Friday, November 15, 2019

Gorgeous Gifts...DIY Cherubs Cheek Cookie Dough Face Scrub


Here's my version of one of the Lush chains most popular facial cleansers, the Angels on Bare Skin Facial Scrub.

As the name suggests, the texture is very much like a cookie dough.

You take a pearl sized amount of the 'dough', and mix to a paste in the palm of your hand, before applying to the face and massaging well. This will leave your face as soft as .... a Cherubs Cheek!

Soft-as-a-Cherubs-Cheek Cookie Dough Face Scrub

All of my ingredients are readily available at supermarkets or health food stores.
 
This amount makes a ball of dough somewhere between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball.

4 tablespoons French White Clay powder (healing and calming)

4 tablespoons Ground Rice (also known as Rice Flour) (gentle exfoliating)

2 tablespoons Milk Powder (moisturising and soothing)

1 teaspoon Citric Acid (preservative and antioxidant)

2 teaspoons Vitamin E oil (antioxidant)

2 tablespoons strong Green Tea (antioxidant)...make the tea with one teabag and about an eighth of a cup of boiling water

2 teaspoons Salt (preservative and exfoliant)

3 tablespoons Glycerine (moisturising)

Several drops essential oils of choice (I used 6 drops each of Lemon, Peppermint and Lavender)

Botanicals such as unsprayed dried rose petals or lavender buds, crumbled (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl, using a teaspoon to form into a dough. Knead with scrupulously clean hands until well combined. Seal in foil, in a sealed container.

Use a spoon, tweezers or small tongs to remove tiny pearl sized amounts to mix with a small amount of water to a paste, and massage onto your dampened face for about 30 seconds. Rinse well.

Follow with your favourite moisturiser or my Facial Serum :)

Store sealed in foil and use within one month. Refrigerating it will prolong it's shelf life.

Lush in the true sense of the word!

...Mimi...

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Easy Peasy Artisan soaps....no scary steps!


French milled or Rebatched soap is a method by which you grate the soap up (or in this case, use soap flakes), add water and other ingredients, and remould it into shapes or bars.

It's an easier and less scary way of making your own soaps, and I can vouch for the money saving and skin enhancing properties of this particular one.

Using just Lux Laundry flakes, water, Cconut Oil and Milk Powder, I created these gorgeous rustic soaps, which smell divine, and leave your skin unbelievably soft and delicately scented.

You need:

700gms Lux laundry flakes or equivalent grated soap (NOT soap powder no matter what the guy in the supermarket tells you! Lux flakes here in Australia, are simply flakes of pure Lux soap.)

3 cups of water

4 tablespoons of Milk Powder

1/2 cup Coconut Oil

Few drops of scented or essential oil (Lemongrass or Lavender are particularly lovely)

Here's How:

Bring a large pot of water to a simmer, and sit a large mixing bowl over it.

To the mixing bowl, add the soap flakes, milk powder and water, and stir until it becomes a thick slush.

Add the Coconut Oil and fragrance oil and stir until combined.

This is how mine looked after rebatching, and spooning into silicone moulds....
 
As you can see, it's not smooth and liquid. It's sort of a gluey gloop.

Let them set overnight, then unmould onto racks to air and harden. I've found that leaving them for about three weeks gives them more longevity upon use.

One of these soaps lasts us a week or more of showers, as opposed to the store bought ones, which are lucky to last three days.
 
Here's a batch that I scooped into cookie boxes lined with baking paper.

 
This batch, a half batch actually, still yielded a dozen lovely, neat, well formed bars of soap, at around 40c each.
 
 
I call that a Win!

And they look and smell Very Special :)

Enjoy!

...Mimi...

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Gorgeous Gifts...Panforte...


Christmas Cake is okay, but it's not a huge favourite here.

This Panforte is yummier, I reckon and makes a fab gift for special people in your life.

Here's my recipe. It's evolved over a few years, and withstands all sorts of substitutions, so don't be afraid to be adventurous!
 
