taking stock … (and a pretty flourless flower cake)

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I love good idea… especially when it’s a quick and easy one that gathers all the current happenings in a bit of snapshot.  The ‘taking stock’ idea comes from the lovely Pip and her Meet me at Mikes blog. I saw the idea when Pip first posted it, but a week or two went by and I figured I’d missed the boat. Then it popped up at the Foxs Lane blog by the very sweet Kate. So I thought maybe I haven’t missed the boat. Maybe it doesn’t matter when you decide to join in. I figured it didn’t and joined in.

Making : A knitted beanie for my sons birthday. Lucky he’s your typical almost 22 year old and doesn’t read his mothers blog! Of course I know it has to tick the ‘cool to wear list’ too, but if it doesn’t it’s ok as my hubby has dibs on it. It’s my win win knitting project!

Cooking : Gluten Free cake so I feel like I can eat nice treats like everyone else {insert a sulky pout-ish looking face here}
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Drinking : Ginger Spritzers mostly. Ridiculous amounts sometimes and other days not nearly as much as I need to. The ginger spritz is just ginger syrup and sparkling water. I make a tweaked Ginger Syrup version of one I found here, and I find it really hard make enough to keep up with the demand. It’s delicious and healthy. Yay!

Reading: Blogs and mags

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Wanting: To be able to get up a bit earlier in the morning to have more time in my meditation, without feeling like it’s the middle of the night.

Looking: For some motivation to get out into the garden and pull up all the weeds that have suddenly appeared between my snow drops, daffys, violets, mile-a-minute and the blue stones.

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Playing: My learn to speak french cd in the car on the way to and from work so when I get to Paris (eeep!) I hopefully won’t offend anyone, and will be able to find a toilet or a bank or a post office if I need one. I do know how to say ‘I want to buy some shoes’ already so I’ve got the really vital stuff down. Just need to work on the other stuff…. like directions. Oui!

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Wasting: Really not much – I’m stumped on this one! I don’t even waste my cold peppermint tea that I don’t finish from my teapot anymore – I pour it into a flask and have it chilled. It’s not gross I promise! We don’t waste food in this house either with two composts and a healthy worm farm.

Sewing: The endless ends in of my crochet blankets. Darning actually, but who is going split straws here? Trying to learn to love this bit like Pip but not succeeding very well for the most part.

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Wishing: For tattslotto to play nice so I can have my little dream farm sooner rather than later.

Enjoying: Feeling like mother duck and having my ducklings all living at home for what will probably be the last time. My daughter and her fella are in between renting and settlement of their first house so are back home temporarily, and my son has purchased his ONE WAY ticket to South America next year. He tells me he’ll be back… one day… but I sense the backpacking travel bug is pretty strong with him and it could be a while before lives in Australia again. But for now… I’m mother duck.

Waiting: For tattslotto to come to the farm party (and getting a bit impatient with it).

Liking: This cute little blog post where I get to share more than I usually would about myself, but feeling pretty comfy about it. Thanks Pip!

Wondering: How I’ll ever feel OK with my enormous to do list. By the time one thing is ticked off, there’s another two added… It’s like one step forward, two steps backward.

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Loving: My beautiful family and feeling so super blessed at the very sweet souls that are in it! Also loving the fact that one of my crochet blankets has travelled as far as California thanks to Etsy. OMG!

Hoping: My farm dream will actually come true and that it will be the satisfying simple life that I’ve been dreaming of.

Marvelling: At how quickly dust and tumbleweeds appear after cleaning. What’s with that?
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Needing: Storage space and a de-clutter session… the storage will fix itself soon enough (refer back to ‘enjoying’) but the de-clutter needs a ruthless energetic me that’s gone into hiding of late. Especially the energetic bit.

Smelling: Rain coming… and feeling old because I can.

Wearing: A cardy… always! So a cardy girl.

Following: My dreams wherever I can, and dreaming about them when I can’t.

Noticing: That winter is nearly over and spring is on the horizon.
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Knowing: If I keep giving the little farm dream my thoughts and energy, that I can make it happen.

