What does the last of the housewives do?

Month: September, 2013

Little Coconut Cakes

At least I’ve had some warning this time. Also prior experience. “Mum, can I take something in for the last choir of term?”

The first time I had this request from the Horror it was half an hour before we left for choir, so as I always strive to be a good parent I told him to go jump in the lake. Having learned this lesson I’ve been able to ratchet the request back to a much more reasonable forty eight hours prior. This even enables us to work out what baked good he’d like to take. He’s rather enamoured of something I had a crack at yesterday, namely mini coconut cakes. As they’re almost all gone, I’ve just made another batch. I’ll have to hide them so he has some to take in tomorrow morning.

First, locate some coconut. I like to get mine in flake form from The Source, in Balmain.

A quick visit to the Thermomix turns it into a very fresh tasting desiccated coconut.

One also needs coconut milk. I was able to persuade myself that the ancient tin dug out of the back of the cupboard contained something still edible, no really, it was fine. I tasted it and everything.

Cream together ninety grams of butter with three quarters of a cup of sugar. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and an egg and cream some more. Add an egg yolk and incorporate that also. I found some nifty little glass saucers with lids for keeping just such a thing as left over egg whites.

Was it at Peters of Kensington? I can’t remember. But I used some egg whites that had been kept this way for two weeks in the fridge only yesterday, they made excellent meringues.

Add three quarters of a cup of flour and beat that in. Add a third of a cup of coconut milk and the zest and juice of half a lemon and beat that in. Add a third of a cup more of flour and a third of a cup of desiccated coconut and beat that in. Spoon into greased mini muffin tins. Or these saucer shaped things that I think I inherited from my Nanna.

Bake at 160 degrees for about twenty minutes, or until turning golden on top. Don’t they come out a cute shape?

I’ve adapted the recipe from Coconut Tea Cakes in the ever reliable Good Cookie, by Tish Boyle. I have modified a few things. I added the lemon, I love citrus and coconut. I’d like to try lime, but it’s sometimes a bit funny when you cook it, especially the zest. The recipe book suggests sweetened shredded coconut, but I spit on that suggestion. Why can’t Americans sweeten things as they go, or would it be too shocking to see how much sugar they eat? Or are they just trying to use up all the corn syrup? There’s also a fancy frosting to go on top, but I’m not bothering. Too hard to store.

Of course what will happen is that The Horror will take these in tomorrow morning and some kid will have brought in Krispy Kremes. Then the Horror will eat half of the coconut cakes himself at recess and make himself some friends with the other half. Whatever, I’ve done my bit. The housewife’s honour is satisfied.


Lemongrass Iced Tea

Well at least I think it’s lemongrass. The leaves look right, and smell right. The flowers look about right. It’s the stalks that I’m not sure about. They’re segmented and kind of pulpy in the middle and also eight feet tall.

A friend gave them to me, pulled them out of her garden which they were threatening to overtake. I was very pleased, I love home grown surplus. It wasn’t til I got home that I started wondering about them. I chopped up some of the leaves and ran a bath over them. No scent. There was some scent when you rubbed the leaves. And the stalks didn’t look right, they are more like bamboo. “You’d better identify them properly before you kill us all”, said my killjoy husband. No sense of adventure, that man. I thought I’d experiment on myself by making lemongrass tea.

I took some leaves and snipped them into the Thermomix, they’re pretty dry and I didn’t fancy chopping them by hand or pounding them with a mortar and pestle, equipment with which I’ve never had any success at all.

I zapped that lot to get something that looked like it had been scraped from the underbelly of a lawnmower. Undeterred, I added two tablespoons of gunpowder green tea, that black stuff that looks like rat droppings.

It was very fragrant, no denying that. A bit reminiscent of lemon scented Jif, as I always find with lemongrass. I added a litre of water and set the Thermomix going at speed three on reverse at one hundred degrees for ten minutes. The result was full of stuff that I wasn’t confident my usual sieve would catch. So in a stroke of sheer genius I rummaged around in the back of the cupboard to find the coffee percolator we’d got as a wedding present that my brother-in-law actually broke on our wedding day. Couldn’t throw it out, sentimental reasons and all that. But look!

The filter fit exactly over my tea jug and did a marvellous job of removing all the very unappetising looking sediment. I added four tablespoons of honey to the hot tea and tasted. It tasted like slightly bitter green tea. I slung in a bit more honey, added a litre of cold water and stuck it in the fridge, hoping for the best.

I was called in to work the next day and my magic teaching tonsil tonic is iced tea, so I took some of my latest concoction. Much to my surprise it tasted completely different cold. Too much honey, for a start. Otherwise, light, fragrant, with a definite lemongrass aftertaste. Either that or some dishwasher powder residue. It’s good enough to make again, if I can ignore the clamouring for a return to the popular favourite of strawberry iced black tea.

Terribly Healthy Bar

You know I don’t usually do this kind of thing. The whole giving up stuff, I don’t get it myself. Can’t you just have bit less coffee, wine, sugar, white bread, self loathing? Why do you have to give it up entirely? Moderation in all things, I always say, but for many people it doesn’t appear to work. Me, if my trousers are getting a bit tight, I lay off the cake and get a bit more exercise. I don’t go out and buy a bigger size. And I don’t pick something to flagellate myself with. Don’t we all know what food is sometimes food? But I’m surrounded by people who seem to feel better if they give up something entirely, if only for a month.

I have a relative who has given up sugar, and it has been a really big thing for him, a real struggle and he has managed to lose a lot of weight this way. I’m very proud of him, because I know how much he loves the sweet stuff. I have watched him eat a large amount of biscuits at a sitting, so I guess moderation isn’t the best option for him, it’s all or nothing. So I wanted to make him something tasty that he could have with a cup of tea that wouldn’t have him falling off the wagon.

There’s a few variations of this on the webz, and I didn’t think it would hold together. You take a couple of large bananas that have seen better days. You mush them up. You mix these with two cups of oats, or in this case, five grain mix which is even better. You add in about half a cup of chopped other tasty bits and pieces, I chose dried apricots, dates, almonds and shaved coconut.

Chopped in the Thermomix, naturally. Flavours of your choice, in this case a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of vanilla and the zest of an orange. I think the orange may have been overdoing it, but heigh ho. Press the lot into a lined square cake tin and bake for about half an hour.

Pickle me grandmother, it does actually hold together. I’d wait until it was cold before cutting it up. It was pretty good in a very hemp lined tree hugging way. Sweeter than I would have expected, that would be all the fruit. But I believe sugar from fruit doesn’t count, it’s one of those regimes with fairly arbitrary rules, based, as they always are, on the work of an American guru. I don’t think you could eat too much of it anyway, your jaw would wear out.

But the main thing was that it tasted good with a cup of tea. Mission accomplished.