The Recipe:

750gms mixed dried fruit and nuts in any combination.
(Some recipes for this specify certain quantities, but I just use whatever I have on hand and it always turns out. We like it particularly chunky and adore whole dried figs, crystallised ginger and walnuts, with some mixed dried fruit sprinkled between.)

3/4 cup condensed milk

1/2 cup raw sugar

2 tablespoons honey

2/3 cup plain flour (GF is fine)

2 teaspoons Mixed Spice or 1 teaspoon each Nutmeg and Cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla, rum or any other flavour essence you like
 
Then:

Preheat oven to 150C.

Line a cake tin with baking paper. I like to do mine in a round tin, so it slices into wedges like a regular cake. I've also found that using a spring form tin, makes it easier to remove in one piece without accidents.

Put the fruit and nuts into a mixing bowl. Add the flour and spices, and mix well.

Put the condensed milk, honey, sugar and essence in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Simmer for one minute and remove from the heat.

Fold the warm mixture throught the dry ingredients until well combined.

Pour into the lined tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 25-35 minutes until firm to touch in the middle.

Remove and allow to cool before slicing into long thin wedges.

Present whole as a gift, either dusted with icing sugar, drizzled with melted chocolate or garnished with gold or silver leaf. Looks great wrapped in tulle, cellophane or muslin, tied in a top knot in the middle and decorated with bells or similar.

You can add flavoured essences such as Rum or Mint or Almond, cocoa, orange zest or candied orange pieces, crystallised ginger, choc bits or whatever you fancy to personalise this one too.

The gold and silver leaf, edible, is available at Cake Decorating Stores. The little silver or multicoloured cachous sprinkles are another cute idea for decorating the top of your Panaforte.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Getting ahead while you're getting ahead....

 
This year...it's flown! I bet it has for you as well.
 
In news here, son number 2 married.
 
I made a cream puff tower, seen above.
 
And paraded in a burgundy dress, seen below.
 
Both a raging success.

 
Another burgundy dress was sourced. This one $30 at a thrift store. A Christmas dress for The Diva.
 

I thrifted other things as is my way.
 
A chinoiserie jewel box, with sweet diorama completely intact...$3 if you please.

 
I made Neenish Tarts, an Aussie invention that is part jam tart, part cream tart and completely delicious. I took them to work. I was VERY popular.

 
More thrifted eye candy. Beautiful kimono. $7. I love op shops.


Here's a close up of those cream puffs. A tour de force, I tell you.

 
Of course, one does not survive on cream puffs alone.
 
Here's a vege frittata that I rustled up for lunches. Must have ones greens, right?

 
Meanwhile two granddaughters requested cakes in the form of pets.
 
Hence a puppy in pink...

 
..and a bandido kitty in black and white.

 
Pink gerberas were planted in memory of lost loved ones. It was one of those years.
 


 One pot dinners are all the rage at Chez Mimi. What's not to like about layering stuff in a dish, whacking it the oven and enjoying? This one was goooood.
 
 
A golfers 40th birthday cake. All good until a small child asked why there was a cauliflower on the cake. I never said I was a pro. Cake, golf or otherwise.


 This one is more my style. Raspberry cake. One bowl, one pan. Another time I was popular at work.
 


I'd love to stay longer, but time is short these days! I miss you all!
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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Insourcing...my favourite ways to get ahead...

 
Working full time is for the birds...
 
The Bower Birds that is. The ones that work hard to build a home so that their family is safe and well tended.
 
My friend Annabel at The Bluebirds are Nesting, drew her nom de plume from the same rationale. Birds are busy and happy, nesting and building a home.
 
I have found returning to full time work outside of the home, rewarding and challenging.
 
One of my biggest challenges has less to do with 'work' and more to do with letting things go at home. Now I don't mean letting things go in a let-the-house-fall-apart way. None of us could live that way. It's more a case of allowing the other members of the family do what I once did, and having the good grace to know that it won't be perfect (in my eyes), but that it is at least getting done.
 
Now THAT is a challenge! Letting someone else do the 'nesting'...Sacre` Bleu!!!
 
But I digress....
 
I still find time to add value to my family's home and our budget in so many ways. I couldn't have it any other way.
 
 
Meanwhile the citrus trees reward us with plump, juicy fruit, whether I'm home or not.

 
One dish bakes are the order of the day for dinners in the cooler months in the Southern Hemisphere. So easy to prepare, so easy to clean up.
 
Here's that recipe in four sentences:
 
Chicken Parmigiana Bake
 
Layer chicken breasts in a lasagne dish. Top generously with tinned tomato, fresh tomato slices, chopped onion, slivers of capsicum, herbs and cheese. Bake until golden brown. Serve with crusty bread. Yum.
 
Conversely, lunches at work at easy and fresh. I'm fortunate enough to have not one, but three major supermarkets in the building where I work, so even when I do not have time to pack a lunch, I'm spoilt for choices. This feast below, cost me a  whole $7!


I have to say that I am enjoying having a little more discretionary funding to spend on self these days. It means that when I spot darling Deco earrings, I can snap them up without thinking twice.
 
 
I love this Gucci inspired link necklace so much...
 
 
That when I spotted this vintage 60s chain link belt in my favourite green, I snapped it up knowing I could convert it to a similar necklace, thus breathing new life into it.

 
It also means that when a friend invites me to a sale of vintage couturier trims, I can 'rescue' as many as I want. How adorable is this idea of stitching random trims to the back of playing cards? I see a similar idea taking up residence in my gift cupboard for my crafty friends...
 
 
And you know there's always a cake decorating idea in the mix here. This one was the inspiration for my middle sons 40th birthday recently. He's a golf fanatic.

 
Here is the realisation. Bow tie, golf ball and all. I laughed though when his nephew on his wife-to-be's side, asked why there was a cauliflower on top of his cake. Lol. Well..Imperfection is the name of the game here....hahahahaha!


A mini-break to world famous Byron Bay was ticked off the bucket list.
 

 
It was lovely, but as a serial beach goer since childhood, it was only as nice as the dozens of other beaches I've visited in my lifetime. Australians are spoilt like that.

 
Daughters secondment to L'Occitane the French skin care range came to a grinding halt with her admission to her demanding University course. So we are back to making our own organic skin care. Above are the seven (yes, seven!) jars of luxurious face and body lotion I whipped up on Friday night. Cost...about $30.
 
Here's that recipe...not four sentences unfortunately.
 
Mimi's Luscious Face and Body lotion...enough for up to 12 x 125gm jars

Water phase:
900mls distilled water

Oil Phase:
100mls Pharmaceutical grade oil (peanut, almond, macadamia or use jojoba or olive)
60gms emulsifying wax (40gms for a lighter lotion consistency) Order at pharmacy.

Active Phase:
15mls Green Tea Extract (good for skin) – online various suppliers
10mls pure Aloe Vera gel (healing properties) – Supermarket or pharmacy
10 mls Vitamin E Oil (Antioxidant) - pharmacy
10mls Glycerine (moisturising and smoothing) -Supermarket
30mls Optiphen Plus (preservative) – online various suppliers
30-40 drops essential oil/s of choice. I use Lavender, Neroli and Jasmine. You can use any that you like. Or leave it unscented.

Step 1:
Place water in saucepan and heat till it just starts to show bubbles. Transfer to a large glass or china mixing bowl.

Step 2:
Place 'oil phase' ingredients into a glass jug and heat in the microwave. Your oils will be close to the correct temperature when the emulsifying wax is not quite entirely melted. Stir to finalise melting.

Step 3:
Pour the 'oil' phase into the ‘water' phase and stir. Continue stirring until the mixture cools and thickens slightly. This may take up to 20 minutes. (it took about 10 here). Once you can touch the sides of the bowl comfortably and it’s not too hot, add your Optiphen Plus or other preservative (apparently Friars Balsalm works but I don't like the smell) and Vitamin E oil, then the other 'active' ingredients.

Step 4:
Continue stirring until it cools to about hot tap water temperature. It will continue to thicken. Pour into a jug and then decant into your jars. Allow to cool completely before putting on the lids.

Apply to face, hands, feet or body as required. This is a gorgeous cream, and although it is thick going on, it is absorbed quickly, and makes your skin feel and look so soft. It’s delicately scented without being overpowering.

Extra tips:
Always stir continuously as your mixture cools, as this will prevent lumps forming. If lumps do appear, they can be smoothed with a hand held blender.

If using 'natural' preservative in your recipe, sterilise jars and lids first.

It's not as daunting as it sounds, you just need to have everything ready, and it's very rewarding. I line all the ingredients up in cups and medicine measures before I start, and then it only takes about 30 minutes to make 6-12 jars of face cream depending on the size of your jars.
 
 Thus inspired, I went on to create an organic deodorant for The Diva and myself. This is still an experiment, but so far, we're loving it. Bereft of any appropriate container, I simply poured this into a pretty teacup that fills as a heart shape, and use a tiny spatula to scoop what we need.
 
Here's that recipe for deodorant:
 
2 tablespoons pharmaceutical grade coconut oil
2 teaspoons grated Shea butter
5 heaped dessertspoons Arrowroot
8 drops each:
Green Tea Extract (anti-inflammatory)
Optiphen Plus (preservative)
Bergamot essential oil
Lime West Indies essential oil
Palmarosa essential oil
 
Note: You can use any essential oil/s you prefer.
 
Melt oils in a glass jug in the microwave, add extras, pour into a vessel of your choice. Allow to harden. Use a spatula to scoop, and apply with fingertips.
The real test of this deodorant will be during our humid Summer, but that's a way off yet. So far, so good though!
 
 
We have a wedding coming up! My middle son (yes, the one that just turned 40!) is marrying his long term partner. We are thrilled to bits! As is she...lol! Behold the shoes for the wedding. I looooove them.
 
And below is something I think would go with them for Melbourne Cup Day. My milliner friend will help me make this. Pretty spiffy, huh?

 
Now that I am very silver, red is my new friend.

 
Enough from me. How are things for you? I miss you all!
 
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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Be prepared for Life #3....5 minute tasks....

 
 
Working outside the home and keeping home humming along can be a real challenge.
 
Today I want to offer some tips on sharing the load. And it's not about having an army of human helpers.
 
It's more about spreading the workload equitably, and having the discipline to manage time more effectively so that you get the most out of your day. It's about using 5 minute windows to make the day run more smoothly.
 
But first!
 
1. Feeling your best is the number one priority if you're going to embark on this crazy roller coaster of working and managing the home.
 
2. Note I said 'managing'. Managing also means 'delegating'. So learn to delegate!
 
Let me elaborate...
 
Feeling your best
 
One of the things I have found most difficult about re-entering the workforce in my late 50s, is the fatigue. I truly love what I am doing, but I have to accept that even though I am fit and healthy, I am no Spring chicken. So I have to manage my energies and accept the natural rhythm of my body clock.
 
I don't know about you, but energy-wise, so long as I keep to a strict schedule of 9pm to bed and 6am to rise, I am at my best first thing in the morning. Note I did not say 'awake'. I'm sort of on auto-pilot for the first few hours. But even on auto-pilot, while you're getting ready for work, you can still accomplish a great deal.
 
Some sensible tips: Don't drink coffee after 2pm, if socialising stick to an occasional glass of wine on weekends only, make sure to have 6 glasses of water a day, once home in the evenings only drink water or herbal tea, don't drink anything after 8:30 because most of us don't sleep well with a full bladder...lol! Walk at LEAST 2,000 steps a day...we can all manage this. Try to stick to the appropriate calorie intake for your age and desired weight. For me, that's 1200 calories, and try to get those from fresh, unprocessed food. That's it. Not hard at all.
 
Delegating
 
The morning routine is crucial around here. By evening, all three in our family have been out all day and we are tired. If we get most things done in the morning prior to leaving the house (we're out the door by 7:15am), then the evening is a breeze.
 