Thinking: I need to actually do some spring cleaning this spring. That would be a first. Oh, and that the little farm dream is on my mind lots lately. Bossy little dream.

Feeling: I need 48 hours in every day just to get done what I’d like to in the craft, gardening, cooking, eating and sleeping departments.

Bookmarking: Lots of random things like knit and crochet patterns, blogs, things to do and see in Paris, cute little farms that I know I can’t have just yet but can’t help visiting (virtually).

Opening: Exciting mail like my brand new hot of the press business cards! OMG!

Giggling: At the cute Bengal kitten that moved back with my daughter and her fella. Koya is very entertaining, especially when she’s really excited and races around the house forgetting that paws and floorboards equals no traction. Her slides are pretty awesome, think kitten on skates and just try not to smile. She also likes to sleep on top of a really uncomfortable temporary storage unit, because it nearly reaches the ceiling, with her paws dangling over the edge. It’s a bit cute!
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Feeling: Happy, content, lucky, blessed, crafty, creative, inspired, busy, pressured, tired, wild, rambling, overwhelmed and a bit crazy sometimes. Pretty normal by my books.

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So that’s where I’m at right now. Happy and content and busy and dreaming of more. It’s a pretty nice place to be really and I’m glad I did this little post even if to remind myself of this. Hope you’re in a good place right now. Wishing you lots of happiness and contentment and dreams you can turn into reality.

PS: The Flourless Flower Cake is a gluten free apple and rhubarb cake that I made this morning, and the rhubarb came from my garden as did all the pretty flowers and blossom decorating the cake.

PPS: All the other photos are of flowers in my garden right now.

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‘date with an apple cupcake’ gluten free!

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Well this is not crochet is it?! This is my Date with an Apple Cupcake, and it’s Gluten Free. In case you didn’t already know I have a bunch of allergies and they make eating out, or just eating really, a bit tricky sometimes.

I’ve shared a picture of my frangipani-ish tarts here before but I’ve now tweaked the recipe a bit more – after all that’s what recipes are for aren’t they? I totally expect you’ll do the same with this recipe I’m about to share… Yep, you read right – I’m going to share a recipe. I will warn you first though – I don’t really measure all that carefully so the quantities are a bit ‘loose’.

One of things that I find with most gluten free cakes you can buy is they use some of these products: gluten free flour, maize, tapioca, cornflour, or even polenta. Well unfortunately those items fall into my big fat list of allergy products so it makes it quite hard to get coffee and cake when I’m out.

I also discovered yesterday that Vanilla Extract has glucose from corn syrup in it! Geez, do they have to put corn in everything?! So I’m back to using vanilla beans but it did make me realise that apart from annoying the crap out of the waiter asking for the ingredients in their cakes (because ‘gluten free’ just doesn’t cut it for me), I can safely assume a lot of cakes are going to have vanilla extract in them… and apart from asking to see the label on the vanilla bottle and risking even more of an ‘OMG eye rolling’ look from the waiter, I really can’t rest assured that I’m not eating something that I shouldn’t.

Another thing I’ve found challenging in trying to find a nice cuppa and cake when out, is that they are nearly always flourless orange cakes. Well that’s lovely for the first few years but really? Can the cafes/restaurants not come up with anything else? It’s so boring when you’ve already had fifty million slices of flourless orange cake in your life!

I must admit, my recipe was inspired by a gluten free cake I had yesterday which was Apple Almond and Raisin Cake. So that was a thrill to see a new gluten free cake. It was delicious but I thought I could do better… and I think I did… not wanting to sound all up myself or anything but I think I’ve discovered a really yummy cake that – wait for it – is also a little bit healthy! And when I say healthy, I use the word loosely. I put that much apple in my recipe that the cake-to-apple ratio is pretty darn good. That’s my definition for healthy when it comes to cakes anyway, after all a cake is a cake not a vitamin pill… but a cake with lots of apple has got to be at least a little bit good for you… doesn’t it?

