, it was the sight which greeted me as I emerged from Museum Station to catch a tram, or walk, up to uni. I worked there for two years and enjoyed nearly every minute of it. My favourite memory is leaving work later and seeing the library lit up, and feeling a sense of awe that I actually worked there.

If I felt a bit peckish, I would have some dumplings from the Dumpling House a little bit further down, or, if I wanted to make an occasion of it, go to Cookie. Both favourite lunch spots for friends!

To walk off lunch I would venture a little bit further and end up at the National Gallery of Victoria (International). One of the beauties of doing an Arts degree was the periods between lectures. The NGV fed my soul, and I still love the water wall!

Please allow me to introduce myself…

My first post was something I had to get off my (ample) chest. The gauntlet was thrown down for me to speak up and so I did. So I will backtrack a bit and say hello.

I’m 38, a lady (more on THAT later), a librarian in a special library in Melbourne, whose interests include Usability, Information Architecture, Politics, Music, Art, and Books (well I felt somewhat compelled to say that).

I’m also a student, news junkie, and recovering chocoholic (I have a Haigh’s and Koko Black within a five minute walk of work).

More will be revealed in further posts to come.