Once showered and dressed, here are five things family members could do:
 
1. Put on a load of washing.
 
2. Steam some rice for the evening meal and refrigerate it. In a large microwave safe bowl or jug, place 2 cups of long grain rice and 5 1/2 cups of water with a pinch of salt. Microwave on High for 6 minutes. Allow to sit in the microwave until just before you leave, then fluff with a fork and refrigerate.
 
3. Make Chia Seed Puddings for the following days breakfasts. Mix 1/2 cup white chia seeds with 2 cups liquid (milk, plant based milk, probiotic milk) and some sweetener or flavouring if you want (sugar, honey, maple syrup, stevia, agave nectar), and add a few frozen or fresh berries. Yummy.
 
4. Boil some eggs. See my post here for the perfect not-too-hard, hard boiled eggs.
 
5. Cut some bananas up and freeze for smoothies or Nice-Cream (fake ice cream). To make Nice-Cream, whizz a few chunks of frozen banana in your blender. We use a Nutri-Ninja. Add flavourings or toppings just as you would for real ice cream sundaes. Just like a 'real' soft serve, but healthy!
 
Here are 5 things another family member could do:
 
1. Feed pets.
 
2. Hang out the washing.
 
3. Throw some salad leaves into a bowl with some halved cherry tomatoes, and make a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette in a recycled jar. Refrigerate covered. To make vinaigrette, put equal amounts olive oil and lemon juice in a recycled jar, add a teaspoon of prepared mustard, a pinch of sugar and salt, and shake well. Add a sprinkle to salad leaves and toss well to coat. You don't need much!
 
4. Clean the bathroom basin after brushing teeth. We keep a scrubbing pad under the vanity for just this purpose. A tiny pearl of toothpaste makes a fine abrasive if one is necessary!
 
5. Water the pot plants.
 
5 more things:
 
1. Slice, dice, marinate or mix the protein portion of the evening meal. That might mean marinating chicken or salmon fillets, mixing the mince for meatballs, cutting some steak into slivers and salting it lightly to tenderise, or microwaving some red lentil mash for stuffing capsicums or making Dhal. All five minutes at the most. Red lentil mash is made by mixing 300mls of stock (any flavour) with 3/4 cup red lentils. Microwave for 6 mins or until 'mushy'.
 
2. Fold the clean and dry washing. My clever husband built us a drying cabinet so we can hang as much as possible on hangers to go straight into our wardrobes. Works like a charm. Line hanging will work too though, obviously!
 
3. Check and replace toilet rolls, handtowels, teatowels, dishcloths.
 
4. Load or unload the dishwasher OR wash dishes and stack to air dry in dish drainer.

5. Ready cups for herbal teas when we all walk in the door. We each then only need to boil the kettle.
 
Labour saving devices


It's a funny thing. Many of the appliances we traditionally imagine to labour saving, haven't been for us with me not at home.
 
Husband refuses to use the slow cooker as he hates cleaning it. It's an old one, that requires soaking overnight and a scrub whilst on it's side in the morning. I can totally see how that's a bit painful!
 
Ironing? No thanks. We wash on the Gentle cycle, and hang everything that would traditionally need ironing, straight on to hangers. I literally have one shirt that I iron. The rest? No way!
 
Bread-maker, sandwich press, pie maker all just add to clutter and stress and we don't eat that way any more anyway, as we are gluten free. All gone. Is it time for you to reassess your actual needs and declutter your kitchen, based on your own families changing needs?
 
Our most used appliances are the kettle and toaster, the bench mixer and the Nutri-Ninja. Everything else? Gone.
 
That too, might take just five minutes, free space in your kitchen, and lift a weight from your shoulders.
 
Keep snacks simple - more 5 minute tasks
 
Here are five really easy snacks for lunch boxes, that can be used as a base and varied for interest:
 
1. Dried fruit and nut mix. We make our own meaning we can have exactly what we like in it. What we 'like' can be different from one week to the next.
 
