Vintage Cards and Christmas Shortbread

This art journal page evolved over a couple of happy hours crafting in my studio, listening to Christmas songs. The focal point is a Christmas card from my vintage card collection. The card was sent from a father in Italy to his daughter in New Zealand during the Second World War. During a time that was so fraught with heartbreak, with many families being separated from their loved ones, it must have been so special for that little girl to receive a Christmas card from her father from all those miles away across the ocean, and to know that he was all right. It makes me feel blessed to be surrounded by all my family at Christmas time.

To make the page, I painted and stencilled a background, then layered the card with Christmas sheet music, festive papers, fabric, lace and ribbon, finally adding a few little embellishments.

I love doing Christmas baking – homemade mince pies, Christmas cake, and Christmas cookies are enjoyed by all at this time of the year. This is my great-grandmother’s shortbread recipe. I add spices, orange zest, and cranberries at Christmas time to give it a festive touch.

Christmas Cranberry Shortbread

225g butter or non-dairy spread
125g icing sugar
zest of 1 orange
½ cup cranberries
375g flour
25g cornflour
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Cream the butter and icing sugar.  Stir in the orange zest and cranberries. Add sifted flour, cornflour, and spice and mix. Knead well. Roll out the dough ¼ inch to ½ inch thick. Cut into shapes. Prick with a fork to stop the dough from rising. (I forgot to do this, but they still turned out nice.) Bake at 160° C for 30 minutes. (I cook on fan bake so that the bottoms of the shortbread don’t burn.) Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

From our place to yours, Merry Christmas!

 

 

Lime and Blueberry Cupcakes

Lime and Blueberry Cupcakes

We have had a lovely lot of limes from our tree over the last couple of months and I have been trying to come up with different ways to use them. I adore the smell of limes. It always reminds me of a lime pudding that we used to have when I was a child. I made these lime and blueberry cupcakes as an indulgent treat to have with a cup of tea (or coffee). It is a quick and easy recipe to make.

Ingredients

150g butter or non-dairy spread
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
150g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 cup blueberries

To make

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line muffin trays with paper cupcake cases.

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Add the sifted flour and baking powder and mix to combine. Stir in the grated lime zest and juice, followed by the blueberries.

Divide the mixture between the paper cases. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool, then ice with lime frosting. Sprinkle a little grated lime zest on top of each cake.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Lime Frosting

60g softened butter or non-dairy spread
250g icing sugar
zest and juice of 1 lime

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix to a spreadable consistency. Spread or pipe the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Lime and Blueberry Cupcakes

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

This is another recipe I have been making to use some of the walnuts we collected on our walks.

Banana Oatmeal Muffin

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup milk
1 cup white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup raw sugar
½ cup olive oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 large or 3 small bananas, mashed
¾ cup walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 180° C.

Combine oats and milk in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Add oil, beaten eggs, and vanilla essence to soaked mixture of oats and milk, and stir. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Mix in mashed bananas and walnut pieces.

Lightly oil muffin tins and fill with mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Zucchini Muffins

zucchini muffins

It is the hottest month of the year and our garden is flourishing. We have a glut of zucchinis at the moment. I have been making zucchini loaves and bakes, using them in stir-fries and salads, and making muffins. These muffins are good for putting in the freezer and taking out one or two at a time for lunches.

zucchinis

Ingredients:

1 egg
1 cup milk or dairy-free alternative (I used oat milk)
¼ cup oil
2 cups wholemeal flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 medium unpeeled zucchini
100g grated cheese or dairy-free alternative
1 small red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped herbs (I used parsley and garlic chives)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

To Make:

Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Whisk the egg and milk together, then stir in the oil. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and stir to combine. Grate the zucchini, squeeze out excess moisture, and add to the mixture. Add the cheese, onion, and herbs and mix to combine. Spoon into lightly oiled, 12-hole muffin tin. Sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds. Bake for 35-40 minutes, covering tops after 30 minutes if they start to burn.

zucchini muffins

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

Peanut butter dog biscuits

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

As someone who loves food and enjoys cooking, I like to know that what I am eating is healthy and is made from good ingredients. I also want the same for our dog. Our puppy, Finn, absolutely loves his food and I want to make sure that he has a good diet that is nutritional, as well as tasty.

I have been trying out different dog food recipes for dog loaf, dog stew, and biscuits, which I have found on the internet and in books. After playing around with several dog biscuit recipes, I have adapted them to come up with one that Finn really loves, and which includes lots of healthy ingredients for him.

This recipe makes about 40 small biscuits. I keep them in the freezer so that they stay fresh, and take out a few each day for his lunch.

1 beaten egg
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups wholemeal flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon virgin coconut oil
3 Tablespoons peanut butter with no added salt
½ cup chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Form into small balls and place on greased or paper-lined oven tray. Flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake for 45 minutes at 150ºC.

All gone

More please!

More please!

New Recipe Folder and Great-grandma Jozina’s Shortbread

If you love to cook and you’re anything like me, you probably have piles of recipes tucked away in a drawer, waiting to be tried out. I have manilla folders of recipes cut from magazines and scraps of paper with recipes scribbled down from television cooking shows. Often I’ll go to look for one and spend ages trying to find it. I had a recipe book in which I wrote my favourite recipes, but I filled it up a while ago. Recently, while browsing in a bookshop, I saw a lovely vintage-themed recipe folder that I couldn’t resist.

recipe folder

It has dividers that I can decorate with stickers and embellishments, lined pages for writing in, plain pages for pasting in handwritten recipes given to me by other people, and plastic sleeves for slipping in recipes saved from magazines. I also like that it’s a ring binder style so I can add more pages when I need to.

recipe folder

recipe folder 2

Now I just have to work my way through that big pile of recipes and put the ones that turn out nice into my lovely new recipe folder where I can find them easily.

The handwritten shortbread recipe was given to me by my mother, passed down from my great-grandmother, so the recipe has been around for quite some time. Nice to have with a cup of tea or coffee.

Great-grandma Jozina’s Shortbread

8 oz (225g) butter
4 oz (125g) icing sugar
13 oz (375g) plain flour
1 oz (25g) cornflour

Beat butter and icing sugar to a cream. Add flour and cornflour. Knead well.
Roll out to required thickness (¼ – ½ inch).
Cut into squares or fingers. Prick well with fork to stop rising.
Bake about 20 – 30 minutes at 160ºC (320ºF ) Be careful not to overcook underneath.
Cool on wire tray.

shortbread1

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

As usual, at this time of the year, we have an abundance of zucchini in our garden. I have been cooking them in stir fries and fritters and pizzas, making zucchini slice, and baking zucchini blueberry loaves for the freezer.

Yesterday I made a chocolate zucchini cake, which turned out really nice. Although Nick isn’t a big fan of zucchini, he loved the cake and wouldn’t have even known it had zucchini in it if I hadn’t told him. I used the same recipe as my Red Velvet Beetroot cake, but substituted the beetroot for zucchini, and cooked it a little longer.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

250g peeled and grated zucchini
3 eggs, beaten
1¾ cups raw sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
250ml oil (I used olive oil)
1 cup white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 180º C.
Beat together eggs and sugar. Mix in vanilla, oil, and zucchini until well combined. Add sifted flour, baking powder, and cocoa and mix well. Pour batter into greased or paper-lined cake tin.
Bake for 55 minutes. Spread with frosting when cool.

Chocolate Orange Frosting

60g butter or dairy-free spread
250g icing sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
grated zest of 1 orange
2 Tablespoons orange juice

Beat all ingredients together until spreadable consistency. Spread over cake.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake