Monday, 10 September 2012

Gone Travellin'

Well, I've been a Very Bad Blogger lately. I hate to be that blogger who always whines about how bad they are at staying on top of things, but well, yeah, that's been me lately. I'm especially sorry to those who read my blog for tasty recipes and have found nada here lately. I've been getting ready for this big overseas adventure of mine.
Which brings me to the point of this post - this time in a week I'll be in Mexico City! I was going to line up a whole bunch of guest bloggers for while I was away but didn't even have time to do the whole proofing-scheduling business, so this post is going to sit up here for a while. I'll be back to it at the start of December, hopefully with some exciting stories to tell and recipes to share.
In the meantime, this is what I'll be up to.
Gecko's Adventures
And then:
Where I will attend:
Bloggy Boot Camp
And then:
And then:
(Actually, what I really want to see is this, and bonus geek points if you recognise it!)
And then:
Intrepid Travel
And then I idotically volunteered to make a wedding cake on my way back home, so I'm stopping in Perth on my way through to Melbourne to do that. Oh, and I recently wrote a guest post for Kelley that explained why the humble choko is the knobbly green symbol of my over-commitment. This is a very choko moment. And, frankly, reading back over that post, I'm more than a little horrified at how rambly I can be. Sheesh!
So anyway, basically what I'm saying is I'm doing this:
Enjoy the next few months, people, and please don't wander far! (Also wish me luck in this holiday not ending like my last big one)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Practicing Eating Nachos

Ten days and I'll be in Mexico! WHOOHOO!!! So when I was questioned about the wisdom of eating the tasty morsel known as a Nachos Parma (on account of recent difficulties fitting into my jeans), I thought unusually quickly and said "well I have to practice eating nachos for my trip!"

(Did anyone out there buy that?? Any takers??)

If you want to make it at home you'll need a chicken schnitty (non-Aussie translation: schnitzel), some nap sauce (that's Napoli sauce, which I think Americans call Marinara, which never made sense to me because that's what we call a tomato-based seafood sauce), some corn chips and some cheese. Plus sour cream and guacamole to go on top.

Cook the schnitty, top with heated nap sauce, CCs and cheese, grill/microwave to melt cheese, and serve with sour cream and guacamole. And salad, of course!

If I was making it myself I'd probs use some medium-hot salsa with red kidney beans mixed through in place of the nap sauce, and go a bit lighter on the sour cream and guacamole.

But as is, it's already practically fat free, right?? RIGHT???!!