2. Fresh fruit. Seasonal. Whatever is least expensive or growing in the garden that week. We eat anything.
 
3. Veges and home made hommus. 'Hommus' to us, can be a dip of anything with herbs and oil for flavour whizzed up in the Nutri-Ninja. We use roasted sweet potato, eggplant or pumpkin, cooked green peas, drained tinned chick peas, lentils and kidney beans. Add oil to carry flavour, season well, add herbs and spices to your liking. We make new combinations all the time so we don't get bored.
 
4. Cheese and crackers. Again, this could be herbed home made ricotta, brie, camembert, crumbly vintage, spicy jalapeno, wasabi infused, peppercorn, green pickle....don't just go for the cheddar!
 
5. Hot chocolate mix. To make this sift equal parts cocoa, icing sugar and powdered milk together. Easy peasy. Add ground cinnamon, ground chilli, or vanilla essence for extra flavour.
 
We accomplish all of these little tasks in five minutes or less. They make our life run so much more smoothly. Admittedly we have a three adult household, but even teens can make a dip, change the dishcloths, put on a load of washing. Younger children can scrub the vanity (when I was 5 this was my task too!), sift the cocoa and sugar for hot chocolate mix, help pack snacks on a Sunday afternoon.
 
Spread the load. Delegate. Use 5 minutes here and there, to make your own life easier.
 
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Friday, June 7, 2019

Be prepared for life....#2...simplify meals!



What a challenge it's been to train the troops from afar while I'm in corporate land, and they're trying to keep hearth and home together. 
 
They're doing pretty well, but I'd be lying if I said things hadn't changed around here.
 
The Diva, now that she's at a prestige performing arts academy with all that entails, refuses to let anything that isn't alternately Paleo/Meditteranean/a Superfood, pass her lips.
 
Husband refuses point blank to use the slow cooker because he hates to clean it. He prefers to buy ready slow cooked meals. Well. You can just imagine how that sits with me. Can you see my dramatic roll of eyes?
 
Still, as many before me have said, it's better than takeaway, and who am I to tell the newly crowned Kitchen Regents how to prepare the evening offering.

I'm learning, that it's all about simplifying. Friends warned me about this, and I make no apology in saying that simplifying is the name of the game.
 
I baked a cake a weekend or two ago. Nobody but me ate it. Diva being all healthy and Husband following suit and all.
 
Now the baking goes to work with me. I'm very popular as a consequence.

 
Carrot and Walnut cake got the thumbs up although I was berated for not making a bigger one...lol!
 
 
 Life Changing bread and herbed home made ricotta won some hearts, but warranted suspicious looks from many.
 

 
But....here's a lesson...the biggest hit, was the thing that required the least amount of effort. This baked Camembert was practically zero effort and had the colleagues queuing, QUEUEING, I tell you, out the door.
 
Recipe in a couple of sentences #1
 
Baked Camembert: Buy a camembert or brie, criss cross slash the thing, bake at 180C till heated through, top with honey, pistachios and sliced dried figs. Who knew right? This was a big one. Aldi here sell half wheels for $10. Join two together for maximum impact. Most awesome bring-a-plate offering, like, EVER.
 
Tip right there! Simplify!
 
 
I'll save the labour intensive stuff a very occasional treat, thanks. 
 
That said, these gluten free potato scallops (potato cakes, fritters, whatever you like to call 'em) are cheap, easy, and delish. And simple. Did I mention SIMPLE?
 
 
Recipe in a few sentences #2
 
 Potato Scallops: Slice a couple of potatoes thinly. You don't even need to peel them. Just scrub the dirt from the peel. Mix flour, seasoning and soda water together to form a thick batter. I just eyeball the amount based upon the number of potato slices I have. If you run out, you can make more easily. I just use a Gluten Free flour blend. The fizzy water makes the batter lighter. You could also use beer or cider. Heat a big pot of oil till smoking. Dip potato slices in batter, and drop carefully into the oil. Cook until lightly golden and drain well. Eat immediately or freeze, whereupon they can be reheated in the oven or refried in oil. Yum. Strangely The Diva lowered herself to consuming six of these. I suppose they're a new Superfood??? *cough*...


