Sunday, January 05, 2020

Mangoes and early Christmas cakes

Wow its been awhile since I posted, life has been so busy lately with working 2 jobs and loving both of them, if I had to chose one job I couldn't, they are both unique in their own way and enjoyable.

After a two week holiday over Christmas and New Year I had some days left and yesterday I baked and scraped and preserved Christmas cakes and Mango Chutney - the spicy type. I had soaked the fruit in September intending to cook these cake for Christmas 2019 but ran out of time, so now I am early for Christmas 2020 LOL.

Now I notice my cakes have cracked in the middle, can any experience cook out there tell me why its cracked? I left it in the pan to cool before I took it out.

18kgs of mangoes de-seeded and grated down to 9kgs, that will last me a year or two I hope LOL. I eat it like its going out of style. I also use it to marinate my prawns, this year I'll try and use it to marinate other meats and see what happens. I use spices I buy from the shops. I have never made the spices from scratch yet. 
Thats my husband lending a helping hand, he's a gem and a keeper, which was awesome as I now have arthritis in my wrists and this process of grating is really taxing on my hands. I need to find a food processor to do this as I make these every year. 

This is called Mango Kuchela and is spicy, made with mustard oil and Indian spices.

EDITED: Did some research and my problem was the position of the rack. See Alice's Rules

In case the link doesn't work:

So many finicky details make the difference in baking. The position of the rack in the oven is almost as important as the baking temperature! And pan rotation is important for even baking too. Too many recipes don’t even mention rack position or pan rotation. Go figure.  
Here are my rules for racks and rotation (for non-convection gas ovens) when recipes don’t otherwise specify: 
To bake cake(s) on one rack: Position the rack in the lower third (just below center) of the oven. If baking more than one pan on the rack, rotate the pans from the front to the back a little over halfway through the baking time. Exception: I bake a single thin sheet of cake for a jellyroll, in the center of the oven.
To bake a single sheet of cookies: Position the rack in the center of the oven. Rotate the sheet from front to back a little over halfway through the baking time.
To bake cakes or cookies on two racks:  Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Rotate the pans from upper to lower and back to front a little over halfway through the baking time.
For electric ovens: I use the same rules, but when the electrical element is exposed in the oven, I consider the bottom of the oven to start on top of the coil rather than under it, and I position my racks accordingly: thus the center of the oven is midway from the top of the coil to the top of the oven and the lower third is one third of the distance from the top of the coil to the top of the oven, etc. Got it?
How not to overcook your Christmas Cake 

It's that time of year and I'm busy in the kitchen preparing Christmas treats galore, however, I'm having trouble achieving the perfect Christmas fruit cake. After it's cooked, I find that the bottom of the cake is burnt and the top of the cake has large cracks in it. Can you tell me what I'm doing so wrong?!
It sounds like all of your problems have been caused by a very hot oven. Fruit cakes will burn on the bottom or crack on top if they're baked at too high a temperature. Make sure you set your oven to the exact temperature given in the recipe. The burnt bottom can also occur if the cake is wrongly positioned in the oven. Or if the pans are lined incorrectly. Fruit cakes require protection during long, slow baking times. Cakes that are 22cm or smaller require three thicknesses of baking-paper lining. Larger cakes need one or two sheets of brown paper and three sheets of baking paper.

Saturday, October 26, 2019


Blackberry vinegar and recipes

Ball mason jars

Homemade caesar dressing


We’ll start by making an easy homemade caesar salad dressing. To make the dressing, simply throw everything in a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy. To make Caesar salad dressing (without the usual anchovies) you’ll need:
  • Olive Oil: Caesar dressing is an emulsion, so oil is going to be our base! Use regular or extra virgin olive oil here.
  • Mayonnaise: Rather than thickening with raw eggs, we’re using mayonnaise for a foolproof Caesar dressing.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan adds a savory element to replace the anchovies that are usually found in Caesar.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh is best here! Bottled juice won’t have as much tasty lemon flavor.
  • Dijon Mustard: This emulsion is held together by mustard, which will keep the dressing creamy and delicious.
  • Garlic: Just a clove of garlic brings major flavor to this Caesar!
  • Dressing

    • ½ cup olive oil 120 mL
    • ¼ cup mayonnaise 60 g
    • ¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese 30 g
    • 2 Tbsp lemon juice 30 mL
    • 1 ½ tsp dijon mustard 7 g
    • 1 clove garlic
    • Salt and pepper to taste


    • 5 heaping cups chopped romaine or mixed greens
    • 2 cups croutons
    • ½ cup shaved parmesan cheese 60 g
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    • Make Dressing: Add all Dressing ingredients to a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.
    • Assemble: Roughly chop romaine or mixed greens. Toss together with croutons and parmesan. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat (you may not need all of the dressing).


    Serving: 1salad – Calories: 409kcal – Carbohydrates: 16.9g – Protein: 8.9g – Fat: 35.5g – Saturated Fat: 7.2g – Cholesterol: 15mg – Sodium: 516mg – Potassium: 259mg – Fiber: 1.7g – Sugar: 1.3g – Calcium: 19% – Iron: 10%

Granny Square Drawstring Bag - Crochet

Granny Square Drawstring Bag Free Crochet Pattern
I love small projects like this Granny Square Crochet Drawstring Bag.
Isn't it cute and super easy.
Here is the Video link, I need to watch something to really get it.

Homemade Soap

I went to a soap making class some time ago. I have made soap 18 years ago and loved it. I was younger then and fumes getting up my nose was tolerable. At the class I was about 1.5 meters away and the fumes got up my nose worse.

This soap used the Cold Process and was so easy and took only about 30 mins to make. The white soap on the cutting board was a pure coconut soap she'd made a few days before. 
The yellow in the soap is the olive oil

At the class we were told about this online soap calculator I think its brilliant. You put in the amount of the ingredient you have and it calculates what you need and what quantities of the other ingredients.

Here are more links to help you out:

Simple Soap - Four ingredients

Christmas soap decorations

Melt and pour

How to make soap

An introduction to Cold Processed Soapmaking

Bramble Berry Soap Queen TV Video

Basic terms episode 2


The everything soapmaking book by Alicia Grosso

The Soapmakers Companion by Susan Miller Cavich

Using fragrance and essential oils

Labels for your soap, you'll need to pay a one time payment of $8

How to make decorative soap tops

More texturing

Eczema Soap Video  Website
Humectant-draws oil to the skin, calming, soothing. carrot, turmeric, honey, olive oil, oats, carrot pure Vit A,-  2 oz to a 5lb loaf

This book was recommended to us, it had some beautiful recipes in there


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