Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saying goodbye to Mischief

An appointment with the vet today ended sadly after our little blue budgie was euthanised due of a cancerous growth. It must have been really aggressive as his abdomen soon became very distended. Although he seemed happy, with a good appetite, I am sure he would have been in discomfit.

Mischief, with Tweety-bird to his left, having a break from the aviary: I think we were expecting a thunder storm, hence the decision to bring them inside. Anyway, as it turned out, it didn't come to anything in the end.

However, the sky was looking rather ominous again last night, once again thunder expected, but apart from a good downpour that was it.

Storms come and go, as do pets, and it is always sad to let our pets go. Mischief was eleven or thereabouts and unable to fly due to his malformed wings. He'd had a bad start, but lived longer than expected and was a real little character.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Balmy days in the Bay...............

On overcast day here in Tauranga today; warm 23 degrees all the same. The lawns have dried out after all the wind and heat, so not much mowing needed.

These runner beans continue to thrive happily: a few daily rounds to remove the green shield beetles — and it's paying off.

The tomatoes are showing signs of ripening at last: keeping the garden well mulched promises a good yield. Placing straw from dried-off clippings helps to retain moisture and ensures lush healthy growth. I am pleased the rhubarb is coming along well at last, seen here growing alongside a red dahlia.

Late afternoon and time to make something for tea. Hmmm.....................................

Quick and easy chicken soup with a variety of vegetables — and guess who is sitting there with his nose twitching.........?

Just another day in a dog's life.................................. patience is a virtue so they say, but like all labradors, I am willing to sample anything that comes from the kitchen... especially chicken.....

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Time to organise a special lunch and I won't be taking my eyes off the table once everything is set out — this time.

This salad will go well with the chicken pieces, garlic bread and cheese board.

Easy enough to throw several crumbed chicken pieces into the oven and the cake should round things off nicely.  Coffee and time to catch up on things since we got together last time.


1 cup (100 grams) pecans or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 pound (340 grams) raw carrots (about 2 1/2 cups finely grated)
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (240 ml) safflower, vegetable or canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For a moister carrot cake, add 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple (well drained) or applesauce to the batter when you add the oil and vanilla extract. You may have to bake the cake a few minutes longer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter or spray two - 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper.

Toast the pecans or walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely. Peel and finely grate the carrots. Set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs until frothy (about 1 minute). Gradually add the sugar and beat until the batter is thick and light colored (about 3 - 4 minutes). Add the oil in a steady stream and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. With a large rubber spatula fold in the grated carrots and chopped nuts. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 5 -10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting.

To assemble:
Place one cake layer, top side down, onto your serving plate. Spread with about one third of the frosting. Gently place the other cake, top of cake facing down, onto the frosting, and spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. If desired, press toasted and finely chopped nuts on the sides of the cake.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups (230 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
finely grated lemon zest of one lemon
1 cup (100 grams) toasted and finely chopped walnuts or pecans

In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, just until blended with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract, and lemon zest.

Now, not to be forgotten —  a little something for Corban........

He will remember the egg sandwiches I'm sure. The last time these friends came to lunch, he helped himself to the entire plateful left sitting on the coffee-table. A brief, but timely oversight that he took full advantage of.  Hmm..... so much for gazing at the view from the deck.

Anyway, we returned to find him licking every last crumb from the plate. Did he look guilty you may wonder.......... Well, of course not: he's a labrador and his tummy rules his life —

But, will there be a little something for me as well......................................?