 
Superfood right here though. Coconut yoghurt parfaits. A perennial favourite. A Zero effort one. Also...buy frozen berries. Have you SEEN the price of berries just now? I guess the poor farmers have to make up for that nonsense with the needle-in-the-strawberry scandal last year, but I'll poke a needle-in-my-eye before mashing them into a parfait. I'll buy them, but I'll savour them alone like the luxury they are at the moment. Meanwhile these are fine using frozen berries at $1 per 100gms over twice or thrice the price for fresh. Make it easy on yourself and assemble these ahead. May as well make 8, as 4, right?
 
Recipe in a few sentences #3
 
Speaking of zero effort, Chia Pudding. Do you know of it? We love tapioca, and Chia is similar. Mix the seeds with any liquid, and sweetener if desired. Layer much like the yoghurt parfaits. Eat. Good. Easy.
 
Chia Seed Pudding: Mix chia seeds at a ratio of 1 part Chia seeds to 4 parts liquid eg. 1/4 cup seeds to 1 cup liquid. Any liquid is fine. We love plant based milks the best. Add sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, stevia) and flavour essence if you want. We prefer Vanilla extract, but raspberry, peppermint (with chocolate soy milk and cacao nibs), and orange or lemon got the thumbs up recently too. Mix together, pour into jars or glasses or any other container. Done. We put frozen berries at the base of these too.
 
Other tricks...
 
Keep celebration cakes simple.
 
Behold my beehive cake further below here, made for a recent birthday. Cake. Mock Cream. Tulle and ribbon bees. Done. I baked a round cake and a cake in a pudding basin. I trimmed the bottom cake to the size of the pudding basin cake and sandwiched with chia seed jam. The Diva will eat this as its sugar free and its unbelievably quick and easy to make. It's basically the same as the Chia puddings.
 
Recipe in a few sentences #4
 
Berry Chia Seed Jam: Defrost some frozen fruit in the microwave in a small bowl. Frozen raspberries or mixed berries are our favourite. Mash them up with a fork. Leave a few chunks if you like but we like ours fairly smooth. You'll note that you now have a fair amount of liquid too. This is where the Chia seeds work their magic. Add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, stir and allow to cool. Done. See? No mystery. Chia pudds and Chia jam are really the same thing in different proportions Adjust the amount of berries and seeds to suit you! Add sweetener if you wish, but it's not necessary.
 
 

 
I iced this with a very old recipe for Vanilla Mock Cream.
 
Recipe in a few sentences #5
 
Vanilla Mock Cream: Combine 1 heaped dessertspoon of cornflour in a bit of milk and stir to combine. Add enough to bring up to a cupful, and microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until smooth and thick. Allow to cool. Cream a tablespoon of butter with 3 tablespoons caster (superfine but NOT icing sugar) sugar in a small bowl, then beat in the cold cornflour mixture. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence if you like. I flavoured mine with honey and lemon this time. Tint with yellow colouring...use a teaspoon to dispense the food colour until you get the delicate shade you want.
 
I just blobbed that on. The texture is like a super thick custard. I then ran a fork around the cake to get the lines and ridges to make it look like a beehive.
 
Behold my Moana Te Fiti cake here.  Another one that was far easier than it looks!
 
Speaking of custard, Baked Custard is a perfect treat Summer or Winter. Who needs all that beating and flour sifting and stuff unless it's a special occasion? We make ours with plant based or lactose free milk. Coconut milk baked custard is divine.
 
Recipe in a few sentences #6
 
Baked Custard: 4 eggs, 500mls milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon, bake in a water bath till firm. Put rice in it for baked rice pudding. Add noodles for a German version. Throw fruit in it to be fancy. Serve with cream if your lactose-intolerant family (mine, that is) can stand it.
 
