eight random things

This is meant to be ten random things but I only got to eight. Ten random things is the lovely Kate from Foxs Lane’s idea… you can see her ten random things here

red and white heart garland
hearts & pom pom garland
I’ve been making heart garlands again lately… Am loving having lots of little crochet hearts hanging around, they make great little wrapping embellishments too.

I cleaned out my yarn bag… believe it or not this is my cleaned out version! Next project will definitely have to be one that uses up all the half used balls in various colours and blends… I would really like to stop myself cracking into the big yarn stash and make something with these leftovers. Any suggestions?

peace catcher card
monets bees card
I’ve been making cards with my photos. The bees of Monet’s garden always make me smile and the peace catcher image really does feel peaceful.

knitted blanket with too many ends!
I have not sewn one single end in on this blanket! Instead I started a whole new blanket… as you do! I just can’t face them right now… so many… so overwhelming…

stockman leathercraft leather
I’m loving the new leather hide hubby got for his birthday… the gorgeous natural colour is right up my alley. I’ve already put my request in for a belt and a necklace… and I have some more plans up my sleeve for this hide that’s really exciting… I’ll let you know when I get a bit closer.

We’ve been laying bluestones in our backyard and boy are those suckers heavy! They are the kind of heavy that you find yourself counting to 3 before the big lift to prepare, then letting out some sort of involuntary groan upon the up-heave. We call them the backbreaking bluestones – when we’re being polite.
When it gets tough, my sweet, clever and ever encouraging mum reminds me of the amazing history they have. I love that they have history and I feel like they bring a certain energy to the space too. They came out of a really old factory site (now being converted to a housing estate) where they used to make guns and bullets. I just cannot imagine how much hard work it was cutting the bluestones by hand back in the day… Sheesh just moving them is pretty grueling… I have actually moved quite a lot of them but do admit hubby has taken the bluestone moving brunt. I’m more the pointing type, the ‘move it a smidge to the right on your side’ type, the re hydration girl fetching drinks, and the sand shoveling girl. But still, I’ve moved my share.

herbalicious spuds
I’m looking forward to the next ‘same old crap’ post on the lunchlady blog. Kate from hellokateberry has this great lunchlady blog, and I think there will be a new same old crap post each week from different people. It’s a great idea and I’m even considering submitting my same old crap ‘herbalicious spuds’. They are so easy it’s ridiculous and just about every ingredient is substitutable.. except maybe the spuds!

delish soup ingredients
And lastly, these ingredients make a delish soup. I know it may look like a weird bunch, but together they make for happy tastebuds. I got the inspiration from the amazing Katy at No Big Dill who shared a link to the recipe that was my inspiration. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly (predictable aren’t I?), but was still thrilled with the results. In fact I changed quite a bit but I kept the main two ingredients which were cauliflower and apples. I did things like made it dairy free, caramelised my onions really well, then added the apples, then I used heaps of celery followed by cauliflower and chilli. Then I just added my stock, some good quality curry powder, a touch of pepper, blitzed it with a stick blender and voila – deliciousness! Even hubby enjoyed it and he usually calls cauliflower ‘cows breath’! A bit harsh don’t you think?
Anyway it’s a simple soup with not too many ingredients, but a good chunk of time is required if you want to make your own stock like I did. There’s something about the apples and cauliflower together that’s just a bit magic. And the best part is that I made heaps, so we have left overs to enjoy all weekend. I’m off to have a bowl now…

Have you got 10 random things you’d like to share too? Or eight? Six? Even just one? Let me know in the comments, I would really love it if you did. I feel like I’m the friend doing all the talking… your turn now…

Hope you get to enjoy some delish random goodness this weekend.

‘date with an apple cupcake’ gluten free!

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?

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…
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!