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Now I’ll get to the recipe in a moment, but first I wanted you to see how incredible moist and fluffy the cake is. There’s a reason for this and that’s stewed apple! Also notice the chunky little bits of apple? Some still have the peel on even though I used one of those contraptions that peels and slices it all by winding the handle. Well it doesn’t peel so good! I didn’t mind, it adds a little texture to the cake.

Now as fluffy as it looks, it is. However this comes at a cost… the cake itself is a little crumbly. It’s quite delicate and if you just rip them out of their patty pan cases in your haste to scoff, they may just crumble in your hands. I do think this can be managed by subbing more almond meal for rice flour. But my intention was to reduce the almond meal in the recipe. Again I don’t mind this, it’s a small price to pay for a cake that’s kind to my tummy.

Anyway – I digress! Get me started on the whole allergy, gluten free thing and I’m hard to stop. Back to the recipe. The base foundation of this recipe definitely came from this one, but I’ve tweaked it plenty and come up with my ‘Date with an Apple Cupcake’ recipe. The recipe is for a big batch as I really can’t be bothered creating all those dirty dishes for a small batch. Besides, they freeze really well and only take around 30 seconds in the microwave to turn into a steaming hot cupcake of delight!

Date with an Apple Cupcake
Makes around 30 Cupcakes

150gm butter
150gm Nuttelex (soy based, dairy free margarine)
300gm caster sugar
Seeds from 2 vanilla beans (or a generous slurp of vanilla extract – if you can have it!)
4 eggs
150gm almond meal
150gm rice flour
Generous sprinkles of cinnamon
Generous sprinkles of nutmeg (fresh grated is best if you have the whole nutmegs)
5 large apples, stewed then mushed up to baby food texture.
3 large apples chopped up very small. Peel them if you can be bothered.
About 12 big fat juicy dates, chopped up small. (the Medjool ones are best, leave out if you don’t like dates, add more if you do, or sub with another dried fruit if you want)

Cream the butter, nuttelex and sugar really well. Make sure it’s really light and fluffy as this helps with the lightness of the cupcakes. Add Vanilla beans/extract, cinnamon, nutmeg. Add your eggs. Now your supposed to add eggs to a creamed butter sugar mixture slowly so it doesn’t curdle. Well I find mine always curdles, no matter what, so I just chuck the whole lot in. Curdle smirdle… whatever, it mostly goes away when you add the dry ingredients. Then add the almond meal and rice flour. Add the stewed apple. My apple mix was quite thick and not runny, I used a good few splashes of water and some sugar when I stewed them. Mix it all up (either by hand or mixer up to this stage). Now you can add the dates and chopped apple, and mix this in with a wooden spoon or spatula or something.

You should end up with a thick chunky batter mix. If it looks too runny add a bit more rice flour or almond meal. Spoon into your cupcakes and bake at around 150 degrees (fan forced). They take about 30 minutes or so, depending on how much you filled your cupcakes but to be honest I didn’t really time it all that closely. I just took them out when they had a nice golden colour on top and the skewer comes out clean.

A note on the apple varieties – use whatever you have. I used the pink lady variety to stew, the chopped up were 2 golden delicious and 1 jazz…
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That’s it! Before you know it the house will smell divine and you’ll be eating the yummiest allergy friendly cake. They are super easy, super delicious, gluten free, and kinda sorta healthy.

Now remember, I use recipes like crochet patterns. I’m a bit loose with them, don’t follow them to a T and tweak as a I go. You may want to add more almond meal and make them a bit denser and less crumbly? Or maybe all butter for that lovely flavour. I need to watch my dairy intake which is why I do a mix of butter and nuttelex, but if that’s not a problem for you then I’d say all butter will give yours a flavour edge.

Will you let me know if you make some? And let me know if something in the recipe needs a tweak? And let me know if you too are gluten free? Or have allergies and find eating out tricky? I’d really love it if you did.

On another note I have all but finished a lovely white vintage ran ripple blanket. I just need to darn in the ends (oh joy!) and also pick up some ribbon as I’m thinking about a special little ribbon trim. It may or may not happen. Tune in soon to see if it does. If you want.

I’m off for a ‘Date with an Apple Cupcake’…. and I’m not telling you how many I’ve already had for breakfast today either!