 
Other tips and tricks:
 
 Think in multiples. Why boil two eggs when boiling a dozen takes the same length of time. We do this and eat them cold for breakfast and lunch. We like the yolks just firm but not overcooked. With experimentation, we've found this the best method.
 
Recipe in a few sentences #7
 
Perfect hard boiled eggs: Put as many eggs as you can fit in a medium sized pot. We can fit 8 in ours and our eggs are extra large. This bit is important due to the timing. Do two medium pots of 6 or 8, over one large pot, as the timing is different. Also, knock off 30 seconds or so if your eggs are smaller. You'll get to know what texture you like your yolks. Get the tap water the hottest it can be, and barely cover the eggs. Set them on a preheated (if electric) or high gas hotplate. Set your timer for 9 minutes. Cook until timer goes off. Douse in cold water to stop them cooking any further. Store in the refrigerator. We eat these whole, mash them for sandwiches, chop them into salads, or toss them in a béchamel based curry sauce to eat with rice and vegetables, a meal that is surprisingly delicious.
 
 
 This morning, while I made and ate my breakfast, I also made 8 boiled eggs, 8 chia seed puddings, a heap of steamed rice, a jar of toasted sesame seeds, and a jar of mixed berry chia seed jam. I had three cooking vessels to wash and that was it. It CAN be done.
 
Here's that curry sauce recipe....
 
Recipe in a few sentences #8
 
Curried béchamel sauce for eggs, chicken or vegetables: Microwave a tablespoon of butter or margarine, with a heaped tablespoon of flour. Separately, heat a cup of milk till steaming. Beat the two together. Microwave till smooth and silky, stirring every thirty seconds. Season to taste and add as much curry powder as you like. We like about a teaspoon and a half. This makes it flavoursome, but not overly spicy. To this we add sliced hard boiled eggs. We eat it with steamed rice and lightly blanched greens like beans, snow peas (mange tout), broccolini and asparagus. You can also use this as a base for any mornay, and cauliflower and broccoli in this sauce, in single serves with cheese ready to melt on top, is a favourite Winter work and University lunch here. Also yum with tinned salmon or tuna packed the same way.
 
Oh! Steamed rice! An absolute staple. That recipe is here. No rice cooker required. I do it in the microwave now too. Same idea, but cook for 6 minutes, stir, allow to sit.
 
Recipe in a few sentences #9
 
Tamago Gohan: The Diva and I like a Japanese breakfast with steamed rice. You heat the cooked rice in the microwave until piping hot, then (don't be squeamish), add a raw egg, a dribble of soy sauce and sesame oil, and a might generous pinch of toasted sesame seeds (I do these ahead of course). The heat of the rice 'cooks' the egg, and the egg in turn, coats the grains of rice. If that's not quite cooked enough for you, throw the bowl and it's contents into the microwave to reheat a little, stir until your egg is cooked enough for your liking. It's quite more-ish I can assure you! Great comfort food and can be breakfast, lunch or dinner.
 

 
I know I'm probably preaching to the converted here, but here's another tip...if you are going to make something labour intensive, multiply the ingredients and make several, not just one. I never make just one Lasagne or Shepherds Pie or Giant Meatball meal. I make three and two go in the freezer for a lazy meal another night.
 
 
And before I go, here is one more time saver (read 'life saver') idea.
 
For a quick, almost no effort meal, you can't go further than oven baked. Top anything with flavoured butter or olive oil or cheese, tuck some veges under or in it, and oven bake. You cannot go wrong.
 
Here's my Pizza Mushrooms. Yum and healthy!

 
And this my loves, is Baked Ginger Snapper with Miso butter.
 
Recipe in a few sentences #10

 
Mix an individual sachet or two of Miso paste with softened butter. Spread over fillets of fish. Sit on a bed of seasonal vegetables, top with red onion and bake for 20 minutes. Scrumptious.
 
See? We can work outside the home, and still be Earth Mothers.
 
We just have to get clever.
 
Stay tuned for Part Three!
 
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