Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

When I first heard about red velvet cupcakes I really didn't see their appeal. It takes a lot of food colouring to make cake red... although the examples I'd seen on the internet did look rich and delicious. Despite some reservations I decided to try them because I'd heard that red velvet cake goes well with cream cheese frosting and cream cheese frosting is the best. I used this recipe from taste.com.

The recipe didn't turn out a red as some of the ones I'd seen and I used a whole (small) bottle of colouring. My theory is that I baked them a little too long and the outside became browner than desired. They were very red on the inside however. I took the cakes to work and unfortunately they were gone before I could take a picture of a bitten one. At least they were a success at the morning tea!

This was probably the most successful batch of cupcakes I've made, but I think that had more to do with the buttermilk used in the batter and the cream cheese frosting than the red food colouring. I think most people at morning tea thought they were chocolate cup cakes... oh well! They all said the icing was delicious :-)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

"Spur of the Moment" Pumpkin Soup

One of the first things I start craving when the weather gets cold is pumpkin soup and the other day, while standing in the middle of a busy supermarket, I decided I that I had to have some. The only trouble was I didn't have a recipe with me and could only half remember what goes in it. I decided to try anyway and this is what I bought:

2 x Kent pumpkin halves (I chose Kent pumpkin because it tends to cooks faster than other varieties)
1 x red onion
Garlic cloves
Liquid vegetable stock (four cups)

To make the soup I cubed the pumpkin and roasted it for twenty minutes with several garlic cloves. Meanwhile, the red onion was cut up and cooked gently with a little butter in a large stock pot. Once the pumpkin was roasted, I added it to the pot along with half the garlic cloves. I added the four cups of stock and let simmer for about ten minutes. Once the soup had reduced, I blended it with a stick mixer until it was smooth and bright orange. To finish, I added a little cream and salt and pepper.

To go with the soup I made (half) homemade garlic bread. Using the remaining garlic cloves, I made a quick garlic butter which was applied liberally to a par baked roll. The roll was baked for ten minutes and severed hot. 

Here is the result; thick, creamy and just the way I like it. I'm already planning to might it again!

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Frugal Sisterhood and some financial reading

Yesterday I exchanged unwanted goods with my sister. It seems to me such a great example of frugal living: I had window boxes I needed to get rid of, she wanted window boxes to plant flowers outside a bedroom. She had yarn she was never going to use from a short-lived foray into knitting, I use yarn up fairly quickly because I crochet baby rugs for my friends and family. My new pile of yarn is going to make some excellent presents :-)

This is the kind of everyday exchange that characterises my relationship with my big sister, and I'm grateful. We're both still learning how to live within our means and it's easier when there's somebody in your life who understands exactly what you're doing and why.

The only downside is that spending time with my big sister is making me miss my middle sister, who recently moved across the country to Melbourne.

Anyway. On a less personal note, it's been an interesting long weekend for financial news and opinion:
I am absolutely horrified to see that withholding financial support is now classed as domestic abuse. Don't get me wrong: I think there are definitely situations in which withholding money could be abuse. But as a blanket definition? No, no, no. Choosing to have someone in your life should not automatically mean that they are legally entitled to your money and can shout "abuse!" if you don't bankroll them. It's up to each couple to figure out how to handle money in their relationship.

The generations column at News.Com evaluated renting and buying. There are no surprises in this article, but it's a good summary of both options and it's worth reading if you're in two minds about it.

Childcare costs are up an average of 11 per cent. Jeez. Thinking of having children and working? Make sure you include these costs in your calculations - I really doubt that minimum wage earners could come out ahead if they're paying for childcare, housing, school etc.

I love this article about the definition of productivity and whether working longer and harder always means you're more productive. It's rare to see an opinion piece that implies Australians could be working too much, even though my anecdotal experience is that most of us do feel we're working too hard, for too many hours, and not enjoying life enough.