Flower Making Tutorial: Gumpaste Daisies

I feel quite advanced sharing this with you, but I finally feel like I'm good enough at something in the cake decorating world to share a "how to" with you. Today's "how to" is "how to make a daisy from gumpaste/flowerpaste". They must be quite simple, otherwise I wouldn't be sharing with you! They're the ones I used on this cake.
You need:
Gumpaste/flowerpaste - one colour for the petals and a smaller amount of another colour for the centre. Note that you should probably wear gloves when colouring gumpaste as it will stain your hands!
Daisy cutters in two slightly different sizes
Roller, preferably a proper, acrylic decorating one
Decorating tool with one rounded end and one pointy end - looks a little like a pencil. I think it's called a scribing tool. Or maybe a cone tool. Or something. I don't know. Don't listen to me!
Soft icing sugar and dusting pouch
Work mat
Thin, dense foam pad
CMC glue & small paint brush (dedicated to cake decorating, one hopes!)
Sanding sugar to match coloured fondant for daisy centre.
1. Knead your gumpaste until it becomes soft and pliable. Dye as needed. Set aside and keep covered at all times when you are not working with it.
2. Dust work surface with soft icing sugar/icing mixture (note that this is not always gluten free).
3. Roll gumpaste out until it is slightly transparent.
4. Cut out pairs of flowers (one larger, one smaller), making sure to press the innermost edges and give them a good wiggle to make sure it cuts cleanly. You should then flip the cutter and run your finger around the cutting edge to get rid of any little gumpaste wormy bits, before gently tapping the flower shape out/poking it gently with a paintbrush. If your cutters are plastic and new (or haven't been used in a while), you will probably need to gently bend them outwards, i.e. holding the outer edges and with the non-cutting edge facing downwards, gently bend innermost edges upwards. If that makes sense! Note also that if you are cutting multiple sets at one time you should be sure to cover them immediately with plastic so they don't dry out.
5. Place a pair of petals on your dense foam block and gently but firmly run the rounded end of your pointy tool thingie from the ends of each petal on both flowers in towards the centre (but not quite all the way). Make sure there are no rough bits of plastic where the tool was injection molded otherwise it will rip the petal and you'll have to start over. You'll probably have to start over again at some point anyhow, because it takes a while to get into the swing of things and get the thickness of the gumpaste and the pressure of the tool right!
6. Paint a bit of CMC glue into the centre of the larger flower and place the smaller one on top of it, angling it slightly so that the petals alternate.
7. Make a small ball, a little smaller than a pea, with your second colour of gumpaste. Lance it on the pointy end of your tool thingie, paint it with CMC glue and roll it in coloured sanding sugar. Note that the stuff I made was home-made - I just used regular white sugar and put a few drops of liquid food colouring and smooshed it around with the back of a teaspoon until it was evenly distributed, then spread it to dry on some greaseproof paper on a tray. It's a bit clumpier than the commercial stuff but I think it worked just fine.
8. Paint a bit of CMC glue into the centre of the smaller (top) petal and place the ball, hole side down, onto it and press lightly. Transfer your completed flower to a tray dusted with more icing mixture to dry. You could also use those flower moulding cups, but I only had three and I didn't really like the angle they set on.
9. Once dry, attach a flower to your cake using CMC glue - don't go overboard otherwise it will slip, and hold it in place for about ten seconds until it stays where it's put. The half-opened ones around the base were dried in the cup side of egg carton (dusted with icing sugar), and the ones around the side were dried on the flat underside of the egg carton lid (again, dusted with icing sugar). Unless I specifically need them to fit into a tight corner (like the ones around the base, which are glued to and propped up on a ball of fondant that is in turn glued to the cake), I will probably just dry them flat in the future as I quite like how they sit. But if you want a variety of stages of blooming then experiment with propping them up on things by all means!
Feel free to comment if you have any questions. I don't purport to be the Yoda of Gumpaste Flowers by any means, but I was successful with these ones and felt that I should spread the love! Next time I might tell you how to make those frills. Maybe.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Spring has Sprung!

So I know I'm four days behind the eight-ball here, but you guys, IT'S SPRING!!! And what a glorious start to spring we've had here. It's been a balmy 25oC during the day (mind you, plummeting down to nearly freezing overnight), the birds are singing, the days are getting longer and the smell of cherry-blossoms is in the air. Actually, I think these are plum-blossoms, but aren't they just divine??! (why, yes, it HAS been Instagram'med... why do you ask??)
Speaking of divine, here's a picture for those of you who are of a Christian-based faith.
And for those of us who are agnostic/atheiest/botany geeks/just plain ol' love nature, here's another pretty one:
I love the hope and warmth that spring brings. I love the tone of that gorgous, blue sky. And, never content with what I have, I can't wait for summer!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Joys of Travel

Ever been worried you're going to catch cholera and die a horrible, horrible death in a remote hospital in the arse end of the universe? Me too! That's why I drank me some dead cholera today. As you do.

I have to say I felt a little bit James Bond, what with the effervescent sachet and the shake n pour deceased microorganisms (2500 of them, to be precise). It was like an antidote to one of those drugs that make you look like you're dead when you're not. Or something.

So I'm off on my grand adventure in fourteen days time - Mexico, USA, Kenya (sort of) and Tanzania. Sooooo excited!!! And kind of nervous, but let's give it a big old' SQUEEEEEEE anyway!

So, two things - if anyone in the general NYC area (also considering a side trip to Boston-ish) or the UK wants to catch up and show me the sights, shout out. And if anyone wants to write a guest post for me while I'm away (preferably about food, but about whatever, really) I'd be greatly appreciative - I don't want my poor blog to die!

Did I already say SQUEEEEEEEEE!!! ? :)