Friday, 29 June 2012


thursday's 10 km walk in sherbrooke forest 

umbilical like roots running down the inside of this burnt out trunk help
to keep this beautiful tree alive

we felt so lucky to see this kangaroo..
it was sunning itself quite close to the track but
 it didn't move as we walked past it very quietly

this hill was a great workout


mountain ash

happy happy weekend..x

tea cake

today i caught up with my friend robyn whom i've known for 44 years..we met at the age of 17 years when we started nursing at the royal melbourne hospital (rmh) those days nurses in australia typically did 3 months preliminary training before starting work on the wards..for those first 3 months we lived in trawalla mansion in toorak and each day we were taken by bus to classrooms on the grounds of the i'd only been in melbourne a few months i was unaware of the significance of the suburb we were living in..for the remainder of our training we lived in the nurses home on the grounds of the hospital..

i went overseas almost immediately upon completion of my nursing training but robyn and i caught up again a couple of years later when when she came to stay with me in athens..we didn't see each other again though until i returned to australia another 4 years was then that we became a lot closer as we discovered mutual interests such as vegetable gardening, eating and cooking seasonally, cooking generally and foraging for blackberries and so on..we started to make our christmas cakes and puddings together way back then too and it's a tradition that we continue to uphold..

in the last 5-6 years we've caught up quite regularly..we tend to take it in turns to go the others' house for lunch and to have a day sewing or drawing (robyn) with lots of cups of tea and talking..we enjoy cooking for each other because we know that the effort we make and the ingredients we use are appreciated..home grown and home made produce is always talked about a lot and given due respect..

i've made this tea cake many many times over the years especially when my children were little because it was an easy cake to make when i was really busy..i loved bathing the children, putting them in their warm pyjamas, sitting them next to a warm fire and giving them a warm piece of tea cake and a hot made them and me i made this recipe for robyn because she'd had invasive dental work yesterday and i particularly wanted to provide her with warming cake to have with our morning cup of tea.. 

tea cake

adapted from the victoria sandwich recipe in
magimix recipe book (circa approx 1982)


~preheat oven to 175 deg c
~butter and line a 24 cm x 11 cm loaf tin


150 gms butter ( i used myrtleford butter)
150 gms castor sugar
150 gms self raising flour (srf)
1/2 teaspoon (tsp) baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs (i use spring plains biodynamic eggs)
additional 1/4 cup of castor sugar mixed with 2-3 tsp powdered cinnamon
extra 15 gms butter


~cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
~add vanilla
~add eggs one at a time beating well between each addition
~add flour and beat until the batter is smooth
~evenly distribute the batter in the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer
~remove cake from the tin to a cake rack
~dot the extra butter evenly over the top surface of the still hot cake and sprinkle thickly with the cinnamon and sugar mix 

serve warm or at room temperature 

robyn gave me the serviettes earlier this year..i love them!

do you have any cakes that you and your family love that you've made for years.. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


today my friend gabrielle and i did out first bush walk in a year..we walk every week together but these walks are only an hour long and they're not particularly the past we did bush walk regularly but over the last few years various health problems have curtailed the more strenuous stuff..fortunately we are both now feeling good at the same time so off we went today to the 'you yangs'..we decided not to take on anything too strenuous or two far away so as to ease ourselves back into the saddle..

for anyone who doesn't know the 'you yangs' they are a series of granite ridges on the flat plain between melbourne and geelong (a city 75 kms south west of melbourne) about 65 km south west of melbourne..the name is derived from aboriginal and means 'big hill on the plain'..apparently there's evidence in the you yangs of past aboriginal presence in the form of rock wells which were created in the granite to collect rain water..

we did two shortish walks today..the first walk of 2 hours was a circuit walk (our favourite type of walk) around flinders peak (named after the explorer matthew flinders who climbed the peak in 1802) which is the highest point in the area..the walk started out as an uphill climb with various boulder obstacles along the way that we had to negotiate and then it became more tame..the second walk was an energetic 1 hour walk up to flinders peak and back..

we felt so fired up after our walk today that we want to go bush walking again next week..but we're heading east next week..maybe to the dandenongs..   



as you can see from the trees it was very windy

scrambling down a rocky outcrop

i'm almost looking forward to the inevitable muscle soreness will be a reminder of a wonderful day with a great friend..x

Sunday, 17 June 2012

chocaroon cake

ever since i saw this cake in the cookbook, 'a second helping: more from ladies a plate', that i bought in new zealand a few weeks ago i've wanted to make it..i even started getting the ingredients out to make it a while back only to find i didn't have any desiccated coconut..anyway today i had everything on hand and also it was time for a little treat after two five hour gardening days..

i love this book because the author alexa johnston has compiled the recipes from community cookbooks, hand written recipes that she's borrowed and from family and friends..and she's tested them all too..i've also been collecting old recipe books so it's no coincidence that i'm enamoured of the style of this recipe book..i love the idea of dusting off neglected recipes and giving them an airing..having said that it's time to test out the chocaroon cake with a cup of tea!'s really really good..

chocaroon cake
from 'a second helping: more from ladies a plate' 
alexa johnson

the recipe is from a community cookbook called 'our recipe book' published in 1967 by the karitane public hall building committee

 before making the cake
~lightly grease a 22 cm x 11 cm loaf tin and line the bottom with baking paper
~pre heat the oven to 180 deg c


for the cake
85 gms butter
115 gms sugar
1 teaspoon (tsp) lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 egg yolks
170 gms self raising flour
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons (tbs) apricot jam

for the chocaroon layer
2 egg whites
30 gms sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 tbs cocoa sieved 


chocaroon layer
~whisk egg whites until they are stiff and then continue beating and gradually add sugar
~fold in the coconut and cocoa
~put aside

cake layer
~beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy
~beat in vanilla and lemon zest
~add yolks and beat well
~gently fold in flour and milk

~spoon half of the cake mixture into the tim
~add half of the chocaroon mix spreading it as evenly as possible
~top with the remaining cake mix
~spread with the jam (it helps the topping adhere)
~top with the remaining chocaroon mix

~bake for 45-50 minutes
~cool in the tin
~dust the top with icing sugar before serving

i hope you've had an enjoyable weekend..x

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

op shop treasure

after doing a regular walk with a friend yesterday in studley park i went to a local firewood retailer i knew about by the name of dunning's to get some wood so that i could have a fire last night for my children's and my dinner together only to find that they had closed down..i was really disappointed to find they were no longer operating because it was such an iconic business that had been there for 100 years..funnily enough my son and i had been talking recently about how much we loved dunning's wood yard and that we would be sad if it closed down..

anyway i decided i needed some cheering up after that disappointment so i visited an op shop that i used to frequent when i lived in the area before my move 4 years ago..i wasn't expecting to find anything much because other trips hadn't been particularly fruitful but i was pleasantly surprised to actually find the french ceramic hen, the 6 green jars, the vintage sheet, the sifter and the filing cabinet..i also found another rubber duck to join my ducks on parade!

and a little detour to another op shop on the way home after food shopping resulted in the purchase of the enamel bowl..on tuesday i found the enamel jug when my daughter alex and i did a bit of a detour on the way home via the op shop after having a coffee break at my local cafe..i spotted the lemons down a lane this morning but this is all i picked because i didn't have a bag with me..another better prepared trip is planned!

this made in australia propert sifter is in really good condition

relatively new jug made in romania

two piece french ceramic hen

i have a vision that involves another two of these

made in belgium

have you found any op shop treasures recently?

Saturday, 9 June 2012

a new continental quilt cover

i've done a lot of sewing in my life with some of it being challenging but one of the easiest things i make are covers for feather continental quilts..if you have a sewing machine and you can sew a straight line you can make one..

i used to make them from actil white cotton sheeting but in recent years i've used recycled tablecloths and fabric from cut apart second hand quilt covers for the tops of the quilts..i've collected several new vintage all cotton white sheets that i use for the reverse side..i'm always on the lookout for good quality covers but i don't find many that suit my purposes because i need them to be queen or king size so that i can remake them into double bed covers..i also need them to be an all cotton fabric that i like..

last week i was lucky enough to find a relatively new king size double sided waffle weave quilt cover for $10..i wondered if the person had got rid of it because it was so heavy..i gave it a really hot wash with an oxygen bleach as well as detergent and left it outside for two sunny days to freshen it up..

the  weight of the waffle weave fabric appealed to me because its heaviness would make a good winter weight quilt cover..and rather than putting something plain on the back of it i chose one of my $4 floral double new vintage sheets ..

to make the cover i just measured up the last one i made and cut the fabric to size allowing for seam allowances and for the hem at the closure end..for my double bed quilt i cut the fabric to 202 cms x 170 cms..then it was just a matter of joining the seams on the two long sides and on one short side (the top of the quilt)..then i turned up the closure end.. so far though i haven't dealt with the issue of the past i've tried buttons and large press studs and neither have been that successful..with repeated washing they come off and i'm not very good at replacing them..i'm thinking of sewing ribbon or tape on the inside hem so that i can tie concealed bows as the closure.. 

my new $9 quilt cover

goodnight everyone..sweet dreams..x

Monday, 4 June 2012

keeping warm

after a few lovely dry sunny days the weather in melbourne has changed and it's been raining nearly all day's so good to be inside with a roaring fire, a pot of soup on the stove and a loaf of bread baking in the oven..

roast pumpkin and beetroot soup

approx 750 gms pumpkin peeled and cut into large dice
1 medium beetroot peeled and cut into quarters*
1 carrot peeled and cut large 
1 red capsicum deseeded and cut into large dice*
4-5 unpeeled garlic cloves* 
750 mls tomato puree**
2 litres stock**
1 rasher of bacon per person cut into small dice
approx 1/2 cup cooked risone pasta per person
olive oil
creme fraiche (i used meander valley creme fraiche)
dried thyme*
chilli powder

~put pumpkin, beetroot, carrot and garlic cloves into a roasting pan
~drizzle with a little oil and season with salt and pepper
~roast at 190 deg c for 45 minutes or until the vegetables have browned a little on the edges
~put all vegetables into a saucepan with the tomato puree and stock and simmer until the vegetables are soft
~puree the vegetables using a stick blender, food processor or blender
~put the resulting puree through a sieve or mouli to remove all course material
~return to the heat and bring to the boil
~adjust seasoning
~cook bacon in a frying pan until it is crisp and drain on paper towel

to serve
~put risone in the bottom of a soup bowl and ladle over the hot soup
~spoon on about 1 tablespoon of creme fraiche
~add bacon and garnish with dried thyme leaves and chilli powder
~season with salt and pepper

* homegrown produce
** homemade produce

i hope you are keeping warm or cool depending on where you are..x